I'm back in Sweden (so nice to be home and have someone cook for you
) and my lovely beta has now finished editing the last two chapters of this story.
Thank you heaps and heaps for the feedback;
- You make me blush
Thank you so much for those pretty words!
Angel Kisses 70
- thank you for sharing that detail about your personal experience with this. It really means a lot to hear from someone who has seen someone go through this in real life that I've managed to capture the feelings correctly.
- Cats are hilarious, aren't they? I love cats.
- I'm relieved that I, for once, am on your good side
. And if I've played my future cards correctly you won't be too upset with me in the last two chapters to come either.
Dreamer 4 Ever
- Thank you, Elizabeth!
Lyrics in the chapter are from Peter Gabriel's "The Book of Love"
The cry cut through the silence of the night and slowly, but securely, made its way over to the adjacent bedroom, crept up the bed and gnawed its way through the cotton of sleep surrounding Max.
He mumbled and turned onto his side. But the sound wouldn’t go away and as the knowledge of who was responsible for that sound reached his consciousness, he forced his eyes to open and blinked in the darkness as Miranda’s cry for her parents continued to envelope him.
He rolled over to Liz, who was slowly waking up and kissed her temple.
Liz barely registered his words as sleep was still hanging down on her heavily.
Max made his way out of the bedroom and into the tower room where his princess slept. His heart constricted as his eyes fell upon her flustered, twisting body in the crib. She was so small and he loved her so much it hurt. He slid his hands between the mattress and her body and she stilled some, looking up at him at the realization of his presence.
“Hello, you,” Max said softly.
She sobbed and hiccupped in reply and he gently cupped her against his chest, her small body feeling warm and alive against his bare chest. Gently rocking her, he tried to will her back to sleep, but Miranda wanted nothing of that. She wanted something else. Her crying, although not as powerful as before in the safety of her father’s arms, was still present.
“Let’s go downstairs, Mira. Let your mommy get some sleep.”
Her crying followed them downstairs, like a trail of sound, and by the time he had reached the kitchen he had started to worry, as he does.
“Shhh,” he hushed softly. “Daddy’s here. You want something to eat?”
He placed her in the crook of his arm, the length of her body easily fitting against his arm, and opened the door to the refrigerator.
“You want some of mommy’s delicious milk?” he asked, picking out the bottle with breast milk that Liz had pumped before going to bed that same evening.
As if knowing that she had gotten her message through, Miranda quieted down and looked up at him through glistering eyes. She had her mother’s eyes alright, with the power to make him want to jump off a cliff if he couldn’t make her happy. He removed the rubber at the top of the bottle and inserted the bottle into the microwave.
“Soon,” he promised Miranda, gently rocking her so that she wouldn’t start crying again.
But Miranda was hungry and hadn’t counted on having to wait any longer for her 3 a.m. snack. Her face scrunched up, the numerous folds forming having fascinated Max to no end in the beginning, but now caused him to panic because he knew what followed.
“Princess, food is coming,” he said gently, rocking her, but her small lungs managed to produce a loud cry before he had a chance to finish the sentence. She was crying like someone had just stolen her best friend, large tears running down her cheeks.
“No no no,” Max whispered. “It’s okay. It’s okay. Food is almost done.”
He glanced up at the microwave and saw that it still had ten seconds to go. Thirty seconds had never felt that long before. At the sound of the microwave bell, he ripped the door open and pulled out the bottle, put the nipple on, shook it and put a drop on the back of his hand to check the temperature.
He had to use some persuasion to get the bottle into her mouth because she was convinced he still didn’t have any food for her. Satisfied sucking sounds filled the kitchen when Max won the battle. Her eyes met his and he sighed in happiness as he sank down in the couch in the living room. He could sit here with her forever.
Soon the milk had filled her stomach, but air had followed the ingestion and she wasn’t completely satisfied. Knowing this, Max put her head against his shoulder and repeatedly hit her diaper-clad bottom to force the air out of her stomach. At the burp, he walked over to the stereo, not prepared to let her go yet, and pressed play. Strings filled the air, soon followed by Peter Gabriel’s low soft voice.
The book of love is long and boring
No one can lift the damn thing
It's full of charts and facts and figures
and instructions for dancing
He gently began to move to the music, looking down at the bundle in his arms. Her eyes were wide open as she quietly took in her surroundings.
I love it when you read to me
You can read me anything
He kissed the top of her head, loving the smell of her dark hair.
The book of love has music in it
In fact that's where music comes from
Some of it is just transcendental
Some of it is just really dumb
He looked up when he heard her in the stairs. She smiled sleepily at him, her eyes radiating with love.
I love it when you sing to me
You can sing me anything
“I wanted to teach her some moves,” Max whispered as Liz stepped up the dancing couple.
Liz smiled at him and then looked down into Miranda’s face who was looking very content to be dancing with her daddy. Max put his free arm around Liz’s waist and pulled her to his side, inviting her to the dance.
The book of love is long and boring
And written very long ago
It's full of flowers and heart-shaped boxes
And things we're all too young to know
Together, the small family danced to the music and, as Max kissed Liz, Miranda’s eyes slowly closed, giving in to sleep.
Five weeks later
Michael swung the door open and grimaced at the sight that greeted him.
“Whoa, man. Have you slept at all?”
Max had some pretty impressive bags under his eyes and his stance screamed fatigue. But there was a shine in his eyes which Michael probably wouldn’t have picked up on unless it had been reflecting in the small smile on his old friend’s face.
“Hi Mike,” Max answered, promptly ignoring his question and walked past Michael into the apartment.
“So, how’s fatherhood treating you?” Michael said, closing the door behind Max.
He looked over at Max when Max didn’t respond and had to shake his head at the foolish dreamy grin that now adored Max’s lips.
“I take that it’s going well, except for your obvious insomnia, that is,” Michael filled in.
Max nodded, rubbing his forehead absent-mindedly, but the smile remained. “Yeah, I don’t remember Josh being up so many times during the night.”
”But you don’t care, do you?” Michael asked with a grin of his own.
Max smiled impishly and shrugged. “Who needs sleep anyway?”
“Yeah…No,” Michael said slowly, “I’m not gonna agree with you on that one… Sleep is extremely undervalued.”
“Uhm… I’m in a hurry, so…”
Michael nodded. “Right. Hang on and I’ll get it.”
When Michael disappeared, Max sank down on one of the wooden chairs by the kitchen table and let out a shaken breath. How could he already be nervous?
Michael was back in no time, unceremoniously placing a heavy, moderate sized cardboard box on Max’s lap. Max held in a groan and granted Michael a glare for his decision of where to dispose the box. Michael just gave him a casual, typical Michael look in return. Max took a firm grip of the box and stood up.
“Thanks, Michael. I owe you one.”
Michael shrugged. “Don’t sweat it.” He walked over to the front door and opened it for Max. “Just bring that offspring of yours over sometime. Maria is blabbering my ear off about how little she sees of Miranda.”
”Right. Maria,” Max smiled.
Michael shrugged again. “Women. Maternal instinct. Beats me.”
“Yeah, I’ll bring her over,” Max answered, but after glancing past Michael into the not so tidy apartment, Max added, “But clean the apartment some first, okay? I don’t want her to catch anything.”
Michael almost rolled his eyes. “No problemo.”
Two days later
He froze, his whole body tensing in an acute combination of fear and nervousness, as he heard the key in the lock. His hands were shaking as he moved the lit match to the last candle. With his back towards the front door, he heard the door open, but when he didn’t hear the familiar jingle of keys being put down or a jacket being removed, he turned around.
The candles cast a soft warm yellow light that reached into the hallway. It barely touched her figure, making her remain semi-masked in the shadows while speckles of light moved over her surprised face.
Max swallowed. God, she was beautiful.
His mouth felt very dry, suddenly having decided to stop producing saliva, and his palms were sweaty where his body had decided to exaggerate the production.
He forced a smile on his face and hoped that she wouldn’t notice how tense he was. But the candlelit room, the aromas from the dinner he had spent half the day preparing and the soft music playing in the background must have been enough to make her suspicious because she wouldn’t move from her spot. Her keys dangled forgotten in her hands and she repeated, her eyes fixed on the dining table.
He got his legs working and moved up to her. As he came closer, she looked up at him, his face hidden in darkness while the sparse light from the background illuminated the contours of his body.
Just like an angel
, she thought.
“Come on. It’s not like this is the first time I have thrown you a surprise romantic dinner.”
The surprised suspicion remained draped across her countenance for a few seconds more, before she smiled guiltily. “Sorry.”
He softly touched his lips to hers and she felt the tingles spread throughout her body. Was it possible to still be so head over heels in love with him and still falling deeper every day?
She knew that she probably shouldn’t have asked, because knowing Max’s surprise romantic events by now she knew that everything was very much planned and taken care of. Just so that she wouldn’t have to worry about anything except enjoying herself to the fullest.
He smiled at her, having anticipated the question. “She’s with my parents.”
He had foreseen the expression of halting worry on her face as well, but pretended he hadn’t seen it as she quickly tried to hide it. He understood why she would react that way, because that same worry was constantly coursing through his own veins.
God, they must be the most paranoid parents alive. However, one couldn’t really blame them for being a bit on their toes after everything that had happened to them lately.
“And…and they are okay with that?” Liz stuttered, trying to stop herself from saying what she really wanted to say.
Miranda doesn’t know her grandparents yet
and What if she starts crying and they can’t comfort her
and What if she gets a stomach pain or fever
. But she didn’t want it to seem like her life nowadays revolved only around her daughter – which of course, it did.
“They can take care of a baby,” Max said softly, a smile fluttering at the corners of his mouth. “They raised me and Isabel, remember? And we turned out pretty okay. Besides, she’s only going to be there for one night. How much harm can they do in one night?”
The worry re-entered Liz’s eyes and she bit her lower lip. “She’s going to spend the night there?”
Max soothingly stroked Liz’s cheek, bending closer so that his face was a mere inch from hers. Her reaction to his proximity was direct, natural. Her heart rate picked up and her breathing started to sound shallow in her ears.
“I needed you to myself.”
The seductive tone to his voice, combined with the warmth of his body so close to hers, caused her to blush and she dropped her eyes, unconsciously licking her lips.
“And why is that?” she asked coyly, not daring to meet his eyes out of fear that the look in those golden orbs would cause her to jump him right there and then.
Her eyes drifted closed as his hands contacted with the bare skin at the top of the semi-closed coat. She licked her dry lips again as he slowly began to unbuttoned the large buttons on her coat.
“First, we need to get you out of this coat,” he said huskily.
How could he make something as simple as removing her coat for her feel like something similar to running his tongue over her naked skin?
She laughed softly as he pushed the coat off her shoulders, his palms flat against her shoulders, making her whole body tremble in longing for a closer touch.
“What?” he asked and she heard the smile in his voice before she saw it.
Looking up, she shook her head. “I’m just… I feel like a teenager.”
“Why’s that?” he asked and removed the keys from her hand and placed them on the small table next to the full-body mirror.
“Lack of self-restraint,” she said, laughing again at her own ridiculousness.
He looked at her curiously, waiting for her to elaborate.
She pushed an errant strand of hair behind her ear, a blush spreading across her smiling face. “God, I so want you right now, Max Evans.”
She looked up at him, feeling shy all of the sudden and bit her lower lip when she saw the darkness spread in his eyes. The seriousness and surprise on his face told her that he hadn’t been expecting her to say that. As she waited for his response, any response, she felt increasingly foolish for saying that.
But then she was moving across the floor, his strong arms around her waist and his lips devouring her. With a surprised yelp she was pressed up against the wall.
“Max,” she moaned and wrapped her legs around his waist while he pushed her firmer against the wall.
She could feel his strength between her thighs and his desire in his hands as they moved over her body in a febrile search to still his longing for her.
And just as soon as it had started, it ended and he pulled back. She looked at him, her lips sore but tingling and her breasts moving quickly up and down where they were visible in the cleavage that Max had made more obvious by tearing two buttons of her violet shirt.
“Sorry,” he murmured, but she couldn’t see a trace of excuse in his eyes, only a raw, primal blackness.
Casting caution to the wind, she took a hold of the back of his head, threading her fingers through the dark masses and with a strength and passion that was unknown even to her, pushed his lips down on hers again. She gently bit his lip and his tongue tickled hers in a way that made shivers run down her spine.
“Jesus,” he groaned against her mouth and she giggled.
She felt giddy, like there were no worries in the world. Like they have been made to stand here in the hallway of their house of many years to come, tearing at each other’s clothes; tasting, touching, trembling, loving. Her giggles drowned in a whimper as he ripped her shirt open, the clattering of plastic buttons hitting the floor deaf to their ears, and pressed his moist warm lips against the swell of her pale breast. Her head hit the wooden wall behind when her chest arched into his awaiting mouth, but the pain only added to the pleasure.
His open-mouthed kisses followed the angle of her chin, his tongue warm and arousing wet against her skin, while his hands buried themselves inside the cups of her bra, taking over the role of cupping her breasts. She could feel herself sliding, her body feeling weak and energized at the same time.
He felt the slide and with a disapproving moan from Liz, his hands left her breasts and grabbed her bottom firmly, pushing her upwards, against him with such a force that they both gasped at the contact.
“Oh God,” she sighed, her breaths coming so quickly she could barely keep up. This man was going to be the death of her.
“Bedroom,” he huffed and she nodded, pulling at his sweater as he moved.
Clothes were discarded on the way and she laughed in a drunken daze of desire when he almost dropped her in the stairs. They fell in a heap on the bed and wasted no time to complete the unclothing process. Max scrambled out of his pants and only wearing his boxers, he paused and looked at her as if the reality of what they were doing just had sunk in. They were both on their knees on the bed, facing each other with chests heaving in a type of unison that was almost uncanny, he, only in his boxers, and she, in panties, a bra and half-opened shirt.
His eyes moved over her flushed face, the messy dark hair, the large brown eyes which had taken on a very dark quality, and her red and bruised lips. He sighed. Goddess
. She was a goddess and she was in front of him, half-naked and waiting for him. Wanting him. He cradled her hot damp cheek in his palm and watched as she turned her head in his hand, placing an open-mouthed kiss against the soft skin of his palm. In silence, he let his hand skim down her neck, barely grazing her skin with his fingertips, skim over her collarbone and registering how her breathing would pick up the closer he got to her breasts.
His index finger brushed over her hardened nipple and she whimpered. His heart skipped a beat. His fingers traveled down her stomach, touching the edge of the laced underwear. His eyes traveled back to her face when she moved her arms, but were soon propelled to her chest as she reached behind her back and unclasped the bra, freeing her breasts from the confinement.
It was amazing to him that every time he saw her naked his body reacted as if it was the first time. He felt the heat of arousal course through him and then he was lowering her down on the mattress, caressing, sucking, biting, fondling. Her fingernails dug into his back; with moans of pleasure and impatience trying to urge him on. He responded by slowing down, resting his forehead against hers, his breath shallow and warm against her face.
“We have to slow down, baby,” he murmured.
She shook her head in the negative and answered with conviction. “No.”
As if to emphasize this fact, she arched up into him, flushing almost her whole skin surface with his.
He groaned and took a hold of her hips to still her movements. “Jesus… Liz, it’s going to be over for me very quickly here if…”
She looked up at him, realizing the strain he was under and couldn’t help but giggle. “Okay.”
He smiled back at her, a somewhat disconnected smile as his main concentration was on not letting go too early. But just as soon as he has made taking slow an important factor, he broke his own statement by pushing into her. She gasped in a blend of surprise and pleasure.
“Max…” she breathed as he stopped, fully enveloped in her.
“I couldn’t wait, so sue me,” he answered.
She smiled ruefully at him. “Yeah, I might have to punish you for that one.”
This only resulted in a groan and Liz laughed again. She felt drunk. The happiness was almost too much, the sensations causing her whole body to tingle and fireworks were going off all over her skin. And they hadn’t even really started yet.
“Let me know if it hurts anywhere, okay?” he told her and responding to the concern in his eyes she turned serious and nodded.
Her body trembled as he started moving within her. She had almost forgotten what it felt like. Even though she’d had her share of erotic dreams during the forced celibacy of her pregnancy, her memory and imagination couldn’t quite make up this type of sensation. Nothing in her wildest dreams could compare to reality.
She arched up into his chest, her lips pressing against his, lingering. “So… would you call this… a success?” she pants.
“What?” he murmured, suckling on her neck.
“Your romantic surprise… We never really…really…” she moaned, biting her lower lip hard, “really made it to dinner…”
“I can live with that,” he answered and instead handing him a comeback for that comment, she nodded silently, throwing her head back, her eyes closed.
She was close and he gladly obeyed with her wishes.
The heat was excruciating as the friction increased, her walls clamping down around him. He moved faster, seeing the trembles wracking her body, knowing that any second now, any second now…
“Maaaax!” she cried out, her nails digging hard into his back. The pain from her nails caused the control to snap in him and he joined her in the intense sensations.
“Maybe I should blow out the candles,” Max whispered in her ear as he kept his body on top of her, the heat from their bodies flowing back and forth.
“Later,” she answered breathlessly and kissed him.
“Yes, later,” he agreed, his fingers already exploring what his fingers thought needed to be explored.
One hour later, Liz forced Max out of the bed and downstairs, saying that she was starving and she couldn’t live with the knowledge of him having slaved away in the kitchen all day without the result being eaten.
Max hadn’t really been that enthusiastic about leaving the bedroom and putting an end to their activities. The place might’ve burned down before he would decide to go downstairs and blow out the hundreds of candles all over the living room if it weren’t for the fact that the main factor that he needed to resume his activities was right now walking in front of him, clad merely in one of his T-shirts (he was fully aware of that she was only
wearing that shirt), intent on eating.
“We just have to heat it up,” Max said behind her, as she experimentally moved the vegetables around the frying pan with the spatula.
He stepped up close behind her, barely leaving an inch between them, and put his hands on her hips, seductively moving them upwards over her naked skin, pulling the shirt upwards in the process.
“Max…” Liz half scolded, half moaned. “I’m hungry.”
”Me too,” he answered and she had a feeling he wasn’t talking about the roast.
Liz turned in his arms, smiling at him. He was looking down at her like she was his last meal and her breath caught in her throat. He was gorgeous. Did he know how gorgeous he was? She brushed the dark hair away from his damp forehead, feeling like she wanted to cry.
Picking up on the change in her mood, he asked gently, “Hey, are you okay?”
She sniffled back the threatening sobs and nodded. “Yes.”
How was she supposed to not cry when he was looking at her like that?
“I’m just so happy.”
He relaxed, leaned in and kissed her deeply. “I love you.”
She nodded, swallowing her sobs and announced, “Let’s eat. Or… at least heat up the food.”
Max put down his fork on the plate. “There was actually a reason behind this whole spectacle.”
Liz looked at him in dramatic shock. “You mean, besides
the mind-blowing sex?”
He grinned and said pointedly, as if he was disgusted with the notion that she thought he would do something like this to get her to have sex with him. “Yes.”
“Wow, this most be my lucky day,” she answered and took a sip from her water.
“Besides, if I wanted to get into your pants, I don’t think I would have to go to these measures,” Max said calmly.
Liz’s eyebrows rose. “Max Evans, are you calling me easy?”
He shrugged, uncommitted. “I wasn’t the one calling you a teenager, saying that you wanted me.”
He was overflowing with self-confidence to such a degree that Liz couldn’t do anything but laugh.
“So, what is the reason then?” she asked, curiosity getting the best out of her.
“This,” he answered simply and pulled out a book from underneath the table.
Her hand stilled on her glass and she stared at the book. “Is that…?” she whispered.
“This, Ms. Elizabeth Parker, is your book,” Max said and turned the cover facing her, pointing at the title and the author name. “See, it says right here; Heartbeat
by Elizabeth Parker.”
“Oh God,” Liz more or less squealed and almost knocked over the pitcher of water when she reached over to snag the book out of Max’s hands.
Sitting back with the book in her hands, she reverently traced the cover with her finger.
“Max, you should be ashamed of yourself,” she whispered, her voice oddly dripping with awe.
He couldn’t keep the grin off his face and asked, “Why’s that?”
“You tricked me into having mind-blowing sex before
giving me this. That is just… well…”
His grin grew wider. “Believe me, Ms. Horny, sex wasn’t in my plans until maybe after
the revelation of the book.”
Putting on a face of deep understanding she said, “Aha.”
“Open it,” Max said, unable to contain himself any longer.
She opened to the first page, reading the dedication with teary eyes. She could feel Max’s eyes on her the whole time.
She turned to the second page and her movements came to a screeching halt. Her breathing temporarily stopped and she was filled with wonder and anticipation, but mostly nervousness.
“Max,” she breathed. “There’s something wrong with the book. It doesn’t look like a normal book.”
Max, putting his best acting abilities to the test, widened his eyes in surprise. “Really? What’s wrong with it?”
Liz stared at the square hole inside her book. Where the words were supposed to be, there was a black small velvet box.
“I’m not sure,” she said slowly, carefully picking up the little box, knowing exactly what a box of that size meant. “It seems like someone has carved a hole in the book in order to hide something inside.”
Max gasped, “You’re kidding”, and stood up.
“I’m certainly not,” Liz answered and opened the black box with shaking hands.
Max stepped up next to her, his heart pounding loudly in his ears.
She gasped as she found herself looking at a ring made out of white gold, a small diamond perched on top. The design was clean and simple, but gorgeous. It was just what a girl who rarely wore jewelry would dream of.
“Max, someone put a ring inside my book.”
“A ring?” Max asked. “That’s odd.”
“Very odd,” Liz whispered and looked up at him, tears building in her eyes.
Max swallowed, finding her more beautiful than ever in that exact moment. “Maybe you have a secret admirer.”
“It appears so,” Liz answered, keeping her eyes locked with his and as she watched, he fell to his knees and her heart rate increased.
“Liz,” he said softly. “I know it took me forever and a day to do this. I had my reasons-“
“Needing to carve out a hole in my book and all,” Liz filled in, her voice cracking.
“Exactly,” Max said. “Do you remember that evening when you came to my house, after breaking up with Kevin?”
Liz smiled warmly, not being able to stop herself from touching his cheek gently. “Of course I do. I didn’t have anywhere to go and you took me in.”
Max nodded. “I was in a very bad place then.”
Liz remembered. She had stayed over in the guestroom but his anguished screams, his mind tortured with nightmares of his dead family, had woken her up in the middle of the night.
He took her hand between both his palms, his voice trembling as he continued, “I tried to push you away. I tried to hide, because I was afraid of what you would see. That you would see me as a monster-“
“I could never see you as a monster,” Liz said softly.
He nodded. “I know that now. I didn’t then. It hit me the other day, that it was when you stayed over that things changed. I couldn’t pretend that you didn’t care anymore, because you-“ he laughed, still not quite believing that she actually stayed with him, “you kept being there for me. Even when I was at my ugliest, you were there; holding me. That day in the mall, when I lost Michelle, I was a complete stranger to you, but you still helped me. Because that’s what you do. You are incredible, Liz Parker. Your strength impresses me every day. Your strength gives me strength. I never thought I would be free of the nightmares, but being with you… They are gone, Liz. There’s no doubt in my mind that you made them go away. I consider myself the luckiest man on earth because I got to get to know you, love you and be loved by you. I can’t imagine a life without you.”
She smiled, keeping her eyes steady on his face even though her view was blurred by tears. She sniffled as he took the box from her hand and took out the ring.
He gentle took her hand, positioning the ring at the tip of her ring finger, awaiting her reply, and then looked up at her.
“Liz Parker, would you be my wife?”
Liz stared at him for what seemed like an eternity. He was so nervous his stomach was starting to hurt.
She leaned down and kissed him lovingly. “I thought you would never ask.”
“Is that a ‘yes’?” he breathed.
She smiled brightly, her face glowing with happiness. “Yes, doofus, yes!”
He smiled in awe and bliss, and slid the ring onto her finger. “You know, that would make you Mrs. Doofus.”
She laughed. “If you’re Mr. Doofus, I’m Mrs. Doofus.”
I'll be posting the very last chapter in the close future...