Gold Diggers (Adult, AU, CC, Mature) Complete 09/22

Finished stories that feature the characters from the show, but there are no aliens. All fics completed on the main AU without Aliens board will eventually be moved here.

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nibbles2
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Post by nibbles2 » Wed Jun 28, 2006 12:26 pm

Michelle in Yonkers wrote: Does this mean we get a celebratory extra chapter? ;)
Oh, go on then. But be warned you might not get another for a while.

A huge thanks to everyone who nominated me, I can't believe that I'm actually a nominee. Thank you.

I'd really love to respond individaully to everyone's fb but there's so much. I'm sorry. I'll try get to everyone eventually but not all at one time.

Behrlyliz Michael’s situation will be explained later in the fic.
Reamhar thanks
Earth2Mama that’s not likely to happen any time soon.
Stargazer's Delight hmm, Michael bitter about his ex GF – you may have hit the mark there!!
BehrObsession
Luzser1800
Smac
touched by an alien it’s only sincerely sweet if he doesn’t have an ulterior motive.
Anonymousarfan
candycane14
begonia9508
LairaBehr4 No change with Grandma Claudia, I’ve sort of been neglecting her lately, but Liz hasn’t. She’s visiting everyday.
Sprayadhesive
Jason's Lover No, Max is far in the debit column that it’ll be a long time before he’s actually earning points.
Michelle in Yonkers You can stay as long as you like. But if you think Michael needs coddling and Max is innocent then I’m doing something wrong.
JMoore Love that you think Michael is a bitch.
Tequathisy I promise I’ll get to the tape soon. Just be patient.
Sternbetrachter
Emz80m
PSW2001 Max’s feelings for Liz are like him in general, ambiguous.
Loviedovie
Drogyn
roswell3053
Clueless
D2Tymes Isabel makes her own living from modelling and appearance fees and doesn’t need the parents money. Max on the other hand hasn’t got the same kind of career as Isabel so he still needs their money to keep himself in the lifestyle to which he is accustomed. And ok, Michael didn’t have to stay around for the baby (though that would have been nice) but he should have stayed to talk to the police who would be interested in what he had to say. The tape only showed that he was telling the truth about finding the baby, Kyle wants DNA to rule out a connection to Michael in case the baby was left under his car for a specific reason.
Attractiveroswellian
Shadowlynxbehr thank you, I know I’m doing something right when people want to bitch about my characters.
Paper I think you can guess what Max wants out of the arrangement!!
Erina
RhondaAnn Yes, Michael and Maria finally meet in chapter 11
midnightstar29
Sydniepaige


ELEVEN


“Honey, did you see this in the paper? Somebody abandoned a baby girl outside a diner yesterday. Isn’t it dreadful?” Diane Evans asked as she and her husband ate dinner in his office. As Philip was in the middle of important negotiations he couldn’t make it home for his evening meal so Diane had brought it to him so they could at least have one meal together. She had hoped that Michael would join them, but he was too busy.

“Poor kid.” Philip commented sadly after he had scanned the article.

“I wonder if there’s anything we can do. I’ll ask Sylvia to look into it.” Diane decided, referring to the woman who ran the company’s charity. She made a note in her palm pilot. “So how are things going here?”

Philip grinned. “Great, Isagi are trying to play hard to get but you should see Michael, he doesn’t give an inch. So far they’ve played right into his hands. I’m so proud of him. You know, he works hard enough that it’s like having two sons working here.”

Diane sighed, although she was delighted that Michael had given up his playboy ways and turned out to be a hard working, reliable man, she was beginning to think that it wasn’t all for the best. He had never been a happy go lucky type of person but at least he had once known how to have fun. She hardly ever saw him anymore and his dogged pursuit of money had already cost him his engagement to a lovely girl. “I wish that he didn’t work so hard. He needs a break.”

“When these talks are concluded I’ll make him take a couple of days off.” Philip nodded.

“And what about Max?”

“Max has already had enough days off.” Philip glowered.

“I meant, what are we going to do with him?”

Philip shrugged. “I don’t know, he has been turning up and looking after the Japanese business men everyday and apart from a few complaints the first day he’s done a good job. I think he’s coming around.”

To his surprise, Diane pounded her fist down on the desk. “Philip, we’re doing it again. He shows up for a few days and says all the right things and we buy it and believe that he’s finally going to grow up and let him off the hook for another six months. We promised that we weren’t going to put up with his nonsense anymore.”

“You’re right Diane.”

“This is his last chance. He doesn’t get to go back to his old ways after this. If he doesn’t accept a full time job here with you or go back to college to study then we’re pulling the plug. He’ll have to find his own way to make a living.” Diane was almost shouting when she was finished speaking.

“I agree. Furthermore, I’m not giving him another ultimatum. He has already got it so if he doesn’t come to me with his plans when these talks are over, then that’s it.”

Diane took her husband’s hands in her own. “We’re doing the right thing. We’ve spoiled them long enough. Michael came around, even Isabel is working at the center. Max has to learn that we’re not going to pay for everything.” She stood up, kissed her husband goodbye and left his office. She stopped briefly at Michael’s door but he was busy on a call and could only blow her a kiss. Sadly she made her way outside where her driver had her car waiting.

Within minutes they were speeding away to Diane’s next appointment where she was due to give a talk at a charity function. Suddenly out of nowhere a silver SUV ran a red light and collided head first with Diane’s car. It spun 360 degrees before hitting a brick wall. Diane was vaguely aware that she would miss her appointment before she passed out.

***

Maria was changing a bag on the abandoned baby’s drip and singing gently to her. Despite the best care that she had been receiving, her condition had deteriorated over night and her breathing was becoming even more erratic. She was also in tremendous pain as her body began to suffer withdrawal symptoms from whatever drug her mother had been using while she was pregnant.

“I think she likes your voice,” A fellow nurse, Kate smiled.

The baby seemed to have stopped whimpering and appeared calmer as Maria sang.

“Poor little angel.” Maria sighed as she stroked the baby’s arm soothingly, she seemed to like it and soon fell asleep.

Kate shook her head as she read through the baby’s chart. “I’d love to string this bitch up; people like her should be thrown in jail.”

“Yeah, but I guess she has a lot of problems too,” Maria replied. She finished her tasks and she and Kate made their way out of the ward to the nurse’s station.

There were several nurses gathered around the desk talking excitedly, some were from other floors. “What’s going on?” Maria asked.

“You’ll never guess who has just been admitted to the ER.” One of the nurses declared. “Diane Evans.”

“Who’s Diane Evans?” Kate asked. Her question was met with surprise.

“She’s Max Evans mother,” Another nurse answered, bouncing up and down. “Imagine, Max Evans is going to be here, in this hospital. It’s so exciting.”

Maria laughed. “And maybe you’ll run into him in the elevator and he’ll fall in love with you and you’ll get married.”

“It could happen,” The red headed nurse defended.

“Max Evans is a jerk, trust me all the Evans are.” Maria told the girls.

“How would you know?” Jenny asked.

“You know my friend Alex and his center? The Evans are trying to force them out of the neighborhood because they say it brings down property value.”

“That’s not Max’s fault. He doesn’t wok for the company. I bet if Max knew he would try to help, he’s a great guy. I saw him on TV last month and he was doing charity work.”

“He’s a jerk, who doesn’t have a job and spends all his money in strip clubs exploiting vulnerable young women,” Maria said angrily.

The other nurses just ignored her rant and began to discuss ways of bumping into Max. Maria rolled her eyes and went back to work.

***

It was another busy night at The Dangerzone and Liz was rushed off her feet. As most of the other girls seemed to be entertaining customers either in booths or at their tables, she was one of the very few left to serve drinks. It was a job she far preferred, now that she knew how awful and humiliating it was to be ensconced in a booth with a customer. But she was tired, it had been a long day at college as she had classes, labs and studying to cram in before she came to work. And although she was now able to walk around on her monstrously high shoes with falling off them, they pained her feet.

So she kept a close eye on the door as she waited for Max to come as he had promised. When he came in, he looked so handsome in his suit that Liz had to remind herself that she didn’t like him. But that didn’t stop her body from reacting to his presence. She felt her nipples harden in the leather bound bra. He looked in her direction and smiled that beautiful smile of his. She couldn’t help but smile happily back.

He disappeared upstairs and a few minutes later a butler came to her to let her know that she was wanted in a private booth.

“You’re a sight for sore eyes.” Liz exclaimed as she entered the booth and flopped onto the luxurious couch. “Or sore feet.”

Max grinned. After the silent treatment he had received the night before, he was thrilled to see that Liz was talking to him again. “Busy night?”

“Yeah. Would you mind if I took my shoes off? My feet are killing me.”

“Sure.”

Liz groaned in relief as she slipped the large shoes off her feet and rubbed her soles.

“I’d offer you a foot massage if I could.” Max told her. At that moment his phone rang and he pulled it out of his jacket to see who was calling, when Michael’s name came up he switched the phone off.

“Usually when guys do that, it’s because they don’t want to talk to their wives or girlfriends.” Liz teased.

Max poured her a glass of champagne. “I don’t have either. That was my brother.”

“Why don’t you want to talk to him?” Liz asked as she took a drink.

“Because he’s just calling to tell me how useless I am.” Max put the phone back into his pocket.

“I’m sure he doesn’t think that.” Liz said genuinely.

“No he does.” Max sighed. “You know the way born again Christians are the most zealous? Michael’s like that. He used to be like me, good for nothing and then one day he just decided to start working for my dad and now he’s like a robot. All he does is work. And he thinks that he’s better than me because I don’t work so he never wastes an opportunity to let me know.”

“So you guys aren’t close? That’s sad. I don’t have any brothers or sisters but I always thought that it would be great.”

Max shrugged. “We used to be. When we were younger, the three of us, Michael, my sister and I, we were really close. We did everything together once but we just drifted apart.”

Liz faced him with a serious expression on her face. “Family’s very important Max. You should never forget that. You’re so lucky to have a brother and sister and parents who love you. Don’t mess it up.”

He frowned. “Is that why you’re here….problems with your parents?”

“No.” Liz shook her head, she didn’t want to talk to Max about why she was here. So she smiled. “I already told you, I’m here because I like to get naked in front of other people. It turns me on.”

“Right.” Max laughed.

***

“Max, this is Michael. Mom’s been in an accident. She’s been taken to St John of God’s. She’s ok but she needs surgery. Can you get over here when you get this message.” Michael hung up the phone and glanced at his watch. He had been trying to get hold of Max for almost an hour at this stage.

“Any luck?” Isabel asked as she handed him a cup of coffee.

“No, he has his cell switched off and he’s not answering any of his pages.” Michael sipped the coffee and grimaced. “This is awful.”

“It’s all they have,” Isabel sighed. She sat down in one of the chairs beside her father and laid her head on his shoulder. Philip wrapped his arm around her wordlessly. Michael sat down on the other side of Isabel and she took his hand in hers and held it in her lap.

Together they sat in silence, watching the door to the operating theatre where Diane had been taken forty minutes earlier. The doctor had assured them that the surgery was pretty routine and he was sure Diane would be fine, but until they saw her with their own eyes they would not be able to relax.

It seemed like weeks had passed before the doctor emerged from the OR and walked up to them. “I just wanted to let you know that the surgery went smoothly. We managed to stop the internal bleeding and repair the damage. She has damaged her spine but it's not as bad as we feared, although we'll have to wait until the swelling has gone down to get a more accurate assessment. She’s been taken to the ICU now and you’ll be allowed to see her in a few minutes. Nurse Carol will show you the way.”

“Thank you Doctor.” Philip shook the surgeon’s hand vigorously before brushing away his tears of relief. Isabel and Michael hugged each other.

They followed the nurse to Diane’s room, just in time to see her being wheeled in. After a few minutes it was ok for them to go in. “She’s unconscious at the moment, it should wear off in a few hours. But you can sit with her.”

They crowded into the room. Their mother was barely recognisable, her face and hands were swollen and bruised and she was covered in bandages with several wires and tubes coming from various machines were attached to her body.

Isabel burst into tears at the sight and rushed to her mother’s side. Philip blinked back tears and collapsed into a chair by the bed. He took Diane’s hand in his and gripped it tightly.

***

After some time with his mother, Michael excused himself to go call Max again. There was still no answer at Max’s apartment and his cell phone was still powered off. He was probably on top of some girl, Michael figured.

Not wanting to go back into his mother’s room yet, Michael wandered along the corridors of the hospital. It wasn't that he didn’t want to be with his mother, but he wasn’t very good when things got emotional and tried to avoid them at all costs. Seeing Isabel in tears was bad enough but having to watch his father break down was too much.

Eventually he came to a corridor that was blocked by security doors, a guard stood watching him to see what he was going to do. Michael blinked in surprise, not expecting to find an area of the hospital that was blocked to the public. He read the sign and saw that it was the postnatal unit. For the first time that night, he remembered that this was the hospital he had brought the baby too, the detective had mentioned she was here. He looked at his watch, it was late but he might be able to find out how that baby was doing and at least he could tell Valenti that he had come to visit the child.

“Do you have a pass?” The guard asked.

“No, why would I need a pass?”

“Only people with passes are allowed into this area of the hospital.”

“I was told my name was at the desk, Michael Guerin.” He handed the guard his ID and was admitted and directed to the postnatal ICU. Michael sighed, maybe if he paid her a visit he could stop the nagging feeling in the pit of his stomach.

A pretty blonde nurse was standing at the desk, reading some notes. She looked up as he approached and smiled. “Hi, can I help you?”

“Uh, yeah….I’m Michael ...Guerin, I found a baby the other day and I was told that I could see her here. I know it’s late but I was hoping that it would be ok.” He scratched his eyebrow nervously.

“Oh, you’re the guy who found her?” The nurse exclaimed. She held out her hand. “I’m Maria, I’ve been looking after her.”

Michael shook her hand. “It’s probably too late for a visit so if you can just tell me how she’s doing.”

Maria waved her hand. “It’s fine, as long as you don’t make noise it’ll be ok. Come with me and I’ll let you see her.” She led him to a room and handed him what looked like a green plastic sheet.

“You have to put that on. It’s a sterile environment.” She helped Michael pull on the green gown, before handing him a pair of plastic gloves and a mask. “One last thing, these cover your feet.” She knelt down and pulled plastic covers over his shoes and then stood up and nodded in satisfaction.

“Let’s go.” Michael followed her into the next room. It was large, but dimly let. He could make out three incubators heavily surrounded by monitors and other paraphernalia. Maria led him to the one in the middle.

He gasped when he saw the baby inside. She looked even smaller than she had the day he had found her. She had even more tubes and wires attached to her tiny body than his mother had. As he gazed at her, the baby’s body spasmed as if in pain and she gave a short sharp cry. Maria adjusted something on one of the machines and made a note. She looked up at Michael expectantly, waiting for him to say something.

“She’s so tiny,” Michael said finally.

“We estimate that she’s about six weeks premature which would account for her size, but the mother was using while she was pregnant so that’s also a factor.

“Using? You mean drugs? Is that why she needs all this stuff?” He pointed lamely at the monitors.

Maria nodded. “Yeah, she’s suffering from withdrawals at the moment.”

Michael watched the baby some more, she seemed to be falling asleep again. He couldn’t get over how tiny and vulnerable she looked. The thought of leaving her alone in a car parking lot suddenly seemed like the most evil thing anybody could ever do. “What will happen to her?”

The nurse shrugged. “It depends, if they can find the birth mother she may be given back to family. If not, probably fostercare.”

“They’d give her back to the woman who dumped her?” Michael asked in outrage.

“Wherever possible, it’s thought best for children to be raised by their natural family. It might not be the mother, but another relative.”

“That’s crap.” Michael muttered.

“But unfortunately, that’s the way things are done. The other possibility is that the police find the mother and she’s given up for adoption.” Maria shook her head and smiled, wanting to change the subject. “I’m glad you came in, we haven’t given her a name and we thought you might like that honor.”

“You want me to give her a name?” Michael asked in surprise. “I don’t really have any ideas about names.”

“Do you have a sister that you’d like to name her after, or your mother maybe? Or we could call her Michelle.”

“No, don’t call her Michelle.” Michael shook his head. He was silent for so long that Maria wondered if he was going to talk again when he suddenly blurted out “Madeline.” He looked up at her, almost shyly. “That was my mother’s name, Madeline Diane.”

Maria turned to the baby. “How about that honey? Do you like Madeline?”

The baby gave no reaction and Maria laughed. “I think if she didn’t like it she’d let us know, so Madeline Diane it is. We have the same initials kid.”

“Will she be ok?” Michael asked, surprised at how concerned he felt.

A look of sadness washed over Maria’s face. “I don’t know. She’s very weak and in a lot of pain. We’re doing what we can for her but…There’s a program available to wean new-borns off drugs and I’m trying to get her admitted to it. If she could get on that, I think that she’d do really well. She’s a real fighter.”

“And if she doesn’t?”

“Who knows? The odds wouldn’t be in her favor, but like I said, she’s a fighter. It’s just such a pity; she has nothing going for her and her whole life is going to be hard and we can’t even do this one little thing to help make her better.”

“So what’s stopping her from being admitted to the program?” Michael asked, already guessing the answer.

“Money of course. I’m trying to find the name of an organisation that might be willing to pay for it. So fingers crossed.”

“I should go.” He leaned down so that he was at eye level with the baby. “Bye Madeline, I hope that you get better soon.”

Maria led him out and he removed his hospital garb. “It was nice meeting you, Maria.”

“You too, I hope we see you again soon.”

“Uh…I’m pretty busy.”

“Oh, ok.” Maria’s disappointment was evident, but she covered it quickly.

He nodded and left. As he walked back down the corridor to his mother’s room he was aware of a strange feeling in the pit of his stomach. He had thought that coming to see that baby would appease the small nagging guilt he felt but instead it had made it a lot worse.

***
Last edited by nibbles2 on Mon Apr 18, 2011 4:08 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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nibbles2
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Post by nibbles2 » Sun Jul 09, 2006 12:35 pm

Sternbetrachter wrote:this kinda screams for another "yes-I-got-nominated-new-part" :D
You're right - here it is.

I don't have fb for everybody's fb written yet but I'll post it when it's done. Thank you all for the incredible response. I love you guys.





TWELVE


Philip Evans was angry, very angry. Slamming doors, shouting at secretaries, red faced kind of angry. After ignoring numerous calls and messages from his brother and sister the night before and that morning, Max had finally strolled into the offices of Evans Ltd, thirty-four minutes late, with a big grin on his face.

“Hi dad, Michael.”

“Where were you last night?” Philip asked, in a deceptively calm voice. If Max had been paying attention, he would have noticed the danger in his father’s eyes. But as it happened, he was replaying his conversation with Liz over in his head and didn’t catch the warning sign.

“I was at a club.”

“How many messages did you leave for Max?” Philip asked Michael who was sitting at the desk.

Michael shrugged. “A dozen, maybe twenty.”

“Did you get any messages Max?”

Max was beginning to realise that he was in trouble and glanced helplessly at Michael. His brother just looked back expectantly, almost as though he was enjoying it.

“No, I had my phone switched off and I didn’t go home last night, I stayed at the IMM because I didn’t want to be late this morning. Was there something that I was supposed to attend?” He wracked his brains trying to remember the Igsagi groups itinerary but couldn’t think of anything that they had to do last night. It had been expected that the negotiations would go on late so Max had been given the night off.

“Maybe you should switch on your phone now and listen to the messages,” Philip suggested, still calm and controlled.

Max took his phone out and called his voicemail number. “Max, this is Michael. Mom’s been in an accident. She’s been taken to St John of God’s. Can you get over here when you get this message.

His heart plummeted. “Oh my God. Is Mom alright? What happened?”

“She was involved in a serious accident last night on her way to a charity function. She needed some surgery, she’s in a stable condition and I was told she’s comfortable when I called this morning. Fortunately for you, she was pretty out of it last night so she didn’t notice that you weren’t there when she came out of surgery.”

“Oh God.” Max sank into one of the desk chairs and held his head in his hands.

Philip picked up a paper from his desk, it was a tabloid and had a picture of Diane being loaded into an ambulance on a stretcher. It was a pretty sickening photograph. He threw it at Max forcefully, almost hitting his younger son on the head. “If you need anymore details, it’s in all the papers, on every radio and on TV. Now get out of my sight.”

“Dad, I’m sorry, I just had my-”

“GET OUT,” Philip roared.

Max stood up and backed out of the room. Outside the office was milling with people who had suddenly become very interested in their work. He slunk away to Michael’s office.

Minutes later, Michael hurried in. He smirked at Max. “What are you doing here? You should go over to the hospital.”

“Is Mom ok?” Max asked in such a small voice that Michael felt sorry for him. He placed his hand on Max’s shoulder. “She’s going to be fine, but she’s pretty badly hurt right now. Go and see her. We have to finish these talks but Isabel should be there. They’d both appreciate it if you were there for them.”

Max nodded and stood up. “I’m sorry, if I had known it was Mom I would have come at once.”

“I know. Go, quickly, before Dad comes in here and kills you.”

***

Daniel Stone stood in front of Philip Evans and tried not to show that he was shaking with fear. Facing either of the Evans in their offices was never a pleasant task, but the entire building knew that Philip was in a furious mood that day.

“Have you got it?”

“Y…yes sir.” Daniel handed Philip a file and watched as the older man leafed through the pages. The more he read, the whiter his face turned. It took Daniel a moment to realise that he was white with fury. He took a couple of steps back from the desk.

“Is this accurate? Is this really the amount of money Max has spent in the last twelve months?”

“Well…as far as we can tell. We know that Max has earned some money from modelling and appearance fees, but we don’t know how much so we can’t say if he spent that money as well.”

“But you do know that he spent over $4million of my money. How did I not realise that?”

“I…uh…ah…I…”

“I don’t expect you to answer that.” Philip said tartly. “Can you tell me if he was using his credit card last night and how much?”

“Yes, it was used at a club called The Dangerzone and he spent $6,000 there.”

“$6,000 in one night at a club? Wait did you say The Dangerzone? Max was at a stripclub last night? While his mother was in hospital having lifesaving surgery Max was at a stripclub?”

Daniel cast a longing glance at the door. How that hell had he found himself in this position? “I’ve never been to The Dangerzone so I really couldn’t say if it’s a stripclub.”

“It is.” Philip flung the file onto his desk. “How many credit cards does Max have that are paid for by me?”

“Three. Sir.”

“Cancel them all. Today. Stop the payments for the rent and utilities at his apartment. Arrange for any cars that he’s using that are in my name to be brought back to my house.”

“Yes Sir.”

“And Daniel, this is between us.”

Daniel nodded nervously and left the office, relieved that Philip Evans was only his boss and not his father.

***

Max followed three men carrying large bouquets and balloons into his mother’s room. He watched, amused as they struggle to find space to lay their burdens down. Every inch of the room was covered in flowers, gift baskets, cards and balloons. Isabel was sitting beside the bed, trying to keep track of everything as it arrived so that Diane would be able to send out thank you cards when she was feeling better.

“Hey, where’s Mom?” Max asked, looking at the empty bed.

Isabel glanced up and glared at her brother. “They took her down to get an x-ray. Where were you last night?”

“I was out and I didn’t get any messages until this morning.”

“Dad’s going to kill you.” Isabel taunted.

“We already spoke.” Max sighed and flopped down into a chair. “What did Mom say about my no show?”

“She didn’t realise that you weren’t here and I think that as long as she thinks that you cared enough to show up, then we should let her think that.”

Max rolled his eyes and then sneezed. “Man, this place is like a flower shop. Who sent all this?”

“Everyone, all her friends and acquaintances, every charity organisation she works for, every company we own or do business with, the hotel, every magazine and newspaper in the city. And fans.”

“Mom has fans?” Max couldn’t help laugh.

“It’s so weird, they say that they’re fans of the Evans family. Can you imagine it?” Isabel shrugged and picked up another card to read.

Five minutes later, Diane was rolled back into the room, followed by another delivery of flowers and fruit baskets. She hugged Max awkwardly, her back injuries making it hard, and assured him that she was feeling fine, and that she looked far worse than she really was.

“Oh my, look at all this stuff. I didn’t realise that I knew so many people. Isabel, there’s no way that all of this can stuff can stay here. Can you talk to the nurses and see if it would be possible to give the flowers and fruit and muffins and chocolates to other people. And maybe send the balloons to the children’s ward.”

“Sure.” Isabel disappeared and Diane gestured for Max to take her place beside the bed. She held his hands in hers and smiled at him.

“I’m fine Max, you don’t have to look like that.”

“Like what?” Max asked, trying to school his features to look normal.

“Like you’ve just run over your puppy.”

“I’m sorry, it’s just hard to see you like this. I wasn’t here last night, I was out and my phone was switched off so I didn’t hear about your accident until this morning.”

Diane frowned. “Oh, I thought Isabel said that you were here.”

“I think that she was trying to cover for me.”

“Well, you’re here now and I appreciate it.” Diane bit her lip and glanced at the door to make sure that Isabel wasn’t on her way back. “I was so frightened Max. Don’t say this to your father or the others but I thought that I’d never see you all again. ”

Max winced, her words had just made him feel so guilty. He couldn’t believe that he had been at a strip club while his mother was fighting for her life, terrified that she was going to die. He knew that he hadn’t been the best son recently, but that was going to change.

~*~

Isabel stomped through the door of the drop in center with a dark scowl on her face. It was pretty evident that she was in a bad mood. Alex and one of the few remaining counsellors exchanged worried glances, before he rose to his feet.

“Hi there Izzie, are you on your own today?” He asked in a cheerful voice.

The tall blonde glared at him. “Obviously.”

“Ooookay. Why don’t we go to my office, I need some help with filing today.” He pointed her in the right direction and followed her down the corridor, not missing the waves of anger radiating of her.

In the office, she cast a dismissive eye at the bulging filing cabinets before letting her gaze drift to the wall. She crossed her arms and waited for Alex to give her further instructions. The center was the last place she wanted to be today and she couldn’t believe that her mother had forced her to come here. If she had to clean even one toilet, then she was leaving. Michael’s millions and the center in Arizona be damned.

“Why don’t we have a cup of coffee before we start.” Alex suggested. He poured two cups and handed her the less chipped one. “So, where’s Diane today.”

“She was in a car accident last night. She’s in the hospital now and she probably won’t be out for a while so I don’t think she’ll be coming back here.”

“Oh, I’m sorry. Is she alright? I hope that it’s nothing too serious?”

Isabel shrugged. “The doctor said that she’ll be fine and Mom swears she’s ok but…”

“It must be awful for you to see her like that, so frightening.”

“I thought that she was going to die.” To her surprise, Isabel began to cry great big tears. Her whole body shook as she sobbed, letting all her the emotion she had bottled up over the last day come out. She was aware of Alex coming to her side and putting his arm around her. He rocked her gently as she wept, rubbing her arm gently. When her tears subsided, he handed her a bunch of tissues.

“Sorry, I can’t believe I did that,” Isabel told before blowing her nose. In the confined space of Alex’s small office, it sounded loudly and she blushed bright red. She pulled a compact mirror out of her purse and took in her appearance. She looked a fright, her mascara was smudged and running down her face, her eyes were red and her skin blotchy. “I look like a clown.”

Alex smiled. “But a very pretty clown. Why don’t you go wash up and then come back here.”

“Thanks.” Isabel handed him the wad of used tissue and went to wash her face and reapply her make up. Fifteen minutes later she returned to the office.

“Feeling better?”

She nodded. “Thank you.”

“It’s my job,” Alex grinned. “So, if you’re ok now, I’ll show you what I need done. As you can see, my filing system is a joke.” He explained to her what he needed done before leaving her to it while he went back to the counselling room.

At first Isabel was shocked and outraged that he expected her to work after what she had told him had happened and it was with not a little anger that she pulled open the first drawer and began to empty the contents. But as she worked, something strange happened. She quickly became lost in the task. She had a natural flare for organisation and neatness and quickly found a system that worked.

When Alex returned almost an hour and a half later it was hard to say who was more surprised at the amount of work Isabel had managed to do.

“Wow,” Was all that Alex could say.

Isabel laughed. “I know, I think that I actually enjoyed that,” she said genuinely. It was probably the first time in her life that she had ever done real work and was amazed that it had felt so good, so…therapeutic.

“Thank you Isabel, I can’t believe that you were able to put order on that mess.”

“It wasn’t easy. You are a very messy guy,” Isabel teased.

Just then there was a knock at the door and Alex opened it to let two people in. “Izzie I’d like you to meet Lucy Johnson. She’s a nurse at St John of God’s hospital. She’s going to do some volunteer work here.”

“Nice to meet you,” Isabel nodded politely, but her eyes were glued on the man standing behind the nurse. He was a tall gorgeous Latino man in a crisp dark suit.

Lucy turned to her companion. “Alex, Izzie, this is Jesse Rameriez. He’s a lawyer. Do you remember the friend I told you about that day in the diner, the one I said I thought could help. Well this is him.”

“Take a seat,” Alex instructed.

Isabel continued what she was doing, but kept an ear on the conversation.

“So, how do you think that you can help us Mr. Rameriez?” Alex asked.

“Jesse, please. I specialise in property and ownership law. A number of years ago, I was working for a Boston law firm and we took a case against Evans Ltd. As far as I know, it’s the only case they lost in the last fifteen years. It was a similar case to yours, the Evans was forcing a small firm out of business. They were awarded $4million.”

“Jesse, I don’t know what Lucy told you but we can’t afford a lawyer. That’s why we haven’t hired one,” Alex said apologetically.

Jesse held up his hand to prevent Alex from turning him down. “Alex, I hate the Evans as much as you do. I hate everything they stand for. They think that because they are rich and powerful they can walk all over the little people. I want to see them brought down a peg or two. I would only take on this case pro bono.”

“You’d do that?” Alex asked in surprise.

“It would look very good on my resume if I could say that I beat Evans ltd twice,” Jesse smiled and cocked his head. “So what do you say? Interested?”

“I’ll say,” Alex laughed and leaned back in his seat. “Wow, Jesse, I’m so grateful.”

The two men shook hands happily. Alex noticed that Isabel was smiling and assumed it was because she was glad for the center.

But she was smiling because she knew that with this piece of information, Michael would be hugely indebted to her.

***

Diane’s personal assistant peaked her head through into her boss’s hospital room and smiled when she saw the patient chattering away on the phone.

“Hi Rosie, come on in,” Diane called as she hung up the phone.

“I have several more faxes and cards for you,” the assistant told her, waving a pile of papers.

“No more, my head will bust if I have to read another one,” Diane groaned.

Rosie laughed. “Ok, I’ll keep them until you’re feeling better. Oh, by the way, I ran into Carla in the hallway. She was asking for you.”

Diane’s head shot up. “Carla Sanchez? Michael’s Carla?”

“Well, Michael’s ex Carla, but yes. She’s here visiting a friend and saw me so she asked how you are.”

“Oh, I’d love to see her. Do you know where she is, maybe she could stop by.”

“I’ll see if I can find her,” Rosie said and hurried out of the room. She returned ten minutes later with Carla in tow.

“Diane,” Carla shrieked and burst into tears. “Thank god you’re alright. I heard the news and I was so worried.”

“I’m fine, it’ll take more than a head on collision to get rid of me,” Diane grinned. She held her arms out for Carla to hug her and the two women embraced. They had been close when Carla had been dating Michael and Diane had missed the younger woman since the break up.

As Carla sat down, Diane took in her appearance. She was a tall and slender girl, thinner than she had been eight months ago. Her long black hair was pulled into a ponytail and she looked pale, despite her olive complexion. “Carla, have you been looking after yourself. You look so thin.”

“Thin is in,” Carla laughed. She shook head. “I’ve just been pretty busy lately and I’ve lost a few pounds. Don’t worry about me, I’m fine. It’s good to see you again, it’s just a pity that it’s in these circumstances.”

“I wanted to call you, to meet up but…” Diane trailed off and shrugged. “I didn’t think that you would want to see me.”

“I didn’t think that you’d want to see me,” Carla said, she wiped her eyes with a tissue and looked around the room. “Are you on your own? Where’s Isabel and Philip and…everyone”

“Philip and Michael are in the middle of really important talks at work so they’re at the office. Isabel was here earlier, but she volunteers at a center so she’s there today and Max is gone home to get me a few things.”

“Isabel volunteers?” Carla blurted out in surprise. She covered her mouth with her hand. “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean it like that.”

Diane shook her head to show that she knew what Carla meant. “We were doing it together, but as I’m otherwise engaged she’s gone alone today. Rosie said that you were here visiting a friend, I hope that nobody’s very sick.”

“No, well… yes, sort of. I volunteer a couple of times a week at a retirement community. I read to some of the residents who can’t read anymore. One of my favorite residents had a heart attack last night and she was brought here. She’s very old and frail and…well…maybe it’s just her time.”

“That’s such a wonderful thing to do,” Diane smiled and patted her hand. “I wish you and Isabel were still friends, you could be such a good influence on her. I’m afraid that she has fallen from grace a little since the last time we spoke.”

“But if she’s volunteering she can’t have fallen too far,” Carla pointed out optimistically. “I miss Iz, but it was just too hard to see her when I couldn’t see Michael…How is he? Is he seeing anyone?”

Diane shook her head. “He has turned into such a workaholic, he’s even worse than his father. He never comes home, he’s always at the office. He never goes out, not with his friends, not with Max, not with any girls. I think he misses you, far more than he can admit to himself. Oh, what happened between the two of you? You were so good together, you made him so happy.”

“He never told you?” Carla asked quietly.

“He just said that it didn’t work out. You know Michael, he never talks about things like that.”

“That was half the problem, he wants to settle down and have a family but he’s too afraid to let anybody close enough. I thought he was letting me in, but I think he got scared and pushed me away. It just became too hard to keep trying and to keep getting rejected.”

“I understand. He’s always been like that,” Diane sighed. “It worries me, I really thought that you’d get through to him. But if you couldn’t then who will he ever let close enough?” she shook her head. “What about you dear? Are you seeing anybody?”

Carla gave her a sad smile. “I’ve been on a few dates, but it’s hard to form a relationship with a guy if you’re in love with somebody else.”

Diane held the girl’s hand at smiled at her fondly. “I’ve missed this, talking to you. There must be some way to get you and Michael back together and I’m going to find it.”

“Michael made it clear that he doesn’t want a relationship with me anymore,” Carla grimaced.

“We’ll just have to make him change his mind,” Diane smiled.

***
Last edited by nibbles2 on Mon Apr 18, 2011 4:25 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Gold Diggers - Chapter 13

Post by nibbles2 » Sun Jul 30, 2006 12:53 pm

In honor of my award and because I'm going away for a few weeks and won't be doing any writing I've come with a new part. Hope you like it.

FSU/MSW-94 All good questions, and they will be answered in upcoming chapters.

Sydniepaige


Anonymousarfan

candycane14 There’s always two sides to every story.

Reamhar Grandma Claudia was in the same hospital but she was moved to a nursing home when Liz took up her new job.

Behrlyliz Max has a reasonable explanation for not getting the message about his mother, but Philip was upset and angry and maybe not thinking logically at the time.

RoswellRulz It’ll take more than a few hours working at the center for Isabel to see the light.

Earth2Mama

LairaBehr4
But Liz never had money so it’s no loss to her, as for Max? Maybe he’ll take up stripping too.

RhondaAnn Baby steps for Isabel, don’t overlook them.

Stargazer's Delight I get the impression that you’re not a fan of Jesse? Even though he’s a good guy who’s going to help the center for free?

Guelbebek

Hazz Max is in for a major lifestyle change.

begonia9508

Paper

Michelle in Yonkers
I agree that Philip reacted badly to Max genuinely not getting his messages. His wife was in a serious crash so maybe you’ll go a little easy on him? His reaction will be addressed soon and maybe then you’ll think better of them. When I set out to write this fic I imagined Philip and Diane as good parents. They love their children and would do anything for them but clearly they got it wrong so they want to address that now and prevent their children from becoming even more monstrous than they already are. To do that they’ll have to do some things that their kids and readers won’t like.

And yes, Philip has a blind spot when it comes to Michael. There’s a reason for it though and it’ll be explained. But probably not for ages.

As for the ‘research’ I’ve been undertaking – I hope that will bear fruit in an upcoming chapter. Look out for 16.!!

ShatteredDreamer Funny that you should mention that….

behrluv32 Whatever gave you that idea? Of course there will be Maria and Michael, I’m a candy.

Sternbetrachter Poor Jesse, he’s a good guy. What did he do to deserve this hatred? LOL.

Tequathisy he’s also very good looking and charming. Maybe he could put that on his resume.

Xmag I think all drugs cause addicts to lose weight.

VeronicB Yes, something else happened between Michael and Carla that stopped him from dating other women – that’s all I’m saying.

Emz80m

roswell3053 Max won’t change overnight but he has a good incentive now at least.

BehrObsession

Ultimatepickupline Liz is suffering because she has no money, she never had. So it doesn’t affect her one way or another whether Max is loaded or broke. Everyone’s expecting Max to be Liz’s white knight, even she is subconsciously but she’s going to have to look after herself. It’s not fair but it’s the way it is.

pandas2001 But will Max be able to stay away from Liz?

Voula How could I take offence to that? Thank you. I totally agree, the plots are very outlandish but it’s a fun fic and I just want people to enjoy it. (A little tidbit here – Tequathisy’s original challenge was inspired by reading the back of a Mills & Boons book. So if it seems a little ridiculous you now know why!!)

sunrise102 Finally, somebody who agrees with Philip.

SmileeUk You wait for ages and then two come along at once. Diane hasn’t recovered, she’s putting on a brave face but she’s still recovering.

Scottie There’s a big Michael backstory that I have to get to at some point that will answer a lot of questions.

Shadowlynxbehr I’m doing something wrong if people like Max most of the three siblings. But then again, I know something about him that you don’t know so that will change. I guarantee!



Thirteen


Liz opened the door of the fridge and assessed its contents. There was a yoghurt - three days past its sell by date, two oranges, some sliced ham, and a small piece of cheese. “Hmm, maybe it’s time to do some grocery shopping,” she laughed as she took out the two oranges and closed the door again.

“Yeah,” Maria nodded distractedly.

“Are you ok?” Liz asked, joining her friend at the kitchen table. “You’ve been quiet all day.”

Maria took the orange Liz offered and began to peel it. She shrugged. “I guess it's just work.”

“It’s the baby, isn’t it? The one that was abandoned?” Liz guessed, she knew her friend well and had noticed that Maria had been quieter than usual since the baby had been brought to the hospital.

“Madeline. I can’t stop thinking about her Liz,” Maria sighed. “She’s so tiny and vulnerable and helpless. And she has nobody to look out for her or protect her.”

“Isn’t that what child services are for?”

“Child services?” Maria snorted. “They don’t have time to look after her. It’s just so sad, she’s in the hospital all alone with nobody to sit with her or to say prayers for her. She needs that. She needs somebody to hold her hand and love her and fight for her.”

Liz put her arm around Maria’s shoulders and hugged her. “I know that you and all the other nurses are doing a great job looking after her, you’re worried about her because you care. So she’s not alone, she has somebody. She has you.”

Maria shook her head. “It’s my job. I get paid to care. She needs somebody who can care twenty four hours a day, seven days a week.”

“You’re not at work now and you’re caring about her,” Liz pointed out. “Maria, child services will find her a home where she’ll be loved. There’s thousands of couples out there who would love to have a child and I’m sure that they’ll find a great family for her.”

“If she makes it that far. She’s really sick Liz and she might not make it. If I could get her on the programme she might have a chance but the hospital won’t do it for free and I’d pay it if I could but I can’t afford it.”

“Maybe you could find somebody who would, you know sponsor her?” Liz suggested.

“Great idea, have you any rich friends in mind?” Maria asked sarcastically.

Liz paused to think. “You could make a call to a newspaper or something, this town is full of rich celebrities who need to do charitable things to make themselves look good. Or…I could ask Max.”

“Max? Max Evans?” Maria cried in shock. “Are you crazy. His family is trying to close down Alex’s center, do you really think that he’d pay for something like this?”

“His family run a charity organisation, you could apply to that. I’m sure Max could put in a good word for the baby, if I ask,” Liz persisted.

Maria pushed herself away from the table and stood up. “It’s bad enough that you’re giving lap dances to the guy who is destroying Alex’s life work but now you want me to go behind our best friend’s back and ask them for money?”

“Max has nothing to do with the center.”

“It’s his family. If he was a good guy then he’s be trying to save the center and he wouldn’t be going to strip clubs and looking for vulnerable young women to sleep with him for cash.”

“That was a misunderstanding,” Liz said, trying her best to remain calm. She knew that Maria was upset about the baby and was just lashing out.

“Right, of course, Max Evans is really a saint,” Maria took a breath to force herself to stop shouting. “Liz, I know that you like this guy. He came to your rescue when you needed him. But you have to accept that he’s a jerk, not a handsome prince on a white horse coming to save you from the mess you’re in right now.”

“I know that.”

“But, do you really?” Maria asked, gently this time, her anger vanished. “I see how you get when you talk about him. I see you staring at his picture in the magazines. He flashes his smile and waves his cash and you forget that he’s really an asshole. His whole family are assholes. They’re greedy and selfish, they think they can do whatever they like and to hell with other people. He’s going to hurt you Liz.”

“Liz shook her head. “You’ve never met him, you don’t know what he’s really like. He’s different in real life.”

Maria sighed, not wanting to get into an argument with Liz about Max Evans. “Ok, you’re right. I’ve never met him so maybe he is a nice guy. And I shouldn’t believe everything that’s written in the papers is gospel truth. But I just think that a good guy wouldn’t hang out in strip clubs every night, he wouldn’t sponge off his parents and he wouldn’t come from a family that wants to close down Alex’s center.”

“No, you’re right,” Liz conceded miserably. “I know that you’re right but I just…Forget about Max and who his family is and think about Madeline for a minute. She needs help. If the Evans can and will pay for her to get the medicine she needs are you going to reject it because of who they are?”

That took the wind out of Maria’s sails for a moment, but she shook her head sadly. “I don’t want you to ask him because I’m afraid of what it will cost you. Max Evans gives you $200 and you strip naked and pole dance for him. If he gives you $100,000, then what’s he going to ask for in return?”

***

“Doctor Fisher, can I have a word with you, please?” Maria asked, hurrying after the doctor. She had come into work an hour early and staked out a position by the door of his office waiting to speak to him.

The doctor sighed and glanced at his watch then back up at the nurse impatiently. “Make it quick.”

“Thank you,” Maria took a deep breath and began her prepared speech. “We have baby in the paediatric ICU who was found abandoned in the parking lot of the diner across the street. She’s about six weeks premature and suffering from withdrawal symptoms. She needs to be admitted to the metsophomine programme.”

“I heard about the case,” Doctor Fisher nodded, failing to see what it had to do with him. He came to a stop in front of the elevator and pressed the call button.

“Well, Doctor Williams tried and I tried to get her admitted but they refused to take her. She was abandoned so she doesn’t have anybody to pay for it and even though she’s under the care of Social services, their insurance doesn’t cover it. So, I was hoping that as you’re on the board, you might be able to persuade them to consider taking her on.”

“A course of metsophomine costs $97,000 per patient. We can’t let just anybody be admitted to it.”

“She’s not just anybody, she’s a baby who will die unless she has this medication,” Maria told him in a strained voice.

“I have every sympathy for the infant, but we can’t admit her. It’s hospital policy. If we admitted her, then every junkie in the city would be leaving their baby on the hospital doorstep. Should we admit all those babies too? We can’t because it’s so expensive.”

“So that’s it? You won’t even consider the case?” Maria asked in anguish.

“It’s against hospital policy,” The doctor repeated. At that moment the elevator door chimed and he stepped into it. “Sorry.”

Maria waited until the door had closed before beginning to cry.

***

Michael stepped out of the elevator and into the bustling hospital corridor. There were a surprising number of people around, in stark contrast to the quietness of the evening before. In the middle of a mass of people he spotted his mother’s personal assistant Rosie. She seemed to be having three different conversations at once, but when she saw Michael, she hurried over to him.

“It’s like a zoo in here,” Rosie exclaimed sounding both exhausted and excited at the same time. “All day it’s been the same, the hospital has extra security guards on duty because of your mother. Can you believe it? And everybody has been sending gifts and cards and flowers. I need my own personal assistant just to keep track.”

“I’m sure you’re managing,” Michael told her kindly, he had known Rosie so long that she was like an aunt to him, Max and Isabel. “How is she today.”

“Oh, she’s so wonderful. She’s in a lot of pain, but she hasn’t complained once and she’s been so cheerful all day. She’s brilliant,” Rosie put her hand on Michael’s arm. “Before you go in there I should warn you that she has a visitor. Carla.”

“What?” Michael asked loudly. “She’s here?” He sighed and ran his hand through his hair. “I’m going to talk a walk. Page me when she’s gone and I’ll come back then.”

He strode off and without meaning too, he found himself retracing the steps he had taken the night before to the postnatal ICU. After showing his ID to the guard, he was waved through.

“Michael, you came back,” He turned around and found the nurse from the previous night walking down the corridor in his direction. She smiled happily at him.

He shrugged. “I was in the neighborhood.”

“I’m so glad you’re here. I’ll just leave these at the desk and I’ll take you to see Maddie,” She left a couple of charts at the desk and ushered him to the locker room where once again he was dressed in the sterile green outfit.

There was a young couple sitting by one of the incubators, they looked pale and tired but managed a small smile when Maria greeted them.

“Hi Maddie, look who came back to see you again,” Maria cooed as she walked up to Madeline’s incubator. Unlike the other two in the room it had no fluffy bunnies or teddy bears or get well cards around it.

Michael took an automatic step back from the incubator when he saw the tiny girl inside. She looked even smaller than she had the day before and her skin looked grey. She wasn’t moving and although her eyes fluttered open when Maria caressed her arm, they closed again.

“She doesn’t look great,” He commented.

Maria shook her head. “She’s not doing great.” She sounded so sad and worried that for a moment Michael wanted to wrap his arms around her and tell her everything was going to be fine. She looked up at him and he could see unshed tears in her eyes. “Come closer, she won’t know you’re here if you stand all the way over there.”

“Ok,” He edged closer and took a seat on the opposite side of the incubator to Maria. He watched as she ran her finger along the length of Madeline’s arm and held her tiny hand. The baby was so small that her hand barely wrapped around Maria’s slender finger.

“Touch her,” Maria said gently. “It lets her know that you’re here. She can’t see you and her hearing isn’t fully developed either so touch is all she has.”

Nervously he reached in through the hole in the glass and imitated Maria’s movement. His touch was probably even gentler than hers was as he was so nervous and worried about hurting the baby. Her eyes opened again and for a second Madeline seemed to look straight at him. It knocked the wind out of his lungs.

“Wow,” he breathed. He watched as she curled her hand over his finger tip and caressed it gently with the cushion of his thumb. Her grip was tight, considering her tiny stature.

“Isn’t she beautiful?” Maria sighed.

He nodded, unable to speak.

“She’s so brave, aren’t you sweetheart? She’s a little fighter. Look at that grip, that’s strong,” Maria cooed again.

“Is she really sick?” Michael asked, finding his voice.

Maria sighed. “Yes, she’s six weeks premature so she’s small and not fully developed but because her mother was using drugs throughout the pregnancy, Madeline isn’t as developed as she should be even at six weeks premature so the withdrawals are really taking their toll on her. And she has contracted an infection in her lungs which is drawing a lot of her strength.”

“Will she pull through?”

“I don’t know, like I said, she’s a fighter and she’s not going to give up easily but it’s going to be very tough on her and I don’t think she has the strength.”

“What about that programme you mentioned last night? What’s that for?”

“It’s supposed to wean her off the drugs quicker than the method she’s using now, it’s less demanding on her body, fewer side effects and it helps combat infections too.”

“Sounds great, so why isn’t she on it?” Michael asked.

“It’s really new, only a couple of hospitals in the country provide it. But its very expensive and insurance companies won’t cover it and the hospital won’t supply it for free. I have the names of some charity organisations and foundations that I can contact and I’m going to see if somebody out there can help,” Maria sighed and leaned her forehead against the glass. “So you just hang in there Maddie, I’m going to help.”

“Maddie. It suits her,” Michael smiled.

“You should bring your mom by to see her namesake,” Maria said brightly.

“She’s dead,” Michael told her in a whisper.

“Oh, God, I’m sorry.”

Michael shook his head. “It’s ok.”

“I should get back to work,” Maria announced after a few minutes. She stroked Maddie’s head gently and stood up. “I’ll be back later kiddo.”

“Can I stay here for a bit longer?” Michael asked.

Maria smiled in delight. “Of course. You should talk to her, let her get to know the sound of your voice.”

Michael nodded but after Maria had left, he made no attempt to talk to the baby - he just couldn’t bring himself to talk in the baby voice. But he sat with Maddie, stroking her arm and just holding her hand for an hour ignoring several pages from Rosie, before going back downstairs to visit his mother.

***

“You’ve been quiet all night,” Philip Evans commented as he and Michael walked out to their cars later that night after visiting Diane.

Michael sighed. “I’m just tired I guess, it’s been a hectic few days.”

Philip nodded. “I hate to do this because I promised your mother that I’d make you take some time off after we had concluded talks with Igsagi. But, I want to take a few weeks off to be with your mother while she’s laid up.”

“Of course.”

“I’d like one of us to be there so it means you’ll have to put off your vacation.”

“I wasn’t planning on taking a vacation anyway,” Michael grinned. “Seriously Dad, it’s fine. Take all the time you need. I’ve no problems with that.”

“But when I get back, will you please take some time off? Your mother is worried about you. She thinks that you work too hard.”

Michael shrugged. “Sure.”

“Alright, I’ll call into the office tomorrow because I’ve some papers that I need to sign and some things to go over and I’ll talk to you about it then. There is one other thing.”

“Yeah?” Michael came to a stop beside his father’s car and waited for him to explain. He could see that Philip looked nervous, which was very unlike him.

“I cancelled Max’s credit cards and his allowance today. From now on, he’s going to have to find his own way. I’m not paying his bills, his rent or anything else. If he wants anything he’ll have to earn it. He needs to be taught a lesson,” Philip sighed and rubbed his face. “If he wants a job, then he’ll have to get one somewhere else. I’m not hiring him just because he’s my son.”

“You actually followed through with your threat?” Michael asked in surprise.

Philip grimaced. “It gives me no satisfaction Michael, but I don’t see what alternative I have. He won’t grow up if Diane and I keep treating him like a child. When he figures it out he’ll probably come to you. Now, I have no right to tell you how to spend your money, but if you really want to help Max then the best thing for him is to stop giving him handouts. Make him get a job.”

“I agree,” Michael grinned.

“Good. Ok, I’ll call it a night, see you at the office tomorrow morning.”

***

“Good evening Mr. Evans, it’s good to see you again,” Jane Wilson said with a smile as Max walked through the doors of The Dangerzone that evening. “The usual?”

He nodded and within a few minutes he and Liz were sitting in a private booth. He opened a bottle of champagne and poured a glass for them.

“I heard about your mother – in the papers. How is she?” Liz asked sympathetically.

After the cold shoulder treatment he had received the night before, Max hadn’t expected Liz to initiate conversation, much less be nice to him. “She’s fine. I mean, she’s hurt and she’ll be in hospital for a while. But she’s in getting the best care and she’s in good spirits. She’ll be fine.”

“It looked really bad from the pictures,” Liz said. She had a far away look in her eyes as though she was thinking of something else.

Max shrugged. “I guess. Mom insists that the pictures were photoshopped to make it look worse. It sells more papers that way.”

“It must have been so scary for you.”

“I…I didn’t know about it until the morning after. My dad and Michael and Isabel were at the hospital all night while she was in surgery. By the time I found out she was passed the worst. But it was scary for her. She told me that she thought she was never going to see us again.”

“You didn’t have to come here tonight, I would have understood if you wanted to stay with your mom.”

“I know but I made you a promise and I intend to keep it. Besides I was with her at the hospital all day. My dad had to be at the office because he and my brother were concluding their big deal negotiations with the Japanese guys I brought here a few nights ago. But he’s going to be there tonight and I wanted to avoid him.”

“She’s at St John of God’s, isn’t she? My best friend works there,” Liz informed him. She bit her lip nervously. Although Maria’s words of warning were repeating over and over again, Liz knew that she had to ask about helping baby Madeline.

“Oh yeah? Is she a doctor?”

“A nurse, a paediatric nurse actually,” Liz sighed. “I’m really worried about her.”

“Why?”

“Oh, it’s just that there’s a baby. She’s really sick and needs certain medicine but it’s really expensive because it’s still experimental but the problem is that the baby has no family because she was found abandoned in a parking lot. Maria’s very attached to her already and I know that if anything happens to the baby Maria will be devastated.”

“That’s terrible.”

“Yeah, she’s contacted loads of different charities to see if anybody will pay but so far there’s nobody willing to take on the cost,” Liz shook her head. “It’s such a shame.”

Max reached into his pocket and pulled out his wallet. “You know, my family runs a charity foundation. If your friend applies to it, they might be able to help. This is the contact details.”

“Thank you Max,” Liz took the card he offered her and read it. She knew that Maria would kill her for what she was about to do and part of her was terrified that her friends warning about what he’d look for in return would come true. But the life of an innocent baby was a stake here and Liz knew she had to ask.

However, before she could open her mouth Max spoke up. “I’d offer to put in a word for you but I don’t think that would go over very well. I’m in the bad books with my family.”

“Because you slept with your Dad’s secretary?”

Max smirked ruefully. “Slept with is the wrong description. But no, that’s not why. Although…actually it was probably the second last straw. My dad was furious with me this morning when he found out that I was here last night instead of at the hospital with Mom. I tried to explain that my phone was switched off but he’s too mad to listen.”

Liz slipped the card into her bra feeling angry and disappointed. Max’s selfishness had surprised her because he was always so generous with her. He had the power to help Madeline by making one phone call but he wouldn’t even try. She sat back in the couch and folded her arms, coldly ignoring any further attempts Max made at engaging her in conversation. When her shift ended, Liz stood up and left the booth without even saying good night.

It was a puzzled Max that made his way down the stairs from the VIP lounge. He couldn’t understand Liz's behaviour she had gone from kind and friendly to cold fish in the matter of minutes. Was it something he said?

“Good evening Max, I hope you had a good night,” Jane Wilson smiled. She helped him put on his coat then discreetly handed him the bill.

“Sure,” Max mumbled as he handed her his credit card.

Jane Wilson swiped the card tapped a few numbers and frowned and then tried again. “There seems to be a problem with this card Mr. Evans.”

“Oh, that’s weird. Try this one,” Max handed her another. Jane swiped it and again she frowned.

“I’m afraid that this one isn’t working either.”

Max’s stomach lurched. There had to be a technical problem with his account, that’s all. There was no way that his Dad had actually carried out his threat.

“There may be a problem with your bank,” Jane smiled, never thinking for a moment that the son of one of the wealthiest men in the country had no money to pay his bill.

“I might have a card from a different bank, hold on,” Max said apologetically. He flipped through his cards until he came to the one that Michael had given him to use while looking after the Igsagi delegation. His father would kill him if he found out that Max was using it to pay for a strip club but as nothing else was working, Max felt he had no choice so he took it out and handed it to Jane. She swiped it and smiled.

“Thank you Mr. Evans. I’m sorry for the trouble.”

Max waved away her apology. He was in trouble alright, but it was his own fault.

***
Last edited by nibbles2 on Mon Apr 18, 2011 4:55 pm, edited 3 times in total.

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Post by nibbles2 » Thu Aug 10, 2006 11:51 am

I really hadn’t thought I’d get this posted so early. But it’s raining non-stop today and I got a chance to write it up so I thought what the heck - You’ve all been so good and left such wonderful feedback that you deserve a new part. Dreamers, be warned that there’s no Max and Liz parts for a couple of chapters. There are other things going on that I have to cover, this is an ensemble fic so not all the couples will interact in every chapter.

My beta is away on holidays so I didn’t send this to her. If you see any glaring mistakes let me know and I’ll fix them.

I love reading your all your comments and questions so keep them coming.

Thanks.

LairaBehr4 thanks

Sternbetrachter Yes, there’s a big shock in store for Maria.

maya He might have spent the money but he has the means.

DreamerMaxBehrian very interesting theories. But as Max found out in chapter two it’s been eleven months since Michael last had sex. So the baby is not his.

candycane14 Liz is in college full time. Apart from the job at the Dangerzone her only other source of income is the rent she receives from her house.

RhondaAnn The problem with Michael is that the ice around his heart is thick and hard so it’s going to be a while before it melts. But I’m sure Maddie and Maria will speed up the process. Will he help Max out? I think you’ll get your answer in this chapter. And look out for a Carla and Michael conversation in the next chapter.

begonia9508 The Evans have enough money to pay for most people’s medication.

Stargazer's Delight

Earth2Mama The original Madeline? You’ll find out more about her in time.

Anonymousarfan More Carla in the next chapter.

Guelbebek

Jason’s lover sulk!!

roswell3053 Liz doesn’t think Max owes her anything. She just thought that Max would be willing to help Maddie.

Tequathisy Haha, I don’t think this is what you had in mind when you posted your challenge. I’m glad you like it girl.

VeronicB You may be right, having to look after himself could be the making of Max.

BehrObsession There will be fireworks when Maria finds out. I’m really looking forward to writing that scene. Let’s just say that Maria is going to get the shock of her life.

Walking Contradiction Max made a promise to Liz and I think he’s going to honor it.

Paper I have a huge Alex storyline that I will be doing, it’s just that there’s a lot of stuff to get out of the way first. I promise plenty of Alex in the future but probably not for a while yet.

Clueless thanks

SmileeUk Michael’s past is another storyline that I want to cover but just can’t fit in yet. But it’s coming.

Michelle in Yonkers It’s not like Philip and Diane have just indulged Max and then pulled the plug out of the blue. They have been lecturing and pleading with him for ages. They’ve told him that they were going to do this. Yes they gave Michael a job but he rose to the challenge and proved that he deserved the job. Max just messed up the ones he was given.

And something everybody missed, Philip told Michael that if Max messed up once more that he would pull the plug without telling Max. Michael was supposed to warn Max and try talk some sense into him. He didn’t do either of those things.

Maybe I should include Philip and Diane on my list of people who need to learn a valuable lesson about money.

Erina

Loviedovie

touched by an alien

FSU/MSW-94 good point and it’s addressed in this chapter

Morning Dreamgirl ditto.


Fourteen


“Fuck, fuck, fuck.”

Max Evans was having a very bad day. He had woken early and alone, both unusual enough for him, and made a number of phone calls to his bank. He had learned that not only had Philip Evans cancelled the four credit cards that Max used but his monthly allowance which had been due to be paid that day had not come through. His rent hadn’t been paid either. The balance in his account was quiet healthy and most people would have been thrilled to see it on their bank statement, but most people didn’t have to pay rent for a luxury pent house apartment or the thousand and one other expenses that Max accrued each day. He did a quick calculation and realised that he would be completely broke within three weeks.

Then to make matters worse, he had gone downstairs and found that three of his cars were being loaded onto the back of a truck. When he had protested, one of the men had given him a sheet of paper informing him that they were being repossessed. But if Max could pay a $10,000 each he could have them back. Max declined the offer and climbed into the one car that he had paid for himself.

When he arrived at the Evans building he had to sit in his jeep for a few minutes to calm down and compose his thoughts. He knew that Philip must have been beyond furious to really cancel his allowance and to cancel his credit cards. So Max would have to appear contrite. No doubt there would be a long lecture that Max would have to listen to. He would have to promise to mend his ways which gave him two options – get a job or go back to school. Neither an option that Max really wanted to take.

As he rode the elevator to the top floor, Max reminded himself to be calm and be apologetic. He had almost expected Philip to be waiting for him as the doors of the elevator slid open. But he wasn’t so Max approached his father’s secretary with trepidation.

“Is Dad in yet?”

“No, he’s not coming in today. He’s taking some time off to be with your mother so he’s probably at the hospital.”

“Oh…did he leave a message for me?”

The secretary shook her head. “Not with me but maybe with Michael.”

“Thanks.”

He made his way over to Michael’s office and saw that the door was firmly shut. He turned to Michael’s secretary. “Is he free?”

“Not at the moment, but if you’d like to take a seat he may be able to see you in a while,” Tess answered brightly.

Max turned to take a seat and was surprised to see Isabel sitting on the couch leafing through a copy of Vogue. “It’s very early for you to be up isn’t it?”

“I could say the same for you,” She replied with fake sweetness.

“So why are you here?” Max asked wondering if their Dad had pulled the plug on Isabel too.

Isabel glanced up at him. “I have to talk to Michael. So what’s up with you? Any news?”

“You could say that,” Max let out a sigh. “Dad cancelled my credit cards, repossessed my cars and didn’t pay my allowance or rent today.”

“Yeah right,” Isabel laughed, but when she saw Max’s serious expression her smile faded. “What? You’re serious.”

“As a heart attack. He said he was going to cut me off, and last night I was at a club and all my cards were rejected. I called the bank this morning and found out that I’m almost broke.”

“Oh my God,” Isabel put down her magazine and turned to give her brother all of her attention. “I can’t believe it. He’s been threatening to do that for years, to all of us. I can’t believe he actually went through with it.”

“I only have enough money to last three weeks and then I have nothing.”

“But Max how can you only have enough money for three weeks, don’t you save any of your allowance? And I know you get money from modelling and appearance fees, surely you don’t have all that spent.”

He shrugged. “I guess I do.”

“You idiot,” Isabel exclaimed. She stared at her brother trying to figure out what he could have blown so much money on. Their parents were quiet generous with the amount of money they gave to Max and Isabel. When they were born, Max and Isabel’s share of the family business had been put in trust until they turned twenty-six. The money that their shares earned in the meantime was also put in trust and Philip and Diane gave them a pretty generous allowance calculated as a percentage of what their shares earned. Twenty-four years ago that amount was great but two and a half decades later the amount was through the roof. The company was making more money than anybody could keep track of.

For a moment Max considered asking her for a loan but he quickly decided against it. Isabel already had a huge hold over him because of the videotape, the last thing he wanted to do was give her another hold over his life.

Just then the door to Michael’s office opened and their brother walked out talking to another man who looked vaguely familiar. Max frowned, trying to remember who the man was.

“I’m looking forward to doing business with X.Pext.” The man said shaking Michael’s hand.

“We’re looking forward to doing business with you.”

“Give my best to your parents Michael,” He said as he left the office. He nodded politely at Max and Isabel as he passed and Max remembered that he was the CEO of a large company that the Evans did business with.

“Its 10am and the two of you are here. Isn’t that one of the signs of the apocalypse?” Michael joked.

“You’re so funny,” Isabel said with a roll of her eyes as she followed Michael back into his office and threw herself into one of his chairs. Max followed and took a seat beside her.

Michael took a folder that Tess offered him and began reading it, ignore both his siblings.

“Wasn’t that Theo Jefferson?” Max asked.

“So you do read the business pages.” Michael said in mock surprise.

Max narrowed his eyes. “What did he mean when he said that he looks forward to working with X.Pext? Who are they?”

“Ok, I was wrong,” Michael shook his head. “X.Pext is my company. We’ve just won a contract to provide him with services.”

“You have your own company?” Isabel asked in outrage. “Since when?”

“I bought it a few years ago.”

“Does dad know about this?” Max asked.

“Dad’s one of the shareholders. You were both told about this already.”

“No, I think I’d remember if you had your own company,” Isabel retorted.

“Obviously not Isabel.” Michael sighed and glanced up at her. He and his father had talked endlessly about X.Pext when he first acquired it and he knew for a fact that Isabel and Max had been present during some of those conversations.

Isabel shook her head. “So what does it do?”

“It’s a small company that provides a niche financial service. Evans Ltd took over their parent company a few years ago, we were going to close down X.Pext but I thought that I could make a go of it so I bought it. Dad, this company, has a 10% stake in it.”

“How were you able to afford a company?” Max asked in bewilderment. Michael was only 27, if he had bought the company a few years ago, where the hell had he got the money from?

“My trust fund.”

“You mean you got your trust fund money early?” Isabel asked.

“Yes, mine was different to yours. It matured when I was twenty one.”

Isabel folded her arms across her chest and pouted. “That’s not fair.”

Michael shrugged.

“Do you still get an allowance?”

“I’m an adult Max, only kids get allowances,” Michael laughed, knowing full well that Max and Isabel both still received an allowance. He wondered if Max had noticed that his had been stopped yet.

“So you get your money from X.Pext?”

“No, X.Pext has only started making a profit this year, I’ve been investing money in it until recently. I’ll get a good return now because of the Jefferson contract. I get my money because I work hard and I’m paid for it.”

Isabel sat back in her chair and shook her head. “I never knew that. Are you going to stop working for us and join your own company full time?”

“No, I have a guy to run the other company, he reports to me. I’m needed here. And I don’t work for you.”

“Maybe you can give Max a job at your other company,” Isabel suggested slyly.

Michael smirked. “Sure, just submit your resume and I’ll see if there’s a position you’re qualified for Max. I think they need somebody in the mailroom.”

“Shut up,” Max groaned.

Michael made a number of notes on the file he was reading and closed it. “So, something tells me that you’re not here just to interrogate me about how much money I have.”

“I have something to tell you …about the Wilson Road project, but it can wait,” Isabel smiled. She gestured for Max to go ahead. He made a face at her, she was enjoying his misery far too much.

“Dad cancelled my allowance, rent and credit cards.”

“I heard,” Michael laughed. “I didn’t think that you’d show up here so quickly though Max. I thought you had more pride.”

“I just wanted to find out what’s going on.”

“You know what’s going on. Dad is sick of your lazy attitude. He’s not going to pay for you to be a playboy any longer. He’s given you more than enough chances and money to do something worthwhile with and you’ve blown everyone of them.”

“Man. So what do I have to do to make it up to him?”

Again Michael shrugged. “He’s not doing this because you had your phone switched off, he’s doing it because he’s fed up of you. You’re an adult now Max, he wants to be proud of you but you’re an embarrassment to him. Get a real job, go back to college, do something grown up.”

Max groaned. “Fine, if it’ll get him off my back give me something. There must be a job I can do around here.”

“Sorry, no can do. I’m under strict instructions not to give you any handouts. If you want a job, you’ll have to go elsewhere.”

Max stood up and began to pace the room. “He gave you a job here.”

“I have a business degree from Stanford. I graduated top of my class. This is a top company and we only hire the best people. You don’t have any qualifications and hardly any experience. If you weren’t the son of the President of the company you’d never make it through the front door. He gave me the same starter job as he gave you. The difference between us is that I worked my way up through the ranks. You just worked your way through the girls on the same floor as you. He gave you other jobs and you didn’t do them or you never showed up or you made a mess of them. You don’t deserve a decent reference never mind a job.”

“I’m one of the shareholders here,” Max shouted, his patience snapping. “If I want a job here, I should get one.”

Michael smirked. “Technically, you’re not a shareholder until you turn 26 Maxwell, Mom and Dad are holding your shares in trust. So until you learn to wear big boy pants, you can’t demand anything here.”

“You’re enjoying this aren’t you?”

Michael sat back, grinning like a Cheshire cat. “Immensely.”

“You bastard. You’re my brother, how can you sit there and laugh?”

“Don’t you dare lecture me about brotherhood.” Michael hissed, his good humour vanished. He rose to his feet, anger burning in his eyes.

Knock knock

“What?” Michael yelled.

The door opened and Tess peered timidly inside. “Mr. Jenson to see you.”

“Give me a minute.” Michael sighed. He waited until Tess had left before turning to face Max. “I’m very busy now so could you get lost.”

Max stared at him for a minute before turning on his heal and storming out, making sure to bang the door loudly as he went.

“What was that about?” Isabel asked Michael.

“Nothing, Iz, I’m very busy so unless you have something important…”

“Actually I do. Does the name Jesse Rameriez mean anything to you?”

“No, should it?”

“He used to work for a Boston law firm. He won a case against us a few years ago.”

“Oh yes, I remember...So?”

“He hates the Evans and wants nothing more that to see us in hell,” Isabel smiled, drawing out the suspense. “And… he’s going to be working pro bono for the Lucinda Foundation center.”

Michael closed his eyes and swore under his breath before lifting his phone. “Tess, get onto the legal department and ask them to send up the file on a lawyer named Jesse Rameriez immediately. Tell them to make sure it’s up to date.”

Isabel smiled and stood up. “Well, you’re busy so I won’t keep you any longer. But remember, you owe me now and I’ll be calling in that favor someday.”

***

“Hi Grandma, it’s me. Sorry I haven’t been around for a few days, I’ve just been really busy at school and work. I had this paper to write and it took me ages to find the reference material I needed…”Liz trailed off and just watched her grandmother’s face hoping for some sign of life, something that said she knew Liz was there. But there was none.

A sharp pain filled her heart. “I miss you so much Grandma, I miss talking to you and cuddling up with you on the couch listening to you talk about your day. I miss the dinners you used to make me. I miss the lectures I used to get about forgetting to turn off lights when I left a room. Please wake up. I need you.

God, I’m making such a mess of things. There’s this guy. He’s an absolute jerk if even half the stuff that’s said about him is true. I know he’s all wrong for me, I know that he’s only after one thing, but when I’m with him, I don’t care about any of that stuff. He’s so sweet and kind or at least that’s how he acts around me. If it wasn’t for him there’s no way I would have survived at my new job. But I know he can’t be trusted, even some of the stuff he’s told me about himself is really bad. Maria hates him of course, even though she hasn’t met him. If the positions were reversed, I’d be warning her off him too.

So why can’t I listen to her, or everybody else who says that I should be careful? Even I know I have to be careful around him and not let myself fall for him. But all it takes is for him to smile at me and my legs start shaking and my skin starts tingling. What’s wrong with me?”

Claudia lay still on the bed, the gentle sound of her breathing was all that broke the silence. If she had been awake, she would have pulled Liz close to her and listened carefully, before giving her pearls of wisdom. Liz knew that she would probably never get to hear advice from her grandmother again. The thought of having to go through her whole life without support and advice from her grandmother was terrifying, it made Liz feel so inadequate and alone.

Suddenly, her phone vibrated in her pocket. “Hello.”

“Hello Liz, this is Jane Wilson. I would like to talk to you before your shift this evening. I wonder is it possible for you to come in early, say about 8?”

“I…ok, I’ll see you then.”

She hung up with a sigh, what could that be about?

***

Tess knocked on her boss’s door and slipped into his office. “Jesse Rameriez is here to see you. I made him wait fifteen minutes like you said. He’s starting to get impatient.”

Michael nodded and checked his watch. “Good, go back to your desk. I’ll give you a call in a minute and you can send him in then.”

“Ok,” Tess waited until she was outside the door to roll her eyes at his theatrics. She smiled at Jesse, who was doing his best not to show that he was bothered by the delay. “He’ll be ready to see you very shortly,” she promised.

Sure enough, Michael buzzed through within a minute and told her to bring Jesse in.

“Mr. Rameriez, thank you for seeing me at such short notice.”

Jesse shook his hand firmly. “No problem, it’s not every day that you’re summoned to the offices of Evans Ltd.”

Michael smirked at his use of the word summoned. “I had only just heard you were in town and I wanted to speak with you.”

“Well here I am, may I ask what this is about?” Jesse asked, sure that Michael had somehow found out that he would be representing the Lucinda center and was about to threaten him or intimidate him into dropping the case.

“Mr. Rameriez, do you realise that you are the only lawyer to have won a case against us in over fifteen years?”

“I was not aware of that, no.” Jesse lied, his chest puffed out proudly.

Michael pretended to believe him. “It’s true. So what brings you to LA?”

“A girl,” Jesse laughed. “My girlfriend wants to be an actress and she got cast in a role in a TV series so we moved out here.”

“You’re not attached to any firm?” Michael asked, though he already knew the answer.

“No, I’ve decided that I’m not going to work with any more big law firms for the moment. I want to develop my skills as an attorney, move into other areas of law. If I join a firm, I tend to be pigeon holed in property and real estate law.”

“So what other areas are you interested in pursuing?”

Jesse paused deciding that Michael was steering the conversation in the direction of the center now. “I want to work in human rights, stand up for the little guy against corporation giants. I want to make a difference.”

“I see,” Michael nodded sagely and drummed his finger together, deep in thought. After what seemed like ages he spoke again. “That’s very interesting,” He laughed wryly. “I asked you here today to offer you a position here. We need an expert in property law and I want the best. But as you’re not interested in that, maybe there’s something else…”

He stood up and went to the door. “Tess, can you ask Walter Smiley to come up here please.” He went back to the desk and sat down. “As well as the corporate side of things here at Evans Ltd, we have a large charity foundation. We are looking to hire a lawyer to work not for us but on behalf of charities and people the foundation assists. Of course, Evans Ltd would foot all legal bills and pay the lawyers salary. It would be very diverse work. He or she could be representing a homeless shelter one day, a battered wife the next, a school a week later.”

There was a knock on the door and Tess brought Walter Smiley into the office. Michael introduced him to Jesse. “Walter runs the foundation and is in charge of hiring the lawyer.”

“It’s good to meet you Walter,” Jesse shook his hand and turned to Michael, confusion written on his face. “Are you offering me the job?”

“That’s up to Walter,” Michael shrugged.

“I’ve read your file and if you’re interested, the job’s yours.” Walter informed Jesse. “It’s €480,000 a year. You’d have the full support of the legal and research team here.”

“Are you serious?” Jesse asked, shocked and a little angry.

“Completely serious,” Michael answered. He nodded at Walter. “Thanks Walt,” The older man slipped out of the office leaving Michael and Jesse alone.

Jesse rose to his feet and paced the large room. “Is this because of the Lucinda center?”

Michael frowned, playing the role of perplexed perfectly. “The Lucinda Center? What about it?”

“I’ve just agreed to represent them against you because you’re about to close them down, how can you honestly sit there and ask me take up a position in your foundation and work for you when you’re doing everything in your power to close that place down? Are you offering me a job because I’m representing them?”

“I was unaware that you were representing anybody,” Michael told him, lying with great ease. “The Lucinda center is an unfortunate case. It’s located in a large area of land that belongs to us and which we are currently developing. In two, three years it will be completely redeveloped and one of the most sought after areas in the city. The people who use the center won’t be there anymore, the center couldn’t function without them.”

“Are you telling me that you’re going to remove the people who live in that area?”

“It’s a matter of economics, most of them are squatting on our land and will have to leave when the bulldozers move in anyway. The rest won’t be able to afford to pay the rent for any of the apartments.”

“You are one cold hearted bastard. How can you run a charity foundation with an attitude like that?”

Michael smirked, “I don’t run it, I fund it. $480,000 a year Mr. Rameriez, can you really turn that down?”

“But I’ve already agreed to represent the Lucinda center against you,” Jesse revealed.

To his surprise, Michael laughed. “Really, what are the going to pay you with? Love and kisses?”

“I agreed to work pro bono.”

“I see and what about all the other cases you intend to take, these human right cases? How many of them will be able to pay you? How many cases can you take if you’re tied up defending the Lucinda center for free? It could drag on for years?”

“Evans Ltd is in a hurry to get the Wilson Road project completed, everybody knows that.”

Michael nodded. “True, but if it’s delayed we’re not going to lose anything. We can afford for this to drag for a year. You can’t, not if you’re unattached. Or will your girlfriend pay for you while you’re working for them?”

Jesse sighed and ran his hand through his hair. He sat down in his chair and seemed to be thinking over what Michael had said.

Seizing the advantage, Michael played his trump card. “The foundation does good work, for a lot of people. It’s probably one of the very few jobs where you really could make a difference. Think about it Jesse, don’t turn it down just because you don’t like me. This is a genuine offer, you’d be a fool not to take it.”

“I need time to think about it.”

“You have until 10am tomorrow morning. Walt will be expecting your call. If you don’t accept by then, don’t bother calling and we’ll see you in court.”

***
Last edited by nibbles2 on Thu Apr 28, 2011 3:06 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Post by nibbles2 » Thu Sep 07, 2006 10:42 am

As usual, thank you all for your awesome feedback. I wish you could see the dopey grin I get on my face when I read what you all have to say. It means so much to me that so many people seem to like this fic.


roswell3053. That’s only the tip of the iceberg of what Michael can do.

Sternbetrachter Yes, Isabel isn’t stupid, she has managed to have a wild party lifestyle like Max but save money too.

LairaBehr4 Ok, Philip and Diane made mistakes in the past when it came to raising their children. Should they sit back and watch as their children continue to behave as they have done so far? They have to take action so what do you suggest they do? They’ve tried begging, bribing, threatening, cajoling, waiting and demanding and none of those tactics have worked, forcing Isabel to do volunteer work and cutting off Max’s allowance is their last resort.

Jason's Lover

Dreamsatnight

begonia9508
Jesse might surprise you.

Loviedovie Will you still think that Max isn’t as bad as Michael and Isabel after this chapter?

Anonymousarfan Max needs to learn to grow up on his own. Liz can be his inspiration but if he’s only doing it for her then he’s not ready yet.

RhondaAnn It makes me so happy that my characters disgust you so much LOL.

Clueless

Behrlyliz


Michelle in Yonkers You ask some very valid questions about the center and the Evans persecution of it. And it will be answered in time, the answers will hopefully surprise you. As for Max not being taught the value of money, Isabel and Michael have managed their money very well. Michael bought a failing business and made it successful, Isabel is completely independent of her parents. They managed to learn the value of money so why didn’t Max? He’s old enough and should know better enough than losing $4million dollars and not having any savings.

DreamerMaxBehrian Jesse is the only lawyer who has won a case against the Evans in a long time so he’s obviously a good lawyer, Michael has hired him not to work for the Evan’s but to work for people and organisations who desperately need but can’t afford a lawyer. Yet you’ve described him as ‘ruthless, calculating, cut-throat, hateful, vindictive, and just plain evil.’ Poor Michael, what does he have to do to be liked around here? LOL.

Could the baby be Max’s? Perhaps.

Sophia

Walking Contradiction You’ll find out soon, I promise.

Shadowlynxbehr I don’t think that there’s anything to merit praising Michael either especially when it comes to his feelings for Maddie and it surprised me when people thought that Kyle was being to hard on him. I think that you have to have a really cold heart to be able to walk away from a seriously ill and abandoned baby especially when the change in your pocket could probably save her life. If anything, it’s the way he has acted towards Maddie so far that I dislike more than the way he treats Max and others.

Behrsgirl1230 Welcome

Xmag I love your sig banner, it’s beautiful. I like your theory for Michael and Maria, definitely has possibilities but it’s way off.

Reamhar Max isn’t cruel in the way that Isabel and Michael are but I wouldn’t go so far as to call him nice. Any chance of an update for DLS or WAAIS?

Earth2Mama

SmileeUk

Tequathisy You wanted them horrible, it’s all your fault. Excellent questions about Max's money and like everything else they will be answered in time.

L-J-L 76

Confusedfool do you really think that a little thing like no money will keep Max away from Liz?

killjoy yep, they’re all horrible.

Stargazer's Delight

BehrObsession Michael has some redeeming qualities, Max has a lot of bad ones. You just haven’t seen either of them yet.

Thanette



Fifteen


Jane Wilson was sitting at her desk reading a copy of the LA Times when Liz arrived. “Hello Liz, thanks for coming in to see me.” She led Liz over to a couch and gestured for her to sit down. After getting her a cup of coffee, Jane took a seat opposite Liz on a large comfortable looking armchair. For a brief moment, Liz felt like she was a patient sitting on the couch in a psychiatrist’s office.

“The reason I asked you to come in today was because I like to catch up with the new girls every so often to make sure that they are settling in alright. I know that Brenda and the other girls looked after you but I want to make sure for myself,” Jane explained.

Liz took a sip of her coffee and nodded. “It’s been good so far.”

“I would like to apologise for your experience with Mr. James the other night. We try to keep those kinds of men out of our club, but sometimes they manage to fool us. He has been banned and I assure you that he will not be allowed in again. You are permitted to leave the booth if a client is making you uncomfortable enough that it makes you cry. I would never expect you to do something that you’re not comfortable with, no matter how much money you’re being paid.”

“I…I’ll keep that in mind,” Liz smiled.

“Good. Now, tell me, how do you find stripping?”

Liz shrugged, “It’s a bit weird I guess, but I think I’m getting used to the idea now and I find that when I’m dancing it doesn’t bother me at all, I forget that I’m half naked.”

“I’m glad to hear that,” Jane smiled. “I was thinking about putting you on stage.”

“On st…stage?”

“Yes, to do a strip routine. I think that you have the ability and the appeal. Would that interest you?”

Pushing down the panic that was threatening to erupt, Liz nodded. She knew that the stage girls got bigger tips and were asked into private booths more often, which meant more money. And that was why she was here after all.

“Excellent, when we’re finished here, we’ll go down and see Petal, I believe she has an outfit in mind for you already. It would be a good idea to talk to Nell, she’ll give you a few more lessons and help you come up with a routine.”

“Ok,” Liz said nervously.

“There’s one other thing I want to talk to you about Liz,” Jane’s voice sounded more serious now and it made Liz sit more upright. “Max Evans.”

Liz blinked. “Uh…what about him?”

“You’ve been spending a lot of time in his company.”

“He asks for me,” Liz pointed out.

Jane picked up a remote control and pointed it the wall. A large, flatscreen TV was lowered from the ceiling, it flickered on. She pressed another button and the picture changed. Liz realised that it was from the security camera in the booth she had shared with Max the night before. There was no sound but it was clear that Max was trying to make conversation. Liz sat opposite him, her arms crossed and her face turned away from him. Jane pressed fast forward and the picture sped up. Nothing happened until Liz stood up and left at the end of her shift.

“Can you tell me what’s going on there?” Jane asked.

“Nothing,” Liz said at once, afraid that Jane somehow knew how she felt about Max.. “There’s nothing going on.”

“Exactly,” Jane sighed and switched off the TV, it disappeared back into the ceiling. “Liz, Max Evans is a rich man and if he is happy to let you sit there all night and not even talk to him then that’s up to him. However, I don’t like it. I pay you to dance and strip and keep him company. I expect you to get him to buy drinks and tip you generously. I gave you a job because I thought I could make money from you. That sounds cold, but it’s also why you accepted it. You’re here because you need to make money to help pay your grandmother’s hospital bills. I reviewed the tape from last night and the night before, apart from the commission on the champagne, you made no money last night. And since, technically he had ordered the champagne before you entered the booth, I don’t have to pay you the commission for it. But it’s only $70 so I’m not going to complain.”

Liz opened her mouth to defend herself, but could think of nothing so she shut it again and nodded.

“Whenever he comes in and you’re not on duty he spends a lot of money on the other girls and that makes me very happy because I make a lot of money. If you’re here, he just goes into a booth with you. I’m paying you to make money from him but I end up making a loss because I’m paying your wages and not getting any revenue back. I’m not going to stop you from keeping him company, but in future I expect you to stop sulking, dance for him, get him to buy drinks and do the job I pay you to do… If you can’t do what I pay you to do, then I will have to find somebody who will, understand?”

“Yes,” Liz nodded.

“Good. If you’re finished your coffee, we’ll go and see Petal.”

They made their way from Jane’s office through the maze of corridors and into the costume room. Petal greeted Liz warmly and questioned her about her first week of work at the club. When Jane cleared her throat impatiently, Petal pulled out an outfit from one of the rails.

“This is what I’ve imagined for Liz,” She announced presenting it with a flourish. It was a flimsy white dress made from gauze and not much else. Petal handed it to Liz to examine. She placed her hand inside it and noticed with alarm that it was completely see through. Petal, meanwhile was rummaging along another rail. “Here’s the rest of it.”

Thank God, Liz thought until she turned around to see what Petal was holding. It was a pair of feathered wings.

“It’s an angel outfit,” Petal explained. “I strap the wings on first and then you put on the dress. When you strip off, the wings stay on. I have a special holster for them. There’s also a halo that you wear on your head.”

“Perfect,” Jane declared. “Liz will really be able to sell this, she looks so innocent.”

“I’ll get my tape and measure you for it,” Petal grinned, disappearing behind a rail.

“You should be ready for the stage in a week,” Jane told Liz making a note in her palm pilot.

Liz nodded mutely, too scared to speak out loud. She just eyed the costume fearfully.

“Liz,” Jane said quietly coming up to stand beside her. “If you play your cards right in this outfit, Max Evans will pay all your grandmother’s hospital bills.”

***

Alex opened his notebook to a clean page and looked up expectantly. Across the desk from him, Cynthia sat in her uncomfortable chair, beaming. “So, what do you want to talk to me about?”

“Well, I have two things actually. You know how in the hotel, we supply a turndown service at night? Well, one of the supervisors of the evening shift is pregnant and she’s going to take some time off. And I’ve been offered her job. It’s just until she comes back in a few months, but if I do a good job then my manager says she’ll train me to supervise the day shift.”

“Cynthia, that’s great. That’s the best piece of news I’ve had all week,” Alex exclaimed joyfully. “I’m so proud of you.”

“Thanks,” Cynthia blushed and smiled happily. “And the other thing is, one of the girls who works in the kitchen has bought an apartment and she’s looking for a room mate. She and I are good friends so she asked if I’d consider moving in. I thought I should run it by you first.”

Alex sat back in his chair and smiled. “How do you feel about it?”

“I’m thrilled. She’s real smart and sweet and she’s quiet. She makes the bread for the hotel every morning so she has to be in bed early every night. She hardly ever goes out or drinks. A year ago, she would have thought I was a complete loser and would never have wanted to be my friend.”

It sounds like she’s the ideal roommate for you. How do you feel about living on your own? About not having to report in every evening or having somebody watching you all the time?”

“I think I can handle it on my own. I mean, really I think I can handle it. It doesn’t scare me. I think I can handle paying bills and buying groceries. I made up a budget today, to see if I could afford it. See,” She shoved a piece of paper in Alex’s direction. He picked it up and glanced over it.

“Wow, Cyn, this looks great. I agree, I think that you’re more than capable of handling this by yourself.”

“And I’ll still be coming back here to do my school work and to see you guys so you’ll be able to keep an eye on me. And I can talk to you when I need to, right?”

Alex nodded. “Of course.”

“Will the center still be here?” Cynthia asked quietly, she looked up at him. “Anybody can see that you’re having difficulty.”

“I’m doing my best to keep it open. Two days ago I would have told you that it didn’t look good. But there’s a lawyer who’s going to help us and for the first time since this whole mess with the Evans started I feel confident about the future.”

“That’s great,” Cynthia came around the desk and hugged Alex. “This center saved my life. You saved my life Alex.” She stood up and wiped a tear away. “I’m such an idiot. I’m going to call Kat and tell her I’ll be moving in.”

She leaned over and hugged him once more before literally skipping out of the office, bumping into Izzie who was coming in.

“Somebody’s in a good mood,” Izzie commented.

“Cynthia’s one of our success stories,” Alex said proudly.

“Actually, I was talking about you,” Isabel smiled. “You look happy. Ever since I’ve known you, you’ve always looked worried and anxious. But today you look like you’re happy, you look about five years younger.”

Alex laughed. “I feel younger and happier than I have in a long time. There’s such a weight off my mind now that I know Jesse is working for us. I actually feel confident that we might be able to win this.”

For a moment, Izzie’s smile faded and she looked stricken. He thought she was about to say something but instead she shook her head and turned to the filing cabinet. “I’ll just finish up here. Or am I in your way?”

“No go ahead, I have to lead a group counselling session now.” He gathered up his notebook and a pen and stood up, but paused before he left the office. “How’s your mother?”

“She’s doing better.”

“Good, that’s great. Tell her that everybody here is thinking of her.”

“I will,” Izzie nodded.

Alex came closer to her. “This must be a very difficult time for you and I just want you to know that if you need to talk to anybody, I’m here. You may not consider me a friend, but I’m impartial and a good listener and I might be able to help you. I know that in times of stress and difficulty like this that sometimes people can find themselves going down paths that they wish to avoid and -”

“I’m not going to start using drugs just because my mom is in the hospital,” Isabel spat out.

He backed away. “Ok, I’m just saying that if you need somebody to talk to, I’m here. You have my number.”

***

“Thank God you’re here.”

Michael stopped walking and looked at his brother in alarm. “Why, did something happen? What’s wrong?”

Max waved his hands. “No, nothing like that. Dad’s here and I don’t want to face him and Mom alone. There have been visitors all day long so he hasn’t been able to have another go at me.”

“And you think that if I’m there Dad will skip the lecture?” Michael asked with a laugh.

“Crap,” Max sighed, realising that Michael was right. His brother’s presence wouldn’t prevent the lecture that was coming his way. If anything Philip and Diane would probably look on Michael as one of their allies and would expect him to join them in lecturing Max. Wouldn’t Michael enjoy that.

“Man, you must be really nervous,” Michael said as they walked through the hospital corridor to Diane’s room. “There’s about thirty nurses trying to catch your eye and you haven’t even looked at one.”

“I’m not nervous, I’m just fed up of…”

Michael waited for Max to finish but he had frozen. They were standing just outside the doorway of Diane’s room. A young woman was sitting by Diane’s bedside, chatting animatedly to her and Philip. Sensing their presence, Diane looked up and smiled happily.

“Michael, Max come in. Look who’s here.” Beside her, Carla was looking awkwardly at her feet.

“Hi Mom,” Max mumbled. He took a step inside the door and paused uncertainly. He glanced at Michael who was glaring angrily at his former fiancée.

“Look what Carla brought me,” Diane said. She held up a picture frame that held a photograph of Max, Michael and Isabel. It has been taken late at night after Michael and Carla’s engagement party. Their clothes were rumbled, their hair messy, but they were smiling and had their arms wrapped around each other. “Isn’t it lovely, I think it’s the best one I have of the three from the last few years.”

“I should go,” Carla said quietly, standing up and gathering her purse. “It was nice to see you again Philip. Diane, feel better soon.”

“Oh, you’ll come and see me again won’t you. I’ll be here for another week at least.”

Carla looked at Michael nervously and then back at Diane. “I’ll do my best.”

Philip stood up and shook her hand. “It was lovely to see you Carla.”

Diane and Carla hugged warmly. As Carla was walking out the door, Michael stood back to allow her out. She paused as though she wanted to say something but Diane spoke up first. “Michael, your Dad and I would like to speak to Max alone. Would you mind giving us a few minutes?”

Michael nodded curtly and turned on his heal, striding down the corridor as quickly as he could. He could hear Carla’s heals clicking on the tiles as she hurried after him.

“Michael, wait.”

He strode through the doors into the waiting lounge and waited for her to catch up. Carla was hurrying so fast that she ran straight into him. He pushed her away. “What do you want?”

“I was hoping we could talk.”

“I don’t want to talk to you.”

“Ok, maybe you can listen. I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about us and I –”

Michael grabbed her roughly by the arms and shook her. “I don’t know what kind of game you’re playing but it’s not going to work. I want nothing to do with you. So stay away from me and stay away from my family.”

“You’re hurting me,” Carla whimpered.

“This is nothing compared to what I want to do to you,” Michael dropped his hold and let her go. She rubbed her arms, tears forming in her eyes. “Don’t,” he ordered harshly. “Don’t you dare try and pretend that you’re sorry or you’re innocent. I know exactly what you’re like and I’m not going to make the mistake of believing a word from your mouth again.”

“I made a mistake, a really stupid mistake. And I’m so sorry for everything. I love you Michael. I want to be with you,” fat tears were streaming down Carla’s face as she pleaded with him

“It was never a mistake. You are a gold digging tramp and you knew exactly what you were doing the whole time we were together. Isabel, Max, me – we were all just pawns in your get rich game. The only thing you know how to love is money.” Michael shot her a look of disgust. “Stay away from my family.”

He brushed past her and walked away.

***

Max watched Carla hurrying after Michael and turned back to his mother. “Subtle Mom.”

Diane shrugged and patted the chair recently vacated by Carla. Max sighed deeply and took his seat.

Philip closed the door of the room and resumed his seat on the other side of Diane’s bed. “I imagine by now that you are aware that I have cut off your allowance and credit cards.”

“Yes.”

“I’d like to apologise,” Philip said suddenly surprising Max. “I shouldn’t have behaved the way I did yesterday in the office. You didn’t get the messages Michael left you, it can happen. I shouldn’t have reacted the way I did.”

“No, you were right. I feel awful that I wasn’t here,” Max insisted. “I’m so sorry Mom.”

His mother took his hand in her own and held it tightly. “It’s ok Max, like your father said, it happens.”

“I’d also like to apologise for the manner in which I’ve dealt with your financial situation,” Philip continued. “It was wrong of me to just cut you off like that without informing you first. I was angry and upset and I let my emotions get the best of me.”

“It happens,” Max smiled wryly. He couldn’t believe it, he had been expecting a long lecture about his behaviour from his dad instead Philip was apologising for his own. Max felt a wave of relief wash over him, things would go back to normal and he wouldn’t have to worry about going bankrupt in three weeks time.

“However, I’m not going to reverse my decision. Diane and I have talked long and hard about this and we both feel it’s time that you learned to stand on your own feet.”

And just as quickly as things had seemed better, they went dark again. “What?”

“You are twenty four Max, you should be finished college by now and embarking on your career in whatever field it is you wish to pursue. If you were a student or an intern or a volunteer we would be happy to support you financially. But we will not continue to support this hedonistic lifestyle you are so intent on.” Philip took a deep breath and looked at his wife.

“Perhaps this is our fault Max, we spoiled you,” Diane said regretfully. “When you and Isabel were born I promised that we would never deny you anything. I wanted to give you everything that I never had. I could never bring myself to say no to you. I spoiled you.

You’ve changed Max. You used to be so sweet and sensitive. There was a time when you would never have treated a girl the way you do now. I always thought you were a gentleman.” Diane sighed. “I admit that when you started dating and going out I was pleased. I was glad to see you coming out of your shell and making friends and enjoying all the advantages that you have. I just thought that you would sow your wild oats and then when you had that done you’d settle down.”

“For years I was worried about Michael following in David’s footsteps. I never thought it would be you. You were always the quiet one.” Philip wrung his hands. “We should have stepped in and done something sooner. But you’re an adult and it’s up to you what you do with your life. But we cannot stand by and watch you and Isabel squander all the advantages that we’ve given you. If you can’t respect them and use them properly then we’re going to take them away from you.

Of course the danger here is that you’ll turn to celebrity and fame in order to support yourself now that we’re refusing to do so, but, we’re appealing to you as a mature adult. We’re appealing to the wonderful man that we know you are, to grow up. Show us that you’re not a vacuous, fame hungry, playboy.”

When Philip had finished speaking, nobody spoke for a while, they sat in silence, letting Max absorb all that had been said. Eventually he looked up from the ground where his eyes had been trained while his parents were speaking. “I’m going to do my best, I promise.”

“Good. Thank you Max,” Philip said. “Part of me wants to stick to my threat and not give you a job at the company. But that would probably be just cutting off the nose to spite the face. I want you to learn the family business and take on a role in the company. So it wouldn’t make sense then to not hire you. But, you will not be given an easy job like you’ve had in the past. It won’t be a senior position or managerial. You will be treated like a normal employee and you will only be given a job that you’re qualified for. We hire only the best people Max, we’ve headhunted a lot of our staff to fill the positions their in now so I’m not going to treat them unfairly by giving you a job that somebody else has worked long and hard for.”

“I understand,” Max assured him. “I won’t let you down. I promise.”

“At the moment I’m taking time off work because I want to be here for Diane so Michael will be running the company alone. I’d love it if I could put you in an office beside him so that you could learn off him and take over should I decide to stay away permanently but that would be favouritism. I’ll ask Michael to find you a suitable position. I don’t think that he’ll show you any favors.”

Max smirked wryly, that was a given he thought to himself.

“Michael’s a tough boss. If you show up late, don’t do what you’re paid to do or decide to go out and get drunk when you should be in the office he’ll be well within his rights to fire you. So don’t screw up Max this really is your last chance. If you lose this job I’m not giving you another one.”


***

Somehow, Michael found himself nursing a bad cup of coffee in the diner across the street from the hospital. He couldn’t quite remember how he had got there, in his anger he had just walked without looking where he was going. Seeing Carla again had reignited a lot of the hurt and anger that he had let go of in the eleven months since their break up. He was so angry with her for reappearing again and pretending that she still loved him, pretending that she ever he had. He was angry with his mother for refusing to accept that the relationship was over and that he wanted nothing to do with her ever again. He was angry at himself for allowing her to get close to him in the first place. But mostly he was angry with Max for –

“Michael?”

“What?” He snapped at the person who had interrupted his angry musings. He looked up sharply at the girl who was standing at his table. It took a moment for him to recognise her. With her long blonde hair flowing over he shoulders, a tight pair of jeans and a simple tank top, Maria looked completely different from how she usually did in her shapeless nurses’ outfit.

“Sorry, I just wanted to say hi,” She took the seat opposite him. “Is everything ok?”

“No, not really,” he replied harshly.

“What’s wrong?”

“I just want to be left alone, ok.”

“Obviously something’s bothering you, maybe it would help to talk about it,” Maria said, not letting his bad mood deter her.

“I just want to be left alone, so can you go annoy somebody else?”

Maria was confused by his behaviour. They had only met twice and she had thought that he was a decent guy, the tenderness he had displayed towards Maddie had endeared him to her. Now faced with his rudeness and harsh attitude, she wasn’t sure what to think or do. She didn’t know him well enough to guess if there really was something upsetting him but her training as a nurse and her own personality couldn’t just ignore somebody who may need her help just because they were being rude. It just wasn’t in her nature.

Sensing that Michael would walk away if she tried to press him to talk about whatever was bothering him, Maria decided to change the subject in the hope that it might get him to relax and he would drop the surly attitude. “Have you been in to see Maddie today?”

“No, I was busy.”

“Are you going to go and see her now? I’m heading in there now, it’s my day off but I can’t stop thinking about her being here alone so I had to come in and just sit with her for a while. I called earlier today and they told me that her breathing had worsened and –”

“Don’t do that,” Michael said harshly.

“Do what?”

Michael pushed his coffee cup away angrily. “Don’t try and guilt trip me.”

“What are you talking about?” Maria asked, blinking in confusion.

He shook his head dismissively. “I know your type ok, I’ve fallen for that once already and I’m not going to be stupid twice. Just leave me alone ok. I’ve done my bit for that baby. There’s nothing more I can do.”

“I know that,” Maria assured him in an attempt to placate him. “You’ve been great with her. I wasn’t looking for anything from you. I just…I thought you liked visiting her.”

“Look, I’m very busy,” Michael snapped. “I have a lot to do and I don’t have time to be visiting some dumb kid who doesn’t even know I’m there.”

“She knows,” Maria cried out. “She might just be a baby Michael, but babies sense these things. Being abandoned by her mother is going to affect her for the rest of her life. She needs us to show her that somebody cares about her, that she’s not something that can be cast away lightly. She needs you.”

Michael waved in the general direction of the spot where he had found her. “It doesn’t matter how nice you are to her, she was somebody’s garbage and now that’s what she’ll always be.”

Shocked by his outburst, Maria could only watch open mouthed tossed some money onto the table top before marching out of the diner, letting the door slam loudly in his wake.
***

Dickie Byrd picked up a copy of the Rattlebag as it came shooting down the line. The paper was still warm and the ink not even dry yet. He loved them when they were like this, pristine and perfect. He scanned his article adorning the front page. It was a world exclusive that had taken him three months to break. Tamara Bell, a hot young squeaky clean actress in a huge TV show was having an affair with the much older and married actor who played her father. To add insult to injury, Bell claimed that his real life daughter was her best friend.

Dickie was particularly proud of the photograph that went with the article and reminded himself that he owed Jake, the photographer a beer for his work. It showed Tamara and her lover kissing in a very
unfatherly way while her hand groped his balls. He briefly wondered how many laws Jake had broken to get that picture.

He grinned to himself and set off back up the stairs to his desk whistling as he went. He knew that most people regarded him and his paper as scum but he didn’t care. Annual profits of several million dollars showed that the American public loved his work. And as far as he was concerned he provided a valuable service. There were too many celebrities, paid too much money and allowed to get away with too much shit. He was on a one-man mission to bring them down - one celebrity at a time.

At his desk he plucked a list off his bulletin board and ran a red line through Tamara Bell’s name. It was his ‘hitlist’ of most wanted celebrities.

His phone rang and he snatched it up.

“Dickie Byrd.”

“Good evening Mr. Byrd, I have some juicy gossip for you on Max Evans,”

“Yes?” Right at the top of his list in joint first place was Max and Isabel Evans. He had heard plenty of gossip about them but nothing that he could nail them for. Yet.

“The night Diane Evans crashed and was taken to hospital Max Evans was at a strip club. His family made numerous attempts to contact him but he ignored them all. The next day he and his father had a blazing row, Philip even threatened to cut him off. He’s sick and tired of Max’s behaviour.”

That was interesting and certainly something he could run but not enough to bring Max Evans down. “Thanks for the information. We’ll look into it.”

“I have more. Something huge.”

“Yes?”

The caller laughed softly. “Max Evans had an affair with his brother’s fiancée.

Dickie almost fell off his chair. If the caller was right, that was huge. Enough to ruin Max Evans’s reputation forever. “Can you prove it?”

“Of course.” The caller laughed again. “It’s not the right time to go public with it yet so you have plenty of time to gather information for your story. You might want to start looking into a girl named Carla Sanchez. And in particular, where she got her lovely silver BMW. I’ll be in touch.”

***

Alex was whistling as he did his nightly walk through. Before going home at the end of everyday, he liked to walk around the center and make sure that everything was as it should be. Tonight, there was a bounce in his step as he checked doors and windows or said goodnight to the residents and staff. In the TV room, he found a large group gathered around watching an old movie, sharing popcorn and laughing. He stood in the doorway taking in the sight for a few minutes, a grin on his face. Izzie’s words from earlier in the day came back to him. She had told him that he looked younger, he certainly felt younger. He felt like a kid again, a kid at the start of summer vacation after a particularly tough year at school. Thank God for Jesse Rameriez, he thought as he walked back to his office. And thank God for Cynthia for showing him why this center was so important to him and why it was worth the blood, sweat, tears and life savings he had invested in it.

As he packed up his bag for the day, Alex noticed that Izzie had completed the job of reorganising his filing cabinets. She had done an incredible job, his office actually looked like an office and not an overstuffed closet as it had done previously. He knew that Izzie wasn’t availing of the center’s service and she was technically a volunteer there, but he had noticed an improvement in her attitude lately, and that too added to his general happiness. This center was going to survive and it was going to flourish, he could feel it in his bones.

He switched off his desk lamp and noticed for the first time that his answering machine was flashing with a message. He pressed play.

“Hi Alex, this is Jesse Rameriez…I…uh. I …I’m afraid that…something’s ….I…uh…I feel awful. I…Something’s come up, I’ve taken a position at…a firm…and unfortunately…I won’t be able to represent your center. I’m sorry….Good luck with everything.”

***
Last edited by nibbles2 on Thu Apr 28, 2011 4:56 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Post by nibbles2 » Sat Oct 21, 2006 11:44 am

So sorry for the delay but I'm finally here with the new part. I don't know if it's better or worse for being re-written but let me know what you think.

I'm doing an author's chat at Roswell Heaven tomorrow (Sunday) at 1pm EST. I really hope to see a few of you there.

Stargazer's Delight I have a few surprises left up my sleeve. I know it doesn’t seem like it but their redemption is already under way.

Behrlyliz I’ll give you a little hint about David. He’s dead and that’s why Philip doesn’t want Max and Michael to end up like him.

girl afraid Thank you, it’s the amazing feedback I get that keeps me posting. :lol:

roswell3053 Thank you

Earth2Mama Thanks

Reamhar Thank you

Sternbetrachter let’s just say that Carla’s BMW is key.

Anonymousarfan Do you really think that Michael will go easy on Max now that he’s his boss? Not likely.

Lorastar I can’t really answer either of your questions yet but I will soon. I promise.

Maya You never know, maybe some good will come out of it if that story runs.

Clueless Thanks

Jason's Lover thank you.

pandas2001 The informant’s identity may surprise you when it’s revealed.

Xmag Seriously, are you hacking into my computer or something? I’m going to have to write a very convoluted plot just to try and surprise you. :shock:

begonia9508 Thanks

Tequathisy Where’s the fun in answering all the questions now. I have to keep you coming back for something.

RhondaAnn If Isabel’s conscience was made of chocolate she wouldn’t have enough to fill an M&M. :)

BehrObsession There are two acts to this fic, the first where I make you hate the Evans and the second where I make you love them again So I’m glad to see that I’ve accomplished the first part. I just hope I can pull off the second part now.

SmileeUk There’s a lot more to the Max/Carla/Michael triangle.

FaithfulAngel24 That’s a good point. Michael’s a jerk but at that particular point he was in pain and lashed out so his nastiest moment, so far, is also the most forgivable.

DreamerMaxBehrian Firstly can I just say that I love you. You rock. I love that you’ve left me an entire page of feedback. Thank you. Secondly, there’s no telling what lengths Max will go to when he sees Liz in her angel costume. :wink:

Michelle in Yonkers The Evans axis of evil?!? :lol: They’re not that bad.

touched by an alien No, dancers may not kiss their clients.

Loviedovie Thanks for reading.



Sixteen


Following her meeting with Jane, Liz had a gruelling session with Nell. She had been practising her pole dancing moves every day and so far had been pleased with her progress. But now that she was going on stage and would be expected to have mastered everything Liz was conscious that she was nowhere near as fluid and graceful as the other girls were at swinging and sliding on the pole. In comparison to Nell, Liz looked like an amateur.

Working in the club later didn’t do anything to bolster her confidence. She tried to soak up what the other girls were doing but as they made even the most difficult moves look so easy Liz was beginning to despair of ever being good enough to go on stage. It was a busy night in the club and Liz found herself rushing around trying to fill drink orders.

At around eleven a large crowd of Texans came through the door. Although they acted like hicks it was pretty clear that they were dripping in money and were in generous form. Liz was one of about eight girls they chose to join them for drinks at their table. The men whistled loudly at the dancing girls and insisted that the ones at the table remove their tops but in general they were far more interested in telling stories that boasted of their exploits. They sounded too farfetched to be true but the Texans swore they were. They were funny and enjoyable and good company.

Yet Liz found herself watching the door closely, waiting for Max to show. No matter how nice and friendly the Texans were they didn’t compare to Max. As the night wore on and there was no sign of him Liz began to fear that she had driven him away by her attitude the evening before. The more she thought about the way she had behaved the more appalled she was with herself. Maybe Max had shown that he wasn't as caring and generous as she thought he was by his complete lack of interest in helping baby Maddie. But he was going through a difficult time in his personal life. His mother was in hospital and he was having problems in his relationship with his family. She has sort of dismissed his problems because he was rich and didn’t seem to be real problems like her own. Which on reflection that was a selfish attitude to take. Just because Max had money and his family could afford the best doctors in the world didn’t mean that he wasn’t worried about his mother’s health.

She resolved to apologise to him if he came back to see her and to be more understanding of his problems. If he came back.

But there was no sign of him and Liz was despondent as she travelled home on the bus after her shift. Max Evans was the one good thing about her job at The Dangerzone, not because he was rich but because he cared and she had driven him away.

The apartment was in darkness when Liz got home. There was a note from Maria on the kitchen table that told Liz to let her know she had got home ok. Liz smiled to herself. At least she had Maria.

Liz opened the door to Maria’s room slowly and peeped in.

“Come in, I’m awake,” came Maria’s sleepy voice.

“Did I wake you up?” Liz asked as she came into the room and got into the bed beside her friend. It was a little after two by the time she got home from work and although she had an early start in college the next morning she was too wired to sleep.

“No, I can’t really sleep, I’ve been think about Maddie all night.”

“Did you go to see her today?” Liz asked, though it had been Maria’s day off she was certain she had gone anyway.

“Just for a while this evening,” Maria yawned. “I saw that Michael guy in the diner and he was such a jerk.”

“He’s the guy who found her, right?” Liz asked. “I thought you said he was sweet.”

“Yeah, I thought he was,” Maria sighed and turned over onto her back. “It was very weird, he just acted like he didn’t give a damn what happened to her. He called her garbage.”

“What? I can’t believe it.”

Maria nodded. “I know, I was shocked. But I was thinking later, maybe there’s something going on that I don’t know about. If he wasn’t at the hospital to see Maddie then why was he there? Maybe he’s sick or somebody close to him his sick. In which case I probably shouldn’t have yelled at him.”

“Maybe. I’m sure he’ll come around. He must be a nice guy maybe he’s just having a bad day.”

“I guess. So how was your night?” Maria asked, changing the subject. “I can smell drink off you so it must have been good.”

“Actually it was quiet fun, there was this group of Texans in tonight and they were so funny. They got completely wasted and just kept buying more and more drink all night long. I made a small fortune in tips tonight.”

“I’m guessing the Texans aren’t the only ones who had too much to drink,” Maria laughed, prodding Liz's hips.

The brunette giggled again. “I’m not drunk, I’m just a little happy. I even spent most of the night with my top off and it didn’t even bother me. They were more interested in talking and drinking than getting us to do stuff.”

“Apart from the being naked bit, that does sound like fun,” Maria agreed, suppressing a yawn. She paused for a moment. “And Max? Was he there?”

“He didn’t show up to night, but his mother’s in the hospital so he was probably with her.” Liz kept her voice neutral, but in truth she had missed Max.

“You know, I think he likes you. The nurses were complaining about him today,” Maria said. “He spent the entire day with his mother in the ward and didn’t hit on a single one of them.”

“Really?” Liz smiled to herself, she looked at Maria and saw that her friend was beginning to nod off so she whispered goodnight and slipped into her own room. Her thoughts were filled with Max as she lay in the dark. Why hadn’t he hit on any of the nurses? That didn’t seem like the Max Evans that she knew. Had he turned a new leaf? Maybe in all the time he was spending with her in their private booths, he was beginning to think of her as something other that just a stripper. Maybe he wasn’t hitting on the nurses because he was thinking of her. She wondered where he was now, was he lying in his bed now, perhaps thinking of her? She imagined how he would look in a bed of silk sheets, she could picture his bare torso. Her cheeks flushed as she remembered what he had said when he removed his shirt that night, he wanted to give her a visual image to think of when she was in bed at night. And here she was, in bed, thinking of him. Her hand drifted under the sheets, down her stomach and into her panties. She was so wet just thinking of Max. She began to stroke herself as she imagined what it would be like to be with him.
O
0
o
Liz stood behind the stage adjusting her flimsy costume. The simple white material left absolutely nothing to the imagination. It clung to every curve of her body and stopped high on her thigh. It made her legs look long and lean. She wore no shoes. Her skin glowed radiantly, showing through the thin white gauze. Her hair hung long over her back in gentle waves. As she moved it swept across her back, soft and silky.

At the other side of the curtains she could hear the music starting up. Somebody walked up behind her and pushed her gently towards the curtain. “That’s your cue.”

“And now, please welcome on stage, straight from heaven - it’s our Angel.”



Just call me angel of the morning, angel

She stepped through the curtains out onto the stage. The lights were down low and she had to peer into the darkness to see the audience. The club was deserted, there was only one person watching her. Max sat in one of the armchairs. He was wearing a black tuxedo, his bowtie was undone and hung loosely around his neck, his top button was open. He was holding a single long stemmed white rose.

Just touch my cheek before you leave me
Oh my baby

“Where is everyone?” Liz asked.

“I booked the club for the night, it’s just you and me.”

“Why?” Liz asked shyly.

He smirked sexily. “Do you really thing I wanted all those other men looking at you, watching you strip? I want you all for myself.” He raised his hand and clicked his fingers, the room was filled with music. “Dance for me,” He commanded gently.


Oh my baby
Just call me angel of the morning, angel
Then slowly turn away from me

Her hips began to sway to the music rhythmically of their own volition. She ran her hands through her hair, lifting it and letting it fall through her fingers, then slowly she ran her hands down her neck, over her breasts, across her stomach, dipping between her thighs. She turned around slowly to give Max a 360 view. She could hear Max’s breathing grow tighter as she walked over to the pole, her hips swaying with every step. She reached the pole and looked back at him over her shoulder, veiled by her hair.

Maybe the sunlight will be dim
But it won’t matter anyhow
If morning’s echoes say we’ve sinned


Max slouched further into his seat, one hand was running up and down his thigh. Liz smiled at him and grabbed the pole with her two hands and stroked it gently, playing teasingly with it. She saw Max swallow and shot him another smile. Then she wrapped her right leg around the pole and swung around it gracefully, she rubbed her whole body against it and threw back her head until her hair grazed the floor. Slowly she lowered herself to the ground until she was on her knees. Seductively she crawled towards Max, prowling. At the edge of the stage, she sat down and swung he legs around so that she was now standing at ground level. There was only a few feet between her and Max. She swayed her hips again and dipped low to the ground before straightening back up.

Then it was what I wanted now
And if we’re victims of the night
I won’t be blinded by the light

“Come to me,” Max said, he was trying to sound in control, but she could hear the tremble of desire and need in his voice. She stepped onto a chair and then up onto his table and swung herself around on the pole, before sliding slowly into a sitting position in front of him, her legs parted slightly in open invitation.

He stood up and stepped between her legs and ran his hands along her thighs. His touch was sizzling and it caused her to moan in desire. He ran his hands under the hem of her tiny outfit and raised it above her head, running his hand over her skin as he did. He tossed the scrap of cloth away and gazed at her body. “You are so beautiful,” He told her breathlessly, his mouth just mere inches from hers. He moved closer, placing one finger under her chin to guide her face to his. Their lips fused together in a searing kiss, his tongue snaked into her mouth, warm and velvety. He gently lowered Liz onto her back and picked up the rose. He teased her gently with the white rose, letting its satin petals touch her in the places he wished to explore. Over her hardened nipples, between the valley of her breasts, down her flat toned stomach and between her legs. She moaned again and arched her back as it brushed over her flimsy g-string.

Max discarded the rose and lowered his head to retrace the path he had taken with the flower. His tongue glided over her breasts before he sucked long and hard on her nipples. Then he kissed a trail over her stomach until he reached the top of her thong. He gripped its sides and in one fluid movement ripped it off her.

Liz hissed in pleasure as Max buried his face between her legs and began to lick and suck on her soaking wet mound. His hands kneaded her breasts gently but firmly. She was aching to feel him inside her.

“Max, make love to me,” Liz begged.

He captured her mouth in his and kissed her hard. “I thought you’d never ask.” Quickly his clothes were discarded and she had a moment to revel in the magnificence of his body before he climbed on top of her. She could feel his cock pressing against her thigh, its tip rubbing her entrance.

“Please, now,” She pleaded.


Oh my baby
Just call me angel of the morning, angel
Just touch my cheek before you leave me, baby
Just call me angel of the morning
Then slowly turn away from me

Baby baby baby

Max paused and brushed a strand of hair away from her face. “I’ve wanted to do this since the first moment I saw you Liz Parker.” Propping himself up on his arms so as not to put his weight on her, Max entered her gently and with great tenderness.

“Oh, yes…Max. That’s so good,” Liz moaned as he began to plunge in and out her, gathering pace as they began to build towards their climax. He chanted her name reverently as he stoked her higher and higher.

“Max, oh God, Maaaaaaxxxxxxxx,” Liz cried as she came.

O
0
o
“Ooooohhhh,” Liz moaned as her body arched in the bed and she came, her body clenching tightly over her fingers. Her orgasm was fleeting and only briefly satisfying, it left her with a feeling of being incomplete. She would have given anything to have Max Evans with her at that moment fulfilling her fantasy. She sighed as she accepted that it would never happen, that she couldn’t let it happen. But, she reflected as she turned onto her side and began to doze off, that didn’t stop her from fantasizing.

***

It was two tired girls who ate breakfast together early the next morning.

“What’s your plan for today?” Liz asked as she waited for her toast to pop.

“I’m going to down to the center for a while this morning, I promised Alex I’d give a health talk to a group of girls. And then into work.” Maria stifled a yawn and poured herself a glass of orange juice. “Hey, were you talking to Alex yesterday?”

“Yeah, he was practically singing down the phone,” Liz smiled. “I haven’t heard him sound so happy in ages. I just hope that this lawyer guy is able deliver on his promise.”

“Me too.” Maria agreed.

“I’m going to be so late,” Liz exclaimed as she pulled on her jacket and grabbed her slice of toast.

“I’ll give you a ride,” Maria told her, hurrying to gather her things and following after Liz. They almost tripped over Alex who was sitting on the ground outside the door.

He glanced up at them forlornly. “Hey.”

“Alex, what’s wrong?” They asked, kneeling beside him.

“It’s over,” He said sadly and hung his head. “It’s all over. All my work, everything I’ve put into it and it’s gone.”

Liz and Maria exchanged worried glances.

“Let’s get you inside,” Maria said to Alex. She and Liz pulled him to his feet and hauled him into the apartment. They sat him down on the couch. “How long have you been out there Alex? You’re freezing,” Maria exclaimed as she rubbed his arms to try and warm him up. Liz hurried into the kitchen to make a pot of coffee.

As it percolated she went back to Alex and Maria and took a seat beside them on the couch. “What happened?”

“I got a call from Jesse Rameriez last night, the lawyer. He said that he won’t be able to take our case,” Alex revealed. The girls gasped and squeezed his hand. “That’s it. He was our last chance and now that he can’t help there’s no other way to save the center. It’s over.”

“Did he say why?” Liz asked.

Alex shrugged. “He got a job at some firm and can’t take the case.”

“I don’t understand, you said he was very gung-ho about taking on the Evans yesterday. Why would he have changed his mind?” Liz asked.

“Do you think it was them?” Maria asked, her voice dripping with venom.

“There’s no way they could have known that he was taking the case for us. I only told a handful of people at work and you two.”

Maria couldn’t help looking questioningly at Liz.

Liz interpreted the look correctly. “I never said a word to Max about it,” she snapped angrily.

“I’m sorry,” Maria said looking very contrite.

Pushing aside her annoyance, Liz turned her attention back to Alex. “There must be another way to save the center Alex. You can’t give up, you’re needed there.”

“Yeah, it’s just a setback Alex,” Maria agreed.

“Setback number 789. I can’t take anymore. I just can’t.” Alex moaned.

Maria stood up to pour him a hot cup of coffee, Liz followed. She leaned against the kitchen table and watched Alex. They both knew that Alex wasn’t going to give up the center, it meant far too much to him. He just needed some time to get over their latest loss before he picked himself up.

“I didn’t mean to imply that you’d told Max about the lawyer guy,” Maria said softly. Liz glanced at her oldest friend and saw that she looked really guilty.

She shook her head. “I know.”

“I know that you wouldn’t ever do anything like that, I just thought maybe it might have slipped out, you know in conversation.” Liz nodded in understanding, it wasn’t an unreasonable concern.

“We never spoke about the center, but I was tempted to ask him for help with it,” She sighed and shook her head. “It mightn’t be Max’s doing, but I don’t think he would have tried to help even if he knew about it…I mentioned Maddie to him the other night.”

“What did he say?”

Liz shook her head sadly. “He gave me a card for his family’s charity foundation but he wasn’t interested in putting in a word for her or anything, I’m sorry.” She removed the card form her pocket and handed it to Maria

“Don’t be Liz. It was worth a shot, it’s not your fault he’s a jerk.” Maria slammed the cup down on the counter. “It’s just not right, they shouldn’t be allowed to get away with treating people like this. It’s not fair Liz. You’re working as a stripper to pay for your grandmother’s hospital bills, Alex has put his life and soul into that center, Maddie could die if she doesn’t get that medicine soon. And those bastards have more money than they could ever possibly spend. They could help the three of us and not even miss the money but they won’t even spare us a dime. I hate them, I hate those Evans.”

She pounded the counter again and hissed in pain.

“Are you alright?” Liz asked.

Maria laughed dryly. “Yeah, sorry about that. I’m just… pissed off at the injustice of things. I’m sorry. Rant over. Hey, you should get to school, don’t you have an important lecture?”

Liz looked regretfully at Alex. “I don’t want to leave him.”

“You should get to class, I’ll stay with Alex. Take my car, go, it’s fine,” Maria urged.

“Ok, thanks, I really shouldn’t miss this lecture,” Liz gathered her things and hugged Alex goodbye.

As she slipped the car into traffic, Liz clenched the wheel tightly, anger towards Max consuming her. Maria was right, he could solve the problems of Alex, Maria and herself and probably have change to spare from it. Yet, when presented the opportunity to help a very sick baby he had just shrugged his shoulders and hadn’t given a shit. And now she had to be nice to him or risk losing her job.

***

Isabel and Max stepped out of the elevator into the hospital corridor and were immediately besieged by a photographer who began snapping pictures. Two burly security guards hurried over and wrestled him away, apologising to them for allowing him to get into the hospital.

“Great,” Max sighed. “Now that’s going to be in the papers and Dad will see it and he’ll be mad at me.”

“Your pictures are always in the paper, why would he be mad at you for that one?” Isabel asked, checking her reflection to make sure that she looked good in the photographs.

“We had a long talk last night and I promised that I’d stop chasing fame and get a real job,” Max informed her.

Isabel broke into peals of laughter. “No way. So what are you going to do? Be like Mike and become a little worker drone?”

“Speaking of Michael,” Max caught Isabel by the arm and pulled her into an empty waiting room. “Were you talking to him this morning?” Isabel told him no. “When we got here last night, Carla was in with Mom. She brought mom a picture and they were chatting away like old friends.”

“That sly bitch,” Isabel hissed.

“It gets worse, Mom and Dad wanted to talk to me, so Mom asked Michael to give us some time alone right when Carla was leaving. Michael took off with Carla chasing after him and he never came back.”

“Oh God, you don’t think that anything happened between them do you? Michael wouldn’t get back together with her, would he?” Isabel asked, aghast at the thought.

Max shrugged. “I don’t know.”

“We can’t let that happen.”

“It won’t, Michael’s not the type to forgive and forget. He took their break up pretty badly, he’s not going to risk getting involved with her again.”

Isabel paced the small room. “It’s not him we should be worrying about it’s her. You know how manipulative she can be. To think that she had the brass neck to walk into Mom’s room and sit there, playing nice. What do you think she wants?”

“She wants Michael back apparently, she told Mom that she’s still in love with him.”

“Oh, she’s good. She’s trying to get to Michael through Mom. And since Mom is on some sort of crusade to make us all better people you can bet your bottom dollar that her project for Michael is to get him back together with Carla.”

“It won’t work, and if there’s a chance that it might then we’ll figure out a way to stop it,” Max assured her.

“I know a way,” Isabel taunted.

“Isabel,” Max warned in a low voice.

She flipped her hair over her shoulder and grinned at him. “But let’s call that plan B.”

***

Philip Evans looked across the office to where his eldest son was standing at the window gazing out. He frowned, it was so unlike Michael to be distracted and unfocused while they were discussing important business. He felt guilty, maybe it was wrong and unfair of him to take time off work and leave Michael to handle everything here alone.

“Is everything alright Michael?” He asked. Michael didn’t appear to have heard so Philip repeated the question louder.

Michael turned to him and blinked as though he was surprised to see his father in the same room. He shook his head to clear his thoughts. “I’m fine.”

“You seem like somebody who has a lot on his mind,” Philip pressed.

“No, everything’s fine.”

“Maybe you should take some time off, I can come back to work and wait until your Mom is recovered to take a vacation.”

“I’m fine dad, honestly. You take all the time you want. Mom needs you right now.” Michael assured him. He sat down at the desk and pulled a file towards himself to show Philip that he was telling the truth. “Walt Smiley hired Jesse Rameriez as the foundation’s Lawyer.”

“That name rings a bell, wasn’t he the lawyer on the Bell Boston case?”

Michael nodded. “He moved to LA recently, he wanted to ‘make a difference’ so we hired him. He’s working out the details with Walt now.”

“Good catch,” Philip complimented. He watched as Michael shuffled through the files on his desk trying to locate something else. That was another sign that all was not well with his eldest son, Michael’s desk was usually highly organised .

“Michael, something’s bothering you, I can tell… Did you talk to Carla last night?”

“Briefly.”

Philip waited for more but Michael had found the file he searching for and began reading through it, or pretending to read through it.

“It must have been a shock for you to run her again like that.”

“You mean be ambushed?” Michael laughed bitterly.

“Your mother is only trying to do what’s best for you,” Philip explained. He watched Michael carefully for some sign of what he was thinking. Eleven months ago, when Carla and Michael had broken up Michael had been very hurt and the last thing he wanted was to see his son go through that pain again.

“I’m fine the way I am.”

“Your mother doesn’t think so, I don’t think so,” Philip argued “anybody can see that you haven’t been yourself since you and Carla called off the engagement. You work so hard, and I appreciate it and admire you for it, but you never seem to have fun anymore. You have every luxury and opportunity a young man your age could want yet nothing seems to give you enjoyment. You should be out having fun son.”

Michael raised an eyebrow in question. “Isn’t that the exact opposite of the lecture Max got last night? And for years you were telling me to grow up and get serious.”

Be careful what you wish for, Philip thought to himself. “I just wish that you and Max could find a balance. You could both be such a good influence on each other. You guys used to be close.”

“Things change.”

“Hey, how about when your Mom is better and out of the hospital, you, Max and I go away for a long weekend. We’ll head down to the villa in Mexico like we used to.”

“Sure,” Michael nodded, not at all convincingly.

Philip sighed. “So is there anything I can do for you?”

“Tell Mom that I don’t want to be set up with Carla again. That’s over and I’m not going back.”

“I will, I can’t promised she’ll listen to me though,” Philip joked. He stood up to leave, changed his mind and sat back down again. “Michael, put down the file and look at me.”

Reluctantly, Michael obeyed.

“Talk to me son, I know there’s something up. Is it your Mom, Carla? Tell me what it is.”

Michael threw down his pen and looked away into the distance, clearly trying to decide what to tell his father. Philip leaned forward, hopeful that he had made a breakthrough and that Michael would finally talk to him.

“A few days ago, after my meeting with O’Dwyer – ”

The phone on his desk buzzed, interrupting him. Michael sighed and answered it. “Yes?”

Kyle Valenti to see you,” Tess said over the intercom.

“Give me a minute,” Michael said. He disconnected and turned to his Dad. “I have to talk to this guy.”

Philip swore under his breath as he saw Michael clam up. He knew from experience that Michael wouldn’t open up again. “Ok, I’m going to the hospital. I’ll see you there later.” He made his way out of Michael’s office and nodded to the young man flirting with Tess while he waited for Michael to become free. As Philip stepped into the elevator he thought that the man looked suspiciously like a cop.

“Detective Valenti, come in,” Michael said by way of greeting.

They shook hands and Kyle took a seat at the desk. He waved a manila folder at Michael, “Great news, you’re not the daddy.”

“I didn’t think there was a question that I was,” Michael replied coldly.

Of course not, I just thought I should let you know. We have to explore every avenue when we find an abandoned child, we must consider that for a woman to leave her newborn baby in a parking lot she must be in extreme emotional distress. The baby clearly wasn’t born under medical supervision and we know that she has a drug problem so it’s quiet likely she may also be in danger, medically. And who knows what other factors were in play that forced her to leave the baby. It’s very important that we find her and I have to investigate every angle.”

“If I had any information that could have helped then I would have told you when you first came to see me.”

Kyle nodded. “The diner has a security camera which naturally we reviewed.” He paused and removed some photographs from the folder. “Do you recognise the woman sitting at the table here?”

Michael took the picture and squinted hard at it. “She could be my sister and I wouldn’t recognise her.”

“Is that a yes or no?”

“I don’t recognise her. But the photograph is of such poor quality that it’s hard to be 100% certain,” Michael said slowly and carefully so that Kyle wouldn’t be able to twist his words later.

“We believe that this woman is the person who left the baby in the diner. She entered shortly after two and had a coffee, she sat by the window and kept a close on the car lot outside. At about 2.35 she jumped and hurried out.”

Michael splayed his thumbs, “And?”

“This was the still taken as she was walking out the door. Can you see why we were so interested in you?”

The photograph was taken at the precise moment the woman had collided with Michael as she left and he came in through the door. From the photograph it looked as though they were speaking to each other. Michael scratched his head, trying to remember. “I bumped into her and I might have said 'watch it' or something, that’s all.”

“That’s how it appeared on the tape, but as you say it was of such poor quality that it was hard to be certain. The tape from the parking lot shows her leaving something under your car. My guess is that you were right, she picked you because of your car.”

Michael scrutinized the two pictures, “Where’s Maddie? She’s not in either of the pictures.”

“Maddie?”

“The baby.”

Kyle raised his eyebrows in surprise. “She was in the sports bag the woman is holding. We’re trying to locate her. So you went to see the baby, I thought you didn’t care?”

“I never said that,” Michael snapped.

“How’s she doing? I haven’t had a chance to go back and see her recently.”

“Not good,” Michael told him. “Was there anything else?”

“No, that’s it.”

“You came all the way here to tell me that the kid wasn’t mine? We could have had this conversation on the phone.”

Kyle grinned. “True, but your secretary is hot and I couldn’t have chatted her up on the phone.” That, and when the captain had found out Michael was the CEO of Evans Ltd he had almost had a fit and Kyle had been dispatched to ‘ensure that relations between the police and the Evans were kept cordial’.

They shook hands and Michael walked him to the door of his office, where Kyle was delighted to learn that Tess was about to take a coffee break.

When he sat back down at his desk Michael noticed that Kyle had forgot one of the photographs. He hurried after him, just in time to see the detective step into the elevator with Tess. Deciding not to interrupt, Michael sat back down and left the picture on his desk. He tried to go back to work, but his eyes kept drifting to the black and white shot, and in particular to the small canvas bag in the woman’s hands. For a long time after he should have started working, Michael studied the picture, imagining little Maddie hidden away in that bag and left all alone under his car.

When Tess came into his office later to see if he needed anything, she had a crazy moment where she thought she saw tears in her boss’s eyes.

***
Song is Angel of the Morning written by Chip Taylor.
Last edited by nibbles2 on Mon May 02, 2011 9:12 am, edited 7 times in total.

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Post by nibbles2 » Sun Nov 19, 2006 1:15 pm

hello people, the wait is over. Here I am with a new part. It's kind of short though, sorry.

Sternbetrachter actually plan B is the plan that involves the thing that Max doesn’t like.
Heavenli24 If I make a dreamer care for the candy’s and the stargazers then I’m a happy chicken. Thank you.
FSU/MSW-94 ah yes, Michael showing emotion. His wall is beginning to crack.
confusedfool thanks
VeronicB Max and Isabel know some of the reasons why Michael and Carla broke up, but not all of them
anonymousarfan Despite it all, the three Evans siblings do care for and love each other. They hide it really well most of the time, but it’s there and in times of need they will come together, like at the hospital.
begonia9508 LOL
guelbebek thank you
xmag I think sleeping with you brother’s fiancé would be a very warped way of loving your brother.
LairaBehr4 that song will always be about Max and Liz for me from now on.
SmileeUk no, Michael would not just forgive and forget. Not his style at all.
Emz80m Or maybe it’s the other way around, if Max slept with Carla maybe that’s why he doesn’t like her and wants her out of Michael’s life.
tequathisy yep, the ice block it is melting. Can’t wait to read All is not lost at long last.
girl afraid underneath they’re all good people. No, really they are.
clueless thanks.
RhondaAnn you’re very warm.
Earth2Mama thank you
roswell3053 thanks
Michelle in Yonkers wow, you’re showing sympathy for Michael. I’m in shock. Maybe, just maybe, Isabel and Max are motivated to keep Carla away from Michael because they care about him and know she’s no good for him? I didn’t mean to imply that Maria hates the Evans simply because they have money. She hates them because they have money but won’t use it to help the people that need it like Alex whose life is being impacted on because of the Evans or Maddie, Max had a chance to help her and didn’t even try. It might not be fair of Maria but it’s just the way she feels.
Stargazer's Delight I’m afraid that it might be some time before Alex catches a break.
ken_r thanks for reading
BehrObsession welcome, I’m starting to worry that I’ve done such a good job of making the Evans so horrible that I’ll never be able to redeem them. Fingers crossed.


Chapter 17


Maria watched with knots in her stomach as Dr Williams and his army of baby faced interns congregated around baby Maddie’s incubator. She listened as they discussed her condition and treatment options with clinical detachment and wanted to shake them. Not once did they call her by her name or reach inside the glass to caress her gently. Maddie was just another patient to them.

She knew that there was nothing wrong with the way they were behaving and that she should probably take a leaf from their book, but she couldn’t turn off her feelings for the ailing infant. In her eyes, the way the interns ignored Maddie was simply another rejection of the baby and she hurt for Maddie.

Dr Williams asked a few questions and corrected one young doctor who advised putting Maddie on a course of medication that would have killed her in a few hours. Despite the seriousness of it, Maria couldn’t help but smile as the young doctor blushed furiously in embarrassment.

“Unfortunately, this child has not responded to the treatment as well as we hoped. One of our big problems is that we are working in the dark as we were unable to get a history from her mother who left her in a parking lot across the street. We do not know what drugs the mother was using and that limited our treatment options.” Dr Williams explained.

One of the interns raised her hand. “Dr Williams, what about the metsophomine programme? Is she a candidate for it?”

The doctor nodded. “Yes Stevens, she is. Those of you who haven’t heard about the metsophomine programme should do a little research, but basically it’s an aggressive treatment programme that helps very young infant addicts. This infant is an ideal candidate.”

“So why isn’t she on it?” Several interns asked him at once.

He sighed. “Welcome to the reality of working in a private hospital. Money rules. This baby has none. If she was fit to be moved then she would have been shipped out to county already. St John’s is not going to provide her with a $100,000 treatment just because she needs and deserves it.”

“That blows,” A male intern at the back of the group muttered.

Get used to it, Maria thought to herself. She caught Doctor William’s eye and indicated that she needed to talk to him. He instructed the group to go ahead to the next room and wait for him.

“Any luck finding a donor?” He asked when Maria when they were alone.

Maria shook her head. “There’s a foundation based in San Francisco who said they’d consider it but they’re not meeting again for another four weeks and couldn’t give me a decision until then.” By which time, Maddie would be in the ground, she added silently.

“I made a few calls but I’ve had no luck either,” Dr Williams told her.

“I don’t suppose we could just administer the metsophomine ourselves and then just suffer the consequences?” Maria asked, trying to sound more flippant than she really was.

“We’d lose our jobs Maria, my wife is expecting twins, I can’t afford to be out of work. The hospital would probably make sure that we would both lose our licenses.” Dr Williams answered quickly. “And I haven’t had a chance to really study the programme yet, I couldn’t administer it myself.”

“I know, I know,” Maria assured him, realising that he was saying all that to convince himself as much as her.

Dr Williams patted her shoulder. “I’m sorry.”

“It’s not your fault, I know that you’ve done everything you can. It’s Fisher,” Maria said, speaking their boss’s name through gritted teeth.

“Did you try the Evans, they have a charity foundation don’t they? Diane Evans is here in the hospital, there’s a chance that they might be willing to pay. If we went down there we might be able to talk to her or one of her family.”

Maria glanced away guiltily. She knew that she should have tried the Evans either through Max as Liz had suggested or by paying a visit to Diane. The thought of going, cap in hand to the Evans made her skin crawl. Until Maddie gave a rasping cough and all of Maria’s pride was forgotten, she would swallow her pride and do everything

“I have one more thing to try and if that doesn’t work out then we’ll try the Evans,” Maria agreed.

***

A nurse bustled into Diane Evan’s room and began cheerfully chatting away as she took the patient’s temperature and blood pressure. “Where’s that handsome husband of yours today?”

“He has a few things to do and then he’ll be in later.”

“And where is your son, I thought I saw him earlier?” The nurse asked casually. Sitting on a chair close to her mother’s bed, Isabel rolled her eyes at the nurses less that subtle probing.

“Max had to run a few errands but he should be back later and Michael is at the office working.”

The nurse looked surprised, “You have two sons? I didn’t know that, we only ever see Max and Isabel in the papers.”

Diane reached for the photograph on her bedside locker and showed it to the nurse. “That’s Michael, my eldest.”

“He’s hot,” the nurse exclaimed. “Is he married?”

“No, but there’s somebody important in his life,” Diane smiled. Isabel who was sitting in an armchair reading about Tamara Bell’s affair with her co-star looked up in surprise at her mother’s comment.

“Too bad,” the nurse joked. She checked the thermometer and frowned. “Your temperature’s a little high today Diane, how are you felling? Did you sleep well last night?”

“I’m fine,” Diane assured her.

The nurse made her notes in the chart and then left the room.

Isabel pulled her legs underneath her body and faced her mother, “What did you mean that there’s somebody important in Michael’s life? Last I talked to him he was single.”

“I know but Carla was here last night and I know Michael talked to her and I think there’s a chance they might get back together.”

“Mom,” Isabel groaned. “Michael is not going to get back with Carla. He doesn’t want her, you have to stop trying to set them up because it won’t do any good. It’ll just upset Michael and bring up stuff that’s better off left in the past.”

Diane shook her head. “Carla loves Michael and she’s wants to fight for him. I know that he loves her too and I just want to see them happy.”

Isabel shook her head angrily but said nothing. Diane didn’t know the full story so she would never understand why Carla was bad for Michael and Isabel wasn’t going to be the one to tell her, despite what she threatened Max.

“She misses you too,” Diane went on. “We talked about you a lot and she told me that she’s missed hanging out with you but didn’t want to call you because of Michael. She’s such a lovely girl Isabel, so sweet and kind. She volunteers at a retirement community. You should call her and get together sometime.”

“I don’t think that’s a good idea…Michael wouldn’t appreciate it.”

“I’m sure that it would only be a matter of time before they got back together if he would just talk to her. If you and Carla were friends again, he’d have to talk to her. Please honey, just consider calling her. You were such good friends once and I think she’s a better friend than all those actor types you hang out with now.”

Isabel snorted derisively. “Mom –”

Before she could say anything else, Diane clapped her hands in excitement. “I know, you could ask her to go with you to the center. They could certainly use the help and I’m sure she would be more than willing to volunteer there.”

“I highly doubt that.”

Diane shifted in the bed and grimaced in pain. “Why would you say that?”

“Because homeless, teenage druggies don’t usually have a lot of money.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?”

“It means that Carla’s a gold digger Mom. She’s only interested in people with money. The only reason she’s volunteering at the retirement community is because she thinks she can con money out of doddery old people. The only reason she was friends with me is because I am rich and that’s also the only reason she dated Michael.”

“Isabel,” Diane exclaimed in outrage. “That is a terrible thing to say.” She slumped back into the bed breathing harshly.

“It’s also true. Mom, are you ok?”

“Your brother is handsome and smart and kind and Carla was in love with him for that, not because he’s rich. She’s a sweet girl and she doesn’t care about things like money…she…she is good for your brother…and she’s good for you too.”

Isabel was on her feet, her face screwed up in concern, “Mom I’m going to get a nurse in here to see you.”

Diane nodded, gasping for breath. “Maybe that’s a good idea.”

***

Alex was just finishing up a group session when he saw Liz come through the front doors of the drop in center. She waved at him and made her way over to him.

“Hey Alex, my last class got cancelled so I thought I’d come by and see how you’re doing.”

“I’ve had better days,” Alex smiled grimly. He brought her into his office and shut the door firmly. “I haven’t told any of the staff yet but I’m going to have to soon. They’ll need to start looking for new positions.”

“You mean you’re really giving up? Alex, that’s not like you.”

“What can I do Liz? I have no more money to put into this place, I’m haemorrhaging staff, I can’t afford a lawyer and the one lawyer who could actually beat them can’t take our case. What are my other options?” His voice rose as he spoke and by the time he was finished he was shouting.

“I can think of one,” Liz said meekly. Afraid, not of Alex’s temper but how he would react when she reminded him of his last remaining option.

He looked at her, knowing what she meant and shook his head emphatically. “No.”

Liz rolled her eyes in exasperation. “You and Maria are so alike. You are both willing to cut off your noses to spite your face. Think of all the kids you that won’t be able to help Alex. Imagine in three months time how you’ll feel when you pass some kid begging in the street and won’t be able to bring them to the center because you couldn’t swallow your pride.”

“That’s all I ever think about,” Alex shouted, pounding his fist on the desk. “And if I thought it would do any good I’d consider it but I know it won’t so I’m not going to give them the satisfaction of crawling back to them on my hands and knees begging for their blood money. I’m not going to do it.”

“I’m sorry…I just…”

Alex flopped back in his chair and rubbed his face. “No, don’t apologise. I’m sorry for yelling.” He sighed and forced himself to smile at his friend. “I’m doing everything I can but when you’ve been knocked down so many times it’s hard to get back up again.”

“I could talk to Max, maybe there’s something he could do,” Liz offered, not quiet able to believe that she was suggesting what she had just suggested. It had gone badly when she looked for help with baby Maddie, but then again, she hadn’t actually asked for help merely hinted. If she pleaded with Max, used all her charm on him, he just might be willing to help her.

“I don’t think that would do any good. The Evans want to get rid of this place. From the moment they started their project next door they’ve had it in for the center and they’ve done everything in their power to get rid of us except pay us to leave.” He sat upright and looked Liz in the eye. “They have something against us, it’s personal for them.”

“Why? Alex, that’s absurd. What would they have against you or the center?” Liz asked unable to mask her disbelief.

He shrugged. “I don’t Liz, but mark my words. They could have got rid of us ages ago if they had just given us money so we could move somewhere else. But they haven’t, not once has that ever been an issue for them. They had a budget for buying out other landowners in the area but they never offered us anything. Why is that? It’s because Michael Evans has it in for us.”

Liz thought Alex was being paranoid but didn’t voice her opinion, it would probably just upset him further and he didn’t need that right now. Instead she diverted his attention to the tasks that needed to be done that day and soon found herself giving a tutoring session to a group of teenagers who were trying to study for their GED.

But even as she discussed the various functions of the human body her mind wandered to Max. He always seemed to kind to her and his efforts to spare her from having to face the sleazy men at The Dangerzone showed that he cared for her. If she went to him and asked for his help, she just knew that he would help her with whatever she asked for. And maybe Maria was right, maybe he would ask for something in return, but maybe if it saved lives and she wanted to do it anyway, then maybe…

***

It happened so fast that Isabel barely had time to process what was happening. One minute she and her mom were chatting about Michael and Carla and the next the room was filled with medical personal who were all shouting and running around purposefully. In the center of the chaos lay Diane Evans, her eyes half closed, her heart not beating.

“One, two, three, clear.” Everyone lifted their hands off Diane’s body as the Doctor pressed two paddles against her chest. Diane’s body jerked off the bed.

Isabel had seen enough TV to know that they were trying to restart her heart and she watched the monitor carefully, to see what happened. It beeped and then beeped again and that seemed to satisfy everyone in the room so Isabel was able to breathe again. The doctor issued orders and Diane’s bed was wheeled put of the room.

“Where are they taking her?” Isabel asked one of the nurses frantically.

She placed a soothing hand on Isabel’s arm. “Your mother has suffered some internal blood loss, the doctor’s are taking her to surgery. You should call your father and brother.”

Isabel nodded. As the nurse hurried away Isabel grabbed her roughly and spun her around. “Tell those doctors that my mother better come back to us alive and healthy or my family will sue this hospital for every cent it can.”

The nurse seemed unfazed by Isabel’s threat. She smiled kindly, “The doctors will do everything they can for your mother.”

She hurried off, leaving Isabel alone. It took her a moment to recover from her shock to reach for her phone and call her dad. He was already on the way back to the hospital and promised to be with her soon.

As she was dialling Max’s number, Michael ran into the room. “What happened?”

“Oh thank God you’re here Michael. Mom’s heart stopped, they had to take her away for surgery,” Isabel wailed, throwing herself into Michael’s arms. He held her tightly and rubbed her back gently letting her cry for a moment.

“Have you called Dad and Max?” He asked.

Isabel nodded. “Dad’s coming and I was just calling Max.”

Michael led her over to the bed. He pulled her close and allowed her to bury her head against his shoulders as he fished his phone out of his pocket and called Max.

Hello.

“Max, its Michael. You have to get to the hospital as quick as you can. Something happened to Mom and she had to go into surgery.”

I’m on my way.”

Michael hung up and wrapped his two arms around Isabel. “Shh, it’ll be ok.”

“Her heart stopped Michael, she might die.” Isabel wailed inconsolably.




***

Maria was demonstrating how to administer medication to a new baby for a young couple whose child was being released later that day when another nurse approached her and informed her that there was a phonecall for her in the office. She asked the other nurse to take over from her and hurried to take the call.

“Hello, this is Maria Deluca.”

“Hello Ms Deluca, this is Tom from First Aid Plus.”

Maria gripped the edge of the desk. This was her last chance, if First aid Plus couldn’t provide the funding for Maddie then she was all out of options. “Hi Tom, have you reviewed the file I sent you?”

“Yes we have. We have every sympathy for the child in your care Nurse Deluca and we admire what you’re trying to do for her. Unfortunately, we can’t provide the funding for the treatment programme. We don’t have the budget to cover what is essentially still a trial treatment.

Her heart sank and she barely heard him offer an explanation for why they couldn’t fund the treatment. When he was finished she mumbled goodbye and hung up the phone. She left the office and walked over to the window of Maddie’s room. The tiny, frail girl was sleeping fitfully, her body twitching in painful spasms. Maria pressed her head against the glass and her heart filled with love for the child. There was only one thing left to do, she was going to have to go down to Diane Evans' room, throw herself onto her knees and beg for her help. She just prayed that Diane was as nice as all the nurses said she was.

“Julie, I have to run downstairs for a few moments,” Maria told another nurse. She hopped into an elevator and pressed the button for Diane Evans' floor. When the doors opened again Maria walked into what appeared to be a full-scale riot. A couple of nurses who worked on the floor grabbed her and pulled back her into the elevator, they hit buttons at random until the door closed and it sped upwards.

“What’s going on?” Maria asked.

“Diane Evans suffered a complication and she was being rushed back into surgery but the press heard that she died and they went nuts trying to get pictures and interviews,” One nurse exclaimed breathlessly, she was holding her arm against her body and Maria could see red marks on it. The other was holding her head and there was already a bump forming on her forehead.

“Who did that to you?” She asked, taking her colleague’s arm gently in her hands and examining it. There would be a nasty bruise on it soon.

The nurse shrugged. “One of the journalists, man, they’re like animals. It made me feel so sorry for Max and Isabel, they have to put up with them every day.”

Maria snorted to herself, she personally didn’t feel the slightest bit of sympathy for any of the Evans. Except maybe Diane. She brought the two nurses to her floor and made sure that they had ice to put on their bruises. Once they had been taken care of she went to Maddie’s room to sit with the baby.

“Hi Maddie, it’s me.” She reached in and took Maddie’s tiny hand in her own and held it gently. Her condition had deteriorated in the time she had been away, her breather seemed even shallower than before. She was struggling hard to live, Maria realised with a painful constriction of her heart. “I’m so sorry sweetie, I should have gone down to Diane Evans ages ago. I should have done more to get you the metsophomine. I’m sorry.”

Hot tears leaked from her eyes and flowed down her cheeks as she watched Maddie’s eyes flutter open, they held Maria’s for a moment before closing again.

***
Last edited by nibbles2 on Mon May 02, 2011 9:35 am, edited 2 times in total.

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Gold Diggers - Chapter 18

Post by nibbles2 » Thu Dec 21, 2006 12:02 pm

You must have all been very good little girls and boys because Santa nibbles has brought you a gift for Christmas - an update. And remember, feedback is the milk and cookies of all fanfic writers!!

So sit back, enjoy and have a really great christmas. See you all the new year.

I did send this to my beta, but she's busy doing exams so I decided to post it without hearing back from her so any errors and mistakes are all my fault.

VeronicB things should start looking uo now. For some people at least, for others, it’s only going to get much worse.

clueless thank you

pookie76

RhondaAnn It’s funny, I never thought that Isabel could be seen as responsible for what happened to Diane until I read the feedback. I wanted to show that Isabel was protecting Michael from Diane and Carla’s matchmaking scheme, you know, actually cared about somebody else other than herself.

begonia9508 I’m sorry, wish I was the kind of writer who could post regularly. I do try to update as quickly as I can.

behrlyliz Good questions, and answers coming soon. I promise.

FSU/MSW-94 it may bring them closer, but will it stick?

maya thank you

roswell3053 but Max is broke, so he can’t help anybody.

roswell3053 short feedback too. Lol.

xmag I promise you that there is major candy coming up so just hang on. And I love long feedback, more please.

Michelle in Yonkers thank you, I’m really glad that you see that this Michael is complex. I’ve only scraped the surface on what motivates him. As for Diane and Philip, I never wanted to portray them as bad parents. LoL. I guess that I’ll have to redeem them as well as their kids.

Sternbetrachter and so you should. LOL. And you can get a good education from watching soaps.

tequathisy All good questions but they won’t be answered for a while I’m afraid.

Emz80m thank you. And just so you know, even if I am a tad a harsh and negative in my fb to your fics, I love your stuff.

sunshine6258 I hope you’re sitting comfortably.

SmileeUk Alex’s background will remain a mystery for a while but there will be a few hints along the way.

BehrObsession Yep, I’ve dug a huge hole for myself and it’s going to be tough to scale my way back to the top…I’m getting lost in my own metaphor but yeah, making you all like the Evans is going to be tough.

Stargazer's Delight I love the fb too. Sometimes when I don’t feel like writing anymore I read through it and it always inspires me.



Chapter 18


Max broke several laws as he raced across LA to get to the hospital, his heart was pounding and all he could think about was his mother. He gripped the wheel and prayed that she would still be alive when he got there. The radio was blaring but he didn’t hear a word.

“In entertainment news it’s been revealed that ‘Totally cool’ the show starring Tamara Bell and Kevin John who plays her dad has been put on hiatus and may be cancelled following the revelations that the pair are having an affair. Speaking at…. I’m sorry we’re interrupting this news bulletin to go live to Stacy Phelps at St John of God’s hospital in LA. Stacy, I believe there’s been a development in Diane Evan’s condition.”

“Yes Trey, that’s right. Just under thirty minutes ago Diane Evans suffered what we believe was a major heart attack. She was rushed into emergency surgery. We have several conflicting reports from the hospital, some say that she is still in surgery, others are saying that Diane Evans has died.”

“Oh my Goodness, that’s terrible. Are Max and Isabel Evans there right now?”

“Isabel has been here for most of the day. We believe her father is here too, along with the family’s eldest son Mark, Max Evans is not here and nobody knows where he is. Oh wait a minute…there’s a Porsche…that’s him.”


Finally, Max had reached the hospital and parked his car. As soon as he jumped out he could hear the sound of several people racing towards him and calling his name. He looked around and realized that a hoard of journalists, photographers and fans had been waiting for him to show up. He put on his sunglasses, kept his head down and did his best to ignore their shouted questions and plea’s for autographs. They swarmed around him, pressing him from all sides so that he was jostled and turned. He didn’t even know which direction the hospital was in and couldn’t get through the crowd.

“What’s the status on your mother’s condition?” “Is she dead?” “Is it true that your family will be suing the hospital for gross negligence?” “Are you currently seeing anyone now Max?” “Where were you Max?” “Where were you the night of your mother’s crash?”

At last, three burly men shoved their way through the screaming mass of people and grabbed Max, one on each side of him. The third pushed everyone out of the way, cutting a path for Max to follow.

“Your brother hired us Max, we’re going to be providing personal security for you while your in the hospital,” One of the men explained to Max as they half pulled, half carried him out of the middle of the scrum and to the hospital. Max looked up to see the gorilla in front of him grab a camera and throw it on the ground. They bundled him in through a side door and shut it firmly. A fourth man then stood at the door to make sure nobody else could follow them.

Max broke into a sprint and raced to his mother’s room. He could hear more journalists shouting at him from down the hallway but a line of security guards were keeping them away from him. He burst through the doors of Diane’s room. His father was standing by the window staring out blankly. Michael and Isabel were sitting on two comfortable chairs holding hands tightly. They all jumped up and rushed to hug Max.

“Where’s Mom? What’s happening?” Max asked urgently.

“She’s in the operating theatre. Apparently she suffered an internal haemorrhage, a doctor spoke to us a couple of minutes ago and said that there was nothing that could have been done to prevent it. They have some of the best surgeons in the country working on her right now.” Philip explained.

“How long until we know?”

Isabel shrugged. “It might take a while, but the doctor said that he’ll keep us updated.”

“We just have to wait,” Michael sighed. He and Isabel sat back down, Max pulled another chair over to Isabel’s other side. She took his hand in hers and gripped it tightly.


***

Liz was pacing in an agitated manner in front of the TV in the apartment. The death of Diane Evans was the major news story on most channels. Images of Max entering the hospital surrounded by a pack of hungry journalists were constantly being replayed over and over again. She could hear journalists shouting out questions at him about his mother as he tried desperately to get past them. Despite the dark glasses on his face, he looked distraught. Her heart went out to him. She wanted to go to him, hold him in her arms and comfort him.

She had been a baby when her parents were killed. Their deaths had a major impact on her life but as she had no memories of them she had never really suffered emotionally from it. It was her grandmother’s illness that had affected her more. But she knew what a loss it would be for Max if Diane died. No matter how evil the Evans were she would never wish that on any of them.

She flipped the channel to another station that was claiming that Diane Evans was not dead but critically ill. A third was claiming that they had heard from an official spokesperson that Diane had died. Unable to bear the tension anymore Liz grabbed her phone and called the direct line to Maria’s ward.

A nurse answered and went to get Maria for her. After three or four minutes Maria came to the phone.

“Hello,”

“Maria, it’s me. I’ve just been watching the news and I’m going crazy. I need to know what’s going on.”

“The news? Liz I haven’t seen the news today, I’ve been with Maddie. She’s taken a really bad turn. I don’t think she’s going to make it through the night,” Maria said, sounding like she was about to burst into sobs.

“Oh my God, Maria,” Liz exclaimed feeling guilty that she had been worried about Max and hadn’t even thought about Maria. “Do you want me to come down the hospital?”

“Yes.”

“I’m on my way,” Liz assured her. She hung up and grabbed her things and was out the door in record time. As she waited for an empty cab to appear she called the club and told them that she had a family emergency and might not make it to work until later.

***

Maria hung up the phone after speaking to Liz and slipped into the restroom to splash cold water on her face and to compose herself. She was glad that Liz was coming down because she knew that if Maddie died then she would be distraught. In the few days that she had known the tiny child, Maria had come to love her and it was breaking her heart to see her suffer so.

When she was ready she exited the restroom and went back to the ward where Maddie had been moved. It was a private ward, usually reserved for big spending patients but all the nurses felt that it was the least Maddie deserved as they couldn’t do anything else for her.

“You ok?” Keisha, a fellow nurse asked. She had been sitting with Maddie while Maria was on the phone. “I can stay with her a little longer if you want to get something to eat, it might be a long night.”

Maria shook her head. “I couldn’t eat now, but thanks.”

“Ok,” Keisha stood up and hugged Maria. “I’ll get back to work. Call me if you change your mind or need anything.”

“I will. My friend Liz is coming in soon, can you bring her in when she gets here?”

Keisha nodded. “Of course. Bye little one.”

When they were alone, Maria took the seat beside Maddie and held her limp little hand. Maddie barely stirred and made no attempt to grasp Maria’s hand in return as she usually did.

***

“This is taking too long,” Isabel sighed.

Philip glanced at his watch. “It’s only been an hour, the surgeon said it would be at least two hours.”

Isabel checked her own watch and was surprised to see that it was indeed only an hour since her mother had been taken into the operating theatre. It felt like a lifetime had passed.

“I don’t understand what happened, she was fine when I was here earlier,” Max sighed, resting his hands on top of his head.

“The doctor said that it can develop very quickly. She may have been feeling unwell earlier. You know your mother, she never complains no matter how bad she’s feeling. If she’d said something sooner this could have been prevented.”

“We were talking and I was kind of harsh, I…”

“Iz, it happened because of the accident not because of anything you did,” Michael said kindly, rubbing her hand gently.

“It would have happened no matter what she was doing,” Max added.

They lapsed into silence again but it was broken a few minutes later when Isabel’s stomach rumbled loudly. It raised a small smile from the three men in the room. “Sorry.”

“Hungry?” Max asked.

“I guess,” Isabel shrugged.

“I am too,” Philip realized.

Max rose to his feet. “I’ll go and get us something to eat, anything in particular you want?”

Michael stood up and put a hand on Max’s arm. “I’ll go. Those reporters are probably still hanging around.” He pulled on his suit jacket and left the room.

Almost nobody took any notice of Michael as he entered the corridor and waited for the elevator. A couple of journalists who had managed to slip past the security guards and were trying to look inconspicuous in the corridor glanced at him with disinterest and went back to watching the room for a sign of Max or Isabel.

The door of the elevator opened and Michael stood back to allow the occupant to step out. She looked up at him and smiled. “Excused me, Mr. Evans?”

“What?” he asked suspiciously.

“We were speaking an hour ago. I’m Doctor Fisher’s assistant,” she reminded him.

“Oh yeah, is he here yet?”

“He just called from his car as he was pulling into the parking lot and asked me to bring you up to his office because he knows that you’re anxious to speak with him.”

“Great,” they got into the elevator and made their way to the seventh floor where Doctor Fisher had his office. As they reached his office Michael saw Doctor Fisher hurrying down the corridor towards him. He was wearing his golfing clothes and Michael briefly wondered what hole he had been on when he got the phone call summoning him to the hospital to meet him.

Two doctors were rushing along beside him briefing him as they all ran towards Michael.

Doctor Fisher held out his hand to shake Michael’s. “Mr. Evans, I apologize for the delay. I was out of the hospital when I was informed that you wished to speak with me. I have been fully briefed on your mother’s condition and I assure you that my team of surgeons are doing everything they can and – ”

“I didn’t want to speak to you about my mother, it’s another matter that I wanted to discuss,” Michael said, cutting him off mid sentence. “Privately.”

The doctor nodded and indicated for the two other doctors to leave them. “Of course, my office is this way.”

Before going into the office, Michael turned to the secretary. “Can you get some sandwiches and coffee brought to my Father and my brother and sister?” he didn’t wait for an answer. The fact that Doctor Fisher had interrupted his game of golf and rushed back to the hospital to meet him showed that anything Michael wanted, he was going to get. Being extremely rich and an important financial donor to the hospital had that effect. The secretary simply rushed off to fill his request.

Doctor Fisher hurried after him and hastily shut the door. “So what can I do for you Mr. Evans?”

Michael pulled a photograph from his jacket and handed it to the doctor. “Do you see the baby in this picture?”

The doctor squinted hard. “Actually, no.”

“That’s because she’s concealed in the sports bag the woman is carrying. That picture was taken about twenty minutes before she was found under a car and brought to this hospital,” Michael paused before adding sarcastically. “I’m sure that you’ve made yourself familiar with the case.”

“Uh…yes. I’m aware of it,” Fisher nodded. He frowned. “May I ask - ?”

“I want her to be given the best care that this hospital has to offer. She needs to be admitted to a program –”

“The metsophomine program?” Fisher supplied helpfully, eager to show that he had some knowledge of the case.

“Yes, I’ve been told that it would help her but she’s not eligible for it because she has no money.”

“There’s a little more to it than that.” Fisher spluttered.

“But if money wasn’t an object then she’d be receiving the treatment, right?”

“Well, probably…yes.”

“Then put her on it. I’ll pay for everything.”

Fisher nodded, “That’s very kind of you Mr. Evans. I’ll take care of that at once.”

Michael raised his eyebrow and glanced pointedly at the telephone on the desk. Fisher took the hint and quickly grabbed and called a number. “Hepburn, that child that was found in the parking lot the other day – admit her to the metsophomine program at once… That’s been taken care of… Give her whatever she needs…. Thank you.”

Fisher hung up. “Doctor Hepburn is one of the doctor’s who pioneered the treatment. He’ll oversee her care from now on.”

“There’s a nurse, Maria Deluca. I’d like the child to be under her care while she’s here.”

Doctor Fisher nodded. “Is there anything else I can do for you?”

“Yes, this is strictly between us. I don’t want anybody knowing about this, not the staff, not the press and not my family. Nobody is to find out that I’m the one paying for her treatment. The check will come from my company X.Pext.”

“Understood.”

Michael pulled a checkbook from his pocket and wrote out the required amount. He slid it across the desk to Fisher. “From now that girl is to be treated as though her name was Evans.”

***

Liz was amazed to see the amount of journalists, photographers and news vans parked outside the hospital when she arrived. At the main door about forty or fifty people, mostly female were holding a candle light vigil. Some of them had pictures of Diane Evans but the judging by their t-shirts the majority seemed to be there for Max or Isabel.

She made her way to the Paediatric unit and was taken to the room where Maria was holding her own vigil for Maddie. It was the first time Liz had seen Maddie and although she knew that Maddie was small from the photographs that Maria had shown her, nothing prepared her for seeing the baby in the flesh.

“She’s tiny,” Liz exclaimed. She was a biology major and had a very good knowledge of what a human body could withstand but even she had difficulty believing that Maddie could survive. The baby looked so small and weak that Liz thought it was a miracle she had survived as long as she had.

Maria looked up at her as she came in and gave her a watery smile. “Thanks for coming Liz.” The two girls hugged warmly.

“How’s she doing?”

“Not good,” Maria said sadly without taking her eyes from Maddie’s form. Liz took her free hand and held it gently. There were no words that could comfort Maria now but she knew that her presence would help in some small way. When Grandma Claudia had first been admitted to hospital and looked as though she wouldn’t pull through, having Maria and Alex with her had been the only thing that kept Liz going.

Their companionable silence was broken when the door opened and three doctors entered. Maria frowned, she recognized them but didn’t understand what they were doing in Maddie’s ward.

“Excuse me nurse,” one of them said politely. Maria and Liz moved away from the incubator and watched as the doctors began to read the monitors and make notes. One of them went about detaching the drip from Maddie’s arm.

“What are you doing?” Maria asked agitated.

Doctor Hepburn glanced up at her. “I’m changing her medication. Can you page her doctor please?”

Maria nodded and slipped out into the corridor to page Doctor Williams. Liz followed her.

“What’s going on?”

“I don’t know but that’s Doctor Hepburn. He’s the guy in charge of the metsophomine program.” Maria squinted through the window trying to get a better look at what they were doing.

“That’s the program you wanted her to get into, right? Is that what they’re doing?” Liz asked.

“I don’t know,” Maria answered, hardly daring to believe. She clutched Liz’s arm tightly and watched. Moments later Doctor Williams came running down the corridor.

“Maria, what happened? Is it Maddie? Is she….”

“Hepburn’s in there with some of his team. I don’t know what they’re doing.” Maria practically pushed Williams into the room. She waited with bated breath as he conferred with Doctor Hepburn. After a few minutes he remerged from the room with a grin on his face.

“They’ve put her on a course of metsophomine. Apparently somebody is paying for her treatment,” He announced. Maria threw her arms around him and they hugged happily.

“Oh thank God,” She stepped back and hugged Liz. “Is there enough time for it to work, it’s not too late?”

At that moment Hepburn stepped out of the room. “It’s going to be touch and go tonight. There may not be enough time for it to do its work. She’s quiet weak now. I’ll stay here and keep her monitored for tonight. I believe that if she gets through the next eight hours she’ll make a full recovery. But it’s early days.”

“Thank you Doctor Hepburn,” Maria said tearfully.

“Ideally she should have started the treatment sooner, it’s unfortunate that there was such a delay.”

“We did everything we could to get her into the program,” Williams informed the older doctor in defence. Doctor Fisher wouldn’t allow it and we couldn’t get anybody to pay for it.”

The other doctor nodded his head. “Perhaps in future situations it might be best if you come directly to me instead of Fisher.”

“Did Fisher say who was paying for the treatment?” Maria asked curiously.

Hepburn shook his head. “No. Are you nurse Deluca?” One of his colleagues came to the door to inform him that they were ready. He turned to Maria and Williams. “We’ll need your assistance now.”

Maria squeezed Liz’s hand before dropping it to follow the doctors into the room.

Liz stood at the window to watch. The relief was evident on Maria’s face and her whole demeanor. She said a silent prayer that Maddie was really as strong a fighter as Maria believed and that she would pull through. Then, almost as an afterthought, she added a prayer for Diane Evans.

Her mind wandered to Max. How was he coping? Would he receive good news like Maria had or would it be bad news?

Max

Could he be the donor who had stepped forward to save Maddie’s life?

***

Three hours after being rushed to surgery, Diane Evans was wheeled back to her room and her anxious family. Isabel burst into tears upon seeing her mother looking so frail in the gurney. Her father and brothers though upset remained stoic as they gathered around the doctor waiting to hear what he had to say.

“I’m confident that the surgery went well. We managed to stop the bleeding and repair the damage. The next twenty-four hours are critical. We’ll be keeping her closely monitored. At the moment she’s under heavy sedation and won’t wake up again tonight.”

“Critical?” Isabel repeated, latching onto the word that had terrified her most. “Are you saying that she might not pull through?”

“I have every confidence that she will,” the doctor assured her. “But with this type of surgery there is always a small chance that she may develop complications.”

Another doctor who was standing by the door listening to the conversation hurried forward. “I’m Doctor Fisher, Chief of medicine. I want to assure you all that your mother is receiving the best possible care here and that we will do everything we can for her. Doctor Chang who operated on her is considered the top surgeon in the country. If she’s confident that surgery went well, then I’m sure Diane will be fine.”

The surgeon looked as though she wanted to correct Doctor Fisher but after receiving a sharp look she bowed her head and left the room.

“Thank you Doctor Fisher,” Philip sighed wearily.

“You are of course all welcome to stay here tonight, if you decide to stay just let the nurses know and they’ll look after you.” He shook hands with Philip and touched Isabel’s arm kindly.

Michael walked him to the door, then glanced over his shoulder to make sure that the other members of him family weren’t listening. They were gathered around Diane’s bed oblivious to his conversation with the doctor. “And the other thing?”

“That’s been taken care of. The metsophomine has been administered and we hope to see results by morning. Nurse Deluca is with her as you requested.”

Michael nodded his gratitude and let the doctor go then joined his family at Diane’s bedside. They sat in silence for about half an hour before Philip finally looked up at his children.

“You three should go home and get some sleep. I’ll stay here tonight, there’s no sense in the four of us staying here. If anything happens I’ll call you.”

They protested but Philip was firm so in the end they agreed to go but all assured him that they would be back first thing in the morning.

Michael, who didn’t need a security guard to protect him from the journalists who were still gathered outside, left first. He stood in the elevator, his finger hovering over the buttons for a moment. Eventually he hit the button for the parking lot. He had done his bit for Maddie and she didn’t need him anymore.

***

“Most of the paparazzi are gone. They left after the hospital made a statement that Diane was recovering from surgery. We moved your cars to the underground parking lot, it’s more secure and they weren’t allowed in there,” The burly security guard explained to Max and Isabel. “We’ll take you there one at a time.”

“You go first,” Isabel said to Max. “I need to use the ladies room.”

They hugged quickly and then Max moved off accompanied by two massive minders. Although Max was a tall guy with a great physique he looked scrawny and short in comparison and it gave Isabel a small smile to see.

“I’ll just be in there,” she said to the man who had stayed behind to watch her.

“Just a moment,” he requested, then promptly walked into the ladies room. He re-emerged a moment later and took up his position outside the door, looking for all the world like a bouncer at a night-club. “All clear.”

“Thanks.”

Isabel walked inside and made her way to the sink to splash cold water on her face. She jumped at the sound of a toilet flushing and whirled around. She had thought that ‘all clear’ meant empty. When the door of the stall opened she gasped in surprise. “Carla, what are you doing here?”

Her former friend froze in shock. “Isabel. Oh my God, I heard about your mom. How is she?”

“Like you really care,”

“Whatever my faults Iz, I’m still your friend and I still care about your mom,” Carla said gently, ignoring Isabel’s hateful tone.

Isabel shook her head, too tired and emotionally exhausted to fight with Carla now. “She’s resting,” she sighed. “We’ll know more tomorrow.”

“You poor thing, I can’t imagine what you’re going through,” Carla said. She took a couple of steps closer and pulled Isabel into a warm embrace. Weary after her long day, Isabel burst into tears again and clung to Carla.

When her tears subsided Isabel pulled away and went back to the sink to wash her face again. Carla waited for her to speak.

“It’s been the worst day of my life. I just want to go home, have a hot bath and a glass of wine,” Isabel sighed eventually.

“I have something better that a bath and a glass of wine.” Carla confided in a low voice. She reached into her purse and pulled put what looked like a powder compact. She opened it to several small pink pills.

Isabel looked away and shook her head. “I can’t.”

“Ok, if you’re sure.” Carla shrugged nonplussed and pushed it back into her purse. “I should get going.”

“Wait,” Isabel said, putting her hand on Carla’s arm to stop her from leaving. Her eyes fell to Carla’s purse, a look of longing in them. “I…”

“How about I come back to your place with you and we’ll share that bottle of wine?” Carla suggested.

They both knew that Carla wasn’t coming to share the wine. Isabel closed her eyes briefly, trying to summon the will power to say no, but she didn’t have it in her. “Ok, let’s go.”

***

Max hopped from one foot to the other as he waited impatiently for the elevator to come. He didn’t want to go back to his empty apartment but he had nowhere else to go. Michael and Isabel didn’t seem to want company and though he had plenty of friends, there wasn’t one who he felt he could turn to now.

If he was honest with himself, he knew where he wanted to go. He wanted to see Liz. Not for the titillation or to drink. He just wanted to be in her presence. But he couldn’t go to the club tonight could he? Not while his mother was in a critical condition in hospital. If his father ever found out he’d hit the roof. Not to mention the small matter of not being able to afford it.

But knowing all that didn’t stop the longing to see Liz, it only seemed to increase it.

The elevator finally arrived and the doors chimed open. There was only one person riding in it and her mouth fell open in shock when she saw him. It took him a moment to realize that it wasn't a random fan.

“Max.”

“Liz?” He asked in astonishment. Fully dressed and without her heavy overstyled hair, Liz looked even more like a wholesome teenager. Nobody looking at her would ever guess that she was a stripper. Without the make up and glitter her natural beauty shone through. She was breathtaking he realized.

One of the bodyguards nudged Max into the elevator. He stepped in, gaping at Liz. “What are you doing here?”

“I’m visiting a friend. How are you Max? I heard about your Mom, how’s she doing?” He could see genuine concern in Liz's face and it touched him.

He told her briefly what the doctor had said. “So I guess we just have to wait and pray.”

Liz touched his arm gently. Max glanced down at her hand. “I hope everything turns out ok.”

“Thanks,” Max smiled. “Are you going to work now?”

She nodded then looked at her watch. “I’m going to be late.”

“Do you need a ride?”

“No, it’s fine. Thank you. I’ll catch a cab.”

He took her hand and squeezed it gently. “Please Liz, I…I don’t want to be alone just yet. It would be nice to talk to somebody.”

Liz hesitated a moment before nodding her head. “I’d like that.”

***
Last edited by nibbles2 on Mon May 02, 2011 10:21 am, edited 2 times in total.

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Post by nibbles2 » Fri Jan 12, 2007 4:16 am

A massive thank you to Orangesky who has taken over beta duty for this fic. She has a really great story called A Parker family Christmas and anybody who isn't already reading it should go there as soon as they've finished here.

Chapter 19


Although Max had said that he wanted to talk, he was silent throughout the trip from the hospital to the strip club. He was completely focused on driving, gripping the steering wheel so tightly that his knuckles were white. Liz didn’t push him to speak; she could sense that he was too preoccupied with his thoughts and that if she tried to talk to him he might not be able to concentrate on the road.

“Can you drop me off on the block before The Dangerzone? I might get in trouble if I’m seen getting out of your car. I’m not sure what the rules are about catching a ride with clients,” Liz said as they drew close to their destination.

“Sure.” Minutes later Max pulled the car to the curb and turned off the engine. His hands were still clenching the wheel but his gaze was unfocused. Liz glanced uneasily at her watch. She was late for her shift and although she had rung ahead to let them know, she didn’t want to delay any further and it didn’t look like Max was going to start speaking any time soon.

“Max,” she prompted.

He shook himself out of his daze and turned his head to look at her. He gave her a small smile. “Sorry, my head’s all over the place.”

“That’s ok, I completely understand.” Liz glanced at her watch again. She really had to get inside but she was reluctant to leave Max while he was so upset. She knew that she had behaved coolly towards him at their last encounter.

“I’m sorry, you go. I’ll be fine,” Max told her, noticing the way she kept checking her watch.

Liz bit her lip. “Why don’t you come into the club? We can get a room and talk.”

“I shouldn’t, if….” Max’s voice trailed off and he sighed. He leaned forward, letting his head rest against the wheel.

“Come in. Have a drink and talk. You’ll feel better,” Liz persisted. Tentatively she reached over and rubbed his head gently.

He sighed again and nodded. “Ok.”

“Great, just give me a couple of minutes to get ready and I’ll see you inside.” Liz hopped out of the car and walked briskly down the block to the club. Thirty minutes later she was dressed in her tiny black outfit complete with full hair and make up and teetering on her colossal heals. She met Nell at the door into the club.

“Your number one fan is looking for you,” Nell said with a wink as Liz approached her. Seeing Liz's frown of confusion she added. “Max Evans.”

“Oh.”

“I don’t get it,” a cold voice tutted. Liz glanced over her shoulder and looked at Ivana, the blonde Russian, staring at her. “What does he see in you? You are tiny and have no breasts. You are not all that beautiful. What do you give him that the rest of us cannot?”

“Ivana, you have some green stuff just there,” Nell told her gesturing at the blonde’s face. Ivana rushed away to find a mirror

Liz and Nell made their way out into the club. The first person Liz spotted was Jane Wilson. She walked over to Liz, gesturing silently for Nell to leave them so they could talk privately.

“Max Evans is here to see you again. I hope that you remember what we talked about last night.”

“Of course. But it was on the news that his mother is really ill, so he might not want anything except to talk.”

“Whatever he wants Liz, as long as it’s not illegal and he pays for it.”

Liz wanted to protest at the thought of milking Max for money while he was afraid that his mother would die, but the scowl on Jane’s face held her tongue. She simply nodded and followed the butler to where Max was waiting.

In the booth he asked what she wanted to drink, and with a feeling of guilt she ordered a bottle of Cristal. They sat in silence until the butler brought in the bottle of champagne and set it down before leaving them alone.

“I’m sorry,” Liz blurted out.

Max looked up at her in surprise. “What for?”

“For acting like such a bitch the other night when you were just being honest with me and for not giving you a chance and for…” Liz wrung her hands. “I know that you’re upset about your mother and that you’re worried and you just need to talk but I have to make you spend money because if I don’t my boss will get mad and I can’t afford to piss her off. I need this job.”

“It’s ok.” Max pulled out his wallet and took out a few bills. He placed them down on the table and returned his wallet to his pocket. Liz could see that the money on the table amounted to a couple of hundred dollars. Jane would have nothing to complain about, but it made Liz feel awful.

“I’m just glad that you’re speaking to me again,” Max said with a small grin. “Or are you just being nice to me because your boss is making you?”

“No…I feel really bad about the way I acted the other night. I’m sorry for giving you the cold shoulder treatment. When you didn’t come in last night I thought I had driven you away.”

Max shook his head and reached for the champagne bottle. He popped the cork and poured out two glasses. “I made you a promise Liz. I haven’t done a lot lately that I’m proud of or that I can hold my head high about, but when I make a promise I keep it. Unless you don’t want me to come?”

Liz glanced at him through her eyelashes and shook her head shyly. “I want you to come.”

“Good, I like coming here. And not just because you take your clothes off and dance, but because I like hanging out with you. I feel like I can talk to you.”

“I wouldn’t have thought that you would have a problem finding people you could talk to,” Liz said with a slight hint of teasing in her voice.

“But I do. When girls look at me they see a rich playboy, a bastard who uses women and discards them. It turns out that women like that in a man. But it makes them act a certain way around me because they think I’m going to act a certain way around them.” Max threw back his head and swallowed down the glass of champagne in one go and then poured himself another. “They don’t want me to talk to them about my feelings.”

Liz tried to suppress a giggle but failed. Max looked up at her in surprise and then smiled too. “I sound like a girl.”

“No,” Liz protested then laughed outright. “Yes.”

“I guess what I mean is that I needed a friend tonight and I had none. I have people I can call up when I want to go clubbing or have fun but when I need to talk, there’s nobody there.”

“That’s pretty sad. I don’t know what I’d do without my best friends. They’ve been there for me through everything.”

“You’re lucky to have them,” Max told her.

“But don’t you have a brother and sister?”

“We’re not really close anymore. We used to be but I guess we grew apart in the last few years. Sometimes it’s good, like earlier this evening at the hospital, and sometimes it’s really bad. Sometimes we’re really not nice to each other at all.”

Liz sipped her glass of champagne. She noticed Max pulling out his cellphone and checking it for messages. “Are you worried about your mom?”

He nodded. “The doctors seemed pretty confident but it was major surgery. I needed to get away but at the same time I wish I was still there.”

“They wouldn’t have sent you home if they didn’t think she would be ok,” Liz assured him with confidence. He smiled gratefully at her but then to her great alarm his eyes welled up. He leaned forward to cover his face so that she wouldn’t see that he was crying. His body shook with silent sobs. Liz reached out to comfort him but remembered at the last moment that it was forbidden. She reluctantly withdrew her hand.

After a few minutes Max’s crying ceased but he did not look up.

“Max? Are you alright?” Liz asked kindly.

He took a deep breath and nodded. “I think the champagne has gone to my head.” He sat up and rubbed his eyes. “I thought she was going to die, my Mom. I’ve wasted so much time. I want her to be proud of me but if she had died today then I would be such a disappointment to her.”

“I’m sure she’s very proud of you Max,”

“For what? I’ve done absolutely nothing to make her proud of me. I dropped out of college - twice. My dad has given me any job I’ve ever had. And even then I’ve never held down a job for longer than a month. I’ve never had a proper relationship. I’ve screwed up my relationship with my brother and sister. I have no goals or ambitions. I’m a loser, but I’m rich and good looking so nobody can see it.”

“You’re not a loser Max, you just…” Liz paused, searching for the right words. “You’ve just made some bad choices, that’s all. But the good thing is that you’re young. There’s plenty of time to rectify that and make your parents proud.”

Max shook his head. “I know what I have to do. I have to find a career and get a job. The thing is that I don’t know what I want to do with my life. I tried law and I hated it, I tried business and I hated it. The thought of being like Michael and working all day long in an office leaves me cold. I don’t have his focus or determination. I don’t have my dad’s business brain.”

“Is it really important to your dad that you follow the family path and work for the company?” Liz asked.

Max shook his head. “He’d like to see us working together. I think it was his dream but he’s never pushed it on us. He’s made me take jobs there but never a career. He just wants me to work.”

Liz curled her legs under her body and sipped her drink. “So what are you passionate about?” Seeing Max shrug she added, “What do you like to do?”

“I don’t know. Listen to music, read a book.”

“When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?”

“I wanted to be like my older brother Michael. I always thought he was so cool and I was such a dork.”

“But you don’t want to be like him anymore?” Liz tried not to let her dislike of his brother show. Everything she knew about Michael Evans she didn’t like. He was ruining Alex’s center.

Max shook his head. “He’s smart and successful and incredibly good at what he does but I don’t want to turn out like him. He’s a total workaholic who only thinks about how to make more money. But he doesn’t do anything, so I don’t know what he spends it on. He’s no fun anymore, it’s impossible to talk to him. He’s always in a bad mood. He’s not happy.”

Liz snorted under her breath but said nothing.

“I don’t want that. I want to do something that matters to me. I want to be passionate about it, like you said. But I’m afraid that there’s nothing out there for me that I’m good at. I’m afraid that I’ll go through my whole life and never find a place where I really belong.”

“Lots of people go for years before they figure out what it is that they really want to do.”

“What about you? Have you always wanted to be a stripper?” Max teased shaking himself out of his morose thoughts.

An impish smile graced Liz's features. “Yes, ever since a construction worker whistled at me when I wore my first push up bra.”

Max laughed aloud for a moment then sobered up and stared at her so hard that Liz felt as though all her feelings and desires were written in words across her face and he was reading them. She fidgeted in her seat and made a show of pouring another glass of champagne. She emptied the bottle into her glass.

“More?” Max asked and when Liz nodded he rang the bell and ordered another bottle of champagne. “Bring a bottle of the vintage.”

Liz's eyebrows almost popped out of her head, the vintage was over $1,000. Jane would certainly have nothing to complain about from her tonight.

When the bottle came, Max popped it unceremoniously and poured himself another glass. “Tell me something about yourself. I’ve told you things that I’ve never told anyone else but I know nothing about you.”

“What do you want to know?” Liz asked lightly, trying to steer the conversation back to safe topics and away from a deep discussion.

“Everything.” Max said in complete seriousness.

“I can’t tell you everything, a girl’s got to have some secrets.”

“Tell me one thing, something that nobody else knows.”

Liz picked up her glass and downed the contents in one go. She held up her glass for Max to pour her some more. Her face was red and Max wondered if it was the drink she had consumed or the revelation she was gearing up to make.

“I’ve never had…sex,” Liz whispered. “I’ve never even taken my top off in front of a guy before the night in here with you.”

His mouth felt open in shock. That was so unexpected given her profession. “Really?”

“Yes.” Liz nodded, avoiding his gaze.

“Is that a religious thing or personal choice or….”

She shrugged. “Not really, it just happened. Or didn’t happen I guess. When we were in high school my best friend had a bad experience. It was really upsetting. I was dating a guy at the time and I had been planning to, at prom, you know… but after my friend’s experience I was sort of scared off. And then in college I never really had a relationship that was serious enough to take it to that level.”

“Wow.” Max sat back in his seat and watched her as she ran her finger along the rim of her glass. Her confession had really blown his mind. He had known that there was something innocent about her but he had never imagined that she was a virgin. Underneath the garish make up and the vampy outfit, behind the slutty dance moves and sexy smiles was somebody who was pure and untouched.

It made him want her even more. And it made him realise that he didn’t deserve her.

But more than that, it made him want to protect her and shield her from all the other guys in the world. They weren’t worthy of her. Liz was waiting for somebody special, somebody who she loved to give herself to for the first time. He wanted to be that guy. And not because a virgin stripper was the Holy Grail but because he wanted her to look at him and respect him. He wanted to be worthy of her. He wanted to be the kind of guy that she would fall in love with. Not be seduced by but really fall in love with because he was a good, decent guy. The kind of guy who made his parents proud, who could hold his head up high in any company and be proud of his achievements.

He was going to do it. He was going to be the type of person that Liz would fall in love with.

***

Michael paced the length of his apartment. It was after 2 in the morning but he was wide-awake, too wired to contemplate even lying down. Even his usual evening routine of 100 laps in his swimming pool hadn’t helped calm him down. He clutched his cell phone tightly. Every second he expected a call from his dad with bad news.

He’d even considered a drink, but he wanted to be ready to jump into his car and drive back to the hospital at a moment’s notice.

He wanted to be doing something. Anything. He wasn’t the type of person who could sit by and wait patiently. He was the sort who got up and did things, who made things happen. Not that there was anything he could do for Diane now, but he felt helpless and useless. He sat down at his large mahogany desk, piled with work, but pushed himself away minutes later and resumed his pacing.

Part of his anxiety wasn’t for his mother at all; he knew that even as he tried his best not to think of the other person struggling for her life that night. But thoughts of little Maddie kept invading his brain. The words of that nurse kept repeating.

“She needs us to show her that somebody cares about her, that she’s not something that can be cast away lightly. She needs you.”

Diane had something to fight for, she knew that she had a husband who adored her, children who loved her and apparently countless fans and well-wishers praying for her recovery. What about Maddie? The little girl had nothing and nobody. He had thought that going to visit her would appease his guilt but it hadn’t. Then he thought that paying for her treatment would do it but now as he watched the minutes drag by he had to accept that the guilt was still there.

“She needs you.”

And something other than guilt as well, a sense of responsibility. Maddie had nobody in the world to care for her. If she ever made it out of hospital what would happen to her? Would she be shunted into the foster care system? As small and fragile as she was, there was no way that she would be able to survive that. It had nearly killed him. She deserved better than that. She deserved to have parents who loved her, she deserved to have a little pink room all of her own with a closet filled with pretty dresses and rows of stuffed animals. She deserved to be safe and protected and loved.

“She needs you.”

If Maria was right, if Maddie knew that there was somebody who cared, then maybe she might make it through the night.

His mind made up, Michael grabbed his car keys and left the apartment. He was at the hospital in record time thanks to the deserted night streets. Before going up to see Maddie he stopped by the ICU and checked on his mother. Diane was still out; unaware that Philip had curled up on the bed beside her and was fast asleep.

“She’s doing well, all her vital signs are healthy,” the night nurse assured him with a kind smile. He gave her his cell number to call if anything changed and made his way upstairs.

The PICU, normally full of bustle and activity during the day, was thick with silence in the night. A lone nurse was sitting at the desk, doing paperwork. She glanced at him once and went back to her work. As Michael made his way down the corridor he noticed that several rooms had cots in them, occupied by people he presumed to be parents of the babies in residence.

He looked through the window in Maddie’s door, a small light by the incubator the only light in the room. He could make out Maddie’s tiny body, her chest rising and falling with every breath. There was somebody else in the room, her body curled into an armchair. At first Michael thought she was asleep, but when he moved she glanced in his direction.

She unfurled herself from the chair and came to the door. “Michael? What are you doing here?” Maria asked.

“I wanted to see how she is.”

Maria frowned for a moment, probably wondering what had caused him to change his mind in the middle of the night but then she shook her head. “Something great happened. She’s on the metsophomine program. She started the treatment this evening after somebody agreed to pay for it.”

“Is it working?”

“Her vitals have stabilised, though she’s still in critical condition.” She looked over her shoulder at the sleeping infant and then back to Michael. “Do you want to come in and sit with her for a while?”

He nodded a little uncertainly and followed her back into the room. As he approached the incubator he was shocked at how weak and ill Maddie looked. “Jesus,” he breathed.

“She’s actually looking better already. If you’d seen her before the treatment you would have thought there was no way she’d survive the night.” She didn’t sound accusatory but Michael felt it like a punch in his stomach.

“I’m sorry,” he said.

“For what?” Maria asked, not surprised but curious.

“For being a jerk in the diner.”

Maria pulled over an armchair and gestured for him to sit down. “You’re here now and that’s all that matters.”

He removed his jacket and took the seat, drawing closer to the incubator. Maria gave him a small smile and sat back into her own chair. Michael raised his hand to the hole in the side of the glass, then hesitated.

“Is it ok if I touch her? It won’t hurt her, will it?”

“Go ahead.” Maria nodded and watched closely as he gingerly reached in and stroked Maddie’s tiny arm. She stirred in her sleep and wrapped her fist around his finger. Her grip was weaker than the last time he was there, but she was holding on for dear life.

***

Max pulled his phone out of his pocket to check it again although he hadn’t heard it ring. No missed calls or messages.

“No news is good news,” Liz pointed out. She yawned and stretched her arms high over her head. “What time is it?”

“It’s after three, almost four. Wasn’t your shift over ages ago?”

Liz shook her head, looking a little guilty. “Not really, it ends when our last client leaves.”

“Oh.” Max thought of all the times she had left early claiming that shift was over, but he said nothing. She was here now and that was all that mattered to him. “You must be tired, it’s pretty late. We should call it a night.”

“Only if that’s what you want.” Liz’s voice assured him but her body betrayed her when she yawned again.

“Yeah, I think it’s past somebody’s bed time,” He teased.

“Will you be back again tomorrow night?”

He nodded. “Of course. Well, if my Mom’s ok.”

“She’ll be fine,” Liz assured him gently. She reached across the table and squeezed his arm. He put his hand over hers and caressed it.

“Thanks Liz. For everything. I don’t think I would have made it through tonight without you.” He turned to face her and was suddenly aware of their physical proximity. His eyes drifted down to her lips.

Liz leaned in closer to him. “Max we can’t,” Liz cried, her voice conveying her disappointment that she had to stop him from doing what she wanted so much. She pulled away abruptly and scooted over to the other side of the booth.

He nodded and stood up, trying not to show how flustered he was. “Right. Of course. I’m sorry. I should go. Uh…do you need a ride?”

She frowned and glanced at the three empty champagne glasses on the table. “You’re not going to drive, are you?”

“No, I’ll get a cab. We have a hotel close to here and I’ll just crash there. We could share it… the cab I mean. I’ll drop you wherever you need to go.”

“I don’t think that’s such a good idea,” Liz said sadly.

“Of course.” He hovered in his position by the door, not sure how to end the evening or say goodbye. “Can we at least shake hands?”

“I guess.” Liz smiled and came closer holding out her hand for him to take.

He took her hand, but instead of shaking it, he held it gently. “Thank you.”

He opened the door and took a step through it when Liz grabbed his arm to stop him. “Wait.” She glanced up at the ceiling and then at the door before taking a step closer to him. She peered into the corridor to make sure that there was nobody out there watching them. When she was satisfied that they were in a blind spot, she stood on her toes and pressed her lips to Max’s cheek.

“Goodnight Max. Thanks for everything. I hope that your Mom gets better soon.”

Max put his hand on her waist to pull her closer but she shook her head and twisted herself out of his reach. He nodded, understanding that she couldn’t allow it and departed.

Liz waited until he had rounded the corner before going back into the booth. She sat down on the couch and finished off the last of her champagne, trying to calm her somersaulting stomach. She scooped the money that Max had left for her into her hands and counted it. Between that and the commission on the bottles of champagne, she had earned over $500 from him.

It was a lot of money and it would certainly ease her current situation, but she would have gladly given back every cent to have just been allowed to let Max kiss her goodnight.

***

At some stage during the vigil at Maddie’s bedside Michael had drifted off into a light sleep. He woke to the sound of soft voices murmuring gently. He shifted in his seat and every muscle in his body cried out in protest.

“Are you ok?” Maria asked.

He nodded and stood up, gently extricating his finger from Maddie’s grip. “Cramps.” He glanced at the nurse talking to Maria and the board in her hand. “How’s she doing?”

“Her BP is good, pulse is stronger, breathing seems to be normalising,” the other nurse informed him.

“That’s good, right?”

Maria nodded. “It’s great. She’s really improved since last night.”

Michael breathed a sigh of relief. “She looks better, doesn’t she? Less pale.”

The two nurses nodded.

“You should go and get something to eat. Freshen up. If you go now you’ll be back in time for rounds,” the second nurse suggested to Maria. “I’ll stay with Maddie until you get back and if anything happens I’ll page you.”

“Thanks Keisha, I could use a break,” Maria agreed.

“Would you mind if I came with you?” Michael asked.

“Sure. I mean of course not.”

They left Keisha to watch Maddie and made their way out. Maria had to go to the locker room to get her purse and jacket so they arranged to meet at the front entrance. It gave Michael the opportunity to stop by Diane’s room where his parents were still sleeping. The nurse on duty assured him that Diane had spent the night peacefully.

When they met up again they crossed the street to the diner and slid into a booth.

“I’m not sure I’m hungry enough to eat here,” Michael joked trying to dispel the awkwardness that seemed to have enveloped them when they entered the diner. The last time they had met there was on both their minds.

“Actually the night cook is a lot better than the day cook,” Maria told him.

“So why don’t they shift him to days?”

“I guess he just likes the nights.” Maria shrugged. “When you work night duty you realise that there’s a whole different universe that only exists when it’s dark. Some people just seem to prefer coming out at night.”

“Do you often work nights?”

“About once every two months. I’m not a night freak but I don’t mind working them. And you get the following week off so that’s nice too.” Maria smiled. The waitress arrived then and they both ordered pancakes and coffee.

“I’m really glad that you came back to see Maddie. I know that you think it doesn’t make a difference but I really believe that it does.”

Michael ran his finger over the top of the salt container. “The cop came to see me again and he had a picture of the person who left her under my car. She had Maddie in a sports bag. It just made me realise that you were right. Somebody has to be there for her, she deserves at least that.”

“Bastards,” Maria muttered under her breath.

“So, do you think she’ll be ok? Will she pull through?”

“She seems to have responded to the treatment really well so far. I can’t believe how much she’s improved in just one night. But she’s not out of the woods yet. There’s a long way to go. When we go back the doctors will be doing their rounds and we’ll learn more. I’m more hopeful now than I was this time yesterday.”

“Good.”

They lapsed into silence, each thinking of Maddie. The door of the diner opened and a man came in carrying a pile of the day’s newspapers, which he left on the counter. The waitress reappeared and poured them coffee.

“This is probably the only time of the day when the coffee is actually fresh.” Maria grinned, taking a sip. “And it’s still disgusting.”

Michael laughed, causing Maria to look at him closely. “What?”

She shrugged. “There’s something different about you. You’re less stuffy. The other times I’ve seen you, you’ve been in suits and your hair is always perfect. Sometimes people look completely different out of their work clothes.”

He picked up a napkin dispenser to see his reflection. Sure enough his usually slick hair was sticking up messily in all directions like he had worn it when he was in high school, and instead of his usual expensive suit he was wearing jeans and layered t-shirts.

“So which do you like better?”

“I always think that people look more human in their ordinary clothes but I have to admit that you look pretty hot in a suit.” Maria smiled then blushed, ducking her head. She pulled out one of the menus and scrutinised it closely, avoiding his gaze. She couldn’t believe that she’d just said that.

Michael smirked. It had been so long since a girl had spoken to him in a way that could be remotely considered flirtatious. And for the first time in a long time he realised that he missed it. “You look pretty good in your ordinary clothes too. But I have to say, your uniform is pretty disappointing.”

“Oh. Why?” Maria asked, her eyebrow arched.

“I thought nurses wore short, tight PVC dresses and silk stockings.”

“Ah yes, that’s our full dress uniform. We only wear it on special occasions.”

Before Michael could say anything back the waitress arrived with their food. It looked quiet appetising. “Can I have a look at your paper?”

“Knock yourself out.” The waitress scooped them off the counter and plopped them down on the table, almost knocking over their coffee.

“Thanks.” Michael took a bite of his breakfast. “This is pretty good.”

“Mmm,” Maria agreed tucking into her pancakes hungrily.

Michael selected a copy of the Wall Street Journal and opened it up to check the stock market. Maria picked up a tabloid and leafed absently through it.

Maria made a disgusted sound and he lowered the paper to see her. “Are they not nice?”

“The pancakes are great, it’s the front page of the paper.”

He closed it and turned it over to the front. The main picture showed a group of people gathered together in candlelight praying. Anxious Wait for News of Diane Evans ran the headline.

“It sickens me,” Maria said angrily. “Diane Evans has more money than it’s possible to spend, so she’s on the front page of the newspapers and people gather outside to pray for her recovery. Meanwhile there are people who are in desperate need of medical care and they can’t get it, even people in the same hospital as she is. Maddie could have died last night if whoever it was hadn’t coughed up the money when they did. She was dumped under a car in a parking lot and she barely got a mention on page nine. I hate those Evans’.”

“That’s a bit extreme isn’t it?”

“No,” Maria said with venom. “They are evil. Maybe not Diane- all the nurses say she’s really nice- but her kids are evil, horrible, spoiled, arrogant jerks. All three of them.”

“Three?” Michael repeated in surprise. He knew there were three kids of course, but from his experience the public was under the impression there was only two. He valued his privacy and anonymity and guarded it closely.

“Yeah, they have an older brother and he’s even worse than the two media whores. He had his heart surgically removed and replaced with a ball of lead.”

Michael’s mouth fell open in shock to hear himself talked about in such a way. He couldn’t fathom what he had done to deserve such vitriol from Maria. She stabbed a piece of pancake viciously with her fork and chomped on it.

“What did he do to you?”

Maria swatted the air. “I don’t want to talk about them now, they’ll only put in a bad mood and I want to only give out positive vibes today.”

“Ok.” Michael was dying to press her for details, but decided against it and focused on eating his breakfast.

"Ugh, see this is exactly why I hate them,” Maria exclaimed suddenly. She held up the paper she was reading for him to see.

SORRY MOM.

When Diane Evans was rushed to hospital following her serious car accident a couple of days ago, her family rushed to be at her bedside.

All except one.

Max Evans ignored several frantic attempts by his family to contact him that night. Our sources have informed us that he was busy enjoying himself at exclusive stripclub, The Dangerzone.

It’s been widely speculated that Philip Evans is furious with his son. He feels that Max has taken all the good things his family has to offer for granted. Max has no job, has flunked out of college twice and spends his days partying. Philip has threatened to put an end to Max’s self-indulgent lifestyle and has reportedly said that if Max doesn’t get a job soon, he may find himself cut off.


“That makes me feel so much better.” Maria laughed. “I’d love if they did cut him off and he had to get a real job.”

Michael scanned the article and the accompanying picture, which showed Max entering the stripclub. He smirked. “That makes me feel a lot better too.”

***
Last edited by nibbles2 on Mon May 02, 2011 10:42 am, edited 2 times in total.

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Gold Diggers - Chapter 20

Post by nibbles2 » Sat Mar 10, 2007 4:25 am

Chapter 20


Isabel woke with a pounding headache, hanging off the edge of Carla’s plush velvet couch. She was met with the sight of a pool of vomit on the ground which, to her shame, she realized was her own.

“Good morning sleeping beauty,” a voice chirped brightly from close by.

With a pained groan, Isabel twisted around to locate the source of the voice and found Carla sitting on an armchair impeccably dressed and looking as fresh as a daisy. Isabel licked her lips and swallowed to try and ease the dryness of her throat. “What time is it?”

“It’s just after nine. I tried calling you earlier but I couldn’t wake you. Coffee?” Carla held out a large yellow cup.

The strong smell of the coffee hit Isabel’s nose and she grimaced. “No. Thanks. Where’s my phone?” She clawed herself up into a sitting position and fumbled around trying to find her purse. Carla handed it to her and Isabel flipped it open. She had missed one call from her father an hour earlier. Her stomach lurched and she said a silent prayer as she keyed in the voicemail number.

“Iz, it’s Dad. I just wanted to let you know that your Mom passed the night peacefully. There’s no change, but the doctor was just in and she was pleased with everything. I’ll see you when you get down here.”

“Thank God,” Isabel murmured and got to her feet. Her head swam at the sudden movement and she grabbed the back of a nearby chair to steady herself. “Ugh, I feel like crap.” She tried to remember exactly what she had taken the night before. She was pretty sure she had only had a couple of pills and a lot of wine. She shouldn’t be feeling this bad.

“Why don’t you take a shower? You’ll feel better afterwards. I think you still have some clothes here. They’re probably so twelve months ago but they’re clean,” Carla suggested kindly.

Isabel nodded mutely, too nauseous to speak. She emerged from the bathroom forty minutes later, feeling a little better but not much. She watched Carla peter around the kitchen for a moment enviously. “How do you do that? You had just as much as I did last night.”

Carla grinned and placed a plate of toast on the breakfast bar. “I don’t think so; you downed a couple of bottles by yourself.”

“Why do I do this to myself?” Isabel moaned as she took a seat and gratefully accepted the waiting cup of coffee. She took a sip and then pushed it away. It was just making her feel worse. “I can’t go to the hospital like this, my dad will kill me.”

“Have something to eat, it’ll make you feel better. Or I could give you…no, just have something to eat. It’ll help to settle your stomach,” Carla suggested pushing the toast closer.

“No, I can’t eat. My stomach is in bits right now,” Isabel groaned. She looked up at her friend, hesitating for a second before asking, “What can you give me?”

“I don’t know if I should, Iz,” Carla said hesitantly.

“Please. If I go to the hospital like this my Dad or the guys will know I was on something last night. Please, Carla.”

Carla bit her lip, torn with indecision.

“Please Carla. I’ll put in a good word for you with Michael,” Isabel begged, using her one and only card.

“Ok, I have some coke,” Carla sighed. “It’s in the silver jewellery box that Michael gave me as an engagement present. You know the one.”

“Thank you.” Isabel smiled in relief and jumped off the stool. With a sudden burst of energy she hurried into Carla’s room and found the white powder. She grabbed a small mirror from the dressing table and sat down to snort a couple of lines.

As she checked her nostrils afterwards in the full-length mirror, she made a promise to her reflection. “That’s the last time.”

***

Max had spent the night in one of the luxury suites at the IMM Hotel. He received a wake up call at 7 when he called his father and was assured that Diane was fine and that he didn’t need to come down to the hospital until later. Satisfied with that, Max ordered his breakfast to be delivered at 10 and went back to sleep.

After a great breakfast and a hot shower he left the room feeling refreshed and energized. His mother was doing well, things seemed to be back to normal with his dad and Liz had kissed him the night before. It was only a small peck on the cheek, but it put a smile on his face as he rode the elevator all the way to the first floor.

He handed his check out card to the receptionist behind the desk and was strolling out the door when he heard somebody calling his name.

“Mr. Evans, excuse me.” Max turned to find the young receptionist waving a piece of paper at him. “Your bill, Sir.”

Max laughed and strode back to the desk. The guy was young and obviously new. “I’m Max Evans,” he announced.

“Yes Sir.” The receptionist checked the name on the bill and nodded. “This is for you, room nineteen forty-seven.”

“No no, I’m Max Evans. One of the M’s. As in I. M. M. Isabel Max Michael.” He pointed to himself as he said his own name.

“Yes sir.” The receptionist blinked and handed him the bill.

Max pushed it back towards him, his good mood evaporating. “I don’t get a bill.”

“I’m very sorry Sir.” The receptionist blushed. Max opened his mouth to let him know it was ok but the young man continued. “I’m sorry, but I’ve been told that you’re to be billed for all stays here.”

“What?” Max exploded.

The senior receptionist, a man Max had known for a number of years hurried over. “James, I’ll take over from here. Good morning Mr. Evans. I trust you enjoyed your stay.”

“I did until that idiot tried to bill me,” Max sneered.

“Mr. Evans, James was only carrying out the orders of your father. We’ve been instructed that you must be charged for all rooms, meals and drinks that you have here from now on. I’m sorry but that includes last night. The bill is eight hundred seventy dollars. We accept credit cards.”

Max stared angrily at the man in front of him before pulling out his wallet. He did a quick calculation in his head, trying to remember which cards were maxed out and which ones had room left on them. Would he have enough to cover the bill on one card? He couldn’t face the embarrassment of having to divide such a paltry bill between one or more of his cards. He selected one that he was confident had about $1000 left and handed it over, holding his breath as it was ran through.

“Thank you for your patronage sir, we look forward to seeing you again. The senior receptionist handed Max back his credit card.

He grabbed the card and walked away without so much as a thank you. Angry and worried about the state of his finances, Max never even paid attention to what was going on around him. Suddenly he was surrounded by a swarm of paparazzi and reporters shouting questions at him. A couple of them were waving papers at him and as he batted them away, he caught one copy in his hand. A security guard from the hotel hurried out and hauled Max from the crowd and thrust him into a taxi.

“Jesus, now what?” Max muttered looking back at the mob, who were all making a mad dash for their cars to follow them. Max issued the cab driver with instructions to drive to the club so that he could pick up his car. He opened up the paper in his hand to see what the latest fuss was about.

SORRY MOM.

When Diane Evans was rushed to hospital following her serious car accident a couple of days ago, her family rushed to be at her bedside.

All except one.

Max Evans ignored several frantic attempts by his family to contact him that night. Our sources have informed us that he was busy enjoying himself at exclusive stripclub, The Dangerzone.


“Oh that’s just great,” Max groaned. Just great. No doubt Philip would read it and be furious. His mother would more than likely hear about it and be hurt. And Liz, whose good opinion he craved, would probably read it and decide that he was a loser after all.

***

Isabel, wearing a massive pair of Marc Jacob sunglasses to hide her bloodshot and glassy eyes, knocked gently on the door of his mother’s room before entering. Michael was sitting by the bed reading a newspaper. He put it down when she came in.

“How is she?”

“She woke up for a while earlier. She’s just resting now. The doctor said that she’d probably sleep for most of the day, but she’s doing well. Dad’s gone home to shower and change,” Michael said, suppressing a yawn. He stood up and grabbed his coat. “I have to get to work.”

“I’m surprised that you’re not there already,” Isabel sneered.

“I’m supposed to be there but dad didn’t want mom to be here alone and there was no sign of you or Max,” Michael explained matter-of-factly.

“What’s that supposed to mean?” Isabel asked angrily. Already feeling pumped because of the drugs in her system, Michael’s sanctimonious attitude was like a red flag to her.

“Just that I was the only one here so I said that I’d stay until one of you arrived.”

“You’re such a good little boy,” Isabel mocked. “Always doing what daddy says. The perfect son. You’ve actually taken time to leave the office and be with Mom while she’s in the hospital. Why is it that Max and I are expected to be here, but it’s ok for you to spend all day at the office?”

Michael raised an eyebrow in surprise at his sister’s verbal attack. “Neither you nor Max have a job so it’s easy for you to be here. I run a billion dollar company. Dad’s taking time off to be with mom so I’m doing it single-handedly. That’s why it’s ok for me to spend all day at the office. Don’t you think that I’d prefer to be here with her right now?”

“No Michael, I don’t think so. I think that you’d prefer to be at the office behind your desk, having nothing to do with any of us right now. I think that you’re only here because it’s what dad expects of you. Look at you; you can’t wait to get out of here. You’d never dream of staying here to talk with me.”

“Why, so you can yell at me some more?” Michael snapped, brushing past her and towards the door.

“That’s right Michael, things are getting emotional, you’d better run. It’s what you’re good at. God forbid that you’d stick around and show some feeling for somebody.”

Michael stopped in his tracks and swung around to face his sister. “That’s rich coming from you. The only person you show feelings for is yourself.”

“I might be selfish, but I’m not a monster like you are. I care about other people. I don’t worship money and power the way you do. God, you must have no heart,” Isabel spat out. “I think you enjoy making people miserable. Like you’re doing with that center. You could have ended it months ago but instead you’ve dragged it out and made them suffer for your own amusement.”

“You were more than happy to help me with that Isabel. At least I have a good reason. You? You did it because you want to. You don’t care about other people, you just act like you do because your PR person told you to.” With that parting shot, Michael stormed out of the room.

Furious, Isabel picked up a heavy Waterford Crystal vase filled with roses that an important client of the company had sent and hurled it at the door. It smashed into thousands of small pieces and scattered all over the floor, the water, the red roses and glass shards mixed together.

A nurse who had heard the commotion came rushing into the room and skidded on the wet floor, almost falling to the ground.

“You better clean that up,” Isabel ordered. She took a seat by the bed and grabbed a magazine. The nurse left quickly and soon two cleaners were in the room, carefully picking up the pieces. One of them, a young man about her own age, kept looking at her and whispering to his companion. Isabel couldn’t quiet catch what he was saying but she knew that they were talking about her.

When one of them sniggered, it was the last straw. “Shut up,” Isabel screamed so loudly that it hurt her throat. “Just shut up and stop looking at me. Yes, I’m famous. Yes, I’m hot. But that doesn’t give you the right to leer at me you assholes.” She threw the magazine down and stormed out of the room and down the corridor. Her burly security guard, who had been standing by the nurse’s station flirting with a pretty nurse, quickly dashed after her.

Isabel burst out of the corridor into a small garden used mainly by smokers. It was fortuitously empty at that moment.

“Ms Evans…” the guard began.

“Leave me alone,” Isabel demanded. “Just go back inside. I want to be alone.” He nodded and stepped back into the building but remained close to the door, where he could see her. Isabel just growled and turned her back on him. She began to pace the small secluded area, feeling like a caged animal at the zoo. She imagined that at every window dozens of pairs of eyes were watching her, that every whisper of the trees was people talking about her, laughing at her.

She grabbed her head and collapsed onto a wooden bench. What the hell had she been thinking? Getting thrashed last night and then taking coke this morning made her head feel like it was going to explode. She pulled her cellphone from her pocket and quickly dialed Carla’s number. It rang a few times and went to voicemail. Isabel pressed the red button and then dialed again and then a third time. Eventually Carla answered.

“Iz, what’s wrong? Hold on until I can go somewhere private. Ok, now what’s the matter?”

“Carla, I need something to calm me down. I’m totally losing it. I’ve already had a fight with Michael and made a huge scene in front of the cleaners. If my dad or Max see me like this they’ll know straight away. I don’t know how Michael didn’t suspect.”

“Calm down Isabel, I’m sure you’re just imagining it,” Carla said in a soothing tone. “Get some coffee and take a walk. You’ll be fine.”

Isabel shook her head and resumed pacing. “No, Carla. I’m not going to be able to control myself. I need something. Come on, you must have something, you always do. Help me out. I'll owe you big time. Anything, I promise.”

Carla sighed into the phone.

“Please.”

“Ok. I’ll be at the hospital soon and I’ll have something for you.”

“Thank you Carla, you’re a lifesaver,” Isabel said as relief washed over her.

***
Dickie Byrd couldn’t believe his luck.

He had arrived at The Dangerzone early with his photographer Jake on the hunt for further dirt on Max Evans. He was hoping that he would get the chance to meet a few of the strippers who worked at the club and maybe get an interesting sound bite or two. Instead, he had struck gold.

Just as they were climbing out of their van, a taxi pulled up in front of the club and Max Evans himself climbed out. “Start snapping,” Dickie instructed his photographer excitedly. They ducked behind a parked car so that Max wouldn’t spot them. As Jake clicked furiously on his camera, Dickie scanned the street, expecting at any moment to see a convoy of paparazzi and journalists alight on the street. He knew that many of them had camped out at the hotel all night after his story broke, and he wondered why they hadn’t followed him here.

“Must have given the others the slip,” Jake said, reading Dickie’s thoughts.

“Excellent.” Dickie rubbed his hands together gleefully. They’d get the exclusive scoop once again.

“I think he’s just picking up his car. He must have left it here last night.” Jake sighed with disappointment. Not much of a scoop, getting a photograph of Max acting responsibly.

Dickie just grinned. “It’s a picture of Max Evans leaving a strip club at eleven thirty in the morning the day after his mother had major emergency surgery. It’s the winning ticket in the lottery after three months of rollovers, baby.”

“You think?” Jake asked, craning his neck to get another shot.

“I know,” Dickie assured him smugly. This was another nail in the coffin. His phone rang and he jumped back into the van to take it. “Talk to me sugar.”

It was a source who worked in the DMV calling with some information. Dickie had contacted her to ask about the ‘lovely silver BMW’ that Carla Sanchez owned.

Owned but hadn’t bought, it turned out. From what he had been able to find out, it wasn’t just an ordinary car. It had pink and white leather interior and was monogrammed with her initials, not to mention several other distinct and expensive features.

It had been purchased, and all special features paid for, by one Max Evans. Purchased, it seemed, shortly after the engagement between Carla and his brother had ended.

“Interesting,” Dickie murmured. Very interesting.

***

Michael parked his car in his especially reserved space and climbed out. Despite what Isabel believed, work was the last place he wanted to be at that moment. He was tired and sore after spending all night sitting in an uncomfortable chair at the hospital. At the time he had been happy to do it and glad to spend time with both Maddie and Maria but Isabel’s unprovoked attack in their mother’s room had evaporated any good mood he was in and it was an angry looking Michael who marched across the lobby and into the elevator.

A couple of other people attempted to join him in the elevator but one dark scowl from him changed their minds. The doors closed and Michael smirked to himself. Sometimes he got a kick out of scaring other people. That thought reminded him of what Maria had said in the diner and he pulled out his phone and pressed speed dial. His call was answered immediately.

Yes?

“There’s a nurse working at St John of God’s hospital in the paediatrics unit. Her name’s Maria Deluca. Find out everything you can about her. Find out what, if any, link she has to Evans Ltd and why she’d hold a grudge against us.”

“I’ll get right on that.”

Michael ended the call without saying anymore.

Forewarned by the front lobby security men, Tess was waiting at the doors of the elevator when Michael strode through them. She handed him the important files immediately and hurried after him, reeling off the urgent messages as he walked swiftly to his office door.

“I’ve cancelled all your appointments and meetings for today as you requested and postponed your trip to New York. Marty Freeman is in your office. Can I get you anything? Coffee? Breakfast?”

Michael scratched his signature on a couple of documents and handed them to Tess. “No thanks. Call personnel and see if Max has shown up for work. If he hasn’t, call him and remind him that he’s supposed to be working today. Hold my calls unless they’re from the hospital.”

Marty Freeman was admiring the view when Michael entered the office.

“Good morning Michael. How’s your mom today?”

“She’s doing ok. She woke up for a while this morning. The surgery seems to have gone well.”

“That’s good. I’m glad to hear that.” Marty smiled. He placed a file down on Michael’s desk and his expression turned serious. “Sit down. We need to talk.”

Michael sat down opposite him and gave the man his full attention.

Not many people got to order Michael Evans around anymore. Marty was one of the very few. He had worked with Philip Evans for years and had known him since freshman year of college. He had been handling public relations at Evans Ltd for almost two and a half decades. When he spoke, he spoke for Philip. He had been there through every major event in Philip's life: meeting and marrying Diane, the birth of his two children, the death of his brother, the arrival of Michael and the phenomenal growth of the company. He loved Philip and Diane like a brother and sister; he loved their children. Marty was godfather to Max, had taught Isabel to ride a bike, and had been the one to collect Michael from the children’s home.

“How did you find out about the Wilson Road place?” Marty asked.

“We were looking for a site for the project for a while. We hired an agency to find us a suitable location. Wilson Road was on the shortlist and we chose it for a number of reasons…its ideal location, the surrounding infrastructure, the numerous tax breaks available for developers in the area. There were other factors too, but those were the main ones.”

“That’s not what I meant Michael,” Marty said sharply.

Michael sat back in his chair and looked him square in the eye. “Then what did you mean?”

“You know what I meant.” Michael just shrugged. “Alright then, how did you find out about Lucinda Whitman?”

“Who is Lucinda Whitman?” Michael asked.

Marty shook his head. “Don’t play games with me Michael. I know that you know. It’s obvious that you found out somehow. And I understand that you’re angry. But what you’re doing isn’t going to make you feel better. It’s not going to give you closure or a sense that justice has been done or whatever it is that you’re looking for. Ruining that center isn’t going to do anybody any good. Not even you.”

“I’m not trying to ruin any center,” Michael said innocently.

“Bullshit,” Marty shouted. “I’m not an idiot Michael. You’ve gone out of your way to make things extremely difficult for them. If all you wanted was to get them out of your hair then you could have done that very easily months ago.”

“If it were that easy I would have done so, I assure you,” Michael told him smoothly.

“Really. If that’s the case, why don’t you write them a check now and end all this?”

“I’ve offered them money, they refused it.”

“You offered them a joke. There’s plenty of land and sites that you could give them. You could offer them the services of the foundation.”

Michael leaned forward in his chair, a dark glint in his eye. “They are not getting a cent of our money.”

“I know that you probably feel –”

“Don’t tell me that you know how I feel, you have no idea,” Michael shouted. He rose to his feet angrily and began to pace the office. “I’m building a development and they’re in the way. I’ve offered them money and they’ve refused. Now I’m trying a different tactic.”

“No, you’re persecuting Alex Whitman for what his mother did. He’s there for the very same reasons you are - to make up for the past. But unlike you he’s not ruining lives, he’s trying to save them. If you shut that center down then whatever happens to those kids will be on your head. And that’ll make you every bit as bad as what Lucinda Whitman did. Don’t do that Michael. Don’t make that mistake. You’re a good man.”

“Get out.” Michael’s voice was low, barely a whisper, but it conveyed his fury in full volume. Knowing that he had crossed a line, Marty stood and left the office.

***

Alex grimaced in disgust and dropped his sandwich back on his plate. “How can you get a cheese sandwich wrong? It’s just bread and cheese.” He and Liz had met Maria for lunch in the diner across the street from the hospital. Colored by his memory of how bad it had been the last time, he had opted for a sandwich instead of a hot meal. A choice he was regretting now.

His remarks made Maria smile. “I told you, this diner makes the worst food in the world.”

“Yet you keep bringing us back,” Liz laughed before bravely shoving a forkful of spaghetti into her mouth.

Maria shrugged. “You’ve been here before, you know it’s bad. If you didn’t want to eat here all you had to do was say no.”

“If we said no, we’d never get to see you. You’re always at the hospital. If I didn’t live with you now I don’t think I’d ever see you,” Liz admonished her friend gently.

“I know, I’ve been pretty negligent lately,” Maria admitted guiltily. “It’s just I didn’t want Maddie to be on her own while she was so sick. But she’s doing so much better now that she’s on the metsophomine program. I’ll be home more often and I’ll be able to come see Grandma Claudia with you.”

Liz rushed to clarify “I’m not trying to making you feel bad or imply that you’ve been neglecting me Maria. I’m just saying that you’ve been working a lot lately and I miss getting to hang out with you. I just always thought that if we lived together it would be all gossiping and talks about boys in our pajamas over ice cream. But with you working all day and me working all night, we never get to have any fun together anymore.”

“I guess that’s the joys of adulthood,” Maria replied gloomily.

“We came here to see you, but why do you keep coming here? Why does all the hospital staff seem to come here if it’s so bad?” Alex asked in bewilderment, having missed the girl’s entire conversation. They laughed at him and Maria threw a fry at his chest. “What?”

“The food they serve in the hospital cafeteria is even worse than here. After you’ve come here a few times you sort of acquire a taste,” Maria explained.

“Next time, I’m going to eat before I come and then just order a coffee. No wait, I’ve had the coffee here, it’s terrible. I’ll just order an orange soda.”

“I love you Alex,” Maria told him and leaned over to kiss his cheek.

Alex looked surprised but pleased at Maria’s display of affection. “What’ll happen to Maddie now?” he asked as Maria sat back down.

Maria’s grin disappeared and she traced the pattern of the Formica with her fingernail. “Well, she still has a way to go before she’s given the all clear. She’s going to need to stay at the hospital for a while yet. And then if they don’t find the mother, she’ll most likely go into foster care. So she’ll probably walk through your doors in twelve to fourteen years time Alex.”

“Don’t say that. Not all foster homes are like on TV. Some of them are really nice and take really great care of the kids they get,” Liz assured her friend.

“I’m sure Maddie will be fine. Maybe her mystery benefactor will come forward and pull more strings for her. Any idea who it was?” Alex asked.

“None. I asked but nobody would tell me. I know I should just be happy and accept it but it seems strange. Why would somebody do that and not make themselves known?”

“What about that Michael guy who found her? Didn’t you say that the cop thought the reason the woman left Maddie under his car was because he had an expensive car? Sounds like he might have money.” Liz suggested.

“But then why not tell me that he had paid for her treatment? And why wait so long to pay for it? Why all the mystery?” Maria said, stabbing air with her fork to punctuate each question.

“From everything you’ve told me about this guy, it sounds like he has a lot of stuff going on. Maybe there’s a reason that he couldn’t come forward to say that he had paid the money.” Liz shrugged.

Maria slouched down in her seat and groaned. “I just wish I had some answers.”

“Speaking of wealthy benefactors…Alex, have you thought anymore about my suggestion?” Liz asked, eyeing her friend.

He glared at her angrily and replied curtly, “No.”

“What suggestion?” Maria asked, sitting back up and looking very interested.

“That he ask his parents for money to help with the center.”

“They’re not my parents,” Alex corrected her sharply. “And we’ve been through this, I’m not asking them for help. I don’t want anything to do with it.”

Maria waved her fork in his direction. “Alex, your pa… your aunt and uncle love you. They made a huge mistake but it was only because they were looking out for you and trying to protect you. This could be the perfect way for you to rebuild your relationship.”

“I don’t want to rebuild that relationship, okay? I’m happy the way things are.” He rose to his feet and tossed his paper napkin on the table. “Excuse me, I need to use the men’s room.”

“I wouldn’t go in there if I were you,” Maria called out after him but Alex chose to ignore her.

Turned out Maria was right. The diner’s restrooms were every bit as nasty as their cooking. Alex did his business, washed his hands and exited as quickly as he could without touching anything.

“Have you got it?” Alex heard a familiar female voice and swung around to see who was talking to him before he realized it was coming from the ladies restroom. The door was ajar and he could see a tall, gorgeous, Latino woman standing at the sink.

“Why did we have to meet here?” She asked, the disgust clearly evident in her voice.

“Because I don’t want to be seen.” The first voice said again. It was familiar but Alex just couldn’t figure out who it belonged to. “And I would be seen over there, the place is crawling with –”

“This place is crawling too,” the second woman snapped. “Look, here it is. Hurry up and take it so we can get out of here.”

“What is it?”

“It’s just something that keeps you calm. It’s good stuff. Just take it Iz, please. I’m going to catch a fatal disease here.”

Iz?

It was Izzy, from the center. For a moment he considered barging in and confronting her, but he knew from experience that it wouldn’t help. Confronting her now would just put her on the defensive and mark him out as the enemy to her. He waited until the brunette hurried out of the restroom and back through the diner. A moment later Izzy came out into the corridor and turned to go through the fire escape door. She had on an oversized sweatshirt with the hood pulled up around her face and a pair of sunglasses in her hand.

“Alex,” she squealed in shock, stopping in her tracks. She glanced furtively at the door to the restroom, trying to gauge how much he might have overheard.

“Hi Izzy. How’s you mom?” Alex asked.

“She’s not so good. She… had to get emergency surgery last night and the doctors are pretty confident that she’ll pull though but…” her voice trailed off. The entire time she spoke she was looking at the floor. Not once did she meet Alex’s eyes.

“Everyone at the center is keeping you, the both of you, in their thoughts.”

“Thanks. I have to go. Sorry,” she blurted out before hurrying past him.

“Izzy,” Alex called after her. He pulled out a card and handed it to her. “It’s all my numbers. If you ever need a friend, just call me. Anytime, it doesn’t matter. Just call me.”

Hesitantly, Izzy took the card and pocketed it. “Thanks.”

And then she was gone.

***
Last edited by nibbles2 on Fri May 06, 2011 3:41 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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