|posted on 14-Sep-2001 12:23:44 PM|
|All the tales you will read here are based on Roswell, and revolve around my favorite couple, Max and Liz. I don't own them, I didn't create them, I just want to borrow them now and then (especially when TPTB don't know WTF they are doing with them!). I will post my completed selections here. Look for current ones on the active board. Here's all the bs:
Author: Breathless aka Debbi
Category: Max and Liz, always!
Rating: PG13 to NC17 (I can't resist!)
Disclaimer: I don't have to say it again, do I??? Yada, yada, yada
First up, Destiny Found, my very first attempt at fanfic, or writing in general! This was written in May of 2000. I didn't like the end of season 1, so I changed things my way . . .
|posted on 14-Sep-2001 12:39:41 PM|
Summary:This story begins where Destiny leaves off. Liz has seen the message in the cave, and believing that Max has a destiny that doesn't include her, she tells him goodbye and leaves. This story begins later that night . . .
Liz pushed open the door to her bedroom with the tip of her foot. It was late and she was tired. She had spent the evening with Maria as the two had tried to console each other, but nothing had seemed to help. Liz had left an hour ago needing some time alone. So much had happened she decided to take the long way home so she could think. The warm evening air had done nothing to ease the pain that she was feeling. The house was quiet and empty when she arrived home. Her parents had gone to spend a few days at her Aunt’s home in Arizona. In a way she was glad they weren’t home. She knew her mother would be able to sense something was wrong and Liz just wasn’t ready to talk about it. On the other hand, Liz felt so lonely here all by herself.
She tossed her backpack toward her desk with a deep sigh, striking the chair and nearly tipping it over. The light from the lamp on her desk left most of her room in shadows. She shrugged out of her jacket, letting it fall to the floor. Taking her shoes off, she tossed them into a dark corner of her room. She felt drained, not so much physically, but emotionally spent. As she walked around the end of her bed, she caught the image of her reflection in the mirror on the wall. The girl that peered back at her looked like a stranger. Her face appeared drawn and pale. Dark circles gave her normally expressive eyes a haunted look. Tears shimmered on the surface, once again threatening to spill down her cheeks.
Liz turned toward her bathroom, anxious to get away from her depressing visage in the mirror. She pulled her sweater over her head and dropped it on the chair as she passed by. Her right hand reached back and released her hair from the clip, letting it fall loosely around her shoulders. Liz stopped in mid stride, mesmerized by the sight of the hair clip in her hand. It was made of tortoiseshell in the shape of a heart. Max had given it to her only a few days ago. It now seemed like a lifetime ago. How could things have changed so much in such a short period of time?
Liz slipped out of her jeans and entered her bathroom. She crossed the short distance to the sink and turned on the faucet. She splashed cool water on her face, hoping the shock would make her feel something, anything, besides this deep sense of despair and loneliness. Memories of the last few days came flooding back, overwhelming her. The tears that had been threatening all evening spilled down her cheeks, mingling with the water in the sink. A sob escaped her lips as she sank to the floor, her legs no longer strong enough to support her. Unable to fight it off any longer, Liz lay on the floor shaking as waves of hopeless despair washed over her.
* * * * *
Max leaned against the outside wall of Liz’s room. He had climbed her balcony earlier in the evening, wanting to talk to her. She had left this afternoon without letting him explain. He wasn’t even sure if he could explain what had happened, but he had to try.
The balcony was deserted. The light on her desk was on, casting its dim light into her bedroom. There was no sign that she had been in the room recently. He wondered where she might have gone. Perhaps to Maria’s or to see Alex. Maybe all three of them were together.
Max sat in one of the rooftop chairs to wait for Liz to come home. He ran a shaky hand across his face as he tried to decide what to say to her. His thoughts in turmoil, all he could see was the hurt and pain in her eyes when she had walked away from him in the desert.
Suddenly the door to her room opened. Max rose quickly to his feet. Through the window he caught a glimpse of Liz as she entered her bedroom. Her face looked strained and pale. Her eyes were so tired and sad looking. He watched her as she tossed her backpack carelessly across the room. His breath caught in his throat as she crossed the room toward him. In a panic at being seen, he carefully moved toward the wall. Max wondered what was wrong with him. He had come here to talk to her, and now he was hiding, afraid to let her see him. Peering around the edge of the window he could see that she was heading toward her bathroom. He nearly stepped out of the shadows as she passed by the window close to him. As he began to move he saw Liz pull her sweater over her head and toss it onto the chair. Frozen in place, he watched as she removed a clip from her hair. He could see it resting in her hand, could see her face as she stared at it. It was the clip he had given her. The one that she had worn almost everyday since then. Heat burned in his cheeks. He shouldn’t be standing here watching her like this, he thought. She looked so vulnerable and fragile. Her small hand closed around the clip as she passed from view toward her bathroom. When she was no longer in sight he quietly moved back into the shadows. He could hear the sound of water running as he leaned his back against the wall. He closed his eyes, deep in thought trying to decide what to do next. His eyes flew open as the sound of her crying reached him. His hands clutched at his head as he slowly slid down the wall to a crouching position. The sound of her crying pierced him to the bone. His chest ached knowing her tears were because of him. As her sobs quieted, Max thought back to the events of the past week. A week in which his entire life had changed. A week that he wished he could erase. But he couldn’t change what happened. He only knew that he needed Liz. Needed her with him while he tried to sort out what it all meant.
* * * * *
All cried out, Liz rose from the floor feeling cold and stiff. Her eyes felt gritty and swollen. She rose to her feet trying to shake off the feelings of despair that surrounded her. She turned to the shower, suddenly deciding a hot shower might just help make her feel semi-normal again. Liz striped off her panties and bra and stepped into the shower stall, feeling the hot water penetrate her numb muscles. As the water relaxed her body, her mind once again went over the events of the past week . . .
It had all begun when Tess had come to town. Liz could feel the way Max was drawn to her. Just when they had finally opened up to each other, Tess had come between them. And now, of course, Liz knew why.
Ever since the day that Max had healed Liz in the Crashdown, she had felt a special bond with him. But he had been afraid to let her get close to him. When he had finally kissed her for the first time she was the happiest person on the face of the Earth. But then he had withdrawn again. She understood his fears and gave him the space he needed. When he was ready to come back to her she was waiting for him. But then Tess had come to town and Liz could feel Max slipping away from her. At first she had just felt confused because she could sense that Max’s feeling for her hadn’t changed. The love in his eyes every time he looked at her and the feelings she got every time he touched her proved how much he cared for her. But there was no denying that Tess held some kind of power over him. The scientific side of Liz’s brain could not reconcile with the emotional side. She knew it made no sense, but ever since the day that he had healed her, she had felt that she and Max were fated to be together. Today she had learned how wrong she really was. Tess and Max had a past they had shared, and a future waiting before them. A future that Liz had no part in.
Liz emerged from the bathroom with a towel wrapped around her body. Her hair had been swept off her shoulders, once again secured by the tortoiseshell clip. The chills she had felt earlier had dissipated in the warm shower and she slowly made her way across the room to her closet. Max watched from the window as she reached for the silk robe hanging from a hook on the back of the door. As she slid her arms into the sleeves the towel fell to the floor. Max quickly averted his eyes but not before he saw a glimpse of her delicate back and the curve of her hips. Feeling like a voyeur, he stepped back from the window.
Liz pulled the robe around her, tying the belt in a loose knot. She stooped to pick the towel up off the floor and turned toward her desk. Max continued to watch her from the shadows, unable to turn away. He noticed that the shower had washed away some of the fatigue he had seen earlier on her face, but her eyes still held the same sad look he had seen before. She paused in front of her desk draping the towel over the back of the chair. Lost in thought, her fingers played with the edge of the towel. Max wondered what she was thinking. Was she thinking about him now? His mind kept repeating the last words she had said to him. She had left him because she believed Tess was his destiny. She was wrong, and he had to make her see that.
Max stepped of out the shadows. He appeared in front of the window closest to her. He raised his hand and rested his fingers lightly on the glass. Startled, Liz turned to see him. The movement caused a single tear to fall to her cheek. She quickly turned away brushing her hand across her cheek, but not before he had seen. She hesitated a moment and then turned back toward the window. Her hand reached out and turned the lock, then fell away. Raising the window, he soundlessly climbed into her room.
Liz looked up at him and then down at her hands. “What are you doing here, Max?” she said in a voice so low it was almost a whisper.
“I need to . . . talk to you, Liz,” he said haltingly.
“We talked this afternoon, Max.” She could not look at him. Her eyes remained transfixed on her fingers as she nervously toyed with the fringe on the edge of the towel on the back of the chair. “I thought we said all there was to say.”
He cautiously stepped toward her. “No, Liz. We didn’t talk. You talked to me, but you never gave me a chance.” She stood with her head tilted down, her back turned toward him. He could see her reflection in the mirror. Her eyes were closed and he could see her cheeks were moist with new tears. He reached out and gently touched her shoulder. She bolted away from him like a frightened kitten. His hand lingered in the air where her shoulder had been a moment before, then fell heavily to his side.
“Liz, not long ago I told you something that I meant with all my heart.” He watched her reflection in the mirror hoping for a sign that she still believed in the two of them. “I told you that you were the only one for me. That I’ve always known it was you. And last night, when you told me . . . when you told me that you love me, they were the sweetest words I’ve ever heard in my life.”
Liz turned to face Max. She longed for him to hold her, but it wasn’t meant to be. He had another life calling him now. One that didn’t include her. “Max, a few months ago you said you were afraid to get too close to me because . . . because we weren’t meant to be together. And you were right. You were meant to be with Tess.” Max watched her eyes as first one tear and then another fell to her cheek. Her hand was shaking as she quickly brushed them away. Taking a deep breath she continued. “I can’t stand in the way of who you are suppose to be with, or of what you’re suppose to become. I won’t even pretend that I understand everything that’s happened, because I don’t. All I know is there is no place for me in your life now.” Liz fought the tears that threatened to overcome her. She couldn’t let him see that she was dying inside.
Max took a step toward Liz. She looked away from him, not wanting to see the pain in his eyes. “Liz, I don’t understand all of this either. The things Nasedo said, and the message that we heard in the cave, I’m not sure what they mean. But I am sure of this, Liz. That message was about someone who doesn’t exist anymore. He led his life and then he died. I’m not him. I can’t be him.” Max stepped closer to Liz. “The decisions I make in my life have to be my own.” He reached out and touched his fingers to her chin, turning her face to look at him. “I want you to be with me, to help me make the right choices. I need you Liz. Now more than ever before.”
Liz looked into his eyes, wanting his words to be true. “But what about Tess? You must have loved her.”
“I’ve only be in love once, Liz. With you. It’s always been you.”
The look in her eyes softened and a smile touched the corners of her lips. He kissed her, tentatively at first, and then deeply as she let down her defenses.
“I don’t know what’s going to happen tomorrow, or the next day or even ten years from now,” Max said in a gentle voice as he held Liz is his arms. “All I know is that, whatever happens, I want you with me. I need you with me. You make me whole, Liz. Without you, I’m empty inside.” He kissed her again, chasing away all the hurt and pain that had been between them. She clutched at the collar of his shirt, pulling him close to her. His arms encircled her in a tight embrace. His hand moved slowly over her back, massaging and caressing her. He would never let her go again.
Tears flowed from her eyes, soaking through his shirt. His words were ringing in her ears. The emptiness that she had felt this afternoon when she told him goodbye was now gone. Without each other they were lost. Together they were one.
He suddenly became acutely aware of her nakedness under the thin robe she was wearing. He took a deep breath, resting his forehead against hers. His hands were resting on the sides of her neck, his fingers inside the collar of her robe touching her bare shoulder. Her skin felt warm and inviting. He felt his body responding to her, wanting her.
Max took a step back from Liz. Strands of her hair had escaped from the clip and now hung loosely around her face. Her cheeks were flushed, the color rich and sensual. Her large eyes were drawing him in. She was more beautiful at this moment than he had ever seen her before.
Max took a deep breath and looked away from her. “I . . . I think I’d better go now.” He moved away from her, stepping toward the window. If he didn’t right leave now he knew he wouldn’t be able to leave at all. Her hand trailed down his arm as he pulled away. Reluctant to let him go, she held on to his hand. He looked back into her eyes one last time, then he let go of her.
Liz watched him move across the room. In a near whisper she called out to him. “Max . . . ”
At the sound of his name he stopped and turned back toward Liz. The light from the desklamp illuminated one side of his face, leaving the rest in shadows. His eyes bore into hers, filled with longing and desire. He held his breath as she opened her mouth to speak.
“Don’t leave me Max,” she said, her eyes never leaving his. He stood frozen in place as she soundlessly walked to him. She reached out and took his hand. He looked down at her small hand in his then back to her eyes, his breaths shallow and his heart racing. She slowing began to back up pulling him gently with her, their eyes locked on each other.
Liz stopped at the edge of the bed. She released his hand and without a word she reached for his jacket and gently slid it off of his shoulders. His arms slid free and she tossed it aside. Her hands reached for the top button on his shirt. He grasped her hand in his and rested it against his chest, as if to ask if she was sure. A smile touched her lips and she met his gaze unwavering. He stood quietly as her fingers deftly moved from one button to the next. When she was done he hastily pulled his shirt off, letting it fall carelessly to the floor. Her fingers moved over his chest feeling the lines and curves of his muscles. They came to rest on the wound that Pierce had inflicted on him. He had not healed it. She wondered if he wanted to leave it as a reminder of what people were capable of. He winced as she touched the cut. She pressed her lips to the wound, as if to take the pain away. His hand grasped the clip that held her hair and gently released it. Her hair cascaded around her shoulders, long and luxurious. He carefully placed the clip on the nightstand, then buried his fingers in the soft silky texture of her hair.
Max gently lifted her face up to his. His gazed wandered from her lips to her eyes, then back to her lips. He could feel his heart pounding in his chest. He pressed his lips to hers in a long and passionate kiss. His arms surrounded her. He could feel the heat emanating from her body under the thin fabric of the silk robe. His hand found the robe tie and he unfastened it. He slid his hand under the fabric, touching her soft warm skin beneath. The robe parted as his fingers moved from her waist to the small of her back and then moved up her spine. Her back arched at his touch, pressing the exposed flesh of her belly and her breast into him. He broke off the kiss to take a deep breath, overwhelmed by the feel of her body against his. Her breathing was heavy and rapid in his ear. She ran her fingers through his hair, pulling him back into the passionate kiss. His fingers moved along the contours of her shoulder blade, then under her arm to the soft rise of her breast. She moaned and her nipple hardened when his hand cupped her gently.
He pulled slightly away from her, needing to see her eyes. He held her face in his hands looking for any sign that she wasn’t ready for this. Her eyes told him everything he needed to know. His eyes were drawn to her body, one side covered by the robe, the other partially exposed. His hands moved down her neck under her robe and slid along the soft smooth skin of her shoulders. The robe tumbled gracefully to the floor billowing around her feet. Her body was beautiful in the glow of the single lamp. She watched him as he looked at her, her face shy and yet so sensual at the same time. His fingers continued moving from her shoulders down her arms. Their fingers entwined for a moment, then his hands moved to rest lightly on her hips, her narrow waist then up past her ribs to cup her breasts. She closed her eyes as his touch caused waves of pleasure to course through her body. His hands moved again coming to rest once more on her shoulders. She opened her eyes to find him looking into hers, a smile at the corners of his mouth.
Her fingers unfastened the button on his khakis. He glanced down as she lowered the zipper and his pants fell to the floor. He stepped out of them, kicking his shoes and socks off at the same time. Liz rested her hands on his waist for a moment. Taking a deep breath she slid her fingers under the top band on his boxers. She pushed down, feeling his taunt muscles and the flair of his hips. He stepped out of his boxers as they fit the floor. Her gaze traveled over his body, so human in every way. As her eyes met his he moved to her, pulling her body tight against his. He leaned down and kissed her, the passion building again. His body felt lean and muscular against her soft skin.
Max looked deeply into her eyes, searching for the slightest hesitation. “Liz . . .” His voice was a hoarse whisper.
Her fingers touched his cheek. “I need you Max,” she said in a voice filled with longing. He could see the desire burning in her eyes. “I love you.”
Unable to resist her any longer, Max picked Liz up and eased her onto the cool sheets. His hungry mouth sought hers. She parted her lips and his tongue plunged into her mouth, probing every inch. He pressed his body against hers. She could feel his hardness against her belly. The feel of him against her excited her beyond anything she had ever imagined.
His mouth trailed down her neck and beyond to the soft mound of her breast. His lips found her hardened nipple. His tongue circled it, tasting the sweetness of her skin. Liz arched her back and a loud moan escaped her lips as his mouth settled over her erect nipple and he began sucking her. Her heart was racing and her body tingled everywhere. His hand cupped her other breast. She moaned again as he rolled that nipple between his thumb and finger. His mouth then moved to that breast wanting to taste it too.
Liz reached down to find his hardness and began stroking him. Her fingers explored the shape and texture of him. He inhaled sharply, his whole body trembling with desire for her. His mouth moved up to her neck again and then to her mouth, nipping at her with his teeth and probing her with his tongue again.
Liz spread her legs, opening herself up to him. She guided his hardness slowly over her moist feminine folds. Max sucked in his breath at the feel of her wetness. He rested his forehead against hers, watching the burning desire in her eyes as she stroked his tip back and forth over her outer folds. He rubbed against her letting her direct the movements, learning what she liked. She suddenly cried out and her body jerked and thrust against him as her first orgasm swept over her.
She opened her eyes wide, filled with awe and wonder over the sensations he was causing in her. She saw his burning need in his eyes. She guided his throbbing hardness to her wet center and he slowly began to thrust into her. The connection engulfed them as he entered her. New sensations washed over them. She could feel his burning passion for her, and also his hesitation, fearful he would hurt her. She thrust up against him taking him deeper into her. She cried out at the feel of him inside of her. Her pain was minor compared to her need for him. He thrust slowly, carefully at first and then harder and deeper, sensing it was what she wanted. Her body burned under him. As the connection deepened their breathing became one breath. Their heartbeats synchronized to the same pounding pulse. Her every sensation and emotion washed over him. He could feel her climax building and was amazed that he could be causing these sensations in her. She moaned loudly, her own desire heightened by her ability to feel his coming climax as he thrust faster and deeper into her. His body trembled as she nipped at his shoulder and nuzzled at his neck. They cried out together as he thrust deep and exploded into her. His body shuddered and shook with spasms. Her body jerked against him, her hips quivering against him. Their shared orgasm was beyond any sensation either one of them had ever dreamed or fantasized about.
Max collapsed against Liz burying his face against her neck. His arms surrounded her pulling her tight against him. Liz wrapped her legs around his hips fiercely holding him inside her. ‘Oh my God, Oh my God,’ she could hear his silent words echoing in her mind.
Max breathed her in, intoxicated by the scent of her. Liz could feel dampness on her throat, and Max realized it was his own tears that she was feeling. She held him tightly, not letting him pull away from her and the connection between them lingered on. He could feel a single tear fall from her eye, followed by another and another. He gently brushed them away. His lips found hers and he kissed her long and deep. He moved his lips across her face planting soft kisses over her cheeks and eyes.
“Max . . .” she whispered, unable to put what she was feeling into words.
He touched his fingers to her lips. “I know,” he replied. He kissed her once more, then shifting his weight he pulled out of her breaking the connection. They both gasped as their shared sensations suddenly stopped. Max rested his head against her breast listening to the strong rapid beat of her heart. Liz ran her fingers through his hair, a feeling of complete contentment surrounding her. Lying here beside him felt so right.
“Do you understand what just happened between us Max?” she asked in a voice filled with wonder.
“Yes,” Max responded with a certainty as he lifted his head to look at her. “It means you were meant for me, and I was meant for you. The connection we share is just for us, Liz. Deep down, I’ve always known it.” Smiling at her, he kissed her gently and then once again rested his head against her breast. “I love you so much Liz, more than I can ever put into words.” His voice was heavy with emotion.
Liz smiled at his words. “You don’t have to say anything, Max. I feel it every time you touch me. I see it in your eyes every time you look at me.” His hand reached for hers. He brought it to his lips and kissed her palm. She cradled his head against her breast and she stroked his hair, feeling his body relax. His breathing began to slow and she soon realized that he had drifted into sleep. His body was exhausted by the ordeal he had been through over the last 48 hours. His mind was still suffering from the torture he had endured. He had tried to hide it from her but she had felt it deep inside him. She held him tightly as he slept. The warmth of his body against hers and the steady rhythm of his breathing had a hypnotic effect on her. For the first time in days, Liz drifted off into a peaceful sleep.
The first traces of morning light began to spill in from the window. It slowly made its way across the floor to the edge of the bed chasing away the night. The light inched across the bed, casting a soft glow on the couple as they slept. Max’s head was cushioned by her pillow, his right arm extended straight out across the bed. Liz slept with her head tucked under his chin, his arm serving as her pillow. Her body pressed close to him, her back to his chest, even in sleep wanting to feel him near. His left arm was draped across her breast holding her close to him as if protecting her from the night.
The dawn light crept across his face. His eyelids fluttered once, then slowly opened. A contented smile touched his lips as his senses reminded him of where he was. He raised his head and looked down at Liz as she slept. He brought his hand up to her face and brushed back the hair that had fallen across it during the night. Her peaceful face glowed in the morning light. He ran his fingertips across her cheek, her skin soft and smooth to his touch. His fingers moved to her throat and shoulder, then traced a line down her arm. He wanted to touch every part of her, to know every line, every curve, every inch of her.
His hand moved to her side, feeling her ribs beneath her skin, her flesh warm and comforting. His hand rose and fell as she breathed in and out. Last night when they had connected the rhythm of their breathing had become as one. Their hearts had synchronized to the same beat. His mind struggled to comprehend how it was possible. He had felt every sensation that she was feeling. He had been able to feel not just his touch against her skin but how his touch had felt to her. But it had gone much farther than physical sensation. Her emotions had enveloped him. Her love for him had swept over him, without reserve, without reservation. She loved him completely. No fears. No doubts.
She moved against him, snuggling closer in her sleep and a soft sigh escaped her lips. His hand moved to the curve of her waist. He sought out the spot where he had healed her so many months ago. His life had been in limbo until that day. One lonely day had blended into another. Never allowing anyone close, keeping his emotions in tight control. Afraid to let anyone see who and what he really was. Until she had been shot. He had acted on impulse. For him there had been no choice. He had saved her life and risked exposure to the world. In the process, he had finally allowed himself to really start living.
He felt her stir against him again. Her eyelids fluttered and her face turned towards his. Her eyes blinked open and a smile spread across her face as she saw him. She shifted her position turning her body toward him. He rose up, resting his weight on his right elbow. He once again brushed back her hair, gently pushing it away from her face and off her shoulder. Her delicate skin felt warm and responsive to his touch. Her hand reached up to find his, lacing their fingers together. She brought his hand up to her lips and kissed his fingers. She released his hand and sought out his face, touching the tips of her fingers to his lips.
Liz gazed deeply into his eyes. Her fingertips stroked his brow and then traveled down the curve of his chin. His body responded to her touch, wanting her, wanting to be a part of her. He kissed her gently at first, then with more urgency. His hand traveled to her breast. She arched her back, her body excited by his touch. He broke off the kiss and looked at her, still in awe of her acceptance of him, his breathing hard and labored. She ran her fingers through his hair and pulled him back to her, desire burning brightly between them.
His hand moved over her body, touching her everywhere. His palm slid across the smooth skin of her narrow waist and rose up the curve of her hip. Her could feel her skin quiver under his touch. Her lips were hot and eager on his. Her tongue darted in and out of his mouth, teasing him. His hand glided over the softness of her bottom and then down her thigh, turning inward toward her hot moist center. His fingers furrowed through her soft curls to explore her feminine center. His fingers moved along her wet folds until he found the opening he was looking for. As he began to insert his finger he could feel her wince.
His body tensed and he looked at her with great concern. “What’s the matter, Liz?” His eyes searched her face.
“I’m . . .” she began. “I’m just a little sore, that’s all. It’s okay, Max. Really, it’s okay. It’s not bad at all.” She didn’t want him to think he had hurt her.
“Your sore?” he repeated. He should have known, he told himself. He had read somewhere that the first time could be painful. There was so much he still needed to learn about her. He had sensed the pain when he entered her last night, but she had pushed it to a far corner of her mind, buried it below all the wonderful sensations he had caused in her. He placed his palm up against her and he stared into her eyes. Heat spread out from his hand flowing down her legs and up inside her. Her eyes watched in awe as his hand began to glow. “Is that better?” he asked, his eyes filled with love and concern for her. She nodded her head yes and let out a soft sensual sigh.
The healing had taken away all of her pain and left her with a hot need for him. She moved his fingers back to where they had been exploring just a minute before. She moaned under his touch. He moved his finger in her, trying to memorize every inch of her. Her hips began to move with the rhythm of his finger, thrusting at his hand. Her breaths were coming in short gasps. Suddenly she cried out in pleasure and tightened her legs around his hand. His own breathing was hot and labored in her ear and his hardness was throbbing against her thigh.
Liz pushed Max on his back and straddled his hips, rocking against him. It was his turn to moan now, his need to enter her driving him. She reached for his erection, making him groan as her fingers closed around him. His hands reached up to cup her breasts, kneading her nipples between his fingers. He watched her face, her cheeks flushed with desire. His breath caught in his throat at how beautiful she was. She maneuvered herself over him and then slowly eased herself down on top of him. He slipped into her and the connection formed immediately. They both gasped once again, amazed that they were able to share the physical and emotional sensations of the other. He placed his hands on either side of her hips, gently guiding the pace of her thrusts. He wanted this to last. He watched as he slid in and out of her. Her eyes closed, just enjoying what she was seeing through his eyes. His eyes went to the little mound just inside the folds of her skin. He could sense that this was a hot spot for her. He placed his thumb against it and gently began to rub. They both moaned as her body responded to him and her center began to tingle. He rubbed a little harder and faster as he continued to thrust into her. Her climax built ever closer. He could feel it in his very core. Suddenly her back arched and they both cried out as her orgasm crashed over them. She collapsed on top of him, her body quivering with pleasure.
He sat up, swinging his legs over the side of the bed. She wrapped hers around his hips. His arms surrounded her, his hands moving over her back and shoulders, then up the back of her neck and into her thick silky hair. He slowed the pace just a little, not wanting it to be over yet. She looked down into his eyes, her eyelids half closed. Her mouth found his and her tongue probing his lips, his teeth, and his tongue.
Suddenly in his minds eye a vision of Liz formed. She stood barefoot on a sandy beach wearing a white flowing dress, her long dark hair trailing behind her in the light ocean breeze. Her peaceful face looked out over the blue waters. Suddenly Max appeared in the vision standing behind Liz, her head resting against his chest. He was dressed in a white shirt, the sleeves rolled up to his elbows, wearing white loose fitting slacks. The waves washed around their ankles, warm and rhythmic. His hand encircled her small waist pulling her close to him and she placed her hand over his in a soft caress. A smile spread over her face, peaceful and relaxed. On the horizon a moon filled a third of the early evening sky. The setting sun cast a rosy glow across their faces as they looked out over the calm waters. Two smaller moons hovered high overhead. As the vision ended a sensation washed over him that he had never felt before. A sensation so pure his breath caught in his throat.
He opened his eyes and saw Liz looking back at him. Her face was flushed and her large eyes were radiant. She had seen and felt the vision too. Their lips met, hungry and insistent. Max was unable to wait any longer. He picked her up and holding her tight to him laid her onto her back. Liz opened her legs wide as he thrust deep and hard into her. As their passion reached its peak their bodies blended as if they were one body, one mind. They cried out in unison, their bodies shuddering as their climax engulfed them. Breathless in each other’s arms, they clutched each other tightly unable to speak. His emotions flowed into her. She could feel his love for her, his joy at being loved by her. Her love flowed back to him, along with her certainty that they belonged together, were meant to be together.
He lay spent in her arms, his breathing heavy and ragged in her ear. He throbbed inside of her, his muscles involuntarily contracting and he could feel her muscles quivering around him. Her thoughts and emotions mingled with his. He wondered why he had resisted her for so long. Watching her from afar, wanting her and needing her, but never allowing himself to get close to her. They fit together perfectly, their bodies and their minds. They made each other whole. He heard her thoughts echoing in his mind, ‘The past is the past, Max. No regrets. We’re here now. That’s all that matters.’ His mouth dropped open, amazed at the depth of their connection. He could hear her soft sweet laughter floating in his mind, touching his very soul.
Reluctantly, he withdrew from her breaking the connection. He shifted his weight onto the bed beside her. She snuggled close to him resting her head on his chest. His arms surrounded her, pulling her close to him. He gently began stroking her hair feeling its silky texture. She gazed up at him, at peace in his arms. His hand moved to her face, caressing her cheek. His fingers moved across her lips, finally coming to rest at the nape of her neck.
“You are so beautiful,” he said softly, emotions flooding his voice.
She smiled up at him, her face radiant in the soft morning light. Her response was cut off as a noise outside her window startled her. Her eyes grew wide with alarm as she realized the source. She reached for the clock on her nightstand. The green numbers read 5:20 am. As the noises from the bakery next door continued, Liz turned back to Max.
“You have to leave, Max. It’s so late,” Liz said with alarm.
Liz reached for her robe as Max sprang from he bed. He quickly found his clothes and began to dress. He slipped on his pants in one fluid motion. Liz picked his shirt up off the floor. Max watched her as she moved toward him, stepping from the shadows into the morning light. Her skin seemed to glow, her dark glossy hair a stark contrast to the paleness of her cheeks. Her robe had been hastily thrown on, leaving one shoulder exposed. He stood staring at her transfixed as she closed the distance between them. Her hand reached out and touched his chest causing his nerve endings to tingle. She returned her attention to the shirt she held in her hand. Soundlessly she helped him slide first one arm into the sleeve and them the other. She adjusted the collar then began to button his shirt. When the task was completed she moved her hand to his chest once again, letting it linger over his heart. His pulse was rapid and strong. Her eyes rose up to meet his. There was something different about the way she looked with the light coming in from the window. Something almost magical, he thought.
“I don’t want to go,” he said in a near whisper as he rested his forehead against hers.
“You have to,” she replied with deep regret.
They moved to the window, each sad to see the night come to an end. Max hesitated then reached out and pulled Liz close to him. He turned her face up to his and his lips touched hers in a lingering kiss. His arms encircled her, drawing her close to him.
Another noise drifted to them from the street below and Max reluctantly let Liz go. He climbed out the window to the rooftop. At the ladder he hesitated wanting nothing more than to stay here with her. Suddenly he felt her hand touch his shoulder. He turned to find her standing behind him.
“I can’t let you go without giving you this,” she said. Cradled in her hand was a small silver figure dressed in armor and brandishing a sword. He looked from her hand to her face, curiosity is his eyes. She placed the figurine in the palm of his hand, folding his fingers around it. “You’re my knight in shining armor, Max. My Prince Charming. And every time you look at this I want you to remember just one thing.”
“Remember what?” he asked.
“Remember how much I love you.”
A smile brightened his face, his eyes shinning. He leaned down and kissed her deeply. Noises from next door once more reminded them that the day would wait for no one and they stepped apart. Max climbed onto the ladder and down to the street below. She watched him as he moved away. He turned to look up at her one last time.
“I love you Liz Parker,” Max called out to her, not caring who heard. “I always have, and I always will.” He looked at the figurine in his hand and then back up to Liz, his face shinning in the morning light. He slipped the figurine into his pocket and disappeared around the corner.
|posted on 14-Sep-2001 12:40:40 PM|
Authors Note: This story begins where Destiny Found ends. Max has just left Liz after spending the night with her . . .
Tess watched Max as he turned the corner. He had spent the entire night with Liz. Tess seethed with anger. This was not how it was suppose to be. Nasedo had explained everything to her. Max belonged to her. Liz Parker was not worthy of his love. How could he touch her like that? Tess watched Max as he got in his jeep and drove away. The smile on his face sickened her.
Tess couldn’t figure out what had gone wrong. Nasedo had told her that Max wouldn’t be able to resist her. She thought she had him for awhile. Tess let out a little laugh as she remembered that day in the bio lab when Max’s shirt caught on fire. He couldn’t stop staring at her. And no wonder, with that vivid daydream she planted in his mind. Oh yeah, he wanted her that day. He wanted his hands all over her and he wanted to tear off her clothes and slam into her. She saw how his prick strained against the fabric of his pants. Oh yeah, he wanted her bad that day. I bet that prissy Liz Parker never got his juices flowing like that, Tess thought not for the first time.
But Max fought against it, and it was all Liz’s fault. How could she have such a strong hold on him? She was just a human, after all. She had absolutely nothing to offer him. She couldn’t compare to what Tess could give him. This human need for love was just getting in the way. How could Max be so consumed with such a pitiful emotion. Love could only make you weak. Power, that’s what mattered, and control. And she’d do anything to get that power.
Soon, they were going to need Max under their control. The future plans for this planet depended a lot on him. Without his willing assistance, it might all end in disaster. Think, Tess, think. How could she get the upper hand on him? What were his weak points? So far, she had found none. His willpower was strong. Stronger than anyone she’d ever met before. She’d had men quivering on their knees using just a fraction of the power it took her just to have him turn his eyes in her direction.
Suddenly the answer hit her. She’d been going about this the wrong way. All of her attention had been focused on Max. All this time he’d seemed so invulnerable and so in control, but he did have one huge weak point. Liz Parker. Liz was his weak point. If Tess could control Liz, then Tess could control Max.
Now that she knew what to concentrate on, she needed to create a plan. Instead of following Max everywhere, it was time to concentrate on Liz. What kind of secrets might she be hiding from Max? Max let his human emotions control his life. Tess could use that to her advantage. And once Max was under her control, Isabel and Michael would fall right in line.
* * * * *
Max pressed his hand against the frame of his bedroom window. He heard the click of the lock as it disengaged and he quietly lifted the window and climbed inside. As he took off his jacket his hand reached into the front pocket and retrieved the small figurine that Liz had given him. He stared at it for a long time and then gently set it on his nightstand. Turning around he nearly jumped out of his skin when he saw Isabel standing in his bedroom doorway.
“Where have you been Max?” Isabel spoke in a harsh whisper as she closed the door behind her. “I’ve been worried sick.”
Max looked away from her intense gaze. He should have known that she would be waiting for him. Deciding there was no way to lie to her, he blurted out the truth, or as much of the truth as he could get away with.
“I was with Liz. I went to see her last night and we talked for a long time.” He saw the look of suspicion cross her face. “It got really late and I just fell asleep there.” By the look in her eyes he was pretty sure that she wasn’t buying it.
Isabel watched her brother as he moved to his closet. She was sure something had happened last night between him and Liz, she just wasn’t sure exactly what. “Max, after all we’ve seen and heard lately . . . what Tess told us, and what we saw in the cave . . .” as she spoke she could see his back stiffen with tension. When he turned to look at her she could tell by his eyes that he didn’t like the direction this conversation was taking. “Max, this thing between you and Liz, nothing good can come of it.”
“Nothing good can come of what, Is?” he shot back at her. “Spending my life with someone I love?”
“But Max, what about what we heard in the cave? How can you just ignore that?”
Exasperated, Max began pacing his room. “Do you want to spend the rest of your life blindly following some ‘preordained plan’?” He stared at her with a hardness in his eyes she had never seen before. “Because I don’t, Isabel. I make my own choices. So should you.”
Max saw the stunned look on his sister’s face. Forcing himself to relax, he walked over to her and placed his hand on her shoulder. “I don’t mean to sound harsh, Is. We don’t know what the truth is yet. I don’t trust Tess, and I don’t trust Nasedo either.” His eyes softened and he gave her shoulder a squeeze. “Whatever decision you make, whether it’s Alex or Michael or anyone else, the decision has to be yours.” He paused for a moment and his eyes got a far away look in them. “Is, you’ve got to let your heart decide where it’s going to take you.” He gave her shoulder one last squeeze and then walked past her and headed toward the door. “ I’m going to take a shower. I’ll see you at breakfast.”
Standing alone in his room Isabel thought over what he had just said. She wished she could see things as clearly as Max did. As she turned to leave his room her attention was drawn to the small statue she had seen him place on the nightstand next to his bed. Curious, she reached out and touched it. She inhaled sharply as images flooded over her. Images of Max watching Liz walk away from him at the cave, of him watching her outside her bedroom window. She saw the look on his face when Liz asked him to stay with her, and how he watched her as she lay sleeping peacefully beside him. Isabel pulled her hand away from the statue as if her fingers had just been burned. She looked toward the door where her brother had been a moment before. For the first time in her life, Isabel was fully able to understand what his life had been like. And just how much Liz meant to him.
* * * * *
Liz rushed up to her room to change as soon as her shift ended. Max had called earlier asking when she would be finished for the day. Her heart skipped a beat just hearing the sound of his voice over the phone. He told her to be ready at 1:00 o’clock. He wouldn’t say what for, just that he had something special planned.
She had ransacked her closet looking for the red sweater that Max seemed to like so much. Finally finding it, she pulled it on and stepped over to look at her reflection in the mirror. The red of her sweater contrasted nicely with her dark hair and eyes, bringing out a rich tone in her skin. She decided to add just a touch of lip gloss. Her black skirt hugged her hips snuggly without looking too tight. She selected the new shoes with the two inch heels, liking the added height. Satisfied, she went downstairs to wait for Max to pick her up.
Max had arrived right on time. Liz rushed to the door as soon as she saw his jeep pull up in front of the Crashdown. He was just stepping out of the jeep as she closed the front door behind her. A smile spread across his face as he saw her.
“Hi,” Liz said with a shy smile as she walked toward him. He was wearing a black polo shirt and blue jeans. The short sleeves couldn’t hide the prominent muscles in his arms. Her pulse quickened at the sight of him.
“Hi,” replied Max as he walked around the front of the jeep. Max couldn’t take his eyes off her. She was all he had ever wanted, all he had ever dreamed of for as long as he could remember. The memory of her sleeping peacefully beside him this morning flooded over him.
They stood awkwardly beside the jeep for a moment, both wanting to reach out and touch the other but not wanting to make a scene in front of her parent’s restaurant. After a moment Max reached out to help Liz into the jeep.
“Here, let me give you a hand” he offered unable to tear his gaze away from her beautifully expressive eyes.
“Thanks,” she replied, grasping his hand as she climbed into the jeep. The simple touch of his hand sent a thrill through her. After she settled into the jeep Max reluctantly let go of her and walked around to the driver’s side. He quickly climbed in and pulled into traffic.
“So, where are we going?” Liz asked as they made their way out of town.
“It’s a surprise,” Max said with a glint in his eye and a mischievous smile on his face.
Liz’s smile suddenly disappeared and a look of panic crossed her face. He could see her body stiffen with tension. All of a sudden it seemed as if she was sitting miles away from him.
“What’s wrong Liz,” Max asked as his concern grew by the second. “Liz?” When she wouldn’t look at him his alarm grew even more. “Liz, what’s going on?”
“Pull over, Max,” she said in a strained voice. “Please, just stop the car.”
He pulled over to the side of the road and shut off the engine. Max reached over and rested his hand on her shoulder. He could feel her body tense when he touched her. “Liz, please tell me what’s wrong.”
Liz grabbed his hand and held it tightly. Turning her face to his she said, “Kiss me Max.”
“What?” he asked, not understanding what was going on. The panic was still in her eyes. This wasn’t some game she was playing. Something was seriously wrong.
“I need to know it’s you,” Liz said in a voice so quiet he could barely hear her. Understanding swept over him. He leaned over and kissed her gently, opening his mind to her so she could see that it was him. Her body relaxed as images of the Max she loved flashed before her minds eye. She saw him as a little boy watching her from across the school yard, the first time he had kissed her on her balcony and the night he had held her tightly in front of the Crashdown when her Grandmother had died. Relief flooded over her and he could feel her body relax. He pulled away from her and looked deeply into her eyes.
“What happened, Liz? What made you panic like that?” Max asked. “Why did you think . . . I wasn’t me?”
Liz looked at Max, sorry that she had given him such a scare. “It was what you said, Max. When you said ‘It’s a surprise’ . . . that’s exactly what you said, I mean, that’s what Nasedo said when he . . . when I was in the car with him.” Liz watched Max’s eyes looking for signs that he understood what she was trying to say. “For a minute I was back in that car. With him. Max, he scares me so much.”
Max pulled Liz into his arms. He could feel her trembling. He ran his fingers through her hair as he tried to calm her down.
“Max, when he touched me, the images I got were so,” Liz pulled away from Max so that she could look him in the eye “they were so dark, almost menacing. I could feel the contempt he has for us, I mean, for the human race in general. And . . . and . . . ”
“You got a flash from him when he touched you?” Max said incredulously. “What did you see, Liz?”
“I saw, I don’t know, dark images and shifting patterns. Everything was black and white and gray, no colors at all. And I saw the image of a woman, a dead woman. Max, the woman was Evertt Hubble’s wife.” Liz watched his face wondering how he was taking what she was telling him.
“What makes you think it was Hubble’s wife?” Max was trying to understand what she was saying.
“I saw her picture in the paper. After Hubble died. The paper had an article about him and it showed a picture of his wife and mentioned how she died tragically.” She wasn’t sure if she should say anything else. No matter how Nasedo made her feel, it seemed apparent that Max needed him to help him learn about his home and his past.
“Liz, you’re not telling me everything.”
“Max, I don’t know anything. It’s just the feelings I picked up, when he touched me. And I was left with one impression, no, not impression, a certainty that he killed Hubble’s wife because . . .”
“What Liz. Please tell me.”
“He killed her because,” she paused, not wanting to say the words out loud. “It had something to do with me, Max. I don’t know what it was, but the reason he killed her had something to do with me.”
Max stared at Liz not knowing what to make of what she was saying.
“Max, I know it sounds incredible. And I wouldn’t blame you if you thought it was just my imagination, you know, working overtime or something. But what I’m telling you is the truth. It’s what I saw in him when he touched me.”
Max pulled her back into his arms. He needed time to process what she had told him. He felt a chill go up his spine. If Liz was right, she might be in more danger right now than he ever was.
Max pulled into the campgrounds at Devil’s Lake and parked the jeep under a shady tree.
“So this is the surprise?” Liz asked. She was feeling better now than she had earlier in the jeep. She knew her earlier fear had been irrational, but she had been unable to stop the panic. Maybe it was only natural considering all the strange things she had heard and seen and felt over the last few months.
“This is only the beginning,” Max replied as he climbed out of the jeep. He didn’t take his eyes off her as he walked around to her side. She had relaxed after she told him about Nasedo, but under the surface he could feel her tension. They had both been through a terrible ordeal over the last few days. The torture he had suffered had been both physical and psychological, while Liz had been torn apart emotionally. He didn’t want anything like that to ever happen to her again. All he wanted was for her to be safe.
Max reached in to help Liz out of the jeep. She placed her hands on his shoulders while he put his hands around her waist and lifted her out. He held her above him for just a moment as he lost himself in her beautiful eyes, then pulled her close to him feeling her body slide down the front of his until her feet touched the ground. Looking up into his eyes, his intense gaze sent a shiver up her spine. ‘Max Evans,’ she thought to herself, ‘you have a way of making the whole world disappear when I’m with you.’ She felt his arms tighten around her as his lips moved to touch hers. The gentle kiss turned more forceful as he buried one hand in her hair and pulled her even closer to him with the other. His intensity exciting her, she parted her lips to accept his probing tongue.
Just then, a car pulled into the campgrounds and parked nearby. Max broke off the kiss and taking a deep ragged breath he tried to regain his composure. He rested his forehead against hers and after a moment he opened his eyes. Her cheeks were flushed and her large eyes were smiling up at him.
“That felt nice,” she said in a teasing voice.
It was his turn to blush now as he realized that he was practically crushing her against the jeep. He took a step back trying to regain his sense of control. He wondered if she could tell how aroused he was and he blushed even deeper when he saw her eyes darting furtively in that direction. He reached down and grasped her hand, lacing her fingers between his.
Max grabbed the blanket that was lying on the back seat, and holding Liz’s hand tightly in his they walked to the back of the jeep. He handed the blanket to Liz and then reached to pick up the picnic basket that he had hidden in the jeep.
“So, we’re going on our first picnic, are we?” Liz asked with a mischievous smile.
“Liz Parker, I’ve been on a thousand picnics with you over the years,” Max said, his tone very serious but the glint in his eye giving away his true feelings. “But this is the first time you’ve actually been here with me.”
Liz walked beside him in silence, hands clasped together tightly as they headed toward the waters edge. The way his eyes kept looking over at her made her feel as if she were the most important girl in the whole world. She didn’t know why he thought she was special. To her there was absolutely nothing special about her. She was too short. She was too skinny. She was definitely too flat. What could Max Evans possibly see in her, she wondered?
Max found the spot he was looking for and spread the blanket across the sandy shore. Liz kicked her shoes off and settled down on the blanket. Max set the basket down and opened the flaps. Liz took a peek inside to see what he had brought.
“Are you hungry?” he asked.
“Oh yes,” she replied, as she avoided looking him directly in the eye. She wasn’t about to tell him what she was really hungry for. The thought of eating food right now was the farthest thing from her mind. Max spread the contents of the picnic basket onto the blanket for Liz to see. He had packed fried chicken and what looked like a potato salad, and pickles and potato chips. He had included forks and knives and napkins and even wet wipes to clean up sticky messes. He pulled out a bowl that looked like it contained a tossed salad, followed by an assortment of soft drinks and juice boxes and bottled water.
“You really thought of everything, didn’t you?” Liz said to Max in amazement as she looked at the feast before her.
“Liz, you have no idea,” Max said quietly. He had spent years wondering what it would be like to have her all to himself like this. Never in his wildest dreams would he have believed that this day would ever come. “My Mom made the potato salad, but I fried the chicken this morning while you were working,” he said with obvious pride. Liz had to admit that the chicken looked and smelled wonderful.
“I didn’t know you could cook Max,” Liz said with a smile.
“There’s still one or two secrets you don’t know about me,” he responded and smiled right back at her.
Liz picked up a plate and began filling it with an assortment of the food Max had brought. She selected a piece of chicken and gave it a tentative nibble. It was absolutely the best fried chicken she had ever tasted. She looked into Max’s eyes as he watched her eat. Sometimes the simplest pleasures were the ones that lasted a lifetime, she thought to herself. She could see herself years from now telling her grandchildren about the time their grandfather made her fried chicken and served it to her on the beach. Just the thought of it made her blush. How presumptuous was it of her to think of Max in those terms? Max might be gone tomorrow, she reminded herself. For the millionth time, she told herself not to think of him in the long term. A melancholy sadness came over her as she thought of a life without Max Evans in it.
Max watched Liz as she ate the lunch he had spent the whole morning preparing. His mother had helped him a little, like the right temperature to cook the chicken and stuff like that, but the actual cooking had come straight from him. He wondered what Liz was thinking right now. She put the chicken down and picked up a can of cherry coke. She popped the lid and brought the can to her lips. He wanted to kiss those lips again. He wanted to bury his hands in her silky hair and breathe the sweet skin on her neck. He wanted the taste and feel of her breast against his tongue . . .
“Max?” Liz said as she gave his arm a gentle squeeze. “Max?”
“What?” he responded as he shook himself out of his reverie. “What?” he repeated and felt his cheeks begin to burn with embarrassment.
“I said, aren’t you going to eat too?”
“Oh, yeah.” He picked up a plate and tried to concentrate on the food in front of him. “Yeah, I’m starving.” Starving for you, he thought to himself. He piled his plate high and then settled down on the blanket next to Liz.
“So, you’re telling me you made this chicken all by yourself?”
“Yeah,” he smiled at her. “Just me, the chicken and a frying pan.”
“You know, maybe you should come to work at the Crashdown. Michael can work the breakfast shift and you can do the dinner shift.” She laughed at the thought of Max in an apron with a bandanna around his head.
“I don’t think so,” he laughed back. He loved to listen to her throaty laughter. “I don’t cook for just anyone.”
Liz watched Max as he scooped a forkful of potato salad into his mouth. He always had a way of making her feel special. ‘I don’t cook for just anyone’ echoed in her head.
Max finished the food on his plate and reached for a cherry coke. As he popped the lid Liz picked up the Tabasco sauce and handed it to him. It suddenly struck him that she handed it to him the way someone else might pass the salt. It had become automatic for her and she had handed it to him without even consciously thinking about it. It amazed him everyday that she could be with him like this. Knowing his secrets and not running away from him screaming. He watched her as she cleaned up the mess they had made. She stacked the leftover food back into the basket and tossed the paper plates into a garbage bag. She opened a package of wet wipes and began cleaning her hands.
“Need one?” she asked as she handed him a fresh wet wipe. He took it from her and cleaned his hands. She crossed her ankles and leaning back on her elbows she watched the clouds as they moved across the sky. Impulsively, Max rested his head on her lap and looked up at the sky with her.
“Look Max,” she said as she pointed to the southeast. “The moon is out in the middle of the day.”
Max could feel a change in her as she suddenly became more serious. She sat up straighter and looked down into his eyes. She brushed his bangs off his forehead and then idly ran her fingers through his hair.
“Max,” she began and then searched for the words she wanted to say. “This morning when we . . . this morning . . .”
Max sat up and took her hands into his. “What?” he asked gently.
“The vision we saw, when we . . . made love,” she looked up at him and then back down at her hands. “What do you think it meant?”
He touched his finger to her chin and lifted upwards until she was looking him in the eyes again. “I don’t know,” he said in a soft voice. “The way I felt, during the vision, it was . . . it was the purest sensation I’ve ever felt in my life. And I know you felt it too.” For just a moment her eyes softened and a smile touched her lips. “It felt so right,” he continued. “Like we belonged there, standing together in that strange place, it felt like . . .
“Home,” she completed his thought.
He took her into his arms and she rested her head against his chest. Liz closed her eyes and relived the vision she and Max had shared. Standing on that strange beach and looking out over those unfamiliar waters had felt like home. But if it was a vision from his past, why was she in it? And why would it feel like home to her? Or if it was a precognitive vision of the future, did that mean Max would take her with him when the time came for him to go? Until now, all her visions had been of things in the past, hidden memories, so a future vision seemed unlikely. Or maybe it was just images created in Max’s imagination of how he wanted things to be and she was able to see them because their connection had been so strong.
They held each other tight, lost in their own thoughts. There were so many questions and so far no real answers. In a way Max wasn’t even sure he wanted to find the answers anymore, for those answers might mean a life without Liz. And she was something he simply wasn’t about to give up. Max had lived his whole life in the moment, never looking forward more than a few hours or a few days. Now, holding Liz in his arms, he found himself wanting to look to the future. The future wasn’t a dark scary thing anymore. The future was a world of possibilities, as long as Liz was by his side.
The next few weeks had been a blur of activity. School let out for the summer and the tourist season was in full swing. Now that school was over Max was working long hours at the UFO Center. Liz had equally long hours at the Crashdown. They shared their lunch hours together whenever possible, and what little free time they could find, they tried to spend it together.
When they were not working, they went to the pod chamber trying to find whatever hidden answers might still be there. Sometimes they would go in small groups, just Michael and Max or Isabel and Tess. Sometimes they would all go together; Max, Michael, Isabel, Liz, Maria, Alex . . . and Tess.
Tess tended to stay in the background. She tried to blend into the group. She had given up her active pursuit of Max. It was obvious he could not be turned away from Liz. The rest of them kept their guard up when she was around. They didn’t trust her, or her interpretation of things. Tess watched and waited, biding her time for the right opportunity.
The relationship between Michael and Maria was once again strained. Michael had withdrawn after the incident in the UFO Center when he had killed Pierce. No matter how much justification there might have been, Michael had still killed a man. That was not something you got over in a few minutes. His tortured psyche would not allow him to reach out to Maria. Consequentially, they were both miserable but trying to keep up a good front.
Isabel and Alex continued their baby steps toward a true relationship. Alex knew she needed to go slow. He was more than willing to give her whatever time she needed. Isabel kept in mind the words her brother had told her. ‘Don’t spend the rest of your life blindly following some ‘preordained plan’. Let your heart decide where it’s going to take you.’ She had never been attracted to Michael. True, she loved him with all her heart, but in the same way that she loved Max. Michael had been a brother figure to her for so long, it was impossible to think of him in any other terms.
Maria had more or less closed down. Liz knew that she was miserable, but Maria being Maria, she put up a good front. She joked and kidded when everyone was around, but Liz was the one who was with her at the end of the day and held her in her arms when the tears couldn’t be held back any longer. Maria loved Michael so much, but there was nothing she could do until he was ready to let her back into his life, if he ever was.
Max and Liz had found little time for privacy as the days and weeks wore on. If they weren’t working, they were searching the cave, and if not at the cave they were trying to keep their ‘family’ together. They had not been intimate since their first night together. It wasn’t that they didn’t want to. It was just that the timing never presented the right opportunity. It drove Max crazy not being able to touch Liz the way he wanted to, but he also didn’t want to just grope her in the back of his jeep. The next time that he made love to her, he wanted it to be her every dream fulfilled, not some fumbling hormone driven encounter on lover’s lane. Max knew that this wasn’t the normal teenage thought pattern, but then he and Liz were not just a couple of typical teenage lovers either.
* * * * *
Liz had awakened slowly. The last couple of weeks she had been so tired. She was getting really worried now. She finally made the decision that she had been fighting for the last three weeks. She pulled back the covers and got out of bed. Within 30 minutes she was ready to go.
“Mom? Are you in here?” Liz asked as she walked into the kitchen.
“Good morning,” her mother responded brightly. Her smile faded as she looked at her daughter. “Are you feeling okay honey? You look so tired.”
“I’m fine Mom. I just woke up. Look Mom, I have to go over to Maria’s for a while. We’re working on a project together and we need to spend the morning on it. I need to borrow the car. I’m not sure when I’ll be home.”
“Well okay. But don’t work too hard. It’s the weekend. You know what they say about all work and no play.” Nancy Parker watched her daughter leave through the back door. She wasn’t a little girl anymore, she mused. Liz was growing into a beautiful young woman. Nancy’s heart ached momentarily for the little girl that used to run to her with every little bump or bruise or new experience. Liz was so private nowadays. She knew things were serious between Liz and Max Evans, but Liz just never talked about it with her. There was a time when Liz came to her about everything that was important in her life. She’d tell her about every boy that looked at her, or she’d go on about what her and Maria and Alex were up to. Now it seemed that Liz, Maria and Alex just clammed up every time she was around. ‘I guess that’s the natural progression of life,’ Nancy thought to herself. With a sigh her thoughts returned to the new menu she was working on.
* * * * *
Liz put the car in gear and headed out of town. She couldn’t take the risk of being seen in Roswell doing this. She headed west to the town of Diamond and she stopped at the first drug store she found. As she got out of the car she looked around to make sure she didn’t recognize anyone. Satisfied, she cautiously entered the store. It was nearly empty. Liz found the aisle she was looking for and then took her purchase to the counter and paid cash.
Liz got into the car and with a shaky hand she put the package on the car seat. This was the moment of truth. Liz opened the bag and removed the pregnancy test. With trembling fingers she opened the package. She took the test strip out and stared at it. If what she suspected was true, her life was about to drastically change. Taking a deep breath, Liz put the test strip in the urine sample she had brought. It would take a few minutes to know the results. Liz put the car in gear and headed for home. She would pull over in a few minutes to check the results. Until then she just wanted to pretend that everything was normal.
* * * * *
Liz pulled over at the next rest stop. Taking a deep breath, she picked up the pregnancy test. A large plus sign showed on the strip. It was just as she had expected. She was pregnant. Her stomach flip-flopped and she felt her vision blur. She and Max had not made love since that first night almost 6 weeks ago. They had needed each other desperately that night. They hadn’t thought about the consequences at all. Now they would have to. After that night they had been content to just be together, hands touching hands and lips on lips. It wasn’t that they didn’t want more, it was that they were satisfied to wait for the right time. They also needed time to understand everything that was happening around them. The sensations that they had felt that night had been amazing, and yes even overwhelming for both of them.
Liz pulled the car back into traffic. She had no idea what she would say to Max. What was she going to do? Her thoughts in turmoil, she drove back to Roswell never noticing the car that was following her.
* * * * *
When Liz got home she buried the pregnancy kit deep inside one of the garbage cans outside of the Crashdown. Her overriding thought at this time was how she would keep this to herself. Whenever Max touched her, she knew he could pick up strong images from her. If the thought of her having his baby wasn’t a strong image, then she didn’t know what was! Thank God she wouldn’t be seeing him today. He was working early and she was scheduled to work the late shift, so they wouldn’t have any time together. Her only prayer right now was that Max wouldn’t come into the Crashdown when he got off work. She needed time to adjust to this new situation. She wasn’t going to keep the truth from him. She just needed time to figure out how to tell him. Then they could decide what to do together. It seemed impossible for her to have this baby. She couldn’t even go to a doctor. Would it even be a normal nine month pregnancy? Max certainly hadn’t been born in the usual manner.
A thousand thoughts ran through Liz’s head as she made her way to her bedroom. She tossed her car keys onto her dresser and looked at her reflection in the mirror. She lifted her shirt and ran her hand over her belly. There were no outward signs yet. Her stomach was still flat. She wasn’t glowing and she hadn’t turned blue yet or anything, so that was a good sign.
But Liz already knew that this wasn’t going to be normal, either. She’d first noticed it about 2 weeks ago. There was a mental connection between her and the baby. Almost as if they could talk to each other. She could feel it now. It was like the connection she shared with Max, but different at the same time. It felt like the baby was taking her thoughts, learning from them and then sending his back to her. His thoughts, Liz repeated to herself as it dawned on her that she was carrying a boy. He’d just told her so! A huge smile spread across her face and she let out a delightful laugh. Her son was talking to her!
She heard the soft musical sound of his laughter in her mind. She suddenly realized that at this very moment he was learning what laughter was, from her. Just by her experiencing it, and thinking about it, he was learning. She laughed again and hugged herself.
Liz climbed onto her bed and curled up with one of her oversized pillows. Could her life possibly get any stranger? The tension and anxiety that she had felt earlier were now gone, replaced by a sense of awe and wonderment. Liz settled into her covers. She had a couple of hours until her shift started. That was plenty of time to tell her son a story. Liz’s thoughts drifted back to the day a serious dark haired mystery man from an exotic place came crashing into her life . . .
* * * * *
Max finished his shift at the UFO Center and headed straight for the Crashdown. He’d been thinking of Liz all day and her couldn’t wait to see her. She’d seemed sort of distracted the last couple of weeks and he was a little worried about her. Something was on her mind but every time he tried to pry it out of her she assured him that everything was fine.
Max opened the door to the Crashdown and stepped inside. It was too late for lunch and too early for the dinner crowd so the place was almost empty. He immediately saw Liz sitting at the counter with her chin resting on the palm of her hand. She was staring out into space with a dreamy look in her eyes and a sensual smile on her lips. She was so lost in her thoughts she had not heard him come in. He stood by the door and just watched her for a minute. Whatever she was daydreaming about must be good, Max thought, because her face was radiant. He made his way across the room until he was standing right beside her.
“A penny for your thoughts,” he said with a smile.
Startled, Liz turned to see Max standing next to her. Her eyes sparkled with delight. Her smile turned into a shy grin and her cheeks turned a rosy color.
“Were you thinking about me?” He was enjoying watching her blush.
Finally recovering her composure she said, “I didn’t think I’d see you today, Max.”
“I know. I can only stay a minute. Then I have to get home so I can change. We’re suppose to be at my Aunt’s in Bitter Lake by 5 o’clock.” Liz got off the stool and headed for the back room with Max following close behind.
“So what were you thinking about a minute ago?” He saw the blush creep into her cheeks again.
“I can’t tell you, Max. A girl’s got to have some secrets!”
“Really?” Max asked as he grabbed her arm and spun her around. She playfully pounded her fists into his chest.
“Yes, really! And don’t you be trying to read my mind, Max Evans!”
“If you don’t tell me, then maybe I’ll have to.” He was grinning from ear to ear now. His arms went around her and he pulled her close to him. He leaned down and kissed her lightly. Her arms went around his neck and she played with the hair on the back of his head. Suddenly the image of his lips touching her places no lips had ever touched before flashed into his mind. His breath caught in his throat and his pulse quickened. Maybe she didn’t want to tell him out loud what she had been thinking, but she had been willing to show him.
The images burned into his brain. He swallowed hard and reminded himself to breathe. In his minds eye he had seen himself as she saw him. He could feel how it felt to her when his lips moved from her lips to her neck and then lower to her breast. He felt how her nipple hardened as his tongue circled it and how her body ached with need as he took her into his mouth. The memory of doing that to her was vivid in his mind, but now he was feeling how it had felt to her and he was amazed that he could be the cause of those intense feelings.
He saw himself through her eyes as he trailed his tongue down her body, past her ribs, past her navel, further down to her sweet center. He felt her legs spread as his fingers explored her, felt how her body responded as his tongue probed her outer folds, and then pulled at that special mound of nerves. His heart was pounding in his chest. He hadn’t done of that to her, not yet. This part was a fantasy of what she wanted him to do. He’d had his own fantasies of doing that to her, but this was so vivid, and feeling it from her point of view was so much different than he could ever have imagined.
She looked up into his eyes watching the changing emotions play across his face. She saw his surprise, followed by what might have been shock, which quickly changed to the hungry look of desire.
Her face was flushed now, not from embarrassment like before, but from her own desire for him. His hand went to the back of her head and pulled her roughly to him. His mouth covered hers, hot and insistent, and his tongue plunged deep into her mouth. The playful kiss of a moment before turned into one full of raw heat and passion.
The door from the kitchen slammed open as Liz’s dad entered the room. Max jumped away from Liz and turned to see Mr. Parker staring intently at him.
“Hello Max. Liz,” he said as he looked from one to the other. They both were avoiding making eye contact with him.
“Hello, Mr. Parker,” Max managed to croak out as he tried to get his heart to quit slamming in his chest.
“Lizzy, I think there’s a customer out there waiting to pay.”
“Sorry, Dad.” Liz looked from her Dad to Max and then down at her shoes. She started to turn toward the door.
“That’s okay, honey. I guess I can get this one.” Jeff Parker eyed Max once more and then pushed open the door into the café. He rang up the customer and as he closed the cash register drawer he thought back to what it had been like to be seventeen and in love. He didn’t like to think of his little girl turning into a woman, falling in love, leaving to start a life of her own. He wasn’t ready to give her up yet. But he liked Max. He was quiet and reserved and he treated Liz with respect. If she had to have a boyfriend, he guessed Max Evans was okay. He just hoped Max wouldn’t someday break his daughter’s heart.
Max reached out and grabbed Liz’s hand. His cheeks were red, partly from Liz’s dad walking in on them, but mostly from his craving to be with her again. “I’ve gotta go,” he said and he gave her hand a squeeze.
“I know.” She smiled an embarrassed little smile.
He touched her hot cheek with his free hand. “I’ll call you later if I get home early enough.”
Liz walked him to the back door. Max gave her one last lingering kiss and then headed out the door. She watched him as he walked down the ally. ‘Tomorrow,’ she thought to herself. ‘Tomorrow I’ll tell you everything.’
Max woke up in the middle of the night, his heart pounding in his chest and his skin feeling cold and clammy. Images from the nightmare lingered in his mind. He could hear the echoes of Liz’s voice calling for help. He could see her wandering down a deserted hallway calling his name, a look of panic in her eyes.
He swung his legs over the side of his bed. He ran a trembling hand over his face and looked over at the clock on his nightstand. The green numbers read 1:17 am. Images of the nightmare continued to flash before him. Liz strapped to a table. Liz trapped inside a small room, with no doors and no windows. Max shuddered. The nightmare reminded him of the ordeal he had been subjected to by Pierce in that torture chamber of a room.
The images began to fade, but Max couldn’t shake the sense of dread that hung over him. Unable to sleep he got dressed and quietly climbed out his window. He hopped in his jeep and headed over to see Liz. All he wanted to do was make sure that she was all right.
He climbed up to her balcony as quietly as he could. Carefully making his way across the rooftop, he stopped at her window and peered inside. She wasn’t there. The covers on her bed looked like they had been hastily thrown aside, as if she’d gotten up in a hurry. He lifted the window and was surprised to find it unlocked.
Max climbed into her room. He checked her bathroom, but she wasn’t there either. He gently opened her bedroom door and silently tip toed down the hall. Max passed the door to her parent’s room. He could hear the even rhythm of their breathing as they slept. He carefully checked the rest of the rooms, but Liz was nowhere to be found.
He quietly made his way down the stairs to the café below. He checked the kitchen, the storage room and even the restrooms. Liz wasn’t here either. He sat down on one of the stools trying to decide what to do next.
* * * * *
Max woke up with his head resting on the countertop in the Crashdown. When had he fallen asleep, he wondered. He looked at his watch. The dial read 2:45 am. He guessed he’d been asleep for maybe an hour. How the hell could that be? He had sat down worried sick about where Liz might be. He certainly didn’t remember being tired. It was exactly the opposite. His nerves had been on fire as he had tried to think of what to do and where she might be. So how could he have just fallen asleep?
Max silently made his way back upstairs. He approached Liz’s room and holding his breath he pushed her door open. Relief flooded over him when he saw the outline of her body under the covers. He inched over to her bed. He could see the gentle rise and fall of her shoulder as she breathed in and out. He squatted down next to the bed wanting to reach out and touch her. Looking closely at her face he thought he saw dark circles under her eyes. It must be the moonlight casting shadows, he thought to himself. Resisting the urge to touch her, he quietly retreated to the window and climbed out. Sliding the window closed, he rested his hand against the frame until he heard the lock click soundly into place. He watched her through the window for a few minutes. Where had she been, he wondered. A sense of unease hovered over him as he turned and headed home.
* * * * *
Liz woke up feeling groggy and disoriented. She felt a dull ache behind her eyes, and her arms and legs felt heavy. She threw her covers aside and swung her legs over the side of the bed. She stood up and a wave of dizziness struck her. She reached out her hand to support herself as she fell back to the bed. Her fingers came into contact with a warm sticky substance. She looked at the sheets and her eyes flew open in horror. Her bed was covered in blood. She looked down at her pajama bottoms and for the first time noticed the blood there too.
* * * * *
Max woke up feeling agitated. His first thought was of Liz. He was certain something was wrong. He hurriedly got out of bed and threw his clothes on. He grabbed the keys to the jeep and was out the door before anyone noticed he was up.
* * * * *
Liz stood again and gingerly made her way to the bathroom. She could feel blood streaming down her leg. She stripped off her pajamas and a corner of her mind wondered how so much blood could be coming from her. She turned on the shower and carefully stepped over the rim of the tub. She had to sit on the edge for a moment as another wave of dizziness hit her. She pulled herself up to a standing position and watched as blood mixed with water swirled down the drain. Her mind felt fuzzy and she was having a hard time concentrating. Slowly the realization hit her that she must have had a miscarriage. Tears filled her eyes and spilled down her cheeks blending with the water. Her arms went around her lower abdomen hugging herself tightly while she rocked back and forth. Last night she had felt him so alive in her mind and this morning there was nothing. A low moan escaped her throat and her lips silently kept repeating no, no, no, no . . .
Liz turned the water off and reached for a towel. Looking down she saw that the blood flow was lighter than it was before. That was good, she thought to herself. Maybe she wouldn’t die here on her bathroom floor after all.
She took a hand towel and tucked it between her legs to contain the blood. Grabbing another towel, she dried off and slowly walked into her bedroom. She opened a dresser drawer and took out a fresh nightgown and slipped it over her head. Liz didn’t really know what to expect next. Would the bleeding stop soon? Should she go to a doctor?
Liz sat down on the edge of her bed. Her legs felt so weak and every movement was so tiring. She pulled the covers up to hide her sheets. She didn’t want her mother to come in and see this. She knew she should change the sheets, but she was just too tired right now. She curled up on one corner of her bed and pulled a pillow close to her. Maybe she’d just sleep a little more . . .
* * * * *
Max climbed Liz’s balcony and quickly made his way to her window. He could see her curled up on the edge of her bed and he couldn’t help but notice how small and fragile she looked. He unlocked her window and climbed inside. Crossing her room he knelt down next to her and brushed her hair away from her face. Her eyes slowly opened and tried to focus on him.
“Max,” she said quietly as she reached out to take his hand.
He sat down next to her and pulled her into his arms.
“What’s wrong, Liz?” he asked unable to keep the fear out of his voice.
“Max, I have to tell you something.” Her voice sounded hollow, empty. “Yesterday,” she began as she held both his hands tightly in hers, “I took a pregnancy test.” His breathing stopped. He sat next to her in stunned silence. His eyes searched her face waiting for her to continue. “It was positive.”
His heart began beating erratically in his chest. He just stared at her unable to form any words. He saw the dull look in her eyes and the deathly pale color in her cheeks. He had gotten her pregnant and it was making her sick, maybe even killing her. Panic began to seize him. He started to stand up but she held him close to her.
“Max, hear me out,” she said as she squeezed his hands. “Last night . . .” she began and then a sob escaped her. Tears again fell down her cheeks. “Last night I had a miscarriage.” She pulled back the covers on her bed. The color drained from his face when he saw the amount of blood on her sheets.
“Oh my God, Liz.” He stood up in shock. She sat on the edge of the bed, her shoulders shaking from her silent sobs. Max knelt in front of her. “Oh God Liz, are you okay?” His fear was thick in the air.
“I don’t know,” she whispered. “What should we do?”
She was looking to him for strength. He began pacing the room, thoughts flooding over him. She was sick because of him. The act of loving her had put her life in danger. If he had just stayed away from her she would be fine now. Liz could sense he was blaming himself for what was happening to her.
“Max, it’s not your fault,” she began. She rose from the bed and took a step toward him. Suddenly she felt warm fluid gush down her legs. It was a river of blood flowing past her knees and soaking into the carpet. “Max . . .” was all she could say as she lost consciousness.
Max caught Liz in his arms as she began to crumple to the floor. Icy fear gripped him as he realized she was bleeding to death. He eased her onto the floor and raised her nightgown. “OH GOD NO,” he cried out when he saw the amount of blood pouring out of her. “Please God No . . .” he kept repeating over and over. He placed his hand a few inches below her navel and concentrated. Nothing happened. “Oh God, Liz.” His hands trembled as he tried again. “Please don’t leave me. No, no Liz please, no . . .” Max concentrated with every fiber of his body. He began to feel the heat form under his hand and her skin began to glow. He could feel the blood vessels begin to repair. He used every bit of his energy to send the healing into her. Liz sharply inhaled as the healing breathed new life into her. Max collapsed next to her, all of his energy spent. She reached out and squeezed his hand. He pulled her into him, rocking her back and forth. “I can’t live without you, Liz,” he whispered into her ear. “I can’t live without you,” he repeated and she could hear the quiver in his voice. He buried his face in her hair and cried like he had never cried before.
Edited by - Breathless on 09/15/2001 13:03:07
|posted on 14-Sep-2001 1:11:41 PM|
“I’m okay, Max,” Liz said gently as she tried to get through to him. “Max, I’m all right now.”
Max raised his head to look into her beautiful face. “I almost lost you, Liz. I could feel you slipping away.” He ran his hand through her hair and kissed her gently on the forehead.
“I’m fine now, Max. Really.” She touched his cheek gently and finally the tension in his face began to relax. “Help me up.”
He stood up and pulled her to her feet. She looked at the blood that covered her, the floor, her bed, even Max. “How am I ever going to get this cleaned up?” she asked in wonder.
“You go clean yourself up. I’ll take care of this,” Max said as he looked at the floor and the bed. Liz went into the bathroom and turned the shower on for the second time that morning. Max took a deep breath to calm himself. A few minutes ago she was dying and now, thank God, she was fine. Just relax, he told himself.
Grateful for something to do, Max waved his hand over the bloodstains on the carpet. The blood changed to a fine powder. Max thought for a moment and then a smile spread across his face. He waved his hand again and the powder changed to rose petals, blood red rose petals. He moved to the bed and repeated the change there. He moved the rose petals aside and made her bed for her. As a final touch he spread the petals across her pillows and bedspread.
He turned at the sound of the shower shutting off. Liz called to him quietly. “Max, I . . . I didn’t . . . bring any clothes in here. Can you get me something, I don’t care, just anything?” She sounded embarrassed.
“Sure,” he replied. He opened her closet and picked out a pale blue sweater and black slacks. He walked over to her dresser and opened the top drawer. It was full of bras and panties. There were red ones, and black ones, and yellow and green and white. Some were lacy and some were silky. He stared in the drawer and was amazed by what he saw. There were so many, how could she ever decide which ones to wear?
“Max?” she called out tentatively.
“Coming.” He reached his hand in the drawer and the soft silky textures surrounded him. He picked out a light blue bra and a pair of panties that looked like they matched. He thought that she’d like the way they matched the color of the blue sweater.
He didn’t mean to do it, but he couldn’t help himself. He brought her undies up to his face to smell in her sweet scent. Turning from the dresser with her undies almost touching his nose, he saw Liz standing in the bathroom doorway watching him. She was wrapped up in an oversized towel and she had a surprised but humorous look on her face. His cheeks burned with embarrassment. He quickly moved his hands away from his face and tried to look at anything but her. He picked up the sweater and slacks and walked across the room to her like a little boy who just got caught with his hands in the cookie jar.
“Thank you,” she said to him with a shy smile. He just nodded at her and tried not to notice how good she looked in a towel. He turned around and went to sit on the edge of the bed. He could hear her moving behind the bathroom door as she dressed.
Liz opened the bathroom door and looked around the bedroom. There was no evidence left of the ordeal she had just been through except the beautiful rose petals sprinkled across her bed. A sad smile touched her lips. Physically she felt fine now, perfect. Emotionally, she was reeling. Liz walked over and sat next to Max. She reached out and slipped her hand into his.
“I’m sorry,” Liz began, “about the baby.” He could see the tears begin to shimmer in her eyes.
Max felt his stomach twist. His rash actions almost get her killed, and she’s apologizing to me, he thought. “Liz, I never would have . . . touched you . . . if I had known it could have led to this.” He felt his throat constricting and he had to fight to gain control of himself.
“It was unwise for us . . . not to use protection . . . but Max,” her eyes began to light up and her face glowed. “The baby was so amazing. I could feel him in my mind.” She touched Max on the cheek. “It was like our connection, except . . . different. It was more like him taking my memories and thoughts and then showing me what he learned. It was incredible.”
“He?” Max asked quietly.
Liz nodded her head yes. “It was a boy.” Her eyes began to mist over again. “When I went to bed last night everything was fine. He was there. I could feel him. Max, I could hear him. And this morning he was . . . gone.” Liz choked back a sob. “I know it’s probably for the best, the miscarriage, but Max . . . I loved him so much. He was part of you, and me.”
Max pulled her close to him. “Let me see,” he whispered into her ear. “Let me feel what you felt.”
Liz nodded her head and Max placed his hands on either side of her face. He looked into her eyes, then beyond into her mind. Her feelings and emotions and memories slammed into him. He inhaled sharply as the strong emotions nearly overwhelmed him. The connection faded. He felt a tear fall down his cheek, his sense of loss now every bit as strong as hers. They held each other tightly as they shared their pain.
Max pulled slightly away from Liz and asked, “Is that why you weren’t home last night? Because of the miscarriage?”
“What are talking about Max?” Liz said confused.
“Last night, when you weren’t here . . .”
“Max, I didn’t go anywhere last night,” Liz interrupted him.
“Liz, when I came over here at 1:30 this morning, you weren’t here.”
“I went to bed last night at 11:30 and I didn’t wake up until this morning. I never left this room.”
“Liz, I’m telling you, I came over here last night and you were gone. I looked for you everywhere. In your bathroom, in the hall, downstairs. Liz, you weren’t here.”
“The only thing unusual that happened last night was the really bad dream I had.”
Max suddenly froze, a stab of fear touching him. “A nightmare?” he asked afraid to hear the answer.
“Oh God, yes. I was trapped in a room . . .”
“with no doors or windows?” he finished for her.
“Yes. How did you . . .”
“And it was down a long corridor?”
Liz shook her head yes. “And I was strapped . . .”
“to a table,” he finished. “I had the same dream. That’s why I came over here. It disturbed me so much I had to come over to see if you were okay.”
“And I wasn’t here?” She was getting scared now. Max just shook his head no. “Oh my God, Max. Was it real? Did the nightmare really happen?” Her eyes were wide with shock and fear. Her fingers dug into him. An image of the nightmare flashed into her mind. She was on the table, her legs spread wide. Some type of instrument was being pushed inside her.
“Dear God, did someone take our baby?” She touched the palm of her hand to her belly. “Did someone rip him out of me and then just bring me back here not caring if I lived or died?” Her eyes were wide with fear and disbelief.
Max pulled Liz to her feet and into his arms. She lay her head on his chest, her body trembling. The thought was unimaginable, but it felt like the truth. But why would anyone do that, and how would anyone even know? Liz hadn’t told anyone yet. They held each other tightly, trying to absorb the shock of it.
Suddenly her body tensed and her head snapped back. A deep moan rumbled in her throat.
“Liz,” he cried out as he held her tight. “Liz, what is it?”
Her body relaxed and she moved over to the window. Her expression softened as she looked up into the morning sky. Max came up behind her slipping one arm around her waist.
“He’s out there, Max,” she began “He’s alive. Your son is alive.” His breath caught in his throat as he listened to her. “They stole him from us, but he’s still alive. I can feel him calling to me right now.” She squeezed Max’s hand tightly. “Out there. Somewhere.”
Max looked at the faces around him. He had asked everyone to meet tonight at Michael’s apartment. Maria was on the far end of the couch, sitting on the edge of the cushion. Isabel was at the opposite end. Alex perched on the arm of the couch next to Isabel, with his arm draped across her shoulder. Michael leaned against the wall across the room, isolating himself from everyone. Liz sat in the chair in front of Max with her elbows resting on her knees. Max could tell she was nervous about what they were here to talk about.
Maria had been uncharacteristically quiet since she arrived. It was difficult for her to be so close to Michael. He continued to shut her out. That wasn’t the complete truth, she reminded herself. Michael was actually shutting everyone out, not just her.
Isabel could see the tension in her brother, and Liz was a bundle of nerves. She had a very bad feeling about what they were going to say.
Alex thought the tension in the air was so thick you could cut it with a knife. Max couldn’t sit down and Liz kept rocking back and forth on the edge of the chair.
Michael leaned against the wall with his arms folded over his chest. He avoided eye contact with Maria. The pain he saw in her eyes when he looked at her was almost too much for him to bear. He had never wanted to hurt her, but that’s all he ever seemed to do. He focused his attention on Max trying to take his mind off Maria.
Max sat on the arm of Liz’s chair and slid his hand into hers. They looked into each other’s eyes and she nodded to him. He cleared his throat and turned to scan the faces that were watching him. “Something’s happened that you all need to be aware of.” He glanced at Liz again and she gave him a smile of encouragement.
“Yesterday Liz found out she was pregnant.” He saw the shock as it registered on their faces. Everything was quiet for a moment and then pandemonium broke out. Everyone began shouting at once.
“Maxwell, how could you!” Michael took a step toward Max, his eyes blazing. “Do you know what this means? You can’t hide something like this . . .”
“Liz, why didn’t you tell me?” The expression on Maria’s face was a combination of shock, hurt and fear. She crossed the room and knelt in front of Liz. Taking Liz’s hands in hers, she asked, “What are you going to do?”
“Her parents are going to make her go to a doctor,” Michael continued to shout a Max. “What were you thinking?”
Alex stood up and took a step toward Liz. Looking back at Isabel, he noticed how she had covered her face with trembling hands. He sat down next to her on the couch and put his arm around her shoulder. “Are you okay, Isabel?” he asked with concern. Isabel nodded her head yes. “You aren’t surprised, are you?” he continued. This time she shook her head no.
“I knew they had become . . . intimate,” she whispered. She took her hands away from her face and looked up at Alex. “They love each other so much, Alex. It took me a long time to realize that. I can’t blame them for wanting to be together. But now, what’s going to happen to them? To all of us? We can’t keep this a secret.” Alex could see the tears shimmering in her eyes. “Michael’s right. There’s no way we can hide this.”
“Wait! Just wait a minute, please.” Max had to shout to be heard. “There’s so much more you need to know.”
A single tear fell from Liz’s eye. She hated seeing the hurt look on Maria’s face. “There’s more Maria. That was the easy part.” She gave Maria’s hands a squeeze, and then stood up. She moved to stand next to Max and took his hand in hers. They faced the group together.
“I don’t know how, but somebody found out about it,” Liz began. Everyone’s eyes were riveted on her. “Last night I was . . . abducted . . . and the baby was . . . removed.”
Once again everyone started talking at once. Max finally got things quieted down again and he and Liz told them everything they knew. Liz told them about going to Diamond to buy the pregnancy test. How she hadn’t told anyone, not even Max. Max described his trip to Liz’s during the night, and not being able to find her. He told them how he had strangely fallen asleep in the Crashdown, and when he awoke, Liz was back in her bed. He recounted the awful nightmare he and Liz had shared, and how they both now knew it hadn’t been a dream at all, but instead a terrifying reality. Max saw the shock on their faces as he described the condition he had found Liz in this morning, and how she had almost died from what had been done to her.
“How could someone do that to you?” Maria was staring at Liz, tears in her own eyes now. “Kill your baby and then leave you to die?”
“He’s not dead Maria,” Liz said quietly. Everyone was staring at Liz now, waiting for her to continue. “They took him from me, but he’s still alive. I have a connection to him.” She looked up at Max and he gave her hand a tight squeeze. She gave him a sad smile and she fought to keep the tears away. Looking back at the others she continued. “I can feel him in my mind. Not all the time, but I can tell when he’s . . . I guess the only way to describe it would be to say I can feel him when he’s ‘awake’ and then I lose the connection when he’s ‘asleep’. I know it sounds crazy, but it’s the only way I can explain it.”
“Why?” Isabel asked. “Why would somebody do that?” The fear was heavy in her voice.
“I don’t know,” Liz answered, almost breaking down.
“There’s only one explanation,” Max began. “Who ever did this knows about me. Us.” Max looked around at all the faces staring at him. “I only see two possibilities here. The FBI or . . . Nasedo.” He let that sink in for a moment. “I don’t think the FBI has the capabilities to keep the baby alive. That leaves Nasedo, and we don’t know what he’s capable of.”
Max looked hard at Michael and then Isabel. “We were kept alive artificially for years. If anyone has the knowledge to remove the baby from Liz and keep him alive, I think it’s Nasedo.” Max watched Michael as he reacted to what he was saying. Michael wanted to believe all the things Nasedo had told him. Michael needed to believe it. Seeing the evidence mount against Nasedo was devastating to him. “Michael, I know this is hard for you, but Nasedo is not like us. He’s cold and calculating, and he’d kill Alex or Liz or Maria in an instant if he wanted to.” Max saw Michael flinch.
“I know Max,” Michael said as his eyes swept the room. “As much as I’ve wanted to believe the things he said, some of it just doesn’t ring true.” Michael’s eyes settled on Maria. “We can only trust the six of us. If Nasedo did this, then Tess is involved too.” Michael’s eyes took on a hard edge and he turned to Max. “We should go see Tess. Drag the answers out of her if we have to.”
“I think you’re right, Michael,” Max responded. He turned to Liz, “We’ll be back as soon as . . .”
“No way Max,” she cut him off. “You two are not going over there alone. I’m coming with you, and don’t even try to talk me out of it.” Max saw the determined look on her face and decided there was no way that he could make her stay here.
“Okay, we’ll all go. But only Michael and I go up to the house. Everyone else stays in the car until we check things out.” Max looked at everyone to make sure they understood exactly what he expected of them. Satisfied, he headed for the door. “Let’s go.”
* * * * *
Max was about to help Liz climb into the jeep when she stopped him with a gentle touch to his shoulder. “Max, I’m going to ride with Maria. I really need to talk to her.” She searched his eyes hoping he understood. He hadn’t wanted to let her out of his sight all day. He knew he was being overly protective, but he just couldn’t help it. She’d almost died this morning. He didn’t want to think about what might have happened to her if he hadn’t gone to check on her this morning. He stared at her closely and then nodded his head.
“I’ll see you over at Tess’s house,” he squeezed her hand, letting her know he understood. He kissed her quickly and then climbed into the jeep. Michael climbed in beside him.
As Isabel walked past, Liz grabbed her hand. “Ride with us, Isabel. We need to talk.” Isabel and Alex climbed into the back seat of Maria’s car. Liz sat in the front passenger seat. Max put the jeep in gear and headed out. Maria followed close behind.
“Isabel,” Liz turned toward the back seat so she could see Isabel clearly. “You weren’t as surprised as the others by what Max and I said. Why?” Liz watched Isabel’s face. She needed to know what Isabel was thinking, and feeling.
“Liz,” Isabel took a deep breath trying to decide what to say to her. “You know that sometimes we can pick up . . . images from objects, right? Like when something intense happens the residual energy seems to be retained in the object, and sometimes we can see it.” Liz nodded her head. Max had told her about it before. “Well, the night after Max escaped from Pierce, when he didn’t come home I was pretty sure he was with you. When I found him sneaking into his room the next morning he said he had just fallen asleep at your place, but when I picked up the little statue that you had given him . . . well, I saw, um . . . I saw the two of you . . . together, and I knew you had become . . . lovers.”
Liz’s mouth dropped open and she could feel the heat start to rise in her cheeks. “You . . . saw . . . us? Together?” Liz stammered. She was mortified, embarrassed beyond belief. She covered her face with her hands. She couldn’t look at Isabel. How could she ever look at her again?
“Look, Liz,” Isabel reached out to touch Liz on the arm. “Liz, it’s not what you’re thinking. I mean it wasn’t like a porno movie or something flashing before my eyes. The images were really fast, and I didn’t really see, you know, that much. Just . . . enough.”
Liz peaked out from behind her hands. “Really?” She really wanted to believe her. The thought of Isabel knowing every intimate detail of what had happened between her and Max was unimaginable.
“Really,” Isabel assured Liz with a smile. Suddenly she turned serious and gave Liz’s arm a squeeze. “You can’t tell Max about this. If you think you were shocked, just imagine how Max will react if he thinks I saw him ‘doing it’. Liz, you have to promise me you won’t tell him about this.”
“Oh, don’t worry Isabel. I promise you I won’t tell him.”
“So, how many times have you guys done it?” asked Maria.
“Come on girl, spill. We want the juicy details.” Maria was warming up to the subject.
“No we don’t,” Alex piped up. “I don’t want to hear any details, especially the juicy ones!”
“Was he good?” Maria continued as if Alex had never said anything.
“Maria!” Liz, Isabel and Alex all yelled at the same time.
“Come on Liz, you know I live vicariously through you since a certain other studly alien won’t even look at me anymore. So, throw me a bone here.”
“Look Maria, we were only together that one night.” Liz knew Maria wouldn’t drop it until she told her at least something. “Just that one time.”
Liz snapped her head around to look at Isabel. She had a devilish look on her face.
“Isabel, you said you didn’t see that much!” Liz could feel her cheeks turning red again.
“Well, I saw enough to know it was twice.”
“I can’t believe I’m listening to this conversation,” Alex muttered from the back seat. “Can we talk about something else?”
“So, twice in one night, huh?” Maria ignored Alex’s comments from the back seat. “I’m thinking that must mean he’s definitely on the good side, right? So tell me Liz, is he, um . . . you know, well endowed?”
“Maria!” All three yelled in unison.
“OK, OK,” she laughed out loud. “I’ll change the subject!”
* * * * *
Max pulled up to the curb across the street from Tess’ house. Maria parked her car just down the street from the jeep. Max and Michael got out of the jeep and stood in the road staring at the house. It looked deserted. They were no lights on and no car was parked in the driveway. Max and Michael looked at each other and then headed up to the front door.
Max rang the bell and waited, listening for the sound of footsteps. After a minute he rang the bell again, this time holding it in so the bell would keep ringing. There was no sound of movement from inside. Max looked around the neighborhood to see if anyone was nearby. When he didn’t see anyone he placed his hand over the lock until he heard the click of the lock disengaging. Looking over his shoulder again, he pushed the door open and stepped inside.
The house was dark and eerily silent. Max moved into the living room, Michael following close behind. Passing by the coffee table he noticed the newspaper. He picked it up and looked at the date. It was yesterday’s paper. Max showed the date to Michael and then dropped the paper back onto the table. They made their way through the house, searching one room after another. They entered a room at the back of the house. By the furnishings it was obvious that it was Tess’s room. Max noticed the dresser drawers were open and it appeared that someone had hastily removed the contents. Michael opened the closet door. Most of the hangers were empty. Michael looked over at Max and they exchanged a knowing look.
Liz, Maria, Isabel and Alex held their breaths until they saw Max and Michael emerge from the house. Max headed straight for Maria’s car, Michael following at his heels. In the light from the streetlamp Liz could see the firm set of Max’s jaw and the hard edge in his eyes. He came around to her side of the car. She opened the door and slowly got out, afraid to hear what he was going to say. Her hands were gripping the doorframe tightly, her knuckles turning white.
“She’s gone.” Max nearly spat out the words.
Isabel answered the knock on the front door. She was preoccupied with thoughts of the trip to the mall she was getting ready to go on.
“Hi Liz,” Isabel said matter-of-factly when she opened the door. It had been almost six weeks since Liz’s baby had been taken from her and she’d almost died. Max had become extremely protective of her and they were rarely apart these days, so Isabel wasn’t surprised to see her here.
“Hey, Is. Is Max here?”
“Yeah, he’s in his room. Do you want me to call him?”
“No, Is, that’s okay. I’ll just go find him, if that’s alright.”
“Sure. Hey, do you want to go shopping? I’m headed over to the mall.”
“I’m sorry Isabel. I can’t. I need to talk to Max and I don’t know how long we’ll be. Maybe next time?”
“Well,” Isabel began in a teasing tone. “If you’d rather spend the afternoon with my brother instead of hours at the mall with me, then I guess that’s your loss.” Isabel gave Liz a little wink and then grabbed her keys on the table by the door and sailed out of the house.
Isabel couldn’t help but smile as she made her way to the car. She and Liz had become much closer over the summer. Six months ago Liz never would have called her “Is”. Now it seemed the most natural thing in the world. Isabel knew it had a lot to do with her own attitude toward Liz. Ever since the day Isabel had picked up that statue and felt how deeply Max loved Liz, little by little she let down the wall she had built to keep Liz out. It was so nice to finally have a girlfriend to confide in. A friend who knew all her secrets. She didn’t have to be on guard all the time anymore. It was a new feeling, and she liked it. Isabel headed off to the mall with a smile on her lips.
* * * * *
Liz made her way down the hall to Max’s room. She could hear music coming from his open doorway. As she got closer she could see his bare feet crossed at the ankles at the foot of his bed. Moving closer she saw his lower legs and then his knees come into view. She poked her head into his room. He was stretched out on his bed, his hands behind his head. He was wearing a simple gray tank top with a basketball imprint on the front and khaki cargo shorts. His feet were taping to the rhythm of the music on the radio.
His eyes blinked open, feeling her presence near. He turned his head toward the door and his heart skipped a beat as he saw her standing there. Her dark hair hung loosely around her shoulders. She was wearing a white dress with small colorful butterflies all over it and tiny buttons down the front. It had skinny little straps and Max couldn’t help but notice the rich color of the skin on her shoulders. Her legs were also nicely tanned. The weather had been hot lately, and today was no exception. The temperature had to be pushing 95 degrees. She looked like a vision standing there in his doorway.
“Hi,” he said, surprised to see her here.
“Hi Max.” She hovered in his doorway feeling a little awkward. She glanced down the hall wondering where his mother might be.
Max swung his legs over the side of his bed and stood up. He didn’t think he’d see her until this evening. She was scheduled to work the afternoon shift at the Crashdown.
“Agnes offered to work my shift today, something about needing extra money for her grandson’s braces or something.” Max thought it was uncanny how she always seemed to know what he was thinking. “So, since I didn’t have to work I thought I’d come over early.”
Max walked over to her and touched his finger to her chin. “Remind me to give Agnes a big thank you next time I see her,” he said with a grin. For the first time Max noticed the book Liz was holding in her hand. “What’s that?” he asked, his curiosity rising.
She looked down at the book in her hand as if she’d forgotten it was even there. Her face took on an excited glow. “Max, this is the book my Grandmother wrote right before she died. I was looking through it this morning and found something really interesting.”
Looking for a place where they could both sit comfortably, Liz grabbed his hand and headed for the foot of the bed. They sat down side by side. His leg brushed up against hers, momentarily making her forget everything except the feel of his flesh against hers. His hand touched the cover of the book, bringing her thoughts back into focus. The title read ‘Lost Treasures, An Archaeological Journey through Navaho Culture’.
“Max, my Grandmother gave me this right before she died. I haven’t look at it in all these months. This morning I took it out and look what I found.” Her voice was excited as she flipped through the pages.
“Look, Max,” she declared.
In the middle of the page Max saw one of the symbols from the cave. Under the drawing the caption read ‘Navaho symbol for Life’. Max just stared at the page.
“And here,” she began as she flipped to another page. Another familiar image stared back at him from the page. The caption under this one read ‘Death’.
“Max, they’re the same as the symbols in the cave!” Her eyes were sparkling with excitement.
Max looked from the book to her eyes. “How can that be? How could your Grandmother have know these symbols?” Max was at a loss for words.
“I don’t know. But look, here’s another one.” She flipped to another page and he saw a third symbol exactly like one from the cave. The caption on this one read ‘Navaho for Journey’.
“Max, we have a lot of stuff stored in our basement from when we cleaned out Grandma’s house. Maybe we can find her research papers or something. They might show how she found these symbols, or even how she learned to read them.
Her eyes were locked on his. Max was dumbfounded. They had spent weeks searching the cave and found nothing. Then suddenly here is a clue that was right under their noses the whole time.
“This book doesn’t really say anything about how she knew the meaning of the symbols. But Grandma never threw anything away. I’m sure there must be something in her notes.”
For the first time in weeks Max felt a surge of excitement about finding some answers. “When do you want to look?”
“My parents are going to Phoenix tonight for a concert and won’t be home until tomorrow. If we do it while they are gone we won’t have to answer any questions about what we’re looking for. We could start about 7 o’clock.”
Liz let herself fall back on the bed, pleased that she might have found an important key to unlocking the mysteries of his past. Max leaned back next to her resting his weight on one elbow. He rested his other hand lightly on her stomach. She put her hand over the top of his and stared up into his eyes.
“Max, I can’t believe it was just sitting on my bookshelf all these months and I never looked at it.” Just then her stomach let out a loud growl.
“Are you hungry?” he grinned at her. He could feel the rumble under his hand.
She nodded her head yes but didn’t say anything. She was staring at him intently, but he couldn’t read her expression.
“What do you want?” He began thinking of all the things in the kitchen that she might like for lunch. “We have some left over spaghetti, or I could make you a sandwich . . .”
“I want you,” she said quietly. The words hung in the air.
His face suddenly turned serious as her words sunk in. He swallowed hard. Those three little words were echoing around in his brain. He hadn’t expected her to say that. He tore his eyes away from her and looked toward his door.
“Isabel isn’t here,” Liz said guessing what he was thinking. “She went to the mall.” Max looked back to Liz, both of them knowing that anytime Isabel went to the mall she’d be gone for hours.
“Where’s you Mom?”
“Bitter Lake. With my Dad. For the day. Case they’re working on.” He couldn’t seem to get a whole sentence out. He was having a hard time swallowing too.
Her hand slid up his arm to his shoulder. “So, we’re all alone?” she asked, her voice taking on a sultry tone.
He nodded his head yes. It appeared he’d somehow lost his voice too. Liz moved her hand up his neck to the back of his head and pulled him to her. His mouth closed over hers and his hand slid around to her back as he leaned into her. Her dress was backless with thin straps crisscrossing back and forth. He could feel the heat of her bare skin. His hand moved over her back and shoulders, her skin smooth and so soft to his touch. Her hands slid over the taunt muscles in his arms and shoulders. Her tongue darted into his mouth teasing him. He pulled back and searched her face. She was breathing heavy and her face was flushed with desire.
“Don’t move,” he said huskily. He stood up and crossed the room. Liz sat up and watched him as his hand reached out for the door and pushed it closed. She heard the soft click of the lock sliding into place. “Just in case,” he said as he returned to the foot of the bed and sat down next to her. He stared into her eyes for a moment and then slowly touched his lips to hers. His hand reached around to her back and he gently eased her down onto the bed.
His hand brushed her hair back from her face and then cupped her cheek before moving down her neck to the rise of her breast. He could feel her nipple harden through the thin fabric of the dress. His fingers found the small buttons on the bodice of her dress and carefully unbuttoned them. His hand slid under the fabric and encountered her warm skin beneath. He peeled back the top of the dress and drank in the sight of her exposed breast. She smiled at him and pulled his face back to her, covering his lips with hers. He could feel her body respond to him as his fingers caressed her breast. He kissed her passionately and then moved his lips to her neck. He loved the curve of her neck. He moved further down until his lips found her breast. He loved the taste of her breast. At the touch of his tongue she let out a soft moan. He loved to hear the sound of her moans.
His fingers worked at the rest of the buttons on the front of her dress, while his tongue and lips continued to nuzzle and pull at her erect nipple. He raised his head as the last button finally came undone and he pushed the dress away from her. All she wore underneath was a pair of lacy white panties. He paused to take in a deep breath. His eyes traveled the length of her body, memorizing every detail. The skin on her shoulders, stomach and legs was deeply tanned. The paleness of her breasts was a stark contrast to the surrounding skin. The rich color of her nipples called to him. The beauty of her body fascinated him. He settled his mouth over her breast again and then moved up her throat to her mouth. His hand slid down the smooth skin of her stomach and under her panties. He could feel her gasp as his fingers explored her. Her response made him want her all the more.
He shifted position, sliding off the foot of the bed to kneel in front of her. His fingers hooked under the thin elastic of her panties and pulled them off. He gently eased her legs apart. He was overwhelmed by the look of her and intoxicated by the scent of her. He trailed his tongue up the inside of her thigh and when he reached her center he felt her body shudder as his tongue moved over her sensitive tissue. She moaned again as his tongue explored her, darting, probing, pulling, learning what pleased her. Her head pushed back into the bed, her shoulders arching up as she felt the pleasure building.
He straightened up and asked in a hushed tone “More?”
Her eyes were closed and she was biting her lower lip. All she could do was shake her head yes and gently pull him back to her. He smiled and took her in his mouth again. He could feel the tension building in her. Her legs were quivering and her breathing was coming in short gasps. His lips sucked in the mound of nerves that he knew was a hot spot for her, rolling it on his tongue. Suddenly her legs tightened around him and she let out a low cry. Her head pushed back into the bed and her hips arched up against him. He continued to suckle her until he felt her climax pass. “Max . . .” he heard her call his name in a throaty voice. “Oh, Max . . .”
Max leaned back again and tore his shirt off. He undid the button on his shorts and slid them off too. He rubbed his hands up the inside of her thighs and then kissed a trail up her body. He took one erect nipple into his mouth and smiled as she gasped again. He moved up to her neck and then hovered just above her. She could feel his hardness rubbing against the spot where his tongue had been just moments before. She could feel her excitement building again.
“Did you like that?’ he asked.
She opened her eyes and whispered “Yes.” Her breathing was shallow and her heart was racing.
“Was is as good as you thought it would be?” his eyes were locked on hers.
“Better than I ever imagined,” she sighed, noticing the pleased look on his face.
He kissed her hard, sliding his arm behind her back so he could position her higher on the bed. He let his weight settle onto her and she could feel how ready he was as he rubbed his throbbing shaft against the outer folds of her moist center. He could tell from her sharp inhalation of breath that she was enjoying the feel of him against her. His hand reached out for his nightstand drawer, never taking his mouth off hers. He searched until his fingers came in contact with the object he was trying to find. He pulled away from her and sat back on his heels as his fingers tore at the condom package. He was breathing very hard and she could see a vein throbbing in his neck. Liz tried to hide the smile on her face as he struggled to open the package. His eyes kept darting to her face, starting to get embarrassed by his inability to get his fingers to work properly.
“Damn it,” he swore under his breath. Everything had been perfect, until now. He gave her a self-conscious little smile and admitted, “I’ve never actually opened one of these before.”
Liz’s hand moved up his thigh and up the length of his shaft. He closed his eyes as she stroked him with her fingertips. If she didn’t stop soon it was all going to be over in minute, he thought. He closed his eyes and placed his hand over hers holding it still. “Wait,” he gasped in a hoarse whisper. He tried to relax his breathing and regain some semblance of control.
Liz pulled her hand away from him and gently took the condom out of his hand. “Let’s open this together,” she said. Max opened his eyes and watched as her sharp fingernail slid into the area marked ‘open here’ and pulled back on the wrapper. “Okay, now how’s it suppose to go on?” she asked.
He smiled at the innocent look on her face and relaxed remembering she was just as inexperienced as he was. He took the condom out of the wrapper and began to roll it into place. She stopped his hand and gently pushed it aside, enjoying the feel of how hard he was as she finished putting the condom on him. She was still amazed by the size of him and how it felt to touch him this way.
He eased his weight onto her again and she spread her legs apart, opening herself to him. He remembered what it had felt like last time to be inside of her. To feel every physical sensation she felt. To share everything she was thinking and feeling. He wanted to be in that place again. He wanted to stay in that place forever.
She guided him into her expecting the connection to form. It didn’t. He slowly moved in her. Nothing happened. Liz pushed back on his hips, pulling him out of her.
“Take it off, Max. Just take it off.” She needed the connection every bit as much as he did. She refused to have anything less than all of him.
He stripped the condom off and threw it aside. The condom had become not only a physical barrier between them, but a barrier to their mental connection as well. He settled over her again but wouldn’t let her guide him into her. “What about last time, Liz?” he said huskily. “We can’t let that happen again.” She could see the concern in his eyes and also hear a trace of fear in his voice.
“I went on the pill after that happened, Max. I can’t get pregnant this time.” Her hands flanked either side of his face. Her eyes tried to reassure him. “I thought the condom would be an added protection, but not at the expense of keeping you separated from me.”
“But what if the pill doesn’t work?” His eyes were full of concern for her safety.
“You worry too much, Max,” she smiled at him, her words soft and tender. “I want to feel all of you, Max.” Her voice took on a husky tone. “All of you.”
He pushed his fears aside and let her guide him in. The connection formed immediately. They both sucked in their breaths at the intensity of sharing not only their bodies, but their minds as well. He could feel her whole body responding to him. His hands moved over her arms and shoulders, then down to cup her breasts. He stroked her nipples until they were hard and erect. He wasn’t sure if her moans of pleasure were out loud or just echoing in his mind. It didn’t matter. All that mattered was what she was feeling and that he was the one making her feel it.
He moved in a slow steady rhythm, pacing himself to make it last as long as he could. When he felt the tingling begin in her center he thrust into her faster, knowing it was what she needed. He could feel her getting closer and closer and when her climax hit he could feel it in his mind as well as deep in the center of his own body. He breathed deep, savoring the sensations he was causing in her. God how he loved her, he thought. Loved how he could make her feel this way.
He slowed the pace again, giving her time to recover. He rested his weight on his elbows and stared into her sultry eyes. He could feel her in his mind telling him how much she loved him. He wanted this connection to never end.
Liz gazed up into his beautiful eyes. How did she get lucky enough to have him fall in love with her, she thought. She heard his answer in her mind. ‘No Liz, I’m the lucky one . . .’ She rocked her hips to meet his thrusts, matching his pace. She could feel how his body tingled everywhere their skin touched.
She ran her fingers through his hair and pulled him closer to her. His lips touched hers lightly at first and then more passionately as their bodies picked up the pace. His arms slid behind her back hugging her tightly to him as he thrust deeper into her, filling her completely. She could feel how close he was to his own release and it caused her body to react again. He was waiting for her to catch up to him, waiting to go over the edge together. Her erect nipples rubbed against the muscles of his chest and she could feel the tingling tension at her center building to a new peak. His hands moved down to her buttocks cupping each cheek. As he thrust harder into her his hands drove her up to meet him, sending him deeper and deeper. With a powerful thrust he released into her again and again. Her back arched as her own orgasm burst from her matching the intensity of his. They both cried out at the magnitude of their physical bond. He thrust into her once, twice more still emptying into her. He drove into her one more time and held her tightly against him. His whole body twitched and trembled. He buried his face in her hair, whispering her name over and over. She wrapped her arms and legs around him holding him close. He relaxed his weight onto her and she gladly accepted it. Her body tingled from the top of her head to the very tips of her toes.
They lay that way for a long time, Max buried deep inside her, Liz’s arms and legs fiercely holding him close to her. No words were spoken aloud. Their connection was so complete no words were needed.
Liz opened the door to the basement and turned on the light switch. She headed down the stairs with Max following close behind her. At the bottom she turned to the right and made her way to a door on the far wall.
“We put everything from Grandma’s house in here,” she said as she reached for the doorknob. She opened the door and stepped into the room. She pulled the chain on the overhead bulb and the room was suddenly bathed in light. It was filled with boxes and furniture. Max swept his eyes around the room wondering where to even begin.
“Liz, it’ll take forever to go through all this stuff.” Max had been hoping they would find something right away, but he now realized it could takes days to search through everything.
“I think all the boxes are labeled. Why don’t you start on that side of the room and I’ll start over here.” She looked up at him encouragingly. “Max, I know we’re going to find something. I can feel it.” She gave his hand a squeeze and then marched across the room to tackle the first box.
They had been working for about an hour when the cold of the basement became uncomfortable to Liz. She was still wearing the sundress she had worn earlier in the day and she could see goose bumbs on her arms.
“Max, I’m going upstairs to get a sweater. I’ll be right back.”
He was knee deep in boxes and when he turned to look at her she laughed. His cheek was smudged with dirt and his hair was sticking out on one side.
“What?” he asked.
“Nothing,” she replied as she suppressed another laugh and headed for the stairs.
“What?” he called out to her again hearing her laughter as she climbed up the stairs. “What’s so funny?” He shook his head as he saw her legs disappear upstairs and then turned back to the box he had just opened. Inside he found a collection of photo albums, children’s books and a large wooden box. Opening one of the photo albums the first picture he saw was one of Liz’s mother holding a baby. Max realized he was looking at Liz, probably only days old. Liz was sleeping soundly in her mother’s arms and Max could see the total love in Nancy Parker’s eyes as she looked down at her daughter.
Max flipped to the next page and saw a picture of Liz’s dad holding her on his shoulders. Jeff Parker was grinning up at his daughter and Liz, who looked about two years old, was laughing in delight. Max continued flipping through the photo album. Various moments of her life before he knew her had been captured in these images and he studied every one of them. A birthday cake with four candles and Liz standing above it, her cheeks puffed up with air as she got ready to blow the candles out. Liz sitting in front of a Christmas tree hugging the new doll she’d just opened. Liz playing in the sand at the beach. Max turned to the last page. On the left side was an 8 x 10 image of Liz about six months old. It was a close up shot and she was sleeping peacefully, an angelic look on her face. On the right was another 8 x 10 picture, this one more recent. Max guessed it was taken sometime last year. It was also a close up, just her face and shoulders were visible. Her chin was resting on her palm and her eyes, sparkling with some hidden secret stared up at him. It was a look he was familiar with, and one that took his breath away every time he saw it.
He turned his eyes back to the picture of Liz as a baby. His fingers touched the surface of the photograph and his mind drifted back to this afternoon. The most incredible thing had happened after he and Liz had made love. Making love to her was beyond incredible in and of itself, but lying in her arms afterwards with their connection still strong, he had felt him in his mind. His son. He didn’t know what it was at first. It was almost like a whisper or an image just at the edge of your peripheral vision. Something there but you’re not sure what. As the presence sharpened, Liz cupped his cheek with her hand and in his mind he heard her say ‘Max, I’d like you to meet your son’.
It had been six weeks since the night he had been taken from them. Max knew that the connection between Liz and the baby had continued, but it was fleeting and Liz never knew when it would happen. She suspected it took a lot of energy for him to reach out to her, so the connection never lasted for long. A few minutes here and a few minutes there, but it was a relief to know he still survived. It gave them hope that someday they would find him.
Max could always tell when the baby reached out to Liz. Her posture would change and he could see a different light in her eyes. It was subtle but Max had learned how to read her. Liz tried to tell him what it was like, but this was the first time he had actually experienced it first hand. It was amazing to feel him in his mind. ‘Concentrate on something,’ he heard Liz say without ever moving her lips. ‘He’ll see everything you see and feel everything you feel. It’s how he learns.’
‘But what should I think about?’ he asked her. She was used to this now, had become accustomed to him floating in and out of her mind, but Max had no idea what to do or how to communicate with him.
‘What’s important to you, Max? Think about the things that are important in your life, and he’ll feel it too.’
Max closed his eyes and thought about the people that mattered the most to him. Isabel and Michael, his parents, Alex and Maria, and Liz, most of all Liz. Images of the people he loved flashed before him. Conversations he’d had played out in the background. Max could feel him touching each one. Suddenly a burst of what Max could only describe as pure love swept over him and then he was gone.
Max opened his eyes, shocked and amazed by what he’d just felt. Liz smiled at him and ran her fingers affectionately through his hair. “He knows you now Max,” she whispered to him. “He saw the real you, not just my view of you, and he liked what he saw.”
Max’s attention was brought back to the present when Liz walked back into the room. “Did you find something?” she asked excitedly. She quickly walked across the room to see what he was holding in his hands.
“No, just this,” he replied showing her the photo album. She rested her cheek against his arm and her hand rubbed across his back. He flipped to the front of the book and showed her the picture of her with her mother.
Liz touched the photograph with the tips of her fingers and a wistful look came over her face. “That was my Grandmother’s favorite picture. My Mom went through a lot just to have me, and Grandma always thought that the look on her face in this picture showed how it was all worth it.”
“Really?” Max wondered what Liz meant but she just nodded her head, lost in her own thoughts. He was about to ask her what kind of difficulties her mother had had when she spoke again.
“Do you think I’ll ever be able to hold him like that?” she asked in a hushed tone as she continued to stare at the photograph. She lifted her eyes up to his face and the sadness that he saw there broke his heart. He put the photo album down and took her into his arms. She leaned her cheek against his chest, comforted by his loving touch.
“We’ll find him, Liz. You just have to believe that. Someday, somehow, I swear to you, we’ll have him back with us.” Max stroked her hair and tried to believe his own words.
Liz pulled away from him and tried to smile reassuringly at him. She gave his hand a squeeze and turned back to the box that he had been looking through. “Did you find anything else in here?”
“Just photo albums and some children’s books,” he responded. He saw her features soften and the sparkle return to her eyes.
“Grandma use to read these to me every night when I stayed at her house. After awhile we both knew all the words by heart. She was the best storyteller and she made all the characters come to life.” The memories of happy times helped pushed the sad reality of her son to the back recesses of her mind. “I think when we’re done I’ll have you take this box to my room. I want to keep these.” She carefully arranged the photo albums and books in the box and started to close the lid. “Was that everything that was in here?”
“No, there was one other thing,” Max began as he looked around for the wooden box. He finally found it on the floor where he had placed it earlier. “This was in there too.” It was an intricately carved wooden box, with a hinged lid and a keyhole in the front. It was about 12 inches wide by 10 inches deep and maybe 5 inches high. Liz inhaled sharply when she saw it.
“Max . . .” staring at the box, she reached out and took it out of his hands. That excited look was back in her eyes and he was drawn back to the box wondering why it caused such a strong reaction in her. “Grandma use to hide things in here for me. One time it was a seashell. That was right before she took me to see the ocean for the first time. Another time, just before my sixteenth birthday, it was a locket that her mother had given her. Whatever she put in here was very personal and always had a special meaning between us.” She couldn’t take her eyes off the box and her hand stroked the grain of the wood. She tried to lift the lid but it was locked.
“I wonder if there’s anything inside,” she said as she turned the box upside down looking for the key. The movement caused the object inside to shift. Liz’s eyes grew even wider. “There is something inside! But the key is gone.”
Max took the box out of her hand and set it on one of the cartons that surrounded them. He placed his hand against the lock and Liz heard a faint click as it disengaged. Max lifted the lid and they both stared inside. They saw a package wrapped in brown butcher paper with the name Elizabeth Parker written in Claudia Parker’s bold handwriting. Liz reached in and picked it up. Max watched as she tore the wrapper off revealing a black leather bound journal. She gently lifted the cover and saw an inscription on the front page.
My Darling Liz,
How do I begin to tell you the things you need to know. It was selfish of me to hide the truth from you for so long, but you were always such a happy child and I loved you so much I couldn’t bring myself to shatter your life as you knew it. The longer I waited the harder it got to tell you, and to be honest with you, a part of me was hoping none of it was true. I now realize how dangerous it was for me to keep this secret from you. I only hope I haven’t waited too long.
The pages of this journal will tell you the story you need to know. Everything I have written is true. I’ve never spoken of this to anyone else, not even your mother or your father. After you have finished reading this, we’ll talk. Just remember as you read this, nothing could ever change the way we love you.
October 17, 1999
Liz looked up at Max, perplexed by what she had just read. What could her grandmother possibly be talking about? She had written this just days before she died. By the look on his face, Max was just as bewildered as she was. With trepidation Liz reached out her hand and turned the page.
“Oh my God,” Liz blurted out as she reached for Max’s hand.
|posted on 14-Sep-2001 1:17:48 PM|
Liz looked at the date of the first entry and felt a tremble go through her body. As they silently read the first lines Liz could see the shock register on Max’s face. She imagined the look on her own face was probably the same.
July 8, 1947
My name is Claudia Miller and my life will never be the same after what I saw today. Today I met an alien. A real, live, honest to god alien, as in extraterrestrial, as in man from Mars! I can hardly write, my hand is shaking so hard. I was out in the desert looking at rocks when I came across him. He was just lying face down in the dirt and for a minute I thought I was staring at a dead body, but then I saw him move. He looked up at me and I could see that he was hurt. He asked me if I knew somewhere he could go to get out of the sun, but the funny thing was, his mouth never moved! I could hear him but he never said anything out loud. Isn’t that weird?!
Liz looked at Max. His eyes looked stunned, flabbergasted, and something else that she couldn’t put her finger on. Liz looked around the room and felt the need to get out of the basement. She snapped the journal closed and grabbing Max’s hand she headed for the stairs with the journal held firmly against her chest. She stopped abruptly and Max almost crashed into her.
“We need the box, Max.” Her voice was strained and he retrieved the wooden box without hesitation. He followed Liz up the stairs to the Crashdown, and then up the next flight of stairs to her room. She locked her bedroom door and the two of them climbed onto her bed. Max set the box on the floor next to the bed and then they settled on top of the covers side by side. Liz opened the journal so they could continue reading.
My dad would kill me if he knew I did this, but I helped the man get to a cave I knew was close by. I think his leg was hurt because he couldn’t walk very good so I let him lean against me. Once I got him in the cave he told me he had left something out in the desert and asked if I could go get it for him. And I’m serious, his lips still hadn’t moved, not even once! I saw a picture in my head of some kind of bag or something and I knew that’s what he wanted me to go find. And it was like I knew right where it was because I walked right to it, even though it was hidden in the rocks. So I took it back to him and he told me I needed to go home because it wasn’t safe here for me.
When I got home Mom and Dad were talking to the neighbors about the big news going around town. That an alien spaceship had crashed just out of town and the military was swarming all over everywhere! I don’t know why I didn’t tell them what I saw. Maybe cause the man seemed kinda scared. I don’t know but I didn’t tell anybody. I’m going to go back out there tomorrow and see if he’s still there.
Liz turned to the next page, anxious to read the next entry. She was engrossed by the story she was reading and Max seemed to be hanging by every word too. Grandma was born in 1933, so that meant she was only 14 when she started writing this.
July 8, 1947
I went out to the desert today but I couldn’t find him. I wonder where he went. I know nobody’s ever going to believe what I saw. If I don’t find something to prove it, then I’ll never be able to tell anyone. Maybe I’ll go look again tomorrow.
September 17, 1947
I saw him again today. I was out at the reservation with my dad and there he was. I walked into the clinic with the medicines my dad brought and he was just standing there in front of me. And he actually remembered me! He called me by named, but I know I never told him my name, so how’d he know??? Anyhow, he seems fine now. Whatever injuries he had last summer when I found him are long healed.
October 10, 1947
Went out to the reservation with Dad again. I didn’t see ‘him’, but one of the local boys told me he has been spending a lot of time out in the desert. The boy called him by the name Nasedo. He said it means ‘visitor’ so I guess that’s appropriate!
Max and Liz looked at each other. “Nasedo,” they both said at the same time. Liz still couldn’t believe that her Grandmother had known about the aliens almost her entire life. By the way her grandmother described him the Nasedo she knew sounded more compassionate than the Nasedo Liz knew. Maybe all the years of hiding and running from the FBI had hardened him.
Max gave Liz’s hand a squeeze. “It’s going to take awhile to read this.” He didn’t want to leave until they had finished reading the whole journal. He was amazed by what he had read so far. Claudia Parker had known Nasedo. What else would this book reveal? He couldn’t leave until he found out everything.
She knew what he was thinking. She could see the need to know in his eyes. “You could tell your parents that you’re staying the night at Michael’s . . .”
Max looked closely at Liz, relieved that she understood how important it was for him to stay. He reached for the phone and gave Michael a call. He wasn’t ready to tell Michael about the journal yet but thankfully, he didn’t ask any questions. When he was done talking to Michael he called his parents telling them he was going to spend the night at Michael’s apartment.
Max hung the phone up and settled in next to Liz again. He slid his hand into hers and gave her forehead a soft kiss before turning back to the journal. A pattern was beginning to emerge. Claudia and her father made a trek out to the reservation about once a month bringing medical supplies for the clinic. Sometimes Nasedo would be in the clinic, sometimes he was nowhere to be found. She was fascinated about him, but she was too nervous to ask him what he was. The next several pages chronicled her brief encounters with Nasedo over the winter and spring of 1948. Liz turned a page and an entry immediately jumped out at Max.
May 22, 1948
I followed N into the desert today. I know he spends a lot of time out there, but my curiosity got the better of me and I just had to follow him. I saw him go out to the rock formations out by Hollow Ridge and he did the strangest thing. He waved his hand over the rocks and all of a sudden a doorway opened! It opened into a big chamber. I followed him inside and it was full of really strange stuff. It reminded me of a lab, like in that Frankenstein movie. When he saw me I could tell he was mad, but he didn’t yell at me for following him. He even showed me around a little before telling me I had to leave. He said it was dangerous for me to be there. He said he had enemies that would stop at nothing to find him and kill him! I wonder where he’s from and what he’s doing in that cave?
“Max,” Liz began, tearing her eyes away from the journal to look at him. “The pod chamber is at the Vasquez Rocks. That means there’s another chamber out there at Hollow Ridge. There might still be stuff in it. Have you ever searched out there?”
“Yeah, a long time ago. But we were looking for obvious signs, not secret doorways in solid rock.” Their eyes turned back to the journal and kept reading . . .
July 16, 1951
N invited me out to the cave today. I guess he’s come to trust me over the last 4 years. For the first time he confided in me. But now the question is, do I believe what he told me? Where do I start? He comes from a different world. Well, I already knew that, but it was weird to actually hear him say it. He said his world was all but destroyed in a terrible war. They were invaded by a race that had traveled the universe enslaving other planets. His people had fought back valiantly, but when their leader had been killed along with all the members of the ruling house, they lost all hope. A limited number had been able to escape in seedling ships with the intention of starting over on a New World. His ship had come to Earth, but too late he had found a traitor on board. He had escaped along with some of the precious cargo that had been his charge to bring here, but the rest of the cargo had fallen into enemy hands.
I asked him what the cargo was and he told me the ships each carried enough genetic material to make repopulating a new home possible. The idea was to combine their DNA with the DNA of the dominant lifeform on the new world to in an effort to integrate into the new environment. Their scientists had created a way for memory engrams to be added so that the cloned individual would have the memories of the life he or she had lived before.
He went on to say that the cargo that was on his ship was very special. That the hopes of all his people could very well depend on if his experiments were successful or not. I tried to press him further, but he suddenly became quiet, as if he’d said more than he intended to.
Max and Liz continued to read, unable to tear their eyes away from the journal in front of them. Claudia Miller became Claudia Parker when she married. She bore two sons and settled into a comfortable life. These events were noted, but the focus of this journal was not on her life, but rather an account of her contact with Nasedo as the years passed . . .
November 8, 1959
I saw N today. Something is terribly wrong. I’ve never seen him so agitated. He said he had been discovered and his life and his work were in jeopardy. He was preparing to leave and he couldn’t say when he would be able to return. I tried to find out where he was going and why he had to leave, but he wouldn’t tell me. All he said was that someone had died and he was being blamed for it. And he said I would be at risk if he told me anything else. I wish I could help him. He’s so alone.
“Max.” Liz looked up at him, recognizing the date. “That’s when Atherton died, isn’t it.” She was making a statement, not asking a question and Max merely nodded his head in agreement. This seemed to indicate that it wasn’t Nasedo that killed Atherton, but someone or something else.
“I’m starting to think,” Max began as his eyes stared out of the window at the night sky, “that the Nasedo your Grandmother knew is not the same Nasedo that we know.” Max turned back to Liz and the intensity in his eyes caught her off-guard. “The way she describes him, he seems so compassionate and concerned for the safety of those around him. When she first met him she was only what, thirteen or fourteen? But she had no fear of him. I mean, she knew right away what he was, but the way she describes him he sounds almost . . . human.”
Max paused for a moment and when he spoke again there was a hard edge in the tone of his voice. “The Nasedo I know has no compassion. To him, human emotions are a weakness, something to be exploited and used. I know you’re afraid of him, Liz. Does what your grandmother describes sound anything at all like the Nasedo you know?”
“No, not at all,” She replied. Could Max be right? Was it possible that the alien her Grandmother knew was the real Nasedo, and the Nasedo that had kidnapped her was an imposter, maybe even the traitor that had caused the ship to crash back in 1947?
Liz turned the page and was surprised by the next date that she read. She felt a touch of disappointment that so much time had gone by between entries and was afraid they had learned all the journal had to offer, until she read the first line.
December 1, 1982
My God, what have I done? How can I ever tell Nancy the terrible thing I have done to the baby she’s carrying?
Liz’s eyes flew open. Me? What do I have to do with any of this, she wondered. She turned her eyes to Max and she saw the same question in his eyes. As they continued to read the entry Max could feel Liz’s shoulder stiffen and her breathing became shallow. When she reached the end of the entry she pushed the journal aside and jumped off the bed.
“What?” Her eyes swept around the room, seeing nothing. Her voice was strained, barely above a hoarse whisper. “What?” She repeated as she grappled to comprehend the words she had just read. “Me?”
Max picked the journal up off the bed. He couldn’t believe what he had just read. His heart was racing and his hands were trembling. Could it really be true? He began to read the entry again, this time out loud as if hearing the words would make them easier to accept.
November 1, 1982
My God, what have I done? How can I ever tell Nancy the terrible thing I have done to the baby she’s carrying? How will she ever forgive me? How do I begin to explain?
I saw N again last week for the first time in over twenty years. He hadn’t really changed at all in appearance, but his eyes held a certain desperation that I hadn’t seen before. He just suddenly showed up. It wasn’t by accident or a chance encounter. He sought me out.
It couldn’t have been at a more vulnerable time in my life. Jim died two months ago and left me a widow at only 49. Nancy suffered her third miscarriage in October and she and Jeff were devastated. They have been trying for over four years and it seemed like the end for them. The doctors were offering no hope for a successful pregnancy. And then N shows up out of the blue.
He actually came to my house and said he could help, and in the process I could help him. He said he could help Nancy conceive and successfully carry to full term. I wanted to believe him. No, I needed to believe him. So I didn’t ask any questions. I just latched onto the hope that he offered and I didn’t want to know anything else. All he asked was when Nancy was schedule for her next follow-up exam and I told him.
Yesterday N came to see me. He told me Nancy is pregnant and will deliver a healthy baby girl toward the end of July. At first I was elated and wanted to run to the phone to tell her, but he stopped me. That’s when he told me the truth of what he had done. Of what I had inadvertently allowed him to do.
Over the last twenty plus years he has worked to combine human an alien DNA so that the alien aspects would not be readily apparent under normal medical scrutiny. The child Nancy now carries is both human and alien. She carries the genetic make-up of both her mother and her father, and of the ‘other’.
Max stopped reading and turned his eyes to where Liz stood at the window. She stared out at the night sky and he had no idea what she was thinking. A part of him was elated by the idea that Liz was the same as him. But another part of him was afraid that she would find it abhorrent. That the idea that she had alien DNA in her would destroy her sense of who and what she was. Max had always known he was different, but Liz had never suspected she was anything but human. Her entire world had changed in the short time they had been reading the journal.
“Liz . . .” he began, wanting to understand how she was feeling.
“Keep reading, Max.” Her tone gave nothing away. He felt an invisible hand tighten around his heart as his fear that she was reacting badly intensified. Max turned back to the journal and continued reading.
“Nasedo went to the clinic where Nancy was scheduled for her exam. He masqueraded as one of the residents and managed to get her case assigned to him. Over the years he had studied in many clinics and has become well versed in the in-vitro process. He had followed Nancy’s medical history closely. He knew she had tried in-vitro before and knew where her fertilized eggs were stored. He had broken into the clinic and stolen the one remaining embryo and took it back to his lab where he combined it with the alien DNA. During Nancy’s exam he implanted the enhanced embryo.
He was able to make the necessary adjustments to Nancy’s physiology to ensure that she will successfully carry this baby full term. He said she will deliver a healthy girl in late July and for all appearances she’ll look completely human. Her alien abilities won’t surface until after sexual maturity. Once puberty is achieved there will be a slow awakening of her alien side. By that time she will be mature enough to adjust to the changes.”
Max set the journal on the bed. His head was spinning from everything he’d just read. He looked over toward Liz and noticed she had not moved from her position by the window. The moonlight touched her hair and it almost looked like she was glowing. Max swung his legs over the side of the bed and made his way over to her.
“Liz,” he said quietly as his hand reached out and touched her shoulder “are you okay?” She turned to look at him and he felt the tension leave his body when he saw the soft smile on her face.
“I guess this explains a lot,” she said. “Why I got flashes when you kissed me and Maria never did when she kissed Michael. And why sometimes I know what you’re thinking or what you’re going to say before you say it.”
“And how I always know when you’re near even though I can’t see you.” His forehead touched hers and his hand caressed the back of her neck. “And why, when we make love we connect so completely.” He closed his eyes as his lips met hers in a tender lingering kiss. Relief swept over him when he realized how well she was taking the news, and even welcoming it.
“Let’s go finish the journal,” he said and took her hand in his. They sat side by side in the middle of the bed and Liz picked up the journal. She rested her head against his shoulder and they began to read again . . .
I asked him why he did this. How could he betray me like this after all these years. I had protected his secret and been his friend. He said the only way I’d ever understand was if I heard the whole story. A story that started in a place far from here, but not so different after all.
Nasedo’s world had achieved a state of peace and harmony. The planet was ruled by a benevolent leader who was well loved by the majority of the population. Nasedo was his trusted confidant and his boyhood friend. This leader had known since childhood that someday he would inherit the responsibilities of ruling an entire planet. He wore that responsibility well, but there was always a certain sadness about him, as if his life wasn’t his own. That is, until the day that he met her, the woman that was to become his bride. He had seen her across the market square one day and later he had told Nasedo that as soon her eyes met his, he knew she was the one. Everyone could see it, how they complimented each other. When they were in public together their hands were always touching and his eyes followed her every move. A love like theirs was rare, and when he took her as his bride, the people rejoiced.
Liz felt a lump form in her throat. “Max, he’s talking about you and Tess,” she said with a slight tremble in her voice. She blinked her eyes rapidly, trying to keep from crying. He had loved Tess in his other life. She hadn’t wanted to believe it before. She had hoped that it had been an arranged marriage or something, but the evidence was here in front of her eyes. He had loved Tess with all his heart.
Max saw the sadness in her eyes. “You still don’t understand, do you?” he said gently and touched his finger to her lips. He saw the questioning look in her eyes and said, “Let’s just keep reading.”
Soon after that, the invasion began. There was a small segment of the population who were unhappy with the way his friend ruled and sought to wrest the government away from him. They were power hungry and when the enemy invaded they were more than willing to form an allegiance with the aliens. His friend’s responsibilities took him away from the safety of his home to oversee the struggle to save their planet. Nasedo had sworn an oath to his friend that he would protect his wife from harm while he was gone, but he had failed miserably. Traitors broke into her home while he was gone and murdered her. Worst of all, they had raped and tortured her before she died. Nasedo had found her broken and bloodied body when he returned.
I could see the pain in his eyes as he told me the story. I think he loved her too. When his friend returned home, Nasedo had to break the news to him that his wife was dead. He said he watched the life literally drain right out of his friend’s eyes. He became a shadow of the man he once was. He became reckless and soon after he too became a casualty of the war.
With the collapse of the government and the planet rapidly becoming unstable, they only had one chance left for survival. It was customary on his planet for those in high standing to have a sample of their genetic material kept on file. They had perfected the science of cloning and had intended to use it to spread beyond their planet, reaching for the stars. Nasedo was a respected scientist and he led the team that was secretly gathering the DNA and storing it in ships to flee their planet. They fled in ten ships, with enough genetic material to start over on a new world. His ship contained the DNA of his friend and his wife, as well as his sister and his wife’s brother.
The voyage was long, but when they came to Earth, they knew they could survive here. Samples of human DNA were acquired, and the process of combining it with their DNA was begun. A chamber was set up out in the desert to house the incubation pods. After gestation, they should emerge as young children with full knowledge of their life before and how to survive on their new home. Nasedo would be there to instruct them until they were old enough to blend into society on their own. Everything was almost complete when Nasedo found the traitor. One of the shape shifting aliens had infiltrated his crew before they had left his home planet. The traitor had altered the memory engrams, stripping away most of their real memories, and implanting false memories that would be used for his own evil purposes. Nasedo was able to deactivate most of the false memories but he wasn’t sure what kind of residual effect there would be. He was also afraid that most of the real memories might have been lost forever. Too late, he had learned of the ultimate treachery. An impostor had been inserted into one of the pods. An impostor that had human DNA combined with the enemy shape shifting DNA. Nasedo had been forced to flee before he could do anything about it. All he had had time for before he fled was to save “her” DNA. He had to try to recreate the process, so that maybe, someday they would find each other. Before he had left his home world he had vowed to reunite them. He had failed his friend once, and he had nearly failed him this time as well. He would not fail him again.
Liz turned to face Max. Her eyes were huge. Did she dare believe the words she just read? Could it possibly be?
“So,” she began, struggling to understand. “If Tess is the impostor . . .does that mean . . .am I . . . was I . . .”
Max squeezed her hands between his. “ You were my wife, Liz.”
“I think I’ve always known it was you,” Max said and his face lit up with a smile. “I knew you the very first time I saw you. At the time, I just didn’t know why. All these years I’ve watched you and wondered why I couldn’t get you out of my mind. I think my memories of you were suppressed, but not completely removed. And I think that . . . the way I was drawn to Tess, I think that was part of the false memories they tried to put in me. Because even though I was drawn to her, it never made sense to me because I never felt anything for her. I think they tried to program me to act a certain way and to react to certain stimuli, but most of the memories, both the real ones and the fake ones were either buried or lost completely.”
“But Max,” Liz began, still uncertain what to think of all of this. “I don’t have any powers, like you and Isabel and Michael.”
“Don’t you?” Max could tell she was still skeptical. He cupped her cheek with his hand and looked deeply into her eyes. “You see images from me all the time. I don’t send those images to you, Liz. You’re the one who reaches into my mind to see them. After I got away from Pierce, that night when we were hiding in that van, when I kissed you I didn’t send you those images of what Pierce did to me. I didn’t want you to ever know. But you reached in and you found them.” Max gave a little laugh and continued “Liz, that’s not exactly a typical human trait.”
Max tucked a loose strand of hair behind Liz’s ear and then let his fingers rest gently on the back of her neck. “What about when the shaper shifter impersonated me, Liz. When you kissed him, you saw deep inside him. You said it was like he had no soul. He didn’t send those visions to you. You reached in and saw them, with your mind.” Max drew his hand across her shoulder and down her arm. He looked at her hand resting lightly on his thigh and he picked it up, pressing her fingers gently against his lips. He looked into her eyes again, and she could see the depth of emotions he was feeling. “And Liz, the connection that we share, I think that it exists because of you. You make the connection. It’s your gift.”
Liz listened to his words and felt her heart soar. She felt dizzy, overwhelmed by new thoughts and feelings. She was the same as Max. She was the one he was supposed to be with. She was the one he had loved before, and was meant to love again.
“I think the reason you can’t do the things Michael, Isabel and I can do is because the journal says your abilities were suppressed until recently so that you would grow up as a normal child and no one would ever be suspicious of you. It was a way to protect you. I mean, the three of us knew instinctively that we were different. But you, your mother gave birth to you. You never had any reason to feel different. Isabel and I have stronger powers than Michael because we were able to practice and experiment together, but Michael was alone and had to hide his powers so he never got a chance to develop them like Iz and I did.” Max saw a strange look come into Liz’s eyes.
“Max . . . Michael is . . . my brother.” Her eyes had a stunned look. “I have a brother. And he has a sister. He doesn’t have to feel so alone anymore.” Liz grabbed his hand and started to pull him off the bed. “I have to go see him. Max, I have to tell Michael I’m his sister!”
Max pulled her hand back and Liz turned around to look at him. His eyes had that intensity in them that she was coming to know. “I think Michael can wait until tomorrow,” he said huskily as he pulled her back to him. “Right now, I think it’s more important for me to make love to my wife.”
Liz smiled at Max, feeling the butterflies in her stomach again. Just the thought of him touching her made her burn with desire. She climbed onto his lap, straddling his hips. She wrapped her arms around his shoulders and her face hovered just above his. He looked up into her eyes and swallowed hard, reminding himself that this was real. Not some figment of his imagination, not a daydream or a fantasy.
“I love you, Liz. You’re the reason I exist. I want to spend the rest of my life with you.” His heart was pounding in his chest.
“I love you, Max. I want to be with you forever.” Liz leaned down and brushed her lips over his. His arms surrounded her, pulling her tightly against him. He buried one hand in her hair at the back of her head and pressed her hard against his mouth. Her tongue darted into his mouth and he sucked it all the way in. She could feel him swelling against her and she was overcome with the urgent need to feel his skin next to hers. She pulled at the shirt he was wearing and then realized she’d have to stop kissing him if she wanted to get it over his head. She reluctantly broke off the kiss and running her tongue over her lips, she tore the shirt off him. The hunger in his eyes and the sight of his hair all askew made her heart race even faster. She clamped her mouth over his again and ran her hands through his hair, messing it up even more than it was before.
Max’s fingers fumbled with the little buttons on the front of her dress for the second time that day. “There’s so many buttons,” he mumbled breathlessly against her mouth. Unable to stop himself, he tore the dress open, sending tiny buttons flying everywhere. Startled, she looked down at her ruined dress. “I’ll fix it later,” he said hoarsely and threw the dress aside. Her nipples were standing erect already, waiting for him. He reached out with his tongue and his lips, savoring the taste of her. He sucked her into his mouth and he felt a tremor go through her body. His hand messaged her other breast and her breathing became even more ragged against his ear. Her hips rocked against him and her moans were sending him into ecstasy. He ran his hand up the inside of her thigh and under her panties. She was hot and wet and her legs shuddered when he touched her. He stroked her back and forth, enjoying the way he made her legs tremble.
Her hands found the button on his shorts and unfastened it. She pulled the zipper down and felt his erection straining against the fabric of his boxers. He released her nipple and leaned back against her pillows, raising his hips so that she could pull his shorts off. She tugged them down past his thighs and his knees and finally all the way off, along with his sandals. He watched her climb back up his legs, her long hair brushing against him. Suddenly her tongue was gliding up his inner thigh and he sucked his breath in. Her hand stroked up his other thigh and then when she reached the top of his leg she let her fingers drift over him, caressing every part of him. She looked up at him and smiled and then starting at the base, she ran her wet tongue up one side of him and then down the other. She heard a moan rumble deep in his throat and then he let out a gasp when her tongue began to circle the tip. Her lips pulled him in and he watched as more and more of him disappeared into her wet mouth. Her mouth withdrew and she kissed the tip before plunging down onto him again. He threw his head back against the pillows, amazed by how she could make him feel. He could hardly breath and he was sure his heart wouldn’t be able to last very much longer, it was beating so fast. She went down on him slowly, repeatedly, taking as much of him into her mouth as she could.
When he knew he couldn’t wait any longer, he sat up and taking her by the shoulders he lifted her off of him. A surprised look crossed her face and as his mouth closed over hers he said, “I need to be inside you. I need to feel you inside me.” He pulled at her panties, almost ripping them in his haste to take them off. His arm clamped around her hips and he positioned her directly above him. He drove her down onto him, penetrating deeply into her. The connection formed between them, nearly overpowering them with its intensity. He rolled her over on her back and he plunged into her with almost an animal lust. He slammed into her repeatedly, feeling how much she wanted it this way too. She dug her nails into his back, thrusting up against him feeling him plunging deep inside her. He was thrusting into her hard and fast now and they could feel their climax nearing. It was no longer his climax or hers, it was theirs. It exploded over them and they both cried out from the intensity of it. He drew her tight against him, emptying into her, grinding into her. He couldn’t stop pounding against her as he kept coming in her, more powerful than it had ever felt before. He smothered her mouth and her throat with his kisses. Her breathing was heavy in his ear and her heart was nearly jumping out of her chest. When he finally came to rest against her they both felt such an overwhelming sense of joy at being together, it was hard to find the words.
‘Oh, Max,’ he could hear her whispering in his mind. ‘Oh, Max. Don’t ever stop loving me.’
‘I’ll love you for as long as I live, Liz, and if we’re lucky, maybe even beyond that,’ was his unspoken answer.
* * * * *
Later, lying on her back with Max’s head resting comfortably across her breast, Liz thought back to the last time Max had spent the night in her bed. On that morning, when they had made love, Liz had wondered why the vision that they saw seemed so comforting, so much like home. Now she thought she knew why.
“Max, remember when we shared that vision of you and me, standing on that strange shore looking out over that strange ocean?” She was idly running her fingers through his hair, enjoying the feel of his body pressed against hers. It seemed so natural lying here with him like this.
“I’ll never forget that vision Liz.” Max still didn’t understand why that vision was so important. He only knew it was, and he wasn’t going to question why.
“Max, don’t ask me how I know this . . .” she began. Liz could sense now that there were things bubbling just under the surface, memories waiting for the right time to emerge. “That was our wedding day, Max. That’s why the vision seems so important to us. It was the happiest day of our lives.”
Max lifted his head to look at her. Her face was radiant. As soon as she said it, he was certain it was true. It felt right. A smile spread across his face. “You know, you might have more memories hidden in your mind than Isabel, Michael and I put together. If Nasedo had to wipe clean most of our memories to prevent the fake ones the shape shifter planted from controlling us, you might be our only link to the past.”
Max turned over onto his back and Liz snuggled up against his chest. “I wonder if something has to trigger the memories, or if I’ll just naturally start to remember,” Liz wondered out loud.
“I don’t know.” Max looked at the ceiling, lost in thought. His hand idly stroked Liz’s hair. “I wish the real Nasedo was still here. I have so many questions still.” He was quiet for a few minutes and then he turned to Liz.
“You want to go see Michael, don’t you?” He looked her directly in the eyes, knowing the answer already.
Liz nodded her head. Part of her wanted to spend the day right here in bed with Max, eating strawberries and cream and making love with him all day long. But it was more important to talk to Michael now. He had the right to know what they had found out.
“Okay. You go get dressed and I’ll call Michael.” He raised her chin and allowed himself one small kiss before he turned to pick up the phone.
Max knocked on Michael’s door, his eyes watching Liz while they waited for Michael to answer. She was keyed-up, anxious to see Michael, but apprehensive about what his reaction would be. He couldn’t help smiling as he watched her transfer her weight from one foot to the other. Back and forth, back and forth, her eyes never looking at the same spot for more than a few seconds.
Liz felt like she was going to explode any minute now. Part of her was afraid to tell Michael that she was his sister. For so long Michael had kept her at arms length. That infamous stone wall of his. She didn’t know if he was jealous of the attention Max gave her, or just protective of the secret the three of them had hid for so long. Recently, he had been more open with her. Surprisingly, it was Michael that had been supportive and comforting to her when Max was being held by Pierce. Michael had been closed off from everyone except Max and Isabel for so many years, it was just very hard for him to accept new people into his life. Would he accept her now? Could he learn to tear that stone wall down, and finally let her in, or anyone else that cared about him?
Michael reached the door wondering what was so all important that Max had to see him at this ungodly hour in the morning. Rubbing his eyes, he opened the door.
“This better be good, Max,” he grumbled. He had the door open half way, leaning his head against it.
“Can we come in, Michael?” Max asked with just a hint of exasperation in his voice. Michael never made anything easy, he thought.
Michael arched his eyebrows and swung the door wide, motioning for them to enter. He ran his hand through his unruly head of hair and sauntered over to lean against the kitchen counter.
“So what’s this all about?” he asked as he crossed his arms over his chest. His eyes bounced back and forth between Max and Liz. He turned back to Liz and frowned. Why is she looking at me that way, he thought. Liz didn’t usually stare at him. In fact Liz usually couldn’t tear her eyes away from Max, so the fact that she was staring so hard at him was starting to unnerve him.
“What’s the matter, is my fly open?”
Liz suppressed a laugh and looked down at the floor for a moment and then up at Max. She was waiting for him to break the ice.
“Is Isabel here yet?” Max asked as his eyes scanned the apartment.
“No . . . I didn’t know she was coming.” Michael looked from Max to Liz again. What’s the matter with her, he thought. He’d never seen her such a bundle of nervous energy like this before. “What’s going on?” The tone of his voice showed his impatience to know why they were here.
Suddenly, his eyes opened wide and a hopeful look flooded over his face. “Is it about the baby? Did you find something out about the baby?”
“No, Michael, it’s not about the baby.” Max saw the disappointed look come over his face. “Let’s just wait ‘til Isabel gets here. We don’t want to explain this twice.” Max smiled at Liz and gave her hand a squeeze. Michael’s impatience to know was every bit as strong as Liz’s apprehension about telling Michael what they had found out.
Just then there was a knock on the door. Michael strode across the room and flung the door open. Isabel stood on the other side, with a patented Isabel look on her face. Max knew what she was going to say before she ever opened her mouth.
“This had better be good, Max.” She stepped into the room and Michael slammed the door closed with a flick of his wrist.
“Welcome to the land of ‘I’ve got a secret’,” Michael said sarcastically.
Isabel looked from Michael to Max and then to Liz. She stared hard at the look on Liz’s face and knew something important had happened. “Okay, what is it? What’s happened?”
Max looked toward the living room area of Michael’s apartment. “Let’s go sit down,” he said as he nodded toward the couch.
Michael and Isabel sat side by side on the couch, and Liz sat in the chair facing them. Max sat on the arm of the chair and for the first time Michael noticed the book that Max was holding.
“What’s that?” he asked nonchalantly, but Max could see the intensity in his eyes.
“We found this,” Max began as his eyes moved from Michael to Isabel, and then to Liz. He gave her a brief smile and then looked back to Michael and his sister. “Liz was looking through a book her Grandmother had published right before she died. She found a bunch of symbols in the book, the same symbols we found in the cave out on the reservation.” Michael and Isabel were staring at him intently.
“Most of her things are stored in a room in Liz’s basement,” Max continued. “So last night Liz and I started searching through her things, trying to learn how she could have known the symbols. We found this.” Max patted the cover of the journal.
“What is it?” Isabel asked in a near whisper.
“A journal,” Liz began. “A journal that talks about you . . .” Liz let the words hang in the air.
“Wha . . .What?” The words fell out of Michael’s mouth. “How could your . . .” he stammered. “How could your Grandmother know anything about us?”
Max and Liz took turns filling them in on everything they had read so far. Michael and Isabel listened raptly as the story unfolded.
Isabel looked sympathetically at Liz as they related the story about how Max and Tess had been so in love in their prior life. Isabel knew that Liz had suffered guilt feelings over Max choosing her over Tess. She knew that it must have broken Liz’s heart all over again to hear that Max and Tess meant everything to each other on their home world.
“So, Tess is my sister,” Michael said with a trace of disappointment in his voice. For the first time he finds out he has a family of his own, and she turns out to be bad, maybe even evil.
“No, Michael,” Max said. “Tess is not your sister.” Michael cocked his head to the side and waited for Max to continue. “Tess wasn’t my wife.”
“After we were implanted, Nasedo found out the shape shifter had substituted someone else in one of the pods. An impostor, Tess, pretending to be the one that was my wife. Her genetics are different than ours. She was cloned from human DNA and DNA from a shape shifter.” Max paused to let that information sink in.
“So what happened to the other one, the one that was your wife?” Isabel asked. “Did the shape shifter destroy her?”
“No,” Max continued. “Nasedo was able to escape with her genetic sample, but he wasn’t able to set up a new pod chamber for her. There just weren’t enough of the right materials here, and everything that had been salvaged from the crash was used in the pods we were in. So he had to find another way to bring her back to life. He needed a human recipient. A woman, who could carry the embryo to full term.
“Who?” Isabel and Michael said at the same time.
“My Mom.” Liz spoke the words quietly and watched their faces closely. Isabel’s eyes grew wide and her mouth dropped open. Michael’s eyebrows shot up and he looked from Liz to Max. He stood up and ran his hand through his hair and then began pacing the room, his eyes darting everywhere.
Liz had stood up at the same time that Michael had. She couldn’t take her eyes off him. She watched as his eyes traveled the room, barely looking at her. Max put his arm around her shoulder trying to reassure her.
Michael finally stopped pacing and looked at the two of them. “So you’re telling us that Liz is one of us?”
“Yes, Michael,” Max looked at Liz and them back to Michael. “Liz is you sister.”
Michael looked at Liz with an unconvinced frown on his face. “And what makes you think that that book is the truth, and not some made up story or something?”
“Once you read the journal, you’ll know it’s the truth,” Max stated with a certainty. He could feel the way Liz’s shoulders had fallen, resigned to the fact that Michael wasn’t willing to accept her as his sister. He could feel the disappointment coming off of her in waves. Why did Michael have to hurt everyone that cared about him, Max thought. “Michael . . .”
It was just too much for Michael to comprehend at the moment. He rubbed his hand over his face and turned to Isabel. “Do you believe this?” he asked her bluntly.
“I . . .I . . .” she began. She closed her mouth and looked hard at him. “Yes, Michael, I believe every word of it. And it makes perfect sense.” Isabel turned her eyes to Liz. She got up off the couch and crossed the room to where Liz was standing. “I always thought that when I told you ‘welcome to the family’, it would be on your wedding day to my lunkhead of a brother here,” she said pointing her chin in Max’s direction. “But now it takes on a whole new meaning.” She reached out and gave Liz a hug, truly happy about this turn of events.
Liz was relieved that Isabel was so willing to accept her as one of them. She hugged her back tightly, but still couldn’t help feeling disappointed that Michael was rejecting her. Her eyes had suddenly become moist, and she fought to keep the tears away. Suddenly she felt a hand on her arm, pulling her away from Isabel.
Michael stood before her, one hand holding her upper arm. “So you’re my sister, huh?” he said and Liz could see the smile on his face. “Don’t try to take any of my toys. I don’t share well.”
Liz threw herself at him and he wrapped his arms around her. Relief swept through her and now the tears did fall from her eyes, this time happy tears. Isabel and Max watched with smiles on their faces.
|posted on 14-Sep-2001 1:32:00 PM|
Max, Liz, Isabel and Michael headed out to Hollow Ridge. Max drove the jeep and Liz sat next to him with the journal open in her lap. Isabel and Michael sat in the back listening as Liz recounted more of the entries her grandmother had documented in the journal.
“Listen to this,” Liz spoke loudly over the noise of the jeep’s engine. “It says that the ship didn’t crash when it was landing. It crashed taking off. They set the pod chamber up out at the Vasquez Rocks, and when Nasedo found out what the shape shifter did, he took the ship trying to escape. There was a big fight on board and the ship crashed.”
“Liz.” Michael leaned forward over the back of Liz’s seat trying to read the journal over her shoulder. “Does it say anything about the other ships? Did they land here too? Are there more of us here?”
Liz began to flip back a few pages, looking for the right journal entry. “Oh, here it is.” Liz read it again to refresh her memory. “It says that they were the first ship to arrive here, and he wasn’t sure how many ships were still following. One ship exploded during the journey here. He wasn’t sure why. He thought maybe the hull had depressurized. Another developed engine trouble and fell behind, so another ship was selected to stay and help them make repairs. The other seven kept going.”
Liz turned to look at Michael. “Of course, when the ship crashed they lost the ability to contact the other ships.”
“So there could be a lot of us out there, right?” Michael had spent his whole life feeling so alone, cut off from everyone and everything around him. The idea of more aliens like him, engineered or not, appealed to him tremendously.
“Maybe,” Max answered. “We just don’t know yet.”
“Michael, would it matter? I mean, if we’re the only ones?” Liz watched his face trying to gage his feelings.
“But if there are more of us, maybe someone will be able to tell us how to get back home.”
Liz looked from Michael to Max. Michael had clung to the idea of someday going home, where someone would be waiting there for him with open arms. Liz hated the thought of tearing apart his dreams. Max looked at Liz and nodded his head, telling her to go ahead. It wouldn’t be easy for him, but he needed to know.
“I’m sorry,” Liz began. Michael’s hand was resting on the back of Liz’s seat and she put her hand over his. “There is no home Michael. Not anymore.” Liz saw the shock register on his face.
“What do you mean?” His body stiffened and Liz could tell he didn’t want to believe her. “How do you know?”
“It says so in the journal, Michael.” Liz hated seeing the pain in his eyes. “Nasedo told my grandmother that the war had destroyed the ecological balance on the planet. The toxins in the atmosphere were rising rapidly and within 100 years the air was expected to be unbreathable. All plant life was dying out and there was nothing they could do to stop it. They had to either leave . . . or die.” She paused for a minute and then continued softly. “There is nothing left to go back to.”
Michael pulled his hand away from Liz and sat back against his seat. He turned his head to look out of the jeep as the desert passed by. His eyes were unseeing, once again shuttered behind the wall he couldn’t seem to keep from building between him and everyone around him.
“Michael,” Isabel said softly and reached out to touch him on the arm. “This is home now. You have to learn to accept it.”
Michael turned back to Isabel. “Why are we even here?’ he said and the frustration was heavy in his voice.
“We’ve been given a second chance, Michael,” Max said as he glanced back to look at him. “What we do with that second chance is what matters now.”
* * * * *
Max slowed the jeep and turned off the highway onto a one lane dirt rode. He hadn’t been to this area of the desert in years, but it still had a sense of familiarity about it.
Max had been here many times in the past, searching with Isabel and Michael. He had always had a feeling something was here, but they’d never been able to find anything. After weeks and weeks of finding nothing, they had abandoned the site.
Max pulled over by an outcrop of rocks and parked the jeep. The four of them slowly climbed out, sweeping their eyes over the terrain before them.
The territory around them was raw, even primal. Vertical escarpments jutted out of the desert floor with wild abandon. Here and there the ground would suddenly plummet into a steep ravine. If they weren’t careful, one of them could easily stumble and end up breaking their neck.
Max walked around the jeep and stood close to Liz. His hand reached for hers without even conscious thought. She was like an extension of him, and he needed to touch her almost as much as he needed to breathe.
Liz leaned her head against his arm. She was feeling discouraged already. “There’s so much space out there, Max.” She turned her face up to look at him. “Where do we even start?”
“I thought the same thing when we walked into your basement last night.” Max smiled down at her, trying to encourage her to think positively. “Maybe we’ll get lucky here, too.”
“What exactly are we looking for Max?” Isabel asked. By the sound of her voice he could tell she wasn’t very encouraged either.
“Anything that looks like it could hide a chamber inside. Why don’t you and Michael start with those rock formations over there on the left, and Liz and I will take a look at these over here on this side.”
They broke into two groups and began the arduous task of searching for what could easily be called a needle in a haystack.
Hours later the four of them met in the shade of a tall pillar. Everyone was tired and hungry.
“Max,” Michael began, “there’s nothing here.”
“There is something here, Michael.” Max’s voice had sounded harsher than he meant it to be. Michael was edgy and he had every right to be. He didn’t need to have Max jumping down his throat, too. “Look, I didn’t mean that the way it sounded.”
Max looked over to where Liz was resting perched on a large boulder. Her eyes were tired and her face was drawn. Her shoulders drooped and he thought maybe it was more from disappointment than from fatigue.
“Maybe we should stop for the day. We can always come back tomorr . . .” Max’s voice trailed off when he saw Liz’s head jerk back. Her back arched and he could hear a deep groan in her chest. Her eyes were fluttering and her hands were squeezed into tight fists.
“Liz,” he shouted. He rushed to her side and held onto her. He could feel her body trembling.
“What’s wrong with her, Max?” There was near panic in Isabel’s voice. She grabbed onto Liz’s arm to prevent her from falling backwards and striking her head against the rock.
“I don’t know . . .” Max said as he tried to keep from panicking himself. He brushed his hand over her forehead. “Liz . . .? Liz, can you hear me?”
“Has anything like this ever happened before?” Isabel asked her brother in a hushed tone.
“No . . .” he began, and then his eyes lost focus as a memory surfaced. “Wait, something like this did happened once before.” He looked over at Isabel and continued. “The first time the baby called out to her, Liz kind of had a reaction like this, but not so severe. Not like this.” He turned his attention back to Liz. Her neck was still straining backwards and her skin had become pale.
Michael hovered next to Liz watching the strained look on her face. They couldn’t let anything happen to her. Not now, he thought. Please, don’t let anything bad happen to her.
After a few minutes Max felt her body begin to relax. Her eyes slowly blinked open and relief flooded over him. “Are you okay?” Max squeezed her hand. “What happened Liz? What happened?”
Liz tightened her hand around Max’s and then reached for Isabel’s too. “He’s here,” she said and her voice was filled with awe. Her eyes bore into Max’s. “I can feel him, Max. Our baby is here.”
Liz stood up and scanned the terrain around her. “Max, he’s here somewhere. When he reached out to me, it overwhelmed me because we’re so close together. Max, we have to find him.” She was squeezing his hand tightly. “He’s right here.”
Michael took a step closer to Liz. “But where, Liz? He could be anywhere out there.”
Liz let her eyes scan the terrain. She could feel him in her mind. He was here, very close. But where? Her eyes moved from the left to the right. She closed her eyes and tried to concentrate. She relaxed her breathing, taking slow, deep breaths. The connection between them was strong, almost as strong as it had been when he was still a part of her. If she could only trace the thread back to him. Was he strong enough to pull her to him? In her mind she told him to pull the thread back. Maybe, just maybe, as he pulled the connection back she would be able to follow it back to him. She felt him begin to retreat. Her mind could sense the direction and she turned to look to the left.
“This way.” Liz took off heedless of the rough ground beneath her feet. She was going on instinct and sensations only, not thinking about what she was doing but just reacting to the stimuli she was receiving. Max struggled to keep up with her. Michael and Isabel followed close behind him.
Max lost sight of Liz when she disappeared behind a rocky outcrop. “Liz,” he called out to her. “Please wait.” He was afraid she would lose her footing and fall down one of the steep ravines. “Liz, wait for us,” he shouted.
When he rounded the outcrop he came to a dead stop. She wasn’t there. He couldn’t see her anywhere. His heart, already pounding hard because of the exertion, suddenly began to hammer inside his chest. Where could she be? Did she fall? Is she hurt? “LIZ,” he shouted out again. “LIZZZZZ.”
“Over here,” Max heard her faint response. He ran forward, slipping and stumbling on the rough pebbly ground. He rounded a corner and relief flooded over him when he saw her standing near the face of an escarpment.
“He’s here, Max. I can feel him here.” Her face was beaming. She was staring at the face of the rock wall in front of her. Her eyes turned to Max and he could feel the excitement coming from her. “Can you feel him?”
Max shook his head. “No . . .I can’t,” he said with regret. He wished that he could, but the connection was between the baby and Liz. He had felt it only the one time. He had missed feeling it every day since then.
Liz reached out her hand for him. “Help me find a way in.” Max stepped over to her side and took her hand, lacing her fingers between his. “Michael?” Liz reached out her other hand toward him. He walked over to her and took her small hand in his. Max reached for Isabel, and the four of them stood in front of the rock face, hand in hand, united the way they had once been, a lifetime ago.
“If we concentrate, we’ll find the entrance. We need to all concentrate hard.” Liz looked from Max to Isabel and then to Michael. “Just hold on tight and think about the way in.” Liz turned her face to the rock wall in front of her. She closed her eyes and squeezed Max and Michael’s hands. Max turned his gaze away from Liz and closed his eyes, tilting his head slightly down. Michael looked at the two of them. It almost looked like they were praying. His eyes met Isabel’s. She could see how skeptical he still was. Michael always needed the truth to come up and bite him on the butt before he’d believe, she thought to herself. She gave him a brief smile and then closed her eyes, concentrating like Max and Liz. Michael finally followed suit.
The four of them focused all of their energy on the location of the entrance. Liz knew it was there. She could feel the open chamber beyond the wall. Max believed in her implicitly. Their shared faith in each other raised them to a higher plane. Their clasped hands began to glow and the air around them became electrically charged. Isabel felt the change. Her hand began to tingle. A hot spot developed in the center of her palm and she squeezed Max’s hand harder. In her mind a vision of a glowing handprint on the surface on the rock wall formed. She concentrated on it with every fiber of her body, chasing all other thoughts to the back recesses of her mind. Michael felt it too. He finally cast his skepticism aside and opened his mind. His hand, holding on to Liz tightly, began to glow and the vision formed in his mind as well.
The electricity in the air built around them. The pebbles on the ground near their feet shook. Their eyes flew open just in time to see a bolt of energy emitted from Max and Liz’s clasped hands. It hit the rock wall to the left of where they were standing. The image of a handprint became visible in the rock. The energy dissipated as soon as the handprint appeared.
Liz turned her face up to Max and smiled. He smiled back and then walked over and placed his hand on top of the print. The rock face began to shimmer and glow and then suddenly it simply disappeared. Liz could see a large cavern in front of her. She took a deep breath and swallowing hard, she stepped through the opening. Max followed her and then Isabel, with Michael bringing up the rear. It took a moment for their eyes to adjust to the dim interior.
The walls glowed iridescently. Max could hear a soft hum, but could not pin point it’s location. It seemed to come from everywhere. They looked around but there was little to see. The chamber was large, easily 40 feet across and at least double that in length. Michael’s eyes swept the room. If there ever was something here, it was long gone now. The room was empty. He felt his shoulders sag. Another dead end. He had allowed himself to hope, and once again fate had slapped him down. He ran his hand through his hair and turned in a slow circle, letting his eyes scan the walls of the cave. When he turned to look at Liz he expected to see her disappointment. What he saw amazed him.
Liz stood in the middle of the room with her eyes closed and her hands stretched out from her sides, her palms turned upward. Her palms were glowing. In fact her whole body was glowing. She stood there unmoving for what seemed like hours, but was actually only a matter of a minute or two. When the light that surrounded her blinked out she opened her eyes. She focused on Max and reached out her hand to him. She led him over to the far end of the chamber. She touched the wall and another handprint appeared in the rock. The surface shimmered and another opening appeared. The opening was small and Max had to stoop down to enter. His jaw dropped when he saw what was inside.
The room was small, no larger that 8 feet long and 10 feet wide. The wall directly in front of Max glowed brightly with a green iridescence. This was the source of the humming he had heard in the outer room. Built into the wall was a familiar sight. A pod. Similar to the ones they had seen out at the Vasquez Rocks, except this one pulsated with life. Max stared at the sight before him. Liz was standing in front of the pod. Her hand hovered over the slick surface and as soon as her fingers touched it, the room was filled with a steady, insistent pulse. A heartbeat. His son’s heartbeat. Liz turned to look at Max. Tears shimmered in her eyes and her chin was trembling.
“We found him, Max.”
She ran to Max and buried her head against his chest. He wrapped his arms around her and could feel the way her shoulders were shaking as she cried. His own eyes swam with unshed tears. After all these weeks of wondering and doubting they would ever find him, to finally be standing here was overwhelming.
Isabel and Michael squeezed into the confined space. Max turned to look at them and the movement caused a tear to fall down his cheek. He had to swallow hard before he could finally get his voice to work. He turned back to look at the pod and said quietly, “What do we do now?”
* * * * *
Max, Isabel and Michael stood in the outer chamber trying to determine a course of action. Liz had not come out of the small room. She sat on the floor in front of the pod with her hands pressed against the surface. She could feel his fluttering movements inside the pod. The interior was cloudy and Liz could not see him clearly. His silhouette was vague and his appearance was ill defined.
It had been three months since conception, and if his gestation continued along the human time scale it would still be another six months until he would be ready to emerge. But Liz doubted this would follow along normal human birth patterns. The journal had said the pods could be programmed to stop the growth pattern at any time, sending the occupant into a form of stasis. That is what had happened to Max, Isabel and Michael. Their pods had been programmed to trigger birth when they reached the human development age of six, after first being held in stasis for fifteen years. Nasedo had planned to use those fifteen years to learn the morals and ideologies of their new home. When he had found out about the traitor, Nasedo had been able to double the stasis time. He needed at least that much time to learn to design the process that was eventually used to create Liz.
All Liz knew at this point was that she would have to wait at least six months until she could hold him in her arms, and possibly much, much longer.
* * * * *
“I can’t get her to leave that room.” Max said with growing concern. He looked at Isabel and Michael, open to any suggestions that they might have to offer. Liz had been in the pod chamber for hours. He understood why she didn’t want to leave, he didn’t really want to either, but they couldn’t stay here forever. They needed to eat. They needed to get something to drink before they dehydrated. They needed to pretend that everything was the same as before so no undue attention would be focused on them. Max knew that Liz understood these things too, but she couldn’t bear to leave her son alone in this place.
“Maybe we can move the pod,” suggested Michael. “We could hide it in my apartment. We just need to figure out a way to move it without being seen.”
“No, Michael.” Liz said quietly from the opening in the wall. They turned to look at her. “He can’t be moved.” Max walked over to her side and gently placed his hand on her arm. Michael and Isabel followed.
“Are you okay, Liz?” Max could see the strain on her face. Her eyes were tired and her lips were starting to look parched. She nodded her head and then touched the back of his hand. A small smile softened her features.
“He’ll die if we try to move him, Max. We don’t have the knowledge or the skill to even attempt such a thing. He has to stay here.” Liz took a deep breath. The thought of leaving him here alone was killing her. Max wrapped his arm around her shoulder and drew her close to him.
“We can take turns protecting him,” Isabel suggested. “It doesn’t take that long to get here from town. We can make a schedule, you know, and each of us take shifts.” Isabel saw the grateful look in Liz’s eyes. “We can make this work,” Isabel said with a certainty. “We’re all a part of this.”
“I’ll stay here tonight,” Max told them.
“But Max,” Liz looked up at him with concern. “You can’t stay out here all night with nothing to eat or drink.”
“I’ll be fine, Liz.” He touched her chin with the tip of his finger. “You worry too much. There’s still some water in the jeep, and I saw Michael hide a couple of candy bars in the cooler.” He looked up and grinned at Michael. “I’ll be fine, really. Besides,” he said turning his eyes back to the small room behind them, “I want to stay.”
“I want to stay too, “ Liz spoke in a near whisper and Max could tell the thought of leaving was unbearable to her.
“Liz, you’re tired and you need to rest. And we can’t let our parents become suspicious of what we’re doing. Michael can cover for me. Maria has always been the best person to cover for you, but she doesn’t know about all this yet. So go home, and try to sleep. Tomorrow bring Maria and Alex out here and we’ll all figure out the best thing to do together.”
Max kissed her tenderly on the lips and then on the forehead. He walked them over to the outside entrance. “Michael, bring back the water and the candy bars. And don’t eat one of them on the way back. Isabel, you tell Mom and Dad that I’m spending the night at Michael’s again. And you,” he said to Liz as he pulled her close to him, “I’ll see you tomorrow.” He leaned over and whispered into her ear, “I love you.”
She pressed her cheek against his and whispered “I love you too, Max.”
Liz felt Michael’s hand on her arm, pulling her away from Max. “Come on, Liz. We’ll come back early tomorrow. Max can take care of things here until then. Come on,” he said gently.
Max watched the three of them until they were out of sight. What were they going to do now? They couldn’t live out here. But how could they leave him alone out here, either? What if Tess or Nasedo came back and hurt him, or took him again when no one was here to protect him? School would be starting in a couple of weeks, and between school and work, how would they be able to come out here? Max had plenty of questions, but not a single answer for any of them.
The next day the six of them met at the chamber. At first Max insisted that only he, Michael and Alex should take turns staying in the cave at night, but the girls refused to hear it. Isabel accused her brother of insulting her by insinuating that she wasn’t capable of taking care of herself. After facing the wrath of three very strong willed women, he was forced to relent.
Michael insisted on staying on the second night. They had brought out some of the essential items that they would need. A sleeping bag, a cooler, a lantern, food and water. Living in the cave would not be easy, but they were all willing to make the sacrifice. Liz had been surprised by how well Maria and Alex had taken the news about her alien status. Maria had made only one comment. “Liz, do you really think anything could possible surprise me anymore?” And then she had gone on as if nothing was any different than before. Alex had stared at her for a long time, and then once he had absorbed it he simply said, “I’m happy for you Liz, that things are working out for you and Max. I guess you really were always meant to be together.”
On the third night Liz insisted it was her turn to stay in the cave. Max was very uncomfortable leaving her alone, but she insisted she would be fine and refused to talk about it any further. Maria, Alex and Isabel had left at dusk. Max and Michael remained behind with Liz. Michael tried to stifle a yawn, but he wasn’t very successful. Liz noticed how tired his eyes looked. He had not slept well here last night and he was almost asleep on his feet.
“Max,” Liz began, “you and Michael should go now. It’s getting really late and we’re all tired.” Max started to open his mouth to speak, but Liz cut him off. “I don’t want to hear anymore arguments about this. You’re tired and so am I, so go home so I can get some rest. I’ll see you in the morning.”
“Why do you have to be so stubborn?” Max knew what she was like when she made up her mind about something, but sometimes he wished she wouldn’t be so independent.
“I’m not stubborn Max,” she said with mock indignation. “I’m just practical. You can’t do this all yourself. We each have to do our share.”
“Okay, okay. I hear you. I don’t like it, but I’ll go.” He kissed her on the forehead and turned to leave. At the opening to the chamber he turned back to her. “I’ll call you on your cell phone as soon as I get home.” Liz rolled her eyes and sighed. “Okay,” he continued. “Then you call me, if you think anything strange is happening. Or if you just get lonely and want to talk.”
Liz smiled at him. “I’ll call you before I go to sleep. Will that make you feel better?” Her tone was light and teasing.
“Yes, it will.” With one last look at her he turned and left the chamber. He placed his hand over the spot where the palm print had been and the opening resealed.
Max drove home feeling like he had abandoned Liz out in the desert. She had called him like she said she would, but it didn’t help his anxiety. He tried to sleep but he was so restless all he could do was toss and turn. Finally he gave up and got out of bed. Making up his mind, he quickly dressed and climbed out his window.
When he arrived at the chamber he entered as quietly as he could. He intended to only check on her, to make sure she was ok. Then he planned to leave before she ever knew he was even there. He made his way silently across to the pod room. He carefully looked inside and a smile broke over his face. Liz sat on the floor with her cheek pressed against the surface of the pod. Her eyes were closed and the sound of her breathing told him she was asleep. Her arms were spread over the pod as if she were hugging it.
Max walked back into the main chamber and over to the sleeping area they had set up. The sleeping bag was resting on top of an air mattress to cushion the hard bedrock floor. Max unzipped the sleeping bag and folded it open. He turned the flame down on the lantern until it emitted only enough light to cast a soft glow. He returned to the pod room and watched Liz for a moment. He wondered if the connection she shared with their son was stronger now that they were only separated by the thin membrane of the pod. Max envied her ability to communicate with him. He had placed his hands on the pod two nights ago when he had stayed here hoping to make the connection, but it hadn’t worked.
Max walked over to Liz and gently picked her up. She mumbled something in her sleep and then nuzzled her face against his neck. He smiled as he turned and carried her over to her makeshift bed. He settled her onto the sleeping bag and then leaning down he brushed his lips across her cheek. She mumbled again and then sighed. Max smiled down on her and his eyes twinkled in the low flame of the lantern. He carefully removed her shoes, and then deciding to get comfortable himself he removed his own shoes and his jacket. My lay down beside her and snuggled up to her back. He felt a great sense of contentment come over him. He was here with the woman that he loved sleeping beside him and his son safe in the next room. Max drifted off into a peaceful sleep.
* * * * *
Max woke with a sense of disorientation. For a moment he wondered where he was and why he had slept in his clothes. Then the memories returned and he smiled. He was in the cave, with Liz. He turned to look for her and saw her eyes staring down at him. She was stretched out on her side next to him with her head propped up on the palm of her hand.
“Morning,” he said as he stretched.
“What are you doing here Max? The tone of her voice sounded like she was scolding him, but her eyes were sparkling in the glow of the lantern flame.
He could tell that she was a little mad at finding him here. She wasn’t helpless and she didn’t like him treating her like she was, but he couldn’t help being overprotective.
“You’re so beautiful, I just couldn’t stay away.” Max reached out to smooth the hair away from her face.
“Are you trying to sweet talk me?” she asked and arched her eyebrows.
“So I won’t be mad at you?”
“Do you think it’s working?”
“I think you’re right.” She leaned down to kiss him and he pulled her on top of him. She liked the feel of his muscular body beneath her. She kissed him lightly and then pressed her hips against him. She liked the reaction she could feel through the fabric of his jeans.
“Feeling . . .a little . . .frisky . . .this morning?” he mumbled against her lips.
“Are you . . .complaining?” she said as her tongue darted into his mouth.
His hand touched the back of her head and he buried his fingers in her hair. He kissed her hard, enjoying the feel of her hips slowly moving against him. She sat up and her legs straddled his hips. He watched as she slowly unbuttoned his shirt. She pulled it away from him and ran her hands over his chest. His skin was a rich golden color in the light from the lantern. His eyes watched her fingers go to the buttons on the front of her shirt. She slowly, teasingly, unbuttoned each one. She continued to rock her hips against him and she could feel how aroused he was. She opened her shirt and in the flickering light he could see her lacy bra. His hands circled her waist and then moved up over her ribs. His fingers found the clasp on the front of her bra and unfastened it. Her bra fell away from her body and Max could see her nipples standing firm and erect. His hands cupped her breasts and his thumbs rubbed over her nipples. He sat up and his mouth nuzzled against first one and then the other.
Suddenly, the chamber filled with daylight and they could hear the sound of voices.
“Maybe they’re still asleep.” Alex’s words drifted into the room.
“Well, then we’ll just wake them up,” came Michael’s response.
Liz rolled off Max and clasped the edges of her shirt together. Max pulled the sleeping bag up over them and then self-consciously ran his hand through his hair. Liz ducked behind him so she could fasten her bra and button her shirt. Max positioned his body to shield her from view.
“I’m sure they . . . must . . . be . . . hungry.” Michael took in the sight of their disheveled appearance and Max’s open shirt. Liz was fumbling with her clothes as well. Even with the limited light in the room, Michael could see how flushed their faces were.
“Uh . . .” Michael turned his eyes away from Max and Liz and scratched his head. “Maybe we should come back later.” His eyes darted back to Max and he tried not to laugh. “What do you think, Max, 15 . . . 20 minutes? Half an hour?”
“Michael . . .” Max began and cleared his throat.
“I’m bringing my own sleeping bag tonight.” Alex’s word echoed around the room. “I’m not sleeping in that one.” Isabel had to cover her mouth with her hand to keep from laughing, and Maria had to bite her lip hard.
“Max,” Liz said as she finished adjusting her clothes. “I think we need to get a better lock.”
“You know,” Michael said. “ We can’t exactly knock first before we enter.” With that comment the four newcomers broke out laughing. “Come on, get up. I brought some food.”
“In a minute, Michael,” Max replied.
“Come on, Max. There’s donuts and muffins. Get up.”
“In a MINUTE, Michael,” Did he have to beat him over the head to get him to understand?
“Oh.” Michael said puzzled. “OH,” he blurted out again. “Yeah, um . . .We’ll, ah, just wait for you outside. Come on everyone. Let’s, um, give Max a little privacy.” With that everyone broke out laughing again.
Once everyone had gone Max tossed the sleeping bag aside and stood up, adjusting his pants so that they fit better. “Well, that was about the most embarrassing thing that’s ever happened to me,” he said looking down at Liz. “But I guess it would have been even worse if it had happened 10 or 15 minutes later.”
Liz couldn’t help but laugh. She grabbed his hand and led him over to the pod room. It was time to say good morning to their son. “I want to try something, Max.” Liz sat on the floor in front of the pod and Max sat beside her. She touched the surface with one hand and the room filled with the sound of her son’s steady heartbeat. She took Max’s hand and held it tightly. “Put your other hand on the pod.” He placed his hand on the surface and wondered what she was trying to do. She closed her eyes and he could see her jaw clench as she concentrated. Soon their hands began to glow and a smile spread over Liz’s face. She opened her eyes and turned to look at Max. He was staring intently at the pod, with his mouth hanging open in amazement. He turned to look at her and his eyes told her everything that he was feeling. She had made the link. The connection was flowing between the three of them. Their minds were locked together, sharing their thoughts and emotions. Max felt his son in his mind, touching him, learning about him. They stayed there until their son tired and retreated to rest. Liz removed her hand from the surface of the pod and the link broke. Max just stared at her, amazed by the gift she had just given him.
* * * * *
Over the next days and weeks their lives fell into a pattern. They all took turns spending the night in the pod chamber. As time went on, Liz became more comfortable leaving the chamber unoccupied. Between school and work and pretending to lead a normal life, their time in the cave was limited. Max and Liz would go there after school to study, telling their parents they were going to the library. They didn’t like to lie, but what choice did they have. Eventually, Liz determined that it wasn’t necessary to stay the night. Her connection to the baby had intensified to the point where she was satisfied that she would know if anything was wrong. Each morning Max and Liz would go to the chamber before school to make sure everything was fine.
Fall and winter came and went. When March passed uneventfully, Liz new that her son had gone into stasis. Her link to him was limited now as his body and his mind went into a form of hibernation. She could still sense that he was alright, but the direct contact they had been sharing was lessened. They had no idea when the stasis would end, but Liz assured everyone that she would know. No one had any reason to doubt her.
When the winter of their senior year rolled around, Liz began to get restless. An uneasiness fell over her and she became nervous about leaving the cave unoccupied. Max would come for Liz each night after their separate households had quieted down. Occasionally Michael and Maria, or Isabel and Alex would stay the night at the cave, but most nights it would be Max and Liz. She needed to be there, and Max needed to be with her.
* * * * *
Liz woke with a start. She turned to look at the clock on her dresser and the green numbers read 11:45 pm. She had been restless all evening but had eventually fallen into a troubled sleep. Max would be here to get her in 45 minutes. She couldn’t wait that long. She rose out of bed and dressed quickly. She opened her bedroom window and silently made her way over to the balcony stairs. She climbed down and then took off running down the street.
Fifteen minutes later she stood in front of Max’s bedroom window. She opened it quietly and climbed inside. Max was sleeping peacefully on his back. He was wearing only pajama bottoms and she tried not to get distracted by the sight of his naked chest. She sat on the bed next to him and rested her hand over his heart. His eyes blinked open and he became instantly awake.
She stared down into his eyes and said, “It’s time.”
Max stared at Liz, his mind absorbing what she had just said. It’s time. Two very simple little words. ‘It’s’, followed by ‘time’. ‘It’s time’. He’d never heard two more frightening words in all his life. He sat up and swallowed hard.
“It’s time?” he choked the words out. His palms were suddenly sweaty and his pulse was racing.
Liz nodded her head and almost laughed at the look on his face. “We have to hurry. Get dressed.”
Max pulled his covers back and quickly got out of bed. Move, he thought. One foot in front of the other. As long as he could concentrate on little things like walking across the room, then he wouldn’t have to think about anything else. Like babies. And birth. He striped off his pajamas and stepped into a pair of boxers. Boxers were good. They gave him plenty of room. They weren’t constricting. Images of babies and birth kept getting in the way of his thoughts about boxers. He picked up his jeans and tried to put them on. He stumbled and had to remind himself that they went on one leg at a time. He put one leg in and almost lost his balance. He hopped around the room on one foot trying to get the other through the pant leg. His pant legs were getting twisted and he had to start over. Finally, he pulled his jeans on and turned to look for a shirt. He heard Liz clear her throat and looked over at her. She was holding out a shirt to him and she had a big grin on her face. He took a deep breath and took the shirt from her. He pulled it over his head and then realized it was on backwards. He took it off and tried again. Finally, he was ready and he grabbed his jacket and the keys to the jeep.
“Okay,” he said in a strained voice, “let’s go.” When Liz didn’t follow him to the window he turned to look at her. Her hand was over her mouth and she was trying desperately not to laugh outloud. “What’s the matter? What are you laughing at?”
“You,” Liz replied and pointed at his feet. “I think you forgot something.”
Max looked down at his bare feet. Shoes. He needed shoes. And socks. Don’t go into the desert at night without shoes and socks. It’s not good to show up for your son’s birth without the proper attire. The thought of tying his shoelaces terrified him. He found his shoes in his closet and got a pair of socks out of his drawer. He finished dressing without too much further trouble and turned to Liz. She walked over to him and kissed him hard on the lips. He wrapped his arms around her and in a strained voice asked, “Are you scared?”
“Terrified.” Liz hugged him back, allowing herself just a moment of intimacy with him. “We need to go. I don’t know how much time we have.”
Max nodded his head and swallowed hard again. He was about to become a father. He took her hand in his and they quietly climbed out his window. Half way to the jeep Liz suddenly stopped. “The bag. We need the bag, Max.” They had assembled a bag of things they thought they might need for the birth. Blankets and towels, baby clothes and diapers, formula and bottles. Scissors, nose syringe, cotton swabs, baby wipes. Max had one bag in his closet and Liz had a bag in hers.
“You go start the jeep, I’ll go get the bag,” Liz said as she turned to go back to his room. Max ran to the jeep and Liz quickly retrieved the bag. They were ready now, or as ready as they were ever going to be. Soon, they would be holding their son.
* * * * *
When they arrived at the chamber they entered quickly and hurried to the pod room. Max placed his hand on the wall to activate the doorway. They both sensed immediately that something was different. They entered the room and noticed the changes that had happened in the pod. Before, it had been an iridescent green. Now it pulsated with a rainbow of shifting colors. Blue one minute and red the next. Yellows and oranges and greens. The pod had elongated, stretching toward the cave floor. An opening in the pod was starting to develop. It looked almost like a flower peeling back its layers to expose the core.
Max set the bag down on the floor near the pod. He took out the blanket and spread it over the ground. Liz knelt in front of the pod and placed one hand on the surface. It was warm, almost hot to the touch. She could feel the vibrations inside. The room filled with the sound of his heartbeat, steady and strong. The interior of the pod was cloudy and it was difficult for Max and Liz to see what was happening inside. It was almost impossible to even judge what his size would be. He had been conceived 21 months ago, and under normal human conditions he would be a year old now. But, of course, these were not normal human conditions. Liz was certain that he would emerge as a baby. Helpless and dependent on her and Max.
Max placed one hand on the pod and held on tightly to Liz with the other. Liz concentrated hard and soon the connection formed. A riot of colors assaulted their minds. They could feel their son as he moved within the pod, slowly inching toward the opening that was still forming. The steady pulse that echoed off the walls of the room was reassuring. Hours passed and they had no sense of it. All that existed at the moment was the room they were in and the life that was about to be born.
Suddenly the sound that had filled the room began to waver. One minute the heartbeat would slow to almost a stop, and the next it would be racing. Max opened his eyes and looked at Liz. He saw fear in her and he knew something was wrong. Terribly wrong.
Liz tried to remain calm. She could sense her baby’s distress and her mind screamed for her to do something. She could feel Max’s emotions sweep over her. She could hear his words in her mind. ‘We have to do something. Now.’
‘No, Max. There’s nothing we can do.’ The sound of his heartbeat once again slowed, this time actually stopping for a moment, before suddenly racing again.
‘We can tear the pod open, just get him out. He can’t survive if we don’t do something.’ Max had never been so afraid in his entire life. He struggled to keep from panicking.
‘It will kill him if we open the pod too soon. He’s undergoing chemical changes right now, preparing for life on the outside. His lungs are expelling fluid, getting ready to breathe air. We can’t stop that process.’
‘How do you know that, Liz?’
‘I just do.’ She didn’t know how she knew these things. Maybe they were some of the buried memories, making their way to the surface, or maybe it was just instinctual. Whatever the reason, she knew that to interfere with the birth process now would be disastrous.
‘Then what can we do?’ The question flooded her mind. Max needed to do something. He could not just sit here and watch his son struggle to enter the world.
‘Concentrate. We need to send him our energy. We need to give him our strength.’
Max and Liz closed their eyes and concentrated harder than they ever had before. The connection intensified and they took on the task of keeping their son’s pulse rate strong. Whenever they heard it begin to slow they redoubled their efforts to keep the rhythm even and strong. Before long they noticed more changes happening to the surface of the pod. The opening that they had seen earlier had gone from vague to clearly defined. They watched as the layers pulled back, exposing what lay inside. They could see the top of his head, slick from the liquid that had been his environment for the last 21 months. His head slowly pushed at the opening, expanding it. Liz watched, thinking that it wasn’t so different from the films she had seen of the birth process. She could see the pod constricting as it pushed her son along the birth canal. She watched as his head emerged and noticed the fine dark hair that covered his head. His shoulders emerged and then his body slid into Max’s waiting hands.
Max looked down at the baby in his arms. He was small, probably only 7 or 8 pounds. His skin was pink and wet and his hands were clenched in tight little fists. Max counted ten little fingers and ten little toes. He could hear little cooing noises coming from him and he squirmed in his hands. Max looked at his face and as their eyes met Max saw recognition in his son’s eyes. His son, only seconds old, had recognized him. His tiny face turned, looking at Liz and she saw the same thing.
Liz held out her arms and Max gently gave their son to her. He fit perfectly in her arms and as she pulled him close to her his little mouth nuzzled at her breast. Liz felt a strange sensation come over her. Her body had responded in a way that she thought would not have been possible. She felt her breast swell and moisture leaked from her nipple through her shirt. Liz looked up at Max and he could see the tears shimmering on the surface of her eyes. He was sure that his eyes looked the same to her.
She unbuttoned her shirt and pulled the fabric aside. She unclasped her bra and positioned her swollen nipple next to his little mouth. He clamped down on it and he suckled at her. She felt the release as her milk flowed from her into him. For a brief moment she wondered how it was possible for her body to have produced breastmilk, and then the soft cooing noises he made chased all other thoughts aside.
Max shifted positions so he could sit closer to Liz. He draped one arm around her shoulder and explored his son with his other hand. He touched his little feet and his leg and his knee. His finger touched the palm of his tiny hand and was surprised when his fingers closed tightly around him. His grip was stronger that Max would have ever thought possible.
After several minutes Liz noticed his mouth had relaxed and he had fallen asleep. His mouth had fallen away from her nipple and his breathing was even and steady. Liz looked up at Max and was overcome by the love she saw expressed in his eyes. Her tears could not be contained any longer and they freely flowed from her eyes. Max kissed her on the forehead and then the cheek and then her mouth. He had never felt such a sense of love before.
“What are we going to name him?” Max asked in a hushed tone. It was the first words that had been spoken aloud in the chamber for hours.
“I . . .” Liz began. They hadn’t really talked about this. “I was thinking we might name him Matthew. It means ‘Gift of God’. But if you had something else in mind . . .”
Max looked from Liz to his son. “I think ‘Matthew’ describes him perfectly.” Matthew Evans had just made his entrance into the world.
|posted on 14-Sep-2001 1:41:32 PM|
Liz placed Matthew gently on the blanket trying not to disturb him. He stretched his little arms and then settled back to sleep. She reached for the wash cloth and a towel from the bag they had brought.
“I need a small basin of water so I can clean him up. Is there a bowl or something out in the supplies?” Liz turned to look at Max and realized he hadn’t even heard her. He was staring intently at his son.
Max’s mind was racing a mile a minute. What were they going to do now? Just walk into Liz’s home and say ‘We just had a baby! Here’s your grandson’? How was anyone going to believe he was even theirs? What if people thought they stole him from someone? Liz never showed any signs of being pregnant. If they insisted on a physical exam it would prove she had not given birth. But then on the other hand her body was producing breastmilk, so who knew what an exam would show? What if they took blood from the baby and ran tests? Would Matthew’s blood look normal like Liz’s, or would it look alien like his? What if they wanted a sample of his own blood to prove paternity? He supposed he could refuse to give it, but then how would that look? It would probably look like he was trying to hide something, which of course he was. Would that just lead to more questions?
“Max, did you hear me?” Liz shook his arm trying to get his attention.
Max tore his eyes away from his son. “What? Did you say something?”
“I need some water, in a bowl?” Max was staring at her but she still wasn’t sure if he was listening. “Max?”
“Water . . . in a bowl,” he repeated. Liz saw his eyes focus on her and was relieved that he was finally hearing her. “I’ll go get it.” Max rose to his feet and walked into the other room. It felt good to be doing something. Then he didn’t have to think about all the questions that were haunting him. He rummaged in the supplies and found a bowl. It wasn’t very big but it was all they had. He filled it with fresh water and returned to the small room. He put the bowl on the ground next to the baby and then he held his hand slightly above it. The water changed from cold to lukewarm in a matter of seconds.
“Is that about right?” he asked.
Liz dipped her finger into the water and smiled. “Perfect.” She set about the task of cleaning the birth fluid off her son. She gently glided the wash cloth over his skin. She used cotton balls on his eyes, face and ears, and then the wash cloth again for the rest of his head. She was surprised by the amount of hair he had. When she was finished, Liz handed Max a soft towel.
“Here,” she said holding out the towel. “You can dry him off.”
“Me?” Max said with apprehension. He was so small and helpless looking. Max was almost afraid to touch him.
“He’s not a porcelain doll. He won’t break if you touch him.” Liz had to keep from chuckling. Max, always so in control, brought to his knees by a tiny 8 pound baby.
Max took the towel and carefully patted his son dry. Liz reached into the bag and pulled out a diaper. She handed it to Max and he looked at it like it was a foreign object. This time she did laugh.
“Look Max, just hold him by the ankles and lift up. Then slide the diaper under his little bottom and set him back down.” She showed him how to secure it and Max was amazed by how effortless she made it look. He nodded his head as he watched. ‘Okay’, he thought to himself. ‘I can do this.’ Liz handed him a little shirt.
“I don’t want to wake him up.” Matthew looked so peaceful he didn’t want to disturb him. Besides, Max wasn’t sure what to do with him when he was awake. What if he cried? What if he was fussy?
“It’s okay Max. Just slip it over his head. I think he’s going to sleep for awhile.”
Max carefully pulled the shirt over his little head and was surprised that he could sleep through all the jostling. Liz handed him a pair of booties and he put them on his feet. Liz spread out a small blanket and gently picking Matthew up, she placed him in the middle of it. She wrapped it around him snuggly and then picked him up again. She turned to Max and put her son in his fathers waiting arms.
“Max, did you see his hat?” Liz asked as she looked around. Babies lose most of their body heat through their head. She didn’t want him catching a chill in the cool night air. It wasn’t in the bag they had brought into the cave but she remembered seeing it in the jeep on the drive out here. After looking through the bag a second time she realized it must have fallen out in the jeep.
“I’ll be right back, Max. His hat must have dropped out of the bag. I’m going to go find it.”
“Okay,” Max replied distractedly. He continued to stare down at his son’s angelic looking face.
Liz stood at the doorway watching them for a moment. Max sat on the floor cross-legged and held his son securely nestled in one arm. His head was leaning forward and he had a contented smile on his lips. His finger was poised over Matthew’s face. Max touched his son’s nose with the tip of his finger, and then his cheek and his chin. Liz thought that the sight before her was the most beautiful thing that she had ever seen. Smiling, she turned and left the chamber. It was almost dawn but she still needed the flashlight to find her way to the jeep. She never noticed the eyes that followed her every move.
* * * * *
Liz reached the jeep and pointed the flashlight into the interior. The little blue hat lay in the back seat. Liz picked it up and headed back toward the cave. She had nearly reached the entrance when she saw movement out of the corner of her eye. She turned the flashlight in that direction and was surprised to see Max standing there. What was he doing out here and where was Matthew? She saw Max motion her over to him.
“Liz, I found something. Come here.”
“Max?” Liz called out. “What are you doing out here? Where’s the baby?” She saw him motion to her again and then he turned away from her and disappeared behind a large boulder. “Max?” Liz called out. “Max?” Why was he acting so strange? Liz ran over to where she had seen him a moment before and looked around. She caught a glimpse of his retreating figure and followed him. When she rounded the corner she saw another cave entrance, and Max was standing just inside the opening.
“Come here, Liz. Look what I found.” Max had a strange look on his face and Liz was getting a little frightened. Where was the baby? Something didn’t feel right.
Liz entered the cave and looked around. Max stood about 10 feet from her and as she entered deeper into the cave he retreated from her. “Max, what did you do with the baby? Where is he?” A sense of dread came over her. Max’s features changed. His smile turned into a leer and his eyes became hard and menacing.
“Max, what’s going on?”
“Humans are so stupid.” The words coming from his mouth were dripping with hate.
Liz could tell now that it really wasn’t Max in front of her. Max would never look at her with such contempt in his eyes.
“You are so easy to fool. Do you realize that Liz? Do you know how easy it is for me to make you see anything I want you to see?” Suddenly it wasn’t just Max in front of her anymore. It was Max and the baby. Max was holding him in his arms and looking at him with hate filled eyes. His hand went to the baby’s throat and began to squeeze. Liz could see the baby’s color turning blue. As she was about to scream the image before her flickered and Max was no longer there. In his place stood Tess.
“So, you found your son. Too bad you’re never going to get the chance to know him.” Liz watched Tess as she spoke. Liz wasn’t sure if Tess was pure evil, or if she was just insane. “I still haven’t figured out why Max choose you. Look at you. I suppose in human terms you’re decent to look at, but you’re no prize. What is it about you that he finds so irresistible?”
“He loves me Tess.” Liz spoke quietly but her words had great impact. She could see how Tess’s eyes narrowed and her jaw clenched. “You don’t understand what love is, and I don’t think you ever will. You don’t have the capacity.”
“Love is unimportant.” Tess sneered at Liz. “Love makes you weak. Look at what it’s done to Max. He could have the world at his fingertips, but he’d rather play house with you. What a waste. But with you out of the way, I’ll make him see what’s really important. He’ll come around to my way of thinking.”
“You don’t even know him. He’s not like you. He’ll never think the way you do. He’ll never want the things you want. Max is not power hungry. He doesn’t want to control the world.”
“But that’s what he’s here for. Didn’t you know that? It’s his destiny to rule this world, just like before. With me at his side. Once he sees how you have betrayed him, he’ll come to me.”
“I would never betray him, Tess.” Liz said the words with deep conviction.
“Oh, wouldn’t you?” A glint came into Tess’ eyes and suddenly Liz was no longer standing in a cave. She was in a room, a bedroom. She could see herself on the bed, naked. She wasn’t alone, and the man she was with wasn’t Max. She was straddling his hips and he was pounding into her. Max appeared in the doorway and the Liz in the vision turned to see him. She laughed at the desolate look on his face. “I can make him see anything I want. When I’m done, not only will he not love you anymore, he’ll despise you. He’ll hate you, and through that hate I can lead him in the direction I want.”
Liz turned her eyes away from the hallucination that Tess was creating. “You can’t project your visions long enough to make him believe I would do that to him. It’ll never work, Tess.” Liz had been shaken by what she saw. What if Tess could make Max see something like that, and make him believe it was real.
“But Liz, I don’t have to make him think he’s seeing it. He will see it.” The hallucination disappeared. Liz watched Tess and a glowing light appeared around her. Her image wavered and when the light faded, Tess was no longer standing in front of her. Liz was looking at the mirror image of herself. Right down to the shoes on her feet and the blue hat grasped in her hand. Tess had shape shifted, taking on Liz’s appearance. “When I get done with him, he’ll wish he never met you. And once that’s accomplished, when he throws you out in disgust, I’ll change back to me.”
“I’ve been watching you, Liz.” Tess continued talking and Liz felt the icy fingers of fear stabbing at her. “I know your mannerism. I know the way you walk, and I know the way you talk. I knew you were pregnant before anyone else did. You should’ve been more careful with incriminating evidence. It wasn’t smart to throw away that pregnancy test in you own garbage can.”
“It was you, wasn’t it.” Liz stared hard at her own reflection. “You took the baby from me. Why? Why did you do it?”
“Why not? The child might be useful to us. It’s another way to control Max. Of course, we never expected you to find him.” Tess’ eyes narrowed. “How did you find him, Liz? In all this barren land out here, how did you find that cave?”
Liz turned to run. She needed to get back to Max before Tess did. As she neared the cave entrance, light flared brightly behind her. She suddenly felt her body lift into the air and she impacted the cave wall. Stunned, she slid to the ground. Her leg jutted out at an odd angle and she wasn’t sure if it was broken or just badly sprained. Her side was on fire and it was becoming difficult to breathe. She was certain that her ribs were broken, and she was afraid a lung had been punctured. Liz watched as Tess stormed across the cave.
“You’ve lost, Liz.” Tess spit the words at her and grabbed her roughly by the chin. “He’s mine now. You’re going to die out here in the desert and nobody is going to know it. And as the life drains out of you I want you to think about this. Tonight, Max will be in my bed. And your son will grow up calling me Mom.” Tess released her grip on Liz. The last image Liz saw before losing consciousness was the cave opening turning into solid rock, with Liz sealed inside.
Tess walked into the pod room. She saw Max sitting on the ground holding the baby. He was gently rocking him back and forth.
“Oh, good.” Max said looking up at her. “You’re back. I was getting worried.” He looked back down at the baby and smiled. “He was starting to make funny noises and I thought he was waking up.” He noticed the hat in her hand. “You found it.”
Tess stared at him. “Found it?” What was that suppose to mean? Found what?
Max looked up at her again. “The hat?”
Tess looked down at the blue hat in her hand. “Oh, yeah. It was in the jeep. It took me awhile to find it.”
Max stared at her. “Are you alright?” he asked. She seemed kind of jumpy.
“Yeah, yeah. I’m fine.” Tess said and turned to go back in the main chamber.
“Liz?” Max called out to her. When she didn’t turn he called her again. “Liz?” She turned back to him and he wondered if something was wrong. “The hat. Do you want to put the hat on him?”
She came back into the room and knelt down beside him. She looked him briefly in the eye and then down at the baby. She reached out and put the hat on his head. The baby began to squirm when she touched him. The hat fell over his face and she had to adjust it again. His face began to crumple and he started to cry. Tess pulled her hands away like they had been burnt. Max rocked him back and forth and made shushing sounds at him until he quieted again. She stood up quickly, wanting to be as far away from the baby as possible.
Max looked up at her again. “Are you sure everything’s alright?” His eyes were frowning at her.
“Of course, Max. I’m just tired. It’s been a long night.” That baby was going to complicate things, Tess thought. Maybe he should meet a fate just like his mother’s. She had a hard time keeping the look of contempt off her face. “Let’s get our stuff and get out of here. We can go to Michael’s and decide what to do next.”
Max nodded his head and rose to his feet. He walked over to Tess and started to hand her the baby. “Here, you can take him and I’ll get everything we need. I’ll come back later to get the rest of it.”
“No Max,” she said a little too quickly. “He’s sleeping so soundly, why don’t you just carry him. I’ll get what we need.”
“Are you sure?” Max was looking at her closely.
“Yes, I’m sure. Let’s go.” She gathered up the bag and blanket and headed out of the cave. Max followed and as he exited the cave he sealed it closed. He let Liz lead the way shinning the flashlight ahead of them. When they reached the jeep she had to think quickly. “I’ll drive until we get to the highway. The ground’s so rough, and I don’t want him to wake up.”
Max agreed and climbed into the jeep. He watched Liz as she walked around to the driver’s side. Was he just being paranoid, or did Liz suddenly not want to touch their son? She put the bag and blanket in the back seat and then settled behind the wheel.
“Don’t look so worried, Max. I’ve driven the jeep before.” Tess touched him on the cheek the way she had seen Liz do it so many times before. His eyes softened, reassured by the familiar gesture, and smiled at her. She reached into her jacket pocket and touched the little vial. She cracked the seal and let a drop of fluid leak onto her finger. Removing her hand from the pocket, she touched Max on the back of his hand. The reaction was instantaneous. Max slumped in his seat, eyes losing focus as he slipped into unconsciousness. Tess smiled. It was amazing how well this stuff worked. Just one small drop and he would be out for at least an hour, maybe more. She had used it on him once before. That night so many months ago when Max was searching the Crashdown for Liz. They should have just disposed of the baby that night instead of inserting it in the pod. They had thought he would be useful, but he was turning into a liability, at least for her. She didn’t want to touch him, and she was becoming concerned about his reaction to her. Tess wondered how the brat would react to the serum. She touched her serum coated finger to his forehead. At worst, he’d sleep for awhile. At best, maybe he’d never wake up at all. She took him out of Max’s arms and placed him on the back seat. She decided to secure him in a seat belt, just in case he did wake up. It wouldn’t do for Max to find bruises all over his son. When she was done she put the jeep in gear and headed away from Roswell. She had a destination in mind, and it wasn’t Michael’s apartment.
* * * * *
Liz woke up in the pitch-black darkness of the cave. Her mind was fuzzy and it took a moment for her to remember where she was. She tried to move her leg and a bolt of pain pierced through her. Tears flooded her eyes, partly because of the pain, but mostly because of the fear she would never see Max and her son again. Matthew. The thought of Tess touching Matthew chilled her to the bone. Could Tess turn him into a monster like she was? Or would she find someway to simply get rid of him?
Liz tried to concentrate. What could she do? She couldn’t move. She had left her cell phone in the jeep so she couldn’t call anyone. No one would ever find her here. Even if one of the others came looking for her, they’d never find her sealed up in this cave. She felt defeat begin to overcome her. She was going to die here in this cave, just like Tess had said. And there was nothing she could do about it.
Think, Liz told herself. There must be a way. She couldn’t dreamwalk like Isabel. She couldn’t heal herself like Max could. She couldn’t focus her energy the way Michael could to burst a hole through the rock wall. What could she do? The only power she had really developed was the connection she was able to create between her and Max and the baby, but that was when he had still been in the pod. She didn’t know if it would work anymore, but it was the only thing she could try. She focused her mind on creating the link to Max. After an indeterminable time she slumped her shoulders in defeat. She couldn’t reach him. Maybe Tess was blocking her. Maybe that was why she couldn’t get through to him.
Liz had never tried to form the link with anyone else. She didn’t know if she could connect to anyone else. She decided to start with Michael. She concentrated hard on his image. She felt her mind reach out to him, calling to him.
Michael frowned in his sleep. He could hear his name being called. The voice was familiar. It sounded desperate and in pain. Michael sat up in bed, suddenly wide awake. The sound of the voice in his head continued. It was the sound of Liz’s voice. Why would he be hearing Liz’s voice in his head?
‘Help me Michael. Please, you have to hear me. Michael, please hear me. Something terrible has happened. Michael, I need your help.’ The pitiful words kept repeating in his head. Liz was calling him. How was he supposed to answer her? He concentrated hard, opening his mind to her.
‘Liz? Can you hear me?’ He strained to make the connection to her. ‘Liz?’
‘Michael, can you hear me? Michael?’
‘Liz, I can hear you. Can you hear me?’ He heard what he could only describe as a sob filter into his mind.
‘Michael, you have to come to the cave. Hurry, please. I need you.’
‘Liz, what’s wrong?’
‘Everything, Michael. Everything is wrong. I don’t know how long . . .’ The connection faded away as her energy drained. She once again slipped into unconsciousness.
‘Liz?’ Michael called out but there was nothing there any longer. He jumped out of bed and threw his clothes on. He was out his door in less than 2 minutes. Liz needed him and he was desperate to get to her in time. He ran down the back alleyways of Roswell on his way to get to Maria. He needed to use her car. He was out of breath when he reached her house. He placed his hand on her window and unlocked it. Easing it open, he climbed inside and made his way over to the side of her bed. She was sleeping soundly and he gently shook her shoulder, calling out her name softly.
“Maria, wake up. Maria.” She moved fitfully and mumbled something. “Maria, wake up.” He shook her harder. He saw her eyes fly open and he covered her mouth with his hand. “Maria, I need your help. Something’s wrong. I need your car.”
“What are you doing here Michael? What do you mean you need my car? What’s going on?”
“I can’t explain right now. I need your car. It’s urgent. Maria, please.”
Michael never said please. Maria jumped out of bed and pulled a shirt over her head.
“Maria, what are you doing? Just give me the keys to your car.” Panic was starting to creep into his voice.
“I’m going with you.”
“No, Maria. No you’re not. I just want your keys.” Michael began to rummage around on her dresser, looking for the keys.
“Oh no you don’t, buster. You can’t come here in the middle of the night and demand my car keys and not even tell me why. If you want my car, then you’ll have to tell me what’s going on.”
“Maria, I don’t have time.”
Maria pulled on a pair of jeans and slipped on a pair of shoes. “Then you’ll just have to tell me in the car, then won’t you.” Maria grabbed her jacket and felt inside for her keys. “Let’s go.”
The morning sun had risen by the time Maria’s car pulled to a stop in the desert near the cave. They had made one stop along the way to pick up Isabel. Maria had wanted to get Alex too, but Michael insisted there was no time. They quickly made their way along the familiar path to the entrance of the cave. Michael touched the palm pad to activate the opening and the three stepped inside. The chamber looked exactly as it had since they first found the place. There was no sign of Max or Liz.
The made their way across the chamber to the pod room. They were not prepared for the sight that awaited them. The pod was a hollow husk. The iridescent green color was gone. Now it looked brown and withered. Fluid was drying on the floor.
“They’re not here.” Isabel looked around the small room. She knelt in front of the pod and examined the surface. “I don’t know for sure, but it looks to me like this happened . . . naturally.” She looked up at Michael and Maria. “It looks like the baby was born.” She stood up and brushed her hands on her jeans.
“Do you think something bad happened to the baby?” Maria looked from Isabel to Michael. She had no idea what to think or what to do. “Where did they go? If Liz wanted you to come here, why did they leave?” The jeep wasn’t where they normally parked, Max and Liz weren’t here, and the pod was empty. “Maybe there were problems with the birth. Maybe they had to rush him to the hospital.”
“But then why would Liz tell me to come here?” Michael thought back over the words Liz had spoken in his mind. “Liz said she needed me to come to the cave, that everything had gone wrong. She said she needed help. But if it was something about the baby, how could I help? No. I think it’s something else.”
“Michael, has Liz tried to reach you again?” Maria already knew the answer, but she had to ask it anyway.
“No.” Michael felt frustrated. Liz had been desperate for his help. Where could they be?
“Isabel, why don’t you see if you can reach her. I’ve tried, but I’m not getting anything. Remember when you got inside Pierce’s mind? Try to do that to Liz.” It was the only thing Michael could think of.
“I’ll try. Maybe it would be easier if I held something of hers.” Isabel walked out into the large room and looked around. She picked through the pile of supplies and her hand brushed over the bowl Liz had used a short time ago to clean her son. Isabel got a series of quick flashes. Max holding a wiggling baby boy, Liz washing off his little fingers, Max holding the sleeping baby. Isabel looked up at Michael and Maria. “The baby was fine.”
“What do you mean, the baby was fine? What are you talking about?” asked Maria.
“I got a flash from this,” Isabel said as she held up the bowl. “The baby was born and everything was fine. No complications. Whatever happened, it wasn’t the birth that was the problem. It was something else.” Isabel noticed a hair clip on the floor next to the sleeping bag. “Maria, is this yours?”
“No. That belongs to Liz. Max gave it to her.”
Isabel sat on the edge of the sleeping bag and held the clip in her hand. She concentrated on the image of Liz. With her mind she reached out to her. All she could see was blackness. Swirling gray clouds formed and she thought she could see something moving beyond them. The clouds began to dissipate and Isabel could see Liz standing in the entrance of a cave. She was motioning with her arm, urging Isabel forward. Isabel entered the cave and saw Liz staring at something on the ground. Liz brought her hand away from her side and pointed at it. Isabel looked closer and realized she was looking at another Liz. Her body lay in a heap on the ground. In the faint light she could see blood trickling from her mouth. Isabel crouched over her and touched her on the arm. Liz raised her head and Isabel could hear her ragged breathing. Liz tried to focus her eyes. ‘Isabel. Find Max and Matthew before it’s too late. Don’t let her win.’ Liz closed her eyes and her head fell back to the ground.
Isabel bolted out of her dreamwalk. She grabbed onto Michael’s arm and her eyes looked scared. “Quick, there’s not much time.” Isabel ran from the cave with Michael and Maria right behind her.
“What did you see Isabel? What do you mean, there’s not much time?” Michael was frightened by the tone of Isabel’s voice.
“She’s hurt, Michael. I think she’s hurt really bad.” Her eyes scanned the rock formations around her. She knew it was somewhere close, but where? She turned to the left and immediately sensed that was the wrong way. Isabel could feel the pull of invisible fingers, leading her to the right. She let them pull her along. She rounded a large boulder and the sensation stopped. “She’s here. There’s a cave here somewhere, with a hidden entrance. We just have to find it.” They searched the rock face, trying to find the handprint that would activate the entrance.
Maria caught the image of something familiar out of the corner of her eye. “Michael! Isabel! Look at this.” She pointed to the ground. A shoe print was clearly visible in the dirt. The print was partially obscured by the rock wall. “That print is from Liz’s shoe. It looks like this is where she went inside.”
“If this is the entrance, then I’m going to try to blast through to the inside. Step back out of the way.” Isabel and Maria retreated behind an outcrop of rocks and Michael held his hand out in front of him. He concentrated, trying to control the direction of his energy. His hand glowed with a white light and a burst of energy hit the rock in front of him. The face of the rock shattered and he had to duck his head from flying debris. As the dust settled they could see the opening to the cave appear. Michael rushed inside and let his eyes sweep around the cave. In the dim light he saw Liz’s crumpled form on the ground not far from him. He rushed to her side and was relieved to hear the sound of her ragged breathing. At least that meant she was still alive.
Maria and Isabel followed Michael into the cave. They knelt beside Liz and her eyes fluttered open. “Forget about me,” she whispered. “Find Max . . . and the baby . . . before she . . .” Her words trailed off as her body was racked with a series of coughs.
“Who, Liz? Who are you talking about?” Maria held Liz’s hand tightly.
“Tess.” Liz closed her eyes. She felt herself sliding toward oblivion.
“You guys have to do something! Now!” Maria felt for Liz’s pulse and it was very weak.
Isabel looked at Michael. “We need Max.”
“Well Max isn’t here. We’re all she has.” Michael was scared. His healing powers were minimal. Isabel’s were better, but no where near as good as Max’s. “We have to try.” Isabel nodded her head, and they placed their hands on Liz’s rib cage. Their hands began to give off a soft glow. Maria could hear a change in Liz’s breathing. It wasn’t rattling as bad as it had been a minute ago. Michael could feel the bones shifting under his hand. Isabel felt air whooshing from the tear in her lung. She concentrated on sealing the edges of the wound. Michael moved one hand down her leg to her ankle. He could clearly visualize the broken bones and he concentrated on repairing them. After several minutes Isabel and Michael removed their hands, feeling physically drained. Liz slowly opened her eyes.
|posted on 14-Sep-2001 1:59:59 PM|
Tess pulled into the parking lot of a motel on the outskirts of Las Vegas. She had made good time on the drive from Roswell, but she was getting tired of sitting in one position, and the monotony of the road was boring her. Max was showing signs of waking up. She had sedated him several times during the long drive. The baby hadn’t moved.
Tess reached out her hand tentatively. She pulled the blanket back so that she could get a better look at him. Yes, he was still breathing. She noticed that when he was sedated, he didn’t fuss when she touched him. Good. She could use that to her advantage. She got out of the jeep and reaching into the back seat she picked the baby up. She walked around to the passenger side and stood next to Max. She shook him by the shoulder.
“Max, wake up. We’re here Max. Come on sleepyhead. Time to wake up.” Max moaned and then his eyes slowly opened. He rubbed his hand across his face and stretched. He looked out at the unfamiliar building and frowned.
“Where are we?” he asked as he looked around.
“Outside Las Vegas.”
“Las Vegas!” Max said with shock. “What are we doing here? Why aren’t we at Michael’s?” It suddenly dawned on him that it was late in the day. “Jesus, what time is it?”
“It’s almost six. You’ve been sleeping for hours. Watching your son being born must have been as tiring for you as it was for him.” Tess looked down at the baby and smiled. It wouldn’t do for Max to see her glare at him.
“I’ve been asleep for 12 hours? And you’ve been driving all this time? You must be exhausted. You didn’t get any sleep last night either.” Max climbed out of the jeep and looked down at her. She didn’t even look tired.
“I guess I’ve been running on adrenaline.”
“Why are we here?” Max repeated.
“Let’s check into the motel, and then I’ll tell you what happened.”
Max led Liz into the office and they checked in for one night. The motel looked kind of run down, but at least it looked clean. Tess followed behind Max as he made his way to room #17. He opened the door and stepped inside. The furnishings were cheap, and they looked right out of 1955, but everything looked clean and the air was fresh.
“Well, it’s not the Four Seasons Hotel, but I guess it will do for tonight.” He put his arm around Liz and looked down at his son. “How long has he been asleep?”
Tess couldn’t tell him the truth, that his dear son hadn’t moved for over 12 hours. But she was skilled at lying, and the words rolled easily off her tongue. “He woke up a couple of hours ago. He drank a bottle and then went right back to sleep. We should probably ask if they have a crib or something to put him in.”
Max was looking at her strangely. A bottle? Why would Liz feed him a bottle? When she breast fed him in the cave, it seemed so natural to her. She had looked so contented and she had hummed softly to him the whole time. He was about to ask her why she decided to use a bottle when Liz cut into his thoughts.
“Can you go ask at the office? For a crib?”
“Yeah, sure.” Max touched Matthew on the cheek and then turned to leave the room. He checked at the front desk and was told they would bring one by in a few minutes. He climbed into the jeep and drove it around to park close to the room. Once back in the room, he noticed that Liz had set the baby down in the middle of the bed. He propped a pillow on either side of him to prevent him from rolling off.
Tess came to stand beside him. She rubbed her hand across his back. It was a gesture she had seen Liz do many, many times. Max stood up straight and took her in his arms. He tilted his head down and kissed her. Tess kissed him back hard, pressing her body against him.
“What do you think Matthew will think?” He mumbled the words against her lips.
“Who?” Tess mumbled back.
Max pulled away from her and looked hard into her eyes. “Matthew?” His eyes then looked down at the baby on the bed.
“Oh, you mean what will he think of his parents kissing right in front of him?” She tried to think fast. She’d almost blown it. “I think he’s too young to think anything about it at all.” She leaned in to kiss him again, but he had moved away from her.
“So, why didn’t you stop at Michael’s, and what are we doing here?” Max was vaguely disturbed, but he wasn’t sure why.
“When I drove by Michael’s there were police cars all around and I got spooked. I got the hell out of there as fast as I could before anyone saw us. I know a place near here where we can hide until we figure out what to do.”
Max wondered what police cars were doing at Michael’s place. “Maybe the police were there for something else, one of the other apartments.”
“Maybe, but I wasn’t going to take that risk. I just left.”
Max thought that over for a minute. They didn’t need the authorities breathing down their necks right now. Maybe it’s a good thing that Liz drove up here, away from all the probing eyes. It would give them time to figure out a cover story. His skin felt clammy, and his joints stiff. Probably from sleeping all those hours in the jeep. “I think I’ll go take a shower. After I’m done I’ll give Isabel a call and see if she knows what happened at Michael’s.” He gave her hand a squeeze and then headed for the bathroom.
Tess watched him go. So far, so good. He seemed to be buying the story.
Max closed the bathroom door behind him. He stripped out of his clothes and turned the shower to hot. He would have to put his dirty clothes back on after his shower, but tomorrow they could buy new ones. Max had a couple hundred dollars stored in the bottom of the baby bag, just in case of emergencies, and this seemed to qualify.
He climbed into the shower and the hot water helped him relax. He knew he was under a lot of strain. What with Matthew’s birth, and fleeing Roswell, it had been a busy day, especially for Liz. He leaned into the water and let it soak into his hair. Suddenly, the door to the shower opened. Liz stood in front of him, and she had a hungry look in her eyes. Her hair fell past her bare shoulders, almost long enough to touch her nipples. His eyes took in the sight of her narrow waist and the patch of curly dark hair below. She stepped into the shower with him and he was instantly aroused. It didn’t take much for her to have that effect on him.
Tess soaked in the sight of his naked body. His skin was a rich golden color. His chest was smooth and muscular and his shoulders were broad and strong. This stomach was flat and his thighs were powerful looking. She felt on the verge of an orgasm just looking at him. His prick was growing as she watched. It was becoming hard and thick and she wanted to feel it next to her. She brushed her body against him, feeling his erection pressing into her belly. She had waited a long time for this moment.
He leaned down and locked his lips over hers. He pressed her back hard against the shower wall. The water sprayed across his back and down his legs. He kissed a trail down her throat and then to her erect nipples. He sucked one into his mouth and stroked the other with his hand. A small corner of his mind thought her breasts had seemed larger back in the cave, swollen with the breastmilk that had nourished their son. Her milk had disappeared as suddenly as it had come. She began to moan with pleasure and all other thoughts were pushed aside.
He fell to his knees in front of her and his tongue made it’s way down past her navel and further still. He started to lift her leg to drape it over his shoulder, when a sound broke through his passion addled mind. Crying. He could hear the sound of his son crying. He reluctantly released her leg and stood up straight. “It sounds like your son is calling,” Max said smiling down into her eyes. “Is it just me, or does it always seem that we get interrupted?” Max moved away from Tess and started to open the shower door. She grabbed his hand and tried to pull him back.
“Babies always cry, Max. We can’t let him control our lives.” She stroked his prick, trying to get his attention back on her. “It won’t hurt him to let him cry for awhile.”
Max just stared at her for a moment. He felt a shiver go up his spine and he pulled her hand away from him. “I’m just going to go check on him.” He stared at her hard for a moment longer, and then opened the shower door. He grabbed a towel and dried off quickly. He wrapped it around his waist and left the bathroom.
Tess seethed with anger and frustration. She struck her hand against the wall. She didn’t care what the others said. That baby was just in the way.
Max walked up to the bed. Matthew was crying and little tears welled up from his tightly closed eyes. His hands were in little fists, and his feet were kicking the air. Max noticed right away that his diaper was soaking wet. He picked up the bag and pulled out a clean diaper. He remembered the way Liz had shown him how to change it. He took the old one off and put the new one on. Matthew quieted down and stared up at his father. “Are you hungry? Huh? Are you hungry little guy?”
Suddenly Max felt a presence in his mind. He froze and the smile left his face. ‘Max, can you hear me? Max?’ The sound of Liz’s voice filled his mind. She sounded worried, frightened. ‘Liz?’ he called out silently. The sound of her voice in his head had shocked him. ‘Liz?’
‘Max, oh thank God. Where are you? You have to tell me where you are.’ He could hear the relief in her voice. ‘Matthew. Do you have Matthew? Is he okay? Please tell me Matthew is okay.’
Max looked over at the bathroom door. Everything was starting to make sense now. When had he first noticed a difference in her? He thought back and realized that when she came back from getting Matthew’s hat out of the jeep, she had seemed different. She had avoided touching Matthew. And when she had put the hat on him, he had cried at her touch. Whoever was in the other room, it wasn’t Liz. He thought about what had almost happened in the shower just a few minutes ago. He felt a shudder go through his body.
‘Max? Max, are you there?’ He could hear fear in her voice again.
‘Yes, yes. I’m here. Matthew’s with me. He’s fine.’
‘Oh, thank God, thank God. I was so worried. Can you tell me where you are?’
‘It’s called the Jackpot motel, just south of Las Vegas.’ Max concentrated on the image of the motel, hoping Liz would be able to see it also. ‘It’s on Second Street, near Pine. I didn’t really see the way to get here. I slept most of the way.’
‘No Max, you didn’t sleep. She drugged you. I’ve been trying to reach you for hours.’
‘Liz, I thought I was with you.’ He was kicking himself for not recognizing it earlier. His attention was drawn to the bathroom door. Liz stood there with a towel wrapped around her. It looked like Liz and it sounded like Liz, but it wasn’t Liz. She had been duplicated perfectly, right down to the scar above her eye and the strawberry colored birthmark at the top of her inner thigh. Max shuddered again at the thought of how close he had come to touching her there.
‘It’s Tess, Max. Don’t let her know you suspect anything until we get there. She’s dangerous. We’re close, Max. Just hold out a little longer until we find you.’
Liz sat back against the seat and sighed. “I reached him. Thank God, I finally got through.” She felt drained. It had required a lot of energy to contact Max, and she was still feeling weak from her earlier injuries.
They had crossed the border into Nevada a short time ago and they would be in the outskirts of Las Vegas soon. When they had left the desert Isabel had been able to probe Tess’s mind to find out where they had gone. The contact had been fleeting, but she had seen the highway signs passing by and they set out in the same direction. Liz figured they were a least one hour behind, maybe more. Now, after nearly half a day on the road, they had almost caught up to them.
Liz saw a sign ahead that read ‘Second Street, next exit’. “Michael, take this exit.” He put his blinker on and slowed the Jetta down on the off ramp.
As he neared the stoplight he turned to quickly look back at her. “Left or right Liz? Which way do we go?”
Liz looked in both directions. She didn’t know which way. She closed her eyes and tried to concentrate. Could she feel which direction he was in? “I don’t know. Try taking a right. Max said it was on Second Street. Go right. Isabel, does anything look familiar?”
Isabel had probed Tess’s mind throughout the day, trying to make sure they were still following in the right direction. “No, nothing looks familiar. Oh, wait. I remember seeing that building over there.” Isabel pointed at a pawnshop on the corner up ahead. They drove another couple of blocks.
Maria pointed her finger straight ahead. “Look! That sign up there says Jackpot Motel. Does that look like the right one?”
* * * * *
Max tried to decide what to do next. He couldn’t let her know he was on to her. Tess had already proven how dangerous she was. He didn’t want to take any chances with Matthew only a few feet away from her. “I think he’s hungry. Do you want to fix him a bottle?” He wanted to keep her occupied so that she wouldn’t be suspicious. He watched Tess walk over to the bag and take out a can of formula. He walked past her and went into the bathroom. He retrieved his pants from the floor and quickly slipped them on. He reached for his shirt but suddenly Matthew began to cry and Max hurried back into the room.
Tess was hovering over the baby and each time she tried to poke the bottle into his mouth he cried and kicked his legs. “Liz, do you mind if I feed him?” He wanted her as far away from Matthew as possible. Tess stepped aside, relieved to get away from him. Max took the bottle out of her hand and bent over and picked up his son. He walked over to the threadbare chair by the window and sat down. Max touched the tip of the nipple to his lips and Matthew grabbed a hold of it. He hungrily sucked at it and then spit it out. He cried and Max pushed the nipple at him again. Matthew sucked for a moment and then spit it out again. “I don’t think he likes it.” Matthew found his own finger and began to suck on it.
Suddenly the door burst open and Michael rushed into the room. He stopped in his tracks when he saw Liz standing in front of him wearing nothing more than a towel. His eyes swept the room and found Max sitting in a chair with a tiny baby. Liz ran in right behind him, followed by Isabel and Maria.
Liz looked at the image of herself standing across the room. She was in a towel and her long dark hair was wet. Liz turned to find Max. His hair was damp and his chest was bare. He cradled Matthew in his arms, rocking him gently. He stood up and she ran to him. She wrapped her arms around the two of them and Max hugged her back. “Thank God you’re here,” Max whispered into her ear. “Matthew needs you.”
Michael stormed over to Tess and grabbed her around the throat. “I should kill you for what you’ve done,” he hissed at her. He squeezed his hand and lifted her up off the floor, cutting off her flow of oxygen. She tore at his fingers. Michael had to remind himself that it was Tess, not Liz that he was squeezing the life out of. Suddenly her image wavered and Michael was staring into Maria’s face.
“Michael, what are you doing? Michael?” Tess spoke pleadingly in Maria’s voice. She felt his fingers loosen around her throat.
Michael knew it was Tess that he was strangling, but it looked like Maria and it sounded like Maria. He released her and pushed her hard back toward the wall. Tess stumbled and crumpled to the floor. Her image wavered again and the familiar image of the Tess they knew lay on the floor in front of them. Max handed Matthew to Liz and rushed over to Michael.
“We can’t kill her Michael,” Max said as he grabbed his arm.
Michael turned to stare hard at Max. “Why not? Do you know that she almost killed Liz? If Liz hadn’t been able to connect to me she be dead now Max. Do you hear me? She sealed Liz up in a cave and left her there to die.” Michael saw the shock register on Max’s face. Michael turned and glared down at Tess. “She’s nothing but a monster, Max. And she doesn’t deserve to live.” His words were filled with contempt.
“We can’t just kill her, Michael.” Max looked at Liz, hoping she would understand. He wouldn’t shed a tear if Tess were to die, especially after what Michael said she had done to Liz. But they had to use their brains. “This isn’t the Bates Motel. We can’t kill her and then try to get her body out of here. We have enough complications as it is. We don’t need a murder investigation on top of everything else.”
“Why don’t we call Valenti,” Maria said. “He can use his strings to have her picked up and taken back to Roswell. Then he can keep her in isolation until we figure out what to do with her.” Maria looked at the faces around her, hoping her idea had merit.
Over the last 18 months Jim Valenti had established a special unit to build a defense network should the Earth become threatened the way Max’s home planet had been. They had built a containment facility out in the desert. Tess could be held there.
“Michael, go call Valenti.” Max turned and smiled at Maria. “Thanks. You always come through for us, Maria.”
“Max, you can’t do this to me.” Tess rose to her feet and her eyes pleaded with him.
“Well Tess, it’s either this or Michael’s first idea. Which one do you want?” His eyes were cold and his voice was filled with scorn.
“Max, you don’t understand. We have work to do here, together. We were created for a purpose. You can’t ignore that.” Tess looked over at Liz and her eyes burned with hate. “What is it about her that mesmerizes you so?” Her eyes turned back to Max. “We were made to be together, Max. To recreate the life we shared before. How can you turn your back on that?”
“We never shared a life together Tess. That was just another one of the endless lies you tried to make me believe.” Max looked at Liz and held out his hand to her. She crossed over to him and he laced his fingers between hers. He smiled down at her and his son. “Liz is the one I was meant to be with.”
“What are you talking about, Max. She’s just a human.”
“No, she’s one of us. Liz was my wife before, and I hope she will be again, very soon.” He squeezed her hand and then turned back to Tess.
“That’s impossible. I don’t believe you.” Tess looked at Max like he was crazy.
“Why is it impossible, Tess?” Liz asked quietly.
“Because Nasedo killed her, that’s why. Before she was ever born.” Tess spat the words out at Liz. “She’s been filling your mind with lies Max.”
“Who did he kill?” Max’s voice was cold.
“Sheila Hubble.” Tess nearly shouted the name at him. “She’s the one that carried your precious wife in her womb. And when Nasedo found out, he got rid of her.”
Max turned to Liz. “Oh my God, he killed an innocent woman because he thought she was carrying you.” Max turned back to Tess. “What kind of monsters are you? How many innocent people have you killed over the years?”
Tess looked at Liz in horror. “No, it can’t be . . . you can’t be her. I don’t believe it.” But Tess could see it now. Her legs gave out and she sank to the floor. Her eyes lost focus and she began to rock back and forth on the floor. “All our plans . . . everything’s ruined . . .” Her lips continued to move, but no words came out.
The sound of a siren grew in strength and Isabel turned to see an ambulance pull up in front of the motel room. Two white clad attendants got out. They removed a stretcher from the back and brought it into the room. “Valenti sent us. Where’s the patient.”
Max pointed to Tess. “She needs to be sedated and restrained for the entire trip. Don’t let her appearance fool you. She’s dangerous, and she’ll kill you if she gets a chance.” Max watched them strap her onto the stretcher and load her into the back of the ambulance. Max sat down on the edge of the bed and ran a shaky hand through his hair. So much had happened in the last 24 hours. It was hard to take it all in.
He watched as Michael, Maria and Isabel all hovered around Liz and the baby. This had been their first chance to even look at him. Maria was making cooing noises at him and Isabel had the biggest smile on her face that he had ever seen. Even Michael had a big dopey grin. Matthew looked at the faces around him and them focused on Liz. He had been quiet during the confrontation with Tess, but now his hunger was overpowering. He sucked hard at his finger but that wasn’t what he needed. He began to fuss.
“What’s the matter?” Liz cooed at him. “Are you hungry?” Liz’s breasts were full. She could feel moisture spreading across the front of her shirt. She sat on the edge of the bed and unbuttoned her shirt. Michael turned his eyes away. Liz positioned Matthew next to her and touched his cheek. His mouth turned to her and latched onto her nipple sucking hungrily. He made contented little noises and held Liz’s finger tightly in his hand.
“How is it possible for you to breastfeed him Liz?” asked Isabel. “I mean, you didn’t give birth to him.”
“I don’t know. I think it might have something to do with the connection we shared.” Liz watched her son and sighed. When Matthew was full he drifted off to sleep again. Max kept watching Liz. He was elated that she was here with him, yet at the same time he was racked with guilt over what he had done with Tess earlier. He had to tell her. There was no way to keep secrets from her. It was better for him to tell her, than for her to see it in his mind.
“Guys?” Max began, his voice sounding strained. “Um, Liz and I need to talk.”
“We better go see if we can get a room for the night,” Michael said and headed for the door. “There’s no way we can drive back to Roswell tonight.” Isabel and Maria turned to follow him out the door.
“Are we getting two rooms then?” Isabel asked. “Because I’m not sleeping in the same room with you Michael.”
“Well I’m not paying for two rooms. How much money do you have on you? Are you going to pay for your own private room?” Michael pulled out his wallet to see how much money he had.
“You pulled me out of the house before dawn, Michael. I don’t even have a purse, let alone money for a motel room.” Isabel answered.
“I don’t have anything either.” Maria held out her hands to show she had nothing.
“I probably have enough for one room,” Michael said and started to close his wallet.
Maria grabbed it out of his hand and took the money out. “This is enough. Isabel and I can share, and you can sleep in the car.”
Max and Liz could hear their bickering as they headed for the office. Max started to close the door when he noticed the desk clerk wheeling a portable crib in his direction. Max pulled it into the room and then closed the door. He unfolded the blanket and while Liz picked up Matthew, Max when to get his shirt off the bathroom floor. He pulled it over his head and then went to join Liz next to the crib. Matthew was sleeping peacefully, secure inside the crib.
Max looked at Liz and tried to smile at her, but she could see the nervous look in his eyes. He took her hand in his and led her over to the bed. They sat down on the edge and Max cleared his throat.
“What did Tess do to you, Liz?” She looked up at him and explained what had happened when she came back from the jeep with Matthew’s hat. Max listened intently. He tried to control his anger when Liz told him Tess had sealed her inside the cave to die. “Are you okay now? Did Isabel and Michael heal everything?” Max knew they weren’t as skilled as he was. She could still have injuries that they hadn’t noticed.
“I’m fine, Max.” She smiled weakly at him and then squeezed his hand. “What did Tess do to you, Max?” Her voice was barely above a whisper. She looked into his eyes and then away quickly. She was afraid that she already knew the answer to that question. Tess had been almost naked when they arrived, and Max looked like he had just finished throwing his clothes on.
“She suggested we go to Michael’s and I thought that was a good idea, but when we got in the jeep I guess she drugged me and I think she drugged Matthew too. I didn’t wake up until we got here. Matthew was still sleeping so I set him on the bed and I felt so crummy I decided to take a shower, you know, to clean up.” Max couldn’t look at her as he continued. “But . . . I . . . didn’t take it alone.” Max stared at her hand enclosed in his. She hadn’t tried to pull away from him and he hoped that was a good sign. He looked into her eyes and continued, “Liz . . . I thought it was you.”
She stood up and at first he thought she was pulling away from him, but instead she pulled him to his feet. She walked across the room and opened the bathroom door. They walked into the middle of the room and then Liz turned to look up at him.
“So, tell me what you did, from the beginning.” Her tone was even, and Max couldn’t judge her feelings.
“I came in here and took my clothes off and then I got in the shower.”
“Show me. Show me everything you did”
Max looked at her closely and then did as she asked. He pulled his shirt over his head and dropped it on the floor. He unzipped his jeans and noticed that her eyes watched his every move. He peeled his pants off and added them to the pile of things already on the floor. He walked over to the shower and turned back to Liz, shrugging his shoulders. “I turned the water on and then got in.”
“Okay. Do it.”
“You want me to . . . get in the shower?” he asked. Liz nodded her head. Was she going to make him show her everything he had done? It would only hurt her, and he couldn’t stand to hurt her. Max took a deep breath and then stripped off his boxers. He tossed them onto the rest of his clothes and stepped into the shower. The water hit him in the chest, but he barely noticed it.
“Then what happened?” Her eyes bore into his.
“Then I closed the door and let the water pour over me.”
“Okay, then close the door.”
Max closed the shower door. He looked up into the water spraying down on him from the showerhead and wondered how far she was going to go with this. Did she really want to hear every detail of what he had done to Tess? He couldn’t help feeling he had betrayed her.
“Then what happened.” The sound of her voice was muffled through the shower door.
“Then all of a sudden she opened the shower door and came inside. Liz, please . . . I . . . I didn’t expect her to come in here, but I . . . I thought it was you, so . . .” The shower door opened and Liz stepped inside. Max felt a sense of déjà vu. She looked exactly like she had before. Her dark eyes looked up at him and he wished he knew what she was thinking. Her long hair fell past her shoulders. His eyes swept over her body and then he realized there was one thing different about her. Her breasts were fuller than they had been before. And her nipples were slightly larger, too.
“Then what?” she asked.
“Then I kissed her and leaned her against that wall.” Max nodded his head in the direction of the wall to his right. The shower water was pelting down on him and splashing onto Liz as well.
Max stared at her hard. He took her into his arms the way he had held Tess earlier. He kissed her and she kissed him back with an intensity that surprised him.
“Did she kiss you like that?” Liz whispered to him.
“Yes.” His breathing was getting heavy and his body was reacting to her being so close.
“Is this how you reacted to her?”
“Yes. Yes Liz . . . I’m sorry . . . I . . . I didn’t . . .”
“Show me what happened next,” she whispered.
Max moved his lips down her throat and then down to her swollen breasts. Her nipples were erect and he took her into his mouth. He sucked at her and felt warm fluid squirt into his mouth. She tasted so sweet. He pulled away from her in surprise and looked up at her face. Her eyes were closed and her head was tilted slightly back.
“Did she taste like me?”
“No . . .” Max looked at the fluid dripping from her breast and lapped at it with his tongue. “You taste completely different.” He moved his mouth to her other nipple and suckled on that one. No wonder Matthew wanted this over a bottle. He’d never tasted anything sweeter before.
“Then what did you do Max?” Her words came out breathlessly.
“I did this . . .” He reluctantly released her breast and dropped to his knees. He kissed a trail down her belly. “I lifted her leg like this.” He picked up her leg and brought it up near his shoulder and then he stopped. “I was going to put your leg over my shoulder, I mean her leg, but then I heard Matthew crying and I stopped.”
“So, Matthew interrupted you?” she said huskily.
“Yes. I got out of the shower and went to take care of him.”
“And you just left her here . . . like this?” Liz looked down into his eyes.
“That must have driven her crazy.”
“She wanted me to let him cry. But Matthew needed me. And that’s when you reached me, and then I knew that it wasn’t you in the bathroom.”
“Matthew has a wonderful sense of timing,” Liz said and Max noticed a small smile on her lips.
“Yes, he does. I do believe he’s the smartest baby ever born. Much smarter than his dad. He knew the whole time that it wasn’t you.”
“I must agree with you. Definitely much smarter than his dad.” Liz lifted her leg and draped it over his shoulder. He took in the sight of her and ran his hand up her thigh. “What would you have done next, if our super intelligent baby hadn’t had the foresight to make his presence known?”
“I would have done this . . .” Max parted her feminine folds with his fingers and probed her with his tongue. She lifted her other leg and draped it over his shoulder too. She held onto the handlebars that were built into the shower walls. Most of her weight rested on Max, but he didn’t even notice. To him, she was light as a feather. He heard her breathing change, coming more in short gasps now. He felt her legs trembling and he teased her some more. He heard her moans and sucked her sweet spot into his mouth. The muscles in her legs tightened and then her hips shuddered against him.
“Oh . . . Oh Max . . . Oh God . . . Max . . .”
He released her and then lifted her off his shoulders. As he stood up she wrapped her legs around his hips. His erection throbbed against her and she felt herself getting excited again.
“So, you didn’t do that to her?” she said softly as he nuzzled against her breast again.
“No,” he mumbled against her. “You’re the only one I’ve ever done that to.”
“I’m glad,” she whispered.
“Why, Liz? Why did you want me to show you what I did to her?” His words were muffled against her soft skin.
“Because in the future, when you think back about all the things that happened today,” Liz whispered, “I want you to think about me. Not her.”
He sucked at her again and more of the sweet fluid flowed into his mouth. He swallowed and felt a contentment spread throughout him. His lips moved up her throat and sought out her lips. He kissed her hard, thrusting his tongue deep into her mouth. She tasted her own fluid on his lips.
“I love you Liz,” he said and he tried to catch his breath. He looked deep into her eyes. “Don’t ever think that I would want to be with anyone but you.” He meant every word. He could never be with anyone else because he could never love anyone else but her.
“I know that, Max. I know.”
His body ached for her. His mind craved to be one with her. He lifted her hips with one arm and drove into her. He buried himself completely in her and the connection formed as soon as he entered her. It was a sensation that was familiar, yet felt new every time they experienced it. He pulled her hips away from him and then drove deeply into her again. She arched her back and he could hear her murmur his name. With her back in that position, he was able to take her breast into his mouth again. He licked at her, savoring her new taste. He sucked at her and her nectar filled his mouth. She felt the waves of pleasure building in her as he pulled at her sensitive nipples. She held on tightly, content to let him control the pace. He released her breast and worked his way up to her mouth. His hand held the back of her head and he kissed her hard. He savored the feel of her body against his skin and he cherished the mental bond that they shared. He took his time, thrusting deep into her and then slowly withdrawing. When he thrust into her, he filled her completely and when he withdrew, she ached for him to fill her again.
He wrapped his arms around her and pressed her back against the shower wall. Her breasts pressed against his chest and his hips drove up into her. His thrusts became faster. As much as he wanted the connection to last, his body was deciding things. His cultivated sense of control was gone. He felt her body trembling and knew her climax was near. She could feel how close he was too. She pushed her tongue into his mouth and it sent him over the edge. He drove into her hard and called out her name. Her orgasm hit her at the same time, both feeling the sensations of the other. He emptied into her, thrusting deep into her repeatedly. His body trembled against her and when his thrusts came to a stop, he held her tight against him. He leaned his head against her shoulder and she stroked her fingers through his hair. It was awhile before either one of them noticed the shower water had turned cold.
Max and Liz looked down at their son as he slept peacefully in the small crib. She reached out and touched his tiny hands and fingers. Max watched her as she lovingly smoothed the dark hair on the top of his small head.
“Liz,” Max said softly to her. She turned to look at him and noticed the nervous smile on his lips. “There’s something I need to ask you . . .”
“What?” she said and her eyes swept over his face. He took her hand in his and led her over to the edge of the bed. She sat down and after a slight hesitation, he knelt down in front of her. He held her hands tightly in his.
He looked into her large brown eyes and cleared his throat. “Will you marry me Liz?”
A radiant smile spread across her face. “Of course I’ll marry you, Max.” She took one hand and caressed his cheek. “Did you ever have any doubts?”
His hand reached for hers and pulled it back down into her lap. “I mean . . . will you marry me now . . . tonight?”
For a moment Liz was speechless. Now? Tonight? “You want to get married here?”
“I don’t want to wait any longer Liz. Our son was born this morning and I want you to be my wife before the day is over.” He looked down at her hands and he could feel the way she had begun to tremble. “I . . . I know it won’t be the wedding that you dreamed of,” he said looking up into her eyes again. “And I know you wanted all your family and friends to be there, but it’s not just you and me anymore. We’re a family now.” He waited for her to say something but all she could do was stare at him.
“We’re going to go home tomorrow, and I want us to be together. I don’t want to take you and Matthew to the Crashdown and then climb in the jeep and drive away. I want to be with you from now on, Liz. I want to wake up every morning and feel you lying next to me. I want to listen to the sound of your breathing when you fall asleep every night. I want to hear Matthew when he wakes up hungry in the middle of the night.” Max watched her face as he spoke. He saw her begin to smile and her lower lip trembled slightly. She blinked her eyes repeatedly, trying to keep from crying.
“Yes,” she said as she threw her arms around his shoulders. “Yes, I’ll marry you.” She held him tightly and he wrapped his arms around her. “I love you, Max. I love you so much.”
Max gently grabbed her shoulders and pulled her away. “You won’t regret not having a big wedding?” he asked as he rested his forehead against hers. “It won’t make you feel like you got cheated out of something?”
“No, Max,” Liz said through her unshed tears. “I just want to be with you, and with Matthew. I just want us to be together.” Max stroked his fingers through her hair and then pulled her into his arms again. His lips sought out hers and he kissed her passionately.
The motel room door opened and the room filled with the late evening sun. “Look Isabel, they’re probably hungry too. It’s been a . . . long . . . day.” Michael’s eyes adjusted to the level of light in the room and took in the sight in front of him. Liz sat on the side of the bed, and Max was on his knees in front of her. She had a towel wrapped around her body and he had a towel around his waist. Their faces were flushed. Michael wasn’t sure if they were just getting started, just finishing up or just going at it again.
“I swear to God, they’re like a couple of rabbits,” Michael said as he turned to look at Isabel and Maria.
“Michael, when are you going to learn how to knock?” Maria said and punched him on the arm.
Max rested his forehead on Liz’s shoulder and tried not to laugh. He could feel her body shaking as she desperately tried to keep from laughing too.
“Michael,” Isabel said through clenched teeth. “I told you we should leave them alone. Let’s get out of here.” She grabbed Michael by the arm and pushed him toward the door.
“No, wait.” Max stood up and pulled Liz to her feet. He draped his arm around her shoulder and he smiled down into her eyes. He held her hand tightly and then turned to look at Michael, Isabel and Maria. “We have something to tell you. Liz and I are going to get married . . . tonight.”
“What?” all three blurted out at the same time.
“How are you going to do that, Max?” Isabel looked at him like he was crazy. “You don’t have a marriage license.”
“I’ll make one up if I have to.” Max looked at Liz again and smiled. He wasn’t going to let anyone or anything stand in his way.
“What about Mom and Dad?” she continued.
“We’ll tell them tomorrow. When we get home.”
“Do you even know where to go?” Michael asked. “What are you going to do, look someplace up in the phonebook?”
“That’s a good place to start.” Max replied and turned to the small desk against the wall. He opened the desk drawer and removed the phonebook. A business card fell to the floor and Max stooped to pick it up. The card read ‘Chapel of Everlasting Love’. In smaller print it said ‘Last minute weddings our specialty.’ Max held the card up in the air for everyone to see and a big smile spread across his face.
Liz ran to Maria. “I need something to wear! What should I do? My clothes are a mess, and my shirt has stains all over it, and . . . and, Maria. I’m getting married!”
Max picked up the phone and called the number. Michael watched him standing there making wedding plans wearing nothing but a towel in a room full of people. He turned to look at the girls and they were giggling and carrying on. He wondered if he was the only sane person in the room.
* * * * *
Liz paced back and forth in the small motel room. Isabel and Maria had left an hour ago to find something appropriate for Max and Liz to wear. Michael and Max were in the room two doors down. Maria had insisted that Max could not see Liz until it was time for the ceremony. Liz ran to the window when she heard the sound of Maria’s car returning. Isabel got out and went to Michael’s room with one bag and Maria rushed to Liz’s room with another bag. Liz attacked her as soon as she opened the door.
“Did you find anything Maria?” Liz was so anxious her stomach was in doing flip flops.
“Patience, Liz.” Maria said and laughed. “Here, go put these on.” Maria reached into the bag and took out a pair of lacy panties and a bra with a clasp in the front. “I bought you a nursing bra too, but you can’t wear that under your wedding dress. It’s functional, but not pretty. Oh, and these are nursing pads. You wear them inside your bra so you don’t leak all over everything. And here’s a pair of pantyhose and a slip. Now, go put those on and we’ll wait for Isabel to get done with Max.”
Liz turned to go into the bathroom and then stopped when Maria called her back.
“Liz, wait a sec . . .” Maria reached into the bag one more time and pulled out a lacy red teddy. “And this is for later tonight!”
“Maria!” Liz exclaimed and she felt her cheeks turning red. She walked back to Maria and grabbed the teddy out of her hand. She took a close look at the sheer fabric and then looked at Maria. “Thank you.” She giggled and gave Maria a big hug. “You’re the best friend a girl could ever have.”
“Ditto,” Maria said and hugged Liz back.
While Liz was changing in the bathroom, Maria removed a pair of shoes and a magazine from the bag. She set them on the edge of the bed. Isabel opened the door and came over to stand next to Maria.
“Is she ready yet?”
“Almost.” Maria answered. “Hey Liz, times a wasting. What’s taking you so long?”
Liz opened the bathroom door and entered the room. She looked around, but didn’t see a dress anywhere. “Where is it? The dress.”
“Right there,” Isabel pointed at the Modern Bride Magazine on the end of the bed. “Just pick out the dress you want.”
Liz stared at Isabel for a minute and then began to smile. She flipped through the pages until her eyes fell on the perfect dress. She touched her finger to the picture and turned to Isabel. “This one. I like this one.”
Isabel studied the dress closely and then smiled. She reached out and touched the fabric of the slip Liz was wearing and then closed her eyes. She concentrated hard for a minute and then waved her hand slowly over the slip. It was transformed into a replica of the gown in the magazine.
“Isabel,” Maria laughed, “you’re like the Fairy Godmother in Cinderella.”
Liz looked at her reflection in the mirror on the wall and began to cry.
Max stood in the small chapel next to the minister. He transferred his weight from one foot to the other nervously. It was five minutes after 11:00 pm and he was wondering when Liz would be ready. Michael had driven Max to the chapel in the jeep. Liz, Maria, Isabel and Matthew were following close behind in the Jetta. Max looked around the room while he waited. It was filled with artificial flowers and if he didn’t look too closely, he might have thought they were real. He had expected something tacky. After all, this was Las Vegas and the place advertised in the local motels. But it was clean and the decorations were pretty. Everything a young bride would want, Max hoped. He looked at the minister and tried to smile. He looked like he truly enjoyed the work he did. He didn’t seem bored, like Max expected he would.
“So young man, have you known you bride to be very long?” the minister asked.
Max thought he genuinely seemed interested, not just asking a question to fill space. “I’ve known her all my life.” Max told him.
“Really?” he replied. “I don’t see too much of that around here. But then again, I don’t often get new bridegrooms all decked out in a tux either.”
Isabel had made sure that Max looked his part. It wouldn’t be right for Liz to show up in a wedding gown and Max to be wearing jeans. She had transformed a simple pair of pants and a shirt into the full black tuxedo that he now wore. She even included a white boutonniere on his lapel.
Max’s attention was suddenly drawn to the doorway. The room filled with the sounds of the Wedding March and he saw Michael escorting Liz into the room. Max stared at her. He had never seen her look more beautiful. Her hair was accented with baby’s breath. The little miniature white flowers created a sharp contrast to her dark hair. Her dress was made of a satiny fabric and the lace bodice fit her snugly. The sleeves were the off the shoulder type and the skirt was full, just barely touching the ground. He was speechless as he watched her walking towards him.
“You are a lucky man,” the minister said. “She may be the most beautiful bride that ever walked through those doors.” Max couldn’t agree with him more. She was stunning. She was like the answer to his every dream. And the smile on her face was meant for him. What more could he ask for? Michael led her up the aisle until she was standing next to him.
Michael took his place next to Max, and Isabel and Maria stood beside Liz. Isabel held Matthew and he slept soundly in her arms. They had flipped a coin to see who got the right to hold Matthew during the ceremony. Isabel had won.
The minister began by saying the typical “Dearly Beloved” but Max and Liz barely heard him. Max was consumed by how beautiful she looked standing before him. Liz fought to control the tears that wanted to fall from her eyes. At the appropriate time Max had the presence of mind to say “I do” and Liz responded as well when it was her turn. All they cared about was that in the next few minutes they would be husband and wife, and there was nothing anyone could do to change that. The minister stopped talking and it took some time for Max to realize everyone was staring at them. He looked inquisitively at the minister, and he repeated “You may kiss the bride”. A smile broke across his face and Max Evans took Liz Evans in his arms and kissed her.
* * * * *
Max and Liz sat side by side at the large table in the diner across the street from the motel. When the ceremony ended and they left the chapel, Max had swept Liz into his arms and carried her to the jeep. He placed her on the front seat and then turned to Isabel for Matthew. He carefully removed the sleeping baby from her arms and strapped him securely in the car seat in the back seat. When they reached the motel Liz noticed the diner for the first time. Her growling stomach reminded her that she had not eaten in hours. She had been too nervous to eat earlier in the day, but now she was famished.
Maria and Michael sat next to Liz and Isabel sat beside Max. Matthew slept peacefully next to Isabel. They had consumed everything on their plates and the mood around the table was jovial. Max couldn’t have wiped the smile off his face if he had tried. The sound of Liz’s laughter fill the air.
The waitress brought the dessert to the table. She had been impressed by the young couple. She had seen many newlyweds come through this place and she had a sense about which ones were going to make it, and which would be in divorce court by the end of the year. This couple would be together for a lifetime. She was sure of it. She set a miniature wedding cake in front of them, complete with a tiny bride and groom on the top.
“What’s this?” Liz asked and her eyes were full of surprise.
“What’s it look like, honey?” She smiled at Liz and gave her a wink. “It’s on the house. Enjoy.”
“Thank you,” Liz managed to say before her throat started to choke up. Tears shimmered on the surface of her eyes and she blinked hard. The little cake made a perfect ending to this absolutely incredible day. Max and Liz reached for the knife at the same time and laughed when their hands collided. They held onto the handle and cut the cake together. Max picked up a piece of the cake and fed it to Liz. She in turn shoved a piece into his mouth and laughed when he got frosting all over his nose.
Matthew stretched next to Isabel and she picked him up. His eyes opened and he gazed up at her face. He stretched again and his little mouth nuzzled at Isabel’s breast. “You’re not getting anything out of that one,” Isabel said with a laugh. She turned and smiled at Liz. “I think he’s looking for his mommy again.”
“Well I hate to break this party up,” Liz said as Isabel passed Matthew over to her, “but a mother’s work is never done. Time for me to head back to the room.”
* * * * *
Max came out of the bathroom wearing his boxer shorts. He had taken off his tux and folded it neatly. He didn’t know if he’d ever need a tux again, but he wanted to take special care of this one anyway. His eyes were drawn to Liz where she sat on the side of the bed. She had taken off her wedding dress and it was currently hanging in the small closet. She cradled Matthew in her arms and he nursed contentedly at her breast. She hummed a familiar tune that at the moment he couldn’t place. He was struck by how natural she looked sitting there with her son in her arms. Motherhood suited her well. He watched them for a while and he wished he had a camera to preserve this moment in time. She turned her face to look at him and her smile nearly made him weak in the knees.
“He’s asleep again,” she said quietly. She stood up and took him over to the crib. She gently placed him on the mattress and tucked a blanket around him. She turned back to Max and he could see that she had something on her mind. She walked over to him and rested her cheek against his warm chest. The sound of his steady heartbeat was reassuring to her. He stroked his fingers through her thick hair.
“Max, when we go home tomorrow, I’m going to tell my parents the truth . . . about everything.” She could feel his body stiffen. His hand froze at the back of her head. Over the years he had fought with Isabel about telling his parents the truth. It was the only sensitive subject between. Liz didn’t want to fight with him on their wedding night, but it couldn’t wait for tomorrow. He had to understand that she was going to do this, and there was no way he could change her mind.
“I know how you feel about this Max,” she pulled back and looked up into his eyes. “And I understand about you not wanting to tell your parents. But I have to tell mine. I don’t want to lie to them anymore.” Liz could tell that Max was upset and she moved a few steps away from him. Max had been keeping secrets his entire life, and while he might not be entirely comfortable with it, he was resigned to the fact that most people would never really know him. He loved his parents dearly, but a part of him had always felt shut off from them. He could never allow himself to really open up because a part of him was always hiding.
“Liz . . .” Max tried to sort through his thoughts. “It’s not a good idea . . .”
“Max.” Liz cut him off. “Do you really think your parents would turn away from you if they knew the truth? They love you. Don’t you think it’s time you trusted them? Had faith in them?”
“Liz . . . it’s not that easy for me.”
“Max, this isn’t just about you anymore. Or Isabel either. Don’t you think they should know, for their own protection? What if someone was to use them to try to get to you? And how are they ever going to be able to help protect Matthew if they don’t know the truth about him? Our parents can help keep us safe, Max. Don’t you see that? They can help keep Matthew safe.”
Max was stunned by the words she had just said. All these years he had been certain that keeping his life a secret was the right thing to do. But it wasn’t just him anymore. He walked over to the side of the crib and watched his son as he slept. He had to think about what was best for Matthew now. Maybe Liz was right. Their parents could help keep him safe. Max was starting to realize that he and Liz couldn’t do it all on their own. Liz walked up to Max and rubbed her hand over his back. The stiffness that she had felt a few minutes ago was gone. Max looked down at her and she saw his expression soften.
“Maybe you’re right, Liz. Things are different now.”
“Are you willing to give your parents a chance? To trust that they won’t turn away from you?”
“Yes,” he said and he kissed her on the forehead. “Isabel’s going to be happy. She’s wanted to tell them for years.”
“Michael won’t be,” Liz replied. “He still can’t trust people.”
“Michael will get over it.”
Max touched his finger to her chin and raised it up. He looked into her beautiful eyes for a moment and then he kissed her. Her arms went around his waist and he was reminded that this was his wedding night, and his wife was standing in front of him wearing only a lacy bra and panties. He swept her into his arms and carried her across the room. He tore back the covers to the bed and gently settled her onto the sheets. He looked into her deep eyes for a moment and then said, “I’ll be right back.”
He crossed the room and made sure the door was locked. He then securely fastened the chain. He peaked behind the curtain to look at the window and made sure it was locked too. Liz watched him from the bed with a twinkle in her eye. He walked over to the dresser and took the lamp off and set it on the floor. He pulled the dresser away from the wall and pushed it over in front of the door. He turned to look at Liz and said with a smile, “Nobody’s interrupting us tonight.”
He walked back toward the bed and as he passed the crib he looked down on Matthew. “Daddy says sleep.” Max touched his son gently on the cheek. “Mommy and Daddy are going to be busy for awhile, so you be a good boy and just sleep.” Max looked at Liz and her smile once again drove all thoughts but her out of his mind. She held out her arms to him and he rushed to join her. The night was theirs, and they had all the time in the world.
* * * * *
Liz stood on the beach and looked out over the water, watching the sun as it set. The sky had a rich rose tint and she knew that tomorrow would be another beautiful day. It was a warm evening, but the slight breeze kept her comfortable. The fabric of her white gauze dress danced in the breeze. Max came up behind her and slid his arm around her waist. She leaned the back of her head against his chest and sighed contentedly. His white pants were rolled up to mid calf and the waves rolled gently over their feet.
“A penny for your thoughts?” he whispered in her ear.
She turned her head to look up at him. “I was just thinking that standing here with you like this reminds me of another time, another place.”
Max looked into her eyes and then out to where the sun was setting on the horizon. Standing on this beach with her, he had a sense of their lives coming full circle. They had traveled far, through time and space, to be together again, and their journey was far from over.
“I’ll miss this place when we leave tomorrow,” Liz said and she placed her hand over his. Their parents had gone together to give them a belated honeymoon in the Bahamas. Four gorgeous days and three sensual nights. Liz had been right of course. Their parents had been shocked by the truth, but their love for their children outweighed everything else.
Liz heard a noise and turned her head back toward the cabin behind them. A smile spread across her lips. “It looks like we’re wanted again,” she said. She laced her fingers through his and they walked up the beach to the cabin. They stepped through the door and crossed the room to the crib against the far wall. Matthew was playing with his toes. He laughed delightedly when he saw his parents and his hands reached up toward them.
Max reached into the crib and picked Matthew up, while Liz went to sit in the chair by the window. She watched Max as he played with his son. He tickled his toes and Matthew laughed hardily. His fingers grabbed at his father’s nose. Max pulled his son’s shirt up and blew hard on his stomach, which elicited a belly laugh from Matthew. Max looked over at Liz and his face was beaming. Liz never got tired of watching the two of them. It was too early to tell yet, but she was sure Matthew would be the spitting image of his father when he grew up.
Max brought Matthew to Liz and placed him in her arms. She opened the bodice of her dress and his mouth sought out her breast hungrily. His eyes closed and he made contented sounds deep in his throat. Max sat on the edge of the chair and watched them.
Matthew’s eyes opened and he looked at his parents with an awareness that a three month old shouldn’t be capable of. He reached out and grabbed Max’s finger tightly. His lips pulled slightly away from Liz’s nipple and a huge grin spread across his face. A sensation of pure love burst over Max and Liz. By the simple touch of his hand Matthew had formed a connection between the three of them. After a moment he released Max’s finger and closing his eyes again, he returned his interest to his mother’s breast. Max looked at Liz and found himself once again nearly speechless. This wasn’t the first time Matthew had show abilities far superior to his own, and he was only three months old.
“What kind of life do you think he’ll have?” Liz asked Max as she gazed at their son.
Max thought about that for a moment and then he replied, “I think he’s going to have an amazing life.”
|posted on 14-Sep-2001 2:12:35 PM|
|The following story I wrote in November of 2000, right after End of the World aired. Little did I know at the time how bad things were going to be. I still had hope that Max and Liz would make it through all the tough times without being destroyed first.
Follow Your Heart
Liz sat in the lounge chair and stared up at the night sky. The air was crisp and the stars were brilliant against the ebony black backdrop. Her body shivered and she pulled her sweater tightly around her, but her chills weren’t caused by the night air. Her candles glowed around her and normally the soft flickering light they cast would be comforting to her, but tonight they just reminded of nights gone by. Nights when she had sat on this rooftop with him beside her, talking to him, listening to him, loving him with all her heart. If she closed her eyes she could still feel his breath against her skin and hear his heartbeat in her ears. She brushed her hair away from her face and the memory of how his hand used to tenderly stroke through it brought tears to her eyes. She blinked rapidly to chase them away and scolded herself for dwelling in memories that were too painful to think about right now. She had done the right thing, she reminded herself for the millionth time. She had, hadn’t she?
She picked up her journal from the small table beside her and rested it on her lap. She ran her hand gently over the leather surface tracing the outline of the large L that was embossed on the cover. A lump formed in her throat once again as she remembered the first time she saw it. It was her first day back from spending the summer in Florida, and she had walked into her bedroom dragging her suitcase behind her. After unpacking, feeling tired and lonely, she had stepped out onto her rooftop patio. She had seen it right away. The box with the silvery gift wrap sitting on her favorite chair. Atop the box lay two white roses wrapped in red cellophane with a silver bow. Before she ever opened it, she knew it was from him.
She had picked up the roses and held them close to her face, smelling the rich scent and picturing his face in her mind. His image had been so clear to her that day, even though she hadn’t seen him in months. She could feel him in the air around her, though she knew he wasn’t there. Everywhere she looked reminded her of him. She had set the roses carefully aside and picked up the box. Slowly, she had opened the gift wrap and removed the box from inside. In her mind she could picture him standing beside her, watching her with a smile on his face anticipating her reaction to his gift. She had lifted the lid from the box and the first thing she saw was the folded sheet of stationary with her name printed in his distinctive handwriting. She had set the box aside and unfolded the letter with trembling hands. As she read the first words her eyes filled with tears . . .
My Dearest Liz,
I missed your birthday while you were away. I missed you.
I thought of you everyday while you were gone. I miss
hearing the sound of your voice floating in the air. I miss
seeing the way your smile lights up your face. I miss the
feel of your hand resting in mine.
I wish that we could go back to the way things were, but
I know that things can never be that way again. Too much
has happened, to us and to those around us, to ever go back.
It’s ironic, looking back now, how we thought things were so
Although we can’t go back to those simpler days, we can move
forward from here, one step at a time. I hope we can take that
first step together Liz. I don’t know what the future holds. I
only know I want my future to be with you.
I love you Liz. I always will.
Liz had held the letter close to her heart before turning her attention back to the box. She parted the white tissue to reveal a black leather bound journal complete with an embossed capital L in the center of the front cover. Leaves and vines wound around the L softening the lines and edges. Resting across the journal was a silver pen tied up with a red bow. She removed the bow and noticed an inscription engraved on the barrel . . .
Follow your heart
The words were simple but elegant and her hand had flown to her mouth, remembering how her grandmother had told her that very thing.
She had cried then, remembering all that he had meant to her. Still meant to her. She tried to shake off the memories of that day that seemed so long ago now. He had been right in the letter. Last spring, they thought the differences between them were so complicated. But now, looking at what their lives had become, she longed for those simpler days when all they had to worry about was the two of them and not the fate of entire worlds.
She opened the journal and picked up her silver pen. She could usually find salvation in her writing, pouring her thoughts and dreams and emotions onto the paper. But even this had been taken from her, for she couldn’t write what she needed to say. She couldn’t risk her words being seen. She wrote for awhile, until her eyelids began to droop and the pen felt too heavy to hold. She closed her journal and folded her arms around it, hugging it to her chest. Her eyes closed as sleep overtook her, releasing her from the pain her waking mind endured.
* * * * *
Max walked the deserted streets feeling restless and alone. It was an effort for him just to put one foot in front of the other. He let his mind wander, while he tried to avoid thinking about the one thing he wanted to think about more than anything else in the world. Liz. The image of her face loomed before him once again. He saw the crushed look on her face when she’d seen him touching Tess. Isn’t that what she wanted? Isn’t that what she had been saying since last May? That he belonged with Tess.
She had gone out of her way to push him toward Tess. Even as far as giving herself to Kyle, just to prove to him that she had moved on. He closed his eyes as the image of the two of them in her bed flooded over him again. He felt the weight of his heartbreak crushing his chest.
He slowed his pace as he realized where he was. The neon lights flashed around him and he looked up to see the brightly lit UFO above the doors to the Crashdown Café. His subconscious mind had drawn him here, to the one place he wanted to be more than anywhere else. He looked down the ally and saw the stairs that would lead him up to her. The same stairs he had climbed so many times over the last year. He hadn’t been near them since that night, when he had seen . . . them.
He slowly moved toward the stairs, a part of him desperately needing to see her, while another part of him cried out for him to leave her alone. She had made her choice, and it wasn’t him. She had told him she had moved on and he needed to let her go. But the words she spoke told him one thing, and the look in her eyes told him something else.
Liz had purposely arranged for him to meet Tess in “chance” encounters. Why? Why was it so important to her that he be with Tess? There had to be a reason. It wasn’t that she had fallen out of love with him. He was certain of that. If she didn’t love him anymore, why did she have that look on her face every time she saw him with Tess? She looked at him like he was betraying her, when she was the one that had done the ultimate act of betrayal. Or had she? Had she really made love to Kyle, or was that just another deception on her part? But why?
He needed answers. She owed him that much. She wanted him to move on, but he couldn’t. Not until he understood why she had done what she did. He reached for the ladder and slowly climbed. When he neared the top he paused, listening, afraid of what he might hear. The world was silent around him, as if it was waiting. The only sound he could hear was the sound of his heart hammering in his ears.
He rose above the top edge of the balcony and breathed a sigh of relief that she was alone. He could see her from behind, sitting in her favorite chair with her head tilted to the side. He climbed over the balcony and slowly walked toward her. Her arm dangled loosely by her side and he noticed her journal had fallen to the ground.
“Liz?” he said quietly as he neared her. When she didn’t respond he walked around the chair until he was standing in front of her. Her eyes were closed and her breathing was deep and even. Her eyes darted back and forth under her lids and he couldn’t help but smile at the peaceful look on her sleeping face.
He stooped down to pick up her journal and his smile turned bittersweet when he realized she had been writing in the journal he had given her. He began to close the book when the words on the page jumped out at him. He felt his stomach flip and his heart skip as the words she had written sunk in.
Will I ever be able to stop loving him? Will my heart ever stop racing every time I hear his voice? Will I ever get over the pain I feel every time I see him?
Max felt his knees getting weak and he sat down in the chair across from her. Here it was, in black and white, staring right at him. Her own written words telling him the opposite of what she had said aloud. She hadn’t moved on. She still loved him.
Max touched his fingers to the paper, wondering if the answers to his questions could be found here. If she wasn’t willing to tell him, maybe this was the only way he could ever know the truth. He looked up at her, wishing that she would open her eyes and tell him what she was keeping from him. When she didn’t move, he dropped his eyes back to the journal and flipped to the beginning.
Home. It feels good to be home again. It feels good to be near him again. I’m afraid to see him, yet I want to see him so badly. I told Maria not to let him know I’m home yet. I need time. I still don’t know what to do. I love him so much, but I can’t forget what I saw. I can’t forget that I’m not the right one for him. *****
Max let out his breath slowly. He hadn’t even realized that he had been holding his breath while he read her words. He felt like he was invading her private thoughts, but finally he was seeing how she really felt. He flipped the pages forward, reading lines that jumped off the page at him.
I almost told him today how I really feel. I wanted to. We were in the hall talking. We were all together, just the six of us, and for a few minutes it felt like it did last year. Then Maria made some comment about Michael’s hair and they walked off in different directions, and then Isabel and Alex headed off to class together, which left just Max and I standing together. I wanted him to hold me and tell me that nothing had changed. I wanted to let him know how I think about him every minute of every day. But then the bell rang and the moment passed. Maybe it’s for the best. *****
Max continued to flip through the pages. Line after line told him how she really felt. Things she wouldn’t say out loud to him. If he’d only known, maybe things would be much different today.
I made up my mind today. I’m going to tell him tomorrow just how much he means to me. For the first time in a long time, I feel alive again. It doesn’t matter who or what he was before. All that matters is here and now. Max and I CAN make a life together. I’m so excited. I can’t wait for tomorrow.*****
Max shook his head slightly. “She never told me any of this,” he whispered. He looked up at her sleeping form and thought about waking her. He wanted to take her into his arms and show her just how much he still loved her, and would always love her. Instead, he turned back to the journal, seeking the secrets it might hold.
He came to me tonight, and my whole world is crumbling around me. How ironic, that he’d come to me this way on Halloween. He looked so different. Older. Tired. Yet, at the same time, he still looks the same. His eyes haven’t changed. I fell in love with those eyes. How can I tell Max? I know how much he loves me. How do I tell him we can never have a life together? How will I get the strength to tell him I don’t love him anymore?*****
Max looked away from the journal, suddenly stunned by what he had just read. Was she talking about Kyle? It didn’t seem right. She saw Kyle everyday, and this sounded like she was talking about someone she hadn’t seen for a long time. What did this mean? Suddenly someone shows up in her life and she decides she can’t be with me anymore? This didn’t make sense. He thought he knew everyone that was important in her life. He turned back to the page, dreading what he might read next.
I can’t even write my feelings here. If someone ever saw this . . . if Max ever learned the truth, it could destroy everything. I have to bare this knowledge alone. How will I ever get through what I have to do? *****
Max kept reading, his anxiety growing as his confusion deepened. Her words were vague, and try as he might, he couldn’t understand what had happened to change her so.
Nothing seems to be working. I went to see Max tonight. He was in his room, and I just wanted to fall into his arms and tell him how much I love him, but instead, I told him I wanted a normal boyfriend. I told him I wanted a life without him. I told him . . . God, I told him I wouldn’t die for him. The look on his face broke my heart. I hurt him so much, but still, it didn’t work. Even after those horrible horrible words, he hasn’t stopped loving me. What more can I do? What more can you ask me to do? *****
How can I go through with this? The plan is in place. Kyle knows what he needs to do. And I – if I go through with this tonight, I’m going to destroy everything that matters the most to me. I shouldn’t even write these words. No one can ever know why I must do this. When Max comes to my room tonight, and he sees me with Kyle, will he hate me then?? Will he turn away from me like I know he has to? Can I live with myself after that? *****
Max continued reading, unable to tear his eyes away from her neatly written words. How did she know he would come to her room that night? The story was unfolding in front of his eyes, but there were too many holes, too many unanswered questions. He still didn’t understand.
I’ve never felt so much pain in my life. The look on your face when you saw me with Kyle, it was a look that will haunt me for the rest of my life. I hope it was worth it. I hope the path we take now is the right one.
I lost you twice tonight. I lost you when you looked through that window, and you thought I had betrayed you. And then I lost you again later, when all that we had been working toward came to pass. I can still feel your hand on mine as we danced our wedding dance. You were so different, yet so much the same. Your hands were rougher and your body had filled out, but as we danced you still moved the same. Your scent was just as intoxicating as it had always been. And for a moment, I let myself think that maybe there could be a future for us, and then you were gone. And all that you ever were, and all that you would ever be, ceased to exist.*****
Max looked at the words in front of him. What did she mean? Suddenly it sounded like she was talking directly to him, and to someone else at the same time. Who had Liz been working with? What wedding dance? What was going on?
He set the journal aside and pulled his chair close to her. He reached out to touch her forehead and then pulled his hand back. What he was about to do he had never tried before. It was a violation of her, trying to enter her thoughts without her permission, but he didn’t know any other way. She wouldn’t open up to him, and he had to know why she had done the things she had written about. She was in as much agony as he was, and this was the only way . . .
Max placed his hand gently against her temple and then closed his eyes. He felt her emotions first, and then the images began to fill his mind. She was still in REM sleep, the dream world. Normally, he wouldn’t be able to enter her dreams. That was something only Isabel could do. But everything about his relationship with Liz seemed out of the ordinary. He wasn’t surprised when the gray mist dissipated and he found himself living in her dreams.
It was dark out and the night sky was full of stars. They were in the desert, lying next to each other on a blanket. Max watched as his dreamself leaned over and kissed Liz. His kiss was long and passionate, full of the emotions that he had been suppressing for so long. Their bodies pressed together, craving for that next level of intimacy, yet both afraid to take that step.
Max watched them and remembered. This wasn’t just a dream. Liz was reliving that night they had spent out in the desert. He had almost made love to her that night. Every fiber in his body had wanted her. He knew that she had wanted him too. But in the end, they had decided it was too soon. There were too many things they didn’t know yet and too many possibilities that she could be hurt.
In the dream, Max slowly began to unfasten the small white buttons of her red sweater. His hand slid under the soft fabric and touched her pale skin. The watching Max remembered how it had felt to touch her for the first time. Her skin had been so warm and soft and as smooth as silk. The dream Max moved his lips slowly down Liz’s throat and the watching Max remembered how sweet her skin had tasted that night.
Max saw movement out of the corner of his eye and his attention was drawn to a figure standing in the shadows. There was something disturbingly familiar about him, but Max couldn’t put his finger on what it was. He was obscured by the shadows, but Max could just make out the long hair and the muscular build. The figure moved forward with an agile grace in the direction of the passionate couple, and as he stepped into the light Max was stunned by what he saw. It was him, or some strange version of him. He looked older, harder, darker. His hair was long and his facial hair gave him an almost edgy appearance. Why would Liz dream of him looking this way?
He watched this strange figure as he approached the couple on the blanket. Liz’s eyes grew wide when she saw him and the Max she was holding disappeared in her arms. She clutched her sweater to her chest and scrambled to get away from him as he knelt down beside her.
“No, no,” she whispered as his hands closed around her upper arms and pulled her to her feet. “No, please Max, don’t make me hurt him again.”
“It’s okay now, Liz,” this new Max said as he smiled lovingly down on her. “The danger has passed. We did what we had to do. Watch for the signs. The signs will let you know the right path.”
“Do you mean . . .” Liz asked as she looked up at him with hope filled eyes.
“Yes,” Max answered and cupped her face with his hand. “You’re going to have that wedding dance. Follow your heart and it will lead the way.”
The desert visage faded away, replaced by the familiar balcony outside her window as Max pulled out of the dream. He withdrew his hand from her face and sat staring at her trying to decipher what the dream had meant. Obviously, the night they had spent in the desert was important to her. He had felt her sense of joy during that part of the dream. Then later, when that strange version of him had appeared, it wasn’t fear that he sensed in her. It was more a feeling of her being resigned to something that she was powerless to prevent. Then at the end, when that Max had said those strange things, her emotions had soared.
Max had thought that entering her dream might bring him closer to understanding, but it had only brought more questions. He glanced at her journal and a line that she had written tugged at his memory. He picked it up and placing it across his lap he began searching the pages. When he reached the right passage he read it carefully so as not to miss a single thing that she had written . . .
He came to me tonight, and my whole world is crumbling around me. How ironic, that he’d come to me this way on Halloween. He looked so different. Older. Tired. Yet, at the same time, he still looks the same. His eyes haven’t changed. I fell in love with those eyes. *****
“No,” he whispered as he read the words again. “It can’t be. It’s not possible.” He flipped the pages quickly with his mind still rejecting his growing suspicion. He came across another passage, the one that seemed like she was talking directly to him . . .
I lost you twice tonight. I lost you when you looked through that window, and you thought I had betrayed you. And then I lost you again later, when all that we had been working toward came to pass. I can still feel your hand on mine as we danced our wedding dance. You were so different, yet so much the same. Your hands were rougher and your body had filled out, but as we danced you still moved the same. Your scent was just as intoxicating as it had always been. And for a moment, I let myself think that maybe there could be a future for us, and then you were gone. And all that you ever were, and all that you would ever be, ceased to exist.*****
His suspicion began to take shape, turning into a certainly. He started to read it again when suddenly Liz’s hand covered the page.
“This wasn’t meant for you to read,” she said in a hushed tone.
Max watched her hands pull the journal from his grasp and then he looked up to meet her gaze. He could see a thousand conflicting emotions all within the depths of her eyes. A part of her was overjoyed to see him, and another part was equally distressed to see him here.
“It was me, wasn’t it?” Max asked quietly. He watched her face closely to gage her reaction. “I made you do this.” Her eyes closed and he could see the pain she was feeling flash across her face. She rose from the chair and turned from him, clutching the journal close to her chest. His eyes followed her as she moved away from him.
“I don’t know what you mean,” she said, but he could tell she was hiding again.
“Yes you do,” Max said as he stood up slowly. “You know exactly what I mean. I saw into your dream, Liz. I saw me, or some . . . version of me. He made you do those things, didn’t he?” Liz shook her head no but Max could feel her weakening. “I know you, Liz. You’ve been lying to me, hiding things, and it’s eating you up inside. I need the truth, Liz. You owe me that much.” He took a step closer to her and saw her shoulders sag.
“You pushed me away, because he told you to, didn’t he?” Max said. Liz stood stiffly in front of him. At first he thought she wouldn’t answer, but then her head slowly began to nod.
“Did you mean the things you said to me, that night you came to my room?”
“No,” she answered. Her voice was so low he could barely hear her.
“Did you make love to Kyle?” Max held his breath while he waited for her to answer. He could see her shoulders trembling.
“No,” she whispered, and Max could hear the sob that escaped from her throat.
“In your dream, he sounds like me and you look at him the way you look at me, but I don’t understand. Does he come to you only in your dreams or is he real?” Max walked up behind Liz and was relieved that she didn’t run from him. He touched her on the shoulder and then turned her around to face him. “Who is he?”
“He’s you Max,” Liz answered as her tortured eyes looked into his. “What you would have become if . . . if we had stayed on the path we were going. And that path was going to bring about the end of the world, as we knew it.”
Max stared back at her with the same tortured look that she had. “What are you saying? That he’s from the future? That I came back from the future?”
Her lips trembled and her eyes filled with tears but she kept her eyes riveted on his. “Yes. You came back so that we could change the future. We had to prevent . . .”
“What, Liz? You had to prevent what?” Max begged her to tell him everything.
“I had to prevent our relationship from going to the next level.” Max watched as her tears overflow and spill onto her cheeks. “I had to prevent you from making love to me. I . . . I had to make you fall out of love with me.”
Max reached for her, placing his hands on the sides of her face. “It didn’t work Liz.”
“Yes. Yes it did, Max. When you turned away from me, you turned to Tess. And that changed everything. And the man that you had become didn’t exist anymore. I watched you disappear in front of my eyes.” She choked on the words as the painful memories flooded over her. “When you stopped loving me, the future changed. Our future changed.”
“No, Liz. If the future changed, it wasn’t because I stopped loving you. I love you now more than I ever have before.” His eyes searched hers looking for that spark he used to always see there. “Yes, you hurt me. I never felt so much pain in my life before, but through it all, I never stopped loving you.” Suddenly he saw it. The look that he had been waiting for, but dreading that he would never see again. That spark in her eyes told him she loved him still. He pulled her to him, covering her lips with his. For a moment he thought she would pull away from him, but then the tension left her body and she melted into his arms. Their connection, always on the surface but never controlled, suddenly deepened. As his lips claimed hers, her thoughts and emotions fill him and his desires and dreams mingled with hers. Suddenly he felt her panic and she pulled away from him.
“No Max, this can’t be.” She pushed against his chest and her sobs racked her body. “This can only lead to death and destruction for everyone around us. We can’t be together.”
Her wild eyes cut into him like a knife and she turned to flee from him. He reached for her to pull her back, unwilling to lose her all over again. Her journal fell to ground and she stumbled, falling heavily beside it. Max knelt down next to her, wanting to hold her trembling body but she kept him at arms length. His attention shifted to the journal lying on the ground and he noticed the paper that had fallen from it. He picked it up to get a closer look.
“Liz, what is this?” he asked in awe. The paper he held in his hand was a photograph. It was old and worn with dog-eared edges, but the image was clear. It was a picture of the two of them. She was beautiful, more beautiful than he had ever seen her before. She was looking up into his eyes and her face was radiant. His image was staring back at her, and his smile showed her all the love he felt for her.
Liz lifted her head and wiped at her tears. She saw the photograph he was holding and gently took it from his hand. Stunned, she slowly began to shake her head.
“No, this isn’t possible.” The picture she held was a wedding picture. The two of them stood underneath a flowered archway. Paper wedding bells hung in the air above them. She was dressed in a lace covered wedding gown and Max stood beside her in a black tuxedo. Her eyes were drawn to the date that was imprinted at the bottom of the photograph.
August 27, 2004
“No. This isn’t right.” Liz shook the photograph in Max’s direction. “This isn’t right,” she repeated and began to laugh.
“What is it Liz?” Max was bewildered by the sudden change in her.
She looked up at him then and her eyes were sparkling. “The date. The date is all wrong. You said we got married at 19. This date says we’re 21.” She studied the photograph closer. “Oh my God, Max. This was taken at our church. Here, in Roswell.” Liz looked up at Max then and he could see the excitement on her face.
“Do you know what this means?” she said as she cupped her hand over his cheek. “You said we got married when we were 19. In Las Vegas, in the Elvis Chapel. But this photograph says that we’re 21. And it was taken right here. And look,” she said as she pointed to the background. “That’s our parents. There’s my Dad, and look, there’s you Mom. You can barely see them because the background is blurry.”
“Liz,” Max said as he pulled her to her feet. “In the dream, the dream I shared with you earlier. He came to you and said ‘It’s okay now, Liz. The danger has passed. We did what we had to do.’”
“And then,” Liz began and had to start over when her words caught in her throat. “And then he said ‘Watch for the signs. The signs will let you know the right path.’”
“And then what did he say Liz?” Max smiled down at her and stroked his fingers through her hair. “Do you remember?”
She nodded her head slowly. “He told me I’m going to have my wedding dance. If I follow my heart it will lead the way.”
“And where does your heart take you Liz?” he asked as he held his breath waiting for her answer.
“Straight to you, Max,” Liz replied as she gazed lovingly into his eyes. “My heart always takes my straight to you.”
Max looked into the eyes of the woman he had loved for as long as her could remember. He pulled her close to him and his lips touched hers. The kiss started gently and built as the love that they felt for each other grew ever stronger. Breathless, he broke off the kiss and held her tightly against him.
“And my heart will always belong to you, Liz,” Max whispered in her ear. “Always”
|posted on 14-Sep-2001 3:03:58 PM|
|The following is another post End of the World fic. This was written in November of 2000. It is, of course, Max and Liz centered. This one contains NC 17 material. I hope you enjoy . . .
Endings and New Beginnings
Max drove his jeep into the school parking lot and felt his apprehension growing. He hadn’t seen Liz since the other night when he found her in bed with Kyle. He didn’t want to see her again. Just the thought of seeing her made that invisible hand clench around his heart. He pulled his jeep to a stop and turned the engine off. He sat there just staring off into the distance but the only thing he saw was Liz, barely covered by the blanket and Kyle lying next to her, his bare chest illuminated by the lamp beside her bed. They were laughing and it was obvious what had happened between them.
He’d wandered around in a state of shock afterward. He’d been in love with her his entire life. He couldn’t remember a time when he didn’t love her. For years he had been afraid to approach her. He was an alien and she was a human. He knew that there could never be anything between the two of them, but in his fantasies he had believed that his love for her could overcome their differences. And then last fall when she got shot, and he saved her life, he knew there was a chance. She hadn’t run screaming from him when he told her the truth about what he was. She’d even been the one to come up with the cover plan, to throw Valenti off his trail.
As the months passed, he’d opened up to her. He told her things he’d never been able to tell anyone else before. It had felt so good to share his thoughts and his feelings with her. And he knew, God he knew deep down that she was falling in love with him. It had scared him. He knew he could never give her the safe, secure life that she deserved so he had pulled away from her. He knew how much he had hurt her, but she never turned away from him. She never tried to pressure him. She had given him the time he needed to realize that no matter how big their differences were, they were meant to be together. When he came to his senses, she had taken him back without any questions.
And they’d been so happy together. Everything had been perfect. Until Tess came to town and everything had just . . . fallen apart. When Liz had told him that day out in the desert that his future couldn’t include her, he felt a part of him die. She had left town before he could explain to her that she was his destiny, not Tess. He knew it, deep in his soul that Liz was the one he belonged with.
When Liz had returned in the fall, he could tell how much she was still hurting inside. Everything was so strained between them. Even when he tried to explain to her that there was nothing between him and Tess, she kept herself so closed off from him. But the first time that he’d touched her, that night outside of the Crashdown, he knew she still had feelings for him. They were there, under the surface, just waiting for the right time to come out. He was certain she had gotten a flash, of what he didn’t know for sure, but by the look on her face he knew she still loved him.
He’d spent weeks trying to get her to let him back in. She still kept him at arms length and he knew that he needed to do something to grab her attention. Something that would tear down those walls that she had built to keep him out. When he had showed up beneath her balcony with the Mariachi band and sang to her, he knew he almost had her back. The look on her face was precious. She looked at him the way she had looked at him all those months ago, before everything had turned sour.
So later, when he had climbed her balcony with the tickets to see Gomez, he was certain that this time she would let him in. Back into her heart, where he belonged. But instead what he saw was Kyle and Liz, together, in her bed.
Max closed his eyes trying to banish the image from his brain. He rubbed his hands over his face and then ran his fingers through his hair. He’d never felt such pain before. It went far beyond just a broken heart. When he saw Liz lying next to Kyle, he’d felt his very soul being ripped from him. He opened his eyes and wondered how he would ever get through the day. He couldn’t avoid seeing Liz. They had Trig together for 5 th period.
He saw movement out of the corner of his eye and he turned to look at Tess as she crossed the school grounds headed toward the front doors. She had come across him in the park that night. For the first time, he hadn’t felt her judging him or pressuring him or wanting anything from him. She just sat beside him and kept him company. For a long time they hadn’t said a word. When he finally felt capable of speech he had told her how sorry he was about the way he had been so cold to her. That he understood now how she must have felt, growing up thinking that the two of them belonged together and then learning that he loved someone else.
They had talked late into the night about what their lives had been like, Tess telling him what it was like always being on the run. Moving from one place to another, never staying long enough to form any friendships, always knowing that when she moved on there would be no one left behind that would even care that she was gone. Max told her what it had been like to grow up pretending to fit in, yet always feeling on the outside. When she got up to leave, he had walked her home. He knew he could never love her, but for the first time he thought that maybe they could learn to be friends.
As they neared the Valenti home, Max came to a halt. He didn’t want to see Kyle. For all he knew, Kyle was still with Liz, but Max didn’t want to take any chances.
“I’m going to leave you now,” Max said as he came to a stop on the sidewalk. “But, thank you.”
“For what Max?” Tess asked.
“For not asking me any questions about tonight. For not being judgmental. And for just being a friend when I really needed one.”
She had smiled at him then, and for the first time he realized he wasn’t judging her either. She turned to leave and he watched her until she had safely entered the Valenti house. He turned to leave then, knowing that tonight, sleep would not be a haven for him. He made the slow journey back to his own home.
Max shook off the memories and picking up his backpack he got out of the jeep. He called out to Tess and she waited for him to catch up to her.
“Hi Max,” she began. “How are you doing?” She had been concerned about him all weekend, and it was obvious that he hadn’t slept well.
“I’m fine,” he lied. At that moment he saw Kyle pull into the parking lot in his red Mustang convertible. The blood drained from his face when he saw Liz was in the passenger seat next to him. He felt his stomach twisting up in knots and turned his eyes away. If Liz wanted to be with Kyle, who was he to stop her? He turned to look at Tess and he saw that she had also noticed Kyle and Liz arriving.
“Look Tess,” Max began and he gentle placed his hand on her shoulder. “Isabel and Michael and I are meeting at the Granilith after school. Do you want to join us?”
“Sure Max.” Tess answered. Something had changed in him over the last few days. It wasn’t that he had suddenly become attentive of her. And it wasn’t that his feelings for Liz had changed. But Tess got the impression that Max was willing now to accept her as she was. She wasn’t sure how to even react to that. His hand rested on her shoulder in a way that she had seen him touch Isabel and Maria. It was the type of touch that said she was a part of them now.
Max’s eyes were drawn once more to the red Mustang and he watched Kyle open the door for Liz. She smiled up at him and then her face froze when she saw Max. He averted his eyes quickly, but just sharing a look, if even for a second was enough to make the hurt rise to the surface again. He turned back toward Tess and they walked side by side through the front doors of the school.
* * * * *
Liz got out of the convertible and turned to look toward the school. Her heart stopped beating for a moment when she saw Max standing there with Tess. Their eyes met briefly and the look on his face tore at her heart. He turned away and she watched him go through the doors with Tess by his side. This is what she wanted, she scolded herself. No, she reminded herself, it wasn’t what she wanted. It was what she knew had to happen. She felt the tears begin to form on the surface of her eyes once again and she tried to will them away.
“Are you okay?” Kyle asked when he saw the look on her face.
“I’m fine Kyle,” she answered but he knew that she wasn’t. He looked in the direction that she was looking and saw Max walking with Tess. He felt his heart skip a beat when he saw her. She really was something. And it wasn’t just that cute little figure of hers. There was something about her that just made his head spin. The first bell rang and they began to walk toward the school.
“Listen Liz,” Kyle said hesitantly. “How . . . how long do we need to keep this up? You know, pretending that were together.” He wanted to help her out, but at the same time he didn’t want to screw up his chances with Tess either. Why was it that Max Evans always had the heart of the girl that he wanted?
“Not long Kyle,” Liz answered. “Just until I’m sure that he’s moved on. Then I can get my life back together.”
Kyle nodded his head and held the door open for her as they entered the school. Who did she think she was kidding? He’d seen the look that passed between them a minute ago. Liz was never going to get over Max. And Max was never going to forget about her. What had happened that made her so desperate to push Max away? Kyle knew that all she wanted was to be with Max. He’d heard the tremor in her voice when she said ‘moved on’. It probably had something to do with that destiny crap Tess kept talking about. This alien stuff was enough to make his head explode. He didn’t understand it, and he didn’t want to. He was so much happier when he thought Max Evans was just a girlfriend stealing jerk. He could deal with that. But this ‘saving their planet’ shit was just a little too much.
Kyle leaned against the lockers as Liz turned the combination lock and opened her locker door. “Why are you doing this Liz?” She turned to look at him and he tucked a loose strand of hair behind her ear. She reached for his hand and held it for a moment.
“I can’t tell you Kyle. All I can say is that what we’re doing is really important. REALLY important.” She couldn’t tell him that if this didn’t work, they’d all be dead in a few years. That was a burden that she alone would have to bare. She closed the locker and they headed off for their first class.
Max watched her from the shadows. He cringed inside when he saw the intimate way that Kyle touched her hair, and when he saw her take his hand he had to turn away. In that moment he realized that she really had moved on, and things would never be the same again.
* * * * *
Liz entered her Trig class and breathed a sigh of relief that Max wasn’t there yet. She moved to the far side of the room and took a seat in the back. Her hands were sweaty and her heart was pounding in her chest. She tried to keep her eyes looking straight ahead but every time someone entered the room she had to see if it was him. And then he was there. He came into the room and slid into a chair close to the door. He didn’t look in her direction and she felt her stomach tighten even more. He stared at the desk in front of him and she could see the tightness in his jaw.
Max stared blankly down at his desk. He knew she was sitting on the other side of the room. He wanted to look in her direction so badly, and yet at the same time he didn’t want to look at her at all. The teacher entered the room and Max opened his textbook to the chapter they were working on. He stared at the numbers in front of him but it wasn’t the writing on the page that he saw. The image of Liz in bed with Kyle flashed in his mind again. He closed his eyes and willed his mind to think about something, anything, else. He wondered how long this hurt was going to last.
The sound of the teacher’s voice droned on and on but Max didn’t hear a word of what he said. The time moved at a snails pace and he restlessly shifted positions wanting the period to be over. He stole a glance in her direction. He told himself not to but he couldn’t help himself. Her head was bent forward and her hair hid her face from him. Suddenly she sat up straighter and he saw her hand brush across her cheek. He looked away quickly but there was no doubt about what he had just seen. She was crying. Her hand had brushed the tears off of her cheek. He swallowed hard, wondering what was causing her tears.
Liz reached into her purse for a tissue and hoped that no one around her would notice what she was doing. She wiped at her nose and then wadded the tissue up in her hand. She just wanted the day to be over. She knew that given enough time it wouldn’t hurt like this to have him so near her. Her thoughts turned once more to the things that the other Max had said. About them marrying at 19. About how they had danced the night away. She also thought about how he said that because of them, the whole world was going to be destroyed. The knowledge weighted heavily on her shoulders, threatening to crush her. How was she supposed to live with that knowledge? She found herself questioning every move she made. Was the future on the right path now? Or would she do something tomorrow or the next day that would give their enemies an advantage? Did a sequence of events need to blend together to make such an impact on the future, or could it be something as simple as a word or a phrase said at the wrong time to the wrong person?
When the bell rang to signal the end of class she gathered her things together. Out of the corner of her eye she saw him stand up and their eyes met briefly. Time slowed for her in that brief moment. The people around her moved in slow motion. No sound existed. His sad eyes bore into her soul and then he turned to leave. She watched him as he left and she saw his pace slow as he neared the door. He came almost to a complete stop and his head started to turn back toward her. Then she could see him change his mind and he was out the door and out of sight.
|posted on 14-Sep-2001 3:07:51 PM|
|Endings and New Beginnings
Max sighed with relief that the week was finally over. His last class of the day, PE, had just ended and he wanted to get away from school as soon as possible. He stepped out of the shower and quickly dried off. He wrapped the towel around his waist and headed toward his gym locker. He pulled on his boxers and was reaching for his jeans when he heard voices from the next aisle drifting over to him. He ignored them until he recognized the sound of Kyle’s voice.
It had been difficult to be in gym with him all week. A part of Max wanted to smash his fist into Kyle’s face every time he saw him. All week he’d seen Kyle together with Liz. He brought her to school and walked her to class. When he saw them eating lunch together in the cafeteria, he had lost his appetite and thrown his food in the garbage.
He had to keep reminding himself that this is what Liz wanted. She had told him that she wanted a normal life, with a normal boyfriend. A life that was safe. A life without him. Max heard the sound of laughter and then he heard Kyle’s voice rise above the others. He pulled on his jeans and listened closely.
“Man! Did you see the dress that Susie Hansen was wearing today?” Kyle said as he buttoned his jeans and then reached for his shirt. “Jesus, if it was cut any lower she would have fallen right out of it. In class today her pencil fell off her desk and when she leaned over to pick it up I could see everything. And I do mean EVERYTHING. What I wouldn’t give for a chance to grab a hold of one for those melons!”
“You better be careful Kyle,” Mark Morris warned. “Deputy Hansen wouldn’t take too kindly to you talking about his kid sister like that.”
“Oh, Hansen’s nothing but a frigging ass wipe,” Kyle responded and everyone laughed.
“So tell us Kyle,” Eric Sandstrom said snidely. “What’s Tess Harding like? Are you getting any action there?”
“Oh God,” Kyle said and he shook his hand like it was on fire. “You wouldn’t believe the stuff that girl knows how to do. I was ‘trimming her lamp’ as she likes to call it just last night and she wore me out. I couldn’t move afterwards.”
Max froze in place and his eyes narrowed in rage. Kyle was sleeping with Tess behind Liz’s back? He thought back to Wednesday afternoon when he had thought he saw Kyle and Tess sneak into the eraser room. He had told himself that he must have seen wrong, that it was someone else. He had thought that Kyle wouldn’t cheat on Liz like that.
“But what about Liz Parker?” Mark asked Kyle. “I thought you were doing her.”
“Yeah, well . . .” Kyle started to respond but suddenly Max was pushing his way past the guys around him and his fist smashed into Kyle’s jaw. Kyle flew back against the lockers and the sound echoed around the room. Hands grabbed onto Max and pulled him away while Kyle shook his head and rubbed his hand across his jaw. Max broke free of the hands that were holding him back and he lunged at Kyle again. Kyle ducked when he saw the fist headed toward his face again and Max’s hand slammed into the locker, denting it.
“Get the fuck away from me Evans,” Kyle shouted and pushed Max away from him.
“How could you do that to her, Kyle?” Max hissed at him. “How could you do that to Liz?” Max broke free and lunged at Kyle again. Kyle retaliated with a right cross that met Max’s left cheek. His head snapped to the right but his rage was so strong that he never even felt the pain. The guys created a circle around the two combatants as they struck out at each other. Max shoved Kyle into the lockers and pulled his arm back to pound into Kyle’s face again. Kyle put his head down and ran straight for Max, tackling him to the floor. Kyle reared back to hit him again but Max placed his hands flat against Kyle’s chest and pushed him off. Kyle went flying backwards and Max scrambled back to his feet. The guys were whooping it up, enjoying the fight.
Suddenly Max looked down at his hand and then to Kyle’s chest. Kyle was eyeing him warily, his chest heaving as he tried to catch his breath. Max looked at his hand again and then up to Kyle’s face. When his hand had touched Kyle’s chest he’d seen a flash. The images of what had happened between Kyle and Liz in her bedroom that night washed over him. Or more importantly, he saw what DIDN’T happen between them. Max blinked his eyes in confusion. Liz hadn’t slept with Kyle. She just wanted him to think she had. And Kyle had gone along with it because she’d begged him to. Max also had seen her reaction when she knew that he had seen her from the window. After he had climbed back down to the street Liz had broken down and cried inconsolably. Kyle had tried to comfort her but she’d just begged him to leave.
“Why? Why did she do it?” Max asked but knew Kyle didn’t have the answers. He backed away and then turned and pushed his way through the crowd.
“Evans!” Kyle shouted at his retreating back. “Evans!” Kyle rubbed his hand across his aching jaw and then slammed his fist into a nearby locker. “Shit,” he said under his breath. “Shit, shit, shit.”
* * * * *
Max stormed into his house and slammed the door closed. He’d stopped at Valenti’s first but Tess wasn’t there. He needed answers and he hoped Tess could give them to him.
“Isabel?” He shouted. “Isabel are you here?”
Isabel poked her head out of her room, surprised by the tone of Max’s voice. He never raised his voice like this. When she saw his face her eyes nearly popped out of her head. It was obvious that he’d been in a fight. He had abrasions on his cheek and a cut on his lower lip.
“Have you seen Tess?” he demanded.
Just then Tess slowly peeked out from behind Isabel’s back. She took one look at Max and wondered what in the world had happened to him.
“I need to talk to you,” Max said in a barely controlled voice. When she didn’t move he took a step toward her. “Now, in my room.”
Max turned on his heels and made his way across the hall to his own room. Tess looked up at Isabel with apprehension and then followed behind him. She stepped into his room and she could feel the tension coming off of him in waves.
“Close the door,” he said quietly.
His back was to her and she wondered what had happened to make him so angry. She pushed the door closed and when he heard it latch into place he turned to look at her.
“So you’re sleeping with Kyle.” His eyes were staring hard at her and she had to look away. “How long has this been going on?”
Tess sat down on the edge of his bed and stared into her hands. “Not long. A couple of weeks.”
“Why?” he asked and she could hear the confusion he was feeling in the tone of his voice. He slid his hands into the front pockets of his pants and began to pace his room. “I mean, after all these months of saying that we belong together. And all the elaborate plots to make sure I wasn’t with Liz anymore. Do you know that Liz pretended to sleep with Kyle? They set it up so that I would see them in bed together. Were you in on the whole thing?”
Tess nodded her head and then looked up at him. “I knew about it. It wasn’t my idea, Max. It was Liz’s. The last week or so it was like she was desperate to turn you away from her. So I went along with it because I thought it would give us a chance. And it did.”
Max turned to look at her and wondered what she meant by that.
“Look Max, for the first time since we met you were able to look at me without feeling threatened that I was trying to come between you and Liz. We were able to just be relaxed around each other. And I came to realize that I’m not in love with you. Not in this life anyway. The more time we spent together, the more I realized that all this time all I really wanted was to feel a part of all of you. I wanted a place to call home.”
Max’s features softened. He crossed the room and sat on the bed next to her. “So you don’t want me anymore, and Liz doesn’t want me either. Well I’ve lost my popularity, haven’t I?” He chuckled softly but Tess could feel how hurt he was. Not by her rejection of him, but because of the pain he still felt over losing Liz.
* * * * *
Tess walked into the Crashdown and looked for Liz. She saw her sitting at the counter talking to Maria and when their eyes met Liz stood up and headed for the kitchen. Tess hurried across the room before she could disappear through the door.
“Liz?” Tess said quietly. “Can I talk to you for a second?”
Liz stopped dead in her tracks and turned to look at her.
“Just for a minute?” Tess’s penetrating eyes caught Liz’s attention. “I really need to talk to you Liz.”
Liz nodded her head and led Tess to the back room of the Crashdown. She felt her stomach twisting into knots wondering what Tess was going to say to her. Would she gloat over all the attention Max was now giving her? Would she tell her the things that she and Max were doing behind closed doors? Liz bit her lip anxiously and then turned to face Tess.
“Look Tess,” Liz began. “I know that you and Max have -”
“Liz,” Tess interrupted. “I want to thank you. For having the courage to walk away from Max because you thought it was the right thing to do. God knows I never had the kind of strength that you have. I couldn’t let it go. I grew up being told that Max belonged to me and I never could see beyond that. Max and I have gotten a lot closer in the last week. A lot closer.”
Liz felt her eyes starting to tear up and she turned her head to the side hoping Tess wouldn’t see. The image of Max in bed with Tess flashed in her mind and she felt the lump in her throat forming. She scolded herself. After all, this is what was meant to be. Max needed to be with Tess. It was the only hope they had for the future. Everything depended on Tess staying.
“I’ve come to realize something Liz.” Tess paused waiting for Liz to look at her. Liz continued to avert her eyes and Tess reached out to touch her on the shoulder. “Max isn’t what I need.”
Liz suddenly found it hard to breathe. What was Tess trying to say? What did she mean? She turned her head and stared questioningly into Tess’s blue eyes.
“Liz, I spent my whole life being told that Max and I were meant to be together. When I came to Roswell I was naive enough to think that he was going to take one look at me and instantly be in love with me. The memories I have say that Max and I were deeply in love in that other life. But . . . but I don’t even know if those memories are real, or just something that was planted in my mind when I was created.”
Tess removed her hand from Liz’s shoulder and turned to look out the window. “I grew up so different from all of you. You had homes, and families and . . . and you had someone that loved you. You and Max and Isabel, you all had parents that loved you very much. And Michael, well he didn’t have a loving home, but he had Max and Isabel. He never had to feel alone. I never had that. So when I came to Roswell, I wanted what I thought was mine. I’d waited long enough for someone to love me.”
Tess turned back to look at Liz. “But what I thought I wanted, wasn’t what I wanted at all. Maybe it’s because of the way I grew up. Always on the run. Danger around every corner. Always living on the edge. I need that edge in my life. Max can’t give that to me. Even if he could love me, he can’t give me the intensity that I need. I want to jump into the mix and see where life takes me and Max needs to analyze every move he makes. I want to find that rip roaring party while Max is perfectly content to curl up on the couch with the latest video on DVD. Can you believe that last night he wanted to sit home and watch Braveheart instead of going to a rave over in Hondo?” Tess looked at the expression on Liz’s face and let out a nervous chuckle. “Well, I guess maybe you can, you know, understand that.”
Tess took a deep breath and then continued. “When Max found you in bed with Kyle, he stopped pushing me away. And . . . and I don’t mean that . . . that he started pursuing me or anything. It wasn’t like that. But it gave us a chance to, I don’t know, I chance to relax around each other with out you being between us. And even though I always knew that he couldn’t love me the way he loves you, it gave me the opportunity to learn that all I really wanted from him is friendship, and a sense of family. And I have that now. And I thank you for that.”
“Liz,” Tess continued. “I don’t know why you did what you did. And maybe you don’t love Max anymore. But I have a feeling that you still love him every bit as much as he loves you. I know you didn’t sleep with Kyle. You need to let Max know that.”
“I had a reason why I did what I did,” Liz finally said. “Sometimes what you want just doesn’t matter anymore. Sometimes you have to do things that you don’t want to do, just because they are the right thing to do.”
“But why did you do it Liz?” Tess asked. “I know you loved Max. I know you still love him. What made you turn him away?”
“I can’t tell you Tess. All I can tell you is that what happened had to happen. Tess, you can’t leave,” she said almost in desperation. “You have to stay here, with Max and Isabel and Michael.”
“I’m not going anywhere,” Tess said emphatically. “I finally feel like I have some place I belong. I’m not about to turn my back on that.”
|posted on 14-Sep-2001 3:13:40 PM|
|Endings and New Beginnings
Max stood nervously at the base of the ladder leading up to Liz’s balcony. What if he climbed up there and she still rebuffed him? Tess had come to see him an hour ago, urging him to go see Liz. She said that she thought Liz might be ready to see him again. That maybe they could work things out. Finally making up his mind, he reached for the ladder and quietly began to climb. When he peered over the top he could see her sitting in one of the chairs on her rooftop patio. Her journal was open on her lap and she was writing furiously. He saw her pause as if she was searching for a certain word, and when she found it she began writing again. The pen moved swiftly across the paper and he just watched her for awhile. Eventually she set the pen down and slowly closed the cover on the book.
“Is this a bad time?” he spoke softly, trying not to frighten her. He saw her body tense and he instantly regretted even coming here. She sat there unmoving, not saying a word.
“No,” Liz said finally with her back still to him. “It’s not a bad time.”
Max climbed over the wall and tentatively made his way over to her. He hovered behind her for a minute and he wanted to reach out and touch her shoulder, but he kept his hands in his jacket pockets. She still hadn’t moved and he was almost afraid to see her face. He walked around her and stood awkwardly in front of her.
“What are you doing here Max?” she asked and then her eyes rose up to look into his.
The sadness that he saw there nearly crushed him. “We need to talk Liz, about what happened the other night.”
“Max I told you that . . . that we couldn’t be together anymore.” She had to look away from his intense stare. “I’ve moved on. I’m back with Kyle now.”
He sat down in the chair across from her. He wanted to reach out and hold her hand but he knew that it would only make her close off even more. “Liz . . . I know that you didn’t make love to Kyle.” He watched her eyes shut and a look of pain filtered across her face. “Why did you do it Liz? Why did you feel that you had to go to such extremes to push me away?”
Liz rose to her feet and turned away from him. She pulled her sweater tightly around her chest as if she was cold, but it was a warm night for October. “I can’t tell you.”
“What do you mean ‘You can’t tell me’? Liz, this is my life too. What you do affects me. I know we . . . we haven’t been close since you went away last summer, but when I kissed you last week, I felt what you felt. You can’t deny it. I knew that you still loved me. And now, a few days later, you want me to think that you don’t?”
“Max, we just can’t be together. You have more important things to do with your life, more important people to spend your life with. I’m just in the way.”
“What’s making you think this Liz? Is it Tess? Tess doesn’t want me. She told me that earlier tonight. In fact, it seems like she’s quite taken with Kyle. I’m not . . . exciting enough for her.”
Liz turned to him with an intensity that almost frightened him. “Max, you can’t let her leave. She has to stay here. The four of you need to be together. Everything depends on it.”
Max stood up and stared at her. “What are you talking about? What do you know that you’re not telling me?”
“I can’t explain it,” Liz said with a sigh.
“Then show me. Show me what you can’t tell me.” He watched her just standing there. She hadn’t said yes, but she hadn’t said no either. He walked over to her and she looked up into his face.
“I don’t know what the right thing to do is,” she said and her eyes began to fill with tears. “If I do the wrong thing, it’s not just you and me that gets hurt. Everyone will suffer. Everyone.”
Max reached out and placed his hands on either side of her face. “Show me Liz. Show me what you’re afraid of.” A rush of images suddenly slammed into him and the emotions in her were so strong that he was nearly overcome. As the visions faded he took his hands away from her face and stepped back from her.
“Oh my God,” he whispered. “Oh my God.” His eyes stared past her for a moment and he tugged at his hair with his hands. “You’ve know about this for what? A week? A week and a half?” He refocused on her and she saw the shock on his face. “You’ve been carrying the fate of the whole world around on your shoulders all this time with no one to confide in?”
“Well, I had you. I mean, the future version of you. God, I don’t know what I mean.” She pounded her fist against her forehead trying to will herself to make some sense.
Max walked over to the edge of the balcony and stared out into the night. He placed his hands on the brick wall for support, feeling the cool rough surface under his fingers. “So you believed him . . . me . . . the other me. Damn.” Max turned around and looked at Liz and she noticed he suddenly looked older. With the knowledge that they now had, neither one of them could afford to think or act or feel like kids anymore. “So you believe what the future me said. That by us being together, in 14 years everything will be gone. Michael . . . Isabel . . . dead. Our homes gone. The whole planet taken over. Because of . . . us?”
Liz nodded her head and watched him struggle to comprehend everything. She’d at least had a week to think about it.
“How can that be?” Max asked without expecting her to answer. “How can what we do affect what happens to the whole world? It’s not right,” he said and shook his head. “It can’t be right.”
“But it is, Max. To have even a chance, the four of you need to be together.”
“But the four of us are together Liz. Tess isn’t leaving. You changed all that by the sacrifices you made last week. That version of the future doesn’t exist anymore.”
“And what makes you think things are any better now than they were a week ago?” Max asked as he tried to make sense of the whole thing. “Maybe . . . maybe by pushing me away you risked everything being destroyed 5 years from now instead of 14, or 3 years, or maybe even next month. Maybe by taking away everything that ever mattered to me, maybe I just won’t even care anymore. Did you ever think that maybe without you I wouldn’t be strong enough to fight when the time comes?”
“Max, you were so sure that we couldn’t be together.”
“No, Liz. What he said was that I pushed Tess away. Because of the way I treated her, she left town. And we needed her. Without her we weren’t strong enough. But that’s all changed now. I . . . he . . . the future me told you, right here last week that the future is to be determined. And that we create our own destiny.”
Liz walked slowly over to the balcony edge. She wanted to believe what he was saying. She wanted to believe that the future still held promise for them. “Max, I’m so scared,” Liz said with a tremor in her voice. “None of it seemed real before. The threat, saving your planet, all of it seemed so abstract. But last week it all became so real.”
Max tore his eyes away from her and he felt his stomach twist. He prepared himself to tell her the words that he’d hoped he would never have to say. “I understand if it’s all too much for you. You were right, what you said in my room last week. My life will always be dangerous, but yours doesn’t have to be.” He moved away from her and walked toward the ladder. “I want you to have that wedding day that you’ve always dreamed of. I want you to grow old with your children all around you. I want you to live a happy life.” His hand reached for the ladder knowing that when he climbed down he would be walking away from everything that meant the most in his life.
“I can’t have a happy life if I don’t have you.” Liz said the words quietly and Max froze when he heard them. He turned around slowly and the look in her eyes told him she was willing to give them a chance. He walked back to her and stared down into her beautiful eyes.
“Are you sure?” he asked. “Because if I don’t leave now, I’ll never be able to leave. If I kiss you even one more time, it will seal my fate to you forever.”
Liz cupped his chin with the palm of her hand. Her thumb brushed over his lips and then she was pulling him to her. His lips closed over hers and something akin to a bolt of electricity passed between them. The sensation startled them both and in that instant they knew they were forever bound to each other. As their senses heightened, Max could feel her emotions flood into him as did his into her.
“He was right about one thing, you know,” Max said softly with his forehead resting against her.
“What?” she asked and couldn’t take her eyes off of his.
“My stomach does rumble every time I see you.” He watched the smile spread across her face and he touched her cheek with his hand. “And my heart skips a beat when ever I hear your voice. And the only time I really feel alive is when you’re near me.” He kissed her again. A sweet, long and gentle kiss full of promise and hope.
“Stay right here,” he said as he stepped away from her. He saw the questioning look in her eyes but he just smiled at her. He turned and climbed through her bedroom window and then he made his way across to her stereo and searched through her CD’s. When he found the one he wanted he inserted it and pressed the button for continuous play. He returned to the window and watched her face as the sounds of “I Shall Believe” drifted to her. He saw her hand fly up to her mouth and it was trembling.
“Come here,” he said and held his hand out to her. She crossed the patio and let him help her climb inside her room. When she stood up straight next to him he brushed the tear on her cheek away. “Will you dance with me?” he asked and when she nodded her head he pulled her into his arms. He kissed her fingers as his hand closed over hers and then he rested it against his chest.
“Max, how do we make sure the future doesn’t repeat itself?” Liz asked as she gazed up into his eyes.
“I won’t let you elope with me at 19,” Max said with a twinkle in his eyes. “We’ll have a big wedding, with all of our family and our friends there. Whenever you’re ready, as long as we’re not 19.”
Liz stared into his eyes. She knew she hadn’t told him about eloping at 19. “When you look inside me, do you see . . . everything?”
Max shook his head slightly. “I only see what you let me see.”
She thought about that for a minute. “Max, when I told you . . . him, you, the other you, God . . . it’s so confusing.”
“I know. What were you going to say?”
She looked away from him for a moment and took a deep breath. “When I said I wasn’t ready . . . I lied.” She looked back up at him then and saw the small smile on his lips.
“I know,” he said. His hand tightened around hers and he kissed her softly on the forehead. “Did you really call me a Saint?”
She laughed softly and nodded her head. “Yeah, yeah I did.” They continued to dance around her room as the music ended and then began to play again.
“Do you remember last March, when we found the orb out in the desert?” She nodded her head and he continued. “I wanted to make love to you that night. And every night since then. So I made sure I had protection because if the timing ever was right, I wanted to make sure it was safe. That you couldn’t be hurt.”
“See, I was right. You are a Saint.”
“No I’m not Liz,” Max replied and raised her chin up to him. “I’m just a 17 year old guy in love with the girl of my dreams.” His eyes looked deeply into hers and saw the love she felt for him reflected there. “I won’t ask you to make love to me until you’re ready. I won’t pressure you. I want it to be right for you.”
“And what if I told you the right time is now?” she asked and she watched the reaction on his face. His smile froze and then slowly disappeared as his face became more serious. He stopped moving to the music and just held her in his arms.
“Liz, maybe it’s not a good idea right now. We’ve gone through so much in the last week, and our emotions are so raw. Maybe we just need a little more time.” Max couldn’t believe he was trying to talk her out of it.
“But maybe that’s exactly why we should. Because we don’t know how much time we have. And I don’t want to waste a minute of it.”
“But are you sure? I don’t want-” she cut off his words by covering his lips with hers. After a moment she felt his resistance give way and he pulled her body tightly against his. He buried his hand in her hair and he kissed her with all the passion that being away from her for so long had built up in him. He parted her lips with his tongue and he felt her suck him into her mouth. He eased her onto her bed and stretched out partially on top of her. His body felt tense and sexually charged. His hand brushed across her breast and she let out a soft moan. She gasped when his hand touched her bare stomach and slid under her shirt. His skin felt hot and his touch made her tremble. His hand moved up to settle over her breast and his lips made a trail down her chin and to her neck. She felt her body quivering in anticipation of his lips touching her everywhere. Suddenly he stopped and she felt the tension drain from his body. She heard him chuckle in her ear and then he lifted his head to look at her.
“Well, isn’t this just the way things always work out?” he said and she saw his cheeks turning red.
“What?” she said, still breathless from the intensity of his kiss.
“I walked here Liz.” When he saw that she didn’t get it, he continued. “I didn’t drive. My wallet’s at home on my dresser.”
“Oh,” she said and as understanding hit her she repeated “OH”.
Max pulled his hand out from under her shirt and rolled off of her onto his back. She sat up next to him and he covered his face with his hands as he stared up at her ceiling. “I’m sorry,” he said and sat up next to her. She slid off the bed and stood up in front of him with a smile on her face. He watched her as she opened the drawer on her nightstand and searched inside. She pulled out 3 small foil packets and spread them out on the palm of her hand.
“I got them last spring in health class. I didn’t know what size.” She bit her lower lip waiting for his reaction to the fact that she had condoms in her drawer.
Max looked at the condoms in her hand and then up to her face. She saw his Adams apple bob as he swallowed hard. He looked back at her hand and picked up the one in the blue wrapper and set it on the bed beside him. She put the other two back in her drawer and then turned back to look at him. His eyes were wide and innocent looking and she knew he was as nervous as she was. He sat on the edge of the bed with his legs apart and he put his hands on her hips and pulled her between his knees.
Liz stared down into his eyes and then slowly placed her hands on the hem of her shirt. Max watched her as she pulled it up, exposing first her stomach and then her ribs. Her shirt rose higher and he saw the lower edge of her bra come into view. It was white and lacy and as more of it came into view he felt his pulse quicken. She pulled her shirt over her head and dropped it on the floor behind her. Her hair fanned out around her as it pulled free giving her a sultry look.
Max stared at the lacy material of her bra and couldn’t help but notice the dark round circles underneath the sheer fabric. His hand rose up from her hip, traveling over her stomach and then her ribs and finally up over the roundness of her breast. He cupped her and his thumb touched the dark circle making it turn hard.
She leaned forward and Max breathed in her rich scent. He buried his face between her breasts and planted small kisses over her. Her hands reached for his shirt and then she was pulling it over his head. She let it fall next to hers on the floor behind her. He looked up at her with passion filled eyes and she ran her fingers through his hair to smooth it back into place. He watched her hands go to the small clasp on the front of her bra and heard the soft click as it snapped open. Her hands pulled it away and Max found himself staring at her beautiful breasts. They were small, but perfect. Her areola was a deep rosy color and her nipple protruded from the center, nice and firm. He touched her gently and her skin felt soft and smooth. His hands pulled her toward him and he touched her with his tongue. He circled her areola and then sucked her nipple into his mouth. She arched her back, pressing her breast against him. The moans he heard coming from her intensified his excitement. He released her and moved to the other side, wanting to taste all of her. Her fingers stroked through his hair and she pressed the back of his head toward her, crushing his mouth hard against her.
Liz broke away from him and his mouth tried to reach for her as she pulled away. She knelt down in front of him and he watched her as she untied his shoes and pulled them off his feet. She removed his socks and tossed them onto the floor behind her. She stood up again and pulled him to his feet. Her hand brushed over the front of his jeans and she could feel how aroused he was already. No wonder he’d picked the condom that said large, she thought to herself. She found the button on his jeans and released it. She pulled the zipper down and the whole time she couldn’t help thinking about what was on the other side of his boxers. She hooked her thumbs under the waistband of his jeans and tugged them free. They fell around his ankles and he kicked them aside to join the ever growing pile of clothing on her bedroom floor. He sat back down on the edge of her bed wearing only his gray boxers.
His eyes were drawn to the top button on her slacks and he deftly unfastened it. He pulled the zipper down and eased them off her hips. They fell to the floor and his eyes took in the sight of her nearly naked body. She stood before him with her hair loosely falling around her shoulders. His eyes gazed at her supple breasts and then lower to her small waist. The white lace could not hide the dark patch behind the sheer material of her panties. He placed his hands on her hips and pulled her close to him again.
His arms encircled her pulling her close so that he could rest his head against her breast. “I love you Liz,” he said looking up into her dark eyes. “I love you so much.”
She cradled his head to her, stroking her fingers through his dark hair. “Oh Max, I love you.” She leaned down and kissed him gently. “You mean everything to me.” She melted into him then. She straddled his hips and leaned her body against his. He held her tightly and his lips found hers once more. His passion consumed him as he kissed her. His hands caressed her back, stroking over her soft skin. He buried one hand in her hair pulling her even closer to him as his tongue probed her mouth.
He lifted her and in one subtle movement he turned her over on to her back. He gently eased her into the middle of the bed and settling his weight onto her, he lifted his face above hers. “There’s still time to say no, if you’re not ready.”
Her eyes softened and a smile touched her lips. She answered him by rising up to capture his mouth again and he let his need for her carry him away. He kissed her long and hard and their bodies intimately moved in a lover’s dance. His lips left her mouth and traveled down her chin and neck and chest until his mouth found her hardened nipple and sucked it in. Her back arched up toward him while her hands furrowed through his hair, pressing his head against her. His lips sought out her other nipple and she let out a moan as his tongue first circled her and then pulled her in. His hand caressed one breast, his fingers massaging her erect nipple, while his mouth continued to suckle the other. She moaned again from the sensations that his touch was causing in her.
He moved his lips down further, tasting the skin over her ribs and then finding her navel. His hands slid down to her hips and felt the lace of her panties. He lifted his head and tried to steady his breathing as he looked over her beautiful body. Her face was flushed with passion and her nipples were hard from the sexual excitement that was building in her. He hooked his fingers around the lacy fabric and she lifted her hips slightly so that he could pull her panties free. He dropped them on to the bed and his breath caught in his throat at the sight of her now fully exposed body. His hands moved up her thighs and gently spread them apart. His fingers tentatively touched her, feeling the heat and wetness that was at her core. He started to lean down to her and then paused. He lifted his eyes to her face, not wanting to do something she wouldn’t want him to do. Their eyes met and he saw her silent approval. She closed her eyes as his head lowered and his mouth touched her. His tongue explored her, tasting her very essence. He closed his eyes as her scent filled him and his hands slid beneath her, lifting her hips slightly to gain better access to her. His tongue stroked her, probed her, entered her. He felt her legs tremble and the sounds of her moans filled his ears.
“Max . . . Max,” she mumbled and her hips rocked against him. He settled over the nub of nerves between her lips and sucked it into his mouth. Her breathing came in short gasps and then she cried out as her orgasm swept over her. It flashed over him and he felt every sensation she felt. He released her and looked up at her face as he tried to catch his breath. Her eyes were closed and her chest was heaving as she also tried to catch hers. He stretched out over her again and his face hovered above hers. She opened her eyes and saw him smiling down at her. She pulled him down to her and their kisses only served to inflame them more. Her hands caressed his back, digging at his skin. Her fingers slid under the top band of his boxers and rubbed over the taut muscles of his butt. Her hand moved around his hip and he lifted slightly as she reached his manhood. His body jerked when her hand touched him and he groaned out loud, burying his face against her throat as she explored him. She stroked him and her thumb circled the velvety skin on the head of his throbbing sex.
“Liz,” he whispered breathlessly in her ear. “You better stop.” He rose above her and she could see the need in his eyes. She released him and began tugging at his boxers, pushing them down to his knees and then using her foot to push them all the way off. He sat back on his heels and searched around the bed for the condom. He grabbed it with a trembling hand and tore at the package. He glanced at her face and saw that her eyes were riveted to the sight of his erection. She looked up at his face and then back down and her hand reached out and touched him again. He removed the condom from the foil and held it in his hand while she continued to examine him. She looked up at him again and then took the condom out of his hand. She positioned it over him and rolled it slowly into place.
He leaned back over her and his face hovered above hers once more. “Tell me if I hurt you. I don’t want you to feel any pain.” She nodded her head and then he felt her open herself to him. Her hand closed around him and she positioned him at her center. He eased into her slowly and he closed his eyes as the connection formed between them. His sensations became hers and hers joined with his. He’d never felt anything quite so wonderful before, so pure, so perfect. Not only had she opened her body to him, but her mind as well, allowing him access to her innermost thoughts as he eased further into her depths.
He pushed deeper into her, feeling how her body stretched to accept him, taking his time as he let her get used to him, hearing her soft sigh as they became one. He pulled back and then entered her again, starting a slow steady rhythm that inched him deeper and deeper into her. He came into contact with her barrier and he paused, not wanting to hurt her but knowing he would share her pain through their connection. He slid his hand between their bodies and as he thrust deeply into her, stripping away their virginity, his hand began to glow. He felt the pain flair briefly, heard her sharp inhalation of breath, and then he drew the pain away from her. When he was certain she could feel no more pain, he removed his hand and let his body settle onto hers feeling her hard nipples brushing against his chest and his stomach pressing against hers. His hand sought out hers and when he found it he laced their fingers together.
He thrust deeply into her again and her hips rose up to meet him as they shared these new sensations, learning together, experiencing it all for the first time. Her soft moans increased as their pleasure grew and her skin tingled everywhere his body touched hers. Her thoughts mingled with his . . . merging . . . blending. His memories became her memories. Her dreams were now a part of him. He looked into her eyes and he was swept away by the beauty that he saw, on the inside as well as on the outside. She cupped his face with her hands and pulled him to her, devouring his lips as the intensity grew between them. He thrust into her harder, faster as their need built to a feverish pitch. Images washed over them. Their first kiss, their first touch, and with those images came the emotions they had felt. Emotions they now shared completely. There were no secrets between them anymore. Their souls were laid bare and they became one, forever bound together.
Their joint climax swept over them and they cried out in unison. Their bodies shuddered as wave after wave of ecstasy engulfed them. His tears mingled with hers as the depth of their emotions overcame them. His body came to rest against hers, and she held him tightly inside her. He collapsed onto her and buried his face in the curve of her neck, tasting the salt of both her sweat and her tears as he kissed her smooth skin. She relished the feel of him inside her and when he tried to move his weight off of her, she held him in place.
After a time, when their breathing slowed and they hearts were no longer hammering in their chests, Max pulled out of her and settled on the sheets next to Liz. He pulled her into his arms and her cheek rested against his warm chest. He heard the chimes of a clock in the distance and counted along to the beat.
“It’s midnight,” Max said quietly, stroking his hand over her shoulder and down her arm before taking her hand in his.
“It’s the start of a new day.” She looked up into his eyes with a new sense of well-being. “It’s a new beginning, for us.”
“Yes,” he replied. “For us . . . for everything.” He paused and looked out the window into the night. “It won’t be easy, Liz. The danger is real. We have to be ready when it comes.”
“We will. All of us, together. We’ll be ready.”