Shattered Pieces (AU,M/L,TEEN/MATURE) [COMPLETE]

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RavenSprite
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Shattered Pieces (AU,M/L,TEEN/MATURE) [COMPLETE]

Postby RavenSprite » Wed Sep 01, 2004 11:42 am

Title: Shattered Pieces
Category: AU/No aliens, Max/Liz
Rating: TEEN to MATURE
Disclaimer: I own absolutely nothing, the characters, the show, etc. I would like to state strongly that the premise of this fic was inspired by a Spanish Soap Opera. It is called, translated in English, 'The Lie.' I take it in a different direction and the original plot is NOT mine. Thank you.
Author's Note: I have a pretty good idea where I'm going with this fic, but it all depends on whether people like it or not. Feedback's always welcome. This small parter gives an idea, but doesn't explain much. Oh, and I swear it's Dreamer. I'm trying to go back to the love that I had for the couple once, and this is my way of doing so.

Image
SHATTERED PIECES

~*~

“The answer is simple,” Max Evans said lowly. He used the kind of tone that sent chills to one’s spine, goose bumps erupt in one’s flesh, and never in the good sense. His eyes were calculating, a callous mess that did not know what to do with itself. There was a wild, reckless abandon inspired inside of there as well. And everything about him screamed dangerous. Beautifully dangerous.

“The answer is vomit-inducing,” Liz Parker retorted, turning her eyes to his hazel ones. “Because of your stupid little plans my father has agreed to this nonsense. But I have my own mind. I will never have anything to do with you!”

“We’ll see,” he argued with menace, his hazel amber eyes, usually dark and unfeeling, were now an irrevocable storm. He stared at Liz with anger and frustration. “My patience is wavering.”

“Then let it waver,” she hissed.

Max smiled to himself mildly, shaking his head. He’d expected this, even prepared himself for this, for her obstinate I-snap-my-fingers-and-get-what-I-want tantrums. “Such a beautiful creature,” he murmured, tracing her face with his index finger, unfazed when she flinched away, “such a stubborn mind.”

“Isn’t that your solution to everything?” Liz shot back. “You think everyone is beneath you, a creature that should be imprisoned if God forbid they not worship the red carpet you walk on. So much that you don’t know. I don’t care about what my father negotiated with you. I cannot, and will not be bought like some goddamn prize!”

“You shall treat your master with respect,” he said teasingly, knowing it would get her.

“I have no master!” she shouted.

He spun her around by grabbing her arm, her face merely inches away from his, stormy tawny eyes meeting fierce orbs of chocolate. “One final opportunity to cave into this by choice, caramella.”

“I would rather burn in hell,” she spoke up fearless. She turned to look at him with her eyes, and he was taken aback by the passion and determination he saw there. Indeed, Max had not expected Elizabeth Regina Parker to be such an exquisitely beautiful creature. He’d rather her not have shockingly stunning features. It would be much easier to resist her. All had to go according to plan—she had to pay for what she did to Michael.

“Very well,” he answered nonchalantly. “You decide your own future. Remember you condemned yourself.”

“I’m saddened by you,” she whispered. “You think money is everything, that you can buy anything you want with it, go about life as you please. You are so highly mistaken. A no one will love you because of it. You won’t—can’t—relish in anyone’s affections because you, Max Evans, are empty and hollow inside.”

Max at first said nothing, but cleared his throat and put a hand on his chin. “I won’t hold your thoughts against you. But do excuse me laughing at your words. I have had every woman I have ever wanted. No woman, with the exception of you of course, has ever said no to me.” He feigned unimportance, grabbing her arm and entering her to the room. The thought of being alone with Max in one small, confined space was too much for her to bear.

He sat there quiet, kept his hands together, his fingers brushing as he played with them, a perverse thrill of his to make her wait. “I’d like to share a little story with you, dea minuta.”

She snorted, crossing her arms. “Not interested, pal.”

“It was about a screw-up father that gambled his life away despite his daughter’s wishes,” Max began.

“Shut up,” she said warningly.

“This man owes up to his neck,” Max continued, unfazed as always. He’d promised himself she’d fall, little by little—by his hand. She would pay, and mercilessly. She would be submitted to a life of torture because she completely ruined someone else’s. She would pay, because Max was not blind to the injustice of the world—and he wouldn’t grow a blind eye because of a pretty face.

“You flirt with danger,” he murmured, approaching her. “Do you realize if your father does not pay his hefty debt he is next on Escobar’s hit list?”
“He’ll find a loan,” Liz whispered, shifting uncomfortably.

“Not only shall you have my name, but you’ll eat at my dinner table and sleep in my bed. You’ll put a brave front and smile to the world, and you will fake every bit of joyous emotion in your pitiful little life.”

Liz would not bend. “No.”

She sighed, turning around and walking away from him, staring outside the window momentarily. “Wouldn’t matter, would it? You can’t force me to marry you, Max. Even if you did, you would only have me in body. Don’t you see you can never touch my heart and my soul? Why would you want that?” she asked, puzzled, momentarily her anger lifting as she was left with confusion and despair.

“My reasons are my own,” he clipped. “And the bottom line is I’m the only one who’ll give your father such a big amount of money to save his neck. If he doesn’t pay he dies.”

She gasped, her eyes brimming with unshed tears. “You… you wouldn’t let that happen,” she worded softly in disbelief. “Surely you’re not that cruel.”
“Your father’s stupidity is not my problem, cara mia,” he answered with a wave of indifference. “I look out for no one but myself, anyway. And the only thing that would ever bring my any sort of satisfaction is the sweet taste of revenge.”

“What did I ever do to you?” she asked with tears in her eyes.
Max, for a split second, showed a glimmer of hurt, a nuance of pain, tempted so badly to yell to the heavens the havoc she inflicted. “You would never understand. Bottom line: you marry me, or your little Papa dies.”

Liz was now teary-eyed. “No, please.”

“Don’t tempt me,” Max answered darkly. “The wedding shall be soon.”
“I love someone else!” she cried desperately.

Max sipped his whisky as he sat at the edge of his chair. “You’ll just tell him you’ve been cheating on him,” he shrugged with indifference. “You couldn’t help your attraction to me and now you can’t hide it. You need to be with me you love me so badly. Then we’re going to go live in Italy for a few months. Go talk to your family, Liz. The decision has been made, in which decision you have none.”

He walked away, and as soon as the door of his office closed, Liz fell to the floor, she felt her heart rip in chasms, felt her entire being opened at the seams, the spasms of anger, waves of pain pouring out of her in convulsing sobs. Nothing… there was nothing left.
Last edited by RavenSprite on Thu Nov 11, 2004 10:46 pm, edited 37 times in total.

RavenSprite
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Postby RavenSprite » Wed Sep 01, 2004 11:12 pm

Okay, wow. I want to thank everyone for their kind and encouraging feedback. This, I hope, explains a little more. I'm going to be dropping clues, but not the entire picture as to why Max hates Liz. I want to make it clear though, Max isn't a villain in my story. He starts out a dark character because he's been scarred so much in his life. Liz will teach him a lot about finding his heart once more, because at this point, he doesn't feel he has one. Thanks once again, and I hope you enjoy! And this happens prior to Max/Liz confrontation in my prologue.

CHAPTER 1

Nancy Parker and her daughter Eleanor Robyn Parker were standing in front of the mirror, admiring the expensive, slinky silver dress Eleanor had on. It fit Eleanor’s voluptuous curves wonderfully, it enhanced her breasts which didn’t need much help in that department, and her massive red curls were pinned together at the top of her head, with few tendrils hugging her face. Her pale blue eyes sparkled with excitement, and as usual, she looked beautiful.

They always sparkled wickedly this time of year. Because it was the day that the Parkers held their annual ball. The gala hosted by the prestigious Nancy and Jeffrey Parker was legendary. Every year brought something new, whether it was the fabulous new decorations that Nancy would change monthly. The party was lavish, with the best of wins and the best of company of course. The elite society that Nancy had tried so hard to be a part of for years. They’d wear their shiny dresses, their luxurious jewels, each and every woman trying to out best the other.

Liz sat on the edge of her bed dejectedly, a far away look in her eyes as she gazed at mother and daughter, sharing a special moment she could not be a part of. Liz had just recently come back from studying abroad in a graduate school, and it was as if she wasn’t there to begin with. She’d hopped from boarding school to boarding school ever since she was fourteen, while Eleanor had the pleasure of staying in Roswell as much as she pleased, because Nancy could not part with her eldest daughter.

Elizabeth Regina Parker was twenty-one years old, two years younger then Eleanor, and four years younger then their older brother, Alexander Parker. And while Eleanor was the spitting image of Nancy, Liz resembled her father in the dark mass of chocolate locks and the lively black sapphires that burned in her eyes. She was a free spirit, while Eleanor had a cool, detached beauty that almost seemed unreachable.

Liz looked at her own gown, straightening it a bit, smiling proudly. Usually, Eleanor always got the best dresses, while Liz always received the hand-me-downs Eleanor no longer liked, or thought inferior to her own. It always appeased Eleanor to see her little sister wearing something mediocre to her own exquisite dresses. This time, however, their father had finally put his foot down, and ordered Nancy to buy an equally pretty dress. It had taken Liz’s breath away, the moment she saw the strapless, long flowing ruby red dress. And, while Liz usually was not so petty, she couldn’t help feeling giddy that her dress this time was prettier then Eleanor’s, who’d had a fit the minute she saw it and wanted it for herself.

Alex would always say it was jealousy on her part, but Liz honestly didn’t know why her sister gave her such a hard time.

They had never gotten along. While Alex and Liz had been joined at the hip ever since Liz could remember walking, she had never been able to get close to Eleanor. She lived for their mother, pleasing her and imitating her every way of thought and feeling.

She knew, however, why this ball was so different from all of the others. This was the ball where they would find Eleanor a suitable husband. The way the two of them talked of finding Eleanor her dashing Rhett Butler, you would think they lived back in the 1800s. Personally, Liz considered herself too young to ever be married, but Eleanor had always wanted to be a wife of a prominent, rich businessman and devoting her life to shopping and living the high life.

“Now, Eleanor. Just hold on a little while longer,” Nancy instructed, tying Eleanor’s corset so tightly Liz would think her poor sister couldn’t breathe. While Eleanor was a lovely woman, she did not have a small waist. Her mother would berate her for it all of the time. Liz, who was already very thin enough, never needed them.

“Mom!” Eleanor whined, slapping her mother’s hand as she felt her rib cage close in.

“Just a tad bit smaller! So many young men are back from studying abroad, Ellie, and you have to make your best impression.”

“I hope Kevin Montgomery is here,” Eleanor squealed, clapping her hands excitedly.

“His trust fund is not as big as Maxwell Evans’. He is rumored to be here tonight and I want you to be at your loveliest, Ellie,” Nancy instructed.

Liz turned to stare at her sister curiously when she saw Eleanor blanch at the name of Maxwell Evans. She almost turned to alabaster, and then as quickly as it had come, it went. It was eerie, how good Eleanor was in masking her feelings, how she went from one to the other without much trouble at all.

“Your father spoke with him a while ago, and he’s so pleased. Maxwell is such a nice young gentleman, and from such a wealthy family, too. He just finished law school. He has a bright future ahead of him, and from what your father told me, he’s interested in meeting both of you,” Nancy continued, casting a look of disdain towards Liz, “hopefully he’ll be here for you, Ellie. He’s only a few years older then you are.”

Eleanor nodded and smiled, but it didn’t reach her eyes.

“Lizzie!” Eleanor spoke up, her voice almost frantic.

“Yes?” Liz sighed.

“Can you lend me your locket?”

Liz frowned. Ten years ago, when she and Eleanor had been children, their parents had given them both golden lockets with their initials engraved inside of them, ERP.

“Why?”

“I… I can’t find mine. Please, Lizzie?”

“All right,” Liz relented. “It’s in my jewelry box.”

Liz rolled her eyes, knowing the two of them would stay there for a very long time, discussing prospects, primping and making sure each and every hair of Eleanor’s was perfectly in place, and not to mention they just had to be fashionably late.

“Lizzie, you look gorgeous,” Alex’s kind, soothing voice said from behind.

Elizabeth turned to him with a grin. “You’re looking dashing as well, big brother.”

His lanky body encircled her smaller one and crushed her tightly to him. “I missed you so much, Lizzie,” he said softly, his smile widening. “Now you can stay here as long as you like.”

Liz sighed. “Until they decide to send me away again. You’d then I’m a leper the way they shy away from me.”

Alex offered his hand, which she took eagerly. The two of them descended the long case of carpeted stairs of their mansion, both aware that each and every eye in the room was on them. They liked prying into the Parkers’ lives. It came with the price of being the rich and elite. Liz didn’t even know why they were hosting the ball this year again, especially the way their father’s income had diminished. He must have mortgaged the house to pay for the sumptuous ball and his wife’s expensive tastes. Who needed crystal doves, anyway?

“You’re going to cause a train wreck with that dress,” Alex whispered in her ear, making her blush profusely. She did feel like she was being watched. Turning around, trying to see where the gaze was coming from, she shrugged when she noticed nothing out of the ordinary.

“Where’s Kyle?” she asked her brother, eyes full of excitement and impatience. Kyle Valenti was her childhood best friend, and every summer she was here they were each other’s appendage. Neither of them could be seen without the other.

“I’m sure he’ll be here. Mother sent the Valentis’ an invitation. She wasn’t very happy about it, but Father insisted she do so.”

Liz internally rolled her eyes. Because Kyle’s father was an honorable but humble sheriff, Nancy considered them lower then her, both in status and relation, and never liked Liz’s friendship with him. Not that she cared much who Liz was friends with, as long as they were as rich and prestigious as she was.

“Why don’t you tell me about the broken heart’s you left behind in London?” Alex asked, taking two champagne glasses from the waiter and handing one to his younger sister. One hand of his slid inside of his pockets as he awkwardly stood there. He never liked these parties, and neither did Liz. They felt like they were being showcased, and in a way, they were. Many women wanted desperately to marry Alex, but he reckoned it was more for their money then who he was—and Alex was sure they’d run away scarce once they found out there really wasn’t anymore left in their piggy bank.

Liz laughed appreciatively. “There is one in particular. We dated for two years. Oh, Alex, you’d love him. Bruce is just… amazing. I’m so gone for him. We promised to write each other as much as possible, and he’s going to try visiting me over the summer.”

“Can’t believe my little sister’s all in love.”

She smiled at him, moved by his presence, moved to finally be home. She hadn’t had a big welcome, and Nancy hadn’t told anyone she’d be coming back, but being able to see Alex, Kyle, and all of her old friends was enough to make a constellation of satisfaction and joy rise inside of her. As much as Liz loved Europe—and she had lived in plenty parts of it—Roswell was her home.

She frowned once more, turning around. She stopped breathing almost all at once when she was met with gorgeous, amber eyes burning holes directly into hers.

“Alex!” Liz whispered. “Who is that?”

Alex turned to where Liz was staring at so meticulously and his eyes darkened. “Maxwell Evans. He’s been having a lot of communication with our father recently. I don’t know… but I don’t like him. He doesn’t exactly inspire confidence, if ya know what I mean.”

Liz pursed her lips thoughtfully, turning back to the handsome man only to find he was no longer there.

“Why would you say that?” Liz asked curiously.

“Haven’t really heard many good stories about him. International playboy, spoiled little prince, you know the kind. I think he’s from Italy or something. Dad’s positively in love with him, though,” Alex remarked wryly, the sarcasm and hint of resentment not lost on Liz.

Gorgeous or not, Liz only had eyes for Bruce. And if her mother was right and Max did want to meet her and Eleanor in prospect of commitment, she could only hope he’d settle his eyes on her redheaded sister.

~*~

Max kept grinning politely at Jeffrey Parker as he continued explaining some nonsense about his business. Max tugged at his tie, which was discomforting him greatly, and kept his hands buried in his pockets, playing with the locket that was held inside of them.

“And you’re telling me you became successful with being a restaurant owner?”

Jeff’s eyes darkened considerably. “What are you implying, Mr. Evans?”

Max smiled felinely, rubbing his fingers together with his hands, pursing his lips in feign thought. “I’ve heard, Mr. Parker, of your quite unfortunate bankruptcy. Laundering money not paying well enough these days?”

“Why, you little hooligan…”

“Let’s save the pleasantries, shall we?” Max cut in dryly. “You need money, and I, by some fortunate design of fate, have an insane abundance of it. I would be happy to pay your casino and gambling debts, Mr. Parker, as long as you assure me one thing I want for myself.”

Jeffrey Parker sighed, his curiosity finally picked. “And what would that be, Mr. Evans?”

Max chuckled humorlessly, sipping his wine. “Your daughter’s hand in marriage.”

Instead of shouting in outrage, his eyebrows frowned together in curiosity. “Which?”

Max would have been disgusted with the man. He was so easily giving away his daughter. Instead, though, he just thanked his stars he was being so adaptable. “Why, the dark-haired one, of course.”

“But that is insane. Lizzie just turned twenty-one! She’s still in college, and has a boyfriend, might I add,” Jeff informed him.

Max waved his hand in air of unimportance. “Twenty-one years is ripe but old enough to enter marriage. The boyfriend is inconsequential to me, and surely he doesn’t have the money that I can gracefully bestow upon you, I’m sure, Jeff.”

He seemed to think this. “Elizabeth’s unarguably gorgeous, I’ll grant you that, Mr. Evans. I can quite understand you being taken with her. As lovely a face as she possesses, she’s an untamable spirit. She will never submit to a marriage, much less with a man she doesn’t love.”

“She will if it involves your life, Mr. Parker.”

He gulped. “My life?”

“You think you can be indebted to one of the four families of the mafia in our city and live to tell the tale?” Max raised his eyebrow with arrogance and pomposity. Jeffrey knew he was being played like a fiddle. “You have no dime to dispose of, Jeff. You don’t pay by the deadline and you can consider yourself thrown in a bag under the sea to join the fishes, disappearing off the face of this earth. Surely, your daughter is not so… untamable, was it you said, that she would not think of her father’s best interest.”

“She is quite noble,” Jeffrey admitted.

Max felt like sneering. Noble? More like a two-faced hypocritical vixen. Instead of shouting his thoughts, Max managed to keep a composed straight face, shifting from his seat to accommodate his suit, the tie asphyxiating him at the neck once more. “We can drop the social graces, Mr. Parker. You’d be willing to sell your soul to the devil, just like you’d be willing to sell your daughters to the highest bidders—you can’t afford to save your dignity. You will not find one bidder with a cipher as large as mine. You’d be able to start with a clean slate, pay your debt just to fuck it up again if you choose to, and I have your daughter’s hand in marriage. All under a contract, of course.”

“Why do you want her so badly?” Jeffrey asked softly. “You’ve only seen her. You haven’t even been properly introduced!”

“I know enough,” Max interjected, the coolness of his voice and the calculating callousness of his eyes prompting Jeffrey Parker to say no further. “Do we have a deal?”

The older man seemed to hesitate, staring lingeringly at the hand Max was offering. “She’d never speak to me again,” he whispered softly, as if the thought of it was weighing heavily, plaguing his conscience. Max did not know Jeffrey to have one.

Max smiled again. The young, handsome boy smiled a lot. Only there was no laughter or mirth in his lips. Just a cunning wit, a dangerous edge.

“You’d be alive, Mr. Parker. She’d be safe. And isn’t that what’s best?”

RavenSprite
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Postby RavenSprite » Fri Sep 03, 2004 12:43 pm

jason’s lover~ I agree with you wholeheartedly. Max is arrogant and calculating but I’ll be damned if he’s not amazingly hot while being so! Thanks for reading. :D

frenchkiss70~ You’re definitely on the right track (I think I was too obvious, lol, but I wanted you guys to have an idea). Everything will be answered, and I’m glad you’re reading! Trust me, Max really is a good guy. But Liz will DEFINITELY give him a hard time. ;)

purpleant~Thank you! Your questions are definitely good ones, I hope you stick around long enough to get them. Hope you enjoy this part!

alana~I’m really glad you’re liking my story, I always love your feedback. Coincidentally, my grandmother happens to watch Mexican soaps (I can’t speak Spanish to save my life so I don’t even bother, lol). I did get the idea from her, but I’m not sure that my story is going to resemble the soap further then plot. Not only because she only told me the basics (Guy thinks a Girl is evil and wants revenge, marries her and ends up falling for her) and I don’t know what happens. So, even though this won’t resemble the soap much, I hope you’ll stick around, and glad you’re liking Max—I promise it will get better!

kay_b~ Yup, yup, and yup. Would I ever really let Max hate Liz? The boy just thinks he does, lol. And I’m definitely going to try posting a lot, but who knows? Thank you so much for your feedback.

DramastarOF06~Thank you! You will see. All I’m saying is Eleanor’s not a very nice young lady. At least, not in regards to Elizabeth.

icequeen~ My prayers are with you and hope you are safe during the hurricane. I am from there and family is there also, so I hope you stay tight. On the other hand, I’m thrilled you’re liking my story. Thanks!

marteloise~Glad you think this is interesting. I’m going to try and make it better!

anonymousarfan~ Yup. Max is going to be very arrogant, very stubborn, and very merciless at the beginning of this. I just can’t help finding him so sexy, lol. All questions will be answered. ;)

Alien614~ I’m here, I’m here, new part and everything!

roswelluver~ I’m afraid Max isn’t up to anything good—he’ll learn his lesson!

MilesToGo99~ Thank you, I’m honored you think so! :D I’m glad everyone’s asking the same questions, because sooner or later Liz will ask them herself. Hope you stick around and enjoy this next part.

dreamer19~ *sigh* Arrogant Max really is hot, isn’t he? Glad you’re not hating him! I’m trying to make him interesting, not card-board evil.

Thanks everyone for their awesome replies. I’d like to thank my awesome beta, burningchaos because she rocks!


CHAPTER #2

The manner in which Max Evans maneuvered himself, the elegant coolness and devastatingly regal grace, was enough to demand the attention of everyone in the room. He was six feet tall, with dangerously stunning looks, a man, a creature too beautiful for words. The ball had not yet fully begun, and already he had enthralled, and compelled each and every female’s eyes toward him. Many already were smitten with nothing but a courteous bow and a small, devious smile.

The party was, in itself, a bore. While he had been raised to circulate and attended galas of the same caliber, Max still preferred a small group of friends and real entertainment. At this precise moment, he strode towards Laurent Benoit, the only person that he knew fairly well. Max did not particularly trust Laurent Benoit, the middle-aged man that had served as his father’s personal confidante for many years, but the man had accompanied Max from Europe to attend the festivity, and he’d be rude not to indulge Laurent in small chit chat.

As Max walked from one end of the room to the other, it was almost as if the time lapse had ceased to exist. Silence hung in the air and ricocheted off the walls, the ladies held their breath as he did so, it was magnificent, the stature and beauty that this man possessed. They all knew too well, however, that Maxwell Evans was cruel in his beauty.

Max’s eyes drifted towards Laurent’s arm, which was in a cast. Not two weeks ago had the man taken a bullet for Max—his padrone. Max was born in Italy, but raised in the States. His main occupation was his firm. but living in Italy for the last five years, Max owned a small town near a Riviera named Porto Encantata—Enchanted Harbor. He was involved in the import/export of tropical fruits and coffee—the business his father had given to him and Michael. Having the biggest piece of land with many coveting men surrounding him, not to mention Max had screwed plenty of them over cruelly over the years, he was a fairly easy target—Max had enemies to spare.

“Why did you do that?” Max finally asked while motioning idly towards Laurent’s injured shoulder.

“I wanted to prove my loyalty to you, padrone,” Laurent answered with a shrug. Max could see, even without effort that Laurent was blatantly lying. “I wanted you to trust me. I want to work for you, show you the ropes as your father would have wanted me to.”

“I choose my workers,” Max burst, his tone unyielding, his eyes emotionless. Laurent could not tell if he was pleased or unconvinced. “I choose who I trust. I cannot, however, choose my family.”

Laurent’s eyes darkened. “You needn’t remind me I’m the bastard brother of your father. That I deserved as much of the family estate that he was granted, but could never be as privileged.”

“I will remind you as many times as I have to. You need to remember your place. You are my servant, not my equal. I give the orders. I thank you for your… act of loyalty,” Max answered, his tone anything but grateful. “I will rethink the matters. I’ll find a position for you in my terra.”

Laurent regarded Max for a moment. “Are you really going to marry one of the Parkers?”

“Whether I marry or not is none of your business,” Max cut, dropping his champagne glass and turning back to Laurent. “I don’t see much use for you here, and you might as well go home. Get some rest, check that shoulder pad. I’ll see you later in the evening, Laurent.”

Laurent nodded his head, silently walking away while Max regarded the people around him. He could tell many wanted to approach him, ask of his family, his business, his life after law school, his love life, and the thought of being bombarded with insolent questions left him annoyed and suffocated. Subtly, he made his way outside, thankful for the breeze that met his face the moment he opened the parlor doors.

Max was taken aback as he saw a rope land right in front of his eyes. Looking up, he smirked as he saw nothing but waves of red satin dress, as the small person slowly descended from the rope.

“Escaping the party from hell?” he quipped.

Liz looked down at him. Her shock made her let go of the rope as she was twenty feet from the ground, falling to the floor with a loud thud.

Max, not showing his satisfaction, moved to help her.

“Thank you,” Liz murmured, the pink flush in her cheeks showing her embarrassment.

“Bored?” he asked amused.

“Slightly,” she answered, her hands wiping at the dirt of her dress. She’d liked it far too much to have it ruined now.

Max bit his lip to keep from making an asinine comment—he was good at that—and reminded himself Liz still did not know of her father’s agreement. She’d be shocked, and he preferred she have a first good impression on him. It served his purpose well.

“I’m Max Evans,” he introduced, his hand going to gently grab hers.

“Elizabeth Parker.”

“Ah, you’re Nancy and Jeff’s daughter,” Max acted aloof.

“Yes. I – um, I wasn’t trying to escape or anything.”

“Clearly.”

She bit her lip, eyes guilty. “I sort of had to meet someone.”

His eyes flashed interest. “Indeed?”

“Yeah. I was going to sneak back in.”

“You could have fallen from a higher altitude, you know. It was not very safe.”

“Oh, that’s okay. I’ve climbed down my window thousands of times before. I’m an expert on it,” she answered, waving his ‘concern’ off.

“I don’t think you’ll want to leave, Elizabeth,” Max recommended. “Who knows? You might get some… interesting news.”

He stared at her for a minute, taking in her features, her eyes—they were so telling, a person’s eyes. He saw mild innocence, hidden fire, which only went to show him she was a very good actress, or she still hadn’t made the connection. Whichever the reason, he continued gazing at her.

Liz tugged at her dress subconsciously. “What?”

He tried to make his smile genuine. “Nothing… you’re a very beautiful girl, Elizabeth.”

“Liz. Please call me Liz. And… thank you.”

Their staring match lasted only for a minute, because Alex opened the doors and made his presence known by clearing his throat louder then he needed to.

Max kept his eyes on Liz as she turned to her brother. “Yes, Alex?”

“Our parents would like to speak to you. Father says it’s urgent.”

Max tried keeping his victorious smirk to himself.

Liz frowned, looking back at Max. “If you’ll excuse me.”

“Oh, by all means,” Max answered, giving her a reassuring smile.

She was walking towards the door, which Max was coincidentally blocking. And while he moved slightly, it still was close enough to have bodily contact with her. He edged closer as she passed by him, noticing her unnerving glance towards him. He said nothing, just continued staring at her intensely.

Max stared thoughtfully after Liz’s small departing figure, his jaw set in a tight line, his hands balling into fists. He quickly wiped away the lone tear that had managed to escape his eyes. He brushed at it furiously, cursing the diminutive emotion he’d let pour out of him. If this was going to work, his veins would have to turn to ice. Max turned his cold amber eyes looked up towards the sky. “Rest in peace, my brother.”

~*~

Liz tried to maintain her calm, maintain her peace. But she could not find anything but immeasurable rage, violent and uncontrolled, piercing through every bone in her body. At first, the shock of her parents words had left her numb and disbelieving. Now it had passed, there was nothing but grief. Gulping down the lump of pain and despair through her throat, she stared at her father. If she was going to convince either of them to back out of this stupid agreement, she’d have better chances with her father.

“Daddy… you can’t do this.”

She sat in the couch next to Alex, who was holding her, and across from Eleanor, her beautiful red dress was now ruined with dirt, wearing her mask of coldness like a penchant. Her black eyes were hollow, void of anything and everything. She couldn’t believe… her eyes raised themselves to meet her father’s, but he wouldn’t look at her. He was off, staring at the window, aware of the music and the laughter and the ruckus that had ended two hours ago. The party had ended two hours ago, and in that small amount of time they’d found her a husband?! Her heart turned to steel just thinking about it. Didn’t they care that she’d live a miserable life? That she would have to pretend, walk through the motions in life and never feel them anymore?

“Oh, stop being such a melodramatic, Lizzie,” Nancy Parker spoke up, rustling with her gown towards her youngest daughter. “It’s not as if it would be punishment. “He is tall, dark, handsome. Who wouldn’t want to wed that man? Plus he is so charming and intelligent, such power that radiates from him. You should feel like a very lucky lady, marrying such a beautiful man with so many ferocious traits.”

“I don’t know him!” Liz cried out in rage, standing up. “Where is this coming from? Just today in the morning you couldn’t stop talking about searching for Eleanor’s husband. When did the attention focus to me? When have you ever cared about me?!”

At that moment Liz didn’t know who she was. She hadn’t the vaguest idea. She had always considered herself someone who knew what she was about. Knew what decisions to make, who she loved and who she didn’t, what was right and what was wrong.

“Dad, tell her she can’t be seriously thinking of doing this. Please Daddy!” Liz begged.

“Your father was the one who spoke to Maxwell Evans, Lizzie,” Nancy declared.

She stared at her father with wide indignation and furious shock.

“Who knows? You might get some… interesting news.”

Max’s deep, velvety voice came back to Liz’s ears. That idiot! He knew all about it, had come into her house a lightning bolt, and had proposed a contract and he hadn’t had the decency of informing her! Alex was right… Maxwell Evans was a heartless bastard. “Why?” she asked in a small whisper, shaky and filled with unshed tears. “Why would you do this to me?”

“Stop the theatrics, Elizabeth Regina!” Nancy scolded with frustration. She didn’t have time for her little tantrums. She was so good at them. “We have already made the decision, and you’ll understand sooner or later it will be for the best.”

“You want Max’s money, don’t you?” Liz accused her mother. “That’s all you’ve ever cared about! You ragged on Daddy, begged him to win more money then he could ever make until he gave everything and came back with nothing!”

“You listen to me young lady; you stop that disrespecting manner right now!” Nancy yelled. “Why do you think we’re so tied up and close to being kicked out of this house? You think your fancy boarding schools paid for themselves?”

“Now it’s my fault?” Liz whispered fiercely. “I never wanted to go! I wanted to stay here with my family; I was just a little girl! You were the one who kept sending me away, each and every school pricier then the last just so you could tell your friends all about it! Why do you love Eleanor enough to give her free will, but tie me down to a prisoner?”

Nancy turned her eyes towards Liz’s disdainfully.

“Why do you hate me, mother?” Liz asked softly, staring at her with confusion, doubt, anger… and much sadness.

“Alex, Eleanor, please leave the room. Your father and I must speak to Elizabeth in private,” Nancy ordered, opening the door, leaving no question to her mandate.

“Lizzie…” Jeff sighed, rubbing his forehead with fatigue. “There’s no other way.”

“But how can you just give me up like that? I’m your daughter,” she cried.

All her life she had been alone. She couldn’t remember the last time either of her parents wrapped their arms around her, ever told her they loved her. Couldn’t remember the last birthday she had actually been in Roswell and not in one of her many boarding schools. She’d always get into as much trouble as possible, tried getting kicked out so she would be forced to go back home… but they’d just always send her to someplace else. Years and years of loneliness, of pent-up anger and resentment… She always had to walk into every single situation with her eyes open, because she wasn’t a risk-taker. She didn’t like surprises; she had to know every single aspect of her entire existence. How could they just plan something like this and expect her to go along with it?

Tears fell to her eyes as she grabbed at her father’s shirt. “Dad, dad… please I beg of you, think this through.”

“Elizabeth, you won’t sway your father in our decision!”

Liz turned towards her mother, who had never held any compassion or love for her own daughter. She hadn’t expected the cold woman that was her mother to show her any sort of soothing warmth—Nancy had never given her much love. But her stupid foolish heart had let itself hope, had desperately wanted the embrace of her mother, had needed to feel as if she were her mother’s daughter, to weep in her arms like a child. “How am I supposed to do this?” she asked helplessly. “I don’t know how I’m going to live like this.”

Nancy Parker’s eyes were cold and unyielding. “You’ll learn.”

~*~

Italian words:
Terra: Land, ranch
Padrone: Sir, master

RavenSprite
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Postby RavenSprite » Sun Sep 05, 2004 12:35 pm

I would like to thank everyone for their awesome replies. I'm sorry I can't respond to each individually but I'm not going to have my computer and thought I'd post this really quick. Thanks so much for your feedback, it truly is what feeds me my muse to write! Oh, and this chapter is AFTER the confrontation that you read in the prologue between Max/Liz. Enjoy!

CHAPTER #3

Isabel Evans Muciolli twisted her hands in distraught and nervous fashion, looking outside the window of Porto Encantata. Every morning breakfast was served to Isabel in her room, and this morning she had the unusual, but welcome company of her grandmother, Nonna Evelina.

Her Nonna was blissfully ignorant, joining Isabel in the view outside of the window. Isabel’s ten-year old daughter, Georgina Evans—Georgie—was riding the pony her Uncle Max had given to her recently for her birthday. She had unoriginally named her Principessa—Princess. While Georgie was being aided by their horseman, Tomasso, Isabel always had a knot in her heart seeing Georgie on top of a horse. Isabel hated the damn mules, never understood her brother’s fascination with them. Georgie, however, had also acquired a love for them. She had stubbornly been pleading her mother to let her ride the horses on her own. Isabel was yet to be deterred on her firm negative answer.

“Something is troubling you, nipote,” Nonna observed astutely, sipping her coffee as the foam tickled her lips.

Isabel sighed, grabbing at the only golden tendril that had managed to escape from her perfectly made French braid. “Yes, Nonna, there is.”

Isabel wasn’t one to quickly accept when something was bothering her, but her grandmother Evelina was like a mother to her. Evelina’s daughter, Luciana—Max, Michael and Isabel’s mother—had died when they were kids. Evelina had moved to the States to help Isabel’s father raise them, but Isabel and Max had moved to Italy after their problem with their father.

“About Massimo, I assume,” Nonna smiled tenderly.

Isabel groaned at the mention of her fraternal twin brother. He could be the devil himself and Nonna would think he was the greatest thing ever. Max had always been their grandmother’s soft spot, and while Michael and Isabel had often felt slightly jealous of their close connection, Isabel couldn’t deny it was because Max was also a lot more special to Nonna then she or Michael had ever been.

“Yes, it’s about Max,” Isabel admitted. “You’re not the least bit worried he’s coming home—with a bride?!”

“It is somewhat strange,” Nonna accepted. “But you know my Massimo. He could have fallen in love in a day and we would have never known.”

Isabel snorted. Clearly Max hadn’t informed Nonna of his little ‘plan.’
Isabel herself did not know any of the details. Just that Max was marrying someone that he hated—Max himself had called her the daughter of Satan with infernal traits. Isabel wasn’t looking forward to meeting her, from what Max could tell her.

Then again, Max had been acting so strange ever since Michael’s death.

Isabel’s eyes softened as she thought of their older brother, older by three years. His death had left a tragic hole in both Isabel and Max’s life, and while Isabel had already accustomed to numb herself from her feelings, Max’s only way of dealing was retaliating. He had buried himself in his work, had grown more ruthless in the cases he took upon himself to always win—he was known as the shark—and barked at anyone and everyone that came within five feet of him, with the exception of Georgie and Nonna.

She was troubled, for sure. Whatever Max was up to, it definitely wasn’t any good. Her brother was only a shell of a man that he had been, and the person he’d become was someone worthy of fear and concern.

“And when they come back, they shall have another wedding, of course,” Evelina continued, oblivious to Isabel’s teary-eyes and nervous face. She was too busy staring at Georgie who was waving at them, her curly caramel-colored hair blowing in her face and sapphire blue eyes shining brightly. Georgie looked so much like him, the man that still kept Isabel up at night plaguing her mind and haunting her dreams.

“I’m sorry, what?”

Evelina smiled gently, knowing Isabel’s mind was far from their conversation. “If we weren’t invited to their quick wedding in America, then they shall have a proper one here, with all of our family and friends, no?”

Isabel just bit her lip. “Max might have a problem with that.”

Nonna Evelina waved her hand in the air without the slightest preoccupation. “Per favore, figlia. I will not let my Massimo disagree with me on this. Oh, I cannot wait to meet his beautiful bride!”

“Yeah,” Isabel echoed with fake enthusiasm. “I can’t either.”

“I haven’t seen Massimo happy in such a long time,” Nonna said softly, the sadness enveloping her words, they rang enough to reach Isabel’s ears. “His eyes are always so dim, so tortured. All he does is sulk and brood. I do hope his wife can bring him to life, heal everything he has had to go through.”

Isabel shook her head imperceptibly. I wouldn’t count on it, lady.

~*~

Liz smiled wistfully as she moved about her room. Despite the fact she’d never lived in it long, she loved it as if she had been there forever. She loved the small pieces she dropped in every corner that made it hers. Pictures of her with Alex and Kyle, thousands of books, many scientific and many historical, her telescope, clothes she was probably now too tall to put on… she had just come back. How was she going to leave this behind once again, and this time, for good?

She cringed as she replayed her yelling match with her mother. Liz always said things when she was hurt or felt spiteful. Her mother had always told her there was something inside of Liz that wasn’t good or loveable. And every time someone got close enough to see it, they always walked away. Liz hadn’t wanted to believe her, but maybe she was right. People saw and they all just ended up leaving her or throwing her away like she didn’t matter.

She tried being nice. She tried being helpful. She tried being honest. But it seemed, in the end, everyone went ahead with their lives, happily moving forward and she was stuck in the eternal same place that she always did. On her own.

Liz sighed as she moved outside towards the gardens. If there was one thing her mother ever cared about, it was her rose garden. Not that she herself watered or took care of the plants. Of course not. Nancy Parker would bend on her knees and get dirt on them. But she paid top price to keep them blooming and wonderful, and even imported some exotic flowers to accompany the various roses.

“Hello, dear wife,” a voice behind her said.

She turned around to see Max, with his arms crossed, his body tilting in the doorframe of the greenhouse as he smirked with triumphant glory. Oh, what she wouldn’t do to wipe that self-righteous snot out of him. How long he’d been standing there Liz couldn’t be sure.

Her eyes flashed with fury. How she could have ever thought he could be a good man was beyond her. Obviously, his charming friendliness at the ball was a complete act. This was who Max Evans really was. Pompous and obstinate, and especially loved taunting his enemies when they had clearly been defeated. “By all means, knock yourself out of that high horse you got yourself into!” she snapped.

Max laughed, joining her as his fingers skimmed the tips of the gardenias near him. He was unfazed by her anger, because he either did not care or chose to ignore it. “Ah, I forget. You are one of those little feminists that speak their mind.”

Liz burned inside with anger, crossing her arms and wiping a tear with the heel of her hand furiously before he could see it fall to the ground. She would never let Max see her cry. “Did you come here to mock me? Do you find yourself to miserable and wretched you just had to show your arrogant self to my door and shout your victory to the winds?” she cried, trying not to let her emotions drive her. But there was something about Max that made her heart spiral out of control, anger pouring everything out. He was just so damn cocky, so damn sure of himself, so controlled and poised, as if nothing could ever set him off balance. It irritated her, angered her to no end.

“Quite frankly, Liz, I’m not sure if the arrogant one here is me.”


“You bastard!”

“So I’ve been told,” Max admitted nonchalantly, moving around the big glass house inspecting what was contained inside. He was barely glancing at her as he did so, finding the flowers much more fascinating then her. “Have you ever thought this marriage could be hell for me to? It’s purely for business, I assure you. I’m also binding myself to someone I don’t love, so don’t try making yourself the victim here. I know you don’t love me.”

Liz then smiled to herself. “Well, Max, I figured that you love yourself enough for both of us.”

Max laughed. “Cute, Liz. You mistake my self-confidence for self-praise. But I’m truly growing fairly tiresome of your barbs.”

“Be still my beating heart,” she remarked with sarcasm. “I’m the one who has to endure your egotism and self-entitlement, Evans!”

“Because you’re such prize yourself,” he sneered spitefully.

Liz didn’t say anything to that.

“What do you know?” Max asked, laughing. It aggravated her to know he was laughing so freely at her expense. “The girl who has an opinion for absolutely everything was left completely speechless! You’re too proud for your own good, you know.”

“Don’t pretend to know me!” she shouted.

“I know you more then you think,” Max retorted menacingly. “I know inside that fearless gaze that you mask yourself with invades raw vulnerability. I know that you’re weak and you hide it inside of yourself to pretend to be such a tough girl.”

“What about you?!” Liz asked with exasperation. “I don’t know which is sadder, having a mask or being exactly what is seen! Maybe I hide my vulnerability inside of me, but that’s because my pain is mine and mine alone. You on the other hand! Your coldness and ruthlessness isn’t a mask, is pure reality! You have nothing but ice in your veins and you can’t love, you can’t even conceive the thought of thinking of anyone but yourself.”

Parker, 1. Evans, 0.

Max glared. “No wonder your family sold you. You’re impossible.”

She gasped inaudibly, but he heard it—he’d hurt her, and a perverse satisfaction and a foreign distaste flashed through him, both at once.
She raised her chin defiantly, blocking her hurt and showing only her fury. “My words don’t hurt you. Nothing can ever hurt you because you just don’t care. You can’t expect me to fawn at your feet like every other damsel does in your expensive suits. And you can’t expect me to awe and glorify your every sanctimonious word because none of it is real. You are not real. I don’t want anything to do with you. I don’t want to know you.”

Max stiffened, but she did not notice. He was taken aback, but never showed it. No, Liz blinked and missed the foreign feeling that crossed within him the moment her words poured out of her mouth. Straightening again, using his height as leverage against her petite frame, he put his smirk back in place and his beautiful, unearthly eyes glowered.

“And here you are, reprimanding me for pretending to know you. You know nothing about me either. Pack your bags, cara mia. You’re moving in.”

“I don’t want to,” she challenged.

Max slammed his hand on the door, grabbing her and pulling her closer, making her gasp with shock. “Why are you so damn stubborn?”

Liz took a step closer to him, her dark eyes staring defiantly into his. “I am not naïve to your gruesome nature. And don’t touch me! There is no reason why a woman should tolerate disrespect—this isn’t the little feminism you claim, it’s common decency. You’re nothing but a spoiled asswhole that is used to getting what he wants!”

“And you are nothing but a m—” he stopped himself, hands shaking, upset she managed to rattle him so much. So much pain marred her dark soulful eyes; he was almost surprised she had let him see any kind of emotion. He stared at her intently for a moment, almost as if memorizing every line of her face.

Instead of answering her, he grabbed her, putting his hand at the back of her head. He was pulling her so close she could feel his heart beat. He stared at her for a while, and his speech was lost. He forgot what he was doing, and clearly he was acting without thinking. He crashed his lips into hers, possessively taking control of her mouth. He hadn’t expected her lips to be so soft, hadn’t expected himself to enjoy the feel of her so much. She didn’t squirm underneath him, which only made him want to tantalize her mouth with his more. She stilled, almost as if surrendering to him. They were so close Max could feel her tears in him. There was a feeling almost unbearable, a reality burning.

He plunged his tongue teasingly, almost dangerously over her bottom lip, and she cursed herself for the involuntary moan that formed at the bottom of her throat, the shiver in her spine. She cursed her body that felt as if it were exploding in heat. Despite her motionless stance, she wasn’t exactly a non participant. He continued exploring every crevice of her mouth, and she, for some stupid reason, continued letting him. He parted away abruptly, their noses still bumping as his eyes were feral and angry. As if his kissing her was her fault.

“You will pack each and every article of your clothing. You’ll say a very quick goodbye to your family, and you will join me later on for a formal party held in our honor. Is that understood, wife?” he asked deathly low, his breath tickling her ear.

“Yes, my King,” she spewed sarcastically.

He let go of her abruptly, walking away as she was left staring at him dumbfounded, her lips tracing her bruised mouth as she stared at the floor with unshed tears.

Whether they liked it or not… a story between them was beginning.

Porto Encantata=Enchanted Harbor
Nonna=grandma
Nipote=grandchild
Massimo=form of Max (Maximus).
Per favore, figlio=Please, child.
Cara mia= my love, my beloved

RavenSprite
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Postby RavenSprite » Mon Sep 06, 2004 8:07 pm

Thanks once again for the awesome, awesome feedback. Hope you keep reading so everything can unravel.



CHAPTER #4


He was a very attractive man. The first thing she noticed, besides how well he filled his jeans and his unruly, tousled long hair, was his hazel, caramel-colored eyes that seemed both tortured but wild. She wasn’t sure just how many drinks he’d had that night, but he didn’t seem inebriated—at least, not yet.

There was definitely a quiet anger in his demeanor, and luckily, she’d worn her favorite ‘flirting’ dress. It was a very small blue dress that left very little to the imagination. The almost electric color of blue offset her sapphire eyes and her already cinnamon colored hair. She knew she was beautiful, vanity had always been her biggest weakness. So she sat there, skimming the contours of the tip of her wine with her index finger, occasionally glancing towards his way.

He finally seemed to notice her. “Waiting for somebody?”

She laughed. “Over half an hour ago, I’m afraid.”

“That’s not very nice, for someone to leave you hanging like that.”

She didn’t exactly want to tell him that she wasn’t with anyone in the first place, and was a casual visitor of the bar. She also didn’t want him to think she was with someone even though she was. Her mother always told her to look available even if she technically wasn’t. It was the only way to find out if the conquest was better then the one she was currently dealing with. If he was, then adios to the last sucker she’d been able to con into thinking she cared for him. And if he wasn’t, well, she just continued her disguise.

“It’s my sister,” she finally answered, rolling her eyes. “The little thing’s back for Christmas and as usual, always with that best friend of hers.”
He gave her a genuine smile. He really was devastatingly gorgeous. Even if he didn’t have the endowment financially, it still wasn’t going to hurt shacking up with him.

He stretched his hand through the counter as she made her way towards him.

“Michael Evans.”

“Eleanor Parker.”

He grinned. “You sure you’re not waiting for someone?”

“Oh, maybe Mr. Right,” she answered with a sly grin.

“Sorry to disappoint you,” he answered, motioning to his wedding band.

The quirk of his eyebrow and his dangerous smile, however, told her otherwise.

Eleanor shrugged teasingly, the tempting vixen inside of her appearing. “You’ll do.”


Eleanor played with the locket around her neck nervously, chewing her lip until she drew blood. If there was one thing in this world she detested, it was waiting. She had no patience, and she was Eleanor Robyn Parker—nobody made her wait.

Today however, proved different for her. Today she was desperate, and she found no other way out of this gigantic mess that idiot had left her in. She cursed her luck, wondering why on earth she had ended up with the wrong brother. Michael had been weak, lead too quickly by his emotions and so easily guided by them. Max, on the other hand, he seemed to know perfectly well what he wanted and always went for it. He and Eleanor might have made a good team… if he weren’t so intended to drown her in ruin.

Next to her was Eleanor’s best friend, Pamela Troy, another uptight socialite that loved shopping and men just as much as Eleanor did. Eleanor wasn’t sure what Pam was talking about, because her mind was somewhere else. She tried her best not to roll her eyes and put a fake, plastered smile that she was so accustomed to doing. Because, to the world, she and Pamela Troy were best friends. They did everything together, from shopping to painting each other’s toe nails. But they knew better. And Eleanor knew, more than anyone, how badly Pam could get on someone’s nerves. And Pam and Eleanor weren’t stupid—they’d both stab each other in the back if the occasion presented itself.

They did get along, and they told each other everything—everything meaning who cheated on who, whom they were going to seduce that particular day, who was found sporting the most hideous outfit at so-and-so’s party, and when they’d get together again for their weekly shopping trip.

Pam rolled her eyes as she noticed Eleanor’s mind was somewhere else. “I don’t know why you’re so preoccupied. It’s not like Maxwell Evans is targeting you, is he?”

“He’s not stupid,” Eleanor hissed. “Not at all. He can quickly figure out the truth, especially if he gets to know Liz. My wholesome saint of a sister can reel him in, I know she can. He’ll put the pieces together, Pam.”
“Max is already marrying her. He can’t back out on it. He’s taking her to Italy and then they’ll be so far away you’ll never have to worry about either of them.”

Eleanor peered at Pam curiously. “How do you find out these things?”
Pam waved her hand as if it were unimportant. “I have my ways.”
Eleanor bit her lip, looking once more outside of the café wondering where the hell was he. She hated waiting.

“Haven’t heard from you in a while,” Sean, Eleanor’s ‘buddy’, stated with surprise, sitting across from her at the table. Eleanor usually frequented the café, either with her friends or her flavor of the month. She always had a table reserved just for her—she was a Parker.

“Better late then never,” Eleanor grinned, crossing her arms and leaning forward towards Sean, fully aware he wouldn’t be looking at her in the face, not with the shirt that she was wearing, made for sin.

Sean smirked, ignoring Pam’s existence as he zeroed in on Eleanor. “While I’d love to believe you want you reacquaint yourself to my bed, Ellie, I’m a little smarter then that. You dropped me a long time ago… what was it you called me? A rabid puppy?”

Eleanor sighed with frustration. “Your point is…?”

“My point is you better tell me what little dirty work you want me to do, and how much you’re willing to pay me this time.”

Eleanor bit her lip, resting her chin on her perfectly manicured hands. “That’s kind of going to be a problem. Right now… I don’t have much.”

“How much is not much?”

“Like nothing,” Eleanor admitted, the blush creeping into her cheeks. She damned her father for his weakness, for putting them in this position of utter embarrassment. She could not be caught wearing the same outfit twice, could not be caught in anyplace lower then she usually acquainted. Her friends were just as rich, and just as devious as she was. If they ever found out of their financial ruin, she would become the laughing stock of her group—Eleanor had never been the laughing stock. She was the queen bee of that damn group. She wouldn’t settle for less.

The only reason Pam was even hearing this conversation was because she always found out anyway—the girl had sources Eleanor still didn’t know how she came up with. And, as trashy and annoying as Pamela Troy was, she kept Eleanor’s secrets. Not out of loyalty, but because Eleanor had plenty of dirt to dish on Pam as well.

Sean laughed. “Why would I ever do anything for you free?”

Eleanor smiled. “Because it involves Elizabeth.”

He tried acting nonchalant. “What about her?”

“She’s getting married.”

Sean scowled. “You’re shitting me.”

Eleanor inspected her nails, unfazed by Sean’s change in behavior, far too interested in her physical appearance. “Afraid not, Sean. She’s getting married, but there is a way that we can… make it difficult, so to speak.”

Sean sighed. “You’re just a load of trouble.”

“Didn’t complain before.”

“Before I actually got something in return,” Sean glowered.

“Listen, can you do this or not?”

Sean sighed. “Do what?”

“I have a picture of myself and a man named Michael. We’re in this very café, leaning closely.”

“Why did you have me take that picture anyway?” Pam interjected with curiosity.

Eleanor sighed with exasperation. “Duh, Pam. I told Michael if he didn’t break his marriage off with Maria I’d find a way to make her know. Pictures were blackmail. Keep up with me, will you?”

Shaking her head in disgust, Eleanor turned back to Sean. “Is it possible to have Liz’s face forged into my body?”

Sean shrugged. “Anything’s possible nowadays.”

“Would it look real, Sean?”

He nodded. “I know some guys. They owe me a favor.”

Eleanor smiled heartlessly. “Then we have a deal?”

“Why would you do this to your own sister, man?”

She glared at him. “I win, Sean. I always win.”

~*~

Alex had grown tired of pacing outside of Liz’s room, knocking and begging her to let him in. He wasn’t sure what had happened, all the maid had told him was Maxwell Evans had paid his fiancé a visit. Alex knew this was the reason for Liz’s torment, but she wouldn’t let anyone in. He had tried locating Kyle, but he was always in school or at work. Kyle didn’t even know what was going on, and that his best friend was going to marry someone she had just met.

He’d always tried being a protective brother. Had remembered the many nights Liz had been a small child and feared thunder. She had always tried running to their parents’ room, but they’d always ignore her wailings, and Eleanor would always tell Liz to ‘stop being a baby.’ Alex, however, had always taken Lizzie into his room, had tried making her laugh until the thunder that terrified her went away, and made sure she was always safe and protected.

But his will only went so far. His parents hadn’t listened to his pleas, had sent Liz away for god knows what reasons, and he’d be lying if he said he hadn’t missed her terribly. He was supposed to protect her from harm, he was supposed to stop this that was hurting her so badly. He just didn’t know how. And no one else seemed to care that they were marrying Liz to a cold-hearted monster.

“You can’t do this!” Alex shouted, entering his father’s study and closing the door loudly behind him. He banged his fist into the table, as it shook. The chair next to him was now on the floor and his blue eyes, similar to Nancy’s only Alex’s had warmth and cheer, were wild and furious. “I won’t let you!”

Jeff Parker barely turned to Alex as he continued scribbling furiously in his pad, clicking on his calculator and sighing with frustration. When he noticed Alex wasn’t going to go away, he finally shifted from his leather chair. The man Alex had once praised and idolized now made him sick. “The decision’s been made son.”

“How could you even participate in this act of unspeakable cowardice?!” Alex demanded. “She’s your daughter! We just got her back. She believes that you don’t love her and I can’t blame her. God, you marry her with a man you just met! You know Maxwell Evans for all of what, one day and you’re already in love with the guy? You don’t know who he is, you can’t just pawn off Liz like some sort of trophy!”

“Alex…”

“No!” he answered, too angry to listen to his father. There had been a time when Alex had been scared of raising his voice to him. Those days were long gone now as so much had happened and Jeff had so obliviously continued letting it.

“I tried biting my lip every time you sent her away, I tried not hating you ever time I saw her cry because of our mother’s rejections and your never-ending neglect. I took care of my sister all I could because you were never there. But I’m telling you now father, if you do this… you lose her forever.”

“I don’t have a choice,” Jeff cried softly.

“You always had a choice,” Alex stressed out. “The minute Lizzie and I would beg you to stop drinking, beg you to stop gambling your life away, that was a choice. But you went the easy way, didn’t you? Even now that you’re up till your neck in debts, you still had a choice. We could have pawned off things, could have gotten jobs somewhere, I don’t know, anything that wouldn’t mean having to sell your daughter. That’s monstrous, father, and unthinkable!”

Jeff didn’t say anything.

“You think I want this to happen?”

“I honestly don’t know!” Alex fumed. “You’re taking the easy way out, you don’t seem to be so affected by it. She’s…” his voice trailed as it softened tearfully. “She’s still so young, has barely lived life at all. You’ve never let her. Always sheltering her away in boarding schools for neglected and troublesome children, never giving her the time of day. She doesn’t know what life is, she doesn’t know what she wants, and she can’t find out because you’re making all the decisions for her!”

Jeff paused, before shaking his head and returning to his work. “I’m not changing my mind.”
Alex shook his head. “I don’t even know you.”
~*~

Max sat on the floor, his back resting on the couch of his hotel, one leg up against his chest, the other resting lazily on the floor. He hadn’t known for how long he’d been sitting there, hadn’t known for how long he’d felt numb and shattered and cold. All he saw were letters.

I do hope I didn’t get you into much trouble with Maria. I just can’t seem to stay away from you, Michael. You know who I am. Know every nook and cranny of my heart. Strong, determined, and willful… you give me strength, Michael. So understanding and so wishful… sometimes I think you dream enough for both of us.

An angry, burning tear slid down Max’s cheek as he threw the letter to the fire, watching as it crisped into ashes, his eyes concentrated long until the lines before him blurred, until white pieces of paper became dust.

Sometimes I wish we hadn’t met, or that I didn’t love you this much. That way I could stay away from you, like I know I have to. You’re never going to leave Maria. Yet you can’t let go of me. You can’t continue being this weak, Michael. You have to make a decision. I’m always going to love you. Don’t you understand that? I can’t live without you. I know you can’t live without me either. Let’s run away Michael… run away from everything.

Max’s jaw tightened, his lips into a thin line. Tomorrow she’d be Mrs. Evans like she always fucking wanted to be.

Always yours Michael,
E. R. Parker


Max laughed humorlessly. No longer Parker, darlin’.

Mrs. Elizabeth Evans.
Last edited by RavenSprite on Mon Sep 06, 2004 11:32 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Postby RavenSprite » Tue Sep 07, 2004 1:35 pm

Okay, I'm awed by all of the replies and the very good questions. I love seeing all of you speculate what is going to happen to Liz and Max's life, therefore everyone else's.

one question that got to me was why Max was so certain it was Liz, and not Eleanor. I was going to write that in a flashback in later chapters, because I hadn't wanted to put everything and leave some hanging. But I do realize that it is very confusing, so I'll explain the flashback I was going to write. Nancy told Eleanor Max Evans was going to be at the party, and later asked for Liz's locket. She's very clever, and immediately went down stairs to introduce herself. Max, the detective, asked her of the locket - he was really surprised it was identical to the locket HE had in his pocket.

Since Eleanor is using Liz as his scapegot, it's easy for her to put the blame somewhere else. Eleanor will never feel guilty about anything. So she tells Max she and her sister Elizabeth have the exact same locket. Max asks point blank if the locket Eleanor was wearing was hers. Eleanor said definitely yes. So Max thinks - Eleanor and Elizabeth Parker, same initials. He has the letters, and then has Eleanor who has a locket on her neck, and Liz that doesn't seem to have hers - he connects the dots.

I hope this answers a few of your questions. I'm updated quickly because this story has gotten to me. I love writing it and this part is kind of quick, but I didn't want to put so much time in the wedding. The REAL angst starts once Liz and Max get to Italy.

Please enjoy, and thank you SO much for all of your encouraging feedback.

CHAPTER #5

Her lower lip threatened to tremble, giving away to her emotions, and she blasted herself for always wearing her heart on her sleeve. People were running around her, her mother was barking orders left and right, and she stood still on the top of a stair, withering herself away. She tried standing tall, tried keeping her chin held high no matter how desperately it wanted to quiver, tried blocking away each and every conflicting emotion that was eating away inside of her. She had to be strong or she wouldn’t survive.

“You look so beautiful, Lizzie,” Eleanor breathed.

Liz didn’t answer her, bit her lip to keep a mocking retort from escaping. It was indeed, a beautiful dress. They hadn’t had time for many arrangements, and they weren’t getting married by the church, only in front of a judge and her mother’s many friends who thought an Evans and Parker wedding was the ‘story of the year.’ So Liz had wanted to wear Grandma Claudia’s wedding dress. It was classic and timeless, and fit Liz like a glove. She wasn’t here today to be with her, and Liz was half glad. She’d be disappointed in what was happening.

Grandma Claudia had always told Liz that she would find her soul mate, and if it wasn’t complicated, it probably wasn’t love. But she had never believed foolish notions. Liz had cared a lot about guys, hadn’t dated many but the few she had had counted, and were lasting and fruitful relationships.

She wasn’t sure however, she believed in love. Her parents were trapped in a loveless marriage, as was everyone superficial around her. And now she was soon to be added to the list. It was arranged for the benefits it would bring her father, not because she was madly, desperately in love. People didn’t get that way. They wanted to believe it. Wanted to believe a notion as childish and dreaming as love could exist. That way they don’t feel so alone or faithless or hopeless.

Liz, however, she was not a dreamer. She knew better about the cruelty of truth and the battered way of the world. Love did not exist. It was simply… a broken promise that it would never be enough, love would never suffice, it would never bring happiness because it is simply never there. She had grown up in a difficult home, where Nancy and Jeff had always slept in different rooms. Every time they collided there was yelling and disputes. People like living in a world with cheesy movies and sappy words and love songs. It’s easier that way to confront the struggle that is life, but she’d never relied on that.

She’d always relied on herself. And she would pick herself up again after this. She would not fall apart because she was getting a tough break. She needed no one’s pity, or sympathy. She always broke her fall, she always survived. She had already known what it was like to be on her own, to live outside the world with broken lies.

Seeing Eleanor, who had always had everything, who got it so easy made her want to cry. She was absolutely sure had it been Eleanor, they wouldn’t have exchanged her for money.

“Lizzie… Lizzie I’m so sorry,” Alex whispered, holding her close to him.

She shook her head up at him, blinking her tears inward. “It’s all right,” she whispered hoarsely, standing straight and giving him a brave smile. “I’ve been through a lot of things. Weathering this storm will seem like a piece of cake, I assure you.”

Alex shook his head sadly, eyes slightly watering before he kissed her forehead tenderly. “I’ll find a way to give Max back every penny he bought you for. I promise, Lizzie.”

She nodded. “I believe you.”

Alex looked up and behind Liz. Slowly she turned around and a smile brightened her face.

“KYLE!” she shrieked, going over to hug him tightly to her, trying to keep her emotions in check as she finally saw her best friend after a year of his absence. She had missed him so much, her heart had barely survived it.

“Heard you were getting married through the grapevine,” he joked.

Liz smiled, shaking her head. “Alex kept you up to date?”

Kyle nodded his head sadly. “Pretty much.”

She sighed shakily, grabbing both of his hands with hers. “I swear I’m okay, Kyle. I mean, miserable? Sure. Angry? You bet. But I’m also resigned. My destiny’s been signed over and I have no choice. Please…. Please support me on this.”

He hugged her tightly to him. “Always, Liz. I will always have your back. There’s no way you’re along on this.”

“Ditto,” Alex said from behind, grabbing her from the other side. “The three of us are in this together, okay? We’ll get you out of this.”

“Any way we can,” Kyle chimed supportively.

Unlike other girls who had planned their wedding ever since they could walk and talk, she had never really thought of it. Had never wanted it—Liz had seen plenty of failed marriages, and didn’t mind living her life as a successful business woman that didn’t need a man in her life. She never imagined herself being twenty-one and married to a man she didn’t know, and what she did know, she didn’t like.

Every ragged pore of hers was begging to crumble, and ever impulse of hers was demanding she run out of that room and leave a Liz hole on the wall.

She didn’t even look at her father as they walked towards Max.

Despite her hatred for him, she could never deny his handsomeness. He looked dashing, regal, and gorgeous as always in a simple tux, his hair recently cut and spiked. He wasn’t wearing any emotion on his face, and she rarely saw any in him either way. It was easier to walk towards nothing then to anger, a stone then an ember.

The ceremony began.

The first thing Max noticed as Jeff Parker and his daughter walked towards him was Jeff’s attempt at kissing Liz’s cheek, which she easily avoided by moving to the other side, and leaving Jeff kissing the air. He would have praised her fire had he not been so angry at her. He didn’t show it of course, he had learned long ago to use many masks, but his favorite one was the stoic, cold stone he’d learned from Michael.

He was barely hearing what people was saying, was only vaguely aware of many of Nancy’s friends using their expensive handkerchiefs to wipe their ‘tears.’ He was actually interested in Liz’s expressions. He couldn’t deny that he’d felt the wind knocked out of him the moment she appeared. He really didn’t like that she was so beautiful, that she did seem to have an effect on him he’d never felt before. He cursed this of him, because any kind of feeling that overcame him because of Liz were disobeying in his nature. It was not was Max was supposed to do. He had a purpose; he was going finish what he started.

She was almost as expressionless as him, except every time Nancy got closer to pinch her shoulder, Liz did a 180 and beamed brightly. Max could see right through it, but he doubted anyone else was staring at Liz’s smile. They were, of course, more focused on the beautiful pearl necklace she was wearing, or the dress that fit her like second skin, or the way her hair was styled or how she was interacting with Max, not whether the bride was happy or not.

And why did he care, anyway? Why did he feel a churning in his stomach as he saw her face of agony? She was the reason he had lost one of the most important people in his entire life, and she’d done it callously and without second thought. Why should he not avenge his brother in the exactly same way?

Her hand was quivering as the judge handed her the pen. She halted mid-way before bending to sign the paper. She literally couldn’t control her hand. And before he knew what he was doing, his hand moved to reach for hers, taking it in his. Max was aware of the sighs of the many ladies, and he wondered if they were truly blind. Putting on a show, he brought her hand to his lips, and in turn, she tried smiling at him, but it came more as a half-glare which he returned readily with a cheeky smirk.

Max heard her inhale, looked towards her parents, and then towards Max. Her eyes were shining with an emotion he was all too familiar with—pain had haunted his for many years, and what he saw had always mirrored in his own eyes. It was literally too much. He had to stop feeling, or nothing would work. He turned away from her, using his neck tie as an excuse, fingering at it, annoyed with how tight it was held. He’d never been able to tie it. Had practiced many times and always failed.

After what seemed a long time, Liz finally signed.

The judge smiled at her kindly, but rather unsurely, before handing the pen to Max. He quickly slipped in the diamond ring. Despite the fact the marriage was a sham, Max was not about to let everyone think Max Evans didn’t spend big, or that his wife would be wearing a shabby ring. This princess cut diamond ring sparkled, and probably instilled envy in Liz’s older sister. It didn’t matter anyway—it as something materialistic that Max did not care for.

He stared at his wedding band, long and hard.

“By the power invested in me, I now pronounce you, husband and wife.”

Liz closed her eyes the moment the words were finished. It made it more final to her, somehow. She hadn’t wanted to believe it, maybe floated around the past two days thinking she’d wake up from a nightmare. Seeing the rings on her finger, the people around her clapping wildly, she turned to Max and couldn’t stand it anymore. Tears began to fall down her cheeks.

“Oh, dear,” Amanda Montgomery, Nancy Parker’s best friend, “She’s so emotional.”

“Happy tears, Amanda, happy tears,” Nancy smiled falsely.

Max grabbed her awkwardly by the waist, fully aware he’d already tried her luscious lips, and bent down to give her a quick, but believable sound kiss. The cheers continued as Jeff nudged Alex to clap as well, but Alex just glared at him stubbornly.

“I present to you, ladies and gentlemen, Mr. and Mrs. Evans.”

~*~

Because of Nancy’s insistence, Max had allowed her to have the grand after party at the hotel. Each and every single person that worked there had worked over night for the quick wedding—because it was Maxwell Evans’ wedding. So she had every flower she wanted, every guest she wanted to invite, all free of charge—for her. The most acclaimed photographers were taking snap shots, and Nancy Parker was soaking it all up. She’d milk this marriage for all it was worth.

Meanwhile, Max had decided he did not want to stay for the festivities, and surprisingly, neither did Liz. Maybe it was the fact that it wasn’t a real marriage, maybe it was just their fatigue, but Liz stated she wanted to go to her room.

Nancy however, had smoothed their disappearance by stating they were eager to go on to their honeymoon, the lovesick lovebirds, and had decided to pack and leave as soon as possible, leaving their guests with best company—a successful orchestra was playing at their reception.

Max sighed as he sat on the bed, taking off his shoes and tuxedo. “We’re married now.”

Liz rolled her eyes. “Must you remind me of the ill?”

Max glared at her, ripping off his tie with exasperation. “It’s going to feel like forever.”

“Far much longer then forever.”

He tried not sneaking a peak at her as she fell with a thud to the bed, her tall heel shoes visible through her big gown of a dress. She actually looked cute, with the masses of dress all around her, bigger then her as she tried plopping it straight. But he couldn’t think that, He had to stay ruthless. His heart had to stay stone so he wouldn’t be remorseful. He couldn’t get sidetracked.

He couldn’t have any second thoughts, he couldn’t feel. Because then Max would be compelled to show his human side to her, the one that had a vulnerable side to him that he had never shown to anyone in his entire life. Certain… feelings came with vulnerability. And he would allow himself to indulge in them because he’d been without them for so long. But he’d come this far. He’d managed to get to this point and he was so close, so close…

He had to be a new person, with no memories, no history. His memories that didn’t allow him to show his soft side to anyone, those that were etched deep inside, would stay there, never able to resurface. She would never know everything he had been through.

There was a knock on their door, and Liz turned to him curiously before he went to get it. It was Jeff and Nancy Parker.

Liz fumed, forgetting for a minute Max was present. “What do you want?” she asked coldly, crossing her arms and sending daggers both their ways.

“We were….” Nancy began.

“If you’re looking to find more money for whatever other swans or other parties then you may want to start forgetting about it,” Liz cut in.

“Elizabeth…” Jeff began.

“Where were you when I needed you the most?!” Liz demanded, her small finger pointing at Jeff’s chest, shoving him away slightly. “Where were you when I was alone and abandoned and scared?!” she continued. “Every time I needed you to defend me, to be my father. You were too busy. With all of your little mistresses. Too busy gambling your life and drinking it away. And, the cream filling on your sundae is, you sold your daughter.”

Jeff had actual tears on his face. “Please, Lizzie, please…”

“No,” she interrupted softly. “You will not see one penny of Max’s. Do you hear me father? You want money? You earn it like every other normal human being. You make a living. You work. I won’t ask him for any money. And you certainly won’t either. He gave you too much already. No one had to pay your mistakes, father. You got lucky, and destiny played with me for it. I won’t let it continue. You’ll never see Max’s money.”

“Child…” he begged, eyes wide.

“You never step foot in my house,” Liz continued, crossing her arms and moving towards the window, not being able to stare at him for very long.
“But… you can’t be serious,” Jeff said in awe.

“You already sold me. Walked me to the aisle. You did what you had to do,” Liz said disdainfully.

Max was surprised, but stayed silent throughout the whole argument.
“You’re so dramatic, Elizabeth. You don’t mean it,” Nancy waved off her daughter’s anger. She turned to Max. “Max, darling, surely you will disagree with our daughter. We can come visit you any time?”

Max grinned at her. He knew exactly what those visits would entail. He was sure all Nancy could see were the dollar signs on his forehead. And for some reason, he felt compelled to defend Liz’s honor. “Actually, my house is also going to be your daughter’s. And if she doesn’t want you there then there’s no reason why I should.”

She gasped. “Why…”

“Listen, lady,” Max cut in. “You want money? Go find someone who will buy your story or is a hell of a lot less smarter then I am. If she doesn’t want you there, or Mr. Parker, then why should I, as well?”

Liz turned to him, a little surprised, but recovered quickly, turning to her parents. “You can leave now.”

“Lizzie, please…” Jeff began again, tugging at Liz’s arm.

“I begged you the same way just a day ago,” Liz whispered softly, tears finding her cheeks. “You denied me, father.”

Nancy straightened. “We’ll be going now. Have a good life, Elizabeth.”

She shut her eyes to keep the tears from falling, opened them when she heard the door slam and was met with nothing but silence.

Surprisingly, the anger inside of her kept her from breaking apart. She didn’t want to cry tears, she didn’t want to wail and scream her misery. The anger was keeping her together, and so she embraced it.

Liz looked at him curiously, her dark eyes observing him. “Why did you defend me? I mean… you were almost nice over there,” she wondered with interest.

Max shrugged, knowing there were plenty of answers to that question—many he didn’t want to admit. “Would you settle for no reason at all?”

“Sure I will.”

“I mean, I will go back to hating you tomorrow.”

Liz wasn’t sure why, but the way he said that nonchalantly made her actually chuckle. Even more surprisingly, he joined her in softly.

It was the first time Liz ever heard Max Evans laugh.

And she couldn’t help the small warmth that tickled her stomach as she heard it.

RavenSprite
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Postby RavenSprite » Sat Sep 11, 2004 10:45 pm

Your feedback is AMAZING. You are all an insightful and wonderful bunch. It's flattering and encouraging. I hope you like this part!

CHAPTER #6

Every time Isabel would comb Georgie’s hair before going to bed, she’d always let an involuntary tear fall down her cheek.

It had been kind of hard for Isabel to understand how something so stable, so determined could shatter so easily. She had considered herself steel. As if nothing could ever break her. Through her years, and often not in her childhood, she had always been what people would have called a smart person, a child prodigy, always wanting to do well in school, her grades always been the best focus, she was a freak for order and perfectionism. But that wasn’t all that Isabel had been. She had danced—oh, how she loved to dance. Being a prima ballerina had at one point consumed her entire existence.

At some point it all stopped. It was like one minute Isabel had everything she wanted, she saw everything she aspired for, and then she just didn’t. One moment she had been happy and then the next she just wasn’t. Her torment had begun the 15th winter in her life. She thought it would have been great, because she was free of freshman year, and the next she would be a sophomore, facing every challenge in life, possibly getting accepted to the American Ballet Company. ABC had, after all, been the goal she had always aimed for.

But everything—it kind of shifted. Like a puzzle that once all the pieces went together and then suddenly didn’t. Everything inside of her was scared. It was as if her heart—that had once been full of dance and movement—was carved inside out, rendered itself hollow, and in her something else was created. Something alien, something Isabel didn’t recognize.

Isabel knew, by experience, the one thing that can forever wound a woman. Her body lived it, her flesh faced it, and it almost broke her. She had felt she couldn’t tell anyone. That was what she had replied to Max the first time he had noticed something different in her. After all, the only thing he had known was that Isabel’s best friend Tessa had had to practically carry her to her bed, weeping. Tessa had to feed her that day. She had to shower her, change her, and stay with her till she fell asleep, although Isabel had known she had stayed there all night. At that moment that Michael and Max had confronted her, the book she had been reading fell to the floor. Coincidentally, it was a dancing school pamphlet.

It hadn’t been easy. She had been dying inside. But she hadn’t been left a choice. She had fallen into Max’s arms and cried. Isabel hadn’t wanted to tell him. She hadn’t wanted Michael, or anyone else, to think she was dirty. It was all she had thought was all she thought she’d be. She had tried cleaning it away; she had tried, but his smell. His touch. His skin. Everything about him was marked in her veins.

That night they had been alone in the woods. He had taken her clothes off. Forced himself on her. She had told him not to. But he wouldn’t listen.

It hurt. She had been so cold. She was so cold. She didn’t want to tell anyone. Didn’t want everyone to look at her as if she were some victim. She had chosen to go with him, after all, to that dark, deserted forest. It was Isabel’s choice to trust him.

Then it had hit her. Isabel was a victim. She had gone with him because she thought he would respect her. The only solace she had been comforted with was Michael and Max took ‘care of him’ when they finally did find out. Seeing Isabel so devastated, hating Khivar so much, she and Tess had let Michael and Max put him in a hospital. But Michael had said he hadn’t wanted him in a hospital. He had wanted him in a coffin.

There had never been enough proof. Isabel had spoken too late and it had become her word versus his. Khivar left town—vowing Max and Michael revenge, of course. But something had been taken form her that day in those woods. Something that neither Max’s nor Michael’s punches could ever feel. Something that had left her feeling worse than a whore, worse than dirt. It was something she could never get back no matter how Izzy had tried. Innocence wiped away, purity poisoned. All that was left of her is what had been and a reminder of what never would be again.

Isabel sighed as she looked up to see Georgie inspecting her. “What?”

Georgie shook her head, and once again Isabel was hit with the distance she and her daughter had been living with ever since she could remember. They were mother and daughter and yet, didn’t know much of each other’s lives. Isabel combed Georgie’s hair every night, and there would always be silence.

Isabel’s hand moved to touch her daughter’s, but stopped herself mid air as if something had burned her. “Good night, Georgie.”

Closing the door, she let the angry tears fall down her face. She couldn’t kiss or hug Georgie. Every time she looked at her daughter she saw him, no matter how badly she wanted not to. No one had ever let anyone see her cry, and so she let herself be weak right now. She knew that the next day she would have to return to giving her fake smile that no one saw as broken, and the gleam in her eye, so no one realized she was shattered.

No one ever would.

~*~

She had always felt excluded in the daily rituals of the summer by her mother and her sister, because she had always secretly felt that they were telling inside jokes that she couldn't understand, and the way that they would endlessly speak of potential boyfriends, even husbands for Eleanor when they would barely consider her, yet she was the one who ended up married. Sometimes Alex would join them, and Liz would feel as if an eternally dark cloud had stopped hovering over her head.

She wasn’t sure why she was remembering those times that she’d come home from boarding school. Probably because the chilliness she’d felt then was eerily similar to the coldness and tension she felt now, sitting across from Max Evans. She wanted to cry. Every breath of her, every beat of her was begging to let the tears fall, begging to let herself cry and feel the way she privately wanted to. But Liz would not cry.

It hits Liz at that moment, the sadness and weight of her burdening truth. She has no home. Max had no remorse or guilt for what he’d coerced her to. He had no idea the grief he had brought into her life, and if he did he certainly did not care. She wondered if Max Evans cared about anything in his entire life. Her eyes were filled with bitterness, anger, and coldness. But now she couldn’t hide the pain that ghostly haunted her dark, chocolate orbs.

Everyone thought Liz was a follow-the-rules good girl. They were wrong. Liz wasn’t the angel everyone thought she was. She was a kind-hearted person, supportive and sweet. But there were times when she could be cold and sneaky. She hated black and white. She hated the white, where everyone was pure and good and loving and perfect. Her sister appeared to be white. She also hated black, those who were evil, and harmful, with no redemption possible, villains without a heart. She preferred to be gray, a person with inner conflict, both good and bad, and both black and white. Liz knew she wasn’t an angel or a devil. She was just in the line of fire, and didn’t know which way to pull towards. She was a good person, yes. But she was also very imperfect, embedded with many flaws.

And her biggest flaw, at that particular moment, was stubbornness. “No.”

The word was meant to cut, and her gaze was intended to bruise. She wanted him to know, with no words necessary at all, the magnitude of her revulsion and hate towards him. It was his fault she was currently nothing but a breathing corpse, and she’d be damned if she didn’t strike against it.

He sighed, his frustration visible. “Elizabeth…”

“No.”

“In case you didn’t notice, I wasn’t asking whether you wanted to do this or not. It’s an order,” Max barked, almost throwing her the dresses.

They were on their way towards Italy in Max’s private plane, had just barely started the long flight. Max had commented that his friends and family would be hosting a party for them shortly after their arrival, and he’d taken it upon himself to find some dresses suitable enough for her to wear. Liz didn’t even bother telling him she chose her own dresses, he was an obstinate pig and wouldn’t listen to a word she uttered.

He sat back on the comfortable leather chair, straightened his tie and opened the newspaper, as if the discussion was over and he’d already won. She glowered at him for a moment, before stalking back to the bathroom and slamming the door shut.

Max almost growled his impatience, muttering something incoherent under his breath and waiting for Liz to come out.

She did, minutes later, in a short and impractical green dress. Liz rolled her eyes as she noticed Max had barely seen her come out because he was ‘busy’ talking to the young stewardess—Liz wasn’t stupid, she knew perfectly well what her darling husband was doing with her.

Finally, his eyes traveled towards her and she grew uncomfortable at his long, lingering stare. He shook his head. “It’s slutty,” he answered shortly, going back to his newspaper.

“Listen you little...” her voice trailed as he stood up again, using his height as an intimidation tactic.

“You’re my wife now, Elizabeth,” he answered in a fake, soothing voice. “You will respect me. You will obey me.”

She scoffed. “What planet do you live on? I don’t have to obey anyone.”

“You know, Liz, the final documents haven’t been signed to your father. He doesn’t have all the money that he needs. It would be quite tragic if he doesn’t get the last third of it… isn’t it?” Max asked, staring at his filed nails before passing her another dress. “This’ll do.”

“You’re awful,” she whispered before going back to the bathroom, never noticing him flinch.

She finally opened the door again, and he couldn’t help the involuntary jaw drop that came as an effect. She walked, unsure, towards him, her eyes still angry and ablaze with fury. She was wearing a beautiful, strapless white gown, contrasting beautifully with her tanned olive skin and her dark, black mane. It was timeless, and classic, and she looked nothing short of a regal beauty. It was second skin to her, and Max was sure she’d cause an impression.

“Do you approve, master?” she asked sarcastically, twirling around in feigned excitement.

He grabbed her mid-twirl, turning her towards him as he regarded her face for a moment. It wasn’t the first time he gazed at her, and as always, it unsettled Liz. Why did she have to have such a mind-numbing, intoxicated effect on him? It numbed his mind; it prevented him from thinking straight, made him jump impulsively to emotions he wasn’t ready to confront.

His index finger lifted almost by itself, tracing the contour of her lips. He hesitantly, almost against his own will bent down to meet her lips with his. She had only kissed him once, and he’d taken her by surprise, crushing his lips to hers in an almost animalistic manner. It scared him how much he’d desperately wanted to take possession of her mouth again.

This was different, softer somehow. She was infinitely surprised at how soft and gentle his lips tasted, how searchingly, and almost probingly he sought out her mouth, his tongue caressing hers just barely, a whisper of a breath that was still enough to leave her burning. What was it about him? She certainly did not like him, felt intense feelings of hatred. But every time he was so much as near her the reaction she felt was chemically combusting.

His arm snaked towards her waist as his other hand lost itself in her dark tendrils, tenderly sliding his tongue through her lips, parting them with her permission to deepen the kiss before he was even aware of it. Something ached inside of her as she realized she was liking this almost too much, having him holding her, and because of this she let go of thoughts, and found herself being a willing participant. He cupped her face in his hands and pulled her towards him as his back fell onto the chair, as if he didn’t want to give her any opportunity to escape. In mere seconds, the sweetness, and softness, and familial was gone as their lips crushed each other devouringly. Liz surrendered once she felt his hands in her hair pulling her even closer, as if that was even possible.

He pulled away abruptly, as she stared at his eyes with confusion.

Clearing his throat, Max stepped away, looking at the dress once more. “I approve.”
Last edited by RavenSprite on Sat Sep 11, 2004 11:22 pm, edited 2 times in total.

RavenSprite
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Postby RavenSprite » Mon Sep 13, 2004 3:41 pm

I guess I should have put this in the disclaimer. This idea, is not entirely mine. I was given it by a person who watches a Spanish soap. The storyline resembles it only slightly in the beginning, and later on I’m giving it my own ideas. I own nothing, I’m just someone who loves to write.

FSUMSW94 There is a lot of tension between Max and Liz, huh? Isabel and Georgie will definitely have a looooooong way to go. And while I’d love to say that there won’t be much angst following, there will be. I love angst, I crave it, and this story will have lots of it, lol. But have faith, I get fluff kicks every now and then.

g7silvers I also feel for Isabel. And what I can tell you is, that the only person Max is remotely gentle to, is Georgie. He loves that girl, that’s all I can tell you… you’ll soon see there scenes. And whether Max is planning to make Liz his in every sense… Max may be an arrogant bastard, but he won’t force a woman to do anything, if that answers your question.

curlycourts Nope, they won’t have a sexual relationship… yet. What happened to Michael will be shown soon, and Maria found out about the affair, definitely. Glad you’re liking it, hope you continue reading!

anonymousarfan *sigh* They do need to give in, huh? They’re both very stubborn beings, though so… that might not come for a while.

Akashaa Liz is definitely getting the wrong end of the deal, having her own sister use her as a scapegoat. All I can say is, this is a blessing in disguise for Liz… I promise. And while Isabel might not let Liz help her at first, Liz’ll definitely connect with Georgie.

Natz lol, glad you like it! I like writing it!

extingman, yup, it’s complicated. Max isn’t really thinking, he’s acting on his emotions and right now, his biggest emotion is anger and vengeance. It’s really clouding him from thinking of anything else. Max will doubt a little… but things happen later on that you’ll understand. All I can say is… no one ever saw Eleanor. Michael never told anyone of his affair. It was while Michael was in the States and everyone else was in Italy of his family.

Jason’s Lover that’s definitely a quote that can be applied to my Max/Liz.

roswellluver thanks for reading!

frenchkiss07 Max is definitely feeling something for Liz, and it angers him cuz he doesn’t want to. Liz is no one’s doormat in my story though, this part will show that, hopefully.

Emz80m strangely, I love this dark Max. I’m glad you’re liking my fic!

Alana I love your job. You do it so well. Thrilled you like my Max. As for what kind of torture he’ll inflict on her… you’ll see. He won’t be able to go through with the biggest one, however. And Kivar’s not showing up any time soon.

WomanofMystery I love your feedback, so thanks for it always! Isabel’s definitely a fighter. I love her character and I’m trying to give her layers, hopefully. And I’m glad you got the flinch—Liz is definitely getting to Max. As much as he’s trying to be a beast, he can’t always do it.

Ner Thank you! *blushes* I do agree it was an evil beginning, and I’m sorry to say that it’s going to get worse before it gets better… all I can say is Max definitely has his reasons, and I hope you stick by him—and me—in this story.


This is a small drabble to end the other half of chapter six before I start with chapter seven. It gives a little of insight into Liz. Hope you all enjoy, and thanks for the feedback!


CHAPTER #6b

The duty of a prim and proper lady is to always know what you’re going to say, who you’re going to say it to, and make sure you make your intentions known. Always smile until your teeth hurt, always remember each and every rule that the thousands of etiquette classes have taught you, and never, ever stop smiling.

When you are the daughter of an important businessman, the thing you must remember the most is respect and fake interest. Always use impressive verbal skills and nonverbal elegant gesticulations. Pretend to know what the hell they’re talking about even if you really have no idea.

And, of course, smile. Your whole world can be crumbling down, you might feel like your stomach is about to explode from within you, you might have the biggest migraine known to mankind or you had the misfortune of being seated next to the world’s most boring – or chatty, both difficult animals – person, and still, you had to smile.

Liz had already known all about her father’s transactions and the corporate business world, her father having once been a corporate raider himself. That is, until he decided to screw everything in his life up because of gambling, Liz thought to herself bitterly.

She had never been one to ever really follow those many rules, however. She was born with two left feet and the clumsiness of a two-year old. She never sat straight and always preferred to hunch. She didn’t necessarily talk to someone she didn’t want to talk to, and barely cared if she was catalogued as ‘snobby.’ She was used to tripping on sidewalks, and stairs, and usually always had Alex or Kyle to hold on to. She figured Max would not be too keen on having to carry her around everywhere, so she would have to make sure she was looking where she was going.

More importantly, she didn’t know how to fake. If Liz felt something she just said it. There was no sugarcoating with her. She didn’t like you and she made it known. After having fended for herself for so long, she was just used to acting like she felt like acting, doing what she wanted and saying what she pleased. She tried, of course, being as polite and nice as possible—she didn’t think she could ever be intentionally mean or standoffish, but was always diplomatically honest. And if Liz didn’t feel like smiling then by hell, she just wouldn’t smile.

This, however, proved different for her. After finally having had Max ‘choose’ the dress for her she’d stalked back into the bathroom and put on her comfortable clothes, intent on sleeping. He hadn’t even wanted to spend the night in the hotel room—Liz certainly was grateful for that, and they’d immediately taken his plane. She hadn’t slept for who knows how long, and more importantly, the last three days had been the worst of her life.

She didn’t know exactly how she should feel. On some level, Liz was immensely grateful that Max only wanted her as his wife in name and name only – or so she was assuming. On the other, she knew he had something up his sleeve. There was a reason he was doing all of this, because it was too calculated, too perfectly designed for him not to. Max Evans seemed like a man who lived with machinations and knew perfectly how to dance circles around them and create some of his own. He screamed power and he screamed ruthlessness in his every move and every word. His steps were always almost deliberate, and his velvety voice was low but menacing. It made her shiver—and not in the good sense.

She had no idea who he was. He didn’t seem like the kind of person that showed his true inner self. And while Liz hadn’t been able to find slumber, slumber had definitely found Max. Her ‘dear husband’ was passed out on the couch. It was funny, he almost looked innocent sleeping. There was no jaw clenching, and every line of worry in his forehead was gone. He just seemed peaceful, and awake, Max Evans was anything but.

She tilted her head to the side, scrutinizing his features. He was, quite possibly, physically perfect. Not only was he tall, with broad shoulders and a narrow waist, he had dark, unruly black hair that almost seemed to bring out an animalistic shade of golden eyes. His chiseled, dark good looks were almost… unearthly.

This didn’t, however, change the person that lay inside. He could have the face that Michelangelo himself had painted on him, that still didn’t make him a good person. In fact, there was nothing about Max that seemed good or honest. He was encased with lies and surrounded by a secrecy that Liz was sure she’d never know. His eyes, while beautiful and unearthly, were poisoned with an anger and hatred that Liz had certainly never felt. Max seemed like the kind of person that was governed by his emotions, yet never showed any.

He certainly wasn’t a chattering kind of person. He was very quiet and kept to himself, though Liz wasn’t sure if it was because he seemed to hate her so much or because he was quiet all the time. She didn’t really care. A small, concerned part of her told her that he wasn’t going to be quiet for very long. In fact, Liz’s intuitiveness told her things were about to get a whole lot worse.

Liz was brought out of her lingering gaze when she noticed the stewardess return, her red-painted fingernails resting on Max’s shoulder, bringing him out of his sleep, giving him a dazzling smile. “Mr. Evans, we’re about to land.”

The blonde, Jessica, later turned to Liz. “Miss Parker, I recommend you buckle your seatbelt.”

“It’s Mrs. Evans… Jessica,” Liz intoned with a fake smile. Smile, smile, smile Lizzie.

The blonde was taken aback, but nonetheless nodded and retrieved back to her place.

“Aw, honey, don’t get so upset. She just wasn’t informed of my nuptials,” Max answered with a cocky grin.

“Why would she need to be informed, sweetheart?” Liz returned with the exact same saccharine tone. “She is after all, only your stewardess… no?”

He grinned at her feign gullibility. “Of course.”

“Why do you hate me?” Liz asked, point blank. She liked getting to the point, and she also liked getting it in return. The way Max’s eyes darkened at her question almost left her breathless.

“Well?” she urged after his silence.

“Soon, Liz… soon you’ll see,” was all Max would tell her.

“Why marry me? Why not Eleanor? She certainly would have agreed more then I did. She would have happily done it, as well.”

“I didn’t want Eleanor,” Max interjected, his tone cool and precise.

The landing was smooth, and Max was gathering his things when Jessica appeared again. She passed by him, winking as she grabbed his butt, swiftly walking away.

Max was chuckling felinely at Jessica’s back body, when Liz grabbed his arm before he moved to follow her.

“Listen, Max,” Liz began with a curt tone. “You can sleep with whoever the hell you want to, you hear me? Any stewardess, any of your many skanky friends I’m sure I’m gonna meet, any stupid big-breasted blonde that comes your way. You screw their brains out, you hear me? I couldn’t care less. But I’m a Parker. I will not be ridiculed by anyone. And if you’re going to have any sort of relations with your whores then you will do it out of my sight, out of our house, and make sure that no one ever finds out enough to be spreading crap around your little town.”

His wide eyes showed shock, and anger – she wasn’t being insolent enough to defy Max Evans?

“Liz—”

“As I said,” Liz interrupted, her hand still gripping his arm, “I’m Elizabeth Parker and I’m no one’s fool. You want Jessica? You take her. But I’m your wife, Max, and I demand respect.”

With that, she grabbed her carry on and left, not bothering to look back at Max. If she had, she would have seen many emotions crossing his face.

Among them, admiration.

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Postby RavenSprite » Sat Sep 18, 2004 8:26 pm

You are all amazing. Your feedback... ROCKS. From the bottom of my heart... thank you. That is all.

CHAPTER #7~My only love… sprung from my only hate.

Liz had heard so many times of life being one huge joke, and many never understanding the punch line. She’d never understood that saying more then she did at that moment.

She had always believed the heart was a gullible liability, a greedy ingrate. Never had she believed the heart could ever take her to a place that led to a happy ending. Not her, never her. Alex would always tell her she’d never be a good poker player… her eyes always gave her away. This time, she tried holding in every trembling nerve she had inside of her, tried cooling the many emotions that were spiraling from within her and threatening to explode, to wither her away to nothing.

So many people wear so many different faces to the world. Faces that are braver, stronger, colder somehow. Because the face they really are, the face they might really be… that face might have lived and loved too much, might have gotten too little while trying to take all you can get. Because isn’t that what life was about? Taking all that you could because in her world, you didn’t get much?

It was a sad notion, but these were the thoughts that were passing through her mind as she was met face to face with a taller, blonder, and in Liz’s opinion, more beautiful leggy blonde by the name of Isabel Evans. She was almost cruel in her beauty, the perfect elegance and poise, the immaculate blonde hair and the dark, unyielding eyes. There was no flaw in her, except maybe too much beauty. She was devastating in her looks, but Liz could tell she had been broken.

Every ounce of sympathy, however, was knocked out of Liz the moment Isabel sized her up, and gave her a cold-cutting, short greeting. “Nice to meet you, Elizabeth.”

“Same here,” Liz answered. Smile, smile, smile. Remember Lizzie? Always smile. Never let them see what they can never understand. Never let them know what you are too afraid to face. Just… smile.

“Max,” Isabel smiled, her entire demeanor changing to that of gentle warmth as she enveloped her brother in her arms. Liz stood there, watching them, both of same height, such similar golden eyes that showed so much frost with underlying sadness, and couldn’t help but wonder just what was it about this family she was so compelled to understand? Max hated her. Isabel clearly wouldn’t like her because Max didn’t, and yet Liz felt obliged to help them, to understand why they were the way they were and what exactly turned them that way?

People don’t just exist with vengeance or anger inside of them. It is an ugly, burning feeling that churns within oneself, threatening to implode at any moment. It grows, it feeds off of pain because pain does no one any good, and anger is much more satisfying. She knew all too well of cool anger, she preferred it to unbearable, blazing pain. Although it accumulates over the years but still… anger is not innately born within someone. It is designed, it has growth, and it is never alone. Hate is always linked to anger, and revenge always linked to hate. One couldn’t do without the other, and unfortunately, Liz was left wondering if it was always a chain of hate that would bind her and Max together?

“I will show you your room, Eliza,” Isabel motioned, moving quickly through the corridors. Liz wasn’t left with time to appreciate the enormity of the mansion, and it was too dark to properly appreciate the acres and acres of land that were all belonging to Max and his family. She would ask for a tour, but no one seemed to look her in the eye. In fact, everyone went out of their way to act as if she wasn’t there. It was a feeling worse then hatred, worse then gossip… total indifference. She wasn’t stupid, she knew much of their disdain and encompassing apathy was sprung from Max’s orders.

Two could play this game. She wouldn’t quit, not when she still had so much to go.

“Your sitting room is adjoined to your room and Max’s,” Isabel explained coolly, opening the doors as Liz stood heavily glued to her spot.

“Is there something wrong, cara mia?” Max questioned innocently. It seemed after her small outburst and blatant ‘threat’ he’d once again found his cockiness, and the zingers were out full force. She couldn’t utter or move an inch without him breathing down her neck or finding ways to undermine her. It was unnerving, and slowly pissing her off. And while Liz had patience… everyone had their limit.

“Nothing,” Liz answered tightly. “Do you think I can call my parents and tell them I’m here?”

“Will they care?” Max sneered, moving about in the room next to hers as he saw his staff quickly pacing about both rooms, making sure everything was neat and tidy.

“Dinner was already served a few hours ago, Massimo. Are you and your wife hungry?” Isabel questioned.

Would it kill her to call her by her name?

“His wife is quite full, thank you,” Liz replied just as coolly, noticing Isabel turning to her, slightly surprised. Is that all you got? Liz thought to herself wryly. Bring it.

“I need the phone, Max,” Liz repeated, her voice slightly more insistent.

Max sighed, rubbing his face before turning to her. “No. Busy yourself unpacking,” he answered, closing her doors as he moved towards his room, ignoring Isabel’s quizzical look.

“Where’s Nonna?”

“Napping,” Isabel answered. “You know she wakes up later with insomnia.”

“Georgie?”

“She’s sleeping too. She has early riding lessons tomorrow.”

Max smile faintly.

“Max, what is going on?” Isabel asked questioningly. “First you marry, without really informing me. Then you tell me you hate her guts then you don’t tell me why, and now she’s here, in our home, she’s… not what I expected.”

“What do you mean not what you expected?” Max asked with interest.

Isabel rolled her eyes as she busied herself with opening Max’s suitcase. He always detested the way Isabel would always bring it upon herself to do everything for him, as if she were his personal assistant. It might be her way of overcompensating, it might be the only way she felt useful, but as much as Max told her he’d do things himself, Isabel always helped him unpack and always made sure dinner was ready, for both him and Nonna. In a lot of ways, Isabel filled the role of their mother the day that she died, and she’d been too young to do so and still was. Max still hoped one day she’d marry happily, that she would have a different fate then his.

While they were blood, siblings, entwined in ways only twins were, there was something that was distinct in them both; Isabel was not filled with hate, not as much as he was. She didn’t have the vindictive, twisted side he did. Horrible things had happened to her. Things she was much too young and much too innocent to experience and there she was, alive, smiling and cheerful. He still wondered if it was an act of hers, but the mere fact that she tried was telling him enough. Isabel was strong, and found it easy to go on and letting go. He held on too tightly to his hatred, because it was all that he had.

The three of them had been so close, a full unit of different personalities and myriad of things that made them who they were. Michael, the free spirit, the irresponsible, devil-may-care rogue that gave too much and took too little. Isabel, the beautiful, cool, sophisticated child, her way or the highway. And Max himself… he’d been the conscience, in many ways the guardian that fiercely protected them. Michael was the eldest, but in many cases it was Max’s shoulders the responsibility fell upon. Many, many cases… much involving their father.

Without Michael, their entire unit fell apart and they were left off balance. Without Michael Isabel held on to her coldness and perfected her façade, and without Michael Max became much too controlling, much too angry.

And as always, Max was exasperated with Isabel’s many bombarded questions. Rubbing his face with fatigue, he turned to her, eyes half-closed. “Will you please not question me? Not on this… alright? There are many things that you don’t know that I will explain, Isabel, I promise. Right now I have too much to think about.”

“Max…”

He turned to her, his exhaustion, his own self-torture, his torment written in every warring ghost of his eyes, in every worried line of his face. He didn’t look like a young man of twenty-five, he looked so much like an old soul that was barely staying alive, and it scared her. Seeing Max as a shell of the lively, soft-spoken sweet boy she’d known, seeing he’d turned into someone so cold and distant, much like Isabel herself… it broke her heart, it kept her from speaking, and prevented her from questioning him further.

She just nodded, grabbing on to her skirt. “Um… mostly everyone has already confirmed their attendance to tomorrow’s festivities, Max. You have a lot of people invited,” Isabel commented, standing at the edge of the door. She could tell Max was growing anxious for her to leave, and she knew him too well to go against it.

“I want everyone to meet my wife, that’s all.”

Isabel bit her lip. “Max… why did you marry her at all?”

“Isabel…” his voice trailed, tighter and gruffer then he intended to.

Rolling her eyes as her lips set into a thin line, she moved to close the door. “Buona Notte, Max.”

Buona Notte,” he echoed softly.

The minute she closed the door, Max walked around, pacing in his room, familiarizing himself once more with his things. He looked back to a door within his room, that adjoined him to Liz’s, his hand resting on it hesitantly, before shaking his head and walking back to the bed. Her torment would begin soon enough, she might as well have peace for this one night. Max had already ensured each and every peasant, each and every worker of his to ignore her existence and make sure she could never leave Porto Encantata. Liz Parker would know what it was to be a prisoner.

As always, Max’s eyes rested on his nightstand, and the many pictures that invaded the mirror. One of himself sitting in his mother’s lap at the tender age of five. Max and Isabel on graduation day. Max and Michael, each on their own horse as they smiled for the camera.

Then finally, Max stared at the envelope that was resting in his pockets. The envelope was given to him anonymously as a ‘wedding gift.’ He stared at it angrily. It was Liz and Michael, heads bent together in a very compromising position. He had now no doubt Liz Parker was the woman Michael was having an affair with, the woman that murdered him.

Max stared at that picture until their faces became blurry. He used his thumb to quickly wipe away the tear that fell from his eye, scalding his cheek. He stared at Liz’s face, more tears falling on the picture as he hatefully whispered three words that echoed throughout the room.

“It was you.”

~*~

Porto Encantata: Enchanted Harbor
Buona Notte: Good night
Cara mia: My beloved
Massimo: form of Max, Isabel’s petname

Author’s note: If you remember in later chapters, Eleanor paid Sean to forge a picture of Liz and Michael together. She sent it to Max anonymously.

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Postby RavenSprite » Fri Sep 24, 2004 11:57 pm

Okay, I’m finally here! With a new chapter!! And all I can say is, once again, your feedback rocks and thank you for the bumps! I promise every question you have all asked will be answered sooner or later. I just don’t want to give everything out just yet. Enjoy!! And thank you so much, really.

CHAPTER #8

As her eyes drifted upon and took upon the sun that was expecting her, Liz rolled over languidly and wondered what she would do to fill her time as a prisoner in the Evans mansion. Her hands were aching to take a pen and write down all the turmoil she was feeling inside of her, to give anything to just take out all of what she was feeling, to stop living this way, so lost, so unguided and unprotected and so utterly alone.

Would she tire herself with chores or hobbies or losing her senses? She wasn’t going to lose will, not yet. Liz busied herself with a very long shower and taking her lovely time to choose what to wear, not that she really cared either way. She’d never been one to wear sophisticated clothes or go all the way to impress. She’d always been for comfort above anything else, and her time in boarding schools had left her with uniforms and not much of anything else. Now, however, she was married with an important man, Liz reminded herself with an eye roll, and so she chose the wardrobe she usually used when impressing her father’s so-called friends and her mother’s hags.

Liz looked up when she noticed the hesitant knocking. It was a small, but plump, dark-haired woman in a black maid uniform, and she tried her best to muster a genuine smile. “Good morning.”

Buon giorno, signora. My name Rosa.”

“Hello, Rosa,” Liz greeted warmly.

This seemed to inspire confidence in the short woman, who smiled slightly and went back to tending Liz’s bed. Liz sighed with relief that someone had finally seemed to give her the time of day, not to mention treat her with kindness and respect. Everyone else had turned their heads away, and the cook hadn’t even asked Liz if she wanted breakfast. The cook did, of course, make Max and Isabel’s favorite meals separately, and they took Isabel’s daughter’s breakfast up to the young girl’s room because she didn’t like going out of her room. Liz however, well, she could starve, right?

“Are you going to eat outdoors, Signora Muciolli?”

Liz frowned at Rosa. “Muciolli?”

Rosa smiled fondly. “Massimiliano uses his Mamma’s name, Muciolli.”

“Evans is his father’s name, then?”

Rosa nodded. “Yes, signora.”

“Then why doesn’t he use Evans?”

Rosa’s eyes darkened visibly. “Padrone no like to speak of his Pappa.”

This startled Liz, Rosa’s voice and stance was almost hateful. She nodded and moved towards the door, walking about the house, trying to get familiar with it. As far as she knew, the humungous house was composed of two wings, Isabel lived on the west, and it seemed Liz and Max were on the east, but getting from one to the other was impossible, with all the rooms and hallways in between. It really was a castle, and while beautiful, very frustrating. She got lost in rooms before she found a porch that led to the outdoor pool.

Max was swimming, and she stared at him for some time, her eyes lingering on the determination and gracefulness he swam with, every diligent stroke quickly and skillfully placed. Forgetting for a moment her hatred for him, she admired his grace and his obvious ability at the sport.

“He needs to swim every morning or he’s a cranky hooligan for the rest of the day,” an amused, kind voice almost sang to Liz from behind. Turning around she met with an old woman. Gray hair covered the top of her head, warm and sage golden eyes, and a very tender smile as she imitated Liz in watching Max.

“He’s cranky either way,” Liz muttered to herself, but the old lady’s chuckle confirmed Liz’s suspicion she was heard.

“He does have a temper,” she acknowledged. “He is also, I notice, not at all grandstanding. You are more beautiful then I imagined.”

Liz blushed a rosy shade before tucking a strand of hair behind her ear. “Thank you…”

“I am Massimo’s grandmother, Nonna. Therefore, I am yours too.”

“Oh…”

“So you must call me Nonna.”

“Um—”

“Nonnina will be just fine.”

“Yeah…”

“Not no-nin-a. But no-nee-na.”

“Nonnina.”

Nonna smiled grandly. “Just perfect.”

Liz laughed good-naturedly. “Nice to meet you, Nonnina.”

“Nice to meet you…”

“Elizabeth. Elizabeth Parker… Evans.”

Bellisima. But your eyes are sad, Eliza.

Liz looked over to the white roses that covered the grass walls. She loved them… until she’d been forced to use them on her wedding day from hell.

“They are beautiful, no?” Nonna asked with a wide smile.

Liz nodded. “I used to love them.”

“But you don’t anymore?”

A tear escaped Liz’s eye, but she wiped it before Nonna could see it. “Things… things get stained sometimes, Nonnina.”

Nonnina smiled wisely, looking from Max and Liz. “Yes, sometimes they do... and sometimes they heal.”

~*~

His smile was fake and his words were stilted, but he moved among the crowd much like he was used to, with confidence and poise, offering everyone that passed by him a cheer and making sure everyone was comfortable. Women were smiling at him suggestively and then men were in corners, talking of politics or the game that they had seen the night before, or whatever hangover they had possessed weekend’s past. He found it all a bore, but he knew his guests were eating up the chance at being at such an important social event as Max’s presentation of his new wife.

Max Evans Muciolli had once been a foolish boy, obsessed with love, and truth, and beauty. He would find it in every song, see it in every note of every piece and every word of every story. It had been all around him, consuming him with hope and illusion.

He had learned long ago to never, ever expose his wounds. What for? So they would have the sheer gratification of seeing him bleed? No, he would never let himself be hurt by the unfairness of life, long ago he had learned that exposure to such led him to stop dreaming… long ago he’d stopped searching for peace. Peace knew nothing.

But he did—he’d learned.

It’s the kind of pain that sliced inside of one’s self. It doesn’t just take its time and then just disappear. It goes away, being able to gloat that it left a mark on your skin, it left a cut in your soul-and you are never the same. If only he’d known… if only he’d known about Liz Parker he’d have been able to warn Michael before time. He would have been able to warn him she was poison—she would never need to explain what she had done; she had done it to him.

It was the same argument Max had had to fight for his parents. He had tried so hard to make his mother see. To really see. But his father’s word had always been gospel, and his promises were sacraments, and so she forgave. As if it was easy. Like snow that you just push away and once again you see the ground. As if life could ever be a promise again. Everything was ruined, darkened colored, battered grays, angry red-memories of rain and teardrops. No longer silver linings. His inability to forgive, his incapability to ever show any kind of emotion, it had always worked as his bluster. It had been his flawless master plan for the longest of times. His father had always berated Max’s weakness, his idealistic romanticism and wistful youth. His father had always made Max berate his impurity, his lacking of redeeming his dastard soul, using it as an excuse to push away-after all, how could someone so damaged be with someone?

He had, at one point in his life, yearned to be heard and longed to be loved. That was all Max had really wanted before—to love, and be loved just as equally. When he did finally let himself fall, when he did let himself love someone, he loved them with all he had. That had yet to happen, of course.

It was the stupidity, the unfairness of it all. The experiences in his life taught him how to cover up his emotions well. Fool anyone. Fool everyone.

The wind was chilly, up to the point where Max Muciolli’s bones were eerily frozen. And the sky was gray, and dark, which fit perfectly his mood. And so he stood there, in front of the gravestone, a painful realization coming to him. Ever since he'd found out his brother had died, never had he felt the ping of a stabbing pain till that particular moment. And he couldn't deal with all the pain, so instead he chose to numb himself with the cold, frozen, harsh cold.

Michele Muciolli
Wonderful husband, brother, and son
Never will he be forgotten
1976-2004

And all Max could feel was his heart drying up…


Growing up, Michael and Max had always clashed in personalities, but they were fiercely loyal to each other. And Max had learned to regard Michael in a positive figure. Always putting the weight of the world on his shoulder, a compelling sadness in his eyes, selflessness in his heart that Max found strongly admirable and rare. Michael had always thought Max had a bravery in his noble soul that was exceptional. He had an honor only few men had, but now Max seriously doubted that.

Michael would not be very proud of him, especially since, by all purposes, Max really did believe Michael would still love Liz. Whatever the case, Max needed to feel like he had a purpose, like he was doing something that would somehow make Michael’s death right.

Somehow, along the way, Max had lost his labyrinth of salvation.

“Braveheart.”

“How many times can you watch that thing?”

“I’m still trying to get an accurate body count…”


“Max? Max!”

He turned around, and couldn’t help the involuntary smile that awoke on his face as he saw the short, bubbly, curly blonde run over to him and crush him into a bear hug.

He laughed, patting her back. “Hey, Tess.”

Tessa Harding turned to Max with her pale blue eyes, lively and mischievous as always. “Maximilian, you look gorgeous as always.”

“I should be the one saying that to you,” he answered with a fond smile. Tess, his childhood friend.

They both stopped speaking when they heard the loud conversations suddenly stop, replaced with small murmurs. Max looked over the tall stair case and saw Liz was holding on to the railing tightly, wearing the white dress that she’d looked too beautiful for words in, her hair worn wavy, one side kept from her face by a white flower-shaped pin. She looked positively stunning, and Max had to remind himself to close his mouth.

“Oh, Max. She’s a straordinaria belleza.

Max nodded absently, moving almost unconsciously towards her, standing at the edge of the rail, waiting as she descended the stairs with a manner straight from deity. He could tell, though, by the shaking arm and the tight knuckles she was nervous as hell, and he didn’t know why he felt compelled to assuage her fright. He wanted this for her, didn’t he? Wanted her to be nervous and humiliated…. Right?

She finally made it to the bottom, standing in front of him. With her heels, she was slightly taller but still only managed to raise herself to Max’s neck. She almost tripped, but he grabbed her by the waist to steady her, and she couldn’t take her eyes off of him. It was a magnetic pull, stronger then she’d ever felt before. But as soon as it had come, it was gone.

He offered his arm, which she knew better then to refuse, as they both made their way through the crowd, the murmurings still buzzing.

Everyone was staring at her, unnerving her greatly. There were so many unfamiliar—and unkind faces staring at her, waiting for her to trip and fall, to stutter on her responses, to choke on her drink…

“So, Elizabeth, what are you studying?” a tall man, with dark rimmed glasses and a very distinctly-shaped goatee asked. He was wearing a very fine suit, and stood erect and elegant. He reminded Liz of the men that are portrayed in romantic novels.

“Law,” she answered with a smile.

“What do you know?” Nonna, who was very elegant in her green long dress asked, standing in between Max and Isabel. “She’d be perfect for your firm, Massimo!”

“I’m sure Liz wouldn’t want that,” Isabel answered in a kind, but sort of haughty, voice.

“I’m sure Liz has a voice of her own,” Liz replied with equal haughtiness, a smile on her face as she turned to the goatee-man. “And I’d love helping in any company I’d join. But first, I’d love to continue my studies…”

Isabel turned to her, surprised, much like everyone else.

Tess smirked at Max. “I like her,” she answered, later turning to Liz. “Hi, there. I’m Tessa Harding, but please call me Tess unless you want to piss me off hugely. I’ve known Max and Isabel since we were wearing Huggies.”

Liz smiled gracefully. “Pleased to meet you, Tess.”

Isabel rolled her eyes.

“So it might be a good idea to have Liz join the firm, Max,” Tess spoke up approvingly, winking at Liz in support.

Isabel sighed in irritation. “So now what? All this woman has to do is let Max put an expensive mega-ring on her finger and she calls and goes as she pleases?”

The circle was silent for a moment, and Nonna pinched Isabel in disapproval. The goatee man and Tess managed to slink away once they noticed the family tension and let Isabel, Max, Liz, and Nonna stand there awkwardly. Finally, Liz grabbed at the hem of her dress and turned to her sister-in-law. “First of all, this woman has a name. And this woman is your sister-in-law. And this woman was forced into this marriage against her own will. And because none of you have been neither welcoming nor inviting nor very helpful—”

Nonna cleared her throat. “Ahem...”

“—with the exception of Nonnina, I will take what belongs to me.”

“Where’s Adriana when you need her,” Isabel muttered.

Max sighed. He knew he was supposed to want Isabel to make life difficult for Liz, but suddenly them having this discussion in the middle of his event didn’t seem to have quite the elation he’d expected. “Izzy, please drop it.”

“Oh, are you going to join Nonna in little Liz’s Fan club?”

“You know what, Isabel? If you don’t like my presence then you can’t just stuff it. Because I’m here to stay. For a long time. Now excuse me, I have people to meet.”

Isabel’s jaw dropped as Liz gracefully walked away.

And once again, admiration was hiding in Max’s eyes.

~*~

Liz covered her hands and propped her elbows on the ledge of the terrace. Where she had found such strength in her voice and courage in her walk she had no idea. Because right now her entire being was trembling and all she wanted to do was throw herself off the balcony. She actually would have, had the terrace not been only twenty feet off the ground.

There is a castle on a cloud
I like to go there when I sleep
Nobody shouts or talks too loud
Not in my castle on a cloud


Liz straightened her stance as she heard the small voice that could only belong to Isabel’s daughter, Georgina. She walked slowly and then saw what broke her heart. The young ten-year old, combing her doll’s hair, humming to herself a song, and no one around to see or play with her.

Liz knocked on the door, and Georgie turned around, timidly. “Hi.”

“Hi. I heard you singing. I’m impressed.”

“By what?” she asked, the defensiveness not lost on Liz.

She chose to ignore it. “How pretty your voice was. The song you were singing.”

“Oh.” Georgie shrugged, continued combing her doll as she gave Liz small insight. “It was the only play my mom ever took me to when we were in New York.”

Liz sat down hesitantly, though it was hard with such a tight long dress. “Do you mind?”

Georgie shrugged again.

Liz took this as a good sign and began to comb Georgie’s other doll. “Why are you here all alone? I saw a few kids playing around in the play room.”

“I’m always alone,” Georgie answered practically.

“That can’t be true.”

“It is,” Georgie insisted. “Mom never really pays attention to me and Uncle Max is always on business trips.”

“I wasn’t paid much attention to either, growing up.”

Georgie stared at her, a little surprised. “Really?”

“Yup.”

Max, who had followed Liz out to order her to go back in, stood vigilant, and yes, eavesdropping.

“How old were you?”

“Well, ever since I was fourteen years old I was always being shipped off to boarding schools,” Liz explained. “And I did lead a pretty lonely life.”

“Oh,” Georgie answered. “I don’t have a father either. Though I heard my mom tell my Uncle Max it’s better that my dad is dead.”

Liz was flabbergasted, and didn’t know how to take the young child’s nonchalance. “Um… Georgie it’s never ‘better’ or ‘okay’ to lose someone that you love, at whatever age. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t hurt you, or that you don’t feel lonely or miss him sometimes.”

Georgie nodded. “I never met him, but I did want to know him or have a father.”

They continued in silence, combing their dolls until Georgie stared at her curiously. “Why do you talk to me?”

“Because no one else here really likes me,” Liz replied honestly.

Georgie lowered her eyes to the ground. “I do like you,” she admitted, though she’d only met her new ‘aunt’ this evening, she’d found herself growing attached to her. “You’re the only one in this house who asks me stuff and listens to what I say back. Everyone else is always yelling a lot around here.”

Liz smiled sadly, putting her hand on Georgie’s head. “Well, sometimes adults aren’t really happy with the way their life turned out. And no matter how much they yell, I’m sure they all love you very much and want the best for you.”

“They still don’t know what it’s like.”

“What?”

“To watch them,” Georgie whispered. “Mom cries every night and thinks I don’t hear her. And Uncle Max is always sad or angry. He doesn’t play with me anymore. They don’t know what it’s like to be lonely.”

“Yeah… but you know something? I’m sure your father is watching over you, like a guardian angel.”

Georgie’s nose wrinkled. “I don’t know exactly how that works.”

Liz tried not looking too shocked. Just exactly how much interaction did this girl get?

“See, when a person passes away, it’s not like she just…” Liz’s voice trailed.

“Croaks,” Georgie supplied.

“Georgie! I mean, yeah. See, people go to heaven, right?”

“Where God lives.”

“Yup. And God cares for them so much he gives them wings. There are all kinds of them, really. Angels of grace, angels of mercy… but Guardian Angels are very special. They watch over you to make sure you’re never alone, and try comforting you when you’re upset, and try watching over you when you sleep.

Georgie’s eyebrow lifted in curiosity. “And how do I know where he is?”

“Well, you don’t really. Guardian angels have heavenly bodies, and you can’t really see them. But you still know they’re there because they love you so much.”

Georgie nodded. “I like your theory.”

Liz laughed. “I’m glad you do.”

“Aunt Lizbeth?”

“Yeah sweetie?

“Are you sure you’re not my guardian angel?”

Max smiled ruefully at the scene, before he decided he wasn’t going to force Liz to go back in just yet. As he turned around he collided with his grandmother.

She looked at him, tenderly, aching for him, with him. “My nipote… why do you not let go of this anger?”

“Because if I do… I’ll have to feel everything else,” Max whispered harshly, every word cutting his very soul. “I’ll have to feel my grief for Michael and everything that has hurt me in the past… and it will kill me.”

Max’s eyes met Nonna’s, and they were filled with unshed tears. “It’ll kill me.”

~*~

Buon giorno signora: Good morning, ma’am.
Padrone: Boss, master, lord.
Bellisima: Beautiful.
Nonna, Nonnina: Grandmother, Grandma.
Straordinaria belleza: Extraordinary beauty
Nipote: grandson


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