Love By Any Other Name (AU,M/L,MATURE) (Complete)

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Postby max and liz believer » Mon Jun 27, 2005 8:42 am

Once again, a big thank you to you who have nominated this story for "Best fic based on a challenge" and for the nomination for little Michelle. It truly warms my heart.

Aaaand, there's good news. My lovely b-reader has edited a new chapter for us all which means that I can give you


Chapter 41


Liz had always liked the sound of rain clattering against the roof. It had always given her a sense of comfort and calmness. But when the rain came that morning she didn’t want to hear it. It made her want to cry. She didn’t want to cry anymore. She didn’t want to feel weak any longer. Was this what life was about? Was this what real love was about? To live with the constant knowledge that your world might fall apart in front of your eyes at any moment, without being able to stop it from happening? The rational part of her brain had always known that the happy Hollywood ending was a rarity, but she had still hoped deep inside of her that maybe, just maybe, someone would convince her of otherwise.

Her heart had been convinced when she had met him.

She had known immediately that he was something different and that he would make a major impact on her life. She never could have known that this was the kind of impact he would have; shattering her heart until she didn’t have the energy to go back and ask for more.

The rain clouds had turned the oncoming day into night, which was one detail she was grateful for. She could hide in the night and maybe forget what had happened. Maybe she could close her eyes and pretend that yesterday hadn’t happen. Maybe she could go back in time and enjoy those moments of sweetness and innocent flirting with Max.

She pressed her eyes together as if she was trying to squeeze the memories in her brain out through her eyes to be washed away by her tears. But she wouldn’t let herself cry. She wouldn’t cry anymore. As the mantra went through her head she was fighting with everything she had to fulfill it and not let those tears wash down her cheeks.

Taking a deep shuddering breath, she curled up more tightly, unconsciously hugging his pillow to her chest while trying to block everything out. Her thoughts were haunting her. What should she do? Should she go out and try to talk to him again or should she wait for him to come to her? Did she even want to talk to him right now? Should she move out? But even though her own thoughts were causing her a lump of anxiety in the pit of her stomach, there was one thought that kept haunting her to the brink of exhaustion.

Was he still thinking about Tess?

She quickly pushed the thought to the side because she hated to think of herself as being jealous of a woman who was dead and, ironically, was the reason she was alive right now. Nevertheless, she couldn’t refute the fact that she was scared. She was frightened to death that he was still comparing her to Tess, that she was competing every day with a dead woman. If it had been someone alive, she might have been able to handle it, but she couldn’t touch Tess. She couldn’t speak to her and she couldn’t stop Max from having those memories of Tess.

She didn’t want to stop him either.

Tess had been his wife. Of course he had loved her. Liz just hoped that he had started to view his memories in a more realistic way, which he had told her earlier that he had. Maybe he was going backwards again. Maybe them taking this huge step had caused him to backpedal and he was now, yet again, going through every happy memory he had of Tess.

The thought made her shudder. She hated this. She hated being so helpless and just waiting for Max to make a decision. She hated that she knew deep down that she wasn’t completely helpless and that she had a choice, because she couldn’t choose.

Should she stay or should she leave?

With a deep sigh, she rose from the bed, feeling as if she needed to get away. Find refuge somewhere. One of the best places to be left alone and cry was the shower. The water would drown the sound and wash away your tears, cleansing you. So she stood up, picked up the closest shirt, not realizing until it was on that it was one of Max’s T-shirts, swallowed deeply and walked out of the room towards the bathroom, hoping that she wouldn’t bump into him.

<center>--------------------------------------</center>

He had done something terribly wrong. He knew that. He hadn’t been able to handle all the emotions flooding him at the same time and so he had run, and he had given her the signal that he had been regretting last night. He buried his face in his hands, taking another deep breath, one among thousands already taken that early morning. He hadn’t thought about Tess for at least two weeks and then suddenly she was just there in his head, trying to put doubts into his mind about what Liz and he had just experienced. But she couldn’t. The memory of her might not be fading, but the feelings and emotions he had hung on to so tightly were. There had only been one person in his head last night and her brown eyes had warmed the deepest coldest parts of his soul, where no one had been able to reach since the accident.

He had felt so many things last night. Too many feelings to be put into words or even to be put into separate feelings. They all mixed together and formed this hot wave that filled up his body from the inside. He had actually needed to check several times if his skin was glowing, but the light in his inside wasn’t breaking through his skin. Nevertheless, he had seen it reflecting in her eyes.

He loved her so much. More than he could understand himself.

So when he had laid there, thanking whatever force had put this amazing woman in his proximity, watching her sleep, he had been surprised when thoughts of Tess had started sipping through to his consciousness.

And he freaked out.

Tess hadn’t been there for so long and he had started to feel normal again. He could put his energy on Liz and trying to deal with his feelings of losing Joshua instead of watching his every step in order to avoid anxiety and remorse. Liz and he had taken a big step tonight, but even though Liz had insinuated that it might’ve been too soon he had been absolutely certain that he wanted it. That he wanted Liz in every way possible.

So why had this happened? How could they have gone from eternal bliss to acidic emotional pain in the matter of just a few hours?

A tortured moan passed over his lips as his head fell into his hands. He wanted it all to go away. He wished that he could just snap his fingers and make everything perfect. If he had that power he would be back in his bed right now, with Liz by his side. He would be floating in contentment and happiness. He would be the happiest person alive.

But it was dark all around him. The wind was howling outside, getting caught in the corners of the house, and the rain was beating heavily against the roof. It could have been sunny outside with a blue sky and birds creating beautiful music, but it would be the same darkness for him. It was like standing on the edge of a cliff, feeling like you were about to fall, but feeling sad about falling. He felt like he needed to fall, he needed the complete rest of sinking into himself, but the thought of leaving Liz and the life he had tried to rebuild the last couple of weeks, clenched painfully around his heart and he began to struggle with what to do.

Should he stay or should he leave?

Then he heard a door opening upstairs and his eyes flew in the direction of the stairs in anticipation. But he was left hanging when the stairs remained deserted. He heard another door open and close and then a couple of seconds later he heard the water running. He leaned back in the couch, closing his eyes and drinking in the sound. He couldn’t leave. He couldn’t. She was a part of him now and leaving her would be like cutting off his arm or his leg.

He made a decision that night, a decision that would change his whole view on life, his life in particular. He wouldn’t let Tess destroy him anymore. He would cherish the memory of Tess and keep her safe in his mind, but she would only exist as a memory of someone that had meant a lot to him once. She quietly moved away from the dominant part of his mind to settle in her new role. She wouldn’t decide anything for him anymore. She wouldn’t interfere with his thoughts. It was all left up to him.

<center>--------------------------------------------------------</center>

At first she didn’t hear the knocks. The water falling down around her was drowning everything, making reality fade away. Reality pushed through the curtain of warm denial, rubbing roughly against her naked skin as the sound of the knocking was carried through the room.
“I can’t do this, I can’t do this,” she mumbled to herself. She wanted him to go away. She couldn’t deal with him right now. Her heart was still aching and she felt like she would possibly throw up if she were to lay her eyes on him right now. She felt like an old towel being thrown to the side, being used over and over again until finally it was disposed in the bin.
“Liz?”
She squeezed her closed eyes even tighter together, willing the world to stop spinning around her.
“We need to talk.”
Why wouldn’t her body let her be rational about this? Why was it, that even after the pain he had caused her she still felt the very strong urge to run out of the shower and open the door for him? Sometimes love is cruel. It takes away your choices. Her fists and jaw tightened in a futile attempt to stop herself from crying.
“Can I just, please, can I just talk to you? Liz?”
His voice was begging now, with a tinge of desperation, making her legs go weak. Sometimes she hated her sense of compassion and empathy. Sometimes she hated to be able to see another person’s point of view. Because on some level she could understand why he had been acting the way he had, and since she could understand it she felt sympathy. But that didn’t mean that she wasn’t hurt.
“Go away,” she cried, her weak sobbing voice being drowned in the rushing sound of the water.

But he heard her. There was silence for so long that she thought he had left until his voice one last time drifted through the door.
“She’s gone, Liz. She’s gone.”
Ten minutes later she was still standing in the same position, her mouth half-open with the water washing over her bottom lip and her eyes staring at the wall with the water weighing down her eyelashes, with his words ringing in her ears. Had he meant what she thought he meant?

So she moved out of the shower, grabbed the closest towel and wrapped it tightly around her to fight off the chill of the surrounding air. Her hands were shaking when she turned the key in the door, but the trembles were not due to the coldness of the air. The soles of her feet were still slightly wet as she stepped out of the bathroom, looking to the right and left as if she was about to cross a busy road. The hallway was dark and the silence rudely invaded her every limb, crawling into the core of her body. She quickly ducked for the guestroom, where all her clothes still were, and she closed the door behind her. Her eyes made a rapid scan of the room before rushing over to the wardrobe to pull out some warm clothes. The coldness was seeping into her bones and she was pretty sure the hard edge to the chilliness was not only due to the outside environment.

After pulling on some clothes, she crept under the comforter and closed her eyes, feeling how her wet hair had already gone cold and was transferring the water to the pillow. She told herself that she should sleep. She tried to sink into the oblivion of unconsciousness. But of course, that was easier said than done. Her overactive imagination wouldn’t let her brain rest for anything. She was torturing herself with everything that had happened and everything that might happen – both good and bad – if she stayed. The darkness closed around her. She could feel it pressing against her eyelids and she took a deep breath and turned her head to the other side, as if that would shake the thoughts out of her mind.


Three hours later

She opened her eyes with a sigh, realizing that yet another hour had gone by since she checked the time last, and she still hadn’t been able to fall asleep. Her mind was trying to tell her something. Or she just loved to torture herself. Either way, she pulled the comforter away from her body and rose from the bed. She needed to find Max.


TBC...

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Postby max and liz believer » Sat Jul 02, 2005 1:44 pm

Heya!

I'm baaack! With an update :roll: Elizabeth, you're the best with your quick editing. I'm gonna write you a response to that email later since it's currently almost three a.m. so I shouldn't even attempt to write anything right now.

Thank you again, all my beautiful readers!!


Without further ado...



Chapter 42


well there was a time when you let me know
what's really going on below
but now you never show that to me, do you
but remember when I moved in you
and the holy dove was moving too
and every breath we drew was hallelujah

well, maybe there's a god above
but all I've ever learned from love
was how to shoot somebody who outdrew you
it's not a cry that you hear at night
it's not somebody who's seen the light
it's a cold and it's a broken hallelujah

Excerpt from “Hallelujah” by Jeff Buckley



She wasn’t surprised to find him in Joshua’s room. Still it sent a shiver through her body. He had needed to talk to her and she had shut him out and left him alone with his sorrow. But she had to stop beating herself up. She had to start thinking about her own feelings as well, otherwise his sorrow would start to gnaw on her soul too. At first it looked as if he was asleep, but the second her bare feet crossed the threshold he turned his head towards her. Her sharp intake of air was buffered by the vulnerability in his eyes.
“Liz…” he whispered. “I didn’t think you would come.”
“I couldn’t sleep,” she answered, trying to make it sound as if that was the main reason why she was there.
He nodded quietly, his gaze fixed on her face. She bit her lower lip and slowly moved into the room. The air was heavy and silent around her. It felt as if she was walking into a church. A sense of deep respect reached into her and commanded her to listen.
He must’ve sense the hint of discomfort in her movements. “Do you want to go somewhere else?”
She met his eyes, trying to decide what he wanted. From where she was standing, he seemed genuine about moving somewhere else if she wanted to. “If you are okay with it…”
He nodded and stood up, “Okay.”

It hit her as he slowly and carefully closed the door behind him, as if Joshua was taking a nap inside and shouldn’t be disturbed, that if she would remain in Max’s life Joshua and Tess would remain a constant part of their life. Was she really ready for that?
“You okay?”
She looked up at him and realized that they were already downstairs and Max was looking at her worriedly.
“Max,” she couldn’t meet his eyes, “we need to be honest with each other.”
He nodded and sank down in the couch behind him.
“What did you mean with that ‘she’s gone’?” Liz asked.
He looked straight at her then, forcing her to meet his eyes. “This might sound strange but in a way I told her to leave and now she’s gone. The part of my life that she once filled is not hers anymore. It’s yours.”
She couldn’t stop his words from giving her new hope. Yet again. But she quickly swallowed it. She wouldn’t let him do this to her once more.
“Yes, you keep saying that, Max, and then everything is okay for awhile. But as soon as something important happens between us you pull away.”
Max stared at her. “I… I…”
“I need to know. Are you absolutely sure that she’s gone?”

Max looked down for a couple of seconds before he rose from the sofa, positioning himself very close to her. She had to fight not to close her eyes at the sensation of him softly cradling her cheek, his thumb lightly brushing over her cheekbone.
“Listen to me. I was lost before, I admit that. Even though you have helped me more than you’ll ever understand you also complicated everything.”
He saw the hurt explode in her eyes along with fresh tears, and he hurried to continue. He had caused her too much harm already. “In the beginning, your presence here made me feel worse-“
She tried to pull away from him, but he caught her arm and held on tightly. “Just listen, Liz.”
“Why?” she cried, tears running down her cheeks, her body trembling with pain.
“You wanted honesty, I’m giving you honesty.”
She sniffled and swallowed. He could see in her eyes that she still wanted to run away, but still she stopped fighting him – physically.
“It made it worse because you forced me to see life again. You were trying to force something out of my life that I had been holding onto for so long that I had forgotten how to let go and it hurt. It really hurt, Liz. But I think that a part of me was begging you to continue because I knew that I didn’t want to live out the rest of my life trapped in a fantasy world with my dead wife and son.”
She let him put his arms around her and pull her towards him, hugging her close. He could feel the trembles going through her body and at this point he wasn’t sure if it was because of her crying or if it was due to something else.

“Last night was the most amazing night.” His voice was low in her ear, caressing the broken pieces of her heart and gently pushing her insecurities away. “I love you so much. I can understand if you can’t see it, because I’m acting so strangely, but I love you so much I don’t know what to do. I just know that I can’t survive if you’re not here.”
“I know,” she whispered.
She softly moved out of his embrace and looked up at him. She never stopped to take his breath away. He had never seen her any more beautiful. Everything she was feeling, everything she was thinking at that exact moment was displayed for him to see. She was so open it made him want to cry for all the pain he’d caused her over the last weeks.
“I could see it. I could see how much you loved me when we were making love. That’s why it hurt so much when you left me. I couldn’t understand why you would pull back because I had seen you that night, Max. For the first time I really saw you.”
He brushed a futile tear off her cheek with the pad of his thumb. “I’m so sorry for leaving you. I’m so sorry.”
“I don’t think I can handle you doing that. I love you too much. I can’t deal with you pushing me away whenever it becomes too much for you.”
“I’m sorry.” He didn’t know what else to say. How could he prove to her that he pulled away to get perspective and that it was now clear to him.
As if answering his silent question, she said quietly, “I can see that you’re sorry, Max. Please just… just tell me instead why you left. Why couldn’t you talk to me about it?”

“This is still very new for me, Liz.”
“What is?”
“This talking thingy. Isabel always used to call me Mr. Emotionally Unavailable, and I don’t think she grabbed that concept out of thin air. It’s still really difficult to talk about what I’m feeling, because half of the time I don’t even know what I’m feeling. It’s very scary at times.”
She offered him a weak smile, trying to show that she was there for him, but she was too shaky to be able to muster up too much compassion. “You could’ve just told me that. That you were scared and didn’t know what you felt. That would’ve helped.”
Max smiled at her with a hint of disbelief. “Are you really sure that you would’ve wanted to hear that before? That I was scared? You might feel now that it would’ve been better if I had told you something instead of just walking out of the bedroom, but I think that everything I could’ve said then would’ve hurt you. It had nothing to do with you, Liz. I needed to sort it out by myself. I think that us…” his voice lowered to a soft intimate timber, “…making love was the best thing that could happen. It set me straight. It made me see clearly and I just had to literally move Tess out of my head. Do you understand what I mean?”
“I think so,“ Liz whispered.

Silence fell over them with such suddenness that all they could do was to look at each other.
“Are we okay?” Max asked a couple of minutes later.
“We’ll have to work on it, but yeah… I think we’re okay,” Liz sniffled, brushing the remaining tears away from her eyes. “But if you do this again, if you pull away, I’m getting Maria.”
Max laughed, removing the last strings of despair out of Liz’s heart. “I don’t think either of us wants that to happen.”
He looked at her closely, trying to decide for himself if she was really okay.
“I’m getting there,” she answered quietly.
He shook his head lightly. How was it that she already could read him so well when he felt like he still had so much left to learn about her? His eyes drifted to her lips and he leaned forward, capturing her soft lips in a featherlike kiss.
“Thank you,” he whispered simply.

<center>-------------------------------------------------</center>

“How do you know that it’s all sunshine and fluffy pink clouds from now on?”
Liz looked at Maria in incomprehension. “Huh? What are you talking about?”
“You know exactly what I’m talking about, babe. How do you know that he won’t hurt you again in another one of his dark phases, which seems to be hitting him every time you are happy?”
“I guess I don’t,” Liz answered, avoiding Maria’s eyes.
Of course she was scared of that. She knew that she was yet again putting her heart in jeopardy, but she couldn’t help it. She had to give it another chance, even if it was the last one.
“I can’t let him go. He’s too important to me now.”
Maria looked at her for a long time in a silence that seemed almost inhuman coming from Maria. Then she scooted closer to Liz on the couch and put an arm around her shoulders.
“I know that he is, sweetie,” Maria said softly. “I realized very early that he was something special. But special or not, he’s still human, he’s still a man, and we still don’t understand them.”
Liz laughed lightly. “So, how is Michael doing?”
“Nah-uh, don’t try to change the subject,” Maria said quickly, the small blush raising on her cheeks the only sign that Liz had hit the mark. She cleared her throat and pulled Liz into a hug. “He might be worth your effort in the end but not if he keeps hurting you like this. If he does it again you have to leave him alone and let him heal on his own, because if he keeps hurting you he’s certainly not ready for you yet.”
Liz’s arms tightened around her best friend. “Thank you, Maria, for looking after me.”
Maria pulled away, trying to be as discreet as possible as she brushed some tears away from her cheeks. “Hey, that’s what I’m here for.”
“Hey Maria.”

The two girls both jumped at the voice.
“God, Max, you scared the crap out of me,” Maria hissed, looking back at Liz for support. But Liz was staring at Max and Maria stilled, observing her friend. Liz really was terribly in love with that man.
“Girl, you’re so obvious,” Maria whispered to Liz.
Liz turned her head towards Maria and looked at her slightly confused. But Maria just raised one pointed eyebrow and then turned to Max.
“The only reason that I haven’t killed you yet is because my friend here seems to think that you are worth saving.”
”Maria,” Liz groaned.
Max knew Maria well enough by now to be able to separate the truth from the fiction in her message and he remained serious. “I don’t know what I’ve done to deserve her.”
His eyes automatically drifted to Liz who was looking at him with a soft secret smile adoring her lips.
“Beats me,” Maria answered. “But seriously Max,” Max tore his eyes away from Liz and looked at Maria, “if you ever feel the need to do something again that you think might hurt Liz, let her go first. She might not know it yet, but as a friend, I know that she can’t handle anymore.”
“You have my word,” Max answered.
“Good. Now, not to be rude or anything but you kinda interrupted best friend quality time here, so could you just…” Maria nodded her head in the direction of the stairs, hinting that he should go somewhere else.
“Maria,” Liz warned.
“No, that’s okay,” Max said. “I completely understand. I have some work to do anyway.” He stepped closer to the sofa and bent down and gave Liz a gentle kiss. Pulling back so that his face was a mere inch away from hers, their eyes locked, he added quietly; “I’ll see you later, beautiful.”
With that he straightened up and smiled at Maria. “It was nice to see you again, Maria.”
“You too, Max,” Maria said genuinely.

As soon as Max was out of earshot Maria leaned closer to Liz. “Did something else happen? It feels like there’s something I’m missing here. You said that you had a talk about him getting rid of Tess, was that all?”
Liz’s eyes dropped to her hands and as the Liz’s cheeks warmed, Maria’s mouth fell open.
“You didn’t?!”
“What do you mean?” Liz mumbled, forcing herself to meet Maria’s eyes. Which probably was a bad choice because Maria could read everything she needed to know in Liz’s eyes.
“You did!” Maria exclaimed, pointing at Liz triumphantly.
“Maria, sshhh,” Liz hushed, glancing at the stairs.
But Maria was oblivious to everything except her new revelation.
“You had sex!”
“Shhhh, Maria!” Liz hushed, mortified. Being such close friends with someone had its advantages, but also its disadvantages. This would be one of those disadvantages. Not even her sex-life would remain secret.
“When?”
“Yesterday.”
“Oh my God! I guess he really convinced you that Tess was gone, didn’t he?”
“Uhm… that was afterwards.”

If possible, Maria’s jaw dropped even further.
“Okay, I want to know everything!”
Liz frowned, “That’s private, Maria.”
“Not the sex-part,” Maria corrected with an eye roll, “Although I’m expecting an evaluation about that later.” Liz just shook her head in amusement. “How was it that you sorted things out after you had sex?”
So Liz told her everything that had happened that night. How they had gone to the bowling alley and how they had both been feeling really good and normal that night. She told her about how they had ended up on the couch watching TV and later how that had changed into kissing and continued on from there, getting even more intimate. She told Maria about Max pulling away in the morning and leaving her alone, and lastly Maria found out most of the details of the conversation they’d had afterwards.
“God, Liz. You two do it all, don’t you?” Maria said slowly. “How did we end up here? I used to be the one everything happened to and I had all these complicated relationships, but you… gosh Liz… how did everything get turned upside down?”
“We fell in love,” Liz answered.
Maria answered with a smile, her thoughts directly going to her own man, who had bought her a puppy yesterday, which she had yet to tell Liz. “We sure did.”

TBC...

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Postby Bixie » Thu Nov 24, 2005 9:13 am

OOh wow you're back!!

I would love to see more of this story and now it's gonna happen.

See you soon!!

Hugs,
Bixie(sandra)

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Postby max and liz believer » Sun Dec 11, 2005 5:22 am

I have a new chapter for you (and two waiting...). Sorry about the wait guys :roll:

A big thank you to Elizabeth for editing! *hugs*

Behrhug,

Jo


Chapter 43

A week later

She grabbed the edge of the counter as another dizzy spell made the surroundings dance around her. What was wrong with her? She opened her eyes to find Max looking at her.
“Are you okay?”
She swallowed back the nausea and nodded. “I’m fine.”
The concern was still present in his eyes but she could almost hear him forcing it out of his system, trying not to let it hold his attention for too long. He came around up behind her and put his arms around her waist, resting his chin on her shoulder.
“So, what are you up to today?” he murmured.
“I’m going shopping with Maria.”
“Okay,” he kissed her throat lightly. “How about I cook dinner for us tonight?”
“Wonderful,” she smiled. “I’ll get some videos and we can have a hardcore movie night.”
He laughed and gave her a peck on the cheek before moving away. “It’s a date.”

<center>--------------------------------------------------</center>

“Okay, sit down,” Maria ordered, pointing at one of the chairs outside a café they were just about to pass.
“I’m fine,” Liz protested.
“Don’t even try pulling that crap on me, Liz,” Maria said, looking offended that Liz would even attempt lying to her. “You look as if you’re about to throw up any second.”
Liz sank down on one of the chairs, grateful that Maria had given her a reason to sit down.
“I’m fine,” Liz repeated, but her short breath got caught in her throat betraying her of the disguise that everything was okay.
Maria narrowed her eyes and for a second Liz thought that Maria was going to slap her.
“How many years have we been friends, Liz?”
Liz looked at her best friend confused. “Uhm… since we were like five or something.”
“Do you really think that you can fool me that everything is okay when, one, you are suffering from a heart condition, second, I know your facial expressions like the back of my hand, and third, that I know that you always try to put up a façade that everything is okay even though it’s not?”
Liz lowered her eyes and took a deep breath. When she spoke, her voice was quiet and trembling. “Don’t worry, Maria. I called Dr. Stevens earlier today.”
Liz could feel the heaviness of Maria’s concern slamming into her and she had to struggle to fight back her own tears of fear.
“What’s wrong?” Maria whispered and Liz felt the guilt come creeping for once again being the reason of Maria’s concern.
A single tear escaped Liz’s eye and she answered softly. “I don’t know. I’ve been feeling nauseous for about two days but this morning was the first time I felt dizzy.”
“Have you been taking your pills?” Maria asked.
Liz nodded, removing another tear from her cheek. She was scared to death. She knew that a heart transplant could mean that she could live anywhere from one day to ten years. Time after those ten years became outside of the ordinary; the chance of surviving for more than ten years was slim. Her body might at the moment be rejecting the heart that was keeping her alive and she knew, from bitter meetings with doctors, that she could be dead tomorrow. The future was never certain.

She felt Maria’s arms around her and gratefully succumbed to the warmth and comfort of her friend’s embrace.
“Have you talked to Max yet?”
“I don’t want him to know. I want to see if there’s something wrong first and then when I have the answers I can handle a discussion with him. I don’t want to worry him if this is something that is going to blow over.”
“He will know that something is wrong.”
“He already knows,” Liz answered, pulling back from Maria’s hug. “I can see that he’s trying to not be too overprotective. I can see that he’s fighting to not be like Kevin; to not suffocate me with concern. But it’s part of his personality.”
“I don’t think it’s a personality issue,” Maria answered. “He loves you and you have a heart condition. He’s worried that something is going to happen to you. It’s just part of him caring for you. He needs to know, Liz.”
”I will tell him. As soon as I’ve spoken with Dr. Stevens.”
”When is your appointment?”
“At three.”
Maria gave her a weak smile. “Okay, sweetie. Let’s push it to the side and enjoy our day. I’m sure everything’s fine.”
Liz could easily pick out the insecurity in Maria’s reassurance, but as they always would, they pretended that everything was perfectly alright.

<center>-----------------------------------------------------------</center>

“Elizabeth, please take a seat.”
Liz took a deep breath and sat down on the examination table. She knew that the test results probably weren’t very good if she was asked to sit down.
Dr. Stevens cleared his throat, skimmed through his notes for about twenty seconds which had Liz fidgeting, and then looked up to meet Liz’s large fearful eyes.
“Elizabeth, you are pregnant.”
“What?” Liz breathed. Suddenly she wasn’t sure if she should cry or laugh, but tears of relief revealed themselves at their own will, and stunned she just stared at the doctor. She had expected to hear that she was going to die, but instead she gets the message that she’s created life.
“Are you sure?” she whispered, trying to put dates and circumstances together in her head. “Because I always use protection.” With a frown, she added, “We used a condom.”
“Condoms have a 2% failure rate,” Dr. Stevens said.
“Oh my God,” Liz murmured. “Are you sure? Are you absolutely sure that I’m pregnant?”
“Yes,” Dr. Stevens answered.
Sighing, he pulled his chair up close to the examination table, sat down and looked at Liz with grave seriousness.
“If you were a healthy woman, a pregnancy wouldn’t cause much trouble. But you are a heart transplant recipient, Liz.”
“What do you suggest?” Liz asked monotonously. But she already knew the answer. She’d always known that becoming a mother was something she would never accomplish.
“That you terminate the pregnancy. Both for the sake of your wellbeing and your baby’s.”
Liz swallowed back her tears. Her baby. How could the possible killing of a couple of cells that had barely formed a fetus yet already create a black void of sorrow in her heart?
“Is there any change at all for me to be able to go through this pregnancy?” Liz asked.
Dr. Stevens looked at her in silence for a long time before answering. He could read the hope in the young woman, the longing to become a mother, but he wouldn’t sugarcoat any of the information. He needed Liz to understand that continuing her pregnancy could kill her.

<center>-----------------------------------------------------</center>

Liz slightly jumped when Max placed his hand over hers.
“Liz, are you okay?”
She avoided his concerned look and put her energy in placing the dining knife exactly parallel to the fork on her plate.
“You’ve been somewhere else all evening,” Max continued.
She looked over at the wall and nodded absent-mindedly. “Mmm.”
“Liz?” The persistence in his voice translated into him squeezing her hand to get her attention. “What happened?”
Liz closed her eyes, wondering for the millionth time how she should break it to him. Because she had to tell him. She couldn’t hide something like this from him. She unconsciously started to fidget with the ring on her finger, avoiding meeting his eyes. His need to know what was happening was pressing down on her and it felt like the air around her was running out of oxygen.
She took a deep breath and looked up at him. “I guess I should just tell you.”
His grip on her hand tightened and she could see on his face that he was trying his best to remain neutral in spite of the tension in his body.
She looked away from him, smiled nervously and said, “I’m pregnant.”
She could feel the slight jump of confusion in the hand that was grabbing hers. Then there was silence and he pulled his hand away. She forced herself to look at him, but he was staring down in the table.

“Max?” She didn’t recognize the ghost of her own voice as it insecurely fluttered across the table.
“You can’t be,” Max whispered, his eyes flickering across the surface of the table, unseeing and panicking.
“I had them run the test three times. I’m pregnant.”
“But we used… We used protection.” He looked up and the fear in his eyes cut through her heart like a knife cutting through butter. Even though his reaction was understandable, even predictable, she had wished that he had been happily surprised instead.
“The protection obviously didn’t work,” Liz said softly.
He stared at her, his mouth half-open, his eyes showing the fervent workings of his brain. Then his eyes regained focus and his gaze changed to look straight into her.
“What about you? Are you okay? Is your heart okay?”
She couldn’t help but smile, even though the smile was bittersweet.
She knew that he could see past the lie, yet she still tried. “I’m fine. Just a little tired.”
His eyes moved over her face, trying to see past her words. When he stood up, Liz followed his movements with rising sense of dread. Was he just going to leave? He moved around the table, stopped right next to her and put his hand out in inviting gesture.
She swallowed and placed her hand in his. He pulled her up by the hand and enveloped her in his arms. Tremors went through their embrace, but she didn’t know if it was her or him that was trembling.
His breath was warm against her neck, comforting. “I’m sorry.”
She felt like crying, but she couldn’t. “It takes two, Max.”
A shudder of pleasure went through her when he softly and slowly placed a kiss on the side of her neck. A wave of love moved through her and she stepped even closer to him, trying to drown herself in his warmth and smell.
“I’m so sorry you have to go through this, but I’ll be by your side through the whole procedure.”

Liz tensed up, suspecting what he was hinting at wasn’t what she wanted. “What do you mean?”
“The abortion,” Max answered. “You’re getting an abortion, right?”
She stepped away from him, suddenly feeling nauseous. Of course, she had expected him to say it. It was what the doctor had recommended, even pushed for her to do. On some level she even knew that he was only looking out for her, but it still hurt that he wanted them to remove their child, something they had created together.
“I’m not feeling too good,” she mumbled, her eyes stuck to the floor. “I’m gonna take a nap.”
Before she had a chance to move out of his way, his hand grabbed around her upper arm, stopping her in her flight.
“No, Liz. We have to talk about this. You are not actually considering going through with this pregnancy?”
She knew that she was being stupid. She knew it. Still she couldn’t stop herself from wanting to have this child. She might be selfish and irrational, but she had never even thought that she would become pregnant. She had always abolished the thought as impossible, but the knowledge that she would never be able to have a child had at the same time grown to an insatiable need inside of her.

She felt ashamed. She knew that she would get everyone against her, but this was her life and her body. She wanted a child.
“Other people in my position have had children.”
There was a few seconds of dead silence and then she heard Max spoke through clenched jaw, telling her without having to look at him that he was getting angry. “What did Dr. Stevens say? Or maybe you didn’t tell him about your plans?”
“He told me to terminate the pregnancy.”
“And why did he tell you that, Liz? Is there maybe a reason why a doctor with a medical degree and years of experience will tell you to abort your child?”
“Don’t speak to me like that,” Liz looked up at him, feeling hurt and alone.
“Just listen to yourself, Liz. You are putting your own life in jeopardy.”
She didn’t want to cry. She wanted to remain strong and level-headed, but her heart had a will of its own.
With a single frustrated tear running down her cheek, she said slowly, “You don’t even know how it’s like not to be able to have children. You had a child. You went through pregnancy with your wife, the birth of your son. You saw him grow up. You had someone to love.”
“He died, Liz!”
She took a step away from him at the coldness of his voice and the fire in his dark eyes.
“Believe me, you don’t want to see someone grow up and love him so much, to later bury him.”

“Not everyone dies, Max. I mean, everyone dies, but you… they just had… they were just at the wrong place at the wrong time.”
“Damnit, Liz.” He spit the words out, disbelief in his eyes. “Wrong place at the wrong time? What the hell is that? A fucking drunk killed them. It can happen to anyone, but it happened to Josh and Tess.”
“I know, Max, and I’m sorry, but that doesn’t mean that you should never love again. If you would use that reasoning about everything, you should throw me out as well.”
”This is not about me, Liz. This is about you and you putting your life in danger. The reason why I don’t want you to do this is because I love you so much. I don’t want to lose you. I can’t lose you.”
He angrily brushed some tears of his cheek. “Don’t do this, Liz. I would love to have a child with you, but you have to be realistic.”
”I want to have a child with you, Max. I want to give you a child.”
“Don’t Liz…”
“I want to have a family with you. I want to be normal.”
“You can be normal without having a child.”
“No, I can’t.”
Max looked away, trying to stop himself from saying the wrong things in the heat of the moment. Instead he reached out and pulled her close. She struggled at first, but he held on.
“Then think about Maria. Think about your parents. Think about me. You don’t know how much you mean to all of us. We don’t want anything else from you but you. You don’t have to prove anything. Do you want to put us through the risk of losing you, and maybe even an anticipated child, in childbirth? Or even during the pregnancy. Your body can barely work for you alone, how is it going to be able to work for another person inside of you? You know that you’re talking nonsense.”

“I know,” Liz sobbed. “I know that it would mean a big risk, but there’s nothing I want more than to have this child. Please let me do it.”
He took a deep breath and she sensed from the tension in his body that it took a lot of him to say, “I’m gonna stand by you whatever you choose to do, but you should know that I’m gonna do everything in my power to stop you from making the wrong choice.”
His words didn’t really make her feel better. They were still divided. But right now, she wouldn’t change her mind and she had a feeling he wouldn’t change his either.
“I talked about it with Dr. Stevens and he said that it was possible but that there were risks involved.”
“I love you so much,” Max whispered, hugging her close as if he was trying to remove this whole bad thing.
“I’m not gonna die,” Liz said, not really sure why she said it, because it didn’t really help the situation at all.
“We’ll talk about this later, okay?”


TBC...

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Postby max and liz believer » Fri Dec 16, 2005 3:25 pm

Thank you, everyone, so much for the fantastic feedback!!

Thank you

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- Funny of you to mention the movie "Return to me". This story is actually written in response to a challenge where the idea was taken from that exact movie. However, I haven't seen it yet because I didn't want it to influence my writing. I'm planning on seeing it after I've finished this story though
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I actually have an update for you (believe it or not)

Without further ado...



Chapter 44


Her crying echoed through the room, creeping into the tendrils of his unconsciousness, pulling him back towards consciousness. He was met by darkness when he opened his eyes and his arm automatically went out to the side, feeling her warm body under his palm. Her crying stilled, his conscious presence taking her by surprise. He turned on his side and crept closer to her, putting one arm around her waist and pulling her close, nestling her body against his. He moved some tendrils of her hair away from her neck and brushed his lips against her skin.
“I’m scared,” she whispered, her voice sounding misplaced in the stillness of the night.
He curled closer to her, moving his hand up under her shirt and melding his palm to her flat stomach.
“I want to have this baby so badly, but I know that I can die and I don’t want to hurt you. I don’t want to leave you alone.”
“Me neither,” Max said quietly, slowly kissing her throat.
“I don’t know what to do.”
“Let’s give it some time,” Max said. “We have to get used to the thought and let our feelings cool down a little bit. It’s a big decision – a huge decision – and we have to be sure that we are making the right one.”
“Okay,” Liz sniffed, feeling herself warming up, the feeling of having Max so close moving away from comforting and moving into a state of arousal. But she quickly tried to push it away. This was not the time.

She turned around to face him, her movement causing his hand to brush over her breast, making her suck her breath in a little bit too sharply. She couldn’t really see his face in the darkness and the fact that her eyes were swollen and her gaze blurry from the crying didn’t make it any clearer. But at least she could pretend that he hadn’t noticed her reaction.
“What about you? How are you feeling? Are you okay?”
He turned on his back and she laid her head on his chest, angling her head to look up at him. His hand started to randomly and lightly move over her back. She was trying not to think about it too much, but she couldn’t stop the feelings his movement stirred.
“I’m still in shock, I guess,” he said, gazing down at her through his long dark eye-lashes.
“I love you,” Liz said softly.
He smiled lightly. “Ditto.”
She crawled up his body and brushed her lips against his. He lightly ran his tongue over her bottom lip and she sighed in his mouth. He captured her upper lip between his lips as his hand ran under her shirt, lightly wandering up the stairs of her vertebrae.
She slid her right thigh across his legs so that she was now straddling him. His hands moved up to frame her face. They were too engrossed with the sensations of each other to notice the tremors going through both of their bodies. Their breathing was becoming heavier by the second and their bodies were heating up where they were in contact with each other. Her hands were enjoying the continent of his chest, following every crevice, every contour of every muscle, while her mouth adored his soft lips.
“You’re such a good kisser,” she mumbled, with a twinge of disbelief flattering her voice.
He laughed softly. “You are” kiss “very” kiss “kissable.”
“Why, thank you,” she whispered, her hand snaking under the waistband of his boxers. Slightly distracted, Max’s kissing slowed down a bit, his hands moving down from her face, down her shoulders, down her waist and then made a 180 to turn upwards, bringing her top along with him. She raised her arms and their lips separated in order to remove that article of clothing.

“God, you’re beautiful,” Max mumbled, his eyes caressing her naked upper body. Liz had to fight the instinctive urge to cover herself with her arms. The immodest way Max was looking at her made her feel naked on more levels than one. He pushed himself into sitting position, making her slide down his abdomen to rest on his lap and then slowly moved closer to her. She shivered when his lips made contact with the bare skin between her breasts. Her eyes closed and she relished in the sensation of his moist lips kissing a trail down her chest. It didn’t take her long to realize that his lips were following the scar from the heart surgery that was running down the middle of her chest. It made her breath quicken. It made her momentarily think about Kevin and how he always wanted to have the lights off when they made love and how he would always avoid looking at her chest – as if the scar itself disgusted him. Then Max’s lips closed over her nipple and the sound of her sharp gasp echoed against the walls. His tongue softly circled around the dark areole and her body arched against him.
“So beautiful,” Max mumbled, the sound waves sending ripples across her sensitive skin making her moan in pleasure and impatience.
“Don’t… Please, don’t, Max,” Liz breathed, her voice coming in almost staccato.
“Don’t what?” Max asked just before his lips surrounded her other nipple.
“Oh God,” she whispered, resting her forehead on the top of his head.
“Don’t what?” Max repeated huskily and she shivered beneath him.
“Don’t…stop,” she mumbled, her breath hot against the top of his head.
“Okay,” Max whispered and raised his head up to taste her lips again. Slowly, he rolled them to the side and suddenly she was on her back staring up in his dark desire-filled eyes.

He looked at the woman lying beneath him, how her hair flared out around her head and her lips swollen and red from the kissing, and he smiled.
“Hi.”
She smiled back. “Hi.”
“How are you doing?”
She laughed softly. “Better now.”
He raised one eyebrow and Liz felt a wave of strong desire course through her. God, the things he did to her with just one movement. “That’s good to hear. Are you up for more?”
She bit her lower lip to stop herself from smiling and nodded.
“Is that a ‘yes’?”
She paused and looked at him. Next she rose up on her elbows so that her face was just two centimeters from his face. “Mmm-hmm.” She attacked his lips and encircled his back with her arms, pulling him down on her. She smiled against his mouth at the sensation of his naked chest against her breasts. She didn’t think she would ever get over how gorgeous that felt.
“Max?” Liz said softly when he started to kiss down her neck.
“Mmmm.” His tongue teased over her nipple, making her thoughts screech to a halt. Next stop was her bellybutton which he adored with his tongue. The things he could do with that tongue.
“Don’t… God, Max,” she gasped.
“Mmmm,” he said again, licking the border between her stomach and her panties.
“Don’t ever stop loving me.”
He stopped and looked up at her. She was looking down at him, with a hint of fear in her eyes. “I won’t.”
“You promise?”
His fingers looped in the panties over her hipbones and he started to pull them downwards. “I promise.”

Liz was holding her breath in anticipation as he slowly pulled the panties down her legs, his index fingers trailing lightly against the sensitive skin of her inner thighs. Her body was aching all over. She wanted him so badly she wasn’t thinking clearly any longer.
“Do you trust me?”
She tried to focus on his voice, but his skin was brushing all over her skin as he moved up over her body.
“Of…course,” she breathed.
“Then trust that you’ll have to put up with me-“ he looked straight into her eyes and tenderly brushed the pad of this thumb over her cheekbone “-for a long time.”
“I want you, Max, please, just…”
“I love you,” Max breathed and with one thrush he joined them.
“Thank God,” Liz smiled.
“You can call me Max,” Max said.
“Stop talking,” Liz half laughed, half groaned. She grabbed a hold of his elbows that were holding him up on both sides of her face, feeling the warmth of his body rushing into her palms and fingers.
“Oh Liz,” Max mumbled, quickening the pace. It was the sexiest, most desirable and at the same time, most comforting feeling to be moving inside of her.
“Don’t stop,” Liz said, kissing his shoulder.
“Believe me… Nothing… can stop me…right now.”
Liz couldn’t help but laugh at the stubbornness in his voice, but her laughter came to an abrupt halt when she realized something. “Max.”
He looked down at her at the fear in her voice, his hands under her body, to lift her upper body up.
“We forgot the condom.”

He stopped momentarily in his movements and frowned. “Are you serious? Liz, we don’t need protection any longer.”
She looked at him for awhile, her mind becoming hazy as he started to move within her again. “Right… Right… I forgot.”
He lifted her body off the pillow and crashed their lips together. That was his only mission for tonight, to make her forget.

<center>--------------------------------------------------------------</center>

“I want to come with you to see the doctor.”
Liz opened her eyes and looked at him. They were lying on their sides, facing each other, Max moving his fingers in circles over her naked back. Before she had time to answer, Max added, “I want to know exactly what risks this pregnancy would involve.”
“Okay,” she answered, hope twinkling in her eyes.
Max looked at her in contemplation and then reached forward to brush a kiss against her forehead, which was still slightly damp from their love making.
“I just want you to be happy.”
She smiled at him softly. “I am happy. Just being with you makes me happy.”
“I didn’t know that you wanted a child so badly.”
“I just never thought it was possible, so it’s been like this unreachable dream all my life. Now I discover it can come true, I want to give it a shot.”
“We have to do research. A lot of research. We have to know what we’re getting ourselves into.”
Liz frowned. “Wait, you almost sound like you’re willing to give this a try.”

Max’s finger played with the hair resting against the side of her ear. “I never said that I didn’t want to have a child with you. It would be a big leap for me. I don’t know if it would bring forward feelings of Josh – probably will. The question is how it will make me feel. I don’t want it to alienate me from you.”
”You would have nine months to get used to the idea and deal with ghosts.”
“I know. But then there’s the obvious question of your life being in jeopardy. I won’t have a child if it means that you might die.”
“I think that risk will always exist. It doesn’t mean that it will happen.”
“Then why do it. Why can’t we just enjoy what we have now?”
“You don’t understand. A child…” She shook her head in amazement. As if she couldn’t quite fathom the idea herself that she could become a mother. “It would mean everything to me.”
“Then what if you miscarriage? Do you know how devastated you would be? Isn’t it better to abort now when you don’t have those strong feelings of attachment yet?”
She brushed some tears of her cheek, whispering ‘damnit’ under her breath. She had told herself to stop crying, but it didn’t seem to work.
“I can’t explain it, Max. I know I’m being irrational. But I love you so much and for once I want to have a taste of perfection. Perfection would mean to have a child with you.”
“Sweetie…” Max said softly, kissing her shoulder. “I understand. Let’s talk to the doctor first, okay?”
“Okay.”


TBC...

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Postby max and liz believer » Tue Dec 27, 2005 1:44 pm

Hi everyone!

I hope you all had a very merry Christmas and I wish you all a happy new year. I completely forgot that I had yet another chapter ready to be posted. This is as far as I've written though, so the next update after that might take some time... I apologize ahead...

Thank you for your insightful comments and your interesting ideas


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Chapter 45


“No, Maria, I’m fine. I’m feeling better.”
Max leaned in and kissed her cheek, taking the cup of coffee she had poured for him. She looked up at him and smiled.
“The doctor said that everything looked fine… No, I’m not lying. Why would I lie to you, Maria?”
Max moved behind her to get a donut, his finger following the part of her back that had been exposed when her top had ridden up while she was trying to reach the cups in the upper cabinet. She had to hold back a gasp and tried to regain focus on Maria’s ramble on the other side of the phone.
“He said that my blood pressure was a bit low, that’s all. He put me on a sugar diet.”
Max smiled secretly next to her, shuffling the donut into his mouth. He moved behind her again to grab his coffee, but was distracted by how her hand was kneading the side of her neck. He lightly pushed her hand away and let his fingers creep under the seam of her shirt and started kneading her flesh.
“Oh,” Liz moaned and Max smiled broadly when he heard Maria exclaiming ‘What?!” in shock on the other end.
“Nothing, my…uhm…my shoulders are just hurting and I tried to relieve it and I pressed a really sore point.”

Max continued to work on her sore muscles and added some extra care to her neck by raining small kisses against her skin.
“No, we’re not doing anything special. We’re just going shopping.”
He could hear the strain in her voice and he smiled inwardly. He was making it difficult for her to concentrate and he was enjoying every second of it.
“Uhm… no… I don’t think that’s such a good idea. We need some time alone. But we can do something together tomorrow, Maria.”
Max’s hands moved down Liz’s back and came to stop over the bare skin of her stomach. His bottom lip was sliding up the side of her neck leaving a trail of wetness that made a shiver run through her body as the air came into contact with the area.
“Yep, no, I’ll tell him. Yes. Okay. Bye, Maria. Bye.”
Liz hung up, turning around to face Max. “What are you doing?” She tried to look stern but she could feel the laughter playing with the corners of her mouth.
“I’m having breakfast,” Max said innocently.
Her eyes glittered with laughter, but her smile took on a contemplative quality and she said, “You’re so gorgeous when you’re happy.”
His facial expression turned somber and he answered by kissing her. “Are you ready to leave?”
“I’m just gonna finish my tea.”
“Okay,” he kissed her again, “I’ll go and shave because if I stay around here for any longer, I’m not sure I will be able to control myself.”
She smiled brightly. “Thank you, Max.”
He paused. “For what?”
She shrugged. “Just thank you.”
“Okay… You’re welcome?”
She gave him a peck on the cheek. “You’re so cute when you’re confused.”
“That’s my cue to leave,” Max said, his fingers lingering on her bare back until the last second.

<center>--------------------------------------------------------</center>

“Dr. Stevens, this is Max Evans.”
Max shook hands with the doctor, “Pleasure to meet you.”
“Please, have a seat.” He turned his attention to the petite brunette, who was clasping her hand together with Max. He had to admit, they were a beautiful couple. “How are you feeling today, Elizabeth?”
“Today is a good day,” she answered and sneaked a glance in Max’s direction.
Dr. Stevens pretended he didn’t see anything and nodded. “That’s good. And have your opinion about your pregnancy changed?”
“We wanted to know all the risks involved, Dr. Stevens, before we make a decision,” Max spoke.
“That’s very wise.”
”We want you to be as honest as possible,” Liz said.
“Let me first say that there have been many successful pregnancies for post-transplant women. About 70% don’t suffer any problems except premature delivery.”
”And the other 30%?” Max asked.
Liz squeezed his hand, knowing that he wanted to know everything that could put her in danger.
“Elizabeth will have to stay on her immunosuppressive drugs during the whole pregnancy. Fortunately, the cyclosporine that she’s taking has had pretty good success rates relating to pregnancy. There is always a small risk of that the drugs might affect the child.”
”How?” Max asked. To someone who didn’t know him, he sounded calm and collected, but Liz could hear the vibration of dread in his voice.
“Slow development of the fetus, which will result in low birth weights, abnormal heads and mental retardedness. You should know, however, that this is just a small percentage. The main issue is that Elizabeth’s body might reject her heart when she has given birth. Carrying the child will in a way mess with the balance in her body, to put it simply. After that child is gone, the body might not be able to regain balance.”

“Oh…” Liz whispered, knowing that this would become the main argument why Max would stop her from having the child.
“However, it is not for certain that she will even carry the child the whole gestation period. A very high percentage miscarries before the third month.”
Liz looked down at her stomach, feeling the unfairness of the situation weighing down on her.
“What is your personal opinion, doctor?” Max said, noticing how Liz was struggling next to him to maintain composure. “What do you think, judging from your medical experience, that we should do?”
Dr. Stevens looked at them for a long time and both Max and Liz felt their hearts speeding up awaiting his verdict.
“As a specialist in transplantation, I’m advised to recommend you to terminate the pregnancy. The outcome is still too unclear. The risks are too many. On the other hand, the success rate is increasing every year and in women that have made it past third month without miscarrying, there has hardly been any problem. One woman gave birth to twins in 2001 and several have had more than one pregnancy. There is much hope here, but you can’t forget about the risks.”
“But what is your opinion, doctor?” Liz asked.
“I can’t make that choice for you, Liz. I can just inform you of the risks and the possibilities. This is your life. You were given another chance. You make the best of it and you decide what to do with it. If you go through with this you might have a beautiful, healthy child in the end, starting a family with Max. But you might also lose the child early in pregnancy, the drugs that you have to be on might negatively affect the child’s development, or you might even die. It’s all up to you, Liz. I know it’s not an easy decision. Abortions can be made fairly late so you have some time to think. But the longer you wait, the more difficult it’s going to be to abort.”

Liz nodded, the lump in her throat preventing her from speaking.
“Thank you, doctor,” Max said.
“If you need to know more, I can give you some internet addresses and some references for books and you can research. Would you like that?”
“Yes, very much,” Max answered. “Thank you.”
“That’s no problem.”
Liz and Max stood up and Dr. Stevens took a hold of Liz’s hand, squeezing it in a comforting gesture. “If there’s anything you need to know, just ask me, Elizabeth. We here at the unit will all support you in whatever you decide to do.”
“Thank you,” Liz whispered, her eyes tearing up.
Dr. Stevens turned towards Max. “It was nice meeting you, Max. Take care of Elizabeth. She really needs your support right now.”
“I know. I will.” He put his arm around Liz’s shoulder and shook Dr. Stevens hand with the other.
“Bye for now,” Dr. Stevens said.

When the automatic sliding doors closed behind her, she broke apart. He caught her as her knees gave away.
“I just wanted a normal life,” Liz sobbed. “I wanted a normal life with you.”
“I know, sweetie,” Max said, stroking her hair and kissing her forehead. “But we haven’t even talked this through yet.”
”I know what…what you’re gonna say,” she sniffled. “Whatever the circumstances of my pregnancy I can still die afterwards. There’s always a risk of rejection.”
“Okay, let’s get home first. Get you a cup of tea and we’ll talk this through.”

<center>----------------------------------------------------------</center>

They had talked it through. Over and over again. It was impossible to reach a sensible decision. Talking to Liz had made Max ponder of the idea of having a child and talking to Max had made Liz more fearful of dying. It was a no win situation. Whatever they did they might lose something or they might win something.

Liz stepped out from the bathroom, her undressed state – wearing only a bra and panties, distracting Max from trying to find the right shirt in the closet.
“Tell me again why I suggested this?”
He smiled gently at her. “Because sometimes your mouth is just faster than your rational mind.”
“Max,” Liz half-whined, slightly pushing him away to get to her dress in the closet.
“Because you have a death wish?” Max guessed.
“That is really not helping, Max,” Liz sighed, pulling a black and white dress out of the closet.
Max stepped closer to her and gave her slow kiss. “Calm down. It’s gonna be alright.”
“You don’t know them the way I do,” Liz whispered. “This was a bad idea. Let’s cancel. We can just tell them that we…uhm… both got food poisoning and-“
“Liz, they are going to find out sooner or later.”
Liz sighed in frustration. “I know. I know I know I know.”
He put his arms around her waist, hugging her from behind. “You can do it. We can do it. The moment it becomes too much, give me a signal and I’ll get them all out of here, okay?”
“You don’t know them,” Liz repeated. “It’s very difficult to get rid of them.”

“I can do it, trust me.”
“And what about Isabel? She already hates m-“
“Don’t say it. She doesn’t hate you. She’s just scared.”
”But this kind of news is just what’s going to push her over the edge and freak her out. It’s going to freak Maria out. God, Maria.” She sighed. “Maybe I should talk to Maria alone. Why am I doing this again?”
“Relax,” Max said slowly. “You don’t only have yourself to think about any longer. You have to remain calm. The second things spin out of control, I’m pushing them out. They can hate me forever, but I’ll use any method to get them out.”
“Promise?”
“Cross my heart and hope to die.”
“Okay,” she took a deep breath. “Could you tell them?”
He hesitated. Would it make the situation worse if he said it instead of her? “Sure.”
“Thank you,” Liz said.
“No need to thank me.”

<center>----------------------------------------------------</center>

“Liz, this is delicious. Did you use a recipe?”
“Yeah, I’m not a cook,” Liz smiled.
“I want it,” Maria chirped in, devouring the food as if it was her last meal.
Max met Michael’s gaze and had to contain a smile when Michael rolled his eyes at his girlfriend.
“How’s work, Max?” Nancy Parker asked.
“It’s going okay, the kids are wonderful.”
“I don’t understand how you put up with all of those kids at the same time,” Philip Evans said.
The table chimed in with agreeing laughter.
“They’re all nice to me,” Max answered.
“That’s because you’re their hero,” Isabel said, ruffling Michelle’s hair.
“Moooom, my hair!”
“Oh, sorry,” Isabel said with a knowing smile.
“So, is there a special occasion for all of this?” Alex asked.
“Can’t we just invite you all for dinner?” Max asked, feeling Liz’s hand squeeze his hand under the table. He gave her a sideway look, noticing the stiffness of her polite smile. Glancing over at Maria, he knew that she had noticed as well.
“It just doesn’t happen very often,” Alex said. “Actually, I think I’ve never been invited to your home, Max.”
Max took a deep breath and entwined his fingers with Liz’s. “Well, there was something we needed to tell you all.
In unison, everyone stopped eating and Max had their full attention. Knowing the problems both families and friends had gone through the last couple of years, they all expected the worse.
“Uhm…” Max swallowed again. This was harder than he had anticipated it to be. “We’re…uhm… We are pregnant.”

Nancy dropped the fork which clattered against the plate, but no one noticed the sound. Everyone was now staring at Liz, who was withering away under their scrutiny.
Diane Evans was the first one to speak. “That’s wonderful, Max.”
Her comment woke everyone else up, everyone else who actually knew the truth about Liz and her condition.
“You can’t have a child?” Nancy whispered. “What are you thinking?”
“Are you thinking?” Jeff Parker asked, worry mixed with fear in his eyes. “You can’t go through with it, you know that right?”
“What’s going on?” Philip asked. “Why can’t she have a child? Isn’t this good news?”
But everyone ignored him.
“This can kill you,” Nancy said. “It can harm the child. It’s not worth the risk.”
“We’ve been discussing the risks for several days now and we’ve decided to keep it,” Max said.
“Oh my God, you are on her side in this?” Isabel whispered.
“What’s going on?” Diane asked.
“I don’t know much about this, but it can kill her, right? You can’t handle her dying, Max. You’re not strong enough, and we are not strong enough to pick up the pieces of you afterwards.”
Max stared at her sister. “This is not your decision. This is mine and Liz’s. Mostly Liz’s.”
“She won’t have the child. I forbid it.”
Liz’s eyes glazed over with tears and her bottom lip started trembling at her mother’s words.
“With your love and support,” Max said through clenched jaws, “she can do this.”
“Maria?” Liz whispered.

Everyone stopped at the tearful plea from Liz. Maria hadn’t said a word. She was usually filled with opinions. Maria was crying.
“Why weren’t you more careful? I can’t lose you, Liz. I can’t lose you. This is selfish. What about the child? The drugs must be harmful to the child. Nothing good can come out of this.”
“But Maria…”
Maria turned her head away.
“What are the reasons for you keeping this child?” Jeff asked.
“We want this child-“ Max answered.
“You want this child?” Nancy said coldly. “A child is not something you possess. It’s not something you get to meet a need. A child is alive. The child is going to be around for a long time, needing you. What if Liz dies, would you take care of this child? Alone?”
Max’s voice rose at the accusation, “Of course I would.”
“Max was a wonderful father,” Isabel said forcefully, her eyes hard as she looked at Nancy.
“Was? Did he have children? What happened to them?” Jeff asked.
Liz’s fingers digging into the palm of his hand, pulled Max’s attention away from the table. He looked down at her, the paleness of her face making his heart starting to gallop in panic.
“Liz?”
“I don’t feel too good.”
He looked at her worriedly for another two seconds, before he rose from the chair.
“Okay, everyone out!” he said forcefully.
Michelle started sobbing out of fright. She had never seen Uncle Max angry. Isabel stared at him. “What?!”
“We are not talking to you when you’re behaving like this. Come back to us when you can have a conversation without yelling at Liz.”
“We need to talk about this,” Nancy protested.
“We will. Later. Now, leave.”

Maybe it was his tone of voice or maybe the coldness in his eyes, but they all stood up and started to move towards the hallway. Max’s parents stepped up to him, confused and shaken up by the whole display.
“Max? What was that about?”
“I’m sorry I didn’t tell you before,” Max said quietly. “Maybe I should have.” He hugged his father. “I’ll call you later.” He hugged his mother and gave her a peck on the cheek.
“Is the poor girl okay?” Diane wondered, nodding in Liz’s direction.
“I hope so,” Max whispered, not letting the fear take a hold of him. He was supposed to have stopped it before it went out of control, but it went out of control too quickly.
Within thirty seconds, they were all out the door, the sound of starting cars in the driveway filling the empty house.

Before everyone was even out of the house, Max was carrying Liz up the stairs.
“Max, I can walk,” she protested, but her voice sounded strained and it really scared Max.
“Should I call Dr. Stevens?” Max wondered, carefully putting her down on the bed.
“There’s nothing he can do,” Liz said, turning to her side with her back towards him.
“Baby,” Max whispered as her sobs filled the air.
He lay down next to her, spooning his body against hers.
“They’re right. They’re right.”
“Everything they mentioned, we’ve already been discussing and knowing more than they know we reached the decision to have this child. They’re scared of losing you. Just like I am. They’ll come around. They love you too much not to.”
“I hate disappointing them. It was almost as if they were accusing me of becoming pregnant intentionally.”
“They weren’t,” Max tried to protest, even though he had gotten the same message. “They’ll calm down and they’ll come around.”
“I hope so. I can’t live with them being angry with me. What if I die with them being angry with me?”
To hear her mentioning her own death always chilled him to the core. “You’re not going to die. We will be just fine. We’ll read every ‘Expecting Mother’-book there is and we’ll make sure that everything we have control over and can make for the better we’ll do. What you should eat, what you shouldn’t, massage, meditation, yoga, lots and lots of sex-“ she laughed “- we’ll do it. We’re going prove to the world that you can do it. You’re strong, Liz. I’ve always known you’re strong and if you have moments of doubt, I’ll be by your side the whole way and I’ll try to burden as much as possible.”
“What did I ever do to deserve you?” Liz whispered.
“You were you.”


TBC...

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Postby max and liz believer » Wed Jun 28, 2006 11:10 am

Hey everyone!

Some of you probably know that I'm still hanging around the board (making banners mostly) so I'm not completely gone :roll: The lack of updates on this story (on any of my stories) is purely due to lack of inspiration. I wanted you to know that I've been writing on this story though, but I haven't updated anything yet because I wanted to write ahead a little bit so that you don't have to wait that long between updates. I'm going to write as much as possible before Friday and I'll see what happens then. On Saturday I'm off to a farm prac (taking care of cattle) for two weeks so I won't have access to internet (this is out in the middle of nowhere) and won't be able to update. But even if I don't manage to give you an update before I leave, I guarantee you that there will be an update when I return.

Oh, and when I was sitting there writing, I felt inspired to make a fanart for this story, with Liz comforting Max.

Image

I'll be back, I promise :D


Hugs,

Jo

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Postby max and liz believer » Fri Jun 30, 2006 4:50 am

It's shocking, I know, but I'm back. With an update. The reason why I was able to update now and not two weeks from now is mainly due to my wonderful beta (Gigo) who edited the chapters on such short notice.

I have three chapters written, and the plan is to update one today, one tomorrow and the third after I come back from my farm prac in two weeks.

Once again, my deepest apologies for making you wait this long for an update.

To just quickly bring you up to speed; Liz is pregnant and she just told her parents, Max's parents, Maria, Michael, Isabel and Alex this at a dinner party. Due to the fact that Liz has a transplanted heart and has to be on immunsuppressants for the rest of her life, there are many risks involved in her being pregnant. Risks that the people close to Liz and Max are not willing to face - hence the catastrophic ending of the dinner, with everyone practically telling Liz to terminate the pregnancy.

This is where we come back into the story...


Chapter 46

Slamming the closet door closed, the mass of frustration and nervous energy, formerly known as Isabel, pulled out her jewelry box and almost ripped the earrings out of her earlobes.
Alex, who was watching from the doorway, inhaled deeply, “Honey?”
No reply. His wife removed the pins from her hair in a systematic fashion, her movements shaking with the emotions of someone deeply upset.
“We should talk about this,” Alex tried.
Her answer was spoken through lips tightly pulled together in an attempt of preventing her face from breaking apart. “I’m alright, Alex. I’m just tired.”
“We’ve been married for four years; don’t even try to fool me.”
Isabel put the hairbrush down so violently that the sound of it hitting the mahogany surface echoed in the whole room. “He’s an idiot. I actually never thought I would say it, but my brother’s an idiot.”
“It’s his life, Isabel. He can do whatever he wants.”
From where Alex was standing he could see how she tightened her lips even further and he waited patiently for the explosion that was sure to come.
Isabel’s voice was barely controlled; eerie in the absence of the accomplice of noise. “She has a heart problem. She will most likely die. I have barely agreed to him seeing her at all…and then what? He sniffs on her and she falls pregnant? For how long have they known each other? What about dating first? And they live together? For Christ’s sake!”

Her rant was bouncing of the walls and Alex was not surprised when he felt a small hand slide into his. He gave the hand a consoling squeeze before interrupting his wife. Sifting through everything that Isabel had thrown in his direction, he addressed what was really making her upset. “I’m sure that Max knows the risks involved. Liz especially knows the-“
“If Liz knows, how can she put herself in that situation? What about protection? Are they living in the Stone Age? It is fairly easy to protect yourself.”
”Daddy, why is mommy so angwy?”
Isabel froze, directing her eyes downwards and realized for the first time that they were not alone. The surprise was quickly replaced by irritation.
“Alex,” her voice still barely controlled, “why didn’t you tell me that Michelle was here?”
“I was just about to. I think her mommy is scaring her.”
Isabel glared at him, before turning to look into the small crack left between the doorway and her husband’s leg, where she could see the indistinct features of the eye and nose of her daughter.
“Michelle, honey, go back to bed.”
“You woke me up,” Michelle protested.
“I know, baby, but I’m going to be quiet from now on.”
“I doesn’t want to go bed alone.”
Isabel looked up and met Alex’s eyes. He gave his wife a faint smile, bent down and picked up the small blonde. Her eyes were large and round, as awake as ever, when she pushed her thumb into her mouth, squeezing the toy rabbit dangling from the crook of her arm against her chest.
“We’ll continue this later,” Alex said with a look that said a thousand words.

Isabel followed Alex and her daughter with her eyes as they walked out of the room and then heavily sank down on the bed. How could Max do this to her? Did he not know how much she was already worrying about him? Did he not know how many hours of sleep she had missed out on because she was busy thinking about how she should go about cheering him up the next day every day since he had lost Tess and Josh and the will to live? Now he wanted to go through it all again; he was doing it voluntarily. There was no way this story would end happily. The gods had not smiled on Max yet and would probably never do so. The odds were clearly all against him on this. Liz could die because of her heart condition, but Isabel knew enough biology to know that Liz would die if she continued this pregnancy. Max would not survive that. There was no way Max would survive that. He had almost disappeared completely when Tess and Josh died. It was too soon. He had barely returned and now Liz was going to get herself, their child, and most probably Max killed. She had to prevent it from happening. She had to.

<center>---------------------------------------------</center>

The phone had been ringing all night after that. None of the calls had been from someone congratulating Max and Liz on the pregnancy. All of them had been regretful, yet still insisting on that they were right about how they had reacted but still wondering how Liz was feeling. Each and every one of them had accepted Max’s statement that Liz was asleep and that she shouldn’t be disturbed. Everyone except Maria.
“No, now you listen to me, Max,” Maria said firmly, her voice oozing with barely restrained anger, “I need to talk to Liz personally. I think she wants to talk to me too.”
“She needs her sleep,” Max insisted. Both just as stubborn. They had been playing this game for almost five minutes.
“Max,” Maria warned. “Either you give the phone to Liz or I’ll come over and bang on your door. How’s that?”
Max sighed. He didn’t really want to have Maria here; she was more likely to kill someone here. “Okay.”
“Thank you,” Maria said sarcastically.
Max walked into the bedroom, where the moonlight was casting shadows over the sleeping body. He put the phone down on the pillow next to Liz and crawled up next to Liz.
“Beautiful, you have a phone call,” he said softly in her ear.
“Mmmm,” Liz mumbled. “Who is it?”
“Maria.”
It sounded very much like Liz stopped breathing and then she turned to face Max, her eyes big and wide-awake. “Okay.”
Max reached out behind him, took the phone, placed a kiss on her lips, and handed the phone to her. When Liz put the phone to her ear, Max left the room to give her some privacy.

“Hey Maria,” Liz said softly.
“Liz, thank God. I was so worried. How are you feeling?”
Liz didn’t really know how she should react to the caring, comforting, soft voice at the other end of the line.
“Uhm…a little tired.”
”I’m so sorry for reacting that way,” Maria said. “I just… I was shocked. The thought that I would ever hear that you were pregnant never entered my mind. Kevin didn’t want any children and I thought that after what happened to Max’s family, Max wouldn’t want any children either.”
“It wasn’t planned,” Liz said.
“You forgot protection?” Maria gasped.
“No. No, we used protection. It just didn’t work.”
There was a couple of seconds of silence, before Maria said, “I still think it’s a bad idea. You’re risking your life here. I would say the same thing if you were about to swim across crocodile infested water.”
“I’m sorry, Maria. But Max and I have talked this through. Don’t blame Max, he reacted just like all of you in the beginning and I think he still thinks to some degree that it’s a bad idea.”
“I suspected it was you that was pushing this. I’ve seen the way you look at babies and how you are with Michelle. There’s this longing in you.”
”I just never thought that it would be possible for me,” Liz said.
“Could you promise me one thing though?” Maria asked. “Could you think it through again? Please. I know that you probably been through it pretty thoroughly, knowing you, but you are putting a lot on the line here.”
“Okay, I’ll do that.”
“Thank you. It’s just… I would love for you to have a child. A beautiful combination of you two running around. But I don’t want to lose you.”
“I know, Maria. I’m going to be as careful as possible.”
“Oh, I wish this wasn’t happening,” Maria said more to herself than to Liz and Liz felt a stab in her heart. She so desperately needed to hear someone say that they were happy for her, but that was probably not going to happen in a long time.
Not knowing what else to say, Liz said quietly, “I’ll talk to you later, Maria.”

<center>-------------------------------------------------------</center>

She turned the shower knob and pulled the shower drapes to the side. She took a hold of a towel and moved it over her skin, removing the water droplets. Her reflection in the full size mirror caught her eye and her movements slowed down, her eyes focusing on her stomach.

I know that you probably been through it pretty thoroughly, knowing you, but you are putting a lot on the line here

Her hands moved over the flat surface, amazed that there could actually be life in there. That she was actually carrying another little person inside of her. How could she ever remove that life? It was as much part of her now as the transplanted heart beating in her chest. She was not really afraid of putting her life on the line; she had been living with death just one step behind her most of her life. What she was afraid of was that she might leave Max alone, and she wasn’t sure he would be able to handle that. There was even the possibility that she would make it through the pregnancy and the delivery, but die afterwards, not only leaving Max behind but also a little baby. Could she really go through with this?

This is not your decision. This is mine and Liz’s. Mostly Liz’s

With Max’s voice ringing in her memory, she took a deep breath, her hand coming to a stop on top of her stomach. It seemed as if Max was now more open to keeping the child. They had, after all, decided to keep it. But she was still not sure he was really convinced. What if he was just agreeing with her because he was afraid that it would upset her if he held onto the opinion that they should get an abortion? Everything was falling apart. This was supposed to be a happy time, but it had just turned into grief and loneliness. She had always had the support of her family and her friends in everything she had done. It was horribly cold without them. It was now that she needed them the most and they had abandoned her.

The difficult part was that she could not make herself be angry with them because she could understand their reaction. She could understand that they were afraid because, after all, this pregnancy could kill her and it was a danger that could be avoided. She just did not think that she could give up on this child, even if they would turn their backs on her during the entire gestation period. Things were finally looking up. Max and her were starting to work things out and Max was dealing really well with the grief of the death of his son and wife. Was this really the time to jeopardize it all?

Her hand spread over her flat stomach.

I would love for you to have a child. A beautiful combination of you two running around. But I don’t want to lose you

A tear slowly trickled down her cheek. What was she going to do?

<center>-------------------------------------------------</center>

He knew this place. He had been here before. Several times.
“I need you to identify him.”
He turned his head and looked in the direction of the voice. But the face that met his gaze was blurry, lacking in specific features. He knew that he was shaking. He could feel himself going cold. His eyes flickered over the bare concrete walls and the ice seeped into his bones.

He didn’t want the man to lift the sheet, but he knew with certainty that he would. He had done it before. He watched the man reach over the ice blue sheet, watched how the shadow of the man followed ominously, draping over the blue sheet. The man without a face grabbed the edge of the sheet and started to pull downwards and Max felt his heart plummet. His heart lost its grip on its surrounding muscles, dropping down to hit his diaphragm and preventing the air inside his lungs from being expelled. But the man did not care, did not see his distress. His hand was moving, dragging the sheet along with it.

Max was expecting the blond curls, the small head, the small fingers. But the hair was not blond and he could feel himself reaching behind him for support, only to be met with nothingness. Liz stared back at him, her eyes still open, but lifeless and covered in the opaque sheet of death. The man continued to pull the sheet back, exposing her naked chest, the long scar between her breasts and he could taste the bile in his mouth when he saw the protruding state of her stomach.

It was at this point that he forced himself out of the nightmare realm and re-entered the world of the living with a cry of anguish.

The real world was just as dark as his dream, the darkness creeping around him as his heart was thudding painfully against his ribs. His hand automatically reached out next to him, only to find the coldness of an empty sheet against his palm. His breath got caught in his throat and he slowly turned his head to look next to him only to have his fears confirmed.

She was not there.

He took a deep breath, willing himself to calm down, knowing that he was being ridiculous. She had probably just gone to the toilet. But unable to push his feelings of impending danger away, he rose from the bed, his feet barely touching the cold wooden floor as his rapid steps lead him to the hallway. He stepped up to the bedroom door, seeing the light seeping through the cracks around the door. Stepping up to the door, he let his knuckles gently rap against the wood while he pressed his ear close to the door.

“Liz?”

The silence that answered made his heart beat that much faster as anguish took a hold of his heart.

“Lizzie? You’re in there?”

He tried to will himself to relax. Maybe she wasn’t in there. Maybe she had forgotten to turn off the lights. Maybe she had fallen asleep on the toilet.

He tried the doorknob, noticing that it wasn’t locked and slowly pushed the door open. His eyes traveled along the white tiles making up the floor, wanting to look further but at the same time fearing what he would see. He froze when his eyes landed on the still person on the floor.

Skin. Pale, almost white skin.

He could feel the world crashing around him, dragging him down with it. With a sense of drowning, he fell to his knees next to her lifeless body. Her knees were curled up to her abdomen, her hand resting against the flatness of her stomach.

“No, Liz,” his voice cracked as tears trembled down his cheeks. “Please don’t, please don’t.” He feverously lifted her head, her arms dangling unresponsively at her sides as he desperately placed his ear next to her mouth, hoping to hear her breaths, longing to feel her warm living breath brush against his cheek. But there was nothing there.

“NO!” he screamed. He looked down into her face. Her eyes were closed. You could almost take her for sleeping, if it wasn’t for the lack of rising movement of her chest. “No no no no, don’t leave me. Don’t… Please, no… Liz… Come on, baby. Come on.”

Her limp upper body was shuddering with his trembling desperate movements. His lips were warm against her cold skin when he tried to kiss the life back into her. He knew she was gone. He knew it. Everything was telling him that she was dead. That her heart had given up on her. But he couldn’t give up. Maybe it wasn’t too late. Maybe, just maybe, it would be alright. Looking down into her peaceful face, he gently kissed her lips, his warm tears falling on her increasingly taut skin. “I love you.”

Then he gently lowered her back down on the floor, brushed the majority of tears off his face with the back of his hand and with one last glance, he stood up and left the bathroom to find a phone and call 911.


TBC...

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Postby max and liz believer » Fri Jun 30, 2006 5:19 pm

Ah, BehrObsession, you are right on the mark!

Thank you everyone for the incredible feedback!! I'm always astounded by the fact that when I do update you fabulous readers are still around. Thank you!

Here's the next chapter (for you who are just looking in, don't miss the chapter before this).

This is something of a transition chapter, but the next chapter will be up in two weeks when I return.


Chapter 47

“Max! Max! MAX!”

Her arms pulled him out of it, and his eyes shot open to look straight into her worried brown gaze. His breathing was erratic as he continued to stare at her, trying to understand what was happening.

“Max, are you okay? You were having a nightmare.”
“Oh my God,” Max whispered, staring at her as if he was in trance.
“Are you okay?” Her eyes turned a darker shade of concern and her grip on his biceps hardened slightly.
“You were dead. You were dead,” he whispered, his eyes panickedly scanning over her face.
“I’m fine,” Liz answered.
“But I woke up. I woke up and you were not there. It wasn’t a dream. Is this a dream?”
“Max!” Liz said sharply, forcing his eyes to gain some focus when her voice cleared some of the fear that was still holding his heart in a death grip.
He ripped the sheet to the side, revealing her bare legs, his fingers brushing over her skin.
“Max, please,” Liz whispered, his desperate actions scaring her.
“You’re not dead,” he whispered again, the previous panicked state of his voice now replaced by questioning.
“Max, I’m fine,” Liz said, her voice firmer as she tried to snap him back to reality. The nightmare was still lingering in his mind to a degree that she could almost feel the swirls of unconsciousness brush against her fingers as her hands cradled his face.
Despite her strong efforts in trying to make him focus his gaze on her face, his eyes were still moving over her body, as if he was looking for something.

His hands moved slowly over the thin silk that was covering her flat stomach. “The baby… You were pregnant.”
His eyes flickered to the doorway, his forehead creased in deep valleys from confusion and worry. “Josh… Joshua was here. He…”
Liz watched his face as his eyes took on faraway expression and she could feel him slipping away from her.
His breathing was becoming increasingly labored as more details of the dream flooded him. “No… he was… and I had to identify his body… But it was you. He was not there…” his eyes turned to her face and his eyes looked straight into her soul “…it was you. You were there instead.”
Fresh tears trickled down his already wet cheeks.
She softly cradled his cheek, her thumb brushing some of the tears away. “Shh…it’s okay now.”
But he didn’t hear her. “You were dead, Liz. You were dead. And you were pregnant…”

Liz wasn’t sure if she should remind him that she actually was pregnant, because for some reason Max was giving her the impression that he thought her pregnancy had been part of the dream as well and she didn’t want to upset him further.
“And then I woke up. I was sure that I woke up… I found you in the bathroom and you were on the floor. You weren’t breathing. Oh God.” He ran his fingers over her face, tracing the features, following every line. “This is a dream, isn’t it? Either you are dead and this is a dream, or…”
Liz took a firm grip of his chin and angled his eyes forcing him to look directly at her. ”Max! Stop it!”
His breathing was erratic as he stared at her, tears running silently down his cheeks.
“You’re awake and I’m fine. Nothing happened. You had a nightmare. Okay? It was just a nightmare. Now, snap out of it.”
He inhaled deeply, trembling, and the confusion interlaced with disbelief in his eyes told her that he still couldn’t believe her. Whatever dream he’d had, it must have been very real to be so unwilling to loosen its grip on him. She took a hold of the hand that was still moving over her face and brought his fingers to her lips, kissing the tip of every finger slowly.
“This is real, Max,” she whispered. He was still staring at her, not letting himself blink in fear of her disappearing during that millisecond.

She moved his hand down to her chest, placing his hand above the swell of her breast, above her heart. “I’m right here.” She leaned forward and softly touched his lips with hers, suspecting that his eyes were open the entire time, still watching her. She leaned back so that she could get eye contact with him, “And I’m not going anywhere.”
He looked at her in silence, while torture and horror blanched his face. Liz had to struggle not to break down with him, because the sight of him so broken reminded her of a Max that she thought had left a long time ago, a Max that had been lost in his own head, listening to the voice of his dead wife. The Max in front of her at the moment appeared lost, only now listening to the voice of his fear instead of Tess. His fear of losing her. It was the type of dark, bottomless fear that only someone who had already lost everything once could feel. Someone who knew the coldness and loneliness first hand.
“Love me, Max,” she said softly. She wanted him to feel her. Wanted him to realize that she was still there, that she was still alive.
She didn’t have to ask him again.

He crushed his lips against her with a desperation she had never felt before, the salty taste of his fear mixing with the familiar taste of him. He gathered her hair in his hands, pressing her lips harder against his, as they fell back against the pillows. His hands didn’t stay in one position for longer than five seconds, his movements bordering on frantic in the exploration of her body. To her, it felt as if he was touching her everywhere at the same time. Her senses were heightened, her skin sensitized to the brink of electrified tingling. His heated kisses were scolding her skin, leaving her body aching for more. During some of those few seconds, Max had managed to remove his pajamas pants, causing both of them to groan as one as their naked legs came into contact with each other.

He kept looking at her though. She could feel his heated eyes on her, the quivering concern keeping track on her every move. She was aware of it, but she decided not to voice it. Something had really scared him and she had to let him take his time to work it through. Although, at the speed he was shedding his clothes as well as hers, Liz’s apprehension increased. They didn’t speak. Didn’t utter one word. Only the sounds of their lovemaking filled the air, making the surroundings less dark.

He collapsed on top of her, his breathing harsh and shallow. She was staring up in the ceiling, her hand slowly running through his damp hair. His body was slightly trembling and she started to run her other hand up and down his back with a feathery lightness. They lay like that for a while, in silence, until their breathing had calmed down. When he spoke, his voice was so soft she almost missed it. “I’m sorry.”
She looked down at him, frowning in confusion. “For what?”
He shifted, burying his head in the crook of her neck, reminding her of a boy trying to hide to avoid being scolded. “I was too rough.”

He had been rough. Nevertheless, she had still felt his gentleness in every movement along the way, which is why she hadn’t stopped him. But he had been desperate. As if joining with her would remove all the demons in his head, and he had been anxious to get there as soon as possible.
“I’m so sorry,” he whispered and he shifted making her arms tighten around him. She would not let him leave her right now.
“Max, what really happened? In your dream?”
There was silence for a couple of seconds and then he lifted his head. Without looking up at her, he slightly lifted his upper body and angled his head so that he could follow the travel his finger was making between her breasts with his eyes. He could feel the thickened texture of the white scar under his fingertip, a scar that created many conflicting emotions in him. Without saying a word, his hand continued down her stomach, lifting his body off hers more and more to unveil her flawless olive skin. He bent down and tenderly kissed her stomach, an act that made her chest tighten.

“Max?” she whispered.
“I love you so much,” he said softly, meeting her eyes for the first time since they had made love.
“I love you too,” Liz said gently, her eyes trained on his as he moved back up her body, her body reacting in the most sensual way when his skin brushed against hers. He came to a halt with his lips barely an inch from hers, their eyes connected and their bodies flush with each other as he put most of his weight on her. Liz could feel her heart rate increasing. It was as if the air around them was electrified, making the small hairs on her arms stand on end. His eyes were holding onto hers as he closed the miniscule distance between their lips and ever so softly tasted her. She was looking at him as their lips connected, refusing the reflex need to close her eyes at the sensation of his warm lips. She wanted to see him. She watched as his eyes turned darker and she could feel the pounding of his heart against her breast increasing its rhythm.

She didn’t want to interrupt the sexual tension building up around them, but she needed to know. “Max.” Pleasure produced small shivers under her skin when her lips brushed against his when she spoke. He was so close. She could feel the warmth from his breath against the skin of her heated lips. He pulled back slightly, leaving distance between them, but still they were within two inches of each other.
“I have this reoccurring dream,” Max said quietly. “It’s… When… It’s from a memory.”
Liz nodded, whispering, “Okay,” when he stopped.
He swallowed, his gaze flickering to something next to her face, something that only he could see. “I had to identify Josh’s body… after the accident.”
Liz bit her lower lip in an attempt to lessen the pain prickling her heart at the anguish in his voice.
“I’ve been having nightmares about that day…that event… since the accident. I go there to identify him and when they pull the sheet away, Josh’s…Josh’s eyes open.”
”Oh God,” Liz whispered almost inaudibly.
“Sometimes he asks me why I’m leaving him. Why I’m not taking him home?”
She felt one of his tears drip on her collarbone, followed by another, which together made their way down along her scar.

“Tonight… it was different.” He was looking at her again. He licked his lips as if it would give him the last strength he needed to speak, but she could see in his eyes that the dream was still vivid and still haunting him.
“I thought that I would see Josh there, but when I pulled the sheet away… It was you, Liz. You were there and you were… Your eyes…” His voice cracked and her arms tightened around him. “You were dead. You were pretty far gone in your pregnancy…”
She nodded slowly, understanding now why he had kept repeating that she was pregnant before.
“Then I woke up.”
Liz relaxed, bending down and placing a kiss on his forehead.
“But I didn’t.”
Liz frowned. “What do you mean?”
“I guess I must’ve dreamt that I woke up. I reached for you, but you were not there. So I went to look for you. I saw that the light was on in the bathroom so I went in there.”
Liz was looking at him in trepidation, his fear so poignant that she could feel it seeping through her skin.
“I found you on the floor and you were not…you were not breathing. I went to call an ambulance and that’s when you woke me up. Thank God you woke me up. I thought it was real.” Tears welled up in his eyes. “I thought it was real. That I had lost you too.”

That I had lost you too.

His voice echoed in her head and she took a deep breath, trying her best to gather her scattered emotions.
“I’m not going anywhere,” she said, repeating what she had said an hour earlier.
His sad eyes looked up into hers, causing her heart to miss a beat. “You don’t know that.”
She didn’t have an answer for that. What was she supposed to say? “No, I don’t. But I know this; it will take a lot to remove me from you.” She brushed the remaining tears away from his cheeks. “Okay?”
He nodded, his face still worried and his eyes still melancholic.
“Okay,” she repeated, feeling the tears sting her eyes. Guilt flooded her, feeling as if she had just lied to him.

TBC...

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max and liz believer
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Postby max and liz believer » Sat Jul 15, 2006 4:00 am

Hello!

I'm so glad (and relieved) to see that so many people are still here, even though I'm the worst updater ever. I just came back from my farm prac and I've added having my arm up a cow's butt to my folder of experiences. I can now almost artificially inseminate cows.

I just have to say this; I watch the news everyday and the world I see there is frightening. I see so much evil it makes me lose just a little bit faith in the humanity of the human species. But then I look around me and in everyday life there are many beautiful, warm people. This farm that I just went to, they volunteered to take me in. They opened their home, their family, their hearts to a stranger. They gave me roof over my head, they fed me, they looked after me and they treated me like their daughter. It gives that little bit of faith back to me. We are not all lost. There is still hope.

In the meantime, I try my best to make up some magic so that we can hide away from reality for awhile... even though most of my stories are on the angsty side :roll: But anyway...

Jason's Lover, BehrObsession, Eve, SmileeUk, PSW2001, Earth2Mama (Ellie) - I'm really glad that you found this story again. I will try and keep up with updating so that you don't lose me again... Orphyfets (Stefanie) - Welcome, Stefanie! I'm so glad to see a new face here. dreamerbabylioness, paper, Behrsgirl1230 (Kristen) - Hi! Welcome to this fic! I'm glad to have you onboard frenchkiss70

Thank you all of you for letting me know what you think!

And of course, Elizabeth, thank you for editing *mwuah*


Chapter 48

One week later

“Hey man, how’re you doin’?”
Max just nodded at Michael, walking past him into the leaving room as Michael stepped to the side to let him in.
Michael’s eyebrows slightly lifted, forming an ‘oh okay’ expression.
“Come inside, please,” Michael murmured, closing the door behind Max.
He turned around to see Max walking back and forth across the living room floor, running his hands through his hair.
“So, what’s up?” Michael asked lightly, his voice giving no indication of the turmoil Max’s agitated behavior was igniting.
“Can I talk to you about something?” Max asked, glancing quickly at Michael, while continuing his pacing.
“Of course, man,” Michael said and sat down on the armrest of one of the armchairs Maria had forced him to buy when she had gotten fed up with the fact that his only piece of furniture was a worn out couch. According to Maria, the couch smelled. Michael still didn’t know what she meant.
“Liz is pregnant,” Max said.
Michael smirked at him. “Eh, yeah. I was there. At dinner. When you and Liz told us, remember?”

“I mean… She can’t be pregnant.”
Michael scratched his head and spoke slowly, “Riiight. But she is? Right?”
“Yes, I just… I don’t want her to be pregnant.”
Michael frowned, staring at his best friend. Max’s pacing wasn’t making it easier for him to think either. “Man, could you please stop wearing a hole in my carpet?”
Max sighed and sank down on the old couch.
Michael rubbed his forehead, feeling a headache coming on. “I thought that you and Liz had talked about this,”
“We had,” Max said.
Michael looked at him, took in his washed out face, the four days old dark stubble on his chin and cheeks, and the dark shades under his eyes. Something had happened. “So what changed?”
Max rubbed his tired eyes, a slight shiver coursing through his body. “I had a dream… no, I have been having several dreams. I can’t help but think that they are trying to tell me something, that-“
“Okay, Maxwell, I barely slept last night and I haven’t eaten in six hours. You are really not making any sense at the moment.”

Max directed his eyes up at the ceiling, emitting a sigh of exhaustion. “I keep dreaming that I find Liz dead. The first dream she was in the bathroom, the second dream was in the kitchen. Now they are starting to mix with my nightmares of Tess and instead of Tess dying in the car crash it’s now Liz-“
”Max, it’s probably perfectly normal for you to be scared-“
Max looked up at Michael, interrupting him, “It feels like it’s more than that. I have this really bad feeling that this pregnancy is a bad thing.”
“You know better than I the risks involved in Liz’s pregnancy,” Michael said, “but something must have gotten you to support her before. What made you decide that she should go through with the pregnancy before?”
“It was Liz,” Max swallowed and Michael guessed this was where the dilemma was. “She wants this child so much. She never thought that she could get pregnant.”
Michael rubbed his forehead again. Didn’t people know by now that he was really not the right person to talk about these serious things with? “What about you?”
Max looked down at his feet, feeling the world weighing down on him even more than before. “I want the child too. I know that I still need more time to deal with Josh’s death, but maybe this child would help me to start a new life…”
“But now you don’t feel like that anymore?” Michael enquired.

Max shook his head slowly, his eyes closed in anguish. “I don’t know. I just feel that I don’t care about the child if Liz might die. I can’t sacrifice her for this child.”
“There are no guarantees of what will happen if she continues the pregnancy,” Michael said, knowing enough about this topic than he ever thought thanks to Maria’s worried ranting. “She might die, but she might live. The child might die, but the child might also live.”
Max let out a harsh, frustrated sigh, covering his head in his hands. “That’s the thing. We don’t know.”
“Have you talked to her?” Michael asked.
Max voice was muffled in his hands when he finally replied after a couple of seconds of silence. “I don’t want her to feel like I’m betraying her. I said that I would stand by her and support her decision, but now I just want to tell her to get an abortion.” Max looked up and Michael’s throat thickened at the anguish in Max’s red eyes. “I can’t tell her that. I can’t tell her that I want her to remove our child. Our baby.”
Max’s voice cracked and he leaned back in the couch, placing his head on the top of the back, staring up at the ceiling as he tried to reign in his feelings.
It was at this point that Michael wished that Maria or Isabel was here. He had no idea what to say.
“Uhm… You want a beer?”
A snort, which was intended to be a laugh, was heard from Max. “Sure, thanks Mike.”
“Right,” Michael mumbled to himself and disappeared into the kitchen, his mind fervently trying to figure out what to say to Max to help him out.

Max sighed again, his mind filled with thoughts of what had transpired the last couple of days. He had tried his best to hide it from Liz, but he was aware of that his appearance might be giving her clues to that something was not right. He hadn’t been able to get himself to eat or even shave. He was continuously tormented by what to tell her. Because he knew that he had to talk to her eventually. None of them were sleeping very well, because he kept waking her up when the nightmares scared him out of his sleep, sometimes several times per night. He jumped out of his reverie when he felt the cold moist texture of the chilled glass beer bottle against his hand.
“Thanks,” he said, straightening up. There had never been a doubt in his mind to who he should talk to this about. Many might not consider Michael their first choice to discuss serious personal matters with but Max needed Michael’s simple outlook on life. Michael didn’t get worked up or took it personally. He saw things for what they were. That was something which differentiated Michael from Max, and Max had realized a long time ago that he needed Michael to counterbalance his tendency to feel strongly about most things with Michael’s tendency to take everything lightly.

“You should talk to her, she has the right to know that you are feeling this way,” Michael said after a long silence interrupted merely by the soft sounds of beer being swallowed, had transpired.
“I know,” Max said quietly. He wanted to ask Michael what he thought. If he thought that Liz should keep the child or not, but he already knew that there was no use asking him. Michael wouldn’t give his opinion on a thing like that, because he didn’t think he had a say in it. Max knew that it wouldn’t help him to ask Michael either, because Max was the one that had to make the choice in the end.
“How is Liz feeling?” Michael asked.
“She wants to keep the bab-“
Michael waved his reply away. “I don’t mean that. How is she doing? Is everything okay?”
Max was surprised that Michael would ask such a question, but recuperated fairly quickly. “She hasn’t really mentioned anything. She says that she is a bit lightheaded, but that’s normal for pregnancy. Tess had the same thing.”
“Right,” Michael nodded. “I was just thinking… If there was any indication that the pregnancy is hurting her in any way it might, you know, make it easier for you to reach a decision.”
Michael looked fairly uncomfortable, as if he had just voiced something that he was not allowed to, but Max stilled his worries. “I know what you mean. But no, she hasn’t told me anything…” His voice trailed off as a thought occurred to him. What if she had been feeling bad, but had avoided to tell him, afraid that it would give him a reason to tell her to terminate the pregnancy.
“I’m sure it’s nothing then,” Michael said casually, suspecting where Max’s thoughts had gone.
“Yeah, yeah,” Max agreed absent-mindedly and then stood up quickly. “Thanks, Michael.”
“Uhm… you’re welcome,” Michael replied, feeling that he had not really said anything helpful at all. Before he knew what had happened, Michael was staring at the closed front door through which Max had disappeared.

<center>--------------------------------------------</center>

“I still can’t believe you are pregnant,” Maria said over Liz’s shoulder.
Liz jumped slightly in surprise at her voice and dropped the small sized sweater she was holding. She thought that Maria would spend more time in the jewelry section and hadn’t been prepared to be caught.
“I thought I would find you here,” Maria continued when Liz turned around to face her.
“I know it’s stupid. I’m barely one month into the pregnancy and I’m already looking at baby clothes,” Liz said weakly, a blush of embarrassment coloring her cheeks.
Maria smiled at her. “It’s not stupid. It’s called ‘making plans for the future’.”
Liz returned her smile.
“So, how are things? How are you feeling?” Maria asked as they started walking through the rows of baby articles, Liz trying her best to pretend to not look at all of the miniscule clothes.
“I’m fine. My morning sickness is not that bad anymore.”
“That’s great. What about Max?”
“No, Max never had any morning sickness,” Liz said absent-mindedly as she touched a pair of miniature sneakers. Maria’s laughter brought her out of her dream world.
“Well, that’s good. ‘Cause I was a bit worried about that for a while.”
Liz laughed softly, realizing what she had just said. “Sorry, I haven’t been sleeping that well.”
Maria frowned. “Why not?”
“Max has been having nightmares,” Liz answered, picking up a small pink cap.
“Nightmares? About what? Tess?”
“No, me,” Liz said, and Maria wasn’t surprised to hear a tinge of guilt in Liz’s voice. Typical of Liz to be guilty about someone else having nightmares about her.

“What happens?”
“I die,” Liz answers, swallowing back the emotions elicited by the memories of Max’s anguished screams in the middle of the night. She had desperately needed to get out of the house today. Max’s worn down appearance was starting to really worry her and she needed to put her feelings on hold for a couple of hours to regain her powers.
“Oh,” Maria said quietly.
“Yeah.” Suddenly Liz didn’t feel that much like walking around in the baby section anymore and walked over to the make up section. Maria followed her, trying her best to still her inquisitive mind. But she could try all she might; she knew that she would lose eventually.
“How do you die?”
Liz glanced at Maria over her shoulder, swallowed back the anxiety, while running her fingers over a pearl necklace. “It’s the pregnancy. My heart gives up because of the pregnancy.”
Maria nodded. Of course. “Is he really okay with all of this? I know that you said that he was against it in the beginning but that he came around and decided to be on your side.”
Liz frowned. “Yeah, of course he’s on my side. Otherwise I don’t really know if I could still go through with this. I don’t think I would be able to do this alone.” And I need to know that he is going to be there if something happens to me, to take care of the child, she added silently in her head.
“Right,” Maria said. “Just wondering.”
“Yeah,” Liz said lightly, forcing the image of Max’s haggard face to the back of her mind. Was there something Max wasn’t telling her? She had thought that his increasing moments of silence and him barely eating was due to the nightmares alone. Was there something else that was tormenting him?
Maria interrupted her train of thought. “Could you help me find a present for Michael?”
“It’s his birthday?” Liz wondered, trying to shake her thoughts off her.
“Yep… and he keeps saying that he doesn’t want anything, but I want to give him something. What would you give him?”
Liz stared at her. She was kidding, right? “Uhm… an action figure?”
Maria rolled her eyes. “Haha, very funn- hang on, that’s not such a bad idea.”
Liz laughed. Spending time with Maria never lost its novelty.

<center>--------------------------------------------</center>

His arms sliding around her waist made her sigh. Before her sigh would’ve been filled with feelings of contentment and love, but her conversation with Maria had planted doubts and insecurities in her mind instead.
“Hey,” he murmured, softly pressing his warm lips against the skin of her neck.
“Hi,” she answered, her hands not halting for one second in their movements of chopping the cucumber into rectangular pieces.
“Did you have fun?” Max asked softly, almost huskily. Liz’s eyes closed without her being able to control it when his lips traveled further up her neck and his hands forced her closer to the hardness of his chest.
“Uh-huh,” she answered, unconsciously licking her lips, all of the sudden feeling very warm.
His hands slowly left her waist, not losing contact with her body for one second as he moved them out towards her bare arms. Her head fell slightly backwards and her breath hitched in her throat as he stroked her arms languidly, running his fingers down her arms to her fingers, lacing them together.
“Good to see Maria again?” Max continued, his lips gently caressing the skin along her shoulder blade, where her shirt had fallen down. His fingers squeezed hers, making her breathing quicken. She should stop this. She really shouldn’t allow herself to be seduced. She needed to talk to him. He loosened his grip on her fingers and started to slide his hands up her arms again, leaving a trail of goosebumps in their wake. His mouth moved upwards, nibbling her earlobe as his fingers stroke the bare skin between her shirt and the lining of her skirt.
“Yes,” she partly whispered, partly moaned in response to his question. “Did you…get the sour…sour cream?”

Max’s hands wandered upwards, bringing the shirt along with them, causing her to lean further into him when a sudden weakness attacked her legs. “Uh-huh, sour cream…” His fingers encountered the lace of her bra, “…all taken care of.”
“Max?” Jesus, where is your self-control, girl? Before he had time to answer, she turned around in his arms, trying to will her determination to put a stop to this. But she barely had time to turn the full 180 degrees until he had captured her lips with his. Without knowing exactly how it happened, she found herself sitting on the counter, her back pressed up against the microwave, his hands in her hair, his lips ravaging hers.
“Max,” she moaned into his mouth, the hands she had moved in his direction to stop him ignored her instructions and instead cradled the back of his head to bring him even closer. He hadn’t kissed her like this in a long time. With complete and utter abandon. She could feel his stubble move roughly against her cheeks and chin, which only served to heighten the sensations.
“Max, the food…” she tried, when he moved to kiss her neck, causing her back to arch. He was so close. He was so warm. She was so warm. She could feel his strength between her thighs as he stepped even closer in between her knees.
“I know,” he murmured.
“Okay,” she groaned, using the heels of her feet to push him even closer, causing him to moan her name against her ear. She wasn’t really aware of at what point he removed her shirt or when he decided to lift her up from the counter, crashing their lower bodies together, leaving them aching for more, and placing her on the wooden kitchen table. He stopped, looking down at her laying on the hard surface, her former pony tail unrecognizable with tresses framing her flushed cheeks, her lips red and swollen.
“Beautiful. Absolutely beautiful.”

She thanked him by taking a hold of the collar of his shirt and pulling his upper body down on top of her. Next, she took a grip of the hem of his shirt, pushing it upwards, exposing surface and more surface of bronze skin. She threw the shirt to the side, not really caring where it landed as her hands slid over the skin of his back, feeling the muscles ripple under her touch. His mouth adored hers in every way possible; his tongue tasting every millimeter of her while making her tremble underneath him. She frowned as strong smell itched her nose.
“Max…”
“Mmm,” Max mumbled, working himself down her body.
Burnt. Something smelled burnt. Liz pushed on Max, her mind suddenly very clear.
“Max, something is burning!”
“What?” Max asked, coming to a halt.
As Max moved slightly to the side, Liz got a peak of flames behind Max. “Oh my God…”
Max whipped his head around. “Shit!”
He crawled off her and quickly opened the door to the storage room, ripping out a fire extinguisher. Before Liz had time to scramble off the table, the fire caused by the shirt Liz had accidentally thrown on the stove was extinguished, just in time for the smoke to set off the fire alarm.
“Shit!” Max repeated and with Liz’s help they opened the front door and most of the windows in the kitchen.

When the smoke finally cleared and the fire alarm stopped, Liz started laughing. Max looked at her incredulously. She was now leaning over, gasping for air, tears of laughter joyfully escaping her eyes.
He smiled, a crushing feeling of love tightening his chest. The intense feeling of love was accompanied by sadness and fear. What would he do if anything ever happened to her?
“God, look at us,” Liz got out between the fits of laughter. Max laughed softly, taking in her ravaged appearance, topped off with the lack of shirt and the ripped pantyhose that he had obviously somehow torn. He glanced down at himself, at the soot that was now covering his naked chest.
“Next time we do this, watch were you throw that shirt, Parker,” Max said.
She straightened, amused disbelief marking her features. “Oh no, there won’t be a next time, Evans.”
His face dropped slightly, causing another laugh to slip out of her. “In the kitchen. No next time in the kitchen.”
He quickly recuperated, trying to pretend that he hadn’t for a second there thought that she had told him that they would never have sex again. “But what’s the fun in that?”

She stepped up to him, close enough to only be separated by the warmth being emitted from their bodies, and ran her fingers down his chest, letting her nails scrap against his skin. Her eyes fixed on his she watched his eyes turn darker and his gaze hungrily travel to her lips. She rose on her toes and wetted her lips. Slowly, making sure he watched every movement.
“You and I, Max,” she whispered huskily, causing his head to automatically lean closer to her, “should see if there is anything left that we can use for dinner.”
His muffled head merely registered the small smile on her lips before she was gone, but his hand snaked out, his fingers encircling her wrist. She turned her head towards him in surprise, looking down at where his hand was grabbing her wrist before looking up at him. A chill of anticipation and arousal coursed through her when she looked up into his black eyes, feeling the tight grip on her arm.
“We’ll continue this later,” Max said in a low voice, “Okay?”
She nodded slowly, transfixed by the sexual magnetism surrounding him. “Okay.”


TBC...


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