521 (M+M & CC/UC, AU, Adult) [Complete]

This is the gallery for the winners of the fanfic awards to show off their fics, and their banners!

Moderators: Itzstacie, Forum Moderators

Locked
User avatar
April
Roswell Fanatic
Posts: 1556
Joined: Tue Sep 28, 2004 9:32 am
Location: Somewhere. Anywhere.
Contact:

Part 71

Post by April » Tue Sep 22, 2009 7:44 am

Okay, you guys made it through Part 70. Good job. I'm relieved to have that part posted and out of the way.


Karin:
But i have to say, being the biggest mariafan ever (i mean i stood by the girl in passion from the start to the end), I am still on team maria. She's a messed up 20(?) year old girl. I am not sayíng i am supporting her actions or that i am mad at her for hurting michael..but i still feel for her and with her. She's a messed up girl who in her own messed up mind thinks she's doing the right thing.
That's interesting. I thought everyone was anti-Maria at this point, but I'm glad to know that's not the case. And you were close with the age. 21, not 20. ;)

nibbles:
Oh God.

That was horrible. That's all I can say right now.
:lol: Best reaction.

Leila:
When Tess admitted to love Kyle...I pumped my fist in the air like a dork. What I am.
Yeah, that is pretty dorky.
At this point, it seems that nothing can save Maria and Michael...but there are still feelings involved so we keep the faith.
As long as the feelings are still involved, there's hope.

killjoy:
Well after reading this I can't see how ANYONE can still be on Maria's side....she's as evil a bitch as Isabel is as far as I'm concerned
Maria has definitely shown some Isabel-like qualities lately, which is concerning. She's at the point right now where she could easily become Isabel if she doesn't stop what she's doing.
Ohh and by the way LOVED all the Kyle/Tess stuff and the fact she told Kyle she loved him.
That was for Y-O-U!

Nove:
OMGness.
OMGness is my new favorite word.
Just thank you for not letting him go all the way.
I'll admit, for a brief moment, I considered having him sleep with her, but then I reconsidered, thinking it would be like character assasination for Michael and that everyone would just immediately stop reading. :lol: I think it made more sense for him to start down that road and then stop himself, considering the emotional state he's in.

Trixie:
The FIGHT. I liked that fight much more than their break-up fight, however odd that makes me. You could feel the pain, the resignation, the regret, the love. It was beautiful, and painful and I COULD NOT LOOK AWAY.
Thank you! I really struggled writing that fight for some reason. And I also struggled writing their break-up fight, which is weird for me. Fight scenes, especially fight scenes between M+M, are usually among my favorites to write, but with the M+M in this fic, knowing how happy they've been in the past . . . it's really hard to write them fighting.
P.S. April, I'm still wondering what went down with Isabel and Alex. If I had the time (or more like the talent, ) I'd make a siggie saying "I'm so hooked on 521 that I also want to Google "Alex Whitman Florida".
LMAO! That has to be one of the strangest but most flattering comments I've ever received! :lol: After reading it, I actually went and Googled it, just to see what the heck does come up. Just a couple MySpace pages. :roll:

Ginger:
Isabitch just had a lesson in reality
Oh, yeah. Unfortunately, Michael's little make-out with her just gave her a ton of false hope and made her super impatient.

Neve:
I don't hate Maria but I really would like to slap some sense into her.
Me, too. :oops:
Another thing that worries me is how few pages there are left. 200+ is not enough to cover the full term of Maria's pregnancy, is it? Is that a sign?
It's not even 200+, actually. It's more like 120. So yeah, I'd say that's not long enough to cover Maria's pregnancy.

Sara:
It was the last shred of hope I could have ever imagined....he didnt have sex with Isabel....thank god for that.
Yep, if he'd had sex with Isabel, it would have meant that things were hopeless. Luckily, he stopped himself.








Part 71








Max strolled out of the movie theater with Liz that afternoon, amazed that she had room for another hot dog after having a large popcorn, hot dog, hamburger, and Skittles. Of course, part of her hunger was probably due to having worked up an appetite with him. Movie theater sex was kind of cliché, but he’d enjoyed it thoroughly, enjoyed it so much, in fact, that he didn’t even know what movie they’d just seen.

“I really should be working right now,” he said to himself as they walked down the street. He’d parked in a parking garage a good distance away. Since he was mostly driving his Porsche these days, he didn’t want to take any chances that some ditzy fifteen year-old would park haphazardly and dent the side door in her rush to see Twilight.

“Oh, come on. It’s a figurehead position, remember?” she teased.

“Careful,” he cautioned, “you’re starting to talk like Roger.”

“Yeah, but I’m hot enough to get away with it.” She grinned and popped the remainder of her hot dog into her mouth. Watching her eat that thing instinctively made Max picture what she looked like when giving him head.

“I know it’s not a figurehead position,” she said, tossing her hot dog wrapper into the trash can at the corner. “You work hard.”

“Don’t say that word,” he warned.

“What, hard?”

“Yeah. Your thong’s been peeking out of your jeans all day. I’ve been trying to keep it soft.”

She laughed and pulled her jeans upward. “Oh, please. That thing’s never soft.” She playfully whacked him in the groin, but it was sensitive.

“Hey, watch it,” he said.

“Are you still nervous about having sex? Afraid we’ll conceive?”

“Not nervous, not afraid,” he denied as they continued on down the sidewalk. “I’m . . . cautious about it. Something Michael Guerin should’ve been.”

“Oh, I see.” She hopped down off the sidewalk and approached a car Max had never seen before. “Hey, what’s this?” she said, picking up a neon green flyer off the windshield.

“Junk,” he figured.

“No, look, there’s a party tonight at someone’s house,” she said, holding up the flyer for him to see. “We should go.”

“Why?” There was also a party in his pants, because even though he was being cautious about sex, he sure as hell wasn’t being abstinent.

“Because it’ll be fun,” Liz replied. “You do remember fun, don’t you? It’s the thing we don’t have at the wealthy/elite parties you drag me to.”

“The Smithsons’ was kind of fun,” Max mumbled. “The sex after was . . . funner.”

She blushed. “Come on. It could be a date.”

He usually didn’t do the whole college party scene.

“Max, I know you lead an accelerated lifestyle,” she acknowledged, moving towards him, “but this is still your junior year of college; you’re still a twenty-one year old guy. You should be able to go out and let loose and forget about work for awhile.”

He tucked her hair behind her ear and told her, “I always forget about work when I’m with you.” And that was pretty much the truth. Even though his company was still striving to stay out of bankruptcy, he often found that Liz occupied his thoughts much more than anything else did.

“So we’re partying tonight?” she asked hopefully.

He sighed. “Yes, we’re partying tonight.”

“Oh, thank you!” she squealed, throwing her arms around him. He hoisted her up and kissed her. Being in love with someone other than himself was . . . pretty great, and that never ceased to surprise him. He was to the point where he couldn't understand why anyone sane would push that feeling away.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Maria was just starting to fall asleep early that evening when she heard noise coming from downstairs. And not just a little noise, either, but a lot of noise. People were talking and laughing and saying something about a keg.

“Oh, crap,” she muttered, getting out of bed. She headed downstairs and found Billy helping one of his friends carry in a keg. There were two other guys setting up a sound system in the living room. Maria had a bad feeling about this.

“Billy?” she said, perched on the bottom of the staircase. “What’s going on?” It was pretty obvious, but she asked anyway. He hadn’t mentioned anything about having a party. Had she known about it, she would have gotten out of there earlier.

Billy set down the keg and said to his friends, “Hey, guys, this is the girl I told you about. This is Maria.”

The two guys working on the sound system stopped what they were doing and approached her. One of them was an over-tanned, tattooed hippie, and the other had pimples all over his face. The third of Billy’s friends just stood by the keg and reached his hand down his pants while leering at her. Charmers, all of them.

“Damn, she’s hot for a pregnant bitch,” the tattooed guy remarked.

“Hey,” Mr. Pimply said, “is it true you like it up the ass?”

Maria made a face at what was totally an intrusive question. “No,” she said. Not very many girls yearned for that kind of sex. Whatever kind of girl they thought she was, whatever kind of girl Billy had told them she was . . . she wasn’t that.

“Good luck fuckin’, man,” the tattooed guy said to Billy, giving him an encouraging pat on the back before he and Pimply went to work on the sound system again.

Billy chuckled. “Thanks.”

“Please tell me you’re not throwing a party tonight,” Maria begged. Maybe she was wrong and he was just inviting a few friends?

“Actually,” he said, “I’m throwing a party right now.” As if on cue, dozens of people flocked in the door, bringing with them more kegs, more noise, and more hormones. The sound system cranked up, and a feeling of dread coursed through Maria. She finally understood how Michael probably felt when she threw all those parties in his apartment.

“Yeah!” Billy yelled. “Get those girls some shots!”

“Billy. I’m tired. I’m pregnant,” Maria reminded him. “I’ve had a really bad day. I can’t deal with this right now.”

“Then go back upstairs,” he suggested.

“We both know it only takes a good party ten minutes to spread upstairs,” she said. “Since this is gonna be a bad party, we’ll give it fifteen.”

“You really are a bitch, you know that?”

“Please make these people go away,” she pleaded. “I just wanna get some sleep.”

“What the hell’s wrong with you?” he spat. “You used to be the life of the party.”

“Oh, thank you very much for these constant reminders of who I used to be, but in case you haven’t noticed, I’m not that girl anymore. Please, I’m asking you to make this stop.” Couldn’t he just be a decent guy for once and do that for her?

“Sorry, babe,” he replied, “but this is my house, and you’re a guest in it.” He shrugged and walked away from her, immediately gathering up a girl under his arm.

Maria grunted, not sure why she was surprised by his response. He wasn’t a decent guy. He never would be.

She sat down on the second to bottom step of the stairs and watched the party start to swirl around her. She didn’t want to be there, but she had nowhere else to go.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Max and Liz arrived at the house party about an hour after it had started. Max was disappointed right away. He’d expected to see half-naked girls, preferably bottomless, but they were all still clothed. And too drunk to be attractive.

“Huh,” he said. “Looks kinda lame.”

“Yeah,” Liz agreed. “I was hoping it’d be cooler. Oh, well. We can still have fun.”

He’d have fun knowing he was with the sexiest girl in the room. He put his arms around her and hugged her to his chest, looking around to see if he recognized anyone. And lo and behold, sitting on the staircase all by herself was Maria DeLuca.

“Look who it is,” he said to Liz, pointing out her former friend.

Liz turned around and said, “Huh, I wonder what Maria’s doing here.”

“I doubt she’s looking for a party,” Max mumbled.

“Give me a minute,” Liz said, heading over towards Maria. He followed her and stood aside as she sat down next to Maria and said, “Hey, I didn’t think I’d run into you tonight. Do you know the guy who lives here?”

Maria didn’t even look at her. “Sort of. I kind of live here right now.”

“Oh.” Liz frowned. “I didn’t know that. I thought you were still living with Tess.”

“Nope.”

Liz looked as though she were struggling to come up with anything to say. “So I heard this guy’s a musician,” she commented randomly. “Is he any good?”

Maria rolled her eyes emphatically. “No.”

Holy crap, she looks screwed up, Max thought. He hadn’t seen her look this way since the night he’d taken advantage of her. “How you been?” he inquired, shocked that he even cared to ask.

She lifted her head to look up at him and replied, “Horrible and unethical.”

Max nodded slowly. So she’d started down the path of destruction he knew so well. Maybe she’d already had the abortion. Maybe not.

Maria got up and scurried upstairs, not even saying so much as a word of goodbye to Liz.

“What was that about?” Liz asked, looking confused.

Max shrugged, pretending he didn’t know anything.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Isabel sat in the nursery in the rocking chair, her hand on the side of the empty crib. She hummed “Rock-a-bye Baby” quietly, picturing what her baby would look like asleep in that crib. She was going to have the cutest baby ever; she was sure of it. What was strange was, she was actually starting to get excited about giving birth. Not about the actual labor itself, of course, but about seeing her son and smiling at him and laughing with him. What excited her most, however, was the family she and Michael would then share. It would be immediate, and it would be forever.

“Why’d you throw this out?” Michael asked, coming to stand in the doorway.

She looked up and saw him standing in the doorway with his drawing of Maria in hand, the same one she had tossed in the trash the night before. “Because you couldn’t,” she replied, “but you needed to.”

He looked angry as he bit out, “Don’t interfere with my artwork.”

She continued to sit there as he stomped off into the bedroom. His artwork, she thought. Michael was a great artist, but as far as she was concerned, there was nothing artistic about Maria DeLuca. Stupid Maria.

She pushed herself up from the rocking chair and walked into the bedroom, trying to seem as calm as she could. But ever since Michael had come home and put his hands on her, her skin had felt on fire for him.

“Michael,” she said. “What happened today?”

He sat down on the bed and opened up his nightstand drawer, setting the drawing down inside.

“Come on, sweetie,” she urged, “it’s time to hop off the merry-go-round of rotating avoidance and talk to me. Or ravage me. Whichever.” She grinned suggestively. She’d much rather prefer a good ravaging.

“Today was a mistake,” he said calmly and evenly. “It shouldn’t have happened. I’m glad we stopped.”

How could he be glad? “No, Michael . . . it’s fine,” she assured him. “I can still have sex. I want to.”

“I don’t,” he said. “I don’t wanna have sex with you.”

She wasn’t just upset to hear that. She was offended. Outraged, even. “Why the hell not?” she demanded. “Are you weirded out by the baby? Because that’s an advantage.” Even though some guys felt uncomfortable about sex with pregnant women, others found it to be a huge turn-on. Alex had. “You wouldn’t even have to wear a condom.”

He stayed seated on the bed, shaking his head in resistance. “When I came home today, I’d just gone to see Maria.”

Fucking bitch, Isabel thought, glaring just at the thought of the other girl.

“I was hurting, and I was in a bad place,” he said, “and I wasn’t thinking. I was using you to try to make myself feel better, but it didn’t work. I’m sorry.”

He was using her? It wasn’t her ideal, but if that’s what it took to get him in bed with her again . . . she was fine with being used.

“I’m sorry,” he repeated. “I know you wanted it to be something more, but . . .” He let his sentence fade.

More than anything she’d wanted it to be something more, because she hated this. She hated being the one chasing after him. She was usually the chased. “So today meant nothing?” she growled. “You’re saying you’re still hung up on Maria?”

He didn’t say that, but he didn’t have to.

She huffed. “Unbelievable.”

“I’m sorry.”

“No, I don’t buy that,” she decided. “Today wasn’t about her. Today was about you and me.” She unzipped her sweatshirt, shrugging it off her shoulders. “You still want me.”

“Isabel, stop.”

She reached down and grabbed the hem of her shirt in her hands. “And when I look less like a blimp,” she said, pulling it over her head, “you won’t be able to keep your artistic hands off me.” She threw her shirt at him.

“Put your clothes back on,” he said, finally standing up, trying to hand her shirt back to her.

She took a few steps back, still stripping. “You still love me,” she said, reaching behind her back to unclasp her bra. Her boobs were so huge now; he’d go crazy.

“I don’t,” he denied, pressing her shirt against her chest as she let her bra fall to the floor.

“Yes, you do,” she insisted. “I know you do.”

“Stop it!” he finally roared, causing her to flinch. “I quit loving you a long time ago, right about the time I found out you cheated on me.”

Isabel took her shirt back from him tucking it in beneath her arms. “So did Maria,” she pointed out. “Only it’s worse ‘cause she made a baby with that other guy! I made a baby with you. That should mean something.”

“It means we’re gonna be parents,” he said, “but we are not gonna be together.”

“But we should be,” she kept on. “We always have been, even when you were with her.” She reached out one hand and traced it over his heart. “You never stopped thinking about our last night together, when you put yourself inside me and left yourself there.” She moved closer to him, her breath coming in heavy pants now. “Bad boy. Do it again.”

“What the hell’s wrong with you?” he shouted, gripping both her wrists in his hands, holding her still in front of him.

“Maybe I’m just horny,” she said. “Or maybe I’m sick of pretending we’re not meant to be together.” They were meant to be together. She was sure of it. She jerked her wrists away from him and ground out, “Open your eyes, Michael. She’s your past. I’m your future.”

He shook his head and brushed past her, walking out the front door. Isabel frowned. Michael didn’t seem as excited about their future together as she was; but once she got skinny again, and once they had their family, everything was going to be better. It had to be.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~

“Whoa, okay, so that sounds creepy,” Kyle remarked after Michael told him about Isabel’s freak-out. “You gotta be careful, man. We all remember Fatal Attraction.”

“No, it wasn’t like that,” Michael said, but upon thinking about it a little more, changed his mind. “Actually, it was kinda like that. God, my life’s messed up.” Frank walked up to him with a rubber hamburger in his mouth, so Michael took, it squeezed it a few times, then tossed it down the hallway. Frank went running to retrieve it.

“So Isabel’s goin’ nuts . . . for your nuts,” Kyle concluded, sitting down on the couch beside him.

“Can you blame her?” Michael managed to joke. “Nah, she’s not the most stable person on the planet, but she’s not crazy.”

“Sounds like she’s crazy about you.”

Michael reached for the hamburger again when Frank returned. The dog was holding it just out of his reach, but he managed to get it away from him and throw down the hallway again. “I think she’s just desperate to rebuild our relationship before the baby’s born,” he said. “I mean, if you think about it, all her male attachments in life—her father, her brother, Alex, me—have all weakened or collapsed over the years. And as much as she hates to be at the mercy of men, she always seems to wind up that way. So she’s probably just trying to make sure I’ll stick around after the baby’s born.”

Kyle nodded in consideration. “Or . . . she’s nuts for your nuts.”

“Yeah, that’s a definite possibility,” Michael agreed as Frank came running out again. He set his hamburger down, panting, and when Michael threw it again, he just watched it roll down the hallway. “I don’t know, I messed up today, but I think I’ve made it pretty clear that the only thing we’re gonna do together is be parents,” he said.

“What if that’s not enough for her?” Kyle asked.

He shrugged. “It’s gonna have to be.” He didn’t have anything else to give her. Not his body, and definitely not his heart.

“Wanna play Whack-a-Mole?” Kyle inquired suddenly.

“Yeah, sure,” Michael replied. Anything to keep him from going back to his own apartment and having to spend time with fatally attracted Isabel.

“Hey, so, I’m sorry about Maria,” Kyle said as he took his favorite game out of the closet. “I know you wanted the baby to be yours.”

“How’d you know that?”

“You told me last night.”

“Oh, that’s right I was drunk.”

Kyle set the game down on the coffee table and before taking it out of the box asked, “Are you gonna be okay?”

Michael shrugged. “I’m gonna be a dad.” He’d meant it when he’d told Maria he was going to devote his entire life to his son from here on out. It was all he could see of the future.

“Yeah, but are you gonna be okay?” Kyle asked again.

Everyone kept saying that word to him, and he didn’t even know what it meant anymore. “Probably not,” he admitted. “I just hope Maria is.” As much as he was going to love his son, he’d never stop loving Maria, never stop wishing he’d been able to make his family with her instead of Isabel.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~

There was a couple fondling each other on the bed when Maria walked into the bedroom. “Get out,” she told them simply. They blushed with embarrassment, looked at each other, and slinked out of the bedroom. Maria then walked over to the closet, pulled it open, and revealed another couple inside there. “Go,” she said impatiently. What the hell were people doing making out in the closet anyway? What were they, eleven?

Once she had the room to herself, Maria shut the door and breathed a sigh of relief. She could hear the music thudding downstairs, but it was mostly still quiet upstairs. Thank God.

What am I doing here? she wondered, turning to look at herself in the mirror. She stood sideways and examined her profile. She wasn’t big yet. Her stomach was still flat. And it was never going to get round.

She lifted up her shirt and splayed her right hand across her stomach. She wondered what it would be like to feel her baby kick. She’d never know.

The door swung open and Billy stumbled in. Maria tugged her shirt back down quickly.

“What-what’re you doin’?” he stuttered.

“Nothing.”

“Better not be havin’ any second thoughts. ‘Cause I signed on to screw with Mike’s mind, not to be daddy dearest.”

“I just wanted to see if I’d gained any weight yet,” she said.

“Now that you mention it, you are lookin’ a little plump around the mid-section.”

“Gee, thanks.” She sat down on the foot of the bed, wishing he’d just head back down to his party and leave her alone. But instead of doing that, he shut the door and sauntered into the room.

“Here,” he said, holding out a glass of liquid for her, “I got you something to drink.”

“What is it?” she asked skeptically.

“Just water.”

She sighed and took it. She supposed it was his futile attempt at making her feel better. When she brought the glass up to her lips and took a sip, though, she immediately spit it out all over her lap. “What the hell?” she shrieked.

He grinned and laughed.

“How much alcohol did you put in that?”

“Just a lot.”

She shot up to her feet and threw the glass down on the floor. “I’m pregnant, you dumb-ass!” she roared.

“So?”

So? You don’t drink alcohol when you’re pregnant.”

“Who the hell cares?”

She stared at him in disbelief. “I care.”

“No, you don’t,” he pointed out. “You’re gonna kill your kid.”

Upon hearing him say that, the rage boiled over, and she slapped him hard across the face. It was so easy for him and everyone else to stand there and pass judgment, but they didn’t know. They didn’t know what she was going through.

“Hey now,” Billy said, touching his cheek. “That was sexy.” He reached out and tried to grab her arms.

“Stop it,” she said, jerking away from him.

“You’re really turnin’ me on,” he said, gripping her hips as he tried to grind his pelvis against her.

“Ew, Billy!” She shoved him away, but he didn’t back off.

“Can I feel my fake fetus?” He laughed, reaching out to punch her lightly in the stomach.

“Stop it!” she shouted, feeling a sort of maternal instinct kick in.

“Come on, hop on my dick, baby,” he said, suddenly all over her. He pushed her down on the bed, and she squirmed beneath him.

“Billy . . . no, let go of me!” she cried, her heart pounding in fear now.

“Shh,” he said, slithering on top of her.

“Get away from me!” She pressed her hands against his shoulders, trying to push him off her, but he was too strong.

“I know you wanna fuck.”

“No! Billy!”

He grabbed both her wrists and pinned them above her head with one hand. She screamed.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Max came out of the bathroom and heard sounds coming from down the hallway. His first instinct was to ignore them, but then he heard a girl cry, “Don’t! Please.”

Max frowned. That didn’t exactly sound consensual, and he knew a few things about non-consensual sex. He made his way towards the bedroom and opened the door just slightly. There was a guy on top a girl, and he was saying to her, “If you were drunk, you could pass out.”

Stop!” the girl cried desperately, and Max recognized her voice. He didn’t have to see her to know it was Maria.

“Hey!” Max shouted, opening up the door all the way.

The guy on top of her looked over his shoulder, but he kept her pinned down on the bed. “Get outta here, guy,” he said.

Maria was just lying beneath him, whimpering. She looked helpless.

Max rolled his eyes and charged forward, getting involved despite his lingering desire not to. He grabbed Maria’s harasser by his shirt and pulled him off her, shoving him backwards. He glared at Max, then at Maria, and then stumbled out of the room.

Tool, Max thought, glancing down at Maria. She was still just lying there, looking shaken, stunned. Tears lined her face, and her bottom lip shook in fear. Max suspected she didn’t exactly feel relieved to see him there. He’d proven he could hurt her, too.

He held out his hand to help her up, but she just stared at him in confusion for a few seconds, then scrambled over to the other side of the bed and pushed herself up. She ran out of the room without a word.

“You’re welcome,” he said, though he hadn’t expected to hear a thank you. He didn’t care.

When Max headed back downstairs, he saw a rather alarming sight. The same guy who’d just been forcing himself on Maria was standing by the keg, talking to Liz.

“So, you’re a sophomore, huh?” he was saying, leaning in towards her. “That’s pretty hot. I’m a senior.”

She smiled politely, the kind of smile a girl gave when she wasn’t interested. “That’s nice.”

“So what do you wanna do first,” he asked, “get high or get laid?”

“How about you get away from her?” Max suggested, stepping up beside her. He placed one arm around her and led her away from his fellow rapist. “Come on, let’s get outta here,” he said, heading towards the door.

“That guy smells like feet,” she said as they slipped through the crowd. “Thank you for saving me.”

“I saved Maria a minute ago,” he told her.

She gave him a perplexed look.

“Yeah, I heard them in the bedroom upstairs, and when I looked in, that guy was on top of her.”

“The guy I was just talking to?” She sounded alarmed.

“Yeah.”

“Oh my god. Like . . . he was raping her?”

“Trying to.”

She looked horrified as they walked out the door. “Oh my god, that’s awful,” she said. “Is she gonna be okay?”

“No, Liz.” There was no doubt in his mind that Maria DeLuca was one of the biggest train wrecks he’d ever seen in his entire life. And he knew a thing or two about train wrecks since he was one of them, and so was his sister.

“Well, thank God you were there,” she said as they walked down the sidewalk to his car. “It was really good of you to help her, Max.”

“Good and ironic.”

“Max . . .”

“No, it’s true. Not long ago, I probably would’ve stood back and cheered him on, or maybe even waited my turn. And I was that guy on top of her once.” Hell, he’d been that guy on top of a number of girls. “You should never forget that.”

“I know,” she said, “but I don’t think you’re that guy anymore. In fact, I know you’re not.”

It meant a lot to hear her say that. “Thanks,” he said, pressing a kiss to the side of her head. They stepped down off the sidewalk once they were at his Porsche, and he swore under his breath. Someone had thrown up on the windshield.

“I’m so sorry I dragged you to this party tonight,” she apologized as she hopped into the passenger’s seat. “Although considering what happened to Maria, it’s probably a good thing we came.”

He climbed into the driver’s side, turned on the car, and put on the windshield wipers, but that only made it worse.

“Oh, sick,” Liz said.

He turned on the water along with them, and he was able to get the windshield semi-clean. “Losers, all of ‘em,” he pronounced.

“Oh, yeah,” she agreed. “I just feel so bad for Maria. Where’d she go afterwards?”

“I don’t know,” he replied as he pulled out onto the street.

“I think that’s the guy who owns the house,” Liz said as they started to drive. “She’s living there with him?”

“She should probably move out.”

“What’s going on with her? She seems really . . .”

“Pregnant,” he filled in.

“What?”

“Yeah, I’m not supposed to say anything, but . . .” He shrugged. Maria probably didn’t care who the hell knew anymore.

“How’d you find out?” Liz asked.

“She told me.”

Her eyes bulged.

“Yeah, I was shocked, too,” he said. All he could figure was that it was sometimes easier to talk to someone you hated than to talk to someone you were close to.

“Oh my god, this is crazy,” Liz said. “She’s pregnant and she’s living with the guy who just assaulted her. Max, we have to go back and get her.”

“No, we don’t,” he said as he drove up to the corner.

“Yes, we do,” she insisted. “I don’t care if we’re not good people; I need to do something good for a change.”

“We don’t have to go back,” he repeated.

“Max--”

“Because she’s right up here.” He slowed down the car to a near stop and rolled down his window. She was walking down the sidewalk, arms wrapped around herself. What a weird night, he thought.

“Maria, are you okay?” Liz asked.

“Why are you being so stupid, Maria?” Max asked right after.

“Max!” Liz said in a scolding tone.

“What? Pregnant chick walking alone at night? That’s stupid.” He kept the car lightly rolling along as Maria walked, but she didn’t even look at him. He knew she could hear him, though. “What’s that, Maria?” he said. “Oh, yeah, I called you stupid. And you know what else I did? Told Liz you’re pregnant, broke my promise. So go ahead and let me have it, tear into me.”

She didn’t even look at him. Max knew she’d just been through a traumatic experience, but she hardly ever passed up a chance to be a raging bitch to him. He was actually starting to feel sorry for her, and he much rather preferred their usual mutual hatred.

“We should get her in the car,” Liz mumbled quietly.

He pulled the car to a stop in the middle of the road. “Oh, being the bad guy was so much easier.” He and Liz both climbed out of the car, and while Liz helped Maria into the backseat, Max took out his cell phone and dialed a familiar number.

“Who you gonna call?” Liz asked.

“Ghostbusters,” he replied in a sing-song voice.

She gave him an impatient look.

“Who do you think?” he said, raising the phone to his ear.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~

When Tess got a phone call from Max that evening, she knew it could only be bad news. When he mentioned the words ‘Maria’ and ‘assault’ in the same sentence, she realized just how bad it was, and she hurried to Liz’s apartment where they said they were taking her. She knew exactly where to go since Marty used to live there, but she felt as though she couldn’t get there fast enough.

Tess knocked on the door frantically, and when Liz opened it, she said, “Where is she?”

“She’s in my bedroom,” Liz replied. “She’s asleep.”

Tess barged in the door, going right past both Liz and Max. She went down the hallway and peeked in at Maria. She was curled up on her side on the bed, and she looked small. “Oh god, Maria,” Tess whispered. She hated to think that she’d been hurt tonight.

“Before you even ask, no, she’s not gonna be okay,” Max said as he came up behind her.

Tess whirled around. “Why would you say that?”

“Because it’s true,” he replied simply.

Tess walked back out into the living room so that she and Max weren’t having that conversation right outside the bedroom door.

“You’d have to be deaf, dumb, and blind not to realize that girl’s hangin’ on by a thread,” Max continued, walking out behind her. “She’s more messed up than all of us combined, and that’s saying something.”

“That doesn’t mean she’s not gonna be okay,” Tess pointed out.

“She’s not, if the only person in her corner is tonight’s attempted rapist.”

Tess grunted. Max always thought he was so all-knowing. “You know, I have a really hard time hearing those words from you, the successful rapist.”

“Hey, no one’s denying what Max did to Maria back then,” Liz jumped in, defending her man, “but what he did for her tonight deserves some credit.”

“I don’t care about that,” Max said flippantly. “I don’t even really care about Maria.”

“Then why are you helping her?” Tess asked critically.

“Why are you?” he returned.

What a stupid question to ask, she thought, but answered anyway, “She’s my best friend. Unlike you, I do care about her.”

“Fine, there’s that,” he acknowledged, “but you also care about you.”

She frowned, not understanding what he was saying.

“I don’t know what went down between the two of you, and honestly I don’t give a rat’s ass; but you obviously let her move out of your place, and she shacked up with that Billy guy. You know you should’ve been there. In fact, you know she shouldn’t have been there. So when you came rushing over here, it was partly because you were worried about your friend, but it was also in part to alleviate your own guilt.”

As Tess let that little speech sink in, she was reminded of what a jerk he was, and why she’d always been so miserable dating him. “Oh, you think you know me so well, don’t you, Max?”

“I do.”

“But if that’s what I’m doing, what the hell are you doing?”

“Alleviating my guilt,” he replied with a shrug. “What else?”

Tess was about to say something more, but Liz interjected again. “Guys?” she said softly. “This really isn’t about either of you. It’s about her, and like you said, Max, she’s hanging on by a thread.” She turned to Tess and said, “I know I’m not her friend anymore, but you still are. You’re her best friend, and she needs you.”

Tess sighed heavily. “I’m not so sure. Things have been pretty strained between us lately. I’ve been trying to talk her out of some things and talk her into other things, and we’ve had some really bad fights and--”

“Oh, somebody shoot me,” Max groaned, cutting her off. “I’ve had about as much of this Hallmark card crap as I can take. Just bring her home with you.”

“It’s not that simple, Max,” Tess told him. “Maria wants to have an abortion without telling Michael. She’s pretending the baby’s Billy’s. I think that’s really wrong. I told her I was gonna tell him everything.”

“It is this simple, Tess,” he insisted. “Quit making it harder than it is. Would you rather do the right thing or save your best friend? It’s your choice.”

Tess glanced down the hallway at the ajar door to the bedroom. Maria was still asleep, and in her heart, she knew there was no choice to be made.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~

When Maria opened her eyes in the morning, it took a moment for her to realize where she was. She was back in her bedroom in Tess’s apartment. She wasn’t even sure how she’d gotten there.

Tess opened the door and seemed surprised to see Maria’s eyes open. “Hey,” she said, “you’re awake.”

“Yeah. How did I get here?”

Tess sat down on the side of the bed and said, “Um, do you remember going with Max and Liz to Liz’s apartment?”

She nodded.

“You fell asleep there. I came and got you. Max carried you out to the car and up here. We didn’t wanna wake you.”

Maria squirmed. Great, Max’s hands on her again.

“I know you probably don’t like the thought of him doing that,” her friend said as if reading her mind, “but I’m not strong enough to carry you. Not that you’re heavy. I mean, you would be heavy in a few months if you . . .” She trailed off and muttered, “I should just shut up now.”

Maria pushed herself up into a sitting position and said, “I slept really well last night.”

“Good,” Tess said. “That’s . . . really good, Maria.”

It was really good. She hadn’t slept well in a long time. “Did Max tell you what happened?” she asked.

Tess cringed. “Yeah. I’m so sorry, Maria.”

Maria hung her head, staring down at her lap as she mumbled, “I wish he hadn’t saved me.”

Tess frowned in confusion. “What?”

“I just . . . wish I’d been able to save myself.” She heard the cloak of sadness on her voice. She felt very, very sad.

“You could’ve,” Tess assured her.

“No.” She shook her head, looking her friend right in the eye as she made a difficult admission. “I gave up. I fought back for a minute, and then I just . . . quit fighting, and kept crying.” She knew she could have fought harder. She knew there was something more she could have done. “When Max . . . did what he did to me, I couldn’t stop it,” she acknowledged. “I was drunk, probably even drugged. But last night, I wasn’t either of those things. I was just weak.”

“No, you weren’t.”

Maria appreciated her friend’s attempts to make her feel better, but she knew what she knew. “I wasn’t strong,” she said. “I felt . . .”

“Afraid?” Tess filled in.

That wasn’t it. She had felt afraid, but there was something she’d felt more. “Empty. It was like every ounce of . . . passion and will and determination just vanished from my body, and for a split-second, I thought . . .” Her bottom lip trembled as she said, “I thought I was dead. Because I didn’t feel alive anymore.”

Tess looked horrified to hear that. Her eyes were filled with tears, and for a few seconds, she didn’t say anything in response. When she finally did get any words out, her voice cracked with emotion. “Maria . . . I’m so sorry. I’m sorry for everything that’s happened to you, and I’m sorry I was so pushy. But you are not empty. You’re not dead.” She began to cry. “You’re here, and I’m here, too, and I’m gonna be a better friend this time.”

“No, you’re the most amazing friend ever, Tess,” Maria assured her. She knew she’d made Tess feel like a bad friend lately, and she regretted that, because Tess was the greatest friend everyone could ever ask for. But she still didn’t seem to believe that.

“I was so focused on being right that I was insensitive to what you’re going through. You’ve got a huge decision to make . . . although I guess you’ve already made it.”

“Wednesday, March 18, 3:30,” she blurted. “That’s when I’m scheduled to have my abortion.”

Tess raised her eyebrows. “Oh.”

“Yeah.” Maria swallowed hard, glancing down at her stomach. She felt certain words percolating, but she couldn’t believe she said them out loud. “I’m kinda having second thoughts.”

Tess looked shocked to hear it, too. “What?”

“Yeah, last night when . . . when I felt that empty feeling . . .” She rubbed her stomach gently. “It was this baby that reminded me I’m still alive. I’m literally not empty.” She laughed a little, and Tess smiled. “I don’t know, I guess I just didn’t expect to feel . . . attached to this little girl. Or boy.”

“You think it’s a girl?” Tess asked.

She shrugged. “I don’t know. But if it is, I think she’ll have her daddy’s hair.”

Tess laughed. “Yeah?”

“Oh, yeah.” She could just picture it, a little girl with a lion’s mane she could braid and put in pigtails. “But if I get an abortion, I’ll never see her hair. Or her eyes. Or her toes or her smile.” She felt herself starting to get choked up. “I just didn’t think I’d care about seeing those things.”

“But you do.”

She dabbed at the tears that finally spilled over onto her cheeks. “I wish I didn’t,” she whimpered. “I don’t know. I really don’t know what I’m gonna do. I’m not sure if I can have an abortion, but I’m not sure if I can have this baby, either. So it’s kind of confusing.”

“Well, whatever you decide, I hope you’ll stay here while you’re deciding it,” Tess said. “Because I’m not letting you go back to Billy. I’m just not.”

Maria felt so relieved to hear that. “Thanks,” she said, reaching forward to hug her friend. It felt good to know she wasn’t alone. She had Tess, and at least for now, she had her baby, too.








TBC . . .

-April
Image
LOVE IS MICHAEL AND MARIA.

User avatar
April
Roswell Fanatic
Posts: 1556
Joined: Tue Sep 28, 2004 9:32 am
Location: Somewhere. Anywhere.
Contact:

Part 72

Post by April » Thu Sep 24, 2009 7:48 am

Hey, everyone! First off, there WILL be an update this Saturday.

Second, some updates might be shorter from here on out. This is just because I like to cut the fic up in a certain way, end each update with a certain scene; and to end these updates with the scenes I want to end with, it just means that the parts will be a little bit shorter than they have been.
:)

Karin: A whole new vocabulary, huh? :lol: I'm proud of "Bitchabel," because I think I came up with that one on my own. All credit for "Isabitch" goes to Leila, though. I saw her use it in her feedback and just had to use it in the fic.

Sara:
I find it amusing Max was the one to tell everyone how bad of shape Maria is in.....maybe b/c he's been there himself?
Max isn't involved in the situation the same way Tess is, so he's sort of able to see everything from an outsider's perspective, and that makes him see things clearly. And yeah, Max knows a thing or two about being a screwed up individual, so he knows what Maria's going through.

Leila:
She is osing conrtrol over Michaelwhile she is still able to pull the strings regarding the others.
Yeah, she's been half-naked around him twice within the past 24 hours, and he hasn't had sex with her. That, in her mind, is unnacceptable. And she's losing her control over Maria, too, since Maria's considering not having an abortion now.

nibbles:
I love the irony of her plotting Maria's ruin while Max (of all people) saves her.
Oh, yeah. Considering that Isabel asked Max in all seriousness to rape Maria again, she'd be livid if she knew he saved her from a guy who was about to do just that.

Nove:
She needs help though. Tess is great and I'm glad she is making sure she is safe and not in danger to herself but I'm starting to think she needs psychiatric treatment.
Maybe they should all just join hands and go to one big group therapy session. :lol: They could all use it.
She is scary that Isabel. Very scary.
I'm glad that comes across. Remember during my chat how I said she was going to start to get creepier? That last part where she was stripping in front of Michael was kind of creepy, I think.

Ginger:
And you're really trying your hardest to make us like Max aren't you? I'm not saying it's working but keep it up, you never know.
Well, honestly, it doesn't really matter who likes Max and who doesn't. I don't like him, but I like that he has evolved somewhat, and I like his sort of dark, arrogant sense of humor.

Alison: Good, you came back!
Though it really makes me wonder why the hell she left Michael in the first place if she's that frigging obsessed with him. Alex must have a three foot schlong or something
:lol: All I'll say is that Isabel is beginning to realize that leaving Michael was the biggest mistake of her entire life.
And it even looks like things are on the upswing for Maria (thanks to finally hitting rock bottom),
Yeah, sometimes you have to hit rock bottom before you can go back up.

Nat:
Poor Maria. Max is right, she is a trainwreck. But I can't give up on her. I refuse to so I'm going to be a regular feedbacker missy and there'll probably be a lot of anger towards Michael.
Regular feedbacker? I like the sound of that. ;) And some anger at Michael could be really helpful at this point. Much of it seems to have died off and been replaced with anger towards Maria.
Oh I almost forgot to mention how much I'm still loving Max. He's definitely my second favourite character in this fic.
Nice. Who's your favorite?

Trixie:
Oh my gosh. I had the oddest thought: what if Alex Whitman is dead?
That's an interesting thought. Maybe Liz and Tess should start up their investigation again and Google Alex Whitman Florida dead.

Sarah:
I hate seeing Maria so shattered, even though I just plain hated her one part ago. You've made me change my mind at least 15 times with these characters, April.
:lol: Hopefully there will be less Maria-hate from here onward.

killjoy:
I've been waiting for Isabel's pregnant boobs to show up I mean lord they're big enough on their own during normal times!
:lol: I added that line in there just for you!

Neve:
It seems in some bizarre way that Billy has been able to do what Tess couldn't and casue Maria to have second thoughts about the abortion. He brought out her maternal instinct and and I think made the baby real to Maria.
Yeah, that's very weird. Tess couldn't have gotten through to Maria in the way that Billy has. It's sad that it had to come to this, though.
Meanwhile Isabel continues to climb Mount Crazy. She's nuts. Is Michael finally beginning to see that?
Mount Crazy. :lol: Michael is indeed finally beginning to see that Isabel isn't who she's pretending to be. She really is kind of obsessed with him.


Thanks for the feedback, everyone. And I'm really going to appreciate it after this next chapter, too, because there were certain scenes in this part that were very hard to write.

I'm dropping by more music today. Any Grey's Anatomy fans have probably already heard this song: "Off I Go" by Greg Laswell. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dHzr7wdnuqw Try it when you see :| It really helped me write the scene I attached it to.









Part 72








Billy opened the door and grinned like an idiot. “Well, good morning.”

“Save it,” Tess snapped, shoving past him. “Don’t talk to me. Don’t look at me. I’m here to get Maria’s stuff and that’s all.” Maria had offered to come along, but Tess didn’t think that was a good idea. Maria was too fragile right now.

“You sure you’re not here to screw?” Billy asked.

“Oh, I’m sure,” she promised. “But since you can’t be trusted to keep your hands off an uninterested girl, I brought reinforcements.” She smiled as Kyle walked in the front door and stood behind Billy.

“Hey,” he said.

“Oh, it’s Kyle, right?” Billy said. “Yeah, I remember you. No offense, Kyle, I always thought you were an alright guy, but . . . if I wanted your girl, it’s not like you could stop me.”

“If you lay one hand on her, you’ll see how wrong you are,” Kyle warned.

Tess smiled at him affectionately. She had no doubt he’d protect her, which was why she’d brought him along. She could rely on him no matter what, despite everything that had happened between them in the past.

“No, I won’t do it,” Billy said, chuckling nervously. “Hey, if Maria’s movin’ out, do I still have to pretend to be papa?”

Tess rolled her eyes and ignored that question. She wasn’t in any position to answer it.

Kyle joined her by her side as they headed up the stairs. “You still miss that pillow fort?” he asked her.

“Oh, yeah,” she replied. “Now more than ever.”

~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Hmm, Snickers or Milky Way, Snickers of Milky Way, Isabel pondered as he looked over the contents of the fifth floor vending machine that afternoon. She was having a candy bar craving. She just wasn’t sure which candy bar to choose. So she ended up getting both. Why not? She was still eating for two, at least for a few more days.

When she walked past Kyle’s apartment, she saw that the door was open halfway, so she stopped and looked inside. Tess and Kyle were in there together, looking a lot more friendly than they had when Isabel had first shown up back in town. Not friendly friendly, but on good terms.

“Well, I should probably get going,” Tess was saying. “I have to go get groceries, and then I wanna get back to Maria.”

Kyle nodded. “Yeah, sounds like a good idea.”

Isabel almost laughed at the awkward small talk. Why didn’t they just fuck already? What was with Santa Fe men and their reluctance for fucking?

“But I just wanna thank you for coming with me today,” Tess went on. “It really meant a lot to me.”

‘It really meant a lot to me,’ Isabel mouthed, again resisting the urge to laugh. Could Tess have been any more obvious? Hands shoved down her back pockets, chest arched forward, head tilted to the side . . . blatant sex invite.

“Well, I wasn’t gonna let you go alone,” he said. His body language was sexually inviting, too. He had one hand in his pocket, the other hanging down by his side. It looked like he was walking that fine line between excited and nervous.

“Seriously, thank you,” she said again. “Well . . .”

“Well . . .”

Isabel rolled her eyes in exasperation. They were so prolonging this.

Tess moved forward then and encircled Kyle in a hug. He hugged her back, inconspicuously smelling her hair as he did so. Isabel smiled and shook her head as she continued to watch. It was like a soap opera, like a very bad soap opera she just couldn’t look away from.

They pulled back slightly and gazed at each other, and for a moment, it looked as though they were going to kiss, but Tess’s phone rang and disrupted the moment. She jerked away from him and took a look at her phone. “Oh, I should probably take this,” she said. “It’s Maria.”

“Oh, yeah. I’ll stop by and see her soon.”

“Okay. Bye, Kyle.”

“See you.”

Isabel scurried over to apartment 521 and slipped inside as Tess came out into the hallway. Isabel left the door propped open just slightly and leaned against it, listening to the beginning of Tess’s conversation.

“Hey, how you doing?” Tess answered her phone. She paused for a moment as she stopped at the elevator and pressed the down arrow. “Well, Maria, if you’re not sure you wanna go through with this, then cancel the appointment,” she said as the elevator doors opened and she stepped on. That was the last Isabel heard before the doors closed and Tess rode down.

Isabel frowned worriedly. ‘The appointment’ could only mean one thing: the abortion. The abortion Isabel had been fairly certain Maria was going to have. The abortion she’d been hoping and praying she’d have.

Dammit, she thought. She couldn’t allow Michael and Maria the opportunity to have their happy family together, because if that happened, she knew she and her son would be sidelined. She had to act, and she had to act fast. Luckily, she still had a few tricks up her sleeve.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Maria looked out the peephole when a knock on the door sounded, and she saw Isabel standing on the other side. Couldn’t that girl just be on bed rest or something? Why was she always coming around?

Maria stood still behind the door, absolutely silent. She was going to pretend not to be there.

“Come on, Maria, I know you’re in there,” Isabel said.

How does she know? Maria wondered, walking away from the door. She’d just go huddle up in her bed for awhile and wait for Isabel to go away.

Unfortunately, the front door opened and Isabel strolled in.

“Crap,” Maria muttered. She should have made sure it was locked.

“Hey, buddy,” Isabel greeted in that fake cheery tone. “You look like hell.”

“You look like the wicked witch of the west,” Maria grumbled.

“Hmm. Is Tess around?”

“No, she’s at the grocery store.”

“Oh, I never would have guessed.” Isabel made her way into the kitchen, opened up the refrigerator, and peered inside, seeming perfectly at ease there. “I’m actually here to see you,” she said, taking out a carton of milk. She opened it, sniffed at it, made a face, and placed it back in the refrigerator again, shutting the door.

“What about?” Maria asked. There were only so many things she and Isabel Evans could talk about, and she had a feeling it was . . .

“Michael.” Isabel smiled.

That.

“Nice job breaking his heart, by the way. I think you beat me in that regard,” Isabel acknowledged. “And even though I hate to see him so sad, I love being the one to make him feel better.”

Maria frowned. What did that mean? She wanted to just block out everything Isabel was saying, but she couldn’t.

“See, after the little talk you guys had yesterday, he came home,” Isabel explained. “To me.” Her eyes bore holes straight through Maria, and she waited a moment before proudly declaring, “He had sex with me.”

Maria bristled. Sex? Michael and Isabel? Her stomach churned.

“Congratulations, Maria.” Isabel smirked. “You drove him right into my arms. Or . . . into other parts of me.”

Maria didn’t want to believe it, but the more she thought about it, the more she pictured it in her mind . . . oh, she really didn’t want to picture it. “He wouldn’t,” she said unsurely.

“He did. Twice.” Isabel looked so entirely pleased with herself, it was hard to take. “You’re right to be jealous. I doubt he ever put it to you like he did to me. It was so good. I’m surprised I didn’t go into labor right then and there.”

Oh god, Maria thought. Please stop talking.

“Don’t act so sad,” Isabel went on. “You brought this on yourself. This is what you get for being a bitch, Maria.”

Maria grunted. “Look who’s talking.”

“I may be a bitch,” Isabel conceded, “but at least I’m Michael’s. What’re you? Someone Michael doesn’t want anymore; that’s what you are.”

Maria had to turn away as the tears welled up in her eyes. She didn’t want Isabel to see how what she was saying was affecting her, though she probably already knew. She was so calculating.

“Let me ask you something,” Isabel said. “When was the last time he ripped your clothes off, like he couldn’t wait to have you anymore? ‘Cause my clothes are in shreds. And when he was inside me, you were the last thing on his mind.”

No, I wasn’t, Maria thought. She couldn’t have been. Don’t let her get in your head, don’t let her get in your head.

“You can bet that, when I’m not pregnant, he’s gonna throw me up against the wall, on the floor, over the counter . . . and we are gonna fuck like you never existed.” She smiled and chirped, “I just thought you should know.”

Maria didn’t even have to tell her to leave. Isabel left it at that, but everything she’d said reverberated through Maria’s mind after she had gone.

Michael and Isabel, together again.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Max had just barely set foot in his office when Roger blasted in and bombarded him with words.

“It’s about time you showed up around here, Max. We were beginning to think we’d never see you again.”

“First off . . . Mr. Evans,” Max corrected. Roger never would have addressed Phillip Evans by his first name. “Second, is that any way to talk to your boss?”

“I apologize, Mr. Evans,” Roger said dutifully, “but we have a situation. There’s four-thousand dollars missing from your safe.”

“Is there now?” Max sat down at his desk, not surprised.

“Yes, we need to launch this into a full-scale investigation of everyone who has access to that safe.”

Listen to him, Max thought amusedly. ‘Full-scale investigation.’ Chump. “But you’re the only one who has access,” he pointed out, “besides me.”

Apparently Roger wasn’t aware of that. “I am?”

“Yeah.” Max stood back up and made his way over to his mini-bar to pour himself a drink. “You wanna know something, Roger? I changed the safe combination after my dad died, and you were the only person I gave it to. I put that money in there to see if you could be trusted, but clearly you can’t.”

Roger appeared speechless. “Max--”

“Mr. Evans.”

“Mr. Evans, I swear on my life, I didn’t take that money. We need to find out who did and fire that person.”

“Okay.” Max raised his drink to Roger and announced, “You’re fired.” It felt so good to say that. He’d fired a handful of people since he’d been in charge, but none so irritating and self-righteous as Roger Lanton. He sat back down at his desk with his drink in hand, swirling it around in the glass. “Oh, I am so happy to be rid of you,” he proclaimed. “Go ahead and keep the four-thousand dollars. You’re gonna need it now that you’re unemployed.”

Surprisingly, Roger didn’t put up much of a fight. Max knew he wasn’t happy with the direction the company was going. He wanted to be the one doing all the work while Max sat back and did nothing. And even though Max had been sitting back and doing Liz for a couple of days, he still wasn’t relinquishing any of the power he’d been granted in his father’s will.

“A word of advice, Max,” Roger ground out contemptuously. “You’d do well to focus less on your girlfriend and more on your work.”

“And you’d do well not to tell me what I should do,” Max returned. “Hey, look on the bright side, Rog: Now that you’ll have all this spare time on your hands, you can focus on finally gettin’ laid after all these years.” He laughed. Roger’s fifty year old virginity was something he tried to keep a secret, but Max knew.

Roger shook his head angrily and stormed out of the office.

“Wow,” Max said. “There was no part of that that wasn’t fun.”

~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Maria sat on the couch that evening, a deck of cards scattered on the coffee table in front of her. She was playing Solitaire and losing badly, probably because she was thinking more about Michael and Isabel than she was about the game.

“Having fun yet?” Tess asked her. She was sitting on the computer, chatting with Kyle. At least they were moving back in the right direction.

“No,” Maria replied, flipping over another card. A queen of hearts? Where the hell was she supposed to put a queen of hearts? She dropped the card on the table, not caring anymore, and turned to Tess. “Can I talk to you?”

“Sure.” Tess exited out of her chat with Kyle and came to sit beside Maria on the couch.

Maria curled her knees up to her chest. “I think I’m gonna go through with it,” she revealed.

“The pregnancy?” Tess asked hopefully.

Maria hesitated a moment. “No, the abortion.”

Tess’s expression fell noticeably. “Oh.” It obviously wasn’t what she wanted to hear, but she didn’t start lecturing this time. “Are you sure?” she asked.

Maria nodded. “Yeah.” She hadn’t been sure for awhile, but now she was. She was sure. And she was sad.

“What changed?” Tess asked. “When we talked on the phone today, it seemed like you were changing your mind.”

“I was,” she admitted. “Actually, after we talked, I was gonna call and cancel the appointment, or at least postpone it.”

“Why didn’t you?”

Maria sighed. She’d actually been dialing the abortion clinic’s number when . . . “Isabel came by.”

“Oh, Maria, you can’t let her talk you into anything, or out of anything.”

“She didn’t say one word about an abortion,” Maria informed her. “She said . . .” She’d been holding it in all afternoon, not telling her friend because it hurt so much. “She said she and Michael slept together.”

“What?” Tess shrieked, wide-eyed. “No. No, Maria, she’s . . . she’s lying. He would never do that. Right?”

There was a time when Michael never would have done that, but things were so different now, and she’d hurt him so much with all the lies. “When he and I had that talk at Billy’s . . . he said he was giving up on us,” she choked out. “He said he was gonna devote his life to his son, and he doesn’t care if that means he’s with Isabel. He wasn’t gonna hold out hope for us. And Isabel said they had sex right after that, after he came home.”

Tess looked devastated to hear that. “She could still be lying,” she pointed out.

Maria shook her head. “No. She’s not. Or if she is, she’s one hell of an actress. I believe her.”

“I don’t want to.”

Maria let out another heavy sigh. Why was everything so . . . bad? “Just do me a favor,” she said to Tess. “Don’t get mad at him. He didn’t do anything wrong. I’ve pushed him too far. He thinks I slept with Billy, so if he slept with Isabel . . . I don’t blame him.”

“I do,” Tess said, not holding back. “He’s upset; I get that. But that doesn’t automatically lead to . . . plowing the world’s biggest bitch. If he did this, then it was his choice.”

“He’s not a bad guy, Tess. You don’t have to try to make him out to be one.”

“But isn’t that the best friend’s job?”

“Yeah, but you don’t need to do it.” Maria knew that, if there was a bad guy in the situation, it was her. She was the one who was keeping things from Michael, making him believe things that weren’t true. “He doesn’t love me anymore,” she said sadly, “and even though I’ll always love him . . . I need to start over. Which is why I need to have this . . . abortion.” It was to the point now where it was difficult just to say the word. “I know it’s not gonna be easy, but . . . I’m gonna do it. And I’m sorry, but I’m not gonna tell Michael.”

“You’re not?”

She shook her head. “No. I’m really sorry.”

“No, you don’t need to apologize to me,” Tess said. “I mean, that’s not exactly what I wanted to hear, but . . . this isn’t about me. This isn’t about what I want.”

“I want something,” Maria blurted, “and you’re not gonna like it.”

“What?” Tess asked fearfully.

“A favor.” She felt nervous about asking, but she couldn’t hold the question in. “Will you go with me tomorrow?”

Tess’s eyebrows shot up.

“It’s just . . . I can’t do this alone. I need you there. And I realize this is a lot to ask, because I know you don’t agree with what I’m doing, but . . . I seriously need you, Tess. My baby’s gonna be gone and . . . I just don’t wanna be alone.” She hated herself for putting Tess in such an awful situation—rock and a hard place and all that.

Tess thought about it for only a moment, then reached out and squeezed Maria’s hands in hers. “Of course I’ll be there,” she promised. “And . . .” She grimaced. “I won’t tell Michael anything, even though I still think that’s the right thing to do. You’re more important to me than that.”

Maria felt relief overcome her, as much relief as she could feel with an abortion impending in less than twenty-four hours. “Thank you, Tess,” she said gratefully. “Thank you so much.”

Tess nodded as though it were nothing, but it wasn’t nothing. It was something. It was really, really something. “Tomorrow’s gonna be one of the hardest days of your life,” she said. “You know that, right?”

“I know,” she acknowledged. “But it’ll be a little easier with you there.” It would have been a thousand times harder to go through it alone. Maria had never felt more thankful that Tess was her best friend.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Isabel slipped into the bathroom, breathing in the steam from Michael’s hot shower. The mirror was fogged up, so she traced out M+I and drew a heart around it. Now that was artwork.

Michael stepped out of the shower with the towel halfway wrapped around his waist. When he saw her standing there, he startled and pulled the towel tightly around himself. “Jesus, Isabel, what’re you doing?”

Isabel smiled. She’d just caught a glimpse of the goods. Michael had always possessed the most perfect penis she’d ever seen. “I just wanted to apologize for my . . . neuroticism last night,” she said. It was time for major damage control. “I probably freaked you out with some of the things I said. And the strip-tease.”

“Yeah,” he agreed. “Actually, you’re kinda freakin’ me out right now, too.”

“Not my intention,” she assured him. “It’s just . . . well, you’ve probably figured out by now that I’m still in love with you, and I’d really like for us to get back together. I think that’s what’s best for us and for our son.”

“It’s not gonna happen,” he said decidedly.

“If you say so.”

“I mean it, Isabel. Accept it and move on.”

Gosh, she thought, he sure is being adamant. “I’d rather hope, if that’s okay.”

“That’s not okay.” He wiped his hand against the heart design she’d just traced out on the mirror and pushed past her out of the bathroom.

She had to admit, she hadn’t expected it to be this hard to get back together with Michael. He was more stubborn than she ever remembered him being, Bitcharia DeLuca had really worked a number on him. But there was no way Isabel was going to stop hoping. No way.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Maria stayed in bed as long as she could that morning. Her appointment wasn’t until the afternoon, and she had a feeling the waiting was going to be torture. She kept her eyes closed, but she wasn’t sleeping. She was just lying there with one thought on her mind. Abortion. And she was a mess of emotions about it. When she finally did get out of bed around noon, she brushed her teeth, took a shower, went through her entire morning routine, but the thought never vanished from her mind. Abortion. She hoped it would go away once she was done. She wanted so badly to think about something else. Anything else.

Once she was dressed, she looked at herself in the mirror. She used to like the way she looked. She used to think she was pretty. Now when she looked at herself, she didn’t like the person looking back, and that person wasn’t very pretty at all.

She looked down at her stomach and placed both hands atop it. Even though she knew her baby couldn’t hear her, she liked to think it could. She wanted to say goodbye, because this was it. For all time.

“Hey, you,” she whispered sadly. “I’m sorry it had to end up this way.” She pictured the little girl with her father’s hair, and she started to get choked up. “I just want you to know, this isn’t your fault,” she said, a few tears spilling over. “You didn’t do anything wrong. You’re a good baby. I’m just not a very good mom.” She doubted she was ever going to have a baby after she had this abortion. With anyone. It would just be too hard. “I’m really, really sorry,” she apologized, as though ‘sorry’ could possibly be enough. “I hope you can forgive me.” And she really needed that forgiveness, because she was fairly certain she’d never forgive herself. She tried to keep the majority of her tears inside when she whispered, “I love you.”

Her bedroom door swung open and Tess came inside. “Ready to go?” she asked. It was only 2:00, but they had to give themselves time to drive, and the instructions had been to get there about an hour early to meet with the doctor and fill out paperwork.

( :| )

Maria nodded. She was as ready as she’d ever be. But she’d never really be ready for this.

She grabbed her purse and followed Tess out of the bedroom, down the hallway, and out of the apartment, hoping and praying her baby had heard and understood what she’d said. Somehow. Because she meant every word of it.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Tess drove. They found the clinic without much problem, though they did take one wrong turn and have to backtrack. When they pulled into the parking lot, Maria saw a group of people standing outside the building, about a dozen of them. They were holding signs, most of them with pictures of dead babies on them, much like the picture Tess had printed off to show her. Even though she hadn’t eaten anything that morning, Maria felt as though she could throw up just by looking at the images.

Tess walked around to the passenger’s side of the door, opened it up, and helped Maria out. Maria’s legs felt weak, wobbly. She felt like she could barely standing, and when that small but effective mob of people started shouting at her, she felt all the strength leave her body. She slumped against her friend, and if it wasn’t for her, she probably would have fallen to the ground.

The protestors shoved the signs in her face, and Tess pushed back at the signs. Maria just lowered her head and put one foot in front of another. If she could just get in the building, maybe it would be better.

“You may not love your baby, but we do!” one of the protestors shouted.

“You may not love your baby but God does!”

“You’re gonna regret this for the rest of your life!”

So many voices. So many loud, passionate voices. They probably didn’t belong to bad people, but Maria didn’t want to hear them.

Finally, they got inside, but it didn’t feel better. Maria could still hear the shouting outside, and when Tess handed her a pen to fill out the paperwork in her lap, she could barely even hold it in her fingers. She could barely even write in her own name.

Once she was done with her paperwork, she headed back to a room to meet with the doctor, the one who would be performing the abortion. She didn’t catch his name, but he seemed nice. Professional. She was still glad to have Tess sitting beside her, though.

“Vacuum aspiration is a process used to remove the contents of the uterus through the cervix,” the doctor explained calmly. “It has a very low infection rate, which is why it’s so commonly used, and it’s a fairly quick outpatient procedure. It won’t take more than fifteen minutes, although you will undergo observation in a recovery area afterwards.”

Fifteen minutes, Maria thought. It was only going to take fifteen minutes to get rid of what she and Michael had made? “What happens, exactly?” she asked. “All I know is it’s, like, a suction or . . .”

“That’s right, it’s a suction created with an electric pump. You’ll be numbed with a local anesthetic, and I’ll use dilators to open your cervix--”

“Okay,” she cut in, “I’m sorry I asked.” It was too much, too much detail. She didn’t want to know.

“Afterwards, we’ll examine the expelled contents for completeness, make sure everything’s there that we expect to be there,” the doctor went on. “Embryo, amniotic fluid, amniotic membrane, and so forth. Then we’ll send you to post-treatment care and see you for a follow-up appointment about two weeks from now. How’s that sound?”

It sounded . . . horrible. She was going to have to walk through that crowd of protestors again?

“Now I should inform you, although vacuum aspiration is ninety-eight percent effective in removing all uterine contents, there is a possibility of retention, which would require a second aspiration procedure,” the doctor said. “Since you’re electing to have the procedure so early in gestation, you do run a slightly higher risk of retaining products of conception. Overall, the risk is still minimal, but knowing this, if you’d rather postpone until after your sixth week . . .”

“No,” she said. “Let’s just get it done.” She couldn’t put it off anymore.

The doctor told her it would be a few more minutes, so she and Tess went back out into the waiting room and sat. There was a young girl sitting out there with them, across from Maria. She was . . . a kid. A real kid. Not a young adult who still felt like a kid, but a girl who couldn’t have been a day over thirteen. How could somebody have invaded her body when she barely even had one?

The girl was crying, and her mom was sitting next to her, filling out the paperwork for her. She’d probably had to walk through that crowd of people, too. Had they shouted those things at her? Had they showed her those pictures? She was so young. It wasn’t fair.

She finally stopped crying long enough to look up at Maria. I’m not a kid, Maria thought, quickly looking away. Even though she thought she had every right to be there . . . it wasn’t the same for her as it was for the girl. That girl had probably made a mistake with some guy, or maybe it hadn’t even been her choice. Maria had made love with Michael. It was different. It was her choice, and she was definitely old enough to make a choice.

The nurse came out into the waiting room and said, “Maria?” She didn’t exactly smile the way most nurses did, but she didn’t look somber, either. She looked . . . like she was doing her job, a job that most people couldn’t dream of doing.

Maria hugged Tess tightly. Her friend was crying, obviously trying to cry as quietly as she could. But Maria noticed it. She felt bad for putting her through this.

“I’m sorry,” she whispered, partially to Tess, partially to the baby, and then she turned and followed the nurse back to a secluded room. It was a long ways back there, down several hallways. Then nurse handed her a patient’s gown and left the room while she put that on. Then she came back in and led Maria down another hallway to let another small, cold room. The doctor was waiting for her in there. He was sitting beside the suction machine, and Maria thought it looked like a horrible machine, like a dinosaur; and when he turned it on for just a second, it sounded like one, too. There was a table in the middle of the room, and stirrups for her to put her feet in. The walls were white. It wasn’t a very comfy room, and it seemed weird to Maria that a machine could take away a person, or at least a potential person.

She saw the instruments lying out on a table, the dilators the doctor said he would use. He tried to say a few things to her, things to make her feel calm, but she was absolutely speechless. He told her to climb up on the table, and she did, wordlessly.

She sat there, feeling like she didn’t know who she was anymore, and the doctor told her to lie down. She didn’t do it at first, so he had to tell her again. She scooted back farther on the table, took a deep breath, and lay back slowly, her head coming to rest on a small pillow. She stared up at the ceiling, and she noticed for the first time a painting up there. She stared at it, because there was nothing else to stare at, and her heart started to beat faster. There were two young people in the painting, a boy and a girl. They weren’t as young as the girl out in the waiting room. They looked to be Maria’s age. They were holding hands and running down a residential street. It was raining on them, but they didn’t seem to care. They were looking at each other and laughing.

Maria blinked back tears as she stared at the painting, and she had to turn her head to the side and look away. That was a really happy couple there. Really happy.

The tears began to stream down her cheeks as she pictured Michael in her mind. She pictured the look on his face when he opened the door to his apartment and saw her standing there, the day she’d decided to move in with him. She hadn’t even been invited, but he’d let her stay anyway. Michael . . .

She touched her stomach. She wanted to let her baby stay.

“I’m going to administer the anesthetic now,” the nurse told her. “Okay?”

“Huh?” Her voice came out shaky and high-pitched, and something in her snapped. “No,” she whimpered. “I can’t.” She pushed herself up into a sitting position, crying harder now. “I can’t do this.” She slid down off the table held her gown together in the back. “I have to get out of here.” She bolted from the room, and the nurse followed after her. Maria found her way back down the hallway and slipped into the room where she’d changed into the gown. She changed back into her clothes as quickly as she could, and when she came out, the nurse was once again there.

“Maria, are you having second thoughts?” she asked respectfully.

She wasn’t having second thoughts; she was having a second decision. “I can’t do this,” she said. She doubted she was the first girl to back out at the very last second.

She rejoined her friend in the waiting room. Tess was still crying, less now, but when she looked up and saw Maria, confusion shone brightly in her eyes.

“Maria, what’s--”

“I wanna go home,” she cried. “Please.”

Tess didn’t ask questions, just put her arm around her and led her out to the car. The protestors were silent this time.








TBC . . .

-April
Image
LOVE IS MICHAEL AND MARIA.

User avatar
April
Roswell Fanatic
Posts: 1556
Joined: Tue Sep 28, 2004 9:32 am
Location: Somewhere. Anywhere.
Contact:

Part 73

Post by April » Sat Sep 26, 2009 8:39 am

Karin:
Yay for Maria not going throw with the abortion. Nay for her trusting Isabel. What's with her and Michael trusting her? For realz.
I know, they need to stop letting her get in their heads. Luckily, I think they're both realizing that they can't trust her.

Trixie:
Yay for little Michael or little Maria. I'm so glad you're gonna come into this world, pal. *start baby talk* Your parents are so silly billy. They're stubborn and acting dumb. You're the cutest baby aren't you? Yes you are. Yes you are. *end baby talk*
Nice. I should write you into the story so you can be a babysitter.
I really hope Michael checks on Maria. I know that's unlikely, but before she discovered that he was the love of her life, he was an awesome friend to her
Yeah, that is unlikely, because after everything that's happened, and everything he thinks happened between her and Billy, how does he just be her friend? I don't think he can.

Sara:
I held my breath the ENTIRE time Maria was at that clinic.
:lol: I know, I held my breath the entire time I was writing it, even though I'd known from the moment I made her pregnant that she wasn't going to have an abortion.

nibbles:
Oooh, it gives me so much pleasure that Isabel didn't get her way. Twice!
I know! It's really starting to piss her off, though.

Alison:
Hopefully Tess will complain to Kyle about Isabel and Michael supposedly sleeping together and Kyle will tell Tess about Isabel turning into a bunny boiler so that she can relay that onto Maria and Kyle can tell Michael about how insane Isabel is and what she said to Maria. Because god knows they couldn't possibly talk to each other about it.
:lol: Well, Tess and Kyle are going to step back from the drama for now. Tess now trusts Maria to figure it out herself.

Eva: I told you things would be more hopeful from here on out! You guys survived the rough stuff.

Leila:
*Sidenote* A new description for Isabel would be 'Whorabel' ( I don't know if someone else cam up with it but I think it's funny)
:lol: We'll add it to the 521 dictionary.
She still managed to pull the strings though her 'power' seems to melt away.
Yeah, it's becoming much more difficult for Isabel to be the puppet master, because Michael isn't falling for her tricks anymore, and now Maria's starting to think for herself. Plus, Isabel's starting to act a little crazy, which doesn't help her cause.

Christina:
I love the irony of Max being the one to "save" Maria from getting raped (again). I love that Max was the one to get Tess to help Maria throughout this. And, I love that he quoted Ghostbusters. He's turning into a real... um.. human. I guess. Unlike his sister.
:lol: The Ghostbusters thing was just totally random. I don't even know what made me think to throw that in there.
Isabel, or as I shall call her Psychobel, is the most insane character I think I've ever had the pleasure of reading in the fanfic world.
I take that as the highest compliment! Authors love their villains, you know. And Psychobel? Nice! Very fitting.
I'm missing those battles of wit between her and Max, though. They were fun.
Well, then this should make you happy: There will be some Max and Isabel scenes coming up. I love writing their scenes.
As for Maria... man, that poor girl. So... she's hit rock bottom, has had her shock, and realized that she can't go through with the abortion. She can only go up from here, right?
Yes. :D

Nove:
Wow, that was a captivating moment. Will illustrated there April. I felt like I was there with Maria.
Thanks, that scene was hard to write, but I wanted to make it feel as realistic as possible.

Nat:
I'm glad you didn't water down the scene at the abortion clinic because without being able to feel that intensity, it'd be hard to understand Maria's mindset in the moment.
I went back and forth on how I should write that scene, but eventually I decided the best way was to just write it and hopefully let it speak for itself.
And when are Kyle and Tess going to get back together?
Well, it's funny you ask that . . . ;)

And "Cruella de Iz? That has to be the most unique nickname for her so far. I love it!

killjoy:
And you know that whole bit where Isabel was standing outside Kyle's apartment watching him with Tess kind of freaked me out over her.I mean....it's like she's some evil nazi always putting them down and crapping on their lifes but there it seems like she actually cared or wanted them to get back with each other...in her own little warped way
Isn't she creepy? She just likes to know what's going on with everyone else so that she knows how to play them against each other if she needs to.

tequathisy:
Did Kyle hear that? Does he now know that Maria was lying about the paternity of the baby? Will he tell Michael the truth?
Yes, Kyle heard that, but . . . you'll see in this part that it went right over his head. :oops:

AnnViolet: A new feedbacker! Welcome to the 521 rollercoaster. I'm glad to know you're reading the fic. :)
I have to say Tess is my favorite character... which is funny because at the beginning of this story she was my least favorite. She's definitely grown up.
I think a lot of people weren't sure how to feel about her in the beginning, back when she was dating Max, but she's come so far, and now she's the person who's always trying to help her friends before helping herself.
I also love Max starting to become a decent human being... and I love how Liz is the reason for that. She definitely brings out the best in him.
And that's kind of weird, because Liz isn't the best human being herself. But for some reason, she's able to bring out the best in Max. He really does love her, in his own weird way.

Krista: More hope in this part. ;)


Thanks so much for you responses to that last part. I did a lot of research on abortion before I wrote it, and it was undoubtedly the hardest part of the fic for me to write, even though Maria didn't go through with it.


I'm dropping off more music, it seems. This one . . . I don't really think the lyrics match up well with the scene, but I just love the song. I love the way it sounds. "Worn Me Down" [EP Version] by Rachael Yamagata. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KXU00WFsAlM Try it when you see :)

I think this part should make you guys happy. Been awhile since I could say that.










Part 73








Maria lay in bed that night, not saying anything. All she could do was relive the day’s events in her mind over and over again. Had she gone through with what she’d said she was going to do, she wouldn’t have had a baby in her body anymore. But right now, that baby was still there.

It wasn’t until Tess came in and sat down on the bed that Maria started to talk. “It was awful, Tess,” she said, still lying down, facing away from her. “The room was cold, and the table was hard, and the suction machine was loud. They only turned it on for, like, a second, to make sure it was working, I guess. But it was the most horrible sound.”

“So you just . . . decided not to do it?” Tess asked.

Maria sighed and sat up, leaning back against the headboard, facing her friend now. “There was this painting on the ceiling,” she said. “All I can figure is it’s supposed to get you to think about something else.”

Tess snorted. “Who could think about anything else?”

Maria hesitated a moment. “Actually, I sort of did.”

“Oh.”

“Yeah. The painting was of this young guy and this young girl, and they were holding hands and running outside in the rain. And even though Michael and I never did that, I thought of him, and I thought of all the times he and I were happy. Like as happy as the people in the painting. And there were a lot of times. I sort of feel like we used to be those people.” She placed one hand atop her stomach. “When we made this baby, we were happy, and we were so in love. It’s not a mistake. It’s us. It’s a part of both of us. And I don’t really care about the larger debate—pro-choice and pro-life and all that. But I do care about my baby, and that kinda just hit me when I was back in that room. I love my baby, and I want it to be born.”

Tess smiled happily. “Wow,” she said. “So you pretty much had an epiphany?”

Maria nodded. “Pretty much.”

“I’m so proud of you, Maria.”

“But it’s not like this decision just fixes everything,” she made sure to note. “It’s still a really complicated situation.” And she’d been the one to make it so complicated. “Michael still doesn’t know the truth, and I’m still not sure when I’m gonna tell him.”

“What?”

“Yeah. I actually don’t wanna think about it right now.” She kind of just wanted to think about her baby, and imagine what it would feel like to be a mom. She was already a mom, in a way.

“Fair enough,” Tess decided, rising from the bed. “I’m just gonna back off. You know why? Because you made a really big decision today, and you made it on your own. I have so much respect for that.”

“Thanks,” Maria said. “That means a lot.” It had taken her awhile to make her decision, but she really felt as though she’d made the right one. “Oh, and thanks for going with me today. You were awesome.”

Tess smiled and said, “So were you,” as she left the room.

Yeah, I kind of was, wasn’t I? Maria thought, feeling encouraged for the first time in a long time. She felt like she’d done something today she’d never been able to do before. She felt like she’d become an adult.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~

When Isabel woke up and walked out into the living room the next morning, she hoped she was still dreaming. Because what she saw could not have possibly been happening. Michael couldn’t have possibly been setting up dozens of paintings of Maria DeLuca in the living room, could he?

“Oh my god,” she said, realizing she wasn’t asleep. “This is like my worst nightmare.”

He didn’t say anything. He didn’t even look at her. He just kept setting up his paintings. He had an easel for each one. It was like their living room was suddenly transformed into an art museum full of really ugly paintings.

“Do we have to have all these out?” she asked.

“Yep. My exhibit’s in a week. I gotta put the finishing touches on everything.”

“It’s just . . . Maria, Maria everywhere.” She tugged on her hair. “Kinda feels like I can’t get away from her.”

“Isabel, the way you’ve been acting these past few days, just be glad I’m letting you stay here.”

“The way I’ve been acting?” she echoed. She knew she’d been a little crazed, probably because she was on edge about giving birth in a matter of days and couldn’t control herself. But she could easily turn the tables on Michael. “How about the way you’ve been acting? Mope, get drunk, almost fuck Isabel, mope. Decorate the living room with Maria.” She grunted. “You so need to get over her. She has nothing to offer you anymore.” She whirled around and stormed back into the bedroom. She had to get away from those paintings.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~

I think your daddy would love you, Maria thought about her baby as she stuffed one of the couch pillows up under her t-shirt. She looked at herself in the mirror, and even though she knew her stomach wasn’t really that big yet . . . she knew it would be someday. Someday not long from now. Oh, god.

“Look at you,” Tess said, poking her head in the bedroom.

“No, don’t look at me,” Maria said, quickly removing the pillow. She tossed it down on her bed and said, “I’m dreading getting that big.”

Tess shrugged. “It’s gonna happen now.”

“Yeah. God, I hope I’m not pregnant with, like, twins or triplets or something.” She hadn’t even considered that possibility. “I wouldn’t even fit through the door.”

“You could be the next octo-mom,” Tess joked.

“Huh, no.”

Tess laughed. “It’s probably just one. But you’ll have to have another ultrasound soon.”

Maria nodded. It was hard to see much of anything on the last ultrasound. If she went back in a few weeks, maybe she could actually see the baby’s shape. Or . . . it was probably still forming.

“You know, I’m feeling sort of . . .” Tess strolled into the room. “I don’t know if envious is the right word, but . . .”

“Don’t feel envious.”

“I honestly can’t wait to be pregnant,” Tess said. “I mean, I can wait for a few more years, obviously, but after that, I’m all for it.”

“Well, I hope you’re all for the morning sickness and boob soreness and moodiness, too.”

Tess sat down on the bed, smiling a little. She grabbed the pillow and clutched it tightly to her chest. “No one said it’d be easy,” she said. “Might be easier if Michael knew.”

Maria shrugged. “Might be.” She still wasn’t sure how she felt about telling him, though. She’d have to think about it some more. She really appreciated that Tess was allowing her to make her own decision instead of threatening to tell him herself this time.

Tess startled slightly when her cell phone rang. “It’s Kyle,” she said when she glanced down at the number.

“Go for it,” Maria told her. Those two seemed to be reconnecting these days.

“Are you sure?” Tess asked. “He might ask me to hang out today. I can stay here with you if you want.”

Maria rolled her eyes. No way was she going to confine her best friend like that. “I don’t need a babysitter,” she said. “Although I probably will someday. I hope you’ll do it for free.”

Tess smiled and went back into her bedroom to take her phone call.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~

One simple phone call turned into an entire afternoon. Kyle asked Tess to go out to lunch with him, and of course she accepted the invitation. After that, they went to see a movie, and then Tess convinced Kyle to accompany her to the mall, where she did more browsing than actual shopping. She did buy a new black, lacy bra at Victoria’s Secret, though, and she made sure Kyle noticed it. Without a doubt, it made him think about sex.

“Let’s sit down for a minute,” he said as they came upon a bench. “My feet are killing me.”

“Inexperienced shopper,” she teased.

“Well, yeah.”

They sat down, and she thought back to the last time they had been in that mall together. “Do you remember when we were here doing that car competition?” she asked.

“Oh, yeah, and Maria won.”

“Yeah.” She giggled. “And you were the first one out.”

“Of course.”

“And I bailed for Britney Spears tickets. And backstage passes to meet her. You know, those tickets are for the first week of April. I don’t remember the exact date. But we could still go.” She’d already missed out on going to the concert with Maria due to the depression they’d both settled into. But now that she was climbing out of that and she and Kyle were starting to reconnect again, there was no reason why they couldn’t go together.

“Yeah, that’d be fun,” he said.

“Cool. We can learn all the dance moves to all the songs beforehand.”

“Oh, I already know ‘em.”

She laughed, believing it.

“You know,” he said, turning to face her, “you look . . . really happy today.”

“Hmm, more like hopeful,” she said. And being full of hope made her feel happy.

“Really?”

“Yeah, is that so surprising?”

“With everything that’s been goin’ on lately . . . yeah. Yeah, it is,” he replied, resting his arm on the back of the bench. “Why are you hopeful?”

Well, there’s the fact that your arm’s almost around my shoulders, for starters, she thought, scooting a little closer to him. “We’ve had a really great day together,” she pointed out.

“We have,” he agreed. “So there’s that.”

“And . . . there’s some Maria stuff.” She was reluctant to delve into it, because she still felt obligated to keep the details of her friend’s ordeal a secret.

“Oh, yeah? What kind of stuff?”

“Um . . . let’s just say she took a step in the right direction yesterday. A big step.”

He nodded, clearly not getting it. “That’s all you can tell me?”

“For now, yeah. How’s Michael?”

“He’s . . . not so much steppin’ in the right direction,” Kyle replied.

“Yeah. Did he really . . . I mean I heard he slept with Isabel. Is that true?”

“What? No,” Kyle answered right away. “I mean, he thought he might, but he didn’t. He stopped himself.”

“Oh.” That was good to hear.

“What made you think--”

“Isabel,” she cut in. “Isabel made us think, me and Maria.”

“Oh, crap.”

“Yeah, we should’ve known she was lying. I thought she might be, but she convinced Maria, and then Maria convinced me.”

“Well, Maria should be glad to hear they didn’t,” Kyle said. “They did sorta make out, though, but not because he wanted her or . . .” He trailed off and shook his head. “It was just ‘cause he was goin’ through something. You know? He’s still going through something.”

“Yeah.” She understood what it was like to ‘go through something.’ Her junior year of college had given her more somethings to go through than ever before.

“But Isabel’s not holding back,” Kyle went on. “She’s made it pretty clear she wants to be with him again.”

“Of course.” She’d suspected as much. “But he doesn’t wanna be with her.”

“No, he still wants to be with Maria, whether he’ll admit it or not.”

Tess smiled. Maybe she was being too hopeful, but she had this undeniable feeling that it was all going to work out between Michael and Maria.

“But with her being pregnant with Billy’s kid . . . that really screws things up,” Kyle said. “I mean, did you hear that ‘pretend to be papa’ thing?” He grunted. “Obviously he’s not taking responsibility. He doesn’t even think of it as his kid.”

“Well, actually . . .” Don’t say anything, she told herself, sort of finding his cluelessness adorable. As much as she wanted to tell Kyle Maria was having Michael’s baby, she couldn’t, because he would inevitably tell Michael, and Maria would end up getting mad at Tess for saying anything in the first place. “Never mind.”

“What?” Kyle urged.

“I just . . . I think Maria can make things right with Michael, if she really wants to. In fact, I know she can.”

“That’d be nice. Then we might see the re-emergence of the Core Four.”

She smiled again. “Yeah.” She’d never been happier than when they had all been such close friends.

He lowered his arm from the back of the bench and slapped both his hands against his legs. “So you ready to go?” he asked.

“Uh, that depends. Where are we going?” It was going to start getting dark out soon, but she wasn’t particularly eager for her day with Kyle to end.

“I was thinking we could go back to my place,” he said, averting her eyes as he mumbled the words.

Anticipatory shivers traveled up her spine. She didn’t want to get her hopes up . . . but then again, she was hopeful.

“Come on,” he said, standing up. “I’ve got something to show you.” He held out his hand to help her up.

She wrinkled her forehead in confusion, not quite sure what he could be talking about. She placed her hand in his, and he pulled her to her feet.

Once they got back to Kyle’s apartment, she was a bundle of nerves and excitement. “Kyle,” she said as they stood outside the door, “is this gonna get kinky?”

He laughed. “Not unless you want it to.”

She raised her eyebrows. Maybe she did want it to.

“Just close your eyes,” he instructed. “Not kinky, I promise.”

She gave him a questioning look and did as she was told.

“Okay, now keep ‘em closed.”

She could hear him opening the door, and then he took hold of her hand and led her inside.

“Don’t peek.”

“I’m not,” she promised, stepping forward slowly. “What’s going on?” she asked.

“Keep your eyes closed.”

She heard him shut the door, and she got the feeling that she was going to like whatever he was about to show her.

“Okay,” he said, “open your eyes.”

When she did, the sight before her warmed her heart. “Oh!” she gasped, immediately dropping her Victoria’s Secret bag to the floor. “Kyle.” Set up in his living room was a sizable dwelling, walls made of couch cushions, roof made of two pinned together quilts, every pillow imaginable strewn about the inside. “You built me a pillow fort!” she exclaimed in delight.

“Yeah, I built you a pillow fort. Is that lame?”

“Are you kidding? It’s amazing.” And it was such a Kyle thing to do.

“I was worried it’d be lame,” he admitted.

“No.” There was nothing lame about it. Just the fact that he had listened to her so intently when she’d told him about her and Maria’s pillow fort was miraculous, something most guys didn’t do. But the fact that he had gone through the effort to build her a new one made her heart swell with adoration. As if she didn’t adore Kyle enough already. “What made you decide to do this?”

“You did,” he said. “You said you never felt safer and less afraid than you did when you and Maria were in that pillow fort. You said you’d give anything to feel that way again. And I’d give anything to make you feel that way.”

She could have sworn he took her breath away when he said that. A feeling of longing swirled around in her stomach, and she had to touch him. “Kyle . . .” She reached up and stroked his cheek. But that wasn’t enough. She wrapped her arms around his shoulders and hugged him. “That may be the nicest thing anyone’s ever said to me.”

He pressed his hands against the small of her back, keeping her close.

“And I so didn’t expect this,” she went on, “but I love you for doing it.” She pulled back just slightly, just enough so that she could look him in the eye, and the three big words just came spilling out. “I love you.”

He just smiled.

Oh my god, I can’t believe I just said that, she thought as her heartbeat sped up. But she felt it. Kyle was the only man she loved, and as she stood there gazing up at him, she knew he was the only man she would ever love.

“Wow,” he managed to get out. “That's . . .” He brought his arms back down to his sides, and she hoped she hadn’t just freaked him out.

“I’m sorry I didn’t say it sooner,” she apologized, backing away just slightly.

“No, you said it the other night, after you fainted.”

“I did?” She blushed, embarrassed. “Well, I meant it. And I know I screwed things up before. Lots of leftover Max issues. But there hasn’t been a day since the day we ended things that I haven’t missed you and wanted you back in my life.”

He just stood there, speechless, seemingly unable to believe he was hearing all of this.

“I’m sorry if I’m saying too much too fast,” she said, tucking her hair behind her ears nervously. “I just . . . no, actually, I’m not sorry, because I’ve gone long enough without saying it.” It felt . . . uplifting to get the words out there. Finally. “I love you, Kyle,” she said again. “I’m in love with you.” She couldn’t think of anything else to say to tell him how she felt.

He opened his mouth as though he wanted to respond, but no words came out. Kyle was usually a talkative guy, but of course he had to pick now of all times to be the kind of guy who couldn’t vocalize anything.

“Now would be the time for you to say something,” she suggested, starting to fear the worst. What if he had changed his mind about her? What if he had decided she wasn’t the girl for him anymore? What if he’d fallen out of love with her? Maybe it was a little too late as far as she was concerned, and maybe she’d just humiliated herself. “I should just hide in the pillow fort,” she suggested, ducking down to get inside.

( :) )

“Tess . . .” He grabbed her arm and pulled her towards him. His mouth practically fell onto hers.

Oh my god, she thought, her whole body tensing at first, but only briefly. She relaxed into him in an instant, wrapping her arms around him, reveling in the feel of his arms wrapping around her as they kissed. In a way, it felt like it had been so long since their lips had met like this, but in another way, it felt like hardly any time had passed at all, and they were still the same people they had been the night they’d gotten recklessly drunk and fallen into bed together. Carefree, innocent, happy . . .

He kissed her as though he couldn’t get enough of her. His fingertips pressed hard against her back, and she burrowed her hands in his hair. This felt so good. So good.

“Wait a minute,” she gasped, pulling back just slightly. “Should we talk?” That had been the problem last time, the lack of talking, the miscommunication. Not only was that the reason why they’d split up, but it was also the reason why they’d stayed apart for as long as they had. She didn’t want a repeat of that.

“I love you, too,” he said in a rush. “What else is there to talk about?”

She smiled. Love was enough. Just liked she’d always thought it should be . . . love was enough. That and a little time.

He bent forward, again seeking out her lips with his own. When they kissed again, it was softer, not so animalistic. But still, Tess felt something primal swirling deep inside her. She wanted to feel his skin, and she wanted him to feel hers. She wanted to take this as far as they possibly could tonight, because they’d gone so long without. And she could tell by the way his hands were touching her that he wanted the exact same thing.

She moaned and lifted one leg to wrap around him. He took that as a sign to lift her up into his arms. He carried her over to his door and pressed her back against it. She brought both her legs down to stand on her own two feet and kicked off her shoes, nudging them aside. Who needed shoes? Who needed any of these stupid clothes when she and Kyle loved each other?

He placed both his hands in the curve of her waist and pressed his forehead against hers. She stared straight ahead at his chest and trailed her fingers down the center, across all the buttons that were keeping his body from her view. He slipped his knee in between her legs, causing her to moan, and she unbuttoned his shirt deliberately slowly.

When he kissed her, thrusting his tongue into her mouth, she accidentally ripped off one of the buttons. Oh, well, she thought, ripping the rest of them. She pulled his shirt open, smoothing her eager hands against his bare chest. He shrugged his shirt off his shoulders and tossed it down onto the floor. She smiled. Kyle was gorgeous.

He shoved his hands up under her shirt and didn’t waste any time pulling it upward, yanking it off. She gasped as the air came into contact with her skin, and then his hands did. He had great hands. Artistic hands.

She pressed her head back against the door and arched her hips forward to grind against his. She felt him pressing insistently inside his jeans, and it felt so good. He smoothed his hands up her sides, kneading her skin with his fingers, and pushed her bra-clad breasts together, bending down to press a sucking kiss to her cleavage.

“Oh!” she cried out as, in an instant, his hands were behind her back, underneath her hair and underneath her bra, massaging her spine. She fell forward against him as he worked to unhook her bra clasp. She felt it snap open and smiled. Her breasts fell free, and she lowered her arms so her bra could fall to the floor. She pressed her naked chest against his, and he tangled one hand in her hair, shoving his other hand down the back of her jeans. He cupped her buttocks in one hand, and she threw her head backwards, loving the feeling of being so close and connected with him.

He pressed her back against the door, rubbing his pelvis against her. He pressed a kiss to the right side of her neck and then bent down to cup her breasts in both hands and take one into his mouth.

Oh, I’m not gonna survive this, she thought, her eyes fluttering closed and then shooting open again as he swirled his tongue around her nipple. There’s no way I’m gonna survive this.

He dropped down to his knees, trailing wet, sloppy kisses down her stomach, stopping when he came to her jeans. He looked up at her questioningly, and in response, she reached down and unbuttoned the button for him. He grinned and pulled down the zipper, then took both sides of her jeans in his hands and pulled down on them. She moved from side to side, helping him get her out of them. Once they were pooled at her feet, she stepped out of them, and he threw them aside. She was left only wearing her panties, and she couldn’t wait to be out of those, too.

He stood up and lifted her into his arms again. She wrapped both her legs around his waist and both her arms around his neck, clinging to him as he stumbled away from the door and back over towards the pillow fort. She moved up and down just slightly, just enough to feel some friction from his erection, still confined in his own pants. He groaned at the maneuver and squeezed her bottom in his hands before setting her down on the ground again.

He spun her around, and suddenly her back was to his front. She felt his cock hard against the small of her back for just a moment before he dropped to his knees again. He hooked his thumbs into the sides of her bikini underwear and pulled down, ridding her of her last garment. She stepped out of the underwear, and he splayed both his hands against her bottom, almost as though he were a sculptor and she was his clay. She tangled her hands in her own hair as he pressed a soft kiss to her bottom, then kissed a path up her spine. She piled all her hair on top of her head, and he kissed the back of her neck. Her nerves there were so on end that it had an especially pleasurable feeling.

I so love you, Kyle, she thought as he wrapped his arms around her stomach. He trailed one hand lower to sink in between her legs and touch her. She was already so wet, but when she felt his fingers there, she got even more turned on.

She leaned back against him as together they turned towards the pillow fort. She climbed inside first, letting out a lust-filled sigh as she settled in on the mountain of pillows. She gripped her hair tightly in her hands and watched as Kyle stood outside the fort and kicked off his shoes. It wasn’t until she heard him slide his zipper down that she smiled and thought to herself, This is really happening. She touched herself as she watched his pants drop to the floor, followed by his boxers. He shoved them aside, and when he bent down and crawled inside the fort, naked as the day he was born, she was relieved to see a condom in his hand. No unprotected sex for them, considering what their friends were going through.

He smiled, opened the foil package, and rolled the condom onto himself as he lay atop her, positioning himself in between her legs.

Oh god. She thought she was saying the words out loud, but all she could hear from herself was ragged, panting breaths as he urged her legs farther apart with his knees. He stroked his thumb lovingly across her cheek, guiding his member to her entrance with his free hand. When she felt him make that first gentle yet forceful push into her, she dug her head back into the pillows and moaned. He eased into her slowly, and she had to take a moment to readjust to his size. It wasn’t as though it hurt; she’d just forgotten how good it felt.

He mated his forehead to hers and began to move slowly. She held onto his shoulders as her body rocked back and forth with his. Oh god, this feels so good, she thought. Even though he’d been a virgin not that long ago, Kyle was now a sex god. He knew exactly what to do to make her feel like she was going to explode.

When he picked up the pace, she gasped and held onto him tighter, digging her fingernails into his arms. His entire body was slippery and covered in sweat. He felt so good.

He hooked one hand under her knee and lifted it up higher, opening her up even farther for him, and the slight change in position elevated her hips farther. He continued to thrust into her at such an angle now that he was really hitting the spot. Really.

“Oh!” she cried, clinging to him desperately. She didn’t want him to stop. She was almost there.

He buried his face in the side of her neck as his body pounded into hers now. She could feel his hot breath against her skin, and more importantly, she could feel her orgasm rising within her. Just a little bit more . . .

She opened her mouth and screamed silently as she came. Her entire body felt as though it were flying apart into a million different pieces, and if it hadn’t been for Kyle on top of her, enveloping her smaller body with his larger one, she swore she would have lost herself. He came shortly after, his entire body clenching and then relaxing as he slumped against her, exhausted. He kept her face pressed to her neck, and she reached up and stroked his sweat-soaked hair. He stayed inside her as both of them panted for air.

Tess had never felt safer and less afraid than she did lying there in that pillow fort with Kyle. Never.








TBC . . .

-April
Image
LOVE IS MICHAEL AND MARIA.

User avatar
April
Roswell Fanatic
Posts: 1556
Joined: Tue Sep 28, 2004 9:32 am
Location: Somewhere. Anywhere.
Contact:

Part 74

Post by April » Mon Sep 28, 2009 8:10 am

I told you guys things would get better if you just stuck with it! ;) That was my first adult-rated K/T scene ever. Woohoo!

Trixie:
Isabel may think that Kyle and Tess together enables her to manipulate them more, but she doesn't know what a strong team they can be. That just makes me smile. K+T, don't disappoint me please.
Kyle and Tess are solid now. They won't disappoint.

Nove:
The pillow fort was just most sweetest thing.
I thought so, too. ;)

nibbles:
I'm so thrilled for him that he and Tess are back together. Although, I think the breakup was good for them. Kyle was naive and immature in a lot of ways and he had Tess on a pedestal. Now they can have a more grown up, adult relationship. (And boy is it living up to the 'adult' status.)
:lol: I'm a sucker for the adult-rated scenes. You're so right, though. This break-up, in retrospect, was really good for them.

Leila:
Isabel is slowly realizing that she is making mistakes and has to reconsider her strategy.
Yeah, Isabel has been slipping up lately. If she wants to hold onto what little power she has left, she's going to need to act fast.

It's nice to see a return of the stalking. ;)

Eva: Thanks so much! I'm glad you liked the scene!

killjoy: I felt like posting a little "This part is dedicated to killjoy" line before the last part, but I thought that might give away the Lamptrimmer sex. But yeah, it was for you. Just so you know. ;)

Ginger: Yeah, bunny boiler, that's . . . an interesting term. But killjoy's explanation is spot-on. Luckily, Isabel will never become a bunny boiler. Michael and Maria don't even have a bunny. They have a pug. She could be a pug boiler. :shock: No, she won't fall that far off the wagon.

Alison:
I honestly thought you'd forgotten how to write happy updates, April.
I was just biding my time. :twisted:
And yay for Maria. I remember that Maria, the one with fire and spark. Welcome back, Maria, give me a hug, I'm so proud of you!
Let's hope Maria's fire grows brighter and she tells Michael everything.

Krista: You don't like Michael and Maria? :( Ah, that's okay. They've both done some pretty dumb, frustrating things.



Thanks for the feedback. As astonishing as this is . . . there aren't that many updates left. Maybe 7. :shock: Shocking, I know. But thanks so much for sticking with this, even during the really rough parts.








Part 74







Michael stayed awake almost all night working on his paintings. He kept finding little things to fix or make better, ways to make Maria look more perfect. Even though she wasn’t. He found it hard to fathom that he’d probably never paint Maria again.

At about 2:00 a.m., he slipped into the bedroom, being as quiet as he could. Isabel was asleep, and the last thing he wanted to do was wake her up and deal with whatever insanity she threw at him next. He made his way over to his nightstand and took out the drawing of Maria, the one she’d tried to throw away. He couldn’t trust her not to destroy that drawing. She’d probably rip it in half, and he wanted to make sure that image of Maria asleep was captured permanently.

He went back out into the living room and spent the majority of the night turning that drawing into a painting. It turned out better than he’d thought it would. He thought he might screw it up, considering how screwed up he was and how screwed up she was, too. But it was a great painting, one of his best ever. It looked just like Maria. Just like her.

He stepped back, surveying his new painting, and sighed. He had a problem, not with the painting but with his life. He knew two pregnant girls, girls who had both cheated on him. He loved the girl who wasn’t carrying his child, but he didn’t love the girl who was.

Dammit.

He dipped his brush in black paint and lowered it to the bottom right-hand corner where he would usually write his signature and the date, but this time, he wrote something different. He wrote I still love you in the corner of the painting. Maybe if she ventured to the art museum, she’d see it. It didn’t really matter, though. Because he was stuck with Isabel.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~

When Tess opened her eyes in the morning, Kyle was gazing back at her. He’d been awake for awhile now, content to just lie in the pillow fort and watch her sleep. She’d never looked more beautiful to him.

“Hey,” she said, smiling.

“Hey,” he returned. He had one arm around her shoulders, the other draped over her midsection. He’d begun to think that waking up with her this way was just a distant dream, one that would never happen again.

“This is a good pillow fort,” she said.

“You think so?”

“Yeah, don’t you?”

“Oh, yeah. And it’s already been christened.”

She giggled and nuzzled her face into his chest. “Oh, it feels like it’s been so long since we woke up this way. Too long.” She lifted her head, and he bent down and gave her a kiss. He really had a newfound confidence in his kissing and sex abilities after last night.

“I missed you so much, Kyle.”

“Not as much as I missed you,” he murmured against her lips. “It’s just been me and Frank for over a month now.”

“Speaking of Frank . . .” She pointed down to the entrance of the pillow fort. Frank had chosen to curl up by their feet.

“Oh, get outta here, man!” Kyle shooed him. Having the dog there just felt weird. “Get your own girlfriend.”

She laughed, then stopped abruptly and echoed, “Girlfriend?”

Did I say something wrong? he wondered. Or something right?

“Am I your girlfriend again?”

“Well . . . that depends,” he answered carefully. “Am I your boyfriend?” He knew he wanted to be her boyfriend.

“I asked you first,” she pointed out.

“Well, I asked you second.”

She rolled her eyes and smiled. Placing one hand over his heart, she replied, “I want us to be together again, Kyle. Not just, like, sex together, but . . . together. You know?”

He nodded. “Yeah.” That was exactly what he wanted, too.

“I’ll tell you what,” she said. “Why don’t you kiss me once if you don’t want us to be together and twice if you do.”

“You’re just trying to make out with me, aren’t you?” he guessed.

“Yeah, pretty much. But I also wanna know.”

He could play along with that. “Alright, once if I don’t want that, twice if I do.” He bent down and pressed another kiss to her lips, a longer, more drawn-out one this time. Then he pulled away and just stared at her for a moment, trying to look serious as he pretended that was all she was going to get.

She wrinkled her forehead in confusion, and then he grinned and gave her the second kiss that meant he did want them to be together again.

“Oh, thank God,” she said. “You had me worried for a minute there.”

“I’m tricky like that.” He stroked his thumb over her abdominal muscles, then lowered it to slip in between her legs.

“Oh, Kyle,” she gasped, instantly moving against him.

He withdrew his hand and smoothed it over her bottom. His girl had the greatest ass. He was going to have to tell her that in case she didn’t already know.

“I can’t believe this,” she said.

“What?”

“In the midst of all the insanity, you and I are making sense.”

“And making whoopi,” he added goofily.

“Making whoopi?” she echoed. “If I didn’t love you so damn much, I’d think that was a nerdy thing to say.”

He shrugged. He was who he was, and now he knew that she loved him for who he was.

“Didn’t we already ‘make whoopi’ last night?” she asked, drumming her fingers against his chest.

“Doesn’t mean we can’t do it again this morning.”

“Ooh, you’re right, it doesn’t.” She kissed him forcefully, rubbing her entire body against his as she did so. Awesome. He had a little morning wood going on, and if she wanted to score some a.m. action, he could definitely work that out for her.

All of a sudden, the door swung open and Michael came trundling in. “Hey, Kyle, you got any good acrylics I could borrow—oh god!” He immediately looked away when he saw the two of them in the pillow fort. “Holy crap.”

Tess blushed and pulled the blanket up over her head. Kyle just lay back and smirked proudly.

“Uh . . . I’m sorry,” Michael apologized, clearly mortified that he had walked in on this. “I didn’t know you guys were . . .” He shook his head. “What the hell’s Frank doin’ in there? Come on, buddy. Come with me.” He patted his leg with his hand, and Frank followed him out of the apartment.

“Nice,” Kyle said.

“Oh my god.” Tess laughed and poked her head out from under the blanket again. “We can never let my dad walk in on us.”

“Same with my dad,” he said.

“Okay.”

“Okay.” He put all thoughts of interrupters out of his mind and kissed her passionately again. There was still more fun to be had in that fort.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Maria was already eating lunch by the time Tess got home. She tried to slip in the door quietly, as though she were trying not to get caught.

“Where were you last night?” Maria asked, shoving the last bite of a doughnut into her mouth. She was really starting to crave doughnuts now. Rosy applesauce was so yesterday.

“Sorry, I should’ve called,” Tess said, her face growing red. “I was at Kyle’s.”

“Really? And what were you doing at Kyle’s?”

“Um . . . Kyle.”

Maria’s eyes bulged. She should have recognized the just-got-laid look on her friend’s face.

“We got back together last night,” Tess chirped excitedly.

“Like together? Like you guys are a couple again?”

“Yeah.”

For the first time in a long time, Maria felt genuinely thrilled by something. “Oh my god, that’s great news!” she exclaimed. “It’s about time. God, I’m so happy for you guys.”

“Thanks,” Tess said, “and I guess what? I don’t think miscommunication’s gonna be a problem this time, because I told him I love him, and he said he loves me, too. And he built me a pillow fort.”

Maria wrinkled her forehead in confusion and hopped up on the kitchen counter, ready to hear all about it. “A what?”

“A pillow fort,” Tess repeated. “Don’t you remember that time when we were little and we made that fort in the living room out of couch cushions and pillows and stuff?”

“No.”

“Well, I do. I told him all about it, and it was just so sweet and romantic that he re-created it for me. We actually did it in there. Best sex ever.”

Maria cringed. “Okay, I’m having mental images I really don’t wanna have now.” Over the course of the past six months, Kyle had become very much like an annoying little brother to her, and no girl wanted to envision her annoying little brother boinking.

“No, I’m serious,” Tess kept on. “Kyle the spaz became Kyle the stud last night. I’ve never had it so good.”

“I can tell.” Maria had never seen her friend look so vibrant and awake and alive.

“I’m just so excited. Kyle and I have gone through so much, and to be able to come out of it in tact again . . .” She sighed happily. “It’s a great feeling.”

Maria nodded. “I bet it is.” She wouldn’t really know since she and Michael weren’t in tact at all.

“And I know this sounds corny,” Tess went on, “but I can really envision us lasting forever now. I mean, I know it’s not always gonna be cloud nine-ish like this, but I just feel . . . I don’t know, strong. I feel like Kyle and I are strong together.”

“Strong and horny,” Maria teased.

“Well . . .” Tess shrugged in admittance.

“No, seriously, Tess, I’m really happy for you. You deserve this,” Maria said.

“So do you. Not with Kyle, though. With Michael.”

“Yeah.” Maria wasn’t sure she deserved anything good after some of the stunts she had pulled. Michael still had her, though, all of her. Of that much, she was sure. “Actually,” she said, “I was, uh . . . I was thinking about Michael a lot last night. I was thinking about all sorts of things.”

“Oh, yeah, speaking of Michael, it turns out, he did not have sex with Isabel,” Tess blurted out with a smile.

“How do you know?” Maria prayed it was true, but she didn’t want to get her hopes up in case it wasn’t.

“Kyle told me. Apparently he made out with her, but it wasn’t, like, sexy. It was a misery make-out. We’ve all had those.”

“Huh, Kyle’s word versus Isabel’s,” she considered.

“Yeah, but who’s more trustworthy, who’s Michael’s best friend, and who has now motive to lie? I’ll take Kyle’s word for it.”

“Yeah, me, too,” she decided. “Well, that’s a relief.” She really hated that her actions had driven Michael to a misery make-out with Isabel, but if he had stopped himself before it’d gone too far, that meant there was some hope to hold onto.

“I would’ve lost a lot of respect for him if he’d . . .” Tess let that sentence fade. “But he didn’t. So that’s good. Kyle says he’s still all about you.”

Why? Maria wondered. She’d done nothing but hurt him with her lies, lies he still thought were truths.

“Maybe that’s just the encouragement you need to tell him about . . . everything,” Tess suggested.

“Nice segue.”

“From cloud nine to cloud confusion. That’s how I roll.”

Maria hopped down off the counter and wrung her hands together nervously. “I guess he has a way better chance of knowing now that I’m going through with the pregnancy. I mean, all he’d have to do is ask for a paternity test.”

“That’s right. You could save him the trouble and tell him yourself.”

Maria shrugged. “I could.” She headed down the hallway to her bedroom.

“I hope you do,” Tess said, following her.

“It’s not like I can rely on the Billy cover story anymore. Ass.”

“That’s a good point.”

Maria flopped down on her bed, continuing to talk herself through the issue. “And so many people already know. Us, Max, Liz, Marty, Billy. Isabel.

“Also a good point.”

“And as for something like adoption . . .”

“Whoa, wait, adoption?” Tess cut in. “You’re giving your baby up for adoption?”

“No, I’ve just been trying to consider all my options. Not that adoption’s not a good thing; I just think . . . I kept my baby so I could know my baby, not so I could give it away.”

Tess nodded and sat down beside her. “Okay, so let’s put this as simply as possible: Your baby’s gonna be born. You’re gonna be a mom. What choice do you have but to tell Michael he’s the dad?”

“No choice, I guess,” she replied. “Unless . . .”

“Oh, here we go,” Tess groaned.

“No, hear me out. I could leave Santa Fe.”

“What? Leave Santa Fe?” Tess made a face as though the idea were completely absurd. And maybe it was.

“Yeah, I could go to Massachusetts,” she said, “at the end of the semester. Marty and Francis have a spare bedroom. I’m sure they’d let me stay. Marty says he really likes it there.”

Tess sighed. “Oh, Maria . . .”

“I could go there, have the baby, avoid telling Michael, or at least prolong it for awhile.” The more she said about it, the more ridiculous it sounded, even to her. But she didn’t want to rule it out just yet.

“Why would you prolong it?” Tess asked. “What’s the point?”

“I could tell him when I’m more . . . ready.” Of course, she knew that he might hate her for keeping it a secret from him for so long. He had a right to be a part of both his children’s lives, and she knew that now.

“Look, I personally think the Massachusetts idea is a crazy idea,” Tess came right out and said, “but I’m gonna stand back and let you make your own decision on this, because I know you’ll make the right one. Just like you did yesterday.” She gave Maria an encouraging pat on the back and rose to her feet. “Let me know what you decide,” she said as she walked out of the room.

Maria nodded. When she made her decision, Tess would be the first to know.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~

“Mmm,” Liz moaned as she lay in bed next to Max that afternoon. “That was nice.” He’d taken the day off work, and they were taking full advantage of it, having sex on just about every square inch of his suite. Max had gotten over his pregnancy fears, though now that Liz knew Maria was expecting, she understood the fears better.

Max stroked her hair and said, “Are you sure nice is the right word?”

“More like naughty,” she amended. “I didn’t know I was that flexible.” The positions Max managed to get her into never ceased to amaze her.

“I did.” He smirked.

“Well, now I know, too.” She traced out invisible designs on his chest, trying to approach the next subject carefully. There was something that had been on her mind for awhile now, something that she wanted to discuss with her boyfriend, but something that seemed to freak every guy out. “You know,” she said, “I spend so much time over here, it’s almost like I live here.” She waited for a response.

He chuckled. “Nice hint.”

Damn, she thought, he caught me. “I’m just saying, I think it’d be neat if we lived together someday.”

“It’ be ‘neat,’ huh?”

“Yeah.” She’d known Max for awhile now, and even though their relationship had been topsy-turvy to say the least, she felt ready to take that next step and make that bigger commitment if he did.

“I gotta get a house before we do anything like that,” he said. “And don’t you have a nine-month lease on your apartment?”

“Yeah.” Was he coming up with excuses? “But maybe by the time that’s up, you’ll have found a place and I can move in. You know, if we’re still together.”

“Oh, we’ll still be together,” he promised her.

“You sound so sure.”

“Well, I am sure. Aren’t you?”

She propped herself up on her elbow so that she could look down at him. “I’m not sure about anything with you, Max,” she told him. “I mean, I’m sure that I love you and I wanna be with you; and I know that’s how you feel about me, too. But look at Michael and Maria. They had, like, the perfect relationship, and even they couldn’t make it work. So what chance do we have?”

Max grunted. “Okay, first off, their relationship wasn’t perfect. If it was, they’d still be together. Second, they’re gonna get back together eventually; everybody knows this. And third, as far as I know, I don’t have a pregnant ex-girlfriend re-entering my life after a seven and a half month absence. So we’re okay.”

“All good points,” she admitted. “But you have to admit, Max, their relationship was solid. Like stable. Like more stable than we’re ever gonna be.”

“Oh, well,” he dismissed. “Maybe we’re addicted to the instability.”

“Yeah, I guess.” She decided she was going to have to be satisfied with that and climbed on top of him, ready for another go round if he was up for it. She nibbled playfully on his neck and swirled her lower body against his. It was so easy to get him hard.

A knock on the front door interrupted their sexiness. Liz groaned and rolled off him. “Who do you think that is?” she asked.

“Probably Roger begging for his job back. I’ll take care of it,” Max said, sitting up.

“Um, Max? You’d better take of you first.” She pointed to the little mountain beneath the covers. No, not little. Big mountain. It was big.

“Right,” he said.

“Yeah. I’ll go get the door.” She got out of bed and slipped on his shirt, buttoning it up. It went midway down her thigh, covered up everything that needed covering.

“Wow, that’s sexy,” he said, looking her up and down.

She smiled and left the bedroom, closing the door.

“If it’s Roger, tell him to go fuck a sheep,” Max called after her.

She rolled her eyes and made her way to the front door. When she opened it, she was surprised to see Maria there instead. What was she doing at Max’s place? “Maria. Hi,” Liz greeted unsurely. “What-what’re you doing here?”

“I went by your apartment first, but you weren’t there, so I figured I’d check here,” Maria explained. “And lo and behold, here you are.”

So she’s looking for me? That was still strange. “What’s up?”

“Um, I just need to talk to you about something,” Maria replied.

“To me?”

“Yeah, is that okay?”

“Sure. Come in.” Liz stepped aside and Maria came in. It was extremely weird to see Maria there. Liz doubted she’d ever set foot in any Evans Hotel anywhere.

Liz shut the front door, and she heard grunting sounds coming from the bedroom. Max was a big grunter when it came to sexual acts. “Oh,” she said, “Max is . . .”

“Don’t try to cover for him. I know what masturbation sounds like,” Maria said, clearly unaffected by it. “So . . . I just wanna say thanks, first off, for helping me out the other night when things got bad with Billy.”

“Well, you’re welcome,” Liz said, “but actually, Max was the one who really helped.”

“Yeah, but I can’t thank him.”

Liz nodded, understanding that much. Max had done something to Maria that could never be forgotten and could possibly never be forgiven. No good deed could make up for that.

“Anyway, I just wanted to say that, and then I wanted to, uh . . . to ask you about the decision you made to leave town,” Maria said.

“Oh. Okay.”

“Did you leave because . . . because you wanted to leave or because you felt like you had to?”

Liz shrugged, slightly caught off-guard by the question. “A little bit of both. I wanted to get away from the drama, but I also felt like, if I didn’t get away, I was gonna go insane.”

Maria nodded. “So did it help to get away?”

“Well, I was only gone for a month.”

“Yeah. But did it help?”

Liz shrugged again. “Kind of.” She really wanted to know more about Maria’s reasons for asking before she gave any concrete answers. “Where are you thinking about going?”

“Nowhere.”

Liz gave her former friend a look.

“Okay, clearly somewhere,” she conceded, “but can you just . . . can you just answer the question?”

“I did. I said it kind of helped.”

“But what does that mean?”

Liz sighed. “Look, I left because I was losing myself in Max,” she explained, “and when he chose his career over me, I felt like I didn’t even have myself to fall back on. And that was a scary feeling. So I left, and I do feel like I got stronger and became less dependent on Max. But one of the things I realized was that you can’t run away from your problems. Unless you deal with them and face them head-on, they’re always gonna be there. That’s why I came back.” She wasn’t exactly sure what Maria was thinking, but if she left town while she was pregnant with Michael’s baby . . . Liz didn’t see how any good could come of that.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~

“What the fuck do you want?” Isabel barked impatiently when Max came to visit her that afternoon.

“Whoa. Is that any way to greet your brother?”

“When that brother’s a prick like you, yes.” She headed back into the living room, leaving the door open for him.

“And why is my sister being such a bitch?” he wondered, coming inside. “Just born that way?” He shut the door and noticed the array of paintings littering the living room. “Or, it could have something to do with these,” he said. “Wow. Maria’s everywhere.”

Isabel rolled her eyes. “This is what I’ve been staring at for the past twenty-four hours,” she informed him. “Over twenty-four hours, actually, and I’m sick of it.” It took every ounce of her willpower not to grab those paintings and toss them off the balcony. She hated them that much. “God, I can’t believe you wanted to screw her so badly you had to take advantage of her. She’s such a slut, you probably could’ve just asked.”

“Rape isn’t about sex; it’s about power,” he told her. “And she never would’ve slept with me willingly.”

“Hmm, then she’s surprisingly smart.” Isabel smirked.

“Why do you hate me? Because I briefly teamed up with Liz and Tess to try to take you down?” He snorted. “Who cares? It didn’t work.”

“You’re an ass, Max. That’s why I hate you. That’s why everyone hates you.”

“And it’s funny how I really don’t give a shit.”

She rolled her eyes again and pointed to the bottom right hand corner of Michael’s newest painting. All she could figure was that he must have painted it while she was asleep. “Look at this,” she said. “‘I still love you.’” She made a face of disgust. “Could he be any more desperate?”

“Could you be any more jealous?”

“Oh, I swear, once I’m skinny again, I’m just gonna tie him to the bed and show him what he’s been missing.”

“Hmm.” He nodded. “Then we can both be rapists.”

She really wished he would leave. Her relationship with her brother was complicated at best, and she was in no mood to deal with him. “What’re you doing here, Max?”

“Nothin’ much. Where’s your non-boyfriend?”

“He’s at work.” And he’ll be my boyfriend again someday, she thought. “You’d better not offer to hang out with me all day.”

“Well, Isabel, as fun as that sounds, I think I’ll pass. I’m here about work.”

“But I don’t work for you,” she pointed out. “I was left out of the will, remember? And when I tried to help, you told me to go watch The Hills.”

“But you can help me now,” he said. “Come on, it’s not like you’re doing anything better. You’re not having any sex.”

“I did the other day,” she lied, “with Michael.”

He saw through her right away. “No, you didn’t.”

She sighed in defeat. It was much easier to get someone like Maria to believe that. Max was smarter.

“So, I need to re-evaluate Evans Hotels’ target consumers,” he started in. “I already know we need to get rid of the old, white businessman image. There just aren’t enough of those guys out there. So I’ve got plans to make the hotels more youthful, and I’ve managed to get a few dumb, young millionaires to invest with me. But it’s not enough. Most young people don’t have any money to spend on my hotels, either as investors or consumers.”

She shrugged. “So target middle-class women.” It was simple as far as she was concerned. “Middle-class women are, like, the largest consumers out there, Max, because they’re so easily convinced to buy things they don’t really need. Keeping up with the Joneses, that sort of thing. That’s why every cleaning ad, every cooking ad, every beauty ad is aimed at them in some way, shape, or form. They’ll give you money even if they don’t have it. So hit it hard with advertising, especially commercials. Make them want to stay in your hotel. And if that doesn’t work, take a family-oriented approach.”

“Family-oriented?” he echoed.

“Yeah. There are three things our society’s obsessed with, Max: youth, women, and families. Well, and sex, but even though sex usually sells, it doesn’t really sell when it comes to hotels . . .” She trailed off as she felt something, something that was . . . really something. She felt a liquid trickling down her leg, inside her sweatpants. At first she was mortified, thinking she’d urinated on herself, but then she realized what it was. “Oh, crap,” she muttered.

“What?” Max asked.

“I think my water just broke.”

His eyes grew wide in alarm.

“Oh my god,” she said, standing completely still. She was afraid to move. “This is a few days earlier than I expected.” Her due date was five days from now, but she supposed it wasn’t that early.

“Oh god, why did I decide to stop by today of all days?” Max wailed dramatically.

“No, it’s good that you did.”

“No, it’s not! I don’t wanna be here for this.”

“I’d be here alone otherwise,” she pointed out. “Look, you’re not gonna have to play doctor or anything. Just go in the bedroom and get my overnight bag. It’s all packed up. It’s on the floor next to the closet.”

“Okay.” He rushed down the hallway.

Isabel placed both hands on her stomach and smiled. “It’s finally happening.” After nine long months, she was having her baby. She and Michael were going to have a family.

“Alright, I got it,” Max said when he came back out into the living room.

“I need you to drive me to the hospital,” she said. She wasn’t going to take a chance on driving herself.

“What? But I drove the Porsche over here,” he protested, “and I’m not really looking to scrub childbirth off the seats.”

“Max!”

“No, I’m just kidding. I’ll take you,” he said. “You’re not gonna pop right now, though, are you?”

“No, but I wanna get to the hospital as soon as possible.” There was no telling how quickly or slowly her labor would progress.

“What about Michael?” Max asked.

“Um . . . he’s at work, so he probably has his phone turned off,” she thought out loud. “Dammit. I’ll call anyway, at least leave a voicemail. He’ll get it, and he’ll get there. Maybe you could jot down a message for him, just in case he comes home here.”

“Sure. Paper?”

“Um, top right desk drawer.” Isabel was still standing exactly where she had been when her water broke. She knew it was irrational, but she worried the baby would just fall out if she took one step. She felt the nerves beginning to kick in, forming a tight bundle in her lower back. “Oh, this is gonna suck,” she muttered, already feeling uncomfortable. Why hadn’t she opted to have a C-section? The afterward scar would have been unpleasant, but there were plastic surgeries that could make those kinds of things almost unnoticeable.

“Is it coming out?” Max asked as he scribbled down a message.

“No, I’m just getting a little nervous,” she admitted. “I just wanna get to the hospital, Max. Hurry up.”

“Okay, I’m hurrying.” He held up the note and said, “It says, ‘Isabel went into labor. Come quickly. –Your least best friend Max.’ Is that good?”

“That’s fine. Let’s go,” she said, finally forcing herself to walk towards the door. She could feel the nasty liquid on her leg, but she decided she didn’t care. She would bring sexyback to baby delivery as much as she could, but she wasn’t going to dwell on her own grossness for the time being. She had bigger concerns. “You’ve got my bag?” she asked.

“Yeah, right here.” He placed one hand on her back and accompanied her out the door.

“Oh my god,” she said as they headed out to his car. This was it. This was the first day of the rest of her life.








TBC . . .

-April
Image
LOVE IS MICHAEL AND MARIA.

User avatar
April
Roswell Fanatic
Posts: 1556
Joined: Tue Sep 28, 2004 9:32 am
Location: Somewhere. Anywhere.
Contact:

Part 75

Post by April » Wed Sep 30, 2009 8:04 am

Oh my goodness, only six parts left now, including this one. It's the countdown!

Sara: Isn't it amazing how much better everything seems when Kyle and Tess are back together? :lol:
And Maria talking to Liz was actually a great idea. I think Liz may have convinced her to stay.
Yeah, Liz was really helpful for the very first time in this story. lol

Leila:
What is it with you making everyone leave when there are problems? in Passion it was Michael and now Maria....why? Let her stay and face her actions. Don't let her leave, make her talk to Michael saying the truth.
:lol: I'm aware of my tendency to make characters leave when things get bad. Maria isn't leaving, although my original plan was that she would. But then I realized, I always do that. And I usually always have some big, dramatic, running-through-the-airport-scene, too. :lol: I'm not sure why that is. So I have to break myself of that habit. Maria isn't going anywhere. ;)

nibbles:
I'm hope that Michael figures out that there's now way Maria could know if the baby is his or Billy's and demands a test. Or, I actually hope that Maria just tells him the truth and there's no need for a test at all. And I hope Isabel's baby is Chinese or something.
LMAO! Chinese? Well, that's the answer, isn't it? Isabel likes to bone Chinese men. :lol:

Krista:
Betcha that baby's gonna come out black. That'd be a nice kick in the vagina. Ha.
Kick in the vagina? Ow! Not that she doesn't deserve it.

Karin: Hold onto that hope!

Alison:
Oh man, I love Max in this update. He's just so... strange. He made me laugh so many times. And then I hated him again for being a rapist.
He sort of has that dark sense of humor.
K/T make me happy in my pants
Happy in your pants? :shock:

Nat:
Kyle and Tess are together again, Michael still loves Maria, Maria's thinking of telling Michael the truth, Max is still awesome and masturbating regardless of who's at his house, The Wicked Bitch is about to go through painful labour and there are only 7 parts left which means a hot Candy reunion.

This is GREAT!
I'm glad you think so. ;)

Nove:
Gosh, 7 parts! I'm not ready to say goodbye to another one your stories yet. What are you doing next?
Well, I'm working on a new fic. I've only got about 110 pages written because I've had so much studying to do so far this semester, but I think it's coming along really nicely, and I'll let you guys know what it's called after I finish this fic. ;)
You've made me take notice of the K/T relationship with this story. I think that says a lot about your abilities.
Thank you! Wow, what a great compliment. I always loved Kyle and Tess together, but as I've been writing them in this fic, I've begun to realize just how much I love them together. I wish they'd actually hooked up on the show! Missed opportunity by the writers for sure!
I love how you had Max there at the moment her water broke. I wonder what kind of uncle he will be.
Oh, this poor kid. Isabel as a mother and Max as an uncle. Hopefully Max is the best uncle that he possibly can be, since we all know Isabel isn't going to be the best mother.

Trixie:
P.S. Isabel's in labor? I hope some questions do get answered.
Rest assured, I think every major question will be answered by the end of the fic.

killjoy:
What is with this Maria and trying to run from her problems? Her wanting an abortion...her making everyone think Billy was the daddy...and her now running off to her brother to hide the fact from Michael? You only beat your problems by facing them and over coming them.Not running away from them.....this Maria has yet to grow up.
Maria knows her idea to leave town was sort of a ridiculous idea, so luckily, she won't be following through with it. She just had to consider it.

Ginger:
As for the baby...I'm with the rest of the group, I hope it is born with such definitive characteristics that even the devil will know it's not Michael's...but I do hope it's healthy and can find a happy daddy to give it some normalcy and happiness in it's little life.
Yeah, the baby itself hasn't done anything wrong, so I really hope he's healthy and happy, too.

Neve:
It makes me so sad for the thing that's going to come out of Isabel. What chance does she have to ever be a sane, normal, decent being?
Well, his father is normal and sane and decent, so hopefully he takes after him.
I hope she poops in Max's car.
Oh, that made me laugh. :lol:

Eva:
You forgot some words regarding Isabel, April: a freaking bad and completely miserable life!
Maybe, maybe.









Part 75








It was raining outside by the time Maria arrived back at her and Tess’s apartment that afternoon. After she’d gone to see Liz, she’d gone for a walk, hoping to clear her head. And indeed, her head felt much clearer now. She knew what she had to do.

“Hey, you!” Tess called from the bathroom. She didn’t look out into the hallway or anything. “I’ve got a surprise for you!”

Weird, Maria thought, buts he enjoyed surprises.

All of a sudden, Tess jumped out of the bathroom into the hallway, completely naked. “Surprise!” she exclaimed, throwing her arms in the air.

“Oh!” Maria shrieked, looking away.

“Oh my god!” Tess cried, scampering back into the bathroom. When she came back out again, she was wearing her favorite fuzzy pink bathrobe. “I’m sorry,” she apologized as she tied it tightly around her waist. “I invited Kyle over. I thought you were him.”

Maria laughed a little. “Yeah, clearly.”

“I’m really sorry.”

“No, it’s okay. We used to take baths together, remember?

“Yeah, when we were, like, three.” Tess laughed and shook her head.

“Where are you having your waxing done anyway?” Maria inquired. “That was a nice Brazilian down there.”

“Thank you. Oh my god, thank God you weren’t, like, Max or somebody.”

“It’s not like he hasn’t seen the goods.”

“Well, he hasn’t seen them for a long time, and he’s never going to again, so . . .”

“Is Kyle on the way?” Maria asked.

“He should be.”

“Can I tell you something before he gets here?”

“Sure.”

Maria took a deep breath, absolutely convinced that she was making the right decision this time. “I’m gonna tell Michael. I’m gonna tell him the truth about everything.”

Tess’s face lit up. “Oh my god, Maria, that’s huge! Come here.” She threw her arms around her and hugged her. “I’m so glad, and I’m so proud of you.”

“I’m proud of me, too,” Maria said, releasing her from the embrace, “but I’m also really nervous. Like really nervous. I wish I hadn’t even gotten myself into this mess in the first place. You were right. I should’ve just been honest from the start.”

“Well, you’re gonna be honest now, and that’s all that matters,” Tess said. “So you’re not going to Massachusetts? I’m not gonna lose my best friend to another state?”

“No, that was a stupid idea. I’m gonna tell Michael, I’m gonna stay here and have the baby, and . . . who knows what’s gonna happen between me and him. And Isabel.” The dual family still wasn’t exactly her ideal, but she understood why Michael couldn’t turn his back on his son. He wouldn’t be the guy she knew and loved if he did.

“Everything’s gonna work out,” Tess assured her. “I know it.”

God, I hope you’re right, Maria thought as a knock on the door sounded.

“That must be Kyle,” Tess said, peering out the peephole. “Ooh, it is. Do you want us to go somewhere else?”

“No, bring him in,” Maria said. She wanted to tell Kyle the truth about her situation, too, because he was in the dark about it just like Michael was. Telling him would be like a rehearsal for telling Michael.

Tess opened the door and pounced into Kyle’s arms. “Boyfriend!” she exclaimed.

“Girlfriend . . . already dressed for the shower,” he returned. “I’m liking your eagerness.”

“Hey, loser,” Maria teased.

“Oh, Bitcharia back in form,” he remarked. “Nice. How you doin’?”

“Better,” she replied. “A lot better than I was.”

“That’s good to hear,” he said. “Oh, hey, I know I’m vice president, treasurer, and secretary of the Broken Hearts Club, but I’m gonna have to back out, ‘cause . . . my heart’s not broken anymore.” He smiled at Tess.

“Aw, so sweet,” she cooed.

“Aw, so cheesy,” Maria mimicked. “No, I’m really glad you guys are back together, though. Just use condoms.”

“Oh, we have been,” Kyle assured her.

“We’re being safer than safe,” Tess put in.

“That’s good to hear.” Maria wiped her sweaty palms against her legs and said, “Actually, Kyle, I’m glad you came by because . . . there’s something I have to tell you.”

Tess smiled at her knowingly, and Kyle looked a bit confused. “Okay,” he said. “Shoot.”

“Okay.” She breathed in a few deep, even breaths. This was a little harder than she’d thought it would be; she could only imagine how hard it was going to be to tell Michael. “Kyle, I’m not having Billy’s baby,” she blurted, deciding the only way to say it was to just say it. “He’s not the father.”

“He’s not?” Kyle echoed questioningly. “Then is it . . .”

“It’s Michael,” she confessed quietly. “This is Michael’s baby.”

Kyle’s eyebrows shot up. “Are you serious?”

“No, she’s joking, Kyle,” Tess teased sarcastically. “Yes, she’s serious.”

For a moment, he was speechless. His mouth remained agape until he managed to say, “Wow. Didn’t see that one coming.”

Tess laughed. “How could you not see it coming? It was so obvious. Besides, you were there with me when Billy asked if he had to pretend to be the dad anymore.”

“Tess, sometimes stuff just goes over my head,” he said. “I can’t be counted on to make these connections.”

She smiled at him affectionately.

“I messed things up big time,” Maria admitted. “But I never slept with Billy. I know this is Michael’s baby. It . . . it can’t possibly be anyone else’s. I just lied to him because I was scared and . . . I don’t know, temporarily insane, I guess.”

“Well, with Isabel back in the mix, it’s understandable why you’d feel uncertain,” he said.

“Yeah, but it was more than uncertain,” she said. “I just kept lying and lying and . . . I was even gonna have an abortion.”

Kyle’s eyes bulged again. “What?”

“Yeah. I mean, I decided not to at the last minute, but . . . there’s just been a lot going on with me, and I’m sure Tess would’ve told you, but she promised me she wouldn’t say anything. And she’s the best friend ever, so . . . she kept her promise.” Maria smiled at her friend.

“Now I know what you were keeping from me,” Kyle said, hugging his girlfriend to his side. “You are a good friend.”

“She’s been there for me every step of the way,” Maria said, “which is why I’m so glad something good finally happened to her and you two got back together.”

“Yeah.” Kyle kissed Tess’s forehead, then said to Maria, “Hey, now you and Michael can get back together, too. You know? There’s nothing stopping you.”

She nodded. That was true, in theory. “Except for the fact that I lied to him, made him think I cheated on him, and nearly ended the life of a child he doesn’t even know is his.”

“Well . . . except for that,” Kyle admitted. “But you guys can get over it.”

She hoped they could.

“Wow, Michael’s gonna be a father of two, huh? Wow,” Kyle said. “Oh, can I be the kid’s uncle? Uncle Kyle? It has a ring to it.”

She laughed a little. “Uncle Kyle and Aunt Tess.”

“And Uncle Marty and Uncle Francis,” Tess put in. “And Grandma Amy. Oh, she’s gonna hate that.”

“Nanny Amy,” Kyle suggested.

Tess nodded in agreement. “Nanny Amy.”

“Yeah, I still have to tell her, too,” Maria said. “She doesn’t even know I’m pregnant.” That was another conversation she was sort of dreading. Her mom had eased up significantly over the past two months, ever since Ed Harding had entered her life, but the news that she was going to become a grandparent was still going to hit her hard. But after the shock wore off, she’d probably be happy about it. And Michael’s parents . . . well, they were going to have two grandchildren, now. That probably wasn’t what they wanted for Michael, but Maria knew John and Sylvia cared about her a lot. They would be supportive.

“When are you gonna tell Michael?” Tess asked.

“I don’t know,” she replied. “I guess I might as well tell him today. Right? Just get it done with.”

“Sounds like a good idea to me,” Kyle said.

“Yeah, Maria, just get it done with,” Tess agreed.

“Okay.” This rehearsal had gone well. She was ready for the real thing. “I think I’m just gonna go . . . practice in front of the mirror first,” she decided.

“Alright,” Kyle said, “don’t let the sounds of our doing it distract you.”

“Kyle, stop,” Tess said, slapping his chest lightly. “We’ll be quiet,” she promised.

Kyle shook his head and whispered, “No, we won’t.”

Maria rolled her eyes. “Seriously, use condoms,” she reiterated on her way down the hallway and into her bedroom.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~

“Oh,” Isabel groaned, holding one arm to her stomach, one to her back as her current contraction worsened. She arched her back and dug her head back into her pillow. “I wish we’d used condoms! Oh . . .” She grimaced. Even though she knew labor would feel bad, she’d had no idea it would feel this bad.

She had changed into her hospital gown and gotten settled in her room. She was hooked up to various machines for now and was sitting up in a bed. Max was still there with her. He was walking back and forth around the room, apparently engrossed in an information pamphlet he had found out in the hallway. “Huh, this is interesting,” he said. “It says here that some homebirth advocates believe endorphins present before, during, and immediately after childbirth can induce feelings of pleasure and euphoria during the delivery. Is that true?”

Pleasure and euphoria? Isabel just glared at him.

“I guess not,” he said, continuing to flip through the pamphlet. “Hmm.”

“Oh, god, I can’t imagine doing a homebirth,” she grumbled. “This is bad enough.” She felt the pain and tension in her back easing, and she relaxed a little, feeling better. “Oh, I think it’s going away now,” she said breathily. “Thank God.” Her first contraction had hit right after she’d gotten to the hospital, and they were already settling into a steady start-stop pattern. “How do I look?” she asked her brother.

“Like you’re having a baby,” he replied.

“No, I mean my hair, my make-up, everything.” She reached up and touched the mane atop her head. It was poking out on the sides. Fucking fantastic. “I’d like to look at least semi-attractive when the kid rolls out.”

“Then it’s your best look ever,” he proclaimed.

“Are you lying?”

“Yes. And, uh . . .” He flipped to the next page of his pamphlet. “I don’t think it’s just gonna roll out. It says here that crowning will feel like intense stretching and burning.”

“Oh, great,” she said sarcastically. She couldn’t wait for that.

“Whoa.” Max’s eyes widened. “Some women describe childbirth as orgasmic. Orgasmic?”

Isabel made a face of contempt. “Oh, please, I know a thing or two about orgasms. This is nothing like that. This is the opposite of that. I’ve never felt so gross and miserable in my entire life.” She kept thinking back to the childbirth video she’d had to watch in ninth grade health class. It wasn’t a beautiful process. It was a nasty, bloody process, and Isabel couldn’t understand for the life of her what kind of woman would allow her birth to be filmed and showed to a bunch of stupid ninth graders in the first place.

“You’ve barely even started,” Max remarked. “You know, it took Mom over twenty-four hours to get us out.”

Twenty-four hours? He wasn’t making her feel any better. “Oh god, I never gave that bitch enough credit. How did she do it, giving birth to twins? I can barely even handle one . . .” She felt the familiar tension reappear in her back, and she detested it. “One . . .” she repeated. “Oh, no. Uh!” She closed her eyes and squirmed uncomfortably. “Max, help me out here!”

“What am I supposed to do?” he asked cluelessly.

“Just make me think about happy things, things I like.”

“Things you like,” he echoed. “Okay.” He set his pamphlet down and came to the side of her bed. He pulled up a chair and sat down. “Money,” he started in. “Yourself. The U.S. men’s Olympic swim team.”

“Ooh, sexy—ow!” She pulled her knees up as far as she could. She wanted to curl up in a ball, but her freaking stomach was in the way! She glanced out into the hallway and saw the nurse who had assisted her into the bed out at the nurse’s station, flipping through some charts. “Nurse!” she called. When the woman didn’t even flinch, she shouted louder. “Nurse!

The nurse came into the room with a pleasant smile on her face. “How are you doing?” she asked.

Isabel felt like decking her for asking such a stupid question. “I wish. I was. A guy,” she ground out.

“Let’s see how you’re progressing.” The nurse lifted up the covers and peered underneath. Isabel opened her legs, hating this, hating all of this. “Oh, you’re definitely in the first stage now,” she chirped.

“Only the first?” How many damn stages were there?

“You made it through the latent phase.”

“Latent?!” Nothing about this had been latent so far.

“What do they feel like, Isabel?” Max asked. “The contractions.”

“Ugh, like the worst menstrual cramp I’ve ever had.”

“Menstrual cramp, huh?” He shook his head. “No, I wouldn’t know anything about that.”

Lucky son of a bitch, she thought. Penises could be kind of unsightly sometimes, but she wished she had one. She really wished she had one.

“Mr. Evans,” the nurse said, “perhaps you and your wife--”

Wife?” he resounded. “Oh, no, please, she’s my sister. I’m not even supposed to be here right now, but we can’t get a hold of the father.”

“You’re supposed to be calling him,” Isabel reminded him. Max was not exactly the kind of guy a girl wanted in the delivery room with her. He was so not comforting. Michael would be much better, much more soothing and relaxing.

Max took out his cell phone and stood up, heading outside to call him. “I’ve already left like ten voicemails,” he muttered as he dialed the number.

“Just keep calling. I need him here. Ah!” She gripped her side in utter agony. Why did this have to hurt so bad?

“Isabel, you’re doing fine,” the nurse assured her. “Dr. Monroe will be here soon. You just need to relax.”

“How the hell am I supposed to relax? I feel like somebody’s breaking my body in half!” she roared.

“Many women find it helpful to stand up and walk around or to bend over or--”

Isabel knew exactly what would help her. She grabbed the nurse’s arm with a death-grip and growled, “Get me my fucking epidural.”

~*~*~*~*~*~*~

After he got off work, Michael went home. He pushed open his door, feeling tired enough to just collapse on his couch and take a nap. He had some cleaning to do before he rested, though, maybe a few errands to run.

“Isabel?” he called, looking around. The apartment seemed empty. Maybe she’d gone out for a walk. He took his cell phone out of his pocket and turned it on to see if she’d called him. He wasn’t allowed to have it on at work, so he usually had a few voicemails when he got back. “What the hell?” he said, glancing at the long list of missed calls. There were a few from Isabel, and then a lot from a number he didn’t recognize. He had about a dozen voicemails to check, too.

Before he could get to doing that, there was a knock on his front door. Man, I’m in demand today, he thought, setting his cell phone down on the end table next to the couch. He went to the door and opened it up. A guy he’d never seen before was standing on the other side, tall, lanky, looked like he hadn’t slept in days.

“Hi, are you Michael Guerin?” the guy asked.

If this was somebody trying to sell him something . . . “Yeah.”

“It’s nice to meet you.” The stranger shook his hand quickly before saying something that almost blew Michael off his feet. “I’m Alex Whitman.”









TBC . . .

-April
Image
LOVE IS MICHAEL AND MARIA.

User avatar
April
Roswell Fanatic
Posts: 1556
Joined: Tue Sep 28, 2004 9:32 am
Location: Somewhere. Anywhere.
Contact:

Part 76

Post by April » Fri Oct 02, 2009 9:33 am

I didn't even know I was nominated for the Roswell Heaven September Orbit awards, but I just found out I came away with some hardware!
Image
Thank you to anyone who voted!
Leila:
So glad he's finally there. Now I want to know what Michael will do. Deck Alex or just throttle him
Neither.

Sara:
April.....one of the BEST updates....mostly b/c there was no Michael and Isael interaction!
I had a feeling that update would be a big hit. ;) I think the best is yet to come, though.

Trixie:
Alex is the one character I've been dying to meet!!! (Oh, and there goes my dead lover theory.)
:lol: It wasn't a bad theory at all, though. You were thinking outside the box, trying something new . . . :lol: I appreciated it.

Alison:
Alex is totally my favourite character in this story. Evidence One: He broke up Isabel and Michael originally so he couldn't marry her. Evidence Two: He's come back to claim ownership of the baby that is so OBVIOUSLY his.
:lol:
And I loved Max in the delivery room. He just kept pissing Isabel off and I love it when someone does that.
Yeah, me, too. ;)

Eva: Good, I'm glad I was able to surprise you after 75 parts!

nibbles:
That's going to be an interesting conversation. I just hope that it makes Michael forget all about the messages on his phone, and then Maria shows up and they talk, and have sex and then in, oh about three days time, they wonder where Isabel is and go to the hospital just in time for the baby to be born after a long, excruciating three day labour. Please.
Well, that's one idea. Three day labor. :lol:

killjoy:
I don't know what Maria was freaked out about?....I mean if Tess jumped out naked in front of me....well I'd be a happy camper
I know you would!

Ginger:
I want to say hurry back, but if you hurry then this will be over and we won't have anything to bitch about anymore...but you can always write a sequel.
Oh, if you read the next fic I'm writing, I promise that there will be plenty to bitch about. ;)

Nove:
Only a little over 100 pages into your new story. That's chuck change for you April. Darn school.
Last year, I probably would've had enough time to write 300 pages already, but not this year. I've got this block of classes that is just killing me. But I'm starting to get into a routine so I'm finding a little more time to write. At least the 100 pages that are written are really good pages, I think.

Nat:
How the mighty fall
Exactly. Everything is about to come unravled for Isabitch.

Neve:
If there were more than five parts left, I'd be worried that she was going to back out of it but at least we know that he has to find out soon. (It'll be the fifth part if I know you.)
Not the fifth part. I promise.

Krista: You're sick? Then you need some chicken noodle soup, not the remainder of this fic. ;) (You make me want to own bunnies.)


Really, seriously, enjoy this part. You guys have earned it. I will be updating Sunday, and it's my favorite chapter of the entire fic. How's that for a tease? ;)








Part 76








When Max came back into the hospital room, he had an armful of vending machine goods in his hands. Chips, candy bars, sodas . . . “You look high,” he remarked, tossing all the food down on the table.

“It’s my epidural,” Isabel told him with a dazed smile. “Either that or one hell of a placebo. Whatever, I feel better. For now at least.” She knew it was probably going to feel worse before it felt better, and the epidural was probably going to do the most good when the baby started crowning. Dr. Monroe had come by and warned her that an epidural could slow down the labor process, but she didn’t care. She loved it. Loved her epidural. Loved it more than anything. Almost anything.

“Well, I still can’t get a hold of Guerin, and I can’t find the phone number for the museum in the phone book, so I’m just gonna drive on over there and get him,” Max said.

“No, Max, don’t go,” she said pleadingly. “Please, don’t leave me. I don’t wanna be alone.” Even though her brother wasn’t the most relaxing of individuals, she’d feel a lot worse if she had no one in that hospital room with her.

He sat down next to the bed again. “I thought you felt better,” he said.

“I do, but I’m still scared.”

“Of what?”

She shrugged. “Everything.” There was a lot going on, a lot to worry about. “What time is it?” she asked.

Max glanced at his watch. “5:21.”

She smiled. “Good. Michael was supposed to get off work at 5:00, so he’ll be here soon. He’ll check his voicemail or see that note on the counter and he’ll get here. I need him here.” She didn’t think she could have this baby alone. “He’s supposed to cut the umbilical cord.”

Max nodded mutely, contemplating something before he declared, “I think childbirth’s kind of sick.”

“Oh, you have no idea.”

“You know, after you have the baby, you have to expel the placenta,” he said. “I read about it in that pamphlet. There were pictures. Almost makes me wanna never have sex again.”

“Oh, lots of sex for me after this,” she said tiredly, “but no more babies. I’m getting my tubes tied.” Then Michael wouldn’t even have to wear a condom when he was inside her. He’d love that. He’d love her.

“What if Guerin wants more kids?” Max asked.

“Then he can impregnate Maria. Oh, wait, he already did that.” She was still holding out hope that Maria would have an abortion. She would. Maybe she already had. “He and I are gonna have our family,” she said wistfully, “and we’re gonna live happily ever after. You’ll see.” It was going to be her, Michael, and Michael, Jr. It was going to be perfect. “Nothing can get in the way of that.”

~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Alex Whitman stood in Michael’s living room, surveying all the paintings Michael had set up there. “Wow,” he said. “These are really good.”

Michael knew that. What he didn’t know was why his ex-girlfriend’s other man had all of a sudden shown up.

“Pretty girl, too,” Alex added. “What’s her name?”

Michael was reluctant to tell him. He didn’t want Alex to steal Maria from him, too, not that she was really his anymore. Alex didn’t seem like a villain, though. He didn’t give off the same vibe as guys like Max and Billy. “Maria,” he answered finally. “Her name’s Maria.”

“Well, Maria’s a great muse. And you’re a great artist,” Alex complimented him. “I wish I could paint like that.” He stuffed his hands in his pockets and looked around the apartment. Michael couldn’t help but notice that his pockets had holes in them.

“So is Isabel living with you?” Alex asked.

“Yeah, she has been.” Maybe that was why Alex was there. Maybe he just wanted to see Isabel again. “I don’t . . . I don’t really know where she is right now,” he admitted. “She’s kinda been driving me crazy.”

Alex smiled. “Yeah. It was good of you to take care of her, though. I was worried when she left Florida. I was worried what would happen to her. But she hasn’t had the baby yet, huh?”

Michael shook his head. “No, she’s due in a couple days.”

Alex nodded. “I remember.”

Michael couldn’t believe it, but he actually felt bad for the guy. From what Isabel had told him, he’d lost everything. His job, his money, his dad. And when Isabel had left, he’d lost the child he’d believed was his. Poor guy.

“Look, I just wanna apologize for what went down between you and Isabel and . . . me and Isabel. All three of us,” Alex said. “I know you may not believe this, but I’m not a bad guy. Actually, I like to think I’m a pretty good guy.”

He seemed like it. Michael had been hoping to hate him, but he couldn’t do that.

“When I met Isabel, she was on spring break . . . and apparently you weren’t with her,” Alex said. “We hooked up and I . . . I fell for her really hard, okay? I didn’t know about you for months. But even after I found out she had a boyfriend, I didn’t end things. And I should’ve. It was a mistake on my part.” He sighed and hung his head. “I’ve made a lot of mistakes.”

Haven’t we all? Michael thought. There were a million choices he’d made, things he’d said that he wished he could take back.

“I’m ashamed to admit it, but I asked her to leave you and come to Florida with me,” Alex confessed. “I’m so sorry. I’m so sorry, and I hope you can forgive me.”

Michael was never going to forget how bad his heart had hurt when Isabel had left him, but it paled in comparison to how bad it hurt when he and Maria had broken up, how bad it still hurt. “I guess,” he said. “To tell you the truth, I’m not so much interested in what you did in the past; I’m more interested in what you’re doing here now.”

“Right,” Alex said. “Yeah, I know it must be kinda weird, me just popping in like this. I tried calling Isabel, but she must’ve changed her number, so I just decided to hop on a plane and--”

“Do you want her back?” Michael interrupted to ask. “‘Cause it’s okay if you do. Honestly, you can have her. She and I are never gonna be together that way again. And it sounds bad, but I’d love to get rid of her.” He sighed. “But I guess I can never get rid of her, ‘cause she’s having my son, so . . .” He trailed off.

“It’s a boy?” Alex asked.

Michael nodded. “Yeah.” It was his boy, someone Michael felt like he should love more than anyone else in the world, even more than Maria. But he was still waiting for that love to fully kick in. Maybe once the baby was born, maybe once he held his son in his arms, he’d be able to move on from Maria. Maybe then.

Alex ran one hand through his short hair and said, “Alright, Michael, I gotta tell you something here because . . . because you’ve just gotta hear it. It’s the reason why I came.”

Good, Michael thought, we’re finally cutting to the chase. He listened.

Alex took in a deep breath and announced, “I don’t think she’s having your baby.”

Michael just stood there after the words were out, letting them sink in. Don’t. Think. Your. Baby. He put the fragments together, and the confusion enveloped him. “What?”

“That baby boy she’s carrying . . . I think he’s mine.”

Michael frowned. What the hell was this, some kind of sick practical joke? “But . . . no,” he said. “He’s not . . . he can’t be.” Over the course of the past six weeks, there had only been one thing he was certain of, and that was that he was having a son, that he was going to be a father. He was certain. “He’s mine,” he insisted, alarmed by the fact that Alex seemed so certain, too. “She told me he was conceived on July 3rd. I remember that night. It was the night we broke up. We had sex . . . unprotected.”

“Yeah, and right after she had unprotected sex with you, she met up with and had unprotected sex with me,” Alex informed him.

Michael bristled.

“She didn’t tell you that part, did she?” Alex looked at him sympathetically. “I’m sorry, I know this is really hard for you to hear.”

Michael shook his head adamantly. “No, no, he’s . . . he’s my son ‘cause . . . ‘cause we had a test.” He went over to his desk and rummaged through the drawers. “We had a paternity test.” He knew he’d kept the results in there somewhere. He found them in the top left-hand drawer along with some copies of bills and receipts and took it out to show Alex. “Here,” he said. “Right here.” He thrust the paper into his visitor’s hands. “It proves it. See?”

Alex looked over the results for a few seconds, then handed it back to Michael, reached into his back pocket, and took out a sheet of paper folded into a square. He unfolded it and handed it to Michael. Michael studied it. It was definitely a results paper from a paternity test, looked exactly like the one he had. Only this one said that Alex was the father.

“I don’t . . .” He frowned and shook his head. “I don’t understand.” He folded up Alex’s test and handed it back to him. “I don’t understand any of this.”

“She must’ve forged your results,” Alex said, stuffing his own results back into his pocket.

“What?” Michael couldn’t even fathom that. “No. No, I-I know she’s a bad person, but she’s not . . . she wouldn’t do that.” But then again, he thought, feeling the doubts starting to creep in, she’s Isabel Evans. There was nothing she wouldn’t do. “Maybe she forged your results. Did you ever think of that?” he suggested. “Or how do I know you didn’t forge those results? Maybe you’re not such a good guy after all.”

“Michael, I didn’t forge anything,” Alex promised, “and I know she’s having my child. I just know it.”

“How?”

“Besides the feeling I have right here in my gut . . . it just makes sense.”

Sense? Over the course of the past few days, Michael had had so much new information crammed in his head, it was a wonder there was still room for his brain. He glared at Alex and grumbled, “It doesn’t make sense to me.”

~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Isabel curled up on her side, hating the feeling of her sweaty hair sticking to her forehead. She was going to feel absolutely drenched it came time to push.

Max was still there. He aimed his cell phone at her and snapped a picture.

“Max, don’t!” she yelled.

“Oh, come on, you’ll wanna have pictures to show your grandchildren someday,” he said. “I actually saw a video camera downstairs in the gift shop. Do you want me to go buy it? I could videotape the whole thing. We could send it into America’s Funniest Home Videos. ‘World’s Biggest Bitch Gets Karma in the Form of Delivery.’” He grinned like an idiot. “It’s funny.”

“No pictures,” she grunted. “No videos. I look horrible. I feel horrible.” She felt like crying and praying that this would be over soon, but crying and praying were two things she hardly ever did. She grabbed onto her pillow and held the tears inside. “Why isn’t he here, Max?” she whimpered. “He should be here by now.” It was 5:30, and Dr. Monroe said she was about five centimeters dilated. He needed to get there soon. “What if he’s with Maria?” she wondered to herself, fearing the worst. “What if he forgot about me?” What if he was noticing all those missed calls on his phone but was too busy kissing her to check his god-damned voicemail? She dug her fingernails into her pillow and roared, “I’m supposed to be having his baby!

~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Alex kicked at the floor with his feet, shifting from side to side. “For the first seven months of her pregnancy, Isabel told me the baby was mine. Without a doubt. And I believed her. I was in love with her. Maybe I still am.” He shook his head disappointedly. “But something changed at the end of those seven months. I don’t know if she told you about it, but my father used to own a software development company, and I’ve been really involved with it from a young age.”

Michael nodded. “Yeah, she told me. The company went under and your dad went to jail.”

“Yeah, I was lucky I didn’t go to jail, too. I mean, I didn’t do anything wrong or illegal, but I was my dad’s right-hand man, so obviously they investigated me, too. But in the end, I still lost everything. My money, my job, my future career, my house, my car . . . I had to sell almost everything I owned just to take care of the legal fees. I didn’t have a penny to my name. I still don’t.” He sounded ashamed. “I got a job flippin’ burgers. It’s the only job I could get because I haven’t finished college, and now I probably never will; and no one wants to hire anyone with the last name of Whitman anymore. So . . . everything got really bad really fast.”

Michael felt bad for him. He really did. “That sucks, I’m sorry.” He couldn’t feel that sorry for him, though, because he was feeling pretty sorry for himself. His life used to be so simple and now . . . it just wasn’t.

“I dreaded telling Isabel because I knew she really wanted to be rich,” Alex went on. “But I loved her, and she said she loved me, so I figured we could make it work.”

Michael understood how that felt, that feeling that love should be enough. And it never was, was it?

“But it’s funny,” Alex said, “because almost instantly after I told her I’d lost my job and all my money, she told me I might not be the baby’s father. She said she wanted a paternity test. Even though she’d been so sure up until then that I was the dad, suddenly it was a fifty-fifty chance. So we had the test done, and the results came back negative.” He shrugged. “Said I wasn’t the father.”

Michael frowned, motioning towards the results in Alex’s pocket. “But I thought--”

“Yeah, just . . . hang on,” Alex said. “So she said she was heading back to Santa Fe to be with you and let you raise your baby. I wanted her to stay, because I’d already grown attached to the kid, and I promised to raise it as my own.” Tears came up into his eyes, but he kept them in. “But she wanted to come back here, start a family with you and try to get involved in her dad’s company. How’d that work out for her?”

Michael shrugged. “Her brother got it all. She wasn’t even mentioned in the will.”

“I pretty much figured.”

“Wait, I still don’t get it,” Michael said. “If your results came back negative, how come the results you showed me were positive?”

“Well, after she left, I had to let it sink in, you know,” he said. “My heart was broken—you know how that feels—and I was settling into the routine of my nine-to-five, trying to make ends meet. Plus, I was dealin’ with the fact that my dad’s in jail. I’m still dealin’ with that. He’s gonna be in jail for the rest of his life.”

“Yeah, I’m really sorry,” Michael said, “but I still don’t understand.” He didn’t mean to sound insensitive, but he was desperate to make some sense of this.

“Okay, once things settled down, I got to thinking: I don’t believe in coincidence. Not coincidences this big, anyway. I don’t think her doubts about paternity just happened to arise right when I lost everything. I think it was a calculated move on her part.”

Calculated move? Michael couldn’t believe those words possibly had a connection to his child. Whatever happened to parenthood being about something like love? Whatever happened to love?

“I didn’t wanna think things like that,” Alex admitted, “because I’ve dated girls who were only with me for my money before; and I didn’t want Isabel to be one of them. But actions speak louder than words sometimes; and did her actions make her seem like a gold-digger? Yeah, I think so.”

Michael thought so, too.

“I figured, if she could lie to me about her feelings for me, she could lie about other stuff, too. So I had the lab—the same lab—take another DNA sample from me, had them do another paternity test with the exact same sample from the baby.” He took the folded paper out of his pocket again. “And that’s where these positive results came from. I know this is the real deal; this isn’t fake. So that means the other results had to be. There’s no way a paternity test done by professionals can be that wrong.”

The evidence was . . . pretty convincing. Michael couldn’t deny that. “So you’re saying you think she forged your negative results . . .” He trailed off.

“And I think she forged your positive ones,” Alex finished. “Exactly. Now I did a lot of research. There are two ways to fake a paternity test. You can switch the male’s DNA sample with another sample, but that’s almost impossible to do. You can also forge the results document. That’s difficult, but not impossible.”

Michael pressed his hands to his forehead, so stressed out by all this. “It sounds pretty elaborate. You think Isabel could do that?”

Alex didn’t hesitate. “Definitely. She’s the smartest girl I’ve ever met.”

Yeah, she was smart. But was she that much of a monster? “You think she would do something like that?”

“Unfortunately,” Alex said. “She lies, Michael. That’s what the girl does. She lied to you, she lied to me, and she used this baby as a pawn to get what she wanted.”

Michael flinched. The baby . . .

“She doesn’t care about anyone but herself.”

Oh god, he thought. If Alex was right . . . if she'd really done this . . .

“But why me?” he asked. “Why con me? If she’s all about the money . . . I’m not rich.”

“Yeah, but you’re not living in an attic,” Alex pointed out. “That’s where I’m living right now, literally in a friend’s attic. So no, you’re not rich, but you’re not poor, either. And hey, maybe she actually loves you.”

Love? Michael grunted. If this was love, it wasn’t the kind he wanted. It wasn’t what he thought of when he thought of love. Maybe it was more like obsession. “This is too much right now,” he said.

“You know, she probably realized she had two options: stay in Florida and tough it out with me or lie to both of us and settle into this cozy apartment here.”

So she settled in, Michael thought. Had he gotten played? He was starting to believe he had. Again, by Isabel. How had he ever fallen in love with her?

“I know I’m right, Michael,” Alex said confidently. “It always comes down to money with her. Money and who has more of it. That’d be you.”

Too much, Michael kept thinking. Too much. “I need a drink,” he muttered, heading into his kitchen.

“What do you think about this?” Alex asked.

“I think . . . I don’t know what to think,” he admitted. “I don’t know what to say.”

“Do you believe me?”

Michael sighed. “Well, yeah, you’re pretty convincing.” There was still the slim possibility that Alex had forged his own positive results, but . . . the guy had an honest face. Much more honest than Isabel.

“How do you feel about this?” Alex asked.

“I mostly just feel confused. Still.”

“That’s fine.”

“I just . . .” Michael reached into his refrigerator and took out a beer. He really wished he had some hard liquor to knock back. “For the past six weeks, all I’ve done is get ready for this baby,” he said as he popped the tab on the can. “And I didn’t necessarily want to start a family with Isabel, but I got used to the idea. I got myself ready for it.” He looked into the living room at all his paintings of Maria, and his heart ached for her. “God, Maria and I tore ourselves apart over this. Was it all for nothing?” He brought his beer to his lips and took a swig. He’d drunk more in the past week than he ever had in his life. “You and I need to sit down and talk to Isabel about this,” he said to Alex.

Alex nodded in agreement.

“We need some answers. I need some answers. I don’t even know where the hell she is right now . . .” Michael trailed off as he finally caught sight of a piece of paper on the counter. He picked it up and read what it had to say. And that’s how he found out Isabel had gone into labor. “Oh, shit,” he swore, dropping his beer on the floor. He tossed the paper down and sprang for the door.

“What is it?” Alex asked.

“I gotta get to the hospital,” he said, throwing on his coat. “You’re coming with me.”

~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Maria stared at herself in the mirror. She didn’t hate the girl looking back at her anymore. She was . . . nervous for the girl, because she had a really big evening in front of her. But maybe once she said everything she needed to say, maybe once she got rid of all the lies, she’d have that whole pregnancy glow going on. Until then . . . no glowing.

She’d practiced in the mirror about a dozen times, practiced all the things she was going to say to Michael. She was sure once she got in front of him, everything she had planned would go right out the window, and she’d have to start from scratch again. But that was fine. She knew she could do it, and she knew she was going to.

“Okay, baby,” she said, holding her right hand against her stomach. “Let’s go see your dad.”









TBC . . .

-April
Image
LOVE IS MICHAEL AND MARIA.

User avatar
April
Roswell Fanatic
Posts: 1556
Joined: Tue Sep 28, 2004 9:32 am
Location: Somewhere. Anywhere.
Contact:

Part 77

Post by April » Sun Oct 04, 2009 9:02 am

I won't mess around today. Let's get to it. Thank you for the feedback:

nibbles
Krista
Leila (nice expanded feedback!) :lol:
Trixie (I respsect your need to sleep!)
Eva
Ginger
Sara
Nove
Nat
Alison (a kiss on the mouth? Throw in some tongue and I'll take that action!) :lol:
Maiqu (new reader after all this time! Thanks!)
killjoy
POM
Sarah
Karin

And yes, I did say that today's update was my very favorite of the entire fic. And I stand by that. It's the longest chapter of the fic at about 27 pages, and I think I wrote it all within the span of two hours. Hit my stride.

And it's pretty obvious, but just in case anyone's confused, italics denote flashbacks. I'm a flashback junkie.

ENJOY!











Part 77









Dr. Monroe talked to Isabel and said she encouraged moaning and grunting to relieve the pain during delivery. Isabel knew for a fact she was going to scream instead. The contractions alone were making her want to scream.

“Why does it have to hurt so much?” she cried. “Why can’t I just make it stop?” The contractions were starting to come closer together now. Her nurse said Isabel was experiencing some of the worst contractions she’d seen. Maybe Max was right; maybe it was a karma thing.

“Oreo?” her brother offered, holding out a cookie from the vending machine.

“Maybe later,” she said. She couldn’t think about eating right now. She couldn’t think about anything except getting this baby out of her body. “How long have I been here?” she asked.

“About two hours.”

“Two hours?” It seemed like it had been longer.

“You’re actually going pretty fast considering this is your first baby,” he said. “It is your first baby, right?”

She rolled her eyes. “Yes.”

“Well, that pamphlet said it usually takes around eight hours to--”

“Shut up about your stupid pamphlet! I don’t care about the stupid pamphlet!” she yelled. The nurses all looked in at her, and she realized she was probably one of the scariest pregnant women they’d ever encountered. She might have been a lot less scary if Michael were there.

“I don’t think he’s coming,” she said as her latest contraction began to subside. He had to have checked his voicemail by now. “I don’t think he cares anymore.”

Max grunted. “Of course he cares. He’s Michael Guerin. He’s one of those good guys.”

“What do you know about good guys?”

“Absolutely nothing, I guess.”

“Well,” she said, “it’s pretty decent of you to tough it out here with me. I know I must be a raging bitch right now.”

“You’re always a raging bitch.” He smiled. “No, come on, my nephew’s gonna be born today. Where else would I be?”

“Well, you could be off with your girlfriend, like Michael is.”

“Maybe he just got delayed at work,” Max suggested.

“Yeah, maybe.” She had a bad feeling, though, the feeling that everything she wanted and everything she thought she had was about to come crashing down. “I just wish he was . . .” She trailed off when she heard footsteps coming down the hallway. A second later, Michael walked in the door to her room. “Here,” she finished, overjoyed to see him. “Michael!”

He made his way towards her, not smiling.

“Oh, thank God,” she said, totally relieved now. “I’m so glad you’re here. I was worried you weren’t gonna come.” She reached out for his hand, but he backed away from her, not allowing her to touch him.

She frowned. Something was off. He wasn’t saying anything, and he looked angry. Why would he be angry? They were starting a family today. “Michael, what’s . . .” All coherent thought vanished from her mind as another man came into the room, another man she knew very well. His soulful eyes bore right into her, and her heart sped up a few beats.

“Alex,” she whispered just as that feeling returned, the crashing-down feeling. He looked angry, too, and like Michael he was silent.

Oh, no, Isabel thought, glancing back and forth between both her men. Suddenly she wanted it to just be her and her brother in that hospital room again. “What . . . what’re you doing here?” she stammered shakily. Alex was supposed to be in Florida. He wasn’t supposed to be anywhere else.

Alex didn’t say a word. He just came up beside Michael, took a folded piece of paper out of his pocket, unfolded it, and handed it to her. She took one look at it and knew exactly what it was. A paternity test. One that showed Alex as the father.

“I really can’t deal with this right now,” she said, shoving the results back at him. He’d probably already shown Michael. This was a disaster.

“Why don’t you tell us the truth, Isabel?” Alex suggested. “For once.”

She grabbed her back and pretended to be in pain again. She winced and whimpered.

“Quit faking,” Michael said.

She shot him a look of disbelief. “How would you know if I’m faking?” she spat. “You haven’t even been here!”

“I’ve been talking to Alex,” he said. “We had an interesting conversation.”

Oh, fuck, Isabel thought. Fuck my life. She would have given anything for a contraction in that moment. Anything.

“What’s going on?” Max asked, for once out of the loop on everything.

“Get out of here, Max,” Michael said.

“No, Max, stay,” Isabel countered. If he left, it would be two against one, her boyfriends against her.

“So you’re Alex?” Max said. “Florida man?”

“Yeah,” Alex said with a nod. “I’m also the father of your nephew.”

Isabel looked down at her lap, breathing raggedly. This was the absolute wrong time for this. Not that there was a good time.

“Isabel, I already know,” Alex said, “and I think Michael already knows, too. We’re just waiting to hear it from you.”

Isabel looked up at the three of them. They were all standing above her. The men. She met Alex’s eyes, then Max’s, and then Michael’s. All she wanted to do was crawl inside herself and never come back out. But they wanted her to tell them the truth.

****

December 25, 1991

“Ka-ching!” Max exclaimed as he opened his cash register. Isabel sat next to him on the floor and watched.

“That’s right, ka-ching,” their father said with a laugh. “Chip off the old block, this one.”

Their mother smiled nervously. “He’s only four, Phillip.”

“He’s still just like me.”

Isabel looked under the Christmas tree. There were no more presents. She hadn’t gotten what she wanted.

“Izzy, sweetie, do you like your toys?” her mother asked.

Isabel looked down in her lap. She was holding a baby doll. She liked Max’s cash register more, so she reached over and tried to take it from him.

“No!” he cried. “Daddy!”

“Izzy, stop that,” their father said, swatting her hand away. “Play with your doll.”

She didn’t want to. Max had paper money to play with. Why couldn’t she play with paper money, too?

“Take care of your doll, sweetie,” her mother urged. “The cash register belongs to Max.”

She’d asked for a cash register, and she hadn’t gotten one. Max hadn’t even asked for that. She was only four years old, but even she knew that wasn’t fair.

****

September 1, 1996

“Are you all ready to go, Max?”

“Almost, Dad.”

Isabel tugged on her mother’s arm. “Why can’t I go?” she asked.

“Because Max is going, honey.”

She pouted. Max came out of the bathroom a moment later wearing a suit and tie.

“Oh, look at you!” their mother exclaimed. “You look so cute.”

“I think you look stupid,” Isabel snapped jealously.

“Dad!” Max yelled.

“Isabel, stop it,” their dad said. He was at the bottom of the stairs, ready to get a move on. “Come on, Max. We don’t wanna be late for Take Your Child to Work Day.”

Isabel didn’t understand why they both couldn’t go. She was his child, too. Max got to go every year. When was it going to be her turn?

“Have fun at school, Isabel,” her father called as he headed out the door.

Max turned around and stuck his tongue out at her before scurrying out after their dad.

****

March 24, 2006

Isabel handed Max a stack of letters. “Read ‘em and weep, loser,” she said. “Five acceptance letters, all to Ivy league universities.”

Max fanned out the letters and nodded his head. “Nice,” he said.

She grinned and boasted, “Who’s the man? Oh, I know it’s me.”

He handed her acceptance letters back to her. “That’s quite an accomplishment, Isabel.”

“Well, it’s not like I didn’t work hard for it.” She felt like she deserved all the credit in the world for this. “How’s your salutatorian speech coming, by the way? Have you started working on it?” She’d had her valedictorian speech prepared for four years now.

“No,” Max said. “I’ve been too busy helping out Dad. Work, you know.”

She
didn’t know. Her father and her brother had effectively shut her out of their corporate lives for all these years. But she was making a statement with all these acceptance letters, proving her worth. It was just unfortunate that she had to work twice as hard to be considered half as good.

“I’m gonna go show Dad my acceptance letters,” she decided, starting down the hallway.

“You might as well just thrown them away now,” Max called after her.

She stopped, not sure what he meant by that.

“You know you’re not going to any of those colleges.”

She grunted. “I’m not staying in Santa Fe with you.”

“I bet you are,” he said, sauntering towards her. “Come on, Isabel. I know you’re not just another dumb blonde. You’re . . . sort of smart. Smart enough to know Dad’s not gonna shell out cash for your future.”

She tensed. “What does he expect me to do, just marry a rich guy?”

“Yeah,” Max said. “That’s exactly what he expects you to do.”

Isabel felt engulfed by horror. She didn’t want that. She wanted to go to college, even if she had to pay for it herself.

She gazed down at the acceptance letters in her hands, all five of them. There was no way she could afford any of those schools on her own.

****

August 31, 2006

Isabel walked out of the Student Union with a new book in her hand. It was for her Business 101 class, a class in which she knew she was more competent than the professor.

She turned the book over and glanced at the back cover. It looked fascinating. She couldn’t wait to read it. Max probably wasn’t reading his books. He probably wasn’t even going to class. His plan was undoubtedly just to skate by and rely on their father’s money, just like he always did.

She was strolling by the fountain when she looked up from the book and caught sight of a boy. He had a book, too, and he was reading it. She couldn’t see his face well, but she liked his hair, and his shoulders. He was adorable.

She sat down at the fountain, far enough away from him so that he couldn’t tell she was staring. He lifted his eyes from his book only twice, once to squint against the sun, once to smile at her. And then he kept reading again. It was an art book. Not as fascinating as business, but he was fascinating.

Isabel took off her shoes and put her feet in the water. Students weren’t supposed to do that, but everyone did. But not the boy with the art book. He was following the rules. He had his feet tucked under him. So cute.

After a few minutes of observation, she got up and made her way over to him. “Hi,” she greeted, sitting down beside him.

He looked nervous right away. “Hi,” he returned. “Do I . . . do I know you?”

She laughed lightly. “No. I’m just being friendly.”

“Oh.” He nodded, looking as though he were trying to come up with something to say.

“What’s your name?” she asked.

“Michael,” he replied.

She liked that name. “I’m Isabel,” she said, smiling flirtatiously. Now that she was seeing him up close, seeing his face . . . he was gorgeous.

“It’s nice to meet you,” he said.

“It’s nice to meet you, too.” It was
very nice to meet him. She motioned towards the book and asked, “Are you an artist?”

“Yeah,” he said. “Or at least I wanna be.”

“That’s neat.” If he was an artist, he had to be good with his hands.

“What about you?” he asked.

“Oh, you know, I’m just trying to take over the world.” She laughed, then added, “No, seriously.”

He laughed, too. “It’s good to aim high.”

“Yeah, I think so.” She could have aimed higher, but . . . Princeton was just too expensive for her. “So are you a freshman?” she asked.

“Yeah, are you?”

She nodded. “It’s a little nerve-wracking. My entire high school could fit into my theater lecture hall.”

“Small school?” he asked.

“Private school.”

“Oh.”

“Yeah, so I tend to get stereotyped,” she warned him. “People hear private school, and they think I’m just a spoiled little rich girl.” She rolled her eyes. “I’m not even rich. Not really.” Max was.

“Yeah, I’m not, either,” Michael said.

That was too bad. Money would have been a bonus. But he was so cute, she didn’t even care. “That’s okay,” she said. “Money isn’t everything.”

He nodded in agreement, smiling at her. He had a great smile.

****

October 4, 2006

Michael gazed down at Isabel with lust-filled eyes and eager lips, but she could tell there was something holding him back as they lay together in her bed.

“What’s wrong?” she asked.

“It’s just . . .” He drew it out for awhile before confessing quietly, “I’ve never really done this before.”

She knew that. She’d known that ever since she’d met him. It didn’t a genius to know that Michael Guerin was a virgin. But he wouldn’t be for much longer.

“I think that’s kind of sexy,” she told him, stroking his cheek.

He blushed self-consciously. “Are you a . . . I mean have you . . .”

She laughed. She hadn’t been a virgin or awhile. “Relax,” she told him. “This is gonna be a great night.”

“But what if your roommate comes back?”

“She can watch.”

He chuckled nervously. “I don’t know, Isabel.”

“Michael.” She was so looking forward to having some dorm room sex, and she didn’t want him to back out on it. She tangled her hands in his hair and massaged his scalp gently. “I love you,” she said.

“I love you, too, Isabel.”

She smiled and took one of his hands in hers, guiding it to her left breast. He began to touch her, and she moaned. He kissed her, and she knew it was happening. A couple could only go so long before sex entered the picture.

Michael Guerin was the one man in her life who treated her like an equal, who valued and respected her and treated her the way she deserved. When she told him she loved him . . . she meant it.

****

May 11, 2007

“So, what do you think?”

Isabel walked into the empty apartment, falling in love with it instantly. No, it wasn’t a mansion, but it was very nice. “Michael, this is amazing,” she said. “I can’t believe you got your own place.” She was getting a single dorm room for her sophomore year, because she had received an academic scholarship that covered the cost of on-campus housing. Now they would be able to have dorm room sex
and apartment sex.

“Apartment 521,” he said proudly. “Now I just gotta remember to pay the rent.”

She gave him a look. As if that were going to be a problem. Michael was super responsible. “It’s perfect,” she told him, looping her arms around his neck. She hugged him tightly and said, “Maybe someday some hot blonde chick will decide to move in with you.”

He rubbed his hands up and down her back. “Yeah, maybe.”

****

July 4, 2007

A firework shot up in the sky and exploded in brilliant purple and gold colors. It was so big, it must have been illegal.

“Wow, this is some 4th of July party,” Michael remarked.

“The only Evans party ever worth going to,” she told him. “Trust me, the rest are really boring.”

“Is your dad on his way over here again?”

Isabel glanced through the crowd in their back yard and sighed. “Looks like.”

“I don’t think he likes me.”

He was an idiot as far as Isabel was concerned. How could anyone not like Michael? He was the perfect guy. “Hurry, just go to the bathroom or something,” she told him. “I’ll talk to him.”

“Okay.” Michael gave her a kiss on the cheek and slipped off into the crowd. Isabel turned her back to her father and grabbed a glass of wine, downing it inconspicuously as he approached.

“Hi, Daddy!” she swirled around and said, plastering a big, fake smile on her face. She really hated this man.

“Where’d what’s-his-name go?” he grumbled.

“Michael,” she said, restraining her anger. “His name is Michael. And he went to the bathroom.”

“Is he enjoying himself?”

Her eyebrows shot up. “In the bathroom?” Michael rarely needed to masturbate. She kept him satisfied.

“At this party,” her father clarified.

“Oh. Yeah, I think so.”

Her father grunted. “He’d better. He’ll never be in such a high-class environment again.”

She wrinkled her forehead in confusion. “What?”

“He’s an artist, right?”

She smiled. “Yes.” And he was an amazing artist. Lately, he’d begun painting pictures of her.

“Quite the unstable career choice if you ask me.”

“I didn’t ask you,” she growled.

Phillip shrugged. “I’m just saying, a girl should consider love and money as one in the same, not independently.”

Love and money. She loved money, but lately, she’d been loving Michael more.

“Aim higher, Isabel,” her father told her. “Aim richer. It’s your only chance at success.” He gave her a pat on the shoulder, then looked back up at the sky to watch the fireworks. Isabel shuddered.

****

March 3, 2008

“So, Florida, huh?”

“Yeah, Miami. Don’t you think it sounds fun?”

Michael made a face. “Not really.”

She sat down on his lap, straddling him, and kissed both sides of his face before licking his bottom lip. “You know,” she said, “girls go wild on spring break in Miami. Hence the
Girls Gone Wild videos. I could flash a camera and get, like, a modeling contract or something.”

He laughed. “Don’t flash a camera.”

“If you were coming with me, I could flash you.”

“Tempting,” he said, “but I think I’d just rather stay here and get some painting done.”

She pouted. But as long as he was painting her and not anyone else, it was fine. “I’m gonna miss you,” she said.

“I’m gonna miss you, too.” He smoothed his hands over her backside, pressing her hips down into his. “Don’t get into trouble.”

She swirled her hips against his growing erection. “I won't,” she said, “I promise.”

****

March 14, 2008

Even though she wanted to wear a whipped cream bikini, Isabel refrained. She sat at the tiki hut near the beach, getting just a little drunk at the bar. She knew she looked good.

She finished her drink and looked around for some man to pay her small bar tab. She didn’t exactly have a lot of cash on her since her plane tickets had cost such a bundle. She saw a thinner, loner-looking guy a few stools down and figured she could get him to pay. She took a look at what he was drinking and remarked, “Water. Interesting choice.”

He looked up at her. “Huh? Oh, yeah, alcoholism kinda . . . runs in the family, so . . .”

She nodded. So this guy was a responsible guy like Michael. Maybe they weren’t such a rare breed after all.

Isabel slid onto the empty stool beside him, then went on. “You’re saving money, too,” she said. “Alcohol’s expensive.”

“Yeah, I guess it is.”

He didn’t seem to be getting the hint, so she looked around some more. There was a sort of rugged looking man standing on the beach with his friends. He’d been making eyes at her for awhile now. She could get him to pay for her for sure. Or maybe it would just be easier to pay for herself. She sighed and was about to slap some money down on the bar when the guy beside her dropped his wallet out of his pocket.

“Oops,” he said, hopping down off the stool to pick it up. Isabel peered over her shoulder and couldn’t help but notice a hundred dollar bill peeking out of that wallet. Impressive. “That’s a lot of cash to carry around with you,” she remarked.

“Oh, well . . . I guess you could say that,” he said quietly.

She raised her eyebrows. “Rich kid?”

“Um . . . yeah. My dad owns a software development company.”

“My dad owns a hotel company,” she said.

“Really?”

“Yeah. But he doesn’t really share the wealth.” She shrugged, pretending she didn’t care. “What’s your name?” she asked her new friend.

“Alex,” he said.

“Hi, Alex. I’m Isabel.” She extended her hand in greeting. When he shook her hand, she felt his sweaty palms. Not exactly an attractive feeling, but endearing in its own way. She made him nervous.

“So I take it you’re on spring break?” he guessed, appearing to relax in her presence a little more now.

“Yep. I’m from Santa Fe.”

“New Mexico, huh?”

“Yeah. There’s not a whole lot going on there. This is much more exciting.” Maybe it would have been even more exciting had Michael accompanied her, but . . . this was okay, too.

“Well, this actually starts to get old,” Alex told her. “I live here in Miami.”

“Oh, so this isn’t a vacation for you.”

“Nope.”

She leaned in closer and asked, “Then why are you here? Are you with a girlfriend or . . .”

“No,” he said. “No, I don’t have a girlfriend.”

That wasn’t hard to believe. This guy was seriously lacking some confidence, but he was a cutie. Definitely. “That works out nicely then,” she said. “I don’t have a boyfriend.” Had it not been for the hundred dollar bill in his wallet, she probably wouldn’t have said that.

****

June 2, 2008

“Oh, Alex,” Isabel moaned as he thrust inside her. Over the past few months, he had learned how to please her so well. All the anxiety that had overridden their first time together during spring break was gone now, and he really knew how to put it to her good.

He grunted and lifted her leg higher in the air. He was lying behind her on his side, jack-hammering her with his hips. So fucking good.

“Yes,” Isabel whispered. “Yes.” If he could hold out for just a little longer, she was going to cum.

Her entire body tensed up when she heard the front door close. “Oh, no,” she whispered.

“Yes,” Alex groaned, still thrusting.

“Isabel, you here?” she heard Michael say. “I got off work early.”

“Get under the bed,” she told Alex, shoving him away from her.

“What?”

“Just get under the bed.”

“Who is that?”

“Just go!”

Alex scrambled down off the bed and crawled underneath. Isabel shoved his clothes underneath with him, then lay back on the bed and began to touch herself. Michael opened the door a moment later and came in. “Whoa,” he said when he saw her. “That’s hot.”

She smiled at him. “Hi, baby. I just couldn’t wait.”

“I see that.” He climbed onto the bed, clueless as to the fact that there had been another man on it mere seconds ago. “Want me to finish the job?” he asked, grazing his fingers up her thigh.

“Mmm,” she moaned. “Actually, it’s already finished. I was wondering if you could run to the store and get me some Doritos.”

He chuckled. “What?”

“Yeah, you know how I get all hungry after I cum.”

“Yeah, that’s true,” he said. He bent down and kissed her stomach, then swung his legs over the side of the bed and got up. “I’ll be back.”

Isabel waited until he had walked out the front door before she breathed her sigh of relief. That had been a close call.

“Okay, who the hell was that?” Alex demanded as he crawled out from under the bed.

“That,” she said, “was my man. And this is his apartment.”

Alex looked as though he felt sick.

****

June 28, 2008

The ocean water lapped at Isabel’s feet. The moon shown down on both her and Alex. They were the only two on the beach that night.

“Does Michael know you’re here?” he asked.

“No,” she replied. “He thinks I’m at home visiting my mom.”

“You haven’t told him about me yet?”

“Of course not.”

Alex sighed heavily and hung his head. “I don’t know what to do about this.”

“What do you mean?” She absentmindedly traced out her name in the sand with her index finger.

“I mean . . . I thought we were having a great long-distance relationship, but little did I know, we were having an affair.”

She rolled her eyes. “Alex . . .” They’d had this conversation before.

“I’m not comfortable with it.”

“But it hasn’t stopped you,” she pointed out. Hell, they’d done more fucking since he’d found out about Michael than they’d done before he knew. She suspected he was trying to stake his claim on her by having as much sex as possible.

“I’m in love with you, Isabel,” he blurted. “I’m completely, undeniably, totally in love with you. And I don’t know if you love me.”

She loved his money. She loved all the presents he bought her with his money. She loved that he was willing to fly her out to Florida and never asked her to pay a dime. “I love you, Alex,” she told him. “But I’ve loved Michael for a long time now.”

“Then why are you cheating on him?” he asked. “If you love him so damn much . . .”

She sighed. “Alex . . .”

“I want you to leave him, Isabel,” he said. “I want you to leave Michael and come live with me.”

She didn’t know what to say. Leave Michael? Could she do that? Did she want to?

****

July 3, 2008

“I wanna break up.”

Michael just stared at her with an open mouth and wide eyes, as though he could believe what she was saying.

“I’m sorry,” she apologized, well aware how cold and unemotional she sounded, “but there’s someone else.” The truth was, it was actually killing her to say this, to look into his eyes and end things with him, but Alex was . . . wealthy. Michael had her heart, but Alex had her greed.

Michael looked around the restaurant, at all the happy couples surrounding them, his eyes brimming with tears. “What?” he choked out.

“There’s someone else,” she repeated simply. “I’ve been cheating on you for months now.”

He looked . . . flabbergasted. “You’ve been . . . cheating on me?”

Poor Michael. He was such a good guy. He was so good to her. He always had been. She knew he loved her, and she hoped he always would. “His name is Alex,” she said. “He’s a good man. He lives in Florida. I’m gonna go live with him.”

“What?” Michael gasped in disbelief. “How . . .” He couldn’t even form a sentence.

“I’m leaving tonight,” she told him. “I just need to pack up everything I have at your place.”

“This is . . .” He shook his head. “This can’t be happening.”

“It is,” she said. “I’m really sorry, but this is what I want. It’s not you; it’s me.”

He grunted angrily.

“Cliché but true,” she insisted. And it really was her, because he hadn’t done anything wrong.

“I can’t believe I’m hearing this,” he said. “I have to . . .” He trailed off and rose to his feet, stumbling away from the table. He dropped something, a small box. He picked it up again quickly and shoved it in his pocket, but Isabel saw it, and her heart sank. She knew it was an engagement ring.

****

July 3, 2008

“Do you even know this guy that well? Where does he live? What does he do for a living? Does he respect you?”

Isabel zipped up her suitcase. Alex was outside waiting for her in the car. She wanted to get out of the apartment as fast as possible. The longer she stayed, the more tempted she would be to never leave.

“Would you talk to me?” Michael bellowed.

“What can I say to make this better? I’ll say it.”

“You can’t . . . you can’t make it better,” he stammered. “I want my life to be with you. I love you.”

“I love you, too.”

“Don’t say that!”

“I do,” she insisted, lifting her suitcase off the bed and onto the floor. “I love you, Michael. You’re the first man I’ve ever loved.”

“But not the only man,” he growled. “You’re the
only girl—woman—I’ve ever loved. You’re the only woman I ever will love.”

She smiled. That was good to hear.

“Please don’t go,” he begged. “Stay here. We can work this out.”

He almost had her. He almost had her changing her mind. “I can’t,” she whispered sadly.

“Why not?”

“Because it’s in my best interest to leave.”

“Your best interest?” he shrieked. “I
love you, Isabel. Does this Alex guy love you?”

“Yes.” She rolled her suitcase behind her and brushed past him out into the hallway.

“Isabel . . .”

She sighed in distress and let go of the suitcase handle. “Oh, Michael.” She ran back to him and leapt into his arms, kissing him wildly. He staggered and tried to get her to stop.

“No, don’t--”

“Kiss me,” she whispered hotly. She wanted this much with him, if only for one last time.

Even though he was reluctant, he turned his face towards hers again and crushed her lips with his. He slammed her back against the bedroom doorframe and ground his pelvis into her. She gasped as his mouth attacked her neck almost ferociously. She’d never known him to be such an animal. He wanted to fuck, and so did she.

****

July 3, 2008

“Are you gonna be okay?”

Isabel nodded and sat down on the bed in the hotel room. They were spending the night in one of her father’s hotels of all places. Just perfect.

Alex carried her luggage inside and came to sit down beside her. “I know that must’ve been hard,” he said, placing one hand on her shoulder, “but you did it.”

Yeah, she’d done it. She and Michael had
done it together. But Alex didn’t need to know that.

“We’re gonna be so happy together,” Alex promised. “And Michael’s gonna be alright. He seems like a really good guy. He’ll meet someone else.”

Isabel bristled. As selfish as it was, she wanted Michael to spend the rest of his life alone, longing for her.

“We’re gonna be happy,” Alex repeated.

If money truly bought happiness, than she was sure they would be.

“Do you wanna go to sleep?” he asked.

She was tired, but this was their first night together as a legitimate couple. No affair, no sneaking around. She turned to face him and placed her right hand over his heart. She looked into his eyes and wordlessly communicated her desire. He smiled and kissed her, pulling her down on top of him. It didn’t take long for their clothes to come off, and Isabel got laid for the second time that night.

****

September 9, 2008

Isabel gazed at the ultrasound monitor, still trying to make out the vague form of her baby there. The doctor seemed to think it showed a lot, but she didn’t think it showed much at all.

“There, right there you can see the baby’s head.”

“Hmm.” She just smiled. She wasn’t as interested in seeing the head as much as she was interested in knowing when it was conceived. “So you said it looks like I’m about two months along?” she asked.

“Yes, you are.”

“And . . . I don’t know, is there any way you could give me a more exact date of conception?”

“Well, Isabel . . .” The doctor rose to his feet and took a moment to clean his glasses before he answered, “Judging by the baby’s size and apparent development, I’d place your date of conception on July 3rd.”

“July 3rd,” she echoed. That was a hard day to forget. “Are you sure?”

“Well, it’s hard to be exactly sure. Give or take two days in either direction, but . . . yes, July 3rd.” He nodded.

“Huh,” she said, thinking about it. That was . . . interesting.

“Which means,” the doctor went on, “you should expect to deliver near the end of March, or beginning of April, if you carry the baby to term.”

“Oh, really?” She was still stuck on July 3rd. “That’s . . . fantastic.”

****

September 10, 2008

“Promise you won’t freak out, okay?”

Alex nodded. “Okay.”

Isabel took one of his hands in hers and placed it atop her flat (for the time being) stomach. “I’m pregnant.”

Alex looked freaked out for only a moment, but then his face lit up with a smile. “What? Really?”

She smiled. “Really.”

He laughed happily. “Oh my god, come here.” He wrapped his arms around her and hugged her, and hugged him back unsurely. She felt weird. Maybe this wasn’t Alex’s baby. Maybe it was. She didn’t know. She didn’t need to. She was with Alex, so he was the father. It was as simple as that.

“Oh, I can’t believe this,” he said, still hugging her. “I’m so happy.”

“Happy?” Alex was the same age she was. They were still young. It seemed like they still had so much to do before they even considered starting a family.

“Yes, I’m happy.” He released her from the hug, looking absolutely . . . thrilled. It was beyond happiness; it was elation. “I’ve always wanted to be a dad, and now I’m gonna get that chance. We’re having a baby, Isabel. You and me.”

She smiled softly. “You and me.”

****

December 31, 2008

Isabel shut herself away in the bedroom while the party downstairs continued on. It was New Year’s Eve. It was supposed to be an amazing night, but she didn’t feel amazing. She felt tired, and her back hurt, and the smell of the cocktail weenies downstairs was making her nauseous. And she missed Michael. She had rung in the last new year with him. She wondered if he was by himself this year, or if he was with someone else. Would he give some lucky girl a midnight kiss?

She sat on her bed, staring at a photograph of the two of them. They were standing outside by the Student Union fountain where they had first met. His arms were around her waist, and he was hugging her from behind. Michael’s geek friend Kyle had taken the picture for them, and he had taken it before Isabel had ever gone on spring break and met Alex, before she’d ever imagined she would cheat on Michael. Isabel stared at the picture and started to cry lightly. She couldn’t remember the last time she’d cried over anything.

“Isabel?”

She shoved the photo in her pocket and rose to her feet a moment before Alex entered the bedroom.

“Hey,” he said. “Are you okay? You look sad.”

“Oh . . . just crazy pregnant lady hormones,” she lied.

“Do you feel okay?”

She nodded. “Mmm-hmm.”

“Okay.” He touched her growing stomach and said, “Hey,” to the baby. “Hey, you.”

“Um . . . I’ll be back down in a minute,” she said.

“Alright. You’d better be. I gotta kiss you at midnight.” He smiled and slipped out of the bedroom.

She sighed, feeling defeated even though she knew she wasn’t. She had a great life here. Alex was a wonderful man, he had lots of money, and he was looking forward to being a father. But when she took out the photograph of her and Michael again, she couldn’t help but feel as though she’d made the wrong choice. Or maybe she’d made a choice for the wrong reasons.

It didn’t matter now. She tore the picture in half.

****

February 10, 2009

The newspaper fluttered in Isabel’s hands. She kept re-reading the article over and over again.

He was really dead.

She heard Alex’s car pull into the driveway, and she heard him walk in the front door and come up the stairs. When he came into the bedroom, he had a look of agony on his face, but Isabel barely noticed.

“Hey,” he said. “I hope your day went better than mine did.”

Her day had gone fine. She set the newspaper down on the bedspread and announced calmly and evenly, “My dad died.”

“What?”

She handed him the newspaper. “It happened yesterday. Heart attack.” She thought it was so ridiculous that her father, a man who had done nothing notable in his life but build a couple of hotels, was well-known enough to make it into a Miami newspaper. He didn’t even have any hotels in the southeastern United States, let alone in Florida. He was so overrated.

“Oh my god, Isabel,” Alex said, glancing over the article briefly. “I’m so sorry.”

She made a face. “Why? I’m not.”

“Well, I know you weren’t close to him, but still . . .” He shook his head and folded up the newspaper, setting it down on the bed next to her. “If you wanna go back for the funeral . . .”

“No,” she decided immediately. “I don’t give a damn about my father. He can burn in hell for all I care.”

Alex swallowed hard. “Well, after I tell you what I came up here to say, you might want me to burn there with him.”

She sat up straighter, immediately concerned. “What’s going on?”

He sighed heavily and sat down beside her. He stared down at his lap for a moment, then turned to her and said, “It’s gone, Isabel.”

“What is?”

“Everything. You know how I told you the company’s been struggling? Well, it was actually worse than I thought. My dad’s been arrested. He’s probably gonna go to jail for a long time. The whole company’s pretty much gone now. I have no job, no money. And this house is gonna be foreclosed right before our very eyes.”

Fear seized her. Fear and . . . and anger. There was no way this could be happening. Alex had promised everything would be okay, and now he was telling her he had no money? No
job, even?

“I know this is a lot to take in,” he said. “Trust me, no one’s more stunned than I am. And I know this is horrible timing, because you’re dealing with what happened to your dad, and ‘cause we’re having a baby, but . . .”

“I left Santa Fe for you,” she said accusingly. “I left Michael for you.”

“I know, and I’m so sorry.”

“Sorry?” she roared, outraged. “Sorry doesn’t cut it, Alex!”

“I don’t know what else to say. Isabel, I promise I’m gonna take care of you. I promise I’m gonna take care of our child.”

“How can you do that now?”

“I’ll find a way,” he vowed. “We’ll find a place to live. An apartment. I’ll get a job. We’ll make it work.”

“Just . . . get away from me.” She stormed into the bathroom, absolutely furious with him. She’d trusted him. She’d depended on him. And he’d let her down. Bastard.

She slammed the bathroom door shut, panting for air. Nothing was the way it was supposed to be.

“Isabel, please talk to me.”

“Go away!” she shouted. If she opened that door and looked at him, she’d probably shove him down the stairs. That was how livid she was.

She knew now that she
had in fact made the wrong choice. Michael was the one for her. He was probably never going to have millions to his name, but he was good, and he was sweet, and he was wonderful. And he would never let her down.

Once the anger subsided, she calmed down enough to smile at herself in the mirror. Maybe this wasn’t such a bad thing after all. In fact, maybe it was just what she needed to find a way out.

“Michael . . .” Her heart sped up in anticipation, and she swung open the door. “Alex,” she said, “we’re getting a paternity test.”

****

February 13, 2009

“So do you see the predicament I’m in?” Isabel had just relayed her entire baby drama to Rachel, one Whitman Software Development’s former employers. Rachel was middle-aged, a complete computer geek, and, like all of Charles Whitman’s other employees, cleaning out her cubicle.

“I guess,” Rachel said. “But what do you want me to do about it?”

“I want you to change these results for me.” Isabel shook her head at the paper in her hands. She’d been hoping that the test results would come back and show that Alex wasn’t the father, and that would mean that Michael was. But lo and behold, Alex was a daddy. That would never do.

“Oh, Isabel, I sympathize with your plight. Really, I do,” Rachel insisted, “but I can’t change the results for you. DNA is . . . DNA.”

“But this is just a piece of paper, right? I mean, if a certain computer genius like you were to forge a results document, make it look just like this one . . . make it say Alex
isn’t the dad . . .” She shrugged hopefully.

“But . . . that’s illegal,” Rachel pointed out.

“Yeah. But then again, oral sex is illegal here in Florida,, too, and don’t we all do that?”

Rachel sighed in contemplation. “I don’t know, Isabel. I want to help you, I do, but . . . this is just a little extreme.”

“I realize that, but desperate times call for desperate measures. So please,” she begged. “I’m desperate.”

Rachel looked genuinely torn. That was more than Isabel had expected. She thought Rachel would shoot down this request right away, but now she knew she stood a good chance of convincing her.

“Oh, Isabel, I don’t know . . .”

“Please,” she said again. “From one woman to another.”

“I’d like to, but--”

“You know,” she cut in, “we have a lot in common, you and I.”

“We do?”

“Yes. Think about it. We’re both at the mercy of men. It’s not a happy thought, but . . . there it is.”

“I’m not--”

“Do you have a family, Rachel? Do you have children?”

Rachel nodded slowly. “I have two sons.”

“I bet they’re adorable,” Isabel said, sucking up a little bit. “You’re obviously a wonderful mother. You work hard to support them, to make sure they have the best lives possible. That’s exactly what I’m doing for my baby. If I have to lie and manipulate to protect this little boy or girl, I’ll do it. I’m sure you understand that.”

“I do. I’d do anything for my children.”

Isabel sensed she was getting closer, so she kept going. “I didn’t see any pictures of your husband on your desk. Something tells me he’s disappointed you. Kind of like Alex disappointed me. Why should our futures be jeopardized because of their mistakes? Why should our children be held back because of their failures? Why do we let them have all the power? Why don’t we, as women, take back that power and use it to our advantage?” She grinned, thinking she sounded pretty damn convincing.

Rachel smiled just slightly, took out a pencil, and jotted an address down on a hot pink Post-It note. “Here,” she said. “Come by my house in an hour. I’ll see what I can do for you.”

Inside, Isabel was jumping up and down, but outside, she kept it contained. “Thank you so much,” she said. This was going to work. Even if the document wasn’t a perfect forgery, Alex wouldn’t know a fake from an authentic one. He’d never seen a paternity test before.

“But Isabel, you’d better make sure you don’t get caught.”

“Don’t worry,” she vowed. “I won’t.”

****

February 14, 2009

Valentine’s Day. It seemed like the perfect night to surprise Michael. He’d probably missed her. He was probably lonely without her, as lonely as she was without him.

After she got off the plane, Isabel took a taxi to the Fairview apartment complex. As far as she knew, Michael still lived there. Oh, she couldn’t wait to see the look on his face when he saw her. He was going to be thrilled. He was going to sweep her up in his arms and kiss her, and everything would be good again. As far as the rest of the world knew, they were having a baby. And Alex could just concentrate on his job at McDonald’s. She was through with him.

She knocked on the door to apartment 521, but there was no answer. She rummaged around her purse for the key she still owned, inserted it into the lock, and slipped inside.

“Hello?” she called. “Michael?” No answer. Apparently he wasn’t there. But it was definitely still his apartment. In addition to having all the same furniture, it smelled like him. It was a sexy smell.

She set her luggage down on the floor and surveyed the trail of rose petals in front of her. They were leading towards the bedroom, all the way to the bed. There were many candles set up in there, unlit. But this was weird. He hadn’t known she was coming. Who was the ambiance for?

She frowned and walked around the apartment. Something was . . . different here. Something was very different. There was nothing lonely about that place. In fact, it seemed quite . . . romantic and warm.

Isabel made her way into the bedroom. It was the last place she’d seen Michael, the night they’d screwed up against the wall. She used to feel as though his bedroom was her bedroom, too, but now she felt as though she were trespassing.

She pulled open the closet door and saw a large array of female clothing. Tiny. Cute, for the most part. But female.

Isabel shut the closet door and whirled around. She stomped over towards Michael’s nightstand and grabbed a picture frame. It was a picture of him. And Maria DeLuca.

Maria DeLuca?

Isabel gazed in horror at the rose petals on the bed. “What the fuck?”

****

March 7, 2009

It was like
déjà vu. Only this time, Isabel was trying to convince Kevin the sample collector at the DNA lab to forge the results instead of Rachel. And this time, she wanted the results forged to look positive.

“It’s really not that hard,” she said. “I’d do it myself if I was better with computers.”

Kevin smiled at her. He was a good looking guy, late twenties as far as she could tell. But he was being stubborn. “It’s against the law,” he pointed out.

“What is with you law-abiding citizens? Live a little. Help a girl out.”

“I’d like to,” he said, “but I can’t.”

“Sure you can. I told you, it’s easy.”

“But if I get caught, I could get fired,” he protested.

She grunted. Was being a sample collector really such a great job anyway? “Who cares? Then you could go to L.A. and pursue that modeling career you’ve always dreamed about.”

Kevin chuckled and blushed. “I don’t wanna be a model.”

“Well, you’re good-looking enough to be one. Consider it a suggestion.”

He leaned over the counter, his eyes roaming all over her. He was clearly intrigued. “Are you a model?” he asked.

She shrugged. “I’m a slut.”

“Ooh, I like you.”

“I know. So why don’t you help me?”

He pressed his lips together reluctantly. “I wanna help you,” he said, “but I’m gonna need a little something in return.”

“What do you want?” She’d give it to him, whatever it was.

He just smiled at her.

“Oh, you want me to sleep with you?” she concluded. “Well, sure. We can do it right now if you want.”

“No, no, no, I don’t bang pregnant chicks if they’re over five months along,” he said. “No offense.”

“Oh.” She couldn’t believe her offer of sexual bribery had just been turned down. That had never happened before.

“Although,” Kevin said, “I
would let you give me a blow job.”

He would
let her give her one? She played a long. “Sounds fun.”

“But that’s not all,” he added. “My rent’s due next week, and I don’t get paid shit on this job. I really need the money, so . . . pay up.”

Money. It was always about money. She should have known. “Um . . . I actually don’t have any money right now,” she said. She’d blown the majority of her cash on the plane ride home.

“No money? No fake results then.”

She thought of her brother, of all the money he had, and an idea occurred to her. A risky idea, but an idea nonetheless. “Wait a minute,” she said. “I said I don’t have the money right now. But I can get it. How much do you want?”

“Hmm.” He thought about it. “Two-thousand dollars?”

“That’s all?” He should have asked for more.

“That and the blow-job.”

Worked for her. “Okay,” she said. “Drop your pants.”

****

March 8, 2008

Isabel met up with Bernard, a security guard, in the parking lot outside the Evans Hotels office. He looked like a big, dumb guy, and his willingness to share information with her proved that assessment correct. “So basically you’re gonna be the only one here tonight?” she asked him for clarification.

“Uh, basically, yeah,” he said. “Ernie’s here, too, but he patrols the top three floors.”

She nodded, thinking it through. Max’s office was on the second floor. “So theoretically, if someone were to ask you to shut down the security system for just a few minutes, could you do that?”

“I could,” he said. “Ernie couldn’t. He doesn’t have that kind of, uh . . . authority.”

“Pfft, who needs Ernie?” she joked. “Listen, Bernard . . . Bernie. Can I call you Bernie?”

“Sure, sweetheart.”

Oh, if only he knew how sweet her heart wasn’t. “Bernie, I need your help. See, I need someone to shut down the security system while I go inside my brother’s office. He’s the boss. He’s got all this money in his safe, and I need some. I’d ask him myself, but he’s an ass, you know?”

“Yeah,” Bernie nodded. “He spit on my shoes once. No reason, just spit on ‘em.”

“That’s disgusting,” she agreed. “I think it’s time you get your revenge. And I’ll tell you what: I’ll give you half of whatever money I take.”

“What if we get caught?”

“Who’s gonna catch us? Ernie? He sounds stupid.” But little did Bernard know, he was the stupid one. There was probably a reason why he was a security guard: He wasn’t smart enough to be a cop.

When Bernard agreed to help her out, Isabel decided there was nothing she couldn’t do. Nothing. She felt invincible. Maybe she really was.

****

March 8, 2008

Isabel walked through the empty office space. She kept worrying that someone was going to pop out from under a cubicle, but Bernard assured her no one was there. He’d shut down the security system about a minute ago, so the clock was ticking.

She stepped into her brother’s office. Since it relied on an electronic lock, part of the shut-down security system, she had no problem getting in. She kept the room dark and sat down in front of his safe. Time to guess the combination.

She took out a piece of paper on which she had written every possible combination she could think of. She tried Max’s birthday, but that wasn’t it. She tried her father’s birthday, since the safe used to be his. That didn’t work, either. Phone number. No luck. She punched numbers rapidly, but she couldn’t figure it out. Maybe this was a bad idea. She definitely hadn’t thought this through as well as she could have. She might have been better off just asking Max to loan her the cash. Now she was in a bind. If she didn’t hurry, Bernard was going to turn the security cameras back on soon. She’d told him to give her five minutes.

“Dammit,” she swore, wracking her brain. She was a smart girl. She could have gone to Princeton. She could figure this out.

She looked around Max’s office for any sort of clue. Max’s safe housed his money. Max loved his money more than almost anything in the entire world. More than . . . more than
almost anything.

Her eyes settled on a picture of Liz taped to the side of Max’s computer. Liz Parker. Bitch. It was worth a shot.

Isabel peered over at the landline phone on Max’s desk and saw that the number five corresponded with the letter L. So she hit number five on the safe. She put in four for the letter I, nine for Z, and so on. Once she had spelled out L-I-Z-P-A-R-K-E-R as she would on a telephone number pad, she tried again to open the safe. And this time, it popped open.

She squealed in delight as the money inside greeted her. “Oh, Max, you lovesick schmuck.” She wanted to take it all, but Max would be less likely to notice anything missing if she only took a little. They money was mostly in hundreds, so she quickly counted out four-thousand dollars. Half was for Bernie, and half was for Kevin the sample collector. It was a lot of work for a simple forgery, but it was a bit of a rush, too. She liked the feeling of taking her brother’s money, money that was technically still her father’s money. It felt appropriate somehow.

She shut the door to the safe and scurried out of the office. Thank God her brother was so pathetic and predictable.

****

March 11, 2009

Isabel opened the envelope carefully, using her left pinky nail to slice it right at the seal. She took out the paper inside and glanced around to make sure no one was watching while she looked it over. There it was, right there in black and white, the lie that Michael was the baby’s father. It looked good. Kevin had forged an even more realistic document than Rachel had.

Isabel smiled and re-folded the results, placing the paper back in the envelope. One of these days, she was going to have to have a party and invite all the gullible people who had assisted her in her devious endeavors. She owed them big time.

She re-sealed the envelope so that it appeared it hadn’t even been opened. Now all that was left to do was show her dream man.

“Congratulations, Michael,” she said, so utterly pleased with herself for fighting for what she wanted in the face of adversity. “You’re gonna be a dad.”

****


So there it was. Michael, Max, and Alex all stared down at her in disbelief. Typical men, always looking down. Alex looked disappointed. Max looked a little impressed. Michael just looked stunned.

Max was the first one to break the silence. “You stole from me?”

She grunted. Did that really come as such a surprise? Perhaps he’d just underestimated her again. People always underestimated her. “You stole from me first,” she growled. “Everything I should’ve had, everything I deserved . . . you took it. You took it all. And you didn’t even earn it.”

He rolled his eyes.

“And you,” she said to Alex. “You said we were gonna be happy and we weren’t. When you went down, you brought me down with you.”

“Isabel--”

“And you . . . Michael . . .” She gazed up at him with tearful eyes. It hurt to look at him. “You were supposed to love me, unconditionally. You weren’t supposed to stop. You weren’t supposed to move on, but you did. And you forgot about me. For her.”

He was silent.

“Don’t you see?” she said to all three of them. “I was the bad guy because I had to be. Because the three of you didn’t leave me any choice.” She winced as another contraction hit, and this one hit hard. “Ah!” she screamed, her entire body tightening up. “Hands!” she shouted, her own hands shooting out. Nobody took hold of them.

She waited, but Michael, Max, and Alex all just stared at her. None of them made an effort to hold her hand.

Hands!” she repeated, more adamantly this time. She needed a hand to squeeze. She was in so much pain.

Michael started to back away.

“No,” she whimpered. “Michael!”

He shook his head dazedly and walked out of the room.

“No!” she cried. His hands were the ones she wanted.

Max turned his back to her and followed Michael out.

“Max!” she shouted. “Get back here, Max!”

He walked out of the room.

She slammed her head back into her pillow, breathing heavily as the contraction overwhelmed her. She was having her baby and they were abandoning her. All of them.

Or not.

Alex placed his hand in hers, slowly, reluctantly. She hadn’t expected it, but maybe she should have. Despite everything she had done, this was his baby, too. Before the day was over, he was going to be a father.

This isn’t the way it’s supposed to be, she thought. This was supposed to be a happy day. This was supposed to a day for her and Michael. This baby was supposed to be theirs.

But it wasn’t.

She closed her eyes and squeezed Alex’s hand tightly. It wasn’t exactly what she wanted, but it was better than nothing.









TBC . . .

-April
Image
LOVE IS MICHAEL AND MARIA.

User avatar
April
Roswell Fanatic
Posts: 1556
Joined: Tue Sep 28, 2004 9:32 am
Location: Somewhere. Anywhere.
Contact:

Part 78

Post by April » Tue Oct 06, 2009 7:59 am

Sarah:
Poor Michael, poor sweet Michael.
I know, he doesn't deserve all this.

Alison:
I suppose Alex would have to stay, wouldn't he? It is his baby, despite everything Isabel did to prove otherwise.
Yeah, he can't leave his kid in Isabel's hands.
What I love about April is that she didn't take the easy way out with the characters, she made them real and gritty and messy.
I'm so glad you appreciate that. I can't seem to write characters any other way.
How do you like my pointy, serpentlike tongue?
Ooh, I like it! :P

Krista:
It is very creepy though. If you think about it. That she loved Michael so much to do all those horrible things that she did.
Yeah, it is creepy. She really does love Michael, in her own way, but it's, like, obsessed-love.

Leila:
The journey through Isabel's was interesting but it showed that she had no chance from the beginning. She couldn't be the person she wanted since no one wanted her to be someone. I'm not surprised she became the person she is.
I think there was an alternate path right in front of her, but she didn't take it, because she felt like she had to do all these evil deeds to get somewhere in life. She's got issues. Oh, she's got so many issues.

nibbles:
Alex is way, way too good for her. Any other guy would have walked away and never looked back. I hope she can see that and.... I don't know, be nice to him. I'm certainly not hoping they get back together. She's a colossal bitch and she's in love with somebody else.
I know, I feel bad for Alex, because he's now in the same boat Michael was. He's sort of . . . stuck with her. They're always going to have their son in common. :roll:

Nat:
I laughed so hard when that guy said Max spit on his shoes. For no reason too
:lol: He's such an ass.

Maiqu:
Loved the insight into Isaslut's creepily michael-obsessed mind
Isaslut. Nice, yet another new nickname for her. ;)

Karin:
Huuh something very important was missing in this episode...starts with Mar and ends with big amazing scene with michael
That's this part. ;)

Trixie:
Of all the things that she said, what struck me the most was that she "had to be the bad guy, because she didn't have a choice." She always had a choice, but she kept making the wrong choices, the choices that would feed her greed.
I think you're right.

killjoy:
Do I feel bad for Isabel....yeah a bit.

Doesen't excuse what she's done but she was treated as a non person by her father,only good to be a trophy wife to a rich guy one day.That's got to warp a person to some level.
Daddy issues. It's the root of all her problems. I feel bad for her a little bit, too, but only for the young Isabel, the one who didn't get what she wanted for Christmas and couldn't go to the college she wanted. After that . . . she made her choices, and she has to live with the consequences.

Nove:
I oddly, kind of sort of, ashamedly, started to feel sorry for her.
I started feeling sorry for her when I was writing the first few flashbacks, and then as they progressed, I quit feeling sorry for her.
Thank goodness that person isn't Michael. I feel awful for him. All his hurts was for nothing. Just because some stupid lady couldn't just work this out with a therapist before having a relationship.
Isabel really needs a therapist more than any of them, doesn't she?

Sara:
Maybe Michael and Maria can start mending their broken hearts.
I think they can. :D

Neve:
It makes me relieved that her father ignored her all these years. Imagine if he had nurtered her evilness like he did with Max? Isabel would be Satan.
I didn't even think about that. She would be Satan!
If Roger didn't steal the money from the safe, why did he go without a fight? Has he something in store for Max?
Roger just kind of gave up on Max because he realized there was no way Max was relinquishing any of his power and control over that company to anyone else.

Eva:
You know, I started to understand Isabel in the first flashbacks. Hell, even like her. But it all went down the hill. And so did my few seconds of pity too.
Same here.









Part 78








Max could hear Isabel’s screams out in the hallway by her room. She was probably going to have to start pushing soon, and God help them all when she did.

“My sister stole from me. I can’t believe it,” he said dramatically. “That’s so . . . no, I can’t even act surprised.” He sat down next to Michael in an empty chair and mused, “I guess I fired Roger for no reason whatsoever.” He nodded. “I’m okay with that.”

Michael sat hunched over, his elbows on his knees, his head in his hands, hands in his hair.

“Maybe I should hire Isabel after all,” Max contemplated. The two of them could make quite the diabolically deceptive duo together. He laughed at the thought. “Nah, I can’t. She’s such a bitch.”

“I think it goes a little beyond that,” Michael said, sitting up straighter. “I never knew she was so screwed up.”

“Yeah, she has my dad to thank for that.” Max shook his head regretfully. “Really should’ve gotten her that cash register.” He shrugged. “Oh well. Let’s just hope she doesn’t pass the psycho gene onto my nephew. He still stands a chance.” Someone who didn’t stand a chance was this Alex guy, though. Max felt pretty sorry for him. Talk about being tied down . . .

“I thought for sure that was my kid,” Michael said.

“Well, I’ll bet Alex is gonna make sure they swab his cheek after he comes out, make sure there wasn’t some third guy involved. Isabel gets around, you know.” Max leaned back, relaxed, legs sprawled out, and began texting a message to Liz. He was going to have to wait around for awhile longer until the baby came out. If she came by, maybe they could have sex in the hospital like all the Grey’s Anatomy doctors did. A little role-play never hurt anyone.

“Hey, so this really opens the door for you now, huh?” he said to Michael. “You and Maria. I mean, the thing that was standing in your way isn’t in your way anymore, so . . . cue the fairytale ending. Am I right?”

It only took Michael a second to hear that, spring from his chair, and take off down the hallway. That guy had a girl to see.

Max smiled. “When did I get so damn helpful?” he wondered as he sent the text message to Liz.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Maria remembered the day she had moved out of her and Tess’s apartment, the day the stupid little spats between them had become too much and she’d struck out on her own. She remembered loading all her luggage in her car and driving around aimlessly for about a half an hour before deciding to go to Michael’s. She remembered the look on his face when he opened the door and saw her standing there, that very distinct mixture of confusion and terror.

She stood before the door to that apartment now, reflecting on how different things were. He wasn’t just a friend anymore; he was the love of her life. And she had a life inside her that was part of him. And maybe he’d make her leave this time. He had every reason to.

She knocked on the door and waited for him to come open it, but the door remained closed. Maybe he wasn’t home. She tried the doorknob, and the unlocked door swung open. She stepped inside, her heart pounding a mile a minute. “Michael?” she called. It didn’t seem like he was there. Isabel, either.

She stepped inside, shut the door, and wrapped her arms around herself. She was nervous, and this felt strange being back here. But it didn’t feel wrong.

Immediately, she was drawn to the array of paintings in the living room. There were so many of them, and they were all of her. Oh, Isabel must love this, she thought sarcastically, looking them over. She recognized the vast majority of them, but there were a few new ones, too. In each and every one of them, she saw herself the way Michael saw her; and she was beautiful. She was lively. She was innocent.

She stopped in front of the nude painting Michael had done and smiled. He’d been so professional about it, but she remembered lying on the couch and watching him behind his easel. She remembered the look of passion in his eyes whenever he glanced at her, the small smile that appeared on his face before he pressed his brush to the canvas again. He was beautiful, lively, and innocent, too. They weren’t really so different.

She grazed her fingertips lightly over the painting, then backtracked to a newer piece, one she recognized as a drawing he had done. She was asleep in it, and she looked younger than she felt now. Her eyes caught sight of words in the bottom right-hand corner of the painting, not his signature, but the words I still love you. Her breath caught momentarily, and she smiled hopefully. Maybe love was still enough.

Even though it felt a bit eerie, walking through a place she used to call home, she continued on down the hallway. She flipped on the bathroom light and peered in. All of Isabel’s beauty products were lined up on the counter, so she quickly turned the light back off.

On the other side of the hallway was a new room, one that wasn’t really a room at all, but rather a small walk-in closet. She hadn’t seen it since he’d converted it into a nursery, but there it was, decked out in baby blues. The crib he had worked so hard to put together was ready for a bouncing baby boy, and there were stuffed animals inside. The panda bear was the cutest.

Maria walked in and sat down in the rocking chair next to the crib. That was where Isabel would sit, where she would watch the baby rest and sing him to sleep. It would probably be a very cute baby.

She draped her hand over the side of the crib, trying to ignore the pangs of jealousy. Michael wouldn’t favor one child over the other; she knew that for sure. But the apartment wasn’t big enough for a little pink nursery, too.

Once she was done in the nursery, she made her way back to the bedroom. It was the hardest room to visit, because she knew that was likely where their baby had been made. It had been slightly Isabel-ized, too. Some of her clothes were lying out on the bed, and the smell of her perfume lingered in the air. It was still the same bedroom, though, in essence. She sat down on the mattress and sighed shakily. There had been times when she and Michael had stayed in that bed almost all day, just talking and kissing and tickling each other. She remembered it like it was yesterday.

She wanted to lie down and curl up on her side, but she didn’t want to risk falling asleep and being Goldilocks when Mama Bear Isabel came home. So she got up and headed back out into the main room. She noticed a nearly full can of beer lying on its side on the kitchen floor. It had spilled on the tile, and she frowned. Michael usually kept his place so clean.

She grabbed a paper towel and bent down to soak up the spilt liquid. It was as she did that that she noticed a slip of paper on the floor beside her. She picked it up with shaking fingers and read what it said.

Isabel was in labor. So that was why they weren’t there. She was having the baby.

Maria let go of the paper, and it fluttered back down to the kitchen floor. Maybe she’d waited a little too long.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~

“Maria?” Michael pounded his fist against the door to apartment 315 at The Links complex. “Maria!” She was going to be so shocked when he told her what had happened. “Maria—oh, hey, Tess,” he said when his friend opened the door. She was wearing Kyle’s t-shirt and his boxers. Kinky. “Is Maria around?” he asked, slipping past her and into the apartment. He looked around wildly.

“No,” Tess replied. “Ironically enough, I think she went to your place.”

She was at his place? He wasn’t sure why that was, but it didn’t matter. “Okay, thanks.” He turned around to head out again.

“Wait a minute, Michael.” Tess grabbed his arm and pulled him back. “What’s going on? You look like you got hit by a truck or something.”

“Pretty much did.” Or maybe it’d been a dozen trucks. “Look, I gotta see Maria.”

“Michael. Calm down for a minute, okay?” she said.

“I am calm. I’m a calm person.”

She laughed a little. “Not right now you’re not. Get yourself together, because I don’t want you to, like, get in a car wreck on the way over there.”

“Yeah, that’d be the luck,” he muttered.

“Now come on, tell me what’s going on.”

Michael didn’t even know where to start. Before he could get a word out, Kyle hollered something from the bedroom.

“Uh, Tess? I can’t find the key for these handcuffs.”

Michael chuckled. “Sounds like you got your hands full.”

“This could be bad!” Kyle wailed.

“He’s not going anywhere,” Tess said. “Spill.”

“This could be really bad!” Kyle said again.

“You want the abridged version?” Michael asked.

“Maybe we should call a locksmith. Tess?”

Tess rolled her eyes. “Just a second.” She scurried down the hallway, pushed open the door to her room and hissed at Kyle threateningly. Michael couldn’t exactly hear what she said, but it sounded like she was threatening to quit giving blowjobs if he interrupted their conversation again. Whatever it was worked, because Kyle fell silent and Tess rejoined him in the living room. “Okay, give it to me,” she said, immediately cringing at the way that sounded. “I mean, not it, but . . . you know what I mean.”

“Abridged version, right,” he said. “I’m, uh . . . I’m not gonna be a father after all.” That was about as abridged as it got.

“What?” Tess shrieked in disbelief. “Did something happen? Did Isabel lose the baby?”

“No, no, she’s having the baby, right now, actually. She’s just not having my baby.”

Tess gazed at him confusedly.

“Remember when you had all those suspicions about Isabel, and you and Liz stole her journal?”

“Yeah.” Tess looked down at her feet. “Not my most shining moment.”

“You were right,” he told her. “She was lying. Alex Whitman’s the father, not me.”

At first Tess smiled, but then she frowned and asked, “How?”

“She forged the paternity test results.”

Tess’s eyes bulged.

“Yeah. She really should get an Oscar, because she had me fooled.” He shook his head, disappointed in himself for letting himself be fooled. “I don’t know why I always let her play me.”

“No, Michael, it’s not your fault,” she assured him. “I think she fooled a lot of people. I’m, like, stunned right now.”

“But at least she got caught,” he said. If Alex hadn’t shown up, he would’ve gone to the hospital and been there when that baby was born. He would have held him, and his name would have been Michael Guerin, Jr. He would have settled into a life that wasn’t even his to settle into.

“How’d you find out?” Tess asked him.

“That Alex guy showed up, unloaded his theories on me. And they turned out to be true. We went to the hospital and confronted Isabel about it, and she confirmed it.”

“Oh my god, this is crazy,” Tess said. “Your whole life just changed. Again.”

“For the better this time,” he said, filling his chest swell with hope. “You have no idea how relieved I feel. Because even though I was ready to be a dad, even though I was ready to meet my child and love my child . . . it feels liberating to know Isabel’s out of my life now. That’s why I need to see Maria.”

“Do you think you two can make it work now?” she asked.

“I don’t know, I hope so.” He already knew Billy wasn’t going to be there for her. Maybe he could step up and be a father after all, even to a baby that wasn’t biologically his. He was willing to do that for Maria, but not for Isabel. “I know it’s complicated,” he acknowledged, “‘cause she’s pregnant with Billy’s kid, but she’s still my whole world, so I wanna be there for her and help her out if she’ll let me. I wanna be with her. I still love her.”

“Oh, um . . .” Tess smiled. “Yeah, you really need to talk to her.”

“I know, I know. I think I’m gonna go now. Get Kyle out of his cuffs and fill him in, alright?” He turned to leave once again, but once again she stopped him.

“Michael.” She grabbed his arm and turned him back around to look at her. Her eyes were wide and astonished, but he saw the same hope there that he felt. “Maria’s been through a lot lately,” she said, “just like you have. So whatever mistakes or bad choices she’s made, just remember that she still loves you, too. Okay?”

Michael nodded hurriedly and headed out the door. This had been the craziest day of his life. He doubted it could get any crazier.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~

When he threw open the door to his apartment, Michael’s entire body was thrumming in anticipation. “Maria?”

She sat at his kitchen counter, a sheet of printing paper in front of her, a paintbrush in her hand. She glanced over her shoulder at him when he trundled in. Her eyes were vibrantly green, and her lips looked like velvet. She was only wearing jeans and a white short-sleeved shirt, and her hair was up in a ponytail—simple enough. But she looked beautiful. She was glowing.

“Hey,” she choked out.

He’d never been happier to see anyone than he was to see her. “Hey.” Memories of sharing the apartment with her flooded back in, and all he wanted to do was to create new memories to go along with the old ones. “Tess told me you were here,” he said.

“I hope you don’t mind. I kind of just invited myself in and stayed.”

He smiled. “That’s what you do.”

She blushed and lowered her head.

“Are you . . . painting?” he inquired curiously.

She held up the paper. On it was a stick figure with spiky hair and a big heart drawn on the middle of his chest. “I was trying to paint you,” she said, “but . . . I suck.”

It did kind of suck, but there was something he had to know. “Why’s my heart so big?”

“Well, why are my boobs so small?” she demanded, motioning wildly towards the nude painting he had done of her. “I told you to make me a C-cup, remember?”

He laughed. She seemed more like the old Maria DeLuca now, the one who had a liveliness and idiosyncrasies about her.

“No, your heart’s so big,” she said, “because . . . your heart’s so big.”

It had begun to feel pretty small without her around, but now . . . “You can paint another big thing on there,” he said, referring to his package.

She smiled. “You’ve totally got the new dad sense of humor going on.”

He frowned. “What?”

She took a deep, shaky breath and asked, “Is he healthy?” She waited only a moment for an answer, than launched into about a dozen other questions. “Is he cute? Or is he not even born yet? Is Isabel still in labor? It’d be really great if she was still in painful labor. You should be there. Why are you not there right now? Why are you here?”

“I live here,” he pointed out. “Why are you?”

“Because,” she replied quietly. “I’m here to see you.”

“Well, I’m here to see you,” he returned. That worked out well. “How’d you know Isabel went into labor?”

She held up the note Max had left for him. “Max has nice handwriting,” she said. “So has she had the baby?”

He shrugged. “I don’t know.” If karma had its way, she’d still be in labor.

“You know, you really should be there,” she said, rising to her feet.

He sighed. “Oh, Maria, we need to talk.” This was all going to come as such a shock to her.

“I know,” she said, walking into the living room. “But don’t you think this is bad timing?”

“Good timing, actually.” He finally shut the front door and sauntered into the living room, wanting to be close to her.

She stared at the nude painting for a moment, then looked up at him and said, “I have some stuff to say, but you can go first.”

“No, go ahead. Ladies first.”

“You think I’m a lady?”

“You are.” He happened to know that for a fact, even though most people didn’t.

“Well, in that case, this lady wants her gentleman to go first,” she said. “Please.”

Might as well, he thought. It was good news. “Alright,” he said. “Um . . . I don’t really know how to say this, so I’ll just . . . I’ll just say it.” He tried to just blurt it out like he had to Tess, but it was more difficult when Maria was involved. He didn’t want to overwhelm her. “I found out something today,” he said, “something that impacts my entire life. And it’s probably gonna impact yours.”

“Oh my god,” she groaned. “Is there another pregnant ex?”

“What? No. No.” There wasn’t even another ex. It was always just her and Isabel, and now it was just her. She was all that mattered. “It’s about all that, though,” he said.

“Michael, you’re not choosing to abandon that baby, are you?” she said. “Because he didn’t do anything wrong. And I would really like to think you’re the kind of guy who would be there for your child no matter who the mother is or what mistakes she may have made.”

“Of course I’d be there,” he assured her. “Maria, I’d be there in that delivery room right now . . .” He swallowed hard. “. . . if the baby was really mine.”

Her eyes flared. She gazed at him as though she thought she were hearing things.

“Her boyfriend—or ex-boyfriend, I guess—from Florida showed up here today, out of the blue,” he explained, “and he had a paternity test with him showing he’s the father.”

“But . . . don’t you have one of those, too?” she pointed out.

“I had a fake. He had the real thing.”

Her mouth dropped open, and she looked away from him.

“It’s a lot to process, I know,” he said. “My head’s still spinning. But I guess the story is, when Alex lost all his money, Isabel tried to con me into fatherhood, really pulled out all the stops and acting chops.”

“I don’t get it. Did she, like, switch the DNA samples or something?”

“Forged the results.” He was going to have to tell this story over and over again. He was going to have to tell it to his parents. They would be so relieved, especially his mother.

“Oh my god,” she practically whispered. “So . . . so this baby is definitely not yours?”

“Definitely not. She confessed to everything. She was lying the whole time, playing all of us against each other, and she almost got away with it. But she didn’t. She got caught, and now . . . I’m off the hook.” He felt overjoyed. “Am I loser if I say that?”

“You’re so not a loser,” she assured him.

“I just didn’t wanna be tied down to her, and now I’m not. It feels like I’m free.”

“Free?” she echoed.

“Yeah. It’s kind of overwhelming, but . . . it’s a good thing. I know that, in the long run, it’s a really good thing.”

“You sound relieved,” she remarked.

“Yeah, but I’m kinda pissed, too,” he added. “I mean, I’m more than kinda pissed. I feel like Isabel’s one of the two worst people I’ve ever met.” The other was Max, but it was hard to say which one was worse. On the one hand, Isabel had never raped someone, but on the other hand, Max had never attempted to rape someone of their entire life by using an unborn child as a weapon. “I can’t believe I ever loved her or wanted to be with her,” he said. “I feel stupid. I feel like I should’ve known she was lying. And I feel guilty, ‘cause I should’ve fought harder for us.”

“I should’ve fought harder, too,” she admitted.

“It’s just that everything changed so fast, and we hadn’t even been together that long.”

“Michael.” She took a few steps closer to him and reached out to take both his hands in hers. It felt good to be touching her again. “You kissed me on New Year’s,” she said, “but we were together a lot longer than that. And we were really solid; we were. If Isabel had come back alone, I know she wouldn’t have even been a factor. But with the baby, the one we all thought was yours . . .” She shrugged slowly. “Babies are a big deal, Michael. I should know.”

“But that’s why this is so frustrating,” he said. “It was her lie and my willingness to believe it that led you to sleep with Billy, and now you’re pregnant with his child.”

“Michael . . .”

“No, I messed up. I was wrong. I was wrong to let you leave, but when you did . . . I shouldn’t have made you feel so bad about it. When you love somebody unconditionally, you don’t expect anything in return. I shouldn’t have expected you to stay.”

“Or I should’ve just stayed,” she said.

As strange as it was, he was glad she hadn’t. He felt like they could be stronger now, better.

“I’ve made a lot of mistakes, Michael,” she said, letting go of his hands. She wrapped her arms around herself and backed away slightly. “God, here we are blaming ourselves. Maybe we should just blame Isabel, make it easy on us.”

“Yeah,” he agreed, “she’s definitely the most at fault here.”

Maria nodded dazedly. “She’s a bad person. I might be, too.”

He frowned. “No, you’re not.” If she was blaming herself for leaving . . .

“Michael, I need to tell you something,” she said in a rush. “And it’s just as huge if not huger than what you just told me. So just . . . brace yourself, alright?”

He smiled worriedly. “Gettin’ nervous now.”

“It’s . . . something that impacts my entire life,” she said, mimicking what he’d just said to her, “and it’s gonna impact yours, too.”

He felt his stomach clench. What was she getting at?

“It’s about the baby.”

His stomach clenched tighter. This couldn’t be good. Or maybe it was.

“My baby,” she said, looking right at him. Her eyes began to shine with tears, and her voice became cloaked with emotion. “Your baby.”

His stomach unclenched. And then it clenched again. And then it unclenched. He just stood there, feeling like a deer caught in the headlights. His baby? His eyes dropped to look at her midsection.

“I’m having your baby, Michael,” she said. “I lied.”

So everyone had lied to him? He didn’t understand. “What . . .?”

“Oh my god, it feels so good to finally say it,” she said. “I wanna say it again. I’m having your baby, Michael. I never slept with Billy. I never slept with anyone else. I couldn’t, not after you.”

He wanted to reach out and touch her stomach, but he didn’t dare. Not yet. “Why did you--”

“Because I was scared,” she cut in quietly. “You see? I told you I might be a bad person. I’m so worried you’re gonna hate me now.”

“No, I could never hate you,” he assured her.

“No, you might,” she insisted. “When I found out I was pregnant . . . I freaked out. ‘Cause I didn’t wanna be. Tess found out, and she tried to convince me to tell you, but I was just . . . I don’t know, like not thinking clearly or something because . . . because all I could think about was having an abortion.”

That one word hit him like a bullet, shattering through all else. “What?” Fear gripped him. “Did you?”

“No. But I wanted to,” she confessed. “For a long time, I wanted to. And I didn’t wanna tell you about it, so . . . so I didn’t.”

He gazed at her stomach again. It was still flat. If he didn’t know she was pregnant, he never would have even guessed.

“I’m sorry,” she apologized. “I’m so sorry. I know this is horrible. So wrong of me. Tess knew it was wrong. She was gonna tell you herself. But she ended up standing by me. God, I really put her through hell with this.”

“Why didn’t you just tell me?” His baby. He was still trying to adjust to it.

“I don’t . . . I don’t even have a good reason,” she stuttered. “I was just so worked up about it, and I didn’t want you to talk me out of the abortion.”

“No, I wouldn’t have.”

She smiled a little. “Now you’re lying, too.”

She’s right, he thought. I would’ve. Or he would have at least tried. He was very against abortion, especially when it was his child’s life on the line. His child . . .

“Plus, there was all the stuff with Isabel,” she went on, “which we now know wasn’t real. She’d pay me these creepy little visits, and she was so good at getting inside my head.”

She knew it was mine?”

“She knows everything, Michael,” she said. “Max and Liz knew, too, and Marty.”

Marty he could understand, but Max and Liz? Things had been turned so upside down.

“Basically everyone knew,” she said, “except for you and Kyle. And my mom. Oh god, I still have to tell her.”

“Why’d you say it was Billy’s?” he asked. He didn’t need a paternity test to know she was telling him the truth now. “What was the point of that?”

“Maybe it was pointless,” she admitted. “I think I was trying to throw you off so you wouldn’t know I was gonna abort your child. And I didn’t care if anyone told you afterward, just so long as . . .” She shook her head, and he noticed for the first time that she was crying. She was really ashamed of what she had done.

“Maria . . .” He reached out to try to put his hand on her shoulder, but she backed away.

“I convinced Billy to lie,” she whimpered, “but it got out of hand. He got out of hand with me.”

“Did he hurt you?” Michael asked her, immediately panicked. If that scumbag had put his hands on her . . .

“He tried,” she said. “Oddly enough, Max saved me. God, my life is weird. Yours, too.”

He had to agree with that. “So . . . so you decided not to have an abortion.”

“Oh my god, Michael, I was literally back there in the room, on the table, ready to have it done,” she said. “But at the last second, I decided not to. It was, like, easily the most traumatic experience of my life.”

“What changed your mind?”

“I just realized . . . how much I love this baby,” she said. “It’s ours, you know. It’s us. I should’ve told you sooner, but . . . I’m telling you now.” She smiled nervously, shakily. “You’re gonna be a dad. For real this time.”

For real this time, he thought, staring at her and her stomach in astonishment. Wow.

“This probably sucks, huh?” she said. “You get off the hook with Isabel only to get on the hook with me.”

“No, it’s not like that,” he assured her quickly. “I don’t want you to think I’m mad or . . . upset about this. I mean, I am a little upset that you lied to me, but . . . I’m just trying to take it all in.”

“I’m sorry to spring it on you,” she apologized.

He shook his head. Didn’t matter. It was going to be sprung upon him no matter what. “You gotta know, this is nothing like it was with Isabel,” he told her. “This is . . . this is our baby.” He smiled. “We’re really having a baby?”

She smiled back at him. “Yeah.”

I should’ve known, he thought. He should’ve known Maria wouldn’t sleep with Billy. He hadn’t been thinking too clearly. “Wow,” he said, stepping closer to her. She didn’t back away this time. “It all feels so different.”

“Different good?” she asked.

“Different good. I mean, I’m still nervous, but . . . how far along are you?”

“About six weeks,” she replied.

“So I didn’t miss out on much.” He kept smiling. “Good. I’m not gonna miss out on anything, Maria, I promise.”

“You might wanna miss out on my morning sickness,” she told him. “It’s pretty gross.”

He laughed a little. “No, not even that.” This felt . . . right. Unexpected, unplanned, but right.

“Do you hate me?” she asked.

“No. No, I mean, I wish you hadn’t lied, but . . . I understand,” he assured her.

“You really shouldn’t forgive me so easily,” she mumbled.

“I just did.”

She shook her head. “I was so horrible.”

“But I forgive you.” It was as simple as that. It didn’t need to be complicated. “You were scared. And I’m not perfect, either. I’ve made plenty of mistakes.” He couldn’t believe he’d almost slept with Isabel again. Maria had so much of his heart—all of his heart, actually. And the baby already had a big part of it, too. He felt a connection to it, something immediate that he’d never quite felt with Isabel’s son.

“Michael, I know this isn’t what we had planned . . .”

He chuckled. He’d had so many plans that hadn’t gone as planned lately. But that was okay.

“I know we’re young,” she said, “and maybe too dramatic for our own good . . .”

“We’ll make it work,” he promised.

“We will?”

“I want to.” He reached out and took her hands in his, squeezing them reassuringly.

“I want to, too,” she said, laughing lightly. “To, too.”

“To, too,” he echoed playfully.

“I really want to,” she emphasized. “I mean, I know it’s not gonna be all sunshine and rainbows. Oh my god, remember Woodstock 2008? I was Rainbow. You were River. River and Rainbow.”

“Michael and Maria,” he said, feeling so close to her. “Plus one.”

“Plus one.” She smiled. “I know it’s gonna be hard, but--”

“I got you, babe,” he cut in.

She laughed.

“No, you’re right,” he said, getting serious. “A lot’s happened. We’ll definitely need to talk and figure ourselves out, figure us out. But I think we can do it. We’ve been through so much already, and now . . . my god, Maria, we’re having a baby. So that’s some extra motivation. Not that I need any extra motivation to be with you again, but--”

“I love you,” she cut in, crying happily as she said the words.

He remembered the first time they’d said those words to each other. It had been right after Isabel had come back, and the words had stemmed from sadness more than anything. This was happiness. Happiness and relief and a little apprehension, but nothing they couldn’t handle. “I love you, too,” he said. He’d never stopped. He looked down at her stomach, speaking to the baby when he said, “And I love you. Whoever you’re gonna be.” Boy, girl . . . short, tall . . . big, little . . . didn’t matter. He was going to be a dad. And when he thought about that now . . . he loved it.

As she stood before him, gazing up at him hopefully, he couldn’t not kiss her anymore. It had been so long, but it still felt completely natural when he lips brushed against hers. He kissed her lightly at first, hesitantly in case she didn’t want him to. But the way her lips responded made it clear that she wanted what he wanted. She wanted him.

He wrapped his arms around her waist and pulled her up against him melding his mouth to hers. Her stomach pressed against his, and he knew this was their second chance together. Everyone got second chances—some people even got third and fourth ones. But he wasn’t going to need a third, or a fourth. Because this time, nothing was going to screw them up. They were strong; they could make it. He was sure of it.








TBC . . .

-April :D
Last edited by April on Tue Oct 06, 2009 8:23 am, edited 1 time in total.
Image
LOVE IS MICHAEL AND MARIA.

User avatar
April
Roswell Fanatic
Posts: 1556
Joined: Tue Sep 28, 2004 9:32 am
Location: Somewhere. Anywhere.
Contact:

Part 79

Post by April » Thu Oct 08, 2009 7:31 am

NOTE: I found out this week that my mom sold our house, the house that's been mine ever since I was born. We have to be out in two weeks, so needless to say, I'll be heading home this weekend to pack. (I'm so not looking forward to packing, or to moving.) This means that I will be updating again on SUNDAY. Sunday's update will be the very last one. :(


Trixie:
Is this because Roswell premiered exactly 10 years ago? Is this why you're making me smile so big?!!
I didn't even consider the fact that I was posting a super happy update on Roswell's tenth anniversary. I guess that's fitting, though. ;)

Alison:
God, Michael's so forgiving though, but I don't think he would be 521 Michael if he wasn't.
That's right.
I love you April. Come here you, let's make out.
*makes out with you, and you like it*

Leila: Ooh, new icon you've got there. Now where is this pic of Colin from? I feel like I should know.
PS: I'm becoming sad knowing this is soon over.
I know, me, too! Although I am going to have, like, an extra 1-2 hours in my day once I'm done posting. :lol: I'm so excited about my next fic, though. So excited.

nibbles:
I love that Maria took responsibility for her actions and didn't try to excuse her behavior.
Yeah, I really wanted her to accept the fact that she made a lot of mistakes and poor choices, and not try to excuse those poor choices. That Maria at the beginning of this fic probably would've found a way to say, "It wasn't my fault," but Maria now can admit that the Billy lies were indeed her fault and she shouldn't have lied.

Sara: I love you, too!

Eva:
This Michael is really a very sweet and forgiving one.
Well, he's forgiving of Maria, not so forgiving of Isabel. ;)

POM:
I don't know how you continue to spit out these chapters one after another??
It helps to have 75%-100% of the story written before I start posting. ;)

Maiqu: I'm glad you enjoyed that part!

Nove:
I was little surprise Michael wasn't more mad about the lie.
When I was planning out that last scene in my head, I considered having Michael get really mad at Maria. But then I thought . . . that just doesn't seem like him. I think he's so relieved that Isabel's not having his baby and that Maria's not having Billy's baby, and he still loves Maria so much that he can be a little upset about the lying, but not full on mad. Michael's been very sad and angry ever since Isabel came back. It's time for him to be happy again. :D

Nat:
We got Candy happiness on the 10th anniversary of Roswell!!!!!!
It's weird how it worked out that way. Like it was meant to be! :mrgreen:

Neve:
Thank you for that beautiful part and repairing my candy heart.
I very rarely leave Candy hearts broken. :)

Christina:
I think the one person in the whole 521 universe that I feel for the most is Alex.
Me, too. He's the tragic figure of the 521-verse. He's a good guy, but now he's a young father with a McDonald's job, very little money, no college degree, a father in jail, a baby mama who's got more than a few screws loose . . . Poor Alex.
I love this Michael and Maria, this Kyle and Tess, this Max and Liz. And Marty and Francis, too. Your characters are amazing, April.
Aw, thank you! This fic was my first big venture into writing huge storylines for Kyle, Tess, Max, Liz, and Isabel. It was so fun.

Sarah:
I have so much platonic love for you now, April.
Oh, are you sure it's platonic? :P



Wow. I can't believe I'll only be updating this fic two more times. I've been posting it forever. This just feels so surreal. Thank you more than ever for the feedback!

Music Note: The last music drop-by is "Inside of Love" by Nada Surf. This is, again, one of those songs where I don't know if the lyrics necessarily fit with the scene, but the song just sounds right. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G3Ac3Pc8etA&fmt=18 Try it when you see :) It's good.










Part 79









Isabel held her son in her arms, astonished by the love she felt for him. He had puffy cheeks and wisps of light brown hair on his head. His hands and feet were small and wrinkly, and his tummy was big and round. He’d weighed in at nine pounds, four ounces. He was a big boy, but he was healthy. And he was immediately Isabel’s world. She felt more strongly for him than she ever had for anyone else, or at least almost anyone. All she wanted to do was protect him.

Alex sat beside the hospital bed, gazing at him, reaching out to touch his index finger to the inside of his hand as he slept. “Look at him,” he said quietly. “He’s so beautiful.”

Isabel smiled at him as she held him against her chest. She didn’t know how she’d hauled this person around inside of her for nine months. She was glad to have him out now, even though the delivery had been the most painful, stressful experience of her life. She was glad to see him. When he opened his tired eyes, he would see her, and hopefully he would smile.

“Welcome to the world, Garret Evan Whitman,” Alex said, leaning closer to him.

Isabel tensed. They’d discussed the name issue for awhile. Garret was a name they both liked and could agree on, and she’d been adamant that his middle name resembled her own last name; because Alex had been adamant that Whitman was his last name. He wanted to make sure everyone knew Garret was his son. “Are you sure about that name?” she asked. It sounded good together, had a nice rhythm and flow to it, but it wasn’t the name she’d envisioned for him at all.

“Yeah,” he said. “Aren’t you?”

She shrugged. “I guess.”

“If you had something else in mind . . .”

“It’s fine,” she snapped. It was no Michael Guerin, Jr., but . . . it was fine.

“Can I hold him?” Alex asked, holding out his arms.

Isabel sighed and reluctantly transferred the baby to Alex’s arms. This was the first time he was going to hold his son.

“Hey,” Alex said, immediately adopting a baby-talk voice. He cradled Garret against him and gazed at him in amazement. He had tears in his eyes. “Hey, buddy.”

It probably wouldn’t have worked out, Isabel thought, trying to make herself feel better about her destroyed plans. He was probably going to grow up to look like Alex. Michael would have figured it out.

“You’re my boy,” Alex said to him. “And I’m your dad.”

Over the past year of her life, ever since she’d met Alex, Isabel had built a very precarious house of cards, one that could fall apart any minute. And it had indeed fallen, and now the cards were scattered everywhere.

“I’m gonna be there for you every step of the way,” Alex promised. “I’m gonna take care of you and watch you grow. I love you, and I hope you love me, too. ‘Cause you’re never gettin’ rid of me.”

Isabel turned and looked away. So this was it. This was her life from now on. Her and Alex and Garret. And no money.

And no Michael.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Max stood outside the nursery, staring in at all the babies in their beds. Some of them were . . . really ugly.

“Max!” Liz called as she scurried down the hallway towards him. “Hey,” she said, hugging his side. “I’m sorry I didn’t get here sooner. I was at work and I didn’t hear my phone.”

“That’s okay,” he said. “I actually can’t hear anything right now, either, because Isabel’s screams deafened me.”

“You were in the room with her?”

“No, no, but I’m still deaf.”

“So she had the baby?”

“Yeah, about an hour ago.” He was so glad he had a penis. “Alex was in the room with her.”

“Alex?” Liz echoed. “Alex Whitman?

“Yeah, turns out it’s his kid after all.”

Liz’s eyes bulged.

“I’ll explain it to you later,” he said. “For now, just smile and nod and ask if the baby’s cute.”

“Is the baby cute?” she asked eagerly.

“I don’t know. I haven’t seen him yet,” he admitted. “They should be bringing him into the nursery any minute now.”

“Oh, I wanna see him,” Liz said excitedly. “I love babies.”

“I don’t,” he said. “I’ll love this baby.” And if he ever had kids of his own, he’d love them, too. But everyone else’s kids, kids that weren’t related to him . . . annoying as far as he was concerned.

“Are you gonna be a good uncle?” Liz asked him.

“I’m gonna try.” Being a good influence on his nephew was actually very important to him. He knew what it was like to grow up with corrupt male role models, and he didn’t wish that on anyone. “This kid’s got Evans DNA,” he said, “which doesn’t exactly bode well for him. I want his life to be good.”

Liz wrapped her hands around his arm and squeezed gently. “Is that him?” she asked when a nurse came into the nursery carrying a baby wrapped in a blue blanket.

“I think so,” Max said. This was not an ugly baby. At least he was holding up the tradition of the Evans good looks.

“Aw, he’s adorable,” Liz exclaimed. “Look at his fat cheeks.”

Max smiled as the nurse set him down in the infant bed with his name on it. “They named him Garret,” he pointed out to Liz. “Random name, huh?”

“I like it,” she chirped.

Max smiled at his nephew. “I like him,” he said, surprised by his feelings for this little boy. They were strong, and they were immediate.

Liz reached down and took his hand in hers, holding it tightly as they looked in at Garret Evan Whitman. Already, he was a good kid.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Michael and Maria lay on the couch that evening, curled up against each other. They had spooned for awhile, watched some TV, but eventually she had turned to face him, and he had shut off the TV. They were both content to just lie there and share body heat.

“How’s it feel to be back here?” he asked quietly.

“Good,” she replied. “A little weird.”

“Yeah?”

“Yeah. But really good,” she assured him. She pressed her fingertips to his chest, feeling his big heart beating steadily. “I still think you should be mad at me.”

“Too bad,” he said, running his free hand through the blonde locks of her ponytail. The other was wrapped around her. “I’m not.”

She nuzzled her face against his chest and murmured, “You should be.”

“I’m not,” he repeated, pressing a kiss to the top of her head. The slightest brush of his lips made her shiver pleasurably.

“You wanna know something?” he said. “You’ve never looked prettier than you do right now.”

She smiled up at him, giddy when she heard him say that. “I feel pretty,” she admitted in a whisper. It had been a long time since she’d felt that way. She knew if she were to look at her reflection in the mirror now, she would like the person staring back at her, because that person had finally done the right thing and told her man the truth.

“I got a question,” she said, coiling one of her legs around his. “When I moved in with you back in October, did you ever think we’d end up here?”

“What, you mean in love and expecting? Yeah, I knew it all along.”

She giggled. “Yeah, right.”

“No, honestly? You drove me so crazy when you first got here, I thought I might move out and move in with Kyle.”

“Well, I’m glad you didn’t.”

“Yeah, me, too.” He traced his index finger along her bottom lip and gazed at her, sounding suddenly serious when he said, “I think everything works out the way it’s supposed to.”

She nodded slowly. “I concur.”

“You concur?

She laughed. “Yes. Oh, I’m such a spaz nowadays.”

“You’ve always kind of been a spaz,” he said.

She shot him a warning look.

“Don’t kill me,” he said, “I’m just saying . . . karaoke, Woodstock, botched Thanksgiving dinners . . . it’s spastic. It’s cool. It’s sexy.”

She smiled and teased, “You’re one to talk. You’re all, ‘Use a coaster,’ and I’m all ‘Loosen up, you nerd.’ We’re, like, half sitcom/half soap opera that way.”

“More sitcom from here on out,” he promised.

“Hopefully.” She sensed that there were a lot of laughs in their days to come, mixed in with some tears. But many more laughs than tears.

“You know,” he said, taking one of her hands in his, entwining their fingers, “now that Kyle and Tess are back together and you and I are back together, I think we might see a re-emergence of the Core Four.”

“Yeah,” she agreed, looking forward to it. “Or . . .” She glanced down at her stomach. “Fab Five.”

He smiled.

“Granted, not terribly original,” she acknowledged, “but unless you can think of anything better . . .”

“No, Fab Five, I like it,” he said. “Do you think it’s a boy or a girl?”

“A girl,” she replied without hesitation.

His face lit up. “Really?”

“Yeah, I’ve got this super strong gut feeling.” She couldn’t even explain it beyond that.

“You think she’ll look more like me or you?” he asked.

“Well, if she’s lucky she’ll look more like me.”

“Hey . . .”

She giggled. “Just kidding.” It felt good to joke again. “I think she’ll look like both of us,” she said.

“I can’t wait to see her.”

“Oh, I can. I’m so dreading getting huge and giving birth.”

“Yeah.” He rubbed his hand up and down her back. “From what I saw today, labor’s pretty unpleasant.”

“Gee, thanks.”

“Why are you dreading getting huge, though?”

She grunted. “Uh, elastic-waist jeans for starters.”

“Hot,” he declared.

“What?’

“No, seriously, I’m picturing you at about . . . ah, seven months along in my head right now. Trust me, you’ve never looked better.”

She raised a skeptical eyebrow. She was picturing the same thing, and she thought she’d never looked worse.

“I can’t wait to see you getting bigger and bigger,” he said. “And bigger. Knowing you’re carrying my child . . .” He grinned and shook his head. “My god, Maria, it turns me on just thinking about it.”

“What? How does that turn you on?

“It just does.”

Crazy, she thought, but it would be nice if he was still sexually attracted to her when he could barely fit his arms around her anymore. “You’re so weird,” she said.

“You’d be turned on if I was pregnant,” he said.

She cringed. “Oh, okay, I just had the strangest mental images ever.” She’d just pictured Michael with a big round belly, and there was nothing sexy about it.

“Yeah, me, too,” he said. “Huh. Well, you know what else we can look forward to for awhile? Condom-less sex.”

“Oh, yeah, ‘cause we were such big condom users beforehand,” she teased. Unprotected sex was the reason why she was going to get huge in the coming months.

“Good point,” he said. “I’m still looking forward to it, though.”

She laughed a little and snuggled against him, yawning.

“You’re tired,” he noticed.

“No, I’m not,” she said. “It’s just been a crazy day.”

“Yeah, tell me about it,” he agreed. “I woke up thinking I was having a baby with Isabel, and now I’m about to fall asleep knowing I’m having a baby with you. And I’m like a thousand times happier.”

“Good.” She was happy, too. She felt the same safety and security she’d always felt with Michael, the feeling that everything was going to be alright. She’d missed that feeling immensely.

“You wanna go to bed?” he offered.

“Are you asking me to spend the night?”

“I’m asking you to spend a lot of time over here,” he said. “Maria, I want you to move in with me. Again.”

She smiled. It seemed fitting that after she had barged into his life uninvited, he would ask her to come back. “Thank God,” she said. “Because I love Tess like a sister, but we are just not meant to be roommates. Many disagreements.” Besides, Tess would probably move in with Kyle at the end of the semester when her lease was up.

“And we all know my ex-roommate sucks,” Michael added.

“Oh, I can’t wait until all her stuff’s out of here.”

“I’ll pile it up in boxes tomorrow,” he promised. “And then Kyle and Tess and I can move all your stuff back in. No heavy lifting for you.”

“Hmm,” she said, “I’m okay with that.”

“Okay,” he said, letting out a yawn of his own. “Let’s go to sleep.”

“Let’s go.” She sat up, and he sat up behind her, kissing her shoulder before they rose to their feet and headed into the bedroom. She couldn’t believe it had been over a month since they’d last slept in this bed together. She so wanted to steal all the covers from him.

“Well,” she said, turning to face him, “this would be where the sleeping happens.”

“Right,” he said, stuffing both his hands in his pockets. “The sleeping.”

She nodded, then stopped and just looked at him. His eyes were warm. His mouth was soft. His hands were warm. Everything about him was everything she wanted, and her entire body started to ache with longing. Sleeping was fine. Kissing was better.

( :) )

Maria cupped Michael’s face in her hands and rose up on her tip-toes to kiss him. His mouth was absolutely phenomenal, and the things he did with it made her melt.

He took his hands out of his pockets and placed them on her hips, holding her close. Even the smallest touch from him excited her. She’d missed this so much.

They pulled back slightly, their lips still brushing together, not really kissing now but just keeping the contact. She lowered her head, slightly embarrassed by the obviousness of her desire for him. She was tired, but mostly she was tired of not being with him.

He pressed a light kiss to her forehead, then pressed the side of his face against her head as he traced his hands in circles in the small of her back. She looped her arms around his shoulders, burying one hand in his hair, and urged his face down so that it was nuzzling against her neck. She moaned quietly when she felt his lips against her skin, kissing her tenderly but hungrily. His warm breath against the side of her neck was absolutely tantalizing, and she wondered how on earth she had ever lived without this.

He traced his fingers up along the sides of her arms and took hold of her hands in his. He backed towards the bed, leading her towards him, and her heart sped up in anticipation. Michael . . .

Maybe they should have slowed down, stopped and talked about what they were about to do, but it was as though neither of them had any words, except for the non-verbal words they were saying with their bodies. He sat down on the foot of the bed and pulled her down on top of him. She swung her legs across his lap and straddled him. Her skin prickled. She felt sexy.

It was his hands underneath her shirt, urging the garment upward, that really got the ball rolling. She lifted her arms above her head, and he tugged gently, lifting it up over her breasts, her shoulders, her head. He dropped it onto the floor, and she felt her skin become flushed. Even though she felt sexy, she felt a little insecure, too. It’d been a long time since he’d seen her body up close like this.

She leaned forward, draping her arms over his shoulders burying her face in his neck as he smoothed his hands up her spine, underneath her bra. He popped open the clasp and pulled down on the straps. She took a moment to savor the feel of his large hands splayed against her shoulder blades, then sat up straighter and shivered as the bra fell down.

He gazed at her as though he couldn’t get enough, then reached up to pull her hair out of the ponytail. It fell down on her shoulders, and she felt wild. But sweet.

He tangled his hands in her hair and kissed her deeply as he stood up. She wrapped her legs around his waist and held on tight as he carried her around the room for a moment. He didn’t seem to have a destination in mind. Finally, he set her down on the side of the bed, and she lay back horizontally, her legs hanging off the side. She placed her arms above her head, waiting for his mouth to come down atop her breasts. It did, but only for a moment before he stood up again. He grabbed the back of his t-shirt in his hands and pulled it off in one swift motion. The white undershirt beneath it was next to go, and suddenly they were both shirtless.

I totally, completely love you, Michael Guerin, she thought, propping herself up on her forearms as he got down on his knees and settled in between her legs. With the appreciation of an artist, he unbuttoned her jeans, then slid the zipper down. She smiled dazedly, and he grinned mischievously as he pulled her pants down, past her knees, off her feet. Then he moved forward, lying on top of her, stroking the side of her face lovingly. She opened her eyes wide and gazed at him in astonishment. How could one person be this perfect for her? Even after everything that had happened, how could this still feel so right?

He pressed two quick kisses to her, one to her lips, one to her cheek, then sank down onto the floor again, still in between her legs. She felt self-conscious, but she also felt beautiful as he trailed his hands along her sides slowly, purposefully. He smoothed his right hand across her stomach, so focused and concentrated. He flicked his thumb across her bellybutton, then bent his head and pressed a soft kiss to her stomach, and then another. Her muscles fluttered. There was something so fascinating about knowing their baby was in there.

He continued leaving a trail of butterfly kisses to her stomach until he got low enough to reach her panties. He glanced up at her, and she smiled. Please, she thought, wanting him. She wanted him more than anything.

His grip on the sides of her underwear was gentle, yet forceful. He pulled them down, revealing all of her to him, and she lifted her hips up off the bed to assist him in the removal. He dragged them down, leaving them at her ankles. She laughed a little and flicked them off. It hardly seemed fair that she was completely naked and he was still halfway clothed, but she loved the way he was treating her as though her body were sacred.

He held up her right leg, smoothing his hands over her calf and along the inside of her thigh. She rested her foot atop his shoulder, and reveled in his touch, the nearness of his face to her center. He bent down and pressed a kiss to the inside of her thigh before flicking her clit with his fingers. Just once. Just enough to make her go crazy. She closed her eyes and dug her head back into the mattress. Sometimes she swore he knew more about her body than she did.

He pushed down on the mattress to get himself back on his feet, and she playfully stuck her foot out and brushed it against the bulge in his pants. He took a few steps back and smiled at her as he stripped down. He unfastened his jeans and shoved them down, obviously eager to get out of them. His boxers went next, gone in nearly a split second.

Oh, yes, she thought, staring at the cock that would soon be inside of her. Hopefully it didn’t hit the baby. Was that even possible? Probably not.

She laughed at her own wonderings and shifted so that she was lying up by the headboard, her head on the pillows. Comfy. She un-tucked the blankets and crawled beneath them, holding them open for him to get in with her. He climbed into bed, gently settling on top of her, and pulled the blankets up around them. She felt enveloped, as though his body were forming a protective cocoon around hers, and she felt loved.

He smiled at her and nuzzled his face against hers. Like an animal. Like an adorable, wonderful animal. She felt him urging her legs apart with his knees, and felt the tip of his cock pressed to her entrance. She grabbed onto his shoulders and prepared herself for his penetration.

She pressed her lips together and dug her nails into his skin as he pushed inside her slowly. She was so wet, so it didn’t hurt, but it felt . . . different. Even better than she remembered it. Maybe because they’d been through so much. Maybe because they’d done this before and created a child.

He pressed his forehead against hers and gave her time to adjust to him. He asked her if she was okay, and she nodded happily. She was so much more than okay.

He began to move at a steady, even pace. His body was hot, and hers was singing. She wrapped her legs tightly around his waist and drove him deeper. This felt so good.

With every thrust, a rush of breath escaped his lungs. Her breathing quickened to match his, and she could feel the beads of sweat starting to form on her skin.

She gasped when she felt herself being maneuvered. Before she knew it, she was on top of him and he was beneath her. She smiled and continued moving her hips against his. She sat up straighter, and the angle of penetration changed just enough so that he was hitting her g-spot. She cried out and threw her head back. She was going to die. Her body was going to fly apart and she welcomed it.

He watched in awe as her body accepted his and the pace of their lovemaking quickened, then slowed, then quickened again. His hands found hers, their fingers interlaced, and she slowed to a near stop above him. She lay down atop him, her bare chest sticking to his, her hair falling forward to curtain his face. He tucked it behind her ear, smiled at her, and held onto her hips as he pushed himself up into her gratefully a few more times. They came together, no longer two people, but one person. She was his and he was hers and the baby was theirs. They were a family. They were in love.

They were going to be happy. There was no other alternative anymore.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~

“Kyle, I’m afraid we scarred that locksmith for life,” Tess fretted as she and her boyfriend made their way up the stairs to the fifth floor of Kyle’s apartment complex.

“Oh, I’m sure he’s had to unlock horny, kinky co-eds from their handcuffs hundreds of times,” Kyle assured her. He rubbed his scraped up wrists and said, “Next time we get furry ones.”

“Did you ever find the key?” she asked as they stepped out onto the fifth floor.

“Uh-huh.”

“Where was it?”

“Let’s just say you’d crack up if you knew.”

“Crack up?” she echoed. “What do you--” And then it dawned on her. Crack. “Oh my god, Kyle, it was in your--”

“Shh, don’t say it,” he cut in. “But for your information, it wasn’t in there so much as it was wedged in between—you know what? You’re never gonna wanna have sex with me if I say anything more, so I’m just gonna shut up.”

She laughed a little. How the key to the handcuffs had managed to find its way there was a mystery. “Oh, we are gonna laugh about this for years,” she said.

“Yeah, yeah, at the expense of my dignity.” They stopped before the door to Michael’s apartment.

“What if we’re interrupting?” Tess asked.

“Then we’ll just get Frank and get out before they even know we’re here.” Frank had been hanging out at Michael’s all day, ever since Michael had walked in on Tess and Kyle in the pillow fort that morning.

Kyle pushed open the door, and when they walked inside, it was quiet. The door to the bedroom was closed.

“I wonder if they’re doing it,” Tess speculated, slowly stepping inside.

“Well, you’re welcome to go find out.”

Tess bent down as Frank ran up to her. She scooped him up in her arms and he licked her nose. “Oh, you’re the cutest dog ever,” she squealed quietly. “What is he to you, Kyle? Roommate? Friend? Son?”

“Younger brother,” he said. “Frank’s the man. I was walking him the other day, and he saw this Poodle. A little too prissy for my tastes but . . . yeah, he wants to hit that. Too bad he’s neutered.”

Tess laughed, but she stopped when she heard sounds coming from the bedroom. Headboard tapping the wall, mattress squeaking a little bit . . . somebody in there was definitely not neutered.

“Oh my god, Kyle,” she said. “They are doing it.”

“With handcuffs?”

“No. I mean, I don’t know, probably not.” She smiled, excited for them. “They’re back together. They worked it out. I can’t believe it.” After all the lies and the secrecy, all the misunderstandings, and all the . . . Isabel, Michael and Maria had reunited. “Finally!” she exclaimed a little too loudly. She doubted the lovebirds could hear her, though.

“Copycats,” Kyle grunted. “I’m just saying, we get back together last night, and now they get back together tonight. They’re trying to be like us.”

Tess laughed a little. She and Kyle were probably the last things on Michael’s and Maria’s minds.

“No, I’m glad for them,” Kyle said, sauntering towards her.

“Seems like things are finally getting back to normal here in 521,” she remarked.

“Better late than never.” He grinned and kissed her. Normal had never felt so good.









TBC . . .

-April
Image
LOVE IS MICHAEL AND MARIA.

User avatar
April
Roswell Fanatic
Posts: 1556
Joined: Tue Sep 28, 2004 9:32 am
Location: Somewhere. Anywhere.
Contact:

Part 80

Post by April » Sun Oct 11, 2009 12:59 pm

Okay, it's finally here. The last chapter. I can barely believe it.

I was glancing over the first post of this fic, and I love how I specified that this story was NOT Alien Abyss material. In retrospect, it probably was. :lol:

Okay, one thing I have to know is: Who ended up being your favorite character in this fic, and who ended up being your least favorite? Just out of my own curiosity. ;)

I just need to thank everyone who has ever left me feedback, especially those of you who have stuck with this story through its completion. I know it got kind of hard to read at times. Super depressing. But you all should know that your feedback always means so much to me, and I love writing Roswell fanfiction because of you guys. And yeah, the stalking was fun. ;)

I had this thank you video made for everyone who's ever left me feedback (like I did for Passion), but the video is super screwed up right now. It's cutting off the last letter of everyone's names. So if I get that fixed, I'll try to upload it to Youtube, although Youtube probably won't allow it because of damn copyright crap.

Anyway, there is a little surprise for you guys at the end of this, so make sure you check it out AFTER you read this epilogue.

So much ramble. Thanks, everyone. :D Here you go!









Part 80








Two Years Later

“Come on, girls, she’s gonna throw the bouquet!”

That was all it took for Maria to run across the grass, her high-heels causing her to stumble. Her pink bridesmaid dress flapped in the breeze as she approached the balcony outside the pavilion. The bride would soon be perched up there, bouquet of flowers in hand. It was an inane tradition—whoever caught the flowers would be the next to get married—but a tradition she was very excited about.

Maria joined the group of several dozen women, most of them around her age. They chattered wildly, but she was focused. That bouquet was so hers.

“You’re gonna have to beat me to it,” her mother said, stepping up beside her.

“Mom?” she shrieked. She was easily the oldest in the bunch.

“I’m going for it, too,” Amy said. “Really, Maria, I need it so much more than you do.”

Maria gave her a look. No one here needed or wanted it as much as she did.

“I’m over the hill now. Do you have any idea what that’s like?”

Maria shrugged. She was twenty-three and a half now. She almost halfway to fifty.

“Oh, you do need it, though,” Amy acknowledged. “Fine, I’ll forfeit. But Ed better not let me down.”

“Thank you,” Maria said as her mother slipped out of the crowd. One down. She smirked.

“Oh my god, Maria, this cake is amazing!” Liz exclaimed as she bounded towards her. “Have you tried it?”

“I ate, like, five pieces,” Maria admitted shamefully.

“It’s so good,” Liz reiterated. “Is she gonna throw the bouquet?”

“Yes, so get out of here.”

“No way, I’m gonna try to catch it.” Liz shoveled the rest of the cake into her mouth and tossed the plate aside.

She could be competition, Maria thought. She had to eliminate her. “Liz, think about it,” she said. “Do you really wanna be Mrs. Max Evans?”

Liz did think about it, and the expression on her face changed. “Good point,” she said. She gave Maria an encouraging pat on the shoulder, then skipped off. Max wasn’t there of course, but Liz had been thrilled to receive an invite from the groom.

Maria tapped her foot on the ground impatiently. Where was the woman in white? She wanted this bouquet to be thrown before anyone else decided to try to catch it.

“What’re you doing?” Marty asked as he approached her from behind.

“Just thinning the herd,” she declared proudly.

“Hmm. Well, you’re gonna have to beat me, bitch.”

Her mouth dropped open. “Marty!”

“I’m serious. I wanna get married, too, you know.”

She didn’t have it in her to try to talk Marty out of participating. He’d been trying to get married for a long time now. So instead, she just pouted.

“Don’t give me that look,” her brother said, clearly giving in.

She exaggerated the pout.

“Dammit,” he swore. “Alright, knock ‘em dead, sister.”

“Thank you.” As much as she wanted to see her brother and Francis get married, he would have been her biggest competition of all. She felt like she had this in the bag now.

“Here she comes!” someone shouted as the bride appeared on the balcony. Maria smiled at her friend. Tess looked beautiful. She’d chosen a white, strapless dress that was form-fitting, fanning out at the bottom, mermaid-style. She wore a thin veil that extended all the way down her back and looked like a princess. Like a newly-married princess.

Tess winked at Maria, and Maria backed up away from the rest of the group. Tess was going to go long with this throw, and she’d be ready.

All the awaiting women stuck their hands in the air as they awaited the toss. Tess turned around, her back towards all of them, bent her knees, and then shot her arm in the air. The bouquet of pink roses flew far, right into Maria’s awaiting hands. It was almost too easy.

“Yea!” she squealed, jumping up and down. Her excitement came to an abrupt end when the entire group of women charged at her, though. The pounced on her, and the bouquet fell from her hands.

“Ah!” she screamed. “No!”

Fellow bridesmaids, most of whom were cousins, distant relatives, and even the six-year old flower girl fought over the flowers. Once one person got a hold of them, someone else seized them. Several women fell down, and one even resorted to hair-pulling. Maria wasn’t about to go that far, but she sure as hell wasn’t about to give up without a fight. She roared and jumped on Tess’s cousin’s back, tearing the bouquet from her grasp. She jumped down and ran away from the pack, holding the flowers high in the air. “Woo!” she hollered as all the wedding guests applauded. She’d caught the bouquet.

“Yeah!” Tess exclaimed. “Good job, Maria!”

She did a little curtsey, then went to help some of the other ladies to their feet. Many had grass stains on their dresses.

Maria plucked a petal off one of the roses and blew it up into the air. As the commotion died down, she caught sight of the two people she loved most in the world watching her.

Michael was standing by their table, holding their daughter in his arms. Miley held the bride’s garter in her tiny hands—Kyle had tossed that out to the men earlier—and she was chewing on it like any eighteen-month old child would. Michael smiled at his little girl, then at Maria, and she made her way towards him, carrying the flowers in front of her.

“Miley caught the garter,” he said, “so I can’t really take credit for it.”

“Well, look what I caught,” she said, holding the roses up to his nose.

“I know,” he said, inhaling the scent. “I saw. That was intense.”

“I think I broke a nail,” she admitted. She set the bouquet down on the table and said, “You know, Mr. Guerin, I think this is a not so subtle hint.”

He grinned and leaned down to kiss her. Miley made an unintelligible noise and reached out to touch both their cheeks.

“Hey, guys! Guys!” Kyle’s voice rang out as he made his way towards them. “What’re you doin’? You wanna scar the girl for life? Don’t make-out in front of her. Here, give her to me.”

Michael handed Miley over to Kyle, and Kyle’s face immediately lit up when she smiled at him.

“Yeah,” he said softly. “You like Uncle Kyle, don’t you? Uncle Kyle looks good in a tux. He doesn’t look like a penguin.”

“You look like a penguin,” Michael informed him.

He grunted. “Screw you, man. You’re wearin’ the exact same outfit.”

“Kyle!” Maria hissed. “Do not say . . . s-c-r-e-w you in front of my daughter.”

“Who cares? It’s not a bad word,” he said flippantly. “Now if I were to say fu--”

“Oh, Tess,” Maria cut in when her best friend approached. “Thank God you came down here. We need you to censor your husband. He’s spoutin’ off at the mouth.”

Tess smiled giddily. “Husband,” she cooed, squeezing Kyle’s side. He wrapped his free arm around her, pulled her to him, and kissed her.

“Who’s scarring the kid now, huh?” Michael said.

Miley just giggled. She was having a good time.

“Dude, are you gonna do that thing?” Kyle asked Michael quietly, bouncing Miley up and down in his arm. “That thing we talked about?”

“Yeah, I’m gonna do that thing,” Michael returned. “Is it okay if I do that thing right now?”

“Seems like the right time to me,” Tess said. “Do that thing, Michael.”

“You sure? It’s your wedding.”

“It’s your thing.”

“What-what thing?” Maria sputtered. She felt as though she were out of the loop on something. “What’re you guys talking about?”

Michael gazed down at her for a moment. He looked excited about something. Not nervous. Excited. She gazed up at him confusedly, and when he got down on one knee, Maria realized what was happening. She gasped and pressed both her hands to her mouth to keep from screaming. Tess and Kyle looked on encouragingly, and all the other wedding guests began to ‘ooh’ and ‘aah’ and approach them. Amy and Marty ran forward of course. He’d probably already asked for Amy’s permission, but she was still a spaz about it.

Oh my god, Maria thought as Michael reached into his pocket and pulled out a small box. He flipped it open, and the most beautiful ring she’d ever seen shined back at her. Maria finally lowered her hands from her mouth and smiled. It was a small diamond, but it was perfect.

“Oh my god, Michael,” she whispered. She was shocked. They had talked about marriage for awhile now, but they’d been so busy being parents that they hadn’t gotten around to it. She’d had no idea that he was going to do this here today. Even after all the years that she’d known him, he still managed to surprise her.

“Maria,” he said, resting his left arm on his knee, still holding the ring up to her with his right hand. “I love you more than anything in the world. You’re the most amazing person I’ve ever known, and I love the life we’ve made together.”

Maria smiled at him, then peeked a glance at Miley. She wasn’t old enough to understand what was going on, but they’d tell her the stories someday.

“I know we’ve got a lot of great days ahead of us,” he said, “and I wanna spend them all with you.”

Maria laughed a little, and then she started to cry.

“Let’s make it official,” he suggested. “Will you marry me?”

“Yes!” she exclaimed right away, nodding vigorously. Everyone applauded, and she held out her left hand. Her fingers shook as Michael slid the diamond onto her ring finger. It looked like it was meant to be there.

“Come here!” she cried as he stood up. She threw her arms around him and kissed him happily. So happily.

“Don’t cry,” he whispered in her ear.

“Good tears,” she promised. She’d waited for this day for awhile.

“Sorry it took me so long,” he apologized.

“I love you.”

“I love you, too.” He gave her another quick peck on the lips, and then the wedding guests crowded around them. Tess and Kyle both hugged them and offered their congrats. Amy yanked on Maria’s hand and demanded to see the ring. Mascara was streaming down her face.

Once the commotion had died down, Marty’s voice rose above all the rest. “Picture!” he shouted. “I gotta get a picture of this.”

“Oh my god, no, look at me. I’m all over the place,” Maria said, wiping the joyful tears from her cheeks.

“You look beautiful,” Michael assured her.

“I want the married couple, the gonna-get-married couple, and my niece,” Marty said. “Everyone else clear out for a minute. I just want the five of them.”

“Fab Five!” Tess joked.

Maria laughed. “Yeah, Fab Five.”

“Here,” Kyle said, handing Miley over to Maria.

“Okay, scoot in,” she told them. She grabbed Michael’s collar—her fiancé's collar—and pulled him in close to her. He wrapped his arm around her waist while Tess came to stand beside Maria. Tess put her hand on Maria’s shoulder, and Kyle wrapped both his arms around his new wife’s midsection.

“Miley, look at the camera,” Maria said as her brother took a few steps back, trying to get the picture in focus.

“Out of the picture, Mom. You’ll be in the next one,” Marty snapped. “Everybody lean in.”

“Look at the camera,” Maria told Miley again. She was such a good kid that she did just that. She laughed the way she usually did when she looked at her wacky Uncle Marty.

“Are we ready?” Marty asked.

“Wait a minute,” Michael said, reaching back to the table. He picked up the pink rose bouquet Maria had just caught and handed it to her. “There you go,” he said.

“Oh, okay.” Her hands were full. Kid in one arm, flowers in the other. It felt good, though.

“Alright, I think we’re ready, Marty,” Tess said.

“Wait, is my hair alright?” Kyle asked.

“No. Who cares, you dork?” Maria teased. “Take the picture, Marty.”

Michael chuckled. “One big happy family.”

“Okay, bitches,” Marty said. “On one . . .”

Maria smiled. Here she was, surrounded by her best friends, her fiancé, and her daughter. Her, the once out-of-control party girl who’d never even allowed herself a glimpse of this dream.

“Two . . .”

Never had she imagined that her life could be this good. It wasn’t perfect by any means, but it was pretty damn close. And it was close because of the people in it.

“Three!”

The camera flashed, freezing the moment in time.









THE END








Watch Me!
Image
LOVE IS MICHAEL AND MARIA.

Locked