posted on 16-Aug-2002 3:05:57 PM
Author: Kapone224
Email: scoobie224⊕hotmail.com
Distribution: Please ask me first
Disclaimer: Don't own a thing but my thoughts
Rating: Not sure yet
Summary: It's Zan and Liz, and that's all I have to say about that *happy*

Someone asked me to post this over here, so without further ado I give you my story. Beware, the time line shifts back and forth, but you guys should have no problem keeping up! Hope you guys enjoy it! Kim

Part 1

It amazes how smart yet stupid I can be at the same time. I guess that must be one of the side effects of being in love. Yeah, I said it. I’m in love.

I’ve been in love with the same man for almost eight years now, and I can’t say that it’s gotten me anywhere. I pine, he’s oblivious; it’s a vicious cycle that needs to be broken, but can’t be, because I’m a hopeless romantic. A dreamer in every sense of the word.

Don’t get me wrong, I have been out with other men over the past four years but none of them just do it for me the way this man does. There was Kyle, the first man I ever loved. He pretty much used my own innocence and naïveté against me. I would have done anything for him, killed if the need had been present, and he knew it all along. Instead of cherishing my love, he used it to manipulate me. I would like to say I was Gloria Steinem’s perfect vision of a woman during this time of my life, but the things I did would have shamed all of womankind. I begged, groveled, cried, even cooked for this fucker so he would take me back. Yeah, he’s the one who dumped me. The reason, you ask? I’m a virgin, and wouldn’t sleep with him. Asshole.

Then there was Max. He was every parent’s dream as far as appearances were concerned. Notice I say appearances. When it came down to it, he was a whiny brat with a needle dick that didn’t work. Sure, on the outside it looked like he had it all together. Star basketball player, straight A student, gorgeous as hell, brand new car, all around American stud pretty much. Oh, but when the doors closed, the real Max more than willingly came out of the closet. Literally. I should have seen the signs, but hey, I was infatuated and couldn’t see past my nose when it came to him. I think the last straw was the night that I actually decided that I wanted to have sex with him, and we tried….and tried….and tried. After about 45 minutes of stroking, touching, and kissing, nothing. I guess he was feeling pretty bad about his…how shall we say, inadequacies, because the next day during one of his basketball practices he told everyone on the squad how he had deflowered me, and I was the worst lay he had ever had. Needless to say, my virginity and I dumped his ass and moved on to greener pastures…but not before I displayed digitally enhanced pictures of him having sex with another member of the basketball team on the school’s website, though.

And how could I forget Sean. He was fun, cool as hell, and every time we went out it was a guaranteed good time. The things that man could do with his mouth, it’s enough to make a person want to come on the spot. Only problem was he was so high half the time that he couldn’t perform his erotic duties. That and he had a tendency to be violent at times. As much as I loved the good times we had, my body and my dishes couldn’t endure the bad times. And once again, I was left lonely.

You would think with the bad luck that I’ve had with men that I would be ready to move to an isolated island and become a eunuch, but my love for men, one man in particular, goes deep. I love their little quirks, their temper tantrums, their manliness and ability to fix things, everything about them. Of all the things a man could do for me, I think it’s his ability to make me feel safe and like everything will eventually be okay that turns me on the most. There is nothing like crawling into the arms of a man and just being. Existing. Lying contently, safe from life’s woes. It’s in those moments that all is right with the world and nothing else matters. It’s the longing for those types of moments that have led me right to where I am now: hopelessly in love and devoted to a man that drives me crazy in every sense of the word.

“So what’s the word?” he asks me in that sexy ass voice of his.
“Nothing much, just laying here trying to relax,” I answer.
“Hmm, I see. How was your day?”
“Alright I guess. It was busy as usual, I have a new client to deal with and she seems like she might be a pain in the ass. I can’t complain though, because it’s money. What about you? How was your day?”
“My day…was a day. I’m trying to get this shit together in time for the exhibit, but my computer keeps acting up and the system crashed earlier today.”
“I’m sorry, honey.”
“Not as sorry as I am.” Pause. “You should come over.”
“When?”
“Now.”
“Why?”

The silence that exudes from his end of the phone is letting me know exactly why he wants me to come over. Not that I would mind but I have to get up in the morning, and I don’t need these types of complications waking up with me.

“I’ll show you once you get here, just come over.”
“By the time I drive over there, you’ll be sleep.”
“I’d stay up for you, Liz. Besides, I can’t sleep.”
“You might want to get some tea for that.”
“Tea won’t help.”
“What’s wrong?”
“I’m sitting here pitching a tent under these covers and I want to see you.”

I’m blushing, I can feel the blood rushing to my cheeks. When I’m silent he continues.

“I keep thinking about the last time you were over here,” he whispers softly. “You remember that night?” Remember it? I purposely use that night to get me through the rough spots on a daily basis. If I could transfer that night into a screen saver, I would never leave my computer.

“Yeah, I remember that night,” I croak.
“We could do it again. If you wanted to, I mean.”
“I don’t think—“
“Maybe you shouldn’t think, maybe you should just let shit happen.”
“You remember where that got us last time right?” Silence.
“Maybe you’re right. Maybe you should just stay home tonight.”
“Can I have a rain check?” I tease and he sighs.
“You know you can. I just want to know when are you going to start cashing in on them?” he inquires a little too seriously for my taste.
“When the time is right,” I say. ‘When you love me as much as I love you.’
“Will the time ever be right?”
“That all depends on you, sweetheart.” Once again, I am met with silence.

“Okay…well, I’ll let you go to sleep.”
“Alright. Don’t forget to let down the tent pole,” I giggle.
“I’ll try. Good night, beautiful.”
“Night, handsome.”
“Bye, Liz.”
“Bye, Zan.”


Part 2

I met Zan the summer after I graduated from high school when I was just 18 years old. I remember it like it was yesterday. My friends Alex and Michael were having a pool party and naturally I went. Hell, Kyle had stomped all over my heart and I had nothing better to do with my time. I was tired of lying around moping over what could have been. It was time to pick myself up and get back into the land of the living. Or least make an honest effort to try.

God, that day. I remember strolling into that backyard with my daisy duke jean shorts and that skimpy red halter-top like I was the hottest woman alive. It may have not been the truth, but in my mind it was. I walked into that backyard, men gawking and staring, God’s gift to the world. The sun was beating down on us on that scorching July day, but no one seemed to mind. Everyone was clowning around in the pool, eating, or dancing in the grass. I was just about to go get something to drink when it happened. I saw him.

Zan was leaning against the fence, camera in hand taking pictures. He was wearing a white wife beater, tattoos covering the expanse of his arms. He was the most perfect man I had ever seen in my life. He had spiky black hair, flawless olive skin, and these cute little wire rimmed glasses. His frame, his hands, even his legs; God, this man was perfect all over. And then he turned and smiled at me. Those dimples deepened and his open-mouthed smile revealed a set of the most perfectly straight, perfectly white teeth I had ever seen. I don’t know how long I stood there just gawking and drooling, but I know I was there for a while. It was almost as if I’d been blessed with my own personal ray of sunshine…

*******

“Ms. Parker, You have a call on line two,” Sasha, my receptionist, buzzes me.
“Thank you.” Click. “This is Liz Parker.”
“Lizzikins!”
“Mikey Baby,” I smile into the phone. “What’s going on?”
“Nothing much, just calling to check on you. You talk to my boy lately?”
“Your boy who? Alex?” I ask feigning innocence.
“Come on now, you know who I’m talking about.”
“Oh Zan. Yeah, I talked to him last night.”
“And?”
“And what?”
“What happened? What was the conversation like?”
“I swear, you’re worse than a girl sometimes.”
“Whatever, Liz. I’m still waiting.” I sigh into the phone.
“He wanted me to come over last night, but I didn’t. Instead I stayed at home and almost touched myself like 12 times before I fell asleep.”

Michael takes this moment to laugh at me, and laugh hard he does. I was already feeling the need to kick myself in the ass, but Michael’s laughter has just increased the desire. I should’ve gone over there last night.

“You guys kill me. Why didn’t you go over there?”
“Because then Zan would have gotten something that he shouldn’t.”
“What?”
“My virginity.” That’s right folks, I’m 26 and still a virgin.
“Liz, we’ve gone through this before.”
“Yeah, and that’s the reason why I didn’t go over there.”
“How do you know that’s all he wants from you? He loves you, you know that.”
“Well he sure as hell has a funny way of showing it. You do realize that the last time I talked to Zan before last night was almost two months ago, right? And even then I’m the one who initiated the phone call.” When Michael is silent, I continue. “Yeah, that’s what I thought. He loves me a whole lot.”
“Don’t be like that, Liz. You know he has a lot on his mind with the exhibit coming up and everything. He’s just stressed right now and going through a lot.”
“And I’m not? Do I not work? Am I not trying to make partner at the firm I’m working at? Don’t act like I don’t know what it’s like to be stressed or busy. I am the epitome of busy.”
“Liz—“
“You know, Michael, I gotta go. I’ll talk to you later.” He just sighs.
“Fine, Liz. Look, I’m not telling you to let him walk over you or anything, I’m just saying give him a chance. You know how he is with expressing his feelings. Shit has been rough with him, just give him some time.”
“Yeah, Michael, whatever. Later, man.”

I don’t even give him a chance to say goodbye; instead I just hang up the phone. It’s times like these and conversations like this that make me seriously wonder why I’m even in love with Zan. How is it that I can be so attracted to a man who constantly pushes me away and is so blind to the fact that he even does it? How is it that I’ve been stuck in this shameful cycle for the past eight years?

“Because this is a sickness and you are sick in the head,” I murmur to myself as I close my eyes lean back in my leather chair.

After a couple of minutes of trying (unsuccessfully) to clear my thoughts of Zan, I open my eyes and look at my desk. Work is calling. I throw myself into my latest project with the honest intention to get my mind of Zan, but the more I work and try to concentrate, the more he consumes me. Damn it.


Part 3

“So what are you doing tonight?”
“Um, nothing much. Just got in from school, why?”
“You wanna come over? Maybe we could do something.”

Zan is asking me to come over. To his house. Oh. My. God.

“Yeah, okay. I guess that would be cool,” I say as nonchalantly as possible. “What did you have planned?”
“I was thinking about renting some movies or something. That alright with you, Miss Lady?” he teases.
“Sounds like a plan,” I smile into the phone. “What time?”
“How about 7:30?” It’s about 5:45 now.
“Yeah, that’s cool. Let me just get the directions to your house,” I state coolly.

Zan gives me the directions and shortly after we hang up. I don’t remember how long I sat on my bed smiling at myself, ready to bust wide open from the joy I was feeling, but it didn’t take me long to realize that I needed to get my butt in gear if I was going to make it there on time. After taking a quick but thorough shower and standing in front of my closet pondering what I was going to wear for what seemed like forever, I finally got dressed and made my way to Zan’s house.

We had really built up quite a phone relationship over these past few weeks. After I practically got down on my knees and begged Michael for Zan’s phone number at the pool party, it still took me an additional three weeks to build up enough nerve to actually call him. Surprisingly, Zan remembered who I was when I called and the conversation flowed easily between us as if we had known each other…well, forever. We talked about everything from school to our families to honey and the erotic places it could be spread. You would think that two people who talked as frequently as we did would eventually run out of things to say, but the amazing thing is that we never did. Every time we spoke I found myself a little more intrigued by what he had to say, and I was truly finding out just how brilliant he really was. None of the things that he ever said to me were in the vain of boasting, and not once did I feel like he was being condescending towards me, even when I had no clue what he was talking about. Zan was just…for a lack of a better word, wonderful.

“So this is you,” I say as I walk into his apartment. Brilliant, Liz. He smiles, hugs me and then kisses me on the cheek. He just kissed my cheek, good God. His apartment is immaculate, and if my nose isn’t mistaken me, I think lasagna is baking in the oven.
“Yeah. Have a seat.” I sit down and look up at him expectantly. “So…”
“Yeah…” This is great. I’m in the man’s house and can’t even speak. “Um, what movies did you get?”
“Oh!” He moves from the kitchen and comes into the living room with me. Zan picks up the video box from the table and hands it to me. It’s Interview with a Vampire.
“You remembered! How did you remember?” I shriek.
“Well, a little birdie told me that this was your favorite movie,” he smirks at me. “I thought I might go with the bird’s advice and see where it got me.”
“I knew there was a reason I liked you,” I smile…and then my face falls. If there is a God in heaven, Zan will not have just heard me confess openly and without coercion that I like him. Or better yet, maybe I can just crawl under these couch cushions and die.

“So what do you say we put it on?” Zan suggests and moves towards the VCR. Oh, there is a God in heaven.

We’re about halfway through the movie when Zan grabs my feet and pulls them into his lap. I look up surprised for a second, but then he begins to massage my feet and all coherent thought slips from my mind. I turn my head and try to focus on Brad Pitt and Kirsten Dunst, but my efforts are soon thwarted.

“Come ‘ere,” Zan gently beckons with his voice as well as index finger.
“Why?” I ask warily.
“Just trust me. Come here.” I take his hand and let him stretch me out across the couch. Within seconds, Zan has sat on top of my back and his fingers are dancing across my shoulder blades, arms, and back. “You alright?”
“Yeah,” I whisper weakly. His hands are slowly kneading into my lower back, and I swear if he doesn’t stop quick, I’m going to be forced to throw him to the ground and have my way with him.
“Can you see the screen okay?”
“Uh huh.” See what? My eyes closed a loooooong time ago. I’m actually beginning to imagine things, naughty things.

After about 15 minutes of working my back, Zan’s weight lifts off my back and he sits down on the couch. I can’t stand up so I crawl to his end of the couch and wrap my arms around his neck.

“Thank you for the massage,” I whisper shyly and kiss him on the cheek. Make that try to kiss him on the cheek.

Just as my lips were about to touch his cheek, Zan turned his head just enough for them to graze the corner of his mouth. I wanted to be embarrassed, but I didn’t have enough time. I was pulling back, about to make up some excuse as to why I had to go home when Zan leaned forward and captured my lips with his own. When he saw I wasn’t running, he pulled me closer to him by the back of my head and drug me fully into his lap. He tugged on my lower lip gently with his teeth, and at his insistence I let him in. As our tongues sensually massaged and dueled, I could only think one thing: it’s him, he’s the one. Now I have kissed guys before, but it has never felt this good or…right. Kissing Zan was like having something in the deepest crevice or most secret place of my soul wake up and come alive. It was like this was supposed to be happening, with him and no one else. Ever. Things I never knew I could feel emerged in that one simple moment when Zan’s lips touched mine. It was in that specific moment that the world started and my purpose for living became apparent. Simply put, I was meant to be with Zan and love him.

Due to our lack of air, we pull away from each other and sit in silence for a moment.

“You’re welcome,” he smiles at me after we catch our collective breath. He pulls me into his chest, and for the rest of the evening I lay in his embrace as the movie plays…

********

“You are so pathetic,” Maria sighs as we sit in our usual lunch spot.
“Why do I have to be so pathetic? Did I call you pathetic when you were following Marco around like a lost puppy?” I counter. She waves her hand in the air in an attempt to dismiss me.
“We are not talking about me and Marco, we are talking about you and Zan. Me and Marco is totally besides the point I’m making.”
“And your point would be?”
“My point is you need to let Zan go,” she says after taking a sip of her iced tea lemonade.
“Okay, and once I let go of him, what do you propose I do?”
“Find someone else to pine over.”
“Been there, done that. What do you call Kyle, Max, and Sean?”
“Losers,” she states simply. “They were all losers.”
“Maria, it’s easy for you to sit here and lecture me about finding a man when you already have one. You have sex and cum on a regular basis; unfortunately, I can’t say the same,” I sigh.

I love my best friend, but if we have this conversation one more time I swear I’ll kill her.

“Liz, it’s not that I don’t like Zan, because you know I do. I’m just saying that maybe you should let him go, and try to move on. If not on a permanent basis, at least for a little while.”
“I can’t do it! Don’t you get it yet? I tried to let go of Zan, but I can’t, I love him too much. Do you have any idea how many times I have tried to shake him, but couldn’t because everywhere I went or every man I tried to date reminded me of Zan in some way shape or form? Do you have any idea at all about that, Maria?”
“Liz, calm down, okay? I’m just trying to help you.”
“You still don’t get it, do you? You can’t help me! You can’t stop the nightly dreams I have about him, or make me stop thinking about him. You can’t make me stop caring about him no matter how hard you try, because I love him. I will always be concerned about his ass no matter how erratic he acts, or how crazy his moods are. I love him and nothing is going to change that!” I exclaim.

Maria sits in silence as she fumbles with her straw, and I look around the café we are sitting in. Surprisingly, no one is looking at us and the manager hasn’t walked over and threatened us like he did the last time we were here. I turn my attention to my half-eaten chicken Caesar salad and sigh.

“I’m sorry, Maria. I didn’t mean to yell,” I quietly apologize. “It’s just that Zan is—“
“Your everything,” Maria supplies and I nod. “I understand that, really I do. I just don’t like to see you like this, pining for Zan and he doesn’t even acknowledge it. It’s like he’s running from your love or something.”
“But see that’s the thing, he doesn’t run from me or my love. What you don’t understand is that I get to see a side of Zan that you don’t. Yeah, I complain and grumble and hopelessly pine for him, but you don’t know what it’s like when we’re alone. You don’t get to really see him when he opens up, but I do,” I try to explain.
“I know, I know. Who am I to judge you? When I was with Marco, I was so much worse than you are now.”
“Yes, you were,” I agree and stick my tongue out at her.
“Still, this just leads me back to my original conclusion.”
“Which is?”
“You are soooooooo pathetic,” she smiles at me and then bursts out laughing. After pondering her words for a moment, I begin to laugh and throw my napkin at her…


[ edited 15time(s), last at 4-Feb-2003 7:15:53 PM ]
posted on 19-Aug-2002 8:59:38 PM
Part 4
Zan’s POV

I wish that I could be the man that Liz wants me to be. Really, I do. It’s just that sometimes life is so complicated and cluttered that…I don’t know. I love her, but I can’t be with her at this point in my life. I’m trying to get my art established, and right now I really don’t have time to devote to a relationship. A functional one, anyway.

Am I scared of commitment? Hell yes I am, and with good reason. The first woman I ever loved did me so wrong that…well let’s just say that no man should have to endure the torture that I was put through. I loved Ava with all my heart and soul the moment that I met her. She was just so…perfect that I had to have her. I catered to her every whim, fed into her every desire. Hell, I even let her be my first even though I wasn’t hers. I remember that night so clearly, it was so beautiful…even though I didn’t have the slightest clue of what I was doing. I would have done anything that she asked of me (and did), and she knew it. Ava had the lamb’s wool pulled over my eyes for almost four years, and played me like the choicest of instruments. I had roses imported for Holland for her ass, and you know what she did with them? She let her best friend’s boyfriend beat her best friend over the head with them. I knew she had this thing for dolphins so I arranged to let her swim with them for her birthday. Do you know that she told me the water was too cold so she wasn’t getting in? It was hard to watch it happen, but over the course of time that we were together my piece of perfection morphed into someone that was highly unrecognizable, but even still I wanted to be with her. I thought that maybe if I just loved her enough she would snap out of whatever trance she was in and love me like she used to. She broke up with me, and I haven’t heard from her since.

Danielle came along at a time when I thought I was ready to start over and try to love again. She was kinda artsy so we related on a level that most people couldn’t understand. We got along great, and everyone seemed to love her. Hell, I loved her, and I just knew in my heart that she loved me as well. Imagine my surprise when I walked in on her and my best friend Rath. Having sex. In my bed. Needless to say, none of us speak any longer.

I met Liz at a really awkward time in my life. I had just broken up with Ava, and was still trying to get over the fact that I was alone for the first time in almost four years. It was hard not to want her, because from the start there was this instant attraction between us that was so…tangible that everyone around us could tap in on it. A relationship was the last thing I needed at this point, but everything about Liz just drew me closer like a moth to a flame. Her smile, her laugh, the way her face would crinkle when something wasn’t pleasing or to her standards; it all played a part in drawing me closer. She was intelligent, funny, wild, bashful, caring, and just open. Liz had this way about her that just kinda gave off the vibe of “consequences be damned” and it turned me on in a way that no one had ever before. It didn’t help matters that she was beautiful as all outdoors, either. She had this real innocent quality to her (still does) that just magnified her inner and outer beauty twenty times over. Liz was just so comfortable with herself, in her own skin, and with her there were never any false pretenses or illusions. If she was happy or sad or angry, then that’s what she would be. I never had to guess how she was feeling, or if she was telling me the truth when I asked her something, because she would just lay it all out on the table, and if I couldn’t handle then it was shame on me.

*******

“So?”
“So what?”
“Did you talk to her?”
“Her who?”
“Zan.” I sigh into the phone as one of my best friends begins the task of badgering me.
“Yes, Alex, I talked to her.”
“And?”
“And what?”
“What’s the deal with you guys? Are you hooking up or what?”
“Alex, it’s not that simple.”
“It is that simple, you just keep complicating it!” Alex yells at me.
“Wait a second, how do I keep complicating this situation?”
“Zan, save the innocent act okay? This is me you are talking to, Alexander Charles Whitman. You know, your best friend of 13 years?”
“Alex…”
“Do you love Liz?”

I let the silence hang in the air for a while. I love Liz with all my heart, but saying it out loud would be like admitting that I’m ready to be love’s bitch again, and right now I’m now sure if I could handle that. Every time I’ve put my trust in love, something fucked up has happened and my heart has ended up at the bottom of the scrap heap. I don’t think that Liz would purposely hurt me, but there is always the chance that she could. Hell, what if I hurt her? I wouldn’t…I couldn’t live with myself.

“You know how I feel about Liz, Alex.”
“Okay, do you think she loves you?”
“Yeah.”
“Okay then what’s the problem? See this is what I mean when I say that you’re complicating things unnecessarily.”
“I see where you’re coming from, but it ain’t that simple, man. I want to be with Liz, really I do, but I can't right now. I just got a whole excess of shit going on with me…” In me is more like it.
“Zan, cut the bullshit. You’ve got the same issues now that you had years ago, and let me remind you that all of us have those same issues. Why do you keep running from Liz? Man, what has she done to you that makes you so afraid of her?”
“That’s just it, nothing. She hasn’t done a single thing.”
“So I ask once again, what is your damn problem?” he yells into the phone.
“Alex, it’s not about me, it’s about her. If I hurt Liz in any way, I wouldn’t know what to do with myself. There are days when I wake up and all I can think about is being with her, but I can’t. Not right now anyway. Liz deserves someone that’s going to worship her like the goddess she is, but I can’t do that right now. I got work kicking my ass, but more than that I need to get my mind right. How am I gonna be with Liz when I still got issues that surround Ava and Danielle? I can’t bring those issues into the relationship, that wouldn’t be fair to Liz, and you know it. Knowing me, I would fuck it up somehow anyway,” I finish.

“I hear what you’re saying man, I do, but you can’t go into the situation already defeated. Tell me this: do you want to fuck up with Liz?” he inquires seriously.
“No.”
“Well then don’t.”
“It’s not that easy.”
“Yes, it is. Once you make it up in your mind that you’re not gonna fuck up, then you won’t. And who says she wouldn’t forgive you if you did? Liz doesn’t strike me as being that harsh.”
“Can I ask you something, Alex?”
“Shoot.”
“Why are you pushing so hard for me and Liz? Aren’t you supposed to be protecting her from me since she’s like the equivalent of your baby sister?” I chuckle into the phone.
“Unlike you, I’m not blind and I can see the situation for what it’s worth. You love Liz, and she loves you, though both of you are too stubborn to admit it to each other. Hell, the whole world can see it, but you can’t. She’s genuine and her intentions are pure, unlike those other bitches you dealt with. Liz is good for you, and she makes you happy. When you let her,” he adds pointedly.

I want to come up with something smart to say, but I can’t because what Alex speaks is the truth, plain and simple.

“Yeah, that’s what I thought,” Alex chides over the phone.
“You’d better just be glad that you’re in New York right now otherwise I would get off this phone and kick your ass,” I laugh.
“Promises, promises,” he laughs with me. “Let me go, I need to finish some stuff up here before I leave the office.”
“Okay. You’ll be here for the exhibit though, right?”
“Come on, now. Wouldn’t miss it for the world.”
“I knew there was a reason you were my best friend.”
“Whatever, man. You just take care of business with Liz. Don’t make me hurt you.”
“Yeah, man, will do. Take care.”
“Later.”

Part 5

“Are you going?”
“Going where?”
“You know what I’m talking about, Liz.”
“No, actually I don’t.”
“Liz.”
“Maria, it’s 8:00. In the morning. On a Saturday. You got 10 seconds to spit out what it is you’re talking about or I’m hanging up,” I state firmly with my eyes still closed. I was lying here underneath my goose down comforter catching up on some well-deserved rest when the phone rang. I should have known it was Maria, only she would call at the butt crack of dawn to talk about something.

“I’m talking about Zan’s exhibit next weekend. Are you going?”
“Why are you doing this?”
“Doing what?”
“Calling me this damn early to talk about Zan! Didn’t you just tell me three days ago that I needed to move on with my life?”
“And since when do you listen to anything that I have to say, particularly when it comes to Zan?” She has a point. I sigh into the phone and roll over to get more comfortable; I can tell that this is going to be a long conversation.

“I don’t know if I’m going, Maria. I haven’t made up my mind yet.”
“What the hell do you mean you’re don’t know if you’re going? Did you not just hear me say that it’s Zan’s art exhibit?”
“Yeah, I heard you.”
“Okay, what’s the deal? What happened?”
“What are you talking about? Why do you assume that something happened?”
“Liz, any other time if Zan asked you to something you would be there in a heartbeat, even if it was just to go to the bathroom.”
“That was low, Maria, particularly for this early in the morning.”
“Hey, I call it as I see it. So what’s the deal? Spill it.”
“Maria, do we have to do this now? Can’t I call you back in a couple of hours when I’ve fulfilled my quota of sleep?”

The truth is, I don’t want to tell Maria what’s on my mind because if I do it might mean that I’d actually have to try to—

“I’m only trying to help, Liz. That and nothing else,” she says sincerely. Damn her and her sincerity.
“Fine. I’m thinking about leaving Zan alone, for good. I’ve been thinking about this for a while, and the more I think about it, the more it just seems right. I mean, for the past eight years I have done nothing but care about Zan and be there for him, but I’m not getting it back in return. You know I love him with all my heart, Maria, but the pain that I feel…at this point I’m not even sure that it’s worth it anymore. I can’t just keep on loving him and giving of myself when it’s not being reciprocated. If you want to know the truth, I’m just getting really tired of this whole situation.”
“Love is like that sometimes though, Liz,” Maria soothes. “Sometimes love is just slower for some than it is for others.”
“Eight years, Maria? Do you really think that love is that damn slow? I have done my damnedest to show that man how much I love him and care for him over the past eight years, and what has it gotten me? Nothing but some hurt feelings. I’m just tired of being in this cycle, I don’t want to do it anymore.”
“And you think by not showing up to Zan’s exhibit you’re going to be breaking the cycle?”
“No, but it would be a start. For the past eight years, I have made his dreams and aspirations my own, and I have gone above and beyond the call of loving him. I have put my own happiness on the line for his one too many times, and I just can’t do it anymore. At this point, I don’t give a shit about him, or his art, or his family, or if he’s eaten today, or how he’s feeling, or anything! I’ve just…I’ve got to let him go, Maria. It’s time.”

Maria sits in quiet contemplation for so long that I’m not sure she’s still on the phone. Finally she speaks.

“You’re not going to leave him, or even try, Liz. Everything you just said lets me know that you aren’t going anymore.”
“Did you not just hear everything I said, Maria? I’ve made up my mind. It’s finito, done. I’m through with this.”
“I heard you loud and clear, and I’m telling you that your little outburst doesn’t mean shit. You still love him, because if you didn’t then you wouldn’t have said everything you just did and you wouldn’t have said it with so much passion. Let’s be real, Liz, you wouldn’t even know how to stop loving Zan even if you really wanted to, and that’s a fact.”

Love shouldn’t have to be this hard. I hate it when Maria is right.

“Liz, what do you want from Zan? Be honest with yourself here.”
“I don’t want anything from him, Maria, I want him. I want him to love me as much as I love him, if not more. I want to be his everything,” I whisper as tears slide down my face.
“How bad do you want it?”
“I have eight years of wanting under my belt so I would say pretty damn bad.”
“Do you think that not showing up to the exhibit is really going to help you further your goal in attaining Zan?”
“It doesn’t matter at this point.”
“And why doesn’t it matter?”
“Because it just doesn’t.”
“Is this your way of trying to tell me that Zan has no feelings for you?”
“I don’t know, maybe.”
“Do I need to come over there and slap you? Shake the fog off your brain, Liz. That man cares about you more than anything.”
“He might care, but that doesn’t mean that he loves me.”
“And how do you know he doesn’t love you? Has he told you that he doesn’t?”
“Now you know he would never say—“
“Exactly.” She pauses for a second. “Here’s a thought: how about you tell him how you feel and then take it from there?”
“No.”
“What do you mean, no? How the hell else are you going to find out if he loves you or not, which by the way I already know he does.”
“I can’t just ask him if he loves me or not! What if he tells me that he doesn’t, what do I do then?”
“Liz, you can’t live on what ifs and you can’t keep torturing yourself like this. What good is it doing you not to know? Aren’t you tired of playing this game yet? Even if he doesn’t love you, at least then you would be free to move on with your life and to another man.”

Though I’ll never admit it out loud, there is no way in hell that I would ever be free to love someone else even if Zan told me he didn’t love me. In my sick, twisted, love abused mind I would find a way to make Zan love me, or die trying. Zan not loving me is not an option in my world.

“Liz, you still there?”
“Yeah.”
“You okay?”
“Not really, but I’ll survive.” Pause. “Hey Maria?”
“Hmm?”
“Be at my house at noon.”
“Okay…wait, why?”
“We’re going shopping.”
“For what?”
“I need to find something to wear for Zan’s exhibit.”

It’s official, I’ve lost my mind.

Part 6
Zan’s POV

“Hey Liz?”
“Yeah?”
“Can we talk for a second?”

We’re lying in my bed watching TV like we usually do when she comes over, but today something isn’t quite right. This strange feeling has been inhabiting my stomach ever since a couple of days ago when Liz dropped the bomb on me and told me she loved me, and for some reason it just won’t go away. She loves me; the thought in and of itself is enough to drive me crazy. I haven’t been able to eat or sleep, and to be honest I don’t know what to do with myself. Liz’s head raises from my lap and she looks up at me with curious eyes.

“What’s up, Zan?” I take a deep breath and begin.
“I can’t do this.”
“Can’t do what?”
“This, us. I can’t be who you want me to be right now, Liz.”
“Zan, slow down. What do you mean, ‘who I want you to be’? I only want you to be you, you don’t have to be anyone else.”
“In a perfect world, I would be the perfect boyfriend for you and we would live happily ever after, but this isn’t a perfect world. I just…I can’t be in a relationship with you right now.”

As soon as the words leave my mouth, I’m immediately sorry for ever having said them. I want to be with Liz, it’s my heart’s desire, but right now my mind is so cluttered with thoughts of Ava and how our relationship went wrong that I can’t even think straight. I think Liz telling me that she loved me triggered something inside me that made me remember that love isn’t what it’s cracked up to be. When I chance a look at Liz, all I can see is hurt and confusion in her pretty brown eyes.

“Why?” is all she asks. She sits there with her hands folded in her lap and stares at me with angry intensity.
“I’m not over my relationship with Ava.”
“So you want to be with her? Is that what this is about?”
“Hell no! I wouldn’t touch Ava with a ten-foot pole! You have to believe me when I say that,” I state firmly. When Liz casts her head downward, I take her face in my hands and make her look at me. “I’m still trying to get over the shit she did to me, and I don’t think it’s fair to you to bring that kind of baggage into our relationship. I just need to get everything straightened out in my head before you and me become to serious.”
“So you mean to tell me that the past three months haven’t been serious to you?”
“They have, Liz, don’t ever think that what me and you had was just a casual thing. I just need to take some time to think before it gets anymore serious.”
“Oh.”

With that simple answer, Liz rushes from my bed and puts her shoes on. When she’s done, she grabs her things and walks to the door without so much as a backward glance.

“I’m sorry, Liz. If I hurt you in any way, know that I never meant to and that I am truly sorry.”
“Yeah, me too.”

She never turned around while I was talking, just kept staring at the door with her hand on the knob until I was through and then she walked out, cool as the breeze. I’m still lying in the bed, amazed at what a stupid asshole I am. The girl that I’ve been waiting for all my life just walked out of my life, and there’s no one to blame for it but me. I can’t help but to wonder if this is the way my life is going to be: will I run from love every time it knocks on my heart’s door? Will I ever get over the treachery that Ava’s “love” caused me?

“Damn that bitch to hell,” I murmur as I roll over and try drift to sleep, all the while Liz’s scent gently wafts up from the pillow I’m using…

**********

I can’t believe I’m sitting here thinking about the night I broke up with Liz, especially since that was one of the worst mistakes I ever made and I try repress the memory every time it resurfaces. I think about that night now, and I still can’t believe how big of a bitch I was. If I could just have that one night back, I would have never let Liz walk out of my dorm that night, and ultimately walk out of my life. I would have told her how I really felt about her, how I was in love with her and loved her more than anything in the world, rather than letting my own mind punk me into running her away. Hell, I’m still in love with her, even more now than ever. I think about how…you know what? Fuck it. If I’m going to make this right, I gotta start now.

“Hello?”
“Hi, Liz.” Pause.
“Zan?”
“Yeah, it’s me.”
“Is everything okay? It’s almost two in the morning.”
“Yeah, everything is fine. You know what they say, only artists and vampires are up this late at night,” I try to joke.
“Yeah.”
“Yeah.”

Silence.

“So what’s on your mind, Zan?”
“I…I was just calling to see how you were doing.”
“At two in the morning?”
“Yeah, I hadn’t talked to you in a while and I just wanted to hear your voice.” Hear it, revel in it, worship it.
“I’m okay, Zan. Work is good, I’m good, everything is good. You sure everything is alright with you? You don’t sound normal.”

I don’t sound normal, because I’m trying my damnedest to just come out and tell you that I’m so in love with you that I can’t see straight half the time. I’m trying to tell you that I need you in the worst way possible, and that I want to love you with all my might. I’m trying, but the words are just stuck in my throat.

“I’m okay, Liz, I swear.” Suddenly inspiration strikes me. “How many hours of sleep have you had tonight?”
“What the hell are you talking about, Zan? Have you been drinking or something?”
“No, I haven’t been drinking,” I chuckle. “Seriously, how long have you slept tonight?”
“I went to sleep at nine tonight, so about five hours.”
“Nine? I swear, you are the oldest 26 year old that I ever met.”
“Watch it, mister. Last time I checked you were still a month and four days older than me.”
“Yeah, but you’re the one in the bed sleep right now, not me.”
“Hey, you know me, when I get bored I go to sleep.”
“Well I think I might have something to cure the boredom in your life.” The lack of love, too.
“Zan, what the hell are you talking about? It’s 2:15, and—“
“I want to show you something, Liz. Could you get dressed? Please?”
“Zan, I have work in the morning. Can’t it wait?” she whines.
“Please? Isn’t that one of the perks of being an attorney and making all that money? Can’t you go in whenever you feel like it?”
“Zan.”
“Besides, you owe me. Consider this cashing in on one of your many rain checks,” I whisper softly. “Please, Liz?”

After about 30 seconds of silence, she finally speaks.

“I hate you, Zan. This shit better be good for me to be getting up out my warm comfy bed to entertain you,” she scolds and I smile.
“Thank you, beautiful. I’ll be there in about 40 minutes.” I take a quick glance around my apartment. “Make that an hour.”
“An hour? What the hell—“
“It will be worth it, Liz. Please.” When she sighs I smile again.
“Your ass better be here in the next hour or else.”
“Or else what?”
“Get here later than the designated hour and you’ll find out,” she threatens and I smile.
“I’ll be there sooner than you know it. See you in a minute.”
“Yeah, yeah,” she mumbles and then hangs up on me.

**********

“Did I make it in an hour or are you going to kick my ass?” I ask with a smile on my face.
“Dude, shut up,” she answers crankily. She’s dressed in baggy blue jeans and an even larger sweatshirt. When I get a good look at it, I see that it’s one of the many items of clothing that she’s stolen from my closet. Can’t help but to smile at that. “Can we get going or are we going to stand here and chit chat?”
“Yeah, we can go, but you might want to put some real shoes on first,” I say pointing down at her pink bunny slippers. Liz narrows her eyes at me and then walks out the room, only to return quickly with a pair of Nikes.

“Will these serve the purpose?” she inquires as she bends over and ties her shoes.
“Yep,” I smile at her.
“Why the hell do you keep smiling at me? Are you really in that good of a mood?”
“Are you always this cranky?”
“Only when I get woken up at two in the morning by certain people who want to go on field trips in the middle of the night,” she replies cockily with her hands on her hips. I walk over to her and slide my hands through the hoops her arms are producing and rest them on her hips. I draw her close to me and kiss her forehead. God, she feels good.
“Thank you for coming out with this certain person who likes to take late night field trips,” I whisper into her hair. “Come on before we miss it completely.”
“Miss what?” she asks in the voice of a child. My arms are still wrapped around her and she’s leaning heavily into my frame. Not that I mind, at all.
“It’s a surprise, come on.”

We exit her apartment and soon we are speeding down the expressway towards our destination. As I drive, I’m trying to think of something witty or charming to say, but the words are failing me. In all honesty, I just want to blurt out how much I love Liz and pull the car over so I can have my way with her, but that’s not going to happen. Besides, she doesn’t look like she’s in the mood to do anything but go home and go back to sleep. Liz is looking out the window, and she hasn’t said a word to me since we left her spot. This is not the Liz I know. The car comes to a stop and I open Liz’s door.

“You brought me to the beach in the middle of the night?’ she asks incredulously.
“Uh huh.”
“For what? Zan, it’s cold and I—“
“Look up, beautiful,” I say pointing to the sky and when she finally does, the only thing she can do is gasp.
“Oh my God, it’s so beautiful,” she whispers in awe. She then looks at me. “You remembered.” I nod sheepishly and then look to the sky.

Above us a meteor shower is occurring, and stars are raining down on the earth left and right. Interlacing my fingers with Liz’s, I lead us to a secluded spot on the beach and spread a blanket out so we can sit and have a better view.

“I can’t believe you remembered, I didn’t even remember,” she finally says after we’ve sat in silence for quite a while.
“Well maybe that’s what I’m hear for, to remember the things that you would otherwise forget,” I whisper as I pull her in between my legs and let her back rest against my chest.
“Do you really think so? I mean, do you think that’s why you were put on this planet, to remind me of things?”
“I’m not sure, but I would like to think so.”
“Hmm.”

We continue to sit in silence as the stars cascade to the earth’s atmosphere in a dizzying motion. The wind is gently caressing our skin, and the waves crashing on the shore are providing a hypnotic melody that is lulling our bodies into a peaceful rhythm. The woman of my dreams is resting securely in my arms, not in some lucid dreamlike state, but really here, tangible and definitely within my grasp. Somehow I know this is it, the moment I’ve been waiting for to tell Liz that she’s the one for me and profess my undying love for her, but I can’t. It’s like something hasn’t unlocked inside of me completely to tell her how I feel, even though the words are on the tip of my tongue.

“Liz, I—“
“I know, Zan,” she whispers and she intertwines her fingers in mine once again. She leans back closer into my body, causing her scent to totally take over my senses. “Let’s just enjoy this right now.”

It times like these that I really do believe that she knows how much I care about her, how much I really do love her, even though I have a hard time verbalizing it. This gives me hope because it makes me feel like I don’t have to run from her anymore, I don’t have to run from her love anymore. Holding her like this, being here with her in this very moment makes me realize that she is all I’ll ever want in this lifetime, she’s all I’ll ever need. I might not be able to tell her that I’m in love with her today, always been in love with her actually, but it will happen. Soon.

I pull Liz closer to me as we turn our attention from the stars that are falling from the sky to the sun that is rising over the ocean, and turning the sky from a dusky gray to a rose pink to a fiery reddish orange to finally blue.

“Thank you, Zan. I really needed this,” she whispers while continuing to stare straight out in front of her. I stroke her hair and kiss the crown of her head as I think about how grand life will be when I finally do tell her I love her.

“Me, too, Liz. Me too.”


posted on 21-Aug-2002 4:50:04 PM
Part 7

“Hello?”
“Liz.”
“Yeah?”
“It’s me, Zan.”

I know who it is, and I want to tell him to go to hell, but my mouth stopped working the moment I heard his voice travel across the phone lines. We haven’t talked since the night he broke up with me, which was about four months ago, and to be honest, I have no clue why he’s calling me.

“Hi, Zan,” I say tentatively. “How are you doing?”
“Good, good. How about you?”
“Everything is good, just finished taking midterms so I’m just resting a bit.”
“Oh.”

Silence.

“So…”
“Yeah…” Okay, this is getting us nowhere fast.

“Zan—“
“I’m sorry, Liz,” he almost whispers.
“What?”
“I’m so sorry for everything that’s happened between us these last couple of months. I was an ass, and you didn’t deserve to be treated that way. I know that I don’t deserve your forgiveness or anything, but I just wanted to let you know that I didn’t mean to hurt you, even though I did. I know that…I fucked up, and I don’t expect you to let me back into your life as your man or anything, but I…can we just be friends? I mean, would you be willing to at least try?”

I’m sitting here staring at my dorm room wall, amazed. One side of me wants to yell, “You’re damned right you’re sorry, you can kiss my ass and go to hell!” I want to scream and throw a straight tantrum just to show him how much he’s hurt me over these past few months and tell him that his piss poor apology isn’t going to cut it with me. But then again, the other side of me is totally amazed that he even called at all. I honestly don’t understand why Zan is calling me to apologize, particularly at this point when I was really starting (or at least trying) to get over him. I’m still contemplating this as I my fingers dance lightly over my black and red velvet bedspread when Zan breaks into my thoughts.

“Liz? You still there?”
“Yeah.”
“Okay.” Pause. “Look, I don’t expect you to make a decision right now or anything, I just wanted to let you know how sorry I was about this whole…fucked up situation that I caused. You’re really special to me, and I just wanted you to know that I didn’t mean to…do this to you. Like I said before, I don’t expect you to take me back or forgive me or anything, I just wanted to let you know I’m sorry and—“
“Zan.”
“Hmm?”
“What are you doing tonight?”
“Nothing much, just hanging around my apartment.”
“Wanna go get something to eat? On a strictly platonic basis, of course,” I quickly add.
“Yeah, that would be great,” he smiles into the phone.
“9:00 at Juanita’s?”
“Perfect. You need me to come pick you up?”
“Nope, I’ll just meet you there.”
“Okay, see you at nine, Liz.”
“Yep.”

I remember hanging up the phone and just collapsing on my bed with all sorts of thoughts running through my mind. I was trying to ignore that familiar feeling of anticipation and want that only Zan could create that was creeping into the lower regions of my tummy, but trying to ignore my feelings was just like trying to ignore an earthquake.

“This is no big deal,” I whispered to Whitey, my favorite teddy bear, as I got off my bed and stood in front of my closet. “We’re just going out for a friendly dinner and then I’m coming right back here.”

Whitey continued to stare at me unconvinced.

“We’re just gonna go to dinner and that’s that. We can be just friends, it’s not that hard…”

***********

“So I heard you had a little rendezvous at the beach a couple nights ago.”
“My, how good news travels,” I smirk into the phone.
“And?”
“And what, Alex?”
“How was it?”
“The meteor shower was the most incredible thing I’ve ever seen in my life. It was just so beautiful and wonderful and…”
“Romantic,” he supplies.
“Well, I guess. I mean, if you like that sort of thing.”
“Liz, come on now.”
“What?”
“You can’t tell me you weren’t into the whole ‘Zan and me at the beach looking at the stars’ thing. I think I know you well enough to know that it’s right up your alley.”
“Not necessarily.”
“Oh yeah? Since when?” When I’m silent, Alex begins to chuckle. “Yeah, that’s what I thought.”
“Alex, can I ask you something?”
“Shoot.”
“Why is he doing this?”
“Doing what?”
“Being nice all of a sudden.”
“What do you mean?” he asks confused.
“I…I don’t know. Like the whole beach outing, and he’s been calling me lately, too.”
“Okay, before I answer your question, let me ask you one of my own. Do you still love Zan?”
“I don’t know.”
“Okay, back the truck up! What do you mean you don’t know if you love him?”
“Alex, calm down.”
“I’m calm, I’m just confused right now.”
“Join the club,” I murmur into the phone. “See the thing is, I’ve been thinking about Zan and this relationship that we’ve had, and I’m just not sure if I can do it anymore. I’m to the point where I’m tired of being the one who’s giving and loving and nurturing, particularly when I’m not getting it back in return.”
“Okay, I think I see where you’re going with this.”
“There are some days when I just about turn myself inside out thinking about this man, and then there are days when I think that there has to be someone out there better for me than Zan. It’s not like I hate him or anything, but with everyday that passes and I don’t speak to him, it’s like I lose a little bit of love for him. I want to be with him and I want to love him, but his erratic behavior is making it easier and easier for me not to love him. Do you understand what I mean?” I finish.

Alex sits in quiet contemplation as my words soak into both our brains. I’m pretty sure that Alex is shocked at my words, because I’m sitting here pretty shocked myself. I don’t remember exactly when my feelings evolved to this point, but they’re here now and I guess I have to deal with them. I always thought that Zan would be the one to love me, the one that I would turn to in times of need, but now…I just don’t know anymore.

“Do you love him anymore? I mean, even just a little bit,” Alex asks cautiously.
“Of course I do. It’s just…I don’t know how much longer I can keep loving him without getting anything in return.”

I pick up a pen off my desk and begin to twirl it over, around, and between my fingers. My work is piling up all around me, and I’ll probably be here for the rest of the night. It’s obvious where my priorities are.

“Liz, I understand where you’re coming from, really I do, but I think you should give Zan a little more time.”
“He’s had eight years, Alex. I think that’s time enough,” I exclaim.
“I didn’t say all the time in the world, I just said a little more time.”
“Alex—“
“No, Liz, listen. I agree that you have spent long enough pining over his ass, and a decision needs to be made on both of your parts. However, there are things that I know about Zan and this whole situation that you don’t, and as someone who is privy to information that you are not, I am asking you, not for Zan but for me, to be patient with him for a little while longer.”
“I don’t know if I can do that.”
“Liz, you have been waiting for this man for eight years now, I think you can wait for another week. Hell, we’ve all been waiting for you both to stop being stubborn, or timid, or whatever the hell it is that you guys are, and just get together.”
“Alex, what do you have up your sleeve?”
“Not a thing. I just don’t want you to let frustration and the time factor stop you from being truly happy. I know that Zan makes you happy, just like you make him happy. When you guys come together and actually act on how you’re feeling, it’s like…I don’t know, perfect. You guys belong together, you complete each other,” he finishes.

“What if I don’t want to give him anymore time? What if I told you that I’m sick of waiting around for him to get his shit together and I’m ready to move on?” I defiantly ask.
“What are you moving on to, Liz? What man has your nose open that wide that you’d be willing to give up eight years of this man?” When I am silent, he continues. “All I ask is that you give him until the art exhibit to get his shit together. And before you ask, I’m not asking that you do this for him, but that you do it for me.”
“Why are you doing this?” I ask as I run my right hand over my eyes and through my hair. I can just feel a migraine coming on.
“Because you deserve to be happy, both of you do. Both of you guys are my best friends, and I just want to see you guys be happy. Together. You love each other and want to be together, even though you’ll admit it to everyone except each other,” he chuckles. “Just give him until the exhibit, that’s all I ask. Please, Liz?”

Taking the receiver away from my ear, I hold it to eye level and just stare at it. Why is this happening to me? I lay my head on my desk and contemplate the meaning of life for a moment before putting the receiver back to my ear.

“He has until the exhibit to get his shit together and then all bets are off,” I whisper.
“I love you, Liz,” Alex grins through the phone.
“Yeah, yeah. Kiss my ass.”
“If all works out, Zan will have that privilege and a whole lot more, I’m guessing.” A blush rises to my cheeks as Alex laughs at me. “Thank you, Liz. You won’t be sorry.”

I hope not.

Part 8

“What does yours say?”
“What does yours say?”
“I asked you first.”
“So what, I asked you second,” Zan counters and I giggle.

We’re sitting in his apartment on the floor across from each other with a bag of fortune cookies positioned between us. It’s been about a year and a half since Zan called and apologized to me, and I can honestly say that the friends situation is working out quite well…okay, I’m lying. The friends thing is driving me absolutely crazy. Every time I look at him, a surge of want shoots through my body and it’s all I can do not to jump on him. I don’t know if I have the same effect on him, but…damn it, he just took his sweatshirt off. His jeans are hanging loosely off his hips, and his t-shirt has risen slightly, allowing me to see the perfection that is his rock hard stomach. God help me…

“Liz?”
“Hmm?”
“What does your cookie say?”
“Nothing, my cookie can’t talk,” I tease.
“You’ve been smoking that good shit today, I see,” he replies shaking his head and this makes me giggle some more. “Seriously, what does your fortune say?” I clear my throat and begin to read.

“A romantic interlude is in your immediate future.”
“Oooh, somebody is about to get some nookie soon,” he laughs and I roll my eyes.
“Please, I have had my fill of nookie for the time being. No more romantic interludes for me,” I state shaking my head.
“You’re just saying that because the last man you were with was Max,” he continues to laugh.
“I don’t see what’s so funny about that.”
“I do. I told you his ass was gay, but would you listen to me? Noooo.”
“How was I supposed to know he was gay? He’s the one that came after me, remember?”
“I told you the first time you I met him that his dough wasn’t done. You should have known something was wrong with him when he couldn’t get it up the first time.”
“That doesn’t mean anything, Zan. He could have been having a rough day or he could have been really tired or something,” I say trying to defend Max…and my stupidity.
“Let me tell you something, sweetheart. If I would have come home and you were lying in my bed naked, I don’t give a damn how tired I was, you would have lost your virginity that night. You can take that to the bank.”
“Really.”
“Yes. You wouldn’t have been able to walk by the time I was through with you,” he grins wickedly.
“You dirty little whore!” I cry as I throw my fortune at him and burst into giggles.
“Hey, it’s the truth. If a man can’t get it up for an obviously gorgeous woman, then there’s a problem,” he remarks while shrugging his shoulders.

So Zan thinks that I’m gorgeous. I’m pretty sure that my face is on it’s way to becoming the color of a cherry tomato, so I cast my head downward and try to think of something to say.

“Um, what does yours say?” I whisper timidly from my side of the floor.
“Your dream lover is closer than you think, and her name is Liz.”
“Shut the hell up!” I exclaim as I crawl over to where Zan is sitting and take the fortune out his hand.
“Hey, give me that back!”
“Nope, you don’t play fair.” I turn to the side and read the fortune. “Your dream lover is closer than you think.” I look at him. “So, um, where do you think she is?”
“I don’t know, I guess I’ll just know when she comes along.”

I want to look away, but there is something about the way that Zan is staring at me that makes it impossible for me not to look at him. Almost as if time has slowed to a crawl, Zan lowers his face to mine and we share what could only be described as one of the most perfect kisses I’ve ever experienced. His hands are gently stroking my bare arms, and it isn’t long before he has lowered them to my waist and is pulling me into his lap. At this point, all conscious and rational thoughts have stopped, at least on my part. I can vaguely hear a voice in the back of my mind calling to me, telling me that Zan is supposed to be my friend and friends don’t do this sort of thing. But his touch, God the feel of his hands dancing across my skin, his breath on my face and neck, the overall feel of his body snuggly fitted against my own…

“Liz,” he whispers from my collarbone.
“Hmm?”
“May I?” Zan gently tugs at my t-shirt and looks up at me expectantly.

I nod at his request and lift my arms over my head as he peels my baby tee from my body. His hands begin to grasp at the snap on my bra and after about 10 seconds of fumbling around, it lands in the puddle with my shirt. Zan is lowering me to the ground and about to resume kissing me when I lay my palms flat against his chest in an attempt to stop him.

“What’s wrong, Liz? Did I do something wrong? Am I moving too fast?”
“No, you’re fine. It’s me.”
“What’s wrong?”
“My body has changed.”
“So?”
“I…I have pudge,” I whisper timidly.
“Pudge?”
“Yeah, on my tummy.”
“I don’t care.” He raises up slightly and looks at my stomach confused. “I don’t see any pudge.”
“Well, it’s there.”
“I tell you what, then. We’ll do this…” He sits up for a second, quickly removes his shirt, and resumes his position on top of me. “I’ll cover your pudge with my pudge, and then we can just have pudge together,” he smiles at me.
“But you don’t have any—“

Zan covers my mouth with his, and once again I am robbed of all conscious thought. As his mouth and hands continue to roam over the portions of my body void of clothes, that old feeling of completion creeps through my body at an alarmingly quick rate. Maybe I’ve been in denial for the past year and half thinking that Zan and I could only be friends, hell I know I have, because his touch feels so right. It’s always felt right if you want to know the truth. When Max used to touch me, there was rarely a time when it was good, and even when it was, I almost called him Zan every single time.

“Liz.” He’s nipping around my stomach and navel.
“Yeah, Zan?” He’s kissing, suckling, and biting his way back up to my lips.
“We have to stop.” Come again? When I don’t speak, he simply sighs.
“I don’t understand,” I state finally. “Is it something I did? Did I do something wrong?”
“No,” he whispers as his body continues to cover mine. He tilts his face down and kisses my nose. “You are perfect.”
“Then why?”
“If we don’t stop now, then I won’t be able to stop later on.”
“Okay, and how’s that a problem?”
“Your first time should not be on the floor of my apartment, you deserve better than that. You deserve to be in a relationship when it happens, and right now I can’t give you that. I want to, but I can’t.”
“Okay, fine,” I say quickly as I try to squirm out of his embrace so I can go somewhere and die of embarrassment for even thinking that something that wonderful could ever happen to me.
“Liz.”
“What?”
“Look at me. Please.”
“No.”
“Liz.” I turn and look at him with a stony expression planted firmly on my face. “Just because I’m saying no right now doesn’t mean that I don’t want to, because God knows I do. But this isn’t right, Liz. I can’t just take your virginity and not give you anything in return. When it happens, I want it to be perfect and special and beautiful for you. I don’t want you to have any regrets, because once it’s gone, you won’t be able to get it back. Let me do right by you, Liz. Please.”

Zan’s looking at me with those beautiful eyes and I can’t deny him what he asks. Finally, I nod and he kisses my forehead. We sit up and he redresses me. When he’s done, he pulls me into his arms and holds me for what feels like an eternity.

“You mad at me?”
“No. I want to be, but I’m not.”
“You understand why I said no?”
“Yeah.”
“Okay. You tired?”
“Kinda, yeah.”
“Come on, you can sleep in my bed. I’ll take the couch,” he says as he pulls me up from the floor.
“You don’t have to do that. I’ll just drive home or take the couch.”
“Nope, neither one of those were options.”
“Fine, I’ll stay, but you’re not sleeping on the couch, I refuse to put you out like that. We can share the bed. Can’t we?” I ask as I peer into his face.
“I don’t know. Do you still flail and kick in your sleep?” he grins at me.
“I will have you know that I do neither,” I gasp horrified and slap his bare arm. He just chuckles.
“Come on.”

After providing me with a larger t-shirt and a pair of basketball shorts to sleep in, we both settle into the bed to sleep. I’m trying to stay as far away from him as possible since my body is still on fire from our previous actions, but my attempts are thwarted as Zan pulls me back into his chest and gently lays his hand on my stomach.

“You kick me and I’m putting you out,” he jokes.
“Whatever. I hope you know you’ll never see these shorts and this t shirt ever again.”
“Keep ‘em, they’re too small for me any way,” he yawns and then kisses the crown of my head lightly. “Night, Liz.”
“Night, Zan.” I snuggle closer to him and close my eyes. It’s not long before we’re both overtaken by sleep….

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

“Ms. Parker?”
“Yes, Sasha?”
“Your four o’clock appointment is here.”
“Thank you, Sasha.”
“Your welcome, Ms. Parker.”

I stand from my desk and try to stretch away the Zan haze that my mind had me in just a few moments ago. This is starting to get bad. Usually I’ll think about Zan maybe once or twice a day; lately, I’ve been thinking about him all day every day. It’s so out of hand now that I’m too the point where my mind is starting to try to live in the past instead of the present. If I keep this up, I’ll be mentally ill soon. After taking about five deep breaths to clear my thoughts, I walk to the door and open it with a smile on my face.

“Mr. Kirkpatrick?”
“Yes?”

Okay, now I know I’m supposed to be a professional and all, but damn it, my potential client is sexy as hell. He’s almost as fine as Zan. Almost. He’s about 6’4” with curly jet-black hair and the brightest pair of blue eyes that I’ve ever seen. He’s about 195, almost 200 hundred pounds, and he’s all muscle. His mustache and goatee are neatly trimmed, and he has a pair of the prettiest lips on a man that I have ever seen. He can’t be more than 28 years old. The Armani suit he’s wearing only enhances his beauty.

“Please come in and make yourself comfortable,” I continue to smile while standing back so he can take a seat in my office.
“Thank you,” he smiles at me as he walks into my office. Oooh, he has a nice behind, too.
“So Mr. Kirkpatrick, what can I do for you today?” Besides sit here, drool, and think about how gorgeous you are.
“Please, call me Xavier. I understand that you specialize in patents, trademarks, and copyrights.”
“Yes.”
“Well, my partner and I are in the process of developing a new solution that will…”

I should be listening to Xavier, but I’m too busy checking him out from head to toe. Tommy Hilfiger wing tips, tie and handkerchief both crisp and neat, and looking at his left hand…there is no wedding band. Hmm, this could be interesting.

“So do you think you could possibly represent us?” Xavier concludes with hope twinkling in his eyes.
“I’m sorry, but no. Unfortunately, time will not allow me to take on any other cases at the moment, but I can refer you to one of my associates who is equally qualified.”
“Oh. Okay,” he replies with a hint of sadness in his voice. “I was just hoping that you could represent us since I heard that you were the best Intellectual Property attorney in Los Angeles.”

Aww, he’s fine as hell and sweet, too.

“I’m sorry I can’t represent you, but I promise that the person I’m sending you to is just as good as me, if not better.” I hand him the business card of one of my associates.
“I can only hope so.” He stands and extends his hand to me. “Well, thank you for your time.”
“It’s not a problem, I’m only sorry that I won’t be able to represent you,” I reply as I shake his hand and then walk him to the door. Look at you on a semi regular basis is more like it.
“Ah, such is life. Thank you once again for your time and have a nice day.” Xavier flashes me a brilliant smile and heads down the hallway. Good God, that man was beautiful.

I’m just about to call Maria to tell her all about Xavier when suddenly there’s a knock on my door.

“Come in,” I yell and continue to do paperwork. It’s probably just Sasha.
“Ms. Parker?” a husky voice calls.

That is definitely not Sasha’s voice. I swivel around in my chair and receive a rather pleasant surprise.

“Back so soon? How’d it go with Mr. Swanson?” I greet Xavier and all his fineness.
“It went good, but that’s not what I’m here about.”
“Oh?”
“Ms. Parker?”
“Please, call me Liz.”
“Okay. Well, this might be a little forward of me, but I was wondering if you had a boyfriend?”
“Um, no.”
“Would it be okay if I take you out some time, like to a movie or dinner? You can say no, but I just thought—“
“Xavier?”
“Yes?”
“I would love to go out with you,” I answer and smile at him. He smiles back, and then comes into my office so we can exchange information.

“This week is sort of full, but my weekends are usually free,” I tell him. A thought suddenly occurs to me. “Do you like art, Xavier?”

Part 9
Liz POV

“Oh my God, Maria, he is so fine!”
“He couldn’t have looked that good.”
“Maria, he was absolutely, positively beautiful. You would have cried if you saw him.”
“He was that fine?”
“Girlfriend, he was that fine,” I whisper and then begin to giggle while I fan myself. I just got home not too long ago, and now I’m on the phone with Maria telling her all about Xavier, also known as Mr. Fine.

“So what happened next?”
“Well, he came back to my office and asked me if I had a boyfriend, and when I told him no, he asked me out.”
“No.”
“Yes. You should have seen him, Maria! He was so cute and shy when he did it that I almost fell out my chair.”
“You said yes, right?”
“Have you not heard me telling you how fine he was? Of course I said yes, I’m not mental.”
“Just checking, you know you can be kinda thick sometimes,” she answers. “So when are you and Mr. Fine going out?”
“This Saturday night.”
“Isn’t that the night of Zan’s art exhibit?”
“Sure is.”
“So you’re not going?”
“I never said that,” I reply and suddenly Maria falls silent. “Maria?”
“You’re bringing him to Zan’s exhibit?”
“Yep.”

We sit in silence for a moment and then Maria begins to giggle. Soon she’s laughing so hard that I hear her gasping for breath.

“What’s so funny, Maria?”
“Do you have any idea how interesting this exhibit is going to be now? And to think, I was actually considering not going,” she continues to giggle.
“Why is it going to be so interesting? What, is it so hard for everyone to believe that I can actually get a date or something?”
“That’s not it. It’s just that the combined effects of the dress you bought and this new gorgeous, mystery man are going to put Zan through the roof. I, for one, can not wait to see his reaction.”
“Zan can choke on his tongue for all I care,” I answer and roll my eyes.
“Watch out now, you said that like you might actually mean it.”
“I do mean it, Maria. I told you I was tired of playing this little game with him. Maybe Xavier is what I need to get my life moving in the right direction, finally.”
“Liz.”
“No, I’m serious,” I say suddenly becoming angry. “Who the hell does he think he is making me wait around for him eight years?”
“Okay, now I’m confused. Didn’t you just tell me like two days ago that he actually seemed like he was trying to get his act together?”
“I don’t care anymore if he is. I need to move on, and I think Xavier might be just the one to help me do that.”
“You haven’t even gone out with him yet, Liz. For all you know, he could be some kind of sick pervert or psycho or something.”
“Hey, I guess that’s a chance that I’m just gonna have to take.” Maria falls silent once again and doesn’t speak for a good two minutes, which has got to be some kind of world record.

“You’re not playing around, are you?”
“Not at all. I’m tired of playing games, Maria, you should know that better than anybody.”
“I know you’re tired, Liz, but I just don’t want to see you get hurt again. I think it’s wonderful that you and Xavier are going out, and that you are making an honest attempt to move on with your life, but just promise me that you won’t put all your eggs into the Xavier basket. I don’t want you to put all this faith in him, and then when push comes to shove you find out that he’s a piece of trash.”
“Xavier is not trash.”
“And how do you know that?”
“Because I don’t go out with trash, Maria.”
“So what do you call Kyle, Max, and Sean? I’d say they rank pretty high on the trash scale,” she counters.
“Maria—“
“Look, I’m not telling you not to go out with him. Lord knows that Zan has jerked you around more than you deserve, but at least you know Zan and have a good idea of what he’s about. It’s like my grandmother used to say, ‘the devil you know is better than the devil you don’t know.’” She pauses for a moment and sighs. “I’m just saying that you should take your time. Get to know Xavier before you start putting so much faith in him, find out what makes him tick. If everything checks out, then by all means, fall head over heels in love with him and sign up to have all five of his kids. Just keep in mind that there is nothing wrong with going slow and…I don’t know. I just don’t want to see you get hurt,” she finishes.

“I’ve been hurting for the past eight years of my life,” I say quietly. “Pain and I aren’t strangers, Maria. I think it’s time for me to stop hurting.”
“Liz—“
“Don’t worry, Maria. I understand what you’re saying, but I’m not going into this situation blindly, and I’m not going to put all my eggs in the Xavier basket. I just need to have fun, Maria, and live again. Can you understand that?”
“Yeah.”
“Okay. I’m gonna go now, I have a couple of calls to make.”
“Alright, I’ll call you tomorrow so I can find out more about Mr. Fine,” she states and I smile.
“Do that. I might have some more juicy tidbits for you,” I smile into the phone.
“Take care of yourself.”
“You too.”
“And Liz?”
“Yeah?” She pauses.
“Never mind. Just have fun,” she says and hangs up the phone.

I hang up the phone and walk into the kitchen so I can fix dinner. After staring at a box of baking soda, some ketchup, a take out box from the Magic Wok, and a half empty bottle of Dr. Pepper for a couple of minutes, I walk over to my briefcase and begin my search for my legal pad. Once I find it, I dial the phone number on it and wait patiently for someone to pick up.

“Hello?”
“Yes, may I speak to Xavier, please?”
“This is Xavier.” Good God, he even sounds sexy over the phone.
“Hi, this is Liz.”
“Hey, I was just thinking about you. What’s up?”
“Well,” I start as I fan my face, “I was actually just calling to see if you might want to go to dinner tonight. I know this is last minute and all, and if you’re busy—“
“I’d love to go to dinner. Did you have any particular time in mind?”
“Is 8:30 okay with you?”
“Perfect. I’ll come pick you up.”
“Okay. I’ll see you in an hour and a half.”
“Most definitely,” he answers and I smile. “Bye, Liz.”
“Bye.”

As I hang up the phone, I close my eyes and dance a little jig around my living room. I have a date with Mr. Fine in an hour and a half, heehee. I walk to my bedroom and take out this summer dress that I bought almost a year ago, but has remained in my closet because I’ve had no place to wear it. I hope it still fits. Just as I’m about to head to the bathroom for a quick shower the phone begins to rings. Picking up my cordless and reading the screen, I see the name and number that I have often prayed would show up on the ID box. Funny how things change.

“Zan who,” I murmur as I throw the phone onto the bed and walk out the room.

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

Zan’s POV

I keep trying to call Liz, but for some reason I keep getting her machine. I know she’s not at work since I just checked, and I got her voice mail there as well.

‘She’s probably out with Maria,’ I think to myself as I grab the remote and flick on the tube. Suddenly my phone rings and a smile dances on my lips. She must have just checked her caller ID and saw it was me.

“Hello, gorgeous.”
“Wow, do you always answer your phone like that?” Silence.
“Who is this?”
“You’d think that after two years of being together that you’d know my voice at least,” she giggles.

You have got to be fucking kidding me.

“What do you want, Ava?”
“What, I can’t just call to say hi and see how you’re doing?”
“You haven’t called in almost eight years so why bother now?”
“Zan.”
“What?”
“Why are you being this way?”
“What do you want?” I ask in a menacing tone. She sighs.
“Look, I heard about the art exhibit you have coming up, and I just wanted to congratulate you and wish you well. Is that so bad?”
“What else do you want?”
“Why do I have to want something? Can’t we just talk like friends?”
“No, because we aren’t friends. We aren’t anything, you made sure of that when you left me without so much as a word, remember?” I state coldly.
“Damn it, Zan, I would think that after eight years you’d be over it by now.”
“Over it? You still don’t get it do you? You were my first love, and I loved you with all my heart, and you just used me like I was your little plaything. You’ve been gone for eight years, and now you have the nerve to call over here like everything is honky dory? No, Ava, I’m sorry, but it just doesn’t work that way.”
“I’m sorry about everything that happened between us, Zan. Believe me when I say that I never meant to hurt you.” She pauses and sighs. “I wish I could take back all the hurt I caused you, but—“
“Save it, Ava. I don’t want to hear it.”
“But—“
“Ava, this conversation is over.”
“Zan, just listen to me for a second. I swear that if you listen to me this one time, I will never call you or bother you again.” When I am silent, she continues.

“When you and I were together, I loved you like nothing else in this world. You were my knight in shining armor, and you allowed me to live the fairy tale that every girl should have. We were young and in love and for once, every thing in my life was perfect.”
“Why’d you leave then?” I ask with my heart in my throat. “If everything was so damned great, then why did you treat me like shit and leave me?”
“Because we were young, Zan, and I had to grow up. We wouldn’t have been able to live the fairy tale forever, and rather than watching it crumble around us, I left.”
“You couldn’t have told me that instead of walking away and leaving me to feel like some kind of inadequate imbecile? Do you truly understand what you did to me? Do you realize that every time I’ve tried to get close to a woman and actually have a healthy, functioning relationship I can’t because of you? God, Ava, did you ever take a second to use that tiny brain of yours and consider how I was going to feel or what I might have went through if you left me?!?” I shout at her.
“Why the hell do you think I stayed with you for so long?!?” she shouts back at me. “I knew you were gonna hurt so I stayed as long as I could, even though I wasn’t happy, but obviously that wasn’t long enough for you! Did you really expect me to stay and live out your dream of the perfect relationship just for your sake?”
“My sake? The dream was both of ours, not just mine! Or at least that’s what you told me!” Silence.
“Do you know how many days I wanted to kill myself for not being honest with you? Do you?”
“Are you telling me that you never loved me, Ava?”
“Zan—“
“Tell me.”
“I loved you, Zan. I did, but I was never in love with you, not the way that you were with me. I just couldn’t love you the way you wanted me to, I tried, but I couldn’t.”
“So what we had—“
“Was a lie for me for the last year and a half of the relationship,” she answers softly. “I’m sorry that I hurt you, Zan. If I would’ve known that it was going to be like this, I would have never tried to spare your feelings, I would have just left.”
“Ava.”
“Yeah, Zan?”
“Forget you ever knew me,” I state calmly as I hang up on her. Shit.

I’ve been sitting here on this couch staring out my window at nothing for the past 45 minutes. All this time, wasted on someone that I thought really loved me. All this time I’ve thought that it was me and that everything was my fault. For eight years, I’ve thought that something was wrong with me and something was wrong with my love, when in fact it was her. It was her that was incapable of loving and sharing emotion.

And just like that, the hole that had lain in the middle of my chest filled and I was complete again. Every tie that has kept me bound to Ava in some way, shape or form broke at the realization that Ava is…nothing. Nada. No more. For the first time in eight years, I actually feel free, like the after effects of her love no longer hinder me. And it feels good.

I chuckle to myself as I walk to my kitchen and grab a peach out the fridge. I was so pathetic, so whipped, so…just uhhhh. How is it that a person can hang on to a one sided relationship for almost eight years and just cling to it with the hope that one day the other person is going to come around? How is it that a person could continue to care about someone even though they’ve been dangled on a string for longer than the mind can fathom? How could a person not be able to see through all the empty promises and games? How could a person allow himself or herself to be fooled by—

Oh………Fuck.

The peach drops from my hand and rolls across the floor as I am struck with another realization. Shame and remorse creep into my stomach as this revelation rings truer in every thread of my being with every breath I take.

Everything that Ava has done to me I have in turn done to Liz.

I’m not even aware of myself as I grab my jacket and run out into the night. It’s not until the cool night wind hits my face that I even realize that I’m outside, getting into my car, and on my Liz’s house. I’m running stop lights, I almost hit some skateboarders, and I could have sworn that I just passed a police car, but there is only one thought circulating in my head:

You have got to find Liz, apologize, and make this right.

posted on 23-Aug-2002 4:36:18 PM
Part 10
Alex POV

“Hello?”
“Hey you, what’s going on?”
“Alex, how’s it going?” Liz answers with a sigh.
“Everything is percolating over here. Just trying to get used to the time difference,” I reply as I stare at the four blank walls that are my hotel room.

God, I hate flying from New York to California. Every time I come here I end up going to bed three hours early and waking up three hours early, and trying to sleep in is just as pointless as trying to breathe under water. Take this morning for example. I woke this morning thinking it was noon, but surprise surprise it was actually nine in the morning. Have I mentioned I hate coming here?

“Wait, you’re out here? What are you doing out here?” she asks bewildered. Quite odd for a woman who is on top of things 99.9 percent of the time.
“Okay, my feelings are officially hurt now. How could you forget that you bestest friend in the whole wide world was coming out this week?” I laugh.
“I didn’t forget. It’s just that I been…is it really Friday already?”
“Yes, and tomorrow night is Zan’s exhibit. I know you didn’t forget about that,” I tease and continue to laugh.
“Uh….no.”

Okay, what is going on here? Who is this distracted, odd sounding woman and what has she done with my bubbly best friend?

“Is everything okay, Liz? You feeling alright?”
“Yeah, yeah. Why?” she asks in that same distracted tone of voice.
“You just sound, I don’t know, strange. A little preoccupied maybe.”
“No, no. Everything is fine, just doing a little work.” As if to prove her point, she begins to shuffle papers around on her desk so I can hear her “work.” “See? Work.”
“I guess.”

Color me unconvinced.

“So how was your flight? Why didn’t you call me when you got in? We could’ve done something, had fun,” she continues in that strange distant voice.
“You know, I was thinking the same thing, but when I called you last night you weren’t home, or at least you weren’t picking up the phone. You had a hot date or something?” I joke.

Silence.

“Liz, you still there?” I shout into my cell phone.
“Uh…yeah.” Okay, the funny tone is really starting to get on my nerves now.
“Okay, Liz, what’s the deal? Really.”
“Nothing, Alex. I just have and lot of work to do and I’m tired and….I gotta go. Work you know.”
“Work, huh? Okay then.” I pause and think for a second. “Well do you want to do something after you get off work? We could go to dinner and a movie. Hey, I’ll even let you pick the flick,” I offer trying to sweeten the deal.

Once again I am met by a peculiar silence.

“Um, I can’t tonight, Alex. I’m swapped with work so it’s going to be a late night,” she replies rather hurriedly. “I’m going to get some takeout, go home and work.”
“You sure? Are you sure you’re okay?”
“Yeah, yeah,” she continues quickly. “But I’ll see you tomorrow night at the exhibit, okay? Gotta go, bye.”

Click.

I’m wondering what the hell just happened here as I pull the phone away from my ear. I don’t know who that was on the phone, but it damn sure wasn’t Liz. Getting some takeout and going home to work? Please, I may be a man, but I’m not that stupid. Call me suspicious, but my spider senses are tingling and I’m getting the feeling that Liz’s behavior has something to do with a man. A man that I’m quite familiar with. I quickly dial Zan’s number and wait for someone to pick up the phone. I’m rewarded after about a half of a ring.

“Hello!” Zan shouts into the phone.
“Dude, I’m not deaf so stop the yelling! Damn!” I yell back.
“Alex, is that you?”
“Yes, it’s me. God, have I been gone that long?”
“No, man. I thought you might be…I was waiting for a phone call,” he states rather dejectedly. “I wasn’t expecting it to be you.”
“You know what, maybe I should’ve stayed in New York since everyone is having such a difficult time remembering about me. God, I swear you guys belong together,” I murmur.
“What? What are you talking about?”
“I just got off the phone with Liz—“
“Wait, you just got off the phone with Liz?” he repeats incredulously. “How is she? Is she okay? Where’s she at? I mean, is everything okay?”
“Whoa, Tanto, slow your roll,” I chuckle. “Yes, I just got off the phone with Liz, and she’s at work. As far as her being okay, that’s a whole different story.”
“What do you mean? What did she say?” he asks quickly. “I tried to call her at work today, but Sasha said that she was in a meeting and that she would give her the message, but I don’t think she did because she hasn’t called me back yet, and when I called her back Sasha said that she was unavailable and I just don't understand….”

Okay, now what is wrong with this picture? I just got off the phone with a spacey Liz and now a rambling Zan is currently occupying my time. There must be something in the water out here.

“Zan.”
“Yeah?”
“Breathe.” When he takes a deep breath I continue. “What’s going on, Zan? Why the sudden interest in Liz and her whereabouts?”
“The interest isn’t sudden, I’ve always cared and been concerned about Liz,” he tries to answer nonchalantly. Notice I say try.
“Okay, but your concern has never been this intense before. Why now?”
“Because I love her.”
“Yeah, I know.”
“No, you don’t. I love her.”

Silence.

“Zan, when you say love, exactly what do you mean?” I ask cautiously. “What kind of love are we talking about?”
“Think about the way I felt about Ava and put it to the tenth power.”

Oh shit.

“And when did you come to this conclusion?”
“Last night.”
“What happened last night?”
“Look, Alex, I’ll tell you later, but right now could you just tell me what’s going on with Liz,” he sighs. “It’s kinda important.”
“I’m not saying anything until you tell me what happened last—“
“Alex.”

The grave tone in which he said my name was enough to shut me up, and motivate me to spill my guts.

“I called her and she’s all spacey, like she’s been taken over by Klingons or something. It was like the lights were on, but no one was home. She didn’t even remember that today was Friday, or that I flew in last night. I asked her where she was last night, and she spaced even further. And then she rushed me off the phone, talking about she was going home to do work all night long tonight. It was freaky, like trying to communicate with a pod person,” I finish.

“Did she ever say where she was last night?”
“Nope.”
“Hmmm.”
“Zan, what are you thinking?”
“Um, nothing. I just…I don’t know. I gotta go.”
“Now you sound like Liz. Zan, what the hell is going on? I want answers, like now.”
“Look, I gotta go, but I swear that tomorrow night I will explain everything, okay? I gotta talk to Liz.”

Click.

“Damn it!” I yell as I drop my cell phone to the ground and collapse on my bed.

I have a good mind to call Zan back and cuss him out for hanging up on me, but he’s a man on a mission, and it would be pointless. I just want to know, what is this mission that he has and how does Liz and her strange behavior tie into all of this? Something is definitely going on, but I can’t seem to put my finger on it. I know one thing though: tomorrow night is going to be interesting and informative as hell.

Part 11
Liz POV

“So I had a really good time tonight,” I tell Xavier as he walks me to my door.

We’re just getting back from dinner, and I can honestly say that tonight met as well as exceeded all my expectations. Dinner, a movie, and discussion over coffee, the perfect evening. Xavier was the perfect gentleman; he was funny, courteous, and endearing; he proved to be quite the conversationalist, and overall he made me feel…free. With him I didn’t have to try so hard to impress him or dazzle him with my smarts; I could just be me and enjoy myself.

“Yeah, me too,” he says softly. “It’s nice to have the company of a beautiful woman who’s intelligent as well.”

I let my head fall towards the ground in an attempt to hide my face from him so he won’t see the bright red blush that has crept across my cheeks. I have to give the man credit, he knows exactly the right things to say.

“Is that a blush I see crossing those cheeks?” he asks as we arrive at my door. When I don’t answer and dip my head even further, he chuckles lightly. “I’m impressed, beautiful and not the least bit vain. I’ve found a keeper.”

The feeling is mutual, buddy.

“A keeper, huh? How do you know?”
“Let’s just say that I have a good sense for these type of things, kind of like an ESP if you will.”
“Really.”
“Yep,” Xavier replies as he smiles at me with those bright blue eyes twinkling. We stand there for a moment just looking at each other, smiling and enjoying the end to what has been a perfect night. He’s still holding my hand, and I’m casually leaning into his frame. God, he smells good.

“I’m going to let you go inside now,” he suddenly says. “I’m sure you have plenty of work to do tomorrow and I don’t want to hold you up from getting your sleep.”
“Such the gentleman,” I smile as I fish for my keys and begin to unlock the door. When I get it open, I turn to him and smile once more. “Well thank you for a lovely evening. Maybe we can do it again sometime.” Soon, I hope.
“Yeah, that would be nice.” He pauses and looks at me thoughtfully for a moment. “Good night, Liz.” He gives me a small hug, turns, and heads back to his car.

“Why didn’t I invite him in? We could have had some more coffee or watched television…or something. Damn it! I can’t believe I just passed up a golden opportunity—“

A sudden knock at my door shakes me from my rambling, and I walk back towards the door to answer it. When I open the door, I find Xavier standing on my doorstep wearing the same expression he had when he initially asked me to go out with him.

“Xavier?”
“I got all the way to my car when I realized I forgot something.”
“What?” I ask as I turn my face up towards him. A smile crossed his lips and in haste he lowered his face to meet mine….

**********

As I sit on my bed and get ready for Zan’s exhibit, I can’t help but to sigh at the thought of Xavier’s and my first date and kiss. That night was so perfect, he was so perfect, that I am almost tempted to shriek with joy every time I think about it. I haven’t had the best of luck with men, but that one date with Xavier made me feel like I was going to be okay, like I could successfully date another man and not have to worry about being jerked around. Maria’s advice about not putting all my eggs into one basket has been rattling around in my head, but the memory of Xavier’s perfectly sweet lips caressing mine keep snuffing out any thoughts contrary to being with this man.

I am shaken from my thoughts as my telephone rings. After looking at my caller ID box briefly, I throw it across the bed and sigh. It was Alex again, and rather than space out on the phone again or lie to him, I’d rather not talk to him at this moment. I didn’t mean to sound aloof and spacey when he called yesterday, but I just wasn’t prepared to talk to him at that point in time, especially when I know where the conversation would have headed. Giving Zan another chance isn’t really high on my priority list, and I’m really not in the mood to hear one of his best friends talk about what a great guy he is, and if I’m just a little more patient then things will work out, especially since I know that he isn’t all that he’s been hyped up to be. Believe me, I was there for eight years, I know the truth.

I smile at the ringing of my doorbell as I put the last touches on my outfit. Twirling around in front of the mirror, I take an assessment of myself and smile at what I see. When I bought this outfit, the original plan was to wear the hell out of it and strut my stuff so Zan could see how hot I am and what he was missing. Now….I could care less about what Zan thinks or how he reacts to me. I know I look good, and that’s all that matters at this point. The added bonus is the man waiting patiently at my door knows and appreciates how good I look as well.

“Hey you,” I smile as I step outside and close the door behind me.
“Hey yourself,” Xavier smiles back and places a light kiss to my temple. “You look….” He stares at me for a moment before finishing his thought. “Incredible.”
“Just incredible?” I tease and nudge him in the ribs. “With the way you were staring at me I thought you would have come up with something better than that.”
“I was going to call you Goddess of the Sirens, but then thought otherwise. How’s stunning?”
“You can do better than that!”
“Gorgeous? Divine? Exquisite? Oh no, I’ve got it. Resplendent,” he finishes with flourish.

By the time we get to his car, I’m giggling so hard at him that I can barely breathe. Xavier opens my car door and after making sure that I’m safely seated, slides into the driver’s seat next to me.

“Did I get it? Did I cover the essence that is Elizabeth Parker?” he asks seriously and I tame my giggles.
“I suppose,” I muster in the most serious voice that I can. He rolls his eyes at me and this prompts the giggles to start anew. It’s not until I calm down that I notice the Greek god that is beside me.

Xavier’s hair, goatee, and mustache have been neatly trimmed, and his skin is glowing gloriously. The cream linen shirt and pants that he is wearing seems to enhance the beauty of his face, particularly his eyes. The aroma of the Cool Water cologne that he has scented his Adonis like physique gently wafts through the air and attacks my senses. Damn, damn, damn!

“Are you alright, Liz?” he inquires suddenly, shaking me out of my stupor.
“Uh, yeah. Just noticing how nice you look tonight,” I whisper shyly. We share a smile, and not another word is spoken as we drive to the exhibit….

**********

“This friend of yours is really talented,” Xavier remarks as he takes a sip of wine and we peruse one of the many pieces Zan has chosen for this event.

There are people EVERY WHERE, I swear I would be in trouble if I were claustrophobic. People of all orientations are here, and though the night is far from over I can honestly say that this is going to be a very successful, very lucrative night for Zan. Just twenty minutes ago, two women almost got into a fistfight over one of Zan’s sculptures and had to be escorted out by security. The things people do for art.

“Yeah, he is,” I say somewhat distracted. I’m trying to look for Maria since she said she was going to meet us here, but due to the volume of people occupying the gallery, my attempts have been futile.
“Still no sign of your friend?” Xavier asks and pulls me into him.
“No, but then again we’ve only been in one part of the gallery so far. She may be upstairs,” I sigh and push a stray piece of hair out of my face. Just then someone bumps me and I almost spill my drink on Xavier. “Let’s go upstairs. Now.”

Xavier chuckles as he takes me by the hand and leads me away from the massive throng of people out onto the secluded veranda. The garden surrounding us is flanked with tea roses and large hedge statues that almost remind me of “Edward Scissorhands.” The cool breeze that is caressing my skin is a welcome change to stifling air that was attacking us inside.

“Is this better?” he whispers in my ear and brushes a couple of more strands of hair away from my face.
“Much,” I reply as I lean into his frame gratefully.

Xavier holds me in his arms and for a moment I am afforded peace, peace that is much needed and greatly desired. I wrap my arms around his waist and smile up at him. He smiles back at me, and sooner than later he has gracefully gathered my face in his hands and is kissing me breathless. I could seriously get used to this.

“Liz!”

At the sound of my name, I relinquish my hold on Xavier and look up only to find Maria, Michael, Alex, and Zan staring at me.

Oh boy.

Part 12
Zan’s POV

Who the fuck is this pretty mutha fucka that’s touchin’ my woman?

Maria’s POV

Damn, she wasn’t lying when she said that the man was beautiful. I’m looking at Xavier, and even though he is my best friend’s man, all I can think about is dragging him to some corner far away and having my way with him. It’s something about that curly jet-black hair and those baby blues that are just calling me. Not that he would actually allow me to do it though, because any fool could see that he only has eyes for Liz. Though Liz let him go at the sound of her name being called, Xavier has not yet released her and instead has continued to keep his arm wrapped snugly around her waist, anchoring her body close to his. He’s beaming down at her with this look that is totally giving away just how enamored he is with her, and if I wasn’t such a romantic I would puke at the puppy dog expression on his face. I know I told Liz not to put all her eggs in the Xavier basket, but just the way he’s looking at her and the body language that’s going on is enough to make me retract my statement, and honestly, I’m just happy that Liz has finally found a man that adores her and at least isn’t afraid to show it. Lord knows that Zan couldn’t do the job.

Oh my God, Zan……

Zan’s POV

I swear to God that if he doesn’t stop touching my woman I’m going to lay his pretty boy ass out right here on this fucking veranda. Word is bond.

Alex’s POV

I can’t believe she didn’t hold up her end of the bargain. I thought we agreed that she was going to give Zan until tonight to get his stuff together before she was officially through with him. Tonight was supposed to be the night that it all came together, that they would finally unite, that Zan would actually show Liz how he felt about her since he couldn’t use words and tell her. Tonight was the night that they were going to become Ken and Barbie, at least in my world they were. I’m not Liz so I can’t possibly even begin to imagine what she’s been feeling for my boy over these past eight years, but I do know that she’s been in pain; hell, any fool could see that. I may not have been here all the time, but I have been privy to all the tears and anguish that this “love affair” has caused my best friend.

Suddenly, I understand why Liz was so aloof when I talked to her yesterday. It wasn’t Zan that was causing her to act strange, but this man who’s standing with her now. It’s in this moment that I realize that I am a complete and total asshole for making her feel like she had to keep him a secret instead of sharing her new found love like a best friend should. God, how many times did I play my part in coercing her to just hold on a little longer so Zan could get his shit together? I don’t know what took so long, but I think that I just truly realized that I have helped to perpetuate this situation for eight God awful years.

It is right now that I realize that I haven’t truly been a friend to Liz, because if I would have been, I would have told her to leave Zan a long time ago, especially since I’m his best friend and know how he is. I may have been wrong in the past, but I swear that from this moment on, I’m going to be here for Liz, even if it means supporting her new relationship. Even if Zan is my best friend.

Zan’s POV

Keep on smiling pretty boy, and see if I don’t knock every single one of those pretty fucking white teeth out your fucking mouth. Bitch.

Michael’s POV

I don’t know who this man is that’s clinging to Liz, but I must admit that I like him already. Liz is smiling; no, not one of those “I’m really falling apart on the inside, but I’m going to smile so you won’t ask me what’s wrong” smiles, but a real, genuine smile that starts on the inside and works it’s way all the way out. Now I could be wrong, but I swear that I haven’t seen her smile like that since the night that we graduated from high school. I just remember her being so happy and free that night…kind of like the way she is right now, and I’m happy about it. She may think I’m full of shit when I tell her stuff like that, but it’s true. It’s almost like the real Liz is starting to reemerge and dwarf this pathetic version of my friend that I have had to watch dominate her life for the past eight years.

Don’t get me wrong, Zan is my boy and all, but enough is enough. He dropped the ball, plain and simple, and now he’s going to have to suffer for it. Even I know that eight years is a long time to wait for someone, and I am probably the densest man in the world when it comes to women. Aside from Zan, that is.

I just want to see Liz happy, and if this man makes her happy, then I’m all for it. Who am I to stand in her way?

Zan’s POV

Who does this mutha fucka think he is showing up to my exhibit with my woman? Shit, I got a good mind to….

Liz’s POV

“Hi guys,” I smile at my friends as I try calm down so the blush on my cheeks can pass. I turn to Xavier and as he smiles at me, I feel all the strength and encouragement that I need to face this arduous task. “Xavier, this is Alex, Maria, Michael, and Zan,” I say as I point each one of them out. “Guys, this is Xavier.”

“Hi, nice to finally meet you,” Xavier states and attempts to shake hands with everyone. “I’ve heard a lot about you guys.”
“Funny, I haven’t heard shit about you,” Zan answers blandly. Oh shit.
“Congratulations on your exhibit, Zan. I’m sure you waited a long time for something like this to happen. Your work is excellent,” Xavier continues unfazed by Zan’s rude comment.
“My shit is tight in every way, shape and form, ya dig? Maybe Liz can tell you a little something about that, she knows I’m the man,” Zan answers cockily all the while eyeing me. Just then, Maria swats him in the back of the head (quite hard), and smiles at Xavier.

“You’ll have to excuse him,” she continues to smile. “He thinks that just because tonight is his special night that he can show his ass.” She then turns to Zan and begins to speak in a voice that can only be described as sugar coated venom. “Now Zan, we have company tonight, so I’m expecting you to be on your best behavior. Do you think you can do that, or do I need to give you instruction on how to act?” she finishes with a smile on her face. When he doesn’t answer her and continues to keep that strange blank look on his face, she smacks him on his cheeks and turns back to Xavier and I. God, I love my best friend.

“So how long have you guys been here?” Alex asks as he grabs my hand and pulls me over to him for a half hug. I don’t know what the deal is, but something isn’t right with him. The look in his eyes is one that I can’t place, but if I had to take a guess I would say that it’s almost like he’s silently trying to apologize to me for something.

“Almost an hour I think,” I say looking at Xavier and he nods at me in agreement. “We were just about to go upstairs, as a matter of fact.”
“So you haven’t been upstairs at all?” Michael inquires.
“No,” Xavier answers shaking his head. “We decided to stop out here for a while since it was so hot inside.”
“Who are you telling? There are enough people in there causing so much heat that a person could melt. That’s how we ended up out here,” Maria replies.
“Did you guys see the two women that almost got into the fight over the sculpture near the entrance?” Xavier asks and when the rest shake their heads in a negative fashion, he begins recount the tale. Soon we’re all laughing and giggling at the story…all of us, that is, except for Zan.

Zan has been staring silently at me and Xavier for the past five minutes since his last outburst, and not in a good way. The man is completely livid. His mouth has drawn into a tight, straight line and every now and again his nostrils begin to flare. The beautiful cocoa brown eyes that I have drowned in on many an occasion are burning brightly with anger and hatred, and contempt has clearly taken over his entire being. The hands that once lovingly caressed my body and created the wonders that grace these exhibit walls are now flexing in dismay and the over circulation of blood within them has caused his fingers to swell to the point that it appears his silver rings are going to burst from his fingers.

“I need to talk to you.”

Everyone looks up at Zan as he stands stock still, and lets his eyes burn a hole into my being. I try to look at Zan, but can’t because the look on his face is….well, petrifying. I then look at Michael, Maria, and Alex and find that they are all nodding slightly at me.

“Go ahead, we’ll keep him occupied,” Alex replies and winks at me.
“You sure?” I ask with uncertainty.
“Yep. We’ll send out a search party if we suspect foul play,” Michael smiles. I then look at Maria who simply nods at me. Taking a deep breath I turn and face Xavier.

“I’ll be right back,” I say to Xavier.
“And I’ll be right here waiting for you,” he whispers in my ear and then kisses my cheek.

I turn to face Zan and when he sees that I am ready, he steps out of my way and follows behind me as we begin our long walk to the place that we should have come to eight years ago.



posted on 26-Aug-2002 9:11:06 PM
Glad to see that we've picked up some new readers along the way. Let's continue shall we? Kim *happy*

Part 13
Zan’s POV

“So what is it that you need to talk to me about?” Liz asks me once we arrive in the garden.
“Who’s the pretty boy? Is that supposed to be your man now or something?”

When she doesn’t answer my question and only stares at me blankly, it’s almost enough for me to put my fist through the nearest wall that I can find. I can’t believe that she would do something like this to me, how dare she show up to my event with some man that none of us know. Some man that I don’t know. It should be me that she’s with, not some fake ass, model wannabe.

And let me just say that he has some nerve coming up in here, trying to compliment me on my shit like he knows me or something. I don’t appreciate his ass trying to act cool, like we go back like babies and pacifiers. Who the hell does he think he is trying to infiltrate himself into my circle of friends like he belongs there? I swear to God, I got a good mind to…..let’s just say I better not catch his ass slipping alone tonight or it’s lights out for that chump.

I’m so mad right now, mad at the world, mad at this bullshit situation that Liz and I are caught up in, mad at the fact that some random ass man may be taking my place in Liz’s life. But as mad as I am, I’m still standing here damn near drooling because Liz is still the most beautiful woman in the world to me and tonight proves to be no exception. She’s wearing this red slip dress that stops mid thigh and has a slit on each side. It has these spaghetti strap things that criss cross in the back, and hugs her curves like a second skin. When we were walking here, every step she took caused the dress to raise a tad higher, and I swear I almost threw her to the ground and….well, you know. To top it off, all her hair is piled on top of her head with a few curls falling down and framing her face. She knows that’s one of my favorite hairstyles on her; it’s like she’s trying to purposely torture me or something. As I continue to look at her, I almost forget why I brought her out here, that is until a flash of Xavier’s bitch ass crosses my mind and suddenly I’m angry all over again.

“So are you going to answer me or not?” I snap at her a little more sharply than intended.

Still no answer.

“Liz!”
“And if he is my man?” she questions me coldly.
“He’s whack, you can do better than that. He damn sure ain’t me.”

Damn, did I really just say that?

“I can’t believe you would bring him here to my shit! Did you even think about me or how I would feel seeing you here with someone else. I mean, damn Liz, it’s like you don’t give a fuck about how I feel or what I might have thought seeing you two together. And what’s all this bullshit with him trying to kick it like he’s one of us and has been around since the beginning?!? That shit ain’t cool, and I don’t appreciate it, Liz.”

When I finish my little tirade, I know immediately that I have stuck my foot in my mouth big time, because Liz is staring at me like she could kill me. Her face is about as red as that sexy ass dress she’s wearing, and her hands keep balling up into fists by her sides. I never thought I would see the day that I would be scared of a woman nearly half my size in height and weight, but that day has come and I am terrified. I think the scariest thing about the situation is that she won’t speak, she just keeps staring at me shaking her head back and forth, and flexing her hands.

And then it happens…..she starts giggling. Oh shit…..

Liz POV

God help me not to kill him.

“You’ve got nerve, Zan,” I say as my giggles subside and I advance toward him.
“Excuse me?”
“Who the fuck do you think you are trying to tell me who I can and cannot bring to public event, let alone date? I swear to God, you are as selfish as they come!”
“How are you going to call me selfish?!? I’m not the one that showed up and infringed on your feelings or personal space. If I recall correctly, you’re the one that showed up with that pretty bitch, flossing him all around my exhibit like he was the best thing since sliced bread! You didn’t even take a second to think how I—“
“I don’t give a damn about you or your feelings, Zan! I spent eight years caring about you and your feelings and look where it’s gotten me, NOWHERE!!!” I scream at the top of my lungs.

I can barely breathe I’m so angry. My chest is puffing upward and outward, and I know my eyes are pretty much bulging out of their sockets due to my anger. Out of all the things I ever imagined Zan saying to me, I never thought that he would ever end up coming off as such an arrogant, self-centered asshole. People are beginning to look at Zan and I, but I could care less at this point. I’m too frustrated and intolerant of this situation to care about anything right now.

“I am so tired of this, Zan, so tired that I don’t even know what to do with myself anymore. For the past eight years, it’s been all about you. It’s been about your art, or how you’re doing, or how your life is going, or how you care about me, but can’t commit. I can’t do it anymore, I don’t want to do it anymore. I just can’t,” I whisper with tears in my eyes.

Zan’s POV

I step forward to touch her, to let her know how sorry I am, but before I can reach her she quickly takes three steps back.

“Don’t touch me.” The look of confusion must be prevalent in my eyes, because she sighs and begins to explain. “When you touch me, I lose all ability to think and be rational. I need all the clarity I can get right now.”

Liz has got to be joking. At least that’s what I think when I begin to advance towards her again, but she holds her hands out in front of her and takes an additional two steps away from me.

“No! Please, Zan.” When she looks up at me with those big, sad brown eyes, I can’t even find it in my heart or ego to continue to wear her down. Instead, I take a couple of steps back of my own and just look at her hoping that she understands that I’m not going to push her.

“You said that you wanted to talk, so that’s exactly what we’re going to do. Talk. I think I’ve earned at least that much after eight years,” she says dryly.

Liz walks towards a bench to the right of us, and after she has seated herself, she motions for me to come and join her. I sit down beside her, close enough so she won’t have to raise her voice to talk, but just far enough away so she can’t accuse me of trying to touch her.

“I have loved you for so long, Zan, that the thought and actual possibility of me loving someone else ceased to exist in my eyes,” she begins slowly. “From the moment I saw you, I knew that you were the one that I wanted to love me and be with me for the rest of my life. It was never what you had or your future as an artist that intrigued me, it was you, your personality, the way you carried yourself. I—I never wanted you to be anybody but you, because in my eyes you were perfect just the way you were and I wanted you just as you were, flaws and all. I know that the situation was rough when we met, but I wanted it so bad that I was willingly to do any and everything to make our relationship work,” she sighs as she wipes the tears from her eyes.

“You don’t think I wanted to have a relationship with you? That I wanted to be everything you wanted me to be? You know I did, Liz,” I tell her.

Of it’s own volition, my hand raises to stroke her smooth skin and comfort her, but I immediately force my body back in check.

“I wanted to, but I couldn’t commit to you. It wouldn’t have been fair to you.”
“What’s my name, Zan?” Liz asks me softly.
“What?”
“What. Is. My. Name.”
“Elizabeth Nicole Parker.”
“Does that sound anything like Ava to you?”

And it is in this moment that the same feeling of agony and dread from the night I had the epiphany of my wrong doings against Liz chooses to flood my entire being and overtake me like a tidal wave. I don’t even know what to say to her right now, I’m not sure that there is anything that I can say.

“Do you know how many times I wondered what I could do to make you understand that I wasn’t that bitch? Do you know how many nights I sat up and cried because I couldn’t get you to see how much I loved you and wanted simply to be with you? Do you know how much pain I’ve had to endure just because I thought that one day you would come around and see that I had your best interests at heart? Do you?” she questions me as tears silently roll down her face.
“No, Liz. I don’t,” I answer quietly, all the while feeling lower than the scum of the earth.

I want to pull her into my arms so bad, and comfort her or apologize or something, but I can’t because there is no way that I could ever apologize for something like this. I wouldn’t even know where to begin.

“Liz, do you at least understand why I did it? Why I kept you at an arm’s length?”
“So you wouldn’t hurt me,” Liz answers shaking her head.
“Yes.”
“But look where your concern has led me, Zan. For all your trying and good intentions, I still ended up getting hurt, and yes, it’s your fault.” She pauses for a second and then continues.

“Zan, there is one thing that I have got to know.”
“What’s that?”
“Why wouldn’t you let me love you?”

If I didn’t already feel like shit, I swear I would now.

Liz’s POV

When he doesn’t answer me and instead casts his head down, a soft chuckle escapes my lips and I can’t help but to shake my head. At this point, I don’t even care if I get my answer or not. It’s been eight years, I—I’m just through with this whole ordeal and could care less about what he has to say.

I don’t utter a single word as I stand and begin to walk away from Zan, there is no need to. I have a man who’s waiting for me, and is willing to—

“I didn’t think I was worthy of your love,” Zan mumbles softly, so softly in fact that I almost missed what he said. I turn to look at him and when I do, there are tears streaming from his eyes, down his face, and into his lap.
“Why would you ever think that?” I inquire as I begin to walk back towards him.
“I was scared, Liz, so scared of fucking things up with you like I had with Ava. I just didn’t know how to handle everything I was feeling for you.”
“How many times did I make myself available to you? How many times did I try to show you that I would be there for you through thick and thin? How many times, Zan?”
“I know, but it’s just that with Ava—“
“I AM NOT AVA!” I scream at the top of my lungs and then begin to cry along with him. “Why can’t you see that? Why can’t you see that after eight years? Why?!?”

I’m about to storm off when Zan catches me by my arm, and pulls me into his body. With all my might, I try to push him off me but I can’t because I am crying and shaking too hard.

“Let me go,” I plead into his chest as I continue to try and push him away. “Please, you have to let me go.”
“No, I can’t,” he counters as he strengthens his hold on me. “I can’t, Liz. Don’t make me try to be without you.”
“You have to let me go, Zan. Let me go,” I sob.

Tears and snot are running freely down my face as I plead with Zan to let me go not only physically, but emotionally as well. I’m crying, Zan is crying, the cosmos are crying at our situation, I’m sure. Our audience has multiplied in size by now, but that is not my main concern. The only coherent thought that continues to ricochet through my mind is that I have to get away from Zan.

“Let me go, Zan. Please.”
“No, Liz. I can’t.”
“You have to, Zan. You have to,” I wail.
“I love you.”

Those three little words. The words that I’ve longed to hear come from his lips ever since the day I met him. I always thought I would be lying in his arms after an ecstasy filled night of loving making or on a romantic picnic where it was only us when he said those words to me. My heart would be glad and I would be in love, and everything would be right with the world when he said those words to me. Hell, the earth was going to shake when Zan told me that he loved me.

It seems now that the only thing that is shaking is me. With anger.

“Why did you say that? Why did you tell me you loved me?” I spit at him furiously.
“Because I do, Liz. I always have, I just couldn’t—“

“You don’t love me, Zan! The only person that you ever loved was yourself!” I yell as I begin to beat his chest. “You could never love me, because you don’t know how. I hate you! Do you hear me?!? I HATE YOU!! How could you do this to me after all this time, after all the effort I invested into trying to be with you and love you and take care of you! Why, Zan? WHY!!” I continue to bellow. My voice is bouncing off the exhibit walls, but I don’t care. I’ve held this shit in for the past eight years, and now is as good a time as any to let it all out.

“You know what, Zan? You are nothing but a selfish fuck, and I hate you. You don’t ever have to worry about all the times you made me cry, or missing my graduation, or being there for me when I needed you, because I don’t give a damn about that and I certainly don’t give a damn about you! I have a man waiting for me that cares about me, and has shown more interest in me in three days than you have in eight years! And you’re right, he’s not you, he’s better than you in all ways imaginable!” I yell as I shove him in his rock hard chest. “From this moment on you will never have to worry about me again, because the Liz Parker that loved and cared about you is gone. Do you hear me, Zan?!? GONE!!! I don’t give a fuck about you, or your life, or your art! I loathe you and I curse the day that I ever met you! STAY THE FUCK AWAY FROM ME AND STAY THE FUCK OUT OF MY LIFE!!” I scream as I give him one final push and break out of his hold.

I’ve been walking as fast as I possibly could for the past few minutes, not that it matters since the tears in my eyes have been blinding me and I can barely see a thing. I don’t remember where I left Xavier, Maria, Alex, and Michael, but I’m sure that sooner or later I’ll find one of them. Just as I’m about to approach the stairs, a hand gently grabs my arm.

“Hey, we were just wondering where—“ Xavier stops short as soon as he gets a complete look at my face. “Liz, honey, what’s wrong?”
“Could you take me home? I don’t feel too good,” I whisper and suddenly I break down in tears all over again.

Without saying a word, Xavier scoops me into his arms and carries me to the car, where once inside I fall asleep and do not wake until I am home.

posted on 29-Aug-2002 4:16:16 PM
bumping so I can find it later on tonight
posted on 17-Sep-2002 1:47:26 AM
Thank you for the much needed bumps. Here's the next part, hope you enjoy! Kim

Part 14
Michael’s POV

“Zan.”

No answer.

“Zan, it’s Mike. Open the door.”

Still no answer.

“Look, I know you’re in there. You haven’t left your apartment for the past three weeks.”
“Go away.”
“Zan, open this door right now,” I continue to yell as I bang on the door. “If you don’t, I’ll stand out here and keep up enough racket for the police to come. Don’t test me, Zan, you know I’ll do it.”
“Can you fucking hear? I said go away!” he bellows and seconds later I hear the familiar tinkling of breaking glass. “Leave me alone!”

Shit.

“Look, Zan. I know that you’re hurting. I know that shit is real fucked up right now, but it’s going to be okay. You’ll get over this,” I try to console.

The truth is I have no idea whether Zan is going to be okay or not, and unfortunately things are looking more towards the not side of things. After Maria, Alex, and I saw Xavier carry Liz out the exhibit, we went quickly in search of Zan only to find him laid out in one of the foyers, presumably the one where he and Liz had their now infamous blowout, bawling like a newborn. I have no clue what Liz said to him, but it…let’s just say it was enough to break his spirit into a million pieces. It was so bad that by the time we got there, Zan couldn’t even stand up and walk on his own. Alex and I had to literally pick Zan up off the ground and then half walk, half drag his heavy ass out the museum, and even then he never stopped crying. In fact, it got so bad that Alex had to gag him so he would stop screaming….

“It’s not going to be okay,” Zan whispers and suddenly the door opens. “It’ll never be okay again. She left me, and now I’m…alone.”

We exchange no words as I walk past him and make myself at home in his apartment. Make that try to make myself at home. Zan’s normally immaculate apartment has been turned upside down by what can only be described as Hurricane Love’s Hangover. Everything ranging from unused clay and broken easels to destroyed couch cushions and empty fast food containers litters the floor, counters, hell all available space in Zan’s apartment. Paint of various hues has been splattered across the apartment’s rather large window panes, and if I’m not mistaken, what was once the kitchen table has been broken up into some kind of sick excuse for an art experiment. As I turn to my right, I mentally add broken glass to the list of debris.

“You can’t do this to yourself, man. You’ve got to let go,” I state softly. “This isn’t healthy, Zan.”
“Let go? Who the hell are you to tell me to let go?!? You got some kind of Ph.D. now where you can just starting running off at the mouth about what’s healthy and what isn’t now? Hmm?” Zan answers rather heatedly.
“I don’t need a Ph.D. to tell you that the way you’re living is fucked up, Zan! Anybody can see that, it’s not rocket science.”
“You know what, Mike? You ain’t me, so just let that shit ride,” he bitterly says as he advances towards me. “You don’t have a clue about what I’m going through, so if I were you I would just fucking shut my mouth.”
“And if I were you I would own up to my mistakes instead of trying to throw some pissy ass attitude on my best friend,” I counter and continue to stand my ground.
“And what the hell is that supposed to mean? Are you judging me now?”
“Oh, come off it, Zan!” I yell exasperated. “You still don’t get it yet, do you? There is nobody else to blame for this situation but your damn self! You’re the one that fucked up, so just save it. I’m not going to let you put your shit on me and make your issues with Liz be my fault in some kind of way.”
“Now you hold on just one--”
“Shut up! Damn you, would you please just shut up and listen to somebody for once?!?” When Zan is silent, I continue.

“You have got to be the dumbest man on God’s green earth. I mean, did you really think that someone as beautiful and smart and wonderful as Liz was going to wait around for you to get your shit together forever? You had the ideal woman at your fingertips, and what did you do? You kept pushing her away and sitting her on the shelf like some canned peas. That isn’t anybody’s fault but your own. You are the one that dropped the ball with Liz, you and nobody else. Nobody told you to string her along for eight years, nobody told you to keep holding on to that piss poor relationship that you had with Ava. If anything, you doing all that only made it easier for Liz to go to Xavier. Don’t get mad at me or the world just because you fucked up, if you want to be mad at someone then you better look at your got damn self!” I finish and move away from him towards one of the paint splattered windows.

I love Zan like a brother, but I’m not going to sit here and have pity for him when he’s the one that messed up. I refuse to do it.

“Don’t you think I know that I fucked up?” Zan questions softly. “I have spent the past three weeks examining how many times I screwed Liz over and how through it all, she was always willing to forgive me and give me another chance. I know that I was blind and pretty much a dumb ass for not recognizing all the shit…hell, what Liz really was and could have been in my life. I know I fucked up, Michael. I fully acknowledge it, and accept all the blame,” he sighs as he collapses onto what is left of his couch. “I don’t need you to come over here and judge me, because I have spent the last three weeks judging myself, and the only verdict that I can come up with is guilty. Do you have any idea how that feels? I mean, any at all? Do you know how it feels to know that you pushed the only person that has truly ever loved you away into the arms of another man? Do you know you fucking stupid I feel knowing that the only reason I pushed her away is because I was scared?”

“See, that’s what I don’t understand! What the hell were you so scared of? You knew she loved you with all her heart, it wasn’t exactly a secret among us,” I tell him.
“I was scared to love her and scared to have her love me back.”
“But why?”

When Zan shrugs his shoulders and gives me a blank stare, all I can do is sigh and fall in place next to him on the couch. It’s not until I have leaned my head against the cool leather of the back of the couch and closed my eyes that Zan speaks again.

“What am I going to do, Mike? I need her in my life,” he whispers almost inaudibly. I lift my head and open my eyes, only to find Zan wearing the same expression that he had at the exhibit on his face. I think for a moment and then sigh.

“Do you love her?”
“Yes.”
“I mean, really love her?”
“Yes,” he answers with no hesitation.
“Would you do anything for her?”
“Anything. I would give up my life for her.”
“Then leave her alone. Let her be happy with Xavier.”

Silence.

“Excuse me?”
“Look, we don’t know how long she’s going to be with Xavier, but after eight years of putting up with your shit, I think she’s well entitled to a break. She needs to be happy, and from where I stand, Xavier makes her happy.”
“I don’t know if I can do that,” Zan states honestly and for a moment my heart really goes out to him. I know if somebody was telling me to give up the woman I loved that I would not be a happy camper.
“It’s not up to you anymore, Zan. When you fucked up, you gave up all rights and privileges that you had with Liz. If you love her, then you’ll leave her alone. I’m not saying that it’s going to be easy, but if you truly love her like you say you do then you’ll at least try.”

After another moment of silence, I stand and walk to the door.

“Zan.”
“Yeah, man?” He’s wearing that broken look again.
“If you need to talk, you know where to reach me,” I say and give him a slight smile. With that, I walk out of Zan’s apartment, truly hoping that he’ll take to heart at least some of the advice I gave him instead of being the usual pig headed bastard we all know and love.

**********
Liz’s POV

“Hey, Liz?”
“Yeah?”
“Could you come in here for a second?” Xavier calls to me from the living room.
“Give me a minute. Let me just finish mashing these potatoes,” I yell from the kitchen.

Now normally, I’m not Little Miss Domestic, but there is just something about this man that just makes me want to play the role. In the past three weeks, I have cooked almost every other night and on a couple of occasions, I’ve even made dessert, from scratch. We’re not going to even talk about the extra pounds I’ve put on from my little cooking experiments, but I will say that my pants are fitting a tad bit snugger these days.

“What’s up?” I say as I enter the living room wiping some excess water from my hands onto my jeans.
“Come sit with me for a second,” he answers and motions for me to sit next to him on the couch. When I do, he turns his attention to me, and just stares for a couple of moments.
“Is something wrong, Xavier?”
“No, nothing’s wrong. I just wanted to ask you something.”
“Okay.”
“I wanted to talk to you about what happened with you and Zan the night of Zan’s exhibit.”
“Oh,” I state as my eyes immediately fall to where my hands are resting in my lap.

Of all the things in the world to talk about I would have never guessed that he would have wanted to talk about that horrendous night three weeks ago. In all honesty, I was hoping that since he hadn’t said anything about thus far that he had forgotten about it.

“Do you feel like talking about it?” Xavier asks as he lifts my chin so our eyes meet. His baby blues are shining with curiosity, yet at the same time concern.
“Not really, but after the charade I pulled I guess I do owe you an explanation.”
“You don’t have to—“
“Yes, I do,” I cut in. “Might as well be now.”

As I draw my first of what I am sure will be many shaky breaths, I turn towards Xavier and begin.

“I met Zan when I was just 18 years old, right before I started my fall semester of college. The moment I saw him, I fell head over heels in love with him. We started dating and everything was perfect…except for the fact that he was still hung up on his ex girlfriend, Ava. We broke up and didn’t talk for a while and then one day out the blue he called and we starting talking again. I-we didn’t date or anything, we were just really good friends, like when he needed something I was there for him and vice versa. As time passed, the feelings that we had for each other when we were dating kinda grew and resurfaced. One night, we, uh, we, we were intimate, and um, that was the night that things changed forever. We were never able to get things back the way they were, and uh, we, um, we just, we weren’t quite the same ever again,” I manage to choke out.

“Honey, you don’t have to say anything else if you don’t want to,” Xavier whispers as he pulls my hands into his own.
“No, it’s okay,” I say shaking my head. “So um, we tried to be cool with each other, but over time, things just changed between us. The night of the exhibit, I, um, we…some things just surfaced that I hadn’t counted on. And uh, so, I….it just happened that….”

I don’t even finish. Instead, the tears roll down my face and the sobs that I had been trying to suppress bubble over and spill with such a ferocity that I am only able to sit and let the sobs rack my frame as Xavier holds and tries to comfort me. It’s so much that night that’s causing me this enormous amount of pain, but rather the collection of nights that I have spent torturing myself and pining over Zan. When I think of how long and how much I sacrificed for him, shame and embarrassment flood my entire being. A part of me still can’t believe that I was so in love with Zan that I let myself become that naïve.

“Baby, it’s okay. Just let it out, I’m here,” Xavier coos into my hair, all the while rocking and consoling me.
“I’m sorry, I just…I mean…”
“You don’t have anything to be sorry about, Liz. You were in love, and even then that’s nothing to be ashamed of. When you love somebody, sometimes things get a little out of control.”
“I know, I just never really thought about how out of control things got until just now. I never want to be that way again.”
“You don’t mean that.”
“Yes, I do. If being in love means being crazy and out of control like that, then I don’t want to be in love. Ever,” I emphasize heavily as I wipe away my tears.

Xavier sighs as he pulls me fully into his lap and kisses my forehead. He then wipes away a few stray tears before speaking.

“Sometimes when you love somebody you get hurt, but just because you get hurt doesn’t mean that you can shut out love every time it comes your way. To say that you don’t want to love or that you won’t love again is not living, it’s hiding, Liz, and you can’t hide for the rest of your life. When people love it’s because that’s the only true adventure that we have in life. Sometimes it works out, sometimes it doesn’t, but you’ve at least got to try,” he concludes and gives me a slight smile that almost melts me to the core.

“If you say so,” I state after a moment and sigh.
“I do,” he smiles brighter.
“How’d you get so knowledgeable about the woes of love?”
“Let’s just say that I’ve had my share of atrocities when it comes to love.” He pauses for a second. “I know that you have serious history with Zan, Liz, but all I’m asking is that you give me a chance to prove myself. I’m not him, and I’m not going to hurt you in any way, shape, or form,” he promises quietly.
“Don’t make a promise that you can’t keep, Xavier.”
“I have no intentions of breaking that or any other promise I make to you,” he states seriously, so seriously in fact that I have to turn around and look him in his eyes. I have no idea what I’m looking for, but there is nothing in them that I can see that would make me doubt what he has just said to me.

“You feeling any better?”
“A little.”
“Better enough to eat some mashed potatoes?” Xavier inquires with those bright blue eyes twinkling and I giggle.
“I guess so.”
“Come on, let’s eat.”






[ edited 4 time(s), last at 17-Sep-2002 4:17:49 PM ]
posted on 25-Sep-2002 10:44:30 PM
bump so I can find it later on tonight
posted on 26-Sep-2002 1:24:02 AM
Let's continue, shall we? K *happy*

Part 15
Zan’s POV

*3 Months Later*

“How are you feeling today?”
“Okay, I guess.”
“Would you like to talk about it?”
“Not really.”
“Okay then, what would you like to talk about?”
“I don’t know, you tell me.”

Sigh.

“Must we always begin this way, Zan?” To her question, I shrug and let out a sigh of my own.
“It’s become routine, I guess. I find comfort in routine,” I say with a little smile on my face and to my surprise, she smiles back.
“You know, you never have taken full advantage of the facilities, why don’t you lie down?”
“I’m cool, but thanks for offering.”
“You might find that it’ll help you a little more if you do.”
“Don’t think so.”
“There’s nothing to be afraid of, you know.”
“I’m not scared.”
“Then why don’t you lie down?”
“Because I don’t—“
“Zan, please. If you don’t like it then you can sit right back up. It’s not like I’m going to tie you up or anything, though from a couple of the conversations we’ve had, I do think that you would rather enjoy it,” she smiles at me, all the while batting those big gray eyes. “Please Zan, for me?”
“Fine, Grace. You better be glad that you’re my therapist, though, because if you weren’t you’d be in a whole lot of trouble right now,” I mumble as I let my back descend towards the couch that I had previously been sitting on.

That’s right people, I’m at my therapist’s office, and for the first time since I began seeing her two and a half months ago, she’s finally got me right where she wants me: lying on this damned couch. I never thought I would need therapy, but without Liz in my life…I just can’t function without telling someone how I feel or all the things that go on in my mind. Hell, what have I got to lose? I’ve already destroyed nearly every thing in my apartment, and that didn’t do any good. Maybe by talking to Grace I can find my way back to the person I used to be. Maybe I can begin to understand why I shut Liz out all these years. Maybe I can get Liz to come ba….

“So how do you feel now?” Grace asks, intruding my thought pattern.
“Naked and exposed.”
“But we haven’t even begun the session yet.”
“I know, but still…”

Grace laughs softly as she makes her way from behind her cherrywood desk to the plush leather chair she uses when we have these sessions. She’s a waif of woman in her mid forties, standing at only 5’2” on a good day, with a shock of auburn hair that she usually secures in a bun. Today though, she seems to be a little more…relaxed, casual if you will. She’s wearing a UCLA sweatshirt, a pair of baggy jeans, and these clunky Steve Madden-esque black loafers. The hair that is usually tied back so tight that she looks as if she’s giving herself a face lift is now careening freely down her back in a gentle body wave. I only know this because Liz has had to give me lessons on women’s fashion and beauty on more than one occasion. Liz.

“So where’s the suit at, doc? You think that just because I’m an artist that I don’t deserve a suit?” I joke lightly.
“Not at all, Zan. It’s just that my next appointment requires that I dress this way.”
“Really. And what kind of appointment is this, if I may ask?”
“UCLA versus Oregon State football game,” she states seriously and we both begin to laugh.
“Never would have pictured you as a football fan.”
“And just what is that supposed to mean? You think that just because I’m a woman that I can’t follow along with the game and make calls on plays? I will have you know that throughout high school and college I was a stat girl, and that I can call plays and coach with the best of them,” Grace answers with a gleam of defiance in her eyes.

“Hey, hey, far be it from me to assume that you don’t know what you’re talking about just because you’re a woman. I learned that lesson a long time ago. I remember one night I was watching Monday Night Football and Liz came over. At first I thought I was going to have to change the channel, because I was under the impression that she wouldn’t be interested in what was going on, or even able to follow the game. By halftime, Liz was damn near coaching the game through the television, and I swear I thought I was going to have to hose her off just to calm her down. I remember she was so angry with the Redskins for losing that game,” I finish with a slight smile on my face.

It’s funny how some things just come back to you at random points in time, things that seemed so insignificant at the moment but really end up meaning so much to you once all is said and done.

“She sounds like she really knows her stuff when it comes to the game,” Grace says softly while nodding at me.
“She does, but then again Liz knows her stuff when it comes to a lot of things. She’s amazing.” Pause. “I really miss her, doc.”

Grace sits further back in her seat, and for the first time since these sessions have begun, I’m actually beginning to feel like a bug under a microscope. I don’t know if it’s the way that she’s looking at me or the fact that she hasn’t said anything for the past minute and a half that’s making me feel this way, but I definitely feel like her mind is slowly picking me apart in some sort of Hannibal Lector, “Silence of the Lambs” type of way.

“Can I ask you something, Zan?”
“Yeah, go ahead.”
“Is it Liz that you really miss or is it just the void that she filled as your girlfriend that you missed?” When I’m silent she continues. “I want you to really think about this for a minute, okay? What is it exactly that you miss about Liz?”
“I miss the way she would call to check and see if I was okay, or if I had eaten, or how my day was going. I miss the way she used to come over and help me with my art or watch t.v. with me. I miss being able to go out with her at night. I miss her.”
“This is very interesting.” Grace murmurs as she scribbles something down on the notebook that has been sitting in her lap. “Interesting, indeed.”
“What?”
“Zan, when I asked you to describe the things that you missed about Liz, you didn’t name a single characteristic or trait that she possessed. Instead you named all the things that she could physically do for you. In essence what you just told me is that you miss the things that she brought to the table, but not the actual person.”
“But that’s not true,” I counter as I sit up. “There are other things that I miss about Liz that have nothing to do with her doing things for me.”
“Such as?”
“Such as the fact that she is smart and she’s compassionate. I miss her smile. I miss the way she laughs, or the looks on her face when she’s in various moods. I miss the way she starts screaming like a banshee when she angry, or claps her hands and jumps up and down when she’s really excited about something. I miss dancing with her and watching her when she thinks no one can see her. I miss holding her in my sleep and the way she clings to me as if I’m the only thing in this world that mattered. It was the way that she used to look at me, the way she used to touch me to let me know that I was the only one, the way she made me feel about myself, the way she would curl up in my lap and tell me how her day way, the way she would let me hold her while she was crying, the way she trusted me,” I finish softly as I let my face fall into my hands.

“If you truly felt this way about her, then why didn’t you let her know?” Grace has once again leaned back into the confines of her chair and the notebook is once again resting in her lap.
“Because I was scared.”
“And what were you scared of?”
“I was scared that I would mess things up with her like I did with Ava.”
“Ah, but we have already discussed that Ava led you astray for a long time, and you have even admitted that Liz is nothing like Ava. I think that subconsciously you knew that Ava, for a lack of better wording, was dicking you along. Am I right, Zan?”

I knew. I mean, how could I not know? All the signs were there; it was my dumb ass who didn’t want to believe them.

“You’re right.”
“Okay, so the Ava factor is out. What were you scared of, Zan?”
“I don’t know.”
“But I think you do,” Grace rebuts as she runs her hands over her face. “What is your biggest fear when it comes to being with Liz, Zan? Look at me, Zan. Look at me.” She places her hands on top of mine and gently pulls my hands away from my face. When she sees the tears running down my face, she quickly reaches behind her, pulls a Kleenex box from her desk, and places it in front of me. “We are so close, Zan. So close. Just try and answer this one question for me. What is it that you fear the most when it comes to you and Liz being together?”

“I don’t want to hurt her. I can’t hurt her.”
“But there’s something else, Zan, and you know it. All you have to do is say it. The moment you say it is the moment that everything is going to start to become clear. I promise, Zan, but you’ve got to admit it. Not to me, but to yourself,” she instructs in that soft voice of hers. “I have faith in you, you can do this. Zan, look at me.”

When I do, she draws me in with those gray eyes and drops her voice to a mere whisper. She’s still holding my hands in her own, and the tips of her fingers are gently stroking the backs of my hands.

“What are you afraid of, Zan?”
“I’m afraid that she’s going to hurt me. I’m afraid that no matter how much I love her and try to be there for her that it won’t be enough, and that she’ll eventually see that I’m not who she thinks I am and that she’ll leave me,” I whisper with a voice full of emotion, and before I know it, I’ve tumbled off the couch and into Grace’s lap, sobbing.

It was never the fact that I thought I would hurt Liz that had me petrified and living in fear, because I have always known that I would do whatever it was in my power to protect her from any and every evil and perverse thing that ever came her way, even if it meant protecting her from myself. What I could never admit to her or anyone else, myself included, was that the real fear I possessed was the fact that I couldn’t control her or stop her from hurting me. In my heart I know that Liz would never intentionally try to hurt me, just as I would never try to hurt her, but let’s face the facts, shall we? Shit happens. I don’t think that Ava intentionally tried to hurt me, but it happened, and the truth is that I just couldn’t stand to see it happen again. With Liz. While it’s true that Ava was my first love and first love is a powerful thing, I have always known that I love Liz so much more than Ava and in ways that are hard for the human mind to fathom. The power that Liz’s love held over me was so intense, so extreme, so….real that I couldn’t take it, and honestly, that’s the reason that I held her at bay so long. I couldn’t wrap my mind around the concept that there was someone who actually, deeply, truly loved me, and was not at any point in time going to use that love to hurt me. Oh…my…God. It’s true, and it took me eight years to realize it. It’s not until this very moment that I understand what Liz was asking me the night of my exhibit.

“Liz is not Ava,” I mumble into Grace’s lap.
“What? What did you just say?” she inquires as she lifts my wet face from her legs.
“Liz is not Ava,” I repeat solemnly and then a slow smile begins to spread across my face. “I don’t have to be afraid, because Liz is not Ava and she’s not going to hurt me like Ava.”
“You see the kinds of epiphanies you can have when you lay on the couch? This issue could’ve been solved three months ago if you would’ve just lain on the couch like I asked you to initially. Men, I swear,” she chides and I can’t help but to chuckle right along with her.

“So what’s going through that head of yours now, Zan?” Grace asks once I’ve reseated myself on the couch.
“Thoughts.”
“Feel like sharing?”
“Not really.”
“Must we always go through this?”
“It’s become routine, I guess. I—“
“Find comfort in routine. Yes, Zan, I know this,” she replies exasperated and once again I begin to laugh as she shakes her auburn head back and forth. “Seriously, Zan. What are you thinking about?”
“I’m devising a plan.”
“What kind of plan?”
“A plan to get Liz back,” I smile.



[ edited 1 time(s), last at 26-Sep-2002 8:33:41 PM ]
posted on 28-Sep-2002 12:53:02 AM
There's a slight quote from the movie "Fear" in here, but other than that, all thoughts are original and mine. Enjoy, Kim *happy*

Part 16
Liz POV

“Maria, I think I messed things up.”
“What do you mean? What’s wrong?”
“I think I messed things up with Xavier last night. I kicked him out, and I haven’t heard from him all day long,” I state in a shaken voice. We’re on the phone. “I mean, usually we would have talked by now, we would have talked three or four times by now, but I haven’t heard from him and I think—“
“Chica, I need you to slow down if I’m going to help you,” Maria calmly replies as she cuts me off. “Now I need you to start from the beginning, okay? Can you do that?”
“Okay, I’ll try.” After taking a deep breath, I resituate myself on the couch and adjust my cordless to a more comfortable position between my shoulder and ear.

“It all started last when we were watching one of the movies Xavier had brought with…”

*******

“You okay?”
“Yeah, why do you ask?”
“Just making sure that you’re comfortable,” Xavier whispers in my ear as he pulls me a little closer into his body.

We’re lying on my couch watching “Someone Like You” after our usual night of dinner and conversation. I’ve been lying securely in Xavier arms, totally engrossed in the movie…make that trying to be engrossed in the movie. For some reason, Xavier’s hands are a little more…active tonight than they usually are.

“Is there something I can help you with, sir?” I inquire of him as I roll over to face him. A small grin has covered that delectable mouth of his.
“As a matter of fact, yeah, there is,” he replies softly, and before I can get in another word edgewise, Xavier has taken the liberty of kissing me breathless, totally against my will.

It’s not that I don’t enjoy Xavier’s kisses, because Lord knows I absolutely, positively adore them. The softness of his lips, the slow seductive caressing of his tongue, the way his hands caress my face….mmmmm, it’s enough to make a woman scream. It’s just tonight, I’m not in the mood for all of that. I just want to watch the movie and be held, is that a crime?

“Xavier,” I pant when he finally lets me up for air. “Sweetie, the movie.”
“Mm hmm,” he murmurs from the side of my neck. His hands have left my face and are now roaming over various parts of my body.
“Xavier, I want to…mmm, that feels so…yeah…okay, wait. Xavier!” I shriek as his tongue dips into my navel.

When Xavier looks up at me, it is clear to see that lust has clouded every crevice of his mind. His usually bright blue eyes have darkened with passion, and his hands have yet to stop rubbing my sides and legs.

“Yeah, Liz?” he asks seductively. God, the tone of his voice. It’s like his tongue is dripping with honey.
“What are you doing?” I ask rather weakly.
“Watching the movie. Why?” He then commences to raise my T-shirt over my stomach and then drops it right under my bare breasts. All with his teeth.
“Because I just…wanted to…um…and I…oh, that’s so…but…Xavier…”

What he is doing to my body at this very moment has got to be illegal in at least one of the fifty states, because this is just feeling too good. I don’t know how he got my shirt over my head without me noticing, but there it is lying beside the couch just as plain as day. I’m not sure when Xavier’s shirt came off either, but I know it’s gone because all I can feel is his bare, glorious, well defined chest caressing my own. His mouth has once again taken to plundering mine, claiming it, marking it even, as his own. His hands, oh God his hands, those beautiful works of art, are traveling down my arms, gently kneading my stomach and sides, and sliding further down…

“Xavier, stop.” I try to sit up so he can see that I’m serious, but his massive body has pretty much got me pinned to the couch rendering me helpless.
“Liz, come on. If you let me do this, I know you’d really enjoy—“
“I said no. Now stop it,” I demand as I shove him in his chest.

There is no questionable tone in my voice, no wishy washiness. I want him to stop what he’s doing right now, and by God if I have to bludgeon him to death with the statuette Zan made me which just happens to be sitting on the living room table about a foot away, then so be it.

“But Liz, we were just…honey, I could—“
“Can you hear?” I yell as I push his hands from the hem of my sweat pants. “I said stop. Now would you kindly get off me?”

Xavier stares at me in unbelief for a moment, and just when I think I’m going to have to grab the statuette, he rolls off me. It’s not until I pick my T-shirt up from the floor and begin to put it on that he speaks.

“Okay, so what just happened right now, Liz?”
“What happened was you got a little carried away and I told you to stop,” I answer firmly. He still hasn’t put his shirt on yet, but for some reason I’m not tempted to drool.
“But why, Liz? Why is it that every we get to the point where something really nice could happen you freeze up on me and started freaking out?”
“Because maybe I’m not ready for all that with you just yet.”
“So what is it you’re saying? Are you trying to tell me that you’re not attracted to me in that way? You’re not attracted to me sexually, is that it?” he inquires in an agitated tone. He’s begun to pace back and forth in front of me, and I can’t help but to compare him to a caged animal.
“Did I say I wasn’t sexually attracted to you, Xavier? God, stop putting words in my mouth,” I reply as my own agitation begins to surface. I’m still sitting on the couch, but if Xavier’s not careful, he’s about to get something thrown at him.

“Well then help me understand. What is the problem, why is it that you always stop me? We’ve been together for almost seven months, it’s not like you don’t know me.”
“Xavier, now is just not a good time for me. I just don’t think—“
“There’s never a good time for you, Liz. God, it’s almost like you’re playing this game with me to see how far you can get me to go before you tell me to stop.”

I would kick him in the nads, but at this point I’m too livid to even put forth the effort to lift my foot. It’s not even worth it for me to exert myself by beating his ass right now.

“Get out.”
“What? No wait, we’re having a conver—“
“I said, get out!”

As calmly as I can, I get up from the couch and walk to the front door. When I get there, I hold it open and wait for Xavier to make a move. Xavier makes a move to pick up his shirt from the floor, but once he has it in hand, he makes no attempt to leave. Instead he stays rooted in my living room, looking like a lost little boy.

“Liz, let’s just—“
“If I have to tell you to leave again, I’m going to call the cops. Now you can walk out of here like a man, or have the boys in blue come get your ass. Either way, you’ve got to go,” I tell him….

******

“So what happened then?”
“He finally walked out, and then I closed the door.”
“Are you sorry for what you did?” Maria inquires.
“Hell no.”
“But you still want to be with him.”

When I’m silent, she sighs. Knowing Maria, that was a sigh of exasperation.

“I can’t believe he would say some shit like that to you, knowing that you’re a virgin and all.”
“Uh, Maria?”
“Yeah?”
“He doesn’t know.”

Silence.
“You mean to tell me that you’ve been with him for damn near seven months and he still doesn’t know? How is that possible? Better yet, why haven’t you told him?”
“I just didn’t think he needed to know. I mean, it is my private business, I don’t think I should have to make a sign advertising it.”
“Okay, I agree with you there, but I mean, damn Liz. He should’ve known.”
“Why are you suddenly on the ‘let’s tell Xavier everything’ bandwagon?” I ask incredulously. “Are you siding with him?”
“No, I’m not siding with him. I just think you should have told him. Maybe if he would have known where you were coming from then he wouldn’t have let all those asinine things fly out of his mouth so quickly. I think that—“

Maria’s soliloquy is interrupted by an unexpected knock at my door. After glancing through the peephole and seeing who it was, I turned my attention back to Maria.

“Maria, I gotta call you back.”
“Whatever man, you just don’t want to hear the truth I’m telling you.”
“No, Maria, I’ll call you back, okay? Bye,” I conclude and click her off before she tries to argue with me. When I get to the door once more, I hold it slightly open.

“Is there something I can do for you?”
“Can we talk?”
“That depends on you. Do you plan on insulting me again tonight?”
“No. I never planned on it the first time,” Xavier whispers and then casts his head off to the side.
“Well you did.”
“I’m sorry.”
“You should be.”
“Can I come in, Liz, so we can talk about this? Please?”

After a moment of deliberation, I step away from the door and let Xavier in. Once he’s inside, he strips off his jacket and makes himself at home on my couch.

“Can you come over here for a minute so we can talk?” he requests quietly. Without saying a word, I walk to the couch, seat myself, and wait for him to speak. He’s about to open his mouth when I cross my arms over my chest and raise my eyebrow at him. To this he just sighs.

“What I said last night was uncalled for, Liz. The words should have never come out my mouth, but the fact is they did and I’m sorry. I’m not sure you’ll accept my apology, but…I just want you to know that I truly am sorry for everything.”

I guess it’s my cue to speak, because he keeps looking at me like he expects me to say something. When I remain silent, he sighs once more and continues.

“I want to know you, Liz, in all ways possible, but I can’t help but to feel like you’re holding something back from me, particularly when we’re intimate. It’s like, one minute all systems are go, and then quicker than I can blink an eye, you’re telling me to stop. I need you to help me understand what’s going on. Am I doing something wrong, Liz?”
“No,” I state finally. He seems a little relieved that I’ve actually spoken.
“Am I hurting you in some way when I touch you the way I do?”
“Not at all.”
“This is just a shot in the dark, but were you…uh…abused as a child?” he says hurriedly.
“Nope,” I answer with a small smile on my face.
“Good,” he sighs in relief. “But I still don’t understand what the problem is, then. If everything I'm doing is okay, then why do you tell me to stop when we start to…you know.”
“Because I’m still a virgin, Xavier,” I whisper and this time it’s my turn to cast my eyes downward. From my experience, men don’t usually take this as good news; they shun virgins if anything.

“How are you still a virgin?” When I look at him crossly, he shakes his head quickly and gives a little laugh. “No, I know how. I mean how? You told me before that you and Zan had been intimate…”
“We were intimate…just not in that way. We did things…”

That made the earth shake, but that is neither here nor there now.


“Oh. OH,” he says as understanding dawns upon him. The expression on his face is so cute that I have to giggle.

“Xavier,” I say as my giggles subside, “there are a lot of things that I’m just not ready for yet, and sex just happens to be one of those things. I don’t know why I’m holding on to my virginity so tightly, but it is mine and mine alone. I know that this may…frustrate you some, but if we’re going to be together then you need to understand that until I’m ready, it’s just not going to happen. You might think that this is some kind of genetic flaw or something—“

“Hey, hey, hey. I don’t think that so you can stop it with the negative thoughts right now,” he gently cuts me off. As if to get my full, undivided attention, Xavier lifts my chin with his fingers so our eyes meet. “I think it’s beautiful…and special…and unique…and something to wait for.”

As his lips gently brush mine, all the previous rage and anger I felt for him somehow just melted away. I don’t know why because it shouldn’t have, but it did. There’s this feeling in my chest, an achingly familiar feeling that’s been growing now for some time and won’t be denied. I’ve tried to ignore it, but for some reason I just can’t get it to quiet down or go away.

It’s love.


posted on 28-Oct-2002 2:19:38 AM
Here you guys go! Read and Enjoy! *happy* Kim

Part 17
*4 Months Later*

Maria’s POV

“Girlfriend, I don’t know about you, but I am absolutely, positively stuffed,” I sigh as Liz and I walk out of Jerry’s Deli and into the sunlight. “Why didn’t you stop me from eating so much?”
“Would you have listened if I tried?”
“Probably not,” I answer with a smile on my face and we both burst into giggles.

It’s only been about three weeks since Liz and I have hung out, but it feels like forever. I’m not jealous of Liz and her relationship with Xavier, but I would be lying if I was to say that they didn’t spend an excessive amount of time together, and when I say excessive, I mean to the point where a person would think that one of them would die if they couldn’t breathe the same air. It’s stuff like this that worries me, you know? I mean, how healthy can a relationship be when two people are together all the damn time? Where is the time for self-reflection and personal growth? That type of shit just irks me to the Nth degree. Hell, maybe I am jealous of her and Xavier….then again, maybe I just miss spending time with my best friend.

“So how are things going with Mr. Perfect?” I ask as we ride up the escalator taking us into the Beverly Center.
“Things are…” she begins and then suddenly starts giggling. Oh brother.
“That good, huh?”
“Yes, Maria. That good,” she sighs as her giggles subside.
“So I take it that there haven’t been any problems in the intimacy department?”

When she doesn’t answer me and instead lets her head dip into her chest, I know what the answer is. Nobody would be blushing that damn hard if things weren’t good.

“You nasty little skank!”
“Why do I have to be all that?”
“Because you are! Look at the look on your face! You are standing here glowing, and he isn’t even around! A glow like that could only come from being a nasty skank!” I practically yell at her.
“Oh my God, you are so embarrassing! Keep your voice, we are in a public place, you know,” she practically whispers as we walk into Victoria’s Secret. I wonder why we’re coming in here. Yeah, I’m sure I could get it in one guess.
“Embarrassing? Oh see now I know you’ve been engaging in skankish activities. And come to think of it, why are we in this particular store? Spill it, girlfriend.”
“Maria, I will have you know that there is nothing to spill.”
“Bullshit.”
“Maria.”
“Liz.” I raise my left eyebrow at Liz as if to challenge her to tell me something other than what I want to hear. Knowing that she’s been defeated, she sighs and moves towards some of the racier lingerie. The People’s Eyebrow has won once again.

“We haven’t done…it yet, but things have advanced quite nicely, if you know what I mean,” she pretty much whispers. She picks up a black see through chiffon chemise with a matching g-string and holds it in front of herself.
“Okay, nicely how? Are we talking about oral sex—“
“Maria!” she shrieks and damn near falls to the ground.
“Alright, I’ll take that as a yes,” I reply and do my best to smother back the giggles that are about to erupt. She’s so prude that it’s cute. “So how was it?”
“It was nice,” she smiles to herself and that unmistakable “I’ve been doing the nasty” afterglowish grin graces her lips once again.
“Just nice?”
“It was good, Maria. What do you want me to say?” Liz questions me in this highly irritated, exasperated voice.
“I want some details! I want you to talk to me like I’m the best friend you’ve known and loved since we were in the 9th grade and not like some stranger off the street!” I cry and suddenly I’m almost moved to tears. “It’s been so long since we’ve talked and I just feel like now that you’ve got Xavier in your life, you don’t need me in your life anymore.”
“Come on, Maria. You know that’s not true.”
“But it is,” I counter. “When’s the last time that we just hung out before today? Huh? When’s the last time that you and me did something without Xavier being around, or you having to cut our time short so you could go meet up with him somewhere? I know he makes you happy and you love him and all, but it’s like ever since you guys hooked up, you have to be together all the damn time, or if you aren’t together, you’re planning to be together within the next fifteen minutes,” I finish with tears in my eyes.
“Maria, you are exaggerating and you know it.”
“When’s the last time you talked to Michael, Liz? How about Alex?” When she doesn’t answer me and instead turns her head to the left to look at God knows what, I can only roll my eyes at her and sigh. "Exactly. I’ve got them calling me, telling me that they haven’t talked to you in ages, and then you’re shutting me out too. That’s not fair, you know we wouldn’t do that to you.”

“What do you expect me to do, Maria? Do you think that all of a sudden I don’t want to spend time with you guys or not talk and bond like we usually do? You guys are like my lifeline and I need you more than you’ll ever know….it’s just that now I’ve got Xavier and I need him on some level, too, you know?” Liz pauses and runs her hands through her hair. “I don’t mean to alienate you guys, but try and see where I’m coming from. The relationship that Xavier and I have is new, and at this point, it’s like…building a house, I guess you could say. Both of us are trying our best to build a strong foundation so things will be easier for us down the road. Try to understand that I’m still trying to get used to us being together all the time and him being so attentive to me. You know I didn’t have that with Zan, or any other man that I’ve been with so far, so you’ll have to excuse me for wanting to be a little selfish with my time when it comes to him. Things are still new between us, so if I don’t want to share then that has nothing to do with you, it’s just that…I guess I just want to keep it private for a while. I have no idea where this relationship is going to end up, but I do know that I love him, Maria, and I’ve got to make sure that I’m putting one hundred percent into this. Xavier is not as important as you guys, but you need to know that he is important to me,” she finishes softly.
“I may be out of line, but I just don’t want to lose my best friend, particularly over something as petty as a guy,” I sniffle and wipe the tear tracks from my cheeks.
“Aw, Ria.” Liz walks back to me and wraps her arms around my arms while leaning her head against my shoulder. “You’re not going to lose me. We’re best friends, nothing will ever change that, okay?”
“You sure about that?”
“Maria, come on now. Who else knows about me stuffing my bra with sports socks and then one of them falling down to my stomach as I was trying to get Brad Wheeler to ask me to Homecoming?” Liz grins.
“Okay, okay. You’ve made your point,” I giggle. “Am I still sworn to secrecy on that?”
“If you tell anyone, I swear that I will kill you and tell God that you died,” she states seriously and immediately after we both almost fall over we’re laughing so hard.

“So you never answered my question,” I state as we’re walking out the store.
“What?”
“How was it?”
“Honestly?”
“Honestly.”
“It was so good that I almost cried,” she whispers as we walk through the mall.
“That good, huh?”
“Yes, girlfriend, that good.”
“Was it Zan good, though?”

Just as she’s about to answer my question, her cell phone begins to ring and Liz quickly snatches it out her purse.

“Hello…hey, you,” she smiles into the phone.

I’ll give you one guess who she’s talking to.

See, this is what I’m talking about. Liz and I can’t even enjoy ourselves and have a Girls Day Out without Mr. Wonderful calling and interrupting our time. It’s almost like he’s checking up on her to see what she’s doing. Is it really necessary to know where Liz is, what she’s doing, and who she’s with at all times? I don’t think so. Something is off with Xavier, I don’t know if he has abandonment issues that stem from his childhood, but something just isn’t right here.

“Alright, I’ll see you in a bit. Love you, too. Bye.” Liz clicks off the cell phone and throws it back into her purse. “What were we talking about?” she inquires as she turns her attention back to me.
“I asked you if it was Zan good.” We walk in silence for a moment and then she speaks.
“In all honesty, I don’t think anything or anyone will ever be Zan good, Maria. Don’t get me wrong, Xavier can hold his own in that department, but Zan he will never be.”
“Is that bad?”
“Not necessarily. It’s just…” She suddenly trails off in her speech and abruptly stops walking.

“Liz, what’s wrong?”
“I’ll be damned…”

Zan’s POV

This has got be some kind of dream, better yet some sort of sick fantasy or mirage that my mind is projecting in broad daylight, because as surely as the day is long, Liz is standing about five feet in front of me with Maria. She’s looking dead at me and I at her so there no such thing as turning and walking away, or ducking into another store. I always knew that I would run into Liz one day, but I never knew that day would come so soon or that she would be looking so…beautiful when I saw her. Her hair is pulled up into a high ponytail with these random wispy strands hanging down on the sides of her face, and she’s wearing a red baby tee that exposes her the bottom of her tummy with these low rise blue jeans and a pair of red and white DC tennis shoes. If I didn’t know any better, I would say that the eighteen-year-old version of Liz that I fell in love with was standing before me. I haven’t seen or talked to Liz since the night of my exhibit months ago, but that is neither here nor there now. No where to run, no where to hide. Might as well face the music.

Maria’s POV

“Zan! What are you doing here?” I shriek as I rush towards him dragging a rather dumb founded Liz behind me. “How are you doing?”
“Good, good,” Zan replies as he fidgets. “Just here picking up some more arts supplies. How about you guys?”
“Just browsing around, Girls Day Out, you know,” I answer while looking between he and Liz.
“Hi, Liz. How are you doing?” Zan shyly asks.

Zan, shy? No way, no how.

“I’m doing good, thank you,” she returns just as shyly. Interesting.
“That’s good, Liz. Glad to hear it.”
“Yeah.”
“Yeah.”

Hmm, now looky at what we have here. Zan is damn near drooling at the sight of Liz, and Liz is leaning so heavily on me that if I moved one step to the right, I’m pretty sure that she would fall over. Not that I can blame her, because Zan is looking mighty fine from where I stand. Now, I’m not a fitness expert or anything, but judging from the way that the wife beater Zan’s wearing is clinging to his shoulders and chest, a wild shot in the dark would lead me to believe that he has been hitting the weights awfully hard. He doesn’t have that nasty bodybuilder thing going on where muscles are popping out from every orifice of his body, but there isn’t an ounce of fat anywhere. He’s wearing that same smile with those same dimples and sporting those same perfectly white teeth. For lack of better words, Zan is fine as hell.

“So Maria, do you still own that boutique on La Brea?” Zan suddenly inquires, snapping himself, as well as Liz and I, from our respective stupors.
“Yeah, why do you ask?”
“I need to buy something for Skylar’s birthday.”
“Skylar?” I question confused.
“His sister in law,” Liz supplies and Zan nods. “How’s she doing? How are the kids?”

Zan smiles brightly and then drops all his purchases to the ground. He proceeds to pull his wallet from the back pocket of his cargo pants, flips it open, and then hands the wallet over for me and Liz to see.

“That’s how they’re doing,” Zan answers proudly, all the while grinning.
“These can’t be the kids, Zan. They are so big!” Liz shrieks while flipping through the pictures.
“Who are you telling? I accidentally called Carlo ‘little man’ and I swear I thought he was going to have conniption. He goes, ‘Unca Zan, I not little, I’m 5.’”
“And what did you say?”
“What could I say? I apologized and got him a bowl of ice cream to celebrate his grownness,” Zan answers and we all began to laugh.
“Gosh, they are growing up so fast. I can remember when they were born. Look at Camilla, she’s going to be a looker in about 2 or 3 years,” Liz states while smiling at Zan.
“Yeah, and Uncle Zan will be there to patrol the perimeter and beat the men off with a stick when that day comes,” he replies while grinning at Liz.
“Hey, do you have any pictures of Skylar with you?” I ask Zan.
“Nope.”
“Okay, do you have any idea of what you want to get her?”
“Negative.”

Men.

“Okay, well just call and we can set up a time when you can come by the shop and we’ll figure it out then.”
“Sounds like a plan,” Zan states and then takes his wallet back from Liz. “Well, I guess I should be going now.”
“Yeah, us too. Girls Day, you know,” Liz adds at the last minute.
“Yeah.”
“Yeah.”
“Yeah.”
“See you next week, Maria. Bye, Liz,” he adds softly and then walks away.

“So that went better than I imagined it would,” I tell Liz as we resume our walk through the mall.
“How so?”
“Um, do you remember the last time you guys were in the same vicinity? Can we say World War 3? Man, I was half expecting you to slap him or something.”
“Maria….it’s just not that serious to me anymore. Yeah, I loved Zan and there was some real intense emotions between us, but I have a man who I love and loves me in return. There’s no need for me to act ignorant when Zan comes around, what happened between us is over and I can’t spend the rest of my life dwelling on that,” she answers simply.
“So it’s done and over just like that? All because of your love for Xavier?”
“What me and Zan had is finito.”
“So was this the first time you saw or talked to Zan since the exhibit?”
“Yep.”
“Why? I mean, surely if it’s done and over with, and all feelings for him are null and void, there should be no reason that you guys couldn’t have been friends months ago, right?” I suggest innocently.

When Liz doesn’t answer my question, a knowing smirk crosses my face because even though she won’t say it, I know the answer to the question: she’s still in love with him, plain and simple. Now I don’t doubt what she says when she speaks for her love of Xavier, but as a witness to the Drool/Smile Fest that just took place between her and Zan, I know better than to believe the okey doke. If she wants to lie to herself, then that’s fine, but as for me, I’m not going for it.

posted on 22-Nov-2002 7:43:03 PM
Okay people, here's the deal:

At the current time I am studying to take the LSAT (the test that gives you entrance to law school) so all my time has been devoted to that and work. I promise that I haven't forgotten about you guys, and that I actually have the next couple of parts written, in my head that is. All I ask it that you guys be patient with me until I take the test. I PROMISE that it will be worth your wait!! *happy*

Kim *happy*
posted on 15-Jan-2003 4:11:52 AM
Ahhh, it seems that I have found my way to the realm of fanfiction. Here's the latest part, thanks for being so patient with me! Thanks for the bumpies, love you guys! Enjoy, Kim *happy*

Part 18
Zan's POV

"Hello? Is anyone here?" I call as I let myself through the door of the house I grew up in.
"Sandy, is that you?" my mother hollers back, and a small smile touches my lips at the sound of my mom's special nickname for me.
"Yeah, ma. Where are you?"
"Kitchen. Cooking dinner. Come on back!"

Ever since I was little, my mother and I have had this connection that no one has ever been able to touch. She's my best friend if you want to be honest. There has never been a time when she wasn't there when I needed her, whether it was to take me to art class or just to talk. Through all the heartbreaks and triumphs, she's supported me to the best of her abilities, and all I can do is love her for it. Don't get me wrong, the relationship that I have with my father is wonderful, but there is something about the way my mom and me communicate that I just can't explain. Maybe it's the fact that she's only 5'1" and as big as a minute, but still scares me to death. I can remember her chasing my brother and I through the house with that long jet black hair flowing behind her on many an occasion. Ah, memories. Call me a mama's boy all you want, but I love my mother. As I get closer to the kitchen, the aroma of arroz con pollo, tamales, and carne asada instantly greets me. I can faintly hear Tito Puente's "Oye Como Va" playing in the background, and when I peek around the corner, I find my mother swaying her hips as well as her head back and forth to the music.

"Boo," I say from where I stand and then smile at her.
"Boo, yourself," she replies as she turns around with a smile of her own. She holds her arms open and beckons to me. "Where's my sugar, young man?"
"How are you doing?" I ask as I hug my mom and peck her cheek. "And what is all this?"
"All this," she emphasizes while waving her arms around, "is dinner. You do know what that is, don't you?"
"Once upon a time I did. Why are you making so much, though?"
"Your brother and his family are coming over. Apparently Skylar almost burned the kitchen down trying to make some kind of flaming desert. You know how she is," she concludes after raising her left eyebrow at me, and I am forced to laugh. My brother's wife, God bless her soul, is a sweetheart, but the woman couldn't boil water if her life depended on it.

"I thought she and Antonio made a deal that he was going to cook from now on."
"Okay, and how long have they been married? How long has that arrangement worked? Yeah, okay," my mother comments while checking on her tamales.
"Well then, why don't you teach her how to cook, ma?"
"Do you want to continue to eat here, Zan?"
"Yes, ma'am."
"Well then shut your mouth," she giggles and then swats me with a dishtowel. "So what's going on baby boy? To what do I owe the honor of this visit?"
"Nothing. I can't just stop by and visit my mother?"
"Do you ever?"
"Ma."
"Sandy."

I sit down at the sturdy kitchen table where my brother and I ate almost every meal, and let my head bump up against it. The shuffling of my mother's bare feet against the marble kitchen floor alert me that she's about to take a seat as well.

"Where's pops at?"
"Work."
"Is he going to make it for dinner?"
"If he doesn't want to sleep on the couch, he'll be here," she replies as she takes a seat at the table.
"Okay."
"Did you need to talk to him about something?"
"Nope."
"You sure?"
"Yes." A moment of silence passes between us, and finally my mother sighs.

"What's the matter, baby boy?" she inquires as she rubs my head gently. "What's on your mind?"
"Honestly?"
"Yes, honestly."
"I'm in love," I moan and my mother begins to giggle. When I look at her, she has her hand over her mouth. "What's so funny?"
"Nothing. Just a quick question: Who are you in love with?"
"You know who," I answer shyly and dip my head back down.
"No, I don't. What's her name?"
"Mom, please."
"Please my ass. Who is it, Zan?"
"Liz."

At my declaration, she jumps up from the table and begins to shriek and laugh.

"I knew it, I always knew it! I told your father that she would be the one, but did he want to listen to me? Nooooo. Oh, wait until I tell him, he's owes me fifty bucks now!" she laughs as she dances around the table.
"Mom."
"Zan and Liz, sitting in a tree…."
"Mom."
"K-I-S-S-I-N-G…."
"Mother."
"First comes love, then comes marriage…"
"MA! Would you stop it? Please!" I yell all the while my mother continues to sing. When she finally stops, I shake my head.

"I messed up, ma."
"What do you mean messed up? Messed up how?"
"I messed up…with Liz. We really don't talk anymore," I finish quietly.
"What did you do, Zan? You couldn't have messed up that bad," my mother states.
"Mom." I pause and look up into her hazel eyes. The concern I see there leaves me no option but to tell her what happened. "It's like this…"

Before I know it, I've told my mother every detail of Liz's and my eight-year relationship, if you can even call it that. I tell her about all the nights we spent together, my hang ups with Ava, and reluctantly the blowout we had the night of my exhibit. I tell her about how I destroyed my apartment on more than one occasion, the numerous nights I spent walking around my apartment like the living dead, and the months I've spent with Grace. I didn't think it would hurt this much, pouring my soul out after so long, but it does. It hurts like hell. The most troubling part is my mother hasn't said a word this whole time.

"So then I saw her a couple of weeks ago at the mall with her friend Maria. There wasn't a whole lot of conversation, but we were able to be civil towards one another," I conclude and sigh. "I miss her, mom. A lot."

My mother just continues to stare at me.

"Mom?" Nothing. "Mommy?"

It's at this point that the saddest, most pathetic expression settles on her face, and she begins to slowly shake her head back and forth. Her thin arms cross over her chest as she lets out the largest, most exasperated sigh that I have ever heard.

"What? What's wrong, ma?"
"You don't want to know," she replies as she continues to shake her head.
"Yes, I do. Tell me what you're thinking, ma. Please."
"You sure? Because once it hits the atmosphere I'm not going to be able to take it back."
"I don't care. Just tell me what you're thinking."

She bows her head slightly into her chest for a moment, and when she looks up, the look in her eyes pierces me to the core.

"I'm trying to figure out when my son turned into such an asshole."

Okay, that hurt.

"Ma--"
"Don’t say a word, Zan. Just shut it," she states as she moves back toward the stove to check on her dinner. "You know, you're lucky you did all that crap with Liz and not me, because I would have cut off your pinga and threw it out the car window like that Bobbitt woman."
"Ma!" I gasp horrified.
"What, Zan, are you shocked? Did you think that just because I'm your mother that I would put aside the part of me that is a woman? Did you really think that you were going to come here and get sympathy for the shit you pulled, because if you did you thought wrong," she finishes with her hands on her hips.
"I didn't come here for sympathy, but I did think that you would at least --"
"That I would what, Zan? Hear you out? Maybe tell you how to fix the mess you made? No. You were right when you said that you messed up, so now it's your job to fix it. I can't help you with that."
"You know what? Just forget it," I say as I stand up and move from the kitchen table towards the door.

I don't need this, and I surely didn't come here to get chastised by my mother. In truth, all I wanted to do was stop by, say hello to the family, and maybe get something to eat. Spilling my guts about Liz was the least of my intentions, and I'll be damned if I sit here and listen to my mother yell at me and tell me all the things I did wrong. I can chastise myself in my own apartment.

"And just where do you think you're going?"
"Home," I state as I continue towards the exit. "Tell Pop I came by."
"Zan."
"Later, ma."
"Alessandro Diego Rivera, you will return to the kitchen table right this minute, sit your ass down, and listen to everything I have to say. Do I make myself clear?" my mother inquires sternly.

At the sound of my full name, I instantly turn around and head back to the table. I sit down and wait for my punishment to begin.

"Now I sat at this table and listened to you bitch and moan about your situation, but not once did I get up and leave so I expect the same level of respect from you, am I clear?" When I do not speak she continues, but in a softer tone. "I love you, Sandy, you're my child, my flesh and blood, my baby boy, but that still does not excuse you from the way you treated Liz. You knew how much she cared about you, how much she loved you, but still you treated her like she was just anybody. Do you know how hard it is to find someone who can love you and accept you for all your faults without thinking twice? Do you know how rare it is to find someone who will stick by you through thick and thin? Do you?"
"Yes."
"Well then, why did you just throw her away?"
"I didn't mean to."
"But you did, and what's worse is you knew how much she loved." I open my mouth to speak, but she cuts me off. "Say you didn't know how she felt, and I swear to God, Zan…"
"I knew, ma. I knew. I just couldn't be what she wanted me to be." My mother eyeballs me for a second and then shakes her head. "What?"
"Why are you sitting here talking to me like I'm gullible? Has your stupidity made you forget that I'm your mother, and I know you inside and out? God." She walks over to the stove, and begins to stir one of her bubbling pots.

"I'm sorry that I cursed at you, Zan, but you just made me so angry earlier. To be honest, I'm still angry with you. I just don't understand why you're acting this way. I didn't teach this behavior, and I know you're father didn't either."
"No, you guys didn't."
"Then why? And why is it that when she finds someone that really appreciates her (like you couldn’t) and makes her happy (like you didn't want to) that you act a bigger ass?"
"Because I'm selfish." At my statement, she turns to me with shock clearly written on her face.

"Que?"
"You heard me. I'm selfish. The truth is I always knew that I loved Liz and that she loved me. I guess I was just banking on the fact that she would always be around. I'm not saying that it was right, but it's the truth. I didn't…I can't ask you for help because this is my mess, and only I can fix it. But mom, it hurts. It hurts so bad," I finish with tears in my eyes.
"Oh, mijo," my mom coos and in an instant she's got me in her arms, with reassurances that things are going to be okay.

See, this is why I love my mother. She knows how to dish out tough love and curse me when I need it, but she isn't so hard that she would kick me when I was extremely down. We sit for a moment in silence, and then she speaks.

"I know you hurt, sweetheart, but you do understand that you brought this upon yourself, right?"
"Yes."
"You know this will pass, right?"
"Yes."
"You know I love you, right?"
"Yes, mommy."
"Good," she whispers and plants a kiss on my head. "Help me finish dinner?"
"Okay."

As we move through the kitchen in silence, I try to calm myself and push Liz to the furthest corner of my mind. It's not until I begin to set the table that my mother speaks again.

"Zan?"
"Yeah, ma?"
"It's going to work out. You and Liz, I mean."
"You think so?"
"I shouldn't tell you this, but the second time you ever brought Liz over here she told me that she was going to marry you."
"I don't believe you."
"You should," she smiles as she walks to me. She wraps her arms around my waist and hugs me. "Just give her some time and space, okay? She's been so wrapped up in you for so long that she needs a breather. Let her have her life, okay? Just give her time, she'll come around, sweetie."

I can only hope so.



posted on 28-Jan-2003 2:43:59 PM
A little birdy just told me that part 19 will be out later on this afternoon, 5pm PST at the latest.....

*happy*

My mojo is working overtime people! Enjoy it!

Kim *happy*
posted on 28-Jan-2003 6:23:16 PM
Okay, I think I lied. Due to the work flow that my boss just brought me, I regret to inform you that my mojo has slowed down a tad and I don't think the part will be ready by the end of the day. :( Rest assured that I wll have it out by the latest on Thrursday night. *happy* Sorry for the inconvenience.

Kim *happy*
posted on 30-Jan-2003 3:19:37 AM
Okay, so here's the next part. I had a little trouble in some places so I enlisted the help of some friends (thanks Sue and to one of my fav authors T McMillan). Hope you guys enjoy this, let me know what you think! Kim *happy*

PS: Told you guys it would be out by Thursday! :p

Part 19
Liz POV

I'm so horny right now that I don't know what to do with myself.

For the past three hours I've been staring at the same case, and have yet to get any work done. The words just keep blurring together, and I swear I've read the same sentence at least 15 times now. Every now and again my eyes will fall on the red roses that Xavier had delivered to my office earlier today, but that's pretty much the extent of the action going on. Mmm, Xavier.

Have I mentioned how much I love that man?

I don't know how it happened, but I am totally, completely, entirely enraptured with this man. The way I love Xavier isn't quite on the same scale as the way I feel…I mean felt about Zan, but I can honestly say I'm glad it's not. At long last it feels like I'm in love with someone who actually loves me back and isn't afraid to show it, and it just feels good. I absolutely adore the fact that I have finally found someone who is attentive to my needs and takes an active role in making both of us happy, not just himself. Xavier is the epitome of caring and kindness and…well, love. I don't know, maybe I'm putting a lot on it, but it's just nice to feel happy and complete for a change.

It's not that Xavier doesn't have any faults, because Lord knows he does. Hell, just last night he had the audacity to ask me what I was cooking for dinner as soon as I walked through the door. After being at work for almost 12 hours. Mind you, he had the day off and had been sitting in the house all day long. Did he bother to vacuum? No. How about take out the trash? Nuh uh. Wash the dishes, perhaps? Not even.

"So you mean to tell me that you haven't done anything today, but sit in my house and watch TV all day long?" I asked as I set my briefcase on the coffee table.
"Your house? I thought this was our house," Xavier stated, not once taking his eyes from the tube.
"When you start contributing to the household in some way, shape or form, then we can talk about this being our house," I snapped at him. "But that's beside the point. Why didn't you fix yourself something to eat? You could have at least done that."
"Today is my day off. Why should I have to cook?"
"So let me get this straight: since you didn't have to work today, you shouldn't have to cook either, even though I've been at work all day long?"
"Yep."
"And since you're not going to cook, even though you're hungry, I'm supposed to make dinner?"
"Uh, yeah. My place isn't in the kitchen."
"But mine is?"
"Hey, you said it, I didn't."
"Hmm, okay."

I stood there for a couple of more minutes in silence, and just watched him. Not once did he attempt to move, or even speak to me. Instead he continued to watch TV and laugh at the idiots on the screen. Occasionally he would scratch a random body part, but for all intents and purposes, I was invisible.

"So what are you making for dinner?" he called out to me as I gathered my brief case and headed toward my bedroom. I came to a halt and faced him, making sure he could see my face.
"Xavier, it will be a cold day in hell before I cook anything for you ever again. Oh, and since my place is in the kitchen, let me tell you where your place isn't: my bedroom. Lock up on your way out." And with that I walked into my room and shut the door.

I glance at my apology in the form of roses once more and a small smile settles on my lips. Okay, so Xavier is a tad chauvinistic. Any other time I would have beaten a man senseless for talking to me like that, but there are so many other good things about him that I can overlook this one miniscule detail. I mean, how stupid would I be to give up on love just because he thinks that he shouldn't have to cook? Besides, it’s not like I’m a ray of sunshine 24 hours a day. There have been plenty of times that Xavier has taken the brunt of my wrath undeservedly. Look at it this way, at least he was man enough to acknowledge how thoughtless he was and actually apologize. To me, it's the little things that really count. Though a diamond ring would be nice, I don't need it. What I need is someone to be there for me when I need him, someone to hold me when I cry, someone to tell me that things are going to be okay in the bleakest of situations. I need someone to love me. With Xavier I've got that. Xavier has taught me so much in our time together, but I think the lesson that sticks out the most is that with love sometimes you have to take the good with the bad. Love doesn't come in this perfect package without any faults, but instead is a test of the level of commitment one is willing to make. Sometimes a person is worth it; sometimes they're not. All I know is that he has been so patient with me, so kind that I truly believe he's worth the risk.

And in this moment I know that my life is about to change. I'll leave it up to fate to decide whether it's for the better or the worse, but in this instant I know that this particular chapter of my life is about to come to a close.

"Sasha?"
"Yes, Liz?"
"Do I have any more appointments for the day?"
"Um, let me check." Pages ruffle in the background and then abruptly stop. "No, you're free."
"Great. I am leaving for the day."
"Okay."
"And Sasha?"
"Yes?"
"Take the rest of the day off."
"But what about the Kitsch project?"
"It can wait until tomorrow."
"You sure?" she asks with uncertainty.
"Question me again, and I'll make you stay here all night filing," I smile into the speakerphone.
"In that case, see you tomorrow, Liz," she replies hurriedly and the speakerphone shuts off. I chuckle softly as I gather my things and walk towards the door.
*****
"Finally," I sigh as I walk through the door of my apartment. I don't even bother to take my things to the table; I just drop them on the floor and proceed to walk through the house.

If there were ever such a thing as a physical manifestation of hell on earth, it would be in the form of the 405 freeway. I left my office about two hours earlier than usual and still managed to get home about 45 minutes later than I usually do. Only in LA, I swear.

"Hello, is anyone here?" I call out.
"In the living room," Xavier responds. A smile lights my face as I quicken my pace to meet him and only grows once I find him.

Xavier is lying down on the couch wearing a pair of medical scrubs and nothing else. His jet-black curls are slightly disheveled, but everything else seems to be very much in place. Broad chest and shoulders, check. Nice strong arms that I've laid in on many an occasion, check. Washboard abs, double check. He turns he face towards me, and when he does his bright blue eyes begin to twinkle and dance.

"Hey you, how was your day?" he inquires with a smile on his face. "There's food in the kitchen if you're hungry. I can't promise that it will be all that great since I'm the one who cooked it, but it's there if you want to eat."

I don't even answer; instead I walk over to where he's laying and straddle his lap. A look a pleasant surprise flashes in his baby blues, but quickly leaves once I kiss him. The minute my lips touch his all systems are go, and before I know it, Xavier has rolled us over and has me pinned underneath him. His hands have found their way to my hair and threaded themselves in it, dragging my face even closer than it already was to his.

"I take…it…that somebody…had a…good…day," Xavier manages between kisses. He's no longer kissing my face, but has now began to feast on the column of my neck.
"Yeah…it was…mmm…good, but…I plan on…having…an even bet…ter night."
"Is that so?" he inquires as he sits us up, lifts my arms and divests me of my blouse.
"Yeah."
"And just exactly how do you plan on doing that?"
"Come here and I'll tell you."

A shy smile covers my face as I place both my hands on the sides of his face and draw his ear close to my lips. Once my proposal is made, I watch as his face goes from slight amusement to curiosity to full-blown shock. He pulls me into his lap and kisses my forehead.

"You sure about this?" When I nod affirmatively he continues. "I mean have you thought about this?"
"Xavier." I wrap my arms around his neck and pull him a tad closer. "I've been thinking about this for the past 27 years." Kiss. "But more importantly, I've been thinking about it for the past year…" Kiss. "Three months…" Kiss. " And twenty four days."
"Liz--"
"I thought about it all day long, on the freeway, and as I walked through the door tonight. I love you, Xavier, and to be honest, I can't think of anyone I'd rather share this with than you. You're my heart, the air I breathe. You are where I want to be."
"I want you to be absolutely positively sure about this, because once we take this step forward there is no turning back. Things aren't going to be the same," he warns.

For the second time tonight I do not answer him. I simply stand up and hold my hand out to him. Conflict runs through his eyes as Xavier hesitates for a moment, but then he grabs my hand and we walk to the bedroom.

*********
"This is going to feel a little…different for a minute, but then it will get better."
"Okay," I reply with a little quiver in my voice.
"Do you trust me?"
"With my life."
"That's my girl," he whispers with a smile in his voice.

For a moment there's nothing and then it happens.
**********
"You okay, baby?" Xavier asks concerned.
"Yeah…it just…hurts some."
"You sure about this? I can just--"
"No, I'm alright. You're okay, just--" A puff of air escapes my lips as he pushes a little further inside me.
"Still okay?"
"Y-yeah."
"Just a little more and then…"

He pushes a bit further still and a blinding white pain that I have never known consumes the lower half of my body. I know it's supposed to hurt, but I never expected it to be like this.

"Okay, the worst is over," he whispers in my ear and then kisses my cheek. "Just close your eyes…"
************
"…and let me do all the work."

My body tenses up as I feel him begin to stir in and all around me, but then he begins to kiss me and suddenly everything becomes okay, so much to the point that all coherent thought leaves my mind. He has slipped between my legs so easily, so comfortably, like we’d done this a million times. My breath has caught in my throat as he slowly continues to inch forward with one hand and stroke my hair with the other.

"I would never hurt you, I care about you too much for that. All I want to do is make you feel good. I just want to show you how much I you mean to me. It can be so good for you if you just let it be. That's my girl, just relax for me, baby. Let me show you how good it can be," he continues to whisper in the darkness.

He's pumping inside me oh so slowly, and of it's own volition, my body begins to obey his every command. I have relaxed completed, so much to the point where I don't even have the strength to fist the sheets. For the moment, all I can do is lay here and feel.

"That's right, just keep doing what you're doing. Do you know how long I've waited to do this to you, do this for you? You know how lucky I am to have a woman like you…"
***************
"…who is so beautiful, so perfect in every way? I love you so much, Liz, so much that you'll never fully comprehend it," Xavier says quietly as he plants soft kisses all around my face. "You still feel okay?"
****************
"Yes, oh God, yes," I moan as a wave of a pleasure rips through my body. "More, I need…mm, yeah like that…oh my G--"
"You like that, sweets? Is that good for you, baby?" he inquires sensually as he begins to nibble on my shoulder. He then brings his face parallel to mine, and for a moment all activity stills. My breath is on it’s way to returning to normal, and when I chance opening my eyes, all I can see are his burning into mine.

“What? Is everything—“
“Shhh. Give me your hand.”
“Why?”
“Just give it here.”

He takes my right hand and places it over his heart. He looks me squarely in the eyes before he speaks again.

“From this moment on, this belongs to you. It’s yours.”
“You sure about that? Once I accept it, there’s no way in hell I’ll ever give it up,” I state seriously.
“That’s what I was counting on,” he smiles down at me and all at once claims my mouth as his own.

He's stroking my hair and my back, kissing my arms, elbows, knees and toes. If he keeps this up, the neighbors will be calling the cops soon. He kisses my thighs and suddenly stops.

"What are you planning on doing to me?" I ask as I try to control the moan in my throat.
"Everything," he breathes in between my legs and with that one statement my world goes dim with pleasure….
************
"You're too good to be true," Xavier whispers as he rolls us over and places me on top of him.
"You really think so?" I manage to ask him through somewhat gritted teeth. I'm still in a little pain, but not so much now that we've repositioned ourselves.

My hips begin to move without any help, and that's when I feel Xavier's hands begin to slide up and down my back…
**************
…and then it's like a heart beat started beating between my legs. His wonderfully strong hands continue to slide up and down my sides, and stroke the insides of my thighs until my body is nothing but a pure current of electricity ready to explode at any moment. Of their own volition my legs begin to open a bit wider to allow him a little more access, and when his tongue found that special spot, it was all I could do not to die.

My body has begun to spasm and shiver with the kinetic energy that this man is feeding into me, and….
***************
…he's pressing me so close that our separate heartbeats have become one, and we've totally immersed ourselves into each other. I feel so soft and hard, so weak and strong. And then his hands grabbed my hips and brought me even closer to him. It's almost as if I'm floating above Xavier, and when I look down at him….
****************
…he looked up at me and gave me permission to do what I had been craving ever since I had met him.

"Just let go, sweets. I'm here and I'm not going to let anything happen to you."

And with his words of permission ringing in my ears, I closed my eyes and let all the stars in the sky come crashing down around me.

"Oh, Za…"
******************
"…avier!" I find myself crying and at that moment the world as I knew it ceased to exist.

After a few moments, I rolled off Xavier and lay on what was now my side of the bed. The sheets were clustered around our bodies and the essence of sex was still potent in the air.

"So…"
"Yeah…"
"How are you feeling?" Xavier asks me concerned. He reaches out with his left hand and begins to stroke my cheek.
"A little sore, but I guess that was to be expected."
"Yeah, it was."
Silence.

"You sure you're alright?"
"Yeah, I'm great," I smile at him. "I think I'm still in shock, though. I can't believe we just…"

Xavier doesn't even let me finish. He hops out the bed, locates his scrubs, and begins to put them on. Okay, what the hell is going on?

"Where are you going?" I ask in a small voice. Suddenly I am very cold, and I begin to readjust the covers around my body.
"Kitchen. I was going to make a sandwich. Did you need anything?"

He's joking, right?

"Are you coming back to bed?"
"Yeah…after Sports Center goes off."

Did I miss something here?

"Xavier?"
"Yes?" he answers somewhat impatiently, and suddenly I am no longer 27 years old, but rather 17.
"Was everything okay? I mean was I…okay?" I ask timidly and cast my head down.
"Liz." He walks back over to the bed and sits beside me. "It was your first time so I wasn't expecting too much, but yeah, you were okay. More than okay actually. Don't worry about it, we have plenty of time to practice." He kisses my forehead and then begins to head back toward the door. "I'll be back, get some rest. Love you." And with that, the door to my bedroom slammed and I was left alone in the dark.

As I lay back against my pillows, tears began to flow freely down my face. I'm not sure if it is the dull throbbing between my legs, or the fact that the man I just gave my virginity left me for Sport Center that is making me cry. I do know one thing: I'm confused as hell.

If I'm in love with Xavier, why was I thinking about the night that Zan and I spent together while we were making love? Why can't I get away from this man?

These thoughts continue to plague me as I drift off to sleep.

posted on 4-Feb-2003 7:15:22 PM
Read and enjoy people! Kim *happy*

Part 20
Alex POV

"Hello?"
"Hey you."
"Liz, to what do I owe the honor of this phone call?" I ask and immediately a small smile lights my face.

I haven't spoken to Liz in what seems like a lifetime, and to be honest I missed my best friend. It's not like I haven't done my part in trying to keep in contact with her, because Lord knows that I have, but with her relationship with Xavier…let's just say that my buddy has been otherwise occupied.

"I can't just call to say hey to one of my bestest friends in the whole wide world?" she teases.
"You know you can. What's up?"
"Nothing much. How's work?"
"Work is just that, work. I've been really busy lately with all the new business coming in."
"So is that why I haven't heard from you in ages?"
"No, you haven't heard from me in ages, because lately it seems that you can't tear yourself away from The Boy Toy. Not that there's anything wrong with that," I add quickly. The last thing I need is for Liz to think that I don't support her newfound love, especially after the whole Zan fiasco. "How is Xavier anyway?"

A sigh breathes its way across the telephone lines and immediately after I am met with silence. I wonder…

"Liz?"
"Yeah, I'm still here," she states sounding rather dejected.
"What's the matter with my favorite girl? What's going on, Lizzikins?"
"Alex, can I ask you a question?"
"Anything." Another deep breath passes over the phone.
"The first time…you had sex, what was it like?"

Oh boy.

"Liz…"
"Alex, please."
"Fine. If you want to know the truth, it was over really quick. I'm what Missy Elliott would call a 'One Minute Man.' Not that I still have that problem. I mean, I can go for hours now that--"
"What was it like afterwards?" she cuts me off.
"Huh? What do you mean?"
"I mean, what happened after you finished having sex?"
"Well, we laid there together, our legs and arms all tangled up, and talked until the sun came up. Once in a while we would kiss or I would…" I trail off.

Even though Liz has been my best friend since what seems like forever, I suddenly find myself becoming increasingly embarrassed as I tell her about my first sexual experience. It's incredible, because I never thought I would feel this way around her, especially since she already knows practically everything about me anyway. I guess it's something about your first time that's just so sacred that it makes it hard for you to share it with other people. Especially since the person you're sharing these intimate details with hasn't had an wonderful experience of their own. That is unless…

"Liz, why do you ask?"
"Ask what?"
"About my first time."
"No reason," she answers distractedly.
"Liz."
"What Alex?"
"You're lying to me, and you know that I hate it when you lie to me."
"I'm not--"
"Did you have sex with Xavier, Liz?"

The silence that I am met with gives me all the answer that I need.

"Liz."
"Yeah, Alex. We did," she replies and then the most unexpected thing happens: she begins to cry.

For someone reason, I don't think that these are tears of joy that she's crying. Granted, the first time anybody has sex, it's not the most joyous thing in the world to happen, and before you say anything, yes, it hurts the guy too. Think about it, you trying to jam something the size of a cucumber into a hole that's got the circumference of the eraser on a pencil. But still, even with all the pain that occurs, there is some sort of pleasure that's involved. Hell, if it weren’t then why would people keep having sex?

"What happened, Lizzie?" I inquire softly.
"N-nothing," she stutters through her tears.
"Then why are you crying?"
"Because…"
"Because what?"
"It wasn't anything like I expected it to be."
"Oh, Liz. It's never what you expect it to be," I sigh. "For some reason, everyone always thinks that their first time is going to be--"
"He left me in the bed alone so he could fix himself a sandwich and watch Sports Center."

I think I'm going deaf in my right ear, because I know that I did not just hear her right.

"Come again?"
"After we were through, he got out the bed, put on some pants, and went in the living room so he could watch Sports Center."
"And you did what?"
"Laid there. Alex, what was I supposed to do? I barely had the strength to turn over and go to sleep, let alone walk into the living room and cuss him out."

I have a good mind to fly to LA, find this punk, and kick his ass, royally. What kind of man do you have to be to do this to a woman? How could a person just get up out the bed and go watch TV after the woman that you supposedly love has just given you her most precious jewel? I know the conception is that all men stick together, but let me tell you something: I have a baby sister, and if a man ever, ever in his lifetime tried to pull some shit like that with her I would have to go to jail. What Xavier did was break one of the cardinal rules of The Man Code. Had it been some other broad, fine. But this is Liz we're talking about.

"I take it you told Maria about this," I ask quite heated. If I don't calm down, the phone in my hand is going to snap like a twig.
"Yeah," she sniffles.
"I can only guess what she had to say."
"It wasn't pretty." Pause. "Alex, what am I going to do?"
"You still love him?" Silence. "I'm going to take that as a yes."
"There's more to him than what he showed me that night, Alex. There has to be. I mean, in all the time that we've been together, not once has he acted like this. You think it's possible that he had some kind of…I don't know, lapse in sanity or something?"

Every fiber in my being is telling me to shout at the top of my lungs "Leave his punk ass!", but I can't because I know that it wouldn't make a bit of difference in Liz's mind at this point. As sad as it is true, she still loves this fool, and a woman's capacity to love is fathomless at times. Hell, she put up with Zan for eight years. It's breaks my heart to do this, but I give her the only true answer I can muster:

"I don't know, Liz. Maybe."
"Yeah."

God, I hate myself. I glance over at the clock and see that it's…3:25 a.m. my time, so that means that it's pretty late where she is, too.

"Liz?"
"Yeah?"
"It will be okay, things will work themselves out eventually."
"Yeah." Silence. "Hey Alex?"
"Hmm?"
"I need you to do me a favor."
"Anything."
"Don’t tell Zan about this, okay?"
"Liz, he's my best friend. I can't prom--"
"Please, Alex. Promise me you won't say anything," she begs. If I were in the room with her I bet she would on her knees.
"Liz, I--"
"If you tell him, you know he would go after Xavier. You know he would. He doesn't need to have this on his shoulders, it's not his problem. I'm not his problem anymore."

I know different, but I keep my mouth shut.

"I have never asked you for anything before, and for me to ask you for this is serious. Please Alex, promise that you won't say anything. I'm not hanging up until you do."
"Liz."
"I'm serious, Alex," she states determined. "We will sit on this phone all night long if need be."
"Fine, Liz," I exhale after a couple of moments and close my eyes. I don't know if it's the minimal hours of sleep I've been getting or the severity of this conversation, but suddenly I am exhausted beyond belief.

"Go to bed, Alex," Liz says. "I know you're tired, I can hear it in your sighing."
"Well it is almost 3:30 out here. Excuse me for sounding tired, but I do believe that you have three hours on me," I joke and for the first time in our conversation, Liz manages a giggle.
"I guess I do. Thanks for listening, I really appreciate it."
"Hey, that's what I'm here for. Besides, you're one of my favorite girls."
"One?"
"Okay, you are my favorite," I smile into the phone. "Talk to you later."
"Remember what you promised."
"I will. Goodnight, Liz."
"Goodnight."

I'm just about to lay down and go to sleep when this nagging feeling in the pit of my stomach begins to poke at me. I want to ignore it, but I can't. Sighing for the hundredth time tonight as I roll over and pick up the phone, I dial the phone number that is as familiar as my own. After two rings I get an answer.

"Ello?"
"What's up man?"
"Alex?"
"Yeah."
"What's up? Is everything alright? It's almost four o'clock your time, man."
"I know. Everything's cool, though. What's up with you?"
"I'm sculpting. Couldn't sleep."
"Liz?"
"Who else? She haunts me, Alex, in my reality and in my dreams. You talk to her lately?" he asks nonchalantly.

Oh, you are so transparent, my friend.

"Actually, I just got off the phone with her about ten minutes ago."
"Really."
"Uh huh."
"Hmm."

Okay, I have to give it to my boy. Any other time he would be pumping me for information about what she said, how she said it, how she was doing, and then made me repeat it like four times. Zan seems to be holding it together nicely. Maybe all that counseling did work.

“How’s she doing?”
“She’s alright.”
“Just alright?”
“Zan, stop trying to read more into the situation than what is really there,” I state, hoping that I sound as nonchalant as my friend had just moments ago. “She’s fine, okay?”
“Whatever you say man.” Pause. “So?”
“So what?”
“Dude, what the hell do you want? I know you called for something other than to ask me how I was doing. Spill it.”

As much as I want to, I can’t tell Zan about the whole Liz/Xavier situation. As badly as I want Zan to find Xavier and beat him senseless, I can’t do it, because I’m pretty sure that two things would happen: 1.) I would violate the trust that Liz has instilled in me, and our friendship as I now know it would be no more; and 2.) Zan would go to prison. Seriously. I’ve known Zan for well over 14 years, and for the most part he is a pretty laid back guy. He doesn’t fly off the handle, or just act crazy for the sake of it. All and all, Zan is a rational, real standup kind of guy. That is, until we start dealing with matters of the heart, especially if it has something to do with Liz. I remember our freshman year of college, there was this guy that decided he was going to “stalk” Liz because she had turned him down for a date or something. I just happened to be over the night that Liz walked through the door with tears running down her face, terrified because this asshole had left a pig’s heart impaled with nails on her doorstep…
*********
“Honey, what happened?”
“Oh my God, he’s going to kill me!” she sobbed as she fell into Zan’s arms. Her hair was wild and matted, and her eyeliner…let’s just say she would have fit in real well with a family of raccoons.
“Liz, you have to calm down,” Zan soothed as he rubbed her head and kissed her hair. “Tell me what happened. It’s okay, no one is going to hurt you.”

Liz wrapped her arms tightly around Zan, and then mumbled something into his chest.

“He did what, sweetheart?” Zan asked very calmly.
“He had a bleeding pig’s heart delivered to my dorm room,” Liz whispered with terror in her eyes.
“What’s his name?”
“Jake, Jake Matthews.”

Liz should have never told Zan that man’s name, because I could tell by the look in Zan’s eyes that Jake was about to be a dead man. He loosened Liz’s hold on him, and quicker than I could blink my eyes was out the door. A female scream and 25 minutes later we found Zan, and…it was not a pretty sight. Zan’s fists were pummeling into Jake’s face, his sides, everywhere he could possibly touch. Liz and I tried to stop him, but by this time, it was like Zan was in a trance that could not be broken. I think the scariest thing about the situation was the whole time Zan was whooping on him, he was also lecturing this guy about what he had done. It wasn’t until the campus patrol’s siren began to sound that Zan’s arms stopped swinging.

“If I hear that you’ve come near her again, I will kill you! Do you understand me?!? You stay away from her…”
************
I shake my head as I think about that day almost 10 years ago. If Zan was that enraged over a prank involving a pig’s heart…

“Nothing to spill, man,” I lie. “Just calling to see how you were doing.”

No need to send my best friend to prison.