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 » Thu Apr 08, 2004 11:59 pm

<center>Part 20</center>



(Max POV)



I open the door to my room, prepared to simply collapse on the bed and attempt to drain the thoughts from my mind.

So much has changed over the last few weeks, I almost don’t recognize myself anymore. The embittered, cynical person known as Max Evans has been replaced by someone who actually has feelings. Worries.

Although, this isn’t true. That’s the image I’ve portrayed all these years. Deep down I know I’ve always had insecurities. I merely did a better job than most of hiding them.

The thing is… I find myself wanting to share my thoughts. I want to repair relationships I’d thought long dead.

I want to be a part of a… family again.

I find Zan laying on my bed, arms beneath his head as he stares at the ceiling. I gently shut the door, and he glances over. His eyes are guarded, but they soften a degree as we stare at each other.

“I don’t know if I can do this,” he admits in a low tone.

He doesn’t elaborate, because he knows I know exactly what he means. Zan and I have always been able to read each other, we used to think it was just because we were so alike.

Little did we know.

“No one’s forcing you to stay,” I point out, flopping on the foot of the bed, picking up a sports magazine and pretending to rifle through it.

“Are you asking me to leave?” he demands, and I hide a smile at the hint of annoyance in his voice. This is the old Zan, the guy who took crap from no one, and it makes me relax slightly.

“As if I could make you. You’re like herpes, you always come back,” I answer, raising my brow at the image of two skimpy blondes kissing in a Calvin Klein advertisement.

He snorts, then lets out a soft laugh. “Screw you.”

A knock sounds on the door, and we look over as Isabel sticks her head in. She looks terribly childish, face scrubbed clean of makeup and hair in a ponytail.

I’ve never seen Isabel Evans wear a ponytail in my entire life. Zan and I exchange a glance before turning in unison to give her a raised-brow look.

“Oh God, that’s just plain freaky,” she shivers. “You two really are twins.”

As soon as she says the word, her eyes turned pained and she looks totally embarrassed and unsure of herself.

In an attempt to put her at ease, Zan quips, “He may be older, but I’m better looking.”

“Oh, please, don’t you know the just-rolled-out-of-the-dumpster look is over?” I retaliate. “It died with Kurt.”

“Whatever, GQ.”

Isabel bursts into tears. Zan and I both jump up and begin uncomfortably trying to soothe her.

She wipes her eyes. “I’m… I’m sorry,” she sobs, “I can’t help it!”

“It’s okay, doll,” Zan says, rubbing her back while shooting me a helpless look.

“I’m so sorry for what’s happened,” she sniffles. “I feel so guilty. If Dad hadn’t been worried about upsetting Mom because she was pregnant with me, then he could have taken you both home!”

We stare at her in shock.

Obviously, she had been eavesdropping during our conversation in the study, but she had misunderstood a few vital details.

“Isabel, that’s the craziest thing I’ve ever heard,” I say firmly. “None of this is your fault. Is that why you’re crying?”

“Well… yes,” she says, blowing her nose daintily as Zan hands her a tissue. “I’m also having horrible pregnancy cramps, if you must know. I feel like someone rammed a truck up my-”

We both step away. “Um…”

“Oh, sorry,” she sniffs. “God, I must look terrible.”

“Who cares, it’s just us,” Zan points out. “We’re your brothers, we don’t give a fuck how nasty you look.”

For some reason, his words break the tension lingering from the entire escapade. We all look at each other and start cracking up.

Zan throws his arm around Isabel and she pinches him. He howls and jumps away, tripping over a stack of books.

On the way down, he curses and grabs my arm for balance, pulling me along with him. We hit the ground with a loud umph and immediately begin grappling.

“Come on guys, aren’t you a little old for this? I mean… I know since I’m the oldest, obviously I’m more mature, but I mean… aack!”

Isabel lands on her ass when Zan yanks her leg out from under her. She gets tossed into the fray and pretty soon we’re all laughing and wrestling.

“Get your foot outta my face!”

“Move your hand!”

That’s not my hand.”

“Oh, my God. Zan!”

“Oops. Sorry about that, Maxwell.”


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


(Liz POV)


Tap, tap, tap.

Tap, tap, tap.

Tap, tap, ta-

“Could you please stop that?” I murmur as politely as I can manage, sending a glare towards Tess. She simply cocks a brow and smiles, lifting her perfectly manicured nails from their perch on the Louis XIV endtable.

“You sound nervous, Lizzie. Afraid he won’t show?” She sucks on a plump red cherry, dangling her shoe from one well-formed arch.

Tess looks absolutely gorgeous tonight. I’ve always known she was spectacular looking, with her golden curls and pale eyes. But tonight she’s simply breathtaking. A fact that does not put me at ease.

I take in her crème-colored jacquard pantsuit with it’s plunging neckline and flowing legs, the sexy sling-backs on her feet. She looks utterly chic and sophisticated.

I glance down at my own light pink lace-trimmed linen sheath, and feel silly and childish in comparison. I can’t help but wonder what Max will think when he sees the obvious differences between my cousin and I.

“He called and said he was on his way,” I respond, wishing my voice didn’t sound quite so brittle. Since when have I become worried about what Max thinks when he looks at me?

If Tess is the sort of girl who he prefers, then I have no business being with him in the first place.

“Of course he did,” Tess answers mockingly. “You seem to have him wrapped around your little finger, Liz.”

“You sound jealous, Tess,” I smile coolly.

She laughs lightly. “Never jealous, Lizzie darling. Merely amused. Oh, how the mighty have fallen.”

I don’t bother trying to clarify what her cryptic statement means, I simply turn to look out the window once again.

The winding drive is empty and I sigh, nervously smoothing my dress once again. I so want for my grandfather to approve of Max, because I value his opinion and my feelings for Max are growing deeper with each passing day.

He’s changed so much from the blasé, self-centered rogue that I met so many weeks ago.

I like to think I helped him.

When Max told me about his father and Zan, and even about the horrifying event of Isabel’s rape, I was upset and angry on the Evans’ children’s behalf. And when he told me he wanted to try to fix things between his family, another small part of me that I’d been struggling to hold onto melted away.

I’m trying so hard not to fall in love with him, because despite the fact that he isn’t the same cynical playboy, it doesn’t mean he’s quite ready for a committed relationship. At least, I don’t think so. But when he looks at me with naked affection in his warm gaze, it’s impossible to believe myself capable of keeping my heart my own.

The sharp sound of the doorbell chimes throughout the house, and knots of nervous tension tangle in my stomach as I take a deep breath.

“I’ll get it,” I blurt out, already making my way to the front door.

“Don’t be silly, Rosa will answer it,” Tess murmurs, stretching like a cat as she snuggles deeper into the giant armchair. “Sit down, Liz, and for the love of God, calm down.”

I glare at her before stiffly sitting on the edge of a charmeuse sofa. The urge to nibble my nails becomes profound as I hear one of the housemaid’s voice as she lets Max in.

His deeper tone sounds from somewhere in the house, and I clench my fist in my lap. A moment later, he’s standing in the doorway.

My mouth drops open and I come to my feet as I take in his presence. A pair of chino’s, a silk oxford, and suede loafers – all in a sinful black - make up his simple yet devastatingly sexy appearance. His hair is stylishly tousled and a devilish smile adorns his lips.

His own eyes are doing a thorough exploration of my own attire, and I feel the warmth of his golden gaze on every inch of bare skin exposed by my dress.

“Wow… you look amazing,” he murmurs huskily, stepping forward to greet me. He doesn’t appear to realize Tess is even in the room, he only has eyes for me.

“Hello,” I manage to force out.

My breathing picks up and a bolt of heat replaces the nerves in my stomach. I can practically feel my breasts tighten under his scrutiny. He notices as well, judging by the way his lids lower slightly, and his eyes darken.

“You look great, too,” I say honestly, licking my suddenly dry lips. His gaze flicks to my mouth then back again. I know we’re both thinking of the same thing.

Our risqué telephone lovemaking.

God, is it getting hot in here? I fight the urge to fan my face.

“These are for you,” he murmurs, flourishing a bouquet of long-stemmed white roses from behind his back.

I take them from him with pleasant surprise. The blooms sweet-smelling scent fills my nose. “Thank you… they’re lovely.”

“Max knows how to pull all the stops,” Tess speaks up in amusement, and we both freeze at the rememberance that we are not alone.

His expression tightens for all of two seconds before becoming remarkably pleasant. “Tessa, these are for you.”

He pulls out another bouquet of roses, these a deep, blood-red. I notice that unlike my own, the thorns have not been shaved from their stems.

“Why, Max… you shouldn’t have,” she murmurs seductively, sidling closer as she takes the blooms. She leans far too closely in, in my opinion, as she places a kiss of gratitude on his cheek.

He says something in a soft tone that makes her lose her expression of dark amusement for a moment.

Then she simply smiles calculatingly. “I’ll go find Ed- Grandpa – and let him know you’ve arrived. Give you two a moment alone.” With a last glance, she turns and sashay’s out of the room.

Max captures my attention when he runs a finger down my cheek. “Hey, don’t I get a hello?”

I smile at his flirtatious tone and allow him to bring me closer to his body. “Hmm… I could have sworn I already said hello…”

“Not this way,” he answers huskily, then covers my mouth with his own. The flowers are crushed against his back as our arms crush around each other. This is the first time chance we’ve really had to be alone since the other night, when we reached a new level of intimacy.

The tenor of our desire has shifted slightly, resulting in an almost feverish need to crawl inside one another.

“God, you’re so beautiful,” he whispers against my lips, eyes burning and half-lidded. “Liz…”

My Grandpa’s voice sounds from outside the room, and we quickly break apart, breathing heavily as we both try to appear as though we weren’t just involved in a torrid embrace.

Torrid embrace? Jeez… I sound like a heroine from a Regency romance.

“Ah, Elizabeth… is this your young man?” Grandpa Ed beams as he walks into the room, leaning heavily on his white cane. “Let me have a look at him.”

“Grandpa, this is Max Evans,” I smile, holding out my hand to bring my grandfather closer. “Max, this is my grandfather, Edward Harding.”

“It’s very nice to meet you, sir,” Max shakes his hand respectfully. “You have a beautiful home.”

“I am fond of surrounding myself with beautiful things,” he winks in my direction, and I fight a blush of pleasure as the two male’s laugh. “You look like your father, young Evans. How is Phillip?”

Max clears his throat, momentarily uncomfortable. I slip my hand inside his and squeeze reassuringly. He glances at me, then replies, “He’s… been working hard. I’ll let him know you asked after him.”

“Yes, and give your beautiful mother my regards as well,” Grandpa responds. “Ah, there’s Juanita. It appears as if dinner is ready.”


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


(Max POV)



My teeth clench and angry color rises into my cheeks as I once again feel a foot slink into my lap, rubbing sinuously against my crotch.

I look across the table and meet Tess’s smoldering gaze, and with a glare in return, I reach down and clasp my fingers around her slim ankle. Baring my teeth, I shove her foot away from my lap, all the while taking a sip from my glass.

“Is everything all right, Max?” Liz asks, delicately lifting her fork to her push mouth. “You seem a little flushed.”

Tess smirks, licking her lips.

“I’m fine, it must be the heat,” I say inanely, even though the temperature in the Harding estate equals that of a polar ice cap, no doubt thanks to a state-of-the-art air conditioning system.

“I absolutely detest this time of year,” Tess complains, fanning her face dramatically. “Liz, you aren’t used to this type of climate… you should really use something on your skin or else you’re going to dry out.”

My glass clinks against the table as I turn a brittle smile in Tess’s direction. “Liz has beautiful skin.”

“Of course she does, she’s a Harding,” Ed Harding booms, as though this conversation weren’t completely absurd.

“Thank you, Grandpa,” Liz murmurs, hiding her face behind her glass. I can sense her embarrassment and my anger at Tess goes up another notch.

She simply smiles towards me, wholly unrepentant.

“Max and I are going to go to the guest cottage for awhile,” Liz says suddenly, bringing silence to the table.

Tess’s brows raise, and I stare at Liz as she takes a calm sip of her lemon-water.

I wonder if she has any idea how that sounds.

But her grandfather merely smiles indulgently. “It was very nice meeting you, Maxwell. I hope you’ll visit again soon. Liz is a very special girl.”

“Yes… yes, she is,” I say honestly.

After dinner, I follow Liz out to the small cottage where she is currently staying. “Does your grandfather really trust me out here with you?” I ask nervously, wondering if I trust myself alone with her.

Liz smiles coyly, and a burst of heat envelops me at the flirtatious quirk of her lips. “Of course, I’m only going to study, Max.”

“Oh.” Damn.

She laughs lightly.


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



(Liz POV)


We’re sitting in the cottage, Max lying on my bed as he watches Jay Leno interview some whiz kid.

“Oh my God, Liz,” he states, his eyes wide with disbelief. “This girl knows every President and what years they served for over sixteen different countries. And she’s only, like, four!”

“Mm…” I reply, watching as he absently scratches his stomach, exposing muscled skin to my hungry eyes.

I struggle to keep my eyes off him and on my homework, but this damn heat is seriously making me distracted.

God, I’ve never felt this way before.

It’s like my whole body is on fire and all I want to do is soothe the ache deep within me.

My eyes return to the bed and I chew on my lip as I travel the length of my boyfriend’s lithe form.

Maybe Alex was right. Maybe heat does make you act differently than you normally would.

Or maybe it just makes you act out what you really want.

And what do I want?

That’s easy… I want the sexy man on my bed.

God, I’m so… horny. That’s the only word to describe it. I feel like if I don’t have Max right this second I’m going to die.

I know I told him I wanted to wait until I was in love to consummate with anyone, but just because I haven’t told him I’ve fallen for him doesn’t make it any less true.

We’ve had fun together before… but now I’m ready to enjoy myself without the confines of a telephone.

Mind made up, I slowly lick my lips, standing from my chair as I walk over to where my unsuspecting victim lies.

He looks up as I approach, a smile on his handsome face. “Hey, baby, you done already…”

His words trail off as he glimpses the barely restrained passion I know is gleaming in my eyes.

He swallows slightly, and sits up against the pillows. “Um, Liz…?”

“I’m tired of working,” I state, pouting my lips in what I hope is a seductive expression. “All I ever do is work. I want to play now.”

His eyes widen as I toy with the buttons on my cardigan and just as I hoped, his gaze flickers to my chest.

“Uh… I… what do you mean?” he stammers, licking his lips as I slowly undo the top button.

“Is it hot in here, or is it just me?” I sigh dramatically, stifling a smile as a small groan slips his throat. I unbutton the next button, exposing my lacy pink bra.

“Liz,” he whispers, “what are you doing?”

“What does it look like I’m doing?” I purr, sliding the shirt off my shoulders so that it pools at my feet.

Max’s eyes glaze over and he stares unabashedly at my bra-covered chest. “Holy shit…”

“Max…” I whisper, “don’t you want to touch me?”

He swallows again, then looks up at me. I bite back a moan at the unbridled lust clouding his gorgeous amber eyes.

“God, yes…” he hisses, running a hand down my arm as I begin to straddle him.

“Then what are you waiting for?” I ask invitingly. He opens his mouth to speak, but I cut him off, pressing my lips firmly against his.

I feel his erection growing against my butt and I squirm anxiously. “Wow… that feels… really good,” I moan, rubbing against him again.

His hands fall on my hips and still my movements. I glance at him and see his tightly clenched jaw.

“Liz… stop,” he pleads. “Why… why are you doing this?”

I frown, doubt beginning to creep upon me. “I thought… you wanted me to.”

“Liz… we can’t do this.”

I raise myself off of him, embarrassment clouding my features. “Why not? You don’t want me?”

He stares at me in confusion, but I’m so humiliated I can’t bring myself to grasp the meaning of his expression.

“Liz…”

“So what, I’m not good enough for you to have sex with me?” I continue bitterly. “We can fool around but when it comes to being intimate… to really be intimate, I just don’t measure up, huh Max? I guess I’m not blonde enough, right? Or is it my breasts? They’re not big enough?”

“Liz, what-“ he begins, but I ignore him.

“You know what, I thought you were different!” I spit out, tears of mortification filling my eyes. “But you aren’t! God… you’re probably screwing some stupid bimbo on the side, huh? Maybe Pam Troy? Or Tish Okobe? My cousin? I know you haven’t been celibate this whole time! After all, everyone knows that Max Evans can’t go two seconds without sticking his dick in some girl’s pussy!”

He reels back at my crude words. I almost feel sorry when I see the hurt brewing in his eyes, but I’m too upset to care.

“I guess you would think that, right?” he whispers, letting out a broken laugh. “After all, everything I’ve said and done hasn’t meant a thing, huh Liz? I’m just a player. How could I ever change?”

I fold my arms defiantly. “Have you?”

He stares at me for a moment, his gaze shuttered. “Liz, stop this. You’re being crazy.”

“Am I?” I ask, my voice growing shrill. “How am I supposed to believe you, Max? All I’ve heard since I got here is what trouble you are! Everyone’s told me, but did I listen? No. God, I can’t believe this…”

I turn away, unable to stand the sight of his rejection. God, what a fool I was.

“Why are you being like this?” he demands, throwing his hands up in the air. “Is that how you really see me? Jesus… I… I thought we had something special, Liz. Was I wrong?”

His wounded tone tears at my heart, but I brace myself as I turn around.

“I thought we did, Max. But maybe I was just kidding myself. I mean, you and me? It’s completely insane, right? The Virgin and the Stud… it’s like some kind of twisted fairytale,” I snort.

“What do you want from me?” he shouts, running a frustrated hand through his hair. “God, Liz… I can’t change my past! I wish I could… but I can’t, all right! So what do you want from me?”

“I want you to leave,” I whisper, tears spilling down my cheeks.

He stills, his mouth hanging open in disbelief. “What?”

“You heard me, Max,” I state firmly, despite the ache in my heart as I watch his eyes flash in desperation.

“Liz… come on, baby… don’t do this,” he pleads, tears filling his own eyes. “Let’s talk about this…”

“Just get out!” I yell, my hysteria tumbling forth as my body trembles. “Now, Max! Just… leave!”

His jaw tics as his arms drop limply at his sides. He opens his mouth to speak, then closes it again, turning towards the door.

I turn away, unable to watch him go.

I hear him hesitate, then the door shuts softly, signaling his departure like a nail in the coffin.

I collapse against my bed, burying my face in my pillows as I cry.


<center>TBC........</center>
Last edited by Applebylicious on Fri Apr 09, 2004 1:31 am, edited 4 times in total.

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

Post by Applebylicious » Sat Apr 10, 2004 1:52 am

<center>Part 21</center>



(Max POV)



At this point in my life,
I've done so many things wrong,
I don't know if I can do right.
If you put your trust in me I hope I won't let you down,
If you give me a chance I'll try.
You see it's been a hard road, the road I'm traveling on…
And if I take your hand, I might lead you down the path to ruin.
I've had a hard life, I'm just saying it so you'll understand…
That right now, right now, I'm doing the best I can.

At this point in my life…
Although I've mostly walked in the shadows,
I'm still searching for the light.
Won't you put your faith in me,
We both know that's what matters,
If you give me a chance I'll try.
You see I've been climbing stairs, but mostly stumbling down.
I've been reaching high, always losing ground.
You see, I've been reaching high, but always losing ground.
You see I've conquered hills, but I still have mountains to climb.
And right now, right now I'm doing the best I can.
At this point in my life.


At this point in my life…
I'd like to live as if only love mattered,
As if redemption was in sight.
As if the search to live honestly,
Is all that anyone needs.
No matter if you find it.
At this point in my life…




Pain and confusion form a swirling mixture inside my mind as I stumble from the Harding estate. I reach the Jeep, fumbling with the handle as I step inside.

I simply sit in shocked silence as I stare blankly at the dashboard. My fingers feel numb against the steering wheel, knuckles white.

What the hell happened?

I still don’t know. One moment my life was as perfect as it’s ever been, and the next…

I drop my head to the wheel, tears of frustration seeping hotly from my eyes.

She doesn’t trust me. Maybe she never did. As foolish as I feel for realizing this too late – after I already lost my heart to her – I can’t blame her.

I’m finally getting all that I deserved. The way I’ve treated women for so long was bound to come back to haunt me. For the first time, I feel a sense of shame for what they must have felt when I used them.

For a split second, I imagine I hear the sound of weeping along the edges of the wind. But then I realize the horrible sounds are coming from my own throat.

I can’t be without her; I know this as easily as I know I need oxygen to breathe. I’m afraid of what I’ll become without her in my life. Everything good inside me is because of her. I have to find a way to explain to her, to rid her of this ridiculous concept that I don’t want her.

When she threw those words at me, I was in such shock that I couldn’t respond quickly enough to save myself. Then the pain and humilation burned brightly when she accused me of cheating on her.

God.

I’m not sure which is worse… that a part of her still believe’s me capable of it, or that a part of me wonders the same thing.

I love her, but there’s no denying I’m not a good man. I could easily destroy her, bring her down to my level and ruin what she is. And that’s the last thing I ever want to do.

Maybe it would be better to let her go.

The hell it would be.


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


<center>One week later…</center>


(Liz POV)


I stare at the single white rose, lying delicately against my notebooks inside my locker, with tears burning in my eyes.

A note is tied to the stem, and even though a part of me says not to look, I unravel the document.

Masculine handwriting scrawls across the vanilla paper, bold and heavy.

I’m sorry.
-M


I’m sorry.

I’ve received several letters of the same meaning from Max over the last few days. Every time I read one, I get the feeling that someone’s watching me, but when I look over my shoulder… there’s no one there.

I brush my eyes, refusing to allow myself the luxury of tears. I crumple the note in my hand, and toss it into the nearest trashcan.

I hold the rose out as well, prepared to let it fall. For some reason, my fingers won’t let it go.

“Liz?”

I jump at the sound of my name, spinning to see Isabel Evans watching me with an unreadable expression. “Isabel.”

She narrows her gaze on my tear-stained face. Apparently, I need a stronger will. “Are you all right?”

I want to scream at her, Do I look all right? Leave me alone! Instead, I simply force a plastic smile on my face. “I’m fine.” If my voice quivers on the lie, I refuse to back down.

“Max looks horrible,” she says, obviously hoping for some sort of reaction on my part.

I simply raise an eyebrow, sliding the rose between my books. “He didn’t seem so upset when he was hanging all over Pam Troy earlier.”

My caustic tone raises her brows. “It wasn’t anything like that, Liz. My brother is head over heels for you. What happened?”

“That’s none of your business,” I answer flatly, wondering who this brittle person who has recently taken over my body is. “Is there anything else you needed?”

She sighs, looking disappointed… in me? “Is Alex around?”

My brows rise into my forehead. “Alex Whitman? Why?”

She shifts uncomfortably. “I… I need to talk to him. Have you seen him today?”

My lips quirk in a curious frown. “Yes, he’s in band practice right now. Try the west wing.”

“Thanks, Liz.”

With that, she walks off, leaving me standing bemusedly behind.

I shake my head and turn on my heel to leave, freezing when I see Max. He stands at the opposite end of the hall, just staring at me, his eyes full of emotion.

I hold his gaze as people walk by, then he takes a step forward. I quickly turn and head in the opposite direction. I hear him calling after me in a pleading tone, but I ignore it as I escape into the women’s restroom.


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


“So why are you and Max not acting all lovey-dovey?” Maria demands as she flops into the seat next to me in biology.

I ignore the burning gaze in my back, shrugging uncomfortably in response. “We broke up.”

She waits, and when I don’t elaborate, she frowns. “That’s it? You broke up? What happened? Why does he look like he lost his best friend back there? It’s really sad, Liz. I may not like the guy, but I hate seeing anyone look so… broken.”

“It’s a long story,” I mumble, unable to keep myself from glancing to the back of the room where Max is currently staring despondantly at the top of his desk while Michael says something to him.

Maria gasps as a sudden thought enters her mind. “Did he cheat on you?”

“No,” I say quickly, because despite the harsh words I spoke to Max that night, I never really believed he would do something like that. I was simply so… embarrassed.

I’ve never put myself out like that, offered myself to anyone. And when Max rejected me, it hurt. I may have overreacted, but deep inside I was glad I was finally saying all the things I’d hidden away.

Like the fact that I don’t understand why someone like him would ever be interested in someone like me.


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



(Max POV)



“Have you tried talking to her?”

I send Michael a glare. “She won’t let herself within ten feet of me to explain.”

Michael whistles. “I gotta say, Maxwell. I never thought this would happen to you. You charm all the girls.”

Yeah, except for the one that matters, apparently.

“Look, can we stop talking about it?” I ask irritably, going back to staring at the back of Liz’s head.

As if she feels my intense gaze, she turns slightly around and meets my eyes. For a moment, it reminds me of the first time I saw her. The confusion that filled me.

I concentrate on conveying every emotion I feel towards her into that long gaze, hoping and praying that maybe she’ll show me a sign that she possibly feels the same turmoil and longing that consumes me.

Instead, she blinks and quickly turns back around as Miss Hardy enters the room.

With a sigh, I lay my head on the table. Nothing seems to be working. All week long she’s run from me, and nothing I try gets her to approach me.

“If she won’t come to you, why don’t you just go to her?” Michael asks in a sympathetic tone. “Show up at her house unannounced. Even if she kicks you out, she at least has to see you first.”

I lift my head, staring at him through narrowed eyes. “The guest cottage. God, why didn’t I think of it before?”

“Because you’re a man in pain,” Michael claps me on the back. “We all lose our minds when it comes to women, Maxwell.”

My lips press into a firm line as I begin to plot.


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



(Liz POV)



I stand in front of my mirror, dressed in only a meager tank top and a pair of baby blue boxers, courtesy of the heat wave.

My long hair hangs loosely down my back, continuing to stick to the perspiration coating my body, so I make a feeble attempt of twisting it up into a ponytail.

Sighing slightly as the cool air generated from my fan hits the skin of my neck, I close my eyes and slide a hand down my stomach idly.

God, you would think my grandfather would have gotten around to fixing the air conditioning unit in the cottage.

Apparently, not.

I’ve been sleeping au natural ever since this damn heat wave started. Anything more than that and I would end up sweating off a few pounds.

I let out a long exhale as I prepare for another night of sweltering temperatures and restless dreams.

My mind instantly turns to thoughts of Max, as I glide my hand up my stomach to remove my skimpy pajamas.

As I recall my attempt to seduce him and his rejection of my advances, the humiliation burns bright again.

I haven’t seen him since I kicked him out that night last week. I’ve refused to take any of his calls and avoided him like the plague at school.

I lift the hem of my tank top, intent on sliding it over my head, when a flash of movement catches my attention.

I glance over to the sliding French doors leading out to the pool, and freeze.

Max stares back at me, a frantic expression burning in his eyes. My pulse starts to race.

I chew my lip in agitation as he slowly lifts his palm and places it flat against the glass, leaning his forehead against the cool surface to regard me intensely.

Letting out a staggered sigh, I drop my fingers as I slowly make my way over to the door.

We stare at each other for a moment, before I reach out and slide the chain away from the lock.

I open the door and blink as he runs a hand through his tousled hair.

“What are you doing here?” I finally question softly, breaking the silence that has engulfed us.

“I…” he opens his mouth, then closes it. He takes a step forward and I back away, holding a hand out.

“Not any closer,” I whisper and a spark of pain flashes through his eyes as he nods.

“You’ve been avoiding me,” he declares quietly, looking down at the ground.

“Why shouldn’t I?” I demand, feeling the betrayal and embarrassment returning. “I made a complete fool out of myself! Why would I want to see you and be reminded that you don’t want me?”

He looks up at me then, his amber gaze swimming. “Liz… don’t say that.”

“What? The truth?” I demand hoarsely. “That I’m not what you want? That you don’t mind fooling around with me, but you don’t want me.”

I stare at him miserably as I repeat the same words I used that night.

That’s not true!” he cries in anguish. “I do want you! I want you more than I’ve ever wanted... anyone.”

“Then why did you reject me?” I exclaim, my voice sounding as tortured as his. “Why didn’t you… why…”

“I just… I couldn’t do it,” he murmurs, tears of frustration burning in his eyes. He quickly raises a hand and uses the heel of his palm to wipe them away.

“Why not?” I demand, staring at him straight on, demanding the explanation I didn’t receive that night.

His voice cracks as he says the words I’ve longed to hear him say since the day I first saw him, the day I looked into his eyes and he branded my soul.

“Because I love you.”

There is no hesitation in his statement, just pure tenderness and anxiety as he awaits my response.

I stare at him, my mouth hanging open and I shake my head to make sure I’m not just hearing what I want to hear.

“What did you say?” I whisper, my voice barely audible from disbelief.

He takes a step forward and gently brackets my face with his warm palms. “Liz Parker… I’m in love with you.”

A tear slides down my cheek as he continues to stare at me. I open my mouth, but the words don’t come out.

“Liz… say something,” he pleads, his eyes scanning mine hesitantly.

“I…” I choke out, my chin quivering as the tears fall harder. “I… love you, too, Max.”

His eyes soften and a relieved breath escapes his lips as I utter the words that I’ve wanted to say to him for just as long.

He leans forward and gently takes my lips against his own, pulling my body snug against his own as I whimper and wrap my arms around his neck.

Our lips meld together tenderly, and he pulls my bottom lip into his mouth, sucking on it until it slides from his lips with a pop.

I moan as the kiss becomes hotter, more intense. His arms pull me tighter against his taut body as he slants his mouth roughly over mine.

We nibble, lick, and suck at each other until I feel as though my lungs may explode if I don’t get a breath.

I pull away and he chases my lips, groaning in protest as I take a step away.

“Come back to me,” he whispers, reaching out and drawing me to him once again. He places a searing kiss on my lips before I pull away once again.

“Max… let’s lie down.”

My invitation coupled with my raspy, needy voice leave little to the imagination.

His fingers still, clasping my sides as he stares at me with wide eyes. “Are… are you sure?”

A seductive smile tugs my swollen lips and I nod. “I’ve never been more sure of anything.”

I take his hand and lead him into my room, watching him as he follows me, never releasing my fingers.

When we reach my bed, I gently push him so that he tumbles against the soft sheets.

He catches himself mid-fall and stares up at me, his golden eyes burning into mine as he licks his lips lazily.

I take a deep breath before hooking my fingers underneath the hem of my tank top and sliding it up my stomach. This is something I need to do, to be in charge of my own actions. To know that I’m making this decision for the right reasons… not just to please someone else.

As the fabric pulls away from my breasts, I hear his sharp intake of breath and open my eyes to find him propped up on his forearms watching me, tawny eyes blazing.

“God, Liz…” he moans in a strangled voice as I pull the shirt over my head and toss it in the corner of the room.

I stand before him, my chest exposed to his perusal and hold my breath awaiting his reaction.

A deep whimper sounds from his throat and I smile inwardly, thankful that he is pleased by my body.

“Come here…” he whispers, crooking a finger towards me and I bite my lip shyly as I step forward.

My knees press up against the bed as I stand between his spread legs, looking down at him with questioning eyes.

He sits up slightly, then reaches out and pulls me closer to him. My chest falls to his eye level and I blush slightly at his unabashed admiration of my half-naked body.

“You’re beautiful,” he whispers, and my eyes flutter shut as I feel his hot breath skim across my plump fullness.

I hear his staggered breathing seconds before I feel it.

My eyes fly open and a loud moan escapes my throat as he draws my puckered nipple into his mouth, tugging gently on the sensitive nub.

“Oh Max…” I pull his head harder against my breast as he continues his feast, laving my flesh with his tongue.

He mumbles my name against my breast, his fingers creeping up to mold my other swollen globe.

He pulls me into his lap and I wrap my calves around his middle, my eyes widening yet again as I settle against his arousal.

I wriggle shamelessly against him, biting my lip at the insistent burning unfurling deep in my belly.

He lets out a loud moan, releasing my nipple long enough to look up at me with blazing eyes.

“God, I need you so much…” he groans raggedly, nuzzling my breast as I nod my head in agreement.

“Make love to me, Max…” I respond, sliding my hands under the soft cotton of his shirt.

His breath hitches as my fingers brush against muscled flesh, sending pleasurable gooseflesh across his skin.

After ridding him of his shirt, I lick my lips in appreciation of his physique. It’s even more impressive than I remember.

I toss his shirt behind me and it lands with a soft plop next to my own.

My eyes roam over his chest, taking in his wide shoulders and ripped pecs before trailing lower to the sparse trail of dark hair disappearing under his jeans.

I run my hands down his chest, and he winces as I brush his aroused nipples.

“Liz… please…” he begs and I’m not sure if he’s begging me to stop or continue.

But one look at his flushed, pleading face and I decide to resume my journey of discovery.

I trail my fingertips along the rigid edges of his six-pack, sucking in a breath at his responsive moans.

Only when I reach the button of his jeans does he place his hand over mine.

“Liz…” he rasps, trying to still my fingers. “We don’t have to do this. I don’t have to make love to you to know that I love you.”

My heart swells, and this time I recognize his words not as rejection, but as respect. He doesn’t want to force me to do anything I might regret.

I press a finger against his lips, determined to ease his indecision “I want you. I want you to take me… to be my first. I love you… please, Max…”

His eyes darken more at my admission and he nods slowly, swallowing as he brings my hands up to his lips.

He places a heartbreakingly gentle kiss against my knuckles before bringing my fingers back to his fly.

I smile shyly at him before sliding his zipper down, trying carefully not to catch on the huge bulge straining beneath the denim.

Once the zipper is safely over his hardness, he arches his hips slightly so that I can pull his jeans down his legs. His boxers quickly follow.

After discarding them into the ever-growing pile of clothes, I glimpse down at his naked form and gasp.

“It’s so… big…” I whisper in fascination, cocking my head to the side as I inspect the proud part of him that makes him so different from me.

Another groan escapes him, and his cock twitches slightly.

I gasp and lean my head forward to study him more. “Did… did you make it do that?” I ask, feeling my face flame even as I ask the question.

He smiles shakily and his chuckle rumbles sensually, wrapping around me like a warm blanket.

“No… you did,” he murmurs, looking at me through half-lidded eyes. “When you… look at me like that…”

He trails off as I slide my hands down his sides, across his hips to rest on his upper thighs.

“You’re… way overdressed,” he manages huskily, eyes gleaming with a predatory spark that sends a warm tingle to my insides.

“What are you going to do about it?” I question, my body trembling in need.

He stares at me for a split second before standing. My legs cling to his naked middle and I moan as his unrestrained erection nestles closer against my aching center.

“Don’t play with fire, sweetheart,” he rasps, turning so that he can lay me across the bed.

As soon as my body touches the downy comforter, I feel his hands slipping into the sides of my pajama bottoms.

His eyes meet mine in a smoldering stare as he slides my underwear and shorts down my legs at the same time.

“You’re so sexy, Liz…” he whispers, causing me to moan aloud at his husky voice.

He leans down and catches my lips in a hungry kiss, full of desire and wanting.

Our hands roam over each other’s bodies, discovering what makes the other cry out in ecstasy.

When I feel his blunt tip brush against my sensitive flesh, I wrench my mouth from his and let out a surprised moan.

“Oh, Max…”

“Are you sure, Liz?” he asks again, his face strained with need even as he asks me of my feelings. “If you want, we’ll stop right now.”

“If you even think about stopping, I’ll kill you,” I moan, running my hands down his back and pressing his body against mine.

A throaty groan was his response as his cock slid against my dripping core. “Oh, God… baby…”

“Take me, Max. Make me yours,” I whisper, arching my hips up so that the tip of him slides inside my wet folds.

He bites his lip to keep from crying out and a lock of hair falls across his glistening forehead.

I reach out and gently push it back, smiling as I look into his eyes. “I want to feel you deep inside me.”

His eyes flash and he lowers himself against me, sliding himself further into my waiting flesh.

I try to relax my inner muscles for the invasion I know is to come, taking slow, even breaths as I grow accustomed to his large length.

My eyes widen at the new sensation of being stretched as he slowly, cautiously thrusts deeper into my tight passage.

Max stares down at me as he slides even deeper into me, his lips pressed tightly together as his jaw works uncontrollably.

I feel his hardness graze the membrane of my virginity and brace myself against the pain I know is coming, closing my eyes.

Max stops and I open my eyes to look at him questioningly.

“I… I don’t want to hurt you,” he admits, a bead of sweat dripping off his forehead as he holds himself above me with an amazing amount of control.

I smile and run my fingers against his jaw, scratching at the light stubble.

“I love you,” I whisper reassuringly, pulling his lips to mine as I buck my hips up into his, burying him to the hilt.

His mouth catches my momentary cry of pain as he pierces through my barrier, and he immediately begins to withdraw from my depths.

“What… what are you doing?” I demand breathlessly, watching his panic-stricken face.

“We… shouldn’t have…” he mumbles, unable to look me in the eyes. “I didn’t want to hurt you… God, Liz…”

I anchor him with my arms, pulling his lips back to mine. He begins to relax his tense frame as the kiss grows more passionate.

After I finally pull back, he is staring at me with glazed eyes and swollen lips.

“You better finish what you started, Evans,” I tease, although my voice is demanding with need.

“Or what?” he asks, rubbing his nose against mine. “You’ll kill me?”

“Don’t… tease me,” I moan as he nudges me once again with his arousal.

He chuckles and slides back into me, pausing slightly as I wince. “Does it hurt really bad?” he asks, his voice full of tender sympathy.

“No… just give me a second,” I say, gritting my teeth at the burning awareness.

He places small, adoring kisses across my forehead, nose, and lips until I sigh and arch up into him, giving him the signal to continue.

After a few moments, we are both writhing and moaning as Max thrusts deeper inside me.

“Oh… my…” I groan, feeling a strange climbing sensation beginning to spread out through my body.

“Let it go, baby…” Max breathes huskily in my ear, nipping it slightly as I cry out in pleasure.

I climax hard and fast, bright light bursting against my closed lids as I arch up into Max’s continuing strokes.

My feminine muscles contract, sending wave after wave of pleasure coursing through me.

My orgasm sends him over the edge as my walls close over him in an intimate caress, milking him of every drop of his pleasure.

“Oh my God…” he cries, burying his face into my hair as he pins my body to the bed, trembling from his release. “I love you!”

I softly stroke his neck and back, placing kisses against his head as he continues to moan and mumble incoherently.

After a moment, he looks up at me and the look of pure satisfaction in his eyes startles me.

“I’ve never felt… like that before,” he admits, brushing a damp strand of hair away from my face.

“Like what?” I ask, biting my lip nervously awaiting his explanation. “Was it… all right?”

He lets out an incredulous chuckle, shaking his head. “Baby… that was amazing. I… words can’t even describe. I felt so… complete. Whole…”

“I know what you mean,” I reply shyly. “Is it always like this?”

I watch his eyes darken over and he looks away briefly before turning back to me. “No, it’s not. I think it’s only this way… with someone you love.”

I lean up to kiss him. “I love you.”

He brushes his lips against mine for a sweet kiss, then rolls over, bringing me against his chest.

I run my fingers lazily over his bare chest as I listen to the rapid sound of his heartbeat.

We lay in comfortable silence, the only sound in the room that of the whirring fan.

“Max…” I murmur, hesitant to break the relaxed quiet.

“Hmm?” he mumbles, stroking my hair lovingly through his fingers. “What is it, baby?”

“Would you… are you going to stay the night?” I ask, burying my face into his chest, inhaling the musky scent of him and sex.

He takes a deep breath, causing his chest to swell. “I wish I could. But if I’m not in my room tomorrow when my parents show up, I’ll have more than a lot of explaining to do.”

I sigh in disappointment. “Okay… I understand you’re trying to work things out. I can’t blame you for wanting to be there…”

“Liz, there’s nowhere else I’d rather be than here with you,” he states solemnly, causing a pleased smile to cross my lips.

I glance over at my clock and notice that it’s only ten o’clock. “Well… could you stay for awhile? I mean… just until I fall asleep?”

He entwines his fingers through mine and brings them to his lips. “Of course I can.”

I smile happily and snuggle closer to his side as he drapes his warm arm over me.

Within moments I’m sound asleep, a satisfied smile gracing my lips.


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



(Max POV)



I stay long after she falls asleep, watching as her breathing slows to small puffs of air from her sexy lips.

I trail my fingers softly over her silken skin, studying the gooseflesh that appears.

God, she’s beautiful.

And she’s mine… she loves me. I can hardly believe it. My heart feels so full that I’m almost worried it may burst from absolute happiness.

After a few moments, I gently slide out from under her, a tender smile lighting my lips as she mumbles a protest and snuggles closer.

“Goodnight sweetheart…” I whisper, placing a delicate kiss against her cheek as I unwrap her arms from around my waist.

She smiles in her sleep and cuddles up to my pillow, burying her face in the cushion.

“Max…” she sighs and my heart clenches again.

Her dark hair is splayed out across the pillows and the silky sheets are tangled around her nude body.

I stare down at her and let out a contented sigh.

Finally, I force myself to turn from her, and I begin collecting my strewn clothing from the floor.

A shiver runs through me as I remember our lovemaking, how hot and intense it was.

I can barely get my jeans over my hips, as my thoughts cause my lower anatomy to become aroused again.

I bite my lip in frustration, hating the idea of having to leave her here… alone. Without me.

But the knowledge that she finally loves me and there will be plenty more days with her give me the strength to depart.

As I slide the doors open, I glance back once more at her, breathing a soft declaration.

“I love you.”

As the warm, humid air of the courtyard hits me, I sigh and begin my trek towards the main Harding estate.

I carefully open the door, slipping inside undetected. I softly pad my way across the darkened hallway as I head towards the front door.

As I pass by the small lounge, the light suddenly flips on and I freeze, my expression that of a deer-caught-in-the-headlights.

I glance over, expecting to see Edward Harding’s disapproving glare. Or possibly a startled maid.

But what I actually see is nothing I imagined.

“Congratulations, Max…” Tess purrs, rubbing her bare legs against each other as she reclines against the huge leather couch in the far back of the room.

I stare in shock at her scantily clad appearance.

Her voluptuous body is encased in a lacy black negligee, the skimpy material clinging to her breasts and showing off her curvy body to perfection.

“Tess…” I breathe, shaking my head as she stands to walk towards me. “What are you doing?”

Her lips curl in a sensuous smile and she lets out a deep throaty laugh. “Why, I’m giving you your reward, Max,” she replies, stepping closer.

I can see she’s doped up on something, the way her cheeks are filled with blood and her eyes are glassy.

I back away from her, my mind on overload as I try to comprehend what’s happening. “What are you talking about?”

“You fucked her didn’t you?” she raises an eyebrow.

My mouth falls open and my eyes narrow. “What?”

“You look like you just got laid, Max. Don’t try to deny it,” she purrs, cornering me against the wall. “I’ve seen that look in your eyes plenty of times before, baby.”

I cringe inwardly at her use of the word baby and shake my head. “Tess, I don’t know what you’re…”

“Come on, Max. Let’s dispense of the pleasantries,” she runs a hand down my chest, trailing her fingers closer to my erection, due to my previous thoughts of Liz. Her eyes widen and she lets out a pleased sigh. “Ooh… looks like someone’s ready for me.”

“I’m glad you went ahead and screwed her, Max,” she continues, slowly unbuttoning my jeans. “I’ve been craving you for a while. I hated holding out on you, baby.”

I catch her fingers and pull them away from me, fixing her with a pointed glare. “I don’t want you, Tess.”

Her eyes enlarge and she frowns in confusion. “Could have fooled me. You’ve got a hard on the size of the Sears Tower!”

“Not for you,” I say smoothly, raising my eyebrows as she stares up at me in perplexity.

“Oh, then who is it for?” she demands, her voice taking on an angry tone as she props her hands on her hips.

“That’s none of your goddamn business,” I snap, turning to side step her. “See ya.”

“I want to fuck!” I hear her shriek as I’m halfway across the room and I stop, turning to glance at her.

“Go fuck yourself,” I sneer, a pleasing satisfaction coursing through me at her astonished expression.

“Why you…” she ends with an angry screech, causing me to laugh out loud.

I turn and walk out of the mansion, whistling to myself as I picture perfect Tess Harding’s wild eyes and flabbergasted appearance.

As I get in my Jeep and start the engine, my thoughts inevitably return to my sweet angel.

I drive off, a contented smile gracing my lips.


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

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Applebylicious
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Post by Applebylicious » Sun Apr 11, 2004 12:29 am

<center>Part 22</center>



(Liz POV)



I awaken to the sound of my name being called. I frown as a hand reaches out, shaking my arm wildly.

“Liz! Wake up!”

My eyes flutter open, and I stare in shock at my cousin’s face looming over mine.

“Tess?” I ask in disbelief. “What are you doing here?” I check the clock and groan aloud. “At three in the morning?”

I stretch languidly and a sharp pain cramps in my lower body. I wince, then smile dreamily as I remember the cause of the shooting pain.

Max.

I, Liz Parker, actually lost my virginity to Max Evans. And he loves me! I can hardly believe it.

“Liz, I have to talk to you.”

Tess’s annoying whine breaks through my Max-induced fog and I turn sleepy eyes towards her.

My eyes widen as I fully glimpse my cousin for the first time.

She’s wearing a simple over-sized white T-shirt, her feet bare. Her hair falls in tangles around her face, which is stained with tears.

I sit up, looking at her in worry. “Tess? Are you alright?” I ask, searching her glistening eyes in trepidation.

There’s only one reason I can think of why Tess would ever come see me in the middle of the night looking like death warmed over.

“Did… did something happen to Grandpa?” I ask worriedly, clutching my sheets to my bare-breasts.

She shakes her head then sniffles. “No… Liz, I have to tell you the truth.”

I frown, not understanding. “The truth… what are you talking about?”

She looks up at me and I see her red-rimmed eyes, an unrecognizable emotion swimming through the blue orbs.

I shiver slightly, something about her seeming off.

“It’s about Max.”

Her words are like a cold fist squeezing my heart. My fingers grip the sheet harder. “What about Max?” I demand, staring at her.

She lets out a sob, then hangs her head. “I can’t lie to you anymore, Lizzie. You’re my cousin and I don’t want to see him take advantage of you,” she whispers anxiously.

“Tess, what about Max!” I demand, my voice rising as numerous frightening thoughts run through my mind.

“He…” she stops and sniffles. “Liz, please don’t hate me!”

“Tell me,” I whisper in anguish.

“He made me promise to help him get you in bed,” she blurts out and I feel as though someone slapped me in the face.

“What?” I whisper, tears filling my eyes as I stare at her.

“He saw you and wanted to sleep with you, but when you rejected him he got desperate, talking about how no stupid slut ever refuses him,” Tess cries. “When he found out you were my cousin, he came to me and forced me to help him seduce you.”

“He forced you?” I query sarcastically, trying to keep from falling apart as she continues this gruesome tale.

“He said he’d blackmail me,” Tess sobs, “that he’d make up some lie about me and spread it around the town so that Grandpa would kick me out on the streets! You know how he is about appearances! Liz, I feel so awful… I wanted to say no, but I couldn’t! You understand, don’t you?”

She looks at me with hopeful eyes, but I feel dead inside.

“Liz… you didn’t… you didn’t do anything with him… did you?” she asks, and the inquisitive tone in her voice sets my teeth on edge. “He told me he was going to try to make you believe he loved you… that it was the only way you’d ever give into him.”

“Get out,” I say in a quiet voice, feeling the first vestiges of an emotional breakdown streaming through me.

She reaches out a hand and tries to lay it on my arm. “Liz, I’m so sorry! Please forgive me-“

Get out! “ I shriek, tears flowing down my face as I clench my fists.

She nods and quickly jumps from my bed, leaving me alone in my room, in my bed.

The bed where I just gave myself to Max Evans.

A painful howl escapes my throat and I grab an empty glass from my bedside table, throwing it against the wall in agony.

It shatters on impact, along with my heart, scattering glass shards over the polished floor. I stare at it for a moment, then completely break down.


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



(Max POV)




I walk through the doors of West Roswell, a huge smile on my face.

God, I haven’t felt this good since… well, actually I don’t recall ever feeling this great.

So this is what being in love is like… I think dreamily.

I haven’t seen Liz since late last night, seeing as I had to leave after we finished making love.

Making love…

I laugh inwardly at the connotation. I have never in my life referred to sex as making love.

Fucking, yes. Screwing, sure. Making love? Never.

But that’s exactly what it was between Liz and I.

I recall the feel of being inside her, the emotions I felt when she looked into my eyes as we both reached our climax, and my heart clenches with happiness.

I awoke this morning with the desperate need to see her, which is why I’m here at school a half-hour before it actually starts – another thing I’ve never done in my life.

I suddenly realize that for her, I would probably do anything.

I snort as Michael’s words from a few months ago about me meeting the right girl and changing my ways ring in my ears.

Well, for once he’s absolutely right.

Finally, I spot her dark head at her locker, and my smile grows wider as I walk faster, an extra bounce in my step.

Her back is to me and I chuckle as I think of ways to surprise her, all involving an extremely passionate kiss hello.

As I get closer, I notice that Maria and Michael are there with her and Maria appears to be comforting her.

My smile falters as I watch her rub Liz’s back and speak to her with a sympathetic look on her face.

Okay, what the hell is going on?

As I get closer, I see Maria’s eyes widen as she catches sight of me, and Michael shakes his head almost violently.

I stop behind Liz, my smile frozen on my face.

She turns around slowly, and as her eyes meet mine I notice the tear tracks running down her face and the puffiness around her eyes.

My smile fades away. “Liz… what happened?” I ask in concern.

She stares at me for a split second before her hand flies out and connects against my cheek.

My head snaps back from the power of her slap and I hold my hand against the sting as I turn back to face her.

“Damn you,” she whispers, her chin quivering and before I can respond she turns and sprints down the hallway.

I stare after her, my body immobile from shock as I watch her run away from me.

I catch Maria’s angry frown and Michael’s worried expression before I snap out of my daze and rush after her.

Liz! Liz, wait!” I call as she rounds a corner.

I finally catch up with her as she pulls the doors open to the quad, encircling her wrist with my fingers.

“Liz… talk to me, please!” I say fearfully as she avoids my desperate gaze.

“Let go of me,” she replies in a deadly low voice. When I don’t, she responds more forcefully, jerking out my grip. “Let me go!”

“Liz, please…”

“You asshole!” she cries, tears spilling out of her eyes as she turns her eyes towards me. “How could you do this to me?”

I stagger at the pain and hurt brimming in her beautiful eyes and I shake my head in confusion.

“What? What did I do?” I ask anxiously. “Liz… if this is about last night, I thought you wanted-“

This is about your deal with my cousin,” she says flatly, and it’s my turn to stare at her in horror.

I open my mouth, but the lump in my throat refuses to let me speak. Finally, I manage to choke out, “How… how did you find out…”

She sniffs, looking away from me. “Tess told me about it last night. She admitted she felt guilty for helping you and begged me to forgive her.”

Anger begins to filter its way through my cloud of grief and apprehension “She what?”

“She came to me crying after you left last night,” she continues, turning away from me. “She told me the whole, sleazy story, Max. About how you asked her to help you seduce me, how you were going to blackmail her if she didn’t help you…”

I shake my head at her furious and devastated voice. “Liz, she’s lying…”

“Oh, really?” she asks in distrust. “So you’re telling me that you didn’t have a deal with my cousin to seduce me?”

“Liz, I…” I begin, my mind racing over how I’m going to fix this. Or if I even can.

Damn, I should have known Tess wouldn’t take my rejection lying down. That evil, manipulative bitch!

She takes my silence as confirmation and snorts. “You’re unbelievable.”

She begins to walk away from me and I grab for her in panic again. “Liz, wait! I... I can explain!”

“Was it as good as you imagined, Max?” she snaps at me, stepping closer. “Was I a good fuck for you?”

I back up at the ferocity and disgust in her voice. I don’t think I’ve ever heard her curse. The effect is terrifying.

“Liz…”

“I gave you my virginity, Max!” her voice breaks. “I gave you the most precious part of me and you were just… just using me!”

She begins to cry brokenly and I automatically reach out to pull her into my arms.

“Don’t touch me!” she screeches, pushing me away so hard I stumble before regaining my bearings. “Never touch me again!”

Frustration fills me, and I lash out, determined to hurt her the same way she’s ripping my heart out. “I won’t come to you again! If you do this, you’ll have to come to me! Do you understand me!”

She simply glares at me, silent tears streaming down her face.

God. I can’t do it. Despite my statement, I lay it all out on the line for her… all my pride, all my hope.

“Liz, I love you!” I whisper in anguish, tears filling my own eyes. I blink them back desperately and she gawks at me for a moment, her eyes startled by my words. “Liz… please…”

Then her back stiffens and her eyes cloud over. “Stop lying to me,” she whispers, then turns and leaves me standing at the door, staring after her in agony.


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

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Post by Applebylicious » Mon Apr 12, 2004 7:24 am

<center>Part 23</center>


(Max POV)



The pulsing beat of skater punk reaches my ears as I walk into the house that afternoon. I blindly walk through the hallway, passing the room where Zan is staying.

His door is open, and he’s strumming an electric guitar while blasting out lyrics.

Back off, I’ll take you on… headstrong to take on anyone…” he catches sight of me, eyes widening. He reaches over and turns off the amp, running to follow me.

I attempt to slam the door in his face, but he easily throws a hand up and catches it.

“You look like hell.”

His grim statement makes no impact on me. “Thanks for the analysis. Now fuck off.”

He sidesteps me, coming inside. “Tell your baby brother all about it,” he sits on the bed, patting his lap jokingly.

I’m too tired, too goddamn sick to try to bluff my way out of this. I fold my arms across my chest and glare at him. “Liz and I broke up.” God, did my voice just crack?

His half-smile fades, eyes narrowing. “I thought you’s two were back together…?”

“Yeah, well we’re not anymore.” My tone is clipped and impatient. I just want him to go away so that I can cry in peace. I’m not ashamed to admit I’ve been battling tears of anger and frustration all damn day. “She found out about the deal with Tess.”

Zan lets out a low whistle. “Lemme guess, the cuz gave her own version, huh?”

“Fuck yeah,” I growl, then spin around to stare at the wall. My hands clench. “And you know what really fucking pisses me off, Zan? She didn’t even think to ask me about it. She just went and assumed Tess was telling the truth. I mean, fucking hell! Tess is a lying bitch, everyone knows this."

“Sometimes blood is thicker than water,” he quips gently.

“No, she just doesn’t trust me.” And doesn’t that hurt to know. “All this time, I’ve been slitting open my veins and fucking bleeding for her… telling her things I’ve never told anyone. And she still thinks so fucking little of me!”

At this point, I realize I’m yelling. I clamp my lips together, my mouth trembling with the effort to hold back all the words of pain and anger that are threatening to burst out.

Zan stares at me sympathetically. I press my palm to my eyes, whispering hoarsely, “Don’t look at me like that, for Christ’s sake. I’m fucking fine.”

“Yeah, sure you are,” he mumbles. “Look, you’s wanna get your lady back, Maxwell? Then you’s gotta take that bitch down. Prove you’s in the right.”

That’s when I realize something. “Maybe I don’t want to prove it. Maybe I want her to fucking realize it on her own.”

My words from earlier come back to haunt me, words declaring that Liz would have to come to me. Now, more than ever, I understand the frugality in that.

Liz will never come to me. She’s too scared to trust anyone, to become close to anyone. She takes what she sees on the surface, never allowing herself to get attached to what might be beneath.

This isn’t all my fault. But I’ll damn well do what I can to make up for what is.

Maybe Liz and I will never be together. After realizing just how much she doesn’t think of me, I’m not even sure I want to try.

I’m also the biggest fucking liar on earth. If Liz happened to show up on my doorstep at this exact moment, I would probably fall to my knees and beg her to take me back.

Love’s a bitch.

I turn to Zan. “You know what, you’re ab-so-fucking-lutely right. I’ve been waiting for the perfect time to take that bitch to task. Well, no time like the present."

Zan actually rubs his hands together, looking eager at the imminent downfall of Miss Harding. “Bro, sweeter words have never crossed your lips. Just let me make a few calls.” He presses his fingers against his lips, then runs out the room.

I raise a brow in bemusement, letting out a ragged sigh as I find myself alone. Strangely enough, now that I have something to look forward to, I find a bit of the pain of my breakup with Liz has eased.

And I’m all for feeling numb.

Zan returns moments later with a stack of photos and the tapes he has yet to show me. “You ready for this shiznit, bro?”

“Put it in.”

I flop on the floor, resting against the foot of my bed as Zan fiddles with my pricey entertainment system. A few minor curses later, and the video bursts onscreen.

The image shocks me, my mouth falling open as I hear the unrestrained grunts and groans of passion.

Tess, completely naked save for a silver crucifix, and obviously toked up on something, goes down a blonde guy as she plays with a sulky redhead’s nipples. She takes the man’s gigantic cock between her lips and sucks him all the way to the base. The man hisses, arching his hips up and burying his fingers in her hair.

“Oh, yeah… suck it, you fucking slut.”

Onscreen, Tess moans as the redhead situates herself between Tess’s open thighs, licking at the blonde juncture. She takes a moment to arch her head back, and is violently shoved back into the man’s lap. She starts sucking again with a vengeance.

“Yeah, eat her cunt, baby,” another voice sounds, and the camera pans to the left to show a brunette male sitting on a couch across the room, eyes trained on the orgy before him as he pumps his hand up and down his swollen cock.

Zan and I exchange disturbed grimaces. This is just… disgusting.

“I’m not even getting a hard on from watching the girl-on-girl action,” he complains. “What the fuck are they on?”

“I have no idea,” I mutter, watching in morbid fascination as the brunette male walks up and takes the place of the redhead, thrusting into Tess’s dripping core.

The blonde male ejaculates all over her face, and she licks it without reserve, moaning her appreciation as the redhead thrusts three fingers inside herself, stretching herself wide to the camera’s view.

“Turn it off,” I turn away, my heart pounding in revulsion. “That’s more than enough.”

“Definitely,” Zan agrees, reaching for the remote. “So, what are we gonna do? Accidentally release this tape to the media?”

I ponder that, releasing a hiss of breath. “No,” I decide a second later, “that would only humiliate Liz and her grandfather.”

“So, then what?”

Something clicks in my mind. “The cross.”

Zan stares at me in stupification. “What cross?”

“Give me the remote,” I snap, mind racing. He hands me the controller, and I turn the tape back on, rewinding until we get a full body shot of Tess.

I pause the screen at the exact moment that she lifts her head to stare at the camera. Her eyes are glassy and lips shiny. The silver crucifix catches the light, winking back at me.

“She’s always wearing the cross,” I mutter aloud, rapping the remote against my leg. “I’ve never seen her without it.”

“I know she ain’t Catholic,” Zan snorts.

“No, no, no… look at the size of it,” I gesture towards the screen. “It’s exactly the right size to hide some pills…”

“Or powder. Look at her hand,” Zan finishes grimly.

I stare at the long, curved fingernail on her little finger. “Coke nail.”

“Bingo. Well, now we know her elixir of choice,” Zan shakes his head.

“I have an idea,” I drawl, and Zan looks over at me, a grin stretching his lips.

“How’d I know you were gonna say that?”


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



(Liz POV)



“Liz, are you okay?”

I clench my fingers together, so as not to wrap them around the neck of the next person who asks me are you okay?

I plaster a smile on my lips before turning to Maria. “Yes, I’m fine, Maria. Thanks for asking… for the seventeenth time.”

She frowns. “Well, excuuuuse me. You’ve been walking around all afternoon like you’ve just seen a ghost. And Alex said you delivered Mrs. Johanssen’s Saturn rings to Ms. Conroy, who can’t eat onions because it gives her gas, but of course she didn’t realize this until after she ate them. She’s been hounding poor Alex for the last twenty minutes.”

I slap a hand to my forehead. “Oh, no… I’ll go rescue him.”

Before I can walk off, she catches my arm. “Liz… are you really okay?” I turn around with a growl, and she quickly adds, “You haven’t even mentioned… what happened with Max.”

“Because it’s over,” I say, although the words don’t sound as strong as I would have liked. I keep hearing them in my head.

It’s over, it’s over, it’s over…

And it really is. After finding out about Max and Tess’s deal, nothing could make me forgive him. Not even the empty hole in my heart that screams that I didn’t give him a chance to explain.

Explain what? Even if he wasn’t responsible for the bet, he still went along with it. He admitted as much.

“Liz, what bet?”

I realize I must have spoken out loud, as Maria stares at me in confusion. “What? Oh… nothing… look, do you mind if I take off early?”

I need to get out of here before I lose my mind.

I keep catching myself glancing at the door, like I’m expecting Max to walk through any second, smiling that secret smile he always gives me. Or used to, anyway. I doubt if he saw me, any smiling would be involved.

He probably hates me at this point. The thought causes my heart to clench, even as I rationalize that I did the right thing.

“You aren’t going to tell me what happened,” Maria concludes, looking slightly hurt. “You don’t trust me.”

With that, she turns to walk off, and I sigh at the distant expression on her face. This time, I catch her arm. “Maria, wait.”

Five minutes later, we’re standing in the backroom, Maria sitting on the battered couch looking at me expectantly, while I pace the carpet.

I finally blurt out the details, and she looks appropriately horrified by Tess’s admission. But as I go on, telling of Max’s involvement in the entire debacle, her eyes grow narrowed and intense. When I’m done, she simply stares at me.

“That doesn’t sound right.”

I frown. “What are you talking about?”

“Liz, Tess has a tendency to lie about things,” she says gently. “Are you sure she wasn’t just trying to get between you and Max? I mean… she has been after him for awhile.”

Well, this is news to me. I bristle and fold my arms. “Why would she lie to me?” I demand, feeling hurt and confused. God, this entire situation is pulling me in a million different directions. “Tess is my cousin, Maria. Why would she want to hurt me like that? No… she may be self-centered and occasionally nasty-“

“Occasionally?”

My frown deepens. “-but she wouldn’t deliberately… Maria, you weren’t there,” I snap, reaching my breaking point. “You didn’t see her face. She was really upset.”

She doesn’t look convinced. “Look, Liz… you know how I feel about Max, okay? He’s a jerk. But… I’ve seen the way he looks at you. I think you should talk to him, give him a chance to explain. I think Tess is lying to you.”

I can’t believe that. If I do, that means that everything I’ve believed is a lie. That my own cousin would do something like that… no. “No,” I state firmly. “She can’t be lying. I saw her face.”

But my words don’t convince either of us.

Maria is staring at me with sympathetic eyes. “Liz…”

No!” I scream, pulling at my hair as I turn on my heel. “Just… leave me alone, all right! Leave… me alone.”

I run out of the café, ignoring Alex as he calls my name, jumping into my car and driving home. Along the way, tears burn my eyes, but refuse to fall.

I feel like I’m standing on the edge of a cliff… staring at the ground thousands of feet below. One little push…

The sound of a horn honking makes me jump, and I swerve slightly. The car passes me, sticking a finger out the window as the light turns yellow.

I force myself to focus on the road, and manage to arrive home safely. The first thing I do, is head for Tess’s room.

As I walk down the hall, I hear a loud thumping sound, and a muffled groan. Frowning, I quicken my pace, calling Tess’s name.

As I throw open the door, I find Tess laying on the bed, looking flushed and disheveled in a large football jersey. The colors are unfamiliar, a red and black ERH sewn on the upper corner. East Roswell, maybe?

She licks her lips and stares at me questioningly. “Liz… is everything all right?” Her voice is breathy and impatient. There’s nothing of the distressed and sobbing girl from the night before.

“I… I was just coming to ask you…” I hesitate, a cold chill coming over me as she continues to stare through me. “Never mind, um… sorry for… disturbing you.”

She nods. “Is Grandpa back?”

“No, I’ll let you know when he gets here.” I can’t get out of there quick enough, even as I try to brush off my uneasiness. How did I forget that I never felt quite relaxed in my cousin’s presence?

I think of Max, and how completely comfortable he's always made me feel.

My spine stiffens. Don’t go there right now.

“Bye, Tess,” I whisper, turning around to leave. She doesn’t reply as I shut the door.

I walk back to the guest cottage, struggling to keep my mind blank from the thoughts trying to overwhelm me. I sit on the bed, and notice a faint stain the color of rust.

My finger traces it, as memories wash over me.

“Are you sure? If you want, we’ll stop right now.”

“Liz…we don’t have to do this. I don’t have to make love to you to know that I love you…”

A lump forms in my throat, as I wonder what to believe.


<center>TBC.........</center>
Last edited by Applebylicious on Tue Apr 13, 2004 3:05 am, edited 3 times in total.

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Post by Applebylicious » Tue Apr 13, 2004 2:35 am

<center>Part 24</center>


(Max POV)



“You better have a good reason for waking me up, Maxwell,” Michael grumbles as he pulls a black shirt over his bare chest.

“Just get dressed, and keep quiet,” I return, glancing out the window where Zan is waiting. I glance back in time to see Michael pulling a ski cap over his face. “Michael, what are you doing?”

“You said be stealthy,” he points out.

I roll my eyes. “Whatever, just hurry.”

Minutes later, we’re in Zan’s Roadster, driving the roads without the benefit of headlights on our way to the Harding mansion.

A street lamp washes over us as we pass under it, and Michael turns to me with a raised brow, cocking his head towards the grease paint streaked over Zan’s face.

Zan catches his look and frowns. “What?”

Michael lets out a humph, crossing his arms and pouting in the backseat. “I could’ve worn the ski cap.”

We pull up to the Harding estate and Zan cuts the engine, coasting up the back drive. We get out, creeping softly towards the left wing where I know from personal experience that Tess resides.

The window overlooking the balcony is dark.

I motion to Zan and Michael to follow, then start climbing the wall, carefully setting one foot in the crevices between the brick.

Moments later, I jump over onto the balcony with a soft thud. I slink into the shadows, just in case someone is inside. Even though I know that it’s too early for Tessa Harding to be home.

Not when there are drugs to be used and men to fuck.

Zan appears beside me, Michael close behind him. Michael immediately goes to work picking the lock on Tess’s screen door, while Zan and I pull gloves onto our hands.

“You sure you can find it?” I whisper, meeting his eyes.

He nods once. “Sandy was a coke fiend for awhile… before she got more serious with smack. I know what I’m lookin’ for.”

“All right, whatever you find, don’t move it. Just… get the pictures.”

He nods again.

Michael lets out a soft hoot of triumph, pulling open the door with relish. “Welcome to la abode de dirty tramp.

I snort, walking past him into Tess’s room. At first glance, everything seems perfect and organized.

The sight of the pink ruffles and other innocent knick-knacks used to strike me as amusingly ironic, knowing precisely how tainted Tess truly was. But now… it just makes me sick.

I think of Liz, and how completely opposite she is from her more worldy and malicious cousin. Yet, Tess managed to bring her down to her level… making her feel used and discarded.

My back stiffens, and the need to make her pay amplifies with a vengeance. Zan walks past me, looking dark and hulking in a pair of ripped cammies and a sleeveless shirt.

He bends and starts rifling carefully through the trunk at the foot of Tess’s bed. He lifts something to his nose, takes a whiff, then replaces it.

“So, what are we looking for?” Michael comes up next to me, his voice low.

“Anything we can find,” I answer, turning my attention to Tess’s closet. “Excuse me.” Michael shrugs, and goes to snoop under Tess’s bed.

But I barely notice, as my eyes are drawn to the sparkle of silver caught by the moonlight in the far corner of Tess’s walk in closet. I bend down, frowning as the cool metal pours between my fingers.

As I stare at the bracelet, my heart pounds as I remember a conversation with Liz a month ago.

“Max, have you seen my silver charm bracelet? My parents gave it to me… before they died. Oh, God… it’s all I have left of them…”

My fingers clench as a wave of red descends upon my vision. “Goddamn her,” I whisper hoarsely, rubbing a thumb over the piece of jewelry that I recall seeing on Liz’s wrist on more than one occasion.

I grit my teeth, and shove the bracelet into my pocket, then continue searching, trying to ignore the anger pouring through me. I need to focus.

Ten minutes later, a low whistle sounds from across the room. I look over and see Zan holding up a sack of powder.

“Jackpot,” he sings, a grin of satisfaction stretching across his face.

“Good job,” I answer, walking over to him. “All right, put it back… exactly like it was. But first…” I trail off meaningfully.

“Gotcha,” he nods, pulling out a small camera. He places the sack against the bed and snaps a few photos.

After replacing the drugs, I look around for Michael. I find him standing perfectly still, staring at something in a chair next to Tess’s bed. His face looks blank in the moonlight.

“Mike?”

He jumps, looking over at me with an unreadable expression. “Wh… what?”

I frown, stepping up to see what’s caught his attention. I see nothing out of the ordinary… just a football jersey lying crumpled against the chair. “What is it?”

He motions to the initials on top of the jersey. “It’s fucking Nicholas.”

My eyes widen as I look at the shirt again, noticing the East Roswell emblem. “Holy shit, she’s fucking Nick?”

“Fuck that, Nick’s been in West Roswell!” Michael hisses. “I’ll kill him. He stays the hell away from Maria.”

“I hate to break up what is sure to be a riveting conversation,” Zan drawls, “but we got company, dukes.”

Sure enough, the sound of high-pitched giggling comes from the hallway, followed by a crash and the sound of male chuckling.

“Shit! Hide,” I snap, diving for the closet. Michael and Zan follow me, and pretty soon we’re all squished together. “I didn’t mean with me.”

“Shh,” Zan hisses, and the bedroom door flies open.

“Damn girl, you are zoned,” a familiar voice fills the air, and then Tess giggles again. “Give me a second to get these pants off.”

“Hurry up, before I start without you,” Tess purrs in a drunken voice.

Michael goes stiff. “Tommy…”

“Who the fuck is Tommy?” Zan whispers, but Michael and I exchange pained expressions.

“Fuck, I do not want to hear this,” Michael groans softly.

Sure enough, within seconds we hear the telltale sounds of rushed lovemaking. Thankfully, we’re spared the sight.

“Duke, it’s getting sweaty in here,” Zan complains, and I give him an elbow to the ribs, noting that the frenzied copulation has ceased in the other room.

“Give me some of that,” I hear Tommy say, and then a soft snort. “Damn, you’re a good fuck, babe. So tell me about this cousin of yours.”

My spine goes rigid.

“Who, Liz?” Tess laughs maniacally. “She’s such a fucking prude. Well, not anymore I guess… since Max fucked her and but good. Guess she’s not as high and mighty anymore…” she sings.

“Evans had a piece of that?” Tommy asks in an unhappy voice. “I was thinking of having her for myself.”

“Oh, please,” Tess moans. “What is with you guys and little miss perfect? She probably wouldn’t know what to do with your dick if you put it in her face!”

“Well, with lips like those, I’m willing to find out.”

Zan and Michael have to physically keep me from breaking out the closet and planting my fist in Tommy’s face, thereby ruining our whole operation.

“Whatever, if you want her, it’s gonna cost you,” Tess says, hiccuping after her slurred statement.

“What, are you her pimp?” Tommy drawls.

Tess laughs, and I can perfectly imagine the evil smile on her face. “No, darling… but you’re in no position to argue with me. I know what you did.”

“What the fuck are you talking about?”

That’s what I’d like to know.

“You think I don’t know that you’re the one who raped Isabel Evans?” Tess answers, and my vision goes red and murderous.

This time, it’s Zan cursing and Michael and I have to hold him back. Michael’s hands are shaking.

“You’re a fucking liar!” I hear Tommy shout, and the anger and fear in his voice confirms Tess’s statement. “And who would believe you, anyway?”

“Everyone… when I tell them how you raped me, too,” Tess purrs maliciously. I almost have to give her credit. “My grandfather will have your head on a silver platter.”

“You… you wanted it!” Tommy spurts out. “Just like that Evans bitch! She was begging for it all night, and then when it came time to get down to business, she tried to tell me no.”

“Oh, please… stop your whining,” Tess says in a bored voice. “I don’t give a fuck what happened. I just want money, all right? I need to see my dealer soon, and I’ve already spent what the old fart gave me for this month. You want my cousin, you pay up. Cash.”

Tommy curses her, but in the end money changes hands. My teeth are ground into powder at this point, my fingers curled into claws as they leave her room, no doubt going out again.

“If he touches Liz…” I’m shaking with pent up anger as we burst from the closet. “I’ll fucking kill the bastard. I’ll kill him.”

“Max… I’m…” Michael chokes hoarsely, and I realize his eyes are filled with tears. “It’s all my fucking fault. I brought the bastard here, and he… fuck!”

He turns away, trembling as he presses his fingers to his temple. Zan looks deadly calm.

“Does Isabel need to know about this?” he asks quietly. “Or will it just make things worse?”

I take a deep breath before replying. “I don’t know. Fuck, I can’t think.”

“Let’s get outta here,” Zan places a hand on my arm, then drags both Michael and I out. “We got what we need.”

He taps the pocket of his shirt, a strange look in his golden eyes.


<center>TBC.......</center>
Last edited by Applebylicious on Tue Apr 13, 2004 9:00 am, edited 2 times in total.

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Post by Applebylicious » Tue Apr 13, 2004 10:15 pm

<center>Part 25</center>

(Liz POV)


The bell rings, and the sounds of chairs scraping the floors and feet pounding breaks me from my stupor.

I glance up, realizing that class has already ended, and stare at the empty sheet of notes before me. My pen is poised at the top of the paper, as it has been since the teacher began talking at the start of the period.

I quickly grab my bookbag, stuffing the notebook inside as I come to my feet. I follow the last students out of the room, spilling out into the crowded hallway.

Everyone seems to be staring at me, whispering and pointing. Normally, I would just assume I was being paranoid… but as I pass Pam Troy and her friends, she smirks at me, and folds her arms across her chest.

“I told you it wouldn’t last,” she claims in a loud voice, making sure her words reach my ears. “Max Evans needs a real woman, not a simpering little girl.”

I pretend not to hear her, shoving past the group of freshmen loitering by a row of lockers. As I turn the corner, I run into another person and my books go flying across the hall.

Tears of frustration fill my eyes, and I wipe them away furiously. “Sorry,” I whisper, bending over to grab the papers scattered on the ground.

“It’s okay.”

My head snaps up at his voice, and I find myself staring into Max’s eyes. He’s bent over collecting pencils and pens, and freezes as our gazes collide. Emptiness clouds his expression, making it hard to determine what’s going on in his mind.

He’s crouched so close to me, I can see the flecks of green in his golden irises. Those same irises trace the contours of my face, and a hint of longing flares in his eyes, then is quickly shuttered as he snaps to attention.

I’m in such shock at seeing him for the first time in days, that I don’t refuse his outstretched hand, allowing him to pull me to my feet. As if in slow motion, our hands cling until the last possible second.

He then shoves his palms into his jeans and stares at me. “Do you have everything you need?”

His words don’t make any sense to me at first, my mind too muddled by the sound of his voice. He licks his lips, and my face heats as I recall those same lips licking… other things. His own eyes darken, allowing me to know he’s remembering the same things… and mourning their loss.

It all rushes back to me, and the moment is broken as my body stiffens. “Yes, thank you,” I respond coolly, brushing back a strand of hair in a nervous gesture that I hope he doesn’t catch.

Judging by the way he remains completely distant, I know he did notice. “All right,” he answers in a polite tone that threatens to break my heart. “I guess I’ll… see you… later...”

He leaves the sentence hanging like a question, and the reluctant vulnerability he’s trying so desperately to hide, brings tears back to my eyes.

I can’t manage to answer in words, simply nod, looking away as the warning bell echoes from the speaker system.

I meet his gaze one last time, and see his lips quivering as if he wants to say more. With a defeated sigh, he nods and turns away.


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


At the café, Maria behaves coolly towards me, no doubt due to the argument we had yesterday. I don’t feel up to mending the rift, so I simply ignore her ocassional glares and even more frequent stares of concern.

The sight of Alex and Isabel, cuddled up in a corner booth and talking softly, sends a sharp pain through me.

Part of me feels happy that Alex finally got what he wanted, but a bigger, bitter part of me that I’m ashamed of, resents it.

Looking away, I come face to face with Zan and Serena.

“Long time no see, Liz,” Zan quirks his mouth in a friendly manner. “How you doing?”

As always, I immediately see Max in him. So much the same… yet the subtle differences are there for anyone who knows them well enough. Zan is an inch shorter and built more solidly than Max, while Max is tall and sleekly muscled.

Since living with the Evans’, Zan has let his hair grow out and stopped dying it, so it’s back to its natural shade of black. He’s also removed his eyebrow ring, but the tattoos and tongue piercing remain, lending further evidence to the differences between he and his fraternal twin.

Still, they are alike enough to send my heartbeat skipping as I stare into warm whiskey eyes that are so familiar, yet not. “Hi, Zan. Things… have been better,” I answer honestly, noting his knowing gaze. “Hello, Serena.”

She smiles. “You need anyone to talk to, you come find me. I’ve been dealing with Evans’ boys for too long not to know a few tricks. They can be pretty dense.” She winks at me, and squeezes my hand reassuringly.

Zan mock growls, and throws an arm around her neck. “We betta grab a booth so I can show my lady what happens when she publicly disgraces me.”

Serena laughs sarcastically. “Since when don’t you publicly disgrace yourself?”

Despite myself, I have to laugh at their easy antics. “Come on, I’ll show you a table.”

Neither of them bring up Max, but I can tell it’s the only topic on any of our minds. I quickly take their order, and arrange for Maria to deliver it.

When my shift ends, I gratefully walk to the back room to hang up my apron. I hear Maria come in behind me, but she doesn’t speak so I don’t turn around. As I place the white apron neatly in my assigned locker, she clears her throat.

“If you can wait around for an hour or so, I can go ahead and cut your check.”

I pause, turning to meet her green gaze. She stares back at me expectantly. “Actually… I just remembered something I need to do,” I lie, not feeling up to hanging around at the moment. Anything to get the hell out of here and hole myself back up in my cottage.

She looks disappointed. “Oh… okay.”

“I’ll see you tomorrow?” I say, flashing a sickly smile as I pull my purse out of the locker.

“Sure.”

“Tell Alex and Isabel I said goodbye,” I call, leaving through the back entrance. Once in the alley, I run for my car.


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


(Max POV)



“This sucks.”

I quirk a brow at Zan’s complaint, not glancing up from the stack of photos spread across his bed. “You’ve already said that.”

“Yeah, but it sucks. I mean, you’d think Aunt D and… Dad would let Serena stay here,” he grumbles, propping a pillow under his head as he chews on a straw.

“She’s down the street at a hotel, Zan.”

“Not the same. I’m used to sleeping with her every night. How’s am I supposed to go from that to this,” he sneers, motioning to emcompass the guest room-turned-Zan’s bedroom. “I miss my girl.”

This time I look up and stare him in the eye. He flushes slightly, and seems to cower.

“Sorry… I’m not thinking. Hormones overload,” he mumbles, scratching his head. “Wanna know how foot tastes?”

I roll my eyes. “Just shut up and help me figure out which proofs to use.”

We sift through the photos in silence for a few minutes, before the bedside phone rings. Zan reaches over and presses the speakerphone. “Yellow!”

“Green,” comes Isabel’s sarcastic reply, and I snicker as Zan sticks his tongue out at the phone. “There’s a lot of static… “

“You’re on speaker, Iz,” I call out, holding up a picture up to the light. “What’s up?”

“Listen guys, I’m on my way to Liz’s. To talk to Tess.”

My fingers clench around the photo, crinkling the edges. “What?” I choke out.

“Chill out, Max, I think I can get her to talk to me,” Isabel answers, and I hear the sound of a horn honking in the background. “After all, we used to be friends… sort of.”

I throw the ruined photo onto the bedspread. “Isabel, get back here this minute. Are you insane? Tess isn’t going to tell you anything, all you’re going to do is tip her off that something’s up!”

“Give me a little credit, Max,” she snaps back. “I’m not a dumb blonde, okay? I know what I’m doing.”

“She’s got a point, Maxwell,” Zan puts in, and I growl at him.

“Thank you, Zan,” Isabel drawls. “At least one of my brother’s has faith in me.”

I rub the bridge of my nose. “Isabel… this isn’t about faith. This is serious, if something happens and we go down… I don’t want you involved.”

“Go down for what?” she asks in an incredulous tone. “For exposing that manipulative bitch for what she really is? That isn’t a crime, Max.”

“No, but breaking and entering is,” I point out. Zan looks away, whistling. “Questions are going to come up when these pictures come to light.”

“Max, I need to help. Please.”

Her quiet tone reaches me, and I understand the meaning behind it. Despite our newly established relationship, Isabel still feels guilty for abandoning me all those years ago. This is her attempt to prove her loyalty to me.

“Just… be careful, okay?” I sigh, remembering the scene between Tess and Tommy. “I don’t trust Tess any further than I can throw her.”

“If it comes down to it, I can take her. I’ve been told I have a mean right hook and besides, she’s short.”

Zan bursts out laughing and even I have to choke back a horrified chuckle.

“I’ll check in with you guys in an hour and let you know what I got,” Isabel says, then disconnects.

“She’ll be fine. Tess may be a doped up, slutty hoe, but it ain’t like she’s gonna hurt Isabel.”

Once again I think of Tommy. “No more than she already has, anyway,” I murmur acidly. After Tess is taken down, Groban is definitely getting what’s coming to him.

And if he lays a finger on Liz, there won’t be enough left of him to go to jail.

I shake these thoughts away, concentrating on the task at hand. “Where’s that envelope?” I ask, and Zan hands over a large manilla business envelope.

I slip several photos inside, along with a few other telling items and an anonymous letter. After licking the seal, I write Edward Harding’s business address across the front.

“I’ll drop this off tomorrow after I get off work,” I say, and stand up to stretch. “But for now, I need to do something to work off some of this tension.”

“Me too,” Zan moans, throwing an arm over his eyes. “I keep seeing Serena’s gorgeous, round-“

“Zan!”

“Sorry!” he shouts in frustration, running a hand through his hair. “Damn, I feel like I need the Betty Ford Clinic for sex-o-holic’s. Do you think they have one of those?”

“Let’s just go swimming,” I answer, ignoring his question. “I could use a few laps anyway.”

“Yeah, sure bro… swimming is what you need,” he says sarcastically, although he follows me outside to the pool.

“Hello, boys,” Diane smiles as she comes outside to watch Zan and I swim laps a little while later. “Max, honey, Isabel’s on the phone for you.”

I climb out and reach for the cordless phone she’s holding out. She ruffles my hair in a motherly fashion that brings a reluctant smile to my face. “Thanks.”

“Dinner will be ready at eight,” she says, then speaks louder so Zan can hear, “and we’ll all be eating together.”

Zan grumbles under his breath, and Diane and I exchange a slightly worried look. While he’s warmed up considerably towards Diane, he still puts distance between himself and our father.

I suppose it’s just something he needs to work out on his own. Judging by the rebellious expression on his face, he isn’t looking forward to the imminent family dinner.

When Diane is safely out of earshot, I bring the phone to my ear. “Are you okay?”

“I’m fine, Max,” Isabel snorts. “And I managed to get Tess to admit to the entire deal to me. I got it on tape, too!”

“Tape?” I ask, my mind spinning at the obvious implication. Now I can prove to Liz I’m innocent.

But I’m really not. After all, I agreed to the deal with Tess, and even after I’d discarded any notion of following through, I didn’t tell Liz about it. Even if Isabel did somehow get Tess to admit to her treachery, that doesn’t mean Liz will forgive me.

“Alex wired me,” I hear Isabel say excitedly into the receiver. “It was so… well, cool, for lack of a better word. But, Max… I got it all! Did you hear me?”

“Isabel, I really appreciate it…” I manage to say,” but it doesn’t change anything. Liz… she still has good reason to hate me.”

“She doesn’t hate you!” Isabel cries. “If you’d look at her face… and what do you mean, she still has good reason? Is there something you aren’t telling me?”

I swallow against the lump of shame. “I kinda… agreed to Tess’s plan in the beginning. And I never told Liz differently, even after we got together.”

Silence comes from the other end for a long moment, then Isabel curses. “Men are so retarded.”

“Yeah, thanks,” I answer sarcastically.

“I still think she should hear this,” Isabel says. “I mean, even if it’s just so that she realizes what a conniving tramp her beloved cousin is. I can’t believe she believed Tess over you, Max!”

Although I appreciate the devoted statement, I can’t let Isabel think badly of Liz. “Tess is her family, Iz. Of course she would believe her. Tess didn’t have the reputation I had-“ a snort sounds, but I continue, “at least not openly. Who would you have believed?”

She releases a long sigh. “I still think she should know. Tess is… she’s really messed up, Max. She’s not at all the way I remember her to be. I mean, she’s always been spoiled and self-centered, but… she gives me the chills now.”

“I’ll think about it,” I say, just so she’ll drop the subject for now. I have no intention of dragging myself into Liz’s life again, and I’ll tell Isabel so at a later time.

If it comes down to it, I’ll have Maria or Alex give her the tape.

“Anyway, you better get back because Diane is adamant about having family time tonight,” I mock teasingly as Zan walks up.

He grunts and pushes past to walk into the house.


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



<center>Part 26</center>

(Liz POV)

The sound of frenzied knocking breaks me away from studying the textbook in front of me. Frowning, I glance over to see Maria waving her arms wildly outside the window.

I shut the book, hurrying over to open the door. “What are you doing?” I ask, and am shocked when she pushes me inside and slams the door behind her.

Her face is flushed, hair disheveled, and her breathing comes heavy as though she’d just run a long distance. “Ohmygod, Liz! I have to tell you what I just heard!”

“What are you talking about?” I demand. “And why are you here?”

She waves her hand. “I came to apologize about our fight… but that isn’t important anymore. I forgive you.”

I raise a brow in bemusement as she takes a deep breath.

“I just heard Tess and Isabel talking-“

“Isabel’s here?” I interrupt. “What? Why?”

Liz! Will you let me finish!” her eyes flash. “I heard Tess telling Isabel all about the deal with you and Max!”

Heat creeps up my face. “Why would she tell Isabel?”

“Because she’s a bitch!” Maria growls. “And that’s not all. I heard Tess tell Isabel that the plan had been her idea. She approached Max and wanted him to sleep with you so that she could tell your grandfather and get you cut out of the inheritance!”

I fall limply onto the bed, my fingers pressing against my lips as I shake my head. Maria stares at me in sympathy, but doesn’t stop talking.

“Liz… she really hates you. Some of the things she said about you… I wanted to walk in there and knock her on her fat ass! Oh, and she totally set Max up! He wanted out of the plan, my guess is when you two hooked up for real, but Tess found a way to blackmail him into doing it. But then he rejected her after you two… you know, did it… and she got mad and lied to you to get back at him. She’s evil.”

“Stop,” I hold a shaky hand up. “Just… stop for a second.” I’m struggling to comprehend all the thoughts racing through my mind.

I stare at her in horror as bits and pieces of the puzzle slide into place. Tess’s inexplicable interest in me and Max’s relationship, the cold glances when she thought I wasn’t looking… how did I forget all of this in my haze of anger and betrayal?

“Oh, my God,” I whisper, realizing just what I’ve done. How easily I fell into my cousin’s trap. And not just by helping her plan along, but by allowing her to come between Max and I.

Maria wrings her hands together. “What are you going to do?”

I stand up blindly. “I have to find Max. Oh, God… what have I done? What if I can’t find him? What if he doesn’t want to see me? What if-”

“Liz!” Maria reaches out and shakes me. “I know where he is. He’s at work today, Michael told me before I came over here.”

I blink at her, tears filling my eyes. “Maria… what if he hates me? I would hate me…”

She sighs, and puts her arms around me as I begin to cry. “I can’t believe I’m going to say this… but Liz, you and Max belong with each other. I’ve seen you together and I’ve seen you apart, and trust me… you’re both much better off as a couple. Max has really changed since he met you. He only pisses me off about… twenty-five percent of the time, and let me tell ya, that’s saying something.”

I laugh miserably, clinging to her as she strokes my back. “I can’t believe I didn’t trust him, though. He’s got to feel so hurt… especially with everything going on in his life. God, I couldn’t have picked a better time, huh?”

She pulls back to look me in the eye. “Liz, Max loves you, okay? It’s painfully, disgustingly obvious. And I think that you love him, too… that you’ve loved him even while you’ve hated him this entire time.”

I don’t bother denying her statement, because I know that deep inside… my feelings for Max had never changed. Every moment of doubt and uncertainty I’ve experienced the last week or so, has been my soul trying to tell me what I refused to understand thanks to my flaw of mistrust.

That Max Evans wouldn’t hurt me.

With that knowledge, something inside of me relaxes, and I finally realize what I need to do. I wipe my eyes and turn to Maria. “Before I go and see him… could you do me a favor?”

She looks curious and nods. “Of course, anything.”

“I need you to drive me to the cemetery.”


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


An hour later, I find myself standing over the dual graves of my parents.

I never been here, having missed the funeral when Grandpa brought the bodies down to Roswell to be buried. At the time, I’d been filled with pain and a sense of anger.

The pain has dulled over time, but now is the first time I realize how much the anger has consumed me. Anger that no matter what I did, I never measured up to their standards. Anger that they expected so much of me, while never understanding that the thing I needed most from them… was unconditional love.

I spent my entire life being everything they wanted, and therefore they never got to know the real Liz Parker. The girl with hopes and dreams that had nothing to do with being the perfect daughter.

“You never wanted to see beyond the surface,” I whisper, gazing down at the scripted calligraphy marking their names and the date of death. “Never wanted to accept the flaws…”

Don’t get me wrong, I loved my parents. But there was always a wall there that they were unaware of… a fear that I may say or do something someday that might make them not love me.

I’ve craved for someone to accept me… all of me, without hesitation or regret. And I’ve found that with Max. He never blinked twice when I told him of my resentment towards my parents, instead he told me of his own fears.

Too bad I was incapable of doing the same for him.

“I’m sorry I wasn’t your perfect little girl,” I say out loud, a single tear dripping onto the weathered stone. “But what’s so great about being perfect, anyway?”

I bend over, tracing my parents names. I place a kiss to my fingers, then brush it across the grave. “Goodbye, momma. Daddy.”


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


I take a deep breath before pushing open the giant doors of The Sports Authority.

I am instantly surrounded by a variety of sports equipment, clothes, shoes, and muted rock music.

I shuffle my gaze around the enormous room, searching for him. Every time I see a gray shirt my pulse quickens, but it always turns out to be another staff member.

I let out a frustrated sigh as I run a hand through my hair, biting my lip as I try to remember if he was scheduled to work today.

Maria says he is, but that doesn’t always mean it’s a fact. She can be pretty scatterbrained at times.

“Excuse me, can I help you Miss?”

I spin around, coming face to face with a smiling blonde. He appears to be a few years older than me, maybe college?

His gray eyes regard me as I open my mouth to speak. “Um… yes,” I begin shyly, “Could you tell me if Max Evans is working today?”

His eyes darken slightly, and he nods. “Yeah, he is. Seems like he’s always here, these days. Poor guy.”

“What do you mean?” I ask, holding my breath.

He lets out a sigh. “Evans was always a lot of fun to hang out with, you know? But lately… it seems like he’s just sort of there. Like he’s just going through the motions or something.”

I feel a pang of guilt shoot through me and I force a smile on my face. “Could you tell me where he is?”

“Oh, sure. Last time I saw him he was back by the driving range.”

I smile my thanks, and make my way to the back of the store, towards the miniature golf cage.

I don’t see him anywhere. Frowning slightly, I turn to head towards the other end when a voice catches my attention.

“You’re going to want something that gives you both strength and control,” a rich, masculine voice intones and I feel my insides jump in relief.

I walk towards the familiar voice and as I round the aisle full of various golf clubs, I see him.

He looks absolutely amazing, his strong arms bulging as he demonstrates a long-handled driver to a short, stocky man. The sight of him is like water for my thirsty soul.

“Do I really need a driver, though?” the man asks, frowning as Max hands him the club.

“Well, some people don’t. I mean, I’ve seen Tiger hit with an iron and it goes three hundred feet,” Max admits. “But most people aren’t Tiger Woods.”

The men chuckle, but I notice that Max’s eyes are bleak and devoid of emotion.

The more I study him, I notice little things that break my heart. His muscled body seems leaner, as though he hasn’t been eating. His lips seem to slump in a perpetual frown, even when he attempts to smile.

And his eyes… God, it makes me want to cry to glimpse them so... empty.

“I guess you’re right,” the man scratches his chin and leans over to pick up a silver-handled red wood. “How about this one?”

“That’s an excellent choice,” Max agrees, stepping over to return the rejected club to its rack. “It’s titanium inlaid, so it should be pretty light and durable. Nike makes good drivers.”

The man reared back and did a test swing. The club reared powerfully and he nodded in satisfaction. “I’ll take it. Where can I pick up some balls?”

Max nodded his head towards my direction. “We got a few Pinnacles over by the…”

His words trail off and I freeze as our gazes lock.

A look of surprise flashes across his handsome face and his eyes soften momentarily.

I offer a shaky smile, clasping my hands together as my heart beats rapidly in nervousness.

“Son? Are you all right?”

Max breaks out of his daze and turns towards the man. “Yeah, sorry… um, check over by the tees and golf bags, sir,” he stammers, shooting another glance in my direction.

The man shakes Max’s hand and then heads off in the direction of the golf balls.

I take a hesitant step forward as he continues to stare at me. “Hi…” I say quietly.

“Uh, hi…” he falters, a look of genuine confusion on his face. “Not that I mind, but… what are you doing here?”

“I was thinking of taking up swimming,” I say, flashing him a flirtatious smile. “I know what an expert you are, so I thought I’d ask for your opinion on a few things.”

His mouth falls open and his eyes widen. “You… you were? I mean, I’m sure I could find something…”

I laugh softly as he continues to stutter, and hold up a hand. “Max, I’m just kidding. Well, not about coming to see you.”

“You came to see me?” he asks uncertainly. “Why?”

I take a deep breath. “Is there somewhere we can talk?”

A spark of hope lights in his eyes and he shoves his hands inside the pockets of his khakis nervously. “Yeah… yeah, sure. Um, just follow me.”

I smile and walk next to him in silence as he leads me into a small stockroom at the back of the store. He closes the door behind us and turns to look at me.

“So…”

“Listen, Max,” I begin, wanting to just get it over with. “I wanted to apologize. For being such a bitch to you.”

His eyes widen and he shakes his head. “Liz, you don’t have to-“

“Please,” I plead, cutting off his words. “I didn’t even give you a chance to explain about… what happened.”

He stares at me in pain, but remains silent.

“I just… I was just so confused,” I say, staring at the wall as I try to explain my actions. “I was hurt and it seemed like the simplest thing to do to just avoid you. Avoid dealing with it all.”

I meet his gaze again and take a deep breath. “You broke my heart, Max,” my voice catches and I see his jaw clench in grief. “I thought that it was all some kind of ploy for your kicks. I thought I had misjudged you and that hurt the most. The idea that I could have been so wrong about someone.”

“Liz…” he starts, his amber eyes glassy.

“I loved you so much, Max,” I continue, tears beginning to gather in my eyes. “I still do.”

He exhales a ragged breath and slumps against the wall.

“I know Tess lied,” I add quietly, and his eyes fly up to meet mine.

“How did you find out?” he demands, his voice hoarse with emotion.

A bitter laugh escapes my throat. “Maria, of all people.”

His eyes widen. “Maria? But… I don’t understand?”

“Well, when I told her what… happened between us,” I bite my lip slightly, my face flushing, “and then what Tess said, she thought it sounded a little off.”

He nods for me to continue.

“She kept going on and on about how I shouldn’t trust her, how she was manipulative and I finally blew up at her saying that Tess was my cousin and why would she want to hurt me!” A sour taste fills my mouth at the memory. “Well, as it turns out, once again I was wrong. Maria came to apologize to me for the fight and overheard a conversation between Tess and Isabel that pretty much confirmed her suspicions.”

He closes his eyes briefly and pinches the bridge of his nose, an incredulous laugh escaping him. “Unbelievable. My reputation cleared by Maria DeLuca.”

I take a step closer to him, watching as his eyes pop open to follow my movements cautiously. “I know she blackmailed you into doing it, Max. I know it wasn’t your idea. And I know that you didn’t want to do it.”

He holds his breath as I lean in to touch my lips against his. He turns away at the last second and my lips graze his cheek.

I pull back, gazing at him in confusion. “Max…?”

He looks back at me, his eyes filled with sorrow and guilt. “Liz, that’s not completely true.”

I stare at him, my lips quivering in uncertainty. “What... what do you mean, Max?”

“Tess didn’t have to blackmail me at first,” he admits in a hoarse voice. “I was perfectly happy to help her out.”

I’m silent as he continues to talk, his tone soft and berating.

“God, I was such a self-centered prick,” he rasps, closing his eyes. “Only living for myself and my next lay. When Tess told me her plan, all I saw was the opportunity for a chase. Then… I met you.”

His tone softens and a wistful smile lights his features. “I was so confused from the second you looked at me. I didn’t understand what I was feeling at the time, you threw me completely off-balance. I just knew I had to get to know you better. Then I found out that you were Tess’s cousin. My world practically collapsed that day,” he laughs without amusement.

He takes a deep breath and I wait patiently for him to continue.

“That night…” he breathes, glancing over at me. “That night in the Jeep? The first night we met… I decided to tell Tess that I wanted out. Tell her that I was falling for you. But… she wouldn’t hear of it. She told me that if I didn’t help her she would tell you that I had made it all up as a scheme to… to fuck you. I didn’t think you’d ever believe me over your own cousin, so I went along with her plan, but I’ve never felt so guilty in my entire life.”

I suck in a breath in realization. “That’s why you wouldn’t make love to me that night.”

He hangs his head despondently. “I just… I couldn’t do it. When I saw your face… saw the trust you had for me, I just couldn’t betray you like that.”

A wave of love overcomes me and I reach out and run my hand down his arm in a light caress. “And here I thought I just wasn’t good enough for you,” I tease, trying to lighten the melancholy mood.

He shakes his head. “No, I wasn’t good enough for you, Liz,” he explains, gazing down at me with tender eyes. “You’re so far above me. You deserved something so much more and I knew it.” He sighs and a faraway look drifts across his face. “But as soon as you left me, I knew I couldn’t let you go. I knew I had fallen for you, and I was too selfish to deny it any longer.”

“And then I ran as soon as things got hard,” I whisper, once again feeling humiliation wash over me as I realize how much my cousin has screwed up both of our lives. “I mean, can you believe it? I was wrong twice. What does that say about me?” I speak, my voice trembling.

His eyes soften in tender compassion. “Liz, Tess is a master at exploiting people. Don’t blame yourself.”

“But I do,” I cry in anguish, wrenching away from his caring expression. “I let her do this to us, Max! I should… I should have given you a chance to explain.”

“It’s in the past now,” he says quietly and I turn to stare at him. “We’ve both screwed up.”

“Oh, Max… can you ever forgive me?” I cry sadly, a tear slipping down my cheek.

His eyes flash and he reaches out, pulling me into his warm embrace.

I cling to him greedily, burying my face into his shirt and breathing in his scent by the lung-full.

“Liz, there’s nothing to forgive,” he whispers, stroking my head softly as I cry. “Calm down, baby…”

I grab his shirt in my fists and look up at him. “Why are you so good to me?”

A soft chuckle sounds from his lips and he bends his head down to rub his nose against my cheek. “Because I’m completely in love with you, Liz Parker.”

“I love you, too,” I whisper, and our lips meet in a sweet kiss. He wraps his arms around me tighter, anchoring me against his hard chest as his lips caress mine in a desperate show of possession.

I moan into his mouth, my legs turning to Jell-O as he nibbles gently on my lower lip.

As I’m about to sink to the floor, he catches me with one arm, holding me tighter as his lips trail down my neck, sucking at the tender flesh below my jaw.

“Oh, Max…” I shiver, his touch sending intense pleasure through my deprived body. “I need you… please…”

He pulls back to look at me, his breathing raspy and unsteady. “God, Liz… I’ve missed you.”

His lips descend on mine again and we both groan in contentment. Our hands run down each other’s body anxiously, craving to be as close as possible.

“Max… let’s get out of here,” I breathe, sliding my tongue across his lip enticingly.

“Wha…” he groans, his eyes glazed with passion. I flash him a sexy smile and he grins in understanding. “Oh…” he murmurs, pulling me closer to him.

I breathe sharply as I feel his hard length pressed against the softness of my belly. I look up at him and his eyes burn into mine.

“See what you do to me?” he gasps, rubbing his hips against mine, causing a pleasant tingle to course through us both. “I want you so much, Liz…”

“Then why don’t you take me?” I respond in an inviting voice. “I’m all yours.”

His eyes darken and a he emits a low growl. “My place? My parent’s aren’t home and Isabel’s with Alex… Zan’s with Serena…”

“Hurry!” I gasp as his hands slide up the side of my breast.

“Hang on, gorgeous,” he murmurs, scooping me into his arms and striding out the room with determined steps.

People stop and stare at us as he marches through the store, shaking their heads in bewilderment.

The blonde employee from earlier sees us and smirks brightly. “I guess you won’t be coming back after lunch?” he calls, and I blush as I hide my head in Max’s chest.

Max laughs and shakes his head. “Not a chance. See you tomorrow, Craig.”


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


(Max POV)


We arrive at my house in record time, and I lift her into my arms to take her inside. She laughs at the silly gesture, and the sound fills me with a sense of absolute fullfillment.

“Are you going to carry me over the threshold?” she asks flirtatiously, fluttering her long lashes at me as she places a kiss against my throat.

“Yes,” I answer, opening the door and walking us inside. “And one day, it will be official.”

The words stun us both, and the smile fades from her face, replaced by something… deeper. Her eyes darken and grow wet. “Max…”

I lay her on my bed, catching her lips with mine. “I love you, Liz… I’ll always love you.”

She wraps her arms around my neck, trying to pull me closer, but I want this to last. So I sit up, leaving her panting there on the bed, staring at me with questioning eyes.

“What’s wrong?” she asks, then gasps as I begin tracing the spot where her shirt has ridden up on her stomach. A soft moan escapes her lips, and I slowly slide the material up her soft skin, revealing the hint of silk and lace beneath.

The shirt is lost as I stare at the swells of her breasts, the dusky rose of her nipples. My lips long to taste her, and I know that my desire is evident in my burning gaze.

Keeping my eyes trained on hers, I reach behind up and pull my shirt over my head. Her gaze drops to my chest, and she licks her lips while sitting up on one elbow.

I pull her into my arms, and our lips meet as I gently undo the clasp at her back. Our upper bodies slide against each other, nipple brushing nipple, and a fire consumes us.

I graze her neck with my teeth as she furrows her fingers into my hair, tilting her head to the side to afford me better access. I make my way to her collarbone, gently maneuvering her back against the bed once again.

She goes without protest, sinking into the sheets as my tongue snakes out to circle around one pouting peak. She moans and thrashes her head as I suckle her, moaning deep in my throat.

She sighs my name, raking her nails softly across my scalp. My fingers drift to the zipper of her jeans, and I seconds later I deftly slide the pants down her legs, nibbling my way to her stomach.

Her legs slide further apart of their own will, and I glance up to see her eyes closed as she moans softly. A smile lights my lips at the expression of pleasure on her face, and I trace the band of her tiny panties.

When my finger dips inside to brush against the trim hair at the juncture of her thighs, her eyes open and she gasps. Our eyes meet again, and I refuse to break the contact as I slip the scrap of material from her and settle myself between her thighs.

The first touch my of tongue against her heated core has us both moaning, trembling from the unadulterated bliss coursing through our bodies. Her fingers clench the hair at my crown, and she lets out the sexiest keening sound as she arches her hips to meet my searching lips.

I lap her eagerly while staring into her eyes, allowing her to witness the enjoyment I’m receiving from pleasuring her in this intimate way.

“Max…” she gasps, as my lips clasp around her swollen clitoris. “Oh, my… should we really… ah…”

Her climax hits hard and sudden, and I feel the slight quakes within her against my mouth, even as I hear the moans and gasps of surprised satisfaction. I lay my head against her stomach, squeezing my eyes shut as I try to force my own racing heart and swollen body back under control.

“I can feel you pulsing,” I whisper, cupping her mound with my hand. My fingers slide through her flesh, made slick by her recent orgasm. She doesn’t answer, simly sighs and runs a hand down my arm.

“I’m sorry, you didn’t…” she trails off, a slight flush appearing on her cheeks.

I lift my head to regard her grimly. “I almost did, actually. Which is embarrassing to admit… I haven’t come in my pants since I was thirteen.”

Her blush deepens, but underneath I can sense her pleasure at my confession. “Really?” she asks shyly, and the compelling trait of her timidity in the aftermath of such an astounding session of lovemaking, causes me to laugh.

I lean forward to nuzzle her nose. “Yes… really. But we’re not done yet.”

Her eyes widen at my sexy tone, and she swallows before answering. “We… we aren’t?”

Damn, if she doesn’t sound hopeful. Little minx. I growl softly before turning her onto her stomach, bringing her bottom up to rest against my hips. “Definitely not finished.”

She gasps as I thrust myself against her, the denim of my jeans causing what I know to be an enticing friction against her sensitized flesh. “Ooh…”

“God, you’re so incredible,” I whisper hoarsely, biting my lip as I take in the temptation of her body. “And you’re mine.”

“Yes, Max…” she answers softly, “I’m yours… as long as you’ll have me.”

“Forever,” I groan, reaching down to pull my pants off. “I’ll have you forever.”

When I cuddle back up to her body again, we both groan as the knob of my erection brushes her dripping mound. I take myself in hand, expertly teasing her as I slide myself in, inch by slow inch, withdrawing every so slightly as she arches back against me. “Easy, baby…”

“Max, please…” she whispers, and I thrust inside her to the hilt. Sweat beads on my forehead as I begin a steady rhythm, my cock sliding in and out, the warm weight of my balls slapping against her clit with every drive.

I frown in concentration, trying to hold on until she falls… but the pressure inside me builds to a crescendo of pleasure-edged-pain, when I feel the first answering contractions around my cock. With a cry of relief, I drive myself all the way inside, hugging her back as I let my orgasm wash over me.

Her fingers clench the sheets, and she moans my name as we rock together. I turn over, pulling her against my side as the final vestiges surround us.

“I love you…” I whisper, unable to stop myself, I repeat them. “I love you so much.”

She laces her hand with mine and drapes it across her stomach. “I love you, too. Forever, Max.”

“Forever,” I agree, succombing to the sleep that overwhelms me.



<center>TBC........</center>
Last edited by Applebylicious on Tue Apr 13, 2004 10:32 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Post by Applebylicious » Thu Apr 15, 2004 3:33 am

<center>Part 27</center>

(Liz POV)


A feather-light stroke tickles my nose, and I snuffle sleepily, brushing a hand across my face as I snuggle deeper within the blankets.

“Liz… wake up, sweetheart…”

Max’s amused voice breaks into my half-asleep consciousness, and I open one eye to see him propped on one elbow beside me. He smiles as I meet his gaze, and bends down to kiss me lightly on the lips. “Hi.”

“Mm… what time is it?” I mumble, stretching my arms over my head as he sits up. I suddenly realize he’s freshly showered and fully dressed. “Where are you going?”

“I have a few things to take care of,” he answers, pulling a pair of running shoes on his feet. He looks over his shoulder at me, smiling sexily. “Don’t move an inch. I’ll be back in an hour.”

I raise a brow, sitting up and regarding him questioningly. The bedsheet slips down past my breasts, and his gaze immediately drops as well. I suck in a breath as his eyes heat up. “What if your parents find me here?”

He licks his lips, reluctantly bringing his gaze up to meet mine. “They’re out of town on business. The only person you have to worry about running into is Zan or Iz, and they know better than to come in here without knocking first.”

I snuggle back against the pillows, pulling my hair up off my neck. “So… what’s in there?” I nod towards the large envelope in his hand.

“Hmm? Oh… it’s… “ he breaks off, and I immediately know what’s going on.

“It’s something about Tess, isn’t it?” I sit straight up. “I’m coming with you.”

He curses and places a hand against my chest as I begin to step out of the bed. “No, no you aren’t. You’re not coming.”

I push his hand away with a huff of irritation. “Don’t take that know-it-all tone with me! She's my cousin, Max. I want in on whatever it is you’re planning. She hurt me, too.”

He looks undecided. “Liz, it’s better if you stay out of it,” he says finally, with an apologetic glint in his eyes. “There’s some things you’re just better off not knowing.”

My eyes narrow. “Like what?”

He flattens his lips, staring at me stubbornly. I fold my arms and stare back at him, refusing to budge until he comes clean. Finally he sighs. “Baby… I don’t want to upset you, that’s all,” he says softly.

“Max, tell me,” I answer just as gently. “She can’t hurt us anymore… not if we’re honest with each other.”

His eyes fill with emotion and he pulls me into his arms, tucking my head against his chest. “Can’t you just believe I’m taking care of it?” he begs me, and although I’m touched by the worry in his voice, I can’t allow myself to be left in the dark.

Never again.

I shake my head, looking up into his whiskey-colored eyes. “I trust you, Max. But I need to know… I need to, please. What’s going on?”

He rakes a hand through his hair, standing on his feet. “God, I can’t believe I’m going to do this… but okay, get dressed and I’ll fill you in on the way to meet Zan.”

“Zan? What does he have to do with this?” I ask, pulling my shirt back over my head, fluffing my hair out from underneath the collar.

“He was there when Michael and I broke into your grandfather’s house.”

I stop in mid-action of tugging my pants up my hips. “What?!

He winces slightly. “It’s a long story.”

“I bet,” I murmur, snapping my jeans closed. “Are we picking up Michael, too?”

He levels a sheepish smile on me. “How’d you guess?”

I roll my eyes, pulling on my shoes and following him out of the house. “Just tell me one thing, Max. What you guys are doing… is it legal?”

He takes a moment too long to answer, then shrugs lightly. “No one will know it was us, so it doesn’t matter.”

I’m less than satisfied by his answer, but decide to decide to wait until I know the entire story before I question him further.

Once in Max’s Jeep, we drive to a nearby motel, where Zan comes strolling out wearing a pair of sunglasses and a wide grin of satisfaction. His brow quirks when he catches sight of me sitting in the passenger seat, but other than that he doesn’t show any apparent surprise at the knowledge that Max and I have reconciled.

He tosses me a wink as he clambers over the door and dives into the backseat headfirst. “Hey, Liz. I guess congratulations are in order, Maxwell? You better take good care of this one, she’s a keeper.”

I roll my eyes, but can’t stop the foolish grin at his teasing words. Max smiles at me, and reaches over and tangles his fingers with mine over the gearshift. “I know.”

“So, when are you guys going to tell me what your plans are for Tess?” I say, shooting straight to the heart of the matter.

Zan perks up. “You want in?”

“Yes,” I say at the exact moment that Max answers, “No!” We frown darkly at one another.

“Max Evans, don’t you even think about leaving me out of this,” I remind him. “I want to see my cousin get what she deserves just as much as you do. Maybe even more. I want to see her ass in a sling for what she’s done.”

Zan whistles. “Damn, Liz. That’s cold. I love you.” We both ignore him.

“Did you know she has a drug problem?” Max asks me, and I narrow my eyes at his harsh tone. “Did you know that she sells herself for drugs… or just for the hell of it? She’s a coke-whore, Liz. And that isn’t just my extreme dislike speaking… I’ve seen photos. I’ve got video proof. Hours of it.”

I wrap a hand around my throat, a sick feeling rising inside me. “Where did you get it?” I whisper, trying to reconcile the image of my picture-perfect cousin with this horrible portrait Max is painting.

“That isn’t important,” he answers grimly. “See why I don’t want you involved, baby? It hits too close to home for you. I don’t want to see you hurt anymore than you already have been.”

Despite the fact that a part of me wishes to cover my ears and block out everything I’ve just heard, I force myself to answer. “I’m not an innocent little girl you have to protect, Max. I can help.”

“By doing what?” he explodes, slamming a hand down on the steering wheel as he pulls to a stop underneath a redlight. “Are you planning to go to Tess and get a confession, like Isabel? I swear… I don’t understand you women.”

I don’t let his outburst hurt me, because I know it’s stemming from an irrational need to protect. I simply lay a hand on his arm, speaking in a low voice. “If you stop and think about it, Max, Tess has no idea we’re back together. I’m the most obvious person to get close to her. She thinks I’m a complete idiot, she won’t be worried about speaking candidly in front of me.”

She’s the idiot,” Zan mumbles from the backseat. “Oh, sorry… carry on with the private conversation.”

“Liz, Tess isn’t… right,” Max says hesitantly. “I really think something’s wrong with her-“

“Yeah, she’s a psycho bitch,” Zan pipes in, then winces as we both turn to stare at him. “Shit… sorry. I’ll zip it. Zippin’ of the lips is about to commence.”

“Like I was saying,” Max continues, shooting Zan a look, “I don’t trust her not to hurt you. We already know she doesn’t give a damn what happens to you, she was willing to throw you to the wolves in order to get her hands on your money.”

I squirm uncomfortably, my mind filled with hideous scenes where Tess tries to do things to me that would only be seen on the campiest horror film. “Thanks, that’s… reassuring,” I try to joke, but Max notes my anxiety.

His gaze softens. “Baby, it’s better off if you just let me handle it. Will you trust me to do that? Please?”

“Fine,” I sigh, crossing my arms in a slight pout. “But I want to know everything that’s going on. I mean it, Max.”

“You will,” he assures me, bringing our joined hands to his lips to nip at my knuckles. “But I want you to promise me you will stay far away from your cousin until this is all said and done.”

I meet his solemn stare. “I promise. You promise you’ll be careful.”

Max’s gaze flicks to the rearview mirror, and he exchanges a glance with his brother that makes my heart clench in fear. “Oh, I’ll be careful,” he says in a flat tone that chills me. “I’ll be very careful.”


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


(Max POV)



After dropping the envelope off at Ed Harding’s office with the strict instructions not to be opened by anyone but Edward himself, I drive Liz over to Maria’s house where she promises to stay put.

We meet up with Michael as the sun begins to set deep in the sky. He’s standing outside the school, leaning against the building while drinking a can of soda, looking completely innocuous. But the steely look in his eyes reveals his thoughts.

He jumps in the Jeep as I pull up to the curb. “So, we really doing this? Tonight?”

Zan cracks his knuckles, looking fierce and ready for combat. “That bastard is goin’ down. Bring on the hurt, boys.”

Michael and I exchange a telling glance. “Groban is all mine,” I say quietly, and Michael looks ready to argue. “I mean it, Mike. You want to take care of Nicholas, fine. I want Tommy. That bastard raped Isabel and threatened Liz.”

Michael nods, a look of chagrin shining in his eyes. “Fine, you take him. And Max… “

“I know,” I answer, needing no words to understand the pain and betrayal coursing through him. “It wasn’t your fault, Mike. You couldn’t have known.”

“I should have seen it!” he rasps, pounding his leg with a clenched fist. “I can’t believe I actually considered him a friend. For fuck’s sake, he spent time in my home. Around Maria… Jesus…”

“Too late to beat yourself up over it,” Zan speaks up matter-of-factly. “It’s done, Michael. What matter’s now is how you handle it.” The words are so simple and straight forward, yet cut right to the heart of the matter, something Zan is famous for.

No bullshit. No frills.

I incline my head towards my brother. “Yeah, what he said.”

Michael nods, looking out the open window for a moment, taking a deep breath. When he meets my gaze again, any traces of hesitation or self-disgust are replaced by severe determination. “Let’s do it then.”

“So glad you said, that,” Zan drawls, scooting forward to stick his head between us. “Because it looks like we’re right on time.”

He points toward a trail off the main highway, where several cars are parked down the hill from an old, abandoned warehouse. “That’s it.”

“You sure?” I glance back at him, slowing down to exit onto the bumpy dirt road. “How do you know?”

He smirks. “I got connections, bro. I know when every party is goin’ down from here to Tuscon.”

“And Tommy and Nicholas will be here?” Michael asks grimly, pulling the rim of his cap around to face the back. “I’m not interested in partying… unless it consists of my fist dancing with Nicholas’s fat face.”

“Trust me, man. I got a good feeling about ‘dis.”

Michael scowls over his shoulder at Zan’s calm tone, and I can see it angers him that he feels nervous and jittery in comparison. “Why the fuck does your accent come and go like that?” he snaps.

Zan simply shrugs, cocking his head to glance around. “Depend’s on my mood.”

Michael grunts, but doesn’t respond as he turns to stare out into the darkness. I maneuver the Jeep onto level ground near the back of the building. Once we get out, I can hear the sound of thumping music from inside, and the sickly sweet odor of marajuana seeping through the air.

Zan pops a cigarette out of his pocket and lights it, taking a deep drag. “Aight, follow me and try not to look so damn pissed off, Michael. You look butt ugly with that sneer on your face.”

He leads the way in, walking loose-limbed and easy as he nods at several kids getting toked up outside the entrance. Michael and I follow, walking inside the door. We’re immediately hit with the heavy scent of drugs and alcohol.

Strobe lights pulse around us, highlighting the crowd of dancing bodies. In the shadows of the corners, I see several orgies occuring. Everyone has the same glassy-eyed look as they glance at us when we pass by.

Hands run up and down my body as I prowl through the crowd, searching for a glimpse of the people we’ve come to find. I try to shake off the more wandering touches, but one hand manages to clasp around my fly, and squeezes.

I look over and see Tess staring back at me, blue eyes heavy lidded and glazed with the effects of cocaine. Her lips are full and swollen, her hair a tangled mass of curls as her head lolls from side to side with the sensual music.

“Come to find real pleasure now that your shrinking violet doesn’t want you?” she slurs, laughing huskily. “Come on, Max… I’ll let you put it anywhere.”

I run my hand down her arm, closing over the fingers still caressing my crotch. I drag her to a nearby corner, shoving her up against the wall, her hands over her head as I lean in to afford privacy.

Her eyes flare and she rubs herself sinuously against me. “Ooh… I love it when you get rough. Fuck me hard, Max. Punish me.”

My grip on her wrists tightens, and I know it will leave bruises in the morning. I’ve never hurt a woman physically in my life, but I can barely resist the urge to slap her across her face. She moans at the action, and a sick feeling churns in my gut as I realize she wants me to hurt her. She’d probably get off on it.

“Where’s Tommy?” I whisper in her ear, my voice dangerously soft as I pull back to stare into her eyes. This isn’t the time or place to deal with Tess. She’ll get what’s coming to her soon enough.

“What are you talking about?”

“Tommy, Tess. Is he here?” I demand, glancing over my shoulder as someone bumps into us. The guy glances at Tess, then his smile widens as he gives me an approving nod. I frown at his retreating back.

“Tommy who?” she whines, trying to pull my head down to hers. “I don’t care about any Tommy, I want to suck your gorgeous cock, Max. You remember how much you liked it when I did that?”

“Never again,” I answer harshly, shoving her back. “Keep your fucking hands off of me. Now tell me where Tommy Groban is, Tess.”

“Fuck you,” she sneers, riding high on coke. “He’s probably off screwing my cousin as we speak, I gave him the go ahead after all. But don’t worry, he isn’t as good as you are, Max. Maybe Liz will give you another chance after she sees what she’s missing.”

“You little bitch,” I answer softly. “I hope you burn in hell, Tess.” With that, I turn to walk away.

“I’ll see you there, lover.”

I ignore her comment and the troubling thought that maybe she’s right, when I spot a group of people jeering across the room. A queasy feeling sinks in my stomach, and I hurry over to see Michael rolling across the floor with a blonde guy of similar height and build.

Nicholas.

Michael ends up on top, and lands a solid punch to Nicholas’s already bleeding face. “You fucking son of a bitch,” he growls. “Aren’t so tough without your posse around to beat the shit out of people for you, huh?”

Zan appears next to me, a grim expression on his face. “This ain’t right,” he says quietly. “Guy’s too messed up to realize what’s goin’ on.”

“Michael!” I shout, shoving my way through the taunting crowd to Michael’s side. I grab his arm, attempting to pull him off of Nicholas’s prone form. “For Christ’s sake, Mike. He can’t even feel it.”

“Back off, Maxwell,” Michael answers, his eyes frighteningly empty. “You fucking bastard… if you ever come near Maria again, I’ll kill you! Do you hear me?”

Nicholas groans softly, and a jumble of unrecognizable words escape his split lips.

“Michael,” I say softly, trying to reach my best friend. “Stop this… don’t bring yourself down to his level. You know this isn’t what Maria would want you to do.”

Maria’s name seems to break through his daze, and he looks up at me, gaze swimming with emotion. “He hurt her… he hurt her and he won’t stop unless I make him.”

My heart aches for his confused and broken expression. “It won’t help… and you know it. Tearing a piece off Nicholas won’t make the pain go away.” I grasp his shoulders, ignoring the boos of the spectators and force him to hear me. “I just realized it, Michael. We shouldn’t have come looking for a fight. What does this prove? That we can take them? It makes us no better than them. And we are fucking better.”

He snorts. “You’re telling me if Tommy suddenly appeared, you wouldn’t want to break his neck in two?” he asks hoarsely. “Don’t play God with me, Maxwell. You wouldn’t stop until that bastard knew he could never touch Isabel or Liz again.”

“Maybe you’re right,” I whisper, my stomach clenching. “Maybe I’m no better than that. But at least I’m trying to be.”

With that, I stand up, offering my hand to Michael as he stares up at me with blank eyes. After a moment, he lets out a snorting laugh, wipes his hands on his pants which are now streaked with blood and dirt, and stands on his own.

“You really have changed, Max,” he says, shaking his head. “You really love her, huh?”

“Same way you love Maria,” I answer, looping an arm around his shoulders as we leave Nicholas lying in the center of the crowd. “I guess you were right, love changes a guy.”

“God forbid. I still wish he was dead, does that make me a bad person?” he suddenly sounds tired and defeated.

“No, it makes you a fucking human being,” Zan answers, sticking Michael in a headlock as he joins up with us. “Let’s get the hell outta here before you pansies really cause some trouble.”

“Screw you,” Michael sneers. “I didn’t see you doing anything but staring at the wall, Zan. What happened to bringing on the hurt?”

Zan cocks a grin. “Wasn’t supposed to be now. I’ll know when the time is right.”


<center>TBC.........</center>
Last edited by Applebylicious on Thu Apr 15, 2004 3:45 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by Applebylicious » Fri Apr 16, 2004 1:51 pm

<center>Part 28</center>


(Liz POV)



“Do you think they’re okay?”

I glance over at Maria’s worried expression. “Max promised me they’d be careful, so I’m sure they are,” I try to assure her, although I’m silently having the same doubts and concerns.

I turn to glance at the clock on the wall, biting my lip absently as I wonder where and what the boys are up to. The sound of the doorbell causes both of us to jump up in nervous reaction.

“Michael wouldn’t ring the bell,” Maria blurts out inanely. “He always just walks in.”

We look at each other, then run for the front door. Maria gets there first, and stops suddenly, causing me to run smack into her back. “Wait. Didn’t they say not to answer the door?”

“Maria!” I hiss, “look out the damn peep-hole!”

She raises a brow at my curse, then closes one eye, squinting through the tiny hole in the door. She gasps, “It’s Isabel!”

“Isabel?” I echo, staring as Maria opens the door, revealing none other than Max’s sister, standing on the front porch looking extremely put out.

“What took you guys so long?” she snaps in typical Isabel manner, shoving past us to flop down on the couch. “I need coffee, stat. Wait, dammit, I can’t have caffeine. I swear, being pregnant bites.”

“Uh… what are you doing here, Isabel?” Maria finally manages to say, and I just continue staring as Isabel bursts into tears right there on Maria’s mother’s tacky flowered couch.

“Alex doesn’t want me!” she wails, wiping her hand across her nose in a very unfeminine gesture. “He doesn’t want to touch me, because I’m used goods.”

“Let me guess, you told him about the pregnancy?” I ask gently, coming to sit next to her. I rub her arm comfortingly, and she turns to cry into my shoulder.

This is a very different side of Ice Princess Isabel than any I’ve ever seen. Maria just looks dumbfounded.

“Yes, I told him,” Isabel snuffles, sitting up to wipe her eyes. Then all traces of her previous breakdown dissolve, leaving her looking ready to chew nails. “That jerk. He talked about how much he liked me, and how he’d waited so long for us to be together… then at the first sign of trouble, he tells me I’m sorry, I can’t do this,” she bites off in a mocking tone.

I cringe. Oh, Alex…

“Did you tell him you were…” Maria trails off, looking uncertain.

“Raped?” Isabel fills in, sniffing lightly. “No, and I’m glad I didn’t! That rat bastard probably would have just looked at me like it was my entire fault. I was just trying to be honest with him! I know how keeping things hidden can destroy a relationship… just look at you and Max, for God’s sake!”

“She has a point,” Maria mumbles, ignoring my glare. “But Isabel, Alex isn’t the kind of guy who would think that. Are you sure you didn’t just misunderstand him?”

She shakes her head. “No, we were fooling around on the couch, and he wanted to stop. I wanted to keep going, is that so bad? I think… I think I love him. The jerk. But when I told him about the pregnancy… he flipped out and wouldn’t even look at me.”

The sound of a car screeching to a stop in front of Maria’s house drags my attention towards the open door, just in time to see Alex jumping out of his VW.

Isabel is oblivious, her eyes filling with tears again. “It’s so unfair! I was a virgin, and I was attacked. I’ve never been with anyone, not really. And I wanted to be with him, and he… he doesn’t want me!”

“Isabel-“ I begin, seeing Alex running to the door.

“No, don’t try to defend him!” she says, “he thinks I’m a slut, but I’m not. I’m done pretending to be an Ice Princess. I just want to be me. If he was just interested in the image and not what’s underneath… I… I-“

“Honey,” Alex’s voice interrupts her stammered words, and Isabel gasps, looking over to see Alex staring at her from the front door. “Izzy… you know that isn’t true.”

“What are you doing here?” she sneers, although her lips quiver slightly. “Did you follow me? You shouldn’t have bothered, I’m not going anywhere with you, you… you jerk!”

“Isabel, please… come on, you gave me some pretty heavy news, then just ran out,” Alex says in frustration, running a hand through his hair. “Give me a break here, sweetheart, I’m in shock.”

Isabel jumps to her feet, sliding an arm through mine. “Liz, make him leave.”

“Me?” I glance at Alex’s narrowed eyes and Maria’s outraged expression. “Er… it’s Maria’s house.”

“Yeah!” Maria states. “If anyone is making Alex leave, it’s me!”

“I’m not leaving!” Alex growls. “Izzy… please… just let me explain my reaction.”

“Fine, explain away,” she says, waving an arm magnanimously. “We’re all listening.” Maria and I nod, unable to deny our avid curiosity.

“In private,” Alex sends us each a glare, and we shrug in apology as Isabel yanks Maria to her other side, forming a line of defense – the women against Alex.

“Whatever you have to say can be said in front of my friends,” she states, and Maria and I glance at each other in bemusement.

“Fine!” Alex throws his hands in the air, obviously giving up. “Women, I swear…” he mumbles. “I didn’t stop you because I didn’t want you, Isabel.”

“Oh really?” she states bitterly. “That’s interesting, because before I said anything, you were more than happy to-“

“Isabel!” Alex’s cheeks flush a dark red, and Maria snickers behind her hand.

But Isabel simply stares at him with wounded eyes. “You think I sleep around with everyone I meet, don’t you? That I got knocked up because one of my many lovers didn’t wrap his tool?”

“Oh, my God…” Alex murmurs, running a hand down his face. “This is so embarrassing…” He pauses to glare at her. “Of course I don’t think that!”

“Yes, you do!” she cries. “Well, for your information, I’ve only been with one person, and it wasn’t by choice!”

“Isabel, you-“ Alex’s tirade is cut off as he processes her words. The flush drains from his cheeks, leaving his face pale. “What do you mean, not by choice?”

“What do you think I mean?” she asks in a watery voice. “I was raped, Alex. And I’m pregnant with my attacker’s baby.”

Alex steps backwards, fumbling for something to sit on. He settles for the railing leading to the upstairs bedrooms. “Oh, my God. Oh, my God. When…?”

She looks away. “In Alburquerque, at a Delta party. That was the sorority I was in,” she explains, discreetly wiping at the corner of her eyes. “I never got a good look at him, but then again, I didn’t have a chance to. He blindfolded and gagged me after slipping something in my drink.”

Maria gasps, and I blink back my own tears of hopeless anger.

“Oh, baby…” Alex whispers, his eyes bright. “Baby, I’m so sorry…”

“Don’t be sorry!” she shouts. “Dammit, I don’t need anyone to feel sorry for me!”

“I know,” he murmurs, standing and carefully approaching her. “Isabel, come here.”

“No,” she whimpers, wrapping her arms around her middle. “Leave me alone.”

But she doesn’t resist when he pulls her against his chest, lowering his forehead against hers. “Oh Izzy…”

I catch Maria’s gaze, and make a motion with my head. She nods and we discreetly leave the room.

“God, that was so… sweet,” she says, looking slightly dazed. “I guess Alex was right about Isabel. She isn’t a complete bloodsucking bitch.”

I can only snort hysterically. “Jeez, Maria.”

Just then, the phone rings. Maria walks across her room to answer it. “Hello?” She immediately straightens up. “Max? Is everything okay? Where’s Michael?!”

My ears prick up, and I rush to her side to hear as much as I can. “Let me talk to him,” I whisper, jabbing her in the arm.

She waves a hand at me distractedly. “Yeah, Liz is here… no, she doesn’t want to talk to you. Where’s Michael?”

“Maria!” I cry, reaching over to yank the phone away. “Give that to me!”

We start wrestling with the phone, all the while hearing Max’s tinny voice from the phone, “Hello? Liz? Are you all right? Liz!”

“Ha!” I cry in triumph as Maria takes a miscalculated step and trips over a pillow, losing her grip on the phone tug-of-war. I grab the phone and place it against my ear. “Max?”

“What’s going on?” he asks. “I heard someone scream. Is everything okay?”

“That was just Maria, she fell and landed on a hairbrush. The kind with the hard bristles,” I explain, stifling a giggle as Maria glares at me while rubbing her bottom. “So, where are you guys?”

“We’re on the way back,” he answers, and static sounds over the line. “….there. Do you… me? Liz…. get there.”

“Max, I can’t hear you,” I speak loudly, walking over to the window in the hopes of gaining better service. “You’re getting cut off.”

“… of range,” his voice breaks in through the static. “Liz, can you hear me?”

“Yes, where are you?

“We’re on our way back,” his voice suddenly comes out strong and clear. “Don’t leave Maria’s okay?”

“What’s going on?” I ask, a little disturbed by the urgency in his voice. “Did something happen?”

“We’re fine. Has anyone come to the house?” he asks, and I frown at the strange question.

“Just Isabel,” I state, glancing at Maria. “And Alex is here. Why?”

“What are they… wait never mind, just… promise me you won’t leave the house, all right?”

“Okay,” I say in exasperation. “Max, you’re scaring me. What’s going on?”

The line clicks off before he can respond, and I growl in frustration.


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



(Max POV)



“Shit, I got disconnected,” I toss the worthless cell phone into the backseat, using one hand to steer. “I hate this frickin desert.”

“Why you trippin’ about Liz leaving the house?” Zan asks, munching on a Twizzler that he must have pulled out of his ass.

“Hmm… what?” I ask, momentarily distracted by nervous thoughts. “Oh, it’s just something that Tess said at the rave. Did you guys notice that Tommy wasn’t there?”

“You think he’s going after Liz?” Michael asks, a concerned expression on his face. He’s sporting a black eye and a cut on his forehead. “Shit, Max… the bastard did threaten to.”

“No, I’m probably just stressing out over nothing,” I mumble, rubbing my temple as I break every speed limit on my way back to town. “Besides, they aren’t going anywhere. It’s fine.”

But the drive back is quiet and tense.

When we finally reach Maria’s, the front door is thrown open and Liz and Maria come running out.

“What’s going on, Max?” Liz demands, her eyes widening at the state of Michael’s face. “Oh my God, are you okay?”

“I’m fine,” I whisper, brushing away her wandering hands from my face and kissing her. “I thought I told you not to come outside?”

“We saw the Jeep pull up,” she admits, frowning in concern as she sweeps back a lock of hair from my forehead. “You scared me when we got cut off. What were you so worried about?”

I breathe in the scent of her hair, crushing her against my chest. “Mmm… nothing now.”

“Max-“ she gets cut off as Maria lets out a shriek.

“Michael Guerin, what happened to your face?!”

Michael cringes. “Um… don’t get upset, Maria, but… I had a little run in with Nicholas.”

“What?” Maria cries shrilly, and Liz turns to give me a suspicious look. “But… but I thought he wasn’t allowed to come around here? Or… oh my God, Michael, please tell me you didn’t go to East Roswell! Not after what happened last time!”

Michael manages not to look away from her glacial stare. “Not… exactly.”

“What does that mean?” Liz demands, turning on us. “Start talking boys, where were you tonight? Max, you promised you’d tell me.”

“She’s right,” I sigh, ignoring the glare of disbelief from Michael and Zan’s raised brow. “We went to a party at the old soap factory.”

“The old soap factory?” she parrots, glancing at Maria. “What’s that?”

“It’s where all the druggies go to meet their dealers,” Isabel pipes in, walking up with Alex right behind her. “What were you doing at a soap factory rave, Max?”

Zan, Michael and I exchange grim expressions, realizing that to tell the truth, we’d have to explain about Tommy and his role in this entire nightmare.

Isabel looks so happy right now, the happiest I’ve seen her since she’s come back to Roswell. I don’t want to put that distant, haunted expression back in her eyes.

Then I see the subtle way Alex stands behind her, one hand laid across her belly in a protective gesture. As their gazes meet, I realize that even should my sister learn the horrible truth, she has someone here who cares for her.

Someone besides her family.

Alex looks up and our eyes lock, exchanging a message that he’ll do whatever necessary to make my sister happy. I incline my head in understanding, then turn to spill the truth.

“We went to find Nicholas… and Tommy Groban.”

Liz frowns, then her eyes widen as she catches on to my train of thought.

“Michael’s friend from Alburquerque?” Maria asks in confusion. “But… why were you looking for him?”

I stare at Isabel, trying to communicate silently. She frowns in perplexity, then slowly her entire body goes slack in realization.

“No…” she whispers, stepping backwards and running into Alex. “It… it can’t be. He isn’t here!”

Michael appears anguished, jaw locked tight as he looks away from Isabel’s pale expression. He curses softly under his breath.

“It’s him, Izzy,” I say softly, swallowing the lump in my throat as she shakes her head. “We heard him admit it, to Tess.”

Her eyes fly up. “Tess knew?” her voice cracks. “Oh my God…” She stumbles over to a bush and the sound of retching fills the night air. Alex immediately follows, whispering soothing sounds and patting her back. Maria’s hand covers her mouth as she catches on, and Liz stares at Isabel sadly.

Alex walks over a minute later, a grim look on his face. “She wants to talk to you three,” he states stiffly, obviously angry with me for bringing the subject up.

Zan, Michael and I exchange glances before walking over to where Isabel sits on the ground, long legs tucked under her chin as she rocks back and forth.

Zan squats next to her, pulling her to his chest. “I’m so sorry I wasn’t here when it happened,” he whispers hoarsely, kissing her cheek.

“We’ll find him, Isabel, and he’ll pay,” I say.

She shakes her head. “I don’t want you to find him, Max. I want to forget this happened. I… I know it sounds horribly cliché, but… he’s nothing to me.”

“You’re having his baby,” Michael points out, jutting his jaw out. “For God’s sake, Iz… you’re always going to have a part of him with you. You can’t pretend it never happened.”

“I’m having this baby,” she fires back, the color returning to her face as she stands shakily to face us. “And I will love him. Or her. I can’t blame an innocent child for the sins of the father.”

“No one is saying otherwise,” I point out gently. “But baby… don’t you want to see him punished? What if he does it to someone else?”

“I know, I’ve thought of that a hundred times,” she whispers. “But… I can’t Max. I don’t want to see his face. I wouldn’t… I couldn’t handle it.”

“Okay,” Zan says, shooting us a telling glare. “Okay, sweetheart. Come on, let’s get you home before you pass out.”

Just then, a squeal of tires sounds from down the street and we all turn to see a large souped up Camero come racing up the road. My eyes narrow as I recognize Tommy behind the wheel, and a battered Nicholas in the passenger side.

“Get in the house!” I snap, moving towards Liz and grabbing her arm. “Now.”

“What’s…” she trails off upon seeing my dark expression. “O… okay.”

“What’s going on?” Maria demands, trying to pull away from Michael’s grip. “Stop pulling on my arm!”

“Alex, get the girls inside,” I call, handing Liz over as the car pulls to a stop in front of Maria’s house. “Lock the door.”

“Oh my God, is that him?” Isabel asks, swallowing as Tommy steps out the car, swaying drunkenly.

“Yo, Maxie! Where ya going?” Tommy slurs, laughing as the girls disappear inside. “Aw, leaving so soon ladies?”

“You fucking asshole,” Michael says softly, eyes unblinking as Tommy approaches with Nicholas in tow. “I let you in my goddamn home.”

“Yeah, no respect these days, huh?” he jeers, taking a swig from a small flask in his hand. “Where’s your pretty little girlfriend?”

Michael growls low in his throat, the tendons in his neck standing out. Zan walks up, a dark look on his face.

“You have five minutes to get the hell off this property,” I begin in an easy voice, “or else you’ll be leaving courtesy of me and my friends.”

“Oh, I don’t think so.” With those smiling words, he pulls a gun out of his back pocket, training it on me. “Fucking perfect Maxwell Evans, every woman’s dream,” he says sarcastically, and from the crazed look in his eyes, alcohol isn’t the only thing he’s been consuming.

“Max!” I hear Liz’s terrified scream from inside the house, but I don’t dare look away from the barrel of the black handgun. Zan is cursing a blue streak to my left.

“For God’s sake, put that thing away!” Michael hisses, taking a step toward Tommy. “Are you fucking crazy?! People will hear you.”

“I want to see you bleed, perfect Max Evans,” Tommy says, and his eyes harden with hatred as his finger squeezes on the trigger.

The sound of a blast echoes through the night, and I flinch in shock, expecting to feel the sharp sting of a bullet passing through my body.

Instead, I feel the ground, as I’m thrown face first into the dirt.

Another shot follows, and screams pierce the night.

I try to sit up to make sure Liz is all right, but something heavy presses me to the ground. I recognize Zan’s lithe form, and try to shake him off.

He lets out a wheezing breath, then rolls off of me. As I sit up, I see blood drenching my shirt, but when I probe beneath the material, I realize it isn’t mine.

Another scream sounds, and I stare in horror at the prone form of my twin lying on the ground beside me.

Blood seeps from the wound just above his heart.


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

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Post by Applebylicious » Sat Apr 17, 2004 1:59 pm

<center>Part 29</center>


(Max POV)



“Oh, my god! Call an ambulance!”

“He… he’s dead.”


The words echo in my mind, as I ride in the backseat of an ambulance, siren screeching and flashing streaks of red across my face. The young paramedic beside me continues to monitor Zan’s vital signs, while staunching the flow of blood from the bullet wound.

I can’t take my eyes off my brother’s still form, his face so pale it seems gray in the dark interior. Pink Floyd’s darkly provocative Hey You plays softly over the radio.

Zan loves Pink Floyd.

The inane thought stumbles through my mind, and my jaw clenches so tightly I’m afraid my teeth may be ground into powder. My eyes are dry and burning, my mind a jumbled mixture of horror and grim anticipation.

The ambulance behind us carries the lifeless body of Tommy Groban, and my mind returns to the moment I stood to find him staring at the sky with glazed eyes, blood seeping from his mouth as Michael stood a few feet away, the smoking handgun in his shaky hands.

“I… I killed him, Max.”

Hey you, out there in the cold,
Getting lonely getting old,
Can you feel me?


“Blood pressure’s dropping,” the paramedic says over his shoulder, placing an oxygen mask over Zan’s face. “He needs to be stitched up before he loses any more. We’re dealing on a time constraint here.”

The other paramedic responds, but I don’t hear through the roar in my head. Roger Water’s voice fills my ears, my eyes trained on Zan as his chest rises and falls erratically.

Hey you, with your ear against the wall,
Waiting for someone to call out,
Would you touch me?


“Max…?”

I jump as the rasp leaves his lips, and I lean forward, gripping the hand he tries to raise. “I’m here.”

His lips quiver as he tries to speak again, eyes drooping heavily with the loss of blood and the medication running through his system. “You… okay?”

I blink rapidly as my eyes begin to sting, pressing the heel of my hand against my forehead as I lean closer. “I’m fine,” I whisper hoarsely, a tear sliding down my face. “Damn you, Zan. Why did you do that? Why?”

Thank you. The words slip through my mind, but I can’t bring myself to say them. Not when it’s so hard to speak without completely breaking down.

Hey you, don't tell me there's no hope at all,
Together we stand, divided we fall…


“You…” his voice trails off as he begins to wheeze, “deserve to be… happy. Tell Serena… love her…”

“Shut up,” I say harshly, wiping my eyes roughly. “You’re going to be fine, you’re da Man, remember?”

His lips quirk in a ghost of a smile. “And you’s always was… a cornball…” He coughs, the sound dry and hacking. “Max…”

“What is it, Zan?” I ask, noting the frustrated look in his eyes.

“Son, you really shouldn’t be talking,” the paramedic says apologetically. “Just rest for now.”

“No… have to tell… my brother…” Zan’s words begin to slur, as the medication begins to affect his consciousness. “Max…”

“Zan, listen to the doctor…” I trail off as his fingers slowly unclench to reveal a small black tape. “Where did you get that? What is it?”

“At… Tess’s house,” he struggles to stay awake. “Use it… bring her down. Got… confession… Isabel’s rape… knew about it. Use it.”

“What the hell were you doing with a tape recorder?” I mumble in shock, staring at the offered tape.

“Wanted to help my brother… always… be prepared,” he answers, bringing a choked laugh from my swollen throat.

“You were never a Boy Scout,” I murmur against a lump of affection, taking the tape and gripping his hand tightly. “God, Zan… you and Isabel…”

“I…” he clears his throat weakly. “I… forgive Dad…. I want a chance with him…”

A smile breaks over my face. “Tell him yourself, damn it. Tell him yourself.”

He laughs feebly, then faints into unconsciousness, a smile on his face. I hang my head, sobbing quietly.


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


As Zan is wheeled into the hospital, questions are thrown at me from harried hospital staff.

“What’s your relationship to the victim?”

“I… I’m his brother,” my voice cracks as I see Liz and the rest of my friends pacing in the nearby waiting room. “He’s my twin brother.”

The nurse smiles at my sympathetically. “I think your brother will be fine, Mr. Evans. Why don’t you take a seat in the waiting room and we’ll let you know when he’s out of surgery?”

“Where’s Zan?”

I spin around at Serena’s teary voice, and see her standing there in a pair of jeans and a flannel shirt that must belong to my brother. Her red hair is piled into a knot at her head, her expressive green eyes frightened and wet.

She sees me, and lets out a sob, rushing forward to throw herself into my arms. “Max, is he okay? Where is he?”

I hug her tightly, closing my eyes painfully at the sound of her cries. “He’s in surgery,” I admit softly. “They have to repair the damage from the bullet before he loses anymore blood.”

Her face is pale, lips trembling, but she nods. “What about the… the boy who shot him?”

I swallow hard, reliving the haunted expression on Michael’s face as he turned to stare at me.

“I... I killed him...”

“He’s dead,” I reply hoarsely. “After Zan was hit, Michael knocked Tommy to the ground and the gun went off. It killed him on impact.”

She shivers, wrapping her arms around her waist. “My God… why? Why did he do it?” she whispers, her lashes spiked with tears. “My baby never hurt anyone.”

“It was an accident,” I answer numb with guilt. “Tommy meant to shoot me… he was obviously not thinking straight, I don’t know if it was drugs or just plain insanity, but he aimed at me and Zan jumped in front of me. He… he saved my life, Serena. Oh, God… he saved my life.”

My knees buckle as she stares at me, silent tears coursing down her pretty face.

“He loves you so much,” she admits in a whisper. “He always has. Don’t you dare feel guilty, Max Evans. You would have done the same thing.”

I nod blankly, while Serena leads me towards the waiting room. Liz sees me first, wiping her eyes and staring at me with an unsure expression.

Isabel is crying softly into Alex’s shoulder, Maria’s eyes are red and she stares mournfully at a stoic Michael, who simply stares out the window at the dark night.

My gaze goes back to Liz, and I take a step towards her. She lets out a choked sob and rushes forward to hug me. I bury my face in her hair, and allow myself to lean against her.

“Oh, baby… I’m so sorry,” she whispers, tangling her fingers through my hair. “Are you okay? How’s Zan?”

“They said he was going to be all right,” I mumble, releasing a ragged breath. “But it all depends on if they get him stitched in time.”

“I can’t believe this is happening,” she whispers, blinking back tears as she pulls back. “I can’t believe he had a gun.”

I glance at Michael and see him staring back at me, and the desolate look in his eyes sends another wave of guilt through me. “How’s Michael?”

As soon as the ambulance had arrived, I’d been carted off to check for any injuries as well, and I hadn’t had time to see my best friend after he had shot and killed Tommy.

Liz appears to understand, as she nods. “Go to him.”

I brush a kiss across the top of her head, then make my way across the room. Isabel’s now sleeping in Alex’s lap, dark circles under her eyes. I stop and run a hand down her golden locks. “She doesn’t need to be here,” I say quietly to Alex. “Take her home, get her in bed. I’ll call if there’s any news.”

“You don’t look too good yourself,” he answers, studying me closely. “Maybe you should take your own advice?”

I straighten stiffly. “I have to be here. It’s my fault he’s in that goddamned operating room. Just take her home.”

He doesn’t back down from my harsh tone. “So you held that gun on yourself, then shot Zan? Because that’s the only way I see this is any of your fault, Max.”

I ignore him, continuing my walk towards Michael. He turns to face me with a look of challenge on his face.

“Don’t say anything,” he snaps, running a hand through his hair. I pretend not to notice the way the movement shakes. “This is all my fault, and I know you hate me. I don’t need to hear it.”

I just stare at him. “What the fuck are you talking about?”

“Tommy!” he hisses. “I brought him into our group, Max.”

I sigh, leaning tiredly on the arm of a shabby love seat. “I thought we were past this,” I say quietly. “Michael, it isn’t your fault that Tommy turned out to be fucking insane.”

“It’s not your fault that Zan got shot, either,” he fires back, and I raise a brow at the realization that he overheard Alex’s words. “I killed someone tonight, Max. My hand brought someone down. Whether by accident or not… I don’t even know anymore. I just… one minute I thought you were dead, the next Tommy was.”

“You reacted on instinct,” I correct. “And self-defense.”

“Did I? Or was I taking out my agression on Tommy, just like I did with Nicholas? Who, by the way, is sitting in jail right now for accessory to predetermined murder.”

I meet his gaze, and neither of us speak for a long moment. Then I say, “Do you think he knew?”

His jaw tics. “If you’re asking me whether I want to see him go down for this, then no. I saw his face when Tommy pulled out that gun. He was pretty out of it, but he looked shocked. I want him to get what’s coming to him… but not for something like this.”

I nod, feeling a slight pang of pride for Michael. “I’ll talk to my dad.”

“Have they heard?”

I look away. “They’re out of town. I left a message… but by the time they get it, it could be too-“

“Max!”

I look over my shoulder in shock as Diane’s voice sounds behind me. I see her and my father running down the hospital corridor, obviously fresh off an airplane, still carrying baggage.

Diane wraps me in a hug as Phillip looks on with a tight, worried expression. “Oh, baby…we came as soon as we got the message. How is he?”

“I don’t know,” I answer honestly, my tongue feeling thick as I stare in amazement at the people I’ve so recently come to think of as my parents. “He’s still in surgery.”

“How did this happen?” Phillip rasps in a low voice, and I meet my father’s eyes, seeing the naked anguish displayed there.

Once again, I explain the details of the evening to my parents, and watch as Diane presses a hand to her mouth and my father chokes on a sob as I tell of Zan’s injury.

Twenty minutes later, and the doctor comes to tell us all that Zan made it through surgery, but that he’s sleeping. Serena bursts into tears and Liz comforts her, both girls crying openly with relief.

I call Alex and relay the news so he can let Isabel know when she awakens, then turn to find Liz at my side. She takes my hand and rubs it against her cheek.

“Your Mom and Dad said they would stay for a while, if you want to go get some sleep,” she says softly, kissing my palm.

“I can’t,” I say firmly. “I have to stay here until he wakes up.”

“It will be awhile,” she responds, “the nurse came in and said that the medicine they gave him in recovery will keep him out for about twenty-four hours. Why don’t you let me take you home and you get some rest, okay? Max, you look exhausted.”

I waver, staring into her soft, sympathetic eyes. “I… I don’t want to be there…” I admit, swallowing as I think of returning to a home where Zan’s empty room lies mockingly next to mine.

She gazes back at me, and understanding lights her eyes. “Come to the cottage,” she whispers, wrapping her arms around my middle. “Let me take care of you.”


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


(Liz POV)


I glance over at Max, and see him staring silently at the windshield, his face half-shadowed by the night. My heart breaks for his lost expression, and I swallow thickly before returning my gaze to the road.

When we arrive at my cottage, we slip in undetected and I lock the door and pull the drapes closed before turning back to him.

He stands in the middle of my bedroom, staring at me with quivering lips and dark eyes, hands limply at his side. His jaw is lightly outlined with late-night stubble, and he appears fiercely masculine and yet at the same time, like a little boy.

A low sound escapes my throat and I walk over and hug him tightly, begging him silently not to close himself off from me. I almost sob in relief when his arms slowly come up to hold me, then crush me against his chest.

“Liz…” he whispers in my ear, his cheek rubbing against mine and sending a shiver through my body as I feel his erection against my lower belly. “I need you… oh God…”

His lips cover mine harshly, his hands coming up to frame my face. I whimper at the emotion pouring out of him, and tears course down my face. Tears of pain for what he’s gone through.

He suddenly curses violently and shoves away from me, breathing heavily as he stares at me with intense dismay and mortification. My breathing comes quickly, as well, and I reach a hand out to touch him.

“Max, what is it?”

“I can’t believe I did that,” he whispers, a shattered expression in his amber eyes. He blinks and looks at me with heartbreaking confusion. “All I can think about is losing myself in you, Liz…”

“It’s okay,” I whisper brokenly, cradling his face and placing a light kiss on his lips. “I’m here.”

The words seem to snap something inside him, and he falls onto his knees, pressing his fingers against his eyes as he weeps. “Oh God… how can I be thinking this… he’s in the fucking hospital.”

I’m crying myself as I kneel next to him, trying to draw him closer. “It’s okay… I need you, too… Max… please, let me help you.”

No,” his voice breaks, and he tries to move away from me, but I only shift closer, not allowing an inch of space between us.

Suddenly I find myself on the ground beneath him, his eyes wild and his lower body pressed against mine as he raises my arms above my head. “Is this what you want?” he rasps, his eyes burning with despair… and desire. “You want to see how much I need you?”

“Y… yes,” I blubber, trying to reach him.

“I need to fuck you,” he growls, rubbing himself sinuously against my cleft. “I need to fuck your brains out, so I can’t think. What do you think of that? Do I disgust you yet?”

I simply stare at him, allowing him to see my feelings through my eyes. “I love you, Max. Fuck me if you need to, but we’ll still be making love.”

He stares down at me for a suspended moment, then groans roughly before taking my lips with his own. His mouth is hot and needy on my own, and I can taste our mingled tears as he runs his hand up my shirt, taking the fabric with him.

Minutes later, we’re naked and he drives into me with no finesse, his eyes gazing into mine. “I’m sorry…” he whispers, biting his lower lip. “I’m so sorry…”

I frame his face and pull him into a gentle kiss. “I love you. I love you,” I repeat with each thrust. “I’m here, Max…”

He loses himself then, driving hard and long into me as I moan beneath him. Our bodies are slick with sweat and our eyes locked together.

He comes seconds before I do, dropping his head to my forehead and whispering in an aching voice, “I love you…”

Afterwards, he crawls into my arms and cries like a baby.


<center>TBC.....</center>
Last edited by Applebylicious on Mon Apr 19, 2004 8:45 am, edited 2 times in total.

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Post by Applebylicious » Mon Apr 19, 2004 1:50 pm

<center>Part 30</center>


(Max POV)



“Ugh, what is this? Chilled monkey brains? Boiled bull testicles?”

I lift an eyebrow at Zan’s disgusted tone, not looking up from the deck of cards I’m dealing. “You’ve been watching entirely too much Fear Factor.”

“Yeah well, this hospital food is going to kill me,” he mumbles, picking through some reddish, gelatinous mass that reminds me of… monkey brains. Finally, he throws the fork down and folds his arms, a scowl on his face. “Duke, this bites the big one.”

“What’s wrong now, you fucking whiner?” I sigh, not unkindly. Truthfully, I’d suffer through hours of listening to Zan bitch and moan… if only for the reassurance that he’s here.

“Do you realize I’ve been in this damn bed for a week, and I haven’t gotten a single boner? I’ve never had a problem raising little Zan from his slumber. What if all this damn medicine is screwing up my manmeat?”

The cards go flying out of my hands, littering on the floor. “Zan… you’re still recovering from major surgery. And you’re already thinking about sex?”

He stares at me like I’ve gone crazy. “Bro… this is serious.”

I lay my head on the table. “Good God.”

“Seriously, duke, I’ve even tried getting it started myself,” he continues, obviously disgruntled. “I’m carrying dead weight here.”

“I’m not hearing this,” I mumble, standing up. “Oh, look at the time. I forgot I have to… go pick up Liz.”

He hides a grin. “I thought she dropped you off?”

Shit. “Yeah well… I meant Isabel.”

He grunts, scratching at the bandage covering the upper part of his chest through the flimsy hospital gown. His expression turns suddenly serious. “I heard tomorrow’s Ed’s memorial?”

My gaze darkens, and I stare at the wall. “Yeah… can you believe it? The guy has a heart attack on the way back from Monte Carlo. Fucking figures.”

“Damn… that sucks, Maxwell,” he says quietly. “I’m sorry. How’s Liz?”

“She’s… I don’t know,” I sigh, raking a hand through my hair. “She’s holding up okay, but I mean, it has to be hard for her. Ed was the only family she had left, aside from the slut-cousin from hell.”

“I’m assuming Tess isn’t crying into her pillow over her grandfather’s death,” Zan states sarcastically.

“Tess is speaking at the damn memorial,” I growl, fingers clenching in frustration as I stew over the fact that Tess and her manipulative ways will go unpunished. “Goddammit, Zan, she’s getting away with it.”

“At least she isn’t getting her way,” he points out. “Her scheme for Liz backfired. That’s something, isn’t it?”

We’re both silent a moment. “It’s not enough,” I mumble, and he nods in agreement.

“What’s stopping you from taking it public?” he asks me suddenly. “The old geezer is dead – it can’t hurt him anymore. And I don’t think Liz cares whether Tess’s sterling reputation is ruined.”

I turn to stare at him, pensive thoughts crowding my brain. “I have thought about it. It’s pretty much all I’ve thought about. But… what if it all just comes back on Liz? I don’t want to put her through any unnecessary pain, especially with everything that’s just happened.”

“Liz is a lot stronger than you think,” Zan answers, frowning again at the mush on his plate. “Maybe it’s time you realized that.”

“I know that,” I snap in irritation. “Is it so wrong that I don’t want to see her hurt?”

“No,” he raises a brow, “but I think you should check with her before you make the decision for her.”

I ponder his words the entire way to Liz’s later that day.

Liz meets me at the door to the main estate, her eyes slightly red from crying. I immediately pull her into my arms when she gives a small sniffle. “Hey… how you doing?” I ask sympathetically.

She smiles, a little shakily, but a smile nonetheless. “I’m okay. Your dad and the rest of my grandfather’s lawyers were here earlier and, well… Max, there’s something I should tell you.”

My mind immediately comes up with worst case scenarios, and I pull back to study her. I notice a hint of grief for her grandfather, but mostly there is… amusement. And maybe even triumph. “What happened?”

“He cut her out,” she says in a low voice, glancing over her shoulder as glass breaks somewhere in the house. “He knew all along, Max. About what she was doing.”

My eyes widen. “You’re kidding me. But… he never…”

She shakes her head. “He still loved her, Max. That’s why he never said anything. But he cut her out of the majority of his legacy. Aside from a small inheritance fund, which is still enough to be happy on, Tess has to make her own way in the world. Of course… she isn’t happy.”

As if to mark those words, Tess’s high pitched wail sounds from down the hall. “Where is that bitch?!”

I stiffen as she appears, blonde hair disheveled and one side of a pair of silk lounging pajama’s sliding off her slim shoulder. Her face is pale, except for where two spots of color burn in her cheeks.

Her gaze narrows on Liz, and she walks forward with her fingers bared into claws. “You,” she sneers, and reaches out to slap Liz across the face.

I catch her arm in mid-air, throwing her across the room. “Take a moment to reconsider that,” I say in a deadly quiet voice.

She hisses at me, shrugging off my hand as she stands on wobbly legs. A long blonde curl covers one eye and she blows at it in frustrated anger. “You son of a bitch! You think you can tell me what to do in my own house? Fuck you!”

“It’s my house, too, Tess,” Liz says softly, but I hear the fire in her tone. “Max is staying. Deal with it.”

Tess stares at her, seemingly amazed that Liz had the nerve to stand up to her. “You want this asshole here? After what he did to you? What, are you a fucking moron?”

I open my mouth to answer, but Liz shoots me a harsh glare.

“As a matter of fact, I am a fucking moron,” she hisses. “For ever listening to your lies in the first place. But guess what, Tess, I’m not so naïve anymore. Your manipulations aren’t going to work on me, ever again.”

Tess screeches, “Bitch!”

She runs for Liz again, and to my complete and utter shock, Liz reaches out and clips her cousin solidly. Tess falls to her knees, moaning and holding her eye in pain.

“You hit me,” she murmurs, and for a second I glimpse a hint of stunned vulnerability in her expression. But all too soon her lips curl and her eyes turn cold and ugly. “You’ll pay for that, you fucking bitch.”

With all the dignity she can muster, she stands and walks to her room.

I stare at Liz as she pants, her entire face red with anger. “Hey, slugger, you okay?” I murmur, reaching out to rub her arm. “Damn, remind me never to piss you off.”

Her lips quiver. “She’s so evil, Max. How can she be like that?”

“She’s not a happy person, baby,” I whisper, pressing her face against my neck. “She only wants to make everyone around her miserable, too. But you’re too good for her to ruin. You know that, don’t you? You’ve saved me from becoming like her.”

She looks up, surprise written on her face. “Max… no…”

“I was in a downward spiral until I met you,” I cut her off with a light kiss as I see her beginning to reply. “No, please, let me tell you this. You… you’ve changed me, baby. For the better. I’m a good person because of you.”

She smiles sadly, and reaches up to kiss my forehead. “No. You’re a good person because of you. Look what you’ve done for Zan, for Isabel, your parents? Because of you, you’re a family now.”

I crush her to my chest, my eyes burning with love as I capture her lips. “You’re my family,” I whisper honestly. “I love you.”

“I love you, too,” she sighs. “Now let’s take that bitch down.”

My brows rise, even as a slow smile spreads across my lips.

<center>***</center>


(Liz POV)



I slip on the buttercream blouse, slowly buttoning it as I stare at myself in the mirror. The woman looking back at me is so different from the girl I’d been when I arrived in Roswell.

There’s pain in my eyes, and regret. But there’s also a newfound sense of strength. And love.

Anticipation.

I pull a brush through my hair silently, lips pursed as I imagine the scene about to occur.

When I reach the country club where my grandfather’s memorial is taking place, I immediately see my cousin sobbing delicately in the arms of one of Grandpa’s associates.

Jesse Ramirez, a young and nubile attourney who is on the team that represented my grandfather’s assets, looks slightly dazed as Tess clings to him, discreetly rubbing herself against his chest.

I shake my head in disgust, meeting my cousin’s eyes as I step out of the car. She stiffens slightly, then sniffs and turns back to Jesse, murmuring in his ear. The two disappear a few minutes later.

I spot Michael wandering around the courtyard, and make my way over. “Hey, you, thanks for coming,” I say quietly. “I really appreciate it.”

“As if I’d miss this,” Michael replies softly, his double meaning perfectly clear. “Are you okay?”

“I’m fine,” I reply, and it’s true. My grandfather’s death, while sudden and tragic, didn’t affect me the same way my parents’ did. Perhaps it’s because I didn’t have the chance to truly get to know him. But the time I spent with him, I wouldn’t trade for the world. I gaze into Michael’s eyes, noting the guilt that lingers there, and gently squeeze his hand. “How are you?”

“I’m… holding up,” he breathes, scratching his head. “Things have started to die down a bit, so… “

I nod understandingly, well, as understandingly as I can be. I’ll never know the torment that fills Michael. The fact that he was forced into killing someone he’d once considered a friend. But I know he’s strong enough to pull through. “That’s good.”

He stares at me a moment, then a ghost of a smile appears. “Have I ever told you how much I appreciate what you’ve done for Max? You’re wonderful for him, Liz.”

My cheeks begin to heat as I twitter and shrug lightly. “Well… thank you… I guess…”

He laughs. “Now I’ve embarrassed you. Oh well, it’s about to get worse.” With that forewarning, he suddenly pulls me into a tight hug. I’m surprised for a split-second, then I relax into the embrace, and hug him back.

“Should I be worried?”

We both turn to see Max standing there, looking absolutely gorgeous in a black suit, hands in his pockets as he lounges against a marble fountain. One side of his mouth quirks as he meets my gaze, and my heart stumbles in my chest, the way it always does when he’s near.

The way I pray it always will.

“Try not to screw this one up, buddy,” Michael winks, then strides off to give us a moment of privacy.

He takes my hands in his and stares deeply into my eyes. “Are you sure you want to do this? It isn’t too late to back out.”

I chew my lip, glancing around at the droves of people milling about. Young and old, the members of the community murmur with one another, speaking of what an awful situation it is for the two Harding granddaughters.

I hear one regal woman extolling Tess to a group of fashionably dressed women, and my lips flatten. “Yes, I’m sure. It’s time everyone knew the real Tess Harding.”

He stares at me a moment longer, then nods. “Okay, baby. Everything’s set. Just remember… I’m here.”

I squeeze his hand in assurance. “I know.”


<center>***</center>


I step into the bathroom before the memorial starts, and run into Tess, adjusting her silk sheath as she stumbles out of a nearby closet. Jesse Ramirez follows, and looks absolutely horrified at my presence.

I smile. “Hello, Mr. Ramirez. It’s a lovely day for a memorial, wouldn’t you agree?” I ask in a pleasant tone, as though I don’t notice the lipstick stain on his collar, or that his fly is open.

“Well… yes… yes, it is,” he stammers, flushing as Tess simply glares at me. “Excuse me. Ladies.”

After he leaves, I raise a brow. “Ladies? That’s a laugh.”

“If you say anything, no one will believe you,” she snaps, walking over to the mirror. While fluffing her hair, she adds, “Besides, I’ve suffered a major trauma. I’m entitled to some sympathy.”

“Of course,” I murmur in agreement, watching as she begins to finger the crucifix around her neck. “Turn to Jesus, Tess. He saves those who can’t save themselves.”

She turns to stare at me, and I smile, before walking out of the room.


<center>***</center>



(Max POV)


“As you all know, my grandfather was an integral part of this community. With his blood, sweat, and tears, he gave himself to make Roswell into a place that we can be proud of.”

As I stand to the side of the podium, listening to Tess’s voice, I am once again amazed at the depth of her acting skills. Her eyes are dewy and bright, her voice soft and wavering.

Every few minutes, she stops to sniff into a lace handkerchief, looking every bit the part of the grieving granddaughter. Only I notice the way she doesn’t focus on anyone in the audience, instead staring just above everyone’s heads.

And only I see when she reaches down and digs the tips of her nails into her arm, bringing tears to her eyes.

“As Edward Harding’s granddaughter, I take it upon myself to assure that his memory will never be forgotten,” she continues. “That we, the good citizens of Roswell, will forever-“

A murmur begins in the back of the courtyard, and people begin turning as curiosity overwhelms even the most mannered. The whispering becomes louder, and is accompanied by scandalized glances towards the front of the room.

“-and finally, I’d like to… to…” Tess trails off, frowning as people begin speaking louder. “Um, excuse me? Hey, I’m speaking here!”

I smirk at her, whistling as I make my way across the makeshift stage. When she sees me, her eyes widen in confusion, then her face drains of blood as what’s captured everyone’s attention finally makes its way to the front of the room.

The erotic sounds of panting and moaning can be heard through the air, and the giant projection screen behind Tess comes to life. Startled gasps sound, and many cover their mouths in shock as the video of Tess’s drug-induced orgy plays itself out for the good citizens of Roswell.

The sound is suddenly muted, and then various phrases are heard over the intercom.

“Whatever, if you want her, it’s gonna cost you.”

“What, are you her pimp?”.

“No, darling… but you’re in no position to argue with me. I know what you did.”

“What the fuck are you talking about?”

“You think I don’t know that you’re the one who raped Isabel Evans?”


Tess gasps as people stare at her in incredulous horror, she begins backing away, and runs right into Sheriff Valenti, who gives her a hard stare.

“I don’t give a fuck what happened. I just want money, all right? I need to see my dealer soon, and I’ve already spent what the old fart gave me for this month. You want my cousin, you pay up. Cash.”

The Sheriff rips the crucifix from her throat and powder dusts the air. Tears run down Tess’s cheeks, as she spins around. She stumbles into the podium, falling to her knees as Liz steps out on stage.

Tess stares up at her cousin, her eyes smudged and weeping with mortification. A smile of regret crosses Liz’s face as the police come up behind Tess, handcuffs in hand.

“I could say something, Tess,” she says softly. “But no one would believe me.”

Tess’s blue eyes flare with hatred, and she shrieks as the handcuffs are placed around her wrists.

“You’re going to have to come with us, Miss Harding,” the young cop says in disgust. “You’ve got a lot to answer for.”

“This is an outrage!” Tess screams, fighting against the men. “I demand you let me go at once! This is all her fault! She’s lying! She set this up! Oh… somebody stop her!”

I walk over and place an arm around Liz’s stiff shoulders, and she relaxes into my embrace, tears stinging her own eyes as she watches her cousin being dragged towards a waiting police car. “It’s over, baby,” I murmur, placing a kiss to her forehead.

She shivers, but nods. “I still… I still wish she could change. But it won’t happen, will it, Max? Sometimes a person just… can’t change their mold.”

“Not if they aren’t willing to recognize the wrongs they’ve done,” I answer softly. “You always want to see the best in people, sweetheart.”

“Is that so bad?” she whispers, a tear sliding down her face as she turns to look at me. “After all, I saw the good in you.”

I smile, pushing back a strand of hair from her face. “Bad? No, no it’s not.”

Our lips meet, and everything else ceases to matter.


<center>The End</center>


Author's Note: Epilogue to come... :D
Last edited by Applebylicious on Mon Apr 19, 2004 8:22 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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