TIC TAC - (CC,AU,Adult) - COMPLETE - 7/12/15

Fics using the characters from Roswell, but where the plot does not have anything to do with aliens, nor are any of the characters "not of this Earth."

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Double Trouble
Obsessed Roswellian
Posts: 925
Joined: Tue Dec 16, 2008 9:47 am

Part 41

Post by Double Trouble » Sun Dec 18, 2011 5:35 am

Natalie36: Lol, a few things to possibly keep in mind.

Eva: Richard stalking Isabel has been consistent throughout the story for a while now but she sees him as more of a nuisance than a threat.

Lol, Alex wasn’t that thrilled with that meeting.

Hmm, the guys running into Liz? Nope, not here.

Earth2Mama: There’s no telling how that’ll effect things… not yet anyway.

The girls aren’t having a lot of luck on their night out.

begonia9508: Guess these guys do live exciting and dramatic lives.

mary mary: We’ll find out more about the girls’ night out in this part. That encounter might have been an eye-opener for Tess… if it was it’s long overdue.

Cardinal: We’re sure you’re right. ;)

Also very true. There’s no telling what trouble is brewing.

Lol, even weirder, huh?

Rodney: Lol, well… as long as some part of the update sticks with you we can’t really complain, can we? ;)

Alien_Friend: Thanks, we enjoy writing those scenes.

Alex is on his way to finding that happiness… perhaps not exactly the way he thought he would find it.

Richard has shown himself to be a problem… he’s probably not going away anytime soon.

Lol, 40 parts already… sheesh, time flies when you’re having fun!

keepsmiling7: Lol, they really seemed to get that reaction from everyone!

Roswellian117: Say, we like that idea! NYPD, huh? Definitely a great show.

Alex and Tess… the interaction between those two was interesting, lol. Kyle’s pretty happy about that too.

secretk: Oh, Richard’s the culprit. Isabel just doesn’t see him as a real threat.

The jobs of firefighters/cops/paramedics are all dangerous and some days it’s just worse than others.

The repercussions of what Isabel and Tess did are still being felt… this was her glimpse of the cost of that little prank.

kismet: Hey girl! Welcome back! :)

We will get two new pieces for the big puzzle today, lol, that’s all we will say to your questions.

Healerfan: Sorry, you feedback wasn't there when we posted lol. Thanks!




A/N: Hey everyone! So Christmas and New Years is coming up and as every year, we are taking a break from posting over the holidays.

We will be back at January, 8th.

Therefore we have extra long updates for TIC TAC and Double Dare this week. Enjoy the holidays! MERRY CHRISTMAS and a HAPPY NEW YEAR to all of you!

Angel & Steffi



Part 41

A Different Truth

Maria laughed at something one of the guys had just said. The night had turned out better than expected. Okay, the two boys weren’t really her type, but she enjoyed their attention just as much as Isabel did.

“Nothing better than a quiet night after a long shift,” one of them admitted after she had shared her two-jobs-at-a-time-while-I’m-a-student life with him. Of course she had left out anything personal like Cody.

“Uh-huh, not that you really take any breaks,” Isabel winked at Maria, knowing there was hardly a time she really kicked back and relaxed.

“Bundle of energy, huh?” Kevin, the tall dark-haired guy asked and didn’t even try to hide his hungry gaze from her.

Maria smirked. “You’re right about that.” She looked at Isabel and gave a slight nod at the bathroom door.

Isabel wondered if Maria was looking for a way to get away from the guys. Kevin was nice enough but he probably wasn’t going to get anywhere. He was a nice distraction, but a temporary one. Or maybe she was about to tell her she wanted to ditch her for a quick hook-up. “Will you boys excuse us for a few minutes?” she asked with a smile.

Garry nodded. “Go ahead, ladies.”

“So...” Isabel said as they elbowed their way through the club to get to the restroom. “What’s up?”

“I just had to get away for a minute since I had the feeling I was getting undressed with his eyes right in front of everyone.” She laughed. “And… I need to pee.”

She snorted and turned to check her appearance in the mirror. “So, whatcha think about Kevin?” She ran her fingers through her hair as she tipped her head to one side. “Potential hook-up?”

Maria walked into one of the stalls and closed the door behind her. “I don’t know. He’s kinda hot, but…” she sighed, “I don’t know.”

Isabel nodded. “Random hook-ups just kinda...” she shook her head. “They’re not all that satisfying are they?”

“Yeah, somehow they tend to be disappointing in the end.”

She made a sound of ascent. “Funny how that doesn’t seem to be a problem for guys.”

“Not fair at all,” Maria agreed and flushed the toilet before walking out again. She joined Isabel in front of the mirrors and glanced at her appearance as she washed her hands. “Or is it just us? I mean, I’ve heard a lot of girls talking about it like it’s the greatest thing, too.”

Isabel shrugged. “I don’t know if it’s just us or if those girls are just making it up. Sometimes I wish it wasn’t that important to feel that connection, that getting laid was enough.”

“Weren’t you planning to get laid by Tony?” Maria teased.

“Well, yeah, but that hasn’t worked out. Something gets in the way every damn time.” She rolled her eyes and sighed.

“Maybe it’s a sign,” Maria said, laughing.

“Ya think?” She shook her head. “Don’t get me wrong, if the opportunity presented itself I’d still do him.”

“Yeah, I think you shouldn’t and leave him to me,” she laughed when Isabel glared at her.

“Yeah, that’s so not happening, girl. If one of us gets him, it’s gonna be me. I called him first.”

“You are so not right for that,” Maria shook her head.

Isabel shrugged and tossed her hair back over her shoulder. “Maybe not, but I’m not just handing him over.”

“Yeah, be mean and take the only potential guy away from me,” she winked at her friend. She was just messing with her.

“But you have Kyle,” she said and wrinkled her nose.

“Not to mention you could have the rest of the world’s population.”

“I could,” Isabel agreed and then laughed when she realized just how snotty that sounded. “But I’m selective.”

“How would Mr. Garry fit in your selection?”

“I don’t know. He’s hot and he’s funny, but... there’s just something missing.”

Maria looked at herself in the mirror and definitely liked the way she looked tonight. “Yeah, I know what you mean.”

“Guys have it so much easier,” she sighed.

“Yeah, somehow they just see something hot on two legs and they get a hard-on.” She frowned. “They don’t even have a real type.”

“Girl, that’s the truth. At least we’re smart enough to be choosy. Guys are led by their dicks.”

“Yeah… most of the time anyway,” Maria said thoughtfully.

Isabel turned to lean against the sink and looked at Maria. “What?”

“Well, I know at least one exception. Not a general exception though, no.”

“Who?”

Maria shrugged. “Your brother.”

“Michael?” Isabel snorted. “Are you kidding?”

“Hey, I said not in general. I know he’s a male slut.”

“How can you possibly qualify him as an exception to the rule?”

“Well because he’s NEVER EVER looked at me this way.” Maria looked at herself again. “I mean he tells me I look good or sexy, but not with that look on his face.” She grimaced. “Forget about it.”

Isabel rolled her eyes. “How have the two of you never gotten together?”

“Well, when we met we were too young so we became friends and then it stayed that way,” Maria shrugged. “Besides that I really don’t want Michael like that.”

“Okay,” she said even though she didn’t believe it.

“Anyway, what I wanted to say was: Obviously men can look at women without reacting physically. Just doesn’t happen very often I guess.”

“Okay, they may not get a hard-on for every woman that crosses their path, but they’re still led around by their dicks.”

“Agreed.” Maria pointed at the door. “So what about the two hard-on’s out there? Hang around or ditch them?”

Isabel considered it for a moment and then sighed. “I’m not even in the mood now.”

Maria glanced through the small window in the door that separated them from the bar. Her eyes narrowed suddenly. “Is that Tess out there?”

She squeezed in next to Maria to look. “Oh, look, it is Tess.”

“Oh, look, it’s Tess,” she mimicked sarcastically. “You knew she was coming!”

Isabel cleared her throat. “What difference does it make?”

“Oh, well, maybe just the fact that I don’t want anything to do with her and if you knew that she was coming, and if you knew the little fact that I would be here, then I’m gonna kill you.”

“I really don’t think there’s a need to be violent about this.”

“Is, why did you do this?” Maria complained. “The night was fun until now.”

“Look, we’re just here to have a good time. Besides, you guys are gonna eventually have to talk this out.”

“I,” Maria pointed at herself, “don’t have to do anything.”

“You’d feel better if the two of you just had this out. I’m not defending what she did, just saying that it’d be better for all of us if the two of you could get along again.”

“Well, I’m sorry that you all have to suffer for this,” Maria rolled her eyes and stepped out, “but that’s probably not gonna happen again.”

“Maria...” Isabel said and followed her.

“I’m gonna go to the bar,” she told her and shifted her direction away from where Tess was standing.

She muttered under her breath and continued on her way to join her sister.

“Why the hell is Maria here?” Tess placed her hands on her hips when Isabel approached her. “You didn’t say she would be here too.”

“Didn‘t I mention that?“

“Don’t give me that shit, Iz.”

“Why don’t you just talk to her? Deal with this thing head-on and stop avoiding it.”

Tess swallowed hard. She hadn’t excepted something like this tonight. “What? Yeah, right, I’m gonna tell her right here. Perfect idea.”

“You have a better idea? You’re never gonna just come out and tell her on your own and I don’t know why. I could maybe... MAYBE... understand if she and Kyle were invested in a real relationship, but we all know that isn’t the case.”

“Yeah, but the reality is so much better,” Tess muttered.

“How long do you really think she would continue this arrangement if she knew you’ve got feelings for him?” Isabel snapped.

“Ya know what, I’m just gonna leave.” She glanced at Maria, who sat on the bar, back towards them.

“Fine, be a child about this. Run out on everything that scares you.”

“Fine,” Tess mocked her sister. “I’ll join you. Just see how well this goes.”

“Thank you. I think that’s the smartest thing you’ve done in a while.”

Maria rolled her eyes when she glanced over her shoulder and saw both girls were heading towards her. “Great.”

Isabel sat on the stool in the middle to keep some distance between the other girls. She motioned for the bartender to bring her a drink and then looked between Maria and Tess. “So...”

The other two girls just stared at the counter stubbornly.

“Really? This’s how we’re gonna spend the evening?” She rolled her eyes. “C’mon, you guys, just talk.”

“Well, since you had this glorious idea, why don’t you talk?” Maria grumbled.

“I’m not the one who’s having the fight. You’re mad at Tess for leaving without an explanation and leaving you without paying her half of the rent – “

“Hey, now wait just a minute,” Tess interrupted.

“This’s stupid,” Maria snapped.

“Okay, you know what?” Tess leaned forward to look around her sister. “Yeah, I left without sayin’ anything and I’ll take whatever crap I’ve gotta take over that, but I’m tired of you tellin’ people I left without payin’ the rent. You act like I left you high and dry and we both know that’s not true.”

Maria lifted one eyebrow. “Oh, really? What’d you do? Fill the refrigerator before you left? Uh… Nope, that was me too. Hmm…”

She narrowed her eyes. “Before I left I paid up my half of the rent for the rest of the lease. Why would you think I’d ditch and leave you in that kinda hole?”

“Bullshit,” Maria denied and slammed her hand on the counter. “Why don’t you stick to the facts? There was nothing paid from your side.”

“I wouldn't have left without covering my half of the rent. Okay, there might’ve been some other small things that I didn’t cover and maybe it was wrong to let them go, but I knew Michael would handle anything I overlooked, but I did NOT just leave without covering the rent!”

“Where’d you leave the money?” Isabel asked when Maria was obviously too confused.

“I paid the landlord. I went to talk to him and made arrangements to pay my half up through the end of the lease so that all Maria would have to worry about would be her half.”

“Son-of-a-bitch,” Maria muttered and threw her head back to empty her drink.

“No matter what else I did I wouldn’t have done that.” It hurt that they all seemed to think that she had just left Maria with all of the rent hanging over her head.

“I’m gonna kill that little bastard,” Maria muttered to herself. The landlord had let her pay the full rent. She had gone to him after Tess had left to explain her situation and that she needed more time to come up with the full rent. The asshole had never told her that half of it was already covered.

Tess looked at Isabel. “You really thought that I could do that?”

Isabel shrugged. “How should I have known different? We didn’t know you paid it to …” she stopped abruptly, “wasn’t Richards dad your landlord?”

“Yeah.” She looked at Maria. “I swear to you, I paid the damn rent.”

Maria’s eyes softened, but not for much longer than a second before her expression became determined again. “I believe you, but that doesn’t change anything. You know if it was just the money then there would probably be a chance I could forgive you,” she laughed bitterly.

“Maria…” Isabel tried to interfere.

She ignored her friend and got up, grabbing all her stuff because she was planning to leave. “You were my best friend, Tess,” she accused, “and you just left… just… disappeared.” Maria looked at her ex-best-friend, afraid that her expression and eyes revealed all the hurt inside of her. “That’s something I will never forgive you for.”

“Maria, don’t say that,” Tess said quietly.

The other girl swallowed and blinked away the tears that were building in her eyes suddenly. “Sometimes the truth just hurts, huh?” she pressed out before she turned around quickly and left.

“Maria, hey…” Kevin called as he approached her.

She looked at him, startled for a second. “Sorry, I need to go.”

“Great fuckin’ idea, Iz,” Tess bit out.

“Sis…” the other girl tried.

“I told you to leave it alone! She’s never gonna forgive me whether she knows the truth or not.”

“You don’t know that.”

“She sounded pretty clear not two minutes ago. Even if I had skipped out on the rent she probably could’ve gotten past that... but it doesn’t matter how you try to get us to talk, I walked away without a word at a time when she needed her friends around and for that...” she shook her head.

“Tess,” Isabel placed an arm around her. “It’ll be okay. When she knows the truth she’ll think differently.”

“I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to tell her,” she admitted miserably.

“You know if this weird plan you and Evans have going on works, she could maybe find out on her own…”

“How?”

“Don’t you think she could put one and one together if Kyle and you actually get together someday?”

“Maybe. But how much worse would that be than if I just told her?”

“I think it makes a difference if you tell it by yourself or if she finds out differently.”

“Yeah, but... they have that no sleeping with each other’s friends thing going on... so if Kyle and I got together without her knowing why I left it would be worse.”

“Uh-huh. You need to tell her Tess, and soon.”

She hung her head. “I know.”

“Today was a start.”

“You really think so?”

“Sure. Okay, well, she was mad, but you could see that there are a lot of emotions involved.”

She swallowed hard. “Yeah, hard to miss that.”

“C’mon,” Isabel tried to encourage her. “Could be worse.”

Worse? Was she kidding? “How is that possible?”

“Well, Maria and Kyle could be a real couple. Or Max could be a bad kisser,” Isabel teased her a bit.

Tess made a face at that first one and then rolled her eyes at the second. “Well, he’s not a bad kisser... not that we really do that other than for show.”

“I really hope not. Last thing I need is a sister who has real feelings for Max Evans.”

“Why do you guys all think he’s not a good guy?”

“We don’t think that, it’s just… I don’t know.”

“He really is a good guy. He’s got some issues and he’s really hung up on Liz, but he’s not who you all think he is.”

“You got a new best friend or something?” Isabel asked with a smile.

Tess smiled slightly. “He’s not what you’d expect.”

“Uh-huh, and what would I expect?”

“I think you guys all think he’s just some tattoo artist and nothing more. Don’t you guys ever question why he comes across as so anti-social?”

“I did wonder. You got an answer?”

“Well... not yet, but I know there’s more to him than what he lets people see.”

Isabel chuckled. “I guess you can say that about everyone, including us.”

“True.” She sighed and took a drink of her beer.

“So, what’re we gonna do with the night?”

“I don’t know... got anything in mind?”

“Why don’t we hit one of the clubs near our apartment and forget about all the stuff for one night.”

“Works for me,” Tess said agreeably.

*****

Max walked along the streets, heading for the club where Liz worked and he found himself wondering if she walked to work and home every night. With the hours that she would work at the club she would be out at odd hours in a neighborhood that put her at even greater risk. He didn’t like that she was in a position that made working as a stripper an option for her and he knew it wasn’t something she would do otherwise. He had no problem with strippers; he was a guy and he enjoyed watching them, but when it came to Liz he just didn’t like it.

He opened the door and nodded at the bouncer before slipping into the low-lit club. It wasn’t an establishment that was upscale and it wasn’t gonna be that way anytime soon, if ever. He made his way to the bar and motioned to get Teddy’s attention, accepting the beer the man uncapped and slid down the counter.

“What brings you in here, Evans?” He grinned widely, showing off the gap where he was missing a tooth.

“Just happened to be on this side of the city. Why else would I be in this dump?” he asked and took a long swallow of the cold beer.

Teddy snorted. “Maybe ‘cause you’re lookin’ for a little somethin’.”

Max ignored the man’s insinuation. “She workin’ tonight?”

“You just missed her. She’s already backstage. She’ll be out again in a bit.”

“I need to talk to her.”

“Talk, huh?” He winked and filled another order. “Sure, man, if that’s your thing.”

“What if I was interested in more?” he asked, just to test the waters and see how far Teddy would go.

Teddy’s eyebrows shot up. “Depends on who’s doin’ the talkin’.”

Max shrugged. “Say I wanted to lay down a couple C-notes.”

The other man grinned. “I’m sure I could convince her. Said that wasn’t her thing when I hired her, but hell, when they need money…” His gaze dropped to Max’s hand and the cash folded there. “They’re easy enough to convince.”

“Cool. Right now I just need to talk to her. If I want more, I’ll let ya know.” He raised his bottle and turned to head down the dark corridor that led back to the room she used to get ready. He leaned against the doorframe and reached up to knock on the door.

Liz straightened when she heard the knock. “Who’s there?”

He smirked and shook his head, waiting to see if she’d answer the door.

Liz rolled her eyes. She had a feeling she knew who was on the other side of the door. Slowly she got up and walked to the door, leaning against it. “Just go away, Max.”

“Not gonna happen, Liz.” He tapped the bottom of his bottle against the door. “We need to talk.”

“About what?”

“You really wanna discuss it through the door where anyone who walks by will hear this?”

She snorted bitterly. “Do you think I can sink much lower anyway?”

“You could if Teddy has his way.”

She opened the door and looked at him. “What’s that supposed to mean?”

“It means I just offered him a couple hundred bucks for a romp with you... think he turned me down?”

“I told him I don’t do things like that,” she said, but wrapped her arms around herself protectively.

“And I told you before he doesn’t care what you said you wouldn’t do... all he cares about is money. What would you do if he came back here and some dick had paid him a few hundred bucks to nail you?”

She didn’t reply to that and walked back to her wardrobe.

Max closed the door and leaned back against it. “Why didn’t you tell me that Aaron’s your brother?”

“I never said he wasn’t. You just assumed.”

“You could’ve set me straight. Not that it matters,” he said with a shake of his head. “Aaron’s not his kid so why’re you stayin’ with that asshole?”

“You can’t just show up like that, Max,” she said instead of answering his question.

“I heard you called in sick and I was worried that maybe Asshole had somethin’ to do with it since he wasn’t too happy to see me the night before.”

“He wasn’t happy, that’s for sure, but that’s not the reason why I called in sick. Why would that be the reason?”

“The guy’s got a temper, Liz... and one of these day’s he’s gonna turn on you if he hasn’t already.”

“He doesn’t beat me or Aaron,” she denied quickly.

“I’ve known guys like him before, Liz, and that kinda temper always manifests itself physically at some point.”

“You know it all, don’t you?” She rolled her eyes at him. “Don’t show up at my door again like that, do you hear me?”

“Physical abuse aside, Aaron’s already scared of that asshole. You run interference but what happens when he hurts you and there’s no one to keep him from that little boy? You need to get outta that situation.”

“Oh, really, and where do you suggest I live?”

“Hell, Liz, anything would be better than livin’ with him. I’ve been thinkin’ about that and the only reason I can come up with for you stayin’ there is because you don’t have another choice that’s viable at the moment. That situation sucks. You’re miserable and so’s Aaron. I know you’re bustin’ your ass to keep him and you’re probably fightin’ to financially stay above water ‘cause that asshole’s not doin’ anything to help you. You’re not with him, right? He’s just a roof over your head?”

She sighed. “It’s been a long time since I was with him.”

“Okay, then you an’ Aaron come stay with me.” He held his hands up when she immediately started to protest. “He’s not Aaron’s father so he can’t cause any problems there. The guy doesn’t want you there but for whatever reason he hasn’t pushed you out the door.” He shrugged. “My place isn’t huge, but I’ve got enough room for the two of you.” Yeah, she’ll never go for that one, Evans, she hates you.

Liz laughed out loud. “Yeah, and I bet your new little girlfriend will appreciate that.”

Shit! He had just known that damn plan was gonna cause some sort of problem. “Look, she doesn’t tell me what I can and can’t do anymore than I try to run her life. I’m not suggesting sex in exchange for a safe place to stay. It would give you a roof over your head that you wouldn’t have to pay for. You’d be able to put that money to better use. I know you’ve got a babysitter over there, but I can watch Aaron when you need a sitter and hell, you can get outta this shitty job, Liz.”

“What’re you gonna do? Take Aaron with you to the tattoo shop? Yeah, that would be so much better for him.” She shook her head. “That won’t work and you know it. Besides your place is too far away; it would take forever to get to college or the café.”

“You know what, I’ve got some freedom with my job. And okay, maybe it’d be a little further away, but isn’t that better than stayin’ with that asshole?”

She placed her hands on her hips. “You do realize that you’re just an asshole to me most of the time, don’t you?”

He bit his bottom lip. “Okay, I don’t have an excuse for that. Although if you’d just tell me why you walked out on me that’d go a long way to doin’ somethin’ about that.” He shook his head. “Regardless of my behavior, I wouldn’t bring it around Aaron.”

“Yeah, well, we don’t have to worry about that, because I’m not moving in with you. End of story.”

“I can’t believe you’d rather stay with that prick!” he snapped.

She didn’t. But moving in with him would probably end in a disaster as well if it didn’t work. He didn’t even have an extra room for Aaron and her.

“Why? Why would you choose to stay with a guy like that over stayin’ at my place?”

“Leave me alone,” she told him.

“God, why won’t you just talk to me? You liked me before and then you just turned around and walked out after that night we spent together... what the hell did I do?”

“You made it pretty clear that I don’t fit in your life,” she snapped and shoved him backwards when he was starting to crowd her space.

“How did I make it clear? That night was just about as perfect as it could be... things were fine when we went to sleep and I never said a word to you before you left!” He stared at her, trying to comprehend what could’ve happened.

“Well not to me, no,” she grumbled.

“Then who?! God, there was no one there but us!”

“Gotta refresh your memory, huh, Evans?” she started, poking a finger into his chest. “Michael stopped by in the morning if I remember right.”

“Michael? What’re you...” Michael HAD stopped by that morning. “Okay, yeah, he came by to drop off some new designs. So what?”

“So what? Do you not remember telling him just how glad you were that you didn’t have any complications like kids in your life when he told you about his last emergency call where a kid locked himself up in a room and couldn’t open the door again?”

“THAT’S what set you off?” He shook his head in disbelief. “Liz, damn, c’mon, I was just startin’ to get back on my feet at that point. No, I don’t know how I would’ve dealt with Aaron at that point but I’d like to think I would’ve handled it like an adult if I had been given the chance.”

“And I couldn’t risk getting involved with another man who didn’t want Aaron.”

“Damn it, you could’ve at least talked to me about it before runnin’ off! I think I deserved at least that much consideration!” He paced restlessly and ran his right hand through his hair. “Puttin’ that aside, why won’t you consider my offer? You’ve seen me with Aaron and you know I’m good with him.”

“Just because you’ve talked to him a few times doesn’t mean you’re good with him.”

He sighed. “You guys could stay at my place. No strings. I can sleep on the couch. It’d just give you a chance to get out from under that asshole and you’d be able to actually save some money.”

A soft knock sounded at the door and a tall blonde woman stuck her head through the doo r. “Sharon called in sick, so you’re up next again.”

Liz nodded. “Leave now, Max.”

He shook his head at her. “Just think about it. Yeah, I can be an asshole but you can be a bitch when you wanna be.” He lifted his hand to cradle her cheek as he met her gaze. “I think maybe we‘re both better than that.”

She stared up into his eyes, but wasn’t able to say anything. Getting away from Trent and the shitty place they lived in was tempting, but there was no guarantee that it would turn out better with Max. What if he got sick of Aaron? Little kids were cute but they were also a lot of work and sometimes they just drove you crazy.

“Tell me what I can do to convince you, Liz because I don’t know what to do other than to tell you it’d be a better situation.”

“I don’t know, Max,” she told him honestly and stepped out of his reach.

“Would you at least think about callin’ me to watch Aaron if you get in a bind?”

She nodded. More to get him to leave than thinking about that option right now.

“I’ll go but I’m not goin’ far,” he said, his tone calm.

“Okay,” she agreed. Liz knew that meant he would stay to watch her on stage. Not to enjoy it, but to protect her if someone got out of line.

Max turned to leave but paused at the door. “Liz?” he said, not facing her.

“What?”

He gnawed on his lip ring for a moment. “I’m sorry for the way I’ve treated you since we ran into each other at the café that first time. The way you left, it hurt, and I didn’t handle it very well.”

She nodded. “I’m sorry for leaving you in the dark about why I left.” My heart just couldn’t deal with another rejection, she added in her thoughts.

He nodded and opened the door, deciding that pushing any further would only damage the progress they had made.
Last edited by Double Trouble on Sun Dec 18, 2011 12:59 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Fics: A Xmas Story - A Merry Mt. R. Xmas - Cupid's Revenge - Double Trouble - Double Date - Double Dare - Double Empire - Double Xmas Wish - In The Course Of A Lifetime - Mountains So High - Not A Question At All - Surrender - TIC TAC - Two Double Dates at Xmas

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Double Trouble
Obsessed Roswellian
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Part 42

Post by Double Trouble » Sun Jan 08, 2012 9:52 am

Eva: Small steps but important ones.

Lol, you’re happier about that than Maria was. Think Liz will take Max up on that offer? Whether she does or not you can rest assured that he isn’t going anywhere.

Earth2Mama: Gotta love progress!

Well, she’s slowly starting to admit it to herself… does that count?

keepsmiling7: Start shaking.

Well, that’s one truth that might take a little time.

What will we do with them? Lol, just wait and see!

Natalie36: That step moved them in the right direction for sure.

mary mary: Winding things up? Us? Nah, we’re just getting started!

Alien_Friend: Lol, you could be right about Liz. She’s in a difficult situation and she’s doing everything she can to get them out of it without putting Aaron in another bad situation.

Little by little the truths are coming out.

We have so much more to come in 2012!

Roswellian117: Lol, Max definitely picked out the right name for that guy.

Maria and Tess will eventually have it out and learn the whole truth.

Questions like the ones Isabel was asking are planting the doubts that will begin creeping up on Maria.

Healerfan: Thanks!

There could come a time where Max’s offer is considered.

You liked that a lot more than Maria did, lol!

begonia9508: That is often the case with Liz.

Max and Liz have their work cut out for them because they’re both stubborn.

Lol, so many complexities! Oh, we’ll see what happens in time.

sarammlover: Lol, you knew it would happen eventually!

Max will keep reminding Liz that he’s there for her and Aaron.

Cardinal: Tess is taking a beating but that is a complete coincidence, promise!

Every step counts no matter how small it is.

Lol, the ‘relationship’ with Tess will be resolved soon. But, you’re right. At least now she knows she has a place to go if/when it comes to that.

Right again – Max didn’t mean to reveal that bit of information.

Rodney: Oh, it’ll come out… in time. You already knew that though, right?

secretk: Isabel is not your favorite huh? Now, we are curious what you say after this part then, lol.

Oh yeah, M&M are blinde, but we have an eye-opener coming up: Courtney. *muhaha*

No doubt, Liz ran off too soon after hearing the news. She should have talked to Max before. They were at a different time at this point though and maybe they can make it better with their second chance. ;)



Part 42

Love and Hate Lie Close Together

Maria opened the door to her apartment, sighing when the temperature inside was only a few degrees lower than it was outside. Seems like they turned off the air conditioning again, she thought in frustration. They did that now and then to keep the system from not working at all. The building was old and so was the air conditioning system.

Frustrated she threw her bag on the couch and got rid of the dress she was wearing to walk around in her underwear. For a moment she considered watching some TV but decided against it. There was another busy workday waiting for her in the morning, so she had better catch as much sleep as she could.

“I hate my life,” she muttered and walked into the bathroom to have a quick cold shower. Just when she was about to get back out, the curtain fell from were it was hanging and she made a quick jump to the side before the bar that had held the curtain crashed to the floor and made a loud crashing sound. “Goddamn it,” she hissed and grabbed the towel to wrap it around herself. Without cleaning up the mess she left the bathroom, grabbed her cell out of her bag and wandered over to crash onto her bed. It made an angry squeaking sound, a sign that she was home again.

Her life had changed so much in the past year, she thought. Thinking back she remembered sleeping in a nice room with large windows from the floor to the ceiling. Oh yeah, the apartment she and Tess had shared had been a dream and it had been luxurious compared to where she lived now. There hadn’t been times without air conditioning in the summer or heat in the winter. There had been a nice functional elevator with double doors and a doorman that made sure no weird people entered the building without permission.

The most important thing though was that she’d had Tess back then. No matter how often they had fought about dirty dishes or messed up rooms, they had always stuck together when it mattered. Until she decided to change that, Maria thought sadly and pulled out a picture of the two of them from under her bed. It had been taken on the couch in their apartment only a few weeks before Tess had left her without an explanation.

Only Michael knew she still kept the picture close and she rarely pulled it. Most days she was stronger than this. She didn’t want to look back and cry over the past because that wouldn’t change the situation. If I only had an answer why you suddenly disappeared…

Maria pushed the framed picture back under her bed and wiped her face. There were only a few people she had counted on in her life besides her family. But everyone had a slight question mark hanging over their heads since Tess had left. If her ex-best friend could leave her without looking back, what guarantee was there that others wouldn’t do the same?

She shook her head at her thoughts. You’re being ridiculous, Maria. Just because she’s stupid doesn’t mean your other friends would do the same.

The only person she would ever trust unconditionally though was Michael. He had been always there, long before she had gotten to know the others. There wasn’t a time he would leave her hanging or put her behind something else.

A smile escaped her lips when she flipped through the pictures taken with her cell. A cell Michael had given her for her last birthday and probably more expensive than everything in her bedroom. One of the pictures showed Michael and her together in Central Park after going jogging together. Michael sat behind her on the grass, one of his arms wrapped around her while the other held the cell out to take the picture.

It was already shortly after midnight, would he be out on another rescue? she wondered and hit the speed dial button. Maybe talking to him for a few minutes would make it easier to sleep. Most of the time she felt better after talking to him.

*****

Michael was sitting at one of the tables in the breakroom, studying the cards in his hand and contemplating whether or not to add chips to the growing pile in the center.

“C’mon, Guerin,” Tony complained. “Just say you’re out, you know you can’t beat me.”

He just snorted and tossed several chips out there, shifting to the side when his phone rang.
“You’re bluffin’,” he said as he checked the caller ID. He glanced up at the clock on the wall, frowning at the time.

“Maria?” Kyle asked.

“Yeah.” He turned his cards over, placing them facedown on the table. “Deal me out.” He got up and walked out into the engine room, leaning back against one of the trucks as he answered the call. “Hey, what‘s up, RP? Everything okay?“

“Hey, yeah don’t worry. Everything’s okay.”

“Cool, so what‘s up?”

“Nothing at all,” she rolled her eyes at herself. Probably hadn’t been the smartest idea to call him at work. Of course now he would think something was wrong with her. “Just needed to talk to someone I don’t hate right now.”

“Oh, well, I’m your guy then,” he said with a big grin.

“Yeah. How’s your shift going?” She got rid of the towel and rolled over to lie on her stomach. What would he think if he knew she was talking to him while she was all naked on her bed? She shook her head at that thought. Where had that come from?

“It’s goin’ okay. Quiet now. It was kinda crazy earlier, but now we’re just sittin’ around the stationhouse playin’ poker.”

She chuckled. “Are you losing all your money to Tony again?”

“He cheats, just haven’t figured out how yet.”

“Well, that or he’s just smarter than you.”

“Yeah, see, he’s gotta be cheatin’ then ‘cause there’s no way his dumb ass is smarter than me.”

“Shut up,” she smiled. “Is Kyle with you guys too?”

“Yeah, he’s here. Scarfed up a pair of tickets that one of the guys put up for stakes.” He snorted. “Not sure what he’s gonna do with tickets to a Broadway musical, but he’s got ‘em now.”

“Not sure what he’s…” she gasped. “Hellloooooo?”

He grinned. “Oh, that’s right, you like that stuff. Huh, must be why he worked so hard to win that hand and why he hasn’t bothered to toss them back in the pot.”

She smiled happily and wiped away a tear. A happy tear this time.

He knew exactly why Kyle had held onto those tickets and he also knew how happy she’d be about it.

“Tell him he made my day.”

“Hey, I’m the one who told you,” he protested.

“Just because I called you.”

He chuckled and shook his head. “Alright, fine. I’ll tell him.”

“Do you need to get back to the game?”

“Nah, like you said Tony had the winning hand this time around.”

“Okay,” she bit her lip. Should she tell him about her encounter with Tess and the new turn of events? Well, she would tell him anyway, but now?

“Gonna tell me what’s got you up so late?” he asked when she was silent for just a little too long.

“I found something out…”

He nodded. “Okay, so spill.”

“Well, I was out with Isabel and we were having a very nice time with nice drinks and nice guys who were paying for them,” she started.

“Uh-huh,” he said slowly, knowing that something had happened. “Too many ‘nices’ in there. What happened?”

“Isabel had also invited Tess without telling me. I really don’t know how soon I will forgive her for that.” Maria shook her head. “I am so mad at her.”

Oh boy. He knew Isabel was just trying to help, but he wasn’t sure that was the way to do it. “You an’ Tess talk at all?”

“If you’d consider yelling the same as talking, then probably.”

“So it’d probably be a good guess that you left?”

“Of course I left,” she stated.

“You said there was yelling... what’d you guys say?”

“It came out that she did pay her half of the rent but I told her that the money thing is not what I can’t forgive her for.”

“So she didn’t tell you why she left.”

Maria snorted. “No, she was so shocked that I thought she left me without paying her rent. Yeah… as if that was what bothered me most.” Her voice quivered with a mixture of anger and sadness.

“Maria... she doesn’t think that’s the only reason you’re pissed at her,” he said gently. “And I’m not defending her here, but she’s lost.” Maybe he needed to have a talk with Tess, find out what was really going on with her.

“I was lost too and she didn’t give a damn, so why should I?” Maria yelled into the phone and then sighed. “Sorry.”

Michael winced and rubbed his ear before lifting the phone once again. “It’s not a competition, girl. And no, I’m not sayin’ you should just suddenly forgive her.”

She knew it wasn’t fair to expect from him to back her unconditionally. Tess was his sister and part of the family he cared about. “I just can’t think of any good reason to leave without an explanation,” she said quietly now.

“Hell, it doesn’t matter how good that reason was, it wasn’t reason enough to leave without a word to you or anyone else. Eventually she‘s gonna have to face that.”

“Yeah,” she rested her head on her pillow.

“She had a responsibility to you as her friend and she turned her back on you. That’s not somethin’ that should be forgiven easily and no one expects you to. You may never get over that and I think she knows that.” He backed off of that topic to give her some space.

“I wish there was a good reason,” she admitted quietly.

“Maybe there was... and maybe one of these days she’ll get it out.” He smiled. “And then, after you’ve kicked her ass, maybe the two of you will be able to figure things out.”

“I doubt that’ll happen,” Maria mumbled and sighed. “We need to get my money back, Michael. If Tess is telling the truth and she really did pay her half of the rent than that asshole took the full rent from me knowing I only owed half.”

“Knowin’ Tess she paid on her credit card or with a check so we can track the payment.”

“Sounds good.”

“I can call Dad and explain the situation to him so he can get his accountant to start tracking that down and then once he’s got that I’ll talk to our family lawyer and find out how we can go about recovering your money.”

“Okay, thanks.” She knew he would know what to do. He always had a solution for things.

“You covered what, five or six months of rent to finish out that lease?”

“Six, yeah.”

“So that rat bastard’s gonna owe you nearly four grand,” he said, running the figures in his head. “Yeah, I’ll talk to Dad about this tomorrow so we can get the ball rollin’.”

“It would be really nice if I got that money back.”

“You’ll get it back,” he said with certainty.

“Yeah,” she said and she believed him.

“Feel a little better now?”

“Yeah, thanks.”

“Cool, that’s what I wanted to hear. You gotta work early in the mornin’?”

“Uh-huh, 7am.” She was about to ask if they would meet later, but then remembered that he had mentioned he would be going to the baseball game with Courtney.

“Get a chance to find out about this weekend yet?” he asked.

“I’m still working on it. Nancy said I might have a shoot on the weekend in the afternoon, but I was trying to reschedule it… Or I could just tell her to get someone else, I don’t know…”

He chewed on his bottom lip for a moment. “If you tell her to get someone else, how much are you gonna lose?”

“I don’t know. It’s for another party campaign, so nothing too big. $100 - $150 dollars maybe.”

He nodded, knowing that while it was pocket change for him it wasn’t for her and as much as he wanted to tell her he’d cover it he knew she’d tell him off if he suggested it. “Think there’s a chance of rescheduling?”

“Probably not.”

The weekend just wouldn’t be as much fun if she didn’t go. “Can you afford to turn it down?”

“I could use the money, but if I get the other money back it wouldn’t hurt be that big a deal.”

“Cool, I’ll get on the horn with Dad first thing tomorrow ‘cause a weekend at the beach wouldn’t be the same without you there.”

“Yeah, it would really suck to be stuck here while you’re all there.”

He snorted. “No doubt. 48 hours of kickin’ back and the most strenuous thing we’ll have to do is figure out what we wanna eat and who’s workin’ the grill.” He stretched and fought back a yawn. “Hell, maybe we’ll just order pizza one night.”

“Sounds good. I’ll just wear a bikini all day and lay on the beach. You can massage me, feed me, and stuff.” She smiled at the thought.

“You won’t have any problems there. You need to kick back and relax while we’re there. It’ll be good for ya. That’s the whole point of this weekend.”

“Oh, so we’re doin’ this just for me, huh?”

“No, it’s for all of us. It’s what we all need.”

“That’s true,” Maria said and yawned.

“I’m gonna try to catch up with Ava tomorrow to see if her an’ Chase can make it out for the weekend.”

“Maybe we can just exchange Ava and Tess, what ya think?” she asked with a smirk.

He chuckled. “Pretty sure that’s not gonna happen.”

“Too bad.”

“Well, at least there’ll be enough of us there that you won’t have to be stuck with her.”

“Um-hmm,” she said, finally starting to feel tired.

Michael smiled when he heard the telltale change in her voice that indicated she was getting tired. “Sounds like it’s past night-night time for somebody.”

“I don’t know who you mean,” she mumbled with a smile.

“Um-hmm, I can tell,” he teased lightly.

“How long you gotta work?” she asked, almost asleep.

“It’s another 12-hour shift, so I’ll be off at 7am.”

“Guess that means no breakfast together.”

“What time you break for lunch?”

“Maybe around noon.”

“You already know where you’re gonna be workin’?”

“It’s a shoot for a magazine. I think it’ll happen in Central Park.”

"I could bring lunch," he offered. He grinned and dropped his head back to rest against the truck. “I could bring you one of Sal’s cheeseburgers...”

“If you can squeeze some time in between sleeping and going out with your newest love interest,” she teased.

He snorted. “For you I can find the time, RP.”

“That’s my man!”

Michael rolled his eyes and laughed. She was the only girl who had ever been allowed to call him hers. Their relationship was uncomplicated and comfortable, there was no second-guessing, and they had each other’s backs no matter what. “Want me to bring you your usual?”

“Yeah, that’d be nice. Thank God the photographer tomorrow is cool and won’t think I’m fat.” She grinned. “I’m his favorite.”

He was relieved that she wouldn’t be working with that ass of a photographer she’d had the other day. “Yeah, well, that doesn’t surprise me.”

“Nancy said I have good chance of getting on the cover this time. Gosh, I really hope so, it would mean extra cash.”

“Cover girl, huh?”

“Haha,” she rolled her eyes, “it’s not like it’s Maxim or anything.”

“Well, you’d do the cover justice if you ever got that one.”

“Yeah, well, never gonna happen unless I marry a very rich and very famous man.”

He snorted at that. “Whatever. Cover girls aren’t always famous models. They’ve just gotta be hot.”

She smiled, but it faded when she heard the siren going off on the other end of the line. “Need to go, huh?”

“Yup, time to earn my paycheck.”

“Alright. Be safe, CB.”

“Always. Get some rest and I’ll see ya soon.”

“Goodnight,” she hung up and placed her phone on the nightstand, feeling much better now that she had talked to Michael. He had a way of making her feel better without doing anything at all.

*****

Alex sat across from the director of Human Resources in one of the city’s largest hospitals, fighting against the urge to do anything that would give away his nervousness. He had applied for the housekeeping position a few days ago but he hadn’t heard anything from them so he had marked it down as another rejection. He had called back a couple of times just to check on the status of his application but he hadn’t received a satisfactory answer. He forced himself to sit still while the director read over his application one more time before finally clearing her throat and looking up at him.

“We’ve had quite a few applicants for this position, Alex, but your experience in the janitorial field put you at the top of the list.” She tapped on the corner of his application as she watched him. “Working in a hospital will be different from working in office buildings after hours.”

He nodded. “I understand that.”

“The work is hard, we have regulations to follow, patients can be difficult, and some of the staff can be hard to get along with.” She smiled briefly. “And when I say hard to get along with I’m mostly talking about some of our doctors. They’re damn good at what they do and we’re lucky to have them on staff, but some of them can be… challenging.”

“You wouldn’t be paying me to come in and have a good time.”

She smiled slightly at that. “No, and housekeeping in a hospital is a far cry from having a good time. Do you feel that you can stomach cleaning up after surgeries?”

He had known that would be one of the requirements and while it wasn’t something he was looking forward to he knew he would have to do it. “I can handle it.” He wouldn’t like it, but the job paid decent, it had benefits, and he could work it around his other job.

“Then welcome to New York City General, Alex. Let’s get this paperwork out of the way, get a badge issued for you, and then we’ll take a tour of the hospital.”

Almost two hours later they stepped out of Anne Lincoln’s office and he reached up to clip his new badge on his shirt pocket. They began a tour of the facility in the emergency room and she introduced him to the staff as they met them. They moved through the different departments, ending in the pediatrics wing. “Our patients here are probably the easiest to get along with and the most difficult to deal with at the same time.” She smiled sadly. “They have such strength of spirit but some of them won’t leave the hospital again.” She shook her head. “Your interaction with them may be limited, but it can still weigh heavily on you at the end of the day.”

He nodded, understanding what she meant. He greeted the staff at the nurses’ station with a smile and made small talk for a moment before they moved on.

“Oh, good, I see one of our patients’ favorite nurses is on the floor today.” She smiled and led the way into the playroom when a blonde-haired woman was crouched down next to a little girl in a wheelchair, teasing her about something and making the child laugh.

Alex couldn’t help but smile at the way the little girl’s features transformed as she responded to the nurse’s words and tone. He just barely kept his expression even when the nurse stood up and turned around.

Isabel bit her inner cheek to keep herself from gasping when she saw who was with the other woman. What the hell was he doing here?

Alex glanced around the cheerfully decorated room before shooting a speculative glance at the woman he had recently spent the evening with.

“Isabel,” Anne started, “let me introduce Alex Whitman to you. He’ll be joining the housekeeping staff tomorrow.”

He swallowed, almost expecting her to say something that would make him lose this job too.

She watched him for a moment before nodding. Damn it, she hadn’t anticipated having to see him every day. She wouldn’t screw him out of another job though. “Welcome aboard,” she said, reaching out to shake his hand.

“Thanks,” he said and nodded. He had gotten to know her from a different side the other night, when the city had been dark, but he still didn’t trust her.

Isabel looked down when the little girl she had been talking to tugged on her hand and motioned for her to come closer. “What is it, sweetie?” she asked as she crouched down once more.

“He’s cute,” Brandy whispered, but it was loud enough to carry.

Kids, she thought, always so innocent and clueless. “Yeah? You’ll be seeing him around pretty often.”

Alex smiled at the little girl, pretending that he hadn’t overheard the comment. He motioned to her right leg that was casted and supported on a frame that extended out from her chair. “What’d you do to get that?” he asked.

“Rollerblading,” she said.

He chuckled. “I tried rollerblading once... ended up in the lake.”

“Brandy can do that much better,” Isabel explained. “Some drivers just shouldn’t have a license.”

He grinned. “Yeah, rollerblades just aren’t my thing.” He shrugged. “Go figure. I do fine with my bike.”

Isabel raised an eyebrow as she looked up at him. “Training wheels?” she asked with a smirk.

He opened his mouth to say something when Anne’s beeper went off. “I need to go. Isabel, would you mind showing Mr. Whitman around the floor before he leaves?”

She forced a smile and nodded. “Sure, no problem.”

Alex waited until the other woman had left before he muttered something under his breath. “Damn small world.”

“Too small sometimes,” Isabel agreed. She patted Brandy’s hand as she stood up. “I’m gonna show Alex around and then I’ll be back to check on you.”

“Didn’t you say you’re an ER nurse?” he wondered aloud when they walked along the hallway, passing a few rooms where kids were playing, laughing, and crying.

She turned her head to look at him. “What if I did?” This wasn’t a part of herself that she shared with many people.

He shrugged. “Then you obviously lied.” Not that it was really surprising.

“Does it matter? Do you really care what I do for a living?” Now she was feeling defensive and she hated that.

He didn’t answer and listened as she explained several things to him. Though he thought it was an interesting revelation that she was hiding the fact that she actually had a heart.

Isabel walked him through the floor, introducing him to the staff they passed and some of the patients. She went over the procedures they followed and showed him where the supply closets were.

“It’s a shame how many kids have to be here. They’re way too young.”

She nodded. “Yeah, it is.”

His stomach rumbled suddenly, reminding him that he hadn’t eaten anything since yesterday at lunchtime. It’s going to get better, he reminded himself. I’ve got a new job. “Sorry.”

Isabel’s gaze dropped to his stomach unconsciously. “Skip breakfast because you were nervous about the interview?”

“Didn’t have time to eat,” he lied.

She nodded and turned to walk down the hall that would take them back to the nurses’ station and the bank of elevators. Once there he could leave her floor and her peace of mind would return. “Well, that’s pretty much it unless you had any questions.”

“I guess I’m good,” and hungry he added in his thoughts.

“If you take the elevator to the first floor, the main lobby will be down the hall on your right.”

“Alright. Guess I’ll see you soon then,” he said, ready to leave. Damn, last thing he needed was a Guerin watching his back on the job. Did she know about his encounter with her sister last night? he wondered.

They turned the last corner and relief washed over her when she saw the elevators ahead. She was moments away from getting rid of him when the doors slid open with a quiet hiss and a group of people stepped out.

Richard stepped out last and glanced along the corridor, smiling when he saw her but it faded when he saw a guy next to her. Wasn’t it the same guy who had stepped up the other day?

Oh, hell, how was she ever going to get rid of that asshole?
she wondered. She hadn’t been able to shake him since the day she had caught him cheating and kicked him out. She knew he wasn’t stupid so she had no idea why he wasn’t getting the picture.

“Isn’t that…?” Alex started.

“Yeah, that’s him.” Richard was rounding the nurses’ station and heading for them. Damn it, do something! “Pretend that we’re together,” she blurted out.

“What?” Alex hissed, confused.

“Look, just play along, okay? I’ll pay you,” she threw in when she saw Richard getting closer.

“Pay me? I’m not some… some… callboy or something.”

“Look, I know you need the money. It’s not like it’ll kill you to just roll with it.”

He wanted to protest but the guy was getting closer and he had a feeling that she was really serious about it. He would talk to her about it later. “Dinner sounds good tonight.”

She couldn’t stop the smile that emerged when he finally gave in and she nodded in response. “Quinn’s at 8pm?” she asked.

Quinn’s, Alex wondered. Something he could never afford. Well, it wasn’t like he was going for real anyway. “Oh I don’t know… I had something different in mind, but it’s a surprise.” He winked at her.

Richard frowned at them. What was Isabel doing with that loser? She was making dinner plans at one of the hottest restaurants in the city with him. He hadn’t even been able to get into Quinn’s in spite of trying to buy his way in. He cleared his throat as he approached them. “Isabel.”

She rolled her eyes before turning towards him. “Richard… What’re you doing here?”

“I’m here to ask you to reconsider. Again.”

“God,” she muttered. “Give it up already. I’m not coming back to you.”

“Isabel, I think if you would just be rational about this you would see we can work this out.”

“I’m completely rational. And I have someone new.”

Richard snorted and his gaze swept over the other guy dismissively. “You can’t be serious.”

Alex clenched his fists at his sides. This guy was trouble, he could smell it.

“I’m completely serious,” she insisted, reaching down to take Alex’s hand. “Now, I want you to leave the hospital before I call security and have you escorted out.”

He snorted. “Isabel my Dad pays a huge amount of money to this hospital every year. Do you really think anyone would escort me out?”

“She asked you to leave,” Alex said. “Large contributor or not, the hospital isn’t gonna allow you to stand here and abuse its employees.”

“Who asked you?”

Alex took a step forward. “No one needed to ask me. She’s not with you anymore, she’s with me. She’s asked you to back off and you haven’t listened. I’m tellin’ you to back off or I’ll look into getting a restraining order. Think your rich daddy will appreciate that attention?”

Isabel couldn’t help but think Alex was really hot in that moment. Of course it was all for Richard’s benefit but she could really like this side of him if it was real.

Richard raised an eyebrow at the guy’s audacity. “You don‘t scare me.”

“Ditto.”

His hands clenched into fists and he shoved them into his pockets. “I won’t make a scene in the hospital, but you haven’t heard the last of me.”

“Back off,” Isabel hissed.

“This isn’t over, Isabel. Me and you, we’re not over.” He turned and walked away without another word.

Alex stared after him until he was sure he was gone. “He’s trouble. You should probably go to the police.”

Isabel brushed the warning off. “Richard is harmless. He’s just pissed that I dumped him. He’ll get over it.”

“I seriously doubt it.”

“Look, really, it’ll be fine. Since you’re working here now and his father is a hefty contributor at the hospital Richard’s likely to show up, so... we can just pretend to be together when he shows up, okay?”

“Okay? No! I’m not your puppy or whatever.”

Her eyes narrowed as she glared at him. “Look, you need the money and I need something to throw Richard off track. It’s a deal that’s beneficial to both of us.”

“Wow… You don’t even consider that I might do it as a favor and not for money,” he made an ironically impressed face. “You always pay for the things you want?”

She took a step back, looking down when she realized she was still holding his hand. She freed her hand and lifted her gaze back to his. “Why would you do it for nothing? You don’t even like me.”

“Yeah, you’re probably right,” he snorted and shook his head. This was so wrong, but she was damn right, he needed the money and hey… if earning money meant pretending to be a hot woman’s date… hell that was easy money.

“Look, this isn’t exactly my idea of a dream relationship.” She made a face. “But if we’re both getting something out of it, what’s the harm?”

“Fine. How much and how do you pay me? Like every time it’s necessary? Or a permanent amount to keep me on call,” he joked.

Her eyebrows lifted in interest. What an interesting concept. It would be so convenient to be able to call him up whenever she needed his assistance. She chewed on her thumbnail as she thought about that. “What do you think is fair?”

“$100 per day,” he told her, going way over the top.

Oh, so he wanted to negotiate. Okay, she would play along. She snorted and shook her head. “$25 per day.”

“$75.”

“$40.”

“$60.”

“$45.”

“$50.”

“Agreed.”

“We’re both going in hell for this,” he hissed.

She rolled her eyes at him. “Why?”

“Because you don’t play with feelings,” he said. “Oh, but you don’t know anything about that, right?” He grinned to take the sting out of the words.

“Does that imply that you’re worried you might develop feelings for me?”

He frowned. “What? Of course not.”

She eyed him curiously. “So for $50 per day... I can call you whenever I need you, right?”

“Not when I’m at work… my other job that is. And not on Sunday afternoons.”

“What’s so special about Sunday afternoons?”

“That’s my only time off and I like it.”

She nodded. “Okay, I can respect that.”

You’d better, he thought. “Great, guess we have an arrangement then.” God, this was just so low.

“So, we should probably exchange phone numbers. You do have a phone, right?”

“Yeah,” and with my new job I can even pay the bills, he added in his thoughts. He shoved a hand into his pants and pulled out a small card with his number and email address on it.

She walked over to the nurses’ station and picked up one of the small cards from the holder and turned it over to scribble her information on it. “Here, in case you need it for anything.”

He nodded and pushed it into his pants. “So what about today? I was kinda already on duty.” It was so wrong to ask her to pay him, but he could really use the money today. He didn’t have anything left for this week for food, the subway, or anything else.

She smirked and nodded. “Fair enough. I guess you earned it.” She held his card up, waving it in the air between them. “And I have your number if I need you again.”

“Yeah seems like.”

“C’mon, let’s go by the locker room and I’ll get your money.”

“Sure.” He went after her but couldn’t shake the felling that they were doing something really stupid.
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Fics: A Xmas Story - A Merry Mt. R. Xmas - Cupid's Revenge - Double Trouble - Double Date - Double Dare - Double Empire - Double Xmas Wish - In The Course Of A Lifetime - Mountains So High - Not A Question At All - Surrender - TIC TAC - Two Double Dates at Xmas

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Double Trouble
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Re: TIC TAC - (CC,AU,Adult) - Part 42 - 1/8/12

Post by Double Trouble » Sun Jan 15, 2012 8:23 am

begonia9508: Lol, think Isabel’s gonna be trouble for Alex, huh? We’ll see!

Painfully slowly for some of us, but things are definitely changing between Michael and Maria.

Eva: You and Alex are both right to not trust Richard. Having Alex around with be a very good thing.

We’ve got about five, maybe six parts before we get the gang rolling out for the beach. It’ll be a big weekend for all of them.

Earth2Mama: Well, it’s sure to put them in each other’s space so we’ll see what happens.

He will… but not until he’s ready.

Natalie36: We’re pretty sure Alex is correct as well.

mary mary: Oh, it’s definitely gonna help Alex and Isabel get to know each other better. The restraining order is a good idea, but most likely wouldn’t keep Richard at bay.

keepsmiling7: Thanks, we’re glad to be back!

Alien_Friend: Lol, well, unexpected, but it’ll definitely be interesting. The restraining order is a good idea, but we’re pretty sure Richard isn’t gonna be put off by a piece of paper. Oh, Isabel’s probably gonna keep this from little brother as long as possible. That’s not the last time we’ll see Alex stand up to Richard.

Michael’s very good with Maria. They balance each other. He has the best intentions but we’ll have to wait and see how it plays out.

Michael won’t rest until he knows he has everyone in for the weekend. Lol, pretend dates for the weekend… we’ll have to wait and see. Alex did say that so Isabel would have to convince him.

We’re counting on a rockin’ year for DT fics!

sarammlover: Lol, you should enjoy the Alex/Isabel arrangement then. Yeah, Richard’s totally creepy. Michael and Maria… well, they will, but not right away. At least not both of them.

secretk: Enjoy your weekend!

Richard isn’t taking her no seriously. She’s tried telling him they’re over but he isn’t hearing it. Nothing she says is going to change that for him so she’s moving on to something more visual thinking it will make the difference. As for the deal with Alex… well, he’s a big boy and he could’ve said no to her offer but he chose to accept it. Richard is likely to cause problems but at least this way she’ll have someone there who is aware of the situation because Alex is already suspicious that Richard is trouble.

Oh, no, lol, Maria’s not naked in Michael’s bed… although that might prove to be an eye opener for him! The two of them are still oblivious to the obvious, although Maria’s starting to see what’s been right in front of them for so long.

Rodney: Yes, she is, lol.




Part 43

Open Your Eyes

Michael parked his car and climbed out, reaching back inside to grab the drinks and food he had picked up at Sal’s. He bumped the door with his hip to close it and rounded the front of the car, jumping back and balancing the drinks when a teenager passed by too closely on a skateboard. He turned his head when he heard someone yell his name and he grinned when he saw Max crossing the street, dodging cars and ignoring the furious honking of the irritated drivers who had to slow down to avoid hitting him.

“What’s up, Evans?”

Max shrugged. “Not much. Just ran out for lunch,” he answered, holding up a sack. He nodded at the things in Michael’s hands. “What about you?”

“Meetin’ Maria for lunch in the Park.”

“She on the clock?”

“Uh-huh, doin’ a shoot by the fountain.”

Max’s eyebrows climbed high on his forehead. If Maria was doing a shoot that meant there would be models around. “Want some company?”

“Sure, why not? Maria likes your ugly mug.”

“Thanks, Guerin, remind me to repay the compliment one of these days.” He rolled his eyes and walked beside his friend, watching the activity around them as they moved deeper into the park.

“What’s goin’ on with you and Tess?” Michael asked after a few minutes. “And don’t give me some bullshit line about the two of you bein’ into each other ‘cause I don’t see it.” He glanced at the other man.

“Think nothin’ ever gets past your radar?” Max shook his head. “What’s goin’ on is between me and Tess, not me, you, and Tess.”

Michael stopped and turned to look at him. “She’s a kid, Evans.”

“She may not be the most mature person in the world, but she’s not a kid. Believe me, Tess isn’t lookin’ for anything permanent with me.”

“She’s 19 years old. She has no idea what she’s lookin’ for.”

Max just grinned and shook his head as he reached up to readjust his sunglasses. “Oh, she knows what she wants and one of these days if she plays her cards right she might just get it.” He shoved Michael to get him moving again. “I’m not gonna hurt your sister, Guerin. I’m a lot of things, but I don’t go around hurtin’ people.”

“Bet Liz would vote differently on that one,” he muttered.

“Don’t stick that big honker of yours in where it doesn’t belong. Whatever you think’s goin’ on between me and Liz is none of your business. And your sister’s old enough to know what she’s doin’ so leave her be, and stop treatin’ her like she’s five.”

Michael would’ve continued the argument but as they stepped onto Bethesda Terrace his attention was dragged away by the activity taking place before them. He had been to plenty of Maria’s shoots so he wasn’t new to the scene but there were always so many different gorgeous women on the set.

Max stopped and stared. The Terrace had been transformed and beautiful, scantily-clad women seemed to be everywhere. The women were taking turns being the focus of the photographer’s lens and he shook his head. “This guy’s gotta be one of the luckiest guys in the world,” he muttered as the man took another shot of a model in a provocative pose. His eyebrows lifted when the man behind the camera called for the woman to turn and he realized who the model was. “Damn, girl,” he said and whistled under his breath. He grinned when Maria turned her head just enough to wink at him.

“What’re you doin’?” Michael growled.

“Maria knows she’s hot and she doesn’t care if I appreciate the view.”

“You’re her friend, nothin’ more.”

“Never suggested I wanted more, dumbass. And I’m pretty sure if I was interested it wouldn’t be any of your damn business.”

Michael just shook his head at him as he turned to watch the shoot once more. He didn’t know why Max was trying so hard to piss him off today.

They watched for a few minutes before someone on the set called for lunch and everyone started to wander around. Maria stopped to talk to the photographer for a moment before gesturing to the guys and after a bit of conversation she started to walk towards them with the man beside her. She slipped into a lightweight cover that someone ran over to give her and she smiled at the guys.

“Hey, Michael, Max, I wanted to introduce you to Graham.”

The guys exchanged handshakes.

“You’ve got a helluva job, Graham,” Michael said as he handed Maria the sack with their lunch and draped one arm around her shoulders.

“Yeah, how the hell do you keep your concentration with so many sexy women runnin’ around in so little?” Max asked, glancing around.

Graham smiled as his gaze slid over Max suggestively. “Have you ever done any modeling?”

Max froze and slowly turned to look at the man. “Um… what?”

“I’d love to sketch you.” Graham held his hands up, putting his thumbs together and staring at Max through the frame made by his hands. “Nude, bathed in sunlight.” He licked his lips and smiled. “You would be breathtaking.”

“Uh, I’m gonna pass on that.”

“Shame,” the man said. “You’ll let Maria know if you change your mind?”

Max forced a smile. “Sure, she’ll be the first to know.” He shuddered when the guy walked away. “Just as soon as hell freezes over,” he growled, glaring at his friends when they busted out laughing.

“You made a good first impression Max,” Maria giggled. “I doubt Graham is interested in the half naked woman on set.”

“Yeah, I’m pretty sure I got that,” he grumbled.

“He knows to put women in a pose though, huh?” Michael asked.

“Probably all he knows how to do with a woman.” Max settled down on one side of a picnic table, keeping an eye out for Graham.

“I like him, he’s much nicer than most of the hetero photographers.” Maria took a bite of her burger and hummed slightly when it tasted so good.

“Guess at least you don’t have to worry about the guy sexually harassing you.” He opened up his own sack and pulled out his Italian sub and a bag of chips.

“So true and I like the pics he takes of me. That doesn’t happen too often.”

“Well, as long as you’re havin’ a good day at work that’s all that matters,” Michael said and bit into his cheeseburger. “It’s just a bonus that Max got hit on by the guy.”

“You wanna see the pics? He sent a few to my cell already.”

“Yeah, let’s see what you’ve got,” Michael said and reached for his drink.

Max rolled his eyes. This guy was just so ignorant when it came to the sexy side of Maria, it wasn’t even funny.

He wiped his hands on his jeans and reached for her phone when she pulled the pics up.

“Here’s the start, switch to the right then.”

Max leaned forward when Michael scrolled through the pictures and he reached out to cover his hand before he could switch to the next one. He ignored Michael’s annoyed glare as he tugged on the phone to turn it so he could get a better look. “You ever thought about modeling tats?” he asked.

She looked at him doubtfully. “Wouldn’t you kinda have to have some to be considered?”

He shook his head. “No, you wouldn’t have to actually have them. I’ve been thinkin’ about doin’ some advertising, ya know, showcase some of my designs where people would see them, maybe draw in some new customers. They’d just have to be drawn on for the photos.” He turned the phone, pointing at the pic on the screen. “You’d be killer with the tats, Maria.”

She smiled. Sometimes it felt good when someone said something like that, she thought. “Well, why not.”

“Yeah? Cool.” He took another bite of his sub and chewed thoughtfully. “You’d be doin’ me a huge favor, Maria. I’ve already talked to one of the local mags about doing an article to showcase the designs.”

“Yeah, but you do your work with a needle,” Michael interrupted.

“I create my own designs too, numbnuts.” He glanced at Maria. “If Maria doesn’t care about havin’ me work on her then I can put my designs right on her body for the shoot.”

“Just me or are there others?”

“Other models?”

“Yeah.”

He shook his head. “Huh-uh. I don’t want the focus on a bunch of hot girls. I want the focus on the art. One hot girl wearing my art, that’s enough. You’re perfect, Maria; you’re confident and sexy, your skin will show off the art, and we know each other so workin’ together wouldn’t be an issue.”

“What makes you think she wants your grubby paws drawin’ on her?” Michael asked.

Maria ignored Michael. He hadn’t said much about her photos yet and somehow it bothered her just a bit. “I think we could do that. It’d be something new.”

Max smiled. “Cool.”

Michael took the phone back from Max. “Do you mind? She gave it to me to look at.”

Maria leaned forward to look at the pic he was taking a look at now. “That’s my favorite.”

He grinned and nodded. “I can see why. This photographer’s got a good eye.” He turned to wink at her. “Of course, you give him plenty to work with.”

“I really hope they pick me for the cover.”

“Why wouldn't they?” He motioned to the people around them. “Yeah, they’re all hot too, but they don’t have what you have. The magazine would have to be blind to pick one of them over you.”

She snorted. “You’re just saying that because we’re friends.”

“Whatever.”

“What’re you doing here?” someone asked from behind, making the others turn around.

“Courtney, hey, you’re here today?” Maria asked in surprise.

“Just got called in because one of the other girls is sick. Wasn’t supposed to be here.”

“Hey,” Michael said and reached for her hand to pull her close and tug her down for a quick kiss. “You gonna be off in time for the game this afternoon?”

Max munched on a potato chip as his eyes bounced from one of them to the next. Blind wasn’t even the word for it, he thought with a mental eye roll. They were hedging into stupid territory.

Maria had to control the urge to stare at Michael with an open mouth. Since when did he just kiss?

Courtney smiled and leaned against his side. “Yeah, shouldn’t take long since they just need a few shots.”

“Cool. You gonna have to go home and get ready after the shoot?”

“Yeah, I need to get my Rangers jersey,” she teased.

“Ungh, you’re really gonna wear that rag in public?”

“You’re not a Yankees fan?” Maria asked.

“No, Rangers all the way.”

She couldn’t believe Michael was actually going to go to a game with someone who wasn’t a fan of his team.

“What’d I get myself into,” he muttered but smiled down at the woman in his arms. The afternoon could get pretty interesting.

Max shook his head at them. Since when did Michael go to a baseball game with a girl who wasn’t Maria? And a girl who wasn’t a Yankees fan? It was unheard of. “You’re gonna wear a Rangers jersey to Yankees stadium?”

Courtney got called to get ready before she could answer, so she just shrugged and glanced at Michael. “So you gonna pick me up from my apartment?”

“Sure, unless you want me to stick around and watch you.” He grinned and waggled his eyebrows playfully.

She laughed slightly and leaned in to whisper something in his ear that only he could hear before she backed off slightly after stealing another kiss.

Maria looked at him uncertainly when the other girl disappeared.

“What?” he asked.

“Nothin’, just not used to you actually kissing a girl unless it’s followed by sex. That’s a sight to see, CB!”

“Hey, I can kiss a girl just because I want to,” he muttered.

“Sure. You just normally don’t.” She shrugged.

“How do you know what I usually do?”

She rolled her eyes. “Because it’s obvious, dumbass.”

“Well... maybe she’s different from other girls.”

Max choked on the potato chip he had just swallowed.

*****

Kyle walked through the front door of his parents’ home, whistling to himself as he walked down the hall and into the large living room. He passed through the middle, moving around the furniture, and rolling his eyes at the large dog lying on its back on the couch. The dog had been a gift from his favorite uncle when he was 15 but he’d had to leave it home when he moved into the city to attend college. The dog was a Leonberger; large, sandy colored with a black mask. He’d never heard of the breed before his uncle had presented him with the dog. “You’re gonna get in trouble, Leo,” he said as he paused to rub the dog’s belly. “Again.” He continued on his way into the den and the dog rolled over lazily, jumping off of the couch and following him with interest.

He took the steps down into the sunken den and walked over to the wet bar set up on the wall facing the large television. He walked around the bar and leaned over to open the small refrigerator below, pulling a beer out and uncapping it before going over to one of the pictures hanging on the wall. Dogs playing poker, dogs shooting pool; Dad thought they were perfect examples of art and Mom had banned them to the ‘man cave’ because she didn’t want anyone to see the exhibit of tasteless art.

There was a time when their fights over Dad’s taste in what he called art had been funny. A time when those fights had been filled with jokes and teasing. A time when most of their fights had been nothing more than a way of settling disagreements without them actually getting angry with each other. That had changed over time though. Now when they fought it was full of anger and underlined with bitterness. Now their words were barbed when they spoke and the silences were even worse.

He reached up and his fingers gripped the bottom left corner of the picture, pulling it back and staring at the safe hidden there. He pressed the combination in and turned the handle, opening the door and sliding out the drawer built into the bottom. He retrieved the keys for the beach house and shoved them in his pocket before pushing the drawer back in. He was reaching up to close the safe door when he noticed the packet of papers lying on top of the cash and other valuables Dad had inside.

He glanced over his shoulder, listening to the silence in the house for a moment before he took the packet out and opened it up. “Divorce papers,” he mumbled in shock. He had known things were bad, but he hadn’t known they were this bad. He jumped when a door slammed somewhere in the house and he hurried to shove the papers back inside before slamming the door to the safe closed. Their voices carried to his ears and he suddenly felt a lot younger than his 22 years.

“Damn it, I told you to put the dog out before we left,” Sarah Valenti yelled. “I want that dog out of the house for the weekend. An open house is not the place for that animal to be running around loose.”

He could hear his dad’s sigh even from several rooms away.

“We’ve got bigger problems than a little dog hair on the furniture.”

Kyle could hear the ice clinking in a glass and a bottle being uncapped.

She snorted. “This from the man who wouldn’t even bother talking to the marriage counselor.”

“What was the point? I served you with divorce papers, remember?”

“And our lawyers both suggested we try to work this out.”

The glass shattered as it was thrown against the wall or maybe the floor.

“I will not try to work out a marriage with a woman who doesn’t want to be married to me in the first place,” Jim shouted. “You cheated on me with Frank Sullivan!”

Kyle’s eyes widened. Frank was his dad’s business partner. They had been best friends since junior high school, they had served in the military together, and afterwards they had opened up a security business that they had operated together for nearly 20 years.

“I told you the hours you were putting in on the job were too much but you wouldn’t listen to me! I got tired of being alone all the time, Jim! Frank was around, he paid attention to me, he listened to me, and my God, he actually talked to me!”

“That’s not all the two of you were doing.” Jim crossed the room.

“You can put all the blame on me if you want, but I don’t carry all of it. You started distancing yourself from me long before Frank and I ever got together.”

Kyle couldn’t listen to any more of their argument. He cleared his throat as he stepped into the living room and he almost laughed at the shocked look on his parents’ faces when they saw him standing there.

“Kyle, honey, we weren’t expecting you,” Sarah said.

He nodded and his hand sought out Leo when the large dog leaned against his leg. “I um, I just came by to pick up the key for the beach house. Since my friends and I are gonna spend the weekend there so I thought I’d come by and save myself a trip on Friday.” He looked down at his dog. “So you’re puttin’ the house up for sale?” He shrugged. “I mean, that’s the only reason you’d have an open house, right?” He nodded when only silence answered him. “I’ll take Leo with me so he won’t be in the way.”

“You can’t keep the dog in your apartment, Kyle,” Jim said, his voice level. He hated that their son had overheard that argument. They hadn’t told him about the divorce or putting the house up for sale, and this wasn’t the way he should have found out.

“I’ll see if I can put him up with a friend. It’ll just be for a couple days and then I’ll take him with me to the beach. If none of them can keep him then Isabel will know someone who can help me out. I know some of the people she volunteers with foster animals, so I’m sure I’ll be able to figure somethin’ out.” He hooked his thumb over his shoulder. “I’ll just go and get his things together and then we’ll be outta here.” He left the room, feeling like everything he had ever known had been taken away from him. He had overheard other arguments recently that had led him to believe that his mom had been having an affair, but he had never expected it to be with someone he had known his whole life. It was why he currently had no faith in relationships or the ability of people to be faithful to each other.

He packed Leo’s things into a box and carried it out to his car, shoving a bunch of crap out of the way to make room for it in the trunk. He slammed the trunk lid and glared at it when it popped right back up. “Fuckin’ great,” he muttered as he leaned in to shove things around again. The corner of the box was sticking up, preventing the lid from shutting properly and he finally just punched it, crushing the cardboard in. This time when he slammed the trunk lid it remained closed and he stared down at his hand when he heard his dad clear his throat behind him.

“I didn’t want you to find out like that, son,” he said quietly.

“There’s really no good way to find out, is there?” He shrugged his shoulders. “I kinda already knew about Mom cheating… heard you guys fighting about it a while back. I’ll start lookin’ for a permanent place for Leo to live.”

“You don’t have to do that, Kyle.”

“You guys are sellin’ the house and I can’t keep him in the apartment I’m in now.”

Jim reached out and laid a hand on his son’s tense shoulder. “I’ll keep the dog. I’ve already started lookin’ for a place and the agent I’m using knows that I’m only interested in places that allow pets.”

He swallowed hard and nodded before moving around the car and opening the door. He whistled for his dog and waited for Leo to jump inside before he closed the door and rounded the front end. He stopped when his dad called his name, turning only when the older man approached him.

“I’m sorry, Kyle,” Jim said quietly as he enveloped his boy in a tight hug. “Just… don’t judge all relationships by our failure, okay? This isn’t the way it always turns out. We had a good run, but sometimes it just isn’t enough.”

“Is it ever?”

Jim leaned back to look into his son’s troubled eyes and his right hand came up to rest alongside the boy’s clenched jaw. “Yeah, it is. And I don’t regret the years your mom and I had together because I got you outta the deal. Don’t ever doubt that, Kyle.”

“Your wife, your best friend… how do you ever trust anyone again?” he asked quietly.

The older man sighed and looked up at the house. “You either trust or you don’t. You open yourself up to the possibilities and the risks or you protect yourself and hide from life. You can’t judge everyone based on what someone else did to you. That’s no way to live your life. It’s better that we get the divorce now because draggin’ it out’s only gonna make it more painful than it already is.”

“What’ll you do about the business?”

“I’m in the process of dissolving the partnership. I’ve already got a new business plan outlined and I’m taking the contacts from the business with me. So, that new government contract that I told you about earlier this year? I’ve still got a very good chance of landing it even though I’m startin’ over.”

Kyle just nodded and pushed his sunglasses higher up on his nose. “Well, I’d better get goin’, Dad. It’s been a long week and I’ve still got a couple more shifts before the weekend.”

“Take care of yourself, Kyle.”

He pulled to the end of the driveway and pressed on the brake as he checked both ways for oncoming traffic. He glanced at the rearview mirror, watching his dad for a minute before checking the street again and pulling out.

****

Liz felt like she was on the verge of a nervous breakdown by the time the café came into view. Aaron had been uncooperative all morning and in this mood he would be too much for Mrs. McGinty to handle. Her boss wasn’t going to be happy that she had brought Aaron with her but it was that or just not show up for work. She could get fired either way.

“I don’t wanna go to your work,” he complained and kicked a rock across the sidewalk.

“Hey, watch it!” a man in a suit growled.

“Sorry,” she mumbled. She moved out of the flow of foot traffic and crouched down to look at her brother. “Sweetie, I know this isn’t any fun for you but I have to work.”

“You always work.”

“Aaron, I need you to be good for me while we’re at the café. Can you do that for me?”

He shrugged and stared at the ground. “I wanna go to the park.”

“We’re not going to the park today,” she said firmly. “I have to work. We’ll go another day.”

He shrugged and turned to stare at the wall. “I don’t care.”

She sighed and stood up again, taking his hand and tugging him along with her. It wasn’t often that Aaron acted out but he made up for it when one of these moods struck him. The worst thing was he was likely to be a little terror for the next couple of hours.

*****
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Fics: A Xmas Story - A Merry Mt. R. Xmas - Cupid's Revenge - Double Trouble - Double Date - Double Dare - Double Empire - Double Xmas Wish - In The Course Of A Lifetime - Mountains So High - Not A Question At All - Surrender - TIC TAC - Two Double Dates at Xmas

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Double Trouble
Obsessed Roswellian
Posts: 925
Joined: Tue Dec 16, 2008 9:47 am

Part 44

Post by Double Trouble » Sun Jan 22, 2012 6:14 am

Natalie36: You just never know.

Earth2Mama: No, it will never be a good enough excuse. And that’s all it is, an excuse.

Jim doesn’t want his son to be disillusioned or have a negative attitude towards relationships just because his parents couldn’t make it work.

Lol, Jim… Amy… you never can tell what’ll happen.

Well, Max could always surprise us.

keepsmiling7: Lol, another vote for some one-on-one time for Aaron and Max. We’ll see what Max has to say about his plans for the afternoon.

Yeah, Max said no chance he was taking Graham up on that offer!

mary mary: All very true, but… unfortunately she made her choices.

And that’s another vote for some hangout time for Aaron and Max.

Roswellian117: Oh, it does happen, lol. And now with Courtney in the picture Maria’s about to open her eyes in a really big way.

Alex and Isabel insist that there’s no way they’re going to fall for each other but we suspect that they’re not expecting what’s coming their way.

Kyle’s mom really just threw away something important but she won’t realize it until too late. For the record though, you’re not alone in that belief. ;)

sarammlover: ‘H’ is for home-wrecker… ;)

Michael and Maria are going to be frustrating for a while, but we’d be willing to bet you already knew that. They will see it in time and the way things are going it looks like Maria will be seeing it first.

Wow, and there’s another vote for Max to stop by and hang with Aaron.

begonia9508: They are, but things will become clearer for one of them sooner than the other.

No, the little guy doesn’t understand. He just wants to spend time with his sister and go to the park.

Healerfan: Thanks, glad you enjoyed!

Aaron really doesn’t understand and he’s in a mood, lol, so that’s not helping things.

Oh, Maria will slowly be discovering all sorts of things where Michael’s concerned, lol.

Alien_Friend: Those two are in such a tough position.

Yeah, like Kyle said, no good way to find out, but that way is definitely on the side of worst ways to find out. Jim’s a good guy.

Chances are good that might get Michael’s attention. At least to a certain extent.

Max says no way he’s posing for that sketch, hell no!

Cardinal: That would be a good way to get Liz to see Max in a different light. And it would be really good for the boys.

And that’s the second mention of a Jim/Amy meet, lol. It’s too early to discount.

secretk: Like everyone else Max sees what’s staring them all in the face.

Kyle’s parents are divorcing because instead of attempting to make an effort to mend the cracks in their relationship, Sarah had an affair with Jim’s best friend and business partner.

Liz and Aaron are in a difficult situation and the little guy can’t understand why Liz can’t just drop what she’s doing and go to the park with him. You can just never tell what these guys might do next.

Rodney: Lol, well Max and Kyle are pretty different.

Amy and Jim huh? Well, we will see.




Part 44

Two and a Half Men

Michael was hunched over the table, his right hand busy shading parts of the new design he had been sketching when a shadow fell over the paper. Before he could release the annoyed breath he was holding the person moved and he glanced up when his roommate dropped down to sprawl out on the bench seat across from him.

“You look like shit, Valenti,” he said by way of greeting. “What’s wrong with you?”

Kyle shrugged. “Nothin’.” He tipped his head back to look for the waitress, lifting his left hand to get her attention when he caught her eye. She was busy taking an order at another table but she nodded to let him know she had seen him. He motioned to the sketch pad lying open in front of him. “Whatcha workin’ on?”

“New sketch for Evans.” He tipped his head to one side to study it. “I’m not sure I’m happy with it though.” He glanced at his roommate as he bent over the sketchbook once more. “You get the keys for the beach house?”

He grunted. “You care if I take Leo with us this weekend?”

Michael’s right eyebrow lifted but he just nodded. “Sure, the kids’ll love him.” He paused to take a drink of his soda. “You gonna need to leave early to go pick him up?”

“Nah, I brought him back with me.” He shrugged. “I don’t get a chance to spend much time with him anymore, so…”

He had a feeling that wasn’t the only reason but he let it drop. Kyle would tell him when he was ready.

“So, how’s our lineup lookin’ for the weekend?”

“I think most everybody’s onboard,” he said, taking the change of subject in stride. “I’ve still gotta talk to Liz but she hasn’t come in to start her shift yet.”

“What about Ava? She gonna be able to make it?”

“Um-hmm.” Michael tilted his head to one side as he put the final touches on part of the design. “I mean, yeah, I talked to her, but she can’t make it. She asked if I minded takin’ Chase so I’m gonna go out and pick him up when I drop Loco off so my folks can watch him.”

“I’m surprised Nicole agreed to watch him again,” he said with a half-smile. Michael’s stepmom had sworn she would never allow Loco into their home again after the ferret had made a nuisance of himself and chewed a hole in the side of their couch so he could hide inside and sleep.

“You know her, she can’t be mad for long at anyone or anything.”

Kyle snorted. “I suppose she’s had plenty of training with you and your sisters.”

“How long will we stay?”

“I figure we’ll leave out Friday afternoon or evening and we won’t have to come back until Sunday night.” He shrugged. “Whoever can get outta here first can take the keys.”

“Sounds good,” Michael agreed and glanced at his watch. Still enough time before he had to pick Courtney up. “Evans an’ I went to see Maria for lunch. She had a photo shoot in Central Park.”

Kyle glanced up when the waitress finally made it over to their table and he put his order in before turning his attention back to Michael. “Yeah?” His dad’s situation had him rethinking the deal he and Maria had. It wasn’t the same thing of course, but it still had him thinking.

“Um-hmm, bet you would’ve liked to been there,” he got his cell out and pushed a few buttons until he found the pic he had secretly sent from her cell to his own.

He raised an eyebrow when his friend turned the phone so he could see the pic. “She’s definitely got the cover,” he said with a nod.

“Yeah, bet she does. Though Courtney was there and she looked pretty hot too.” Michael wiggled his eyebrows and clapped the phone back together.

Courtney was nice and all, but she wasn’t in Maria's league. How did Michael not see that? Kyle rolled his eyes and tipped his head back when the bell over the door jingled. He shook his head when Liz came inside, struggling to hold onto Aaron as he did his best to get away from her.

“Aaron,” she hissed and squeezes the little boy’s wrist tighter. It wasn’t tight enough to hurt him, but in his mood he immediately started to cry anyway.

Kyle winced at the noise. He liked kids as much as the next guy... except when they were like that. He rubbed his temple as his headache intensified along with the little boy’s crying.

Max lifted his eyebrows in surprise when he came back from the restroom. Seemed like Liz was having some trouble with the kid and he was pretty sure that she was already on the very edge of losing it. Her features looked strangled and tired as hell.

Michael glanced at Kyle as he stood up. “I’ll be right back.”

Kyle waved him off and grabbed his coffee as soon as the waitress set it down.

“Aaron.”

The little boy froze momentarily when a distinctly male voice called him down.

Max had seen Michael moving over to talk to Liz so he reached down and pried Aaron’s hand away from hers. He looked into her eyes as he spoke quietly. “Let me take him.”

“You two stay in here,” she said weakly. God, this day really sucked.

“Let’s me an’ you go have a talk, Aaron,” Max said, letting his free hand rest against her neck for a moment.

“About what?” the little guy asked curiously.

“About your behavior.” He picked the boy up and walked to a booth at the back of the café and set him down before sliding into the seat across from him. “You wanna tell me what that was all about back there?”

Aaron stared down on the table and stayed quiet. Would Max scream at him, he wondered.

“Hey.” Max leaned forward over the table. “Your voice was working perfectly well just a minute ago. Why were you throwin’ a fit?”

“I don’t wanna be here,” he started.

“You wanna know a little secret? Your sister doesn’t really wanna be here either.”

The boy reached up to brush some of his tears away. “Can I have fries?”

Max bit back the impulse to say yes. “Are you gonna behave yourself?”

“Otay,” Aaron gave in. He was hungry and would promise anything right now to get fries.

Max glanced up and motioned to the waitress that was close by, ordering the fries and a glass of juice for the little boy. He watched Michael as he and Liz settled on a couple of bar stools at one end of the counter, talking quietly and he felt a bolt of jealousy that he knew wasn’t rational.

Michael rubbed Liz’s shoulder, feeling the fine tremors that indicated she was on emotional overload. “Hey, he’s fine with Evans,” he assured her. “You wanna talk about it?”

“There’s not much to talk about it,” she sighed and rubbed her face. “Aaron’s just chosen today to be a fit-throwing little devil.”

He smiled at that. “Yeah, well, as cute as they are, kids can throw fits over the smallest things.” He winked at her. “And then they’re not quite so cute anymore.”

“Add a lack of sleep and a crazy work and class schedule to it.”

“Your sitter couldn’t keep him today?”

“Let’s just say Aaron refused to stay with her. He’s just not satisfied with anything today,” she shook her head. “My shift starts in less than half an hour and I don’t really feel like even getting up again.”

“Guess he just woke up on the wrong side of bed, huh?”

“He didn’t sleep well last night,” she yawned. “And neither did I.”

“You workin’ this weekend?”

She laughed slightly. “There’s not a time when I’m not working, Michael.” It was true. She couldn’t remember a whole weekend any time recent that she had been lazy.

“Think you could take the weekend off? Friday through Sunday?”

“Probably not,” she denied and shook her head. It would mean a lot less money and she was already short on it again.

“Liz, I don’t know what all you’ve got goin’ on at home but I can see that you’re stretched just about to the breaking point. You need to take some time to regroup for yourself and for that little boy over there.”

“I can’t afford it,” she shook her head and slipped from the stool.

He caught her hand when she started to move away. “Hey, what can I do?”

“Don’t, Michael,” she begged. It wouldn’t take much more for her to lose it, but that couldn’t happen. Not in the middle of the café she was working in with people around. With Max around.

He released her hand and got up to follow her when she fled to the back of the café.

Max’s jaw clenched as he watched the scene. His fists at his sides tightened when he watched Michael follow her. “What’re you doin’?”

“Back off, Evans.” He lowered his voice so it wouldn’t carry to the little boy happily munching on his French fries. “No one’s pissin’ on your territory,” he said with a smirk.

The other man flipped him off under the table and grumbled something only he would know the meaning off.

Michael continued on his way and pushed the swinging door inward, glancing around the kitchen area. He nodded at the cook when the man pointed to the right with his spatula. He stepped through another door and glanced around the break room, spotting Liz over by the sink.

“You just don’t give up, do you?” she asked, her voice thick but not accusing.

“No, it’s a bad habit of mine.” He leaned against the counter beside her. “It might help if you talk about it, ya know.”

She didn’t think that counted as a bad habit. “I doubt anything can really help.” Liz grabbed a paper out of the dispenser and wiped her nose.

“Couple days off would help... white sandy beaches, ocean, plenty of people to keep an eye on Aaron, no work...” he nudged her with his elbow.

“I can’t afford it,” she denied.

“What about tradin’ schedules with someone else to get the weekend free?”

She chuckled bitterly. “Ever tried to change shifts with co-workers who all have little kids at home? Most of my co-workers can’t even stand me because between Aaron and school I change my shifts pretty often.”

“C’mon, that can’t be true. They’ve got kids at home so they’ve gotta understand.”

Liz turned to look at Michael, her eyes puffy from crying. “They understand, but that doesn’t make them more agreeable.”

He wrapped an arm around her shoulders and pulled her up against his side. “Seems like there’s more goin’ on than just work problems.”

She let him comfort her and leaned her heavy head against his shoulder. “Just my whole fucking life,” she muttered.

He stayed silent, letting her decide if she wanted to talk to him about it.

“I’m just tired of everything right now. School, work, home, taking care of Aaron alone, Trent…”

His ears perked up. “Trent?”

“He’s my ex,” she sighed, “and I’m stuck with him.”

“What, like you live together?” He made a face when she nodded miserably. “That’s gotta suck.”

“I does.”

“Have you guys been broken up long?”

“Since I took custody of Aaron.”

“Is that why you guys broke up?”

“Yeah, he’s never made a secret out of it that he doesn’t want Aaron around. I know he treats him badly but I’ve tried to move out so often without any success.”

He didn’t like what he was hearing. “I’m about to be nosy,” he warned, “so if it’s more than you’re comfortable with just tell me to stick a sock in it. You stayin’ ‘cause it’s a money issue?”

She bit her lip. Nobody knew this much about her, but maybe it would help if someone understood her situation. “It’s just the whole package. Moving means I’d lose Mrs. McGinty as a babysitter and I really need one. I can’t afford a real babysitter, not to mention coming up with an entire rent payment on my own. It’s just not possible to find a small apartment near college, work, Aaron’s doctor, and a babysitter that I can afford. Moving out to get away from Trent sounds really good, but considering the situation we’re in it would probably just make things worse.”

“Even with the hospital daycare you’ll still need a babysitter?”

“Well, the daycare won’t work for my late evening and night shifts.”

“Let’s figure out a way for you to go this weekend, Liz. Maybe we’ll be able to figure out a way for you to get outta this situation. If this guy treats you guys badly then you’ve gotta get outta there.”

“Hey, Mindy,” Liz greeted her co-worker when the waitress entered the break room to get something. “Any chance you could take one of my morning shifts this weekend?”

“Oh, hey,” the other woman said in surprise. “Sorry, Liz, but it’s my son’s first soccer game this weekend.”

“Got a soccer player in the family, huh?” Michael asked with a smile. “How old is he?”

“Six.”

“Good age. Bet he’s crazy about the sport.” He could remember playing football at that age. He hadn’t known much about what he was doing and he’d spent more time running the wrong direction with the ball, but he’d had a lot of fun.

“He loves it,” she nodded with a grin and disappeared.

Liz sighed. “See, just let it go Michael.”

“You’re talkin’ to a guy who doesn’t know how to give up, Liz.” He grinned and gave her a gentle shake.

“Whatever,” she shook her head. “Get outta here, I need to change.”

“Alright, I’ll get outta here but don’t expect me to give up.” He chuckled. “I’ve still got a couple days before we head out for the ocean and 48 hours of playin’ in the sand.” He pointed at her as he walked backwards to the door. “Might as well start packin’ your bags when you get home.”

“Excuse me,” a male voice said when Michael was blocking his path. “That’s for employees only.”

He smiled and held his hand out. “You must be Liz’s boss.”

“And you are?” The man squeezed his hand tightly.

“Michael Guerin, friend of Liz’s. She was just tellin’ me what a great boss you are. See, I was tryin’ to convince her to get away for the weekend. You know how important that is for someone with a kid.” He nodded at the man’s left hand. “You’re married, probably got a couple kids of your own, right? So you know how important it is to just have some down time. But she was tellin’ me that there was just no way she could get away since she hadn’t put in for time off in advance. And believe me, I know how important that is, but I keep tellin’ her that you sound like a reasonable guy and I’m sure you do whatever you can to support the single moms who work for you.” His hand settled on the man’s shoulder. “I mean, your wife probably needs time off sometimes, right? Just to kick back and decompress?”

“You talk too much, boy,” the older man said, almost amused. “Well, we have a rule here that says we request any vacation time two weeks in advance.” He glanced at Liz meaningfully. “You’re lucky though. The café will be closed most of the weekend, since we’re getting new countertops, so I’m willing to change your shifts to the early Friday morning and the Sunday late afternoon shifts.”

Michael grinned at the man. “Let her have Sunday afternoon off too and I’ll make you a deal.”

“What kinda deal could you have to offer?”

“I’ve got a friend whose family owns a great beach house. What if I could get you into it next weekend for half price?”

“Which beach?”

“South shore on Long Island.”

“Michael…” Liz tried.

Her boss just grinned. “Well, hell, boy, she can have Friday and Sunday off completely with that deal.” Oh, yeah, his wife would really be in a much better mood after he told her that. Maybe she would forget their little fight this morning.

Michael just nodded. “I’ll make the arrangements and bring the keys by next week.” He winked at Liz. “Pack those bags, Parker.” He pushed the door open. “I’ll just get outta the way so she can get to work now.”

She stared after him with her mouth slightly open. How would she survive a beach weekend with Max? He was going too, wasn’t he?

Max looked up when Michael came from the back of the café. “What’re you doin’?” he asked with a glance at Aaron. The little boy was occupied, playing with the buttons on the watch he had taken off and given him.

“Just got another participant for beach weekend.”

He shot a speculative glance at the door that was still swinging in Michael’s wake. “Really?” He reached up to tug at his collar. Liz was gonna be there. Damn it, he really had to talk to Tess. This thing was getting too complicated and if they continued with their game he was running the risk of totally tanking things with Liz.

Michael grinned when he saw the emotions running up and down Evans’ face. It was getting harder for him to hide his real intentions with the waitress. Good, he thought, maybe it would keep him from making things serious with his sister. “Where’s Valenti?”

Max looked over at the booth the guys had been in and he shrugged. “He said he was takin’ off. Seemed like he was in a bad mood anyway.”

“Yeah…” Michael frowned and stared at the empty both where his friend had been sitting.

“You get her settled down?” he asked, nodding at the back of the café.

“She’s good,” the other man nodded.

“You wanna keep an eye on him for a few minutes so I can talk to her?”

“She’s changing right now, so I doubt you should go in there. Plus her boss is around too.”

“Good point. Alright, I’ll just catch her when she comes back out.” He dropped his head back against the bench and looked up at Michael. “So... heard you got a date pretty soon.”

“Yep,” he checked his watch again. “Gotta leave soon.”

“That’s kinda unusual. You makin’ a date and seein’ the same girl.”

“So?”

Max shrugged. “Just sayin’.”

“An’ what exactly are you sayin’?”

“That it seems a little more serious than what you usually go for.”

Michael leaned on the table, looking at Max with a smirk. “Ya know, I’m gonna throw your words about you and my sister right back in your face. None of your business.” Why the hell did everyone bother about his date?

Better start clearing that up right now. He just hoped Tess would understand when he brought this up with her. “Your sister and I are just friends, Guerin.”

“Since when do friends kiss?”

“Kissing’s gross,” Aaron said as he got up on his knees and settled down once more.

“Aaron,” Liz called when she got behind the counter. “Come here and leave the guys alone.”

He bit his bottom lip, chewing on it as he shook his head and stared down at Max’s watch. He wanted to stay where he was.

She sighed. Sometimes the kid was just as stubborn as her dad had been. “You guys want anything?”

Max glanced at Michael and motioned to Aaron, indicating he should keep an eye on him. As soon as he had a nod of confirmation he slid out of the booth and walked up to the counter. “You okay?” he asked quietly.

“Um-hmm,” she nodded but didn’t look at him and pretended to be busy wiping the counter.

Okay, we’re gonna play it like that, he thought with a frustrated sigh. “Let me take him for the day. You’re workin’ what, a six or eight hour shift? He’s gonna be bored as hell here and he’s gonna drive you and everyone else nuts.”

She wanted him to tell where to stick his offer, but the truth was that he was right. Her boss had just given her the weekend off, but she knew the man was moody and if Aaron was a little pain today in the café he would deny her the days off by the end of the day again. “Don’t you ever work?”

He shrugged his right shoulder and grinned. “Maybe I’m independently wealthy and the shop’s just a cover.”

Liz looked up at him and snorted. “That’s why you’re holding your boot together with duct tape?”

“Maybe I just like these boots.”

She gave in. “Don’t put him on a sugar high, okay?”

He shook his head. “No, of course not. Anything I need to know? Food allergies? Other allergies?”

“No, just…” she swallowed, “he’s epileptic an’…”

He reached out to touch her arm without thinking about it. “He’ll be safe with me, Liz.”

She just nodded. “My shift ends at 10pm. He’ll probably get tired early since we were up pretty early.”

He smiled and lowered his hand before she could realize he was touching her and pull away. “Should I bring him back to you when you get off or you wanna come by my place and pick him up?”

“Would you bring him back here? It’d save some time.”

“Sure, we’ll swing back by right before closing.”

She sighed. “Alright.”

“Hey, I promise, it’ll be okay. I’ll take care of him and make sure he has a good day.”

“Thanks.”

“No problem.” He grinned and backed away before she could change her mind. “Hey, Aaron, whatcha say you an’ me hang out today?”

The little boy checked with Liz quickly before grinning. “YES!”

“Cool, gimme five, little man.” He held his hand out and laughed when the little boy slapped his palm against his with enthusiasm.

Liz watched them for a few moments, smiling when her brother was excited and a lot more cooperative suddenly.

Michael’s gaze bounced between the three of them. “I don’t wanna hear another word about me actin’ outta character, Evans,” he muttered with a shake of his head.
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Fics: A Xmas Story - A Merry Mt. R. Xmas - Cupid's Revenge - Double Trouble - Double Date - Double Dare - Double Empire - Double Xmas Wish - In The Course Of A Lifetime - Mountains So High - Not A Question At All - Surrender - TIC TAC - Two Double Dates at Xmas

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Double Trouble
Obsessed Roswellian
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Joined: Tue Dec 16, 2008 9:47 am

Part 45

Post by Double Trouble » Sun Jan 29, 2012 5:56 am

Healerfan: Thanks!

Liz is slowly going to realize that this rowdy bunch of people – Max especially, can help her if she’ll accept it.

Lol, right now Michael’s still in Maria-denial and he doesn’t even know it.

Natalie36: Thanks! A lot will come out during this beach trip!

begonia9508: He is pretty lovable! Michael knows how to get what he wants and when he puts his mind to something… look out!

It is hard for Liz to accept help, but she’s going to have to find a way past that eventually.

Kyle’s problem… well, we’ll be finding out soon.

Lol, you’re so right about Aaron. The little guy’s gonna be talking all about it.

Earth2Mama: The guys did kind of double team Liz, didn’t they?

Max has it in his mind to have a talk with Tess. He knows that’s got to end if he’s gonna have a chance with Liz.

Kyle is having second thoughts.

You just never know what’s gonna happen next.

sarammlover: It’s a difficult thing to face and it’ll take a little time for Kyle to come to grips with it. Liz does have help but now the question is will she accept it?

keepsmiling7: Max handled that very well and in that moment it’s exactly what Aaron needed.

Michael does know how to get his way, lol.

Liz has to reach a place where she can not only accept their help, but where she can see things from a different perspective.

Ilonka.Green: Welcome to DT world!

Thanks! The guys are doing their best to help her out and things could work out well if she can accept it. Think Liz might take Max up on that offer, huh? You just never know and it could prove interesting, lol. A tat for Liz, huh? We’ll see.

mary mary: Lol, three or four weeks, huh? Well, from the looks of that weekend and everything that’ll happen over that time… we may be looking at longer than that, lol.

Alien_Friend: Max and Michael may not have done it intentionally, but they worked it out well, didn’t they? Max has every intention of talking to Tess before the weekend. Liz just gave him an opening and he’s going to do his best to make sure she doesn’t shut him out again.

Kyle will open up to someone and soon.

Roswellian117: Life does tend to throw us curveballs and as a rule we’re never ready for them. Now if Liz can just stay on that path. Kyle’s in a hard place but he has great friends and he’ll get through it.

Oh, beach weekend promises to be very interesting for everyone concerned.

itsme69: Thanks! Beach weekend isn’t too far away. It’s slow but Liz is getting there.

Eva: This rowdy group could be good for Liz and Aaron if she’ll just let them in. Michael made the first step by taking an interest in her and the situation. Max can’t help those jealous fits even though he knows nothing could ever happen between Liz and Michael.

The guys are rethinking their current arrangements, which is a very good thing.

secretk: Michael’s a good friend and he knows how to bulldoze his way into a situation and get what he wants out of it. If Max had tried to do that it would’ve only served to piss Liz off and then she would’ve refused to go.

Max handled the situation with Aaron in the right way, firm but not harsh. The arrangement with Tess shouldn’t be difficult to deal with.

Maria and Kyle’s situation is a little bit different, true.

Jim has a good outlook considering the way his marriage is ending. There is hurt and betrayal, but he isn’t going to let it cripple him. He isn’t playing the blame game but he isn’t going to fight to hold the marriage together.




Part 45

Caught in the Middle

Michael groaned along with the rest of the crowd when the right fielder for the Rangers got under the ball and caught it. Beside him Courtney was jumping up and down and shouting enthusiastically as her team started to make their way off of the field. True to her word she had worn the bright red jersey for her team, which made her stick out like a sore thumb among the sea of white around them.

“Why don’t you stick a sock in it?” a disgruntled Yankees fan barked from several rows back.

“Maybe I will when your team shows that they know what to do with a baseball,” she hollered back, not the least offended by the man’s suggestion.

He just smiled and pushed his baseball hat back to look up at her. She didn’t care that she was the only person in sight cheering for the visiting team. The girl loved the Rangers and she didn’t care who knew it.

“So, what were you sayin’ about your team showin’ mine a thing or two about baseball?” she asked with a smirk as she sat down beside him again.

He shook his head and took a drink of his beer. “They’re just warmin’ up. Don’t worry, we’ll send those Rangers packin’ back to Texas with their tails between their legs.”

“Uh-huh, sure you will.” She looked around at the stadium before glancing at him. “Rangers stadium is a lot nicer.”

Michael just snorted at that. “This stadium is a national landmark. Do you have any idea how much history has been made here? The Rangers can’t compete with that. This stadium’s been here since 1923. The greatest ballplayers in the world played here. Mickey Mantle’s 500th home run? Babe Ruth’s 60th? Don Larson pitching the perfect game in ’56? Nope, they can’t compete with us.”

“The greatest ballplayers in the world played here,” she mocked slightly, giggling when he reached out to pinch her side. “Our stadium still has more charm.”

“You know, just last month they announced that they’re gonna be building a new stadium.” It would be sad to see this one go. How many games had he been to over the years? Games with his dad and his brother, and later with Maria and other friends.

“Why? I mean, it’s not as nice as ours, but it’s still okay,” she bumped his shoulder.

“To make it more modern... gotta keep up with everyone else.”

“Well, for my taste, I just wanna watch a good game with a good beer,” she shrugged.

He rolled his eyes. She just couldn’t come up with a good argument. “Can’t enjoy the game without a hot dog.” He motioned to the one of the vendors weaving in and out of the stands to get his attention.

“Men and food,” she sighed.

“Hey, don’t knock it,” he said as he pulled his wallet out.

“Go on and eat your junk food,” she patted his thigh.

He held up two fingers and the vendor nodded. “Hot dogs are not junk food,” he denied. “And don’t think you’re getting one of mine if you’re gonna talk like that about it.”

“Don’t worry about that. You’ll have it all to yourself.”

He took a bite of his hot dog and chewed for a moment. “You’re not like a vegetarian or somethin’, are you?”

“No, I’m not,” she shook her head. “Just don’t eat all that fast food.”

“Uh-huh,” he said slowly. “Like, at all?”

“Hey, I model,” she defended herself. “And I’m too lazy for sports so…”

“Too lazy for sports? What about recreationally?”

“For example?”

“Well, like a basketball game or a baseball game... going camping and hiking.”

“Oh, well, that’s probably a different story. It’s combined with fun, right?” Okay, to be honest she hated camping and basketball? Not her thing either, but he didn’t need to know that yet.

“Cool. We all get together and go camping once in a while. Rough it for a couple of days.” He grinned. “My older sister hates it but she usually goes anyway just in case she might miss out on any fun we might have. And then when we get back she’ll bitch about insect bites, sleeping outdoors, and about a million other things.”

Uh-huh, sounded like she needed to make friends with his sister then. “Where do ya go?”

“The Catskills usually. The terrain’s great for hiking and they’ve got great skiing in the winter.”

Courtney suddenly jumped up again to root for her team, earning death glares from the people around her. “Shut up, bitch,” someone shouted but she just flipped him off.

“Hey, back off, buddy,” Michael warned. He had no problem with a little good-natured dispute over the plays or the teams but this guy was crossing the line.

“I’m not the one in the wrong seats here,” the man growled back at him.

“Man, it’s not like Rangers fans get their own section. Chill out and enjoy the game.”

“They should get their own section,” the friend of the other man said. “Somewhere out in the woods where they belong.” Both men laughed and high fived each other.

Courtney rolled her eyes. “Primates.”

Michael grinned and shrugged when she blew the guys off and stayed focused on the game.

****

“Where are men when you need them?” Tess stormed in the café, blowing a strand of her curly blonde hair out of her face.

Liz glanced up and controlled the urge to roll her eyes when she saw who had just entered the café.

“What’re you bitching about, Sis?” Isabel asked from her booth.

“I tried to call Evans three times now, but think he bothers to pick up his fuckin’ phone?” she rambled and walked over to join the taller woman.

“Too bad,” Liz muttered and almost grinned a bit. She knew Max and Aaron were okay since she had called him ten minutes ago to make sure the little boy was behaving himself.

Isabel rolled her eyes and flipped the page in the magazine she was browsing. “Do I even dare ask why you need a man right now?”

“Well, because the stupid subway was disabled and I had to walk all the way here because I forgot my stupid credit card this morning. And well, thanks for not answering your cell too, Iz.”

She lifted up the empty case for her phone. “I ran over it this afternoon and I haven’t made it over to the mall yet to pick up a new one.”

“Sometimes people have the worst timing,” Tess sighed and sat down. “So, what’s new?”

“Not much.” She flipped another page. “Oh, well, has Michael caught up with you yet about going to the beach this weekend?”

“Huh? No.”

“Um-hmm, Kyle’s parents said the place is open for the weekend so we’re all going out there.” She glanced at her sister over the top of the magazine. “You in?”

“I’m not sure I’m even invited.”

“What part of me asking if you’re in didn’t constitute an invitation?”

“Well, it’s not your beach house, is it? And if you ask Kyle I’m pretty sure I know the answer. Add Maria and he’ll probably be even more convinced to leave me out.”

“Oh, my God, would you just stop? Look, it’s a group thing. It’s not even a big party weekend, we’re just hanging out. Maria’s gonna take Cody, Michael’s bringing Chase, and Liz is coming and she’s bringing Aaron.”

Tess’ eyes almost shot out as she glanced at the waitress. “She’s coming too?”

“Um-hmm. Michael’s sort of adopted her and besides that she’s nice.”

Max would be no fun if she was around, Tess thought in frustration. “Michael the hero.”

“It’ll be fun.” It would also keep her apartment Tess-free for two days. “Just say you’ll go.”

“Fine.” Better than staying home. “So it’s Michael, Chase, Liz, Aaron, Maria, Kyle, Max, you an’ me?”

“A weekend at the beach sounds like fun.”

“Yay,” Tess said, less excited. “If you ask me it’s the perfect intersection for a lot of drama.”

“Spending a weekend at the beach?” a male voice asked.

Isabel’s head spun around. “What the hell are you doing here?”

Richard pulled back slightly in the face of her anger. “Nothing new,” he answered with a smile. “We both know you don’t like to go on group outings by yourself, so just invite me along.”

“Gosh,” Tess said, “how much more do you need to finally leave her alone, asshole? It’s over so move on and leave her alone.”

“I’m not going alone,” Isabel said. “Alex is coming with me.”

“Alex?” he muttered. “Who the hell is Alex?”

“You met him this morning,” she said, smiling brightly.

Tess looked at her sister, stunned. What the hell was she talking about? “She’s moved on, dumbass. Do us all a favour and do the same.”

“This morning?” His eyes narrowed and he shook his head as he started to laugh. “You have to be joking, Isabel. He’s not even good enough for you to walk on.”

“What part of leave us alone, don’t you understand?” Tess snapped. “Isabel isn’t taking you back. Now suck it up and get lost.”

“Watch your tone, little girl,” he warned. “This has nothing to do with you.”

“We were leaving anyway, right?” Isabel stood up and motioned for her sister to follow her. She turned to Richard again before paying for her drink. “It’s OVER! Get over it.”

That’s what you think, he thought as he watched them walk out of the café.

“Alex?” Tess hurried after Isabel. “Who’re you talking about? The nerd?”

“Yes, I was talking about him. And he’s not all that bad.”

“Uh-huh. Now if you tell me you’re seriously dating him, I’m taking off.”

It was so tempting. “We have a deal, okay? He pretends to be my boyfriend so Richard will finally get the picture and I... pay him.” God, that sounded bad!

Tess swallowed and then started to laugh hysterically. “Okay, I thought you said you’re paying him!”

Isabel cleared her throat and did her best not to blush. “Really? How is my situation any different than you using Max to make Kyle jealous?”

“Um, well, first off, Kyle isn’t a psychopath like Richard and second, I’m not paying Max, because that would kinda make him my bitch,” she giggled at her own words.

Somehow the thought of Max being anyone’s bitch struck her as hilarious. “Okay, while that’s funny, Alex isn’t my bitch. And I can just imagine what he would have to say to that.”

“Ya know, instead of hanging with a guy you don’t want, you should go to the police and tell them you’ve got a stalker.”

“Please. Richard may be pathetic and clingy, and yes, he’s kinda been around a lot of places where I am here lately, but a stalker?” She snorted. “Please. And even if he was stalking me, there’s nothing the police can do until he’s actually done something to me.”

“U-huh,” Tess said, a bit worried. “Just saying you should be careful. He seems a bit crazy lately.”

“I’m being careful, okay? Richard might be a nuisance but he knows better than to do anything to me. Do you really think he wants Michael on his ass?”

****

Kyle was sitting on the couch, one foot propped up on the coffee table and his right hand resting on his raised knee. The television remote dangled from his fingertips, smacking against his leg rhythmically as he stared at the screen. The game was over and the sportscasters were droning on about something that had happened in the eighth inning but it was lost on him. He had been watching it and he had no idea who had even won the game. He didn’t move when a key turned in the lock, too involved in his thoughts to even notice the sound.

Loco stood up on his hind legs to peer over the back of the couch, whiskers twitching as he sniffed the air. He started to chatter excitedly when he heard the small brown sack in the new arrival’s hands crinkle and he quickly crawled down to the floor to run across the room.

Maria smiled and nudged him back away from the door before shutting it. “Hey, I brought the chicken-flavored baby food that Michael asked for.” She turned around, expecting Kyle to be completely engrossed in the postgame conversation. He was staring at the television but she could tell his mind was a million miles away. She walked around the couch and sat down beside him, sitting the jar on the table next to his foot.

“Hey, what’s on your mind?”

He shrugged and looked over at her. “What?”

Before she could answer the front door opened and slammed again within seconds as Michael hurried into the apartment. “What’s your hurry?”

“Gotta get changed. I’m headin’ over to pick Courtney up for dinner.”

“Weren’t you with her just now?”

He rolled his eyes. “Yeah, at the game where beer and hot dogs were the main course.” He shrugged as he pulled his jersey over his head. “She’s not really into junk food so we’re goin’ out to dinner at an actual restaurant.”

“Uh-huh...”

He ignored that for a moment and pointed to the sack Loco was trying to get into. “Is that the baby food?”

“Yeah.” She watched him as he walked around the apartment, bare from the waist up.

“Cool.” He grabbed the sack and dumped the little jar into his right hand before walking over to the kitchen. He picked up Loco’s bowl and washed it out before spooning some of the food into it and putting it back on the floor. “You’re welcome,” he said, shaking his head when the ferret went after the food without acknowledging him.

“Bad manners just like you,” Maria teased.

He snorted. “Whatever.”

“How was the game?”

“Great! Yankees smeared the Rangers all over the field like I told Courtney they would. But, she was a good sport about it.” He rolled his eyes. “She’s a die-hard Rangers fan though so we’re gonna have to work on that.”

Maria lifted her eyebrows. “You’re gonna have to work on it?”

“Yeah,” he snorted. “I’m a Yankees fan... obviously she’s gonna have to learn at the very least to respect the greatest team in history.”

She bumped Kyle with her elbow. “You think he’s going for steady?” she hissed but loud for Michael to hear it.

“Steady?” Michael echoed, pausing as he tested the word out.

“Yeah, probably not for long,” she snorted.

“Hey, I could do steady if I wanted to,” he said and stuck his tongue out at her.

“Sure,” she said, grinning.

He stalked across the room to stand in front of her. “I could.”

“Sure,” she repeated, amused.

He bent over to brace his hands on the back of the couch on either side of her. “You don’t sound very sincere in your agreement, RP.”

“Why, CB?”

“Why? Maybe ‘cause you’re mockin’ me.”

Kyle had shifted over to the end of the couch so he could watch them and his mind was turning thoughts over faster than he could process them.

“Hard to picture you doin’ steady, Michael. You’re a slut.”

His hands slid down until they rested at her sides, his fingers flexing. “Take it back, Maria,” he warned.

“So you want me to lie?” she asked innocently.

“That innocent shit lost credibility years ago.” His fingers brushed against her side again. “Last chance to take it back.”

“Forget it,” she said and jumped on her feet on the couch, ready to jump over the back.

“No way you’re runnin’.” Michael grabbed her around the waist and pinned her to the cushions as he tickled her.

“MICHAEL!” she shrieked.

“I warned you,” he laughed as she did everything she could to escape.

“Stop,” she giggled breathlessly.

“Say I could do steady if I wanted to. And you’ve gotta mean it.”

“No,” she denied.

“Then I can’t stop.” He reached down and grabbed her foot, knowing her feet were one of her most ticklish spots.

“MICHAEL!!!” She laughed and squirmed. “No.”

Kyle watched them and shook his head. “Maybe you should just give in and tell him what he wants to hear.”

Michael intensified his efforts, making her squirm even harder. “Good advice... better take it.”

“Or I could just...” She pulled all her strength together and pushed him backwards to get up. “Ungh, you’re all sweaty,” she said and ran around the kitchen counter.

“Most girls like a little sweat,” he said, waggling his eyebrows as he faced her from the opposite side of the counter.

“Just when it’s hot sex sweat,” she shot back. Okay, it wasn’t disgusting, but he didn’t need to know that.

He snorted at that. “You’re so full of shit. I seem to recall you bein’ all in love with Danny Martin in high school. How many days did you spend starin’ at him durin’ football practice?” He threw his voice to mimic her at 15. “Oh, don’t you think he’s so perfect? He looks like a Greek god. Just look at his sweaty body glistening in the sun.” He rolled his eyes and looked at Kyle. “Really, you should’ve heard her go on about that guy.”

“Shut up,” she threw the sponge from the sink at him.

He caught it deftly and threw it right back at her. “She followed him around... practically stalked the guy.”

“At least I wasn’t sleeping my way through the whole high school population.”

“Well, not the WHOLE high school population,” he denied.

“Not even half, jackass.”

“Please, I didn’t even get that many girls.” He snorted. “Okay, I had my fair share, but I was selective.”

“Yeah,” she snorted. “Slim, big boobs and no brain – “

“Hey, they needed love too.” He smirked. “Well, they needed to get laid anyway.”

Maria rolled her eyes. “Whatever.”

“That just means you know you can’t win,” he said with a superior grin.

“It just means I’m right,” she corrected him. “You can’t do steady.”

“That just means you don’t think I can change if I want to.”

Kyle snorted softly as he watched them. Maria had no idea what she was doing, he thought.

“Do you?”

He shrugged. “I don’t know... maybe.”

She looked at him, trying to decipher his expression. Did he mean it? “I won’t believe until I see it,” she said, shrugging it off.

He nodded. “Keep lookin’, RP.” He backed away from the counter. “Anyway, I’ve gotta get ready or I’m gonna be late.”

“And we don’t want you be late for your first attempt at going steady,” Maria couldn’t help but tease him about it. Nah, he wouldn’t keep this up for long.

Michael rolled his eyes as he headed down the hall. “We’ll see,” he muttered. “Oh, hey,” he said, turning to walk backwards, “Liz and Aaron are in for the weekend.”

“Oh, does that mean we don’t have room for Tess?” Maria asked with a hopeful grin.

“Behave yourself, RP,” he said with a shake of his head.

She snorted and walked back to sit next to Kyle on the couch. “He’s a lost cause.”

“He’s lost alright,” he mumbled. And so are you, Maria, he thought.

“Hey. What’s wrong with you today?” She bumped his side slightly.

“Just got some things on my mind.”

“Wanna talk about it?”

He dropped his head back against the couch. Did he wanna talk about it? No. But he needed to get it out. “Let’s wait until Guerin heads out for his date, okay?”

She frowned. What could he have to worry about, that Michael shouldn’t hear? “Okay.”

He stared at the television screen again, listening to the noise down the hall as Michael tossed things around his room. It took nearly 20 minutes for him to finally be ready and he glanced into the kitchen under the guise of watching Loco so he could catch Maria’s reaction to Michael leaving for a dinner date.

Maria almost choked when her best friend came out again, wearing a pair of blue faded jeans and a black shirt. He actually looked dressed up, which was just not normal. “Wow, you’re really making an effort, huh?”

Michael glanced up from strapping his watch onto his left wrist and he shrugged. “Can’t take a girl out to a nice restaurant lookin’ like a slob, right?”

“Where’re you goin’?”

“Thought I’d take her out to Salvatore’s.”

He was taking her out to THEIR restaurant? she wondered. The only time Michael went to Salvatore’s was on her birthday. “Oh... okay.”

“Well, they’ve got great food that I like and they’ve got that low-fat, low-cal, tastes-like-crap menu that she’ll probably enjoy, so it’s somethin’ we’ll both like.”

He was really taking her to THAT restaurant? Kyle watched them and knew his decision to talk to Maria was the right one. It was time to set things straight.

“Are we hanging out tonight or are you stayin’ with her?”

Michael shoved his wallet in his back pocket as he glanced at her. “I’m not sure yet. Although if things go well I won’t be home tonight,” he said with a wink.

She grinned since the last sentence sounded more like him. Oh, yeah, he wasn’t really going for steady. “Have fun then.”

He snapped off a sloppy salute and headed out the door. Yep, it was gonna be a good night, he could feel it!

She stared at the closed door for a moment, wondering why it felt a bit weird to see him like this. “So.... he’s gone.”

“Yeah... headed out for a big night with Courtney. Takin’ her to a restaurant he only ever goes to with you.” He slouched down and looked at her. “That bother you?”

Did it bother her, she wondered. “Nah, I’m just a bit shocked. I mean, it’s Michael and he never does stuff like that, right?”

“He’s never done it before, no.”

“Yeah, see? Just shocking.”

“I think if this thing he has with Courtney develops into anything serious you’re gonna get hurt.”

“Huh? Why?”

“Because there’s somethin’ there between you and Michael that everyone sees but the two of you.”

She wiggled around the couch nervously. “What’re you suggesting, Kyle?”

“I went out to my parents’ place today to get the keys for the beach house,” he said, wishing he could forget the entire incident.

“What’s that got to do with Michael and me?”

“My parents...” he swallowed with difficulty. “They’re getting a divorce. I guess they’ve been havin’ problems or whatever, but my mom cheated on my dad. With his best friend.” He paused and got up to go and grab a couple of beers from the refrigerator. “I know it’s not the same thing, but me, you, and Michael, we’re best friends, and one day the two of you are gonna see what the rest of us see, and if you and I keep up what we’re doin’ we could potentially destroy our friendships.”

Her mouth opened and closed a few times, but she wasn’t sure what to say about this. Wow, that was a lot of information in half a minute, she thought and swallowed hard. “Michael and I aren’t – “

“You are, Maria.” He shifted to face her and took her hands in his. “Maybe the two of you honestly don’t see it, maybe you’re worried about ruining your friendship, I don’t know. But one of these days the two of you are gonna admit it’s not just friendship and when you do, I don’t wanna be caught in the middle of it. And I don’t wanna risk our friendships over it either. Me an’ you, we’re good together. We have fun, we care about each other, and hell, we’ve had a lot of fun in bed, but we both know it’s not goin’ anywhere.”

She made a face. “So you’re breaking up with me. Well, not technically, but...”

“I think our time together’s run its course.” He smiled. “You guys mean too much to me to lose our friendships. The sex is great, but it’s not worth runnin’ that risk.”

“Alright,” she made a pouting face at him. “I love you Kyle, as a friend. And I respect what you’re saying,” she grinned, “but I don’t think you’re right.”

He chuckled. “Oh, I’m right and one day you’re gonna admit it.” He tugged her up against his side and kissed the top of her head. “I love you too, crazy girl.” He released her and stood up to stretch. “Whatcha say we head out and grab some pizza for dinner?”

“Yeah, I haven’t had anything good to eat since lunch,” she wiggled her eyebrows. “And seriously who needs the low fat crap?” She got up and grabbed her bag.

He laughed. “Not us, that’s for damn sure.”

“Yeah,” she tugged at his hand. “Hey, I’m sorry about your parents, Kyle.”

He shrugged. “Me too.”

She hugged one arm around his shoulder and leaned her head against his. “Sadly families are hardly perfect. But the pizza from Luigi’s is.”

“Can’t argue with that.” No, families were far from perfect, but there wasn’t much that could be done about that. “I’m in the mood for a nice deep dish meat lovers pizza piled high with cheese. What about you?”

“I think I’ll take the same without meat, just tons and tons of cheese.”

“We can split a large, half an’ half, how’s that?”

“Sounds like a plan.” Her stomach growled in response.

He grinned and moved to open the door, bowing and gesturing for her to exit first. “Let’s roll.”
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Fics: A Xmas Story - A Merry Mt. R. Xmas - Cupid's Revenge - Double Trouble - Double Date - Double Dare - Double Empire - Double Xmas Wish - In The Course Of A Lifetime - Mountains So High - Not A Question At All - Surrender - TIC TAC - Two Double Dates at Xmas

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Double Trouble
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Part 46

Post by Double Trouble » Sun Feb 05, 2012 6:38 am

begonia9508: Thanks!

Michael and Maria… they’re both so blind to what’s right in front of them.

There’s a good chance that Richard is dangerous.

Eva: Lol, happy about that? Kyle just couldn’t keep going with things the way they were.

Sad but true. Until Richard actually presents himself as a physical threat nothing can be done. She is underestimating the threat he poses because she’s certain that she knows how to predict his behavior.

Earth2Mama: Lol, pretty happy about that situation being put to an end, huh?

We’ll see what happens with Max and Tess. Liz may get a glimpse of the man Max can be soon.

Richard should be considered a threat, but Isabel can’t or won’t see him in that capacity.

secretk: Kyle’s recent run-in with his parents and learning more about the situation made him take a hard look at his arrangement with Maria.

Oh, Maria hasn’t yet realized that her teasing may have made him even more determined to prove that he can actually have a steady relationship.

Lol, no, Liz is very happy that Max answered her call but ignored the one from Tess.

Isabel has to reach a place where she sees Richard as a threat… and she’s not there yet. Yep, this leads into Alex being dragged into the beach weekend. Alex might just surprise more than one person.

Cardinal: Chances are good that Kyle’s conversation with Maria will get her thinking.

Lol, and Tess will likely be thrilled to learn that their arrangement bit the dust.

We may see Liz smile a little more on account of Max and Aaron here pretty soon.

Alex wasn’t as amused about being Isabel’s “bitch”

Ilonka.Green: Like the others Kyle knows there’s more between Michael and Maria than what they see… but now he has a better understanding of the damage their arrangement could do in the future. Aaron just adores Max and the little guy will be happy to continue encouraging Liz to let Max into their lives. Richard… yeah, creepy’s a good word.

sarammlover: Got the phases all figured out, huh? Looks like we’ve got phase one under control… you got a timeline worked out too?

Yeah, it’s not gonna move fast at all for those two… they’re being kinda stubborn.

keepsmiling7: Lol, yeah… beach weekend promises to bring the drama.

mary mary: Beach weekend will be interesting for sure! Courtney? We’ll have to wait and see if Michael cooperates.

Natalie36: We’ll find out what Michael thinks but it might be a bit before he finds out.

angiebrenna: Lol, weekend adventure’s getting closer!

killjoy: Lol, keep an eye out and let us know if you get a count on those backflips.

Yeah, Courtney can’t stand ‘em either!

Maria is catching bits and pieces that’re making her sit up and take notice.

Lol, well… that would only help if Isabel saw Richard as a threat, and unfortunately at this point she doesn’t believe she’s in any danger.

Alien_Friend: Kyle really did the right thing. That run-in at his parents’ place really gave him some insight even though the situations are different.

We’ll find out about Alex in this next part.

Lol, we’ll find out what happens with Max and Tess soon.




Part 46

Alter the Course

Max unlocked the front door and pushed it open, nudging Aaron so he entered the apartment first. They had spent a couple of hours at the park, playing on the equipment and tossing a football back and forth. The little boy was well-behaved but he did have his difficult moments and Max could understand why Liz had her reservations about his ability to handle Aaron on a regular basis. The kid’s energy was boundless and he wondered how he could go all day and still be so active into the evening.

“Whatcha say we get cleaned up and have some dinner?” he asked as he crouched down and untied the little boy’s shoes.

“Pizza?” Aaron asked hopefully as Max tugged his shoes off.

“Pizza, huh? Do you usually have pizza for dinner?” Max unlaced his boots and kicked them off before crossing the room and dropping a bag on the coffee table and turning the stereo on.

“Um…” Aaron dragged his sock-covered toes through the thick carpet. “Sometimes?”

“Uh-huh, that’s what I thought.” He scooped the little boy up and carried him into the bathroom, sitting him on the counter to the left of the sink. “How do you like macaroni and cheese?”

“I like that,” he said with an enthusiastic nod. “Is it the box kind?” he asked as he lifted his arms so Max could pull his tee shirt over his head.

He tossed the tee shirt on the back of the sink and grabbed a washcloth. “No way. You ever had homemade mac-an-cheese?”

Aaron shrugged. “Don’t know. Lizzie makes it sometimes.”

“My mom makes homemade mac-an-cheese that rocks. It’s a lot better than the box kind.”

“Is your mom comin’ over here?”

Max chuckled and shook his head as he finished cleaning Aaron up and quickly cleaned himself up. “No, but I know her secret recipe.” He set the little boy on the floor and switched the light off as they left the room.

“Is this your room, Max?” Aaron asked as he wandered around while Max opened the closet door to pull a shirt out.

“Yeah, you like it?”

The little boy nodded. “It’s big.” He ran his hands over the covers on the bed as he leaned on the mattress to watch the man.

Max looked around the bedroom and nodded. It was big. And lonely. “Yeah. C’mon, let’s get dinner started.” He led the way out of the room and grabbed the bag off of the coffee table, shaking the contents out and pulling the pocketknife out of his pocket to cut the tags off. He folded the blade and set the knife down, holding the shirt up so Aaron could put his arms through the sleeves. He tugged the shirt down and leaned back to look at it. “Not bad.” Hopefully Liz wouldn’t take his head off for buying him a new shirt.

“Thanks, Max.” He reached out so his fingers could touch the knife.

“No.”

Aaron jerked his hand back. “Sorry,” he mumbled.

“Hey,” he nudged the little boy’s chin up. “Knives are dangerous, Aaron. I just don’t want you to get hurt.”

He nodded and walked over to pick up his backpack so he could get Rabi. “Trent gots a gun.”

Max was sliding the knife back into his pocket when he heard the quiet words and his fear for Liz and Aaron notched up. “Does Liz know?”

“She makes him put it away. She don’t like it but Trent’s mean an’ he yells at her.”

“I know, Aaron.”

“Can you make it better, Max? You’re not mean an’ your house is big.”

He swallowed hard. He wanted so badly to say yes, he would make it better. Take them away from that asshole Trent and keep them safe. But for him to keep that promise he really needed Liz to cooperate with him. “I’m gonna try my hardest, buddy.” He cleared his throat. “C’mon, let’s get to work on dinner.”

“I can help?”

“Yeah.” In the kitchen he started pulling out everything he needed. He was digging around in the refrigerator when he realized Aaron was standing back, watching him. “What’s on your mind?” he asked as he grabbed a pack of bacon and tossed it on the counter.

“You don’t got no names in there,” he said, pointing at the shelves.

“Names?” Max asked, confused.

“Trent putted names on the shelfs an’ we’re not ‘lowed to get things off his shelfs.”

Max gritted his teeth together as he remembered the name tags put on that asshat’s refrigerator shelves. “I’ve never known anyone to do anything like that, Aaron. The food’s in the fridge for anyone who’s hungry.” He reached over and poked the little boy’s tummy, making him giggle and back away. “You ever made a macaroni necklace?”

“No, what’s that?”

“I’ll show you.” Max stood up and picked Aaron up, settling him on one of the high-backed barstools on the other side of the breakfast bar. “Moms and big sisters love these things,” he said as he dug around in a drawer at the far end of the kitchen and pulled out a roll of string. He opened up the pantry door and shuffled things around, grabbing two boxes of elbow macaroni. He tore the top off of one of the boxes and carefully dumped the pasta on the counter. He braced his elbows on the surface and showed Aaron how to make the necklace.

“An’ Lizzie will like this?”

“She’ll love it, Aaron.”

The little boy smiled widely and concentrated on threading the pasta onto the string while Max started dinner.

The evening passed with conversation, laughter, and dinner, and before long it was time for the little boy to go to bed. He was getting sleepy but he was fighting it so Max finally settled down on the couch with him. He didn’t have any children’s books so he started reading one of the science fiction novels that he collected and before long Aaron had wiggled around to lie on his chest, head tucked under Max’s chin.

He read an entire chapter before Aaron fell asleep and he rubbed the little boy’s back gently as he thought about the situation they were all in. He needed to talk to Tess. He had already decided that earlier, but it was more imperative now that Aaron was looking to him to make things better. He sighed and wrapped his arms around the little boy as he stared up at the ceiling. He could do this, make things better. Finally, he felt like he had a purpose beyond just making it from one day to the next.

*****

Alex was sitting at the table in the dining area, textbooks and reference books strewn out across its surface. He had a pen in one hand and half a grilled cheese in the other. He was making notations in the notebook under his right hand when someone knocked on his door. He barely spared it a glance before turning his attention back to the textbook, rereading the paragraph to find his place and finishing it before getting up to answer the third round of knocking.

He pulled the door open and his gaze moved over the woman standing there. “Um… did we have plans to meet?” he asked with a frown.

Isabel held up the card he had given her, entering his apartment when he stepped back and motioned for her to come inside. “I tried to call you but your phone’s been disconnected.”

“Oh.” He cleared his throat, embarrassed. “Yeah, they were supposed to give me an extension until I got paid, but someone somewhere screwed up. I haven’t had a chance to get down to the store so I can talk to them in person.”

“How much is it?” she asked, her gaze drawn to the picture between the windows again.

“I don’t need you to pay my phone bill.”

“For our deal to work, I need you to be accessible.”

He rubbed his forehead as he sat down at the table again. This was a nightmare!

“Okay, that was maybe a little too nosy. Let’s start over. My friends and I are going to spend the weekend at the beach.”

He turned around to look at her. “Uh-huh,” he said slowly.

“Well, Richard found out about it… somehow, and I kinda told him I would be there with you.”

He shook his head. “A weekend with you and your friends? Are you insane?”

“Well, it’s not like it’ll cost you anything. The beach house belongs to Kyle’s parents, the food will be supplied…” she sighed in aggravation when he continued to shake his head. “It’s not gonna be a big party weekend. My nephew, Maria’s little brother, and even Liz and her little brother are gonna be there. It’s just a weekend to hang out and spend some time together.”

“Oh, yeah, and I bet your brother jumped in excitement when you suggested inviting me along.” Alex sighed. “No.”

“Get over your hangup about my brother. I’m telling you, Michael will be fine with whatever I choose to do.” She stomped her foot when he didn’t give in. “You can’t just say no, Alex! We have a deal!”

“We didn’t say anything about spending a whole weekend together.”

She made a face. “Well, okay, maybe we didn’t, but... I need you to do this.”

“Do you think that guy would go that far to come after you?”

“Now that he knows where I’m gonna be I wouldn’t be surprised if he shows up. And I’ll look like a big fool if I'm there alone!”

He rubbed his forehead. “Is your tattooed friend coming too?”

“What, you have issues with Max too?” she asked incredulously. Max was the least likely to cop an attitude with Alex.

“He just seems weird.”

“Well, Max has his moments, but he’s a decent guy. His bark’s a lot worse than his bite.” Most of the time anyway.

He looked at her carefully. Somehow it seemed like she was really serious about this. Was it because of her stubborn way of thinking or was she really worried about this other guy? “How much?” Sadly, he could really use the money. And he could use it badly.

“Um... well... we agreed on 50 per day, but I guess this would mean you being around a lot more since it’s for a whole weekend. I guess on a normal day the most it’d be would be an hour or two, so... Friday through Sunday... 300?”

He went over the hours he would spend with her as well as the things he needed to pay soon. “500.”

She smirked when the negotiating began. “350.”

“450,” he countered and lifted his hand. “Agree to this or forget about it. A weekend will include Sunday and that day was not part of the deal so I get extra payment for that alone.”

“Fine, 450, but for that rate you have to actually interact with people. You can’t just like hang out in your room or somethin’ the whole weekend.”

“Whatever,” he shrugged. Hell $450 for a weekend with idiots. Could be worse.

“And if Richard shows up...”

“Yeah, I’m the new boyfriend, I know,” he agreed, wondering if anyone would buy it. He was not someone who would get a date with someone like her. Not that he cared about her anyway of course.

She watched him as he stared at his textbook. She knew he wasn’t reading. “Should I just write you a check?” Maybe he didn’t have a checking account.

“What about cash?”

“Cash is fine,” she said, shrugging. “I can get it to you tomorrow if you’re working. I’ll be on shift all day and I’ll be out in the evening.”

“We can do that,” he nodded, but felt like shit for taking money from her. Even though it was a deal... somehow like a job, it was SO wrong.

“Perfect. Are you on schedule for Friday?”

“In the morning.”

She nodded. “Cool, we’re gonna head out in the afternoon. You can ride with me if you’d like.”

“Sure,” he nodded.

“Okay. I was planning to leave around 3pm. I’ll have my sister ride with Michael since my car’s a two-seater. And I don’t wanna hear a single word about my driving,” she added as an afterthought.

*****

Max waited patiently for the light at the crosswalk to change, shifting Aaron into a more comfortable position without waking him. He had been tempted to call Liz and ask her if she wouldn’t rather come by his place since the little boy was already asleep but he didn’t want to jeopardize the tentative truce between them. He had agreed to bring Aaron back and he was going to keep his word. Maybe it would be a new start for them, her learning that she could trust him.

He crossed the street when the light changed, keeping an eye on the people and cars around him. He stepped up on the sidewalk, his eyes scanning the inside of the café for activity. The lights were dimmed but he could see movement and he tapped on the glass in the door to get her attention.

Liz glanced up when she heard the quiet sound his index finger made on the door. She sighed in relief when she saw Max and her brother and she went over to unlock the door. “Hey...”

“Hey. He’s been asleep for the past couple hours.”

“We got up pretty early, so I expected as much.”

He rubbed Aaron’s back, unconsciously swaying so the little boy wouldn’t wake. “You almost ready to go?”

“Yeah, just need to fill up the sugar before I leave.”

He nodded and looked around. “He had a good time today,” he said as he shifted to watch her.

“Yeah? That’s good. Didn’t seem like that this afternoon when I brought him here.”

“We went to the park, played a little football. Went back to my place and had dinner, worked on a little project, and then I read to him while he fell asleep.”

“Little project?” She smiled.

“Yeah.” He couldn’t help but smile in response to her expression. “He made somethin’ for you.”

“What is it?”

“He’s got it in his hand. Hasn’t let go of it all night.”

She stood on her tiptoes and leaned to the side to get a better look. “What is that? Pasta?”

“It’s a macaroni necklace. I remember makin’ one for my mom when I was little and she loved it. Okay,” he said with a grin, “I’m sure it was more that I had made it for her than the necklace itself, but hell, it made me feel pretty damn good at the time.”

Liz laughed slightly. “Well, it’s original.”

He wondered about bringing up Trent. She was as relaxed around him as she had been since they had first met and he was reluctant to say anything to put her on edge.

“You wanna leave? I can lay him down in the back room until I’m done.”

“Nah, I’ll stay. Walk you guys home.” He shifted Aaron again. “Besides, you’ve had a long day and you don’t need to carry him for 10 or 12 blocks.”

She bit her lip before she could protest. Trent was working, so at least they wouldn’t be surprised by him again. “Okay, just let me finish up here.”

He nodded and walked over to the plate glass window at the front of the café, watching the activity out on the street. Her capitulation suggested that asshat wouldn’t be home, which suited him just fine. “Busy day?” he asked, turned to look at her.

“The usual for a Wednesday. During summer it’s not as bad as it is when it’s cold.”

“I guess that’s good. Gives you a bit of a break. On the flipside though, I guess it’s a killer where tips are concerned.”

“Well, tips are always bad,” she chuckled. “Not really high society that eats here.”

“I suppose that’s true,” he agreed.

“What’d you give him for dinner?” she asked while filling the sugar bottles. “Let me guess: Pasta? Or did he manage to convince you to order pizza?”

“No,” he said with a quiet chuckle, “he made a play for pizza, but I didn’t give in. I made homemade mac-an-cheese.”

“Homemade?”

“Yeah, my mom’s recipe with a toasted bread crumb and crumbled bacon topping.”

She immediately felt hungry at his words. “Sounds good. I bet he liked it.”

“Cleaned his plate. Twice.”

“He didn’t eat anything for lunch. Made it a point to throw it at me actually, so he was probably really hungry.”

He laughed at that. “No,” he said when she shot a glare at him, “I know it’s not funny, but... okay, it’s funny. Maybe next time you could have dinner with us.”

“Well, guess that’ll be pretty soon, huh?”

She was giving in that easily? “Uh, really?”

“Yeah, uh, Michael kinda invited me for this weekend...”

“This... Oh, right, out to the beach house.”

“Um-hmm,” she nodded. Was he okay with it?

Two days at the beach,
he thought again, feeling his heart thumping madly in his chest. It would be the perfect opportunity to get her to sit down and talk to him. Crap, he needed to talk to Tess ASAP! “That’s good,” he said, forcing his tone to remain calm. “You need the time away.” He looked down at the little boy in his arms. “Both of you.”

She smiled slightly. “Michael kinda convinced my boss to give me time off.”

“That was helpful of him.” He was trying hard not to sound jealous. Hell, Michael had managed to get her time away from her job and convinced her to spend the weekend with them. “Did you know I was gonna be there when you agreed to go?”

“I did, yes.”

He nodded and gave her a quiet smirk. “And you still agreed to go?”

“Michael was kinda demanding,” she shrugged with a slight smirk. “You know him.”

“True enough, but I’ll forgive that flaw in his personality this time.”

“He’s a good guy,” she said seriously. “Womanizer for sure,” she rolled her eyes, “but he has a big heart.”

“Can’t really argue with that. You an’ Aaron could ride out there with me.” He shrugged as if it didn’t matter one way or the other to him. “I mean, if you don’t have somethin’ else planned.”

“We can do that,” she nodded. “Aaron seems to like you, so... yeah.”

“Well, that’s half the battle,” he said with a smile.

She smiled a bit, but hid it. “Ready to go?”

“Yeah, whenever you are.”

*****

Michael’s right hand fisted the air as he turned around, grinning widely at Courtney. “Told you I’d win!” he said, pointing at her.

Courtney just laughed and shook her head at him. Around them the sounds of the bowling alley provided a noisy soundtrack. She had won the first set and he had demanded a rematch, insisting that he was just warming up. “Are you all warmed up now?” she asked.

“I won, didn’t I?”

She rolled her eyes at his smug tone. “That just means we’re tied. You’ve gotta win another one to actually be considered the winner.”

He snorted at that. “Let’s go then.”

“Ladies first,” she teased.

“Now you’re callin’ me a girl?”

“And?” She winked at him.

“You’re gonna pay for that.”

“I’m shaking,” she teased and took a sip of her coke.

“You should be.” His gaze raked over her perfect legs, visible below the hem of the short denim skirt she was wearing. “I know so many ways to make you pay,” he growled.

“Wanna tell me about ‘em?” she whispered. It felt good for them to tease each other. It had been like this all night. Sadly, it hadn’t really paid off yet.

He let his fingertips graze over her thigh. “I was always much better at show than tell.”

“No doubt about it.”

He grinned and backed away. “You ready to go again?”

He was such a tease, she thought, frustrated. “Sure. Ready to lose?”

He leaned in for a quick kiss before straightening up. “Never happen.”

“We’ll see,” she walked over to grab a bowling ball and stood in front of the lane. Her eyes narrowed on the front pin when she released the ball.

Michael leaned back, arms crossed over his chest as he watched her ass. “Nice form.”

Her arms flew into the air when all of the pins fell to the ground. “Yeah, baby!”

He rolled his eyes. “Lucky shot.”

Courtney snorted. “You wish.”

He shook his head and watched as the pins were reset. “I know.”

“Aww, c’mon,” she tapped his shoulder.

“Get ready to lose ‘cause this game’s mine.”
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Fics: A Xmas Story - A Merry Mt. R. Xmas - Cupid's Revenge - Double Trouble - Double Date - Double Dare - Double Empire - Double Xmas Wish - In The Course Of A Lifetime - Mountains So High - Not A Question At All - Surrender - TIC TAC - Two Double Dates at Xmas

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Double Trouble
Obsessed Roswellian
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Joined: Tue Dec 16, 2008 9:47 am

Part 47

Post by Double Trouble » Sun Feb 12, 2012 6:08 am

Natalie36: Thanks! None of them are happy about the gun… well, except maybe Trent.

begonia9508: Thanks! Max does a good job with Aaron and the little boy responds well to him. The weekend… interesting for sure!

mary mary: Max is making an effort with Aaron and so far he’s dealing with him well. It certainly won’t do anything to hurt his case with Liz.

Earth2Mama: Trent does have a gun. With someone like him the threat he presents could shift at any time. Max would be happy to do so, but he needs the cooperation of a certain stubborn little brunette.

Yes… Michael hasn’t been much help on that front.

Yeah, Alex’s presence should draw some interesting reactions.

sarammlover: Max does very well with Aaron and Liz is responding to him much better for the moment. Lol, we’ll have to watch and see with Courtney. Isabel and Alex, they’re gonna be fun.

Healerfan: Thanks!

Max getting along with Aaron is important and for the moment it has Liz looking at him differently.

secretk: Aaron does need a positive male influence in his life and with this group he’ll get more than just one. We’ll have to wait and see if the recent truce between Max and Liz remains intact.

Alex reads Isabel pretty well and he’s doing what he has to do to survive. He also has a good read on the others, but he hasn’t yet gotten to know them. Once he does some of his opinions may change.

Well, all we can say about Michael and Courtney is… we’re blaming it on Michael because he hasn’t yet started to cooperate with us.

keepsmiling7: What little boy wouldn’t want that?

Max will keep working on Liz and trying to get her and Aaron out of that situation.

He does intend to talk to Tess soon.

itsme69: Hmm… well, we’ll have to wait and see.

angiebrenna: That’s quite possible. Max has made some great progress and he’ll continue doing what he can to get her to let him in. He’s found his purpose now and he isn’t the type to just give up so you can expect him to keep working on Liz and trying to get her and Aaron out of their situation. As for Tess… we’ll see soon.

The reactions to Alex’s presence…

Cardinal: Max was racking up the points.

Liz is definitely going to have to work to keep him at arms’ length.

Aaron has connected with Max and he just knows the man can make everything better. He just doesn’t know what Max is up against when it comes to Liz. But Max isn’t one to give up so he’ll be working on it.

Max does intend to talk to Tess soon. Her response could really go either way at this point.

Smac: He is great with Aaron. Liz definitely isn’t blind to it and there’s the added bonus of a certain little boy who won’t be able to keep quiet about Max. Liz is stubborn, but Max also has a few things to work through… together, they might find it past those hurdles.

There’s a good possibility that the weekend will bring quite a few things to light.

Alien_Friend: Max wants to help and if he can get Liz to cooperate, he might just succeed. Max is great with Aaron and the little boy really brings the best out in him.

Lol, Alex’s presence will make things interesting.



Part 47

Beginning and End

“Maybe I’ll let you win if it’ll put you in a good mood.”

He smirked and shook his head. “Nobody lets me win, baby.” He grinned at her over his shoulder. “I’m not a sore loser.” Mainly because he didn’t lose, he thought to himself.

“If you say so,” she teased and took a sip of her drink.

“I say so.” He studied the lane for a moment before bringing his arm back and taking several steps forward. His arm shot forward and he released the ball, watching its path and frowning when it started to shift to the right. “Aw, c’mon,” he muttered under his breath. He rolled his eyes when the ball hit the corner pin and only four of them fell. “Damn.” He straightened up and turned to look at her.

Courtney bit her lip to keep herself from laughing. “Um...”

“Must be a warped board on the lane,” he said with a grin.

“I’m sure.”

“The other option would be that my form’s off and well... that can’t be it.” He laughed when she rolled her eyes at him.

She rested her hand on his biceps. “Nah, it can’t be.”

He unconsciously flexed his muscles as his eyes traveled over the tank top she was wearing. “We could always call this a draw,” he said huskily.

Her hand wandered further down his arm. “Sure.”

He nodded. “Wanna go back to your place? Mine’s kinda occupied right now.”

Was he expecting sex, she wondered. Probably, since he’d already told her steady wasn’t his thing. “We can do that.”

His eyes lifted to lock with hers and he smiled slowly. “Let’s roll then.”

“Alright,” she took her drink and emptied it.

They walked outside and crossed the parking lot to get to his car. He pressed the button on his keychain to unlock the car and reached around her to open the door for her. “You havin’ a good time?” he asked when she turned to face him.

“Um-hmm...” she nodded. “Yeah.”

He smiled. “I don’t think I’ve ever taken a girl bowling before.” Well, he and Maria went bowling, but that didn’t count.

“Because you’re afraid to lose?” she teased.

“Terrified of it,” he said and laughed.

“I won’t tell anyone,” she winked at him.

“I appreciate that.” He leaned in closer. “I’m havin’ a good time too.”

“Yeah? That’s good.”

His right hand lifted to cup her cheek as he stared into her eyes. “There’s somethin’ different about you.”

“There is?” she asked, surprised.

“Yeah.” He didn’t know what it was exactly but there was.

“Is that good or bad?” she asked, confused.

“I’m not sure,” he said, staring at her. He held her confused gaze for a moment before he laughed and shook his head. “No, I’m just teasing you. It’s a good thing.”

“Whew, okay,” she smirked.

His eyes dropped to her lips before lifting to meet her gaze again.

“What’s on your mind, Michael Guerin?” she asked quietly when she couldn’t make sense of his actions. He was acting like he kinda wanted more than a superficial thing with her, but he had clearly said he didn’t want it, right?

“I’m not sure,” he said honestly. “I’ll let you know when I’ve got it straight in my head.”

“Deal,” she stood on her tiptoes to kiss him briefly. “Wanna go?”

He nodded and took a step back so she could get in the car.

“We could stop somewhere and grab a few beers if you want.”

“Or we could pick some up and go back to your place,” he said, watching her for her response.

“That’s what I meant, goofy,” she shook her head at him.

He grinned and shrugged one shoulder. “Didn’t wanna jump to conclusions.”

“Conclusions about what?” She grabbed his collar when they were both in his car.

“Just didn’t wanna assume anything.” He winced at how that had to sound. This was new territory for him; normally he was the wham, bam, thank you, ma’am type. He wasn’t used to really taking his time like this.

“I’m inviting you,” she told him, holding his gaze. “Not for sex though.”

“I’d be lyin’ if I said I wasn’t disappointed,” he said with a teasing grin.

“Still coming with me though?”

Did he want that? “Yeah,” he said after a moment.

Courtney studied his features, trying to figure out what was going on behind his handsome face. “Let’s go then.”

He put the car into gear and pulled out of the parking lot, taking a right and merging with the busy traffic. “Beer’s good with you?” he asked a few minutes later when he stopped at a store not far from her apartment.

“Um-hmm,” she snuggled into the comfortable seat. Man, bowling was more exhausting than it looked.

“I’ll run in. You stay here and relax.” He pushed his door open. “You want anything else?”

“Besides you? Nah…” she teased with a wink.

He grinned. “Gimme 10 minutes and I’ll be all yours.”

She glanced at her watch. “Clock’s ticking.”

He shut the door and hurried into the store, making the fastest beer run he’d ever made. He made it back to the car in record time, sliding into the drivers’ seat and reaching over to set the bag on the floor by her feet. “How’s that for time?”

“Not bad. I’ve seen faster,” she said and shrieked when he pinched her side. “Stop it.”

Michael smirked as his hand settled on the gearshift once more. “You’ve seen faster,” he mocked. “Whatever.”

“There’s a small parking lot behind my building,” she pointed at a small alley.

He pulled into the alley and frowned at the poor lighting. “You don’t walk through this way, do you?”

“I don’t have a car, so no.” Was he worried? she wondered. It sounded like he was and she liked it.

“Yeah, well, that’s good. I mean, it’s not like it’s the worst part of town or anything, but you can never be too careful.”

“Man, it’s still hot as hell,” she sighed when they opened the door and instead of nice fresh night air, she only breathed in thick sweaty smog.

“Yeah, damn heat wave just isn’t lettin’ up. I’ll be glad when it cools down. I enjoy a nice hot summer, but this’s ridiculous. It’s too damn hot to enjoy it.”

“At least I’ve got working air conditioning in this building. Doesn’t look like it, but it’s pretty good.”

“Cool. No air in this kinda heat sucks.” He glanced at a couple of guys hanging out in the stairwell when they stepped into the building and he nodded when they passed them.

“Come on,” she said, laughing and grabbing his hand when he made sure none of them was following.

“They always hang out there?” he asked.

“Sometimes yeah, but they’re harmless. Actually they helped me get my furniture upstairs when I moved here.”

“Uh-huh.” He rolled his eyes and waited for her to pull her keys out when they finally reached her apartment. What was with girls trusting that guys were okay just because they moved their furniture for them?

“Don’t expect too much from my apartment,” she warned. “Nothing fancy in it.”

He shrugged. “S’okay, didn’t come over to see your apartment.”

“Well, that’s good,” she hit the light switch on and off a few times, “because obviously we won’t really be seeing much of anything anyway.”

“Power out?”

“Yeah, happens way too often. Landlord says it’s a problem with some fuse or something.”

“Great.” He leaned back to look down the hallway. “I can go down and get the super, let him know the lights are out.”

“Nah, come in. It’ll come back on sooner or later,” she pulled him into the apartment after her. The lights from the streets were bright enough to illuminate the rooms a bit.

“At least it’s not as dark as the other night, huh?”

“Yeah, that was a bit scary.”

“Long night,” he said with a laugh.

She led him over to the living room and shoved him down slightly to sit on the couch. “Get comfortable,” she giggled when he gasped in surprise.

He shifted around, resting one arm along the back of the couch as he looked up at her. “Comfortable, huh?”

“As much as possible. I admit the couch is not as large as it should be.”

He snickered. “I’ve heard people say it’s not the size that matters, it’s how you use it.” Not that it applied to him, he thought with a smirk.

She looked down at him, his face lit by a flashing light from the advertisement banners outside. It would be so easy to start things between them, but would it be the end of them? He had said something about her being special earlier and she didn’t want to ruin that now.

“Guess it’s my turn to ask what’s on your mind,” he said when he caught her watching him.

“I’ll tell you when I’ve figured it out,” she threw his words back at him.

He made a face at her and leaned forward to reach into the bag on the coffee table to pull a beer out.

The hell with it, she suddenly thought and climbed onto the couch, straddling him.

He dropped the unopened beer on the couch beside him and his hands settled on her thighs. “Figure somethin’ out?”

“Not so much,” she shook her head.

“No?” His hands slid up over her hips and he wrapped his arms around her waist loosely.

“What about you?”

“Me?”

“Um-hmm, you said there’s something in there too,” she tapped his head.

“Might be one or two things rattlin’ around in there.”

She nodded, unsure if she should ask what they were. Her hand reached out to take the beer from the couch. “Open it,” she ordered gently and held it out to him with both hands.

He twisted the top off, rolling it between his fingers as he contemplated what was on his mind. “You remember what I told you the other night? That I wasn’t lookin’ for anything serious because I don’t get that involved?”

Oh hell, this could turn out very good or very bad, she thought. “Yeah…” she took a sip of the beer slowly.

“I’ve kinda been rethinkin’ that,” he said slowly as his right hand stroked the skin above her waistband.

His touch felt good. Don’t lean in yet, she ordered herself. “Okay…”

“I mean, I thought maybe we could try dating, see how that works out. You know, if you want to.” He winced. How bad had that sounded?

He was nervous
, she realized and it made her feel more comfortable. “Sounds good,” she started and let her free hand wander over the exposed skin of his stomach, where his tee shirt had ridden up after sitting down. “I’d like to do this more than just once.”

His gaze dropped to her hand, barely able to make it out in the dark. “More than once?”

“Um-hmm…”

He smiled. “Yeah, me too.”

Wow, I can’t believe my luck, she thought happily. Obviously the hottest guy in New York City wanted to date her. “Hmm, this should be celebrated somehow,” she whispered and leaned back to get another beer for him.

He knew how he’d like to celebrate but she had already said sex wasn’t on the menu for tonight. “Got any suggestions?”

“Maybe,” she handed him the beer and waited for him to open it up. “Cheers.”

He twisted the cap off and added it to the one he was already holding before tapping his bottle against hers. “Well, since I’m not a mind reader you’re gonna have to give me a hint.”

“On its way,” she mumbled and pressed her lips against his for a thorough but brief kiss.

Keep it under control, Guerin, he reminded himself. “I like that,” he murmured.

“Yeah? What about more?”

“More of that would be good.” His free hand dropped down to latch onto her hip.

Her nose bumped his slightly. “You gonna let me do all the work?” she asked, smiling.

“I haven’t decided yet.”

“You gonna need long for that decision?” Her finger ran over his chest. “Maybe there’s something I can do to help?”

“Just so we’re clear... no sex?” When was the last time he just made out with a girl when it didn’t result in sex?

She bit her lip. It was tempting, but it shouldn’t happen on their first real date. “No sex.”

He groaned. “That might explain my aversion to dating,” he complained.

“Aversion, huh? Don’t worry about it, Guerin. There’ll be plenty of sex soon.”

He grinned at that and hauled her closer so he could kiss her slowly. “Dating might not be all that bad,” he whispered against her lips.

“Not at all,” she whispered and took their drinks to place them on a shelf behind him carefully. Her arms came around his neck loosely while they kept kissing. That’s what she had been waiting for all day.

Michael let his hands roam over her sides and back, careful to keep his hands from wandering too far. He wondered if maybe he had been missing out on something as they kissed for what felt like hours. Hot and heavy, slow and teasing, and he enjoyed every minute of it.

“You’re a good kisser,” she admitted when she pulled her mouth away from his to take a breath.

“So’re you.” He ran his thumb over her bottom lip as he lifted his gaze to hers.

He was hers, she thought. Well not by all definitions yet, but she had a good chance now. The lights from outside flickered and danced over his face, making him blink a few times.

“Maybe we can go out again next week,” he said as he played with her hair.

“Next week seems pretty far away,” she admitted. It was only Wednesday.

“Yeah, but I’m leavin’ on Friday afternoon I’m gonna be outta town until Sunday night.”

She tried to hide her disappointment, but who was she to ask him to stay? They were just getting to know each other. “Fun trip?”

“Yeah,” he said with a smile but didn’t offer more.

Obviously he didn’t want to talk about it, she thought and it only made her more curious. “Well, I guess it’s gonna be a long weekend for me then.”

“No work this weekend?”

“No, not this time.”

“Well, you had to have some kinda plans, right?”

She shrugged. “Not much. I don’t know a lot of people in town yet.”

“I’m not sure what time I’ll be back on Sunday night so I don’t wanna make plans that I might not be able to keep. What about Monday night? Got any plans then?”

“Monday sounds good,” she agreed. Still too far away but what could she do to change it anyway? Her hands started to play with the hair at the back of his neck. “You wanna stay the night?”

His gaze shot up to hers. Had she changed her mind? “Um... I thought you said...”

She groaned. “Ya know sex is not all you can do in a bedroom.”

His ears perked up at that. He had been in plenty of bedrooms and he had yet to discover anything more interesting than sex. Well, sleep... after a busy 12-hour shift, sleep was pretty damn interesting. “Okay... such as?”

“Are you stayin’?” she asked instead of answering.

Michael considered that for a moment. The only girl he had ever stayed over with when it didn’t include sex was Maria. Of course, that was a totally different thing. She was just his best friend. He wasn’t interested in Courtney being his friend. “Yeah, why not?”

She hadn’t realized she had been holding her breath until she blew the air out again. “Then you’ll see.”

“Soon?”

“Impatient?”

“Curious,” he countered.

*****

Tess was staring at the computer screen, filling out a work order when she heard someone clear their throat. “I’ll be with you in just a sec,” she called out. It had been a long Thursday and she was so ready to go home and put her feet up. She typed in the last of the information just as a tattooed forearm landed on the counter.

“Hi, Max.”

“What’s up?” he asked as he picked up a pen off of the register and started to tap it against the counter.

“I’m about 20 minutes away from being off the clock.” She looked up at him, taking in the serious expression on his features. “What’re you doin’ here?”

He shrugged. “I wanted to see if you had any plans for tonight.”

She smiled. “Max, you know we’re not really dating, right?”

Max snorted at that. “Yeah.”

“Alright, give me until 5pm and I’ll be ready to go.”

He nodded and pointed at a bench out in front of the store. “I’ll just wait out there. Watch some of the more colorful shoppers wander around the mall.”

“Good luck with that,” she shook her head at him but smiled as she watched him leave before turning back to the screen.

“Your boyfriend?” Mitchell asked, amused when he came back from helping another customer.

“Without the boy,” she muttered, looking confused when the computer didn’t cooperate with her actions.

“Huh?” The man looked at her in confusion.

“Just friends.”

“You can go if you have plans,” he offered. “I can do that for you.” Tess was a nice girl and she managed to sell things to customers that they weren’t even looking for, but when it came to actually working with a computer… Well, that was a different story.

She looked up from the computer that she had decided had to be possessed. The damn thing hadn’t wanted to do anything to cooperate with her all day long. “Really?”

He waved her off. “Go on, you’re off in about 10 minutes anyway.”

“Thanks, Mitch.” She didn’t waste any time clocking out and grabbing her things. She hurried out through the doors and into the mall to join Max. “Hey, what’re you doin’?” she asked as she leaned over the bench, resting her forearm on his shoulder. She grabbed his hand when he started to close his cell phone and she raised it so she could get a better look at the picture on the screen. “Who’s this?”

He smiled at the picture he had taken the day before when the little boy had caught the football he had thrown to him. “His name’s Aaron and he’s part of the reason why I came by to talk to you.”

“Uh-oh,” Tess lifted one eyebrow as she let go of him again. “Somehow that sounds like a much more serious and complicated reason to talk than I thought at first.” He wasn’t telling her that he had a son, was he?

“Well, serious yes, complicated… not really,” he shrugged.

“Just spill it, Evans, I’m not good at asking questions and I’m not the most patient person either as you might know.”

Max chuckled. “No, patient wouldn’t be a word I’d use to describe you. Annoying, nerve-wracking, and crazy fits you better, I think.”

“I’ll admit to crazy, but the rest is just a lie,” she smacked his arm. “Besides, I doubt you came to tell me about all the things I am, so…”

“No, that’s not why I’m here.” He stood up and rounded the bench to hook his arm around her shoulders. “C’mon, let’s walk.”

“Why do I have the feelin’ this isn’t good news?”

“Well, that kinda depends on how you look at it,” he said as they moved along with the flow of the shoppers. “Aaron is Liz’s little brother. Long story short, she’s raising him and yesterday she let me take him for the day while she was at work.”

Tess nodded. “So you’re making some progress with her.”

He reached up to scratch his jaw. “You know about this weekend at the beach, right?”

“Yeah, and you would not believe the deal I had to make with Randy to get him to take my shift,” she said, making a face as she thought about the guy who worked evenings and weekends. How could anyone prefer that schedule? “Sounds like everyone’s going.”

“Yeah. The uh, the thing is…” he cleared his throat and nodded when she looked at him.

Her mind went over Isabel rambling off the guest list for the weekend at the beach. Hadn’t she said something about the waitress? “She’s gonna be there,” she guessed, watching him.

“Right,” Max held her gaze for a moment. “Her an’ Aaron both to be exact.”

Tess sighed. “And what you’re trying to tell me is that you want to end this fake relationship between us, because you’re worried it would get between you an’ Liz now instead of helping.”

He looked at her, stunned.

She smirked and bumped his side with her hip. “You can add smart to that list of yours to describe me.”

He chuckled. “Yeah, I might do that.”

“Might?” she asked, pretending to be shocked.

“Might,” he teased. He sobered and glanced down at her. “You gonna be okay with me pullin’ the plug on our deal? I know it’s bad timing, especially when everyone including Kyle’s gonna be there this weekend.”

“Don’t worry about it. You have a chance to maybe get things goin’ in the right direction with Liz, so you should definitely go for it.” Ungh, the thought of spending a weekend with everyone and watching Kyle and Maria crawl all over each other was enough to induce a major case of nausea. “So, you’re sure Aaron’s her brother?”

He snorted at her speculative expression. “He’s not mine, Tess. Yeah, he’s her little brother. First, his age would be enough to prove he’s not mine. Kid’s four years old so that’d mean he was conceived five years ago and I was… well, I wasn’t really dating at the time.” He shook his head to clear it. “No, Aaron’s definitely not her son. Or mine,” he clarified. “He’s a sweet kid and if I can get her to talk to me this weekend then maybe it’ll make a difference for all three of us.”

Wow, he sounded pretty serious, she thought. Would he forget about his former life just for her and become something like a decent guy who cared about a woman and a kid like a father would do? Somehow that didn’t sound like the Max she knew, but then on the other hand, it did. Weird. “I hope it’ll work out for you,” she forced a smile. “Then at least one of us will get what he wants.”

“Hey,” he hooked his arm around her shoulders again. “You will too. I don’t know if it’ll be Kyle, but there’re others around ya know…”

“Others,” she said dismissively.

Max snorted. “Okay, so Kyle it is. We’ll work on it.”

“We?”

“Yeah, not by pretending to be involved, but there’re other ways.”

“For example?”

“Just let me drop some comments now and then that’ll make him look at you from a different perspective.”

“Don’t you dare tell him anything about my feelings for him,” she squeezed his hand on her shoulder tightly.

“I won’t spill your secret,” he promised, amused.

“See that you don’t.” God, how humiliating would that be if everyone knew? If Kyle knew? Huh-uh, no way, not with the situation the way it was right now.
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Fics: A Xmas Story - A Merry Mt. R. Xmas - Cupid's Revenge - Double Trouble - Double Date - Double Dare - Double Empire - Double Xmas Wish - In The Course Of A Lifetime - Mountains So High - Not A Question At All - Surrender - TIC TAC - Two Double Dates at Xmas

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Double Trouble
Obsessed Roswellian
Posts: 925
Joined: Tue Dec 16, 2008 9:47 am

Part 48

Post by Double Trouble » Sun Feb 19, 2012 5:35 am

begonia9508: So true, so it’s a good thing Max is interested in them as a package deal!

Oh, now that Courtney’s in the mix we’ll see things begin to change.

That weekend’s getting closer.

Natalie36: Thanks for reading! Trip’s coming soon.

Earth2Mama: Lol, two down… one to go?

sarammlover: No, the power being out probably wasn’t that big of a surprise. We’ll see if your feelings about Courtney are on the money. Max has every intention of pursuing Liz until she gives in. Lol, funny, no one wanted Courtney to tag along on beach weekend… wonder what’s up with that?

Ilonka.Green: Hmm… another vote for Courtney being up to something. We’ll have to wait and see.

secretk: We’ll see… although, you’re right about Michael!

Nope, he didn’t extend an invite so the weekend’s open.

Lol, things ended pretty smoothly with Max and Tess.

Alien_Friend: Tess handled that well and she was very supportive of Max and his intentions to pursue Liz openly. Oh, the news about Kyle and Maria will get out before long.

Lol, yeah, poor Maria. She’s gonna have some adjusting to do with this change.

mary mary: Lol, well, he’s calling it dating… we’ll see.

keepsmiling7: Aaron’s made a big impression on Max.

It was past time for that to end and Tess wants her friend to be happy so she’s gonna be supportive.

Liz will get there and the weekend could be an eye opener for her.

Thanks!

Healerfan: Thanks!

Oh, learning that things have ended between Kyle and Maria is sure to be a surprise.

A catfight, huh? That would really be an eye opener, wouldn’t it? Lol.

Eva: Funny, but we can understand that!

Tess handled that well.

angiebrenna: Oh, things should start getting interesting with this change. Lol, Kyle sucks, huh?

Cardinal: Beach weekend could be big for quite a few of the gang. This is sure to change things between Michael and Maria… but for better or worse?

A public declaration, huh? Lol, we’ll see. Oh, yeah, we agree that it’ll matter to Liz!

Rodney: Very true, and that’s the last thing Maria and Kyle were looking for at the time… with each other or anyone else.

Lol, we’ll have to wait and see what – if anything – Courtney’s up to.

Yes… that would make for some excellent salesmanship… saleswomanship?

phyco352: Every Sunday!




Part 48

Gang Up

Liz was wiping the tables off after the worst of the dinner rush was over, wishing it was closing time. Her back was aching and she hadn’t had much sleep the night before thanks to homework. God, what she’d give for a backrub and a night of uninterrupted sleep. Aaron had slept straight through the night, due largely to the fact that he and Max had played hard the day before. She smiled as she remembered her brother talking up a storm that morning as she was getting him ready to drop him off with Mrs. McGinty. If she had thought he had been all about Max before, now it was even worse. Max had been elevated to hero status in the little boy’s eyes and she had a feeling that wasn’t going to change any time soon.

“Perfect timing,” someone said from behind her.

She turned her head and smiled at Michael. “Hey, what’re you doin’ in here?”

“Stoppin’ by to grab somethin’ to eat,” he answered as he dropped down into his usual booth.

“Do you ever eat at home?” she asked as she shook her head at him.

“Yeah, but if I eat here I don’t have to cook it.” He grinned and turned to lean against the wall as he lifted his legs up to rest on the bench.

“You do know how sad that is, right?”

He shrugged and stretched his arm out to snatch up the menu. “You probably don’t like to cook when you get home either.”

“No.” She wrinkled her nose. “But, I can’t let Aaron eat junk food all the time either.”

“Guess not,” he said agreeably.

“Give me just a minute to finish this up and I’ll get your order.”

“No rush.” He looked up and grinned when Maria passed by the plate glass window. The grin slipped when she came through the door with a dark look on her face. That couldn’t be good, he thought.

“Can’t people just watch where there walk?” she rambled as soon as she was inside.

“What’s up, RP?” She looked like she was ready to take someone’s head off.

“Nothing, just that everyone’s trying to piss me off today.” She sat down across from him in the booth, throwing her bag at the bench furiously.

Oh boy. He shifted so he could prop his feet up on her bench and he nudged her. “Tell me what happened.”

“Nancy called me about an hour ago and told me I didn’t get the damn cover,” Maria ripped the menu open, nearly destroying it with her harsh move.

“Sorry, I know you were countin’ on that.” He shook his head. “Who’d they pick?”

“Obviously not me,” she grumbled. Damn it!

“Hey, c’mon, Maria. You’ll get the next one.”

“But I needed this one.” She kicked the table and sighed. “Fuckin’ great.”

“Um, can I get you something?” Liz looked at them uncertainly since something was obviously wrong.

“Better make it a double chocolate milkshake,” he said, pointing at Maria. “I’ll just have a coke with a shot of vanilla.”

“Sure,” the brunette nodded with a slight smile and disappeared again. The other girl appeared to be in an even worse mood than her.

“Things’ll look better after a couple days at the beach.”

“I can’t really afford the beach weekend now.”

“Maria, you need the time off. You’re gonna burn yourself out if you don’t take a break.”

“Obviously fate or whatever doesn’t giving a fucking shit about what I need.” Okay, she was probably being more dramatic than necessary, but the day had started bad and gotten worse and worse. She was tired, hungry, sad, frustrated, and angry all at once… not a good combination for a DeLuca.

“I give a shit,” he said as he reached over to gently pry the menu she was mangling from her fingers.

“I wish this day was over,” she said and ran her hands through her hair. Ungh, she needed to wash it as soon as possible. There was still hairspray in it from the shoot from the day before, but it didn’t look half as good anymore.

He bit his lip as he watched her, knowing if he didn’t come up with something to distract her she was only going to end up in a worse mood. He glanced around before leaning forward over the table. “I spent the night with Courtney,” he said in a conspiratorial whisper.

She lifted her gaze and looked at him with a frown. “And? Want me to slap you on the back, tell you what a great man you are, and pour on the congrats?”

He glared at her. “No,” he muttered, sulking now.

“Alright,” she gave in, “whatcha want me to say? You spent the night with her… And?”

“And, that’s it, we just spent the night together.” Now he was feeling stupid for even bringing it up.

“We are talking about sex here, aren’t we?” She nodded when Liz brought their drinks.

“No,” he grumbled.

Maria almost choked on her milkshake. “No? Like you don’t wanna talk about the mind-blowing sex you had or like you didn’t have sex with her?”

“We didn’t have sex, just spent the night together.”

“Okaaaaaaayyy,” she said slowly. That was something new! She couldn’t recall a time that Michael had ever spent a night with a woman for anything other than sex. Well, okay, he had spent nights with her, but that was different.

“I’m kinda okay with it,” he admitted. “We’ve got a date set for next week.”

“Are you trying to convince me you can do steady?”

He shrugged. “I don’t know.”

“Just because I was teasing you didn’t mean you have to prove it, CB.”

“Maybe I’m tryin’ to prove to myself I can do steady.”

“You think this’ll work out?” she asked with a lifted eyebrow. Somehow she doubted it.

“Maybe. We had a good time. She likes bowling and beer,” he said with a grin.

“Michael Guerin’s goin’ steady,” she mumbled and leaned back. “What happened to the world overnight?”

He smiled and took a drink of his coke. “Don’t tell anyone else, okay?”

“Ah, c’mon, where’s the fun if I can’t tease you with it?” she complained.

“Maria, c’mon, just promise you won’t say anything. Tease me in private all you want, but don’t tell the others.”

“Fine,” she agreed. He wouldn’t go through with this for very long anyway, that was for sure.

“Okay.” He breathed a sigh of relief when he saw Kyle and Tony coming through the door. “Now, let’s get back to this weekend...”

“You mean the one that should’ve been fun an’ stuff?” she grumbled as her bad mood kicked in again.

“Should’ve been?” Kyle asked as he dropped down to sit next to Michael.

Tony shoved Michael’s feet off of the bench and sat down beside Maria. “Why the long face?” he asked her.

“I don’t wanna talk about it again. It just pisses me off every time.”

Kyle lifted his eyebrow and looked at Michael in question. “She didn’t get the cover,” he explained.

“No? Why?”

Maria groaned. “Because I’m too muscled.” She kicked the table again. “Too muscled, can you believe that?”

Tony shifted to bump her hip with his. “Hey, that’s bullshit.” He wiggled his eyebrows at her and grinned.

“They probably took one of those bony ass size zero bitches,” she crossed her arms over her chest. “Y’know, this stupid job’s starting to give me a complex. Why do I even workout?”

“You’ll get a job that’s better than the cover of whatever rag that shoot was for,” Kyle said as he lifted his hand to get Liz’s attention.

“Yeah, I’ve been telling myself that for a while, but every time someone else gets the damn cover.”

“So what’s that mean for this weekend?” he asked.

“It means Mom and I still don’t have enough saved up to cover Cody’s meds next week,” she said and massaged her temples with her fingertips when she could feel a headache on its way. “They wanna try out something new, but the damn things are so expensive.”

“New meds?” Michael asked. She hadn’t mentioned that before, had she?

“Yeah, they think he’ll feel better with them, but they’re $100 more than the ones he’s taking right now.”

He rubbed his jaw as he leaned back in his seat and watched her. He knew how heavily the responsibility weighed on her. “Don’t give the weekend up, Maria. It’ll be good for you and Cody to take the weekend and get outta the city.”

“Yeah,” Kyle agreed. “C’mon, DeLuca, let your friends help for once.”

“What’re we helping with?” Isabel asked as she joined them. She smiled when Kyle and Tony got up to drag a table over to extend theirs. “Thanks.”

“As if my day doesn’t suck enough, now your intriguing sister has to show up,” Maria told Michael.

“Okay, you girls need to make up,” Tony said and then grinned. “You could make it entertaining for some of us and just kiss and make up.”

“Shut up,” Maria shoved him slightly. “I didn’t start it.”

Isabel looked over at Liz and lifted her hand, nodding when the waitress motioned to the coke dispenser. “I didn’t start it either.”

“You invited Tess and me, both of us to the same club at the same time. Who, if not YOU, started to mess around?” Maria asked, pissed.

“Her heart was in the right place,” Kyle said, defending Isabel’s actions. He held a hand up when Maria’s annoyed gaze shot to him. “Okay, it doesn’t change the fact that she interfered, but...”

“But, you two need to settle this before we head out to the beach.” Tony stretched his arms out, draping one around each girl’s shoulders. “C’mon, now, you girls don’t wanna spend a weekend at the beach bein’ all pissed off at each other do you? No, you wanna just hang out an’ chill out.” He hugged both of them to him. “C’mon, for the sake of every guy there?”

“No need to worry, I probably won’t be going anyway,” Maria grumbled and shrugged off Tony’s arm. “Let me out,” she told him and pinched his side.

“Oww, hey,” he complained.

“Where’re you going?” Michael frowned. She ignored him and stalked off in direction of the restroom.

“Alright, big sister, you made this mess, go fix it,” Tony said, giving her a nudge.

“Huh-uh, I’m quite sure I’m not the reason for her pissed mood.” Isabel looked after the other girl with a frown.

“She lost out on the cover for that shoot yesterday,” Michael spoke up. “Couldn’t really afford to lose it either.”

“You’ve gotta be kiddin’,” Max said as he and Tess joined them. “There’s no way she lost the cover to one of those other models.”

“Obviously she did and now hurricane DeLuca’s blowing hard,” Kyle said, scratching his neck while he stared at the closed restroom door.

He dropped down into the chair across from Isabel. “And now, what? She’s not gonna go this weekend?”

“She’s goin’,” Michael said determinedly. “I’m gonna make her, just have to figure it out.”

Max shrugged one shoulder. “I’ve got it covered.”

“Huh?”

Tess rolled her eyes. When was the last time the world didn’t just move for Maria?

“You remember what I was talkin’ to her about yesterday? I’ll just push up the date for that ad.”

“Okay, what is he talking about?” Isabel asked, confused.

“I’m gonna run an ad for the shop an’ Maria’s gonna model some of my art.”

“Doesn’t she have to have at least some art on her for that?” Tess asked skeptically.

“Yeah, but it doesn’t have to be permanent.”

“What can I get the rest of you?” Liz appeared at the table and served Isabel her coke. She shivered when Max lifted his gaze to her and a smiled played over his lips. Wow, this was new.

Tony looked at both of them, frowning when the usual comments were left out. His gaze turned to Kyle in question.

He just shrugged. It was odd to be around the two of them without the usual acidic comments being thrown back and forth. “I’ll have a Dr. Pepper,” he said.

Tony made a face. “Sprite, no ice.”

Max let his gaze move over Liz, taking in the exhaustion in her features. “Coffee and a slice of apple pie.”

Tess rolled her eyes when he seemed to forget she was there. Okay, she had expected it, but still! “I’ll just have a chocolate milkshake.”

Michael pushed himself up from his seat and nudged Kyle. “I’m gonna talk to her alone for a moment,” he nodded at Maria when she came out of the restroom again.

Maria looked up and sighed when she realized Michael was heading her way. To talk, no doubt.

“Don’t gimme that look, RP,” he said and led her to a booth away from the others. He sat down and grabbed her hand, pulling her into his lap when she was about to sit across from him.

“Michael, don’t try to talk me into goin’ this weekend. There’s just no way...” she swallowed hard, wishing life was easier and then feeling guilty for thinking that.

“You gotta think about yourself once in a while,” he said gently.

“I know, but... Michael, he needs the meds.”

“An’ he’ll get them,” he said.

She rested her head on his shoulder and closed her eyes for a moment. “Not if we can’t pay for them.”

“If you weren’t so stubborn, this wouldn’t be a problem,” he muttered into her hair and held her against him tightly. He hated that she hurt so often and he hated even more that he couldn’t prevent her from getting hurt.

“And sometimes it’s important to accept help from your friends.... who are all more than willing to help,” he shook his head. “Max is gonna pay you for the tattoo shoot he’s planning, so suck it up, ‘cause that doesn’t leave a reason for you to stay home,” he grinned in satisfaction.

She punched his shoulder. “You just have an answer for everything, don’t you?”

“Not everything, but a lot,” he waggled his eyebrows. “I’m gonna pick you up tomorrow afternoon.”

“Okay, you can just pick me up over at Mom’s that way you’ll just have one stop.”

“Alright,” he squeezed her thigh. “And now you’re gonna make peace with Isabel and maybe you can be less of a bitch to everyone.”

“And this is the part of the conversation where you can stop telling me what I’m gonna do because I’m not the one who needs to make peace with her.”

“Yeah, but you know Isabel’s the ice queen and she’s not gonna give in because in her opinion there was nothing wrong with what she did.”

“And, what? You think I should just cater to her delusion?”

“Just tell her the smartest one gives in,” he teased and gave her a slight shove so they could get up.

Maria rolled her eyes, knowing she would give in. “Fine, but she’s still wrong.”

He snorted. “Just don’t tell her that in so many words, would ya?”

Max got up when Liz took a brief break behind the counter to make a fresh pot of coffee. He watched as she dumped out the last couple of cups in the bottom of the pot and filled it with water. He sat on one of the stools and rested his elbows on the counter as he waited for her to acknowledge him. He hadn’t slept much the night before but that wasn’t unusual for him. He wasn’t really any more tired than he normally was but he had gotten used to the lack of sleep by now.

“It’ll just be a few minutes before the coffee’s ready,” she said, feeling his gaze on her. She had seen him move and settle behind her but she had forced herself to complete her task.

“There was enough coffee in there for me.”

“Maybe I wanted to make you wait.”

He cocked his head to one side when he caught the glimmer of a smile in her eyes. “Did you?”

“No. I thought you might like a fresh cup.”

He smiled at that. “I appreciate that.”

She nodded and moved to get his pie as she glanced at him. “Thank you for what you did for Aaron yesterday. It’s been a while since he had so much fun.”

“He’s a sweet kid, Liz.” He dropped his gaze to the countertop in front of him. “I’m glad you gave me the chance to spend some time with him. It meant a lot that you trusted me with him.”

Liz just nodded, not knowing what to say. She wasn’t ready to totally give in to him again, but she was starting to like him again… like she used to when they first met. There was something about him, something mysterious and maybe also a little bit dark. But then again, he could be gentle and soft when he wanted to be.

“What?” he asked with a smirk when she looked at him, but it seemed like her thoughts were miles away.

“Huh?” Her cheeks flushed a bit when she realized she had been staring at him. “Oh, nothing, was just thinking.”

“About?”

“Nothing I’m ever gonna tell you, Evans,” she shook her head.

“Sure about that?”

She nodded and turned to fill a cup up when the coffee pot finished filling. “You should get back to the others,” she said as she placed it in front of him.

He glanced over his shoulder, watching Maria and Isabel eye each other warily. “Yeah, there’s really no rush. I know how this group operates. The two of them will have to make peace before the conversation gets down to getting ready for the weekend.” He looked at her again. “Do you care if they know you’re gonna ride with me?”

She debated internally about that for a few seconds before finally shaking her head negatively. “No, that’s fine.” Her stomach flipped over when a slow smile graced his features.

“Cool.” He stood and picked up his plate of pie and his cup of coffee. “I’ll get outta your hair and let you get back to work.” He held the coffee up. “Thanks again for this.”

“That’s my job,” she shrugged.

It was her job, but normally she would’ve just served him the old coffee from hours ago. Not anymore, he thought, relieved.

“You started it, Isabel. I was just looking for a night out with a friend,” Maria said stubbornly, dragging the word friend out. She shot a glare at the restrooms, where Tess had just escaped.

The tall blonde rolled her eyes. “Get over it. I was just trying to help.”

“Help,” the other girl snorted. “So what you were suggesting? That I suddenly forget what Tess did and we all live happily ever after?”

“No, but maybe you two could talk like civilized women.”

“Oh, now I’m not civilized?” Maria’s eyes sparkled with anger.

“Whoa, easy you two, okay?” Kyle waved his arm between them.

Michael chewed on his straw as his gaze bounced between his sister and his best friend. He knew they would figure things out once they calmed down for a minute or two. Sometimes it just took a while. Especially in situations like this where Isabel had overstepped the boundaries in an attempt to help out.

“Look, I just wanted to help you guys find a way to – “

“To what?” Maria interrupted. “Fix things? You can’t just fix what she did!” she hissed.

Isabel took a sip of her drink and sighed. “Maria, I’m not tryin’ to fix what she did. There’s nothing I or anyone else can do to fix it. I just thought if I could get the two of you together someplace like the club maybe you’d talk without it turning into World War III.”

Tony draped his arm around Maria’s shoulders. “C’mon, girl, she was just tryin’ to help.”

“Yeah, well…”

He grinned and tugged her closer when he heard the capitulation in her voice. “A bit misguided maybe, but that’s all she was tryin’ to do.”

Maria felt her heart melting. Damn, she was just so weak when it came to her friends. “Fine, I’ll let it pass, but don’t try to help again. Not that way anyway.”

Isabel rolled her eyes, but nodded when everyone stared at her, waiting for a reaction. “Alright, I won’t interfere, but just so ya know: The thing between you and Tess makes the whole group thing tiring.”

“Poor baby,” the shorter blonde muttered, but then grinned at the other girl.

“You suck,” Isabel laughed and relaxed again.

“Now, since we have that all figured out,” Michael leaned forward, arms resting on the table, “let’s talk about the driving arrangements before Valenti and I have to leave for work.”

“I’m riding with Isabel,” Tess said when she came back from the restroom.

“Huh-uh, sorry, but that’s not possible.”

She stared at her older sister. “What? Why?”

Isabel studied her nails when she felt everyone watching her and she did everything she could to control the blush she could feel trying to show itself. “I invited Alex.”

“Who?”

She glared at the others when they all asked the same thing at the same time. “He helped me out the night of the blackout, okay?” She cleared her throat when she noticed the skeptical looks on their faces. “Fine, I’m making up for taking Tess’ job right out from under him too, okay? Can you all just get over it please?”

Michael shrugged and looked at her. “I appreciate him lookin’ out for you an’ all, but seriously, Iz, the guy’s probably gonna be a wet blanket.”

“Then he’ll be a wet blanket at the beach because he’s going.”

He held his hands up in defense. “Fine, he can go.”

She rolled her eyes at him. “Oh, I sooo wasn’t askin’ for your permission, little brother.”

“But you could ask me,” Kyle teased. “What if I don’t allow you to bring him to my parents’ beach house?”

“What if you…” Isabel looked at him, stunned.

He laughed. “Relax, Guerin, bring him if ya want. But don’t expect us to actually talk to him.”

She rolled her eyes at him. “Shut up. He’s okay.”

Maria lifted her eyebrows, wondering if there was more behind the reason for inviting him, but she had just made peace with the furious blonde and she wasn’t planning to upset that delicate balance again anytime soon.
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Fics: A Xmas Story - A Merry Mt. R. Xmas - Cupid's Revenge - Double Trouble - Double Date - Double Dare - Double Empire - Double Xmas Wish - In The Course Of A Lifetime - Mountains So High - Not A Question At All - Surrender - TIC TAC - Two Double Dates at Xmas

User avatar
Double Trouble
Obsessed Roswellian
Posts: 925
Joined: Tue Dec 16, 2008 9:47 am

Part 49

Post by Double Trouble » Sun Feb 26, 2012 8:07 am

mary mary: Not yet, but it’ll come out soon.

Natalie36: Lol, beach weekend’s gonna be something else!

Earth2Mama: Yes, it is… that’s guaranteed!

sarammlover: Yes, they are. Glad you enjoy them in this fic! Tess and Maria do need to talk but they have yet to cooperate on that front. The beach weekend… will be quite revealing for quite a few of our gang.

begonia9508: Oh, the weekend should be an interesting couple of days.

Max is doing a lot better now that he has his answers and has decided what he wants.

The little guys should have a lot of fun over the weekend.

Alien_Friend: Love those group scenes! Max and Liz seem to be making some progress.

Courtney most likely wouldn’t care for that. It’ll be interesting to see how things change as she becomes more prominent in Michael’s life. Courtney was at the shoot for the magazine cover but nothing’s been announced yet.

keepsmiling7: Small steps, but Max and Liz are making some progress and Aaron will be happy to help it along.

Cardinal: That’s probably because there haven’t been a lot of group scenes at the café, but he’s been hanging with the group long enough to have a grasp on the dynamics between everyone. The gang will be discussing who’s riding with who in this part.

There’s no telling what might be revealed during the tat modeling job.

Oh, the end of the Kyle/Maria arrangement will come out in time.

Healerfan: Thanks!

Max and Liz are making some progress and they’re beginning to act their age with each other.

Beach weekend will be very revealing for quite a few of the characters.

Isabel and Alex might learn a thing or two about each other.

Rodney: Beach weekend should be a good time for the gang. It’ll be full of revelations and fun.




Part 49

More Illusion than Reality

“So I’ll ride with Michael then,” Tess decided.

“Huh-uh, I’m already taking Maria, Cody and Chase,” he protested.

“And?” She placed her hands on her hips. “You’ve got an Avalanche.”

“Tess, once I load Maria, two kids complete with car seats, and all the crap that’s gotta go with them there’s not gonna be any room left. Where would you like me to put you?”

“Strap her to the roof,” Kyle snickered.

“Ride with Evans,” Michael interrupted before his sister and Kyle got into an argument.

“I can’t, he’s already got people riding with him.”

Max lazily looked up when he felt all eyes at the table focus on him. “Liz and Aaron needed a ride too.” He shrugged after a nearly a minute of silence. “So I offered.”

Kyle thought about that for a moment. “Well, Tess could probably squeeze in there.”

“Yeah, and she could probably squeeze in your car too, since no one’s ridin’ with you.”

“I’m takin’ Leo, so…”

“Perfect, if it’s just you and the dog you’ve got room.” He ignored the death glares coming at him from both sides of the table.

“Alright,” Kyle suddenly decided, “she can ride with me.”

Tess tried hard to not fall from her chair in surprise when the only man she had ever wanted agreed to take her with him. Okay, it wasn’t like he had offered himself, but hey, he had agreed. And Maria wouldn’t be in the car with them. “Alright,” she tried to sound bored.

Max smirked at his newfound friend. Oh, she was so obvious, but nobody but he and Isabel seemed to pay any attention to it. “Alright,” he mocked slightly in the same bored tone.

“Shut up,” she shoved his arm but grinned.

Great, Kyle thought, stuck with the annoying Guerin brat for a few hours. Now, that’s gonna be fun.

“So, when’re we going?” Isabel asked. “And who’s gonna have the key? Kyle?”

He was pulled from his thoughts when he heard his name and he looked across the table with a frown. “What?”

“The key, to your parents’ place,” she said slowly. “Are you gonna have it?”

He flipped her off and nodded. “I’ve got the keys but whoever’s gonna get there first can take them.”

Michael lifted his arms over his head to stretch. “I know I won’t get there first. I’ve gotta drop Loco off with the parents, pick Chase up, listen to Ava’s list of what to do and not do with him, and then swing by to get Maria an’ Cody.” He rolled his eyes. “And then I’ll have to wait for RP to get her shit together because she’s never ready on time – “ He jumped back when she kicked him under the table. “Ow! What, it’s true?”

“Just because you’ll forget half of the stuff you need and then you’ll ask to share my toothpaste, my pills for headaches, my razor…”

“Your razor,” Isabel asked, making a disgusted face.

“Man, you seriously use her razor to…” Kyle pointed at his friend’s face and drew circles with his index finger, “… ya know, use it on your face after she’s used it… elsewhere.”

“Oh, would you shut up, Kyle,” Maria rolled her eyes.

“What? You said…”

“Armpit hair,” Michael explained quickly.

“They share a razor,” Isabel muttered in disbelief.

“You shave your armpit hair?” Max asked with a lifted eyebrow.

“Oh, that’s not all,” Tony laughed. “Hey, we shower at the station, remember,” he added quickly when everyone frowned at him.

“Your girl break up with you ‘cause she figured out you were into guys?” Kyle asked as he leaned back to raise his arm and catch Liz’s attention.

He snorted. “Hell, if I was into guys I’d go after someone better than Guerin.”

“You couldn’t find anyone better than me,” Michael denied.

“Hey, can I get a to-go cup?” Kyle asked Liz when she buzzed by to ask what he needed.

“Sure, give me a sec and I’ll bring it by.”

“Thanks.”

“What?” Michael growled when he realized Tess was staring at him.

“What exactly are you shaving?” she blurted out. Tony’s implication made it sound like he shaved… Ungh, gross, she sooo didn’t want to know if that’s what they were talking about! She simply blamed it on morbid curiosity because she didn’t want to know but she couldn’t just NOT know either.

“Nothin’ I’m discussing with my sister,” he shook his head and waved to get Liz’s attention, letting her know with a simple gesture that he would take a coffee too.

“And you just said everything with that answer,” the younger Guerin girl shuddered and shoved the thoughts away.

“Well, while I don’t wanna talk about my brother shaving, I’d have to say I like shaved men,” Isabel said, amused.

“Um-hmm, definitely,” Maria agreed.

“When did the conversation turn into this?” Max got up and shook his head. “I’ll see you guys tomorrow. There’re some things I need to do in the shop.”

Liz carried two carryout cups of coffee over to the group, setting them down in front of Kyle and Michael. “What about you?” she asked with a look at Tony.

“Nah, but thanks. I’m not on shift tonight.”

“Lucky dog,” Kyle muttered and rolled his shoulders.

“Would you guys like your check?”

“You can just put it all on one when we’re ready since we’ll be here for a while,” Isabel said with a smile. “I’ll get it tonight.”

Liz nodded and turned to walk back to the counter to check on another customer. She glanced up when the bell above the door jingled, signaling a new arrival and she smiled at Alex when he entered the café.

He smiled back at her before his gaze swept over the group of people in the booth. Ungh, great, his fake girlfriend and her followers.

Liz felt another pair of eyes on her and turned slightly to see Max standing right in front of her.

“So I’m picking you guys up tomorrow?”

She nodded. “Yeah.”

“At your apartment?”

Liz thought about it for a moment and then nodded. Trent would be at work anyway and she would have to tell him she was going to be gone for the weekend.

“Alright,” he tapped the flat of his hand against the counter before heading to the exit.

“Your date’s here,” Michael said teasingly, winking at Isabel and grabbing his coffee to go.

“Shut up,” she rolled her eyes at him.

He snorted and turned to Maria again. “I’ll see you tomorrow afternoon, RP.”

“Alright,” she smiled and turned her head slightly when he leaned over to kiss her cheek.

Tony leaned back and glanced around the table at the girls before his gaze settled on Isabel. “So, that guy the reason why we haven’t hooked up?” he asked with a nod at the guy sitting at the counter.

She snorted at him and instead of answering took a drink of her coke.

“Yeah, what’s going on with you and the nerd king?” Maria asked. “I can’t believe you not only invited him out to the beach but that he’s riding with you?”

“I told you guys, I owe him.”

“Uh-huh, there’s more to it than that so you might as well spill, girl.”

“Yeah, we all know you’re not a saint, sis,” Tess said and shrugged when the older girl glared at her.

Maria leaned over the table. “You know I usually love to disagree with her, but unfortunately she’s right this time. What the hell is going on?”

Isabel rolled her eyes and sighed dramatically. “Fine. Long story short: Richard showed up at work. Alex was there applying for a job. I sort of pretended he was my boyfriend to get rid of my ex. Now I’m paying him to be my pretend boyfriend to make Richard believe it’s true.”

Everyone stared at her with wide eyes and open mouths and it took nearly a minute before someone made a sound again. “Okay, I thought you just said something about paying him to be your boyfriend and…” Maria started, confused.

“I did,” Isabel said simply. “Get over it.”

“You know there’re other ways to get rid of Richard if he gets too annoying…” Maria tried.

Tess looked at her and nodded. “Yeah, I told you the guy’s nuts.”

“He’s just desperate and Alex will help me to get rid of him finally. If he believes I have a new boyfriend…”

“Ungh,” Maria grumbled, “and normally you’re so smart.”

Tony looked back and forth between the girls. “I think my feelings are hurt now. You chose HIM?”

Isabel rolled her eyes at him. “Whatever. He happened to be there when I needed someone to sidetrack Richard. Is it my fault if you were… wherever you were instead of where and when I needed you?”

He shook his head at her. “I hope you didn’t expect me to follow that.”

She lifted her right hand to study her nails, her expression one of boredom. “Hmm, I’ll bet Alex could’ve followed it.”

Tony groaned and held one hand over his heart. “Ouch, that one hurt!”

Maria laughed at his antics and leaned against his side. “Poor Tony, he’s been overlooked in the search for Isabel’s perfect man.”

“Aww, I bet he’ll live,” Isabel winked at the man in question. “You’re not really mad or anything, right? I mean, there wasn’t really anything serious between us…”

He laughed. “Relax. We’re good.”

She smiled, satisfied. “Okay, cool.”

“So,” Maria sat up again and grinned at them cheekily. “That just means you set him free.”

“What?” Isabel frowned.

“You and geek boy are… well, dating in whatever way. That means Tony’s fair game again.” She wiggled her eyebrows teasingly at the man sitting next to her.

“The things I do,” Tony grumbled, but the grin on his face said he was quite pleased with the way things were going.

At the counter Alex was leaning on the bar, his arms bracketing the steaming mug of coffee Liz had just placed in front of him. “So… last time I was in here you talked like he was the devil himself,” he mused aloud.

Liz paused as she was wiping the counter down and she lifted her head to look at him. “Um… what?”

“The walking advertisement.” He held one arm up and pointed to it.

“Oh, Max,” she guessed, realizing that he was indicating the tattoos on the other man’s arm.

He snorted. “He’s got a name huh?”

“Yeah, he’s got a name.” She rolled her eyes. And for the first time in a long time it wasn’t Asshole.

“So?” he asked when the girl didn’t add anything. “What happened?”

She shrugged one shoulder. “I don’t know. He’s just showing a different side and... maybe I like it.”

“Oh hell,” he muttered. What had happened to the planets and their alignment?

“I just think maybe giving him a chance to prove that he’s not just a jerk is the right thing to do.” Maybe because you jumped the gun that morning and if you had given him a chance to explain things might’ve worked out differently.

“Um… is there any chance you’re going on that beach weekend they’re planning?”

“Well... yeah. Why?”

“Really?” He looked at her, surprised. Somehow he hadn’t expected her to say yes.

She nodded and bit her bottom lip for a moment as she considered that decision. “Yeah, really.”

“So we might see each other there then,” Alex said, starring down at the counter when she handed him his usual coffee.

“We... you’re going too?” she asked, shocked.

“Yeah… well, kinda.”

She couldn’t help the smile at the slightly annoyed look on his face. “And how’d you get roped into this weekend?”

“Don’t ask,” he muttered. No need to lose the last bit of dignity I have, he thought.

She laughed quietly. “Must be a story there.” She nodded at another customer when he held his coffee cup up. “Let me get him a refill and I’ll be back to get your order.”

“Sure.” He relaxed a bit, but the moment lasted seconds before the younger of the mouthy sisters joined him at the counter.

“Sooo, callboy, how’s it going?”

He gritted his teeth and turned his head to look at her. “Somethin’ I can help you with?” he growled.

“You thought about this twice?” Maria appeared at his other side. “Isabel can be very demanding.”

He wondered if it was too much to ask for the earth to just open up and swallow him whole. He tugged at his collar and glanced back and forth between them as Liz made her way back towards them. “I’ve been made aware of that.”

“So, does his arrangement actually include sex?” Tess asked innocently.

Alex coughed when he took a sip of his drink and a few drops went over the rim and into his face.

“Tess,” Isabel warned.

“What? It’s an honest question.” She tapped her fingernails against the counter as she leaned in close to Alex. “So? You didn’t answer the question.”

“Dude, if it doesn’t include sex then you definitely fucked up the negotiation,” Tony said, tapping Alex’s shoulder.

He cleared his throat and shifted around to glare at the tall blonde man. “I won’t even go into how incredibly tacky that would be.”

Isabel smirked at Alex’s answer. Yeah, he wasn’t the type to even consider something like that. “Yeah, you know I don’t need to pay someone to have sex with me.”

“But you need to pay him to play your boyfriend?” Tess asked, pointing at Alex.

“Is there anyone you didn’t tell about this?” he ground out as his gaze swung to Isabel.

“Uh-huh, my brother,” she nodded and looked at the others warningly. “And you’d better not tell him.”

Tony held his hands up. “No way I’d be the one sharin’ that bit of info with your overprotective little brother.”

“Well, not as long as you stop…. interfering or trying to help,” Maria said, giving Isabel a glare to remind her of their former fight.

Isabel rolled her eyes. “I don’t know why no one appreciates it when I try to help,” she grumbled.

Alex rolled his eyes. “Maybe because you just assume people need your help and that’s not necessarily true of every situation.”

Liz looked back and forth between the people at the counter. What the hell?

Tess smirked at Alex’s comment. “Well, at least he’s got his own mind,” she said, appreciating how the guy wasn’t just agreeing with Isabel like guys usually did. Her gaze swept over to Maria and Tony on the other side of the counter. Hmm, why did it seem like they were flirting the whole time?

Isabel brushed his answer off, deciding he was incorrect. “Well, I still have some things to do to get ready for tomorrow.”

“Don’t forget the money,” Maria teased.

Tony snickered when Isabel straightened up to look down her nose at Maria. “You haven’t heard the last of this, girl.”

Alex groaned when they finally all started to leave one after another. He looked at Liz when they were alone. “Can we…” he sighed, “can we just not talk about it?”

Liz shrugged. “If we can not talk about me and Max.” She wrinkled her nose. “Not that we’re together or anything. Just, you know, going to the beach together...” She made a face as she realized she was just digging the hole deeper. “Nevermind.”

He snorted with a slight smirk. “We’re screwed, you know that?”

“Well, here lately that’s pretty much the norm for me.”

*****

Michael was whistling as he walked into his childhood home and he kicked the door shut behind him as he leaned over to set down the box he was carrying. Loco wandered around, checking things out from the end of his leash. He snapped his fingers to get the ferret’s attention and he rolled his eyes when Loco ignored him and climbed up into a large potted plant and started to dig.

“You’re gonna get evicted before you even get off the damn leash, Loco,” he muttered as he scooped the animal up.

“Uncle Mike!” Chase shouted as he ran into the room.

“How’s it goin’, little guy?” he asked as he turned Loco loose on the potted plant and picked his nephew up for a hug.

“’m ready to go to the beach! Mommy said we’re gonna go soon.”

“You already packed?”

“Uh-huh,” he nodded. “An’ I did it all by myself.” He smiled proudly unaware of the look passing between Uncle Mike and Mommy. “Cody’s gonna go too, right?”

“Um-hmm, Maria’s picking him up right now. You excited?”

The boy in his arms nodded with wide eyes.

“He didn’t sleep more than a single hour in a row last night,” Ava rolled her eyes and kissed her brother’s cheek. “He’ll probably be tired early tonight.”

Chase shook his head stubbornly when he heard Mommy’s words. “Not tired, Mommy!”

She chuckled and nodded. “Alright, if you say so,” she looked at Michael knowingly.

“You got your trunks packed too?”

“YES!” the boy nodded excitedly.

“Don’t let him go into the water alone.”

Michael snorted. “Sis, you wanna start with the lecture on taking him out again? I know what to do and what not, I’m not an idiot.”

Ava grinned. “You’ll understand when you have your own kid.”

He shook his head at her. “Don’t say things like that!”

“You’ll do fine,” she teased, knowing it was true. “When will you be back?”

“Sunday evening. Not sure what time yet. You gonna be here or at your place?”

“My place probably. I’ll give you a call around lunchtime on Sunday.” She checked on her son again. “You need to go on the bathroom again before leaving, Chase?”

“No,” the little boy denied.

Michael watched him fidget around for a couple of minutes before exchanging a look with his sister. “Maybe you’d better go just to be safe,” he suggested.

“Yeah, come on,” Ava reached over to get Chase. “Let Uncle Mike say hello to the rest of the family while we get all your things together.”

“Don’t leave wifout me, Uncle Mike.”

“Nah,” he shook his head at the little boy and wandered off to the kitchen to see if anyone was around.

Nana was at the counter putting sandwiches together when someone walked up behind her and she turned to look at Michael. “What do you think you’re doing, mister?”

“Huh?”

“Sneaking up behind an old woman... don’t you know better than that?”

“I’m not sneaking up on you,” he denied and kissed her cheek.

“Um-hmm. I’m making a snack for you to take when you go. It’ll be much better than you boys stopping at some fast food place.”

He chuckled. The drive wasn’t that long and they would probably pull the grill out as soon as everyone got there, but he knew the woman was happy to take care of all the kids in the family, no matter how old. “You’re the best.”

“I know,” she said with a wink. “Your dad and Nicole are in the den.”

“Alright,” he backed off and walked the hallway down to the den. He lifted his hand to knock on the door before opening it slowly.
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Fics: A Xmas Story - A Merry Mt. R. Xmas - Cupid's Revenge - Double Trouble - Double Date - Double Dare - Double Empire - Double Xmas Wish - In The Course Of A Lifetime - Mountains So High - Not A Question At All - Surrender - TIC TAC - Two Double Dates at Xmas

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Double Trouble
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Part 50

Post by Double Trouble » Sun Mar 04, 2012 6:05 am

Natalie36: Thanks for reading!

Eva: Lol, Alex knows how to handle the questions, doesn’t he? The weekend gets started in this part.

Earth2Mama: Hmm… that’s kinda up to Maria and Tony and they haven’t shared any real intent with us yet but we’ll keep you appraised of the situation.

begonia9508: Beach weekend begins in this next part.

Alex and Liz do have to fight to keep their heads above water so the weekend will be really good for them too.

mary mary: Technology… it’s great except when it’s not, lol.

morethenwords122: We’re glad you’re lovin’ it! Alex handled them well, didn’t he?

Ilonka.Green: Yeah, lol, everyone Tess thought she could catch a ride with seemed to have a full carload already. The weekend should prove interesting for many of our characters.

sarammlover: Maria and Tess could be good if they could just settle what happened in the past. Kyle and Tess riding together should be interesting. Lol, Michael walking in on his parents doing it… that would make for an experience just before beach weekend begins.

keepsmiling7: Group trips are always a lot of fun, aren’t they?

The weekend, as any other time, will have its ups and downs.

Cardinal: Oh, the news that Maria and Kyle are no longer involved will be coming out soon.

Lol, Liz is finally allowing herself to see Max the way she did at first.

We really enjoy the challenges of writing TIC TAC given the switch in roles for some of the characters. So many of them can’t see what’s right in front of them. Beach weekend could be an eye opener for all of them in one way or another.

Alien_Friend: Isn’t Nana the best?

Lol, Alex and Liz could definitely bond over their circumstances.

Maria’s thinking about it, but we’ll see what happens over the weekend.

Rodney: We’re getting very close to that car ride. Oh, Tess has a mind of her own and chances are good she’s got a skimpy bikini packed and ready for the weekend so Kyle’s bound to get an eyeful.

Max and Tess do make great friends.

Lol, no matter how often you take them out that warning lecture is always going to happen!




Part 50

Turn

Adam looked up at the knock and waved his son inside. “C’mon in, Michael.”

“What’re you guys doin’?” the younger man walked further into the room, hands shoved in his pants pockets.

“Talking about what we’re doing with the entire weekend to ourselves,” Nicole said with a smile. She glanced at the door and then back at Michael. “Where’re Maria and Cody? Aren’t they going to the beach house with you?”

“Gonna pick them up in half an hour or so.”

“It’s nice that you’re all spending the weekend together. And you said you’ve invited another friend who has a little boy?”

Michael walked around the desk and stared at the laptop in front of his father. “Um-hmm, she’s a waitress in our regular café and she’s got a little brother. Cody already made friends with him.”

Nicole nodded and smiled as she leaned against Adam’s shoulder and pointed at one of the links. A weekend with three little boys underfoot meant the kids wouldn’t be drinking too much and getting into trouble. “Check that one, honey.”

Adam nodded and did what she was asking for. He looked at Michael when the page needed a few seconds to load. “Will Isabel and Tess both be going as well?”

“Yeah, the girls are goin’. Pretty much everyone in our group’s gonna be there.”

“Maria an’ Tess are getting along better again?” he guessed.

“Well... not so much. Unless ignoring each other counts.” He sat on the arm of the couch and crossed his arms over his chest. “Actually, they got into it the other night about her leavin’ Maria with the rent on their old apartment. Tess swears she paid it up for the remainder of the lease, but the landlord held Maria responsible for the entire amount of rent. Think you could have your lawyer look into that?”

Adam frowned and narrowed his eyes while he thought about something. “Wasn’t that Dick’s father?”

“Adam,” Nicole warned him with a smack on the arm.

“He’s just a sorry excuse for a man. I’ll talk to my lawyer, yes.”

Michael smirked as he watched them. “Cool, thanks. I don’t know if it’ll change anything between them, but I don’t really see any reason for Tess to lie about it.”

“I’m ready Uncle Mike,” Chase stormed into the room and grabbed his uncle’s leg tightly, hugging it with all his strength.

“Worried I might leave without you?” he asked, leaning over to pick the little guy up.

Nicole laughed. “He didn’t sleep all night because he worried you would forget him.”

“I wouldn’t forget this guy.” Michael carefully flipped Chase over, holding onto his ankles and swinging him back and forth.

The boy laughed loudly, while Ava and Nicole just rolled their eyes. “Get outta here before I think twice and don’t leave him alone with you for two whole days.”

He just grinned at his sister and brought his nephew up to settle him against his side. “You ready to hit the beach?”

“Ready!”

He put Chase down. “Go get our snacks from Nana and let’s roll, bud.” He grinned when the little boy ran out of the room. “I guess we’re outta here.”

“Um, Michael?” Nicole looked around. “I haven’t seen Loco... where is he?”

Right at that moment something shattered in the hallway. “Um…”

“Would it be safe to assume that’s your pet making that racket?”

Michael just smirked. “Bye, Nicole. Don’t kill him.”

She rolled her eyes but couldn’t stop the smile. “You boys have fun this weekend.”

“We will.”

“Couldn’t he have rescued a cat or a dog?” she hissed when she heard the ferret chattering angrily at something.

“No, he couldn’t,” Michael called from the hallways and picked Chase and his stuff up again. “Say bye bye.”

“Bye bye, Gamma, Gampa! Bye bye, Mommy!”

“What? I don’t get a goodbye kiss?” Ava complained.

Chase smiled widely and held his arms out to Mommy.

She chuckled and hugged her little boy again, tapping her cheek until he kissed it. “Have fun.”

“We will, Mommy. I watch Uncle Mike.”

Michael snorted as he carried the boy out, waving to his sister. “Whew… what’d you eat? You’re heavy.”

Chase giggled and shook his head. “Huh-uh, Uncle Mike!”

He sat the boy down and opened the door of the Avalanche. “Get in and let’s roll, little gremlin.”

Chase climbed up inside the truck and settled into the car seat in the back. He looked down, watching as Michael hooked him into the seat. “We go get Cody an’ M’ria now?”

“Yeah,” he nodded just as the cell in his jeans started to buzz. He pulled it out and flipped it open, grinning when he read the name of the person who had just sent him a text. Oh, yeah, she couldn’t even go with one day without contacting him, he though in satisfaction and opened Courtney’s message up.

It is Sunday already? ;)

“Is it Maria?” Chase asked when Michael didn’t get in the truck so they could leave.

“No,” he said, his mind running over the possibilities.

“Aunt Izzy?”

Michael slipped behind the steering wheel and looked at the boy in the rearview mirror, his gaze distracted. “No, someone else…”

“Who?”

Would it be okay to invite her? he wondered. She already knew his friends and they seemed to get along well. Hell, she was his girlfriend and okay, he hadn’t told the others yet, but they would know soon enough anyway.

“Uncle Mike, who is it?”

He had to introduce her to his family sooner or later anyway, because his sisters were nosy and loud and they’d spill the news as soon as they knew. What difference would it make? “A friend of mine, you don’t know her.”

“You got a girl friend but she’s not M’ria?” He studied his uncle, not understanding.

Michael turned in his seat to look at his nephew. “Wanna meet her?”

“Does she got a dog?”

“Um, no, why?”

Chase shrugged. “Is she goin’ to the beach too?”

“I don’t know,” Michael stared at the street. “Maybe.” He got his cell back out and flipped it open to make a quick call.

Tony glanced at his phone, identifying the caller before flipping it open. “What’s up, Guerin?”

“Ya already rollin’ out to the beach house?”

“Just stoppin’ at the gas station to fill up.” He lowered his sunglasses to watch a woman a few lanes over as she tried to figure out how to operate the air machine to fill up her tire.

“Think you could stop by and pick Maria and the Code-man up?”

Tony tipped his head to one side when the woman he was watching pressed the lever on the side of the hose and jumped back with a little scream when it released a burst of air right in her face. He shook his head and forced his mind back to Michael’s question. “Sure, no problemo, amigo. You runnin’ late or somethin’?”

“Just need to take care of somethin’. I won’t be far behind you.”

“Cool. You gonna call an’ let her know about the change in plans?”

“So she’ll give me hell for cancelling? Hell no, just go get her.”

Tony smirked. “Yeah, okay, I’ll take care of it. Her place or her mom’s?”

“Her mom’s,” he answered and rattled off the address.

“Alright, I'll head that way in about 10 minutes.”

“Great, see you at the beach.” Michael flipped his cell shut and looked at Chase. “Ready?”

“Cody’s not gonna go with us?”

“We’ll see him there.”

“Oh.” He kicked his foot out and stared at the cartoon character on the side. “Why?”

“Hey,” he grabbed the kid’s leg, “no kicking the car, okay? We’re gonna visit someone first.”

The little boy sighed and nodded. “Otay.”

****

Aaron leaned on the bed, holding his weight on his elbows as he rested his chin on Rabi’s head and watched Liz. She was pulling some of his clothes out of the closet and folding them up before putting them in the duffel bag in front of him. He had heard her tell Trent they were going somewhere but he thought maybe to the park or the zoo. They didn’t need to take clothes to go to those places though.

“Where we’re goin’, Lizzie?” he asked curiously.

“We’re going to the beach for the weekend.”

His eyes widened. “For the whole weekend? That’s a long time!” he said excitedly.

Liz smiled as she folded up another pair of shorts and placed them in the bag. It wasn’t long enough, she thought. She mentally counted down to the questions that were going to burst free at any moment.

“How we’re gonna get there? Do we take the train? Oh, is Max gonna go too? I’d like it if Max could go. Can you ask him?”

“Max will be by shortly, sweetie. We’re going to the beach with him. Michael will also be there as well as some of their other friends.”

“We get to go with Max? Is he gonna be here soon? ‘Cause now I really wanna go.”

She nodded to herself. Of course. “Why don’t you go in the living room and watch for him?”

“Okay!”

She had known how excited he would be once he found out Max would be there and that was part of the reason she had kept the trip to herself. Once he knew about Max he was likely to mention it and that would just set Trent off. She had no idea why Trent had an issue with her being with someone else. Not that she was with Max, but he would make that assumption. Hell, he had already made that assumption. He dated when it suited him but for some reason he didn’t think she should be allowed to date. Gosh, she would be so glad when she was able to get out of this situation. Aaron deserved so much better. She did too, but Aaron already lived in fear of Trent and his moods.

How had she never picked up on this other side to his personality? He had turned into a vindictive man since she had taken custody of Aaron and she didn’t understand that. Before her parents had died Trent had been such a nice guy. Well, he had been a little more controlling than she had liked but she had foolishly believed that she’d find a way to get him to ease up.

“Lizzie, I see him!” Aaron called out. He was watching as Max climbed out of a jeep and he smiled widely when the man looked up at him and waved.

“I’m coming,” she called and threw another shirt in the bag. Damn, she wasn’t even finished with Aaron’s bag and hers was still empty.

Aaron ran to get to the door first and he squished Rabi under his arm as he reached up to grab the doorknob with both hands. He looked up at his sister when she came up behind him, waiting to see if she’d let him open the door.

“You know you’re not allowed to open the door right?” She smiled when he bit his lip and nodded. “But go ahead this one time.”

He nodded and turned the knob when she gave him permission. He smiled up at the man who was just stepping off of the stairs to their floor. “Hi, Max!”

“Hey, Aaron, how’s it goin’?” Max asked, smiling at the little boy before lifting his gaze to seek out Liz.

“Excited would be the right word I guess,” she said with a smile and nodded to her brother.

“Ever been to the ocean?” Max asked as he crouched down to the boy’s level.

“No,” he said in a hushed voice and shook his head.

Max smiled. “You’re gonna love it then. There’s nothin’ like it.”

“Would you mind staying with him for a few minutes? I’m not finished packing.”

“Sure, no problem.”

She nodded and looked at her brother. “Why don’t you show Max the pics you drew this morning?”

Max lounged in the doorway, letting his gaze slide over her lazily. “Packin’ anything special?” he asked when Aaron ran into the living room to grab the large pad of construction paper.

His gaze turned up the temperature in the room. At least it felt like it. “Should I?”

“If I say yes, would you?”

She couldn’t feel more relieved when Aaron called for Max to join him, leaving no room for him to make him wait.

Max smirked at her and pushed away from the doorway, intentionally brushing against her as he passed her on his way into the living room. “Just for the record, that’s a yes,” he growled before turning his attention to Aaron. “Whatcha got, buddy?”

“Concentrate,” she told herself quietly and let go of the breath she was holding. Why was it so easy for him to affect her? And why was she so damn obvious about it?

Aaron moved closer to Max when the man sat on the couch, sliding the pad closer on the coffee table and lifting the cover. “I made this one today,” he said, pointing at the drawing.

“Is that me?” he asked in surprise when he saw the boy had drawn someone with weird circles on the whole figure what he could only interpret as tattoos.

The little boy nodded and smiled shyly. “It’s not very good...”

“It’s super good,” Max insisted. “You think you can draw some tattoos for me when you get older?” he teased and pinched the boy’s side.

Aaron laughed and reached out to trace his fingertips over the tattoo on Max’s arm. “Did you make these?”

“Um-hmm, some of them. And others,” he pointed at the inside of his tattooed arm, were designed by Michael.”

“He makes them too?”

“He draws them sometimes.”

“Oh. Lizzie said maybe I can have some when I get older.” He wrinkled his nose. “That’s a long time though.”

“Time will pass quickly,” he told the little boy. Too quickly sometimes.

“Do you like Lizzie, Max?”

Kids were just so bad at timing, he thought with an amused smile. And now it was his turn to sigh in relief when the woman in question walked in.

“Let’s go to the bathroom, Aaron.”

“But I don’t got to,” the boy protested.

“Um-hmm. Come on.”

“Better to get it over with now, buddy,” Max said as he gave him a little nudge. “Once we get on the road you’re not gonna wanna stop.”

“Okaaaayyyyy,” Aaron dragged the word out and slipped from his seat slowly.

“I can go ahead and take your bags down to the jeep,” he offered as he stood.

She nodded. “They’re all in the hallway.”

He carried their bags down to the jeep and secured them in the backseat on one side of the car seat he’d borrowed from Michael. The guy kept two around for Cody and Chase and a spare in case anything happened to one of the others. Of course then he’d had to endure Michael’s teasing while he’d installed the damn thing since Max had no clue how to do it. “Bastard,” he muttered under his breath. He considered pawing through Liz’s bag just to see if she’d packed anything special and then decided against it. He’d find out soon enough.

*****

“He’s okay, Maria,” Amy told her daughter when she came out of Cody’s room with a worried look on her face.

Cody hadn’t felt too well that morning and she’d been scared she might have to leave him at home for the weekend, but after lunch things had gotten better again. “Yeah I know…”

“Just don’t let him run himself out too much today. He’s been tired all morning because he didn’t sleep most of the night. He was talking about the beach weekend all the time and it got him pretty excited.”

“You’re right. We’ll make sure he doesn’t overdo it today.”

“When will Michael be here?”

Maria glanced at her watch. “Could be any time now. He’s picking up Chase at his parent’s place first, so you know how that goes…”

Amy smiled when Cody walked out of his room, wearing a small backpack with only Quackers in it. The duck’s head hung out of it, making it look as if the stuffed animal was being strangled.

“Did you pick out the trunks you wanna take?” his sister asked.

The boy looked unsure for a moment and then nodded with a sheepish smile.

“You forgot about it, didn’t you?” she said, amused as she got up to pack the rest of his stuff.

“Michael,” Cody shouted excitedly when he heard the doorbell.

“Uh-huh, you an’ me, let’s go get your trunks, buddy,” Maria lifted him up and carried him back to his room, while Amy went to get the door.

“Hello,” she greeted in surprise when she opened the door and came face to face with a handsome man, probably around Maria’s age, but definitely not Michael.

“Hi, Ms. DeLuca,” Tony smiled at the woman in front of him.

“I seem to be at a loss,” she said with a smile. “Have we met?”

“Not yet. I’m Tony and I work with Michael and Kyle. I’m here to pick Maria up because Michael couldn’t make it in time.”

“Oh, well, come inside,” she said, stepping back to open the door wider. She couldn’t recall a time that Michael had ever sent someone else to pick Maria and Cody up in his place. “Have a seat. They should be ready in a few minutes.”

“Thanks,” he stepped into the apartment and glanced around, smiling when he heard Maria discussing something with her brother in another room.

“So, you’re a firefighter? Have you been working with Michael and Kyle long?”

“No, I just transferred in a few months ago.”

Amy glanced up when she heard Maria and Cody coming down the hall. “Do you have a child car seat?” Michael was always ready if Cody was going to be riding with him.

“Yeah, we have a few of them at the station and I stopped by to pick one up.”

“Hurry up, M’ria, Michael’s here!”

Amy sighed when she heard her little boy’s excited voice. He was going to be so disappointed when he realized that Michael wasn’t there to take them to the beach. She wondered how disappointed her daughter would be.

Tony looked up when they entered the room. “Sorry, but it’s just Tony,” he said.

Cody frowned as he looked up at the man and he quickly moved to the window to look down at the street. “Where’s Mike?” he asked, his gaze sweeping back and forth.

Tony focused on Maria when he answered. “He got hung up and asked me to get you guys.”

Maria nodded. “I’m not surprised. He’ll have his hands full trying to get out of the house with Chase since Ava will be chasing after him, telling him how to handle her son all weekend. Not to mention the warnings from his parents if Loco destroys anything of value.” She snorted. “More like when he destroys something of value.”

Amy glanced between her daughter and the other man. Well, maybe there wasn’t as much disappointment as she thought there would be. At least not on Maria’s side.

“Little guy’s kinda disappointed I’m not Guerin,” Tony said with a nod at Cody.

Maria smiled and walked over to her brother. “Don’t ya wanna say hello to Tony?” She nudged him. “He’s a firefighter just like Kyle, you know.”

He chewed on his bottom lip for a second before shaking his head. “No.”

“Well, you know, that’s just mean.”

“Mike was ‘posed to be here, not someone else.”

“Sometimes things don’t work out as planned. We’ll meet him at the beach, little man.”

“Who’s him?” he asked, pointing at the man watching them.

Maria picked her brother up as they walked over to the man in question. Tony smiled and bent down to brush her cheek with his in a greeting manner before he took Cody’s little hand in his. “I’m Tony, and Mike told me you’re the boss here and I have to do what you say during the drive to the beach.”

Cody stared at him, studying him and sizing him up. He turned his head to look at his sister, relaxing slightly when he saw that she was smiling. “Mike said I’m the boss?” he asked after a moment.

“Um-hmm, he told me you know what makes the women happy,” Tony winked at Maria.

The little boy made a fist and held it out in Tony’s direction, waiting for the man to acknowledge the gesture.

Tony chuckled and made a fist as well, bumping it lightly against the much smaller one.

“Do you got a cool car like Mike?”

“Much cooler,” Tony wigged his eyebrows.

“Uh-uh.”

“He’s got an Escalade,” Maria whispered into her brother’s ear.

“Is that cool?” he whispered back.

“It’s very cool,” she nodded. “And he’s got TV’s so you can watch a DVD too.”

“You got a TV in your car?” he asked, impressed.

“Um-hmm,” he nodded and took a hold of the boy when Maria handed him over while he kept asking questions about the car.

“I’ll just grab his things,” Maria said and walked back to Cody’s room to get the backpack he had dropped there again.

Amy stood up to follow her daughter when she was sure the young man could handle Cody for a few moments alone. “He seems to be nice,” she said when she leaned in the doorframe, watching her daughter.

Maria nodded. “Yeah, Tony’s cool.”

“He looks pretty good as well,” Amy added with a smirk. Maria had told her earlier that things between Kyle and her had ended even though she had been mysterious about the reason.

She smiled. “He does, doesn’t he?” She waggled her eyebrows playfully. “This weekend could be interesting.”

“You know you’re better than these random things, right?” her mom asked. She tried to stay out of Maria’s love life, since she knew her daughter had to make her own way to figure things out. But sometimes it just hurt to see Maria keeping things simple with a guy when she needed someone more steady so badly.

“Yeah, well... maybe you should let Mr. Right know I exist because we obviously keep missing each other.”

Or he’s been there for the most of your life, Amy thought. “What about Tony? Could he be an option?”

Maria shrugged. “Tony’s just a friend, Mom. If anything developed on that front I doubt it’d be long-term.”

“Because you don’t want it to be or he…?”

“I just don’t really see anything like that developing between us.” She smiled. “He’s a great guy, Mom, and maybe we could have something, but I don’t think he’s ‘the one’.”

Amy walked over to take her daughter’s shoulders in her hands, making her look at her. “Maybe you just stand in your own way sometimes,” she said softly. “It’s okay to want more now and then you know.”

“I know, Mom, and I do want more, but I just don’t... I don’t really see it happening right now.”

The older woman nodded. “Just don’t let a great possibility pass by before it’s too late.” She wasn’t so much talking about the man in the living room right now. The words were dedicated to her best friend, who was everything she needed, but somehow her daughter was missing the obvious there. She had told her about Courtney when Cody had been sleeping and it seemed like Michael was finally growing up. It was a dangerous situation right now. A girlfriend could mean either a final wake up call for both of them or a total disaster for Maria in the end.

Maria smiled and nodded. “I’ll try not to.”

“Alright,” she lowered her arms again. “Other than that you I want you to have fun over the weekend.”

“I think I can promise that. What about you? Plans for the weekend?”

“I’m probably meeting some friends from my old job for lunch tomorrow.”

“Any nice men?” Maria teased.

Amy snorted. “Maybe.”

Her eyebrows shot up. “Yeah?”

“Probably all married though. I haven’t seen them in a while, so I don’t know all the news yet.”

“I’m not the only one who deserves someone, right?”

“Um-hmm,” Amy smiled. “Out, now.”

Maria rolled her eyes. “Okay, but don’t think this conversation’s over, young lady,” she said and laughed.
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Fics: A Xmas Story - A Merry Mt. R. Xmas - Cupid's Revenge - Double Trouble - Double Date - Double Dare - Double Empire - Double Xmas Wish - In The Course Of A Lifetime - Mountains So High - Not A Question At All - Surrender - TIC TAC - Two Double Dates at Xmas

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