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Mountains So High (CC, AU, Adult) - Pt 63 COMPLETE - 5/22/11
Posted: Sun Jan 24, 2010 8:45 am
Mountains So High
All characters and plot lines that appeared in the series or in the books are not ours. The concept of Roswell does not belong to us either. They all belong to Melinda Metz, UPN, yada, yada, yada…
M&M, M&L, and K&T
Summary: (AU without Aliens)
Six people going on a vacation, searching for adventure end up getting more than they expected.
This fic will post one new part per week on Sundays.
Link to our trailer – made by us: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tRmgYdWfsxc
The shocks on the jeep were in serious danger of permanent damage as another bag was loaded into the back. Max Evans shook his head as he turned back around and leaned against the spare tire, wiping his brow and fervently hoping that the culprit wouldn’t bring anything else out to take on the trip with them. That hope was short-lived, however, because within moments of that thought the screen door slammed shut and his best friend and the woman of every secret fantasy he harbored bounced down the steps and handed him another bag.
Liz Parker grinned at her roommate and best friend as she held another bag that was ‘necessary’ to her enjoyment of their pending trip. “Max, be a sweetie and find space for this, would ya?”
“Liz, we’re not gonna even be able to haul half of this shit up the mountain,” he muttered, exasperated. “If it doesn’t fit in your pack, it’s not even gonna make it to the base camp.” The two of them were going on a week long mountain climbing excursion with some of their friends and despite the training camps they had been to Liz had obviously not paid any attention to the equipment list.
“Max, we’re supposed to be havin’ fun on this trip.” She made a face at him. “You’re gonna start the trip by sucking the fun out of it before we’ve even left the driveway.”
“Fine, why don’t you toss the kitchen sink in here, too? You add much more crap and I’m not gonna have room for you.”
“Hmmm…” She glanced at her best girlfriend when she came outside, already shaking her head negatively at something her boyfriend was saying. “Well, if you’re really runnin’ short on room I’m sure Maria can have Mark make some room.”
I’m runnin’ short on room?” he repeated incredulously.
“Max, everything here is essential to this trip. We’re gonna be at the lodge for a couple of days before we even head out to the base camp and I need to be prepared for anything that might come up.”
“Like meetin’ a hot guy and getting laid!” She nudged him with her elbow. “Y’know how that goes… you’ve gotta be prepared. That means necessary things like sexy lingerie and – “
“Hey, Parker, did ya leave anything in your closet?” Mark Patterson yelled as he opened the back of his SUV and loaded a couple of bags inside.
“I wish I could say you,” she muttered, rolling her eyes.
“Looks like you’ve run into a space issue over there, Evans.”
“Nope, we’re good.” Max raised his hand and gave a confident wave. “What the hell does she see in that guy?”
“He must be good in the sack ‘cause he doesn’t have anything else goin’ for him,” Liz said as she cast one last disparaging glance at Mark.
Maria DeLuca ran over to them and looked over the packing job Max had done. “Looks good, but you did bring an awful lot, Liz.”
“Since you took up at least half of my packing space you have no business lecturing me on how much space my luggage is taking up.”
“I think we can keep that between us. I’m not interested in getting into an argument with Mark before the trip starts. Besides,” she winked, “despite the amount of underwear you brought, it didn’t need that much space.”
Max bit back a groan when the girls launched into a detailed discussion about different pieces of sexy underwear. He shared a house with both of them so he had seen them in various states of undress, but did they have to talk about it, too?
“You guys ready to go?” Mark asked as he joined them.
Liz glanced at Max. “Did you say you were ready to go?”
“Nope.” He really enjoyed it when she got pissy, especially when he wasn’t the one she was pissed at.
“We’ll let you know when we’re ready to go.”
Mark brushed his dark hair back off of his forehead and rubbed his sunglasses against the front of his shirt. “We need to get movin’.”
“I don’t recall anyone nominating you to be the leader, so go back over there and when we’re ready we’ll let you know.”
He glared at Liz and started to say something but a warning look from his girlfriend had him holding his hands up in defeat. “Fine, keep yakkin’ it up and we’re gonna get there late, miss our check-in time, and lose our reservations.”
“Oh, my God, Maria,” Liz hissed. “What do you see in him?”
“And we’re not getting into that argument again either. We’ve still gotta swing by and get Tess and Kyle, so we should get goin’.”
Liz nodded. “I’m ridin’ with Max.” She turned to look at him, batting her eyes flirtatiously. “You don’t mind, right, Max?”
“It’s a long drive; we could’ve all rode together,” Maria said.
“We could’ve, but Max won’t bitch about me havin’ somethin’ to eat and drink in the jeep, he’ll let me pick out what we listen to, and he’ll talk about things that I know he has no interest in simply because he knows they’re topics that are of interest to me.”
Max turned to secure their bags and gear so she wouldn’t see his expression. She didn’t realize why he’d do anything for her; they had been friends for so long and he had his doubts that she would ever see him as anything other than her best friend and roommate.
“Okay, let’s go get the others so we can hit the road,” Maria said as she glanced at Max. She had her suspicions about his feelings for their roommate, but she figured that he wasn’t ready to let that cat out of the bag since he had never said a word.
Kyle Valenti glanced between his longtime girlfriend and the pile of luggage sitting on the driveway between them. He and Tess Harding had been together since high school, through two years of college, and they were still going strong. It was moments like this that made him question her sanity though. Her expression was mutinous and he knew from experience that meant they were not leaving without a single item that she had deemed necessary to their trip.
“There’s no way even half of this shit is on the equipment list, babe,” he tried once more.
“No,” she explained patiently, “but we’re gonna be stayin’ at the lodge for a couple of days before we head up to the base camp to meet our guides, so that means I’ll need clothes to wear for whatever we might decide to do.”
“We should’ve just skipped hangin’ out at the lodge before headin’ out to make our climb.”
“I don’t know what you’re complainin’ about, Kyle.” She rolled her eyes and reached for one of the bags, tossing it on the tailgate and motioning for him to get up in the bed of the truck and start securing the bags. “You and Max are the ones who suggested extending our trip so that we could all hang out together.”
“Yeah, to go hiking or to hit the hot tub… with all the crap you’re bringin’ it looks like we’re movin’ up there.” Despite all of his complaining he was busy securing the bags as she tossed them to him. He stood up and pointed to the street. “Hey, look who’s finally here!” He hopped down off of the tailgate and joined Tess as she walked down to greet their friends when they pulled into the driveway.
“You guys were supposed to be here 20 minutes ago. What happened?”
Liz rolled her eyes as she stepped out of the jeep and hurried up to hug her friends. “Pretty boy got into it with Max when we stopped to fuel up on the way over here.”
“Who knows? Whatever it was pissed Max off though and now he’s not talkin’ to anyone. Any chance we can ditch Mark before we hit the road?”
“I could back over him,” Max offered as he joined them.
“Hey, gimme a hand with Tess’ luggage,” Kyle said, taking his old college roommate’s arm and dragging him back up the driveway.
“Give him a couple shots of SoCo, Kyle,” Liz hollered before they could get too far away. She waved when Max turned to look at her. “What? That always mellows you out and I am perfectly capable of driving us to the hotel in Eugene.” They had planned to drive a little over halfway the first day and being at the lodge near Mount Rainier National Park to check into their cabin by afternoon the next day.
Max held his hands up in defeat, stopping her rant and then tossed his keys to her. “We’ll get this knocked out and be ready to roll in ten.” He winked at her as he turned back to follow Kyle.
“When are you gonna put that poor man out of his misery?”
Liz lifted her right eyebrow as she looked at Tess. “What are you talkin’ about?”
“Girl, he’s totally hot for you!”
“What? Tess you are sooo wrong!”
“What’s Tess wrong about?” Mark asked, voicing the question before Maria could get it out.
Maria shot an annoyed glare at him and grabbed his arm to stop him before they could join her friends.
“Cut it out, Mark. You’re deliberately tryin’ to pick a fight with my friends.”
“I just don’t get why we had to all bunk in together when we get to Mount Rainier.”
Maria rolled her eyes. She was tired of going over the same subject again and again. “For the last time, Mark, the whole point of a group vacation is to go and hang out as a group.”
“I just think it would’ve been a lot more fun if we’d rented individual cabins; your friends don’t even like me.”
“You haven’t given them a chance to get to know you.”
“We’ve been together for several months now, Maria… how much time do they need?”
“Get off it, Mark! You don’t exactly go out of your way to make an effort with them.” She held a hand up as she took a step back and took a deep breath. “We’re not gonna fight about this. The whole point of a vacation is to relax and that is what I intend to do.”
Mark bit back his response when she turned and walked over to her friends, exchanging hugs and immediately jumping into the conversation. He didn’t know why he had agreed to this stupid trip,
he thought as he went back to his SUV, brushing a smudge of dirt off of the front fender. Oh, well, it didn’t really matter. Sure, he had to put up with the group of delinquents she called her friends for the next couple of days, but after that they’d spend a week on the climb. He smiled to himself. A whole week of nights that he could spend snuggled up with his girlfriend and not have to worry about anyone knocking on the door or making so much noise that he couldn’t concentrate.
“Last minute checklist, babe,” Kyle shouted as he and Max finished packing and securing everything. He ran through a list of things like music they had chosen for the trip, cell phones, chargers, drinks, and munchies. As soon as his list had been checked off he and Max exchanged a high-five and headed to their respective vehicles.
“Alright, let’s rock an’ roll, people!” Max yelled as he hauled himself up into the passengers’ seat. “Liz, c’mon, girl!”
“What’s the hurry?” she asked as she pulled his keys out of her pocket.
“Last one to get there pays tonight’s bar tab!” He grinned at her when she hurried to jump in and start the engine. He stood up, holding onto the roll bar and saluting Mark as Liz backed up, the back bumper barely a whisper from impacting with the other guy’s SUV. “Looks like the drinks are on you, Patterson!”
Kyle stomped on the brake when he reached Maria, bracing his weight on his left foot so he could lean out through the window and kiss her cheek. “Didn’t mean to ignore ya when you got here. Better tell ol’ tight-ass to step on it; y’know how ugly our bar tab was the last time we did this!”
“I’ve already mapped a shortcut that’ll have you eatin’ our dust, Valenti!” she shouted gleefully and ran across the manicured lawn to climb inside the SUV. “C’mon, Mark, let’s go or we’re gonna be payin’ the bar tab tonight!”
“What?” he demanded. “I didn’t agree to that!”
“This isn’t the first you’ve heard of this game, now c’mon!” She huffed impatiently when Kyle backed out of the driveway and pressed down on the accelerator, throwing up bits of dirt and gravel in his wake. “Just roll with it, Mark,” she insisted when he got behind the wheel and started the engine, quickly following Kyle’s route. “We’ve all worked hard this past year and we deserve to get out and cut loose.”
He shook his head. “You’d better be tellin’ the truth about knowin’ a shortcut,” he muttered.
Maria leaned back in her seat as he took the ramp that would lead them out onto the Interstate and she grinned and waved when they passed Kyle after several miles. Things were a little bit rocky, but despite that they were getting off to a good start.
Posted: Sun Jan 31, 2010 6:52 am
keepsmiling7: We’re pretty sure it’s gonna be a ride worth taking!
kismet: Oh, we hope so!
Liz is completely missing the obvious here, but in her defense, Max has been her best friend for a lifetime and she’s never really thought about him in any other way… we’re pretty sure that’s about to change though!
Eva: Yeah, a big adventure! We’re glad you’re looking forward to the next part!
mary mary: LOL, what else can they really do?
Alien_Friend: We like to keep ‘em rockin’!
**snort** Sometimes ya just don’t listen to what your friends are trying to tell ya! Liz and Max are the two with the biggest dislike, lol! Yeah, we can see why they don’t like him, too.
Major crush! Yup, we think you’re gonna like this Max and Liz, too. They’re gonna be a lot of fun.
Oh, Michael’s appearance is sure to be interesting!
Glad you enjoyed that first part!
crazedearthgirl: Hi! Ex is a term that needs to be applied to Mark! Nope, no fun at all. Michael’s fit… well, we’ll see!
begonia9508: This trip could be crowded, ‘cause we wanna go too! He is hot!
Thanks! Yeah, we’re not sure what it is that Maria sees in Mark either, but there must be something… at least we hope so.
sarammlover: Thanks! Michael will be arriving on the scene soon.
Maiqu: Yup, for now that’s where he is.
LOL, well, he certainly has something.
killjoy: Kyle and Tess are together, but they aren’t gonna be focused on as much as the other two couples in this fic.
LOL, Max would’ve gotten quite a bit of enjoyment out of that!
“Every muscle in my damn body hurts like hell. I hate long drives,” Maria complained when they had finally entered the reception area of the main lodge where they were supposed to get the keys for the cabin they had rented.
“Ditto,” Liz said, stretching out as much as possible. “I think I need a massage.”
“I could give you one,” Max offered. He had just entered the room behind her and heard his friend’s last few words.
“Oh, thanks, but I don’t think that’s necessary. They have a spa on site,” she waggled her eyebrows at Maria.
Max’ shoulders slumped when she cheerfully jumped into her new topic, enthusiastically going on about hot guys with hot bodies who gave hot massages. “How far is it to the cabin from here?” he asked Maria before the two girls could really get going.
“Oh, I don’t know. Ask Kyle, he’s the one who made the reservations.”
“Kyle!” Max shouted when he turned around and didn’t see the guy close by.
“What’re you shoutin’ about, Evans?” Kyle asked when he heard Max yelling for him.
“How far away’s the cabin?” he asked.
“About a half mile or somethin’ close to that,” Kyle said when he finally came into the large room and went to the woman behind the desk to get the keys.
“Well, can we get goin’? You did rent the four-bedroom, right? I’m not gonna get stuck havin’ to bunk with someone else?”
“Um, well… not exactly,” Kyle hedged as he waved the keys around. “It’s a three-bedroom, but I just assumed you an’ Liz would bunk together.”
“Oh, yeah, about that, Max,” Maria started, “would you mind sharin’ a room with Mark?”
Max and Mark both looked at her as if she’d just lost her last operational brain cell. “Share?” they asked at the same time.
“Hey, no one said anything about me havin’ to share with another guy,” Mark said insistently. “Especially not him.”
Max glared at him. “Not interested in sharin’ with you either, dickhead.”
“Boys, boys, let’s all play nice,” Liz said as she stepped between them. She looked up at Max and smiled. “Now, Max... you’ll do this for me, won’t you?”
He just barely resisted the urge to stomp his feet like a child. He lowered his voice. “Liz... that’s cruel and unusual punishment and ya know I can’t stand him.”
“It’s just for the two nights we spend at the cabin, Max. We’re gonna share a tent up in the mountains, I promise. But you have to understand. Girls just don’t share a bathroom with a guy when he’s not her boyfriend.”
“What the hell kinda logic is that?” he argued.
“Maria,” Mark hissed and dragged her to the side, “you can’t be serious about that, right? I want to spend the nights with my girl and not with him,” he pointed at Max.
“Mark, just calm down. It’s just two little bitty nights and Max is a very good roommate.”
“But you are my girlfriend,” he insisted. “We’re supposed to be in one room. Parker and Evans hang around each other all the time, I’ve seen them sleep together on the couch, so why does she have a problem with sharing a room with him?”
“Yeah that’s another reason why Liz and I want to share a room. Before I met you we used to hang out every day. I miss her.”
“I have nothin’ in common with him!” Mark insisted.
Liz rolled her eyes at Mark. “Well, Max isn’t interested in you either, and since I presume the only use the room will be getting is sleep then what does it matter if you have anything in common with him?”
“Liz, I’ll do your homework for any class you choose for the entire semester if you don’t do this to me,” Max tried.
“Max, stop bein’ such a wussie. We’ll hang out together all day and night, just like Maria said. And when we go to bed, we’ll sleep and you guys don’t even have to talk. Got it?”
“Alright, stop rambling, let’s go to our cabin,” Tess interrupted them, shaking her head at Maria. “Is Mark a loser in bed?”
“Fine. When you fail whatever class it is you’re gonna fail, I want you to remember this.” Max started to walk away but then turned back to her. “And just so you know, I won’t forget this,” he hissed.
Mark cringed when he overheard the question. “I don’t go around askin’ how you are in bed,” he snapped. “It’s none of your business how I am in bed.”
“Relax, she was just makin’ a joke, Mark,” Maria said and followed the others outside.
“I think somebody’s a little insecure,” Tess said in a sing-song voice.
“Quit it,” the other girl hissed. God, this vacation was really getting off to a great start.
“What? He can ask how I am in bed.” She shrugged. “I have no... shortages... or anything.”
Maria rolled her eyes. “Can we please just go to the cabin?”
Kyle ushered Tess out the door before Mark got into an argument with her and he had to step in.
Liz leaned back and relaxed in her chair, rubbing her belly slightly. “God, I can’t eat another thing more...”
The group had decided to go out to the bar in the main lodge to eat and drink. They were all too tired from the ride to hit another party even though Max and Kyle had managed to get an invite from the residents in one of the other cabins.
“So, you don’t want anymore of your food?” Max asked, glancing at the still half-filled plate in front of her.
“No, why? Are you still hungry?”
He grinned. “You know me, I’m always hungry.”
She rolled her eyes and pushed her plate towards him. “You can have at it if you’ll flag our waitress down and order me another drink.”
“Sure,” he turned in his seat and lifted his hand to get the attention of the waitress who was serving their table. Not that it was really a problem, because the girl had started to flirt with him the moment they had walked in the room.
“What can I get you?” she asked as she approached the table.
“Another Caipirinha for the lady, a beer for me... anything else?” He glanced around the table.
“I’ll take same as Liz,” Maria said when the others shook their heads.
“Alright, then that’s it,” Max eyes wandered to the name tag the waitress was wearing, “Courtney.”
She smiled at him brightly. “I’ll be back in a minute.”
“Do you really think you need another drink today?” Mark asked his girlfriend.
“Watch out, the liquor police is here,” Liz muttered into her glass as she finished her drink off.
“What?” Maria asked, surprised. “I’ve only had one so far. Chill out.”
“Yeah, it’s not like you’re gonna get lucky tonight,” Max snorted and cut into the lobster on Liz’ plate.
Maria took one of her fries and threw it in Max' direction. “Shut up, Evans,” she told him and smiled sweetly.
“So, Evans,” Kyle said as he leaned back in his chair, “what happened to that girl you were datin’ a while back?”
“The double-jointed redhead, man.”
“Had to get rid of her, she was just too stupid to stand.”
Kyle snorted. “Not even though you said she was hot in the sack?”
“Nope,” he shook his head, “not even.”
“Here we go,” the waitress was already back, getting them their drinks.
Max nodded at her with a sexy smirk. “Thanks.”
Liz shook her head. “You’re such a womanizer, Max.”
“What? You’ve been watchin’ that blond guy across the room all night and don’t even lie to me and say you wouldn’t be all over his ass given the opportunity.”
She shrugged. “Not denying it.”
“Hey, guys,” someone approached the table and placed his hands on the backrest of Max’ and Kyle’s chair. “I’m Tony, one of the guides who’s gonna be with you on your trip on the mountain,” he greeted everyone.
Max turned to shake the guy’s hand, but froze when he caught the way Liz was staring at the guy.
“Hey, Tony,” Liz said, giving him her sexiest smile.
He grinned at her, showing off a set of perfect white teeth. “Hey, pretty girl.” He was reaching for her hand when the guy next to her stood up abruptly and shook his hand while moving between them.
“Here, let me introduce you to the rest of our group,” Max said.
Tony nodded, immediately noting the guy’s jealousy. Maybe he was the boyfriend?
“So this’s Maria and Mark, Kyle and Tess, Liz,” he just nodded behind him, “and Max,” he said and pointed his finger at his chest.
“I’m glad to see that you guys seem to be sporty. The trip’s always more fun when the group is actually able to make it up the mountain and in good spirits,” Tony said, nodding at the others.
“Oh, we’ve been to a couple of the training camps,” Liz interjected, elbowing Max out of the way so she could talk to Tony face to face. “Not to brag or anything, but I was at the top of my class.”
Tony resisted the urge to let his gaze travel over her body as long as Mr. Jealousy was standing next to him. “I’m sure you’ll do fine. There’ll be another two guides with us, one for every two people.”
“And how do you decide which two people a guide gets? Or can we make that decision? Max and I are best friends so we usually end up together on these excursions, so we wouldn’t mind if you were our guide.”
Max rolled his eyes and dropped back down into his chair. Best friends, he thought with a mental groan.
Tony nodded. “You can choose who’s with who. We prefer the groups broken up into male/female pairs whenever possible, but it’s not totally a requirement.”
“Why don’t ya sit down and have a drink with us?” Maria invited him.
Tony shook his head. “Sorry, but I’m on call tonight.”
“Really?” Liz smiled at him flirtatiously. “Who’s the lucky girl?”
He laughed. “I just had to get a really disgusting old man off the mountain.”
“So...” she fingered the open neck of his shirt, “no girlfriend?”
He shot a look at Max, who had taken his seat again. “No.”
Max glanced at the waitress when she brushed up against him from behind. “Need somethin’ else, sugar?”
“Yeah, bring me a couple shots of tequila... silver patron if you’ve got it.”
“Sure,” she winked at him and left again.
Kyle glanced up when Courtney walked away, smiling appreciatively at the sway of her hips.
Tess gave him a little smack on the back of his head. “You’re taken, remember?”
“I’m just admiring the scenery,” he complained.
“Alright, guys, I’m gonna go,” Tony said when his beeper started to ring.
Mark shook his head when the guy left. “Looks like I’m not the only one not getting lucky tonight,” he smirked.
“Okay, is it just me or did that guy look like Paul Walker?” Liz said and took her seat again.
“Definite resemblance,” Maria agreed, glad that for once Liz had ignored one of Mark’s comments and just let it go.
“He’s hot,” she said and waggled her eyebrows at Maria. “And he’s our guide. Yay.”
“Yeah,” Max mumbled, “yay.”
“Think the other two guys are as hot as him?”
“How do you know they’re guys?” Max asked. “Isn’t that kinda sexist? Maybe they’ll be girls.”
“No, all guys,” Courtney said when she came back with the tequila.
“Perfect.” That wasn’t making Max feel any better. Matter of fact it was making him downright pissy. “Maybe you will get lucky, Mark.”
Re: Mountains So High (CC, AU, Adult) - Part 2 - 1/31/10
Posted: Sun Feb 07, 2010 7:41 am
kismet: We’re glad you’re enjoying it!
Oh, we’re pretty sure she’s gonna get a clue… it may come in a more direct manner, but it’ll happen.
LOL, we can’t either!
keepsmiling7: Lots of fun! Yeah, what was she thinking?!
Earth2Mama: Pissy Max is fun, isn’t he? We’re not sure what exactly Maria sees in Mark, but there must be something good about him.
Nah, not for forever, lol. Ah, it’s gonna happen, but we can’t tell ya how just yet.
Yup, we agree with you. We can only hope!
Kyle and Tess are fun.
Natalie36: We’re glad it’s makin’ ya laugh!
begonia9508: We’re hoping it’s a lot of fun.
Liz hasn’t realized it just yet.
RiceKrispy: LOL, well, we’re glad you’re finding this one funny then.
He’ll make his arrival soon.
mary mary: Oh, lots of fun and games coming up!
Maiqu: Max did get a great shot in right there!
Alien614: We’re glad you’re enjoying it!
Eva: We’re glad you’re enjoying it! Michael is a guide.
Alien_Friend: LOL, yes… best friend zone. Now he’s just gotta figure out how to change the boundaries and clue his best friend in. Yup, Max and Liz have a serious hate/hate relationship going on with ol’ Mark.
Max is not happy about the rooming situation.
guelbebek: Glad to hear you’re enjoying ITCOAL!
LOL, don’t worry, that puppy’s gonna grow up quick. He just hasn’t stepped out of the friend zone yet, but we promise, he will!
Sure Michael’s gonna be the guide?
No? But, it might just get Max to stand up and say something.
It is strange how that seems to have become fairly familiar as the stable couple in fics, but we like them, too.
Mark looked at Maria when Liz left the living room after informing them that she was going to bed. They were the last ones in the room and he glanced down at his girlfriend when she shifted away from him.
“Where’re you goin’?” he asked.
“It’s late and I think Liz wanted to talk.”
He took her hand and tugged her close against his side. “Maria, there’s somethin’ I wanted to talk to you about.”
She turned to face him when she heard the serious note in his voice. “Is anything wrong, Mark?”
“No, not wrong.” Unless you included the fact that he was sharing a room with another guy. “We’ve been together for a few months now and...” He played with her fingers for a moment before he looked up at her.
“I love you,” he said, smiling and waiting for her to reciprocate.
Maria hoped he couldn’t see the sweat breaking out on her forehead. “You... you love me?” she breathed. Shit, she thought, what am I gonna do now?
“I do, yes. I know when we first got together I told you I didn’t believe in such a notion, but I do love you.”
“Um... well,” she shifted in her seat. God, DeLuca, think of something.
Mark frowned when she didn’t automatically repeat the sentiment. “I think the way it works, you’re supposed to say it back,” he said uncomfortably.
She sighed. “I know, Mark. But, I can’t, sorry. I’m... I’m not ready for that.”
“Not ready?” he asked, annoyed.
“I’m sorry,” she repeated. “I wanna mean it when I say it.”
He bit his tongue because he was getting ready to yell. Instead he nodded, kissed her cheek, and stood up. “Good night, Maria.”
She watched him leave and then got up to go to bed as well. “Liz,” she shouted as she opened the door and ran into the room. “Oh, my God, Liz.”
Liz ran out of the bathroom. “What? What’s goin’ on?”
Maria let herself fall onto her bed. “He told me he loves me.”
“What? Did you say it back?”
She lifted her gaze to Liz’s and shook her head slightly while biting her lip.
“So, you don’t love him?”
“I don’t know,” she whined. Liar! She got up and walked to the bathroom to brush her tears away. “God, he’s so pissed at me now.”
“He shouldn’t be pissed. He should be more understanding.”
“Well, he didn’t say anything,” she mumbled around her toothbrush, “but I could see the disappointment in his eyes.”
“You guys have been together a while.”
“Yeah over five months now.” She turned to look at Liz. “Is it stupid that I can’t say it?”
“You care about him... right? I mean, you must since you’re still with him.”
“Of course I do. He’s always attentive of what I need or want. He’s always a gentleman when we go out. But,” she shrugged, “I don’t know. It’s like something’s missing.”
“Somethin’ you’ve felt before?” Liz asked slowly.
Maria stared at her reflection in the mirror. “Once.”
Liz shot upright in the bed and glanced at her friend. “Once... when? Not after we met because I’d know all about that, so that means it was before. Tell me all about it.”
Maria changed into her night outfit and went to her bed as well. “It was in high school. Do you need the lights on?”
“Not unless you do.”
“No,” she stretched out to reach the switch to turn the lights off.
Liz waited for a few minutes before she spoke again. “You were gonna share...”
Maria sighed. “Yeah, it just kinda still hurts to talk about it, ya know?”
“We don’t have to talk about it.” She bit her bottom lip. Who was she kidding? “Was he cute?”
The other girl groaned. “He was everything; cute, sexy, hot.”
“And you’ve never mentioned him.” Liz frowned. “You guys have a bad breakup?”
She snorted. “He just broke up with me and left. I don’t know even why.”
“What’s the rest of the story? Did you love him?”
“I said it to him once.”
“Did he say it back?”
Maria was glad that the lights were off so Liz couldn’t see her face. “No,” she whispered.
“Oh.” Liz cast about for something to say. “Well, you must’ve cared about him a lot if you said it. Is that what broke you guys up?”
“No, he kinda broke up with me before I even said it so... God, now you think I was really desperate back then, huh?”
“You told him you loved him after you guys broke up?”
“He broke up with me shortly after we graduated. He didn’t really give me a reason, but I had the feeling that... I don’t know. It was like it hurt him to do it, ya know? It wasn’t a break up with a lot of yelling and fighting. It was just sad and quiet and before he went out the door, I told him that I loved him.”
“Oh... that’s just sad.”
“God, I wish I knew why he left. We had this whole thing with going together to college figured out and then suddenly he just left town.”
“You’ve never tried to find him?”
“I wouldn’t even know where to look, Liz. I went to his foster home the first time I got home from college, but his foster father never really cared about him and he didn’t tell him where he went. He didn’t tell anyone.”
Liz mused over that for a moment. “What would you do if you found him?”
“I really don’t know. I haven’t seen him since the day he walked out of my room. I’d still be mad at him, I guess.”
Liz laughed and shook her head. “I’ll bet you’d throw him down in the nearest bed and fuck him first.”
Maria chuckled. “Well, he broke up with me. So, he can’t possibly want me anymore.”
She snorted. “Please.”
Maria turned in her bed to face Liz, looking at her in the slight moonlight. “I still miss him sometimes,” she admitted.
“Well, one of these days you’ll find him and when you do I hope I’m there ‘cause I’m gonna knock his lights out.”
“I don’t think I’m gonna see him again.”
“You’ve still got feelings for this guy, Maria.” She came up to lean on one elbow and rested her chin in her hand. “What was so special about him?”
“Everything. It wasn’t just the way he looked. It was the way he treated me and the way he kissed me.”
Liz sighed. “Ya know I’ve never felt like that about anyone.”
“Sooner or later you will. Maybe with that Tony guy,” Maria joked. “He’s hot.”
“He is hot.” She rolled her eyes. “I’m not sure what Max’s deal was though... God, if I didn’t know better I’d think he was jealous.”
“He so was, girl.”
“I just don’t get why he’d be jealous. He’s my best friend, Maria, there’s nothin’ else between us.”
“Did you ever consider that he might want more?”
“Max? No, why would he?” Liz flopped back on the bed and stared at the ceiling.
“I don’t know, Liz. Sometimes things change.”
“You really think he likes me?”
“Huh.” She thought about that for several minutes. “I don’t know, Maria, that’d just be weird. He’s my best friend... he knows like, everything about me!”
“But you can’t deny that he’s also hot. Especially since he’s grown that goatee.”
Liz giggled. “Well, I’ve never denied that he’s hot. I’ve just never considered anything else where he’s concerned.”
“Well, maybe you should think about it. Even though that Tony guy is pretty hot, too. Too bad I brought my boyfriend.”
“Guess that sums up your feelings for ol’ Mark.” She sat up again. “Really? You think Max likes me like that?”
Maria chuckled and got out of her bed to join Liz on hers. “Yeah, I do, girlfriend,” she said, sitting down next to her.
“Huh, well, he certainly has possibilities, but... I don’t know, Maria, it could totally ruin our friendship, ya know? Besides, Max talks a good game and he doesn’t have a shortage of girlfriends, but he’s lookin’ for THE one and I wouldn’t wanna just be another girl that he tries on and then dumps because she doesn’t fit what he’s lookin’ for.”
“Liz, believe me, if Max is really interested in you, then it’s not just because he wants to get in your pants. And you’ve known each other for so long and have so many similarities... Ya know, my advice, if you feel something for him too then don’t make him wait... it might be too late then.”
“Maria DeLuca, are you suggesting that I should go jump his bones?”
“I’m just sayin’ that,” she turned to look at Liz and took her face in her hands, “you might lose him someday. He won’t wait forever.”
“It would be weird though, don’t ya think? I mean, how do you go from best friends to... more?”
“Well I can’t tell ya anything about that one,” she admitted and lay down with her head in Liz’s lap.
“He does have a sexy body,” she said absently as she ran her fingers through Maria’s hair.
The other girl closed her eyes and sighed quietly when Liz started to play with her hair. This whole talking about the past had really shaken her up emotionally. “He so has.”
“It is kinda hard to ignore since his workout bench is on the back deck and he always works out without a shirt on.” Not that she’d ever really thought much about it beyond basic appreciation of a guy who took care of himself. Liz rolled her eyes. “Huh, now I’ll be awake all night thinkin’ about this.”
“Well, welcome to the club, girl. I’ll be up all night trying to get over my high school feelings one more time.”
“Aw, hell, Maria, I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have asked you so many questions about him.”
“No,” she waved her off, “in some weird way it was good to talk about him again. And I’m glad you know now. Just promise me that you won’t tell anyone.”
“Promise. Still gonna knock him down a couple notches if I ever meet him though.”
“No complaints here. I should probably spend more time figuring out what I want with Mark.”
“I’d be happy to knock him down, too.”
“Uh-huh, you better think about Max.”
“What? Max would be on the sidelines cheerin’ me on, Maria. In case it’s slipped by you, neither of us cares for Mark.”
“Believe me, I did notice that,” Maria said sadly.
“I’m sorry, girl. We all just got off on the wrong foot and it’s pretty much stayed that way. I’ll try harder if you want me to,” she offered, hating that thought.
“Thanks,” Maria said and hugged her before she went to her own bed again.
Ungh, now she was gonna have to try to be nice to that prick! Liz thought.
Maria pulled her blanket above her. Actually she was glad that she could spend the night with Liz instead of Mark. It would’ve been really weird after his I love you.
Liz drummed her fingers on her stomach as she stared up the ceiling. Max... as a potential lover? That would be weird... at first anyway. Once they got past that... She shifted restlessly and tossed the covers back. Okay, so maybe it wasn’t an idea that was completely out of the realm of possibility. She forced her mind back to Tony, recalling his face and focusing on his gorgeous eyes. He was a much better option; there was no history there, no prior knowledge of everything that had happened in her past whether it was good, bad, or just plain ugly.
Re: Mountains So High (CC, AU, Adult) - Part 3 - 2/7/10
Posted: Sun Feb 14, 2010 7:11 am
kismet: LOL, this Liz might just do it, too!
Yup, it won’t be an immediate decision, but now the thought’s in her head.
LOL, it’s funny you should mention pushing Mark down a hill…
Earth2Mama: Yeah, was not wanting to hear those three little words from Mark. This trip will bring about many decisions for more than just Maria. LOL, she IS smart like that!
Yup, gonna be kinda hard to ignore that now that the idea’s been planted (thanks, Maria!). She’s gonna have some decisions to make, too.
Nope, no way they’re gonna have it figured out that soon!
begonia9508: Exactly! So, Liz has some thinking to do!
Could be… Well, yeah, but, Mark makes such a great target for Max and Liz, lol!
Natalie36: In time…
keepsmiling7: So do we!
Alien_Friend: We love to explore in our writing, especially between these two girls. Oh, definitely got some explaining to do. Mark would’ve done almost anything to get out of rooming with Max… of course Max wasn’t exactly thrilled with the roommate situation either.
Oh, Liz isn’t going to be able to avoid the thought now!
Eva: LOL, there will be fireworks.
The love of her life is still out there and we can safely assure you that it is NOT Mark. We’ll find out more about the break up.
sarammlover: It would be great! But… no. Poor Max, stuck with Mark. He’s not happy with that arrangement either. Michael will be arriving soon.
mary mary: Yup, Mark is quite fond of himself.
Maiqu: LOL, Mark just isn’t getting love from anyone!
Liz has some serious thinking to do now.
We really enjoy writing these girls – their friendship was/is great.
Think so, huh? You sooo have that annoying habit of being right, lol!
The group settled around their table in the dining hall of the main lodge and they quickly lost themselves in their menus. They mused over the selections for a while before the waitress came back and started taking their orders.
“And for you?”
Max glanced up when the waitress repeated herself and he realized she was speaking to Liz. He frowned at his friend and reached out to pinch her side.
Liz jumped and turned to smack the back of her hand against his stomach. “Stop it, Max,” she hissed.
He motioned to the waitress. “She’s waitin’ for your order.” He rolled his eyes and recited an order for Liz, winking at the woman when she turned to walk away.
“I don’t need you to order for me.”
“What the hell is wrong with you today?” he asked. “That’s about the fourth time you’ve taken my head off this mornin’ and I haven’t done a damn thing.”
Tess leaned around Mark so she could ask Maria, “What’s up with them?”
“No clue,” Maria lied.
“Hey, look who’s here,” said a voice from behind them and they all turned to look at the guide they had met the night before.
“Oh, hey, Tony,” Liz greeted with a smile. Her eyebrows lifted in interest when she noticed the man next to him. “Who’s your friend?” Damn, there was just no shortage of hot men up here in the mountains!
“This’s Nick. Nick, this’s our group for the next climb.”
Max wasn’t in the mood for socializing or watching Liz flirt with one or both of the guides but he knew excusing himself would be too obvious.
“Aren’t there supposed to be three of you?” Mark asked as he held his orange juice glass up to the light. “I don’t think this’s pulp free and I know that’s what I asked for.”
Tony and Nick exchanged a look. They had just located the one who was most likely to cause a problem on the climb.
“Yeah, you guys will meet him when you get to base camp. He just got back from a private climb and he doesn’t care for too many people anyway. He prefers to spend the day before a climb going over equipment and monitoring weather conditions.”
Nick nodded at Tony’s explanation. “Yeah, the weather can turn on a dime up here, so it’s best to know as much as possible before hikin’ out.”
“Think the weather will be okay the next few days?” Kyle asked the guys.
“Forecast is lookin’ good,” Tony said with a nod.
“What d’you guys do if the weather changes while you’re up there?” Liz asked, trying to make conversation so they wouldn’t leave too quickly and she had to go back to her weird thoughts about Max.
Nick flashed a flirtatious smile in her direction as he braced his forearms on the back of a couple of the chairs and leaned down closer to her. “Find shelter from the storm, dig in, and I’ve discovered that body heat really is the best heat out there.”
She smiled and bit her bottom lip slightly. Just thinking about that made her hot. “Well,” she played with a strand of her hair, “bad weather wouldn’t be bad at all then.”
Max rolled his eyes and made a gagging sound that he didn’t bother trying to disguise.
Nick quickly straightened up. “Hey, man, you okay?” he asked, making a face.
“Yeah, it’s just getting a little thick in here,” Max muttered. “I think I’ll take a walk.” He excused himself and left the table to go outside and take in a deep breath of fresh air.
Maria kicked her friend under the table, shaking her head at her.
Liz pulled her leg back out of kicking distance and turned to smile at Nick. “How long have you boys been leading these excursions?”
“I just got here a few months ago but the other guys have been here for what, Tony? Almost two years?”
“Yeah, two years for me.” He squeezed into a chair between Maria and Tess. “So, what exactly made y’all decide you wanted to go out and climb a mountain?”
“Well, we’re all kinda into sports, so we decided our trip together had to be the kind of trip that includes a little adventure,” Maria said when nobody else spoke up.
Mark leaned around his girlfriend, deliberately placing his right arm around her shoulders. “Isn’t it against policy to flirt with the people you’re supposed to be leading up into the mountains?”
Tony lifted an eyebrow. God this guy was gonna suck on the tour. His girlfriend seemed to be pretty cool though. “Nope, no policy about that.”
“No policy,” Mark huffed. “Someone needs to speak to your human resources manager.”
Maria turned to look at him, giving him a warning glare.
Nick laughed even though he wanted to kick the guy’s ass. “Feel free to,” he answered coolly.
“Maybe I will.”
“So, are we gonna run into any wildlife up in the mountains?” Kyle asked, just knowing that Mark was gonna ruin everyone’s good mood if he kept opening his trap.
Mark turned to look at Maria. “We’re takin’ the third guide.” At least he seemed a little bit more responsible from what he’d heard so far.
“Fine, Mark, we’ll take the third guide.” She was going to give him a piece of her mind as soon as they had a moment alone. “I’m sure he’ll be the most agreeable.”
Tony overheard the little conversation between the couple and laughed silently. Agreeable? Not really a word to describe his partner. He turned to answer Kyle’s question.
“We could see black-tailed deer, elk, black bear, and maybe some mountain goats depending on our elevation.”
Kyle nodded. “We can’t wait to get started.”
“Just make sure you’re ready to roll at 6am tomorrow mornin’,” Nick said as he straightened up and stretched. “We’ll meet ya here at the lodge and take ya up to the base camp and we’ll head out from there after gear check.”
“I’m so excited,” Tess said and leaned against Kyle.
“You’re just excited about sharin’ a sleepin’ bag,” he teased with a grin.
“Alright, we’ve gotta go,” Tony said as he got up from his seat. “Have a nice day and try to relax a little today. The first few miles we’re gonna climb tomorrow are gonna be pretty challenging.”
Liz winked at him. “I’m always up for a challenge.”
Maria walked into the kitchen, only wearing a long shirt and a pair of panties. She hissed when her bare feet hit the tiled floor and she jumped up to sit on the counter. “Mornin’,” she mumbled to Mark, who seemed to be the only one who was up right then.
Yesterday had been awkward between them. They had barely exchanged a word because he was still disappointed about her not returning his “I love you”.
“Mornin’,” he greeted her without looking up from the newspaper he was reading next to her. “Want some coffee?”
“Yeah, that’d be great.”
I can’t wait to start the climb, she thought. They wouldn’t have much time to talk then anyway so the silence wouldn’t be so awkward like it was now.
He nodded and turned slightly to get a cup that he filled with the back liquid and handed it to her.
“Thanks,” she mumbled and took a sip, grimacing at the awful taste. She reached around him to get two lumps of sugar.
Mark raised an eyebrow when she added sugar to her coffee. “Somethin’ wrong with the coffee?”
“It’s too bitter for my taste.”
He decided it wasn’t worth arguing over when she insulted his coffee. “Are we goin’ to the lodge for breakfast this mornin’?”
“Yeah, we should have a good breakfast before we leave.”
“Guess that means you won’t be cookin’ then,” he joked and immediately realized that she wasn’t going to think it was funny. He put his newspaper aside and moved to stand in front of her. “I’m sorry, Maria.”
She frowned. “For what?”
“I haven’t exactly been good company since we started this trip.” He grimaced. “Your friends don’t like me and I haven’t been comfortable so I’ve been actin’ like an ass.”
She placed her coffee aside and wrapped her arms around him. “I know this isn’t easy for you at times and my friends make it hard for you now and then.” She leaned in closer, smiling. “Do I get my good mornin’ kiss now?”
He lifted his hand to cradle her cheek in his palm as he stared into her eyes for a moment before lowering his mouth to hers. “Think maybe we could grab a shower together before everyone starts getting up?” he whispered against her lips.
She nodded. “We should enjoy a hot shower together, last one we’ll have for a few days.”
“Just had to pick a vacation where we’d be out in the wild for several days without modern conveniences like runnin’ water, didn’t you?” He nipped her chin. “Which shower?”
“We can use the shower in the main bathroom. The others will probably use the ones next to the bedrooms anyway.”
He grasped her hips and pulled her closer, grinning when she wrapped her legs around him. “I’ll try harder,” he promised, knowing she would appreciate the effort.
“Thanks. That really means a lot to me, ya know.”
He nodded, wondering how he was going to find any common ground with her friends. Kyle and Tess weren’t that bad, but Liz and Max... ungh, they didn’t even try to pretend to be civil.
“Mornin’,” Liz said, when she walked into the room, trying to keep her expression normal when she saw the couple so close. She had promised Maria she would try to be nicer.
Mark tensed as he waited for some scathing comment from the brunette and relaxed slightly when she let it go with the greeting. “Mornin’,” he mumbled.
Maria hopped down from the counter. “We’re gonna take a shower before we leave.”
Liz nodded and decided not to comment. The last thing she wanted was to get into an argument with the jackass before their trip got underway.
Max walked into the room just as Maria and Mark left and he glanced at them curiously, but just mumbled a greeting. “Sooo, ready for the big adventure?” he asked Liz and opened the refrigerator to search for some milk.
He hadn’t bothered to put a shirt on and if he didn’t know better he would’ve thought that Liz had checked him out when he had come into the room.
Liz quickly averted her gaze when he glanced at her, but as soon as his back was turned she let her eyes travel over him. He was attractive, she thought. Well-built, toned... She swallowed hard when she realized where her mind was taking her and she realized that if she didn’t start acting normal he was gonna get suspicious. “Are you makin’ breakfast?”
“No, just lookin’ around for somethin’ to drink. We decided to have breakfast in the main lodge, remember?”
“Their French toast isn’t as good as yours.”
He closed the refrigerator and leaned his back against the counter as he looked at her. “Want me to fix ya some?”
“Well, I’m not gonna say no to that offer.” She smiled at him and hopped up to sit on the counter next to him. “But, I know we’ve gotta get ready to go soon, so if you’d rather not...”
“Nah, it’s fine. We’ve still got some time left.” He glanced down at her bare legs and it took all of his strength to pull his thoughts together.
Liz’ throat went dry when she noticed the way he was looking at her and she wondered how she had missed it. And how long had she been missing it? she wondered when he turned back to the refrigerator.
“Why don’t ya get dressed and get your stuff together while I’m doin’ this? French toast will be served in ten minutes.” He had to get away from her while she was barely dressed like she was this morning. How the hell would he survive this tour if she was going to flirt with those jackass guides all the time?
She nodded, but before dropping down off of the counter she stretched her leg out in his direction and ran her big toe over his ribs, laughing when he yelped in surprise and jumped back. Hmm, this vacation was gonna be very interesting, Liz mused as she winked at him and walked out of the kitchen.
Mountains So High (CC, AU, Adult) - Part 5 - 2/21/10
Posted: Sun Feb 21, 2010 9:08 am
Well, the girl isn’t totally blind, lol! So true… she doesn’t know Nick at all.
Earth2Mama: Max is a pretty smart guy and we think he sees something in his best friend that no one else sees. LOL, no, not the mountain top! Nope, just base camp… where they’ll all begin their climb.
somewhere87: Most likely, yes.
Eva: Yeah, we figured as much, but thought we’d clarify, LOL!
Yeah, one apology does not make him any less of an ass. He does have an attitude of thinking he’s better than the others. And Maria… why does she put up with him? Perhaps we’ll get a bit of insight in this next part. It’s just a little sentence, but it’s there.
Natalie36: We think you’re probably right. Hmm… “in time”… well, it’s hard to say exactly. It’s gonna be an interesting and enlightening climb.
mary mary: Liz is testing the waters. She would never deliberately sabotage Max or lead him on with the intention of hurting him.
keepsmiling7: Little steps…
Alien_Friend: That’s awesome! We’re pretty sure these two are in for an interesting week!
Hmm… will Mark like the new guide? Well, he’d better remember that he’s the one who said he and Maria were taking the third guide!
kismet: Oh, it’s coming soon!
Yup, Max and Liz should prove to be entertaining!
Maiqu: Nah, we don’t hate ‘em… it just makes it more interesting when we reply to the reviews, lol!
You’re so right – again – Mark called the third guide. He’s such a smart boy, isn’t he?
sarammlover: Liz has new information regarding her best friend… now she needs to explore what that could mean. Yeah, Mark hasn’t proved to be very reader-friendly… we’ll see how things go when he meets guide number three, lol!
The next morning breakfast was over and they were all sitting around the table, talking and just enjoying being together when Tony and Nick approached them.
“You guys appear to be in good spirits,” Tony observed.
“Yeah,” Nick agreed, “you must be lookin’ forward to this experience.”
“Man, we’ve been waitin’ months for this trip,” Kyle spoke up.
Tony nodded. He was glad to have an enthusiastic group to work with this trip. “You brought your gear with you?”
“Yeah, it’s all over there,” Kyle said and gestured to a corner of the room, where their backpacks and gear were waiting.
“Well, if you guys are ready, we’ll start loadin’ up and head on up to base camp.” Nick glanced at his watch. They were running a few minutes ahead of schedule, which was a very good sign for the next few days.
“Shit, I forgot my camera,” Maria suddenly hissed. “Is there enough time for me to run back to our cabin to grab it?”
Nick nodded. “We’ll start loadin’ the van and one of us will wait for ya over there,” he said, motioning to the small reception area at the entrance to the building.
“Want me to go with ya?” Mark asked.
“And get outta helpin’ to load the van?” Max interrupted before Maria could answer. “Huh-uh, buddy, no way. I realize that little digital camera must weight at least a couple of ounces, but she can probably handle it all by herself.”
Maria let the comment go when Liz dug her elbow into Max’s ribs. “No, it’s okay, I can be back in about 10 minutes if I hurry,” she said and stood up.
Tony clapped his hands to get everyone’s attention once Maria had taken off. “Alright, let’s get movin’, people!” He and Nick quickly got everyone organized and they were running through a last-minute check before they started loading their passengers when another man joined them.
“Guerin, thought we were meetin’ you at base camp?” Tony asked.
Michael Guerin’s sharp gaze moved over the group assembled next to the van as he did a head count. “Wanted to spend the night in my own bed before headin’ out again,” he answered. He nodded at the group. “We’re a person short... someone drop out?”
“No, she forgot something in their cabin. She should be back in a few minutes though.” Tony knew that Michael would roll his eyes at that, even if he wasn’t directly looking at him.
Nick quickly hurried to introduce the new arrival to their group before Michael could comment on one of them being late and holding things up.
Michael shook hands with everyone and after a few minutes of conversing with them he turned back to his partners. “Why don’t you guys finish getting everyone loaded and I’ll go wait for our late arrival.” He was doing his best to control his irritation at being held up. “I assume you told her one of us would wait at the normal spot?”
Tony nodded. “Yeah,” he glanced to the side to make sure the boyfriend wasn’t in earshot. “Blond, short, and she’s got a fiery personality. You’re gonna like this one,” he said with a wink.
Michael grinned at that. “Uh-huh... which one’s she with?”
Tony just nodded to the left where Mark was getting Maria’s stuff up off of the ground.
Michael had already pegged him as the one most likely to cause a problem. “Okay, if she’s with that guy... I can’t imagine that I’d be interested beyond a look.”
Tony smirked. “I don’t know man, she seemed like your type to me.” They had worked together for almost two years now and Tony knew Guerin’s taste in woman all too well by now.
“I guess we’ll know soon enough,” he said with a last glance at the guy leaning down to look at himself in one of the side mirrors as he ran a comb through his hair. Michael walked back inside and looked down at the clipboard in his hands as he leaned on the reception counter.
“Waitin’ on someone, handsome?” a female voice asked.
He tipped his head to one side and grinned at the pretty blond who had just walked up behind the counter. “Hey, Jessie, how’s it goin’?”
“It’s getting really busy here lately. Everyone seems to want to climb the mountain. I wonder if that’s because of our excellent guides,” she winked.
“Could be... Every time we get a new group I get assaulted. I may have to start beatin’ ‘em off with a stick.” He grinned and shrugged. “Can I help it if I’m irresistible?”
“Too bad I’m already engaged,” she joked. “You’re headin’ up there again?”
“Yeah, got another group...” he rolled his eyes. “From California this time.”
She nodded. “I saw them earlier. Hey, at least they seem to be around your age, so maybe it’ll be fun.”
“Could be fun... if we ever get goin’. Ya know how those Californian’s are... no sense of time.”
“They’re not all here yet? I thought I saw Tony and Nick heading out with them.”
“Always has to be one that,” he held his hands up to make air quotes, “forgot somethin’.” He huffed and shook his head.
She snorted. “Just relax, Michael.”
“I just don’t get it,” he muttered. “It’s in the brochures, it’s in the info packet the outfit sends out, it’s in the agreement they sign, and I know the guys reminded them when they ran into the group last night... 6am sharp, but there’s always one.” He snorted. “Just means a shorter night when we make camp ‘cause we’ve got a specific destination we need to reach before bunkin’ in for the night.”
The woman shivered. “I honestly don’t understand why so many people wanna climb up there of their own free will. It’s cold, it’s exhausting... Not a vacation for me,” she shook her head.
“It is cold, it is exhausting, but it’s also exhilarating. You should’ve let me convince ya to make the climb before you went an’ got engaged.” He winked at her. “You’ll never know what ya missed.”
She chuckled. “I wonder if ya mean the climb up there or you.”
“They’re both guaranteed to make a lastin’ impression.” He turned his head when he heard the door behind him open and he felt like someone had just hit him square in the chest with a sledgehammer. No way, he thought. There was no way that fate or whatever would be this cruel. “You’re late,” he barked, hoping she would tell him she wasn’t the one he was waiting for.
It had been two years since he had last seen her. Two years that he had spent running from his past and trying his damnedest to forget her. It didn’t matter how many women he slept with, how much alcohol he drank, or how much distance he put between them, he was never gonna be able to get her out of his head... and more importantly, his heart.
Maria glanced up when someone spoke to her. She stopped immediately when she saw the man standing right in front of her. She almost dropped the camera on the floor when their eyes met for the first time in two years. “Michael?” she breathed, feeling stupid. Of course it was him. Unless he had a twin.
He felt like he had swallowed a mouthful of sand. It was her. “Maria... you’re here for the climb?” he asked stupidly.
She nodded. He looked a little different than he had two years back. He had always worn his hair short with spikes and now it was a little longer, clinging to his head, but still a little shaggy. She had to admit that this look fit him, too. It made him look a little bit more adult and still irresistible. How was she gonna survive this trip if he was her guide? And what was he thinking about her after two years?
Michael had no reason to be angry with her. She hadn’t walked away from him and left without giving him a reason or an explanation. No, he was the one who had done that and he knew he had no expectation of civility from her because of it. But it didn’t stop him from asking about the pretty boy she was dating now. “So, you’re here with... what’s his name? Mork?”
She rolled her eyes at him, playing it cool even through her heart was pounding wildly in her chest. Her whole body reacted to him and she hated it. “It’s Mark and yeah. You know, he actually wants me to be in his life.”
He bit his lip to keep from snapping back at her. “We should get goin’. We’re already late.”
She followed him, catching up with him when he was already outside and she stopped him by placing one hand on his arm. “Michael.”
He stopped and turned to look at her, waiting silently for her to say whatever was on her mind.
“Look, I didn’t expect to see you here. Honestly”, she glanced at the ground, “I hadn’t expected to see ya ever again.” She sighed and shook her head. “As you already know I’m here with some friends from college and my boyfriend and they want to have a good time, so... I don’t wanna fight. I’m still mad at you because you left without giving me an explanation, but that doesn’t matter anymore.” It does!!! her mind screamed, but she ignored it. “I wanna ask you to keep our past between us. There’s no reason for any of them to know that we even know each other,” she finally said. “What we had years ago.”
It didn’t matter... the three words repeated themselves in his head as he nodded in response to her request. “If that’s what you want.”
“Thanks,” she said quietly and started walking away.
“Maria?” he called her before she could move too far ahead of him.
She stopped and turned to look at him again. “Yeah?”
“Are you happy?”
She smiled sadly and shrugged. “Sometimes.”
“I never wanted to hurt you,” he said softly. He shook his head and started walking again, sliding his dark sunglasses on and keeping his expression neutral.
But you did, she thought bitterly and hurried to follow him. How was she gonna survive this?
Michael grabbed his pack when they reached the van and stowed it in the back before slamming the doors shut and checking something off of his list. “Let’s go before we get an even later start,” he growled.
Tony and Nick exchanged a look when Guerin brushed past them and jerked the drivers’ side door open.
“What’s the matter, Guerin?” Tony asked when he was sure nobody could hear them. “Not hot enough for ya? Okay, she’s not a Jessica Alba, but she’s cute, don’t ya think?”
“I don’t wanna hear one more comment about her, you got it?” He jabbed his finger in the center of Tony’s chest. “And don’t even think about makin’ a move on her... that goes for you an’ Nick both.”
Tony lifted one eyebrow in surprise, wondering what Guerin’s sudden mood change was about, but he let it go for now and walked around the van to get in the passengers’ seat. “Alright, let’s get to base camp,” he said loud enough for everyone to hear.
Maria climbed into the van as well and took a seat next to Mark while Nick closed the door. “Hey, I got it,” she said, waving with the camera.
Mark studied her face for a moment before nodding at the guy who had just climbed in behind the wheel. “Was he givin’ you shit for bein’ late?”
“No, he was cool about it,” she answered a little bit to quickly. Damn, way to be inconspicuous, DeLuca.
“You sure? You seem a little rattled,” he pressed.
“Yeah,” she said and opened her thick jacket, “just sweating from running all the way back again with all these layers.”
“Okay.” He wasn’t convinced but he knew pushing the issue any further would just start an argument.
Liz nudged Maria with her elbow and raised her eyebrow in question when she had her attention.
“What?” she asked innocently.
“Uh-huh, we’ll talk later.” Something was going on, but she had a feeling it wasn’t something they should discuss in front of everyone. She leaned over the front seat and tapped Nick on the shoulder. “How long will it take to reach the base camp?”
“About an hour,” he said, glancing over his shoulder. “We’ll take care of a few last-minute things and then we’ll head out.”
“So, we’ll climb a little over 5,000 feet today, right?” Kyle asked. “Because we’re startin’ at...” he glanced at Max, “5,400 feet? Is that right?”
Max nodded. “Yup.” He was busy checking his iPod and not really paying much attention to anything else.
“We’ve gotta do a complete gear check when we reach the base camp,” Michael explained. “After that we’ll be ready to go. The first day moves kinda quick but we’ve gotta keep a good pace to reach our camp for the night before nightfall.”
“Is it gonna be a straight climb up today?” Liz asked.
“Huh-uh,” Nick answered, shifting in his seat to face their group. “We’ll actually descend at one point, goin’ down about 400 feet.”
“Yeah, that’s when the fun really starts,” Tony said with a grin.
“What kinda fun are we talkin’ about?” Tess asked curiously.
Michael glanced at her in the rearview mirror. “After that descent we’ll be ropin’ up a bit and then we’ll cross the glacier. After that we ascend a while longer until we reach our first camp site.”
“Sounds like fun,” Liz said excited.
Maria nodded in agreement, trying hard not to think about the man driving. “I can’t wait to get out there.”
Michael glanced in the rearview mirror again when she spoke up and he saw the glistening in her eyes. She had always been a girl you could have fun with; she was a girl who enjoyed the great outdoors and he had always loved that about her. She was pretty, even prettier than he remembered her from high school.
“I can’t wait until we can snuggle up in our tent,” Mark said, already anticipating the night ahead.
“Ungh, God, Mark, no one wants to know about your nocturnal activities,” Max complained.
Damn straight, Michael thought, gripping the steering wheel tightly.
“Max, sweetie,” Liz said, wincing when she naturally slipped into her usual flirtatious mode with him, “let’s not start anything, okay? I promised Maria we would try to be nice.”
He shrugged and made an adjustment to his settings. “I didn’t make any promises.”
Michael smirked when he realized that Mark wasn’t really a part of the group. He was there because he was dating Maria and not because he had been accepted by them.
Maria moved further down in her seat, hoping she would be able to get out of Michael’s view in the mirror. “I’m trying to relax a little before we start,” she told Mark and leaned against his shoulder, closing her eyes.
Mark shifted, slouching down a bit and wrapping his arm around her shoulder, bringing her closer against him.
“You smell good,” she said quietly. Yeah, keep trying to convince yourself that Michael doesn’t affect you, Maria thought sadly.
Michael’s right hand clenched on the steering wheel, easily overhearing the whispered words. He decided it was too quiet so he reached out and punched the button on the stereo. “Any music requests?” he asked, not really caring what type of music it was as long as it blocked out two of the voices from the back.
“You got any Metallica?” Kyle asked.
Tony snorted. “I’m not positive, but there’s a damn good chance that’s the only thing this guy’s got.”
Great, Maria thought. Another thing that connected her and Michael were those damn Metallica songs.
Liz wrinkled her nose. Ungh, Maria listened to them, too. She looked at Max, someone who actually shared her taste in music. “Max, my iPod’s in my pack... share yours with me?”
Of course, he thought and handed her one of the earphones. “Don’t complain.”
She rolled her eyes at him. “Why would I comp...” she trailed off when she heard the song playing and she just looked at him. It was the one group that they didn’t agree on. “Counting Crows? Please tell me it’s just the one song... please?”
He shrugged. “Listen to this or go with Metallica.”
Hell, that meant there were gonna be at least several of these sad, depressing songs. Her ears were being assaulted by both sides... left ear angry music, right ear sad music... she’d be certifiable by the time they got to the base camp.
Maria sat up again when the position she was in started to get uncomfortable. She risked a short glance at the driver. I’m totally screwed, she thought sadly.
Michael checked the rearview mirror in time to catch a pair of the greenest eyes he’d ever seen watching him. He was glad they were just a few minutes away from their destination because he needed some fresh air.
Re: Mountains So High (CC, AU, Adult) - Part 5 - 2/21/10
Posted: Sun Feb 28, 2010 6:44 am
Earth2Mama: Glad to hear is was everything you were hoping for!
Well… he didn’t say how many women, lol, just that it didn’t matter how many women he slept with. But there have definitely been a few. Oh, yeah, you know he still has feelings for Maria. We will be finding out more about his reasons for leaving.
LOL, you make a good point about the musical choices!
Hmm… Mark and idiocy… yeah, chances are good that could happen.
Well, let’s see if we can’t squeeze in a little Michael and Maria moment in this next part!
Alien_Friend: Nope, he’s been suffering too. Maria’s just hiding her real reaction… his reappearance in her life will hit her later on.
Glad you’re enjoying those dreamers!
Natalie36: Your patience will pay off!
mary mary: Well, we’ll see if the guys can restrain themselves, lol. But, yes, your patience will be rewarded.
keepsmiling7: He’s Max, what can we say?
Maiqu: Hey, we love that!
Nope, not a single untold feeling!
Yup, Max and Kyle, no problem getting along with Michael.
Hmm, well, we’ll find out why Michael left.
begonia9508: Yeah… got a feeling that one of those M’s is gonna have to go… M&M&M just doesn’t sound right somehow, lol!
sarammlover: Very cool, ‘cause ya just know we’ve got more drama coming!
Eva: Oh, yeah!
Maria and Liz will need to lean on each other quite a few times over the next week as they make this climb and make decisions that may very well change their futures.
kismet: We’ve got a feeling you’re right!
Michael wasn’t happy about being assigned to Maria and Mork, but as he finished double checking their equipment he knew there was nothing he could do about it. He could either be pissy for the next few days or he could just deal with it and enjoy the climb. He motioned for them to gear up and once they were ready he started checking to make sure their packs were properly secured and balanced.
He averted his gaze as he checked the straps on Maria’s pack, tugging and shifting them. “Your chest strap’s a little...” he cleared his throat and reached out to adjust it. “You picked a good pack,” he said to keep his mind off of the fact that the back of his hand was continuously brushing her chest. “It’s a comfortable pack... well balanced...”
“Well, I’ve done a lot of reading and researching and training before this,” she said because she had to say something to keep her mind off of the fact that he was right there.
He nodded. “You made a good choice.” He moved over to her boyfriend to check his straps. “Looks like yours are a little loose too.” He pulled the straps tighter than necessary, enjoying the gasp of shock the other guy gave when the air was forced from his lungs. He slapped him on the shoulders with both hands and grinned. “How’s that? Better? Good! Looks like you guys are just about ready... just put those sunglasses on and let’s get started.”
Maria forced a smile in Mark’s direction. “Ya ready to go?”
“You sure you can wear all this gear all day?” He gestured to her pack.
“Wrong time to be askin’ that question,” Michael said. “I’ve got the feelin’ this woman knows exactly what she’s doin’ and does what she wants to do.”
Maria glared at Michael. That really wasn’t helping at all. “I’m good, Mark, don’t worry.”
Michael held his hands up and backed off. “Hey, you guys about ready?” he called out to his partners.
Tony glanced over at Kyle and Tess. “Ready.”
Nick took a step toward Liz, fumbling with her straps more than necessary before he nodded with a smirk. “Ready.”
Max rolled his eyes when the guy turned away. “Y’know he’s just coppin’ a feel,” he hissed.
She shrugged as she tried to gauge his reaction. “I know.”
“You know,” he muttered. “Of course you know... why don’t you just share a tent with him tonight?” He shook his head when he realized how sharp that had come out. “Sorry, Liz, forget I said anything, okay?”
She looked at him uncertainly. Damn, why had Maria had to open her big mouth about him? Now everything seemed to be complicated. “I’m gonna share my tent with you Max.”
“Well, if you just need someone to cop a feel tonight, lemme know.” He turned and started fussing with his iPod as he waited for their guide to let them know they could get started.
“Alright,” Michael said to all of them, “we’ll go this way for a couple of miles,” he gestured behind him. “Max, Kyle, Mark, pay close attention; you guys are more likely to be faster than the girls.” He earned angry glares from all three girls. “Because the snow will be pretty high in some areas and we’re taller,” he hurried to say. “So, make sure ya don’t fall into a pace that’s too fast at first. It won’t do any good if half of the group is worn out before we’ve even made it halfway there.” He motioned at his partners, indicating that if they had anything to add they should speak up.
“Make sure you stay together. Like Guerin said, you don’t wanna wear yourselves out. The higher we climb the thinner the air gets, so we wanna keep to a steady pace,” Nick advised.
“If someone starts to feel dizzy or uncomfortable in any way, please tell us. We’re all trained in first aid, but most of the time in cases like that you just need some rest,” Michael continued. “But don’t try to tough it out.”
Nick nodded. “Yeah, don’t worry about holdin’ up the group or anything; it’s better to stop and rest than to push it and end up havin’ to be evac’d off the mountain.”
“Any questions?” Michael asked.
God, if he only knew how hot he is as a guide, Maria thought, and then tried to push the thought aside fast.
Kyle looked around and when he saw his friends shaking their heads he spoke up. “No questions, chief.”
“Yeah, let’s get this climb started,” Tess shouted excitedly.
Michael smirked at the blonde’s excitement. “Alright, let’s go.”
Mark gestured for Maria to move past him, knowing that staying behind her would keep him at the correct pace.
Michael walked up to the front of the group and hooked the rope into his harness before handing it to Maria, who would be next in line. “You know how to hook in?” he asked, resisting the desire to look anywhere other than her face. At least the bulky clothes wouldn’t show off any of her female body, he thought thankfully.
Maria took the rope from him and secured it through the harness the way they had been taught. She could feel his eyes on her and beneath the layers of clothing she felt her temperature rising.
He nodded, almost smirking at how tough she was. Most girls would run from a trip like this. He glanced at her one more time before speaking up to the whole group. “The rope allows us to help each other if someone falls, especially when it starts getting really steep. Always be aware of what’s goin’ on with the other climbers, and be ready to brace yourself if something happens.” He turned to glance at the guy behind Maria. “Yo, Mark,” he called the hated boyfriend and threw the rope to him.
Mark caught the rope, annoyed by the extra attention the guide seemed to be paying to Maria. He quickly made the necessary adjustments before handing off the rope to Nick where he was standing behind him. “Yeah, I’m good. How many times you made this climb?”
“We do this a couple of times a month,” Michael said as he appeared in front of him to check the rope.
He gritted his teeth when the guy pulled on the rope to make sure it was secure. “It’s fine, man. You ever heard of personal space?” he muttered before giving the guy a push.
“This’s my job, remember?” Michael glared at him. “We’ve got enough jackasses on the mountain who think they know everything and end up with the rescue team bein’ called to come get their dumb asses.”
“Okay,” Maria interrupted when the two of them looked like they were ready to start fighting, “why don’t we just focus on the climb. Mark, don’t piss off the guide before we even get started.” She rounded on Michael. “And you... stop it.”
“Stop what?” he challenged her.
She stared at him incredulously when he spoke again, issuing a challenge. How was she supposed to get it through his thick head that he had to stop acting like this or everyone was going to learn that they had a past together?
“Hey, Guerin, let’s get rollin’, man,” Tony called. “If we don’t get movin’ we’re gonna be way behind schedule.”
Michael glanced at the last man in the row and nodded. “Alright, let’s move out,” he said and headed in direction of their destination. “Tell me if I’m goin’ too fast.”
“Don’t slow down on my account, Michael,” Maria muttered under her breath. “There’s only one time you ran too fast for me to keep up with you.” She glared at him when he smirked at her over his shoulder and she realized he had overheard her. “Just move it, asshole!” she hissed.
Michael pulled his gloves off to look at his watch. It was already shortly after noon, time to take a short break. “Alright, we’ll take a 20 minutes break here to eat a little something,” he told the rest of the group.
“Yay, break out the nuts an’ berries,” Kyle said as he dropped down to sit in the snow.
“You’re supposed to take your pack off before sittin’ down,” Tess scolded him.
He rolled his eyes at her. “I’m hungry.”
Max sat down next to Liz on a small rock. “You okay?”
“Yeah, what about you?” She grinned at him and leaned in to bump her shoulder against his. “You’re not still embarrassed about trippin’ and fallin’ face-first in the snow are you?”
He grinned. “Ya know how it felt?” He didn’t wait for an answer; he grabbed a handful of snow and rubbed it into her face. “A lot like this,” he answered his own question, laughing.
Liz squealed and tried to squirm away from him, but Max had a firm grip around her and he was determined to make sure she experienced a fall in the snow.
Maria shook her head at them, smiling secretly. They were so in love and didn’t even realize it.
“I’m gonna go pee,” Mark said and got up from where they had sat together to walk a little bit away from the group.
“Be careful and don’t go too far,” she told him.
Michael took the opportunity to move closer to Maria. How could he talk to her and find out about her life without raising anyone’s suspicions? He cleared his throat. “So, tell me about yourself... I noticed on your paperwork that you guys are all from California?”
She nodded. “We all go to the same college in Long Beach; we met our freshman year.”
“You go to Long Beach,” he mused softly. It was where she had been set on going despite her parents’ wishes... where they had planned to go together. “I’ll bet you love it there.”
She shrugged. “Of course, I always knew I wanted to go there.”
He nodded and unzipped one of the pockets on his coat and pulled a granola bar out, tearing the wrapper off and taking a bite. “You oughta eat somethin’... the next leg of the trip is a bit of a challenge.”
She nodded and fumbled with a pocket on her own coat to get a bar as well. “What about you? You came here directly after high school?”
He shrugged. “Bounced around for a while before I found my way up here. Tried a few things, but this just seemed to suit me.”
She nodded. “It does.”
He ducked his head so she wouldn’t see his smile. “No walls out here,” he said after a minute. “No one to tell me what I can and can’t do...” His voice dropped to a whisper as he looked at the mountains in the distance. “It’s almost perfect.”
She snorted slightly. “Almost. That’s better than a hardly perfect I guess.”
Her comment caught his attention and he turned to look at her, but before he could voice his question the boyfriend came back. “Well, y’all take a few minutes and rest,” he said as he stood and removed the rope at his waist. He glanced back at his partners. “Hey, I’m gonna take a look ahead.”
Nick nodded at Michael and walked over to crouch down in front of Max and Liz. “Everything okay with you two?”
Max seriously contemplated planting his foot in the center of the guy’s chest and seeing just how far back down the mountain he could push him. “We’re good,” he answered, pulling a couple of the fancy granola bars that Liz had insisted on buying out of his backpack. He preferred the kind with chocolate chips but she had wanted the kind with cranberries or some other kind of nasty berries in them.
He was handing one to Liz when her hand collided with his and he grinned when he saw the chocolate chip granola bar she was holding out to him. “Thought you wanted the ones that look like gerbil food?”
“You don’t like them, so...” She smiled at him as they exchanged bars and then turned her attention to Nick. “So, how long before we hit that place where we’ll start descending?”
“About an hour. It’s gonna be more challenging from here on out, so try to save your strength as much as you can.”
“This’s where it really gets fun,” Liz said, nudging Max with her shoulder.
“You should drink a lot of water,” Nick advised and stood up again. “Yo, Tony, checked the weather report?”
Max rolled his eyes when their guide, who was too helpful in his opinion, moved to talk with Tony. “Hey, Kyle, how’re ya holdin’ up over there?”
“We’re good,” his friend replied. “What about you?”
Max held up his granola bar. “Perfect.” Well, if he could get Liz’ attention away from that stupid guide it’d be perfect, he thought.
“Weather report’s still lookin’ good,” Tony said. “Looks like we’re gonna be in for a clear night. Cold, but clear.”
Nick nodded. “Cool.”
Tony pulled his gloves off and shoved them in his pockets as he walked a little way from the group, motioning for Nick to join him. “Any idea what’s up with Guerin?” he asked.
The other guy shrugged. “I don’t know. Maybe it’s Mr. Perfect over there,” he nodded in Mark’s direction.
“Yeah, that guy does grate on the nerves after a while. He’s a fuckin’ know-in-all.” He rolled his eyes and shook his head. “Y’know how that’s gotta be pissin’ Guerin off.”
“Yeah, and I bet he’s the first one who gets the whole group in trouble.”
He nodded. “His certifications were all in order and the outfit they trained with is reputable. The guy gets wound up too easily though.”
“Our route looks fine,” Michael said when he joined his partners.
Nick nodded. “Figure we should hit Glacier Ridge in about an hour. You think that mouthy little bastard’s gonna do alright when we rope up to get across the glacier?”
“I can tell you that the girls will do better than him,” Michael answered with a smirk.
“He did well in the trainin’ camp, but a couple times he’s acted like he’s got somethin’ to prove.” Tony checked his watch. “It’s not too late to have him picked up and removed from the group.” As guides they had the right to remove anyone they felt was a danger to the climb.
Michael shook his head. Maria would think he had just removed him because of her. “It’s gonna be alright.”
Nick watched the two men as they discussed whether or not to remove the potential troublemaker. He wondered what Guerin had in mind because he could tell he wasn’t thrilled with the guy’s performance so far. “You’re good stayin’ with them? You wanna switch off or anything?”
Michael nodded. “I’ll keep that little prick in line.”
“Just don’t drop that little prick so that he’s hangin’ over the edge of the glacier screamin’ for his mama.” Tony smirked.
Nick and Michael both laughed as they imagined that scene in their minds. “Now, that would be fun, wouldn’t it?”
Tony just shook his head. “Just don’t forget to give us the sign if you decide to do that. I may be a thrill junkie, but I don’t enjoy flyin’ off of the side of the mountain with no notice.”
“Alright,” Michael glanced at his watch, “we’d better get movin’.”
“What d’you suppose they’re up to?” Mark asked when the guides moved apart.
“What they’re up to?” Maria repeated. “They’re supposed to get us to the top of this mountain, Mark.”
“Uh-huh. I got the impression that our guide doesn’t like me. I’m not sure I trust him to do that.”
Well, there’s probably a good reason why he doesn’t like you, she thought, even if she didn’t really understand it. He had broken up with her. Had he expected that she would never have another boyfriend? “It’s his job, Mark. And no matter if he likes you or not, he’ll make sure we’re safe.”
“Ah-ha!” he shouted triumphantly. “You’ve noticed it too, then.”
“As a rule we try not to scream an’ shout out here,” Michael muttered as he walked past them. “You might catch the attention of one of the bears roamin’ around up here.” They were already higher than the bears’ normal range, but there was no reason to let him know that.
Maria rolled her eyes at her boyfriend. “Maybe you should just not let him provoke you so often.”
Michael tugged on the rope that was still attached to Maria’s harness as he slid his sunglasses back on. “C’mon, quit babyin’ that boy and let’s go; it’s time to get movin’.”
Maria bit back a sharp comment, knowing that it would only make them even more suspicious. She stood up and stretched before reaching for Mark’s hand.
Roping up the side of a glacier was something that required actions that were precise and there was little room for mistakes. Michael ran another ice screw into the glacier above him and hooked the line in, checking to be sure it would hold before swinging out and moving into position to run the next one.
There wasn’t much conversation as they worked through roping their way up. He ran the next ice screw in and hooked his line, but when he swung out he felt it slip and his heart slammed into the wall of his chest as he grabbed his ice tool and brought his arm around to swing the pick into the glacier to stop him from falling.
He rested his forehead against his wrist for a few seconds as his breathing returned to normal and then he took another ice screw and drilled it into the wall. He hooked in and relaxed slightly when it held and he glared at the other one as he removed it.
“Yo, Guerin!” Tony shouted. “All good up there?” He had felt the pull in the line and looked up in time to see his partner swing the pick in to stop him from falling.
“S’all good,” Michael grated out, wiping sweat from his brow and moving up to insert the next screw. Half a dozen more and they’d be back on solid ground.
He glanced down to check on the others and he met Maria’s eyes, seeing the fear in them and shaking his head. He’d recognize that look anywhere; she was scared for him. “I’m good,” he said quietly.
“What’s that?” Mark hollered when he saw Michael speaking to Maria.
Maria turned to look at her boyfriend, heart still pounding after seeing Michael slip. “He said we’re almost finished with this part,” she called out to him.
It didn’t take much longer before they had finished roping their way up and Michael secured the line as he stood near the edge to help them all up and over, sending them to take a break before they started the last leg of the climb before making camp for the night.
“You okay?” Maria asked Mark. “Ya look kinda pale.”
He shook his head. “I’m fine,” he muttered, reaching for his water and taking a drink. His hands were shaking but he ignored them. “Think I saw my life flash before my eyes, but I’m fine.”
She smiled and leaned against him. “That was pretty exciting, huh?”
“Exciting? Oh, yeah, it was exciting alright.”
Tess dropped down to sit on Maria’s other side. “Whoa! How exhilarating was that?!”
“Right?” the blonde asked, still full of adrenaline. “It was amazing.”
Mark looked between them, shaking his head in disbelief. “Amazing... exhilarating... are you kidding?”
“I thought it was pretty exciting,” Liz said as she joined them.
“Hey, I need to step away for a few minutes,” Tess said, glancing at Maria. “Walk with me?”
“Sure, let’s go.”
“You thought it was exciting because you’re insane,” Mark griped.
Liz glared at him, knowing he had waited for his girlfriend to walk out of earshot before he had made the comment. Every promise she had made to herself to make more of an effort to be nice to him for Maria’s sake flew out the proverbial window at his caustic tone.
“Why don’t you get off her ass,” Max growled, thumping the back of Mark’s head. He winked at Liz when he realized that his timing couldn’t have been anymore perfect. Mark had been just about to take another drink and now he was wearing a good bit of his water.
“Why? Everyone else has been on that ass,” Mark sneered.
Kyle grabbed Max when his friend jerked his gloves off and threw them on the ground, ready to pound Mark into the snow he was sitting on. “C’mon, buddy, let’s go cool down for a minute, okay?”
Max nodded and snatched his gloves up again before following Kyle. “God, I hate him,” he hissed.
“He’s a piece of work,” Kyle agreed.
Michael overheard the conversation between the two men and smirked. “Don’t push him over the edge of the mountain, okay?” he asked with a smirk.
Max glared at Mark before turning back to look at the guide leading their expedition. “Maybe just a small one?”
Michael laughed. “Why’d you guys go on a trip together if you can’t stand each other?” Okay, he knew why; he was just asking because he wanted to know more about Maria’s life and he was trying not to be too obvious about it.
Kyle cleared his throat, trying to be diplomatic. “Well, he’s dating Maria and that makes them kind of a package deal, so...”
Michael nodded. Just as he had thought. “Just try to work together while we’re up here, especially for this next part of the climb.” He knew that differences and anger in the group could cause problems during the trip and that could put them in danger.
“We’re cool, man,” Max said. “It just pisses me off when he talks about Liz.”
Kyle laughed. “Man, he pisses you off just by bein’ in the same space you’re in. It’s just worse when he mentions Liz.”
Michael glanced at the girls and Mark for a brief moment. “Well, I guess you’re safe tonight. The guy doesn’t look like he’ll stay awake very long once we reach our camp for the night.”
Max snorted. “Good.”
“Hey, Tony,” Michael called for his partner. “Wanna take the lead for the last leg of today’s climb?” He knew the guy hated to be last all the time.
Tony grinned. “Well, I won’t turn down an opportunity to be on top,” he joked.
Michael rolled his eyes and nodded. “Alright, man.”
He unhooked from the line and gave Michael a shove as he passed him. He pointed at the couple he had been with all day. “Watch out for those two; let ‘em stand still too long and they’ll start makin’ out.”
Michael laughed. Right now, that seemed to be a better option than having Maria and her boyfriend behind him. “Not a problem. Let’s keep it movin’ though, ‘cause I’m ready for chow time.”
Re: Mountains So High (CC, AU, Adult) - Part 6 - 2/28/10
Posted: Sun Mar 07, 2010 8:39 am
kismet: Think so, huh?
Just a little push? Yeah, Max really isn’t appreciating Mark’s attitude where Liz is concerned.
begonia9508: Yeah, no one’s liking Mark or his behavior. It’s about time for Maria to toss that little fish back, huh?
Earth2Mama: We’re glad to hear that Michael’s getting some love now. Mark… we’ll see what happens, lol.
Oh, it’ll happen.
You know it!
Yup, no denying it, Maria’s still hung up on Michael.
keepsmiling7: Thanks for reading!
mary mary: Hopefully that decision won’t come back to haunt him!
Natalie36: Thanks for reading!
Alien_Friend: Wow, really? Now that’s cool! We’ve never done this type of climbing either, so we take that as a huge compliment!
We’re pretty sure that Mark’s probably used to people not liking him. His personality isn’t exactly the type that makes people warm up to him.
We’re glad you’re enjoying the Michael and Maria exchanges.
LOL, she is! She’s testing out her newfound information, trying to see how Max reacts to things.
The three guys are close… we’ll see more about that later on. Hopefully Mark won’t endanger anyone on the climb.
sarammlover: Nope, but it doesn’t seem to bother him. So, death isn’t a requirement, but some sort of injury that would require him leaving would be alright, huh? LOL, uh-oh, lovin’ on the Dreamer couple again, huh?
Maiqu: That’s cool, ‘cause there’s more Maria/Michael moments to come!
die Mork did.. yeah im evil that way =P
Okay, that was just hilarious! We’ll see what happens with him. If he keeps up with the comments, Max may just grant your wish, lol!
“Whew, okay guys. We’ve actually reached our camp for the night. You see those markers?” Michael gestured to the red poles Nick had quickly set up around the camp. “This’s the safe zone; if you need to go outside of this area for any reason – and just for the record, there is no reason for you to go outside of this area – you don’t leave without bein’ on the rope. This area’s been checked for any danger.”
Michael turned himself lose from the rope and walked forward a few steps. “We’re gonna build the tents up in a circle first, entries all facing the middle.”
Maria unloaded her pack and stretched out a bit. She couldn’t wait to sit down and eat something. “The view’s amazing,” she said when she turned to look back in the direction they had come from.
Max was standing close by and he unhooked from the line and dropped his pack to the ground as he moved to join her. He pointed out at a mountain in the distance. “That’s Mt. Saint Helens out there. Pretty awesome, huh?”
“Yeah, I love it out here,” she said honestly. Sure it was cold and kinda dangerous, but it was freeing as well.
“What’re y’all lookin’ at?” Liz asked as she joined them.
Max hooked his arm around her shoulders. “We’re enjoying the great view.”
She leaned against him, wrapping her arms around his waist without a second thought. “It is gorgeous,” she agreed.
Maria glanced back at the others and saw Mark sitting on his pack. It looked as if he would fall asleep soon if nobody interrupted him.
Michael noticed it about the same time and he gave Mark a less than subtle nudge as he passed behind him. “Hey, no sleepin’ until we’ve made camp, Sunshine!” he barked.
Maria glared at him and shook her head. “Alright, I’m gonna get started with my tent I guess.”
“I can’t wait until it’s time for bed,” Liz said as she fought back a yawn.
“Ya tired?” Max asked even though it was obvious.
“Little bit, yeah. But it’s a good tired, ya know?”
“Think it’ll be warm enough?”
“Long as we’re zippin’ our sleeping bags together and you let me steal some of your body heat.”
He smirked, grateful she hadn’t thought about getting body heat from Nick or Tony. “We can do that.”
“We should probably get our tent up before it gets dark.”
“Alright,” he pulled her with him to get started.
“I’m sooo hungry,” she said as they started breaking their gear out.
“Me too,” Tess agreed. “Starvin’.”
“What’s on the menu, babe?” Kyle asked as he tossed their sleeping bags inside their tent.
“MRE’s babe. Yummy.”
Michael started to build up his tent as well – as far away from his ex-girlfriend as possible. The last thing he needed was hearing them at night.
“Hey, Guerin, you wanna toss your dinner of choice over here? Water’s just about ready,” Tony called out.
Michael grabbed one of the MRE’s without even paying attention of what it was. “Thanks.” He tossed it over to Tony.
Nick glanced at the package as he unfolded his camp stool and sat down. “Grilled chicken breasts with mashed potatoes, huh? Haven’t tried that one. Is it any good?”
“None of those things are any good, man,” Michael said. “But it’s still better than the food your last girlfriend made.” He shook his head in disgust when he remembered that night at his friend’s apartment.
“Hey, man, why you gotta talk shit about Mindy?” Nick laughed when Michael just looked at him. “Okay, she wasn’t exactly a gourmet cook, but I wasn’t datin’ her for her skills in the kitchen. Although she did kinda screw that dinner up, didn’t she?”
“God, was that even food she served us?” Michael asked amused while building up his tent. “It tasted like... damn, I can’t even say.”
“Yeah, it was pretty bad.” He hooked his thumb over his shoulder to motion to Tony. “He came over the next day and actually finished off the leftovers. Ya freak,” he muttered.
Michael rolled his eyes. “That guy would eat his ass if he could.”
Tony was just about to defend himself when he heard voices and turned to wave to the group coming down from the summit. “Hey, look who it is!”
Michael turned around and grinned when he saw the woman leading the group. “Hey, Morgan, what’s your group doin’ comin’ down this way?” he asked.
She rolled her eyes as she walked over to him and hugged him tightly. “It’s so good to see you guys here.
One of the guys in my group fell this morning and we took this way to get down faster."
“Everything go okay, though? Didn’t lose anyone?”
“No, just my tent,” she replied.
Michael let his gaze move over her, searching to be sure she was telling the truth. He and Vanessa Morgan had dated for a while the year before, but they had both known it wasn’t going anywhere so they had decided that they would be better as friends. “You didn’t lose any other equipment?”
“Just my tent,” she replied.
Maria checked out the girl in the arms of her ex and shook her head slightly when she felt the jealousy creeping up. “Yeah, let a good stiff wind blow past and I bet you’d conveniently lose your clothes too,” she muttered.
“You can bunk in with me tonight,” Michael offered, oblivious to Maria’s comment.
“What’s that, honey?" Mark asked when he realized that his girlfriend had spoken.
“Just fighting with the tent over here,” she lied.
Vanessa smiled at Michael. “You sure? The guy responsible for this mess offered me a place to crash too, but... ungh...” She made a face.
“Oh, c’mon," Michael laughed after glancing over her group, “you’re not interested in snugglin’ up with one of those big ol’ hairy-backed boys? They probably smell pretty good after a week out here.”
She grinned. “Yeah, at least you just started out this mornin’ and probably had a shower before leavin’ out.” She turned to leave again. “Alright, I’ll get my group settled now. Hey Nick, hey Tony,” she called and waved to the two other guides who were helping their group with the tents and making food.
“Hey, Vanessa!” they both hollered back.
Michael grabbed another MRE from his pack and carried it over to the fire, preparing it and closing it back up to keep it warm. He glanced up and caught Maria watching him and he raised one hand in a half-hearted wave, smiling when she made a sound of disgust and went back to helping Mark with their tent.
“First!” Liz shouted and raised her fist in the air when she and Max were the first to finish building up their tent. Well, other than the guides, but they didn’t count.
Max grinned at her and shook his head as he climbed inside. “Hey, toss me the sleepin’ pads first and then the bags.”
Maria was about to shake Mark to tell him that he should hurry a bit and that she could do this alone even faster, but she bit her inner cheek and stayed quiet. The last thing she needed was a fight with him in front of the others, especially Michael.
Kyle was removing the sleeping bags from the packs while Tess was arranging the pads. “Hey, babe, since I’m already in the packs, what’d you want to eat?”
“Spaghetti please,” she said and leaned over to kiss his cheek. “I’m so glad we’re doin’ this together.”
“Wouldn’t be any fun if we weren’t together.” He turned his head to give her a proper kiss. “Wanna share your spaghetti with me? I’ll share my dessert with you.”
“Okay,” she grinned. “What’s for dessert?”
“Chocolate cheesecake or banana cream pie.”
“The first,” she decided.
“Already knew that,” he said with a smile and pulled the package out of his pack.
“Hey, Maria, I need to pee.” Tess looked out of her tent. “You comin’ with me?”
Kyle grinned and shook his head when Maria made a face. “Least you don’t have to worry about a snake bitin’ your ass out here,” he said, remembering that discussion from when they had gone camping the first summer they had all been together.
“That’s true. Gotta love the snow,” she said before she stepped out of their tent.
“Babe, don’t pick up any strange mountain men while you’re out there,” he joked.
She glanced back at him. “Ha ha,” she said and then turned to Maria. “You comin’?”
“Yeah, I’m with ya.” Maria tossed her sleeping bag at Mark and hurried after Tess.
“So, everything okay? Mark seems pretty worn out,” Tess said when they were a little bit away from everyone.
“He’ll be fine. I don’t think he got much sleep last night.”
“It was cool today, wasn’t it?” Her eyes glistened.
“Oh, it was awesome! I can’t wait until we reach the summit,” Maria said. “Just the thought of standing on top of this mountain...”
“I know,” the other girl agreed. “Hey, how’s your guide? He’s cute.”
“He’s grumpy,” Maria countered.
I would be too if I had to watch Mark, Tess thought but stayed quiet.
“Tempting,” Maria said. Honestly, she hated that Michael was her guide, but in spite of that, she trusted him.
“Well, Tony’s been pretty cool. He and Kyle have a lot in common, so they’ve had plenty to talk about.”
When the girls came back to join the others they saw Tony, Nick, Michael, Max and Kyle already sitting down and eating. Mark was the only one who was nowhere in sight. Maria watched the guys, shaking her head when Michael said something and everyone laughed. Great, she thought, now I have an ex-boyfriend who gets along great with my friends while my current boyfriend... she walked up to their tent, has already fallen asleep. She climbed into the tent and nudged Mark. “Hey, sleepy boy, you need to wake up and eat somethin’.”
“Just five minutes,” he mumbled.
“No, five minutes and you’ll be impossible to wake up.” She shook his shoulder again, knowing that if she waited much longer he’d be irritable when he got up.
He groaned and forced his eyes open. “Alright.” He lifted his upper body to a sitting position.
Michael glanced over his shoulder when he heard the last couple coming to join them. Their camp had expanded to include the other set of climbers and Morgan was sitting beside him, eating dinner and conversing with everyone. He leaned forward and mixed a couple cups of coffee and handed her one before sitting back and taking a sip.
Maria and Mark sat down next to Liz and started to prepare their own dinner. Damn, that female guide was pretty, tall... probably the perfect match for Michael out here, she thought bitterly.
Morgan introduced herself to the new couple and they talked for a few minutes before she noticed that Michael had fallen silent. She knew better than to call attention to him though so she kept the conversation rolling. She shook her head when she noticed the package in Mark’s hands. “I would highly recommend avoiding anything spicy up here unless you’ve had it before and know your stomach can handle it.”
Mark glanced at his food and then back at the woman. He bit back any comment and nodded, changing to something less spicy. The last he needed was an upset stomach up here.
Max shook his head. “Who brings spicy food on one of these trips?” he muttered.
Maria shot a warning glare at Max, glad that Mark hadn’t heard the comment because he was already busy talking to one of the people from the other group.
He held his hands up. “What? Hey, that’s a question I would’ve asked no matter who it was.”
“Shut up,” she said and concentrated on her food.
Liz placed her hand on Max’s arm and shook her head at him. “Didn’t you say you brought brownies?”
“So, go get them.”
He glanced between her and Maria, realizing that she wanted to talk to Maria for a minute. “Alright,” he mumbled.
Liz leaned closer to her friend. “What’s wrong girl?”
Maria shook her head. “Just tired,” she answered.
No, but she didn’t really feel like getting into it. “Yeah, I’m sure.” She forced a smile, hoping it would come across as reassuring.
“Alright,” Liz said and they all ate in silence, just listening to the other people talking.
“Coming with me to bed?” Mark asked after he finished his meal.
Michael grimaced when he heard the question. He glanced at Morgan. “Said you managed to hold onto your sleepin’ bag when you lost your tent?” He knew she had, but he couldn’t stand the thought of Maria sleeping with that little prick.
“Yeah, still here,” she answered and smirked. “Why? Hoping to share one with me?”
He grinned and shrugged. “Maybe.”
Maria wasn’t really tired and she preferred to stay outside with her friends, but she knew she couldn’t just let Mark go in the tent alone so she got up from her sitting position. “We’re goin’ to bed,” she told Liz. “Good night.”
“G’night,” Liz murmured.
“Dickhead already call it a night?” Max asked as he dropped back down beside Liz.
“Shh,” Liz hissed. She didn’t want Maria to hear those comments about her boyfriend.
Max spent a few minutes mixing the brownies and then poured them into a small pan to heat.
“That already smells great,” Liz mumbled and leaned against Max shoulder.
“Bet you think I’m gonna share, don’t ya?”
“You soooo will!”
“Oh, I don’t know, Liz... they’re extra fudgy.”
“Don’t be mean, Max,” she complained.
He turned and kissed the top of her head. “I’m not bein’ mean... you know half of them are yours.”
Maria and Mark crawled into their tent after they had both brushed their teeth. “Sooo, what’re we gonna do now?” she asked flirtatiously and zipped the entry closed.
Mark’s eyes widened and he shook his head as he pointed in the direction of the group where they were seated around the fire. “Maria, there’s like nothin’ between us and everyone else but a thin piece of material,” he hissed.
She grinned and positioned herself in his lap. “Guess we’ll have to be quiet then, huh?”
“Huh-uh, not with everyone ‘right’ there!”
“C’mon, Mark, you mean we’re not gonna have sex during the whole trip? ‘Cause ya know, this’s pretty much as far away as we get gonna be from everyone else the next few days.”
“Maria, ya know how I do that weird howlin’ thing when I come? I don’t need your friends givin’ me shit about the sounds I make when we have sex.” He wasn’t uptight, he wasn’t, but he saw no reason to give them anymore ammunition against him.
“Great,” Maria muttered. “No sex!” She climbed off of him again.
“Well, I’m sorry, honey, but our location isn’t exactly conducive to bringin’ Mr. Big out.”
“Let’s just sleep,” she said quietly.
Mark sighed in relief. “You want me to zip the bags together?”
“Well, if you don’t plan to do anything naked then just leave the bags as they are. They’ll keep us warmer if we have our own.”
“Ya know, you don’t have to get bitchy just because I’m not in the mood,” he snapped, his voice barely above a whisper.
“I’m not getting bitchy.” she denied. “I was just saying that those bags won’t keep us very warm if there’s too much space between our bodies and the fabric. A bigger opening would just let the cold in. So let’s just get in them separately and snuggle up.” Michael wouldn’t have thought twice about her offer of having sex, she thought bitterly and hated herself for even thinking that way.
Mark got into his sleeping bag and pulled the zipper up. “You’ve had somethin’ on your mind all damn day,” he muttered. “I wish you’d just get whatever it is out in the open so we could talk it out and deal with it.”
He turned onto his side, leaving his back to her and pulled his bag up over his head.
She almost snorted because she was positive that he didn’t want to know anything about it. “Good night,” she said quietly, hating that this trip was turning out to be all complicated.
We have a little surpise for you to celebrate the 100th part of DT. Visit our Author´s page! (link in the sig)
Mountains So High (CC, AU, Adult) - Part 8 - 3/14/10
Posted: Sun Mar 14, 2010 11:53 am
Earth2Mama: LOL, yeah, we didn’t think that was gonna make him Mr. Popular with the readers!
That’s Liz for you. Well, you can always hope ‘cause it could always happen.
We’ll learn more about Morgan and whether or not she and Michael have anything going on soon. Hmm… did he tell her about Maria? We’ll see… soon.
begonia9508: That would suck, huh?
Think there might be some trouble ahead with Mark?
They’re definitely getting closer.
somewhere87: Well, let’s see what happens…
Natalie36: Just determined to see him leave the climb, huh? LOL, we’ll see…
mary mary: Mark’s just not making points with anyone… we’re shocked!
Alien_Friend: LOL, right?
Still being able to feel emotions for someone like that after so long… that could be good or bad, depending on your situation.
Eva: Sounds like Mark might just take the award for most annoying character, lol!
sarammlover: Everyone on the trip has that same wish! Morgan… a pain? We’ll see. Hey, ya know we never make it too easy!
keepsmiling7: Like someone else said, typical overachievers, lol!
kismet: Think that’d make Mark leave? Still waitin’ to see if Max finally pushes him off that mountain, huh?
Maiqu: LOL, that would make for an interesting story arc.
Glad you’re enjoying Max and Liz.
Morky Mork Mork, huh? An annoying name for an annoying guy.
guelbebek: We patiently await your visits!
Well, no worries there because Mark probably isn’t gonna change his mind. Make ‘em fall down a hole, huh? That’s one possibility.
Max and Liz will talk… soon. Regardless of time and distance, Michael and Maria still want each other.
Oh, you’ll be seeing lots more of M&M and M&L in this fic.
Morgan reached for the cup of coffee that Michael was holding when it started to tip downward as he stared at the tent the couple had crawled into. “Hey, you’re about to end up with a wet foot,” she said, nudging his knee with hers.
“Huh?” He glanced at his coffee that Morgan was holding and took it again. “Thanks, was just kinda lost in my thoughts,” he winked at her.
“Yeah, I caught that.”
“You’ve worn your group out huh? All in bed,” he said when he glanced around and realized that it was just his own group that was still out.
Morgan smirked. “Hell, all it takes is for one of them to try and take a nosedive off of a mountain and suddenly they’re exhausted.” She shook her head. “They tend to get pretty serious after that.” She looked over his group. “You’ve got some live ones this time out.”
Kyle leaned over when Max pulled the pan back and cut the brownies into little squares. “Dude, did you just cook brownies?”
“Not for you,” he growled.
Michael laughed quietly. “Yeah, they’re a lively bunch alright.” He took a sip of his coffee. “Most of them anyway.”
“Yeah, I see. One couple’s already hitting the sheets, huh? And that’s only after the first day.”
He shrugged. He didn’t want to think about what was going on in that tent. He knew Maria well enough to know that she’d be wound up after an exciting day and she wouldn’t be anywhere near ready to even think about sleeping yet.
Vanessa frowned when he didn’t say anything.
“You climbin’ to the top with them or just halfway?” she asked to keep the conversation going.
“Nah, they paid for the whole package. What’s the point of climbin’ if you’re not headin’ for the summit, ya know?”
“True, but some people don’t manage this. Too exhausting.”
“This group’s in good condition; they’ll make it.”
“They all seem to be taken already, no woman for you to snuggle up with, huh?” she joked.
He forced his gaze to stay away from the occupied tent and he smiled at her. “Now why would I need anyone else when you’ve come down to keep me company tonight?”
She smirked. “You're such a ladies’ man, Michael.”
“Can’t help it... gotta work with what you’re given.”
“C’mon, you’re too good for just that,” she said, giving him a gentle shove with her shoulder.
He shook his head. “I used to think that might be true, but...” He turned his head when he heard laughter and he watched as Max and Liz wrestled over... a brownie?
“Come on, Max, you said you’d share with me,” Liz said, climbing up on his lap when he held the brownie above his head.
“I’ve already shared... now you’re wantin’ my half as well.” He sobered when he realized she had managed to shift around until she was straddling his body and he was thankful for the extra layers of clothing between them.
“Just this one,” she pouted, giving him a sweet smile.
“Just this one,” he repeated. “It’s the last one!”
“Then half?” she asked sweetly.
Max rolled his eyes. She wouldn’t give up until she had gotten at least half of the stupid brownie and she was gonna kill him with all that squirming around. He seriously contemplated just licking the entire thing and seeing what she’d do then, but finally gave in graciously and just held it out to her.
“You’re the best,” she said, grinning and kissing his cheek before she got the brownie and climbed off of his lap to sit next to him again.
“Ungh, yeah, that’s me,” he muttered. “You realize you just took the entire brownie?”
Damn, he did notice, she thought and broke the thing in half, handing him the smaller half.
“Seriously? The smaller half?” He didn’t care, he just liked to tease her and he knew better than to think she’d ever part with the larger half of anything chocolate-y.
She just shrugged and took a bite of her brownie. “Now it’s not the bigger half anymore,” she mumbled with her full mouth.
The logic the female mind was capable of was just downright strange at times, he thought. “That’s alright.” He grinned at her. “Just wait an’ see if I let you sleep anywhere near me tonight.”
She rolled her eyes at him, knowing that he would never let her sleep on her own if she was cold. “It’s getting cold. I think I’ll get my other beanie out of my pack. Ya need anything?”
“Huh-uh, I’m good.”
Kyle waited until Liz had gotten out of earshot before he leaned over and punched Max in the arm. “Man, what are you waitin’ for?”
Max turned to glare at him as he rubbed his arm. “What’re you talkin’ about?”
“The only person unaware that you wanna jump her ass is her.”
“What? Would you shut up before she hears you?”
Tess snorted as she finished off the last of the chocolate cheesecake. “You couldn’t be more wrong, Kyle.”
“Huh?” Kyle looked at his girlfriend, puzzled.
Max could feel panic setting in. “What? Wrong about what?”
Tess rolled her eyes. “How stupid and clueless do the two of you think women really are?”
“You think she knows?” Kyle asked in surprise.
Tess just looked at her boyfriend and shook her head. “I love you, Kyle, but sometimes I have to wonder where your brain is actually residing.”
Max just stared at her in shock. Okay, but, if she knew she hadn’t run off or started acting weird or anything. That had to be a good sign. “Has she said anything to you?” he demanded.
Tess shook her head. “Sorry, nope.”
“I think you’ve spent too much time in the sun and it’s startin’ to affect your brain. What makes you think she even suspects that I like her? And I’m not sayin’ I like her like that, I’m just askin’ what makes you think I like her like...” He frowned in confusion, unsure of what he was even trying to say now. “Okay, that made a lot more sense before I said it out loud.” He shook his head at her. “Y’know what, just don’t be helpful, okay?” He turned to Kyle. “And you just shut up before Liz overhears you and puts my ass out in the snow with my sleepin’ bag.”
“Maybe you and Maria could exchange tents then,” Kyle joked.
“Oh, yeah, because I’d ever volunteer to bunk in with that neurotic dickhead. D’you know he actually woke me up last night to tell me that I needed to sleep facin’ the other direction because I was messin’ up his... I don’t even know what he was talkin’ about... some crap about disruptin’ his energy or space or somethin’. He's lucky I didn’t smother him while he was sleepin’... asshole snores like a fuckin’ freight train.”
Michael looked up at that. Was he saying that Maria hadn’t spent her time at the cabin with Mark in the same bedroom? Interesting...
“You guys, c’mon,” Tess said, trying to be diplomatic. “I don't like that jerk-off anymore than you do, but Maria does like him so we should at least try to be nice.”
Max shook his head. “Fuck that, I’m sick of his attitude. And he’s got a smart mouth where Liz is concerned and I don’t appreciate that either.”
Kyle nodded. “I’m with him, babe. In the past we’ve all tried to make him feel more comfortable, but he’s just too uptight, and besides that, he goes out of his way to start shit when she isn’t around. It’s not like we’re the only ones who have an issue here; he doesn’t like us either.”
“Yeah. He’s a total prick and I wonder why he had agreed to come here with us at all.” Max said.
“Shit, man, he probably agreed because he knows what happens when Hurricane DeLuca blows in; any sane man knows to avoid that if at all possible.”
Michael tried to hide his smirk in response to Kyle’s comment. Yeah, that sounded so much like Maria.
“I just say the trip would be more fun without him,” Max decided.
“Boy, if I had a beer we’d be drinkin’ to that,” Kyle said with a grin.
“You guys know I agree with you, but it would hurt Maria’s feelings if she heard us talkin’ like this.” Tess glanced up and froze when she saw the woman they were talking about staring at them from a distance close enough that she had to have overheard their conversation. But, how much had she heard?
Maria stared at her friends sitting only a few feet away from where she was standing. She had gotten out of the tent as soon as Mark had fallen asleep so she could spend some time with them. But now that she had heard things she wasn’t supposed to hear she just stood there in shock.
Tess was the first one who acknowledged her presence and Kyle and Max turned slightly to look at her too.
Oh, shit! Max thought, feeling like an asshole when he saw the hurt in her expression. “Uh, Maria... look, we can...” He trailed off when she just shook her head at him.
“Kyle, do somethin’,” Tess hissed.
He stood up, but knew better than to move towards Maria at that moment. “Hey, look, it’s not like he cares for us either.”
Tess just dropped her head in her hands. So much for the ability of the modern male to be sensitive in certain situations.
“Yeah, whatever,” Maria said and started to walk away. “Don’t come after me, Tess,” she told the girl when she saw she was getting up.
Michael had watched the scene unfolding with curiosity and it was obvious just how much her friends’ dislike of her boyfriend was hurting her. He wondered if she was aware of how much Mark didn’t like them because it was obvious that the guy wasn’t interested in making things work with her friends. He waited a few minutes to see if one of them would incur her wrath by following her and when none of them got up he leaned forward to toss the last of his coffee into the fire. It would be cold before he returned and cold coffee was worse than no coffee in his opinion.
He glanced at Morgan and nodded at his tent. “It’s ready to go whenever you are; I’ll be back when I get back.” He turned to Nick who was sitting close by. “Keep an eye on things.” He didn’t bother waiting for a response; he had been working with the other guides for a while now and even though Nick was the rookie in the group, he knew what he was doing.
He got up and followed Maria, knowing she was smart enough to know that even if she was upset she needed to stay within the camp’s boundaries. Her tracks were easy to follow in the moonlight and he located her after just a few minutes, leaning back against a large, snow-covered boulder as she stared at the mountains in the distance and stubbornly wiped away the tears that kept falling to track down her cheeks.
He left several feet between them, giving her a moment to collect herself. The last thing he wanted was for her to go off on him. “Hey,” he said quietly.
“What d’you want, Michael?” she asked weakly.
“To make sure you’re okay.”
“It’s not your problem... not anymore, if I’m okay or not.”
He took a couple of steps closer to her, ignoring the hurt that her words caused. “Hell, Maria, just ‘cause we’re not together anymore doesn’t mean I don’t care if you’re hurtin’.”
“Uh-huh, and you don’t think going off on Mark all day, at every given opportunity hurts me?” she asked ironically.
He would never be immune to her pain; nothing in the universe could make that happen. “Look, Maria, I didn’t single him out; did I get a few cheap shots in? Yeah, probably... okay, definitely, and maybe I should be more professional and act like it doesn’t affect me to see you with that guy, but...” He sighed. “Look, I’ll try to do better tomorrow, okay?”
“You’re right, Michael, you should be more professional. And it shouldn’t affect you to see me with another guy either. I moved on... after you left me without giving me any reason.”
“You have every right to be pissed at me, at what I did, but you don’t have a right to just presume to know what should and shouldn’t affect me. Right or wrong, I had my reasons for doin’ what I did.” He shoved his hands in his pockets to keep from reaching for her. “And you should be thankful that I am abiding by certain professional ethics because if it weren’t for that you’d be leanin’ back on that boulder with me plastered to you... and we wouldn’t be just hangin’ out watchin’ the fuckin’ stars.”
She shook her head sadly. “Don’t talk to me like that, Michael.” Her heart couldn’t take it. Even after two years she knew that one kiss from him would be enough to take her right back where he had left her at the end of high school.
“Do you really think I walked away from you without a truckload of regrets?” He shook his head and started to pace. “It wasn’t an easy decision, Maria, and I know you didn’t understand it, but seein’ you again isn’t easy for me either. Do I like the fact that your friends don’t like your boyfriend? Yeah, ya know what? I do like that and I’m not even gonna try to lie to you because you’d see right through it anyway. What I don’t like is that it’s makin’ you hurt.”
Maria glanced at him for several moments before she dared to speak her thoughts out loud. “I want you to take Mark and me back down tomorrow morning.”
“Because I can’t do this anymore, Michael.”
“You can’t do what? Defend your boyfriend to your friends?”
She shook her head. “It’s not just that, Michael.”
“Then talk to me... just lay it all out there.” He dared to move closer to her and after a few minutes of silence he leaned back against the boulder next to her. “Talk to me like you used to, Maria.”
“I can’t,” she said quietly.
“Because it’s me?” he asked.
She nodded silently.
“Maria... don’t miss out on this experience because of me, girl.” He wanted so badly to take her in his arms but he knew she’d probably punch him if he tried. “And don’t miss out on it because your friends don’t like Mark. So what? At least they’re not pretendin’ to like him to your face and then talkin’ about him behind your back. Seems to me their dislike goes both ways and he talks as much shit about them as they talk about him.”
She felt like she couldn’t breathe when he was close like this. Right now, she wasn’t thinking about the situation with Mark, her brain was just focused on him, trying to find a good reason why he had left her and why he was being so nice to her now. “I miss you,” she blurted out in a whisper.
He couldn’t have stopped himself from reaching for her at that moment if they’d been facing an avalanche. He took her hands and pulled her into his arms, holding her close as he stared down into her beautiful green eyes. His right hand came up to gently trace over her features and his eyes darkened as he let his thumb brush the outline of her lips. “I know you’ve moved on, that you’re with someone, but unless you tell me to stop I’m gonna kiss you,” he warned.
She stared up into his eyes, hands on his strong chest, while her knees felt like gum. She shook her head slightly. “Please don’t, Michael.” Her heart couldn’t stand for him to leave one more time, and she knew it would happen as soon as the trip was over.
She had asked him not to, but he knew if he kissed her she wouldn’t give so much as an ounce of resistance. He let his hand slide around to settle at the back of her neck and he tugged her closer, pressing his lips against her forehead for several long seconds before releasing her. “Don’t ever think I left because I didn’t care about you.” He looked out over the mountains for a moment before standing up straighter and motioning back towards the path they had taken to get there. “We should get back to camp. Don’t make your decision tonight, Maria. Sleep on it and let me know what you wanna do in the mornin’.”
She nodded. “I’m gonna stay here for a few more minutes. Don’t worry, I’m not gonna go any further than this,” she said and gestured to the poles in front of them.
He hesitated for a moment before giving in to her wishes and leaving her alone.
“Hey, Michael,” she stopped him before he could get too far away. “You asked me if I’m happy. Are you?”
“Sometimes... sometimes, I almost feel like I could be, but...” he shrugged. “It’s not important.”
He left before she could ask any more questions and Maria stared after him for a while until she could finally feel her muscles relaxing a little and she took a deep, cleansing breath.
A/N: New voting round is up! Come to our Author´s page!
Posted: Sun Mar 21, 2010 7:46 am
LOL… c’mon now… this early? Have any of our fics hooked our Candy couple up so soon?
Maria should consider why it is her friends have such an issue with Mark… and hopefully that will happen.
Yeah, like he could resist her!
It was a small step, but it was a step.
Yeah, it was painful to hear it put out there like that, but she needed to know. You just never know, especially with Max, lol!
Well, hopefully, he’ll change your mind as the fic goes on.
It’s a tough place to be in for both Michael and Maria and their feelings for each other are obviously still alive. Yeah, Mark does not make it easy for people – at least this group – to like him.
LOL, Max is in a tough position too… what to do? Liz is definitely gonna enjoy this!
Max is well aware of that rule!
Hmm… we’ll see soon.
Hopefully something will change and the trip will become more enjoyable for Maria.
Michael couldn’t just let Maria go off by herself knowing she was upset.
Liz Parker and Innocent do not go together in this fic, lol! No matter what she wants people to think. We’re pretty sure Max thinks losing his browning was worth it.
Yeah, Mark knew perfectly well that Maria’s friends couldn’t stand him anymore than he could stand them.
Thanks for reading!
LOL, be patient…
Glad you enjoyed the cookie fight!
There is a lot of pain there, on both sides, and hopefully Michael and Maria will be able to really talk about it at some point and deal with what happened.
Decisions were made and actions taken that to some extent causes Michael great regret and pain. We will eventually find out why he chose to break up with her and walk away.
The reasons behind Michael’s decision will be revealed in time.
We’re glad you’re enjoying Max and Liz.
True, M&M are a little bit more mature here and they are still trying to hide their past from the others. Screaming and yelling at each other wouldn´t help in this situation.
Oh yeah, Liz isn´t really shy in this one. She has no problem to take what she wants. Well, maybe not always when it comes to Max, lol.
Liz waited until Michael had passed by on his way back to camp before she moved out from her hiding place. She had found out what had happened when she had rejoined the others and she had gone to find Maria... only to realize that one of their guides had found her first. She had been surprised to see Maria accept a hug from the man, but it had only taken seconds to realize that it was more than that. There was a familiarity in his touch and the fact that Maria had done nothing to fend him off or discourage him made her curious.
The snow crunched underfoot as she walked up to Maria and she leaned back against the boulder next to her friend. “So, the others told me what happened,” she said, opting not to just jump on what she had seen between Maria and the guide right away.
Maria turned, surprised when she heard Liz from behind. Had she seen anything
, she wondered. “They did, huh?”
“Yeah, wanna talk about it?”
“There’s not much to talk about, Liz. You guys can’t stand him. It’s okay. I was stupid to think that this could work out.”
“First, you’re not stupid and don’t ever let me hear you say that again. Second, your tone sounds kinda final... what’re you talkin’ about?” Liz asked, worried.
Maria stared down over the mountains and the snow glistening in the moonlight. “I think Mark and I are gonna go back down again tomorrow morning.”
“Whoa, Maria, it’s not that serious! Look, Mark doesn’t like us either and it doesn’t matter how much we try to get along with him if he’s gonna keep pushin’ us into arguments. So, we don’t like each other... so what?” She shook her head. “No one wants you to leave the trip.”
“But it’s no fun for me here, Liz. I don’t wanna spend my whole vacation watchin’ my boyfriend fighting with my friends.”
“Okay, well... what if I talk to the others?” She took her friend’s hand and turned to look at her. “We don’t want you to go, Maria.” She gritted her teeth. “And if that means we have to suck it up and get along with Mark for the next few days then that’s what we’ll do. But, on the other side of that same coin, you’re gonna have to talk to him, because it’s not fair for us to behave while he’s still actin’ like a prick and doin’ his best to piss everyone off.”
Maria hung her head. “This is all getting too complicated.”
“Does this have anything to do with that hug between you and the guide? Seemed a little more familiar than two strangers.”
Maria’s eyes widened. “You saw that?”
“Kinda hard to miss.”
“Did the others see?”
“No, I just happened to see it because I came lookin’ for you to make sure you’re alright.” She nudged Maria with her shoulder and grinned. “Looked like our guide had everything under control though.”
“It’s him, Liz.”
“Him who?” Before the words had completely left her mouth she knew the answer. “Wait, him... the guy from high school?”
Maria nodded silently.
“Oh, my God, Maria, why didn’t you tell me sooner? Does Mark know?”
“No, and he mustn’t know. Liz, promise me you won’t tell anyone.”
“I won’t say anything,” she promised. “Wait, did you seriously just say ‘he mustn’t know’ to me, Maria?” Liz asked, laughing.
Maria rolled her eyes. “This isn’t funny, Liz.”
She quickly sobered. “No, of course not. Look, I’m not gonna say anything, but you’d better start talkin’... what was with that hug?”
“God, I don’t know, Liz. He came after me and said stuff. I... I got weak for a moment.”
“Uh-huh, still think he doesn’t want you?”
“I truly don’t know what he wants, Liz. I mean, he LEFT me. How can he just come to me and try to kiss me? That’s not right.”
Liz bit her bottom lip and tried to be a little more tactful as she voiced her next question. “So, he tried to kiss you... you told him no?”
“Okay, you’ve come face to face with him... do you still have feelings for him?”
Maria stayed quiet and looked out over the landscape again. Did she still have feelings for him?
She snorted inwardly. As if you have to think about it DeLuca.
“C’mon, Maria, you can tell me. You know it won’t go any farther.” She could see that her friend was torn and she wanted to help her but she didn’t know what else to do.
Maria sighed and glanced at her friend. “It’s like he just broke up with me yesterday, Liz.”
Liz pulled Maria into a hug. Maria hadn’t answered the question directly, but it was obvious that she still had feelings for the man. “I’m sorry, Maria, I know this has to be so hard for you.”
“I don’t wanna love him anymore, Liz,” Maria said sadly.
“Why not? Did he tell you why he left?”
“No. He just said he had his reasons and it wasn’t that he didn’t care about me.”
“Well, you’re gonna make him tell you, right? I mean, you’ve got a right to know what happened, Maria.”
“I don’t know what I should do, Liz. I mean, it was all a long time ago and we’ve both moved on. I know nothing about him anymore.”
“He’s with someone?”
“I don’t know.”
“Then how do you know he’s moved on?” Liz asked.
“Because there’s no reason why he wouldn’t have.”
“So, you didn’t ask him.” She leaned back to look at Maria. “Why? Because you really don’t care if he’s moved on or because you’re scared that he’ll say he has?”
Maria just glanced at her friend, hoping she would find the answer in her eyes without her having to say it out loud.
Liz nodded. “Alright, let’s talk about this decision to go back tomorrow instead of continuing... do you wanna go back because of the issues between Mark and the rest of us or because you’re afraid of what you’ll do if you spend much time around Michael?”
Maria made a face. “Both I guess.”
“Okay, why don’t you just stay? Mark and the rest of us, I seriously doubt we’re ever gonna actually like each other, but I’ll talk to the others and we’ll try to do better. And, girl, you’ve got a very good opportunity here... Michael has nowhere to go while we’re up here on this mountain. You’re never gonna have a better chance of getting the truth out of him.”
Maria almost laughed at the crazy situation. “So you’re suggesting that I should stay here with my BOYFRIEND while I try to find out why my ex-boyfriend left me?”
Liz shrugged and grinned. “Yeah, that’s pretty much it.”
“I’m so screwed.”
“No, don’t say that. Look, I know what’s goin’ on, so I can run interference if you need me to, and...” her back teeth started to grind. “I’ll even try to keep things between our friends and Mark on a... friendly level.”
“You’re supposed to have fun on this trip, Liz,” Maria said.
“And I’m not gonna be havin’ fun if my friend bails on me and leaves me up here with three very sexy guys... one of whom is my best friend who I have recently discovered would love it if we were more than just friends.”
“When did life get so complicated, huh?”
“Look, we’re here to have fun... so, let’s have fun. If you want, we can even switch guides tomorrow. I’ll talk to Max and he can partner with you and I’ll take Mark.” God, how much would that suck?
Maria snorted. “Yeah, that won’t be suspicious or anything.”
“Well,” and Max would really kill her for this, “what if you and I pair up? Let Max and Mark pair up?” She jumped up and down. “Or, even better, Kyle and Mark can pair up... Kyle’s more even tempered than Max when dealin’ with Mark and Tess can pair off with Max.”
Maria rolled her eyes at her best friend. “We’re gonna get the whole group into a big fight because of me.”
“No, look, Kyle’s very mellow... he’s into that whole Buddha-Zen thing... he’ll be the most likely to get along with Mark for a whole day.” She winced at how that sounded. “Sorry. And this way, Max won’t be pissy... well, other than havin’ to listen to Tess talk his ear off all day, and you and I can hang with Michael the Guide.”
“Mark would be pissed like hell, Liz.”
“Okay, then that puts the attitude on him. Tell him it’s an opportunity to get to know Kyle a little better. It’s not like it’s a lie... Kyle will be the one most likely to get along with him.”
“Maybe I should tell Mark the truth.”
“Yeah, that won’t be uncomfortable or anything. You’re not tryin’ to hook up with Michael; you just want some answers. Answers that you have every right to have by the way. If Mark finds out about your history he’s gonna make it impossible for you to get any answers.”
“I just feel so bad about lying to him, Liz. He doesn’t deserve that.”
“Well, I’m not gonna tell you that you shouldn’t tell him the truth, Maria. I think you should do whatever you feel is right and just know that I’ll support you either way.”
“I hate my life,” Maria whined.
“C’mon, Maria, it’s not that bad.” She paused a moment and then nodded. “Okay, it is that bad, but we’ll get you through this.”
“Uh-huh. Alive?” Maria joked.
Liz snorted. “Yeah.”
“I’m scared, Liz,” the girl admitted.
“Let’s get back to the others before this get any more suspicious.”
Liz nodded and they started back down the path they had plowed through the snow.
“Wanna sit outside for a while or are ya getting tired?”
Liz wondered if Max was still up or if he had finally called it a night. Ungh, things really were getting complicated!
“I guess I am getting a little bit tired and they did say we’d break camp early, so maybe we should get some sleep.”
Maria nodded even though she was sure she wouldn’t be able to sleep just yet. Her heart was still pounding wildly as she imagined how Michael had glanced down at her. She shot a quick glance at her friend, certain that she knew where her mind was when she noticed the faraway look on her face.
“Alright,” Maria said as they reached the tents. “Good night, girl.”
Liz gave her another hug before taking a deep breath and walking to her own tent. Of course Max would have already gone to bed... was that better or worse?
Maria glanced at where Kyle and Tess where still sitting and decided to join them for a little while. Michael was nowhere to be seen, so she assumed he was already in bed.
Tess glanced up when she saw Maria pause outside of her tent before deciding to join them. She stood up and gave Maria a hug. “I’m sorry, girl.”
“I don’t wanna talk about it, okay?”
Kyle cleared his throat when Maria sat down next to Tess. “Can I get you a cup of coffee?” he asked, hoping to make peace.
She nodded. “Okay.”
He grabbed an extra cup as he stood. “Babe, what about you?”
“No thanks, I’m good.”
He made his escape, heading for the fire so he could fix the coffee and hopefully drag it out for a few very long minutes.
“So, are you guys excited about tomorrow?” Nick asked. As a rule the guides didn’t all go to bed until everyone else had called it a night.
Michael suddenly joined them. “Yeah, tomorrow is probably one of the most exciting days of the climb.”
He sat down as far away from Maria as possible.
Kyle sat down on one of the camp stools and held his hands out over the fire as he looked at Nick. “Yeah, we’re lookin’ forward to it.”
“What’re we gonna do?” Tess asked.
“Tomorrow’s climb is shorter as far as distance, but as far as endurance is concerned, it’s a lot more challenging,” Nick said.
“Sounds great,” Maria said, wishing she could concentrate better and be more excited about this trip without her problems.
“It’ll be a lot steeper, but it’s also a lot of fun. There’s a lot of satisfaction to be had at the end of the day after we reach our next camp site.” Michael stared into his coffee as he spoke, not sure he was ready to make eye contact with Maria just yet.
Should I really stay?
Maria wondered. Sure, she wanted this trip and hell, she wanted to be close to Michael, but she also knew it would only hurt her more and more.
“Nothin’ matches summit day though,” Nick said with a big grin. “Man, when you reach the top it’s like lookin’ down on the entire world.”
“Has anything dangerous ever happened during your climbs?” she asked, trying to find a safe theme for a conversation.
Nick snorted. “Well, my second trip out Guerin over here busted his arm when he played superhero to save one of the climbers who wasn’t listenin’ and nearly got himself killed because of it.”
God, why did he have to tell her something that would make Michael even more sexy in her eyes?
“You guys have a lot of responsibility.”
“Really?” Tess was intrigued. “What happened?”
Nick stretched his legs out in front of him as he warmed up to his story. “We were about four hours from the summit on our third day out and we stop for a break, right? Well, this stupid motherfucker gets too close to an area where the ice wasn’t stable so he could take a picture. We knew what was gonna happen because he was edgin’ further out an’ next thing you know there’s this crackin’ sound... and if you ever hear it while standin’ on one of these glaciers, it’s guaranteed to stop your heart. The guy freezes, right? He’s too scared to do anything but stand there an’ wait to fall.” He shook his head. “Meanwhile, Guerin’s secured himself and me an’ Tony, we’re braced because we know no matter what, Guerin’s ass is goin’ over the edge of that cliff.”
Michael stretched his leg out and kicked him. “Man, don’t tell that story.”
Nick glanced up. “What? Why?”
He shrugged. “You make it sound like I’m some kinda hero and I’m not.”
“But you did save him man, and you almost got yourself killed doin’ it.”
“Guess, we don’t have to be afraid of anything with you being our leader,” Maria said, glancing up at Michael. She trusted him with her life on this mountain. There was no doubt that he wouldn’t let her get hurt.
Michael’s head came up and he met her gaze directly. “No, you’re perfectly safe.”
She nodded. How the hell was she supposed to act around him?
Especially now that he had almost kissed her.
“Well, tell your tall tales and make me sound ten feet tall and bulletproof, Nick,” he said as he stood and stretched. “I’m gonna call it a night. G’night, y’all.” He pointed at Nick. “Don’t keep ‘em up too late with your lies.”
“Whatever Guerin,” Nick said with a grin.
“Good night,” Maria said, ignoring her jealousy at the thought that he would be sharing his tent with the female guide. She looked away when he crouched down to unzip the opening of his tent, forcing her mind away from the attractive woman waiting for him.
The final voting round is up on our Author´s page. Come and vote one last time.
Posted: Sun Mar 28, 2010 5:06 am
Let’s hope Mark doesn’t cause too much trouble. Trust is very important on a climb!
Bit of a Paul Harvey reference there? LOL! You could be onto something.
Well, if you’re looking for a little M/L you’ll get some in this next update! The M/M talk is a little ways off still.
Maria really needed someone to talk to and Liz was the right person.
LOL, yeah, screwed is definitely the word for it!
It’s good to have friends!
Mark would probably test the limits of Kyle’s patience.
Maria does have a big decision ahead of her.
Hmm, we’ll find out soon. LOL, don’t be too nervous about them switching up partners.
So, DT Max is still ahead, lol! We’re glad you’re enjoying MSH Liz.
Maria definitely needed someone to talk to.
Kyle appreciates that you’re willing to accept his ‘small’ sacrifice.
True. Michael isn’t interested in the praise.
You never know, she might do that.
We may find out soon.
We’ll see. Maria’s in a very tough place right now.
Michael, double teamed by Maria and Liz… that’d make anyone talk!
Think so, huh?
Liz crawled into the tent and hurried to zip the flap back up before turning to glance at her best friend. He had zipped their sleeping bags together, but there was nothing unusual about that; they had gone camping numerous times over the years and if neither of them had brought a date along they slept together. It felt different though
, she thought as she removed as many layers as she could before looking at the man who had taken over the sleeping bag.
“Max,” she hissed as she pushed his shoulder.
He grumbled and burrowed further into the bag.
She shoved his shoulder again. “God, Max, move over and let me in there.”
“Quit,” he mumbled and smacked her hand away.
“It’s fuckin’ cold out here,” she complained.
Max slowly awoke enough to realize that because of the way he had fallen asleep Liz couldn’t get in the bag and her tone was enough to let him know she was getting pissy with him. He shifted around, unzipping the bag and fumbling around in the dark until he found her hand. He tugged her inside without warning, hissing when her cold body came into contact with his. “Fuck, you weren’t kiddin’ about that cold were you?”
Liz tried not to think about being pressed up against him, but it suddenly meant more than just sleeping next to her best friend. Despite the cold he had complained about he pulled her closer, wrapping his arm around her waist as her back settled against his chest. She quickly zipped the bag up once more and without realizing it began to draw random patterns on the back of his hand.
His eyes snapped open when her fingers started to move against his skin and he started reciting the Gettysburg Address in his head to distract himself and hopefully keep his body’s response to her proximity in check.
“Today was amazing, huh?”
“Um-hmm, amazing,” he agreed.
“The guys said tomorrow would be even cooler, I can’t wait.”
“Yeah, me either. You go after Maria?”
“Yeah, I talked to her,” she replied, wanting to tell Max the truth so badly, but she knew she couldn’t.
“Yeah, I guess. Look, Max, I know Mark is an ass and there’s just no way around that. But Maria’s our friend and we should at least try to respect the fact that she wants her boyfriend here with her.”
He buried his nose against her shoulder, inhaling her scent. “Is this where you’re gonna tell me I’ve gotta apologize for hatin’ on her boyfriend?”
“Uh-huh,” she mumbled when she felt him shifting closer.
“Fine, I’ll do it for Maria, but I still don’t like him.”
“Yeah, me neither. He’s an asshole and he tries to suppress Maria’s life. I mean, the times when he’s not in the picture she has so much more fun.”
“I think our guide... Michael? I think he likes her. He’s been pretty attentive to her today.”
“You think so? Maybe he’s just takin’ his job seriously.” She hated to lie to him, but she had promised Maria that she wouldn’t say anything.
He snorted. “If you say so, but I think he’s into her.” He glanced at her when he felt her shake her head. “What’re you not tellin’ me?” he asked, feeling like she was holding something back.
She shook her head. “Sorry, can’t talk about it, Max. Would you mind pairing up with Tess tomorrow? Me an’ Maria wanna pair up and we thought maybe Mark and Kyle could climb together.”
Max shrugged. “Long as I don’t have to climb with that bag of hot air.”
“Kyle can handle him the best, I guess. We just have to tell him when he’s in a good mood.”
“Kyle’s usually in a good mood... I think he’s spendin’ too much time in enclosed areas with that incense crap he burns all the time.”
Liz snorted. “And there’s good sex too, probably.”
“What’s that got to do with Kyle?”
“Well, good sex puts you in a good mood, that’s why he’s always happy.”
“Oh, I wouldn’t remember... I haven’t had sex in a while.” He chuckled and shook his head. “But that could definitely explain Tess’ very happy personality.”
“Seems like they’re the perfect match. Do ya ever wonder if that really exists?" She knew she was playing with fire here, but she still had doubts if Maria was really right about Max and his feelings.
“It exists,” he said without missing a beat.
“How can you be so sure about that?”
He shrugged. “Because after a while havin’ sex just ‘cause it feels good starts to lose somethin’. I mean, don’t ya just believe that if you’re with someone you really connect with, someone you really love, that it would intensify everything?”
“I don’t know. Never felt that way,” she said, wondering if she could try with Max.
“Well, it’s just my own personal theory.”
She turned in his arms to look at him. “I hope you’re right, though.”
His eyes had adjusted to the dark and he smiled at her, wishing he had the guts to just move in and kiss her. “I am,” he said confidently.
Liz smiled back at him but stayed silent, wondering if she would kiss him back if he made a move.
“We should probably get some sleep,” he said after a few minutes. “Since you’re desertin’ me an’ stickin’ me with Tess tomorrow.” He shifted over onto his back and cursed himself for being too chicken to kiss her. “If she starts talkin’ about sex I’m gonna form my own little group of one.”
She snuggled closer against him. “Good night, Max.”
Max kissed the top of her head and rolled his eyes skyward. “G’night, Liz.”
Michael climbed into his tent, zipping it up behind him and trying to be quiet as he stripped off his outer gear. He glanced over his shoulder when he heard Morgan shift in her sleeping bag. “You’re still awake,” he said quietly.
“Yeah, I was waiting for ya,” she joked.
“You were, huh?” He finished stripping down as far as he dared and hurried to get into his own sleeping bag.
“To be honest, I just haven’t been able to fall asleep. Don’t know why. What about you? Did ya get your group back together?”
“I guess I’ll know in the mornin’,” he answered as he shifted around to get comfortable.
She frowned. “In the mornin’?”
“I may have to take one of the couples back down the mountain.” He sighed. “I asked her to think about it and let me know in the mornin’.”
He bent his right arm and rested his head on it. “Yeah. Obvious, huh?”
“Kinda,” she rolled to her side to look at him. “Wanna tell me what the real problem is with her?”
“She’s moved on,” he muttered cryptically.
“Huh?” she lifted one eyebrow in question.
“You remember me tellin’ you about the girl I left back home?”
Vanessa’s eyes grew large. “That’s her?”
He nodded. “Oh, yeah, that’s her.”
“She’s the one who was always on your mind while you were dating me, huh?” she asked with a smile.
He turned his head to look at her. “You deserved better than what you had with me, Morgan.” He smiled sadly. “Even if things had worked out, I never could’ve given you my heart because it’s always belonged to her.”
“You still love her,” it was more a statement than a question.
“You ever told her that?”
“Told her what? That I love her?”
“No, not in so many words. Doesn’t change what I did to her though.”
“You didn’t tell her you love her and you broke up with her without giving her a reason, right?”
“I had to. I didn’t want to, but it was what was best for her.”
Vanessa snorted. “If she loved you too, then it wasn’t what was best for her.”
“Her parents were ready to cut her off, Morgan; if we had gone with our plan to take off to California and go to college they would’ve pulled her college fund and cut off all means of support. They already hated me because I was a nobody from the wrong side of town who had dared to step out of the shadows and breathe the same air they breathed. But, when Maria and I started seein’ each other...” He wished it didn’t still bother him on some level, but it did. “I knew it was gonna be a problem but she was so sure her parents could look beyond who I was and where I came from simply because she wanted to be with me.” He shook his head. “Didn’t happen. Oh, they were polite in that way that’s so polite it’s rude and I knew they didn’t want her with me, but I couldn’t stay away. I had a couple run-ins with her old man and he let me know in no uncertain terms that I wasn’t good enough for her and that I had nothin’ to offer her. Hell, he wasn’t tellin’ me anything I didn’t know, but I was young enough that I thought I was enough. But, I stopped by to pick her up one afternoon and her parents were givin’ her hell about me and they actually told her they’d cut her off if she stayed with me.”
“So you left...” Vanessa whispered.
“I had to. I couldn’t ask her to choose between me an’ her parents.”
“And you left without even givin’ her a reason?”
“Oh, hell, Morgan... if I’d told her why I was leavin’ she would’ve defied her parents and insisted we were goin’ ahead with our plans.”
“But it was her decision, not yours, Michael.”
“I couldn’t let her make that decision. If she was gonna defy them and risk her relationship with them it wasn’t gonna be for me.” He reached up to pinch the bridge of his nose. “I didn’t want her to look at me one day and realize that she had thrown it all away for me and that I wasn’t worth it. I never wanted her to look at me with regret in her eyes.”
“And now? What’re ya gonna do now?”
“What can I do? She’s moved on...” He fell silent for several long minutes. Had she really moved on?
For a few minutes out on the mountain he had been certain he had seen something so familiar in her eyes. “I don’t know, Morgan.”
“Did she go along with her parent’s plans after you left?”
“She’s goin’ to college in California so she obviously didn’t do what her parents wanted. Their plans included her goin’ to college back east, someplace they knew I’d never be getting into.”
“Then hell, Michael, what’re you waiting for? Get her back!”
“Yeah, and whaddaya suggest I do with the accessory she brought along?”
She shrugged. “Get him outta your way! Kick him outta the group. Hell, I’ll take him back down the mountain with me.”
“Trust me that thought entered my mind, but getting rid of him needs to be her choice.”
“I know,” she shifted over to rest on her back. “But ya have to tell her that you still have feelings for her, Michael.”
“Yeah, lemme just ask Mork the Dork to step aside so I can tell his girlfriend that I’ve got feelings for her.”
“Well, she HAS to know, Michael. How else is she gonna know that you’re just waiting for her to dump his ass? I mean, it’s just him you need to get outta the way, right? The rest you can figure out. Gotta say I’d hate it if you left to move to California, but hell, man, if she’s the one...”
“And how should I tell her?”
“Just... I don’t know, say it. Kiss her, whatever.”
He snorted softly. “She asked me not to kiss her.”
She lifted her eyebrows in surprise. “Ya already tried?”
“When I followed her outta camp to make sure she was okay. I told ‘er if she didn’t stop me I was gonna kiss her.”
Vanessa snorted. “Since when do you actually do what you’ve been told to do?”
“Since I looked into her eyes and saw ‘em full of tears.”
She didn’t know what to say to that. “You’ve got nothing to lose Michael. Let her know the truth and let her decide if she’s gonna come back to you or not. If not, then at least you don’t have to spend the rest of your life askin’ what could’ve been.”
“First thing I’ve gotta do is convince her not to go back down the mountain tomorrow.” He sighed and lay back, staring up at the ceiling of the tent. But how was he gonna change her mind?
Watch out for the results of the last voting round after 7am CST