RiceKrispy - And it’ll only get more interesting.
Earth2Mama (2x) - Wish I could give you an answer without giving something away! I guess you’ll just have to wait and see. Thanks for the feedback.
Alien_Friend - No, you really can’t. Every child wants a chance to know their father. Some of your questions will be answered in this chapter. Enjoy.
Michelle17 - You’ll find out soon enough.
dreambeliever (2x) - You want a new chapter, you got it!
begonia9508 - We will definitely be seeing Liz’s POV on all of this.
keepsmiling - Thanks for your feedback, and I promise there will be a lot of explaining in chapters 3 and 4. I won’t leave you hanging. And yes, Sam is going to be a bit of a problem.
jake17 - Thanks so much for the feedback, Carrie! I hope you like this next part.
Roswellian117 - Wow, thank you for the feedback. It means a lot that my story can touch you on some personal level. I love writing stories that readers can relate to.
OrangeSky - Lol. I know. I liked this ‘cause it shows that Lexie is like a lot of teenagers--and even adults--out there who do stuff and don’t think about the consequences until it’s right up on them. I loved your feedback! I hope you like this next part.
LoveIsForever - Thank you for the feedback. Liz will be here to explain her side soon.
Superman86 - Get happy again! I have another update!
RhondaAnn - Very obvious. Your question will be answered in this chapter. Thanks for the feedback.
mary mary - Lol. Liz will definitely not be happy.
Janetfl - Just you wait and see, Jan. Thanks for the feedback, hon. I love hearing your input.
LilLoucfer - Thanks for the bump.
A/N: Thanks, everyone for all of your patience. I should have a new update for I'll Look After You in another day or two and then an update of Love & War is next.
“Max?” Liz repeated, unsure if she had heard the name right. “Max Evans?”
For a moment, there was only silence on the other end before she got a response. “Hey, Liz.”
“Hi,” was all she could as she slowly sat down on the couch. She was sure that if she hadn’t, she would’ve fallen over from shock. Max Evans was the last person she ever expected to hear from and she thought her brain was going to go into overload. The past three days had been nothing but a blur of worry and fear since Lexie had run away. But hearing Max’s voice again brought a wave of other emotions she had tried to bury a long time ago. It was like a flashback to a time in her life when she was young and innocent and all that mattered was him. To a time when she had been so certain that she and Max would spend the rest of their lives together. Everything was so perfect then, so right.
And then she got pregnant. And everything changed.
That brought Liz back to herself, remembering that she and Max weren’t fifteen anymore. That was a long time ago and they were different people now. Which brought about the question: why was the man she hadn’t spoken to in years suddenly calling her?”
“Um, what’s this about, Max?” Asked Liz, unable to really care if she sounded rude at the moment. “It’s kind of a bad time.”
“Oh, I know all about that,” Max replied and the tone in his voice changed. It was harder, angrier. “Our daughter is here.”
Time stopped for Liz when she heard him mention their
daughter. “Lexie’s with you?” She asked, wishing that this was just a really bad nightmare. She always knew that one day Lexie would find out who her father was and find him, but she never thought it would happen like this.
“Yeah, she’s here,” he said, his voice still laced with anger. “You want to speak with her?”
"Yes," she said so fast, she didn't even think about it. But Max's hard voice made her pause. "Max, wait," she said reluctantly. "Max, I think we should talk."
“Not right now, Liz,” he stated in a harsh firm tone before it got quiet again. "You talk to Lexie. You and I will discuss this later."
Won’t that be fun,
Liz thought in annoyance. Though she knew he technically had a right to angry with her for lying, she didn’t want to hear what he had to say about any of this. She just wanted to get her daughter back. Finally the sound of her daughter’s voice broke Liz out of her own thoughts.
“Hi, mom,” Lexie greeted nervously, suddenly not feeling as brave as she had been three days ago.
“Are you okay?” Was the first thing that came out of Liz’s mouth. It was the only thing that mattered to her at the moment. She’d worry about killing after she knew that Lexie was safe and unharmed.
“Yes, I’m fine.”
Tears welled up in Liz’s eyes as relief swept through her for the first time in days. “Where are you?” She asked, trying to keep from sobbing uncontrollably into the phone.
“Um, with Max in Los Angeles,” she answered.
“Damn it, Lexie!” She practically yelled as she ran her finger through her hair. Her relief now turned into anger and she couldn’t control it. “You are in so much trouble right now.”
“No! You listen to me,” Liz snapped, not wanting to hear anything Lexie had to say. “When we have problems in this house, we talk them out. We don’t run away to Los Angeles.”
At the same time, Lexie felt her feelings of anger and betrayal return and it made her feel braver. “Yeah, and when your daughter asks to know about her father, you tell her,” she bit back.”
Liz sighed. “Lexie…” she trailed off, unsure of what to say next. The truth was she’d seen this day coming for a long time. Every time Lexie asked about her dad, every time she’d asked to see pictures of him. Liz had tried to put this day off, but now it was here, and Liz was at a loss for words. She never thought it would happen like this.
“What? Are you going to tell me I’m wrong?” Her voice cracked with every word. Liz could tell that she was trying not to cry. “Are you going to tell me that Max isn’t my father?”
“Yes, he’s your dad,” Liz finally answered with a sigh, dreading the words as they came out of her mouth, but there was no point in trying to keeping the truth from Lexie any longer. “But you don’t understand the whole story.”
“What else is there to know?” Lexie bit back. “You were just doing what you always do. Deciding what’s best for everyone.”
Liz thought her eyes were going to pop out of her skull in shock. She couldn’t believe she was hearing this from her own daughter. “That is so not true!”
“Yes it is! You just “decided” that I didn’t need to know my own father. And judging from the way Max reacted when he met me, I’m guessing you decided that he didn’t need to know about me either.” Lexie’s voice got louder with every word, but she no longer cared. “He didn’t even believe me when I told him I was his daughter. Do you have any idea how that felt? How could you lie like that?!
Liz closed her eyes in sadness. Every word Lexie said cut through her like a knife to the chest. All she ever wanted to do was protect her daughter from getting hurt, but in her desire to do so, she’d ended up doing exactly that. Still, she felt she needed to make Lexie see that she was doing what was best for her. “Oh, sweetie--”
“No!” Lexie cried. “I don’t want to hear it!”
Before Liz could say anymore, she heard a loud slam come from the other end of the line. Then, for a brief period, there was complete silence before Max’s voice came on the other end. “Liz, are you still there?”
“Yes, I’m still here,” she answered irritably. Of course she was still on the phone. Why the hell wouldn’t she be?
“Lexie’s out on the balcony,” Max said. “She’s pretty upset right now.”
“Yeah, I guessed that,” she snapped before she let out another sigh and fell back against the sofa in exhaustion. She was so tired, both emotionally and physically. And on top of all of that, she had a fresh batch of guilt to obsess over. “I can’t believe I messed up like this.”
“Oh, it’s not that hard to believe,” Max couldn’t help but say. At the moment, he didn’t have an ounce of sympathy for Liz, even after hearing Lexie chew her out. As far as he was concerned, Liz deserved everything she got for her lies.
“Max, you don’t understand,” she said tiredly. All of the fight was drained out of her, but still, she futilely tried to explain her side. “I was fifteen, I was going to be a mom.”
Max just let out a bitter laugh. “Yeah, well, I fifteen and was going to be a dad, but still, I didn’t tell a life altering lie like you did.”
“You know what? I’m not going to discuss this with you over the phone,” Liz stated and stood up from the couch. “I’m getting on the first flight to Los Angeles. Can you take care of Lexie till I get there?”
“Of course I will.” Max feigned indignation as he spoke. “I mean, she is my daughter after all. It’s not like someone lied to me about her for fifteen years.”
Liz let out an annoyed groan before she spoke. “Can you do it or not?”
“Yes, I’ll take care of her.” Max walked to the sliding glass door and watched Lexie as she stood out on the balcony. “But you know we have to about this soon, Liz,” he reminded her sternly.
“Looking forward to it, Max,” she bit out sarcastically. “Goodbye.” Immediately after hanging up the phone, Liz rushed upstairs and pulled a suitcase out from under her bed, and started filling it with clothes. Right now she didn’t care that going to L.A. meant facing Max and all of his questions. All she wanted at the moment was to bring Lexie home.
~ * ~ * ~ * ~
Max exhaled heavily as he hung up the phone and rubbed the sleep from his eyes. He was so tired and alert at the same time. Looking at the clock above his fireplace, he realized where the fatigue was coming from. It was almost four o’ clock in the morning. Still, as his gaze went back to the young girl on his balcony, sleep was far from his mind.
He opened the sliding door and stepped outside on to the balcony, just watching Lexie as she stood by the railing with her back to him. “Are you okay?” He asked gently.
“Not really,” she said, shaking her head but she didn’t turn around to look at him. She was already on the verge of more tears and she didn’t want him to see that. She’d already cried enough on the phone with her mom.
Max nodded as he came over to stand beside her. “Right. Dumb question.” He felt so awkward and unsure of himself as he stood next to Lexie. He knew she was still very upset, but he didn’t know what to do or say to comfort her. He wasn’t very good at this whole dad stuff.
“What did she say?” Lexie asked suddenly, breaking the silence.
At least he had an answer for that. “She’s catching the first plane out here. She’ll probably be here sometime tomorrow.”
She nodded. “She’s pissed.” It wasn’t a question. It was a fact. Lying to her mom and running away was the worst thing Lexie had ever done. She knew that it would be a long time before they got back the close relationship they had before this.
“Pretty much,” he replied as he turned to look out at the city.
“Well, I pissed too,” she stated angrily and furiously wiped away a tear that had escaped. As much as she hated the fact that she had caused her mother pain and anger by running away, she couldn’t forget the pain and anger she felt all those years, wanting to meet her dad and only getting told that “not knowing him was for the best.” The more she thought about it, the angrier she got and soon another tear came sliding down her cheek, and she had to brush it away. Damn it! Why did she always have to cry when she was angry? And why does she have to do it in front of her father? He probably thought she was a big baby.
Her gaze turned to Max, who’d been oddly calm once he finally believed that she was his kid, which was odd to Lexie. He had just as much right to be angry with Liz as she did, yet he seemed remarkably composed around her. “Aren’t you mad at her too?” She couldn’t help but ask.
Max looked at Lexie, seeing the curiosity all over her face, and he didn’t know how to answer her. He was feeling a lot of different emotions at the moment, and anger was definitely one of them, but he didn’t want to say that in front of her. His issues with Liz were between him and Liz only. Rather than answer her question, he changed the subject. “So, I got to ask, how did you find out it was me? That I was your dad?”
Lexie suddenly looked a little nervous, wondering if it was okay to tell him. She then decided that it was and spoke. “You have to promise that you won’t tell mom. She’d be so mad if she knew.”
She bit her lip gently before continuing. “Well, three weeks ago was my fifteenth birthday, and before the party I was going through some old stuff in the attic…and I found a picture of two together in high school.”
Max just nodded his head and listened intently as she told her story.
“I recognized you because my best friend, Josh, is a huge fan of your band and has your posters plastered all over his wall,” she let out a little girlish giggle at the thought of Josh’s obsession over The Aftermaths. She thought it was adorable. “Anyway, I didn’t want to ask my mom about it because I knew she’d just blow it off, so I went to Maria.”
Max’s eyebrows raised at the mention of Maria’s name. “Maria Deluca? Man, I haven’t seen her in forever.”
“Yeah, well, I came to her and asked her about the picture,” she continued, looking down at her fingers. “She didn’t tell me for sure that it was you, but I kind of got what she was trying not to say. She’s a really bad liar.”
Max laughed a little. “I know. One time, during freshman year, Liz, Maria and I decided to try and sneak into a bar, she was so nervous about it, and she actually tried to convince the bouncer that we were twenty-one year old models from Sweden.” Max shook his head, a playful grin still on his lips. “It didn’t work out so well.”
Lexie started giggling. “That sounds like Maria.”
The mood lightened a bit as they both laughed at Max’s story, and Max felt himself relax a little more around Lexie. This whole dad thing was still very new for him, but he was happy that he was able to calm Lexie down. in a dumb way, it made him feel very fatherly. A yawn escaped Lexie’s mouth and Max turned to look at her. “Tired?”
Lexie nodded slightly, trying her best to conceal as much of her yawn as possible. “Only a little.” It was more than a little. She’d barely slept during the trip to Los Angeles and she was definitely starting to feel the consequences of that. She looked over at Max, who jerked his head in the direction of the house.
“Come on,” he said. “You should get some sleep. There’s a guest bedroom you can sleep in.”
For a moment, she thought about telling him that she was fine when another yawn slipped out, stopping her from arguing any further. With a sigh, she nodded her head in agreement and she and Max walked back into the house. Lexie followed Max down a beautifully decorated hallway with plush carpeting and modern paintings all over the walls. The entire condo was very contemporary and stylish. Max stopped in front a door on the right and opened it, stepping aside to let Lexie enter the room.
“So, if you need anything, I’m right across the hall,” Max said.
Lexie sat down on the queen size bed, felt the softness of the mattress, and the idea of collapsing down on it in an exhausted heap became even more tempting, but something was on her mind still. As Max started to leave the room, she stood back up. “Max.”
“Yeah,” he replied, placing his left hand on the frame of the door, while his right hand rested on the doorknob.
“What are we going to do?” She asked. “You know, when my mom gets here. What’s going to happen with all of us?”
That’s a damn good question,
Max thought to himself. What was going to happen? He had no idea. There were so many things to think about now that Lexie was in his life, but he was just too tired to deal with it now. His head was already reeling with everything that’s happened. “Get some sleep Lexie,” he said calmly. “We’ll figure everything out tomorrow.”
Too tired to say anything else, Lexie just nodded. “Okay. Goodnight.”
“Goodnight, Lexie.” Max shut the door behind him before leaning against the wall beside the door. Though Max’s body was screaming at him for sleep, after everything that had happened tonight, he doubted that sleep would be possible. Everything was different now and he could feel the change. Now he was a father
That titled still felt foreign to him. As he stood up from the wall and walked across the hall to his bedroom, where he would futilely try to get some rest, he thought about a moment, fifteen years ago, that had lead to this. The moment that had changed his life forever…
* September 15, 1993 *
Max sat by himself in the quad, doing the same thing he’d been doing every day since freshman year; watching Liz Parker and pretending that he wasn’t. It had become almost a ritual for him now. He couldn’t help himself. Max was addicted to everything about her. The way she moved, the way she spoke. The way her silky brown hair glimmered in the sunlight, and the way her smile lit up her entire face.
Crap, she’s looking over here, he thought to himself when Liz’s big, brown eyes wandered over to where he sat across the cafeteria from her. He immediately diverted his gaze to his tray of food in front of him. This was the fourth time he’d almost been caught staring. He was seriously obsessed. An elbow digging into his arm caught his attention and he looked over at his twin sister Isabel, who was sitting next to him.
“She’s staring at you,” she said in an excited whisper, like she was talking to one of her girlfriends rather than her brother. “Go ask her out.”
Max sighed as he went back to stabbing at his mashed potatoes with a fork. “Don’t start, Isabel,” he said, trying to act as if the idea of asking Liz out wasn’t incredibly tempting.
Though Max couldn’t see her face, he could feel Isabel’s annoyed stare burning into the side of his skull. “Oh, please, Max,” she said. “We both know you’re totally into Liz. I catch you staring at her all the time. Just get it over with already.”
Max looked over at Isabel. “Iz, is there any possibility that one day you will just mind your own business when it comes to my private life.”
Isabel scoffed and rolled her eyes. “As long as you continue to flaunt your personal feelings in front of my face,” she shook her head, “no. You see, I’m not just doing this for you. I’m doing it for me,” she stated, placing her hand on her chest. “I can’t keep sitting here, watching you moon over her like this. So just get it over with and ask her out.”
Max blushed a little as he listened to his sister’s speech. He hadn’t realized that she had noticed anything. “Is it that obvious,” he asked sheepishly.
“You’re like a walking billboard,” she answered with a little laugh. “So, are you going to ask her out or am I going to have to do it for you?”
Max risked another, quicker glance at Liz, who was no longer looking at him, before he looked back down at his half eaten meatloaf and mountain of mashed potatoes. “I’ll think about it,” he said.
“No,” Isabel whined. “You are not thinking about this.” Without warning, Isabel stood up at the table.
“What are you doing?” He asked and got his answer when Isabel walked away from the table…and started walking straight towards Liz’s table! “Isabel!” Max called out, but didn’t get a response. Isabel was already halfway there when he finally stood up and followed her.
Liz and Maria both looked up to see Isabel standing in front of their table. Barely a second later, Max came up behind Isabel, but couldn’t stop her from opening her mouth.
“Hi, listen my brother likes you, Liz.”
“Isabel!” Max hissed, stunned that his big sister would actually embarrass him like this.. Looking at Liz, even she looked surprised by what was happening right now. Mental note: Kill sister later, he thought to himself.
“Excuse me?” Liz asked politely.
“My brother likes you,” Isabel repeated. “And you obviously like him too, otherwise you both wouldn’t be playing this ‘pretend not to notice each other’ game. So I thought I’d just cut to the chase for you guys.”
Liz was too shocked to say anything at the moment, but beside her, Maria was laughing her ass off. “Amen to that,” she said between giggles.. Liz’s head snapped in Maria’s direction, giving her a look of indignation. Maria shook her head, still laughing. “I’m sorry, chica, but you’ve been practically eye stalking this guy for weeks now.” She turned her attention to Isabel. “Why don’t we leave these two alone.”
Isabel nodded in agreement as Maria stood up and the two of them walked off to another table together, leaving Liz and Max staring after them in shock. The two of them then looked at each other, feeling incredibly uncomfortable and awkward. After a brief silence, Liz let out a little laugh.
“Well, this is embarrassing.”
Max laughed as well. “I know,” he agreed, already thinking of all the ways he was going to torture Isabel later. “I’m really sorry. I can’t believe my sister did that.”
Liz glanced over at Maria and Isabel, who were now sitting at a table on the other side of the cafeteria, talking and sneaking glances over at them. “Well, it’s not like my friend helped things.” She looked back at Max and gave him a shy smile, feeling very nervous but excited as well. She’d been trying to work up the courage to talk to him for awhile now. And now he was actually standing in front of her, looking as gorgeous as ever. She couldn’t let this moment slip through her fingers. “Um, well, since you’re here, you could join me if you want.”
For a split moment in time, Max was certain he had daydreamed this. She actually wanted him to sit with her. “You wouldn’t mind?”
Liz’s smile brightened as she nodded. “I wouldn’t mind at all,” she answered eagerly. “Plus it’ll get your sister off your back,” she joked.
Max chuckled as she sat across from her at the circular table. “I doubt it. But we’ll give a shot.”
~ * ~ * ~ * ~
That memory was so long ago. Max barely recognized that scrawny, love struck teenager. Though Max’s bedroom was only a few feet away from him, it felt like miles as he made his way across the hall. Shutting the door behind him, he tiredly started his usual nighttime routine. He brushed his teeth and flossed, took off all of his clothes accept for his deep blue boxers and slipped on his gray Lakers t-shirt. Ten minutes later, Max was turning off the light in his bathroom and slipping into his king size bed, enjoying the feel of the white, Egyptian Sateen sheets that Samantha had bought for him, ‘cause she complained that his old ones were too uncomfortable. But Max suspected that the thing that made her really uncomfortable was the fact that they didn’t wreak of money.
Yes, he could admit it, Samantha was a little spoiled and liked having expensive things. She’d nag him about that from time to time. But she really did have a good side to her.
As his eyes started to drift shut, thoughts of Liz floated into his head without warning. He couldn’t help but wonder what she was like now. How different was she from the girl he used to know and adore? He never really knew what happened to her. Shortly after telling--lying would be the correct term--about her miscarriage, she moved to Florida to live with her Aunt and he didn’t hear from her again. For the first few months, he’d thought calling her or sending her a letter several time, but his fear held him back. He couldn’t talk to her without thinking about what they had and what they lost. It was too much. So instead he focused on moving on with his life, and trying to forget about everything that had happened. After awhile that became a little easier to do, but he still thought about her from time to time, but never this much. Now his brain was flooded with thoughts of her and thoughts of Lexie. What were their lives like? Did Liz ever think about telling Max the truth? All these questions desperately needed answers. But he knew it would do him no good to obsess over this now.
Forcing all of his concerns away for the night, sleep finally came to him.