Rescued From Death (AU, M/L,Adult) 11/11/07 [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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Shadowlynxbehr
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Rescued From Death (AU, M/L,Adult) 11/11/07 [COMPLETE]

Post by Shadowlynxbehr » Tue Jan 09, 2007 9:21 pm

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BANNER BY DROGYN


Title: Rescued From Death
Author: Shadowlynxbehr
Disclaimer: Don't own anything to do with Roswell or it's associations...but Kadee does :cry: .
Pairings: M/L
Rating: Adult
Summary: Liz is a murdered ghost. Max comes upon her reenacting her murder scene and somehow disrupts it, making her human again. Now she must cope with being a human in the modern world with Max.


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Tess has been nominated as Favorite Supporting Portrayal of Tess Harding in Round 11, Part 1 of the RoswellFanatics Character Portrayals. Thanks to all who have nominated her and good luck to everyone in all of the parts of Round 11! :D



Part 1

“I can’t believe I listened to you Kyle! For all we know we could be miles away by now.” grumbled Max as he and his best friend continued to walk through the woods hoping they’d see something familiar to them.

The two friends had been on a camping trip with a group of friends from the old neighborhood. Together with Michael, Alex, Tommy, Keegan, Isabel, Maria, Tess, and Vicki they had decided to go camping after some of them had run into each other at their ten year high school reunion.

Unfortunately, the ones with the maps, good sense of directions, and familiarity with the woods were Michael, Maria, and Isabel who had remained back at camp. Max had foolishly let Kyle talk him into wandering further into the woods when they had been sent in search of good kindling for the fire they were going to build for supper.

“Yeah well how was I supposed to know you weren’t keeping track of where we were going? You’re always so anal about everything, I just figured you’d keep track of where camp was,” mumbled Kyle.

“I am not anal!” retorted Max, “I just like having a plan. Excuse me for being so organized with my life!”

“You’re excused,” Kyle replied before adding, “Look, we might just have to find some place that will provide some shelter for the night, it’s already getting too dark to see much of anything anymore. Let’s just hope they realize we’re missing and come looking for us.”

“Right,” Max sighed as he looked around the area. “I don’t think they’ll be looking for us tonight though. They’ll probably wait until sun up since it’ll be easier to see in this place.”

Kyle nodded, “You’re right. Okay, well let’s look for shelter then.”

The two of them continued to walk for a while when Kyle suddenly grabbed Max’s arm. “Oh! There is a God! That’s a house isn’t it?”

Max looked in the direction Kyle was pointing and squinted before making a face. “A house? You call that a house?”

Kyle rolled his eyes, “Hey something is better than nothing. Come on man, let’s go see if we can stay the night there.”

As the two of them got closer, they could clearly see exactly what kind of state the house was in. Max frowned as he took in the thatched roof and stone walls of the place and wondered how anyone could live in such a primitive place such as that one.

As they walked past the skeleton remains of a wooden fence, they entered into what must have once been a huge front yard of sorts. Running from the fence up to the front door of the house was a stone pathway which had been long overrun with the greenery of the woods.

To the right of the pathway was a sectioned off area consisting of a rickety fence combined with what looked like rusted barbed wire. From the looks of the area, someone must have once planted a garden there, using the wire to keep any animals out and whatever had been growing there safe. Now though, there was nothing but tall weeds and decaying vegetation.

Kyle was the first to reach the rudimentary wooden door which he briskly knocked on and called out, “Hello?”

Max rolled his eyes as he caught up with his friend. “Seriously Kyle, I don’t think anyone lives here.”

Kyle glanced at Max and shrugged when he saw the look of distaste on Max’s face. Kyle reached out to try the door knob and found the door unlocked. As he slowly opened it, the long unused rusty hinges creaked loudly. Kyle pushed the door all the way in and peeked inside.

Max moved up behind him and looked over his shoulder taking in the scenery too.

“Well, looks like you’re right Max, no one’s been here in ages,” said Kyle as he walked inside the house.

Max followed him in and noticed just how old the place really was. There were holes in the roof where the thatch had finally given in to the ever changing weather. The windows had no panes, only wooden shutters that had once been sealed tight to keep the weather out. The floor was earthen with little cracks here and there where grass had managed to sneak in. Even the stone walls had cracks in it making Max wonder just how much more pressure it needed to send the whole place crashing down on them.

Still it was a pleasant surprise to see pieces of wooden furniture scattered around the place. Granted, many of the pieces seemed to barely be holding up, but they were there.

There was what looked like a king sized bed with a carved wooden frame and headboard in the back of the place. The mattress on it looked a little lumpy in places, yet it sagged as if it had been stuffed with feathers and the like. At the foot of the bed sat a hand carved trunk with rusty iron hinges.

Near the front and to the right of the place was a long rectangular piece that resembled a couch without a back. It was facing the right wall which had a stone and brick fireplace in it. There was also an old fashioned rocking chair that seemed to tilt slightly to the side and a pile of wood that looked as if it had been a chair once upon a time.

To the left of the place was a hand carved table with four matching chairs in various states of disrepair. The entire set seemed very similar to the bed frame. Behind the table against the wall was what Max could have sworn was an old fashioned cupboard. And between the cupboard and the back of the place was an antique cast iron stove which Max would have never dreamed of seeing except for in a museum.

As he continued to stand there perusing the place, Kyle let out a sigh. “Well, it’s not much, but it’ll do in a pinch.” He motioned to the wood that must have once been a chair and said, “We could use this in the fireplace. Maybe someone will see the smoke and come looking.”

Max rolled his eyes, “Exactly how are you going to start a fire, Kyle?”

Kyle lifted his chin, “I’m not completely hopeless you know. I know how to use a flint.”

Max arched an eyebrow, “Okay then, where’s the flint?”

Kyle gave an exasperated sigh and walked outside. A few moments later he was back wearing a huge grin and holding a couple of rocks up for Max’s inspection. “Flints.”

Max laughed, “So, you are going to rub those rocks together and hope a spark starts, huh?”

Kyle nodded at Max’s disbelieving stare and said, “I’ll get a fire going and you look around for blankets or something we can use as bedding.”

For a few moments Max watched as Kyle picked up the pieces of wood and begin to pile them in the fireplace. Finally he made his way around the place, trying to guess where blankets or even where clothes would be stored.

Turning towards the area where the bed was, he noticed the trunk again and made his way over to it. Bending over, he tried lifting the lid and it gave way with a creak of the hinges. Once it was open, Max peered in and smiled when he realized he’d hit the jackpot. Inside the chest were several moth eaten blankets. He reached in and pulled them out one by one. Opening each one and shaking them out, he decided they would do for the night.

Kyle stood up just as Max had finished shaking out the last blanket and proclaimed, “There. I made a fire to keep us warm tonight. Let’s hope someone sees the smoke tomorrow and comes to rescue us.”

************************************************************

Max awoke with a start, then groaned softly when Kyle’s arm dropped heavily on his back. Sighing, he lay there for a moment berating himself for thinking he could share even a king sized bed with his friend. Ever since they were young, Kyle had always hogged the bed, sleeping sprawled out and constantly moving around in his sleep. Max had hoped his friend would outgrow it, but no such luck.

As he quietly slipped out from under Kyle’s arm and grabbed the blanket he’d been using, he wondered just how Kyle’s live in girlfriend, Tess managed to put up with him. The two of them had been high school sweethearts and had even gone to college together before finally moving in together.

Max guessed it had to be true love since Tess had been hinting at getting married lately. Still, Kyle seemed just as clueless as ever because he wasn’t getting the hints Tess threw out at him. Everyone else got them, but not Kyle.

Max stared at Kyle as he rolled over onto his back and slung his arms wide open before settling down again. Rolling his eyes, he made his way to the backless couch and decided to try bunking down there. Grumbling under his breath about immature best friends, Max spread his blanket out and tried to get comfortable on the couch that was too short for his length.

He lay on his side, facing away from the fireplace and brought his knees up to his chest. Grabbing the blanket and pulling it tight around him, he settled in to try to get back to sleep when something caught his attention. Lifting his head, he could see a faint light shining through the window shutter near the cupboard. He watched as the light seemed to be moving in the direction of the front of the house.

Thinking it was someone with a flashlight, Max scrambled off of the couch and made his way to the front door. Opening the creaky door, he caught sight of someone running towards the front yard from the side of the house.

Looking over his shoulder he called out, “Kyle man, there’s someone outside.”

As he turned back around, he frowned when he realized it was a woman wearing a long dress. She looked as if she were out of breath, yet she was running hard and looking back over her shoulder towards the side of the house. Max was about to call out to her when she suddenly tripped and fell.

Max’s eyes went wide when he realized she had fallen into the garden. But it wasn’t the fall that shocked him, it was the garden. Instead of the old fence, wire, and decaying vegetation Max saw a very well cared for vegetable garden complete with a scarecrow in the middle of it.

Before he even had a chance to fully process what he was seeing, the woman rolled over and began to beg, “No! Please! I didn’t do it! I swear I didn’t!”

Max looked in the direction she was looking and saw a man come stalking from the side of the house looking very angry. Max gasped as he caught the glint of steel from the knife the man was holding. He looked back at the woman who was now trying to get her dress untangled from the fence wire. Max was just about to shout at her to run when she straightened up and the man slapped her hard.

Max swore under his breath and called out to Kyle again, “Kyle! Get up now!”

Max didn’t wait for an answer as he took off at a run towards the couple. The man had slapped the woman again and shoved her down near the edge of the garden. Max could hear her pleading with the man to stop when he saw the man raise the knife and bring it down into the woman’s chest.

“No!” screamed Max as the man pulled the knife back and proceeded to stab the woman over and over again. Stunned at what he was seeing, Max could only gape and stare in horror as the man suddenly tossed the knife away.

The woman lay amongst the now ruined garden coughing up blood. As the man leaned over her, seemingly crying and pleading with her, she lifted a bloody hand towards him. Max watched as the man grabbed her hand and leaned closer whispering something to her. Then, he slowly stood up and began to back away from her before he suddenly turned and ran back towards the side of the house.

Appalled at what he was seeing, Max looked at the woman. He could see her chest still moving, so he knew she was still alive. He couldn’t believe the man would just leave her there like that. Quickly scrambling towards her, he ran to her side and sank down to his knees. Looking down at her, he could see her eyes were open as she stared blankly at the sky. She coughed up more blood and Max leaned closer.

“Hold on, I’m going to help you okay?” he said as he lowered his hands to inspect the wound.

His hands never made contact with a solid body as they went through her form. Scrambling back in shock, Max exclaimed, “What the…”

Then noticed she was slowly turning her head to look past him. Max turned his own head just in time to see the man walking towards them carrying a shovel. Scrambling to his feet, Max could feel chills running up his spine. He knew what the man was going to do with that shovel.

With a cry of disbelief, he watched as the man dropped the shovel, leaned down and grabbed the woman’s shoulders before dragging her further into the garden. Then he went back for the shovel and began to dig a hole next to where the woman now lay.

Max glanced back at the woman who was still staring at the sky, tears falling down her cheeks, her breathing labored.

“Stop it!” Max screamed at the man. “Stop! Can’t you see she’s still alive! You can’t do this!”

As Max rushed at the unresponsive man, he suddenly heard Kyle’s voice call out, “Max? What are you doing out here in the middle of the night?”

Max looked towards the house where Kyle stood in the doorway rubbing the sleep out of his eyes. “Kyle! Hel…”

Max stopped in mid-sentence when he turned back towards the garden only to see that no one was there. He turned his head to and fro trying to find them to no avail.

Yet, everything looked the way it had when he and Kyle had first arrived. There was no man, no woman, and no evidence of a brutal murder. Max stared down at the ground, but there was no blood and no upturned earth.

All that he saw was the very old fence with rusty barbed wire, overrun with weeds and vegetation. The neat little garden with the scarecrow in the center might have never existed except in his mind.

As Max blinked in confusion Kyle spoke again, “Max? You okay? What’s going on?”

Max stared at the ground for a few more seconds before looking up at Kyle. “What?”

Kyle frowned, “What’s wrong?”

Max shook his head, “Nothing.” He glanced at the ground one more time before making his way back to the house. “Nothing’s wrong.”

Kyle stepped aside as Max entered the house. “You sure?” he asked.

Max nodded, “Yeah, I’m fine.”

“What were you doing out there anyway?”

“Nothing.” He shrugged, “Must have been having a bad dream.”

Kyle gave him a look, “Outside?”

“Yeah, I must have been sleepwalking or something.”

Kyle didn’t say anything else, but continued to stare in concern at his best friend. As he watched Max close the door, Kyle knew something was off. In all the years they had known each other, Kyle had never known Max to sleepwalk.

Max walked back to the couch and sat down. Kyle walked over to the fireplace and put more wood in before stoking it a bit. Turning around, he watched as Max curled the blanket around him.

“Why are you sleeping on the couch? The bed is big enough for both of us.”

Max didn’t turn to look at him as he replied, “You kept hitting me in your sleep, so I moved over here.”

“Oh, geez! Sorry man! I…”

“It’s okay, Kyle. I’m just gonna sleep here.”

“You sure?”

“Yeah,” came Max’s muffled reply.

Kyle stared at Max’s back for a few more moments before sighing and moving back to the bed. He knew Max wasn’t going to talk about whatever had happened that night. At least for the moment. Maybe he would tomorrow, but for now Kyle knew he was pretending to be going to sleep.

Max lay there with his eyes closed listening to Kyle settling back into bed. When things were quiet again, he slowly opened his eyes and stared into space. He could clearly remember everything he’d seen. It couldn’t have been a dream. It had seemed too real to have been a dream.

If that was true, he wondered, then what exactly did it all mean?

TBC...
Last edited by Shadowlynxbehr on Sun Nov 11, 2007 5:09 pm, edited 38 times in total.
Shadowlynxbehr's Fics
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"You know you're in love when you can't fall asleep because reality is finally better than your dreams." -Dr. Seuss

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Shadowlynxbehr
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Post by Shadowlynxbehr » Tue Jan 16, 2007 7:29 pm

gidget- thanks, let's hope I go somewhere good :) .

pandas- LOL, keep reading :wink:

spray- LOL, thanks.

dreamer- LOL, thanks. Hope I don't freak you out too much...

aussie- Thanks, here ya go.

vampy- thanks

y m d- thanks, I'm trying :)

Drogyn- thanks. And thanks again for the banner! I love it!

French- LOL, well here's the next part...

LJL- hee hee, some answers are in this part and there are more in the next few parts...

EVE- thanks

Jess- awwww, thanks!

dream- LOL, thanks, glad you like it! :)

Vero- thanks. :D , you know...destiny/fate...that sort of thing :D :wink:

candycane- thanks

D W- thanks. You'll see :D


Okay, just wanted to let you guys know that this part mostly sets up all the parts the characters play and gives a little insight into their lives and how they are linked to Max. Don't despair...Max and Liz will meet soon. :D


Part 2

“Max! Man, wake up!” came Kyle’s voice through Max’s sleep fogged mind.

Max groaned and slowly opened his eyes. He hadn’t been able to get as much sleep as he’d liked. The couch he’d slept on hadn’t been very comfortable at all, but the real reason was because he couldn’t stop thinking about what he’d seen.

Kyle gave him a grin and said, “Come on, get up! They’re outside!”

Max sat up and ran a hand over his face. “Who?”

“Michael, Maria, and one of the guides. They saw our smoke, just like we thought. I spotted them once they’d made the clearing. Come on, they should be here any second!”

As Max stood up, stretching to relieve some of the stiffness in his joints, Kyle went to the door again. Max frowned as he looked around the house. From the looks of it, Kyle had been up for a while which was odd since Kyle wasn’t known as a morning person.

As Max glanced back at the fireplace, he saw that the fire was still going strong. That meant Kyle had been up early enough to make sure smoke would be visible for anyone outside to see.

“Hi guys! Long time no see!” exclaimed a cheery Kyle from the door.

Max looked up just in time to see Michael, Maria, and Tim the guide walk into the house. Michael looked around in disgust, Tim looked around hesitantly, and Maria looked around in awe.

“Wow! You know, from the outside, it doesn’t look like much, but I have to say you guys got lucky to find such a great place to hunker down for a night,” said Maria.

Michael nodded, “Yeah, you guys got really lucky. It looks like it’s gonna cave any moment!”

Maria rolled her eyes and hit her husband on the chest, “Really Mike!”

Kyle grinned, “Yeah we got lucky, but I’m grateful you guys came looking for us.”

Maria chuckled, “We saw the smoke.”

Kyle nodded, “Yeah, that’s what we were hoping.”

“So, what happened to you guys last night?” asked Michael.

Max noticed the way Tim’s head snapped up to look at Michael as he asked that.

Max mumbled, “We got lost.”

“What?” Maria exclaimed. “How’d you manage that?”

Max rolled his eyes, “I listened to daredevil over there when he said we’d find better kindling inside the woods.”

Kyle huffed, “Yeah, well, Mister I-Always-Pay-Attention-To-Details wasn’t paying attention!”

Michael shook his head as a grin spread over his face. No one could figure out how it was that the two of them had been best friends since grade school. The two of them were polar opposites in almost everything.

Max with his tall, dark, good looks was extremely focused on whatever he was doing at the moment. In school it had been his grades, where he’d excelled at virtually everything. In college, it had been achieving his degree in Advertising. Now, at twenty-eight years old, Max was one of the best in his business and Michael knew he was just an award away from making Junior Partner.

Because of Max’s focus throughout his life, he’d been completely oblivious to the fact that many women were extremely attracted to him. That and the fact that Max liked to be in control of everything kept many women at arm’s length.

Not only was Max driven, but he was an obsessive compulsive man about his entire life. His loft was always looking sanitarily clean, his clothes were always neat and pressed, even his car and his office were spotless. Yeah, all the women he’d managed to date had eventually been driven away because even they couldn’t put up with his perfect standards.

Nothing in Max’s life seemed out of place because Max was extremely good at noticing details and organizing things. It was why no one would have thought Max would have gotten lost. Max minded details and always had a plan, so he would have made sure to know his way around, he was that picky and paranoid about things.

Kyle on the other hand was a good head shorter than Max with sandy brown hair and a welcoming smile. He was laid back, extremely charming, and one of the most easy going guys around. Despite being laid back, it was his charming personality that had gotten him to the manager’s position at the Sporting Goods store he worked at.

Kyle was good at handling people. He could charm the skin off a snake if he had too. That also made him popular with the ladies and Kyle knew it. Unlike Max, Kyle had never been oblivious to his appeal with women.

However, Kyle had never really abused it, especially not since Tess had walked into his life. Granted, Tess had first noticed the silent, focused Max but like most women, she’d been intimidated by his driven focus.

However, when she’d met Kyle, the two of them had instantly hit it off. Tess was into sports just as much as Kyle was and wasn’t afraid of getting down and dirty when she had too. Kyle had been in heaven when he’d found out the beautiful, petite blonde could get rough and gritty with the best of them. Ever since then, Kyle hadn’t looked at another woman.

So, the two of them had finally moved in together and set up a nice comfortable home that had a warm, relaxed feel to it were friends and family always felt welcome. It was an extreme contrast to Max’s cold, sterile loft.

Where Max took charge and made plans, Kyle was content to sit back and let life happen. Yet somehow the two of them had become best friends back in grade school and had remained so throughout their lives.

“Excuse me for having an off day! I thought the point of going camping was to relax. Isn’t that what all of you have been trying to tell me to do?” Max snapped.

Maria stepped between them with arms spread, “Hey! Chill guys! It’s okay. At least you guys were safe last night. No harm done.”

“Yeah,” Tim agreed as he looked around the place once more, “Come on, we should get back to camp soon.” He finally looked at Kyle, “We don’t want Tess to get any more worried than she already is.”

Kyle nodded, “Yeah, right. I’m ready.”

They all turned to Max who had sat down to put on his shoes. “Yeah, just let me finish getting dressed.”

************************************************************

Max made a mental note of every marker they had passed as the five of them returned to their camp. He wanted to remember how to get back to that house again. He knew something had happened and he wanted to know what it was. His curiosity was even more piqued when he’d noticed how Tim had been behaving since they had arrived to rescue them.

From the moment Tim had set foot in the house, he’d been agitated and nervous. Sneaking glances around the place when he thought no one was looking. He’d also shown agitated impatience when Max took his time getting dressed. Max had gotten the feeling that Tim was trying to rush them out of there.

As they had left the house, Max had seen Tim glance back at it several times until the house was no longer visible. When they’d gotten outside, Max had looked around trying to see if there was any evidence of what he’d seen the night before, but everything looked the way it had when he and Kyle had first stumbled upon the place.

Still, Max was determined to get to the bottom of it. He wanted to know what had happened, what he had seen. So, he made sure he remembered how to get back to the house if he needed to.

“Kyle! Oh thank God you’re okay!” Tess exclaimed as soon as the five of them had entered the camp.

Kyle grinned and opened his arms to welcome his girlfriend into them. She hugged him tight as she said, “I was so worried when you didn’t come back last night!”

He returned her hug as he kissed her cheek, “I know. I’m sorry, we wandered too far into the woods. But I’m okay, see?”

He stood back and looked into her watery eyes with a smile. “See?” he repeated.

She gave a soft laugh, “Yeah. Just don’t scare me like that again you big lug!”

He chuckled as he hugged her again, “I won’t.”

“Well, come on, let’s get you cleaned up before we have some breakfast, okay?”

Kyle wiggled his eyebrows, “You gonna clean me?”

Max watched as a giggling Tess led Kyle towards their tent.
“You okay, man?” asked Michael, who stood nearby with his arm around his wife’s shoulders.

Max nodded, “Yeah, just need a bath and some food, that’s all.”

Maria chuckled, “Okay, well, we’ll leave you to it then.”

As they walked away, Vicki walked up to Max, a face full of worry. She reached up to hug him, then thought better of it. Instead she just asked, “You okay, Max?”

Max nodded, “Yes. We found a place to sleep for the night and made a fire. We knew someone would spot it in the day and come find us.”

Isabel walked up next to her sister, placing a hand on her arm. “I told you he’d be okay, Vicki. See? Max always knows what to do.”

Vicki nodded, “Yeah, I know.” She smiled up at Max. “I’m glad you’re okay.”

“Thanks.”

Alex approached them with a grin, “Come on girls, let the man get cleaned up, huh? Then let’s get some food in him, I’ll bet he hasn’t eaten since yesterday.”

Max gave Alex a grateful look, “Yeah, thanks.”

Max followed Maria’s brother to the tent the two of them were sharing. Since Maria and Michael were married, as were Isabel and Tommy, the couples got their own tents. Same for Kyle and Tess.

That left Vicki, her brother Keegan, Alex, and Max. Vicki had been Max’s girlfriend in high school so it would have been awkward for the two of them to share a tent. Instead, Keegan shared a tent with her since their older sister, Isabel was bunking with her husband. So, Alex was left to share with Max. It also helped that Alex was the only one besides Kyle or Keegan who could put up with Max’s quirks.

As Vicki watched them walk away, Isabel put her arm around her little sister’s shoulders in comfort. “Come on, let’s help with the breakfast okay?”

Vicki nodded as she let Isabel lead her to the center of the camp where Tommy and Keegan were already working on breakfast.

************************************************************

Max rolled over onto his back and stared up at the ceiling. He still couldn’t get to sleep and he’d been trying for the past few hours. Alex was snoring lightly in his sleeping bag next to him and Max knew all the others had fallen asleep hours ago.

He just couldn’t get the images out of his mind. All day long he had been preoccupied with thoughts of what he had seen the night before. He knew the others knew something was distracting him, but no one had asked after Vicki had tried and gotten snapped at by Max.

He hadn’t meant to snap at her, but she’d been giving him these looks all day and that had just been irritating him. Normally he and Vicki could get along when they got together with all their friends, but anytime something drastic happened to Max, she’d revert back to the clingy girlfriend she’d been in high school.

Still, that had been ten years ago. Max would have thought she’d gotten over it by now. After all, they had never really been that serious about each other.

He glanced over at Alex to see him curled on his side, his mouth slightly open as he continued to snore. With a soft sigh, Max quietly crawled out of his sleeping bag and began to bundle up against the cold night. When he was done, he picked up the flashlight and took one last look at Alex before crawling out of the tent.

Looking around, he noticed how quiet it was since everyone was in their tents asleep. He glanced to the tent that their two guides, Tim and Frank shared, making sure neither one of them was up to see him leave camp.

Once he was satisfied that no one was going to catch him, he made his way out of the camp heading in the direction of the house. It didn’t take that long for him to find it. He hadn’t really needed the flashlight since the moon was out and its light was bright enough to see where he was going. The brightness allowed him to see all the markers that led him back to the house.

As soon as he made the clearing that led to the house, he looked towards the garden in time to see someone kneeling down. Max’s eyes went wide as he realized he’d arrived just in time to see the same man from the night before kneeling over the woman he’d just stabbed.

As the man stood up and ran towards the side of the house, Max took off at a run, trying to reach the woman lying in the garden. As he got closer, Max could see that it looked like a real garden once more and the house even looked better than it had the day he’d first arrived there.

There were no holes in the roof and the walls and door looked a little weathered, but in very good shape still. The stone pathway leading up to the house was distinct even in the moonlight and the wooden fence around the property stood tall and strong.

All of it looked as if someone had lived there for a while and had kept it in good shape. If Max didn’t know better, he would have thought it was a quaint little place for someone to use as a quiet retreat from a hectic life.

Max reached the fence just as the man came back around the side of the house carrying the shovel. Panicking, Max reached out to open the fence door, but his hand went through it. Looking back towards the man, Max attempted to run towards the woman, but stumbled and fell when he tripped over something.

Lifting his head, he knew he was too late since the man had reached the woman and was already dragging her into the center of the garden. As Max slowly stood up, chest heaving, he watched the man dig the hole right next to the woman.

Tears filled Max’s eyes as he watched in horror. He couldn’t breathe, couldn’t move. There was no way he could be seeing this. There was no way something like this could have happened.

Suddenly the man threw the shovel down and grabbed the woman who now lay unmoving. As the man lifted the woman up, Max could see that her eyes were closed and she hung limply in the man’s arms. There didn’t seem to be any movement of her chest although it was still covered in blood.

Max screamed as the man knelt down and dropped the woman’s body into the hole before standing up and picking the shovel up once more.

“No!” he whispered in horror. “No! This isn’t happening! I’m not seeing this! I know I’m not!”

Closing his eyes, he covered them with his hands and wept. Unable to comprehend what was going on. When he’d finally opened his eyes again, everything was as it had been the first time he’d seen that place.

He stared in shock at the ruined fence, house, and garden for a few moments until he found the strength to get on his feet. He stared in the direction of the garden, looking at the spot where he’d last seen the grave. There was nothing there to indicate someone had ever been buried there.

Shaking his head in denial, Max began to back up, away from that place. Turning around, he ran to the edge of the clearing and leaned against a tree. Closing his eyes, he leaned his head back against it, breathing hard and trying to get the images out of his head. He shook his head once more and whispered, “No.”

As another sob escaped his throat, he turned and grabbed the trunk before bending over and emptying the contents of his stomach on the ground. He stood there clutching the trunk as sobs and dry heaves continued to tumble out.

It was a long time before Max managed to get some sort of control of himself. Straightening up, he wiped his mouth and face with the edge of his shirt before making his way back to camp.

Never once did he turn back to look at the house and its surroundings.

TBC...
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Shadowlynxbehr
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Post by Shadowlynxbehr » Fri Jan 26, 2007 3:24 am

Thanks to dreamer19, candycane, Jessika, Vero, EVE, Orange, Drogyn, French, and LJL for the feedback. Sorry I'm not responding to each of you individually but I tried posting and the whole thing got erased....instead let me just say that I don't think I would have wanted to dig up someone's bones either and as for why Liz was murdered...I will let her tell you that story. Plus you will have to wait at least one more part for Max and Liz to finally meet and Max has noooo idea what he's getting himself into. Also, I am loving writing the different familial situation and portraying Kyle and Max as best friends. And yes...Tim knows.


Okay, I want to apologize for taking a little longer to post this since I was trying to come up with a good story about the house and the murder scene. Hope I did it justice. Also, I hope I am right with the moon phase...I tried reading up on it and just confused myself further...LOL. Any who, here's the next part...




Part 3

“Yo man, would you stop messing around with your girl and help me with lunch!” exclaimed Tommy as he knelt by the camp fire.

Kyle rolled his eyes at Tess as he whispered, “Sounds like someone didn’t get any last night.”

She laughed in response as Tommy shouted, “Kyle! Now!”

Kyle sighed, “Alright! Hold your horses, bro!” He kissed Tess on the lips before he headed over to help his older brother with lunch.

Kyle, Keegan, and Tommy were half way through making lunch when Vicki walked into the camp and looked around. Frowning, she walked over to a tent and poked her head in.

“Hey! What happened to scratching the tent flap first!” came Alex’s alarmed voice.

Vicki pulled her head back out and walked away rolling her eyes as she called out, “It’s not like you were busy with a girl in there!”

Ignoring Alex’s muttering, she walked to where the others were and set her hands on her hips.

“Guys?” she asked, “Any idea where Max wandered off to?”

As one they all looked up at each other before shaking their heads and shrugging.

“Nope.”

“Uh uh.”

“Don’t know.”

Vicki frowned again and walked off muttering, “Men! I’ll bet my sister knows where he went.”

************************************************************

Max stood near the gate surveying the entire place in broad daylight. Nothing seemed out of place or rather, nothing seemed strange about the place. It all looked as if it had been abandoned years ago. The woods surrounding it had clearly claimed it as its own.

He glanced over at the garden with a sigh. It still looked like it had the night when he had first come upon the place. Nothing but a decaying fence and rotten vegetation.

Walking to the house, he ran his hands over the wood of the door before walking around the house towards the back. As he walked his fingers continued to trail over the earthen walls.

Max walked around the house and looked behind it, hoping for some sort of clue. He frowned when there was nothing but more of the same grass like in the front before it disappeared into the woods about an acre back. Still, he walked through the area, looking around the ground just in case, but there was nothing.

Giving up, Max made his way back to the front of the house and went inside. He looked around the place, in every nook and cranny he could find trying to find some clue as to who the man and woman were. However, he turned up nothing. All that was left inside the house were those few pieces of furniture and the few blankets for the bed.

Feeling thoroughly disappointed and slightly frustrated, Max made his way back outside. He stood in the middle of the over run stone path staring in the direction of the garden again. He knew there was one way to find something, but he was loath to do it.

He’d never considered himself a superstitious person, but he felt like it would be wrong to go disturb the ground of that garden. If indeed it was her final resting place, who was he to go and disturb her peace? Especially if she had truly endured what he had witnessed.

Shaking his head at his musings, he just decided that it was futile to remain there and search for clues that didn’t want to be found and began to make his way back to camp. He was hoping no one had noticed his absence.

************************************************************

Vicki glanced in the direction of where Max was sitting next to Alex and Keegan. She knew she wasn’t the only one who had noticed that Max had been silent for most of the day again. No one else brought up the fact that Max had disappeared for about an hour earlier that day, only to appear just as they were getting ready to sit down for lunch.

When she had asked him where he’d been, he’d mumbled something like just went for a stroll and left it at that. She had made to go after him and get him to elaborate when Isabel had come up to her and nudged her away. Isabel tried to reiterate to Vicki that Max was no longer hers and she needed to stop trying to take care of him.

Everyone else had gone on through the day as if nothing was off. Vicki couldn’t understand why even Kyle seemed to pretend that nothing was wrong. Now, they were all sitting around the fire finishing up what would be the last dinner of the trip. They would all be returning to their homes come morning.

Max set his plate to the side and looked around at the others before looking at Tim with a smile. “Hey Tim, think you could tell us a story about any legends you’ve heard about this area?”

At Max’s supposed innocent question, Tim went rigid. He tried to quickly recover and picked up his cup to take a few long swallows to get rid of the knot that had formed there.

As Tim continued to down his drink, Keegan grinned at Max. “Hey that’s a great idea! So, you guys have any cool stories to tell us?” he asked as he looked from Tim to Frank and back again.

Frank shrugged, “There’s really not much to tell about this place.”

“Really?” asked Alex. “I thought this place was rather old, there must be some kind of history to this place.”

Frank nodded, “Well, it is old, yes.”

Max nodded, “What about that house? It looked old enough to have a story about it.”

Frank frowned, “What house?”

Kyle spoke up, “The one that Max and I spent the night in. Tim, Maria, and Michael found us there by following the smoke from the fire I’d built in the fireplace.”

Frank turned to peer at Tim who was trying to look busy filling his cup with coffee before he turned to look back at Kyle. “I was told you made a makeshift tent of sorts. Are you saying you two spent the night in that house?”

Kyle nodded, “Yeah, that’s what I’m saying.”

Michael nodded, “Yeah, it looks about ready to fall down any minute now. It was that dilapidated.”

Frank glanced at him before looking at Tim. Shaking his head, he turned back to look at the fire. “That’s not going to happen.”

“What do you mean by that?” asked Max.

Frank looked up at him as he said, “Because they won’t let it happen.”

“They? Who’s they?” asked Tess.

Frank just sat there for a few moments in silence as he stared at the fire again. But Max knew exactly who they were. He knew why Frank was hesitant to say anything, but Max needed to know.

“Is it because of what happened?” asked Max.

Both Tim and Frank’s gazes snapped to Max, prompting everyone else to look at him too.

“What do you know about that?” asked Frank.

Tim’s eyes went wide, “You saw it? But you didn’t say anything!” He turned to look at Frank, “Nothing looked out of place! And I thought they had somehow gotten lucky enough to have missed it.”

Now everyone was wearing a puzzled look on their faces, all except Tim, Frank, and Max.

“Did you? See it?” asked Frank.

Slowly Max nodded, “I saw something. I still don’t know exactly what I saw, but yes. It was something.”

Tim visibly swallowed, “A-and nothing happened? I mean, to you?”

Max arched an eyebrow, “I’m here aren’t I? What do you think could have happened?”

Frank sighed, “Don’t listen to him, he’s just a little superstitious.”

Tim shook his head, “No, no I’m not! You know there’s proof!”

Tommy rolled his eyes, “Okay, would the three of you mind and stop speaking in riddles! What is going on?”

Frank ran his fingers through his hair and looked back at Max for a moment before looking at the others. “There’s a story about that house. It dates back to about the time of the gold rush. When settlers began rushing west to settle the land. This area was fertile land and for a while, a small community had popped up here.

There weren’t that many homes to start a real village, but there were a handful of scattered houses about a mile or two apart from each other in this area. All of those houses are gone now. All except that one. They say after what happened, everyone else moved away to escape the memories. There are others who think they may have been frightened away.”

“Frightened? How?” asked Isabel.

“By the ghosts of the couple who had lived in the house,” replied Frank.

The others stared at Frank in disbelief. “Wait, are you saying that house is haunted?” asked Maria.

Frank nodded.

Everyone turned to look at Kyle as he exclaimed, “Holy shit! We spent the night in a haunted house!”

“Yes,” replied Frank before adding, “It’s a feat no one has ever accomplished before. At least without anything happening.”

At this, all eyes turned to Max.

“Max?” whispered Vicki, “D-did you see something?”

Max looked directly at Frank as he said, “Who were they? The man and woman? Are they the couple that lived there?”

Frank nodded, “Yes. It is said that they were a couple that had been married for a few years, both in their mid to late twenties. The man, a Mr. Sean Brown, had been offered lots of money if he could find a place to settle down and build it into a prospering farming community. So, he and his wife, Elizabeth took part in that rush out west and settled down there. He built the house and that’s were they settled, but something went wrong. No one is sure what prompted it. All we know is what happened.”

“W-what happened?” asked Isabel.

Frank swallowed as he looked around surreptitiously before he spoke in a low voice, “They died.”

Alex frowned, “What do you mean they died? That’s it?”

“No, they didn’t just die,” came Max’s soft voice. Once more all eyes looked at him as he stared straight at Frank. “He murdered her didn’t he? Sean murdered his own wife.”

Tim made the sign of the cross and quickly excused himself from their sight, scurrying to his tent as fast as he could go.

The others watched him leave before turning to look at Frank. Michael frowned, “What’s his problem?”

Frank sighed, “Tim is one of the really superstitious ones. You know, the saying invoke the name of the gods and bring their wrath down on you. They say that about that house.”

“Is it true?” asked Tess. As she suddenly clutched Kyle’s hand.

Frank shrugged, “I haven’t heard anything happening to anyone who simply talked about the place, but there have been incidents happening to those who were at the house.”

He turned to look at Kyle and Max as he added, “That’s why I said that earlier. Usually they don’t let people get too close to their property. That’s why it’s still standing. Every time someone attempted to tear the house down, accidents happened. Nothing serious, but enough to send a warning.”

“So they gave up then?” asked Kyle.

Frank nodded, “Yes. After several unsuccessful attempts and a few broken bones later. The state made the decree that the house was to be left alone as a landmark for those who settled this land during the gold rush.”

Vicki looked at Max once more. “You saw them? The ones who are keeping others away?”

Max nodded, “Yeah, I think I did.”

“What do you mean you think you did?” asked Tommy.

Max shrugged, “At first I thought it was just a dream I had. Kyle hadn’t seen anything, so I thought I’d just dreamed it.”

“That’s why you were outside that night!” exclaimed Kyle, “You said you were sleep walking! I knew you weren’t!”

Max nodded, “Right, but I thought I had imagined it. So, I went back last night.”

“You what!” exclaimed Maria. “When was this?”

“While everyone was asleep. I snuck out and made my way back to the house.”

Kyle rolled his eyes, “Oh, so now you decided to pay attention to where you were going!”

Keegan ignored Kyle as he asked, “So, what did you see, Max?”

“The same thing I had seen the night before. Well, actually this time I missed the first part, but yeah, it ended the same.”

“Well, don’t leave us hanging in suspense, Max! Tell us exactly what you saw.” said Tommy.

“I saw him murder her again.”

“W-what?” whispered Vicki.

Frank sighed, “The story told is that he was angry at her for some reason. They must have been arguing behind the house because she is first seen running around the corner of the house towards the garden. Her dress gets caught in the barbed wire around the garden and she trips. That’s when he catches up to her holding a knife.”

Gasps sounded around the fire as Frank continued, “She seems to be saying that she didn’t do anything wrong and pleads with him to stop, but he doesn’t listen and slaps her down. When she resists, he hits her again and stabs her in the chest. He does it several times before he suddenly stops and drops the knife. It’s like he suddenly realized what he did and tries to apologize for it. Then he suddenly gets up and runs away behind the house only to return with a shovel.”

“Oh my God!” gasped Isabel.

“He wasn’t going to…was he?” asked Maria.

Frank nodded, “The story says he dragged her into the center of the garden and buried her there.”

Tess shook her head. “Oh no! No! That’s just…”

“Wrong.” finished Kyle.

Alex turned to look at Max and whispered, “Is that what you saw?”

Max nodded.

“Holy shit!” whispered Keegan.

Max looked up at Frank as he said, “The first night, I saw it all. Her running around the side of the house all the way to him dragging her to bury her, but Kyle interrupted me before I could see him put her in the ground.

The next night, I got there just after he’d already stabbed her. I watched him run to get the shovel and come back to bury her. This time I was able to see him drag her to the center and I saw that she was still breathing. I was shocked that he was going to bury her alive, but by the time he’d finished digging the hole, she was dead. I looked away for a moment and when I looked back there was nothing there.”

Frank nodded, “Yeah, they say that when that scene happens, every looks as it must have looked when it originally took place. When it’s over, the place reverts back to the ruin that exists now.”

“Damn!” whispered Kyle. “Does this happen every night?”

Frank shook his head. “No, only three nights out of the month. When the moon begins to wane.”

Michael looked up at the sky as he said, “Which means last night was the third night.”

Frank nodded, “Right. It won’t happen again until the moon wanes again.”

Max frowned at that. “Why do they do that?”

Frank shrugged, “No one knows. All we know it that it happens for three nights in a row every month at the beginning of a waning moon. Otherwise they are never seen. And if anyone tries to harm the house or the grounds, they may get hurt.”

Silence descended on the little group as they all thought about what Frank had said. Before it got too uncomfortable, Kyle spoke up.

“Well, on that note, I think it’s time we turned in. Got to get an early start in the morning after all.”

As he held out his hand to help his girlfriend up, everyone else began getting to their feet with nervous chatter.

“Yeah.”

“Right.”

“Early.”

“Really early.”

“Night everyone.”

“Night.”

TBC...
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Post by Shadowlynxbehr » Sat Feb 03, 2007 6:29 pm

Vero- LOL, Tim is just an extremely superstitious person...the kind that has all the proper religious or other significant artifacts to ward off evil spirits... :roll: :wink:

LJL- See above response. Sorry for the wait :? , but it's the weekend :D .

Behrsgurl- thanks

EVE- LOL, sorry. Oh, you'll find out in the next part :twisted: .

Jessika-LOL, hmm... :twisted: . Well sorry for making you wait a bit longer.

candycane- LOL, thanks.

French- LOL, me either :? . Here's the answer :wink: . LOL, it's in the next part.

vampy- you're welcome :D

dreamer- awww.... :oops: . LOL, maybe. Sorry for the wait...

y m d- thanks. You'll soon find out...

Drogyn- LOL, he's just a superstitious person (see response to Vero above). Oops, sorry for the wait :?

kittens- you'll see... :twisted:

Jess- LOL, sorry for the wait...

Em- dare I say...'because it's Max' :wink: :lol:


Here's the long awaited part...hope I can get the next part ready on time for this Tues... :roll: :wink:



Part 4

Max finished spreading out the thick blankets over the lumpy bed and walked to the foot of the bed to dig around in his duffel bag for his sweats. He’d just finished setting up the house for the night and decided to get comfortable before making himself something to eat.

Once he’d changed and eaten a quick meal of crackers and soup that he’d heated over the fire in the fireplace, he hung the kettle of water over the fireplace so that he could have his coffee later. As the kettle heated up, Max made his way over to the front door and opened it wide.

Staring outside at the fading light, Max wondered just how long he would have to wait until he saw them again. Glancing at the sky, he searched for a tell tale sign of the waning moon.

He knew it was the right night to be there. He’d gone and done some research on the internet as soon as he’d gotten home from the camping trip nearly a month ago. Frank had said it would happen again when the moon began to wane, so Max found out the date of the next waning moon and began to make plans to return to the house.

He knew his friends would freak and be upset with him for returning there without telling them, especially Kyle. Max already knew he’d get it from his best friend once he returned to the city. Kyle still thought Max was getting obsessed over a story meant to frighten campers; so he said.

Ever since they had all returned to their lives in the city, Max had relentlessly pursued any and all information he could find on that house. Kyle kept trying to tell him to give up the obsession while Maria and Michael simply became concerned about his well being. They had watched him like a hawk, trying to find out exactly what Max was up to and why he was so obsessed with the house and its story.

Max had to come up with one hell of a plan to be able to slip away for those four days and three nights he’d planned on being at the house. In the end, he’d decided to just go to the house, then deal with his friends after he got back from there. He hoped they would just assume he was on a business trip for his advertising firm since he’d traveled for the firm before.

With a sigh he turned around and went back inside to wait for the night to come.

Five hours and seven cups of coffee later, Max finally saw the tell tale bright light twinkling through the shutters at the side of the house. Setting his coffee aside, he hastily slipped on his shoes and grabbed his coat before running outside.

Just as he opened the door, he saw her running away from the side of the house towards the garden just like before. As she ran past him, he remembered her name.

“Elizabeth!” he called out.

She didn’t respond as she continued running towards the garden.

Max watched as she reached the garden and tripped over the fence. He began to run towards her, glancing back at the corner of the house in time to see the man rounding the corner. Turning back towards the woman, he yelled at her.

“Elizabeth! You have to get up! Run! Run before he gets to you!”

She turned over in the dirt and screamed, “No! Please! I didn’t do it! I swear I didn’t!”

Max gritted his teeth in frustration when he realized she wasn’t responding to her name at all. He reached her just before the other man did and knelt next to her.

“Elizabeth, please! You have to get out of here before he stabs you again! Why do you keep doing this? Tell me why!”

Max whirled around to stare at the man as Elizabeth got up and began to plead with him. As the man’s hand came up for the first slap, Max reached out and tried to grab it, but just like before his hands just grabbed air.

He watched helplessly as Elizabeth fell to the ground and the man began to slap her again.

“Sean! Stop it!” Max yelled, “Whatever she did can’t be worth this! Why are you doing this?”

He growled as Sean lifted the knife and plunged it down towards Elizabeth’s chest. Frustration welled up in him as he moved behind Sean and tried vainly to wrap his arms around Sean’s torso. When that didn’t work, he began to swing his fists, hoping against all odds that one of them would finally connect with flesh.

Still, nothing happened except what he was already used to seeing. Sean knelt besides Elizabeth as the knife fell from his hand. He bent over her as she lay wheezing her last breaths.

As she reached her hand up, looking at Sean with pleading eyes he whispered menacingly, “I’m sorry, Elizabeth, but you won’t have the chance to ever do this again!”

With that, he rose and ran back behind the house.

Max stood there staring down at Elizabeth who just lay there trying to breathe through her bloody lips. He knelt besides her again and whispered, “Elizabeth, I need you to tell me why you keep replaying this scene again. Why won’t you let anyone tear the house down? What is going on?”

He glanced back to see Sean returning with the shovel and panic seized him. “Please! Elizabeth! I don’t want to watch this happen to you again! You have to tell me what is going on!”

Sean set the shovel down and reached to begin dragging Elizabeth towards the center of the garden. Max didn’t move from where he now stood at the edge of the garden.

Glaring at Sean he growled, “What the hell did she do to you that you would do this to your own wife! How could you kill her, you murderer!”

Once more he watched helplessly as Sean set her down and returned to pick up the shovel. “Sean! Stop it! Don’t do this! Tell me why you keep doing this!” yelled Max.

Sean continued to ignore Max as he returned to Elizabeth’s side and began to dig the grave. Max shook his head in denial as he watched the hole get bigger and bigger. Unable to watch it again, Max turned and ran back to the house.

Once inside, he slammed the door shut and leaned back against it. Closing his eyes, he took a deep breath trying to calm himself down. It didn’t work as he slid down to the floor and drew his knees up to his chest. Wrapping his arms around his knees, he lowered his head to them and began to sob in helplessness.

Why wouldn’t one of them give him a sign about why they kept replaying the same scene? Why couldn’t they tell him how to stop it?

************************************************************

Max rolled over onto his back in the bed. He felt drained and his face felt gritty from his ordeal the night before. Lifting his hands to his face, he scrubbed it a few times before letting his hands fall to his sides. Finally attempting to open his eyes and look at the crumbling ceiling, he was surprised to find himself looking into a pair of warm brown eyes.

With a yelp of surprise, he scrambled out of bed and pressed himself against the wall on the opposite side of the bed. He stared as she straightened up from where she had been leaning over him on the other side of the bed and tilted her head slightly as she blinked curiously at him.

He swallowed to find his voice. “Elizabeth?” he whispered.

Her eyes narrowed slightly. “How do you know my name?” came her low voice, sending delicious chills down Max’s spine.

“Um, I was told that you used to live here.”

“What do you mean ‘used to’? This is my house!” she answered.

Max sighed and held up his hands to motion to his bags. She stood still as she watched him move to his bags and rummage through them. When he found the folder he was looking for, he made his way to her side and handed the folder to her.

She frowned, “What’s this?”

“It’s the story about you and your house. And on those papers you can also find the dates they were written.”

As she reached out, Max watched to see if her fingers would go through the folder. They didn’t. He held his breath as he watched her take the folder and begin to look through it. Her eyes widened as she scanned over the articles in there. Finally lifting her eyes to his, he saw the tears in them.

“Elizabeth…”

“I’m dead right? If all of the things in these papers are true then I’m dead,” she whispered.

Max slowly nodded.

She sat down on the edge of the bed and stared at the floor. Max didn’t know what do say as she seemed to be in shock about what she’d just learned. Just when it was about to get uncomfortable, she spoke in a voice that was barely there.

“I remember what happened. I remember that night when Sean was angry at me. He’d been angry a lot lately, but not like this. He was so angry and he…he came after me.”

She looked down at her chest and lifted trembling fingers up to touch the place where the wound should have been. As Max sat next to her, she continued. “I remember the pain and how cold I seemed to be getting. Oh God,” she sobbed, “What is going on…?”

Max reached out a hesitant hand to her shoulder and was still shocked when his fingers touched solid, warm flesh. Without another moments hesitation, he wrapped his arm around her shoulder to give her some comfort. “Max. My name is Max and I don’t know what is going on, Elizabeth, but that’s why I’m here. I want to find out what’s going on.”

She nodded through her tears as she leaned against his side. Max held her as her tears began to soak his shirt. Lowering his head, he pressed his face against the top of her head and was pleasantly surprised to find that she smelled like fresh strawberries.

He closed his eyes as he tightened his hold on her, feeling the slight trembling of her body. He wondered how it was suddenly possible to hold her and talk to her like this. He’d heard stories about how when someone trespassed onto their land that they’d get hurt somehow and were warned away. But that had never happened to him.

Every time that he had come to the house, nothing happened to him. He had been allowed to stay in the house with no accidents happening and now, he was allowed to talk to and hold a woman who was supposed to have been dead for centuries. If she wasn’t aware of any of this, then how was all of it happening?

************************************************************

Max glanced over his shoulder at Elizabeth as she moved around the house in a daze. She’d stopped crying about three hours ago, but had sat quietly in his arms for about an hour.

For the last two hours she’d been touching and staring at all of the belongings still left in the house. She’d taken in the way the house was slowly deteriorating from the outside in and saw how many of her belongings had whittled away to nothing.

He’d seen her eyes mist up when she came to a place where something significant must have been and ran her fingers lovingly over that place. She never said a word and he’d left her to her silent memories as he read through all of the information he’d gathered.

He was still trying to figure out how it was possible for all of this to have happened when he’d heard her stomach rumble in the silence of the house. That’s what had made him glance at her over his shoulder.

With a smile, he put the papers away and made his way to the supplies he’d placed near the fireplace. He prepared some soup and bread he’d wrapped in foil to heat over the fire. He also broiled some water to make fresh coffee.

When he was done, he took the bowls and cups to the table and set them down before calling to her.

“Elizabeth?”

She turned at the sound of her name.

He gave her a smile. “I made something to eat. Are you hungry?”

She gave him a timid nod before making her way to the table. He held out a chair for her and slid it closer to the table when she sat down before moving around the table and sitting opposite her.

“Be careful the soup and coffee are kind of hot. You might want to blow on it before eating it,” he stated as he demonstrated by blowing on the soup he scooped up on his spoon.

She nodded and did as he showed her before eating her meal. Her face scrunched up when she tasted the coffee and he chuckled.

“Here, you can put sugar and cream into it to make it taste better.”

She took the sugar packets and opened one before sprinkling it in her coffee and stirring it. Taking a taste of it, she set it back down and took one of the small containers of cream and poured that one in too. After putting in a total of one cream and two sugar packets, she was finally satisfied with the taste of her coffee.

They ate in comfortable silence and as soon as she was done, she sat back and looked at him with a smile.

“Thank you for that. It was really good.”

He chuckled. “Your welcome, but it wasn’t anything fancy. Anyone can heat up a can of soup or boil water for coffee.”

She shrugged, “Just the same, I don’t think I’ve eaten this good in a long time.”

They both sat there staring at each other as the words she said sank in. Simultaneously they both broke into laughter as they realized the absurdity of her statement.

She sat back holding her stomach and wiped tears from her eyes. “Oh! I can’t believe I said that!”

He grinned, “I know! It just came out, it was only a natural reaction.”

She nodded, “Right.”

As their laughter died down, she gave him a bright smile. “Thanks again, Max.”

“Welcome,” he replied as he got up and began to clear away the remains.

She got up and watched as he put the things away before finally asking, “Why are you here Max?”

He looked up at her. “Because I want to find out why this keeps happening to you. I’ve heard that ghosts usually stay because of unfinished business, so I wanted to find out how to help you move on. I mean, that’s what they say you’re supposed to do.”

She arched an eyebrow, “Unfinished business?”

“Yeah, it’s what psychics say keeps ghosts earthbound. The ghosts or the spirits of the dead remain tied to the earth because there’s something they need to resolve or finish before their souls can move on to heaven or something like it.”

She bit her bottom lip as her gaze seemed to be focused within. Max stood there watching her for a few moments before she began to shake her head.

“Max, I don’t think I have any unfinished business. I can’t think of anything that I need to finish or resolve like you say.”

“Then why would you remain here instead of going to heaven?”

She shrugged, “I don’t know. I can’t think of any reason why I’m still here.” She sat down on the couch and looked up at him. “I’m even confused as to why I’m even here talking to you in a future I couldn’t even dream about. I mean, why am I even real, you know?”

Max nodded as he sat down next to her. “I know, I’m wondering the same thing.” He reached out and ran his fingers over her hair. “I didn’t think I’d ever be able to touch you like this.”

Elizabeth felt something unfamiliar stir in the pit of her stomach as she turned to look at him. “What do you mean?”

His hand moved to her cheek, “I mean, the last few times I had seen you and tried to touch you, my hand would go right through you. You weren’t made of any real substance, so my hand would just go right through you.”

She frowned, “Why don’t I remember you?”

He wore a frown to match hers. “I have no idea. Last night when I saw you, I called out your name hoping you’d respond to it, but you kept on playing out the scene like always.”

“And I don’t remember anything after I got cold and blacked out. Then suddenly I’m in the house standing over you and watching you sleep.” Max couldn’t help but notice the faint blush that spread over her cheeks.

He smiled to himself. “I guess we’ll just have to figure out what’s going on then, Elizabeth.”

She looked up at him, “Liz.” At his puzzled frown she added, “You can call me Liz. It’s what almost everyone else called me and…and I prefer that name.”

He nodded as he smiled, “All right, Liz. We’ll figure this out okay?”

“Okay.”

As the day went on, Liz and Max sat on the couch looking through all of the information he’d managed to gather on her and the house. After a while, he began to ask her questions about her life, hoping maybe it would give one of them a clue as to why she was still there.

Liz told Max about growing up in New England and eventually meeting and marrying Sean. She said it was more a marriage of convenience even though she and Sean had been good friends.

Their parents had known each other before either one of them were born and it had just seemed natural for them to eventually settle down together. Besides that, there really wasn’t much of a selection to choose from back in those days unless she wanted to marry a elderly widow or someone similar.

Their families hadn’t been rich or anything, but they’d managed to make a decent life for themselves. When Sean had gotten the offer to travel West, she hadn’t wanted to go at first, but eventually she figured there was probably something better than the life she’d been living back in New England.

Liz had been used to an easier living that what living in that house had turned out to be. The long days and exhausting work began to take its toll on her and eventually it took its toll on her marriage.

She told Max that she and Sean had always been close friends, even after they had married. But when they had moved out there, he’d started to change. Suddenly he seemed more determined to make something out of all that land. Working hard, he’d pushed her to work as hard as he was, yet at the same time he wanted them to start a family.

It didn’t help matters when others began to settle in homes around them and many of them had families. It was as if Sean began to resent them for having what he wanted. He was also having trouble getting the farming idea up and running.

For two years they had tried to have a child, but nothing had ever come of it. After that, Sean began to treat her differently. He began to accuse her of not wanting what he wanted and that she was purposely doing something to ruin his chances at having a family and even of having the farming community he dreamed of.

After that, things just seemed to go downhill as one by one the others began to leave and head back East. Sean had refused to go and so they had resigned themselves to living their lives out there with the others that had also remained.

Before Max had a chance to ask her what had really happened that fateful night, she asked him to tell her about his world. She wanted to know if things were different then they were when she’d been alive and Max hadn’t known where to start.

She sat there wide eyed as he tried to describe things like cars, airplanes, and the latest electronic gadgets on the market. Max was still in the middle of telling her about all the things that existed in his time when she suddenly lifted her head and stared at the door.

Max stopped in mid-sentence. “What? What is it, Liz?”

Liz frowned, “Something’s happening.”

“What? Like what?”

“I don’t know, but I can feel it.”

Max’s eyes went wide as she seemed to flicker in and out of existence. “Liz?” he hissed in alarm.

Liz lifted her hand to look at it. She watched it slowly start to fade away before she looked up at Max. “I’m sorry Max, but I think my time is up.”

“What do you mean your time is up!”

Liz stood up and began backing away from him. “It’s getting dark, that’s what I feel. The night is coming. I have to go.”

Max shook his head. “No! Wait! Where are you going?”

“I…I don’t know,” whispered Liz right before she vanished.

“Liz! Liz!” Max cried out as he ran to the door and flung it open. Sure enough, the daylight was fading fast as night came upon the land. Max looked around the area but there was no sign of her. With a defeated sigh, he went back inside to prepare some more coffee. He knew he’d see her again in a few hours.

************************************************************

It was the same thing. Max was so upset that nothing had changed. The scene played out just like it always did. He’d been waiting for the light to appear outside and when it did, he ran out and began calling out to her.

But she replayed the whole thing without ever acknowledging him. He’d switched from calling her Elizabeth to Liz hoping she’d at least respond to that, but there was no change. Unable to stand and watch it happen all over again, especially when he knew her so much better, he shut the door and grabbed the files.

As angry, frustrated tears ran down his cheeks and splashed against the files, he frantically searched in vain for a reason why this was happening to her. Why couldn’t she respond to him and why did she still have to replay the scene even after she’d appeared to him and spent the day talking to him.

The hours went by as he searched and cried in helplessness. Finally, it was nearly dawn when an exhausted Max crawled into the bed and drifted off into a fitful sleep.

TBC...
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Post by Shadowlynxbehr » Tue Feb 06, 2007 10:03 pm

Jess- LOL, all in due time :twisted: .

hazz- LOL, yes that is yuck...thank goodness that's not what I planned. Really? I haven't seen that movie in ages! The one with Johnny Depp right? I guess I have to go back and watch it again.

dreamer- LOL. Yes, but don't worry, he won't be helpless for long.

LJL- :twisted: . All will be revealed...just not sure when :twisted: .

Em- thanks

Vero- LOL, I know...Max is a 'bit' obsessed :wink: . You'll see soon :wink: .

EVE- LOL, thanks, glad you still liked it.

Nat- thanks

y m d- thanks :oops: . Soon...

candycane- Ooooh, good guess :wink: .

French- LOL, true, but we need Max to be with Liz :wink: . You'll see. Ewww....nope. Soon :twisted: .


Okay....here we go...



Part 5

He knew she was there.

Even before he opened his eyes, he knew she was there. This time he could literally feel her watching him sleep. Slowly, he peeled open his eyes and gazed up into her big brown orbs. She stood there looking down at him with a little smile.

“I heard you,” she whispered. “Last night, when it was happening again, I heard you call my name. I couldn’t respond, but I heard you.”

Max blinked in surprise before he sat up with a smile on his face. “Really?”

Liz nodded as her smile began to fade, “Max, I don’t think you should stay here. I think you should leave.”

Max shook his head, “No, I won’t leave until I can figure out why it is that you are still here.”

“Max…”

“No Liz, I can’t go and leave you like this! It’s just not fair that you have to keep doing that, it’s not.”

Liz sighed as she straightened up and allowed Max to get out of bed. Max moved around the house, going through his morning routine before preparing some coffee.

As he worked, Liz moved to the window and stared out at the day light. Hesitantly, she raised her hand and reached out until her fingers moved out past the window panes. She smiled to herself when she felt the sun warming her fingers.

Neither one of them spoke until Max was finished with the coffee and handed a cup to Liz. She took the cup and moved to sit in a chair at the table as Max joined her there. Bringing the cup to her lips, she took a sip and smiled as she realized Max remembered how she liked her coffee.

As they sat there in more comfortable silence, Max studied her for a few moments. Finally, he broke the silence.

“Liz?” He waited until she looked at him. “Do you know why your husband murdered you?”

Liz stared at him for a few seconds before looking towards the window. Just when Max thought she wasn’t going to answer she said, “He thought I was cheating on him.”

He waited as Liz explained the rest. “There was this other man, Lance, who lived with his family a few miles away from us. Lance was a known womanizer, but despite that he was a really nice guy. He was a good listener and would often listen when I talked about my troubles with Sean. That night when Sean and I fought, he accused me of flirting with Lance and he claimed to have seen me leaving his house.”

Max nodded, “Was Sean right?”

Liz shook her head and looked into his eyes. “I would never have done something like that to Sean even with the problems we were having. I may have liked Lance, but he was nothing more than a friend.”

Liz sighed, “I knew of another woman who lived nearby who was often mistaken for me from the back because she had long hair like me and was petite. We looked nothing alike from the front, but Sean wouldn’t hear it when I tried to tell him. My husband was a jealous man and he was upset over the fact that we still didn’t have any children.”

“You told me yesterday that he thought you were doing it on purpose. Not having children I mean.”

Liz nodded, “Yes, but I wasn’t. I mean how could I have done that? I wanted a child just as much as he did. I had been looking forward to being a mother, but I just couldn’t conceive. I have no idea why.”

Max saw the sadness in her eyes as she turned away from him once more to stare out of the window. He wondered for a moment why it was that Liz couldn’t have children. Was it because something was wrong with her or was it because something had been wrong with Sean? Deciding not to dwell on those things for the moment, he changed the subject to something lighter.

“So, I didn’t get to finish telling you about all the things that are different in my world.”

Liz grinned as she turned back to him. “That’s right. So, tell me Max…what’s different about today?”

************************************************************

As the day went on, Max continued to tell Liz stories about the world as it was now. Liz was full of questions, wanting to know what something was and how something else worked. She was amazed at all the things people were capable of building or achieving these days and she was extremely curious to see all the new inventions that had sprung up. To her, it seemed like the world changed overnight even though Max tried to explain the progress of things.

Max made them some soup for lunch just like the day before and the two of them sat on the floor in front of the fireplace enjoying the sun streaming through the windows and the opened front door. As they ate their lunch, Liz asked him what kind of job he had and if he lived in a house like hers.

He told her he worked for an advertising firm in the city and he lived in a loft. Of course, Liz had no idea what either one of those things were, so Max went into detail for her explaining what someone did in advertising and what a loft looked like.

He did his best to describe what his loft looked like with all of the furnishings in it. As he did, she asked about the different kinds of houses and Max did his best to describe lofts, condos, apartments, and the like. Liz was even amazed that houses could be more than one story and that apartments could be in buildings that reached more than twenty stories high.

As their conversation began winding down, Max couldn’t help put bring up the subject once more. After all, everyone who knew him knew how obsessive he could get when he had his mind stuck on something. Unfortunately, Liz didn’t know Max well enough to know just how driven and focused Max could be.

“Liz, I’ve been thinking. Maybe, maybe the reason you’re still here on Earth is because you have to forgive Sean for not believing you.” As Liz made a face, Max added, “Or maybe Sean needs to believe the truth. You know, there has to be a way for him to find out that you were telling the truth.”

Liz shook her head, “I told him Max, he wouldn’t believe me when I told him.”

“Well maybe we have to find a way to prove it to him or…”

“Max! I don’t think there’s a way to get to him, I mean I don’t even know why I can see you or talk to you. Nothing like this has ever happened before.”

“Well maybe there’s a reason why you can talk to me, we just have to find it.”

Liz sighed, “I just don’t understand why you are going through all of this trouble. What happened here isn’t even your concern, Max. You weren’t a part of it. Just leave it alone.”

“You know I can’t. You’re still here for a reason, Liz. I know I can help you find out what it is, if you’d just let me.”

Liz shook her head, “No, Max. I don’t think you should. Just leave it alone okay? Just go back to your life and forget you ever met me.”

Max gaped at her. “Go back? What about you? What are you going to do here?”

Liz shrugged, “That’s not your problem.”

Max narrowed his eyes. “You said this hasn’t happened before. Then that means I am involved in this. No one else has managed to communicate with you before, so I know I have to help you solve this!”

Liz stood up and curled her hands into fists, “I don’t know why this is happening, but I know that I can’t let you ruin your life by staying here trying to help me! I’m not a part of this world anymore Max and you need to understand that! Just stop trying to save me and go back to your life! Please, go back to your life before something happens to you!”

Max rose to his feet and faced her down. “I’m not leaving until I get to the bottom of this Liz! I will solve this! With or without your help!”

Liz closed her eyes as she lowered her voice. “Max, I don’t think I could stand it if something happens to you. Please, just leave.”

“Not until I can set you free,” came Max’s whispered answer.

Slowly Liz opened her eyes and looked into his. They stood there staring each other down for a few moments before Liz’s eyes widened as she gasped.

Without her having to say a word, Max knew what was going to happen. Reaching out to her, he curled his fingers around her arms and looked down at her.

“No! Don’t go! Stay with me Liz! Whatever it is, fight it and stay with me!”

Liz looked helplessly into his eyes. “I’m sorry Max, I don’t know how.” As she began to fade away she pleaded with him. “Leave Max. Please, just go back to your life.”

“No. Liz, no!” he cried out as she became insubstantial right before his eyes. Within moments, his fingers closed on air as she disappeared from sight.

************************************************************

Max paced the length of the living area clenching and unclenching his fists. He’d been doing that for a while now as the night wore on. If Kyle had been there, he would have joked that Max was wearing a groove into the floor.

Max continued to pace, lifting his head to look in the direction of the windows hoping to see the familiar light shining through, but so far nothing. He wasn’t panicking yet, he knew it was still early, but he was getting impatient.

He’d been thinking about it the whole time after Liz had disappeared. If she’d heard him the night before, then maybe she’d hear him again. Maybe this time he could get her to acknowledge him or something. If not, he was going to try talking to Sean again. If Liz heard him, he couldn’t see any reason why Sean wouldn’t.

It was nearly an hour later when Max finally saw the tell tale light. Immediately he ran to the door and threw it open. Looking at the corner of the house, he saw her running just like always.

He ran towards her shouting, “Liz! I know you can hear me! Fight this! Break out of this trance and look at me! Look at me!”

He gritted his teeth when there was no reaction from her. Instead, she continued running towards the garden. He growled in frustration as he turned to look at the corner of the house again.

He ran towards it, reaching it just as Sean came stalking by. Moving to Sean’s side and keeping pace with him, Max began trying to get through to him.

“Sean listen to me! Liz told me the truth about what happened! What you think she did, it didn’t happen! You saw another woman coming out of Lance’s house! It wasn’t Liz! She didn’t cheat on you Sean! She would have never done that to you!”

Sean continued to walk towards Liz, totally ignorant of Max. Max glanced in the direction of the garden to see that Liz had already fallen and was trying to get her dress untangled. She turned over and pleaded with Sean just like before.

Max could feel the panic welling up inside. “Sean! Please! She’s telling the truth! She didn’t do anything! She was faithful to you! And she told me she wanted a child too! Why won’t you listen to her! To me! She’s telling you the truth!”

Sean reached Liz as she rose to her feet, still pleading with him.

“Sean! Don’t!” yelled Max as he reached out to stop Sean from lifting his hand to slap Liz.

Just like before, Max’s hands went right through Sean’s arm. It only served to make Max more frustrated. As angry tears began to fall down Max’s cheeks, he began swinging at Sean desperately hoping one of his fists would finally connect with real flesh.

Blindly swinging and yelling, Max suddenly lost his balance and stumbled. With a cry of anguish, he threw his hands out in front of him to stop his fall, unaware that he’d somehow managed to come between Liz and Sean.

As Liz lay on the ground where Sean had shoved her down, Max was now hovering over her, his hands on either side of her shoulders. Staring down at her, he realized she was looking past him in terror at Sean as if he wasn’t even in the way.

Max knew what was coming. Before he had a chance to roll away, he suddenly felt something cold rip through his body. Gasping as his eyes widened, he looked down to see a transparent knife and hand appear through his chest before it was suddenly pulled back again.

As the coldness ripped through him again, indicating that Sean was still supposed to be stabbing Liz, Max heard a gasp sound from beneath him. Looking down at Liz he found her staring at him with wide eyes.

That’s all she was doing. Lying there staring right up at him. It was then that Max realized that with each ripple of coldness that traveled through his chest, Liz seemed to become more substantial.

There wasn’t a wound on her body and there was no blood in sight. She simply lay still beneath him staring at him with a look that was a cross between awe and disbelief. And when the stabs stopped, she was as real as he was.

Max stared at her until Sean knelt next to Liz and whispered, “I’m sorry, Elizabeth, but you won’t have the chance to ever do this again!”

Turning his head, Max watched as Sean stood up and ran back towards the house to retrieve the shovel.

“Max?” came the puzzled whisper.

Max whipped his head back around to stare down at her.

“Liz.” He let his eyes travel over her, reassuring himself that she was okay.

Liz lifted her hand to touch the drying tears on his cheek. He could feel her fingers trembling.

“What…how is this happening?” she asked, her voice trembling just like her fingers.

“I don’t know,” he answered as he lifted his hand to touch her hair. He was amazed at how real and soft it felt in his fingers. He let his fingers trail down to her cheek, feeling the warmth of her skin before moving to her neck and feeling the strong pulse of life there.

“Liz,” he whispered, “You’re alive.”

She gave him a hesitant smile and opened her mouth to say something, but a noise distracted them.

Turning their heads, they both saw Sean returning with the shovel.

“Shit!” exclaimed Max as he grabbed Liz and scrambled to his feet.

Together, they hurried out of the way, moving closer to the house before they turned back and stared in shock.

Sean had set the shovel down and was now dragging absolutely nothing towards the center of the garden. They both stood there and watched as Sean appeared to set down his burden and returned to get the shovel. Walking back to the center, he began to dig the same hole he had dug on every night like this one.

Max and Liz continued to stare in shock at the scene in front of them unable to say a word. Needing reassurance, Max reached out and took Liz’s hand in his, holding it tight. Liz held on just as tight as he did, apparently just as frightened as he was.

The hole grew deeper until Sean threw the shovel down and reached down to pick up his burden. Liz tensed and Max squeezed her hand. Both of them held their breath as they watched Sean lift up only air and set it into the hole.

As he picked up the shovel and began to close the hole up, Liz whispered besides Max. “I’m not there! That was supposed to be me! Why is he doing that, but I’m here watching him!”

Max swallowed, unable to take his eyes off of Sean. “I don’t know.”

“Max! What did you do!” she cried frantically.

Max finally tore his eyes away from Sean to see Liz looking at him with wide eyes full of fear.

Wrapping his arms around her, he pulled her close. “I don’t know how this happened Liz, but I will figure it out. I told you I wasn’t leaving until I could solve this and free you. I meant what I said.”

He could feel her fingers grip the back of his shirt as she gasped, “Max!”

He pulled away and glanced in the direction she was looking. They both watched as Sean straightened up from the center of the garden, having finished his task. As he did, he slowly faded away until the entire place reverted back to the way it normally looked in the present time.

As Max watched it change back, he hugged Liz tighter as if making sure she didn’t disappear with everything else. They stood there for a few moments, eyes shifting over the garden and the front yard searching for any sign of Sean or anything that had happened all those years ago.

For a few long moments, they stood there until if finally sunk in that all was the way it should be now. There was no sign of a grave, no sign that a murder had taken place there. No ghosts from the past lingered in the area.

Pulling slightly away from Liz, Max looked down at her and lifted a hand to caress her cheek. She gave him a smile and leaned into his caress, her gaze locked with his.

“Real,” whispered Max. “You’re so real.”

Liz could only nod in agreement as her fingers covered his on her cheek.

Without saying a word, Max took her hand in his and led her back into the house, closing the door and effectively shutting out the horror that had once existed outside.

TBC...
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Post by Shadowlynxbehr » Wed Feb 14, 2007 12:17 am

Part 6

With a gasp Max sat upright in the bed. Glancing at the windows he realized the night had come and gone. Turning his head, he let out a sigh of relief to see that she was still lying next to him on the bed, asleep.

Real. She was real. Everything that had happened, even everything from the night before was real. None of it was a dream. As he stared at her sleeping form, he thought back to the end of the night’s ordeal.

After Sean had disappeared, they had stood there for a few moments in shock of everything that had happened until Max had snapped out of it and dragged Liz inside the house. Shutting the door and locking it, he had stared at if as if expecting Sean to try to get in from the other side. When nothing happened, he finally turned to look at Liz who was staring down at her hands in disbelief.

Even she couldn’t believe she was actually standing there for real. Taking her trembling hands into his, he’d said her name softly.

“Liz?” He waited until she looked up at him before he continued. “How is this possible? How are you really here now?”

Liz blinked in confusion before she mumbled, “I… I don’t know.”

Max nodded, understanding that she was still as bewildered as he was about everything that had happened. Not knowing what else to do, he decided that they should try to get some sleep and then maybe they could figure it out in the morning. Of course, that was if she was still there.

So, he had wrapped an arm around her shoulder and steered her towards the bed where he had tucked her in under the covers. Once she was comfortable, he had stretched out on top of the covers next to her and used a couple of blankets from the chest to keep himself warm. Amazingly, they had both fallen asleep as soon as their eyes had closed.

As he continued to stare at her, her eyes fluttered open. He watched as the sleep slowly left her eyes before he smiled and said, “Good morning.”

Her eyes widened as she realized what he had said. Sitting up slowly, she stared at the windows, seeing the sunlight through the cracks. She turned back to Max and whispered, “I’m still here.”

He nodded, “Yeah. I guess we need to figure out what happened last night, huh?”

Liz gave him a puzzled look before she closed her eyes. She tilted her head slightly, looking as if she were thinking of something before she suddenly opened her eyes and gasped.

“Oh my God! Max! I know what happened!”

He sat up next to her with a frown, “What do you mean?”

“I mean, I had this dream. I can’t really explain it, but it was like all these images. Nothing but images and somehow as I watched them, I knew what they were trying to tell me.” He reached out and took one of his hands, giving it a gentle squeeze.

“Max! It was you! You made it possible for me to be real!”

“W-what?”

Liz nodded, “It’s true. You came between Sean and I when he tried to stab me. That’s what made me real. You sacrificed yourself to save me! You took the blows from the knife and with each blow, it made me real!”

Max stared at her with wide eyes. “Are you serious? It’s because I stepped in front of the knife?”

Liz nodded vigorously. “Yes, that’s what my dream told me!”

“Then shouldn’t I be dead if I sacrificed myself?”

“No, it was more like a… a spiritual sacrifice. Um, I really don’t know if I’m explaining this well, but no one else has ever tried to stop or solve the murder before. No one has ever wanted to, except you.”

Max nodded, “I see. I guess that makes sense.”

“I wish I could explain it better, but that’s what I dreamed. Because of you, because of what you did for me, I have a chance at another life. I was innocent and tried to tell Sean that I had never cheated on him. Despite the fact that he knew I was innocent, he killed me anyway. It wasn’t my time to go so I get another chance at life, but Sean is doomed to keep repeating the scene because of what he did. It’s his punishment for murdering an innocent.”

Max sighed as Liz finished explaining her dream. He was amazed that something or someone had sent those images to her to tell her why everything had happened. So, she was alive because of him. Because he had been so determined to find out what had happened between them and then he’d cared enough to try to get them to stop repeating such a violent scene over and over again. He’d cared enough to try to communicate with incorporeal beings.

After a few moments, he finally nodded. It did make sense, in a surreal kind of way it made perfect sense. He decided that he really wasn’t going to argue with what she said since everything he’d experienced the moment he’d set foot into that house had been anything but ordinary. For the first time in his life, he was going to suspend his disbelief in spirits and other supernatural things and take what she was telling him as the truth.

Once he’d made up his mind, he gave her a smile and slid off the bed. “Come on, I’ll bet you are ready for some breakfast. I know I am. We can decide what to do as we eat, okay?”

Liz nodded and watched as he began to move around the room, going through his morning routine before making the usual coffee and soup for them.

************************************************************

As Liz rinsed the cups and bowls out beneath the old pump behind the house, Max made his way over to her. Their breakfast had actually been quiet because both of them had been lost in their own thoughts. Now that breakfast was over, Max decided to see if Liz would go for his plan.

“Liz?”

She glanced up at him with a smile as she shook out the bowls. “What is it, Max?”

“I was wondering what you planned on doing now that you’ve been given another chance to have a life. I mean, have you thought about it?”

Max picked up the cups and utensils, walking besides Liz as they made their way back into the house.

“Well, I don’t know anything about the world now except this place. Maybe I should just try to fix it up and live here.”

Max frowned as he looked around the room. “Live here? You want to continue living here?”

She shrugged, “This place is all I know, Max. Everything else that I knew probably no longer exists.”

Max nodded, “That’s true, but I thought…well, I thought maybe you’d like to come back to the city with me.”

When he saw the hesitant look in her eyes, he continued. “I mean, if you came to the city with me I could help you to build your life again. One of my friends works in real estate and he could help you find a place to live, if that’s what you want. I have two friends who work in law so they could establish an identity for you. I know all of my friends would be able to pitch in and help get you find a new life once we explain what is going on.”

Liz frowned, “Max, from what you’ve been telling me things are so much different than they used to be. I can’t even imagine half of the things you told me about.”

“I know. I know it can be frightening, but I’ll be there and so will my friends. I have an extra bed so you can stay with me until you get your bearings. I don’t mind helping you learn about this world Liz and it seems a shame for you to stay here when you’ve been given another chance to live your life again.”

Liz thought about what Max was saying and she realized that it was true. Why would she stay in a place like that when there was a whole new world out there just waiting to be explored. Since she’d been given another chance, shouldn’t she make the best of it instead of hiding away in that one room house isolated from the rest of the world.

Deciding to take the chance, she finally nodded and graced Max with a huge smile. “You’re right. I’ve been given a chance to live again, so why shouldn’t I live it in the best way I can. I’ll go with you to the city, Max.”

Max returned her smile. “Great, okay. Let me pack up everything and we’ll go back while it’s still light so I can show you around a bit.”

At Liz’s nod, Max began to pack his things while she watched with anticipation beginning to build up inside of her.

************************************************************

Liz stared wide-eyed out of the passenger side window of Max’s Lexus SUV. She had been watching the sights go by ever since Max had turned his car off of the dirt road and onto a paved highway. She had quickly realized that everything Max had told her in the last couple of days didn’t even begin to describe what the world really was like now.

Once they’d left the wilderness that she’d always known before, Liz saw the changes immediately. She marveled at the paved roads that went on forever, winding through the hills and across the most elaborate bridges she’d ever seen. She was amazed at how far people had come in their inventions and other things.

She saw houses that were sturdier than hers had ever been, clearly built with materials meant to withstand time and the elements. She saw other cars on the roads of all shapes, sizes, and colors. When Max had stopped for gas, she had walked into the small store and marveled at all of the food and drink choices, as well as other items that she couldn’t even imagine what they were used for.

As they finally neared the city, Liz began to see the evidence of all the technology and architectural marvels that Max had mentioned. Buildings rose high into the sky farther than even the eye could see. Each one different than the last and made of so many different materials such as glass, metal, or brick.

She saw more automobiles and realized some of them served more purposes than just a means to get from one place to another. Some where used to transport materials, some for building, and others for making materials. She saw the traffic lights, the neon signs, and other things that glowed and sparkled even in the noon day sun.

But most of all, she saw the multitude of people that seemed to swarm the city and she knew there had to be millions, if not more in that one place. It blew her mind to realize that if one city alone held this many people, then the world was one heavily populated place. Especially since she could remember that the city she’d been born in had only had about a few hundred, which was rather big for a city at that time.

As she watched the people moving to and fro on foot and in their cars, she wondered if she would ever manage to fit into a world such as that. Everything seemed so fast paced and alive. It was nothing like her world had been. Then, things seemed more laid back and there was so much room to move around. Here, people seemed to dodge and swerve to avoid running into each other.

Still, she wouldn’t let all the hustle and bustle intimidate her. Rather, she was extremely curious about what it would be like to live in a city like that. She was mostly wondering if she would have what it took to survive in the world now. She certainly hoped so.

She was still taking it all in when Max turned into a driveway that went into a downward slope. As Liz looked out the front window, she saw them approaching a metal gate of some kind.

As Max continued to slow down, he reached up to his visor and pressed a button on the rectangular device clipped there. Liz gasped as the metal gate began to rise slowly, allowing Max to drive his car into the underground area.

They entered the wide space and Liz saw numerous thick columns seemingly holding up the building they were underneath. She couldn’t believe those columns were strong enough to support such a huge building.

Max slowly drove his car down a lane in between other cars that sat empty and dark in spaces clearly marked off with yellow lines. He turned into another lane and drove further down until he finally turned his car into an empty space marked off by the yellow lines. Liz saw the number fifteen hundred and three written in white paint high on the wall in front of the space Max had just stopped his car in.

He turned the car off and gave her a smile. “Okay, let’s head on up to my place.”

Liz got out of the car as Max made his way around to help her out completely. Leading her to the back of the car, he opened the rear door and began to remove his bags. She stood there looking around at all of the parked cars as Max got his things and closed the door. She heard the familiar click of the door locks and the beep of the alarm as Max stepped away from his car.

Shouldering his duffel bag and carrying two more suitcases, he motioned for her to follow him. They made their way past several cars until Liz saw two steel doors along the wall. It was to these doors that Max led her.

Max agilely maneuvered his hand around the handle of a suitcase and pressed a button on the wall. Liz grinned when the button lit up as soon as Max had pressed it, then gave him a puzzled look as he seemed to just stand there waiting for something.

She gazed at the doors, wondering if by pressing the button the doors were supposed to open. It was a few minutes before the doors finally slid open to reveal a small enclosed area. Max walked into it and motioned for Liz to get in too. As she stepped inside, the doors began to close behind her.

She watched as Max pressed another button on a panel in the wall. The button with a number fifteen lit up and Liz realized that each button had a number on it. Just as she was about to get into examining the panel, she felt the ground lurch beneath her. It was a subtle movement, but it was enough to make her lose her balance momentarily.

Max reached out and steadied her as she stared around the small space in amazement.

“What’s going on, Max?”

He chuckled, “We’re in an elevator. It’s going to take us up to the floor I live on.”

She tilted her head back to look up at the ceiling. “We’re moving up!”

He nodded, “Yeah. That’s what elevators do. It’s an easier way to move up a tall building rather than climbing hundreds of stairs.”

She swallowed as she looked at him. “How is that possible?”

“It’s one of the inventions I told you about. There’s a few steel cables that connect this elevator to a device similar to a wheel. When one of the buttons is pressed, the wheel begins to turn and the cable wraps around it until the elevator reaches the floor that matches the number that was pressed.”

Max knew he wasn’t really explaining it the way it really worked, but then he also knew that Liz probably wouldn’t understand all of the details that went into getting the elevator to go up or down or stop at the right floor. He figured it would probably be better to show her how it worked rather than just tell her. Especially since he knew she wouldn’t recognize half the words he would use.

Liz seemed to accept what he’d said and went back to examining the panel. She watched as red numbers seemed to count up until it reached the number fifteen and stopped. Even the elevator stopped and she heard a faint ‘ding’ before the doors slid open once more.

Max reached out to hold the elevator door open as she stepped out in front of him. Now they were at the end of a long carpeted hallway with a few doors on either side. Max moved past her and motioned for her to follow him as he made his way down the hallway.

They walked to the other end of the hallway where Max stopped in front of the last door on the right. Setting one of the suitcases down, Max fiddled with his keys until he found the one he needed and slid it into the keyhole above the doorknob.

Liz heard the lock click and Max slid the key out before turning to grin at her.

“Home sweet home,” he said as he pushed open the door and stepped back to allow her to go in first.

As she walked inside, Max reached up to the wall next to the door and pressed the switch to turn on the lights. Liz looked around in wonder as Max closed the door behind him and quickly shut off his alarm system.

She was still standing there taking it all in when he walked by her with his bags. He turned to look at her over his shoulder. “Let me take these to my room and then I’ll give you a tour of the place, okay.”

Liz nodded as Max walked towards a set of stairs near the back of the place. As Max disappeared up the stairs, Liz continued to look around the place in awe. Almost one wall and half of another was filled with huge windows allowing one to see a nice view of the city. Liz noticed a set of glass doors in the middle of the one wall that seemed to lead outside to a long walkway of sorts that ran along the same length as all of the windows.

Max came back down the stairs and walked over to her as he spoke. “Okay, well this is my place. Like I explained before, it’s called a loft because it doesn’t really have any walls separating the rooms like a house or apartment would.”

He motioned to her right and she looked at the area that was separated from the place they were standing by a long high table of sorts. She listened as Max began to explain what everything was.

A long island that also served as a breakfast bar, separated the rest of the kitchen from the dining room area. There were two bar stools on the side that they were standing. On the opposite side, the island contained a stove in the middle and a trash compactor near the front door.

Up high against the wall, ran many cabinets. There were also cabinets and drawers in any space that wasn’t taken up by the kitchen appliances. Below the wall of cabinets was the sink in the middle of the long counter. An under cabinet microwave was right above it and the refrigerator was at the end of the counter closest to the front door. On the opposite side of the counter from the fridge was the dishwasher.

You could access the kitchen area from either side of the island. One side led to the front door and dining room. The other side also led to the dining room, as well as to the living room, the laundry room, the stairs, and Max’s office.

Max’s office was right next to the kitchen, under the stairs that led up to his bedroom. In that office, there was a desk that resembled a drawing table against the farthest wall that was littered with art work, drawings, and photographs. Another long desk with a computer, phone, fax machine, and other office materials was directly under the stairs. Against the wall nearest the kitchen was a long sofa which Max said turned into the extra bed.

A long rectangular window was above the drawing table desk and the wall opposite the computer desk supported a tall book shelf in the middle where several awards sat on display along with the myriad of books. There were more awards and certificates hanging on all the walls of the office as well as some photographs.

There was a long rectangular room between the office and the living room area which contained the laundry room. This was the only room that actually had walls and a door enclosing it. It was very narrow, but there was still room to house the washing machine on one side, the dryer on the other and a table for folding clothes in the wall between the machines. Shelves for extra storage ran along the walls above the machines and the table.

The living room was at the back of the loft, directly opposite the office. The two glass doors Liz had been looking at earlier served as the divisor between the living and the dining room. A sectional, black leather couch faced the back wall of windows, acting as the beginning of the living area. A matching recliner sat against the wall of the laundry room and next to it was a matching love seat.

Directly across from the love seat and recliner, near the other wall of windows was the entertainment center that housed the high definition television, audio system, and its components. Two tall fake plants stood on either side of the entertainment center and dark mahogany end tables surrounded the couch and love seat.

In the dining area, there was a long table that could seat eight when opened up to its fullest and four when closed. A buffet table sat against the wall of windows in the dining area and a console table sat against the wall nearest the front door. More photographs hung on the wall above the console table.

Max took Liz up the stairs and showed her the bedroom. The thick mahogany headboard of the king sized bed rested in the center of the far wall with matching dark mahogany night stands on either side of it. There was a door to the right that led to the bathroom, which was right above the kitchen area. Another door led to the long, narrow, walk in closet that was right above the laundry room.

Against the wall separating the bathroom and bedroom was a tall armoire. A long, low dresser was against the opposite wall under the high rectangular window. On the walls of the bedroom hung several paintings and small photographs.

The bathroom ran the length of the kitchen below it. On one side was the narrow linen closet, the sink with a vanity mirror above it, and the toilet at the end. On the other side was a footed tub and a glass shower at the end.

As they walked back into the bedroom, Max motioned to the bed. “You can sleep here and I’ll take the bed in my office.”

Immediately Liz began to protest, “Max, no! This is your house, I’ll sleep downstairs.”

“Liz, it’s okay. I’m usually working in the office anyway, so it’ll be better for me to stay there. I often tend to work at unusual hours, so I would often just crash on the sofa bed rather than make the trip up here. So you see, if you slept down there, I’d just be disturbing your sleep.”

Liz hesitated for another moment. “Are you sure?” she asked.

He nodded. “Yeah, it works out better this way, really.”

“Okay,” she reluctantly agreed. “I’ll sleep here.”

He grinned. “Great. Okay, now that I’ve showed you my place, maybe we should relax over some lunch and then I can take you to buy some new clothes to wear for the time being.”

Liz gave him a sheepish look as she glanced down at the dress she was wearing. That was all she owned. None of her clothes had survived intact over the years at her home, so all she had was what she had on. She knew Max had a point. If she was going to start living in the now, she would have to get some clothes and other necessities to get by.

Feeling a little guilty about having to let Max buy her some new clothes, she nodded shyly and followed him down the stairs to the kitchen.

Just as they reached the kitchen, a buzzer sounded. Liz glanced at Max as he made his way to the front door and pressed a button on the wall.

“Yes?” he asked into the device just above the button.

“Max, man! Where the hell have you been?” came an irritated male voice.

“Yeah, Max! We’ve been calling you for the last few days and you haven’t picked up!” This voice was a smoky sounding female voice.

“You haven’t even answered your cell Max! That’s like a first for you!” said another female voice, higher than the first.

“Max, you gonna let us in before Kyle, Maria, and Tess tear down the place?” chuckled a second male voice.

Max sighed as he pressed another button. “Come on up guys.”

He turned to face Liz with an apologetic smile. “Guess you’re going to get to meet my friends sooner than I’d thought you would.”

Liz chuckled as Max made his way into the kitchen, determined to make them some lunch regardless of the interruption. She sat down in one of the bar stools as she watched Max move around the kitchen.

A few minutes later, there was a knock on the door. Max stopped what he was doing and wiped his hands on a dish towel as he made his way to the door. Opening it, he stepped back as four people came in. Three of them were already laying into him while the fourth, a man, wore an amused smirk on his face.

Max raised his hands and spoke in a voice loud enough to be heard above the others. “Guys! Wait a second! I have a good excuse for not answering your calls!”

“What could possibly be your excuse for avoiding your best friend?” asked one of the males, in the same irritated voice Liz had heard over the intercom.

“Really, Max! This had better be a good one!” said the smoky voiced female with dark blonde hair.

“She’s right, it better be really good!” agreed the other female with the light blonde hair.

“Um, guys,” interrupted the second male as he caught sight of Liz sitting on the stool. “I think he’s got a really, really good one.”

As one they all turned to look at him before they turned to look in the direction he was looking. Liz resisted the urge to laugh at the comical look of the shocked faces now staring at her.

Max made his way to Liz’s side and slid his arm around her shoulders. She graced them with a smile as he said, “Guys, meet Elizabeth Parker. Liz, these are my friends. Kyle, Maria, Tess, and Michael.”

This time Liz really did laugh as one by one, their jaws dropped.

TBC...
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"You know you're in love when you can't fall asleep because reality is finally better than your dreams." -Dr. Seuss

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Shadowlynxbehr
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Post by Shadowlynxbehr » Tue Feb 20, 2007 10:15 pm

Part 7

“Are you out of your mind! Wait why am I even asking? Of course you’re out of your mind! It’s official, my best friend has finally gone over the deep end!” muttered Kyle as he continued to pace the length of Max’s living room.

“I thought that was your job, Kyle?” smirked Michael from where he stood, looking out of the windows.

Kyle whirled around to glare at him, “Dude, I have never gone off the deep end! I may be daring and sometimes irresponsible, but I’ve never done anything like this!”

“Look, Kyle I’m not insane okay? If you would just let me finish, I can explain…”

“Let you explain!” exclaimed Kyle as he cut off Max once again. “How the heck are you going to explain the fact that you took off for a few days to go stay in a haunted house to try to communicate with a ghost! God! I can’t believe I’m even saying that! It makes ME sound insane!”

Max sighed as he stood up from his couch. “Guys! Come on! We were all interested in the story Frank and Tim told us. It wasn’t just me. I was just the only one who was interested in trying to solve it. So, I came back home and did a little research before I went back.”

“Geez, next thing you know, he’s going to have his own psychic network,” muttered Kyle.

Michael rolled his eyes before sending Kyle a look. “Kyle, chill man.” He turned to face Max as she asked, “So, you went back. Then what happened?”

“The night happened just like it happened before. I watched the scene and called out her name hoping she would respond to it. I even called out his name, but nothing changed. The next morning I woke up and she was standing over me. I had to show her the information I collected on her to get her to understand that she was a spirit and that time had passed. She eventually remembered what had happened the night her husband killed her and she told me a bit about her life, but then she disappeared.

That night, when they did the scene again, I called out to them once more and the next day she told me she heard me call out her name, but something was preventing her from answering. We talked some more that day. She wanted to know all about the way the world is now and then she disappeared again.

This time, when I went to call out to them, I tried to talk to Sean. To get him to stop what he was doing to her. I told him that she was innocent of what he thought she did and somehow, in the middle of my yelling at him, I tripped and fell between the two of them.”

He paused for a few moments as he looked between his friends before he closed his eyes and thought back to that night.

“I fell on top of her and Sean was behind me with the knife. His hand went right through me. But I could feel it. I could feel this coldness just rip through my insides every time he stabbed me. The thing was, it didn’t stab her and when I looked down at her, she was becoming more substantial with each stab to my back.”

Max shrugged as he finished. “She was looking right up at me, watching as I took the blows until Sean left to get the shovel. Before he returned, I grabbed her and hauled her back to the house. We watched Sean go through the same ritual only Liz was right next to me watching him bury nothing. It was so surreal and we were still in shock that we just went inside and went to sleep. The next morning she told me she had a dream. The dream told her that because of my spiritual sacrifice, she was given another chance at life. Sean has to keep replaying the scene because he murdered her, but Liz was innocent so she gets another chance.”

Max finished his story and looked between his two friends. They both stood there looking at him in silence. Kyle had a look of disbelief on his face, but Michael appeared to be thinking.

Finally, Michael broke the silence. “So, the dream tells her she gets another chance at life and you decide to bring her here.”

Max nodded. “Yes. I told her I could help her find a life. I told her that my friends might even be able to help her get started. You are in real estate, Mike. You could help her find a home. And the girls can help her to learn how to live in this world.”

Kyle rolled his eyes. “Oh yeah, I can so see it now. Tess and Maria taking Liz by the hand and explaining to her how to be a modern day woman.”

“Kyle!” Michael growled. “Would you let it go already?”

When Kyle huffed and sat down on the couch with his arms crossed, Michael turned back to look at Max. “Max, what makes you think she could even function in our world? I mean, it’s got to be very different from her past.”

“I know it is, but Liz was willing to try. I asked her to come here with me and she agreed. I think she wants to try Michael, because she kept asking me all of these questions those two days that we talked.”

Michael sighed. “While it may be true that Liz is curious about this world, it still doesn’t mean she’ll be able to handle it. Besides that, how are we going to explain her to the rest of the world? She’s going to need an identity Max. People are going to be suspicious because it’s going to look like she appeared out of thin air.”

Kyle gave an amused grunt for the couch. “We could always say she’s an illegal alien that can’t speak a word of English.”

Max glared at Kyle. “Then they will ask what language she speaks so they can get a translator.”

Kyle looked sullenly at Max. “Right. See, that’s why you can’t go insane. You’re obviously the brains in our relationship.”

“Kyle, if all you’re going to do is keep making remarks like that, then maybe you should just go home. Max and I will figure this out by ourselves!” snapped Michael.

He frowned. “Okay, okay. I’ll shut up now. So, what’s the plan?”

“That’s what we have to figure out before the girls return with Liz,” answered Michael.

************************************************************

Liz grinned in delight as she watched the many people walking everywhere in the busy shopping mall. The moment the three of them had set foot in the place, Liz couldn’t stop turning this way and that to be able to see everything. She had no idea there were so many things to see and do in a place like that. The idea that one could go to a place like that to find almost anything you needed for your life was almost unbelievable to her.

Tess glanced over at Liz who was still taking everything in with wide eyed wonder and moved closer to her side. Slipping her arm into Liz’s she leaned close to speak in a low voice.

“Liz. Word of advice. You might not want to keep looking at everything with wide eyes. You look like a tourist and that’s not always a good thing in the mall. Too many people will think you are extremely gullible and will try to get you to buy any piece of crap that they can.”

Maria grinned back at Tess. “Yep, but that’s why Max sent us with her to go shopping. He knows you and I won’t let anyone hassle Liz.”

Tess rolled her eyes with a smile that said she completely agreed with Maria. “True, but still it’s wiser for her to look as if she knew what she was doing, huh? Less idiots trying to hassle all of us.”

“Okay, that’s true too.”

Liz looked between the two of them for a moment before nodding. “Right. Look like I belong here. Okay, I’ll try to do that.”

She glanced down at the sundress she wore before giving Tess a smile. “Thanks for this by the way.”

Tess gave her arm an affectionate squeeze and smiled. “No problem.”

As soon as Max had explained some of what was going on and told them that Liz would need clothes, Maria and Tess had volunteered to take her shopping. Without a fuss, Max pulled out his credit card and handed it to Tess telling her to get Liz whatever she thought she would need to function in the world.

Tess knew Max trusted her more than he trusted Maria with the card. Tess had understood that she was to get all of the necessities Liz would need. The toiletries, undergarments, outerwear, and whatever else Liz would need. If Maria had gotten the card, she would have brought the whole mall for Liz.

Before they had gone to the mall, they’d stopped by Tess’ place so that Liz could change into something more fitting for the current time. Since Liz was about the same height and build as Tess, she decided to lend Liz a dress that could easily be slipped on and off as she tried on all of the clothes at the mall. Once Liz had discarded her old white gown for the bright yellow, knee length dress and slipped into a pair of sandals, the three of them headed off to the mall.

“Oh! Tess we have to take Liz in here! I bet we’ll find the cutest little outfits for her in here!” squealed Maria.

As Liz glanced into the windows of the store, Tess wore a doubtful look. “I dunno Maria. Those outfits might not be what Liz needs.”

“Oh come on Tess! She’d look great in them! And can you imagine the look on Max’s face when he sees her in them? Ooooh! I can’t wait to see it!”

Liz noticed the wicked gleam in Maria’s eyes and wondered what that was all about. Glancing at Tess’ face, she noticed that she seemed to be in deep thought as she seemed to give Liz the once over. A few moments later, a slow smile began to spread over the petite blonde’s face.

Softly chuckling, Tess gave Maria a wink. “Girlfriend, you are right. Max will never know what hit him.”

With that, the two of them linked arms with Liz and guided her into the store.


************************************************************

Liz could feel her face heating up. She was absolutely certain it was as red as it felt as she stood there looking at the things Maria was holding up for her to see. Turning to look at Tess she asked, “Are you sure that’s underwear?”

Tess chuckled as she patted Liz on the arm. “Yes it is. Trust me Liz, things are very much improved since the last time you were alive. Now undergarments feel much more comfortable and aren’t as bulky as they once were. Now, when we wear them, we really feel like women.”

Liz sighed, “Okay, I guess you’re right.”

Maria laughed, “Girlfriend, we’re not haggling salespeople, so we won’t steer you wrong. Besides, we are only giving you things that we’d wear ourselves, so that should help some, right?”

Liz nodded as she reached out to touch the scrap of fabric Maria held. As she brushed her fingers over the cool silky material, a smile spread over her face. “Wow, that feels really nice.”

Tess beamed at her. “Oh yeah and just wait until you feel it against the rest of your skin.”

Maria nodded as she picked up a few more articles and motioned to the back of the store. “Come on, let’s go try these on.”

As they approached the back of the store, Tess put a hand on Maria’s arm. “I’ll go help her put these on, you go look for more things for her to try on.”

“Okay,” replied Maria as she handed the items to Tess and walked away.

Tess motioned for Liz to follow her and the two of them walked into the hallway with the dressing rooms.

She turned to give Liz a wink as she said, “Sorry about that. I know things may be a little uncomfortable for you since you’ve never done anything like this before. And Maria can sometimes be a little overwhelming, so I thought it would be better for me to show you how to wear these intimate things without her making you feel more embarrassed than you already are.”

As they walked into a dressing room and Tess closed the door, Liz gave her a grateful smile. “Thanks Tess, I really appreciate all of the time you’ve taken to explain all of this to me.”

Tess gave her a sympathetic smile. “You’re welcome. Besides, if it were me in a foreign place, I know I’d appreciate having someone there who knew how things were.”

Liz nodded. Tess was right and so far she’d been doing exactly that. They had already gone through several stores and brought several outfits for Liz. She’d tried on shirts, blouses, pants, shorts, skirts, and dresses. All of which were in various colors and styles.

Some of those styles had been a bit much for Liz, but Tess had been there to calmly explain each style and allowed Liz to try them on before she decided whether or not she would feel comfortable enough to wear it. Liz was grateful for Tess’ more calming personality as compared to Maria’s.

Liz had instantly liked both girls even though they seemed so opposite of each other. Where Maria was loud and bubbly, Tess was quieter and calmer. Of course, the two of them could laugh and crack jokes with the best of them, but even Liz could see that it was Tess that kept them from getting into any trouble. Tess was the one with more common sense than Maria.

Liz could see those things in the way the two of them were together. Maria was impulsive, but Tess thought about things before she did it. It was why Tess was in charge of the finances and major decision making for the Pet Shoppe she co-owned with Maria.

During the entire car ride and the change of clothes at Tess’ house, Liz had learned more about Max and his friends from the girls. She’d also told them about her life since Tess had told her it might be good for them to know a bit about her background in order to figure out what to buy for her.

Liz had learned that Max, Kyle, Michael, and Isabel whom she hadn’t met yet had all been friends throughout school. It was through the four of them that everyone else was connected. Max and Kyle were best friends and Kyle had been Tess’ high school sweetheart.

Granted, Tess had met Kyle when she was a freshman and he’d been a junior, but they had been together ever since. She’d gone through her last two years of high school while Kyle had gone off to college before she’d followed him and they had moved in together. Both of them had majored in business and once they’d graduated from college, Tess had wanted to open her own business.

That was where Maria had come in. She and Michael had met in college where Maria was majoring in business too and Michael was still trying to decide between architecture and marketing. In the end, Michael found his niche in real estate and once he’d gotten his career going, he’d asked Maria to marry him. She’d still been floundering in her own career, but that hadn’t stopped her from knowing that Michael was who she’d wanted to spend the rest of her life with.

It was while the girls were out one night discussing Maria’s upcoming wedding that Maria and Tess had talked about wanting their own business. Maria was complaining that she’d gone into a grooming salon with her older brother Alex when he’d gone to pick up his latest girlfriend’s dog. She’d been highly disappointed at the services and selection she’d seen there. As she had explained what she would expect from a pet salon, Tess had joined her in coming up with a dream place. Before the night was over, a new business was born.

Now, a little over three years later Maria and Michael were still happily married. She and Tess had a booming two and a half year Pet Shoppe, Michael was still loving his job as a real estate agent, and Kyle was content to be a sporting goods manager. The only complaint Tess had was that Kyle had yet to pop the question after all these years of living together.

When Liz asked where Alex and Isabel were, they’d told her that they had remained back in their hometown. Max, Michael, and Kyle had all moved to this city for college and had eventually stayed here. Max and Michael had gone to the same University, while Kyle had gone to a less prestigious college close by. Maria was from the city, so she simply went to the University there, while Tess had come to college with Kyle once she’d graduated.

Alex and Isabel had both gone to college in the city they had grown up in. Alex had taken classes in auto mechanics and business before he’d graduated to take over his uncle’s limousine service in the city. Knowing how to fix the limousines and having a head for business helped Alex to take his uncle’s small business and build it into one that now had several shops around the city.

Isabel went to college to become a paralegal. It was there she’d met Tommy who had been studying to be a lawyer for a year already. After four years of college together, they had gotten married and now it was going on six years. As soon as Tommy had his own law firm up and running, Isabel had began working with him as a paralegal.

Besides Isabel and Tommy, there was also Isabel’s younger sister and brother who rounded out their group of friends. Vicki was a year younger than Isabel and currently the manager of a fashion store in her hometown. At twenty-two, Keegan was the youngest of the bunch and he was currently attending the same college Isabel and Vicki had once attended.

While all of that seemed like a lot of information, Maria had managed to tell most of it to Liz in that short amount of time. Amazingly, Liz had managed to understand all of it even though Maria had seemed to explain it all without barely taking a breath. Tess had simply allowed Maria to tell the stories while she did the driving for them, only injecting a few remarks here and there.

Still Tess had managed to get Maria to take a break long enough to have Liz explain a bit about her life before they got to the mall so that they would have some idea what to get for Liz. Now, as she tried on everything they handed her, Liz was grateful for Tess’ presence there.

Unlike Maria, who wanted Liz to buy every single thing she picked out for her, Tess seemed to know what Liz’s tastes would be. Tess allowed Liz to try the things on and then assisted her, patiently allowing Liz to make up her own mind about whether or not she’d feel comfortable going into public in the clothing she tried on.

Once Liz chose the outfits she wanted, Tess was the one to placate an overexcited Maria who still tried to get Liz to buy something she wasn’t comfortable with. Thankfully Tess was a master at getting Maria’s attention turned to something else before it got out of hand.

************************************************************

Four hours later, the three of them sat at a table in the food court surrounded by bags of items that Liz would be taking home with her. Maria had wanted to continue, saying Liz still didn’t have enough, but Tess had said there would be other times for that. For now, Liz had enough to get by. Besides that, Tess knew Liz was starting to get tired of trying on so many clothes.

They sat there finishing up the ice cream Tess had brought for all of them before they would be heading back to Max’s place. As they talked, they realized there were even a few private things Liz didn’t know about women in the world today.

“Okay, before we get to Max’s place, we need to stop and get the last few toiletries for you Liz,” said Tess.

Liz nodded. “Okay. Um…what is are those?”

Tess and Maria looked at each other for a moment before Maria turned to stare at her. “Liz, were there feminine napkins in your day?”

“Napkins? Of course, we didn’t like to get our hands dirty either.”

Tess shook her head, “No Liz, not that kind of napkin.” She leaned in close to Liz as she spoke in a low voice, “We are talking about the things women would wear to stop the flow of blood once a month down there.”

As she finished, she glanced down to Liz’s hips and Liz’s eyes followed hers. Immediately she knew what Tess was talking about and once more her cheeks flamed.

“Oh, those kind of napkins,” she mumbled.

Tess nodded. “Yes. So, you had something for that then?”

Bashfully, Liz nodded. “Um, yeah. It was like a piece of cloth really. Like the diapers a baby would wear.”

Both Tess and Maria made faces as Maria said, “Oh that had to be so gross!”

Liz shrugged, “It wasn’t comfortable at all.”

Tess nodded, “Yeah, I can imagine. Okay, well now we have things that are a lot more comfortable and easier to wear. Some of them you almost can’t even feel that they are there, so you can go about your day without any worries.”

Liz’s eyes widened. “Really? Gosh, I remember how women almost never left their rooms whenever that time was upon them. Me included! And it wasn’t because of all that mess, but because sometimes the pain was too much.”

Tess gave her a comforting smile. “I can understand that. There is now a lot of medication that can be taken to keep the pain away. Some of those medications also make that time shorter and less messy.”

Maria laughed, “Oh yeah! And those same medications can also help us from getting pregnant!”

Liz suddenly looked at Maria with a stricken look which made her instantly regret even saying that. Tess reached out and touched Liz’s hand. “She didn’t mean to offend you, Liz.”

Liz shook her head as she lowered her gaze to the table. “It’s not that. It’s just, I mean I don’t think I’ll have that problem.”

As Tess and Maria glanced at each other, they suddenly realized what might have been the problem between Liz and her husband. Still, they didn’t want to pry until Liz was ready to talk about it.

Giving Liz’s hand a squeeze, Tess said. “It’s okay. Don’t worry about it. We can still get you some medication to help with the bleeding and pain. Besides that, there’s other things you need. Like soap, shampoo, hair brushes and other things to make you look wonderful.”

Liz looked up at the genuine smiles Tess and Maria were wearing and couldn’t help but smile along with them.

“Not that you’re gonna need that much help,” said Maria. “You’re lucky you’re already a natural beauty.”

Once more the blush crept over her cheeks as the three of them giggled and gathered up the bags to leave the mall.

A few minutes later, as Tess and Maria walked ahead of her Liz happened to glance into the window nearby. She came to a stop as she stared at the beautiful scene in front of her. Without even realizing it, she walked into the store and took in the sights. All around her were the most lifelike photos and paintings of different views of nature. Waterfalls, valleys, meadows, and rolling hills called out to her as she gazed in wonder at all of the beauty.

************************************************************

Max was lounging on the love seat while Michael sprawled out on the couch and Kyle took the recliner. The three of them were now watching hockey on one of the sports channels and enjoying a few bottles of beer as they waited for the girls to return.

Glancing at his watch, Max resisted the urge to call the girls and find out why they weren’t back yet. It had been almost five hours since they’d been gone even though Tess had called him to let him know they were fine. That call had been an hour ago and Tess had said they would soon be on their way back. He was beginning to worry.

The sound of his cell phone going off, had him scrambling off the loveseat in search of it. He could hear Kyle chuckling from the recliner as he found his cell on the kitchen counter. Picking it up, he flipped it open and said, “Hello?”

“Max?” came Tess’ voice which sounded worried. In the background he could hear a frantic Maria.

“Tess? What’s wrong?”

“Um, Max, just hear me out okay?”

As fear spread through his body, he gripped the phone tighter. “Just say it Tess.”

“We lost Liz.”

“What!” Max’s voice prompted the other two guys to raise their heads as he growled into the phone. “What do you mean you lost Liz!”

As Michael and Kyle made their way to their friend’s side Tess said, “We were on our way out of the mall Max. She was right behind us, I swear. It wasn’t until we got to the exit that we noticed she was gone! We’ve been looking in the mall for the last thirty minutes and we even asked a security guard to help us, but we can’t find her! I don’t know where she is! We looked in all of the stores we took her into, but nothing!”

He could hear the way Tess’ voice cracked and the sound of Maria’s sobs in the background. He knew it wasn’t their fault, they were upset over what had happened and he didn’t blame them. It still didn’t make him feel any less worried.

“Is the guard still with you?”

“He’s in the office, watching the cameras just in case she shows up on one of them. Max, she could be anywhere! This place is huge and it’s two stories!”

Max sighed as he ran his fingers through his hair. “I know Tess, I know. Look can you and Maria go look in all of the stores again and ask the guard to keep a look out for her? I’ll be there as soon as I can.”

“Okay, I’ll do that.”

As he hung up, he turned to his friends and relayed the message. Kyle decided to go help Maria and Tess look for Liz. Michael convinced Max to stay there just in case Liz showed up there. Despite the fact that Max was convinced Liz wouldn’t just leave the mall since she didn’t know how to get to his place, he did as Michael suggested.

Nearly two hours later, Max was ready to climb the walls. The others were on their way back to his place because there was no sign of Liz in the mall and it was about to close down for the night. Max didn’t know what to do. Where would she have gone? Why would she have left the mall if she didn’t know anything?

Michael could only look at his friend in quiet sympathy. He didn’t have the heart to suggest that maybe Liz was just not there anymore. What if all of this had just been a fleeting moment and Liz was now back where she belonged? He was just about to speak up when the buzzer sounded.

Max spun around and ran to the buzzer. “Yes?”

“Hey Max,” came Kyle’s voice.

Michael watched the way his friend’s shoulders slumped as he pressed the button to allow them in. A few minutes later they all walked in. A still crying Maria ran into her husband’s arms as Tess and Kyle walked over to Max. Tess’ eyes were red rimmed, indicating that she had shed a few tears too.

“Max, I’m so sorry.”

Max nodded as he moved away from them towards the windows. Staring out of them, he wondered if he would ever see her again.

An awkward silence fell over all of them as they sat around the living room. Only Maria’s soft sniffling broke the silence every now and then. They remained that way for a few minutes until the ringing of Max’s home phone startled all of them.

Max made his way to the kitchen picking up the receiver and placing it against his ear. “Hello?”

“Yes, is this Max Evans?”

“Yes it is.”

“Right. Do happen to know a woman by the name of Liz Parker?”

Max straightened at the mention of her name. “Yes! Who is this?”

“My name is Officer Bowman. I’m at Precinct twenty-four with a Ms. Parker who claims you’re the only one who knows her. Would be able to describe her to me, so I know you really know her.”

“Yeah. She’s got long brown hair, dark brown eyes and is rather petite.”

Tess moved up to her and whispered. “She’s wearing a bright yellow sundress that reaches to her knees and white sandals.”

Apparently the officer heard Tess’ voice as he replied, “Yep, that’s her all right. That girl wouldn’t happen to be a Tess or Maria would it?”

“Yes, that was Tess.”

“Ah, good, then you’re the right Max Evans.”

“I’m sorry?”

The officer chuckled. “She could only give us your name. Unfortunately you’re not the only Max Evans in this huge city. So, we had to call down the list to find the one that knew her. You’d be surprised how many weirdoes we have in this city.”

Max gritted his teeth at those words. So, that was why he was asked to describe her. Some other Max Evans had tried to claim he knew her just to take advantage of her. He almost growled into the phone as he asked, “Is she all right?”

“She’s fine. A little confused, but otherwise unharmed. We picked her up outside of an apartment building she was trying to get into. She had asked the doorman if that was where Max Evans lived and he was a little suspicious, so he called us. We brought her to the station and she said she was new to the city and was staying with Max Evans, but had been out shopping with his friends Tess and Maria when they got separated. She couldn’t tell us your address or phone number, so that’s why we had to go through the list of names in the phone book.”

“Right. Can you give me the address of the building you picked her up in front of?”

“Yeah, it was 1800 Brock Avenue.”

Max cringed. It was on the other side of the city. No wonder she was at that precinct. “I live at 2304 Madison Avenue.”

“Yeah, that’s what it says in the phone book, thanks for verifying it, Mr. Evans. Shall we escort her to your place?”

“No, I’m on my way to get her now.”

“Very well, we’ll see you in a bit. Oh and can you bring your ID so that we can verify that it really is you?”

“Yes, of course.”

************************************************************

Nearly thirty minutes later, Max rushed into the precinct building towards the information desk. Upon saying that he was there to pick up Liz Parker, he was pointed in the direction of a set of revolving doors. He strode inside, pulling out his wallet to show the officer behind the desk when a feminine voice shouted his name.

“Max!”

Max whirled around to see a smiling Liz running towards him. As she approached, he pulled her into his arms and hugged her tight. Burying his face in her hair he exclaimed, “Oh thank God you’re all right! You had all of worried.”

“I’m sorry Max,” came her muted voice against his chest.

Max pulled her away to look into her eyes. “What happened? How did you get separated from Tess and Maria?”

“Well, I guess it’s safe to say you are the Max Evans she knows,” interrupted another voice.

Max looked up as an older officer walked towards them. He held out his hand and Max shook it. “Officer Bowman, right? Thank you for finding her and keeping her safe for me.”

The officer nodded. “Not a problem. All in a days work really. But if I were you, I’d show this young lady around and make sure she knows where she’s at and how to contact you if she ever gets lost again, eh? Be a shame if something were to happen to someone like her.”

Max nodded. “I agree, it won’t happen again.”

“Well, if you’ll come with me, I can give you the bags she had with her and you two can be on your way.”

************************************************************

Liz glanced up at Max as they walked down the hall in silence. He hadn’t said another word to her all the way home and even as they rode the elevator up to his place. He opened the door to his place and stepped back allowing her to precede him.

Inside, she noticed the other bags of her things still sitting near the loveseat, but no one was in the house. Max flipped on the lights and picked up the other bags before heading towards the stairs. She watched him walk up the stairs and let out a small sigh. She didn’t understand what was wrong with him, but she got the impression he was upset.

Deciding that she didn’t like the silence, she followed him up the stairs. Max had set the bags on the bed and was currently making room in the dresser for her things.

“Max?”

Max stood up and turned towards her. “You can put some of your things in here. You’ll also have one side of the closet and two of the drawers in the armoire. There’s also a bit of space to hang stuff in the armoire.”

She frowned, “Max what’s wrong? I’m fine, see?” She held her hands out at her sides.

Max gave her an incredulous look. “You have no idea how incredibly lucky you are that nothing happened to you!”

As she stared at him with a look that said she wasn’t even the remotest bit afraid, Max lost it.

“God Liz! When Tess called me to say they lost you, all these scenarios started to go through my head. At first, I couldn’t possibly believe you’d be stupid enough to leave the mall, but as time went on and no one could find you, I wondered what happened to you.”

He began to pace as he continued. “I thought maybe you had been snatched, kidnapped. That someone knew you were naïve enough to follow them out and then they would try to…to…”

He paused as his throat tightened.

“Max, nothing happened. I’m okay,” she reiterated.

Max’s head snapped up. “I know that! But something could have! Things are so different today Liz! There are all kinds of sick, twisted people out there who wouldn’t hesitate to kidnap innocent young women and do all these horrible things to them! The news is full of weirdoes who take advantage of women and use them like they were nothing but toys! You could have been raped, beaten, or killed!”

“Raped?” she asked, the only word unfamiliar to her.

Max cringed before he looked into her eyes. “It’s when a man has sexual intercourse with a women despite the fact that she didn’t consent to it. He takes her by force and it’s always brutal.”

Liz flinched as those words finally made sense to her. “Oh,” she whispered.

Max closed his eyes. “This isn’t a safe world Liz. I know I said that you should try to live in it, but you can’t do that without all the facts. I’m sorry I didn’t tell you about things like that, but I never expected you to need all those facts just yet.”

He ran his fingers through his hair as he added, “There is so much more violence in the world today Liz. So many things you need to be aware of if you want to survive here. Things are not as simple as they once where, but if you know how to be careful, it can be easier to survive.”

Slowly Liz nodded. “I understand Max. I’m sorry, for making you worry. I’ll try to be more aware of my surroundings from now on. And if you help me learn the things I need to know, then maybe it will help me to be safer too.”

Max nodded. “I will.” He walked over to her and pulled her back into his arms. “Just promise me you won’t get lost like that again? I don’t know what I’d do if something were to happen to you.”

She hugged him back. “I promise, Max.”

TBC...
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Shadowlynxbehr
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Post by Shadowlynxbehr » Wed Feb 28, 2007 11:01 pm

Part 8

Liz moved to the island and picked up the recipe again with a frown. She was certain she was doing it right, so how come it didn’t look right? Maria had walked her through the entire recipe, explaining what each ingredient was and what all the abbreviations for measuring were. Liz had asked her all kinds of questions and Maria had done everything she could to make sure Liz understood. Maria had even shown Liz most of the items she had available in her own kitchen.

Earlier that day, Maria had taken Liz to the grocery store to get all of the ingredients she would need to make the dinner she planned for Max and then had helped Liz to get started. However, Liz had shooed her out since she wanted to cook it herself. After all, she had once been a good cook all those years ago. She didn’t think that much could have changed.

But as she stood there looking into the pan, she knew she’d missed something but she couldn’t figure out what it was. Sighing, she went over the steps in her head once more until she heard soft pops coming from behind her.

Turning around, her eyes went wide as she saw the pasta beginning to bubble over the pot it was in. She quickly reached over and turned the dial to turn the heat off before picking up the pot and setting it in the sink nearby.

Just as she set it down, she heard a loud splat and turned to see what looked like apple smeared on the window of the oven. Gritting her teeth in frustration, she turned off the oven and waited a few moments for the now ruined apple pie to stop spitting all over the inside of the oven.

Just as she managed to get the pie to stop making a mess, she heard more popping and looked up just in time to see the sauce beginning to splatter all over the stove and backsplash behind it. Cursing to herself, she picked up a dishtowel and began to try to clean up the sauce, but only succeeded in smearing the black, clumpy mess.

She let out a short cry as the edge of the dishtowel caught fire, but her reflexes were quick enough to toss the towel in the sink, turn on the faucet, and turn back to turn off all knobs on the stove. As she leaned back against the island with a defeated sigh, she surveyed the mess that was supposed to have been dinner.

“Oh well, guess there’s nothing left to do now but clean this mess up and dispose of it before Max gets home,” she mumbled to herself.

She knew she would have to hurry if she wanted it all gone before he got home. She’d only been living with him for a little over two weeks already, but she knew just how uptight he was about having his place neat and tidy. She’d already seen the expressions he wore when she left an article of clothing just draped over the back of a chair or something.

Liz had always been rather neat herself, but she wasn’t uptight about it the way Max could be. Still she respected his wishes because it was his home and he had graciously allowed her to stay there. She always did her best to make sure she cleaned up after herself and didn’t leave anything lying around in places where Max wouldn’t like it.

With another sigh, she got the cleaning materials from under the sink and got to work cleaning the stove. She had just rinsed out the sauce pan when she heard the key in the lock. Cringing, she slowly turned to look at the door as she braced herself for the explosion that was sure to come.

Max pushed the door open and walked in as he balanced his briefcase, supply bag, and artwork he often brought home to work on. As he lifted his head and spied Liz standing there with what looked like a guilty look on her face, he immediately noticed the messy kitchen that she stood in the middle of.

He didn’t say a word as his jaw literally fell to the floor in shock at what he saw. The stove and backsplash were covered in reddish black gunk. The sink had a couple of pots in it and the pots themselves had unidentifiable ingredients in them. The window of the oven was covered in what looked like applesauce and there was the unmistakable odor of something burnt.

Liz held her hands in front of her as she took a step towards him with an apologetic look on her face. “It’s not as bad as it looks, Max! I can get it cleaned up in no time. Um if you would just go upstairs and relax, I’ll have it all cleaned up in a few minutes.”

Max only stared at his state of the art kitchen and blinked in disbelief.

“Max?” she whispered, as she moved a little closer to him.

He snapped out of his daze and turned to look at her. “What did you do?” he asked in a voice that sounded a bit shocked.

“I was trying to make dinner, but it wasn’t turning out the way it should have.”

He could only nod once more as he dropped his belongings on the floor and took a couple of stumbling steps towards his once pristine kitchen.

“Max? It’s not that bad! I swear! Please, just don’t look at it anymore and go upstairs! I can get it cleaned up in no time at all.” she begged.

She watched his jaw clench and knew anger was finally starting to set in. Bracing herself, she watched as he whirled around to face her as his hands curled into fists. She bit her bottom lip as she waited for him to unleash his anger.

It didn’t happen. Instead, Max stared at Liz as he took in deep breaths. He was upset, he knew he was, but looking at Liz and seeing the apologetic look and knowing that she was disappointed that she hadn’t succeeded in making a great dinner, his anger seemed to dissipate. She hadn’t made the mess on purpose, he knew that.

As he took in the sight of her standing there biting her bottom lip and looking very sorry, he couldn’t help the smile that began to spread over his face. She looked like she was expecting him to lecture her as if she had been a mischievous child that had been caught. He couldn’t help it, she looked adorable.

Suddenly he started laughing. As Liz lifted wide eyes at him, he turned around and looked at his kitchen once more. She had been trying to cook dinner for him. How sweet was that? How could he possibly be mad at her for wanting to do that?

He knew she sometimes felt awkward for staying with him and not really being able to repay him for his kindness, but he’d never asked her for anything. He’d simply told her it wasn’t a problem and for her not to worry about things.

No wonder she’d tried to cook dinner. Shaking his head, he turned back to look at her and continued to smile at her. “So. You were trying to cook dinner?”

She nodded hesitantly. “Yes. I’m sorry Max, I used to be a good cook, but I guess things really changed since then.”

Max chuckled. “Right. Well, from the looks of it, it might have been the appliances that you weren’t used to. These appliances nowadays, aren’t like the old iron furnaces of those days, so you have to be careful how you fast or slow you heat things.”

She nodded, “I guess I should have let Maria stay and help like she offered to.”

He quirked an eyebrow. “She offered to help?”

“Yes, she took me shopping for the ingredients and showed me what each thing on the recipe was, but when it came time to actually make dinner, I figured I could do it myself. I thought I had asked her all the questions and she’d given me all the answers I’d needed.”

She looked around the ruined kitchen and shrugged, “I guess I was wrong.”

Max shook his head. “No, you probably got everything right. I’m sure the dinner would have been delicious if you had understood how to work the appliances. Look, why don’t I help you clean up here and then we’ll go out to dinner. Then this weekend, I’ll show you how to use the appliances properly so you can start to cook on your own again, okay?”

Liz gave him a grateful smile, “You don’t have to help me clean up Max. I made the mess, so I’ll…”

“I know, but if I help, we’ll get it done quicker so we won’t have to wait to have dinner too late.” He gave her a smile. “Four hands are definitely better than just two.”

She chuckled. “Okay, well I guess we’ll do that then.”

************************************************************

Liz scrunched up her face as she gazed at the menu. Max looked up from his menu in time to see her look. He chuckled softly as he leaned in towards her.

“Something wrong?” he asked.

“Um, I don’t even know what most of these things are,” she whispered as a faint blush crept up her cheeks.

Max smiled at how cute she looked when she was embarrassed. “It’s okay, I’ll explain it to you.”

He scooted his chair next to hers and began to explain the menu. “This first part are the appetizers, then we have soups and salads, sandwiches, dinner combinations, sides, desserts, and finally drinks.”

As Liz nodded he said, “You don’t have to order from each section, most people just get an appetizer and something as their main meal. Some people even eat the appetizer as their meal, but they’re mostly meant to be shared between those at the table so that each person will have room for their main course later.”

He gave her a smile as he asked, “What were some of your favorite foods?”

Liz bit her bottom lip as she thought about the things she used to eat before. “Well,” she finally said, “I used to like vegetables the most, but I always had a weakness for most spicy things. Oh and I loved strawberries! They were always so hard to find, so when I did find some, I hoarded them for as long as I could!”

Max grinned as her eyes lit up while she described the things she liked to eat. When she finally looked at him again with that familiar blush, he chuckled. “Okay, well, let’s see. Since you like vegetables, you might like the garden salad. And for something spicy, I’d recommend the Red Hot steak or the Chili Pepper chicken depending on what kind of meat you like best. And if you have room for dessert, you can always have the fresh strawberry pie if they have some on hand.”

Liz laughed. “Wow! I don’t know if I can eat all of that!”

He nodded, “That’s okay, whatever you don’t finish, you can always get it to go.” At her confused look he reiterated. “You can have it put in a container to take it home with you to finish it later at your leisure.”

“Wow! You can do that here?”

“Yep. These days everything is pretty much made to take home with you.”

She nodded, “Okay, well in that case, I’ll have the salad, the steak, and the pie.”

Max laughed as he moved back to the other side of the table and they waited for their waiter to return to get their order.

************************************************************

Dinner was another learning experience for Liz, who asked Max all kinds of questions about the different restaurants and the kinds of dishes they served. As they ate their meal, most of their conversation was about restaurants and different dishes and the like. Max had asked the waiter to leave one of the menus with them and he used it to explain to Liz what each item was and what it tasted like.

Soon, they had finished dinner and left the restaurant with Liz’s leftovers in a To Go box. She hadn’t been able to finish her dinner, so Max asked for a to go box and ordered a slice of strawberry pie to go so that Liz could eat it later when she was hungry again. As they made their way towards the parking lot, Liz spied the park nearby and asked Max if they could take a stroll through it.

As they walked down the sidewalk, Liz took in the sights. Smiling, she enjoyed the way the path curved through the trees, some of which were lit with tiny lights. Here and there along the path were lamp post lights near park benches.

Soon they came into an area that had small groupings of colorful flowers surrounded by foot fences. Liz giggled as she ran up to one and bent down to look at the plaque that described the flower grouping. As Max joined her, he straightened up and looped her arm into his.

“These are really beautiful Max! I didn’t think I’d see something like this in the middle of such a huge city!”

Max nodded, “I know. This area is part of a city wide effort to incorporate nature into the urban jungle of the city. A few years ago, people began to complain that there wasn’t anymore grass or trees left because all the concrete and metal buildings seemed to be taking over, so some corporations began to make an effort to replant greenery into the city. It’s slowly coming back, so now there’s more parks like this one scattered here and there in the city for people to enjoy nature without having to drive hours to get to the country.”

Her eyes had widened as he’d explained what had happened. “Wow! I just can’t imagine living in a world that didn’t have nature to enjoy! It’s just so beautiful and colorful, how can you not want to see it? And the flowers? Some of them smell so wonderful! Can you imagine how sad it would be if no one ever knew what a tulip or a rose looked like or smelled like?”

Before Max had a chance to respond, Liz spied another group of flowers she had once loved. “Oh Max look! Lilies!” she cried as she took his hand and pulled him towards the white flowers.

She knelt besides the flowers and leaned in to take a deep breath. Max watched as she closed her eyes and a look of pure pleasure spread over her face. She wore a lovely smile as she opened her eyes and turned to look at him. “I always loved the way they smelled. It just made everything seem so fresh and new, you know? Like the way the world smells right after a spring rain!”

She gave a little sigh, “I miss those kinds of days the most. Those and the beginning of fall when the leaves began to turn colors as if they were catching fire.”

Max couldn’t help but smile at the wistful, dreamy look she was wearing as she remembered the things she’d loved the most about nature. He’d never really been one to take the time to enjoy nature the way she was doing. It wasn’t that he didn’t know it was there since he’d gone camping plenty of times as a boy. But he’d never really paid attention to the way the world smelled after it rained or watched the leaves turn colors in the fall.

He’d always been too busy trying to make good grades and then pursuing his goals in college to stop and watch the world go by. As he watched Liz move from flower to flower, he suddenly realized that he’d never once in his life stopped to smell the roses. He’d never stopped to appreciate life as it was, but had taken it for granted instead.

Now as he watched Liz enjoy the beauty around her, he realized just how cold and sterile his world had become. He couldn’t remember the last time he simply enjoyed a leisurely stroll outdoors without worrying about deadlines and meetings. When was the last time he stood in the middle of a rain shower without getting upset over his clothes getting ruined?

He realized he’d been too busy working his ass off that he hadn’t even realized just how much of his life had actually passed by. He was now twenty-eight years old and he couldn’t remember the last time he had stood in the rain with a smile or had a relaxing picnic in the middle of a field full of wild flowers. Up to that moment, his life had been nothing but one monetary achievement after another as he made his way up to the top of the ladder of success.

“Oh my! Max, what is that?” Liz asked as she took his hand once more and led him towards a grove of trees surrounding a few park benches.

Max smiled as he looked up at the trees that literally seemed to drape over the benches, creating a semi-private curtain between them and the rest of the park. “They’re called weeping willows. I think it’s because of the way they seem to droop as if they are crying.”

Liz nodded. “They’re lovely!” She guided him to one of the benches where she tugged him down to sit next to her as she continued to look up at the trees. After a few moments of silence she sighed. “Yes, they do look rather sad, don’t they? But somehow it doesn’t look like a depressing kind of sad. It’s more like a relaxing kind of sad.”

She made a face as she turned to look at him. “Does that make any sense?”

He nodded as he looked up at the trees. “Yeah, actually it does. They are kind of peaceful to look at, aren’t they?”

She smiled, “Yeah. They are.”

They sat in silence for a few moments, just enjoying their surroundings. Eventually, Max turned his head to look at Liz, watching her as she continued to wear a wistful smile on her face. He noticed that her eyes seemed to sparkle more when she caught sight of something that seemed amazing to her. When that happened, her smile brightened to match the sparkle of her eyes and Max couldn’t help but realize just how beautiful she looked when she smiled like that.

Granted, when he’d first seen her, he hadn’t really thought about what she looked like since she had been mostly insubstantial then. And when she’d appeared to him in the day time, he’d been too focused on trying to find answers as to what was going on. It wasn’t until they had left the house and it’s surroundings that he’d noticed anything about her.

Of course, even then he’d only had time to worry about getting her new clothes and other things before he’d had to worry about the little disappearing act she’d pulled. After that, he’d started to notice little things.

Like the way her hair had tiny natural red highlights when she stood in the sun. The way it shone like silk after she brushed it out before going to bed. The way her skin was a light olive tone that sometimes glowed in the sun. The way her usually dark brown eyes turned lighter in the sun or darker when she was in a bad mood. And how lovely she looked when her cheeks were flushed when she was embarrassed or exerting herself.

Now, as he sat there, he was noticing much more. Her lips were a natural shade of a rosy pink which darkened every time she nibbled or bit one of them. He saw the light sprinkling of freckles on her shoulders, cheeks, and nose which only added to her natural beauty. He realized that he really liked that about her. The fact that she was a natural beauty and that she had a certain kind of innocence about her.

And he found himself being grateful to Tess and Maria who had taken Liz shopping for the things they thought she would need. At least they had seemed to know that Liz didn’t need any makeup or other things to hide the natural beauty she already possessed. Instead the girls had managed to get Liz things that simply enhanced what she already had, making things like the color of her eyes and skin stand out more.

He smiled as he realized he would have to do something for Tess and Maria to show them how grateful he was that they had taken Liz under their wings and helped her to get used to this world. He was also grateful to the girls for going out of their way to help Liz learn things like cooking dinner. It seemed they had been more eager to accept Liz into their lives than the guys had been. He so owed them for making it easier for Liz to adapt.

Liz sighed as she leaned against his side, putting her head on his arm. He glanced down at her and realized her eyelids seemed to be drooping. Giving her hand a squeeze, he spoke in a low voice.

“Maybe we should head home? I’m getting a little tired.”

She nodded. “Okay.”

He helped her up and they began to walk back through the park towards his car. She linked her arm with his before curling her fingers around his and laying her head against his shoulder once more. He smiled down at her, knowing she was leaning against him for support since she was getting sleepy.

Once they got close to the car, he pressed the button on his keychain to unlock the door before opening it and helping her inside. Walking to his side, he got in and buckled himself in, glancing at her to make sure she had buckled herself in before starting the car and driving them home.

Liz waited for him to open her door then slid her hand into his so he could help her down. Even after she was out and they made their way to the elevator, he still held her hand in his. It wasn’t until they were inside his loft and he’d walked her to the stairs that led up to the bedroom that she had let go of his hand.

Turning to look up at him, she gave him a sleepy smile. “Thanks for dinner Max. And the walk afterwards. It was really wonderful.”

He nodded. “You’re welcome. I enjoyed it too.”

“Yeah, me too.” She turned around and took the first step before she turned back to him. “Goodnight, Max,” she said as she leaned over and placed a kiss against his cheek.

She gave him another sleepy smile before she finally made her way up the stairs.

Max stood there watching her walk up the stairs until she finally disappeared into the bedroom. When he could no longer see her he whispered, “Goodnight, Elizabeth.”

TBC...
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Post by Shadowlynxbehr » Thu Mar 15, 2007 12:50 am

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Part 9

“Max? Where’s the serving spoon I washed a few minutes ago?” Liz yelled from the kitchen as she finished getting things ready to take to Michael and Maria’s house.

“It’s already in the bag with the other utensils,” came Max’s voice from the upstairs bathroom.

Liz walked over to the bag that sat on the island counter and rummaged around until she found the spoon. Satisfied that she had everything she needed, she made her way to the laundry room stopping in front of the floor length mirror on the wall to glance over herself one more time.

After her first attempt at cooking, Max had indeed shown her around the kitchen over the weekend helping her to familiarize herself with the appliances of the modern times. Over the next couple of months, Tess and Maria had often joined her in the kitchen for a weekly cooking lesson where they taught her all about the appliances, ingredients, and other items that were a part of life now.

Those sessions were fun for the three of them as it also allowed them to get to know each other better. Liz was fast learning the differences and similarities between the two friends and she loved hearing their stories about the Pet Shoppe they co-owned together and about the men in their lives. It was through the girls that Liz learned more about Michael, Kyle, Max, and the others that were a part of Max’s life.

Liz remembered how she’d had friends back home before she’d married Sean, but once they had moved out West, she’d had no one to talk to. Now, talking with Maria and Tess, she realized how much she’d missed those wonderful friendships and easy camaraderie.

She loved how animated and sassy Maria was. The tall green eyed woman with dark blonde hair would have ruffled more than a few feathers back in the day when women were mostly supposed to be just seen and not heard. Maria’s aggressive and outspoken ways would have incurred much frowns and shocked looks. Plus the fact that she was independent and able to get down and dirty with the best of them would have had the gossips tongues wagging about her being something like a heathen.

Then there was Tess, the petite blue eyed woman with light blonde hair who was also independent and outspoken like Maria but not as vocal about it. The two girls had a lot in common, but where Maria announced it to the whole world and therefore appeared to be a drama queen, Tess was quiet and subtle about it. She could get down and dirty with the boys just as well as Maria could, but Maria was more of a clothes horse than Tess was. Tess preferred to be comfortable as opposed to a more fashion conscious Maria.

However, both girls had already conceded that Isabel was always going to be the fashion diva of all of them, with her younger sister Vicki a close second. It didn’t take much for Liz to realize that her personality was a lot like Tess’ since she preferred to be comfortable and subtle about things too. Still, that didn’t stop her from enjoying every moment she had with the fun loving Maria. Liz loved the enthusiasm and funny sense of humor Maria had about life.

It was Maria’s take on all of the guys that she loved the most. Even Tess laughed often when Maria was talking about one of the guys, including Kyle. Despite the laughter and poking fun at the guys, Liz knew that the women loved their men and their friends.

She had talked to Kyle and Michael on a few occasions already and Michael had been the first to warm up to her. He was very nice to her and seemed very laid back, a perfect fit for the energetic Maria. Plus, both he and Maria had a love of the outdoors which to Michael was a plus because he loved the fact that Maria could keep up with him or keep him on his toes.

It had been said that Michael had fallen in love with Maria because she was not only beautiful, but she wasn’t vain about her beauty. So, Michael couldn’t wait to make the fun loving, beautiful woman his wife and now they’d been happily married for three years and were still going strong.

Tess on the other hand was still dropping hints to her high school sweetheart that she had been ready to tie the knot for the last few years. Everyone else got the hint except Kyle. Despite the fact that Kyle was clueless about that, it was completely obvious that he loved Tess. Especially when a strange man decided to get too close to his live in girlfriend, that was when his jealous streak made a very impressive appearance.

Like Michael and Maria, Tess loved the outdoors but wasn’t as athletic as Kyle was. Still, the two of them enjoyed going on camping trips, as well as biking and hiking. And just like Michael, Kyle loved the fact that Tess was already a natural beauty who was very down to earth. However, unlike Michael, Kyle didn’t seem to be in a rush to marry his dream girl.

While Liz had talked to Kyle a few times, she knew he was still a little leery around her. He was still a little freaked over the fact that Liz had once been a ghost and was now alive and walking around in his best friend’s home. The others had mostly gone out of their way to make Liz feel comfortable and to help her learn about living in the world today, but Kyle seemed too uncomfortable to remain in her presence for long.

Liz couldn’t really blame him for his uneasiness around her and the others assured her that all Kyle needed was a little more time to get used to her before he would feel comfortable in her presence. Even Max said that Kyle was probably the most superstitious one of all of them, which would explain why he seemed to be a little hesitant to get near her.

Liz looked up as she heard Max’s footsteps on the stairs and smiled as he came down. Dressed in a dark green, short sleeved, shirt and khaki pants he looked very casual yet comfortable. He finished buttoning up his shirt as he reached the bottom of the stairs and leaned in to place a kiss on her cheek.

“Got everything packed and ready to go?” he asked.

Liz nodded. “Yes. All except the cheesecake. I wanted to wait until we walked out of the door before taking it out of the refrigerator.”

He grinned. “Great. Well, I’m ready so let’s get our coats and start heading out.”

Together, he and Liz gathered up their coats and the food they were contributing to the party that Michael and Maria were throwing at their house. It was nothing fancy, just a little get together to celebrate Michael’s latest real estate coup and the beginning of the fall season. Plus, Maria loved throwing parties and she’d asked Liz to bring some food as a way of letting everyone sample the wonderful talents that Liz was developing.

A few minutes later, Liz and Max were in his car and winding their way through the city towards their friends house. As Max drove through the city, Liz glanced at him out of the corner of her eye every now and then. He seemed to be in a really good mood that evening, which Liz thought was good. Especially since the girls had told her on more than one occasion that seeing Max in a good mood and relaxed was a very rare thing.

In fact, Liz had noticed the difference in Max too. After that day in the kitchen, there had seemed to be a subtle change in Max’s demeanor. While he still liked things clean, he didn’t seem to get upset if things were pristine. Plus, he was an extremely patient man when it came to teaching her things about the modern world. Liz knew that was a feat for him because Maria had mentioned the fact that Max had never been known as a patient man.

Still, he always seemed patient and kind when she was around him. He always took the time to explain things to her and often allowed her to do things on her own. Even when she messed up, he simply let her try to correct it on her own and didn’t step in until she asked for his help. He knew Liz believed the only way for her to learn something was to do it herself and learn from any mistakes she made.

Besides helping her to learn how to survive in the world, Max was actively trying to figure out how to help her find an identity in the new world. Michael had already said he could help Liz find a place for her to live if and when she was ready to be on her own, but there was still the matter of her having an identity.

Max had said he would run it by Tommy, Isabel’s husband, but none of them knew exactly how to tell them what was going on since they weren’t in the same city. Michael had suggested that they find a way to invite the others to visit and then arrange a get together where they could inform them of what had happened. However, Kyle said he didn’t think his older brother was going to go for the ‘ghost turned human’ story anymore than any other sane person would.

So, in the meantime Liz continued to live with Max and learned everything she could about living in today’s world. Neither one of them minded it though since they both had fallen into a rather comfortable routine. Liz spent her days around the house cooking, cleaning, reading books that Max brought for her, or watching television. She read and watched things on all sorts of topics from the history of the world to the latest trends in fashion.

Some of her time was also spent with Tess and Maria where they would have girl time to gossip, shop, or do whatever else interested them at the time. The girls also took Liz out on some small tours of the city, doing things they knew Max probably wouldn’t do with Liz.

When Max got home from work, she usually had dinner waiting for him unless he called ahead of time and told her not to cook so they’d either order in or go out. During the times Max was home, the two of them often watched television together, read, or went on another tour of the city. Max had already taken her to several museums and other places of interest around the city.

While Liz loved seeing all the sights and sounds of the huge city, she still loved the walks in the parks that she and Max continued to take after the first one they’d had. She knew without a doubt that Max loved those walks too. During those walks, they rarely talked. They were content to just hold hands and admire the beauty surrounding them as they took the leisurely stroll along the way.

However, when they did talk it was because Max asked Liz questions about the flowers or some other part of nature which Liz seemed to be quite knowledgeable on. Max loved listening to Liz talk animatedly about something she was familiar with. That and the fact that every time she talked about it, her entire face lit up and Max couldn’t get enough of the smile she always wore when she talked about her passion for nature.

Her enthusiasm was quite infectious and Max enjoyed the way he felt when he was around Liz when she was in a mood like that. He also liked the way the two of them had grown comfortable being with each other. In fact, Max realized he was more comfortable with Liz than he’d ever been with another woman in his life. After two months, it seemed completely natural for the two of them to cuddle up on the couch to watch a movie or to hold hands when taking a stroll. It was because of that that Max was beginning to believe he was developing deeper feelings for the woman he’d rescued.

To Liz there was nothing sexual about their closeness, yet to Max it was intimate in a way. They gave each other hugs and kissed each other on the cheeks in greeting or parting, but it was still rather chaste as if they were close friends. Liz had never complained about the growing closeness, so Max continued to enjoy being as close to her as he could.

Max still slept in his office while Liz still slept in his bed upstairs, but that didn’t mean Max wasn’t thinking about the woman in his bed and wondering what it would be like to lay next to her. Of the two of them, Max believed he was the only one wishing that the kisses weren’t so chaste anymore but he was still hesitant to do anything about it since Liz was still trying to find her place in the world.

So, Max patiently waited until he thought the time would be right to try to talk to Liz about his developing feelings for her. All the while keeping his fingers crossed that she was also developing feelings for him.

************************************************************

“Wow! Liz this cheesecake is the absolute best!” mumbled Tess around a mouthful of the dessert.

Liz gave Tess a slightly embarrassed smile as Maria laughed. “I think we got that after you had the third slice Tess.”

Tess simply shrugged and licked her lips. “What can I say? I burned a lot of calories last night and I know I’m going to burn more tonight also.”

As Liz gave her a questioning look, Maria shook her head. “I don’t get it. If the man can’t keep his hands off of you how come he hasn’t made an honest woman out of you yet?”

Tess set the empty plate down with a sigh. “Wish I knew.”

Liz looked from one to the other as they both sadly shook their heads in confusion. Suddenly she smiled widely and reached out to give Tess’ arm a reassuring squeeze. “Don’t worry Tess, he’ll come around. One things for certain though. He really does love you. I mean, if he can’t keep his hands off of you, that right there is a sign that he has no intention of letting you go, don’t you think?”

Maria glanced at Liz before turning to give Tess a smile similar to the one Liz was wearing. “You know, I think Liz may be right. The fact that he hasn’t complained about the two of you living together after all these years means he’s happy with your relationship. Most men who are afraid of commitment start becoming more argumentative, but the only one Kyle seems to argue with is Max.”

Liz giggled. “I guess that means Max and Kyle can’t ever have a serious relationship with each other huh?” She turned to give Tess a serious look as she added, “There you have it Tess. Not even Max can steal Kyle away from you.”

At that all three of them erupted into laughter over the image of Kyle and Max as a couple. Their laughter and talk continued for a bit longer until Maria excused herself to go make the rounds among her other guests. Liz and Tess moved into the living room to enjoy the music Michael had pumping out of the audio system he had in there. After a few minutes, Liz excused herself to go to the restroom.

On her way back, she decided to take a detour to go find Max and see if he needed anything. She walked through the den and game room, but Max wasn’t there. Those were the two rooms he’d often frequented with Michael and Kyle, so Liz knew the only other option would be the back yard.

She walked into the kitchen and out the back door which lead to a small alcove. The alcove had a wall of ivy separating it from the rest of the yard, giving it an intimate feel. As she neared the wall of ivy and the small entryway, she could hear voices.

Kyle’s was the clearest as it reached her ears. “… healthy man. It’s just not healthy.”

“And why is that?” came Max’s voice. The defensive note in it, making Liz pause inside the alcove.

“Because, you are spending all of your time taking care of her. Of someone who isn’t even supposed to exist!”

“I don’t spend all of my time taking care of her. I’m just helping her to learn the ways of today and Liz has been quite capable of taking care of herself. She’s not a child, Kyle!”

“That’s not what he meant, Max.” That was Michael, who clearly sounded like he was trying to keep things from getting out of hand.

“No? Well it certainly sounds that way. What Kyle? Do you think I really spend all of my time taking care of her? Do you think she’s not capable of dressing herself or feeding herself? Hm? Guess I need to place an ad for a nanny to care for her while I’m at work huh?”

“Damn it Max! I’m just trying to look out for your best interests that’s all!” came Kyle’s exasperated reply.

“My best interests? Since when have you been the one to worry about me?”

Michael sighed. “Max, it’s not that Kyle is trying to tell you how to live your life. It’s just that we’re worried you are neglecting it.”

“What?”

Kyle was the one who replied. “You spend all of your free time with her Max. When you’re not working, you’re with her. And that’s what I meant by it being unhealthy. You are letting your social life disappear.”

“Oh for heaven sakes Kyle, when have I ever had a huge social life?”

“I know that, but it’s just getting worse. You’re using her as an excuse not to have one. Max, come on. You’re not getting any younger. Don’t you think it’s time to stop hiding behind excuses and try to find someone to settle down with?”

“Oh you’re one to talk! I don’t see you settling down with Tess!” Max growled.

“I am…”

“Max. I agree with Kyle. Even Maria has hinted that she’s worried about you. Isn’t it time to let go of all the excuses and try to focus on finding someone you’d be interested in having a serious relationship with?” asked Michael.

“Yes Max. You need to find someone to share your life with. Someone you want to settle down with and start a family with. It’s time for you to start living your life instead of someone else’s.”

Silence followed those words, making Liz think that Max was beginning to listen to what they were saying. She certainly had gotten the hint. It was clear that Max’s friends believed she was somewhat of a burden to Max and that he was using her as an excuse not to have his own life. She was the reason why Max was still the only single one left between the three of them.

Quietly backing away, she went back inside the house with the conversation she’d just heard still ringing in her ears. She walked into the den and sat down on one of the couches, thinking about what was going on and what she should do about it. Just as Tess walked into the room, a solution suddenly dawned on Liz.

“There you are! I was beginning to think you’d gotten lost.” chuckled Tess as she sat down next to Liz.

Liz smiled as she shook her head, “Sorry, I was just checking on Max.”

Tess grinned. “Oh of course. I was just about to go check on Kyle myself.”

Maria laughed as she walked into the room. “Wow! Talk about déjà vu! I’m checking on Michael too.”

Once more the three of them laughed as Maria settled into a nearby chair. Liz looked from one to the other before speaking up. “Hey, I was wondering. I mean, you both know what things were like for women back in the day. So I was wondering just how different it was for women today.”

Maria rolled her eyes. “Oh it’s very different.”

Liz nodded. “Yes, but I mean is it difficult for a woman to be independent?”
Last edited by Shadowlynxbehr on Thu Mar 15, 2007 12:53 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Post by Shadowlynxbehr » Thu Mar 15, 2007 12:51 am

Tess shook her head. “Not necessarily. I mean it really depends on the woman I guess. Granted, we still aren’t quite equal to men in a lot of areas, but hey we manage to do well on our own.”

Maria nodded. “True. You know Tess and I own our own business. That would have been unheard of back then, no?”

“Yeah, that’s right,” Liz agreed. “So, how does a woman go about building her own life?”

Tess chuckled. “Why Liz, you’re already doing a fine job of that. You are pretty self sufficient and you can take care of yourself without having to rely on anyone else.”

“Yep,” said Maria. “You have the skill and knowledge it takes to survive and care for yourself. The only thing you need to do now is find a way to acquire your own money to fully support yourself on your own.”

“Once you have your own money, the rest will fall into place,” finished Tess.

Liz nodded. “Right. Which basically means that I need to get a job in order to earn money.” At their nods she asked, “So, how does a woman go about getting a job?”

Tess shrugged. “There are a lot of ways, just like there are a lot of jobs. Some jobs just require that you have a certain skill or experience in the area before an employer is willing to hire you. Other jobs require that you have a certain level of education.”

“Yes and the more education you have, the more money you can make,” added Maria.

“That makes sense,” Liz said. “Well, what if the woman doesn’t have all the education she needs for the kind of job she wants?”

“Then she’ll have to find a way to get the education she needs. Now a days there are so many options for people regardless of gender or race. There is so much money in the form of scholarships, loans, and grants that can be awarded to a promising individual who is looking for a way to further their education.”

Tess picked up from where Maria finished and added, “Once someone decides what kind of education they need and the direction they need to go, they can apply for money to help them through their education. As long as someone has the drive and determination to achieve their goals, there really isn’t anything that can stop them.”

Liz nodded as she sat there absorbing everything the two friends had told her. She was still deep in thought when Max came into the room wearing a slight frown on his face. He looked over to where Liz sat on the couch next to Tess and made his way over to her.

“Liz? You ready to go?” he asked.

Liz wore a puzzled look as she glanced up at him. “Already?”

He nodded, “Yeah, I’m kind of tired and I don’t feel all that well.”

Maria immediately stood up. “What’s wrong Max? Are you getting sick?”

Max shook his head, “No, I think it’s just fatigue. I have a slight headache, but it’s nothing a little rest won’t cure.” He turned to Liz once more. “Let’s go get our stuff and go home okay?”

Liz nodded as she followed Max into the kitchen. Tess and Maria came after them to help Liz gather up the containers she’d brought the food in. As they finished putting everything into the bag that Liz and Max had brought to the house, Michael and Kyle walked into the kitchen.

Liz was the only one who noticed the way Max tensed slightly since she was the one closest to him. Max didn’t say a word as he picked up the bag and took Liz’s hand in his. Moving close to Maria, he leaned in and gave her a kiss on the cheek.

“Thanks for inviting us to the party Maria, it was great.”

Maria nodded after she’d kissed and hugged him. “Thanks for coming Max.”

He turned to give Tess a kiss too. “I’ll see you later, Tess.”

“Sure, you guys be safe okay?” As Max moved back, Tess gave Liz a hug. “I’ll see you later this week?”

Liz nodded. “Yeah, give me a call okay?” She gave Maria a hug too. “Bye Maria, see you later.”

“Sure chica, I’ll call you later too.”

Liz nodded as Max picked up the bags in one hand and led her out of the kitchen with his other hand. They made it to Max’s car and Max had opened the door for Liz when Michael came up to them.

“Max…”

“Save it Michael! I’m not in the mood to continue that discussion. Liz and I are going home.”

Michael nodded. “I know man. Believe me, I know.” He turned to give Liz a smile. “Thanks for coming Liz. I know Maria and Tess enjoy having you hang out with them and I’m glad you’re a part of our lives now.”

Liz returned his smile. “Thanks for inviting me Michael. I had a great time.”

Michael nodded. “I’m glad. And before I forget, you made some really good dishes today. The girls are so proud of you being able to do that on your own now. I really enjoyed the homemade chili. It had just the right amount of kick to it.”

Liz chuckled. “Thanks.”

“No problem. You guys take care and I’ll see you later okay?”

Liz nodded and gave Michael a hug before climbing into her seat with Max’s help. Max closed the door and walked around to the other side of the car with Michael following him. Liz could see Max stopping by the back door and turning to Michael who was currently saying something to him.

Max wore a frown as he replied to whatever Michael had said. Just from the gestures and facial expressions they wore, Liz got the idea that Michael was trying to plead with Max as if he didn’t want Max to be upset like he was. Max on the other hand was clearly upset and wasn’t giving in to the calming looks Michael was giving him. After a few moments the two of them just looked at each other before Michael finally nodded in defeat, saying something to Max before turning and walking away with his hands in his pockets.

Max stood there watching Michael walk away for a few moments before schooling his expression and opening the back door to put the bags inside. A few minutes later he slid into the driver’s seat, buckled himself in, and started the car before giving Liz a smile.

************************************************************

Liz had just finished putting away all of the things she’d taken to the party and made her way towards the stairs to go change out of her dress. Glancing into the office, she could see Max sitting at his desk working on the computer. Since his back was to her, she couldn’t see his expression.

He hadn’t said much on the drive back to the house. And once they’d gotten inside, he’d set the bags on the island before leaning in to give her a kiss on the cheek. He’d told her he was going to take some pills for his headache, change, and lay down for a bit. She had told him to go ahead and she’d put everything away.

Apparently he was now done with laying down. She walked to the wall behind the stairs and leaned against it, watching him work for a moment.

“I guess the pills worked on the headache huh?”

Max glanced at her over his shoulder for a moment before nodding and turning back to the computer. “Yeah, it’s not so bad now, but I couldn’t just lay there and do nothing.”

Liz grinned. She knew that was just the way Max was. He wasn’t one to remain idle for long, especially when he had things on his mind. And judging from the interaction she’d seen between him and Michael, she knew he had a lot on his mind.

“Do you want to talk about it?” she asked.

Max turned to look at her again. “Talk about what?”

Liz gave him a look that said she wasn’t clueless. “Whatever it is that’s bothering you.”

He gave her a smile. “Nothing’s bothering me except the remains of the headache I have.”

“Right. Well, what about the reason you have the headache?”

Max just stared at her for a moment before he gave a little sigh and ran his hand through his hair. “It’s nothing.”

She frowned. “You sure?”

He nodded. “Yeah, positive.” He indicated the computer as he continued, “I’m just going to work on a project that I need to get done before the end of next week okay? Maybe in a couple of hours we can watch a movie together.”

“Sure, I’ll be upstairs if you need me.” When he gave her a nod, she turned and walked away.

Max watched as she walked to the stairs and made her way up them. When she had disappeared from his sight, he turned back to the computer and frowned at it. Sometimes Liz was way too perceptive for his liking. She knew something was bothering him and he wasn’t in the mood to discuss it with her.

He was being a coward and he knew it. It was the conversation he’d had with Michael and Kyle that was still bothering him. A conversation that had been all about her and his feelings for her. Kyle clearly thought Max was wasting his time with Liz and Michael was just worried that Max was going to get hurt in the end.

Max knew that of the two, Michael genuinely liked Liz. Kyle was still being a little hesitant and defensive because he couldn’t get past the fact that Liz wasn’t even supposed to exist. Max knew it was Kyle’s fear and superstitious nature that had him nagging Max about getting a life, but that didn’t make it okay.

When Max had admitted that he cared about Liz and was happy having her in his life, Kyle had gone on to say that he didn’t think Liz was someone whom Max should consider building a life with, especially since her life wasn’t even supposed to exist now. At that point, his friends had realized just how deeply Max cared about Liz and they had gotten the hint that Max saw Liz as someone he could have a relationship with.

The argument had gotten heated from there. Kyle tried to tell Max he was making a mistake. Michael tried to tell Max to make sure he knew what he was getting himself into. Max tried to tell them both to mind their own business. Max knew Kyle was opposed to the idea of him and Liz, but Michael wasn’t. Michael was just worried about his best friend getting hurt. Still, Max wanted them to let him make up his own mind.

Sighing, he turned off the computer and made his way to the couch. Flopping down on his back, he stared up at the ceiling and thought of the woman who was currently upstairs in his bedroom. He wondered if she had feelings for him the way he had for her. Or would he prove Michael right if he told Liz how he felt. Would she leave?

He heard the soft footsteps as she walked out of the bathroom towards the bed. Closing his eyes and imagining what she must look like as she lay down on the bed, he silently prayed that she had some feelings for him.

TBC...
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