Risqué Business (M/L ADULT) -- AU -- {COMPLETE}

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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Applebylicious
Addicted Roswellian
Posts: 425
Joined: Fri Sep 06, 2002 8:45 pm

Post by Applebylicious » Sun May 04, 2003 10:38 pm

<center>Part 10</center>


(Max POV)



“What do you mean, do nothing!” I say angrily. “Michael, he fucked you up! There’s no way I’m going to sit by and watch that asshole get by with nothing but a slap on the wrist.”

“Michael, he’s right,” Isabel chews her lip nervously. “Nick obviously isn’t worried about getting in trouble. What if he tries this again? What’s to stop him from seriously hurting you next time?”

“Wow… Isabel Evans is actually concerned about someone other than herself?” Michael replies sarcastically. “Quick, someone notify Newsweek.”

“That’s all you can say?” she responds angrily.

“What do you want me to say, Isabel?” he hisses. “Thanks for coming by? Thanks for actually acknowledging that I exist? What?”

She opens her mouth to reply, but I quickly intervene before things get out of hand.

“Guys, that’s enough!” I state firmly. “This has gotten out of control. I’m calling the Sheriff and filing a formal complaint against those pricks.”

“Max, you can’t,” Michael sighs, gingerly touching his split lip. “I was buying alcohol and I’m technically in their turf to begin with.”

“Their turf?” Isabel exclaims incredulously. “And that gives them the right to attack you? Jesus, this is like some demented West Side Story revival!”

“It doesn’t matter,” Michael shakes his head. “I’m not backing down to those punks. If they want to fight, let me catch them anywhere near Maria and I’ll beat the hell out of all of them!”

“Yeah. Like you did tonight?” Isabel snorts, and Michael glares at her.

“Shove it, Princess!”

“Michael, you can’t just keep letting them get away with this!” I shove my fingers through my hair, and glance over to where Liz and Maria are talking.

“What else am I supposed to do, Maxwell? You know good and well that if I get one more mark on my record I’m done for!” he hisses. “And there are several witnesses who could tell the cops I was drinking.”

“Fine,” I sigh, clenching my fists. Isabel stares at me in disbelief.

“What, you’re just going to forget about it?” she demands, her face flushed with anger.

“No, we’re just going to make them believe that,” Michael replies calmly. “And when they least expect it, I’m going to make them pay.”

“You guys are out of your minds!” Isabel hisses. She turns to me, a pleading look on her face. “Max, let’s just tell dad! He’ll take care of it!”

“Stay out of this, Isabel!” Michael warns her. “I didn’t ask for your help!”

“Well, I’m not going to just sit back and watch these guys make you into their bitch!” she retorts heatedly. “Michael… please!”

“Isabel, just stop,” I warn, sensing that Michael is seconds away from flipping out on her.

“I don’t understand you two!” she says, tears filling her eyes. “What is wrong with you both?”

“At least we didn’t ditch each other to go to some fancy prep school across the fucking state!” Michael responds and I sigh in defeat, knowing what’s coming.

“God, Michael! Is that what this is about?” Isabel asks. “I thought you understood… it was over!”

“Yeah, I understood perfectly when Max told me that you’d skipped town!” he yells back. “Nice way of breaking it to me, Iz!”

“I didn’t know what to say!” she exclaims pathetically.

“Oh, that’s rich!”

“Guys, please!” I yell in frustration. “God! This isn’t the time to play Remember When, all right? We’re older now, we can’t go back. Let’s just move on!”

“I want to move on!” Isabel says. “But he just won’t let it go!”

“Whatever, Isabel! You’ve acted like Max and I didn’t exist for the past five years! Don’t get all high and mighty on us now.”

“You have no idea what I’ve gone through!” she retorts. “So don’t even start with me!”

“No one ever knows what’s going on with you, because you’re so damn shallow that you never let anyone in!”

Isabel gasps and I toss my hands up. “Jesus, Michael! You didn’t have to say that to her!”

“What, like she’s treated you any better?” he asks, turning from Isabel to me. “Max, as soon as she found out the truth about you, she split quicker than Tess Harding’s legs on a first date!”

“How dare you!” Isabel hisses. “You have absolutely no right to bring my family into this just because you’re still upset about our breakup!”

“Oh, get over yourself, Isabel!” he snaps. “This has nothing to do with our so-called relationship! I’m talking about our friendship! The one you ended when you suddenly got it into your head that you were so much better than us!”

“I never thought that!” she exclaims defensively. “I was going through a difficult time! I just found out my brother wasn’t my real brother, for God’s sake!”

My own anger and resentment breaks through at this and I turn on her. “Oh, go to hell Isabel! I can see how difficult it must have been! You know who both of your parent’s are! You don’t have to constantly live with the fact that Dad screwed up and that you were the product of an affair! Yeah… must have been real tough to have everyone sucking up to you your whole damn life!”

She doesn’t say anything in response, just stares at me with an open mouth and surprised eyes.

I roll my eyes and glance back at Michael. “You need a ride home?”

“No man, I’m cool,” he states, surprise coloring his own eyes at my uncharacteristic outburst.

“Fine, I’m going to get Liz and take her home. You can ride with Maria,” I say pointedly to Isabel.

“Max, wait!” she calls after me.

“Not now, Isabel. You had your chance five years ago and you didn’t have time for me then. Well, now I don’t have time for you,” I state coolly.

With that, I walk off without looking back, feeling a sense of satisfaction filling me.


<center>***************************************</center>



(Liz POV)



“Everything all right?” I ask, watching as Max sits in the driver’s seat, staring at the windshield.

He barely looks at me when he replies. “Um, yeah… I think so. Sorry I’ve been so out of it, tonight was just…”

“Hard,” I finish sympathetically. “I’m so sorry about Michael, Max.”

“Yeah, me too,” he murmurs, glancing over at me. “Liz… thanks for being here tonight. For… everything.”

“I wanted to be here, Max,” I reply, reaching over and brushing the hair off his forehead. “I’ll always be here for you.”

A half-smile lights his lips. “Thanks. Being near you makes me feel halfway sane in this huge mess I call life.”

I don’t reply with words, instead I lean over and touch my lips lightly against his.

He responds by wrapping his arms around me and bringing me into his lap. “God, Liz…” he whispers, touching his forehead against mine.

“I’m not interrupting anything, am I?” A sickly sweet voice says and we jump apart to find Tess staring at us.

Her eyebrows are raised and she is staring at Max with an odd look.

He stiffens and looks away while I scowl at her. “No, Tess. I was just telling Max goodbye. Was there something you needed?” I ask, forcing myself to be polite.

Her gaze lingers on Max as she replies, “Not yet.”

“I better go,” Max whispers to me, shooting Tess a disapproving look before squeezing my hand. “I’ll see you tomorrow?”

“Definitely,” I smile, stepping out of the Jeep. “Bye.”

He smiles and starts the Jeep, his gaze flicking back towards Tess before driving back.


<center>***************************************</center>



(Max POV)



God. I can’t tell her the truth.

After seeing what happened with Michael tonight, I realized just how much your past can affect you. If I told Liz the truth about the deal with Tess, it would just cause all this unnecessary drama and it’s not worth it.

Not when I’m this close to having Tess by the balls so that she can’t interfere with our lives ever again. There’s no reason Liz needs to find out about that stupid deal. I’m not going through with it anyway.

I stare at the pictures in my hands of Tess with several guys – kissing, hugging, and doing things that I don’t think they’d allow in the Kama Sutra.

Picking up the phone next to my bed, I dial a number, tapping my fingers against my leg as I wait for the familiar voice.

“Yo.”

“How the hell did you get these?” I ask, scanning through the glossy photographs. “They’re great.”

“Max, dat you's, man?” the sleepy voice asks, and I roll my eyes.

“Yeah, Zanny boy. Dat’s me,” I reply sarcastically. “Where are you?”

“I’m at home, cornball,” he moans, and I can hear the rustling of his sheets over the line. “What’s up?”

“Maybe I should ask you?” I smirk, hearing a female voice begin moaning in the milieu.

“Hmm?” he questions, then I hear him hold the phone away. “Yo, babe! Say hi to my cuz.”

“Hey, Max,” I hear a seductive voice giggle over the phone and I smile in return.

“What’s up, Serena?”

“Mm…” Another giggle sounds over the line. “I’ll let you know in a few!”

“Damn, woman! You's gonna be da death of me!” Zan says in the background, letting out a loud moan. “Yo! Lemme talk to Maxi-pad!”

“I told you not to call me that, Zander,” I respond dryly.

“Yeah, yeah… so, what yous calling for in the damn middle of da night?”

“How’d you get these pictures of Tess?” I ask, thumbing through the stack again, smiling widely.

“Dude, neva question my methods,” I can hear him smirking over the line. “I’m da man, aight?”

“Yes you are,” I grin, holding up a photo of Tess getting fucked by some random blonde kid with a goatee.

“I’ll tell you dis, though, dat girl is one easy puta!” Zan replies lazily. “Caught all dat in just one night.”

“Zan,” I frown, “there are at least five different guys here!”

“I know.”

I cringe at the realization of just how slutty Tess Harding really is. “Jesus… I can’t believe I actually hit that.”

“You's and me, both, duke.”

“No shit?” I ask incredulously.

“’Member dat time I’s was up visiting yous guys for the summer?”

“Yeah, I remember you stayed out partying all night and Ma flipped out,” I answer.

“Yeah, she was zonin, fo serious,” I can practically hear him rolling his eyes on the other end. “Anways, I’s met up with dis sweet lil blonde sometime afterwards… we’s both was rollin, ya know?”

He chuckles ruefully, no doubt reliving his days of glory before Serena came into his life.

“All I know is one minute we’s dancing, the next I’s got her up against the wall and I’s fuckin her like der’s no tomorrow. Ow! Hey… don’t worry, baby! I’s was high!”

“Nice story, cuz,” I wrinkle my nose, aware of just how familiar it sounds.

“Yeah… well, you's never said why you's want to fuck dis bitch over. What she do to ya, bra?”

“She’s trying to fuck me over, dude,” I correct him. “And nobody fucks with me.”

“Damn straight, cuz,” he replies in approval. “So ya think you's got enough or do I need to make another trip down?”

“Nah, this is good,” I say, tapping the stack lightly against my nightstand. “But thanks, man. I got no skills with the camera.”

“Aight, bra. Well, I’s hate to leave ya hanging and all dat… but I’s gots some business to take care of, if ya knows what I mean…”

“Say no more,” I grin. “Tell Serena she better be saving herself for me when I come to visit.”

“Tck! Whateva, duke. Latah.”

“See ya.”

I hear a loud giggle followed by a long moan before Zan finally disconnects.


<center>****************************************</center>



(Liz POV)



“…Unexpected December heat wave has all the temperatures pushing into the nineties. Looks like we’ll be wearing shorts and sunglasses this Christmas instead of turtlenecks and mittens…”

I groan, turning off the radio as I roll over in my bed.

After taking a cool shower, I pull on a silky sundress, braiding my hair back from my face. It falls down my back in a long, shiny plait and I grab my books before heading to school.

My mind drifts to thoughts of Max.

Last night we decided to give being a couple a try. And today will be the first real test, as he will most likely be surrounded by his groupies.

How will he act? Will he tell them he has a girlfriend? Or will he flirt with them like usual? I set my jaw, realizing that I’m just going to have to wait to find out.

When I set foot inside West Roswell High, the first person I see is Maria. She waves at me and I smile, making my way over to her locker.

“Hey, how’s Michael doing?” I ask, taking in the shadows under her eyes.

“Oh, he’s all right,” she sighs. “I told him not to come to school today, but he refuses to listen to me.”

“Typical guy, huh?” I tease, opening my locker to retrieve my books for my first few periods.

My eyes fall on the single white rose laying delicately across my English notebook. I pick it up, fingering the long stem as I take a sniff of it’s exquisite aroma.

“Good morning, ladies!” a cheerful voice calls and I turn around to see Alex sauntering towards us.

“What’s up, Whitman?” Maria asks, narrowing her eyes at his happy expression. “What’s got you so happy today?”

“Didn’t you hear?” he quips, stretching his arms over his head. “It’s a heat wave. And you know what that means.”

Maria and I exchange glances. “No… what?”

“That people are going to start hooking up,” he says slowly. “It always happens. Heat makes people do crazy things.”

“I think I know where this is going,” Maria rolls her eyes, crossing her arms over her chest.

“I’m going to ask Isabel out,” he adds, flashing us a confident smile.

“That’s what I thought you were going to say,” Maria moans dramatically. “Alex, why are you even bothering? You’re setting yourself up for failure!”

“Nope, DeLuca. I’m not letting your cynicism ruin this memorable time for me,” he sings. “This time she’s gonna be putty in my hands.”

Maria opens her mouth to respond when I beat her to it.

“Well, good for you, Alex! We both wish you the best of luck!”

“Thank you, Liz,” he says pointedly, then raises his eyebrows at the rose in my hand. “Hmm… someone got a secret admirer?”

“Or not-so-secret,” Maria mumbles.

“Are you telling me that that’s from Max Evans?” he asks in surprise.

I blush slightly, but nod. “Yeah…”

“So, what? Are you two together now?”

“Yep,” I smile, aware that I must look sappy. At the moment I don’t care.

Alex whistles. “Damn. Never thought I’d see the day Maxwell-there’s-not-enough-of-me-to-go-around-Evans gets serious with one girl. Must be something in the water.”

“Or maybe it’s the heat,” Maria quips. “You know what they say, heat makes people do crazy things…”

“Ha ha! I think you’re right,” Alex smiles. “Well, trigonometry calls! See you gals later!”

He walks away, humming under his breath,

“We’re having a heat wave…
a tropical heat wave…”


Maria and I just shake our heads.

I open my mouth to ask her a question, when I catch a glimpse of raven hair and rippling muscles down the hall. I watch as Max walks through the corridor, his hands in the pockets of his well-fitting jeans. The only other articles of clothing he’s wearing is a tight blue T-shirt and a pair of Birkenstock sandals.

He looks completely yummy.

His eyes glance up and lock onto mine. A slow smile spreads over his face and I swear at that moment I have to lean against the locker to keep from melting into a Liz-sized puddle.

“Liz?”

I realize Maria has been talking to me and reluctantly break our gaze. “What? What did you say?”

“I said I gotta get to class. I’ll see you at lunch?” she asks, slipping her purse strap on her shoulder.

“Yeah, okay…” I mumur, my eyes drifting back over to the Greek God sauntering my way.

Humina humina…

I barely register Maria leaving as my eyes block out everything but Max.

“Hey, beautiful,” he murmurs when he finally reaches me.

“Hey yourself,” I say breathlessly, and smile as he leans down to kiss me.

“Mm… you taste like strawberries,” he whispers, nuzzling my ear and I giggle in delight.

“Well, isn’t this cozy…”

I turn around, half-expecting to see my snobby cousin, but instead come face to face with some other snooty blonde. She sticks her nose up as she examines me, then her eyes flick towards Max.

I feel the anger begin to fill me as she openly checks him out, lust clouding her green eyes.

“Do I know you?” I ask in annoyance.

She ignores me, licking her lips. “Hi, Max. Long time no see.”

I turn towards Max, who is avoiding my gaze.

“Uh, Pam… how’s it going?” he scratches his head uncomfortably.

“How come you haven’t called me?” she pouts, sidling up to him as if I’m invisible.

My mouth drops open as she begins stroking his arm, giggling like an airhead. I raise my eyebrows and wait for Max to shrug her off, but he appears to be frozen.

“Well, I guess I’ll just leave you two alone,” I snap, yanking my book bag from the ground and shouldering it.

I storm off as I hear Pam purring into his ear, “I’ve missed you, baby…”

I press my lips into a thin line as I grip my bag harder and grumble under my breath. About halfway down the hall, I hear a breathless cry.

“Liz! Liz, wait!”

I turn around to find Max hurrying after me. I wait for him to reach me and raise my eyebrows in question. “I’m sorry… was I distracting you from other priorities?”

He sighs. “Liz, I’m sorry. I… I wasn’t expecting Pam Troy to come onto me like that.”

I snort. “She didn’t act like it was an unusual occurrence.”

“It is now,” he states firmly and I look away in doubt. “Hey, look at me.”

I bite my lower lip defiantly and he tucks a finger gently under my chin, forcing my head in his direction.

“Liz, Pam is just… some girl in my past, all right? She’s nothing compared to you. Come on…” he says quietly and I feel myself begin to waver.

“Yeah, she’s just some girl you’ve probably fooled around with, right?” I say, perturbed. “Why should I be worried?”

He flinches at my callous comment and hangs his head. “I’m sorry, Liz. I… I don’t know what to say. Except that you’re the only girl I want. I swear.”

I stare at him, seeing the apprehension in his eyes and sigh. “I know, Max. It’s just… this is really hard for me, okay? I feel like I’m second best to all these girls. Like they all know a part of you that I don’t.”

“No, Liz,” he says stubbornly. “You know me better than anyone. You know parts of me that no one knows.”

I smile half-heartedly. “But I don’t know what you look like naked.”

His eyes open slightly, then he lets out a laugh. “Um… I think you have a pretty good idea.”

I think back to the swimming escapade and flush at the memory of Max’s bare body. “Yeah… but I don’t like the fact that other girls know, too.”

“I’m sorry, Liz…” he repeats and I shrug.

“It’s okay, Max. It was before you met me anyway.” I say, and then anxiety begins eating away at me. “I mean… it was… right? You didn’t like…”

Oh God. What if he did…

“Liz, I haven’t been with anyone since I’ve met you,” he states earnestly and I feel slightly better.

“Okay,” I smile shyly. “Well, I better get going to class… I don’t want to be late.”

“I’ll walk you,” he takes my hand and together we head towards my first period class.


<center>******************************************</center>
Last edited by Applebylicious on Fri Apr 09, 2004 6:53 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Applebylicious
Addicted Roswellian
Posts: 425
Joined: Fri Sep 06, 2002 8:45 pm

Post by Applebylicious » Wed May 07, 2003 5:54 am

<center>Part 11</center>


(Max POV)


I know what you’re thinking. Real smooth, Max.

What can I say? That I was totally not expecting for Pam Troy – tramp extroidanaire – to throw herself in my arms right in front of Liz?

Well… I wasn’t.

It’s kind of weird, you know? A few weeks ago I would have found it strange if she hadn’t basically felt me up in the middle of the hallway.

But ever since Liz came into my life… I can’t even remember the last
time I looked at another girl… much less did anything about it.

I keep thinking to myself, what the hell are you doing Maxwell? Are
you seriously going to let this girl inside you? The real you?

Yes. I am.

I can’t help it. I’m like a drug addict and if I don’t get my Liz Parker
fix then I feel as though I might go nuts. And for the first time, it’s
not even sexual.

Okay… so it is. Sorta. I mean, I want the girl more than Isabel wants the latest pair of Jimmy Choo sandals. And that’s saying something, ladies and gentlemen.

But the thing is, that for the first time in my life, I want her for a reason other than a place to stick my dick. I want to… cherish her. I want to see the way her eyes will probably soften as I love her with my body.

But that’s only part of it. I want… her. Plain and simple. I want to be able to go up and place a kiss on those beautiful lips of hers, to throw my arm around her and glare at any guy who so much as dares to glance in her direction.

But most of all… I just want her to feel the same way.

A tap on my shoulder breaks me out of my self-induced Liz-daze and I glance over to find Michael taking his seat next to me.

“Dude… you look like hell,” I frown, taking in his ragged appearance, along with the still-fresh bruises and cuts. “I can’t believe Maria let you show up today.”

He simply scowls. “It was like pulling fucking teeth, man. I hate when she goes all mother-hen mode on me.”

I shrug my shoulders, glancing at the front of the room where a couple of kids are writing stuff on the board. My guess is it’s not anything about Trigonometry. “Hey, she’s just worried about you, Mike. She thinks it’s her fault that you got jumped by those goons.”

Michael raises an eyebrow. “Say wha?”

“I’m just saying she’s apparently taking it pretty hard. Just let her baby you for awhile, all right?” I respond distractedly, my mind returning to thoughts of Liz.

His mouth practically drops to his feet. “I never thought I’d live to see the day where Max Evans actually defended Maria DeLuca. Are you feeling okay, dude? Is the heat getting to you?”

He places a hand against my forehead jokingly and I shrug away from him, a scowl on my face.

“Shut up, fucker.”

“Loser.”

“Shitbag. Don’t you ever comb your hair?”

“Ha ha, Maxwell… God, you sound like Isabel.”

I immediately stiffen and the smile fades from my face as I stare at my desk.

“Whoa… I guess you guys still aren’t speaking?” Michael asks apologetically. “Dude… I’m sorry-“

“No,” I interrupt curtly. “Don’t. Nothing’s changed, so let’s just leave it at that.”

“Yeah, okay, but it’s going to be hard to avoid her forever Max. She is going to our school now,” he points out, then sighs. “Uh… so what are you planning on doing about that?”

“What?” I glance up to see him nodding across the room. I look over and feel my fists clench as I see Tess staring at me, a questioning look on her face. “Oh, her.”

“Hey, you aren’t still going through with that deal are you?” he asks worriedly. “I mean, I thought you and Liz were…”

“We are,” I state firmly, looking away from her icy blue eyes. “And no, I’m not.”

Michael expels a sigh of relief. “Thank God. That girl is trouble waiting to happen. Or an STD.”

We both shudder, and I once again applaud my ‘no glove, no love’ rule. “You got that right.”

“So, you and Liz…” he says, raising his eyebrows teasingly. “What’s going on there, anyway? I thought you were like, a self-proclaimed bachelor.”

A dreamy smile curls my lips. “Yeah, well things change.”

“Damn. Twice in one day, Max. Are you trying to kill me?”


<center>*******************************************</center>



(Liz POV)



Ugh. I can practically feel the sweat gathering on my skin as I stare at myself in the mirror.

“I hate heat,” I mumble, lifting the heavy braid off the back of my neck.

I reach out to grab a few paper towels to wipe my face off with, and realize that the dispenser is empty. Sighing, I walk over to one of the stalls to get some toilet paper, when I hear the door open.

“It won’t last,” a snooty accent says indignantly. “I mean, have you taken a look at her? She’s completely frigid. There’s no way Max will stick around when he’s not getting any.”

I fall back inside and shut the door, peering out between the cracks as I listen to the conversation.

“I don’t know, Pam. Max has been acting really weird, lately,” a short brunette replies, fluffing her hair with her hands. “I heard he turned Shelley Wallace down for an afternoon romp in the Eraser room last period, and that was after he rejected you.”

“Hey!” Pam sneers, “he did not reject me, all right?”

“All I’m saying is that Max has definitely changed,” the other girl shrugs. “Maybe he’s finally settling down, like Michael.”

Pam snorts. “Oh yeah, Mr. Pussy-whipped DeLuca. No way, Tish. Max Evans is too much man to settle down. He’s too wild!”

I hold my breath, thoughts racing through my mind as I peep through the crack in the door.

“Whatever, Pam,” Tish rolls her eyes. “Why can’t you just face the fact that Max may actually like this girl? I mean, get over it!”

With that, she struts out the bathroom, leaving Pam fuming behind her. Seconds later, Pam storms out as well and I tentatively open the stall.

As I catch a glimpse of my face in the mirror, I take in the smile widening over my lips.


<center>******************************************</center>



(Max POV)


Okay, I’m sitting here trying to pay attention to my math teacher’s lecture about angles – honest! - but all I can think about is… surprise! Liz Parker! I’ve got to say… I’ve got a good imagination. Wanna know what’s going on my sick little brain? Well, here, let me let you in on a little secret...

I’m sitting here at my desk, bored out of my mind. I look over and see Michael trying to stifle a yawn. He glances over at me and I roll my eyes in boredom before propping my head in my hands. All of a sudden, the class door is thrown open.

I look up and my jaw hits the floor as I see Liz walk towards me, a devilish smile on her luscious lips.

My eyes practically bug out and my head slips out of my hands, hitting the desk with a not-so-graceful thud as I take in the extreeeeemely short trench coat and leather boots she’s wearing.

She walks purposefully in my direction as I sit there, growing hard with anticipation. The rest of the class fades away, leaving us alone as she props one spiked heel on the edge of my chair, revealing more than enough creamy thigh to my gaze.

“L… Liz?”

Her lips curl into a sexy grin as she bends down to look at me, my eyes dropping to her cleavage. “Max, I hear you’ve been a very bad boy.”

“I have?” I blink, torn between confusion and lust. “Uh…”

My words trail off as she slides into my lap, wrapping those long legs of hers around my waist.

“I’m here to serve you your punishment,” she breathes into my ear, licking the lobe before pulling away.

“What did I do?” I ask in a strained voice. Please tell me so I can do it again…

“Did you think I was just going to stand by and watch other girls throw themselves on you?” she purrs, wriggling against my erection firmly. “You’re mine, and it’s time I showed you…”


“Maxwell?”

A hard shove in my shoulder breaks me out of my daydream, and the dreamy smile on my face is replaced with a scowl. “Hey! What the hell you do that for?”

Michael smirks back at me. “Dude, the bell rang five minutes ago? Where have you been?”

Sure enough, the class is practically empty and a glance up at the clock confirms Michael’s statement. I jump up, realizing that I have next period with Liz and I want to try to catch up with her. “Shit! Why didn’t you tell me sooner?”

Just as I’m about to grab my books and sprint down the hallway, he grips my arm. “Yo, Max… uh… you might want to make a pit stop there, my friend.”

“What are you talking about, Mike?” I ask in irritation. “I gotta get to bio, Liz is there.”

He nods, a giant smirk on his face. “Yeah, but unless you want her to see what you’re packing there, then I’d slow down.”

My eyes narrow and I glance down at Michael’s gesture. Oh jeez. There’s a bulge the size of a Texas oil-rig in the front of my pants. Dammit.

“Don’t say a fucking word, Michael,” I say, placing my books in front of my crotch. “Not one fucking word.”

He cracks up, shaking his head as I glare at him.


<center>********************************************</center>



(Liz POV)



I glance towards the door for about the fiftieth time in the past five minutes.

Where the hell is he?!

Since Ms. Hardy is late yet again, the rest of the class is goofing off, talking and laughing while the more studious of the bunch study or fine-tune their homework from the night before.

I look up at the clock, then back towards the door.

“You know, a watched door never opens.”

I turn to see Alex grinning at me as he leans against my desk. I smile at him in return. “I thought that line was about a telephone?”

He shrugs. “Eh, whatever works. So… are you going to tell me why you’re staring at the door like you’re expecting Jesus to suddenly walk through and perform a miracle?”

“She’s waiting on her loverboy…” Maria joins in, nudging me in the shoulder as she takes the seat next to me.

“Uh, actually… I was saving that for… Max…” I stammer, my face turning red as they turn to stare at me.

“Aw… how sweet,” Alex coos, “next it’ll be matching outfits and monogrammed towels. You are going to invite me to the wedding, right?”

I roll my eyes. “You’re such a riot, Alexander Whitman. So tell me… how’s Isabel?”

His cocky grin fades away and he looks away, his own cheeks tinged pink.

Maria and I exchange amused glances. “So… Operation Heat Wave is a no-go?” she says nonchalantly.

“I haven’t had the chance to ask her yet, thank you very much,” he retorts. “She did just start school today.”

“I understand, Alex,” I say, patting him on the arm sympathetically. “You have to get the mood set up and all.”

He nods, giving me a grateful glance before turning his nose up at Maria. “That’s right, I have to make it where she can’t refuse.”

“That way when she does, you can blame it all on the heat,” Maria quips and I snort, trying to hide my giggles.

“Ha ha, very funny. I’m leaving now,” he frowns, walking off with squared shoulders as Maria and I begin cracking up.

Just then, I’m distracted by Max walking in the room. His face appears slightly flushed and a scowl covers his face. Michael appears behind him, looking as if he’s trying to hold in his amusement.

Max catches sight of me, and his whole face brightens as he makes his way over.

“Hey there,” he grins and I smile dreamily back at him.

“Hi,” I say, turning to look pointedly at Maria. No such need, she’s already up and dragging Michael over to the corner.

“I can’t believe you showed up today, Michael!” I hear her berating and Michael flashes us both a helpless look before succumbing to her grip.

Max takes the seat next to me and pulls his chair as close as possible, bringing my attention back to him.

“I missed you last period,” he murmurs huskily, tracing a finger up my arm.

I let a lazy grin cover my face. “Really? Hmm…”

“Did you miss me?” he asks, pouting adorably.

“Maybe…” I say, refusing to meet his gaze.

Maybe?!” he states unbelievingly. “Well, I’ll just have to remedy that.”

Before I can even reply, he pulls my face towards him and plants a long, hot kiss against my lips. I immediately forget my teasing and lean into the kiss, opening my mouth so he can slide his tongue inside.

After a moment, he pulls away, a cocky smile on his face as he takes in my flustered, dazed expression. “Maybe you’ll remember that.”

I can only nod my head speechlessly.


<center>********************************************</center>
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Post by Applebylicious » Sat May 17, 2003 11:40 pm

<center>Part 12</center>


(Max POV)



“Liz, have you ever considered wearing black leather?” I ask, my amber eyes twinkling as I watch her practically choke on her salad fork.

What?!” she asks, her lovely mouth full of lettuce. Swallowing, she turns a cocked eyebrow in my direction. “I hope that was just some kind of chauvinistic fantasy talking and not something you actually think would ever happen.”

Grinning widely, I raise my hands up. “Guilty as charged,” I reply cheekily. “Seriously though, you look absolutely amazing today.”

“Max!” she giggles, a pretty blush adorning her cheeks. “You’ve already told me that, like ten times!”

“Is it a problem if I can’t seem to keep my eyes off you?” I whisper, leaning over to nuzzle her neck.

“Oh, this is just disgusting!” Maria’s whiny voice breaks into our moment. “Can’t you two take that somewhere else? I mean, people are trying to eat!”

Before I can deliver a sarcastic reply to put her in her place, Liz beats me to it.

“You should talk, Maria,” her voice responds dryly. “The whole school practically heard you and Michael getting it on in the Eraser Room last period.”

Michael and I both spit out our hamburger and stare at Liz in disbelief.

Maria turns five shades of red. “Well, at least it was behind closed doors,” she mutters lamely, looking down as she stirs her soup.

“That can be arranged,” I say, slipping my arm around Liz’s shoulders. “If you’ll all excuse us…”

I pretend to drag Liz halfway across the quad before she manages to escape my grasp, giggling and squealing.

God, this feels so good… just joking around and having fun with someone.

I’ve never even bothered to talk to a girl unless I was planning on doing her, but with Liz… it’s like she just touches a part of me that I didn’t even know existed anymore, you know? I am so in love with her that it hurts to look at her, sometimes. To see all her beauty and innocence. She’s like an angel.

“Hey, what are you thinking about?”

I look down into her twinkling eyes and a smile slides over my features. “Just about how much I want to kiss you right now,” I state seriously, tucking a strand of hair behind her ear. “You are so beautiful.”

She rolls her eyes, biting her lip shyly. “You’re going to give me a big head if you keep that up,” she warns, then leans on her tiptoes and presses her lips against mine.

I wrap my arms tightly around her as I try to deepen the kiss. My eyes open slightly and lock with icy blue across the quad. My body stiffens as I watch Tess smile at me, raising her eyebrows knowingly.

“Max? Are you all right?” Liz asks breathlessly, and I realize I’ve pulled away from her.

“Uh, yeah,” I say, frowning as I look away from Tess. “Um, I gotta go do something, enjoy your lunch, okay?”

“Uh, sure,” she says in confusion. “Max, you look kind of pale, are you sure you’re okay?”

“I’m fine,” I force myself to smile. “In fact, can I give you a ride home? There’s someone I want you to meet.”

She returns my smile, nodding her head. “Sure! I’ll meet you at my locker later?”

“Right,” I run my finger down her cheek to tweak her chin. “Bye, Liz.”

I love you.

The words weren’t spoken, but I felt them anyway.

“Bye, Max,” she replies, kissing me softly on the cheek before turning back to our friend’s table.

I watch her go, my insides practically bursting with emotion. I want to tell her how I feel so badly, yet I don’t want to scare her off.

Yeah right, you just don’t want to hear her say she doesn’t feel the same.

Shaking off the dismal thoughts, I turn to go inside the school, ignoring Tess’s imploring expression as I open the heavy doors.

Once inside, I head straight for the pay phone, dropping change inside. Pressing the desired buttons, I wait for Zan to answer.

“Yo.”

“I changed my mind, I need you here,” I say in a low voice. “Can you make it by tonight?”

“No sweat, cuz. But I’s gots to bring Serena, or she’ll be wondering what’s up. Latah, duke.”

I hang up the phone, noting my determined expression in the mirror.


<center>***************************************</center>



(Liz POV)



“What was that all about?” Maria questions as I return without Max.

“I’m not sure,” I respond honestly. “He said he had to go do something. And he wanted me to meet someone later.”

Maria’s brows wrinkle. “That sounds kind of ominous, don’t you think?”

I shrug, trying not to let Max’s dismissal upset me. “I’m sure he had a good reason.”

“Right,” she replies wryly.

“So, anyone seen Alex?” I ask brightly, wanting to steer the conversation away from Max and I.

I trust him, I do. Which is exactly why I’m not going to let Maria and her cynical outlook distress me. Max wouldn’t do something he isn’t supposed to do… would he?

Oh jeez, she’s already gotten to me.

“Haven’t seen him since bio,” Maria shrugs. “Maybe he found the Ice Bitch and he’s making his move as we speak.”

“The Ice Bitch?” Michael asks in amusement. “Whitman has a crush?”

“Yeah, on Max’s sister,” I reply, frowning as I watch Michael’s body freeze.

“Isabel?” he asks incredulously. “The hell you say?”

“That’s what I said!” Maria throws her hands up. “No one in their right mind would want anything to do with her!”

I notice Michael stiffen and look down.

“That’s not really nice, Maria,” I say gently. “I’m sure Isabel can be nice…”

Michael looks up and we make eye contact.

“Whatever,” Maria states obliviously. “I’ve never seen her act nice to anyone. I mean, lord knows what she probably said to Alex if he ever got up the nerve!”

Michael’s face turns pained and he grabs his lunch tray. “Listen, I gotta go. I’ll… see you guys later, okay?”

He leans down and gives Maria a quick kiss on the cheek. She watches him leave in confusion.

“Michael?” I call out, watching as he speeds his step up. “Uh, I’ll be right back, too!” I say to Maria before going after him.

“Okay, was it something I said?” I hear her reply.

I race through the crowded quad, my eyes trained on Michael’s spiky hair. “Michael!”

I finally catch up with him outside the math building. “Michael, what’s going on with you and Isabel?” I say frankly.

He stops and turns to face me. My eyes widen as I see the confusion and turmoil racing in his eyes.

“What are you talking about, Liz?” he plays it off, but I know something’s going on behind those gray eyes.

“Are you… are you cheating on Maria?” I demand in a low voice, folding my hands over my chest.

“What, no!” he rakes a hand through his hair. “Look, it’s complicated, okay? Just… just stay out of it, Liz.”

I open my mouth to respond, but he slips through the doors and races down the hall.


<center>*****************************************</center>
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Post by Applebylicious » Mon Aug 04, 2003 12:22 am

<center>Part 13</center>



(Max POV)



After hanging up with my cousin, I turn to head back to the quad, when I see Michael rushing through the hall. I open my mouth to ask him where the fire is, when I notice the concerned look on his face.

He doesn’t even see me as he heads over to where Isabel is strutting down the hall with a cool expression on her perfect face. I watch in fascination as he grabs her arm and speaks in a low voice. Her eyes open widely and he practically drags her down the hall to the Eraser Room.

“What the hell?” I grumble under my breath, sneaking along behind them. “What are you two up to?”

I’ve noticed that ever since the night Michael got attacked, he and Izzy have seemed to get along despite their heated argument. Michael’s even been subtly trying to get me to talk to her, but I’ve been so pissed that I refused.

Now I have to wonder what’s going on that I don’t know about.

There shouldn’t be any reason Michael and Isabel are in the Eraser Room together, unless…

“Max?”

I turn around and find myself staring into the face of Maria DeLuca.

“Maria!” I say loudly, hoping it carries to the room behind me. “What’s up?”

She stares at me like I’m a sideshow freak at the circus. “What the hell's wrong with you?”

“Huh?” I scratch my head, offering a strained smile. “What do you mean?”

She wrinkles her nose and shakes her head. “Right. Anyway… do you know where Michael is? He’s supposed to see the nurse about going home early.”

“Uh… I uh…” I bite my lip while glancing over my shoulder. As if in slow motion, the door opens and Michael stumbles out.

“Maria!” he stutters, taking a step forward. “What… what are you doing here?”

“Michael?” she asks in a dazed voice. “What’s…”

Silence falls over us as Isabel appears behind him. Michael’s face drains of color as Maria’s face fills with blood.

“It’s… it’s not what it looks like,” Michael says hoarsely. “Maria…”

She presses her hand to her lips and backs away. Isabel’s eyes widen and she backs into the Eraser Room.

“Oh my God…” Maria whispers, turning to run.

“Maria!” Michael shouts after her, he grabs her arm to stop her. “Just wait a damn minute so I can explain.”

Explain?!” she laughs in a shrill voice. “Explain what, Michael? You bastard!”

“Just listen to me, dammit!”

She bares her teeth and shoves him away. “Don’t you fucking touch me!”

“Everybody just calm down,” I say, trying to find a way to stop the scene from getting worse. “Look… people are starting to stare.”

“Shut up!” they both yell, glaring at each other with varying emotions.

I press my lips together and back away.

“How could you, Michael?” Maria whispers. “With her?”

“It’s not like that,” he insists. “Izzy and I were just… talking.”

“In the Eraser Room?” she replies sarcastically. “Don’t insult my intelligence like that, damn you!”

“He’s telling the truth,” Isabel says in a husky voice.

Maria turns to shout at her, but is drawn up short by the tears filling Isabel’s brown eyes.

“He’s not lying to you, Maria,” she repeats brokenly, hugging herself. “He loves you.”

“You have the nerve to say that to me?” Maria sneers, but her tone has a skeptical edge to it.

“Maria,” Michael says in a hurt tone. “You know I do. You know I would never…”

“Then tell me what’s going on here!” she wails, wiping her face with the back of her hand. “Give me one good reason why you and your ex-girlfriend are in the school make-out closet!”

“I’m pregnant.”

Maria’s jaw snaps closed while mine falls open at Isabel’s quiet words.

What?” I ask in disbelief.

Michael sighs and rubs his face with his hand as Isabel wrings her hands together.

“I didn’t mean for any of you to find out,” Isabel begins rambling. “I… I was hoping to be back in Albuquerque before I started showing.”

“I guess you didn’t plan on Mom and Dad cutting your tuition,” I say in shock. “Dear God… how did this happen, Iz?”

“What does this have to do with you, Michael?” Maria demands, her eyes bright with tears.

“That night I was attacked, I was walking around after you dropped me off..."

“You were what?!” Maria and I shout at the same time.

“Dammit, Michael you idiot!” I say. “Don’t you know Nicholas and his goons could have found you again?”

“I thought you were going to get some sleep!” Maria adds, staring at Michael in accusation.

“Yeah, well, I was too mad to sleep,” Michael says, clenching his jaw. “Anyway, I ended up down by the old playground. I ran into Isabel there and she was getting sick pretty bad.”

“I was upset because of the argument we all had,” Isabel broke in. “I know you don’t believe it, Max, but I do care about you. It’s just… it’s just hard for me to express my emotions sometimes.”

I simply stare in awkward surprise.

“She was also having a bout of morning sickness,” Michael adds with a tiny cringe. “I knew something wasn’t right… she was acting really sick. It wasn’t just nerves.”

“I didn’t want to tell him, but he wouldn’t stop badgering me,” Isabel sighs, and for the first time I notice the hollowness of her cheeks and the smudges under her eyes. “I finally admitted I was pregnant.”

“It was like pulling fucking teeth,” Michael grunts. “I was shocked, to say the least. Especially when I realized that no one knew, not even you, Max.”

“Why would I know? Isabel and I never tell each other anything,” I say honestly, feeling a twinge of guilt as Isabel flinches.

“I’m so sorry, Max,” she says softly. “I wish… I wish I could go back and change so many things about these past few years…”

Once again, I feel the uncomfortable silence wash over me. I don’t know what to say, so I’m glad when Maria finally breaks the quiet.

“Well, what about the father? Does he know? Is he going to help you out?” she asks, her former anger transformed into pity and curiosity.

Isabel pales and Michael looks away.

I stiffen, knowing whatever I’m about to hear isn’t going to be good. “Isabel? Who’s the father?”

She bites her lip, and for a moment I wonder if she’s going to pretend that she didn’t hear me. Then in a voice so faint I almost think I imagined it, she says, “I don’t know.”

I frown, thoughts racing through my head. “What do you mean, you don’t know?”

Michael stares at the ground while my sister brings her eyes up to meet mine straight on.

“Max… I was raped.”


<center>***************************************</center>
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Post by Applebylicious » Sun Apr 04, 2004 11:28 pm

<center>Part 14</center>



(Liz POV)


I glance across the expanse of the Jeep and study Max’s profile again for the hundredth time since leaving the school.

He’s strangely quiet, fingers clenched around the steering wheel and his jaw set so hard it puts my teeth on edge. I debate whether or not to question him, when suddenly he speaks, causing me to practically jump out of my skin.

“Your grandfather won’t mind you coming over?”

I shake my head, then realize he’s not looking at me but at the road straight ahead. “No, he doesn’t expect me back until later tonight,” I answer softly. Finally, I decide to just jump in. “Max… is something wrong?”

He stiffens slightly, then glances towards me. His lips curl into a forced smile and he nods his head sharply. “I’m okay. Just thinking about some stuff.”

I place my hand on his arm and feel the muscles tense beneath his skin. “You know if you want to talk…”

“Not just yet,” he interrupts quickly, then clears his throat. “Don’t be angry with me, Liz, but I just… can’t. Not now.”

I nod in understanding, trying not to feel hurt. “Okay, Max. But, I’m here. I just wanted you to know that.”

He’s silent for a moment, then I feel his fingers tangle with mine on top of his arm, squeezing.

I face the front again as we pull into the Evans’s driveway, parking next to a silver AMG Roadster that sparkles in the afternoon sunlight.

Max’s frame relaxes slightly and he even appears to perk up as we get out and head towards the house. Before we can open the door, it’s thrown wide open and I find myself staring into another pair of amber eyes.

“Maximillion!” a deep voice intones, and I stare in shock as the mirror image of Max Evans bounds of the front step and pulls Max into a bone-crushing hug.

“Zan da man!” Max replies with a laugh, pounding the handsome stranger on the back. “Damn, it’s good to see you.”

“True dat, cuz,” the visitor laughs in a husky New York accent. “Damn, look at yous! All grown up and shit.”

“Right, and how old are you again?” Max asks wryly. “Oh, yeah… the same age as me.”

“Some of us wear it betta than others,” Zan says with a giant grin stretching across his lips. Then his gaze settles on me and he lets out a low whistle. “Well, hot damn. And who’s dis?”

As he turns to fully face me, I know my mouth falls open as I take in his appearance: the short, spiked hair with blue tips, the hard muscled body covered head to toe in black leather and the steel-toed boots covering his large feet.

Standing next to Max, they look like opposite parts of a ying-yang. Max is sexy and gorgeous with his flirtatious charm, while Zan is dark and seductive with an air of danger that would make any woman swoon.

Zan cocks his head, a wide grin spreading across his face as I stand gawking. “Hey, you get yourself a mute one, Maxie boy?”

My surprise is quickly transformed into indignance. “Excuse me?”

“I think you’re just a tad overwhelming, Zan,” Max smirks at his cousin, then winks at me.

“Don’t worry about this one, sugar,” a sultry feminine voice purrs and we all turn to see a leggy redhead walk out. “He’s a big pussycat.”

Her long hair is streaked with gold and bronze highlights and her full lips curve in a natural pink pout. She’s dressed in a red leather halter and a pair of skintight black leather pants that hug her narrow hips and toned legs.

My mouth falls open again as she sidles up to Zan and he places both arms around her from behind.

I’m starting to feel somewhat inadequate in this mix of gorgeous human beings, and I’m not afraid to admit it. To myself, anyway.

“Serena, still beautiful as ever, but still hanging around with this loser?” Max grins, clucking disapprovingly.

“He promised me the family jewels,” she cracks and Zan lets out a loud laugh before placing a kiss on the nape of her neck.

“Guys, I’d like you to meet Elizabeth Parker,” Max says, drawing me up to his side and throwing an arm around my shoulders. “She’s new in Roswell, and I expect you to treat her as well as you would me. Better, in fact.”

Zan snorts at that comment and Serena eyes me with interest. “So… you finally decide to settle down, Max”

I’m about to open my mouth to speak, when Max smoothly slides in with, “That’s right. So did you guys bring what I needed?”

I’m still reeling from Max’s confession of being settled, so it takes a moment for the look exchanged between the two Evans’ males to register.

“In da house,” Zan says, shrugging one large shoulder. “Yous wanting to do it now?”

“No, right now I want to lay down with a gorgeous female and take a nap,” Max says, squeezing my waist. “So, how about it, gorgeous?”

“Yeah, babe. You up for a little catnap?” Zan adds, throwing his free arm around my shoulders and grinning down at me.

“Well, isn’t this cozy?” Serena laughs and winks at me, obviously noting my hesitation and bafflement. “Your girl here looks like she just landed in Oz, Max. Lay off, Zan.”

“Um… it’s all right,” I laugh unsteadily, finally cluing in on the earlier conversation as Zan and Serena walk inside. “Max, what are you going to do?”

“What do you mean?” he whispers, nibbling my ear as he begins to pull me inside. “Damn, you taste good.”

“I mean, what are you and Zan planning? What did he bring you?”

He takes a deep breath, then sends me a devestating grin that melts me right down to my toes. “Just have some catching up to do, nothing for you to worry about.” He punctuates this statement with a light kiss.

“Come cuddle with me,” he murmurs, then looks chagrined. “Did I really just say that?”

Despite myself, I burst out laughing. “You should see your face!”

He smacks me on the ass for my cheeky tone. “Don’t think you’re getting out of it, now that I’ve made a fool of myself.”

“Oh, you wanna cuddle?” I flutter my lashes coyly, giggling as his eyes darken. I’m so glad his earlier mood has dissipated that I’m willing to forget my questions for the moment.

He growls and pulls me tight up against him. “I want to cuddle your-“

A loud clearing of a throat behind us breaks Max off mid-sentence. We turn to see Zan grinning at us.

“Save that thought,” he says, his smile widening as heat rushes up my face. “I need to talk to you, Maxwell.”

“Later, Zan,” he says, still staring into my eyes with a hot expression.

“Well, I hate to be a cock-block, but its important duke,” he says, shamelessly staring as Max cups my butt with his hands.

I color and slap his fingers away.

He sighs. “Fine. Give me ten minutes?” he pleads, resting his forehead against mine while drawing my lower lip between his.

When he finally releases me, I’m ready to give him more than time… I want to strip down to my underwear and give him a lap dance, cousin and peeping neighbors be damned.

I am in so much trouble here.


<center>********************************</center>


(Max POV)


“She’s a looker, aight” Zan murmurs approvingly as Liz walks inside, her heart-shaped ass swaying provocatively, although I doubt she knows.

Zan and I share a moment of shared male appreciation for a beautiful woman.

“So, what did you find out?” I ask, forcing myself to tear my gaze away from Liz’s behind and concentrate on business. “Do you have proof?”

Zan raises a brow and follows me into my father’s study. “Man, you ain’t gonna believe da shizit I found on ‘dis chick. We’re talking along the lines of prostitution, Maxie boy. I got a list of at least seventy-five guys who claim to hit ‘dat, and loads of video.”

“Video?” I echo, my brows raising. “What kind of video, dare I ask?”

Zan starts ticking off his fingers. “Sex, drugs… she’s toked or worse in every scene. I got her doing it with men, women, both at da same time… from da front, back, side, and once on a swing.”

I hold a hand up to stop him. My mind is spinning. “Wait, a swing? Who the hell does she think she is, Pamela Lee?”

“Pretty much,” Zan replies grimly. “I don’t think you’re going to have a problem nailing her with ‘dis, buddy.”

“Does she know this footage exists?” I wonder, scratching my chin thoughtfully. “I want to hit her where it hurts.”

Zan shrugs. “She’s zoned in all of ‘dem, but ‘dat don’t mean she don’t know. The guy I got ‘em from, tho, he’s a real low-baller. Got a stash you can’t imagine… and not of ‘dem trashy chicks like this Harding girl. Some fresh-faced innocents who’re prob’ly just out for the ride.”

“Fuck,” I respond grimly.

“Yeah.”

“Okay, make me a copy of these tapes, I want to dig a little deeper and see what else I can get on her before I grab her by the balls, pardon the expression.”

Zan whistles. “Whatever ‘dis girl got on yous, Max, must be pretty big.”

“Not for long.”


<center>TBC..................</center>

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Post by Applebylicious » Sun Apr 04, 2004 11:29 pm

<center>Part 15</center>



(Liz POV)


We’re kissing lightly on his bed, legs tangled together as we hold each other.

Max nibbles my lower lip, then pulls back to meet my eyes. “So, what did you think of my cousin?”

I rest my head on his chest, playing with the hem of his shirt as he runs his hand softly down my back.

I love being with him this way. No pressure, just two people who care about each other. I feel comfortable in his presence, and it’s slightly surreal that I would be this way with someone with a reputation like his.

“He looks just like you,” I murmur absently, my mind suddenly plagued by doubts.

I remember Max’s secretive expression from earlier that day, the way he always seems to be hiding something from me.

While I find myself content with him and our relationship, I can’t help occasionally feeling like I’m waiting for the other shoe to drop.

“We get that a lot,” he replies, his voice sleepy. “People who didn’t know us well used to think we were brothers.”

I shake off my thoughts and frown. “It is a little strange, how alike you both are. I’ve never seen that kind of resemblance between cousins.”

He shrugs. “Who knows. Zan is my dad’s brother’s kid, so maybe that side of the family just has really dominant genes.”

My frown deepens. “Do your uncle and your dad look similar, too?”

He doesn’t answer right away, just continues to nuzzle my neck and trace small circles on my lower back. When he does speak, his voice is solemn. “I don’t remember. My uncle died when we were ten.”

A pang of sympathy and longing spears me. “I’m sorry, were you and your uncle close before he died?” I ask softly, noticing the hint of sadness in his tone.

To my surprise, he stiffens. “No, not close.”

I shift slightly to better see his face. His closed off expression and dark eyes make my heart clutch. I reach a hand up to cup his tense jaw. “Max?”

His jaw tics, but he doesn’t pull away from my touch. Instead he lets out a shaky sigh and seems to cuddle even closer. “He hated me.”

My eyes widen. “Max, I’m sure that isn’t true.”

“No, he did. Remember, I told you I was the black sheep of the family, Liz,” he tries to joke, but I sense the hurt and frustration underneath. “Whenever we’d go to visit – which wasn’t very often – he was very critical and cold towards me. Once I overheard him saying to my father that he wouldn’t welcome my father’s mistake in his house ever again. That was how I knew something was… wrong about me.”

My heart aching for the little boy, I close my eyes and wrap my arms around him. “He was wrong, Max. None of it was your fault.”

As if he didn’t hear me, he adds, “We left that night, my parents arguing the whole way home. I never asked what had happened, but I knew it was about me. When we got back, my dad was called away on a business trip for a week. After that, things seemed to go back to normal. Then one day when I was thirteen, I came home from school to find my mom packing. There was broken glass on the carpet and my dad was sitting there red-faced and angry and yelling at her to stop acting like a crazy bitch.”

I shudder.

“That’s when he lowered the boom on me. He looked at me and shouted, ‘Do you want me to get rid of him, Diane? Would you rather I sent him back to his mother so you wouldn’t have a reason to throw my fucking affair in my face every goddamned time I turn around?’”

“Max, stop…”

But his voice is flat and monotonous, caught up in past betrayal. “I just sort of stood there, Michael behind me. They didn’t see him at the time. Just kept on yelling at each other. Isabel was crying on the stairs. But they didn’t even notice, so wrapped up in trying to hurt each other. My mother – Diane - screamed that she couldn’t stand living a lie and that if he dared to send me away, she’d find me and do whatever she could to keep me here.”

My brows rise in surprise. “She didn’t resent you?”

He laughs, but the sound is far from joyous. “She just wanted to be in conflict with my dad.”

But now I’m sitting up in the bed, frowning. “How do you know? Maybe she really does care about you.”

He looks uncertain. “She just kept me around so she could keep rubbing my dad’s mistake in his face.”

My heart breaks at his doubtful expression. “That sounds like your dad talking. If she didn’t want you here, wouldn’t she have given in to your dad’s offer to send you… away?”

His eyes grow shuttered. “I don’t know. Let’s talk about something else.”

I bite my lip, frustrated with his refusal to probe deeper, but I can’t force myself to push the issue. Instead I nod, and burrow back next to him.

But inside my mind is swimming, as an unsettling thought begins to take place.


<center>*********************************</center>



(Max POV)



I don’t know why I couldn’t bring myself to tell her.

Maybe it was the look on her face, the naked caring for a boy who’s been long dead inside me. Maybe it was just plain old hesitance to share parts of yourself that are less-than-exemplary with anyone.

Whatever the reason, I just couldn’t tell her that deep inside I have doubts.

Doubts about my ability to love anyone.

I’ve never really known love, not familial love and certainly not the romantic kind.

Until Liz.

But what if what I’m feeling for her is just some sort of infatuation that will fade in time? What if I’m just attached to her because she seems to understand and accept me the way no one else ever has?

I don’t want to hurt her, I know I care for her. I believe I’m in love with her… but what if I’m wrong? Will I end up hurting her anyway?

It would kill me to ever see Liz in pain. To know I was the cause of it… it’s more than I want to think about.

So I doubt myself.

I stare at her as she sleeps, my eyes tracing over the delicate lines of her face. The urge to reach out and touch her, to satisfy the ache inside me that longs to be near her, is overwhelming.

But I resist, wondering if by doing so I can somehow distance myself from this hold she has on me. Can I simply ignore the effect she has on me?

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to send her away. I need her in my life, more than I’ve ever needed anyone. But I don’t want her to know I feel that way.

I always told myself that I’d never allow anyone this close to me, and here a dark-haired angel has managed to reach me in a matter of months.

She sighs raggedly, and my heart lurches as she shifts in her sleep, tucking her fist under her chin in a manner so heart-breakingly sweet it almost brings tears to my eyes.

I love her.

I know it, even as I try to deny it out of self-preservation. She alone could break me.

The question is, do I really want to risk it?


<center>*********************************</center>


I step out onto the pool deck and immediately see the figure at the edge of the pool, feet swinging back and forth through the cool water.

I walk over, feet padding quietly as I approach, hands in my pockets and shirttails flapping in the light breeze.

She looks up, and her posture becomes stiff. A smile lights her lips, but her eyes remain wary and uncertain.

“Hi,” I say quietly, squinting out over the water. The late afternoon sun sparkles over the top, glinting back at me.

“Hi,” she returns in a small voice, biting her lip as if she wants to say more.

Instead, she looks back over the water and I take a deep breath before sitting down next to her.

“How are you feeling?” I ask awkwardly, feeling a slight blush rise up my neck as she turns to study me.

“Good,” she responds just as uncomfortably, brushing a strand of hair behind her ear. “I haven’t been sick as much lately… so that’s good.”

“Good,” I say lamely, and once again silence descends upon us.

Finally, I can’t stand it any more.

“Isabel-“

“Max-“

We look at each other in surprise, then laugh. The sound seems to break the tension between us and I feel my body relax.

“Can I go first?” she asks, still smiling. I nod at her, and she nods back. “Max, I just… I want you to know I’m sorry. For everything. For the way I’ve acted all these years… and I don’t know why I did. I was just so surprised when Dad admitted to the affair, and I didn’t know what was going to happen. I just wanted to get out of there. Things were falling apart and I… I didn’t want to be around when they did.”

The tension returns slightly, even though I knew this was what would come up. But old hurts and betrayals rise up, threatening to choke me. I force them back down enough say, “It wasn’t all your fault. I behaved badly, too.”

Her eyes widen. “No, Max. I want to… let me take responsibilty for my actions. I was a bitch.”

I shrug. “Yes.”

She looks surprised, then laughs weakly. “Well, nice to know you’ll agree with me now.”

I shift. “What do you want me to say?” I ask defensively, though God knows I’m trying not be.

She stares at me, and something tells me she knows exactly what I’m thinking. She sighs and looks back over the water. “Things are never going to go back to the way they were, are they?”

Her words are soft and sad. I feel a pang shoot through me, because this time I know how it is she’s feeling. And I hate that she’s right, because a part of me wishes we could go back. Back to when we were innocent.

“No, I don’t think they will,” I say honestly, but not without my own melancholy. “I’m sorry, Isabel.”

She attempts to smile, but it’s shaky and her lower lip trembles. “It’s okay. I assumed as much, I just… I had hoped…”

A tear drips onto her cheek and she hurriedly turns away, wiping at her eye. “Damn hormones,” she mumbles, and I have to smile at her defensiveness. This is the Iz I remember from so long ago.

As I stare at her, my heart seems to gape wide open as thoughts of the two of us fill my mind. Good thoughts of a brother and sister who were once close.

Longing rushes through me and my own eyes mist as I realize how stupid we’ve both been. Instead of talking to each other during the hard times, we let our fears and insecurities drive us apart.

I reach over and take her hand, and she looks at me, startled. I squeeze her fingers.

I take a breath. And a chance.

“Just because we can’t go back, doesn’t mean we can’t move forward.”

Her eyes gaze into mine, confusion swimming in their golden-brown depths. Her lashes are spiked with tears, and she blinks them away.

“You mean…” she lets the sentence trail off hopefully, as if she’s too afraid to finish the thought for fear of rejection.

I pull her into my arms and she hugs me tightly.

We both cry a little. “I forgive you, Isabel. I understand why you did what you did, even if it was wrong,” I whisper fiercely.

“Max,” she sobs, tightening her grip around my middle. “I’m so sorry…”

I run a comforting hand down her long hair and then we pull apart. “I’ve spent my whole life being a complete bastard, Isabel, but I want to change. I know you do, too.”

She sniffs and nods, wiping her eyes with the hem of her large shirt. “I want things to be normal,” she whispers brokenly. “Why cant things just be normal?”

“They can be, we just have to find a way to accept what isn’t going to change,” I say, looking her firmly in the eye. “Dad had an affair, Iz. I’m the result. You have to learn to accept that.”

She tenses but nods. “It was never about that, Max. I guess I always sort of thought you knew… and hadn’t trusted me enough to tell me. It hurt.”

I stare at her in shock. “That’s why you left? Because you thought I’d lied to you?”

She looks small and timid, completely unlike the bold and brassy Isabel everyone is used to. “Mom and Dad did, why not you?”

I open my mouth to tell her I’d never had a clue, when I remember that a part of me had known something was off all those years ago.

I recall the argument between Dad and Uncle Matt and realize that maybe Isabel was right. I had lied to her, maybe not outright... but by omission. I hadn’t been surprised when the truth came out – not really. I was more disgusted, disgusted by the happenings surrounding my birth.

But Isabel. She’d always admired our father, he was her hero. To learn that not only had he made such a mistake and hidden it from her, but that her own brother had hidden from her, too… her actions suddenly make more sense to me than ever before.

Maybe her reaction was still extreme and yes, she expected too much for me to have told her what I’d suspected all those years ago. But that doesn’t change that she’d felt hurt and betrayed as well, maybe just as much as I had.

I stare at the ground, feeling numb. “I’m sorry, Iz.”

She understands, and doesn’t press me for more. Instead she just covers my hand with her own, mirroring my earlier actions, and squeezes.

“I love you, Max.”

I look up at her vehemently spoken words, and see her severe expression. After a moment, I smile.

“I love you, Isabel.”

That’s all that really matters.


<center>TBC.............</center>
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Post by Applebylicious » Sun Apr 04, 2004 11:30 pm

<center>Chapter Sixteen</center>


(Liz POV)


I walk into the Evans’ spacious kitchen, and am shocked to find Max and Isabel sitting at the table, laughing together.

As far as I’d known, they still weren’t speaking to each other.

Max looks up, and his expression lights up even more as he reaches his hand out. “Liz, I was wondering when you’d wake up, sleepyhead.”

His tone is affectionate, but I still find myself blushing as Isabel turns her golden brown eyes on me. I brace myself for some sort of spiteful remark, but she simply smiles.

“Hi, Liz. Max didn’t tell me you were here,” she says in a warm tone that is completely different from any I’ve ever heard Isabel use.

“I… fell asleep…” I mumble lamely, stalling outside the entrance to the kitchen. I’m hesitant to disrupt whatever conversation the two siblings had been having.

Suddenly, I’m lifted straight off my feet by two steel bands.

“Hello, gorgeous,” a throaty voice purrs, and a pair of lips smack a kiss to my nape.

“Zan, put my girlfriend down,” Max snaps, but he’s grinning at the shocked expression I know is on my face.

My feet find the floor again, and I watch as Zan steps around me, giving me a sleepy wink before he walks into the kitchen.

His already spiked hair is tousled and he’s wearing nothing but a pair of jade green boxers. He heads straight to the refrigerator, scratching his muscular chest as he peruses the inside.

“Max, that guest bed is a dream,” Serena’s seductive voice claims as she also appears, clad in a knee-length robe that hangs from one shoulder.

I can only shake my head as she ruffles Max’s hair on the way to Zan. She wraps her arms around him and he turns and catches her lips, and before you know it they are kissing passionately in front of a state-of-the-art Samsung refrigerator.

“You two disgust me,” Isabel wrinkles her nose, but there is a grin on her face as well. “And what, Zan, your favorite cousin doesn’t merit a hug?”

I’m his favorite cousin, Iz, I hate to break it to you.”

“Yous two can fight over me later,” Zan says primly. “Right now I wanna know what there is to eat around ‘dis joint.”

“All you ever think about is food,” Max complains. “You’re gonna end up a fat old man with a beer gut, pinching girls’ asses in a nursing home.”

I eye Zan’s trim body and find a hard time imagining him as an overweight slob.

Zan merely laughs. “Neva, cuz. I’m way too… energetic to get fat.”

The way he wiggles his brows leaves no doubt as to which energies he’s referring to. I feel my face flame again.

I shift on my feet, drawing my lower lip between my teeth. “I think I’m just gonna… go,” I motion towards the door shyly.

Zan and Serena start making excuses for me to stay, and Isabel stares at Max, one brow raised challengingly.

He stands up and walks over, gently rubbing my arms as he leads me towards the living room. Once alone, he cups my face. “Hey, you okay?”

The concern in his voice melts me. “I’m fine, I just… I don’t want to interrupt. I mean, Zan just got here and Isabel…” I trail off sheepishly, but his eyes light knowingly.

“Liz, you’re always welcome here. I hope you know that,” he murmurs.

I look down where he’s tracing small circles on my upper arms with his thumbs. The sensation sends little jolts of heat to my belly. I blink rapidly.

“Of course I do. I just want you and Isabel to have some time to yourself. I can tell you’ve reconciled. I’m so happy for you, Max,” I say sincerely.

He smiles. “I’m happy, too. It’s been a long time coming. I hope you’ll give her another chance to get to know you. I know she came off as sort of-“

I place a hand against his lips, cutting off his anxious query. “Of course I will.”

He turns his face slightly, pressing an open-mouth kiss to my palm as his eyes burn into mine. “When will I see you again?” he murmurs, nuzzling my palm like a sleepy kitten.

“Well, I’m not busy this weekend,” I return coyly, gasping as he gives the flesh between my middle fingers a tender lick.

He grins devilishly, knowing exactly what he’s doing to me. “Mmm… then can I see you?”

“Yes… Max!” I moan as he pulls me flush against him, his lips catching my earlobe.

He’s practically seducing me in his family’s living room, his sister, cousin and cousin’s girlfriend not even ten feet away. If ever I had a doubt as to his roguish ways, that doubt has been negated.

His lips cover mine, hungrily nipping and sucking as we melt into each other. He pulls away only to rest his forehead against mine and sigh, “God, baby… I want you so much. It’s killing me.”

My heart is racing and I can’t make the appropriate response. He seems to understand this and kisses my forehead lightly.

“It’s all right, I know you aren’t ready. I don’t want to pressure you. I just… you make me crazy, Liz. I want you to know that.” His words are pained, but deep and sincere.

I raise a shaky hand and cup his cheek. “If it’s any consolation, youre making me feel pretty crazy, too,” I admit, feeling a need to help soothe him.

He only makes a low sound, something of a laugh and a groan, and closes his eyes. “God, don’t say that to me.”

The sound of laughter breaches our bubble of passion, and I glance towards the kitchen. Max lets out a sigh and runs a hand through his hair. I notice his fingers are trembling.

“I’ll drive you home,” he murmurs, then abruptly leaves to grab his keys.


<center>**********************************</center>


At dinner that night, I feel Tess’s eyes on me throughout the entire event.

“Well, Elizabeth. How are things at school going for you?” Grandpa Ed smiles fondly as Rosalinda, one of the kitchen maids, places a platter of dessert choices in the center of the table.

I’m still slightly overwhelmed by all the gloss that comes with being Edward Harding’s granddaughter.

My whole life I’ve lived with reasonable means, but by no means extravagant. My parents had decided not to take anything from my grandfather, although they remained on good terms.

They just wanted to make their own way in life, and I can’t say I blame them. I feel stifled and uncomfortable around all this wealth and privilege.

I recall Max’s words about working for pleasure, how he needed something to break the monotony.

At the time I hadn’t fully comprehended his meaning, but after a few weeks of being waited on hand and foot, I understand him all too well.

I glance across the table and once again find Tess staring at me with unreadable blue eyes. I have a feeling she would never think to lift a finger for herself.

I force my gaze away and smile at Grandpa Ed. “Things are going great, actually. I’ve met a lot of really nice people.”

“Like Max Evans?”

My smile fades. I meet Tess’s smirk with chilly eyes. “As a matter of fact, yes. And also Maria, Alex, Michael… should I go on?”

She shrugs, but I can sense she didn’t get the reaction she was hoping for.

Once more I wonder what goes on behind those icy blue eyes.

“Max Evans… this is the young man you were studying with? You’ve been spending a lot of time with him,” Grandpa Ed leans back, his eyes narrowed assessingly.

I catch Tess’s satisfied expression and my shoulders set. “Yes, grandpa. Max and I are good friends. He’s a very nice young man.”

Ed continues to study me, then smiles. “Then I’d like to meet him. Have him come to dinner, this Sunday night?”

My mouth falls open. “Oh… well, I… Sunday…”

“Good, then it’s settled,” he says in a tone of finality. “Now my dears, I have a spot of business to take care of in the study, so you’ll have to excuse me for the rest of the evening.”

Tess and I say good night and receive our requisite kiss on the cheek. Then we’re left alone in the massive dining room.

“Just what are you up to?” I murmur, watching as Tess sips ginger ale out of a crystal goblet.

One perfectly arched brow raises, but she doesn’t answer. Instead, she licks her plush lips and lounges back into the comfortable chair. “Have any plans for the evening, Liz?”

Her relaxed, silky tone only makes my back more rigid. “Nothing special,” I reply coolly.

A sly smile lights her lips, and her manicured nails come up to finger the silver crucifix around her neck.

As she continues to gaze at me, I realize that behind the cold amusement, her eyes are glazed.

Her cheeks are flushed and she continues to lick her lips, as though suffering from an incredible thirst.

My eyes narrow. “Are you feeling all right, Tess?” I feel a slight stab of concern as she just continues to stare at me.

She laughs, throwing her head back so that the line of her neck is shown. She appears incredibly amused by something. “So compassionate, right Lizzie dear? Always worried about others. Christ, you amuse me.”

I throw my napkin on the table and stand. “Well, I’ll just leave you to your enjoyment,” I respond quietly.

As I turn to head towards the guest cottage, I hear a softly uttered whisper behind me.

“Watch your back, precious kitten…”

A shiver goes down my back, and I walk faster, even as I tell myself I imagined it.

<center>TBC.............</center>
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Post by Applebylicious » Sun Apr 04, 2004 11:31 pm

<center>Part 17</center>


(Max POV)



After Serena and Isabel decide to go to bed, Zan and I head for the pool.

We forgo the floodlights, opting to settle for the rich moonlight that streams across the concrete deck.

We each claim a chaise lounge and I place my arms behind my head, listening to the snick as Zan lights a cigarette next to me.

He takes a deep drag, one leg hanging off the edge of the chaise as he stares out over the pool. His eyes are intense and narrowed, much unlike the usual devilish fun that lurks in those amber depths.

I watch out of the corner of my eye as he brings the cig back to his lips, the way his fingers shake slightly.

“You okay?” I mumble, turning to study him better.

“Who’s this fucker who got Isabel pregnant?” he demands flatly, his street accent disappearing the way it does when he’s really upset.

I realize that I haven’t had a chance alone with him since Isabel showed up this afternoon.

I swallow against the anger and bile that fills my own throat, knowing Zan feels much the same way. “I don’t know. She was…”

“Some bastard raped her.”

“Yeah. It happened in Albuquerque,” I mutter, my fingers clenching into my palms. “She won’t tell me anything else. I think she just wants to forget it ever happened.”

Zan suddenly explodes into motion. “That’s not gonna fucking cut it, Max. We find this guy, and we make him pay.”

“How are we going to do that?” I say reasonably. “Look, I know you’re pissed. Fuck, I wanna nail this bastard’s ass to the wall, too, but we can’t upset Iz anymore than necessary. Running off half-cocked is the quickest way to do that.”

He doesn’t speak for a long moment, then lets out a sigh, taking another long drag. “I think I should tell you something, Max. It aint gonna be easy to hear.”

The tone of his voice is so completely not Zan, that I only stare for a moment. Something begins to bubble in my stomach. “What happened?”

His lips quiver as he exhales shakily. “I was going through Sandy’s files, trying to find my something I could use to forge her name on some random assignment for school.”

Sandy is Zan’s mother. Only he never calls her anything other than Sandy. As long as I’ve known him, it’s always been Sandy.

I should probably also mention that Zan and his mother do not have a close relationship, at all. In fact, Sandy spent the better part of a year after Uncle Matt passed away in and out of the hospital, suffering from alcohol poisoning and an addiction to sleeping pills.

During that time, Zan lived with us. He never seemed to wonder where his mother was or if she would come back. At the time I thought maybe he was just upset over it all, which was why he never brought his mother or father up in a conversation.

Then I realized he simply… didn’t think about them. It was as if when he left New York, he left that life behind as well.

Of course, Aunt Sandy eventually was treated and released, and Zan was sent back to live with his mother.

We’d hear from him occasionally, and he always came down to visit for a few weeks in the summer, at my dad’s insistence. I think he realized Zan’s life wasn’t peachy keen, as well.

But even if her problem with narcotics was overcome, Sandy never attempted to mend the rift with her son. Zan pretty much took care of himself, and was extremely self-reliant as a result.

I’ve never seen anything shake him, which is why at the moment feelings of dread are coursing through my body.

“Is your mom okay?” I ask, hoping for Zan to tell me something that won’t really affect me. Selfish as it sounds, I can’t help it.

Zan snorts. “How should I know? I’m not even living there lately. I’ve been staying at Serena’s while she does whatever the hell it is she does with the guys she sees.”

Hearing the way he speaks of his mom, a pang of shame clouds me. I remember the way I complained to Liz about having no one love me.

Truthfully, that isn’t exactly true. I know that Diane cares about me, I can see it in the way she’s always making an attempt to ask me about my schooling and find out what’s going on in my life.

My father also must care, in his own way. He’ll never win Father-of-the-Year, but he’s never abused me or anything. Physically at least. Emotional abandonment is a completely different issue.

But Zan… he truly has no one. Since Uncle Matt died, he’s been tossed around to different relatives everytime Sandy has a nervous breakdown.

Thank God he met Serena. I know that much of the light that still exists in his eyes is due to her. She loves him completely, and he loves her in a way I envy because I’m too scared to try.

I clear my throat. “So, what’s up man?”

He stands and begins pacing, sucking on the cigarette like a life line. “I found… I found some shit about your… mother, Max.”

I feel as if I’ve been slammed in the chest with a lead pipe.

“My…” I trail off, my tongue feeling thick and my head spinning. “In Sandy’s files?”

He stops in front of me, lips pressed in a flat line and hands hanging loosely at his side. A sick realization begins to form in my mind.

His amber eyes, so closely resembling my own, stare back at me. The way he stands, the way he acts… it so often reminds me of myself.

I recall words spoken between Liz and I only hours earlier.

He looks just like you.

People who didn’t know us well used to think we were brothers.


“Oh holy fuck,” I whisper, my eyes widening in horror. I jump to my feet and run both hands through my hair. “Tell me this is a joke. You’re fucking with me, right?”

Zan shakes his head, a bleak look in his eyes. “I… I didn’t know how to tell you, Max. I’m feeling all kinds of fucked up right now.”

“Sandy?” I whisper, tugging my roots as I stare at him. “For Christ’s sake, Sandy? Are you sure?”

“It’s written there in black and white,” he replies dully, “along with a check receipt for one-hundred thousand dollars, made out by Phillip Evans.”

My heart slams against my ribs.

I thought it had hurt the day I’d heard the truth of my parentage, screamed out during an argument in order to wound.

But nothing, nothing had prepared me for learning the exact amount I’d been worth losing.

“Max, I don’t know what…” Zan trails off, then curses, running his fingers through his own hair. The gesture is so fucking ironic, something I’ve seen him do a thousand times.

We used to joke about how alike we were, cousins who acted more like twins. How naïve we were.

“Uncle Matt knew,” I breathe, my mind racing. “He knew about their affair. That’s why he couldn’t stand the sight of me. His own brother was fucking his wife, she got pregnant. He couldn’t get rid of both of us, that would be too obvious. By then everyone already knew she was knocked up. It would have raised questions.”

“Max…”

“So Dad paid her off, took me and left you in that… that hell hole. God, he’s even more of a bastard than I ever knew.”

“What about her?” Zan demands in an angered voice. “She sold her own fucking kid, Max! She stole my brother from me, and me from you!”

His words break through my attempt at rationalization. We stare at each other. “Twins. Christ.”

Long moments pass by, with only the sounds of crickets chirping and the occasional hum of the poolhouse generator.

“What are we gonna do?” Zan finally whispers, and his voice is bleak with misery. “What are we gonna do, Max?”

I turn to him, meeting his gaze. “We’re going to confront his ass. We’ll find out the truth. And then we’re going to get some fucking answers.”

“What makes you think he’d tell us now? If I hadn’t found that shit stapled to the back of the file cabinet, we’d still be fucking clueless.”

“He’ll fucking tell us,” I state coldly. “Or else I’ll go to Channel Six News and give them the story of the decade. Fine, upstanding citizen involved in adultery and the selling of his own child? That’ll make headlines for weeks.”

Zan’s eyes take on a level of respect and admiration. “He’ll talk.”

“Damn right he will.”

That taken care of, we find ourselves at a loss.

Zan shifts on his feet, then folds his arms across his chest. “So… who do you think is the oldest?”

“Christ, Zan.”

He smirks, and a small glimpse of his natural mischievousness shines through. “You don’t wanna know?”

I glare at him. “Since you’re only too happy to tell me, I’d guess it’s you.”

He laughs and scratches his head. “Actually… it’s you. And you can bet that burned my ass.”

The sheer asininity of this conversation suddenly strikes me as hilarious. I fall on the chaise and cradle my head in my hands, laughing until tears begin to form in the corners of my eyes.

“Fuck, I really need to get rid of some of this energy,” Zan mumbles.

“Go swim a few laps.”

He winks. “I have better ways in mind, bro.”

Bro.

Not cuz, not duke.

Bro.

We both freeze. Then I clear my throat and smile. “For God’s sake, go get laid.”

He nods and rushes off, probably just as unsettled as I am by our sudden change in relationship.

I head for my own room a while later, and hear the bed springs bouncing as I pass by the guestroom. I can only shake my head as I hear Zan’s low groan, losing himself in the arms of the woman he loves.

I flop down onto my bed, staring at the celing while my mind goes over everything I’ve learned over the past few days.

There’s no way anything could possibly get any worse.

Then my phone rings, like a warning omen.

I debate on just letting it ring, when my answering machine picks up early.

Hi, it's Max...I'm not here right now, but please leave a message.

“Max? It’s me… Liz.”

I grab for the phone. “Liz?”

She lets out a tittering laugh. “What, are you screening your calls now?”

God, just hearing her voice makes me feel like a weight has been lifted.

“Sorry, I was just… outside. With Zan.”

I want to tell her everything that’s happened, she still doesn’t even know about Isabel. But right now, I want to keep her to myself.

“Oh… I hope I’m not interrupting…”

“Of course not,” I murmur, cradling the phone against my ear as I settle back in the bed. I can still hear Zan and Serena in the other room, but my conversation with Liz on a telephone feels more private, more intimate. “I always want to talk to you. God, I miss you.”

She laughs again. “Max, you saw me five hours ago.”

“So? I’m suffering from Liz-withdrawals,” I smile. “I need something to keep me from going into convulsions. Quick.”

“Okay, what should I do?” she teases.

I grin. “Tell me what you’re wearing.”

“Max!”

“Come on… I’ll tell you what I’m wearing,” I murmur suggestively. Anything to keep my mind off… everything else. “A pair of boxers… and nothing else.”

“You are so bad,” she giggles. “You’re probably sitting there completely dressed and grinning at me because you know I can’t see you to call you out.”

I glance down at my t-shirt and shorts and raise an eyebrow as I concede the point. Then a thought pops into my head.

A soft rustling sounds through my room.

“Max? What are you doing? Max!”

I pull my boxers down my hips and toss them on the floor, letting them join my shirt and shorts. “I’m here. I was just taking off my clothes.”

What?!

“You dared me.”

“Dared… I did not!” she sputters.

I raise an eyebrow and grin, fully enjoying myself. “Hmm… let’s see. You said I was lying about being half-naked, and that you would call me out for it. That sounds like a dare to me.”

“Max Evans! Put your clothes back on right now!”

“No,” I reply impishly. “It happens to be extremely freeing, and besides, it’s hot as hell in here.”

“Max,” she growls, “I can not talk to you while you… you’re sitting there naked!”

I take a deep breath, then plunge ahead. “Then why don’t you get naked, too?”

Silence.

Then, “What?!

Heartened by the slightly interested hint in her scandalized tone, I whisper huskily, “Come on babe. It’s just you and me… no one will ever know. I won’t even see.”

“But…” I can imagine her sitting there, chewing that luscious lower lip, objectively going over her options. “Oh, fine. But only because… I’m rather warm, too.”

I chuckle throatily. “Mmhmm…”

A slight rustle.

I imagine her removing a t-shirt… no wait, make that one of those tank tops she wears, the ones that show her flat stomach to perfection… her breasts thrusting as she pulls the material over her head.

“Okay.”

I lick my lips. “You’re naked now?”

“Well… yes. I mean, I still have my panties on. But they’re pretty skimpy so…”

I close my eyes and groan, now imagining her lying there in black lace. “What color?”

“My panties?”

My eyes pop open. She sounds like she knows exactly what she’s doing… and is enjoying it. “Yes, what color are your panties babe?”

“Hmm…” Yep, no doubt, she’s liking this… “They’re red. With little black velvet kittens on the front.”

Shit. “Kittens?” I rasp, clutching the phone tighter as my hand begins a journey down my body. No. Must not… at least, not yet. “Kind of advertising the merchandise then?”

“Max!” she gasps, then laughs. “You are bad.”

“You don’t sound like you mind,” I point out, chewing my lower lip. “So… you gonna take them off?”

A beat. Then, “Why should I do that?”

And go in for the kill. “Because I can’t very well touch you with them on, can I?”

She inhales sharply. “What do you mean?”

Oh, my beautiful, innocent love. “I want to touch you, Liz. Through you. Will you let me do that?”

My palms begin to sweat as she takes too long to answer. I’m just about to tell her never mind, that I was joking, when she answers in a small, tentaive voice.

“Okay.”

I really begin sweating now, for a completely different reason as everything male in me stands at attention. “Okay?” I just need to clarify.

She exhales. “Max, I’ve never really… done this before.”

“It’s okay, baby, I won’t push you into anything you aren’t comfortable with.” Although this is a complete lie, because I know fully well that I intend to bring her to orgasm. But by then, she won’t want to stop so is it really manipulation?

You’ve done this before.” She doesn’t sound accusing, just resigned.

“Actually, I haven’t,” I admit in a soft tone. “I’ve never needed to before, I guess. Or wanted to.”

She hesitates, then repeats, “Okay.”

I release the breath I hadn’t known I was holding. “Okay. Well… first of all, I want you to know you can tell me to stop at any time, and I will, okay?”

“I know.”

Her quick answer shoots a wave of love through my desire. I have to clear my throat before I can speak. When I do, my voice sounds thick. “Where are your hands?”

“Um… on my stomach. Should I… should I move them?”

Oh yeah, babe. “Not just yet,” I answer, laying my own hands on my stomach. “Imagine me there… I’m looking at you, Liz, at how absolutely gorgeous you look laying there in your little kitten panties.”

She giggles, but the sound is breathy and enticing.

“Do you know how much I want to kiss you?” I answer honestly, licking my lips and closing my eyes as I picture her lush mouth. “I love sucking on your lower lip, babe. The way it pokes out whenever you’re thinking… it drives me nuts. I could nibble on your mouth for hours.”

She doesn’t answer, but I can tell her breathing has picked up.

“Do you feel me, babe? I’m kissing that tiny mole at the corner of your eye, sliding my tongue across your jaw, holding out as long as I can. Then… then I can’t take it any longer, and I’m kissing you. Nipping, sucking… our tongues are tangled with each other.”

“Max…” she breathes in a tone that causes my cock to stiffen. God, we’re just talking about kissing, for chrissake!

“I can feel how much you like it, Liz. You're moaning in the back of your throat, making those little mewling sounds that drive me crazy. I can feel your nipples, swollen and stiff against my chest. You want me to touch them, to ease your ache, don’t you?”

Gasp. “Yes…”

“Listen to me, sweetheart. For now, your hands are mine. Run your fingers across your breasts, let me pluck your nipples. I want to take them between my teeth and pull gently, it wouldn’t hurt, and then I’d suckle you. You’d like that.”

A soft moan sounds over the line, and I know she’s doing as I asked.

I reach my hand down and take myself in hand. I don’t move my fingers, simply hold the swollen length in my hand. “Put your fingers in your mouth, then rub them around your nipple. That’s my tongue. Do you feel it?”

“God… yes…”

“As beautiful as your breasts are, darling, there’s more I want to explore,” I murmur hoarsely. “Are you wet?”

“I… I don’t know…”

“Find out. Slip your hand inside those panties and pet that kitten, babe. Then you tell me.”

I can hardly believe the words coming out of mouth. I’ve always been outrageous, but this takes the cake. I half-expect Liz to fry me alive at any moment, but the only sounds I hear from her are strangled moans.

Then, “I’m… I’m wet, Max.”

I swallow. Unable to resist, I squeeze my fingers around my cock, and the pleasure of that simple movement threatens to send me into orbit. “Okay… keep playing with your nipples, babe, but at the same time… I want you to imagine me there, licking a trail down that tight stomach of yours. God, I love your belly. Do you work out?”

“Max,” she laughs throatily and I smile despite my raging hard on and the lust crashing through my system.

That’s when I realize yet another difference between Liz and every other girl I’ve been involved with.

I’ve never been able to joke and tease a woman while being intimate at the same time. But with Liz… it’s as natural as breathing. “Okay, it’s time to lose the panties, babe. Slide those suckers down those long gorgeous legs.”

She doesn’t hesitate, judging by the immediate rustle over the line. “Okay, panties gone.”

“Mmm… good. That makes it much easier for me to do what I’m dying to do.”

“What’s that?” she whispers.

“Where’s your hand, Liz?” I ask instead, pumping my fist once over my cock. Twice.

“It’s… one’s playing with my… with my… nipples,” she flounders slightly, then adds, “the other is on my hip.”

Okay. Time to step this up a serious notch. Cock firmly in hand, I murmur in the sexiest voice I can muster, given the fact that I’m seconds away from losing all capable speech whatsoever, “Move it to your pussy. Slide your fingers through that silky wetness, just like I want to do with my tongue. Can you imagine it?”

She lets out a long moan, and the first vestiges of climax begin to quake within me. “Liz… God, I want to eat you alive,” I admit harshly, pumping my cock for all its worth. “I want to run my tongue all inside you, then nibble on your clit until you scream for me to stop.”

Max!”

“Oh yeah, just like that,” I whimper, pumping faster. “You’d be so wild, riding my face like a prize jockey. And I’d love it. Hearing you moan as you start to come… feeling you start to contract…”

“Oh God!”

“Liz…” I groan, as my orgasm hits violently, my hips bucking off the bed. I can hear her crying out over the phone, but as if from a far away distance. My ears are ringing.

After a few minutes, my sense of hearing returns, and I hear ragged breathing from the other line. “Liz…” I croak, “you still there?”

“Was that…?” she whispers in an awed voice, and I chuckle.

“Yeah, did you like it?” My heart beats rapidly as I await her answer.

“It was… it was kind of scary,” she says, and my heart begins to plummet to my toes as I prepare to apologize. Then she adds, “But yes, I liked it. A lot. My God, Max.”

I breathe a sigh of relief. “Yeah?”

Then she laughs a little sheepishly. “You know, I actually called you for a reason.”

I reach over to my night stand and grab a few tissues to clean myself with. “Believe me babe, this is the best reason ever.”

She giggles coyly. “Well, it was pretty good…”

“Is that another dare, Miss Parker,” I purr, delighted that she isn’t cussing me out or worse, hanging up on my horny ass. “I’ve had my Liz fix, but I don’t mind overdosing.”

“I think we’ve both had enough daring for one night,” she replies ironically. “Actually… I was wondering… well…”

“Spit it out, babe,” I say in amusement.

“My grandfather wants you to come to dinner Sunday,” she mumbles. Before I can even fully comprehend her sentence, she starts in with, “But I understand if you’re busy. You’ve got Zan and Serena there, and it’s kind of last minute and all, so it’s completely all right if you can’t make it. I’ll just tell him you were busy, it’s no big-“

“Liz,” I break in firmly. “I’d love to go. It’s okay.”

“You would? Really? Because, Max I have this feeling my grandpa is going to question you about everything… he’s really over protective. I mean, it’s kinda nice, but at the same time, it’s slightly annoying and I don’t want to subject you to-“

“Liz. I’ll be there,” I interrupt again. “Just tell me what time.”

We talk for a few more minutes, then hang up.

I sink back into the sheets, listening to the eerie calm that has descended over the house. Zan and Serena must have fallen asleep.

With a lingering thought as to how I’m going to confront my father about Zan, I fall asleep to the memory of Liz’s cries of pleasure echoing in my mind.



<center>TBC............</center>
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Applebylicious
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Post by Applebylicious » Sun Apr 04, 2004 11:33 pm

<center>Part Eighteen</center>


(Liz POV)


I don’t know what I was expecting after Max and I did what we did.

Regret, maybe. Shame?

Instead, I felt only a calm sort of acceptance. It was as though something inside me acknowledged that what was between Max and I wasn’t something to be ashamed of.

However, just because I recognize this fact doesn’t mean I’m not anxious about seeing him again.

Will what we did have an effect on the way we perceive each other? I know that my impression of Max hasn’t changed. I knew he was a very sexual person… and that eventually something like this was bound to happen if we continued on the way we were.

But like I told Max once before, I’d vowed never to be intimate with someone unless I loved them… and knew they loved me in return.

While what we did wasn’t exactly what I was expecting, it does constitute as a form of intimacy. Something I apparently have wanted, judging by my reaction the night before.

So where does that leave me?

Am I going to become another of Max Evans’ willing women?

As much as I’d like to stick to my morals, it’s getting harder to deny the pleasure I know I could find with him.

“Knock, knock!”

I look over and see Maria standing in the doorway to the cottage. She’s dressed in her work uniform, and raises a brow when she notices my state of undress.

“Unless you’re planning on serving greasy food to the masses in nothing but a bath towel, I’d get hurry and get dressed. Alex called and said the place is packed.”

I reach over and grab my own uniform. “What’s going on?”

She flops down on the bed, letting loose a sigh that sends blonde ringlets dancing around her face. “It’s the Orthodontist Convention. Every year they all come to Roswell and they always, always have to eat at my mother’s café.”

I raise a brow, pulling the white blouse over my head. From underneath, I ask, “What are a bunch of orthodontists doing in Roswell?”

“Looking for the perfect over-bite? I don’t know, let’s go!” Maria checks her watch. “Crap, we’re late. My mom’s probably already thinking up ways to torture me. Ways that involve watching episodes of Nick at Nite with her and her new boyfriend.”

Stifling a giggle at the mental image of Maria, bound and gagged while her mother forces her to watch old television sitcoms, I pull on my shoes. “All right, I’m ready.”

“Good, let’s make like Pam Troy’s legs and split!”


<center>*****************************</center>


“Liz, table three needs their buffalo wings!”

“Got it,” I call back as Alex walks by. Sticking a pencil in my mouth, I pick up two trays of food and carefully balance them as I make my way across the crowded café.

“Liz! Can you get table seven’s order?” Maria asks as I pass by the booth where she’s waiting on a family of three.

“In just a minute,” I mutter around the pencil. I cut a sharp corner as a couple walks too close to me, and struggle to regain control of the trays.


I stop to face a table of older men smiling at me. I plaster a smile on my face, turn and set the steaming platters down in front of them, and remove the pencil from my mouth. “I’m terribly sorry for the delay. I hope you haven't been made to wait too long.”

The man who’d spoken grins wider. “You have a lovely smile. My collegues and I were admiring it while you worked.”

“Well… thank you,” I reply, honestly flattered. “Um… I brush and floss three times a day.”

Why did I feel the need to defend myself? It’s not like this is a trip to the dentist…

The men all laugh, so I pretend I meant it as a joke.

“Would you mind… we’d like to take another look at your bite. For medical purposes,” he adds when my smile falters.

“Oh… well, I….” I hear the jingle as the restaurant doors open. “Of course.”

With that, I smile widely, blood filling my cheeks as the men all make pleased murmurs.

“Fabulous,” the man breathes, awe in his eyes as though he’d just discovered the secret of eternal youth.

I glance over to see who’s walked in, and find myself staring into amused amber eyes.

My color deepens as Max walks by with a group of guys from school, his eyes never leaving mine as they settle into a booth in my section.

“Miss?”

I turn back to the men. “Thanks for dining at Amy’s. Enjoy your meal.”

I feel his hot gaze on my back as I walk over to the kitchen. Telling myself not to appear to anxious, I cast a look over my shoulder.

He smiles slowly, his lips quirking in a devastatingly sexy manner that immediately makes me think of the night before, when I climaxed to the sound of his voice.

Oh, God.

“Liz, are you all right? You look a little flushed.”

I jump at the sound of Alex’s voice. Spinning around, I find him staring at me with concern. “Alex! No… I’m fine. It’s just… it’s hot,” I finish lamely.

He eyes me as if expecting more, then shrugs. “It’s a Roswell heat wave. It’ll get worse before it gets better.”

“Right.” God, I just know my face is ten different kinds of red. And I can still feel Max’s eyes boring into the back of my head.

I nervously reach down and rub at a spot just beneath my hem, where my hose are tickling me.

“Well, better go get Evans’ and company’s orders before he eats you alive with his eyes,” Alex winks, then heads off.


<center>**********************************</center>


(Max POV)


Is it possible to get off with absolutely no physical stimulus whatsoever?

After ten minutes of watching Liz walk around in that mind-numbing short skirt, the sleek muscles of her calves shifting with each step, I’m ready to lend new evidence to the theory.

To make things worse, she keeps sending me coy glances as she struts around serving people. A shy smile, a look from beneath her lashes.

Judging by the pretty blush on her cheeks, I know she’s thinking about last night, too.

At this particular moment, she’s waiting on a table of women, leaning one knee forward as she laughs at something one of the customers says.

The line of her throat is bared as she throws her head back, and I swallow as a jolt of lust sweeps through me.

I muffle a curse and reach down to adjust myself inside jeans that are suddenly a little too snug.

“Evans? What’s up with you and the new chick?”

I look up as Tommy Groban smirks back at me.

I can’t stand his ass. The only reason I’m sitting in the same booth with him in the first place, is because he’s an old friend of Michael’s. They met one summer when Michael visited his aunt in Albuquerque, and went out drinking a few times.

Then Tommy’s parent’s got divorced and his mother moved here. Now he goes back and forth every couple of months and home schools.

He’s completely obnoxious and a total bastard. The only time he doesn’t get on my nerves is when he’s drunk, but that’s because then he’s usually passed out somewhere.

Michael and him don’t hang out as much lately since he and Maria got together, but when I saw Tommy standing outside Amy’s parking lot, I couldn’t very well ignore him.

God, I think I’m turning into a sap.

I level a cool gaze in his direction before replying. “What makes you think anything’s going on, Groban?”

I detest when people call me by my last name. Like Max is so hard to get out? It may be a guy thing… but I don’t like it anyway.

His brows narrow at my tone, then smooth out so quickly I almost convince myself that I’d imagined the scowl.

Something tells me Tommy doesn’t think too much of me, either.

“You’ve been staring at her ass ever since we walked in. And what a fine ass it is,” he laughs. “You hit that yet or what?”

My face darkens and I’m about to open my mouth to tell him I’ll gladly hit him if he ever speaks of Liz that way again, when Kyle speaks.

“Shut the fuck up, Groban.”

Hmm… suddenly I’m all about those last names. At least, when it’s Tommy’s being thrown out with such distaste.

Tommy laughs again. “What, you jealous Valenti? Don’t worry… I’m sure Max here’ll let you have a taste after he’s through. There’s plenty of that ass to go around.”

That’s it. Michael’s friend or not, if that bastard doesn’t get out of my sight in two seconds, I’m going to use his pretty face to wipe Amy’s floor.

I don’t even think about the fact that a few months earlier, his statement would have been completely true. Hooking up with a chick, then dumping her onto one of my willing friends would have completely been my style.

But no more. Because of Liz.

I lean forward, ignoring the warning look on Kyle’s face. “Get the fuck outta here, Tommy. Before I kick your worthless ass back to Albuquerque.”

Just then, I hear her voice.

“Hi, guys! What can I get you?”

I look up and see Liz smiling brightly, completely oblivious to the tense undertones at the table.

Tommy’s eyes make an insulting journey across her chest, and down her legs. My fingers ache with the urge to plant a solid fist in his face.

He gives her a leering grin. “Hey, baby… what’s the special?”

Liz frowns slightly at being called baby, and a little of the strain eases from me as I anticipate her reaction. With a small smirk, I sit back in the booth, folding my arms across my chest.

“I’m sorry, is there a reason you’re calling me baby?” she asks in a falsely sweet voice. “Did you perhaps mistake me for someone else?”

Tommy’s grin falters. “What?”

Ignoring the snickers around the table, she leans forward. Tommy’s eyes drop to the valley between her breasts.

Damn, I want to deck him again.

But Liz comes to the rescue. “Just because I have to serve you, doesn’t mean I’ll tolerate being called baby and having you drool over my tits. Either look me in the eye, or I’ll hawk in your burger.”

Kyle chokes on a laugh, and I have to bite down on my own lip as a feeling of amused surprise fills me.

God, she’s amazing. So sweet and innocent… but with a fiery side that’s so rarely shown.

Except for times like now… and last night.

I notice she doesn’t make a comment about the fact that I’m drooling over her tits.

Tits, for God’s sake. Who knew Liz Parker had such a mouth on her?

With that, she turns on her heel and leaves without taking our orders, and despite her dire warning we all stare after those swinging hips.

Tommy grumbles and leaves, face red and muttering threats under his breath. I don’t take him seriously as he casts he an evil glare.

Then my cell beeps and I look down to see the incoming text.

Dad’s here. Something’s up with Zan. Get here quick. Iz.

“Shit,” I mumble, jumping up. I say goodbye to the guys and look around for Liz.

When I don’t see her, I stop Alex and ask him to give her a message for me, then leave the restaurant, hoping I catch Zan before he does something really dumb.


<center>TBC.........</center>
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Post by Applebylicious » Thu Apr 08, 2004 12:36 am

<center>Part Nineteen</center>


(Max POV)


I hear the shouting before I even walk inside.

A cold sweat drips down my back as painful memories coalesce inside my mind. The last time I’d arrived home to a screaming argument, I discovered something that forever changed my life.

Even knowing that I have the upper hand this time by knowing the truth, my nerves still feel frayed and stretched.

“What do you have to say for yourself, you son of a bitch?!”

Zan’s howl grows louder as I resolutely push open the front door. The scene before me makes my mouth drop open.

Isabel is white-faced and pale, holding her stomach as though she might throw up. By the haunted expression in her eyes, I presume she must have an idea as to what this argument is about.

Zan is huffing like a smoke-stack, fists clenched as he towers over my… our... father, who lies on the ground, holding his eye.

Serena is trying to calm her boyfriend down, standing behind him and speaking in a soft tone.

Diane is watching the entire situation, wringing her hands as she looks from Zan’s red face, to my father’s pained one.

“What the hell is going on?”

Everyone turns to stare at me as I walk into the living room.

Zan looks lightly guilty for a moment. “I couldn’t help it, Maxwell. I took one look at him and…”

I nod sharply, understanding his snap of control. “I wish you had waited for me. Thanks for paging me, Iz.”

“No problem,” she stammers, then presses her fingers to her mouth, eyes going wide as she rushes from the room. The tell-tale sound of vomiting can be heard from the downstairs bathroom. I wince.

“Now look what you’ve done,” Dad snaps, attempting to stand up. “This could have been handled in a much more discreet manner, don’t you think?”

Zan’s mouth tightens and I’m afraid he might hit our father again. I quickly hold a hand up. “Let’s take this somewhere private, then.”

God, how the fuck did I become the only rational person here?

We leave Serena and Diane staring after us as we head for Phillip’s private study. Zan and I sit across from our father as he takes his seat at the giant mahagony table.

I find it slightly ironic, the way he’s using his intimidation on his sons the same way he would a new client.

“Let’s cut to the chase, Pops,” Zan sneers, “and you tell us how long you’ve been paying our mother to keep her trap shut.”

“Don’t speak to me in that disrespectful tone,” Phillip grits out, steepling his hands on the desk. “You want to hear this story, you’ll damn well act like an adult.”

“Fuck you.”

“Why?” That’s all that manages to come from my lips. “How could you do this to us?”

He suddenly looks extremely tired. And old. “It’s very hard to explain.”

“We have all day,” I state in a hard tone. “Let’s start with how you ended up having an affair with your sister-in-law.”

Phillip tenses. “That was a mistake.”

“You’re goddamned right it was!” Zan roars, amber eyes flashing. “But not too surprising. She’s a whore, after all. I guess you couldn’t control your dick around her, just like every other man she works over.”

“It wasn’t like that,” he denies, features pinched. I sit back quietly, allowing Zan to play the bad cop for now. “I love my wife.”

“Ha! Did you think about that while you were banging my mom?”

I raise an eyebrow in question, staring him directly in the eye.

His fingers clench around the polished edge of the desk. “It was one time. I was working a case in New York, and your mother offered to let me stay with her since Matt was out of town on one of his business trips.”

Zan snorts. “I bet she did.”

“Shut up, Zan.” I’m definitely intrigued as to where this is going.

“I was asleep in my bed, and Sandy came to me in the middle of the night. I… I thought I was dreaming,” Phillip admits, embarrassment written over his face. “When I woke up, it was too late. I got angry, and she told me she was lonely… that Matt never touched her.”

“So you decided to keep her company?” I ask sardonically. Zan nods his agreement to the question.

“No, I told you it was only the one time!” he shouts, and I glimpse a hint of repressed anger in his tone. “Dammit… she used me. And when I wanted to tell Matt, she threatened to go to the papers. Except the story she would have told wouldn’t have been the misunderstanding it really was. At the time, I was still establishing our lives in New Mexico, and I couldn’t afford to have her ruin it.”

“So you let her walk all over you,” Zan surmises. “How much did she want from you?”

“Twenty-thousand,” he admits in a shamed voice. “That was to keep it from Diane, as well. I just wanted to forget it had ever happened. Diane was pregnant with Isabel, and I didn’t want anything to upset her.”

“Like her husband fucking a cold-hearted bitch from up north,” Zan adds, but the anger has been drained from his tone.

“Of course, she got pregnant. And Matt found out. Apparently, she wasn’t lying about their… relationship. He knew he hadn’t touched her, and he started demanding answers,” Phillip rubs his temple. “A blood test later… I got a phone call at three our time. Diane found out.”

Despite the years of resentment built up towards my father, I feel a sense of compassion for him. “But she didn’t leave you.”

“No, she didn’t,” Phillip murmurs. “And I’ve thanked God for that everyday. It was hard for awhile… we even separated a short time before you were born. But when Sandy called to say you had arrived, she went with me to visit you. She took one look at you both, and fell in love.”

Zan boldly wipes his eyes, and I feel tears burning against my lids, as well. Hoping to stall them, I respond in a shaky voice, “Why did you split us up? Why couldn’t you take us both? Uncle Matt obviously didn’t want us.”

“No, he didn’t,” Phillip admits, his own gaze bright. “But he wouldn’t let me take you both. We fought bitterly over it, but I believe he knew that the best way to hurt me was keeping you away from me. In the end, I had to pay to take just one of you home with me.”

“One-hundred thousand dollars,” I murmur.

“I don’t regret it,” Phillip says quickly, “I only wish I hadn’t had to leave Zan there. Son, you can’t know how I mourned you living there. I did everything I could to change your Uncle’s mind. Even when he died, I made preparations to adopt you. But Sandy changed her mind at the last second.”

“That’s why you invited me to live here?” Zan asks in a small voice. “Why you were always calling to check up on me and made sure I came to visit every summer?”

“It was the only way we could see you.”

The sound of Diane’s soft voice makes us all jump. I glance over and see her surreptitiously wiping her eyes. She offers me a shaky smile, walking over.

“I’m sorry to interrupt, but I had to make sure you both understood,” she said in that quiet voice that belongs to her. “Your father may not have made the best decisions, but he did what he thought was best.”

She comes to stand behind Phillip, laying a hand on his shoulder in a blatant sign of support. He lays his palm over hers, squeezing lightly.

Zan suddenly jumps to his feet, refusing to meet anyone’s gaze. “I… I need time,” he chokes out, then leaves the room.

I stare at my parent’s, mixed feelings churning in my stomach. “I don’t know what I’m supposed to say,” I admit. “Part of me wants to tell you both to fuck off, that you’ve screwed my life up because of these lies and secrets.”

Their faces pained, they refuse to break the eye contact.

“But,” I continue, thinking of Liz, “you can’t go through life blaming others for your problems. The truth is, I’ve made mistakes as well. And… and maybe I didn’t try hard enough to be the kind of son you would be proud to have.”

“Oh, Max… that isn’t true,” Diane immediately says.

“Son, I’m sorry if I’ve ever given you that impression,” Phillip adds sadly. “I’ve never been ashamed of you, Maxwell. Only of myself.”

A few minutes pass before I nod. “Maybe… maybe we can try to fix this. I’m not making any promises, but… I’ve also learned life is too short not to try.”

Diane begins openly crying, and Phillip’s eyes grow watery. “Thank you, son. That’s all we want. A chance to make things better.”

“Let’s take it a day at a time,” I say tiredly, then stand to leave the room. I pause over the threshold, and turn back around. “I won’t leave Zan behind again. He’s my brother, he belongs with me.”

“Of course, we want to adopt him. That’s what we’ve always wanted,” Diane speaks. “Please, Max… help him to understand.”

I nod again, then leave the room.


<center>************************************</center>



(Liz POV)


“That’s all he said?”

Alex rolls his eyes. “For the hundredth time, he just said he’d call you later. Jeez, what am I, you and Max’s love secretary?”

I playfully smack him on the arm, but I can’t get the image of Max’s tense expression as he ran from the diner out of my mind.

“So… you’ve been hanging out with the Evans’ a lot lately,” Alex says, attempting to look nonchalant.

“Well, Max anyway,” I say offhandedly.

“Right. Well… you still must see Isabel around,” he continues, clearing his throat. “Does she ever… mention anyone? A guy maybe?”

I turn to stare at him. “Are you asking me if Isabel has a boyfriend?”

His face turns red but he nods. “Yes. So… does she?”

I laugh maniacally. “Do I look like your love secretary, Alex Whitman?”

“Ohh… you’re evil!” he complains, sagging onto a nearby chair as the cleaning crew continues mopping up the floor. “C’mon… throw me a bone.”

“Well, I don’t really talk to her,” I admit. “But I’ve never seen her with another guy. I thought you were going to ask her out? Why all the questions? You changing your mind?”

“No,” he says quickly, “but… she just doesn’t seem really interested.” His face collapses and he lets out a lovelorn sigh. “In fact, she turned me down cold.”

I wince theatrically. “Ouch.”

“Yeah,” he agrees. “But there’s gotta be a reason why. I mean… I’m not a complete doof, am I? Oh, God… am I?”

“No!” I shout loyally, “You are not a doof. Maybe she does have a boyfriend. Or maybe she just isn’t looking for a guy right now.”

“Maybe. I just wish she’d… let me in. I know I could help her. Have you ever looked into her eyes, Liz? There’s such sadness and longing there.”

“Er… no. I can’t say that I have,” I admit wryly. “But… I’m sure you’re right, Alex.”

He sighs again. “You don’t see it. But I do. She’s beautiful. And she needs someone.”

“And you want it to be you,” I surmise, pulling my hair out of my face. “Then don’t give up. Don’t hound her, but just… be there. Be there for her.”

He stares at me with narrowed eyes, then his expression lightens. “You’re right. Thank, Liz, I’m glad we had this talk.”

“You’re welcome,” I murmur in amusement as he bounds out of the diner. With a sigh, I glance at the phone, wondering how long before Max will call me.

I decide to rush home.


<center>TBC......</center>



Feedback, people! Let's get these posts back up! We lost so many... :cry: LOL!
Last edited by Applebylicious on Thu Apr 08, 2004 3:16 am, edited 3 times in total.

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