Denial Ain't Just a River(AU,M/L,Adult) (Complete)

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Applebylicious
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Denial Ain't Just a River(AU,M/L,Adult) (Complete)

Post by Applebylicious » Tue Jul 05, 2005 2:47 pm

Winner - Round 8

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Title: Denial Ain't Just a River...
Author: Lindsay
Category: AU M/L + CC
Rating: ADULT
Disclaimer: The characters of Roswell belong to The WB, Melinda Metz, and UPN.
Summary: Maxwell Evans and Elizabeth Parker. Best friends, roomates... and lovers?
Author’s note: Some of you might remember this fic from ages ago. Well...I'm back to complete it for a couple of different reasons. One, the overwhelming response from you guys. Two, my original plans to try and market are on hold until I finish a few other things up first. And third, it's been eating at me to complete for you guys. So...I'll be reposting it and then continuing with new updates. I hope you all enjoy it as much the second time around! Peace...


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Denial Ain't Just a River...


Chapter 1



When life hands you lemons, make lemonade.

Elizabeth Parker snorted as the optimistic expression flitted through her mind in a voice that sounded disturbingly like her first grade teacher.

Lemonade, indeed.

Given her present state of mind, she was more apt to throw the lemons back in Life’s fat face. She was that irritated. The fact that the object of her irritation lay not twenty feet away in the next room did not help her mood.

Maxwell Evans. Known to all his friends and family as Max, he was intelligent, gorgeous, and Liz's best friend since childhood. And she was in love with the big idiot. Of course, Max didn’t have a clue as to his best friend’s true feelings and to be fair, why should he?

Elizabeth was well known for being blunt to the point of brutality and she’d never shied away from a confrontation in her life. Given these facts, it was no wonder Max didn’t suspect that she was hiding a secret from him. And wasn’t that the whole crux of the problem? Liz hated, absolutely hated hiding anything from Maxwell. But at the same time, she was scared to death for him to find out that she wanted him.

Aside from the humiliation it would cause - because she had no illusions that Max suffered any kind of secret feelings for her - she couldn’t stand the idea of ruining their friendship. So she tried to pretend that what she felt was simply lust – pure and simple. And since Maxwell was quite possibly the best looking guy in town, it seemed to be justification enough for her.

But all this was normal for her, it was something she’d been dealing for as long as she could remember. No, the real cause for her irritation was that until now, Maxwell had been off limits to her, therefore keeping any crazy urges she had at bay.

Until now.

She groaned and burrowed further under the blankets as she recalled the conversation she’d had with him just last week in the apartment they had shared since graduation from high school six years ago. She’d been sitting on the couch watching one of the dozens of reality shows that were so popular these days, wondering just where they managed to find so many desperate people to fill in the casts. Max had been with his long-time girlfriend Pamela at her place.

Liz had tried to ignore the sick feeling in her stomach as she’d recalled the determined look on Max's face as he’d left their apartment that night. He’d been acting strange all week, distracted and edgy at home and work. Assuming that he was simply in a bad mood, she’d given him a wide berth and hadn’t questioned his behavior. But now thoughts were niggling in her mind, and none of them were pretty.

She’d tortured herself with images of Max, on his knees in front of Pamela, slipping a ring on her perfect finger as she cried perfect tears of happiness from her perfect eyes. She hadn’t realized she was gritting her teeth until she felt the ache in her jaw. Red welts brusied her palms where she’d restlessly dug in her nails. That was when she realized that she had been unconsciously waiting up for Max to get back and torment her with the tale of his successful proposal to Pamela.

So, she forced herself to turn the television off and go to bed. After a good hour of staring at the ceiling, she’d drifted off to a light slumber, only to be awakened minutes later by the sound of Max's deep voice.

“Liz… are you awake? I need to talk to you.”

At the time, she’d been expecting to hear excitement and bliss in his tone, so she’d prepared herself to act surprised and happy when he broke the news. But one look at his flat, resigned expression had her sitting up in worry.

“What happened?”

Then he spoke the words that would continue to haunt her every minute of every day that followed.

“I broke up with Pam.”

She hadn’t had to fake her expression of shock. As far as she’d known, Maxwell and Pamela had been happy to the point of making her ill. She’d always been jealous of the beautiful blonde who had captured her best friend’s attention in college. Pamela was the epitome of every man’s dream – tall, elegant, and possessed of a super-model’s body.

She was also a good lay, or so she’d overheard Max saying to their mutual friend Michael Guerin. The two had dated off and on for months before they’d settled down to happy coupledom. Liz had determined to remain polite despite the fact that Pamela obviously disliked her and didn’t bother to hide it.

She assumed that Pamela didn’t approve of the fact that Max was living with another woman, but even when Max had moved out temporarily to live with her, she’d still remained cold and nasty to Liz. Liz didn’t care. She was just as rude and aloof to Pamela. It was something of a joke to Max, who laughed about having two women fighting over him. But deep down Liz knew it bothered him that the two women in his life hated each other.

Liz hadn’t wanted to cause trouble, so she’d made sure that she wasn’t around whenever Pamela was. She’d thrown herself into her bookstore, gone out with other friends and generally stayed out of Max’s way.

That was when she met Kyle Valenti. Tall, suave, and Italian, he’d walked into her store one day while she’d been mooning over Max and Pamela and had distracted her from her gloom with his confident flirtation. He was sexy and funny, and had managed to wrangle a date out of her before she’d known what was happening.

Later as she’d been getting ready to go out, she’d come upon Max looking very put out. He and Pamela had evidently had a fight and he had come home looking for sympathy. When he’d discovered Liz’s plans, he hadn’t been happy. They had gotten into a rare fight that had ended with slammed doors and Liz driving off in a temper.

The entire night she’d been awful company, but for some reason Kyle hadn’t been dissuaded. In fact, he’d called the next day to secure another date, which Liz had agreed to merely to spite Max who had been standing over her in disapproval.

She had enjoyed spending time with Kyle, but she couldn’t delude herself to the fact that she was simply using him to keep her mind off Max. Eventually they split, but had remained friends and Kyle had made it clear that anytime she wanted to pick back up where they had left off, he was willing and eager.

With Max and Pamela on one of their breaks, she’d played the part of the sensitive friend and spent hours talking with Max about his relationship. Then the unthinkable had happened.

She had suggested that they stop moping and go out, and Max had surprisingly agreed. So they’d gone to one of the clubs that they used to frequent together back when they were both single. They’d spent the night dancing and drinking and it had been like heaven to Liz, who had sorely missed her best friend.

It had taken awhile for her to realize that Max was behaving differently that night, holding her closer during the slow songs and grinding against her during the faster ones. She’d chalked it up to the alcohol and resolved to simply enjoy it while it lasted, but as the night wore on she noticed that Max had stopped drinking, but he hadn’t stopped his scandalous behavior.

As Max called a cab, she’d stood outside the club, enjoying the light breeze, her heart beating quickly as she tried to make sense of what was happening between them. Then he’d been there, his arm around her as they rode silently back to the apartment. She’d felt Max’s gaze on her several times during the short ride, but she’d been too nervous to look over.

Once they reached the apartment, she’d reached inside her purse with trembling fingers to find her key, when he’d stopped her by whispering her name.

“Liz.”

She’d jumped and turned to face him, eyes widening as she realized he was right behind her and she’d backed herself into a corner. He’d stared at her with an expression she couldn’t name, but it sent tingles of excitement through her as he’d reached out to brush her long hair back.

“We need to talk.”

He’d breathed the words so softly that she wondered if she’d imagined them. Then his lips curled up in that familiar smile and her breath left her lungs in a soft whoosh. The effects of the alcohol hadn’t completely left her system, and she’d found herself standing on shaky legs and leaning towards him… when the door opened.

“Oh, Max… I’m so sorry. I’ve missed you so much, baby.”

She’d stared in shock as Pamela pushed past her from inside the apartment and threw herself into Max’s arms, sobbing wildly. Max had appeared as surprised as she, and he’d caught Pamela against him as she’d began kissing him and murmuring words of apology in between.

It had the effect of a bucket of cold water, and Liz suddenly found herself completely sober and shivering in the warm summer air. She’d turned to walk inside, when a hand clasped around her wrist. She’d turned to see Max staring at her, a sniffling Pamela standing behind him.

His golden eyes burned into her before he’d opened his mouth.

“Wait…”

She heard the hesitancy in his tone and for a split second she’d hated him for it. But she automatically forced a smile on her lips and gently broke away from him.

“It looks like you have things to take care of,” she’d spoken softly, looking away.

His hand had tightened before he let her step away. She’d looked back at him and caught him staring at her again with that strange expression. His lips turned downwards and he looked ready to speak again, so she quickly turned and walked away.

After shutting the door to her room, she’d heard Pamela’s seductive voice begging Max to let her ‘make it up to him’. Ignoring the pain in her heart, she picked up the phone and called the frst number that came to her mind. While she made plans with Kyle to spend the night at his place, she’d heard the sound of the couple in the living room heading towards Max’s bedroom. Her eyes closed against the tears springing to life and she’d hung up and started packing a bag.

After a night of watching movies with Kyle and sleeping in his guestroom, she had returned home to find Max waiting. One look at her bag and Kyle standing behind her, and his face had turned hard as he correctly assumed where she’d spent the night. He had walked out and minutes later she’d heard him on the phone with Pamela.

After explaining to Kyle that the previous night hadn’t meant she was ready to resume their relationship, she changed and headed to the store to work off her misery and frustration. Max and Pamela had eventually reconciled, and she and Max had silently agreed to never mention that night.

In the long run, Liz had discovered that it was easier to hide her feelings for Max as long as he and Pamela were together. Since she never again wanted to experience the possiblility that she might make a fool out of herself as she did that night, she decided to try to support his relationship with Pamela, no matter that Pam continued to treat her like garbage and that a part of her withered every time she saw them together.

Still, she’d just begun to resign herself to the idea of Max and Pamela together… forever…? And then those fateful words...

“I broke up with Pam.”

She remembered staring at Max, wondering if the joy she was feeling was plastered all over her face. Then horror had filled her expression as she recognized the urge to throw herself in his arms and beg him to love her. To want her. To see her.

The rest of the night was a blur as she listened to Max explain that this time it was finally over between him and Pamela. She had nodded and stared in silence as he complained that he didn’t know why he had spent so much time involved with her.

The next day, he’d been carefree and cheerful, like a giant burden had been lifted from his shoulders. He flirted with her at every turn, teasing and casually brushing against her when they walked past each other in the hallway.

He was driving her crazy.

Not that he realized it. No, Liz knew that he was oblivious to the inner turmoil he was causing her, but she still felt herself growing anxious whenever he was around. And he was around a lot.

It seemed like she couldn’t breathe without running into him. He visited her at work, he stayed at home on his nights off and offered to rub her feet. He turned down offers from gorgeous women at the bar, and came home to ask her about her day.

Liz had expected him to return to his normal behavior before Pamela, to go out partying with friends and flirt with every woman in sight. Instead, he seemed determined to spend time with Liz whether she liked it or not. She figured that he was still inwardly pining for Pam, and didn’t want to get involved with anyone else so soon, so he was expending his flirtatious nature on a safe target: her.

Well, it was driving her crazy!

The sound of her blaring alarm further disgruntled her as she reached over to turn off the offensive device. Once again in blissful silence, she laid back and stared at the ceiling. Today she had plans to stock her latest shipment at the store. And Max had offered to help her. Liz wasn’t sure if she was up to spending an entire morning in such close quarters with Max as they sorted and labled romance and erotica novels.

She closed her eyes as if in pain. Well, no sense in prolonging the inevitable. Dragging herself out of bed, she brushed her teeth, pulled her curly hair back into a neat ponytail and took a deep breath before going to the door that connected Max’s room to their shared bathroom. It was unlocked, as always.

Ever since the time that Max had unknowingly walked in on her while she was getting dressed, she had faithfully locked her door from the inside. But Max either forgot to lock his, or didn’t much care if she caught him naked.

Brushing aside thoughts of Max naked, she placed her hand on the doorknob. The door fell open and she shook her head at the sight of his clothes lying on the floor. Max never seemed to be able to make it to the hamper.

Stifling a smile, she bent and retrieved the pile of clothing, dropping it into the laundry basket as she stood to glance towards the window. Her breath caught. He lay asleep on the bed, one arm wrapped around his stomach and the other back behind his head. His dark hair was tousled, and a lock fell across his forehead. Liz’s fingers positively itched with the desire to brush the wayward strands back.

He’d never outgrown his tendency to toss and turn in his sleep, so the blankets were tangled around his legs, and one bare thigh was visible in the early morning light. She swallowed at the sight, trying not to stare at the lean line of his hip. She drew her bottom lip between her teeth and nibbled, allowing her imagination to mentally draw the sheet down just a bit more…

He groaned and his hand fluttered on his abdomen. The movement drew her attention to his lap and her eyes widened at the obvious tent under the sheets.

Oh, dear God. He’s dreaming about Pamela!

The thought of Max’s gorgeous ex-girlfriend threw a damper on Liz’s already dark mood, but she forced herself to ignore her disappointment. After all, what right did she have to blame Max for not realizing how she felt about him? It wasn’t as if she’d ever had the courage to walk up to him and say, “Hey, big boy. I’ve seen what you’re working with, and I gotta admit, I’m interested. What do you say I show you what you’ve been missing all these years?”

Yeah, right. He’d probably laugh her out of the state, after he got over his initial shock.

A puff of air blew from his lips as he shifted on the bed, and Liz held her breath as the sheet pulled tighter against his muscled form. Just a little lower…

“Mmm…oh, yeah…” Max breathed heavily, and the timbre of desire in his sleep-roughened voice sent a shiver down her spine.

Enough of this.

Determinedly, she walked over to the bed and reached out for his shoulder. Ignoring the heat radiating from his sleek skin, she gently shook him. “Max, get up.”

He moaned and thrashed his head against the pillow, a jumble of unrecognizable words flowing from his throat.

She shook harder. “Maxwell, it’s Liz. It’s time to get up.”

It happened so quickly, that she never had the chance to scream. One moment she was standing, and the next she found herself flat on her back, pinned to the mattress by close to two hundred pounds of prime male flesh.

Naked male flesh.

She stared up in shock, and found herself gazing into the heavy-lidded gaze of her best friend. His tawny eyes smoldered as he leaned down and brushed his lips against hers. His tongue licked the seam of her mouth. She stiffened and struggled not to moan as he nipped her jaw gently.

“Max!” she hissed, her hands falling to his shoulders as he pressed himself against her. “What are you…”

Her words died as his big hand came up to squeeze her breast. Her nipples hardened into aching peaks and this time she did groan as his fingers molded her flesh, pinching and tugging. Their legs tangled as he began rubbing against her in a blatant sign of arousal. Liz sucked in her breath, her mind dizzy with desire as he bent to take her mouth again.

“God, you feel so good… I missed you, babe…” he breathed, a scant instant before their lips met.

At that blatant reminder, Liz went rigid and her brain skidded to a halt. At the same moment, Max froze as his eyes cleared of their sleepy haze. They stared at each other in shared horror and Liz’s mind raced to come up with an excuse.

Before she could speak, his lips curled into a half-smile and he chuckled. “Uh… fancy meeting you here, Liz.”

At his words, she felt her face erupt in flames and she scowled in an attempt to hide her mortification. “Get off me, you ass!”

She slapped his hand away from her breast and kicked her legs out from underneath him. Max laughed again and rolled over. She immediately jumped to her feet and straightened her tank top, refusing to meet his eyes.

“Hey, you should know better than to interrupt a guy in the middle of a dream,” Max purred. “And it was a damn good one, at that.”

“You’re such a perve,” Liz snapped, embarrassed beyond belief at the way she’d acted. God, did he know how much she wanted him now? He couldn’t have missed the way her body had responded to his touch.

But instead of questioning her, Max merely stretched, yawning deeply. Liz watched him out of the corner of her eye, grudgingly admiring the way the early morning sun highlighted the raven strands of his hair and bathed his skin in its golden glow.

He moaned suddenly, and Liz turned to face him. “Damn, Elizabeth, it’s only seven o’clock. I just got in a few hours ago,” he complained, sticking his lower lip out in a pout. It should have made him look young and silly, but instead it only intensified his masculinity.

Whiskers shadowed the strong edge of his jaw and highlighted his sharp cheekbones. His hair was rumpled and several strands stuck up as he ran a hand through the thick mass. The muscles in his arm and shoulder bunched and shifted with the movement.

God, he’s beautiful.

Unaware of how hungrily she was staring at him, Liz’s eyes trailed down his broad chest, traced the ripples of his abdomen. Six pack, indeed. She licked her lips.

Max groaned again, snapping her out of her daze as her eyes flew guiltily to his face. His eyes burned brighter than usual, his lids lowered. His breathing was heavy and his cheeks were slightly flushed as he stared at her… mouth?

“Liz?” His voice was gruff and held a note of longing that shook her. For what seemed like hours they stared at each other in silence, but in reality only a few seconds passed.

He’s aroused.

Liz almost snorted at her inner voice. Yeah, he’s aroused and on the rebound. Right now he would probably take a one-legged prostitute if it would get his mind off Pam for even five minutes.

Once again, the thought of perfect Pamela Troy and her hold on Max broke the spell. “You said you would help me stock the shelves this morning,” she reminded him, determined to get back to neutral ground.

Hi eyes flashed with what seemed to be disappointment. Liz refused to ponder that significance. Once he’d awakened, that disappointment would turn to relief that she hadn’t reacted to his momentary, sleep-induced encouragement.

“That was today?” he asked, scratching his chin thoughtfully. “I thought that was supposed to be on Wednesday.”

“It is Wednesday.”

“Oh,” he sighed. “Sorry, long night at the bar. I’ve been getting my days and nights mixed up ever since we lost one of the waitresses to maternity leave. Been short-staffed,” he muttered.

Liz sighed knowingly, stomping down the relief that he had been working all night, instead of out drowning his sorrows with a willing female as she had originally assumed. “What time did you get in?” she asked sympathetically, mentally going through her list of friends to find one who would be willing to help her at this time of the morning.

“Well…”

Her eyes narrowed as he drug the word out. Sympathy died and suspicion took its place. “Where were you Maxwell Evans?” she demanded, stalking over to stare him down. “And please tell me it didn’t involve Pamela.”

He winced and Liz felt sick to her stomach. Fighting back the urge to scream, she sat on the edge of the bed and placed her hand over his. “What happened?” she asked in her ‘best-friend’ tone. If it sounded a little flat, well, she could only hope he didn’t notice.

“It isn’t what you’re thinking,” he sighed, turning to stare out the window.

Sure it isn’t. And I suppose next you’ll be telling me that you aren’t in love with Pam after all, that your heart belongs to me. She closed her eyes against the longing that rose inside her.

“Pam showed up at the bar last night.”

Her eyes flew open. “What? Why?”

Max shrugged, lifting one massive shoulder as he absently played with her fingers. “She was with a guy,” he said softly, squinting against the rising sun.

Despite herself, Liz felt a wave of compassion for him. “Oh, Max… I’m so sorry,” she murmured, squeezing his hand. “But you aren’t together anymore,” she pointed out gently.

He turned towards her, and her breath caught as she realized how close their heads were. The corner of his mouth lifted and she silently sighed in appreciation.

“Believe me, I know,” he murmured. “And if I had any doubts, Pamela made sure to clear them up for me last night.”

“Oh no.”

“Oh yes,” he laughed wryly. “Alex and I walked in on her and her… boytoy… in the bathroom around closing time. It didn’t take a genius to figure out what was going on.”

Liz felt a surge of outrage on Max’s behalf. “She did not! In the bathroom? What a slut!” She slapped her hand over her mouth, remembering that Max had been in love with the woman for over a year. But he just laughed.

“Yeah, well, it wasn’t the first time something like this has happened,” he admitted with a tired sigh. “I never told you why we broke up.”

Liz's eyes widened. “You mean she… oh my God, Max! Why didn’t you tell me?”

“Because you already hated her, and I didn’t want you running off and getting yourself worked up on my account.”

Liz frowned, but silently conceded the point. “I want to punch her lights out,” she seethed. “How dare she…”

Max's lips pressed against hers, effectively cutting off her speech of righteous indignation. It was quick and seemed more like a kiss her brother would give her, but there was no denying the spark that filled her as he pulled away.

If he felt it, too, it didn’t show as he smiled at her. “Thanks, Liz. You’ve really been there for me through all this crap with Pamela. I don’t know what I would have done if I hadn’t had my best friend.”

His arm came around her and squeezed affectionately. Liz rolled her eyes and punched him, hiding how happy his words made her.

“Look, why don’t you go back to sleep and I’ll just call up Kyle and see if he can help me this morning?” she said, standing to leave the room.

Max's hand tightened on hers and she came up short. “Kyle?” he growled, and Liz’s eyes widened at the barely restrained anger in his voice. “What the hell for?”

Liz stared at him. “To help me stock the shelves,” she said slowly, trying to comprehend his sudden annoyance. “Max, what in the world is the matter with you?”

“I thought you broke up with him,” he grumbled, crossing his arms over his chest. One thick brow rose as he stared at her in accusation.

“Not that it is any of your business,” Liz snapped, poking her finger into his chest, “but we happen to be friends. And if he would be willing to get up this early and help me stock shelves, then you can bet your sweet ass that I’ll be calling him.”

Max's brow rose higher. “Sweet ass?” he murmured thoughtfully, appearing to seriously consider her comment while Liz’s cheeks filled with blood. “Hmm… sweet ass…”

She groaned and threw her hands up. “I’m outta here,” she began, but once again Max pulled her up short.

“Liz, wait!” he laughed, his eyes filled with mirth. “I promised I’d help you, and I will. Just give me a few minutes to… get myself together.”

Liz frowned at his statement, then followed his gaze to his still-visible erection. She quickly looked away. “Yeah, whatever.”

As she practically ran from the room, she could have sworn she heard Max chuckling behind her.
Last edited by Applebylicious on Fri Oct 28, 2005 2:13 pm, edited 39 times in total.

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Applebylicious
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Post by Applebylicious » Wed Jul 06, 2005 8:08 am

Chapter 2




The sound of bells tinkled throughout the store and brought Liz’s gaze up from the box of books she was currently immersed in. She brushed back hair that had escaped its confines and fallen into her eyes.

“About time you showed up…” she began, then smirked as she caught sight of the visitor. She stood, stretching as her muscles protested from sitting on the floor for too long.

“Nice look you got going there, Liz,” an amused male voice sounded.

She looked down at the pale yellow tank and flannel pajama pants that depicted SpongeBob Squarepants at his wackiest. “Get lost on your way to Krispy Kreme, Officer?” she fluttered her lashes innocently as Michael Guerin approached.

Taking a moment to appreciate the view he provided, strong and muscular in uniform, sandy brown hair shining as brightly as his polished boots, gun secure on his hip, she felt a wave of affection overcome her.

She’d known Michael almost as long as she’d known Max, and the three of them had often been inseparable back in their school days. In fact, Michael had been her first boyfriend, her very first kiss. He had always held a fond place in her heart.

“Ha ha,” he grinned, not a bit offended by her wry tone. He reached out and hugged her tightly, placing a light kiss on her lips. “It so happens that you’re the closest place that serves coffee. How about hooking a friend up in his hour of need?”

Liz cocked a brow and studied him. “Did you break the coffee pot at the station again, Michael?”

His guilty look made her laugh and she walked over to the counter. While
pouring him a mug of a strong Columbian blend, she kept an eye on the door.

“Expecting someone?” he murmured, his cop’s eye not missing a beat.

“Max is supposed to help me stock today,” she replied, placing the steaming coffee on the counter in front of Michael. “I’m hoping he didn’t just go back to sleep after I left.”

Michael took a sip and smacked his lips, making a low sound of appreciation which caused her to grin. “If he said he’d be here, he will be,” he assured her, taking another sip. Licking his lips again, he considered her carefully. “So, what’s going on with you two?”

Liz froze in the act of wiping the counter, then resumed rubbing the shiny mahogany with renewed vigor. “What do you mean?” she asked a bit too casually.

Michael stifled a smile, and distributed a packet of sugar into his coffee. “I haven’t seen you guys lately, so I’m wondering what you’ve been up to,” he lied, watching Liz’s reaction.

She relaxed and smiled easily. “Well, I’ve been busy with work and Max… well, Max has been going through some stuff.”

“By stuff, I assume you’re referring to Pamela,” Michael’s lip curled at the name and he couldn’t hide his disgust for their friend’s ex. “It’s about time he lost that baggage.”

Liz agreed. A sudden thought had her eyes narrowing. “Mike, did you know about Pamela's… extracurricular activities?”

He lifted a brow and took another sip. “You mean how she slept with practically every guy in the tri-county area?”

Liz gasped. “Was I the only one not aware of this?” she demanded in outrage. “I can’t believe Max never told me!”

Michael squirmed awkwardly in his chair. “Well…”

Her gaze grew sharp as he hedged. “Guerin, what aren’t you telling me?”

He cleared his throat and reached up to scratch his head. “I promised Max I wouldn’t say anything.”

She brandished the coffeepot like a soldier would a Uzi. “Speak now, or else this coffee goes down the drain pipe.”

“Liz!” he whined, obviously caught between loyalties. “You’re being completely unreasonable.”

She opened her mouth to retort, when Max’s voice sounded.

“Hope I’m not late,” he said casually, sucking on a red lollipop as the door shut behind him.

He’d added clothes since the last time she’d seen him.

Liz's eyes greedily devoured him, starting at Max’s feet and slowly working their way up. Scuffed Birkenstock sandals peeked out from underneath a pair of well-worn jeans that rode low on his lean hips and lovingly molded to his thighs and behind. The denim stretched across his fly was faded white from stress and numerous washes.

Liz swallowed and forced her gaze higher. Thanks to the warm summer morning, he wore a sleeveless white-cotton shirt that left his muscular arms exposed, and a ball cap was slung over his disheveled black locks. He looked like an advertisement for the All-American Man. Testosterone Overload.

Her eyes zeroed in on his mouth as he took another lick of the sucker. At the sight of that velvety tongue trailing around sweet candy, Liz’s mind automatically leapt to the memory of their accidental kiss that morning. Color rose on her cheeks as she looked away.

“You’re just in time,” she spoke briskly, dismayed at the husky tone in her voice. Clearing her throat, she gestured towards Michael, who watched the two with a slight smile. “Michael and I were just...”

At a loss, she looked at Michael. He merely smiled and winked at her, running a finger down her cheek. “No need to get flustered, honey, I have that effect on all the women,” he purred.

Liz was about to roll her eyes and reply, when Max growled. “Get outta here, Guerin. Don’t you have a city to serve and protect?”

Michael didn’t appear offended at his barely civil attitude. He simply laughed, took another long sip of his coffee and stood. “Right. Well, thanks for the coffee, doll. I’ll see you guys later.”

Liz felt a surge of panic at the thought of being alone with Max. “Wait!” she called out. “You don’t have to leave.”

Michael raised his eyebrows and looked from Liz’s pleading expression to Max's dark frown. Max raised his brows back in answer.

Michael caught the hidden meaning and bit back a grin. “Actually, I needed to be on my way. There’s a meeting with the Chief at nine, summer-awareness and hazards and the like. Doesn’t seem to matter that most of us have lived here all our lives and know all the rules and regs like the back of our hands. Ah, the joy’s of civil service.”

“But-“ Liz began, but was cut off when Max stepped forward and slung his arm around her shoulders, effectively bringing her up against his side. His rock hard side, where she could smell the scent of the sandalwood soap he’d used to shower.

She swallowed.

“See ya around, Mike,” he saluted their friend as he left. Then he turned to look at Liz. She quickly ducked away from his grasp and situated herself a few feet away, arms crossed in defense, so she wouldn’t give into the overwhelming urge to reach out and stroke his chest through that thin fabric. Her fingers twitched.

Max raised a brow, discarding the lollipop stick in the nearby trash. “What’s got you so jumpy, Parker?”

“I’m not jumpy,” she snapped, then bit her lip at how defensive that had sounded.

You kissed me, you fool!

Max laughed in bewilderment, as if their morning interlude had never happened. “Okay…”

Liz wanted to hit him. She settled for accidentally shoving him in the shoulder as she passed by on the way to the shelves. But she wasn't prepared for him to block her path, a strange glint in his eye as he rubbed the spot where she'd slugged him.

"Oh, you wanna get physical, Parker?" he purred in a tone that had her swallowing and backing away. "Don't start something you don't want to finish, babe. We both know who'd win if it came down to mind over matter. Mainly because... you have no matter on you."

She forgot to be wary as she stalked forward and put all her strength into shoving him flat on his ass. The comical look of surprise on his face as he lost his balance and went toppling backwards was enough to have her laughing out loud.

And then he grabbed her ankle and pulled her down with him.

Before she could say "Oof!" he had rolled over her and for the second time that day, had her pinned beneath him. He brought her wrists abover her head and held them there, lowering his face close to hers. "You give?" he whispered in amusement, his breath mingling with hers.

She stared up at him, getting lost in the tiny green flecks that dotted the golden hue. "Huh?" she asked breathlessly, swallowing as the amusement died in his eyes to be replaced with something she couldn't describe. Something that sent shivers working down her spine.

He'd just lowered his head further as if to speak into her ear, when a sudden voice being cleared above them snapped them both out of their daze.

"Having fun down there?"

They both looked up into the wry face of Maria DeLuca, who stared back at them with a raised brow and a grin. Her blonde hair fell in a stylish wave across her forehead and down her back, and she was wearing one of the typical outfits they'd all dubbed 'Maria Trendy' - meaning it had no rhyme or reason to it.

Today's ensemble was a pair of lime green leather pants that matched the color of her eyes, and a bright orange spandex top. Liz had to bite her lip to keep from giggling as Max jokingly held a hand up to his face as if to ward off the brightness.

"I didn’t know the carnival was in town," he said with a straight face, then winced when Maria brought down her purse over his head. "Hey... what the hell do you carry in that thing?"

"Stuff," she answered sweetly. "So... why are we on the floor?"

"Max was trying to prove his manhood," Liz grunted as she pushed herself to her knees. "Unfortunately... he lost it so many years ago, it's unredeemable."

"Yeah, I'd say he lost it when he played Peter Pan in the fifth grade and had to wear those-" Maria was cut off as Max slapped his hand over her lush red lips.

Liz only snickered. "So... what are you doing here, Mar?" She turned and began pulling books out of the boxes to be sorted while ignoring Max's searching gaze.

"Looking for Deputy Fife. Has he been in?" Maria asked casually as she began leafing through a nearby magazine.

Max and Liz exchanged knowing winks. "He said he had a meeting to go to," Max answered, crossing his arms with a smirk. "Did you two get into it again?"

Maria's lips turned downwards and she made a sound reminiscent to a growling dog. "That man is a complete blight on society! I swear one of these days..." She trailed off, cleared her throat, and smiled brightly. "So, when will he be done with his meeting?"

"He didn't say," Liz replied. "But maybe you should give the guy a break, Maria. After all... not many men are used to keeping up with you."

"What's that supposed to mean?" Maria asked in mock offense.

"It means you move faster than a speeding bullet," Max cut in, shoving a warm doughnut into his mouth. "Before a poor guy can blink, you're onto bigger and better things. It's a little scary."

"Hey, I'm self-sufficient and I know what I want," Maria corrected, lifting one bright-tipped finger.

Max and Liz rolled their eyes at each other. "Right," they both said meekly like trained dogs.

Maria stared at them, then laughed. "Oh... you two are so weird sometimes. Honestly, are you sure you guys aren't related?"

Max made a weird gasping sound while Liz turned bright red. "Funny," she mumbled, shooting him an evil glare while he patted his chest dramatically.

Maria released a long-suffering sigh. "Well... you guys were no help. I guess I'll go stalk the police station until I catch him unaware. Tootles!"

"Michael isn't gonna know what hit him," Liz shook her head, laughing at the thought of her two friends. As she turned around, she caught Max watching her again with that same searching expression. "What?" she finally threw her hands in the air. "Is there something in my teeth?"

His gaze dropped to her mouth and she felt a jolt of heat along with the memory of his lips against hers. "No," he answered slowly. "I was just thinking..."

"What?" she drawled, almost afraid to ask.

He shook his head, returning his gaze to her eyes. His expression became determined, but he simply gave her a half-grin before shrugging his shoulders. "Let's get to work, Liz. The quicker we get this porn shelved, the sooner I can hit the hay. Again."

"It isn't porn," she grumbled, feeling her cheeks heat again. "They're called erotic novels, okay?"

"Do they have sex in them?"

"Well, yes, but-"

"Then they're porn. Believe me, I know."

"Ohhh..." she rolled her eyes. "You're such a guy."

"Glad you noticed."

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Post by Applebylicious » Thu Jul 07, 2005 8:04 am

Chapter 3



“Her legs wrapped around Nathan’s waist as they fell across the bed, hands groping and lips scorching across naked flesh. He pulled back and surged his thick cock inside her tight sheath, making her eyes go dark—“

Liz’s head shot up, her cheeks flushed bright red as Max flipped another page across from her, lips pursed as his golden eyes scanned the novel with interest. She leaped over, yanking the book out of his hands. “Stop it,” she snapped, blowing a chunk of hair from her eyes as she shoved the book onto the shelf, unable to meet his gaze.

“Hey, I was reading that,” he complained, a teasing hint in his husky tone. “And it was just getting to the good part.”

“Buy it and read it later,” she bared her teeth. “Not on my time, Evans.”

“Chilly, chilly,” he chuckled, holding his hands up in surrender while leaning back and stretching out his long legs. “You sure are acting weird today, Liz.”

“Maybe I’m not used to being groped first thing in the morning,” she bit off before she could think twice. As soon as the words left her mouth, she turned around to hide the stain on her cheeks, inwardly calling herself an idiot.

Silence reigned for a few long seconds before he cleared his throat. “Okaaay then…”

She spun around and blurted out, “It’s no big deal. I don’t know what’s wrong with me… I guess it’s just… weird,” she trailed off in a mumble as he stared at her.

“Weird,” he repeated in a strange tone. “Weird, how?”

“God, Max,” she rolled her eyes, cheeks flushing as she stared at the floor. “I know you’re used to… being physical…”

He raised a single brow, folding his arms as she continued to stutter out an explanation.

“…and I’m not,” she managed in a choked tone. “With you, anyway.”

His eyes narrowed and his brows drew together, hands falling to his knees as he leaned forward. “Just who the heck are you used to being physical with?” he wondered in a voice reminiscent to a growl.

She blinked in surprise. “Er… that’s not what I meant,” she said quickly, refusing to ponder over his reaction. “I just… when we kissed…”

His face grew carefully blank, even as something in his eyes shifted with awareness. “When we kissed…” he prompted in a low tone.

“I just didn’t want you to think it meant anything,” she stated lamely. She looked away, transferring her attention to the books beside her. “I just wanted to clear the air about it.”

When he didn’t respond, her anxiety grew. “Max, say something,” she pleaded, hating the fact that she couldn’t quite read what was going on behind his tawny gaze.

He let out a breath and shrugged his shoulders. “I guess I didn’t think it was such a big deal,” he admitted, unknowingly sinking her wild hopes. “I was asleep… I wasn’t really using my head. Or the one on my shoulders, anyway,” he grinned unrepentantly.

Despite the irrational disappointment flowing through her, she forced a snort. “Ass,” she mumbled. “Well, great. It wasn’t a big deal. Let’s finish this stocking… I have to meet up with Isabel for lunch and I still haven’t had a shower.”

He leaned over and took an exaggerated sniff that had her stiffening at his close proximity. “You smell fine to me,” he purred in a low voice. “And what are you and my sister doing playing buddy-buddy?”

“I have no idea,” Liz rolled her eyes, thankful to change the topic. “She called me out of the blue… asked to get together. I didn’t see the harm in it.” She frowned at the dark expression on Max’s face. “What is it?”

“I told her to stay out of it,” he grunted, confusing her further. “That’s so Izzy… hear one thing and do another.”

“Stay out of what?” she wondered. It wasn’t a secret that she and Isabel Evans didn’t exactly get along. Well, it wasn’t that so much as the simple fact that they ran in different circles. In fact, Isabel had been best friends with Pamela. A suddenly sickening feeling began to churn in her stomach as she watched Max’s teeth gnash. “Do you think she’s going to try to pump me for information about you and Pam?”

The grim look on his face gave her the answer. “I would assume she’d have already heard about it from Pam herself. God, she better keep her fat nose out of this.”

“Max!” She shot him a reproving glare. “She’s your sister.”

“Which gives me the right to call her out for being a gossipmonger,” he returned. “Listen, I just remembered… something I have to do. Are you pretty much done here?” He stood and started to brush off his hands before she could answer, his eyes distant and attention obviously elsewhere.

“Uh… sure,” she replied softly, wondering what was going on in his mind. “Go ahead and do… whatever.”

He blinked, then pulled her to her feet. A quick grin spread across his lips as he tugged her ponytail. “See you later, babe.” He bent a brushed a friendly kiss across her lips, leaving her goggle-eyed as he turned and strolled out the store.

“What the hell just happened?” she wondered, hands filled with books and a contemplating frown on her face.


<center>***</center>


“Come on, Mike… pick up the damn phone,” Max muttered, tapping his fingers against his arm as he paced the living room floor. As the extension continued to ring in his ear, he scowled. “Fucking perfect.”

He tossed the phone onto the couch and flopped into the nearest chair, staring broodingly into the blank television screen. One hand ran through his hair, tousling the dark locks as he nibbled his lips in concentration.

His thoughts returned to Liz across town, and a sharp pang went through him. Obviously he’d miscalculated his last move, and by doing so he’d managed to put her on edge. Which was exactly the last place he wanted her.

He wanted her beneath him – writhing and moaning as he rode her long and hard, finally spending the years of pent up lust and frustration that had built between them. It couldn’t all be one-sided. He refused to believe it.

If her reaction to this morning’s test was any indication, then she wanted exactly what he wanted. And if she didn’t… well, he refused to believe that, either. He knew her better than anyone – and was prepared to use everything he knew to his advantage.

There was nothing stopping him now. No interfering friends or partners, no way for a misunderstanding of the magnitude that had happened before. He wasn’t the same naïve kid he’d been years ago.

As if in mockery, words drifted back through his mind… words that now left him ashamed.

“She’ll never love you the way you want. When are you going to give it up, Max? I’m here… and I love you. I want to be with you. I’d never hurt you the way she did…”

How funny, the way words could be construed to prove a point. Too bad the point had been that he was a fool. And by the time he’d realized it… it had been too late.

The sound of the front door opening jerked him from his thoughts and he looked up as she entered the apartment, keys in her teeth and her back facing him. He drank in the sight of her as his blood began to churn the way it had around her for as long as he could remember.

“Hey.” He wasn’t surprised by the longing note in his voice. Clearing his throat, he quirked his lips as she spun around. “I was wondering when you’d get back.”

She watched him warily while placing her purse on the counter, stretching her arms over her head and causing the short tank to ride up her stomach. “I thought you would be gone,” she admitted. “What was so urgent?”

“Nothing you’d be interested in,” he hedged with a shrug. “So… how was lunch?” He pointedly glanced at the running shorts that left a long length of thigh exposed to his gaze.

She paused, and turned on him with raised brows. “Actually, Isabel called to cancel right after you left. Apparently something big went down over at the gallery.”

“Hmm,” he hummed casually. “That’s strange.”

“Not really. It was more surprising that she contacted me in the first place,” Liz snorted. “We haven’t exactly been on the best of terms.”

Max winced theatrically. “You aren’t still pissed about the time she called you Lynn, are you?”

She scowled. “She knows my damn name. We all grew up together, Max. It was a blatant attempt at patronization.”

“Don’t let her get to you.” He was unable to hold back a chuckle at the fire in her eyes. “She’s just jealous that everyone likes you better than her.”

“Well, when you put it that way…” she dissolved into giggles. “God, my feet are killing me,” she added with a moan. “Why did I take up jogging again?”

“Come here, I’ll rub them for you,” he patted his lap as she walked over to collapse on the couch next to him, and lifted one of her legs across his. As he removed her shoe, she stiffened. “What is it?”

“My feet are sweaty,” she mumbled, attempting to move away as he held firm. “Max…”

“I’m a guy – a little sweat isn’t going to hurt me,” he pointed out, peeling her sock off and allowing the cool air to hit her abused feet. She opened her mouth to protest, then melted into a sighing moan as his fingers stroked over her arch.

“Ohh…” she sunk back, eyes falling closed as he began to work her over-used muscles. “God, you are so good at that.”

You’re pretty damn good, too, he thought, struggling not to react to the whimpers of satisfaction escaping her throat. Clearing his throat and the lust that overwhelmed him, he asked, “And what are your plans today?”

It took her a moment to answer, and when she did her voice had taken on a dreamy quality. “Mmm… nothing, really. I did the inventory – that was the most important thing. Why?”

“What do you say we hang out here? Slum it, rent a few movies, do each other’s hair… it’ll be like old times.”

She giggled. “I don’t know… will you let me paint your toenails again?” One eye opened and regarded him with unveiled amusement.

“Hardee har har,” he growled, playfully squeezing her toes as she giggled again. “You know if I hadn’t been… incapacitated—“

“That’s a good word for it.”

“—Then it wouldn’t have happened in the first place,” he finished with a mock glare. “Watch yourself, woman.” He switched feet and smiled as she shifted and sighed. “So, what do you say?”

“Sounds good to me,” she groaned as he hit an extremely sensitive spot. “Oh, Max… that feels so good.”

He was beginning to sweat now, and it had nothing to do with the summer heat. “You uh… you like that?” he rumbled gruffly, unable to keep the stark desire out of his voice.

Her eyes popped open and their eyes locked in an explosive connection… just as the cell phone began ringing between them. Max bit back a vile curse and without looking away from her, reached down and flipped the phone on. “Evans.”

“Guerin,” came the sarcastic reply. “What’s your 20?”

“That cop-talk makes you sound like such a queer,” Max sneered, dropping his hands from Liz’s feet as he stood to find privacy. “I’ll be right back,” he mouthed, ignoring her questioning glance.

“Suck me, then,” came Michael’s intelligent reply. “Where are you?”

“Just entered my office,” he answered, shutting the bathroom door behind him. “So. What did you tell her?”

“I didn’t tell her anything,” came Michael’s reply. “She threatened me with coffee… but I held strong.”

Max snorted. “Good.”

“Seriously, Max. You gotta help me out, here. Maria’s hanging around outside, ready to beat me with my own nightstick. We kind of had a little… tiff.”

“No kidding,” Max grinned, once again confident that his plan had not been ruined. “What did you say to her?”

“Why is it automatically my fault?”

“We’re guys, Mike… you know it’s always our damn fault. Buy her some candy, get her in bed and make it up to her.”

“That’s kind of what the argument was about,” Michael admitted.

“What, sex?”

“Well… I may have said something stupid… like how she screamed so loud that all the dogs in the neighborhood were gonna end up in the bedroom with us,” Michael cleared his throat ruefully when Max started howling. “I meant it as a compliment! You know I love a screamer.”

“Oh, God… thanks for the mental image,” Max groaned, picturing wacky Maria DeLuca screeching at the top of her lungs as she… he shuddered. “You’re gonna have to deal with that on your own, buddy.”

As if he didn’t hear him, Michael continued. “She got mad, started yelling how insensitive I was… well, I got angry, too. And I might have said…”

“Whaaat?” Max wasn’t sure he really needed or wanted to know.

“That if she couldn’t be quiet, I’d muzzle her with whatever I could find, if ya know what I mean,” he spoke meaningfully.

“Oh, Guerin… you shit for brains. How’d you pass the academy, anyway?”

“Crap, here she is. If you don’t hear from me in the next few hours… do me a favor and file a missing person.”

Max shook his head as the other line cut off, and struggled not to grin.

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Post by Applebylicious » Fri Jul 08, 2005 12:07 pm

Chapter 4



“There must be something between us, even if it's only an ocean…”

Liz sighed, leaning over to grab another handful of buttery popcorn, eyes firmly trained on the television where Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr romanced each other on an ocean liner.

“I love this movie,” she murmured, releasing another lingering sigh.

Max glanced up at her from where his head lay propped on opposite arm of the sofa. “I know,” he grumbled good-naturedly. “You make us watch it every time, Liz. I could quote the sappy thing backwards and forwards.”

She tossed the half-eaten handful of popcorn at him, sniffing delicately. “It’s a classic, Maxwell,” she retorted. “An Affair to Remember is one of the best romance movies of all time.”

“And this would matter to me because…?” he drawled, grinning as she tossed him a dirty look. “You just better realize we’re watching Mad Max after this, since we’re talking about classics.”

Liz rolled her eyes, but couldn’t keep from smiling. “Whatever, Max. I don’t expect you to understand.”

“Good.”

They quieted as the movie continued, and when it came to the emotional reunion between the two characters, Max glanced over to see Liz wiping her eyes. His heart began to beat as she nibbled her lip when Grant kissed Kerr as if his life depended on it.

He sat up slowly, not paying a bit of attention to the climactic scene, instead carefully watching his best friend. As the male lead’s hand buried into the female’s hair, he slowly slid his arm across the sofa until his fingers brushed the bare skin of Liz’s shoulders.

She didn’t notice, so enraptured with the movie. He swallowed, inching closer as the couple onscreen whispered words of eternal love. He trailed his hand lightly down her long curtain of hair, releasing a ragged breath at the silky texture. Gooseflesh followed his caress, and he became aware of the stiffening of her shoulders.

He looked up and met her wary gaze. His hand stilling, they stared at each other as the movie credits rolled.

“What are you doing?” she whispered, eyes wide and blinking.

They were so close together, his eyes automatically dropped to her lips, suffocating a groan as she unconsciously licked them. “I don’t know,” he answered softly, lifting his gaze back to hers.

Silence stretched between them, his hand still lying on her skin as lids began to close. “Max…I… I need,” she swallowed as he leaned closer.

“Yeah?” he answered roughly. “What do you need?” His hand dropped from her shoulder and his thumb began to trace the contour of her lower lip as he stared at her through heavy lids.

She let out a little gasp as he leaned closer. “I need… to order the pizza. If we don’t hurry they’ll be closed and—“

He cut her off with a growl and crashed his lips against hers, framing her face with his hands as his tongue licked the seam of her mouth. He could have sworn sparks flew at the meeting, and she moaned as he laid her back against the sofa, crawling on top of her.

“Oh, Maaax…” she sighed, her fingers tangling in his hair and bringing his lips harder against hers. Her legs parted immediately for him to settle between, grinding himself against her as his hands slid down to palm her breasts.

“Baby,” he groaned out, tugging her lip with his teeth as she writhed beneath him. “I want you. I want you so fucking bad…”

She froze against him, then started moving again in a wild fervor. “Get off me!” she hissed, eyes hurt and confused. “Max, move!”

He barely avoided being smacked in the face as she struck out, hissing as her fist came within inches of his nose. “What the hell is your problem?” he demanded gruffly, sitting back and watching her in complete shock. “Liz…?”

“Yeah, Liz,” she reiterated sharply, not meeting his eyes. “Not Pam! So don’t think you can maul me because you’re feeling horny and missing your ex-girlfriend, okay?”

His mouth fell open at her heated words, and he could only stare as she got off the couch and started for the hallway. Snapping out of his daze, he managed to catch her before she slammed the door shut. Fingers closing around her wrist, he spun her around and against his chest.

“Back off!” she cried, and he was shocked again to see the tears lurking behind her angry eyes. “Just… leave me alone, Max.”

“Fuck no,” he growled. “What the hell’s the matter? Why are you freaking out?”

She stared at him for a long moment, a bubble of dry laughter escaping her lips. “Are you serious? You just practically jumped me for no reason, and you’re wondering why I’m freaking out?”

“Jumped you?” he answered in wounded offense.

“Oh, don’t act like you don’t know what it means!” she barked. “I’m sure Pammy loved having you grope her, Max, but I’m… not… Pam!” She accented each word with a sharp tug until she finally managed to break away from him and they stood nose to nose.

“You think I don’t know that?” he hissed back, his own anger starting to take hold. “You think I kissed you because I missed Pam?”

“Didn’t you?” she retorted, crossing her arms defiantly.

“You tell me,” he answered coolly. “Since you seem to think you already know.”

“Don’t take that tone with me,” she poked him hard in the chest as he lifted a brow, glancing down at the movement. “You’ve been acting weird ever since you and that… girl broke up! I’m sick of it, Max!”

“Weird how?”

“How…? Well, well you…” Her brows drew together. “What’s going on? Earlier I was talking to Michael and it just… I feel like there are some things that are completely over my head, Max.”

“Like what?”

“Well…” she nibbled her lips as if uncertain whether to ask the question on her mind. Then she sighed and blurted, “Why didn’t you tell me the truth about Pam, Max? Michael knew… I’m assuming Isabel knew. Why didn’t I?”

“Liz, I already told you—“

“Yeah, you didn’t want me to be upset,” she waved her hands. “But I thought I was your best friend.” Her eyes gazed back at him, hurt and confused. “Why didn’t you tell me she cheated on you?” He winced at the bluntness of the statement, and she mistook his reaction for distress. “Never mind… I shouldn’t have said it like that…” she whispered, turning around with a swallow.

His hand covered hers on the doorknob and she stared at their hands before slowly looking up and meeting his dark gaze.

“I didn’t tell you because if I did… I was afraid of what might happen,” he admitted huskily. “Things that neither of us were ready for, apparently.”

“What are you talking about?” she snapped, although her heart had started beating a quick pulse in her chest. “What has Pam cheating on you have to do with us?”

He stared at her for a long moment before shaking his head and laughing roughly. “Jesus, Parker… what do you think?”

Her brows narrowed at his weary tone, and her hands dropped. “Max—“

“Pam and I haven’t been together for months,” he broke in, rubbing the bridge of his nose as he leaned against the doorframe. “Since that night at the club, actually. You remember that night, don’t you?” His eyes pierced hers, and she found herself quite unable to respond.

Fragments of the night in question skittered through her mind. Did she remember? Of course she did. “I… I don’t understand,” she whispered, shaking her head. “She was here… I saw you… I heard you both…” She trailed off at the expression in his eyes. “Didn’t I?”

He didn’t answer for a moment, then he sighed heavily. “You heard what I wanted you to hear. Well, not what I wanted anymore… but she didn’t know that. And by the time I made her realize it, you had already left with Valenti,” he practically spit the name out. “So what do you care, Liz? You left me that night.”

“I left you?” she blinked, too shocked to be angry at his statement. “Max… what was I supposed to do? Pam was here… ready to throw herself at you! Was I supposed to stand there and watch it?”

“Of course not, you never stick around, do you Liz?” he threw back heatedly. “You always assume the worst about me. I’ve never been enough for the Perfect Parker Priss.”

She gasped at his use of the name that had been used to taunt her throughout high school. “What the hell are you talking about?”

His jaw worked in frustration. “Does prom ring any bells?” he growled, and she stared at him in blank confusion. He turned away and made a sound of disgust. “And you talk to me about pretending!”

“Max, what are you talking about? You spent prom night with Tess Harding!”

“And you spent it with Sean DeLuca!” he threw back in a shout that left them both speechless. “I guess you weren’t so perfect after all, huh?”

She staggered back at the unadulterated rage in his tone. “I have no idea what you’re talking about,” she answered in as cool a tone she could manage when her insides felt battered. “But I swear I’ll slap your face if you ever say something like that to me again.”

He cursed roughly, turning to slam his fist into the door and leaving a dent. “Fucking perfect,” he laughed without humor as his knuckles swelled and blood began to drip. He cupped his hand to keep from dripping on the floor as they glared at each other.

“Why did you kiss me tonight?” she demanded, feeling as if her head would explode from all the vague comments and revelations. He and Pam hadn’t been together that whole time? Then why had he told her they were? Where had he gone every night he’d supposedly stayed there? What was going on?

“You mean, why did I jump you?” he corrected acidly.

She winced at the reminder of her callous words, but nodded. “Yes.”

He stared at her for a long tension-filled moment, then made a sound. “Don’t ask questions you aren’t ready to hear the answers to,” he snapped, and turned to stalk away, leaving her in a state of bewildered surprise.

Leaving her wondering what had just happened.

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Post by Applebylicious » Sat Jul 09, 2005 7:41 am

Chapter 5



“Hey.”

Liz glanced up, tears spiking her lashes as she met Max’s shrouded gaze. She wiped her eyes, sitting up straighter and nervously plucking at the quilt that lay across her legs.

Love Story played out on the screen before her as she fumbled for a box of Kleenex. Blowing her nose delicately, she cleared her throat. “I thought you left,” she said coolly, unable to keep from feeling uncertain as he continued to stare at her with an unreadable expression.

She only hoped he assumed the tears were due to the heart-wrenching romance movie, and not the fact that she was still feeling the quakes from their last argument. She hated fighting with him, but lately, it seemed to be all they did.

She wasn’t quite sure what had happened… only that one minute they’d been watching the movie, laughing and joking around, and the next… she shivered in remembrance of his hands and lips on her. It was her wildest dream come true, and she had loved every moment of it. Until she’d realized he was simply using her as a means of consolation due to a broken heart.

If only she understood his vague comments about Pamela and her and that night…

“I drove around for awhile,” he answered, his voice quiet and apologetic as he took a deep breath. “I… I’m sorry, Elizabeth. I shouldn’t have…”

“What?” she whispered, meeting his gaze as her heart began a slow beat in her chest. “Shouldn’t have what, Max?” Tell me why you kissed me, her mind screamed. Tell me it had nothing to do with Pam.

“I shouldn’t have… attacked you,” he added gruffly, raking a hand through his hair as he stared at her through smoldering eyes. “I apologize.” The words seemed torn from his very soul; his jaw tightened as did his fists at his side. “And I’m sorry for what I said to you afterwards. I didn’t mean any of it. Well, the bad stuff, anyway.”

“What did you mean?” she asked softly, looking at her hands as he stood above her. She swallowed as a thick tension filled the room, wondering if he could detect the pounding in her breast.

For a long moment, he didn’t answer. She heard a heavy sigh and a muffled curse before he whispered, “I don’t want to lose you, Parker.”

Whatever she had been expecting to hear, that wasn’t it. With a jolt of surprise, her eyes whipped to his and she saw blank misery in his gaze. “Lose me?” she echoed. “Max… what…?”

“If we weren’t friends anymore… for whatever reason… it would kill me,” he continued hoarsely. “I thought about it while I was out. I just… you’re in here, Liz.” He patted his chest, right above where his heart lay. “You’ve been in here for so long, you’re a part of me. If I somehow screwed all that up, and you don’t want a friend like me…”

She began shaking her head. “Max…”

“I couldn’t handle it,” he blurted out, quieting them both with the shakiness in his voice. “I’m sorry,” he whispered again, and she felt something inside of her break at the lost expression on his face.

Forgetting any lingering traces of anger or hurt she felt towards him, she stood up and walked forward to wrap her arms around him. “Shh,” she whispered, tucking her head beneath his chin as his arms came up to embrace her tightly. “I’m not going anywhere,” she added gently.

The held onto each other for a long moment before he whispered thickly, “So you don’t want to kick me out and find a new roommate?” His breath brushed past her ear, sending pleasant chills down her flesh. “I’ve been such a jackass, Liz.”

“You’re always a jackass,” she answered, although there was nothing but affection in her tone. “And I don’t have the time or inclination to break in a new roomie. Looks like you’re it, Evans.”

She felt him smile against her hair, but when he pulled back something flashed in his eyes. She blinked, but before she could ponder the significance of the emotion, he was smiling at her like the good buddy he was.

“Liz, I want to—“

Before he could finish, the phone began to ring in sharp tones across the room. Liz closed her eyes briefly before offering him a wry smile. “Ignore it, what were you going to say?”

“Well, I wanted to know if— oh, just answer it,” he grumbled when she kept looking over to the phone.

“This will only take a minute,” she promised, skipping across the room. “It’s probably Maria, anyway,” she added as she picked up the receiver. “Hello?”

Max watched as her smile changed, and she shot a wary glance at him. One brow quirked until he heard her say, “Kyle… hi.” Everything in him went hot with jealousy as he thought of the slick Italian who had held Liz’s interest for a time, no matter that they had broken up shortly after.

In his mind, he would always remember waiting for her to show up so he could inform her of the news that he had broken up with Pamela, to take her in his arms and finally let her know how he felt for her… only to see her walk in with Kyle Valenti. The fact that in one hand she held a suitcase and the other was gripped by none other than Kyle himself, his heart had methodically done a nose dive and shattered upon impact.

He hated that they still talked. He hated that Kyle Valenti knew Liz in a way he didn’t, a way he longed to. He hated the fact that she liked spending time with him, that he made her laugh. He wanted all her laughter for himself.

When she giggled, he grimaced at the light sound, biting his tongue as she smiled and answered something the bastard had asked her in a flirtatious way that set his teeth on edge.

“Right now?” he heard her ask, and she nibbled her lip before glancing over at him. He pasted a smile on his face, but wondered if his ire wasn’t obvious by the way she stared at him strangely. “Well… Max and I are kind of having quality time…” she trailed off with another giggle. “Kyle!”

Unable to take anymore, he turned around and headed for the kitchen to grab something to eat. But he could still hear her soft voice from the living room. Popping a grape in his mouth, he chewed ferociously on the sweet fruit, wiping the juice from his mouth while frowning.

She walked in a moment later, meeting his eyes fleetingly before pulling the fridge back open to take out a drink for herself.

“How’s Valenti?” he asked in what he hoped was a pleasant tone and not one that screamed of his envious hatred for the other man. Fortunately, she was no longer looking at him so she didn’t catch the scary semblance of a smile that was stretched across his lips.

“Um… he’s good,” she answered casually. “He wanted to get together tonight, but I told him we were hanging out.” He watched as she cleaned the top of the coke can with the hem of her shirt before taking a sip.

“Oh,” he replied, feeling slightly mollified.

“We’re just going to get together sometime tomorrow,” she added, carefully not meeting his gaze as she skirted around him on the way back to the living room. She needn’t have worried.

He stood stock still, trying to wrap himself around her statement. “Get together… as in a date?” he demanded, following her as she plopped down on the sofa.

“Maybe,” she shrugged her shoulders. “It’s nothing serious, Max. Stop worrying, okay? Kyle’s a great guy and… I like him. We have fun together.”

Something that resembled a growl escaped his throat. “What kind of fun?” he muttered between his teeth, finally catching her attention. “I thought you two were just friends?”

“We are,” she shrugged again. “But we also… aren’t.”

“Sounds complicated,” Max quirked an arrogant brow, wondering why she couldn’t see that she was ripping him apart. “So what, you’re back together now?”

Liz let out a sigh, picking up the remote. “It’s not like that, okay?” She chewed her lips for a moment while Max stewed in silence, before adding, “With Kyle… he makes me feel comfortable, Max. There’s no demands from him. No strings. He’s just… fun.”

“Sounds like me and you,” Max joked flatly, but she didn’t seem to catch the irony in his statement.

“Oh, no… it’s different from us,” she assured quickly.

The vein at his temple began to throb. “How,” he asked politely, “so?”

She shifted uneasily, then turned and gave him a big grin. “It just is. Come on, let’s just watch the movies, okay? Stop being such a… brother figure.”

He was far from being ready to end the conversation, but she promptly turned her attention towards the television. With a last fulminating glance at her, he crossed his arms and turned to stare at the movie playing across the room.

His silence lasted all of five minutes.

“He’s too short,” he grumbled, not moving his glance away as the words left his lips. He felt more than saw Liz look over at him in surprise.

“What?” she asked in confusion. “Who… Max! Kyle is not short!” She frowned and smacked him on the arm. “He’s nearly the same height as you!”

“That’s not true,” Max replied vehemently. “I’m way taller than that pri… guy.” He glared at Liz. “I’m just saying… you’re petite, Liz. You need someone who isn’t going to give you midget children one day.”

“Who said anything about children?” she cried, mouth open in bewilderment. “Max, Kyle’s a nice guy, a good friend. If you would only give him a chance—“

“I don’t want to give him a chance,” Max snapped in reply, shoving a hand through his hair as his lower lip poked out in a pout. “I see the way he looks at you, Liz. And it has nothing to do with friendship, okay?”

“Oh, then what does it have to do with?” she asked sarcastically, rolling her eyes as he fumed beside her. “Please, Max… tell me, what does Kyle think of me?”

“He thinks you’re hot,” Max growled, grabbing her thigh where she had unconsciously begun swinging her foot. “God, Liz… he’s a guy. Guys don’t have girl friends.”

“What about us?”

“We’re different,” Max echoed her earlier sentiments in a dry voice. “Remember?”

They stared at each other, then both turned and fell back against the couch with their arms crossed. “I hate when you treat me like I’m a fifteen year old who needs supervision,” she said a second later. “I’m not fifteen anymore, Max. I don’t need your advice, okay?”

“I’m just trying to say—“

“Well, don’t!”

“Fine!”

“Good.”

“Great.”

“Wonderful.”

“Fabulous,” Max snapped. “I need a beer.”

As he stormed out of the room, Liz rolled her eyes at his overprotective behavior. She’d never understand why Max felt the need to play her big brother when it came to her love life. She didn’t interfere in his, now did she? Hell no. She didn’t want to touch that with a ten-foot pole. Apparently, Max didn’t feel the same sense of respect towards hers.

“You want anything?” he called from the kitchen.

“I’m good,” she answered, feeling frustrated for some unknown reason. Well, that wasn’t quite true. She knew damn good and well why she was feeling frustrated… because she was in love with a man who had absolutely no interest in her aside from feeling the need to control her dating life.

She ignored the memory of his hot mouth coasting down her neck, nibbling her lips as his hands molded her flesh. Squirming uncomfortably as desire filled her, she jumped when he reappeared with a crease in his brow.

“I thought we weren’t going to fight,” he stated blandly, quirking a brow as she moved away from him on the sofa.

“We aren’t fighting,” she assured him. “We’re just… agreeing to disagree.”

“On what?” One side of his mouth lifted in a sexy half-grin. She hated that damn grin, and its effect on her. Nearly as much as she loved it.

“On my relationship with Kyle,” she stated firmly.

“Oh… that.” He grimaced painfully. “It’s a relationship now? Jesus, Parker…”

“Not another word. I mean it, Max.”

He watched her for a moment before shrugging and letting out a long-suffering sigh. “Fine.” He thrust out his hand and took a swig of the beer. “Hand me the remote, I’m in the mood for something violent,” he mumbled.

Liz simply sighed and handed it over.

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Post by Applebylicious » Sun Jul 10, 2005 10:30 am

Chapter 6



“I can’t believe you’re doing this.”

Maria shook her head as Liz spritzed herself with perfume. She popped a stick of gum in her mouth and sighed heavily. “Are you sure you want to get involved with Kyle Valenti again?”

“What’s wrong with Kyle?” Liz asked, a little harsher than expected, but dammit… she was sick of people feeling the need to correct her on her dating habits!

“Whoa!” Maria held her hands up, crossing herself theatrically as Liz scowled. “Chill out, sister. I was only saying… he and Max don’t get along very well. Don’t you think you’d rather just avoid that little pissing contest?”

“If they don’t get along, it’s because Max doesn’t try,” Liz decided, turning away to pull a silky dress over her head. “But Max isn’t the one dating him, so it really doesn’t matter what he thinks.”

“Whatever,” Maria mumbled, standing up. “Well, I’m going to be late stalking Michael on his way home if I don’t get going.” She checked her watch and let out a little sigh. “He just had to change his shift so that I miss the beginning of The Real Gilligan’s Island.”

Liz giggled at the frustration in her friend’s tone. “Have you thought about just calling him?” she suggested, lifting one foot to slide on a slim stiletto heel. “Why all the stalking anyway?”

“Because he’s a coward!” Maria growled. “Do you know I sat outside of his office for two hours yesterday, and he snuck out of the window to avoid talking to me? Liz… his office is on the second floor!”

“Maria… I love you, sweetie… but don’t you think that maybe he’s trying to tell you something?”

Maria blinked her lashes and stared at her like she was an idiot. “Tell me what?”

“Well… I mean… he jumped out of a second story window to avoid talking to you,” Liz pointed out, trying not to imagine the incident in question, lest she start giggling at a very inopportune time.

“Yeah, like I said, he’s a coward!” Maria cried out. “He knows I’m going to blast him for the completely moronic things he said the other night, and instead of taking his lumps like a real man, he’s skulking around at work and taking the long way home at night, just to throw me off the scent.”

“Okay, you’re scaring me now,” Liz admitted, reaching out to grasp her purse. “Really, Maria… you need to stop chasing Michael around! Let him come to you and grovel, okay?”

“I want an apology, damn it!”

“And how do you plan on getting one when you’re following him around and basically forcing him into the Witness Protection Program?”

Maria looked ready to argue, but then slumped back in a pout. “I’m not that bad.”

“Of course not,” Liz murmured consolingly. “Now… I suggest you go home, take a bubble bath and watch your reality shows. And don’t call Michael and leave fifteen hang-up calls, okay?”

“I wasn’t going to do that,” she answered in a mock gasp, but couldn’t quite meet Liz’s knowing gaze. “Ohh… fine! But if he doesn’t come back crawling in a few days, I’m wiping my hands clean of the big buffoon. Mark my words, Liz! Mikey G will be history!”

“I’ll pass the information along,” Liz replied, taking Maria’s arm and walking her out of the room and towards the front door. They passed by Max, who was reclining on the sofa in a pair of navy sweatpants and nothing else as he munched on a bag of chips, eyes glued to the television.

“Hey, hey… you’re blocking the tube!” he growled when they walked by. “What that bitch got all that ass for?”

“I got a fat ass and I know how to tote it,” Maria sang back as she wiggled her hips on the way out of the door, causing Max to chuckle as the door shut behind her.

His smile faded as he got his first good look at Liz, and she shifted uncomfortably beneath his hooded gaze. “Well?” she turned in a circle, nose in the air as she tried to ignore the fact that her palms were sweating as he watched her with an unreadable expression.

“You look…” he shook his head. “Wow.”

The appreciative growl nearly caused her to start trembling as he sat up. She blurted out the first thing that came to her mind. “Do you think Kyle will like it?” The second the words left her mouth, she closed her eyes and wanted to die.

The building smile fell from his mouth and his lips flattened. “Yeah, sure. Whatever,” he mumbled shortly, falling back against the couch and dismissing her from his gaze.

Just as she was about to say more, the doorbell rang behind her and she nearly jumped out of the small black sheath that covered her body. Max stiffened and appeared to prepare himself for battle as she turned and wiped her hands down the sides of the silky dress before taking a deep breath.

She opened the door, smiling as she caught sight of Kyle leaning against the railing. “Hi,” she said in genuine pleasure. She might not feel the same way for him as she did other clueless individuals, but she truly adored him as a person. And who knew, maybe this time it could be more.

“Hi, yourself,” Kyle’s blue eyes lit as they made a slow but inoffensive journey down her body, taking her in before he looked back up and smiled. “You look… wow.”

She heard Max snort from inside the apartment, and resisted the urge to turn around and shriek at him. Instead, she smiled and took Kyle’s hand to lead him inside. “How have you been?” she asked, squeezing his fingers as they entered the living room.

“Better now that you’ve agreed to see me again,” he murmured in a richly seductive tone, lifting her hand to his lips and kissing it lightly. She braced herself for the pleasant chills to sweep her body, but nothing happened.

Trying not to be disappointed, she laughed and gently removed her hand from his. “Still a charmer, I see,” she glanced over to see Max rudely staring at their altercation. The second their eyes met, something flashed between them and she shivered. Calling herself ten different kinds of fool for reacting to him so strongly, she attempted to make the formal introductions and get the hell out of there. “Kyle, I don’t believe you ever really met my roommate, Max. Max, this is Kyle Valenti. Kyle, Max Evans."

All politeness, Kyle crossed over and reached out a hand. “Nice to meet you, Max. I’ve heard a lot about you from Elizabeth,” he tossed her a small smile that caused Max’s brow to furrow as he took the other man’s hand.

“That’s interesting. Elizabeth has been very closemouthed about you,” he stated in a voice that could only be construed as rude and provoking. Judging by the widening of Kyle’s eyes, his grip wasn’t that of a civil handshake, either.

“Yes, well…” Kyle cleared his throat uncomfortably as Max continued to hold onto his hand despite the tugs Kyle used to break away.

“Max,” Liz laughed tightly, shooting her best friend a fulminating glare. “He’s a little… protective of me, that’s all. You can let go of Kyle now, Max. He isn’t going to hurt me.”

She’d meant the words as a casual buffer, but Max merely answered in a low growl, “If you do, you’ll deal with me, got it pal?”

Liz closed her eyes and wanted to sink into the floor. “God, Max!” she hissed.

“It’s all right,” Kyle said, pulling away and staring in bemusement at the red marks on his hand. “I have a few women friends of my own, not to mention a sister. I’d feel the same way.”

“Oh really?” Max asked coolly. “Women friends? Is that right?” He directed a pointed look towards Liz as she glared back at him. “Isn’t that… something?”

“We’re leaving,” she stated, not even bothering to hide her aggravation. “If you need me, call the cell. And don’t wait up,” she added purely to make him feel as irritated as she did.

Kyle remained silent as the two glared at each other. Finally Max snorted and looked away towards the television. “Have a good time,” he said mockingly.

“Oh, we will,” Liz snapped. With that, she took Kyle’s hand and practically dragged him out of the apartment.

“Well, that was…” Kyle trailed off with a little laugh. “He seems very…”

“Infuriating?” Liz bit off. “Ignore him, okay? He’s just… taking his role as best friend way, way too far.”

“Best friend?” Kyle asked softly. “Is that what you think he is?”

“Well, of course! What else would he be?” Liz asked absently, too busy steaming over the fact that Max had managed to succeed in putting a damper on her evening with Kyle before they’d even left the house. Damned if she would let it continue.

Kyle didn’t answer, merely made a humming sound in his throat as he led her towards the sleek black Corvette that was his pride and joy, proof of his obvious hard work at a prestigious law firm.

Liz was still cursing herself over allowing Max to get under her skin, when she looked up and saw Kyle holding the door open, one brow raised as he watched her. She glanced up at the living room window and made a split second decision. She’d show Max who was in charge of Elizabeth Parker.

Ignoring Kyle’s outstretched hand, she gripped the lapels of his smoothly pressed polo shirt and yanked him towards her, fusing their mouths together as she kept her eyes wide open to eye the window. Sure enough, she saw the curtain flutter and nearly smirked.

Meanwhile, Kyle made a sound of surprise as he pulled away. “Elizabeth?” he breathed heavily. “What was that?”

Licking her lips, she smiled. “Sorry. I just… couldn’t help myself.” She felt a pang of guilt as he stared back at her as if knowing exactly why she had done what she did. But she pushed it away, knowing that she truly planned to give their relationship a chance. “Let’s go,” she whispered softly, leaning forward to press another gentle kiss against the corner of his mouth, teasing slightly with her tongue.

He relaxed and his hands fell lightly to her hips, dragging her closer. “Mm… that’s nice,” he admitted, allowing her to deepen the kiss for a moment before pulling away and smiling at her. “Ready?”

“Sure,” she smiled back, hoping he couldn’t see the disappointment she was feeling. Disappointment that she hadn’t felt anything at all.

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Post by Applebylicious » Mon Jul 11, 2005 8:46 am

Just thought I'd answer the infamous "When are we getting to the new chapters??" question, lol. The last chapter posted on this board was Chapter Ten. I'm posting Chapter Seven today, eight on Tuesday, etc...so you all will be getting a brand spankin' new part to read on Friday. Enjoy until then, and thanks for the feedback! :D

hugs, Linds



Chapter 7


"I’ve missed seeing you, Elizabeth,” Kyle murmured as he held her in his arms. They swayed gently in time with the sexy sound of a saxophone. “Have you thought about me at all?”

Liz glanced up and smiled. “Of course I have,” she answered softly, feeling a wave of affection wash over her as she gazed into Kyle’s gentle blue eyes. A lock of sandy hair fell across his forehead and she reached up to brush it away.

He caught her hand, slowly bringing it to his lips. He wondered just went on behind those liquid brown eyes. His gaze dropped to her lips, and he felt compelled to taste the lush softness, but held back due to the nervous energy he could feel pulsating from her.

She might not realize it, and after a few glasses of wine it had gradually dimmed, but he could tell she wasn’t entirely comfortable being there with him. Not that she seemed to be having a bad time, she just didn’t seem all… there. He had lost track of how many times he’d caught her staring off into the distance, a strange expression of longing on her gorgeous features. It didn’t take a doctorate of philosophy to figure out what she was thinking of. Or whom.

Carefully, he whispered, “What have you thought of?” Running his hand in soft circles against the silky texture of her back, he watched with some amusement as she looked back up and blinked, a wealth of lashes fluttering as she eyed him warily.

Then she appeared to understand, and her lips parted. “Mostly, I thought about how much I wished we had seen more of each other,” she admitted softly. “We claimed to have parted ways as friends, but we never attempted to hold onto a friendship.”

He raised a brow, feeling his lips quirk as well. “I would have thought the reason why was obvious.” Nearly as obvious as what was between them now. When she looked genuinely confused, he sighed and brought her closer before turning to lead them back towards their table. When they were both seated, he took her hand and looked her directly in the eye. “You stopped seeing me because of Max.”

Her large eyes widened impossibly, then flicked away. “No… no, that wasn’t the reason,” she said quickly, but her cheeks flushed and gave her away.

He bit back a sigh of frustration. “Liz, don’t lie to me,” he rebuked gently, catching her chin and bringing her eyes back to his own. “You never have to lie to me.”

She caught her lower lip between her teeth. “Kyle, I…” she trailed off, breathing raggedly. “I’m sorry…” her voice broke. “I don’t know if I can do this.” She looked away, tears filling her eyes as Frank Sinatra’s smooth voice crooned in the background.

Kyle felt an acute disappointment, but at the same time he felt compassion for the obvious conflict raging inside of her. “Hey,” he murmured, “look at me.” When she did, he smiled and shook his head. “You even look beautiful when you cry,” he observed. “Tell me something, Elizabeth Parker… are you absolutely perfect?”

“Me?” she croaked out a tearful laugh. “You’re kidding, right? No one’s ever called me perfect before, unless it was to make fun of me. In fact, Max usually…” She trailed off and her eyes darkened as Kyle breathed in understanding.

“You’re in love with Max,” he stated softly. “Liz… why are you here with me?”

Her eyes flew to his, terror filling the brown depths. “I’m not,” she shook her head, nearly in a panic. “No… I’m not.” Her voice broke and she pulled away from him, staring at the table as she repeated, “I don’t love him.”

He watched silently as several emotions crossed her features. He could nearly read her mind, her face was an open canvas for the thoughts now racing through her mind. He was about to open his mouth, when she spoke again.

“I don’t want to feel for him,” she whispered. “Nothing good can come of it and I… I just…” She swallowed. “He’s not the right person for me, Kyle. As friends, yes, but he’s entirely wrong for me any other way. God, you should see the way we fight about the most ridiculous things, and the man just can’t seem to understand how to put his clothes in the damn hamper… never mind the fact that I tell him nearly every day, and then there’s—“

As she continued, Kyle’s mouth fell open until he was nearly gaping in amazement. Liz couldn’t know just how much she came to life when she spoke of her best friend. Her eyes sparkled in a way he’d never seen directed towards himself or anyone else, color filled her cheeks, and her lips curved even as she complained of everything under the sun.

“—he’s obnoxious, he curses too much, and he’s just… a complete guy. I mean, we have a special place on the mantel for his special edition G.I. Joe action figure,” she rolled her eyes, even as she grinned. “And God forbid, if someone moves it. He throws a complete fit, and then just…” She finally caught Kyle’s expression. Embarrassed heat flooded her face, and she cleared her throat and squeaked, “Anyway, I don’t feel that way about him.”

“Liz… not to sound trite, but are you trying to convince me… or yourself?” Kyle chuckled wryly. He let out a sigh and rubbed the bridge of his nose. “I can’t say I’m surprised. I sort of already got the hint when your best friend attempted to break my hand off earlier.”

“No, Kyle… it’s not like that,” Liz pleaded in near desperation. When Kyle made a low sound of doubt, she inhaled sharply. “There’s nothing between Max and I. I… I wouldn’t be here if there was.” As soon as she said it, she recognized the meaning behind her words. She had meant it to come across that she was here by choice – because she wanted to be there. With Kyle. Instead, her true feelings had come forth, proving that she was there because she couldn’t be with Max. She sat, frozen, mortified. “Kyle… I…”

“It’s all right,” he answered gently. “Like I said, I’ve suspected as much for a long time, Elizabeth. Which is why I was surprised when you accepted my invitation for tonight.”

“You’re my friend, Kyle,” Liz said in a hurt voice. “I wanted to see you.”

“But you let me believe it could be something more than friendship,” Kyle pointed out, not unkindly. When Liz looked down in shame, he laughed again, then groaned. “Dating you will never be boring, Liz Parker.”

She glanced up in surprise. “But I thought…?” she trailed off, swallowing as he stared at her with those clear blue eyes. She couldn’t help but wish they were a warm amber, then immediately felt guilty. “You still want to date me, after everything…?”

“I know, I must be insane,” Kyle murmured. “Wishing to spend time with a beautiful woman, trying to see if I can make her feel even an ounce of what I feel for her. Someone better lock me up, and quick. I’m a hazard to society.”

She couldn’t keep from giggling as he grinned devilishly at her. “Oh, Kyle, you are a good friend,” she sighed, reaching over to tangle their fingers together. “But I… I can’t. I can’t use you this way,” she sighed. “Not that I wouldn’t like to. You’re a… well… you’re a gorgeous man, and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t attracted to you. In fact, I’ll probably be kicking myself in the morning for this, but I just—“ She stopped when she realized he was laughing at her, shaking his head back and forth.

“Do you always ramble on when you’re nervous?” he grinned, squeezing her hand as she pouted. “Liz, relax. I’m not looking for anything serious… at the moment, anyway. I’d just… I’d like to see you. I’d like for you to give me a chance. See if I can’t change your mind.”

She opened her mouth to refuse, then had a thought. What was she doing? The man knew her feelings for Max, and he still wanted to spend time with her. She wouldn’t be leading him on, and who knew… maybe he could change her mind. She’d be crazy not to give it a chance, and wasn’t that her plan to begin with? “It wouldn’t be serious?” she asked, wincing at the tacky way that sounded. “I mean, I just want us to be on the same page…”

“We are,” he assured in a soothing tone. “But the page hasn’t been written yet. So who knows what could happen, right? And isn’t that half the fun?”

She nibbled her lip, the two halves of her mind warring against each other. On one hand, here was the chance to get over Max, to possibly find love with a man who obviously had similar feelings for her. But on the other, there was the distinct possibility for this to all end in hurt feelings. “I don’t know…” she hedged.

Kyle slid down the velvet-lined booth until he was pressed against her. “We’ll keep things casual,” he murmured, stroking her lower lip with his thumb. “And see where it goes… okay?” Then he leaned in and kissed her, gently tracing the seam of her mouth with his tongue.

She couldn’t deny that the feeling was pleasurable, but it couldn’t compare with the few torrid kisses she’d exchanged with Max. She closed her eyes and deliberately threw herself into the kiss, hoping desperately for something… some sort of signal that she was making the right decision. But nothing happened, no stars exploded behind her eyes, no jolt of heat burst inside of her. If anything, a comfortable warmth crept across her skin, leaving her feeling… well, pleasant. It was enough.

She pulled away and met his questioning gaze. Licking her lips, she nodded slowly. “Okay, let’s give it a try.”

<center>***</center>



Max stared at the beer held in his hands, slowly rolling the long-neck between his palms as he listened to the sound of rain hitting the windowpanes. He glanced over at the clock, and his lips tightened at the late hour. Muffling a curse under his breath, he set the bottle on the coffee table with a sharp crack and stood, gripping the back of his head as he paced the darkened living room.

He couldn’t get the image of Liz kissing the fancy lawyer out of his mind, and his chest tightened in pain and frustration. He didn’t doubt she’d done it to prove a point to him, and she’d proven it well. He just wished he knew what point it was.

So maybe he’d stepped out of line when Kyle had shown up, doing all but engaging the other male in a pissing contest. Subconsciously, he supposed he was simply trying to show Liz what she was missing by choosing Kyle Valenti over him. Too bad he’d pushed the issue to the point that Liz had ended up making out with the guy in the parking lot, allowing him to run his hands up and down her body…

“Fuck!” he shouted, feeling something snap inside of him at the exact same moment lightening struck outside the window, illuminating his heavy-breathing form in its luminescent glow.

He started towards the closet, determined to grab his jacket and drive around until he found whatever goddamned restaurant they were at and drag her out of there. God help both of them if she had gone home with him.

The sound of knocking stopped his fuming strides, and he paused before turning to move towards the door. His heart beat heavily, even though he realized Liz would never knock on the door. But maybe she’d lost her key… or maybe something had happened and she hadn’t been able to get in touch with him…

Without bothering to check who it was, he threw the door open and stared in shock at the person standing on the front porch. “Pamela.”

The sultry blonde smiled weakly, wrapping her arms around her tiny stomach as she blinked her long lashes at him. She was wearing a knee-length coat, and everything about her was perfectly put together, despite the thunderstorm raging around them. “Hello, Max.”

Once the worry had left his system, it was replaced with disgusted curiosity. “What in the hell are you doing here?” he demanded coolly. When she looked taken aback by his tone and words, he cocked a sardonic brow. “Surely you didn’t think I’d be happy to see you?”

Her pouty lips fell open in a surprised moue. “Max, how can you say such a thing to me?” she murmured, tears filling her crystal blue eyes.

He snorted, not falling for her fake upset ever again. “It isn’t difficult, believe me.”

“Max, I know you’re upset with me,” she bit her full lower lip, looking up at him through her lashes. “I just, I needed to see you. To explain about what… happened.”

He laughed without humor. “You mean about you fucking some guy in a bar bathroom? What’s to explain, Pam?” he wondered, crossing his muscular arms. “And I don’t want or need your explanations. I just want to know what the hell you’re doing here.”

Her expression melted into anger. “You’re the one who broke up with me, Max. You have no right to be upset or angry about what I do. You made your decision!”

“You’re absolutely right,” he responded. “I only wish I’d made it years before. Once more, why are you here? And if you evade the question again, I’ll just go back inside and—“

“All right!” she snapped, all traces of distress disappearing in a sneer. “I left some things here. I want to get them back.”

His eyes narrowed at her calculating tone, but he simply opened the door and sarcastically gestured her inside. “Be my guest.”

She sniffed as she passed by, deliberating pressing up against him as he stiffened. “It might take a minute,” she purred. “After all, I practically lived here for awhile.”

“More like you just made yourself at home,” he bit off. “Make it quick, Pamela. And rest assured that I’ll be checking everything you take out of my house.”

She gasped. “Are you accusing me of stealing from you?” she asked icily, and when he simply made a face she glared. “I don’t know what I ever saw in you, Max Evans.”

“That makes two of us,” he responded silkily. “Then again… I’m pretty sure I know what you got out of it.”

She smiled meanly. “Ah yes, where is the adorable little roommate?” she wondered. “Don’t tell me you scared her away already, Max. I would have thought you’d have her by now. Or did you screw it up just like you screw up everything else?”

“Get your stuff and get the hell out,” he said in a shaky tone filled with anger. “I fucking mean it, Pamela.”

“You’ll never be what she wants,” Pamela sneered as she walked down the hallway towards Max’s bedroom. “Especially after she finds out what you did. Isn’t that why you came to me in the first place?”

“I came to you because I mistakenly believed you were a good person,” Max whispered, rubbing his eyes as pain filled his heart at memories past. “More the fool, me.”

He was still standing there when the door opened again, and Liz stepped through, mumbling. “Haven’t I told him to lock the door? How many times… Max!” she squealed upon turning to see him staring at her in horror.

“Liz!” he stated dumbly. “You’re back…”

She frowned as he flicked a glance towards the hallway. “Yes,” she answered slowly. “Max, is something wrong? You look…” She meant to say pale, but all breath escaped her throat when the voice filtered through the hallway.

“Max? Is someone here?”

Max winced and stared at her with unreadable eyes as she felt everything inside of her go numb. Her purse slid from her grasp, landing on the ground with a soft thud as she gazed at him in hurt.

“Liz,” he stepped forward, but she froze him with a glare.

“Pamela’s here?” she whispered, her vision blurring. “I thought you were… I thought…”

“Max?” Pamela called again, stepping out into the living room. She looked surprised to see Liz, then smiled nastily. “Well, well… the roommate returns. Darling, could you help me back here one moment?” she cooed at a stoic Max.

“Pamela’s here to pick up her things,” Max explained meaningfully, never moving his intense gaze from Liz.

Liz glanced over and saw the coat still wrapped around Pamela’s lithe form. Now that her heart was once again beating, she noted that Pam didn’t appear to have been involved in anything torrid with Max. Another glance towards her best friend proved the same conclusion. Feeling like an idiot, she closed her eyes and turned away to pick up her purse. “Of course,” she murmured. “I’ll just… go change.”

“What a pretty dress,” Pamela purred silkily. “Why Liz… where have you been? I thought you only hung around here and at that little store you run.”

“Pamela,” Max said in warning, but Liz stiffened her back and turned to face her nemesis.

“I was on a date,” she answered frostily. “And now I’m tired. I think I’ll go to bed now, goodnight.”

“A date?” Pamela appeared surprised, then laughed as she turned a bright smile in Max’s direction. “Well, isn’t that wonderful, Max? I always wondered why you never dated, Liz. In fact, for the longest time I wondered if you had feelings for my boyfriend… after all, Max is quite a stud.” The last was said sweetly, but anyone could notice the razor-edge beneath her tone.

“Let me help you with those things,” Max said softly. “Liz, I need to talk to you after Pamela leaves.”

“I don’t think so, Max,” she answered. She felt drained, the enjoyable time she’d spent with Kyle all but forgotten in the wake of Pamela’s presence in their apartment. She ignored Max calling her name as she turned and walked down the hall.

She heard the faint sounds of arguing coming from Max’s room as she stripped and prepared for bed. Crawling between the sheets, she heard the front door close and quickly shut her eyes as footsteps echoed down the hall. A faint knock sounded on her door, and she struggled to breathe evenly as Max opened it slightly.

“Liz?” he whispered into the dark room. “Liz, I know you’re awake.”

She didn’t answer, not knowing what to say. She waited as he sighed and added, “Liz… I’m sorry for earlier. I’m sorry for… a lot of things. Whenever you’re ready to hear my apology, you know where to find me.”

With that, he shut the door and she let out her breath as she heard another door close. She curled up tightly beneath the blankets and squeezed her eyes shut, determined not to cry.

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Post by Applebylicious » Tue Jul 12, 2005 9:54 am

Chapter 8


“Just look at him,” Max grumbled, falling back against his chair with a grunt of disapproval as he watched the laughing couple standing a few yards away. “I don’t trust that guy.”

Michael lifted one brow, following his friend’s gaze. “He seems nice enough to me,” he smirked, inciting another malicious grunt from Max. “Lighten up, they’re just talking.”

“Just talking?” Max repeated through his teeth, openly glaring as Kyle stooped to brush back a few wayward strands of Liz’s hair. Damn it, that was his gesture! “Look at the way he looks at her. Like he could…could…”

“Eat her in one big bite?” an amused voice purred, and they both glanced over to find Maria shaking her head. “Y’all are pathetic. Pa-the-tic.”

“Here we go,” Michael hummed beneath his breath, plastering a smile on his face as he leaned back casually. “Hey babe…what’s up?”

“Babe?” she echoed, stepping closer as her eyes shot green sparks. “Babe? Why you son of a…” She trailed off, speaking in rapid Spanish as Max sat there blinking.

In an aside to Michael he whispered, “Did she just tell you that broccoli grows out of your ass?”

Michael couldn’t tear his eyes off of the still yammering Maria. He shook his head slowly, his lids falling halfway closed. “Hell if I know. Isn’t she fucking hot when she’s cussing me out in different languages?”

Max made a face and sat back, rolling his eyes. “Yeah…it’s a real turn on.” His gaze fell back to where Liz and Kyle were still lingering together. His mouth turned down in a sullen frown, his fingers clenching as he watched Kyle lean forward and place a chaste kiss against her cheek.

A light blush crept up her face, and she turned and caught him staring at her. He unabashedly returned her gaze, not caring if she could see the jealousy etched in his features. He cocked a brow, folding his arms across his chest and slumped further down in the seat, legs spreading apart.

Her gaze drifted down to his groin and he bit back a smirk as she blinked and turned dark red before looking quickly away. Oh…she wasn’t as unaffected by him as she thought she was. He’d caught onto that little fact. If only he could figure out a way to make her see it…and believe it.

Kyle’s deep chuckle sounded through the air and his fingers bit into his biceps as he glared at the perfectly put together male. He’d have to find a way to get past that little roadblock, too. He studied Kyle carefully, his mind working at a fevered pitch. There had to be something wrong with him. Something he could use against him to get Liz to see that he wasn’t perfect…for her.

At this point, he’d take a habit of leaving the toilet seat up.

He barely noted when Michael suddenly stood up and carried Maria off through the park, her vicious oaths still ringing in the air. Max’s full concentration was focused on Kyle Valenti. Mr. Smooth.

He’d see how smooth he really was. After all, he pondered with a roll of his shoulders, all’s fair in love and war. With that in mind, he pushed up from the chair with determination, striding across the lawn towards Liz and Kyle.

The pair looked up as his shadow fell across the ground. He smiled as pleasantly as possible, considering the fact that the bastard’s hand was resting lightly on Liz’s inner thigh. “What’s going on?” he asked, trying not to sound probing, simply curious…in a friendly sort of way. Right.

“Nothing,” Liz answered quickly, shifting away from Kyle as she refused to meet Max’s gaze. He noticed Kyle noticing her discomfort and took a perverted sort of pleasure out of the frustration darkening the other man’s eyes.

“We were just talking about grabbing some dinner tonight,” Kyle answered, looping one arm across Liz’s shoulders and bringing her closer. “Why don’t you join us, Max? If you don’t have any plans, I mean.”

Max’s eyes narrowed, but he didn’t catch any hints of smugness in Kyle’s tone. There existed simply polite inquiry. Damn, but he wished for the smugness. That would give him a reason to pop the guy one right between the eyes…

Before he could answer, Liz did for him. “Max works nights, Kyle. He can’t come out with us.”

“I’m not working tonight,” he replied through gritted teeth.

“You still can’t come,” Liz responded through her own teeth. “You have…things to do, remember?”

“No, I don’t,” he answered lazily. “As a matter of fact—” He never got to finish his statement, because at that exact moment his cell phone began to ring. With an overly bright smile, he excused himself to answer it. “What?” he replied irritably. He listened to the person on the other end, and fought back a vicious curse before replying tersely and snapping the phone shut. As he approached, he shot Liz a fulminating glare. “Apparently…I do work tonight,” he bit off. “That was Alex, they need another bartender and I’m the only one without that stomach flu.”

“Maybe some other time,” Kyle said, and Max got the idea that he genuinely meant it. Fucking figured. The guy would be a namby-pamby nice guy.

“Yeah, some other time,” he replied meaningfully, as a new thought began to form in his mind.


<center>***</center>



“I can’t tonight,” Liz whispered into the phone a week later, trying to fight against the irritation that was threatening to creep up on her. She felt guilty for feeling irritated. Kyle was great, and she loved spending time with him. But she still wasn’t feeling…well, she still wasn’t feeling for him in a Max-like way. Max-like, for God’s sake. She rolled her eyes and bit back a bitter groan. How pathetic was she?

As if Fate was feeling frisky, Max chose that moment to walk out of the bathroom where he’d been taking a shower. Steam billowed out through the door, obscuring him from view before he stepped out and ran a hand down his face.

Every thought escaped from her mind as she stared at him dumbly, the phone perched precariously between her cheek and her shoulder. She swallowed, once, twice, but it didn’t seem to help as he looked up and caught her staring.

“What?” he wondered, looking confused as he glanced down at himself. At his naked-save-for-a-loosely-knotted-towel self. Beads of water that had yet to dry sparkled on his muscular chest, drawing her attention like beacons as she goggled.

“You…” she struggled to find something to say before he realized she was mentally imagining him naked and in a far more intimate situation than the moment called for. The first thing that popped out of her mouth was, “Your towel’s coming loose.”

Max’s brow cocked as he glanced back down. Sure enough, the knot holding the two halves of the towel together around his lean hips was threatening to unravel, therefore revealing the dip of his lower pelvis and the start of a thick patch of hair that could only lead to…

“What? Liz?” Kyle’s voice asked over the line, causing her to jump nearly ten feet and dragging her out of her lust-drenched daydream.

“Not you, Kyle,” she quickly said, and noted Max’s dark frown before he jerked the towel together and re-knotted it. Part of her sighed with relief, and part of her wailed with disappointment. She was pretty sure that part was hormonal.

“Who are you talking…” he trailed off in realization. “Max. He’s in a towel?” Judging from the disapproving tone of his voice, Kyle wasn’t happy with the current circumstance.

Liz fumbled for a reply, catching Max’s probing gaze as she blurted, “Kyle…I can’t come out tonight. I have some inventory to do for the shop…I’ll talk to you tomorrow, okay? Bye.” She punched the off button, releasing a pent up breath as she turned to place the receiver in the phone cradle.

“Trouble in paradise?” a deep voice rumbled behind her, and she froze. She straightened, nearly bumping into Max’s hard form as she turned to find him nose to nose with her.

“W-what?” she managed, stumbling back and almost knocking over table of framed photos. “What are you talking about?” she demanded brusquely, righting the fallen pictures and watching him out of the corner of her eye.

God, she could kick herself for the way her voice nearly broke as he moved one shoulder, causing an entire ripple of muscle to shift down his body. She fought the urge to salivate, reminding herself again and again that she’d seen him this naked before…it was no big deal…she could handle it. She would handle it. Oh please, Lord, let her handle it!

“You’re not doing any inventory tonight. You’re watching Hitch…I saw the movie rental,” he pointed out, a strange light in his golden eyes as he shifted closer, causing her to move casually away. He didn’t try to follow, but took a seat on the couch, causing the towel to grow taut around his thighs and parting to afford her a glimpse of…well, nothing. But the possibilities one mere shift in position could bring about…

“Er, what did you say?” she stammered when she realized he was staring at her with a satisfied gleam. She quickly replayed his words flushed darkly before snapping, “So?”

“So…you’re blowing him off,” he concluded contentedly.

“I am not! I just…don’t feel like going out tonight, that’s all!”

“Then why didn’t you just say that?” he wondered, raising his arms behind his head and settling more comfortably into the cushions. She tried not to stare at the sleek motion, but couldn’t keep from swallowing.

“Because…” she fumbled for an excuse. “Because…I don’t need to explain it to you,” she finished inanely, reaching over and grabbing the DVD box. “I’m going to my room,” she called before walking off, feeling like a complete moron.

She heard the faint sound of his chuckle behind her, before he called back, “I’m going out with the guys tonight. I’ll see you in the morning, babe.”

“Babe,” she muttered to herself, her fingers clenching around the box in her hands as she disappeared into her room.

Once he was alone, Max pondered the phone she’d left behind for all of two seconds before picking it up and pressing redial. The second Kyle’s voice sounded, he said, “What are your plans tonight, Valenti?”

“Who is this?” Kyle grunted, clearly disgruntled by Liz’s abrupt hang up. His voice was sullen and challenging, and made Max bite back a triumphant grin.

Rolling his eyes, he replied, “You’re the fancy lawyer, you figure it out. Hint…check your caller ID.”

A few choice words that nearly made him chuckle came out of the other end, before Kyle responded with, “What do you want, Max?”

“Feel like getting a few drinks?” he plied carefully, twirling the edge of the towel around his finger as he put his plan into action. “I’m buying…”



Stay tuned...I might decide to post Chapter Nine later today. :wink:

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Post by Applebylicious » Tue Jul 12, 2005 7:38 pm

Hey guys! Okay, before I post the next part as promised, I have some good news and some bad news. The good news? I accidentally mis-labeled the parts and the brand new part is *actually* chapter 10. So...if you're keeping up, then you realize that *that* means that the next chapter to be posted is brand-spankin' new! The BAD news, is that I might not get around to posting it until Thursday or Friday. I'm having a few good Ros-friends come down to visit, and I plan on having way too much fun. :D I promise, however, that the new part will be up before the weekend. And I'll even give out a spoiler: it's a chapter you *do not* want to miss, if ya catch my drift. :twisted:

Once again, thanks for all the awesome, enthusiastic feedback! I'm absolutely thrilled to have even pulled a few lurkers out with this fic. You guys are great, and here's to many more posts to come!

hugs, Lindsay




Chapter 9



Several hours later, Max was wondering exactly how to broach the subject he wished to discuss. Despite his initial suspicion and misgivings when they’d first entered the bar, Kyle had warmed up towards him as the night dragged on. Of course, Max had played the role of interested friend-to-be like a professional. The entire time they conversed over menial matters, a part of his mind was racing.

“So, you’re a lawyer,” he drawled casually, rapping a fist against the bar to signal for another round of beers. He had a pleasant buzz, but he was nowhere near intoxicated. At least, not as much as his companion.

“Yeah, you know…we’re not all a bunch of assholes,” Kyle slurred, a frustrated expression crossing his features. “We’re mis…misunder…aw fuck, what’s the word?”

Max stifled a smirk. So pretty boy can’t hold his alcohol…this is almost too easy, he thought to himself as a scantily clad waitress slid two new bottles in front of them. She winked a long set of lashes before turning on her heel and leaving behind a cloud of perfume in her wake.

“Who’s that?” Kyle asked, noting the exchange as he reached for a Guinness. He took a long swig, grimacing slightly as the bitter flavor flooded his mouth. When he lowered the beer, a burp escaped his throat. He cleared his throat in embarrassment and Max couldn’t keep from chuckling.

“Just a friend,” he murmured, reaching for his own bottle. “I work here, you know.”

“Yeah?” Kyle glanced around with new interest. He cleared his throat again, tugging at his collar. “What’s that like?”

He sounded almost desperately curious, and Max caught a hint of something behind Kyle’s blue eyes that made him wonder if the guy was really as stuffy and starched as he appeared to be.

“It’s…” He frowned as a sudden wave of guilt washed over him. Somewhere over the course of the evening, he’d actually begun to like Kyle Valenti. The guy was just too damn…nice. And they actually had a lot in common. Of course, that didn’t matter…not when it came to Liz.

He stiffened his resolve, determined to drop the pretenses and find out what he’d come to discover. “Gotta feed the monkey,” he responded blithely. “So, Valenti…what’s up with you and my roommate?”

Kyle blinked at the rapid subject change. “Your…you mean, Liz?”

Duh. Max refrained from growling, but kept his narrowed gaze on his companion. “Yeah…how serious are you two anyway?”

Kyle was silent for a long moment before he released a long sigh and slouched back in his chair. “We’re not,” he answered without prevarication. “She wants to keep it casual.” He marked this statement with a mocking grimace and lifted the beer back to his lips.

“Casual,” Max echoed, his interest peaked as he leaned closer. “How do you mean…casual?”

Are you two sleeping together? It was on the tip of his tongue to ask, to demand to know…but part of him didn’t really want the answer. The image of Liz sleeping with Kyle, with anyone other than himself caused a muscle to start throbbing in his cheek.

But Kyle wasn’t even paying attention to him anymore. He scowled at his beer, picking at the colorful label before continuing, “I don’t know why I’m surprised…this shit always ends up happening to me, man. You just don’t know.”

Max opened his mouth to respond, but Kyle steam-rolled right over him. “At first everything’s great, they’re interested and can’t keep their hands off of you…”

Max saw red and his fingers began to curl into claws as he imagined wrapping them around the bastard’s throat. His mind was filled with several very satisfying methods of death and destruction for one Kyle Valenti. How could he have ever thought the guy was nice? He was an asshole…a bastard. He and Liz…oh God…

He tuned back in to hear Kyle say, “…the next minute they’re complaining about how you work too much, you don’t take them seriously enough. Everything that originally attracted them to you suddenly becomes the reason why they can’t stand you. Bullshit. Fucking bullshit,” he growled, slamming the bottle down on the bar, his eyes taking on a faraway gleam. “And then she had the nerve to walk out on me? I loved her, goddammit! I told her over and over…I proved it the only way I knew how! And it wasn’t enough…she left me like it all meant nothing. My friends always said Serena was coldhearted, but I never believed it…I thought I knew her…”

The anger began to ebb inside of Max to be replaced with confusion. “Who the hell is Serena?”

Kyle seemed to come out of his daze, slowly turning to stare at Max through glassy eyes. “What?” he questioned.

Max’s eyes narrowed. “You were talking about a woman…Serena, not Liz. Who is she? What is she to you?”

Kyle stared at him, his face paling as something akin to pain flashed through his eyes. Max wondered at that, even as Kyle jerked around and threw a handful of bills on the bar counter. “I’m…I should leave. I have court-prep tomorrow,” Kyle muttered. He took a few steps, then turned back. “I assume you’ve found out enough to keep me and Liz apart?”

Max felt his eyes widen at the quiet words. A flush crept up his neck and he rubbed it away with a frown. “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

Kyle watched him a moment longer, then snorted and pulled out his cell from his back pocket. Max absently heard him calling a cab as he pondered over the implications Kyle had unintentionally divulged. And what he planned to do with them.


<center>***</center>



Liz waited until she heard the front door slam before she threw open her bedroom door. Max was already shrugging out of his shirt as he headed for his own room, and she folded her arms across her chest as he caught sight of her. One brow lifted.

“I thought you’d be in bed already,” he stated evenly, then pulled his shirt over his head in one fluid motion. Her gaze wavered at the sight of all those golden muscles, and when she glanced back at his face she caught the hint of a knowing smirk in his eyes.

Her anger returned full force. “Maybe I would have been, but I got a phone call from Kyle awhile ago.” She matched his indifferent tone, fighting to control the bubbling rage inside of her. When his expression didn’t change, she took a step forward. “You two went out tonight? Together?”

Now he shrugged one shoulder, reaching up to rake a hand through his tousled hair. “We hung out,” he answered vaguely.

“Really,” she answered mockingly. “And…oh, I don’t know…you didn’t think that maybe I should have known about this?” When he didn’t answer, a growl came out of her mouth. “Max, what did you do to him?”

“Me?” he bleated, his impassive façade finally disappearing to be replaced with affront. “I didn’t do anything! We had a few drinks, shot the shit…it’s not like I challenged the guy to a knife-fight, Liz. Why are you accusing me of something?”

Her eyes narrowed at his defensive tone. Had she heard a hint of guilt? She scoured his features. “I didn’t mean that you hurt him, I just meant…Max…did you say something to him?”

Instantly his gaze grew wary. “What do you mean?”

He appeared genuinely disconcerted that she would think he’d harmed Kyle in some way, and truthfully she knew he wouldn’t have. Besides, Kyle could more than defend himself if it came down to it. But Max was obviously hiding something from her. And she had a feeling it had something to do with the nature of Kyle’s call. Keeping a careful gaze on him, she replied, “He broke up with me.”

Sure enough, surprise flickered across his features before he could cover it up. “He what?

“He called and told me that he’d been thinking about it, and he now knew that we weren’t right for each other after all,” Liz explained calmly. Truthfully, she’d been more perplexed than upset by Kyle’s call. She tended to agree with him, but she was curious at what had brought upon the sudden decision on his part, especially after he’d spent the better portion of their relationship trying to convince her they belonged together.

Another quick glance at Max showed he was livid. “He…that…he dumped you? That asshole!” he grunted, appearing belligerent and angry on her behalf. His golden brown eyes settled on her and he asked through thin lips, “Are you all right?”

She had the most asinine urge to laugh, but settled for a small, “Yes. I’m fine.” A moment of silence, then, “Max…do you have any idea why—”

“No,” he clipped off before she could finish the question. His face flushed, but he stared straight ahead as he answered. “I don’t know, Liz. Maybe he’s just a dumbass who doesn’t know how good he’s got it.”

She refused to be flattered by his passionate tone or his words. “I just don’t understand…it seems so out of the blue.”

He began to fidget, not meeting her eyes as he raised a hand to scratch at his chest. “Are you…are you really all right?” he wondered softly. “Liz…I’m sorry…I didn’t know he was going to…” He cut himself off with a frustrated sigh. “I’m sorry.”

They stared at each other in the dark, eyes glowing as the moonlight spilled through the open windows. Something clenched inside of her as his gaze grew more intense, but she backed away when he would have touched her. She didn’t want his embrace of pity. “Why are you sorry?” she managed, determined not to fall victim to the feelings she held in secret for him. Not when there wasn’t a way he would ever return them.

“I…I know how much you really liked him,” Max answered through his teeth, and it was obvious he hated making the statement. “I’m sorry he hurt you.”

“I’m n—” She meant to say she hadn’t been hurt, but the words refused to pass her lips. For whatever reason, she couldn’t bare to let him see just how much she hadn’t been affected by Kyle’s rejection. She was afraid, and she didn’t know why. Maybe afraid that he’d see right through her - see her feelings for him and run screaming in the opposite direction. So she merely whispered, “It’s not your fault.”

He stared back at her, but didn’t answer. She started to brush by him and stiffened when he shifted so that her entire front pressed against his. Their faces were inches from one another and she made the mistake of looking up into his eyes. Tension crackled, and she took a deep breath. His nostrils flared, golden eyes darkening as his lips parted with purpose.

She hesitated a second too long. “Max, what are you…”

But she read his intentions in his eyes. And she didn’t put up a fight when hands came up to hold her arms, pulling her more firmly against him as he searched her gaze. Whatever he saw there appeared to satisfy him and he let out a rough sigh. “I can’t take this anymore,” he stated thickly, and with that his mouth settled on hers.

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Post by Applebylicious » Thu Jul 14, 2005 7:43 pm

Hi all! Brand new chapter, as promised. Hope you all enjoy...I'll be back with more sometime in the next few days. *smooch* And no laughing, because I definitely haven't written NC17 in a loooong time, and I'm not sure it's all that good, lol. Enjoy!

hugs, Linds



Chapter 10



Max grasped Liz’s hips and jerked her against him. He was already so hard that the mere brush of her slim hips made him catch his breath on a groan. “Oh, Christ. I can’t believe…” He trailed off, shaking his head and kissing her feverishly.

“Max, wait—” Liz tried to speak, but he cut her off with a nip to her bottom lip. The last thing he wanted was for her to regain her senses and think about what was finally happening between them. He needed her to feel as dazed, as hungry and needy as he was, because there was no stepping back, for either of them. He wouldn’t be able to handle it.

Whatever she’d wanted to say was lost as soon as he slid his hands up her shirt, releasing her mouth long enough to drag the silky material over her head. Surprisingly, she didn’t fight him; but succumbed without protest, eyes closing as his tongue returned to demand entrance into her mouth. She opened her lips and he slipped through like silk, his tongue tangling with her own. Then they were kissing again, a hot and sultry give-and-take that drained every last thought from his mind.

Liz was drowning in his embrace, feeding on his power as passion strengthened her own body. She felt him lift her in his arms and moments later her back rested against the hard wall. She wrapped her legs around his sinewy middle and clung tight as his hands slid down to caress her behind, kneading and massaging until she squirmed and moaned in pleasure.

“Please…” she begged, unsure of what she needed, just that it had to come from him. His eyes blazed hot, and his lips descended against hers again, rough and desperate as he lifted her higher.

For long moments, nothing could be heard over the sounds of heavy breathing and harsh moans. Finally, Max pulled back and rested his forehead against hers, panting as he stared hard at her. “Liz… are you sure?” he choked out. “I mean, this will change everything…”

“I know,” she replied, blinking her long lashes slowly. “Max, I’m sure. Oh, God…I’m sure.” As if to prove her point, she reached between their bodies and cuddled the erection straining against his pants. His nostrils flared as his eyes fell to her hands, throat working as she began to stroke lightly.

His fingers circled around her wrist and Liz looked up at him questioningly. The desire in his dark eyes sent another tremble through her.

“Wait…” he breathed huskily. Liz held her own breath as his hands fell away from her behind, only to slide up her back and unhook her bra. In seconds, her breasts were in his hands and she moaned softly as his thumbs brushed her nipples.

“Oh, God Max, that feels so…”

“So?” he repeated thickly, his teeth sinking into his lower lip as he studied her reactions.

“So…delicious,” she purred, arching into his ministrations and gripping the hem of his shirt with both hands. “Your turn. I want to see your body.”

A sharp exhale of breath was her answer as he quickly helped her to relieve him of the rest of his clothing. She stared unabashedly as she caught her first glimpse of her fully naked best friend, and now lover. All the times she’d wondered at what imperfection must lurk beneath his clothing disappeared. He was utterly perfect.

Pure lust shone in his whiskey-colored eyes and Liz’s heart raced in excitement as he took a step forward, causing all sorts of interesting muscles to bunch and flex. “You know, one of us is way overdressed,” he murmured, running his eyes meaningfully down her body.

“Yeah, let’s fix that,” she answered flirtatiously, wrapping her arms around him as he reached for the snap on her shorts. They met each other’s gaze and grinned wickedly. Within seconds, she matched his state of undress.

Max placed a hand against her cheek, tenderly rubbing his thumb across her soft skin as he drank his fill of her. “Liz, Christ, baby… you’re so fucking beautiful. You’re killing me, sugar.” He lifted her again in his arms, leading them towards his bedroom. She sunk into the mattress as he laid down next to her, propping his head up on an elbow as his eyes again ran over her naked figure.

His blunt fingers traced a path down her collarbone, dancing lightly over her flushed chest, and Liz gasped as he brushed the sensitive peak of a breast. A jolt of longing streamed through her body. More. She needed more…

“More,” she moaned unconsciously.

Max’s eyes darkened even more at her announcement. He immediately placed his warm palms on her heated flesh, sweetly rolling her nipples as he bent down to claim her lips. She wrapped her arms around his neck, pulling him closer as he continued to squeeze and torment her breasts.

He pulled away from their intense kiss, panting softly as he stared down into Liz’s half-lidded eyes and swollen lips. “God, Liz… I love you so much,” his voice broke, followed by a rough swallow.

“I love you, too, Max. I… I always have,” she admitted thickly. Somehow, during the most intimate moment of her life, it was the easiest thing in the world to tell him the truth.

Max smiled, his lips curling wickedly. “Then let me show you how much… let me love you, Liz. Let me worship your body the way I’ve dreamed of,” he whispered, nuzzling her throat as his sexy voice thrummed around her.

She gasped. “Please…”

Instantly his lips were on her breast, suckling her nipple into his hot mouth. She whimpered in delight as his tongue drew circles around her flesh. “Max! Oh God…”

She moaned again as he switched breasts, his hand coming up to caress the one he’d just left. The pleasure was sublime; her fingers curling in his hair as she struggled not to rip the silky strands out by the roots.

After a moment of laving her delicate nipples, Max looked up to find her glossy-eyed and gazing at the ceiling, mouth open in pleasure. “Liz… do you trust me?” he breathed softly.

Liz glanced down in glazed confusion. “Yes, Max. I trust you with my life, you know that.”

“Then close your eyes,” he purred, already inching down her body while placing open-mouthed kisses along her tight stomach. “Let me pleasure you…just feel…”

“What are you doing?” she moaned dumbly, her breath skipping as his mouth trailed past her navel.

“Fulfilling a fantasy of mine, now close your eyes,” he mumbled, then his tongue was against her most intimate of flesh, licking and teasing slowly as she cried out and arched off the bed. Max made sexy sounds of enjoyment as he slid her legs over his shoulders and delved more deeply into his task.

Her hips bucked uncontrollably, and she raked her nails across his scalp as she glanced down through clouded vision at the sight of Max’s dark head between her legs. It sent a rush of desire through her.

Max lapped eagerly as her hands ran through his hair, pressing him closer to her heat. She was moaning his name like a mantra, a climbing sensation peaking through her body. When he finally closed his lips around the swollen bud of her clitoris, she screamed and a rush of wetness escaped as her release sent waves of pleasure throughout her body. She threw her head back on the pillow as Max lazily continued his ministrations below.

“Mmm…Max, come here,” she pleaded after she regained the use of her tongue. She was suddenly filled with a desire so urgent, it was all she could do not to throw him on the bed and devour him.

He looked up, a look of sexy desire crossing his glistening features. “God, baby… you taste so good,” he groaned, licking his lips to capture any traces of her that remained. He bent his head to continue again and Liz sat up.

“Max, please… I need you… now.”

He came to his knees at her desperate words, staring down at her with a fiercely hungry expression. Liz gave him a sultry smile and leaned over to caress the head of his thick cock. A hiss escaped his throat as he quickly came to lay above her.

“I’ve dreamed of this for so long,” he admitted huskily. “I’ve never wanted someone so much.”

Liz smiled, although there was a small part of her that doubted his words. She pushed it aside, determined to enjoy herself and everything they shared together. She brought his lips down to meet hers, breathing against them, “You said you would show me, so… why don’t you?”

He groaned and fixed her with a wicked smile. “Is that a challenge, Elizabeth Parker? Because you know I’m always… up… for that.”

Liz groaned as the tip of him nudged her wet folds. “Mmm… yes, I believe it was. So why don’t you put your…cock where your mouth was, Mr. Evans?”

Max bit his lip to keep from laughing and she was struck once again by how incredibly handsome he really was. Of course, she had known it the whole time. But at that particular moment as his body hovered above her own, poised to claim her as his, she realized that she had never been quite aware of just how… beautiful… he truly was.

Inside and out.

She let out a cry that mingled with his own as he moved his hands beneath her bottom and lifted her against him, his velvet hardness sliding into her, heating her from the inside out. His head fell against her neck as he began thrusting between her legs, and she gripped his hair as her mouth fell open, eyes gazing blindly at the ceiling.

A primal instinct arose and she began to pant, her nails bruising as he drove harder. A crest of pleasure and lust rose inside her, blurring her vision and causing her mind to swim. She relished it, wanted it as her cries became more wanton. She was searching for a release she desperately needed.

Her sobs of desire caused him to glance up at her, sweat dripping from his body. The blind pleasure on her face was enough to make him groan and throw his head back with a howl. At that moment, something inside them both shattered and they came together...


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Max’s brain was fried. He wasn’t sure if it was the hot sex, or the fact that the hot sex had involved his long-time crush and best friend that was making him see stars. But either way, he knew he’d never forget the past hour of his life. He already wanted to relive it again, and again, but Liz was sleeping peacefully; curled up into his chest and making soft, purring sounds.

He fought to control his desire, wrapping his arm around her and bringing her to rest more firmly against him. Placing a tender kiss on her nose, he closed his eyes and attempted to get some sleep. But thoughts began overwhelming his mind and making it impossible to do so.

What if he’d just made the biggest mistake of his life? Not that he regretted making love to Liz by any means…but what if she did? What if tomorrow morning she awoke, and was disgusted to find herself naked with him? Disgusted to remember that she’d allowed him inside her body…inside her? It would destroy him like nothing ever had before.

At the same time, could he even blame her? There were things he was keeping from her, things he had no intention of ever revealing. It killed him to hide things from her, but the vision of revulsion that would surely darken her gaze kept him silent. He’d never mentioned anything of what had happened on that night so long ago, and nothing could make him do so now.

Because if she ever found out, not only would she never want to make love with him again. She’d despise him. He’d lose her, and he’d have no one to blame but himself.

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