“I didn’t know if Tess was actually telling the truth?” Liz said the next morning as Max stood in Liz’s hospital room as she held their daughter in her arms. Zane had come in with Max and he smiled when he saw the baby, and the way the baby reacted to Zane showed that they almost knew each other already, and he moments before had left with Isabel who was going to treat him to something in the cafeteria before heading to work. “I still don’t, given we know how delusional Tess was at the end…”
“How is it even possible?” Maria asked.
“The way Tess explained it was that they need him to be the leader of the other set, you know Lonnie, Rath and Ava, but she wanted him to be raised by you Max in the meantime to be able to be more rational than Lonnie and Rath, and to be able hold him own against them…” Liz asked as she looked down at her daughter in her arms.
“But how?” Maria asked. “And that it is beyond crazy.”
“She said Nascedo used the fact that Max was taken hostage in the White Room by Agent Pierce, and used it to his advantage due to some medical testing they did on you Max” Liz said softly as Max winced as his brain went back to that time and he knew not every test he had been conscious for, and so he had no idea what they might have done to him.
“Oh, dear god,” Maria whispered.
“I never liked that guy” Michael murmured. “I am sorry Max…”
“Don’t be, I should never have believed in Tess or allowed her to worm into our lives” Max said softly as he didn’t even want to think about that testing, and any resulting damage that could come from it. “I don’t know what she told you Liz is the truth, but I am sorry for what she put you through…”
“I felt that she was pregnant…” Max sighed.
“She played you…” Maria murmured. “Like she did all of us, from the beginning…” she sighed as she smiled when she saw the baby in Liz’s arms and knew this despite the circumstance was something special and something that should be celebrated. “Let’s think of something positive, does she have a name?”
“I was thinking of the name Aria Elle Parker
” Liz smiled.
“Really?” Maria asked and Isabel’s eyes rose and some of the ice started to thaw.
“Something pretty and memorable,” Liz laughed as Max smiled as he looked at his daughter in her mother’s arms and knew something was right, he just wished he knew what the future held and what Tess’s scheme meant for Zane.
“Very pretty,” Max nodded and took it as encouragement that the name Douglas
wasn’t attached although he knew it was too early to discount it.
“There is my granddaughter,” Jeff Parker came in and interrupted the gathering and Max knew he should leave because he didn’t want any negative association with the last year with Liz’s father.
“I’ll be back,” Max assured as he left the room and Liz watched as he left the room, which was noticed by her father.
“Dad…” Liz muttered as she turned her attention back to her daughter, and her father who only smiled.
“It’s your life,” Jeff assured his daughter as he took the baby into his arms and smiled down at his new granddaughter. “As I only ever want you to be happy, and for my granddaughter to be happy and healthy,” he murmured as he glanced down at the picture of his daughter.
“I know I hurt Brian…” Liz sighed as she knew that she would never forgive herself for what she had done to Brian, even if it ended up bringing baby Aria into her life, and she wouldn’t have her without it. “You don’t have to tell me…”
“I am just a little surprise,” Jeff murmured as he took his granddaughter into his arms. “I thought you were happy with Brian.”
“I was,” Liz sighed. “But to parrot Maria’s words, Max makes me weak in a way Brian never could and I couldn’t help myself and I wish I could have…” she sighed as time has led her to wonder just how set in motion last years actions were… “Brian is a genuinely good guy, and any girl should have been extremely happy with him…”
“But it was always Max?” Jeff asked.
A short time later, Max was meeting Isabel and Kyle for drinks before Kyle’s shift began at Cow Patties
. Kyle had been promoted to manager and seemed to be staking a future at the bar and seemly happy, and Isabel was finishing up at the boutique she worked at and was planning on heading to the hospital afterwards. “Have you told Mom and Dad, yet?”
“I still need time to adjust to the idea,” Max sighed as he took a sip of his iced tea as there was a lot of adjusting to be done, and he didn’t know if it had completely hit him or not. “Do you still talk to Serena Thompson from school?” he asked Kyle who nodded. “She was in genetics, right?”
“Right,” Kyle confirmed of his ex-girlfriend who he dated when they were in school, and before he started to get serious about Isabel. “She works in Las Cruces, almost finished medical school I think…”
“Would she do a favor for you?” Max asked.
“Sure,” Kyle nodded. “Why?”
“I need to know some stuff,” Max thought. “She would be able to keep secrets, right?” she asked of Kyle.
“Sure,” Kyle asked. “You’re thinking about what Zane said, and Liz said about Tess?” he wondered. “About Zane?”
“Yeah,” Max nodded as he thought of the boy he thought of as a son which was not going to change regardless of any results “I need to know what is going on with the boy.”
“That might be wise,” Isabel acknowledged of her nephew. “Do you think he could be what Tess was saying, an experiment?”
“I hate thinking that to be true, but then who knows what they were trying to do up there you know” Max sighed. “We never did see Tess give birth, and the baby arrived so suddenly, and I connected with him and if he was created in such a way… that I need to know the truth, because I see his eyes, me, but if he was created to be a duplicate of me and yet they didn’t have everything to make it possibility, or did they?”
“I hate to think what they are up to up there,” Isabel muttered as she was forced to think of their home planet. “Anything is possible, given how we came to be after all, but to know they might have tried to create a new “you” to be able to control.
“We have our experiences here on Earth coloring our decisions, and we have free will but up there, is a whole other side of things and I hate to think what they might have been trying to do…” Max murmured
“About Liz?” Isabel asked as she tried to get back to more earthly matters.
“I rather not talk about that right now, because there is a lot that needs to settle…” Max sighed as he thought of Liz still in the hospital recovering from the hell that his wife put her through, and the baby girl who had her eyes.
“What do you think will happen?” Kyle asked.
“She’s still married. I might be free now, but she’s not and I know she feels guilty about what happened and the pain we caused Brian” Max sighed as he took a sip of his drink as he saw his watch and got up from the table as she he didn’t want to think about the greatest threat to him in losing Liz and his daughter to a man who provide them safety, and a home and love and normalcy, which was something he would never be able to provide them even if Tess was now dealt with. “I better go pick up Zane at Mom and Dad’s” as he got up and left after paying for his drink.
“This is all very bizarre,” Kyle commented as they watched Max walk away. “I don’t envy him. As much as he and Liz got a miracle, still, that miracle might be fleeting…”
“Tell me about it,” Isabel muttered as she knew the hurt that would be in store if her brother lost both Liz and Aria to Brian and the life Douglas
could provide because as much as Liz loved her brother, still, she was put through hell and who wants that to continue and sometimes you would rather pick door number two if given a chance to prevent the pain to your heart that comes with true love. “Call Serena and invite her to dinner sometime soon, as I would love to see her again.”
“I will do that…” Kyle smiled as they kissed, and she got up and soon left.
“What do you think will happen?” Maria asked as she looked down at the beautiful baby in her arms as she visited with Liz and baby Aria. “Has Brian been by?”
“No,” Liz shook her head. “I don’t expect him to, because both of us need time and space” she sighed. “I hurt him deeply, and he still wanted me and the baby,” she thought as she couldn’t believe she was laying in this bed knowing it had all come to this and that she and Max truly did share a child together. She couldn’t believe she was this lucky and yet to know the pain she had given to Brian. “He wanted me even though he knew he wasn’t the father of the baby.”
“And he never told you that he couldn’t possibility be the father?” Maria asked amazed. “That man seems too good to be true.”
“I know,” Liz smiled. “I should be mad he didn’t tell me, and yet he knew I had been unfaithful and still he wanted to marry me… and wanted to raise Aria as her father.”
“What does that mean to you?” Maria sighed. “You and Max…”
“I don’t know Maria,” Liz sighed. “So much of my life has been centered on Max, and I screwed up.”
“And ended up with that little girl” Maria murmured as she placed the baby into the basket and sat down by the bed, as thy both watched the baby sleep. “Maybe it’s god telling you both something… Allowing you both a sign.”
“I don’t know,” Liz sighed. “How does it feel knowing you share a child with Michael?” she wondered of her best friend. “I know your situation is very different.”
“Yeah very different,” Maria allowed. “It brings peace and happiness that we share something so special, and yet it’s so bizarre and the girls haven’t even begun to deal with it, and we’re only in the beginning stages.”
“I have to wonder what it means for me…” Liz admitted.
“You wanted Max eight months ago, maybe this is your chance?” Maria asked. “Tess is dead, and she obviously didn’t get what she wanted and there is no one standing in your way.”
“Only you and Max I guess at this point,” Maria smiled as she knew her friend was in a battle of her heart vs. brain. “Think of what is best for that little girl, and the rest will work itself out” she sighed as Liz smiled and they both decided to take a walk and return Aria to the nursery, while Liz started to wonder what she truly wanted.
“Are you serious, son,” Phillip Evans asked his son as he arrived to pick up Zane and finally spilled the deep dark secret to his parents of them having another grandchild as Diane looked at her husband and then their son. “You and Liz share a child, and Tess did what?”
“I know,” Max sighed as he had just spent time telling his parents of the latest development to the family, and they both were looking at him dumbstruck like it was all a fantasy story he was reciting. “It’s like a dream or a nightmare in terms of Tess.”
“And she’s dead?” Diane asked quietly as she took stock of what her son was saying.
“Yes,” Max sighed.
“How?” Phillip asked as he saw the tension in his son and knew it hadn’t been pretty. “Do you need a lawyer?”
“So far no, and we’ll see how it goes but Tess broke out and wanted to go back to Antar” Max sighed as he had to remember what his parents knew of their elaborate back story. They didn’t know all the grittiness of it, but they knew enough about their kids now, “And wanted to use Liz’s baby as a way back…”
“So, it’s yours, and not her husband?” Diane asked softly.
“It’s mine, as Tess wouldn’t have gone after the baby if there was any doubt of paternity” Max allowed.
“So, you have a little girl?” Diane asked.
“Yes,” Max smiled. “And Mom before you ask, I don’t know where this goes for Liz and me except that yes we do share a child, and we both will have to think of both of her and Zane in the days to come.”
“All we want is for you to be happy…” Diane assured her son. “So, how is Liz?”
“She’s resting in the hospital. Tess put her through quite the experience, and I will be hating that for her,” Max muttered at what Liz had been put through because of him and it would forever be in his nightmares.
“And she didn’t tell anyone she was pregnant?” Phillip asked. “So, you didn’t know?”
“No,” Max shook her head. “Apparently Maria didn’t even know until it all went down,” he sighed. “I don’t blame her given the circumstances. She’s married, and I was married, and she needed to handle it the best way she believed she could…”
“Son, about Tess” Phillip asked.
“Dad,” Max sighed. “I haven’t begun to deal with the new realities to my life. All I need right now is to concentrate on Zane, and make sure everything is alright for whatever life takes Liz, and me so all you have to know is that Tess is gone, otherwise there would be a hell of a lot more fallout, but she’s gone and no longer a factor in our lives.”
Phillip nodded and knew that he probably would have heard if the authorities had any doubts about whatever the circumstances that had gone down. “But if you need any help, please, come to me…”
“I will,” Max murmured. “Although I may need some help because the authorities won’t be thinking that Tess is dead… Jim isn’t classifying her as deceased or at least not yet. To them she has taken off, so I might need some help making sure our marriage is legally taken care of if you know what I mean…”
“Right,” Phillip nodded. “I’ll take care of it…”
“Thank you, Dad,” Max sighed.
“So, we have another grandchild?” Diane asked as it started to sink in that this was a new world for her son in so many ways. She and Phillip hadn’t been accepting of their son’s marriage. While they eventually understood why it needed to take place still it was obvious their son was unhappy, and that is not what they wanted to see for their son and which is why they had done everything to help Max better himself with college and for their grandson. While they didn’t like their son’s wife, they did love their grandson and now to know they had a granddaughter whose mother was a whole lot more acceptable to them was going to take some adjusting.
“Yes,” Max nodded. “She’s beautiful,” he sighed as she took out his wallet, and took out a picture he had taken and had already printed, and handed it to his mother, who started crying. “Her name is Aria Elle”
“Beautiful,” Diane said as she handed the picture to her husband who smiled. “When can we see her?”
“It’s up to Liz…” Max acknowledged as he knew this isn’t the time to put any pressure on her, or to place any expectations. “I am trying not to pressure her,” he sighed because none of them knew where this was going to and he needed to be careful as he spoke with his parents for a few more minutes and then headed upstairs to find Zane who had been watching a movie in his old bedroom.
And the next day he got a glimpse of where this was going when he stopped in at the hospital to see his daughter and smiled as he saw Aria in her basket, and knew she had a clean bill of health and she was the picture of health as he couldn’t help but see Liz in her eyes as he glanced while standing with his parents who couldn’t wait to come and see their granddaughter. They had melted when they saw little Aria, and they were certain they saw their son in her face, but all Max saw was Liz in her eyes as he turned and saw Liz watching him as he was observing their daughter “Good morning,” he said softly.
“Good morning,” Liz nodded as she saw Phillip and Diane who came in for a hug. “I am glad you two have heard the latest…”
“How are you feeling?” Diane asked.
“Much better,” Liz acknowledged. “I am getting released in a little while. Both of us are,” he said as she looked in on a sleeping Aria.
“She’s precious Liz,” Diane smiled. “So beautiful… I see so much of Max in her…”
“Mom.” Max protested.
“It’s alright Max,” Liz smiled. “I see him in her too,” she admitted as she looked at Max who only had eyes for her. “All I want is for her to have a good life, and to be happy and safe…”
“We all want that for our kids,” Phillip nodded as he and Diane continued to observe their newest grandchild as Max could sense a tension in Liz, and knew something was in the air, and he was almost afraid to know what it would be…
“Max, we have to talk…” Liz said softly as she had a long sleepless night, and knew she needed to decide on her future because she was being released and so was Aria. And she had a lot to figure out, and she was now a mother and she couldn’t keep this uncertainty going on.
Max nodded, “Let’s go back to your room so Mom and Dad can continue to spend time with the baby, and we can talk more privately” he softly as he followed her back to the room as they left Phillip and Diane with their grandchild, who also sensed that things were different. For Max, he was trying to figure out the new reality as they reached her room. “You’re being released?”
“Yeah,” Liz said, and closed the door behind them. “As soon as they come up with my release papers, and Aria’s…” Liz sighed. “Max…”
“Just tell me…” Max asked bluntly because he knew she had something to tell him.
“We can’t go on like this… I need to make some decisions,” Liz said softly and Max’s heart broke because he knew she was leaving, and he was going to have to watch her go without any guarantee she would come back to him.
“Where are you going?”
“I need to get away… It has occurred to me I have screwed up a lot this last year or so, and I ruined Brian’s life, and changed my future. I hurt both of us with what I did and allowed to happen.”
Max nodded. “Liz, I am very sorry for my part in it… It was me who brought Tess into our lives, and with everything last year… I should have stayed away and allowed you to move on. I allowed Tess the ability to create the chaos they she was able to give us.”
“You have to protect Zane, and I respect that” Liz sighed. “Just as I must protect Aria, now… Max as much as I love you and I do but we can’t this going without some finality to it. So, that is why I need to go away for awhile…”
“How long?” Max asked.
“I don’t know,” Liz admitted. “And I don’t want you to contact me…”
“Liz,” Max asked. “Aria…”
“I’ll send you updates, pictures but I need this time to figure out what is going on with my life. And plus, I have my marriage to deal with…,” Liz whispered as she faced her reality. “I am not free…” Liz sighed as she didn’t relish having to deal with the mess with Brian. “I need to know where that is going to go”
“So, what, you are going back to him?” Max asked.
“No,” Liz shook her head, but it was only a half shake. “But Brian is a factor I have to weigh as I have to figure out where my life stands.”
Max nodded as he could sense that she wasn’t totally over her husband. Brian was a good guy and he loved her and had wanted to be there for her and the baby, and that is hard to give up for pain and angst that came with their past…
“Thank you, Max, for understanding. I am sorry for what it means but I need this time…” Liz sighed as the basket was pushed into the room, and they both looked at their daughter as he picked her up and held her for a final time.
“I want you both to be safe Liz, and happy. So, I will respect whatever you decide, and I will always love you, and will always be here for you and for Aria whenever the day comes. I only want the best for you and our daughter. But please Liz, make sure she knows me…”
Liz nodded as she watched Max hold their daughter….
As Twenty-four hours later she drove out of Roswell, whereabouts uncertain… and the return date to be revealed as Max watched them drive off…
As he knew his heart would always be with Liz and their daughter and he would never be the same until she came back to him.
He could only pray he would get that chance…