Punchline... (M/L, M/A) A/N 01/20/08 [WIP]

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JBehr'sChica
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Punchline... (M/L, M/A) A/N 01/20/08 [WIP]

Postby JBehr'sChica » Tue Mar 13, 2007 8:40 pm

Author: JBehr’sChica aka Taya

Title: Punch Line to a Cosmic Joke

Category: AU Without Aliens. Max/Liz

Rating: Mature/Adult (in later Chapters)

Disclaimer: I do not own anything Roswell except the Season DVD's. The show itself and everything pertaining to it belong to the people who created it, and those who bought the rights to it. Max Evans, Liz Parker and the other characters are just on loan for the duration of my story, and I don't mind admitting that I wouldn't mind borrowing Jason Behr for a little bit either... ;)

A/N: This story is based on a book ("Better Than Friends" by Sally Laity) I read although I have changed most of the story to match up with the characters. Many thanks go out to rowedog for being my beta. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to post this for everyone to see, but she thought I should :)

Summary: When Liz Parker left Roswell to attend Harvard, she never pictured herself returning to her small hometown. She hadn’t planned on going into business with her best friend, and the last thing she ever wanted was to lay eyes on Max Evans again. So what sort of twisted cosmic joke was it for her to end up living in the apartment next to him?

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Part One

Muted blue and mauve from the early evening sky filtered in through the bay window and mingled with the soft indoor lighting.

Collapsing another banker box, Elizabeth Parker added it to the stack she had piled along the kitchen wall of her new condo apartment, then rubbed her hands on her jeans and released a whoosh of breath. "Well, that was the last carton. Ready for a break?"

"You don't have to ask me twice." Her best friend and now business partner Maria DeLuca-Guerin said as she stretched out the kinks in her back and plopped onto the nearest rattan chair in the breakfast nook. She drew up her knees and wrapped her slender arms around it. "Moving. Who needs it?"

"Hey, this was your idea 'Ria!" Liz chided as she filled two glasses with citrus drink and brought them to the smoked glass table. She handed on to Maria, then sat opposite her.

Maria crinkled her nose. "Only partly Parker. You're the one who was griping about driving to and from Albuquerque once every couple of days and wanted to live closer to our boutique. And you must admit, this place was a steal!"

"You're right. On both counts." Liz sipped her drink, letting her gaze wonder over the marbled black and silver countertops and oak cupboards in the cozy room, which was already her favorite part of the apartment. Even the white rooms with the deep red and patriots blue feature walls would have been her choice. Noticing that the coordinating valance above the sink was slightly off center, she rose and went to straighten it, then repositioned the orchid and white rose arrangement, a house warming present from Maria and Michael, on a nearby counter.

"Well, Chica, if you can handle the rest on your own, Michael would probably appreciate having some dinner pretty soon."

Liz turned with a smile and glanced at the clock. It was already past 7 o'clock. "Sure, go on. Thanks for helping - and for covering the shop for me while I moved. I owe you."

"Like the saying goes, that's what friends are for, right?" Maria's green eyes twinkled with her silly grin as she walked to the door and opened it. "But don't think I won't need you there tomorrow. The order from Chic Petite should arrive fairly early, and we've been running that sale ad in the paper. We'll probably have a good turn out."

"Right." Watching her friend hurry down the front walk, Liz waited until Maria drove away, then closed the door. She turned with a sigh and went back to the kitchen, where she put a skinless chicken breast into the toaster oven to broil and dumped leftover lunch salad into a bowl.

A few hours later in her mirrored white and burgundy bathroom, Liz stripped out of her jeans and t-shirt and took a shower, letting the hot spray soothe her weary muscles. Then, donning her robe, she curled up on the sofa with a cup of herbal tea to watch the ten o'clock news.

In the middle of the local report, music filled in room the adjoining apartment as someone played a loud and intricate run up and down the frets of an acoustic guitar.

Liz suddenly realized that she hadn't so much as inquired about who occupied the other half of the condo when the opening had popped up. She'd just signed the lease and moved in. She gritted her teeth and turned the TV volume up a notch as she settled back against the dark upholstery, hoping every night wasn't going to be like this.

Part Two

Not a cloud marred the clear New Mexico sky the following morning as Liz unrolled her steam curls and finger combed her medium length, chestnut hair into its normal tousled style. Her face still glowed from jogging in the gentle and refreshing breeze of the early morning, so she added only the barest hint of blush to her cheekbones and a scant application of mascara to the dark lashes surrounding her brown eyes.

After draping tiny multicolored beads around her neck above her gauzy ivory peasant dress, she chose matching dangly earrings and spritzed on some D&G Feminine before hurrying off to work.

She couldn't help the pride that swelled within her as she pulled up behind La Femme Fashions, the fashion boutique in which she and Maria had invested nearly all of their life savings. The Victorian-style shop occupied a prominent end spot of the newly erected Windy Hills Plaza, situated near the main intersection of town, only a few minutes away from her parent’s old restaurant, Crashdown, where both she and Maria had worked through high school. Not long after her parents died, a couple who had been regular tourists to Roswell for the UFO Festival bought the place, the money from which had helped for relocating Liz to Boston and while she attended Harvard through a scholarship, the money from the sale of the restaurant meant that Liz could devote her time to her studies, without having to worry about getting extra work to make ends meet.

Liz found the back door unlocked and could already hear Maria humming from one of the dressing rooms. "Hi," Liz called as she let herself in. "I'm here."

"Morning," Maria answered, her bubbly voice cheery as always. In a jade shirt-waist, she emerged from dressing room three, a lambs' wool duster in her hand. She gave the shuttered charcoal grey door a swift once over. "Coffee's on."

"I know, I smelt it when I came in. I need some too, after the night I had."

"Really?" Maria stopped dusting in midstroke and turned, curiosity sparkling in her eyes.

"Apparently, whoever lives next door is into guitars. And guess when he chose to practice? It took me forever to fall asleep after the music finally stopped."

"Oh no! Well, assert yourself. Half of that condo belongs to you, you know. Go tell the dope to cease and desist!"

"I might have to."

"Hey, if the guy gives you any problems, I'll send Michael to read him the riot act."

Envisioning Maria's tall, no nonsense husband of four months instilling fear into the unsuspecting neighbor, Liz giggled. "Thanks, but it's my problem." She went to the urn and filled a mug with coffee, adding a smidgen of cream before sampling it.

"The ad looks pretty good." Maria said, offering Liz the current issue of the Roswell Daily Record already folded open to the right page. With a smile, she gripped her duster purposefully and went out to the main room.

Liz checked the copy. The girl who normally handled the boutique's advertising account at the newspaper office had done her usual splendid job. The sale notice took up half of the third page and caught the eye immediately. Intending to call the editor later and express her appreciation, Liz set down her cup and walked out into the showroom.

Maria had already finished the new displays in the windows that flanked either side of the u-shaped entrance, so Liz went to the register and checked the tape, and then straightened the surrounding counter area in preparation for the store's opening in fifteen minutes. Already, several cars occupied the nearest parking spaces in anticipation of clearance bargains. Liz knew a busy day lay ahead.


Part Three

Maneuvering her silver Jeep Liberty up the curved incline to the Spanish styled duplex after work, Liz couldn't help but notice the sapphire Corvette convertible parked on the street in front of her neighbor’s apartment.

Fitting for a guitarist she decided.

Inserting the key into her lock, she grimaced at the other door in the sheltered entry.

As if she'd rung the bell, it opened. A tall, somewhat muscular man with raven colored hair that was just past his jaw line and a couple of day’s growth of beard leaned out. A lazy smile added a twinkle to a pair of amber eyes. "Hi neighbor."

Appraising the muscled arms and the tank top which barely stretched across his solid chest, not to mention the ridiculous shredded jeans she couldn't believe had ever been in vogue; Liz was surprised that he wasn't wearing an earring. She offered a reserved smile as the notion that he looked vaguely familiar pricked her consciousness.

He registered a look of shock himself as his honey colored eyes narrowed slightly. He stepped out with a frown. "Elizabeth? Elizabeth Parker? I don't believe it."

Hearing her name pronounced in that deeply modulated voice reminiscent of years gone by, Liz's spirits plummeted. How could she be living next door to Max Evans of all people? That chapter of her life had ended years ago. She closed her eyes and breathed out to a silent count of five before opening then again. "Yes," she answered numbly. "But I go by Liz now."

He sputtered into a mirthless laugh. "Well, there goes the neighborhood."

"Funny," Liz said, elevating her brows. "My sentiment exactly." Turning on her heel, she presented her back to him and unlocked her door.

Max snickered. "Well, Liz," he said, giving slight emphasis on her name, "no doubt we'll be crossing paths from time to time, now that we live in such close proximity again."

"Not if I see you first," Liz muttered under her breath.

"What?"

"I suppose."

"Well, then, I'll see you around."

With a toss of her hair, Liz went into her apartment. She hung the strap of her shoulder bag on the oak hall tree and slipped off her sandals, then padded to the bedroom. A little sort from lifting cartons and boxes for the last two days, she knew a good workout would loosen her muscles. She changed into a pair of Christian Dior sweatpants and a white Ralph Lauren tank top and fastened her hair back with a clip.

In the smaller spare bedroom, which housed her exercise equipment, Liz started out on the stationary bike. Before the first five minutes had passed, she found herself pedaling furiously at the idea of having signed a two year lease on the apartment right beside that of His Royal Highness, Maxwell Alexander Evans. Growing up in Roswell, New Mexico, a mere few streets away from his and sharing the same school bus stop from kindergarten through high school had been more than enough to last a lifetime.

Liz recalled the undisciplined ruffian who had been a thorn in her side since they had first laid eyes on each other. From painting her brand new bike - tires and all - a bright hot pink, to kidnapping her dog, Patches, for a day and a half, Max Evans' brainless pranks knew no end. It mattered little that the paint turned out to be the harmless poster variety, or that Patches seemed his perky little self after he mysteriously reappeared in her fenced backyard the next night. Liz could not abide so much as the sight of Max Evans again, even after the four year Micro Biology degree she had completed at Harvard, plus another four years of working in the research labs in Boston before taking a break from the world of Science and entering into the fashion industry alongside her long time best friend Maria DeLuca. What fate had caused him to move from wherever it was that he had gone for College and then return to their small hometown? And why, oh why, did it have to be right next door to her?

Far too steamed to remain indoors, Liz decided to switch to the cross country ski machine out on her deck instead. Grabbing a bottle of mineral water, she made her way past the fridge and exited through the sliding glass door. Her present state of mind spoiled any enjoyment she might have found in the magnificent desert view, but she did notice it was refreshing change from much of the busy and somewhat crowded residential view that she had been used to. Flat, desert landscapes, with the occasional tree reaching to the sky, surrounded the small town of Roswell. Whether it was because she had lived the majority of her life here, or not, she wasn’t sure, but she knew that she had never felt as relaxed or comfortable in Boston as she did back here.

Setting her drink on the snack table nearby, Liz stepped onto the footpads and closed her hands around the handle grips, starting off at an easy, steady pace, hoping the regulated motion would calm her frazzled nerves.


Part Four

Max Evans stood in his immaculate white and black tiled kitchen and wolfed down a jelly donut and a huge glass of milk. Returning to the living room, he flopped down on the black leather couch, the removed the stub of a pencil from above one ear and filled in several measures of chords on the music manuscript paper on the coffee table in front of him. One side of his mouth drew upwards in a smirk. Elizabeth Parker. Little Miss Prim and Proper - who not only spent most of her time with her nose in the air when he was around, or holed up in the Science Labs in their High School, but even worse - gave a whole new meaning to the phrase stick up her ass. There ought to be a law against short people. At 26, two years his junior, she hadn't changed a bit. She was a living portrait of Yesterday.

Laying his pencil aside, he searched among the paper rubble for the phone and dialed his fiancée’s number. Waiting for her to answer, he envisioned the petite, but well endowed Ava Harding. He filled his lungs and smiled.

All women could take lessons from her in style and grace he assured himself.

And optimism.

Ava was an upbeat person, always ready for a good time. Disappointed when there was no response, he replaced the receiver and lounged back against the black leather couch.

A muffled thump sounded from the other side of the shared wall. Max sighed, knowing Elizabeth must have caused it -- perhaps even deliberately. He knew he was harboring uncharitable thoughts toward her, but for some reason she possessed an uncanny ability to bring out the absolute worst in him. In truth, he realized she had been smart to steer clear of him over the years, for he had always derived a kind of perverse satisfaction in pissing her off. Maybe if she would have just cried once and gotten it over with, he might have felt guilty and looked for someone else to provoke. But she would merely cross her arms, stick out her bottom lip and flounce off -- which only made him want to try all the harder. Maybe it was that spirit of hers that had challenged and fascinated him way back then.

Having her a single common wall away now was tough to swallow. All things considered, there was just no getting around it. Certain individuals in this world functioned much better when separated by vast distances, and he and Elizabeth Parker headed that list.

Max ran a hand through his hair and forced himself to concentrate on the music. In view of the present circumstances, it seemed almost comical that he had volunteered to compose a song for the birthday celebration that was being held at the bar where he had a regular gig. It was the 18th birthday of Glen's, the owner of the bar, daughter, and he had been asked to make it something she would never forget. He had expected to have it done already, but had yet to put the finishing touches to the arrangement so the other guys in the band could practice. He stared at the half written piece, then unfolded his long legs and stood. Maybe a drive out to the desert would clear his mind. Walking down the hallway to his bedroom, he changed his tank top to a black t shirt before grabbing his car keys and leaving the apartment.


Part Five

Liz heard the sports car drive off and along with a flash of relief felt, at the same time, suddenly alone. Setting aside the mystery novel she'd been reading, she picked up the receiver on her transparent acrylic phone and dialed her grandparents in Albuquerque.

"Hello?" came her grandmother's soothing voice over the line.

"Hi Grandma, it's me."

"Oh Elizabeth, honey, we were just talking about you. All settled in are you?"

"Yeah, pretty much. I miss you and Grandpa already though." blinking hard against the threatening tears, she allowed her mind to form a sweet picture of the slight, older woman, the wonderful "mother" who had held Liz together after her own parents had died in a plane crash just before she graduated from High School. Never one to follow fashion trends, Grandma Claudia had an assortment of homemade cotton dresses that she always wore around the house. To this day, she sewed all her own clothes and baked homemade goodies. Liz almost imagined she could small fresh bread right through the telephone line.

"Grandpa thought we might drive down there and see your place one of these days, as soon as I feel a bit better that is."

"That would be great Grandma Claudia. Just make sure you're up to it okay? Stop trying to do so much all the time. Take it easy for a change like the Doctor said okay?" She paused with a silent sly. "Well, just thought I would let you know that I love you, so you wouldn't think that I had forgotten about you."

"That's real sweet Honey. We love you too."

"Kyle didn't happen to call yet did he?"

"No, not yet. But I have your number written down right by the phone to give him when he goes. You take care now."

"I will. Bye." As Liz hung up, it was all she could do not to cry.

Must be too many childhood memories at once she surmised, added to the fact that her fiancé, Kyle Valenti, was out of town until tomorrow night and unlikely to call. There could be no other logical explanation for her blues. She shook off the peculiar teariness with a determined sniff and flicked on the TV.

Inside, she hoped Kyle wouldn't find out just yet that she'd moved. He'd been upset enough when she'd invested in La Femme with Maria in the first place, since it was a decent drive from where she used to live, back in Albuquerque, in close proximity to Kyle. And now when he learned she'd found a place back in her hometown while he was away, he was going to be furious.

--------------------------------------------

Okay, I admit, I'm a fanfiction author virgin, so please be nice :)
Last edited by JBehr'sChica on Sat Jan 19, 2008 9:43 pm, edited 32 times in total.
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Punchline to a Cosmic Joke (UPDATE - CHAPTER 2 - 03/19/07)

Postby JBehr'sChica » Mon Mar 19, 2007 4:58 am

A big thank you to everyone who's left feedback!

dreamerlaure
rowedog
- once again, thanks for beta-ing this chapter. You know what it was like before!! :)
erina
cassie
- Because of the social status Max has, I thought Ava was a better sounding name rather than Tess. Instead of picturing Tess as she was in the show, I guess I would have her more like Isabel in character and appearance.
Alien_Friend
begonia9508
Icequeen
Smac
- I think the tension between Max and Liz is more of Liz hating Max because she thinks he hates her and always has. Things between Liz and Kyle aren't all blossoms and moonbeams, but that's coming up in later chapters. In this chapter, you'll see why things aren't so peachy.

Keep the feedback coming guys! It really helps with the confidence to keep writing it :)


Chapter Two

Part One

The dry desert heat washed over Liz as she jogged along the desolate street in the early hours of the morning. The degree of the heat that swept in off the vast emptiness of the desert flats that surrounded Roswell told Liz that as the day progressed, the temperature would rise even higher. The oppressive heat reminded her of the few days back in High School when the temperatures had been unusually high for the week and the majority of the school population had seemed preoccupied with hooking up in the eraser room or heavily making out in the corridors of West Roswell High. That had been the first time Liz had realized that her best friend and Michael Guerin didn’t really hate each other as they made it seem, but in fact, had some sort of quirky magnetism of their own which they couldn’t deny any longer.

The road shimmered with the reflection of distant dew that had gathered before the sun had arisen and Liz’s attention was once again drawn to the beauty of this desert town that she hadn’t realized she had missed until she had returned. The colors of the desert were so vastly different to the lush greenness of Massachusetts, and while a part of her missed the hustle and bustle of the big city, her small town heart couldn’t help but be gladdened by being back where it belonged.

As she returned to her apartment an hour later, she glanced briefly at the adjoining apartment and noticed that there were no signs of life, even at 7am. Throwing a scornful look towards the unmoving apartment, Liz walked up the stairs to her front door and after retrieving her house key from her back pocket, inserted it into the lock and walked inside before firmly closing the door behind her. Perhaps the high and mighty Max Evans, of the wealthy Evans household, had never had to work a day in his life, but her own lifestyle had been far less privileged. Her grandparents owned their own Spanish colonial home outright and had few bills to speak of, but they believed in being frugal and had passed their convictions on to Liz, encouraging her to earn whatever spending money she desired. It was a lesson she appreciated immensely, for along the way she had learned not to squander her hard earned funds.

In her kitchen, Liz spooned some yogurt and strawberries into a bowl and leafed through the latest Science journal that had been sent to her from the Labs she had worked for back in Boston. While she no longer worked in the field, she hadn’t wanted to leave it completely. After all, who knew what the future could bring. She could end up selling her half of the business to Maria and end up going back to work as a Research Scientist, spending her days and nights with a microscope and samples rather than steaming out the wrinkles in clothing as it arrived at the boutique. She made a mental note to email Rob thanking him for forwarding on the reading material.

She arrived at the boutique ahead of Maria and after starting the coffee, went to check the dresses and blouses in the petite section, arranging the various sizes in groups of neat precision on the hangers.

“Hi Liz!” Maria called moments later from the back room.

“You’re early today.”

Brushing wrinkles from her yellow, straight skirt, she emerged through the curtained French doors that separated the office area from the remainder of the store. Liz shrugged an almost bare shoulder in the string gathered neckline of her Aztec blouse.

“I guess I’m expecting a repeat of yesterday. That was quite a turnout.”

“Sure was. Eliminated a good half of the old winter stock I’d say. But we needed the room.” She cocked her head to one side and stared at Liz, concern darkening the green on her eyes. “Is something wrong?”

Liz grimaced. She was never good at hiding things from Maria.

“I guess you could say that.”

“What is it?”

“I met my neighbor last night when I got home from work.”

“And?”

At Liz’s lack of response, Maria lifted her hands palms up in a prompting gesture.

“It’s Max Evans.” She paused and took a deep breath. “Can you believe it Maria? Max Evans of all people. Honestly, what did I do to deserve this? That guy is like my own personal plague.”

A disbelieving smile widened her friend’s lips.

“Do tell. Well, this should add an interesting twist to your otherwise drab existence.”

Moving nearer, she gave a comforting pat to Liz’s arm before picking up some empty lingerie boxes and carting them to the storage closet.

“I just want to wake up and find out none of this is happening.” Liz said almost to herself. Then, as Maria’s last comment registered, she frowned and went after her. “Do you really think my life is boring?”

Maria scrunched her face in an obvious attempt to remain serious as she plucked an imaginary piece of lint from her white, short-sleeved sweater. “Well, with Kyle, “Mr Excitement” himself, looming on your marriage horizon, what else should a friend think?”

Stunned, Liz raised her chin but didn’t answer. It wasn’t like she thought Kyle was the epitome of excitement and spontaneity, but she wouldn’t have put him down as a complete nothing. Just because he was an accountant didn’t mean that he was completely, brain numbingly, ‘I’d rather watch paint dry, or grass grow’ boring. Was he?

Stepping to the small rest room next to the closet, Liz looked at herself in the mirror, running her fingers through her long chestnut brown hair and reapplying her lipstick. When she came out, she saw Maria turning the Closed sign to Open on the front door. A handful of customers entered and began browsing through the sales racks. Even Liz had to admit that when she agreed to enter into this business venture with her crazy, sometimes absentminded best friend, she hadn’t pictured things going as well as they were. In only a few months, they would have paid off the small business loan they had taken out and would only have a few months left on the mortgage on the shop itself.

Kyle’s not boring. Liz affirmed, becoming distantly aware of a teenager waiting at the register with some earrings from the clearance basket on the counter. A little predictable, maybe, and even a bit reserved. But he’s reliable and trustworthy. That should count for something right?

Drawing a deep breath, she put on a smile and went to wait on the frizzy haired younger girl. “Will this be all?”

“Mm-hmm. I’m just glad they were still here.” She handed over her selection along with a twenty-dollar bill.

Liz smiled as she rang up the merchandise, bagged it, and then gave the girl the change. “Thank you, see you next time.”

All morning long Maria’s comment grated on Liz’s nerves. It came as a surprise that her friend did not seem to consider Kyle much of a catch. She’d never so much as hinted at it before. Five foot eight with an athletic build and glossy light brown hair, Kyle, with his level headedness and staid demeanor seemed to Liz a refreshing change from today’s run of the mill egoists. Oh well, what did it matter what Maria thought anyway? Kyle would be back this evening from that St. Louis convention and Liz was looking forward to seeing her fiancé. Once he got over the shock of her move, she was sure he’d approve of her new surroundings.

“Whew!” came her partner’s voice from behind. “Finally, things have slowed down!”

“Oh??” Glancing around the store, Liz noticed the absence of customers. “Probably after lunch we’ll have another rush.”

Maria eyed her curiously, and then started in with her usual third degree. “You sure were quiet all morning. Tell me again about that neighbor of yours. What’s he been up to these last few years while you and I were busy going to College and planning this business? Still cruising around in that beaten up old Jeep?”

“No, now he’s got a shiny dark blue convertible – which clashes with my car by the way, and I have no idea what he’s been doing. Nor do I care.” Max’s Corvette didn’t really clash with her car, but she found it hard to break the habit of thinking negatively about anything to do with the man.

“Too bad.” Maria’s expression looked crestfallen.

“You should see him,” Liz continued with disdain. “His hair is long, his clothes are a mess, and he could use a good shave.”

“Hmm. Well, for some guys the whole, fallen out of bed, lack of civilization look can really work in their favor. I can just imagine what the five o’clock shadow would look like on Max Evans. He always had the tall, dark and handsome look working for him. I bet it makes him look dangerously sexy.”

Eyes widening in shock, Liz’s mouth fell open at the slightly dreamy look that crossed her best friends face as she obviously pictured the Max Evans she remembered from High School to the description she was now talking about.

“MARIA!”

Blinking as if snapping herself out of a trance, Maria looked at her best friend, who’s face still showed the shock of her words.

“Come on Liz, in High School he was so hot that I don’t know of any girl who didn’t have him in at least one of their fantasies at one time or another. Especially when he wasn’t wearing his shirt. Damn, he had a body you would kill to run your hands over, pecs you just wanted to tease with your tongue—“

Liz couldn’t hear anymore. She didn’t want the mental pictures of what Maria was saying in her head, and she definitely did not want to admit that she was one of those girls in high school who stood in the showers in the locker room picturing Max striding into the abandoned room and taking her against the wet shower wall. Shaking her head angrily, she glared at Maria who once again seemed to be off in her own world and muttered, “Whatever. I’m going to lunch.”

Part Two

Liz stifled a yawn as the phone rang later that evening. Picking up the receiver, she tried to sound awake as she answered it.

“Hello?”

“It’s me. Kyle. I just got back.”

“Oh.”

Judging from the terse greeting, Liz didn’t have to guess at his mood.

“Um, hi. It’s good to hear your voice honey.” She said tentatively.

“Is it?”

“Yes. I missed you, you know.” She paused. “I guess you got my new number from Grandma Claudia.”

“Yeah.” He exhaled an impatient, angry breath. “Why did you do this Liz?”

“Please, don’t be mad honey. You know I’ve been wishing I didn’t have to drive so far every couple of days to get to work, and Maria’s landlady mentioned this really nice place to her. I know you’ll approve once you see it.”

Already hating having to defend herself, she took a different tack.

“Anyway, it wouldn’t have been such a shock if you’d have called more often.” She gave a nod, futile though it was, since he couldn’t see it.

“Well, you know how busy a convention can get. Besides, I hate what the hotels charge for outside calls.”

Feeling as thought her fiancé didn’t consider her worth spending some pocket change for, she grimaced. “Did you have a good time though?”

“Yeah, not too bad. I’m pretty tired though. Since it’s late already, I thought I might as well wait until tomorrow night to come and see you.”

Liz felt a prick of mild irritation, but since his tone had lost much of its sharp edge, she felt herself relax. “Sure. Whatever you think is best. Have you got a pen and paper handy? I’ll give you directions to my new apartment.”

A few minutes later, after giving him her address and exchanging the regular ‘I love you’s’ in farewell, Liz dejectedly returned the phone to its cradle. Emitting a sigh, Liz had just relaxed back into the sofa when music filtered through the wall again, this time from an electric keyboard. In no mood now to put up with another aggravation, she clenched her teeth and rose, deciding now was a good time as any to declare war. She marched out her door, straight to his, and pressed the doorbell twice.

Max appeared in seconds, barefoot and in a ponytail.

“Must you play that thing so loud?” She planted a fist on either hip in exasperation.

He grinned, strong white teeth flashing against his perfect tan. “Now Princess, is that a way to greet a neighbor?”

Liz pressed her lips together. After the phone call with Kyle, and Maria’s comments during the day, she was ready for a fight, and it seemed that Max was more than willing to oblige.

“Who is it sweetheart?” called a husky female voice from inside.

“Just the girl next door,” he tossed over his shoulder, than looked back at Liz innocently. “You were saying?”

Astounded that some woman would actually keep company with Max Evans, Liz nevertheless bristled at his condescending demeanor. “I’d appreciate it, Mr Evans, if you would keep you music down to some reasonable volume at night so a person could hear herself think.”

“No problem.” He gave a wave of his hand. “I wouldn’t want to disturb your peace of mind or deprive you of your beauty sleep. I’ll switch to the earphones.”

Prepared and looking forward to an argument, Liz felt speechless at his acquiescence. She swallowed. “Oh. Well, um, thanks.”

“Anytime Princess.” He winked mischievously as he closed the door.

Staring momentarily at the leaded-glass panes at eye level, Liz turned and went back to her apartment, pausing just outside of her door. Turning her head back towards Max’s apartment, she yelled loudly, “And don’t call me Princess!”


Part Three

“Uh! Oh yes!”

“Mmm baby! Ugh! You like that?”

“Oh God! Oh Max! Harder baby, harder!”

The muffled thumping against the wall and the screaming that filtered through into her living room woke Liz abruptly, shocking her out of an erotic dream she had been having that involved the very man who was now loudly fucking the woman who had been in his apartment earlier that evening. Damn Maria for her comments at work today and damn Max Evans for having the indecency to have sex in his living room, against their joined common wall.

“What a bastard! He’s probably doing this on purpose, arrogant jerk.”

She muttered to herself, trying to ignore the lingering memory of how his hands had felt as they had touched her body in her dream and trying to block out the loud and vulgar suggestions that were coming out of the mouths of the couple on the opposite side of the wall. Running her hands through her sleep tousled hair, Liz made her way through her apartment, turning off the remaining lights and the television that she had fallen asleep in front of before heading to her bedroom, the furtherest part of her apartment from Max Evans.

Too tired to go through her normal routine, Liz pulled her shirt over her head and quickly pulled her trousers off before climbing between the cool sheets of her queen-sized bed. Moaning softly in appreciation of the softness of the high thread count Egyptian sheets, a treat she had given herself when the store had made its first big profit. Settling into her bed and drifting closely to the edge of sleep, Liz’s peacefulness was disrupted when a loud scream flooded her apartment.

“MAX! OH GOD! MAX!”

Growling in protest, Liz blindly reached for a nearby pillow and buried her head beneath it. What a way to spend a Friday night.


Part Four

Just as she finished putting on her gold hoop earrings the following evening, Liz heard her fiancé’s usual rapid knock at the front door. She slipped into her high heels and ran to answer it. Kyle didn’t quite smile when she drew open the door.

“Hi honey.” She said brightly, praying he’d warm to the idea of her move once he had time to get used to it.

His light blue eyes looked stormy and cold behind his navy wire rimmed glasses as he stepped inside, but he reached for Liz. Drawing her close, he planted a kiss on her lips. “Missed you Angel.”

“And I missed you.” She resisted the urge to tousle Kyle’s silky brown hair, knowing he hated to have it mussed. Instead, she contented herself to nuzzling against him.

He tossed an assessing look around. “So this is it.” He said flatly.

Liz drew in a nervous breath. “Yes, I’ll give you the grand tour if you like, starting here.” Turning, she made a wide motion with one arm. “This is the living room, as you can see. And down this hallway are two bedrooms. Come on, I’ll show you.”

Returning after he had seen it all, Kyle put an arm around Liz’s waist, his studious face serious as he gave a begrudging nod. “Well, as much as I hate to admit it, you’ve made a decent choice, at least. I think I’ll adjust to living here once we’re married. We’ll have to get some bookcases, of course, and I’ll need a side of the spare room for my computer and stuff. Otherwise, it’ll do fine.”

He pushed his glasses up the bridge of his nose as he studied the view out the window. “It’s gonna be a drag having to drive to and from Albuquerque every couple of days though. I knew I should never have let you open a boutique out here.”

The last rather chauvinistic statement piqued Liz. Then, envisioning her airy home cluttered with heavy books, and her exercise room turned into an office, Liz fought another twinge, one of selfishness. This was supposed to be what she wanted, had planned for, wasn’t it? She forced a smile. “You’ll get used to it, I’m sure.”

“Probably. Well, ready to go to dinner?”

Within half an hour, they were making their way down the line of entrees at Senor Chow’s, a Mexican Chinese Restaurant that was on the opposite end of town from both her store and the Crashdown. Kyle was a big fan of both cuisines. Subdued evening lighting and quiet instrumentals gave the establishment a more intimate atmosphere than it had during the normal daytime bustle.

Liz chose steamed rainbow trout on a bed of spicy rice and a side order of Chinese vegetables in oyster sauce while Kyle selected the fully loaded burritos with a baked potato and garden salad. She’d never really thought of it before, but now she realized she could have named every single item that would occupy his tray before they’d even entered the restaurant. Coming to an available tapestry and vinyl booth with their selections, Liz slid into one side and Kyle took the other.

“You’re looking especially lovely tonight.”

“Thank you.” She lightly pulled at the trout on her plate and smiled in appreciation as it fell apart easily with the slightest bit of pressure, the fragrant aromas filling her nostrils.

“How was St. Louis?”

“Gray and cool. One day was fairly nice, but we never got out of the convention center to enjoy it. Seminars and lectures from morning through until night.” Kyle said as he buttered a roll.

“Did you even get to ride up in the Gateway Arch while you were there?” She watched him chew slowly and swallow.

“Nope. A couple of guys tried to, but as luck would have it, the thing was closed for maintenance.”

Returning her attention to her own meal, Liz concentrated on the melodic harp and piano song currently playing, purposely tuning out Kyle’s recounting of computer software demonstrations and tax accounting shortcuts he’d picked up at the convention. By the time they had finished eating, a dull ache throbbed in her head. She found herself hoping he was still tired from the trip and would just drop her off at her apartment, since he had a long drive back to Albuquerque. But he eliminated that possibility at her door.

“Gonna put coffee on while we watch the news?”

“Sure, why not?”

While Kyle seated himself on the couch and flicked channels with the remote, Liz switched on the coffeemaker then took out some pain medicine before going to sit with him. Kyle put his arm around her shoulders and pulled her closer. “Ah, this is what I’ve been missing.” Bending his head, he lowered his lips to hers. She relaxed and warmed in his embrace.

“And now for an update on the earthquake that shook Barstow a few hours ago…” the newscaster droned.

Kyle pulled back. “Wow, it’s times like that where I’m glad I don’t live in California! Could you imagine living through the earthquakes they have in that state?”

Liz shrugged even though she knew that Kyle wasn’t particularly interested in hearing her opinion.

“One of these days, that entire state will just fall off into the ocean Liz. You wait and see!”

With an indulgent smile, Liz rose to pour the coffee. She watched from the counter as Kyle flicked through the rest of the cable lineup as if she had no preferences whatsoever. Trying to envision a whole life like this brought a strange emptiness and loneliness. Liz couldn’t help but wonder how long these ignored emotions of hers had gone unrecognized, and if they’d go away.

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Postby JBehr'sChica » Sat Mar 24, 2007 2:28 am

Chapter Three

Liz opened the garment box that was just delivered by UPS and folded back the protective tissue.

“Maria!”

The overhead lights reflected off her friend’s long blonde tresses as she came into the back office, still holding a pricing gun.

“What’s up?”

Holding up a dark purple dress that she had just taken out of the box, she held it to her and gently smoothed her hand over the gown. Featuring one shoulder strap and a neckline that ran diagonally from her left shoulder to just under her right arm, the gown was made from material that shimmered a warm gold as the fabric moved.

“These are items from the preview of Louisa Montgomery’s that I went to last month. But this isn’t what I called you in for. When I saw this, I automatically thought of you.”

Gently laying the purple gown across the back of one of the nearby chairs, Liz reached into the box and pulled out an emerald green gown that was off the shoulder with quarter length sleeves. It was extremely elegant, and not normally something that Liz knew her best friend would choose to wear, but there was something about the dress that made Liz believe that Maria might just take the risk and end up falling in love with it.

“Wow.”

Putting the pricing gun on a small piece of uncluttered desk, Maria quickly walked over to Liz and carefully took the gown from her hands.

“How gorgeous is this? You said the show was classy, now I believe it!”

With a smile, Liz picked up the next item, a cherry red wrap around blouse with a matching A-line skirt that flared slightly at the knees and a long dress with large flowers painted over the fabric. The neckline was a semi-plunging v-neck, that would show enough cleavage to be considered sexy, but not enough to cross into the slutty category. The vibrant colors of purple, blue, red and occasional splash of yellow jumped out at Liz, and she knew that this dress was more than likely going to go into her personal collection.

“I think I’ll snag this one for myself,” Maria said with determination as she held the green gown against her body. “It will go perfectly with those shoes I bought last week.”

Copying her best friend in front of the mirror with the dress she had definitely decided she was buying for herself, placing the hanger the dress was now on over her head, she let the dress drop over her body and moved a little from side to side to picture what she would look like in it.

“Maybe we can fax an order later this afternoon or tomorrow morning.”

“Hmmm” was the only response she received from Maria causing Liz to glance at her only to find she was already pulling other things from the boxes that were a part of the delivery.

Taking the dress off, Liz hung it up on the nearby rack and left Maria to sort of the rest of the items in the shipment, opting instead to cover the front counter for a little while. As she straightened out the jewelry display in the cabinet next to the counter, she pictured herself wearing the beautiful dress she left hanging in the backroom. She would wear her hair up with some loose strands framing her face. She would need to wear a decent pair of heels so the dress didn’t gather on the ground due to her lack of height, and she would wear only the barest of makeup, allowing the dress to be the feature. Smiling slightly to herself, her hand stilled in cleaning the glass as her mind transported her to a quick daydream.

Feeling somewhat conspicuous in the dress and heels, Liz felt like she was on display, for the entire world to see. She knew that someone like Isabel reveled in the attention that men paid her, and would regularly wear clothes that begged for the male attention, but never, in her entire 26 years of life, would Liz have pictured herself doing the same thing. Having always considered herself the ‘smallest of small town girls’, Liz found it hard to believe that guys would want to look at her if given the choice.

Carefully stepping out of her Jeep, she stood straight and self-consciously smoothed the dress over her thighs before quickly touching her hair lightly to make sure it was still the way she had put it before she left her apartment. Kyle had wanted to meet for dinner before he went back to Albuquerque in the morning, and Liz had decided that no matter what closed mindedness her fiancé might have, she wanted to elicit a different type of response from him tonight. Something to remember her by.

Carefully walking down the somewhat empty sidewalk, Liz had no idea that she was gliding down the footpath, nor of the attention she seemed to be getting from those she passed. In her mind, she was chanting a mantra of ‘Please God, do not let me fall flat on my face’ over and over as she made her way to the door of Chez Pierre.

Entering the restaurant, she gave her name to the Maitre de, and was ushered through to the table where her man sat. The lighting was down low this evening, casting a romantic filter over everything and everyone in the restaurant. The golden glow made Liz’s chestnut hair look like silk, and her skin exotic while the light glinted off the slight gold necklace she had chosen to wear with the dress and the matching bracelet on her left wrist. Holding her clutch bag tightly, Liz felt her stomach contract with butterflies as she smiled at the man who stood up from their table and held his hand out to her.

Taking her hand in his, he pulled it to his lips and gently kissed it before helping her into her seat.

“You look amazing Liz Parker.”

Feeling her face flush, Liz couldn’t help but smile at the complimentary words. Giving him the once over herself, she nodded in agreement as she reached for the glass of water in front of her.

“You look pretty amazing yourself Max Evans.”


Max Evans? What the hell?

Gasping in shock, Liz blinked furiously as she shook her head, trying to erase the images she had seen in her mind. She was engaged to Kyle Valenti, not Max Evans. She had been thinking about meeting Kyle, not Max, so why was he the one in her little fantasy, not her fiancé?

Deciding that the best course of action for the time being was to become the cleaning nazi, Liz attacked the glass cabinet like a woman possessed before moving to the front counter and finally to the mirrors in the change rooms.

“Oh my goodness…” Maria said as she turned to look out the window, taking a break from dressing the models in the window.

“You have got to see this hottie Liz. Seriously. Get over here before he disappears.”

Marveling at her best friend’s dreamy tone of voice, Liz looked up and glanced in the direction that Maria was pointed, but remained where she was.

“I must say, that is an odd statement coming from a married woman.”

Maria had the grace to blush slightly before returning to normal.

“Hey, just because I’m married doesn’t mean I’m dead. I can look, I just can’t touch.”

Turning her attention to the man now walking across the street, she watched as he looked both ways before jogging across the street, the black Rolling Stones t-shirt plastered to his body as the wind blew against him, his torn jeans riding low on his hips and the scuffed boots he wore just adding to the outfit even more.

“But what I wouldn’t give to touch this god.”

Maria said to herself as she watched the mystery man swipe a tanned hand through his longish dark locks and adjusting the sunglasses on his face, sighing as he licked his lips and swallowed, the Adam’s apple in his throat bobbing in the most tantalizing manner. Married or not, you had to give credit where credit was due, and Maria hoped that this man had broken the mold when he had been created, because, truthfully, she doubted she could handle it knowing that there were other guys out there who looked as delectable as the mystery man who was now headed in their direction.

In their direction.

They were the only store on the corner. Which meant, he was coming to their store.

“Oh God.”

Deserting her post in the window, Maria rushed over to the counter where Liz hadn’t moved from, and picked up a handful of receipts, looking over them with immense concentration.

“Something wrong Maria? Did your mystery man have a boyfriend or something?” Liz asked, not looking up from the paperwork in front of her, the hint of a smile crossing her face at the picture in her mind. It would serve Maria right.

“Wrong? What could be wrong? There’s nothing wrong. He just happens to be coming this way is all.”

Shaking her head at Maria’s antics, Liz opened her mouth to give a reply when the front door opened, the bell ringing, letting them know someone was entering their store. Maria’s near hysteria seemed to pass as she plastered a wide smile on her face, looking into the hidden eyes of the man who stood just a few steps away from the front counter.

“Welcome to La Femme. I’m Maria, can I help you?”

The mystery man took off his glasses and glanced at Liz’s head before his eyes focused on the woman who had spoken to him. Tilting his head slightly, he walked over to her.

“Maria? DeLuca?”

Frowning that the man knew her name, she nodded slowly.

“Actually, it’s DeLuca-Guerin now, but that’s me.”

Taking a moment to really look at the guy, her eyes widened as she realized whom she was talking to.

“Max Evans! Well look at you!”

Walking around the counter, Maria went and gave the laughing Max a hug. Max and her husband Michael had been friends throughout high school, but when everyone separated and went off to College, they had lost touch. Maria thought that the last time Max and Michael spoke to each other might have been 6 months after Max had gone to UCLA after graduation.

“With your hair all long like that, and those glasses, I didn’t recognize you at all!”

“And you! I always thought you would have looked great with long hair, and here it seems I was right.”

Maria couldn’t help but glow at the compliment and raised a hand to smooth her hair over.

“So, I see you married Michael huh? How is the stubborn mule?”

Rolling her eyes, Maria never understood how the two men, who were once best friends, could continue to refer to each other with derogatory nicknames.

“He’s fine. He’s head of Security at the new Pharmaceutical Company in town now.”

Liz, having heard the entire conversation, had refused to look up as Max and Maria continued to talk. She had had no idea that the two of them were friends at all, but she put that down to the fact that Maria had known of her opinion of the guy throughout high school, and had obviously followed her wishes of wanting to have nothing to do with him. Wasn’t it enough that she had to live next-door to him? The store was her little piece of shelter from all things Max Evans, and now he was intruding on her space here as well.

Sighing deeply, she realized that for as long as it was a free world and democracy reigned supreme, there was no reason for her to kick him out of her store.

“Is this your store?”

“Mine and Liz’s.”

Feeling his amber eyes burning a hole in the top of her head, she still refused to look up. If she didn’t acknowledge his existence, maybe he would simply cease to exist completely.

“Not too shabby.”

Feeling a shot of relief shoot through her body at his comment, Liz almost looked up, but instead, gathered her paperwork and quietly excused herself as she retreated to the backroom to complete what she had started.

“Anyway Max, since this obviously isn’t a social call, is there something I can help you with?”

“I’m looking for a gift for someone. Do you have jewelry?”

“Right over here.”

As she closed the door to the back office, Liz could hear the electric motor of the display case as it whirred into operation and knew that the horizontal shelves had rotated to a different level of rings, watches and earrings. Sinking into the nearby chair, Liz decided that she would not only stay in there until she completed the end of month paperwork, but also until every piece of stock in the room had been inventoried. Or until Max Evans left. Whatever came first.

Shortly after the door chimes sounded again, Maria swept into the office, Leaning against the door, she blew out an exhilarated breath.

“He’s gone?”

Nodding quietly, Maria laughed slightly, remembering her state of mind as she had seen him walk across the street, not knowing that it was her husband’s old friend from high school. She must be really horny today. Making up her mind to leave work early and track down her husband, she took a few minutes to talk to Liz about Max.

“Well, did he at least buy anything?”

“Yeah, That nice silver and turquoise necklace that you picked up in Arizona and the matching earrings.”

Acting nonchalant, Liz shrugged.

“At least he has nice taste.”

“Who do you suppose they were for?” Maria asked, seating herself on the couch that rested against the back wall of the room.

“How should I know? Could we please find something better to talk about?”

Neither spoke for a moment, each caught up in their own thoughts. Maria’s containing both ideas about Max and Liz before flitting over to what deliciously naughty things she was going to do to her husband when she found him. Liz was trying to ignore the mental picture of Max as he had looked while he was in her store and think of safer things like… Kyle, when her mind kept going back to her earlier fantasy.

“Imagine that. A rich and handsome guy who’s still available. Surely some gal’s hot on his trail wouldn’t you say?” Maria asked, a wicked little twinkle in her eye.

“I wouldn’t know Maria! But I do know that I don’t care in the slightest. You seem to forget that I’m engaged to be married to Kyle. I’m not looking to replace him any time soon either. Whoever Max Evans happens to have dangling on his string is of no concern to me whatsoever.”

“Then how come you get all bitchy and snappy whenever I mention his name?”

“I just don’t want his name creeping up all the time. I hate the guy Maria. He was mean to me from the very first moment I laid eyes on him, and so far, nothing is showing me that he’s changed. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have some real work to do.”

Turning on her heel, Liz headed out the open door before quickly turning back.

“It’s quiet out here today, so if you wanted to go home and have your wicked way with your husband before he heads off to work, go ahead.”

It was the least Liz could do to apologize for her behavior. It wasn’t Maria’s fault that Max was a jackass.

Flashing her best friend a quick grin letting her know that her apology was accepted, Maria remained seated on the couch for a few moments longer replaying the conversation in her mind.

“Methinks the lady doth protest too much.”

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Postby JBehr'sChica » Thu Mar 29, 2007 7:54 pm

Chapter Four

Walking up the driveway to the front door of Tess’ apartment, Max had to remind himself that she now went by Ava, not her birth name of Tess. It seemed that in the years that Max had been away from Roswell, Tess had decided that her name was too common and not outstanding enough for someone of her social standing, and had thus changed it to the more mysterious sounding Ava.

As the Evans’ and Harding families were two of the richest families in Roswell, Max and Tess had known each other for the majority of their lives, although, much to Tess’ dismay, Max had never been romantically interested in her, instead chasing those who presented more of a challenge. Where Max’s reputation was that of a player, Tess’ was just as infamous. Although, for her, it wasn’t really something that the other girls in school had thought was a rank to aspire to. If you had a date with Tess Harding, you were going to get lucky. And everyone knew it. Sloppy seconds were never Max Evans’ type.

Max’s reputation continued during his years in College, away in Los Angeles, and when he moved back to Roswell after graduating from UCLA, his parents had been determined to get him to settle down and take up his responsibilities. Enter Ava Harding. Their parents had decided that a union between the two families would be beneficial to both their social standing as well as their law firms and had, over dinner, introduced the two to each other.

To say that he was surprised that the elegant Ava was in fact the same unsubtle and crass Tess he had known years ago would have been an understatement. Gone were the girlish spiral curls and spoilt little rich girl attitude, and in it’s place was someone who learnt that with money, came an expectation to look good for the crowd that the rich always traveled in. Her hair was cut and styled in a smooth bob that came just below her jaw line, her make up now tasteful rather than the loud, drag queen style she had favored during High School. Her clothes were tasteful and modest, not all that dissimilar to the clothes that Isabel herself wore. The only clothes that Ava owned that reminded Max of the girl he remembered her to be were the ones in the back of her closet that she liked to wear for ‘special’ occasions. Ava was someone with an… interesting sexual appetite that always kept Max guessing.

Ringing the bell, Max could hear the faint strains of {insert classical music name here} as they floated out of the open windows. Tess’ change to Ava was not only superficial, but seemed to filter into every aspect of her life. Faint footsteps could be heard as they walked along the tiled entryway towards the door, pausing only when the door itself opened.

“Oh, it’s you darling.” Ava said as she raised her lips for a light kiss, which Max delivered. Her hand reached up to pat down her immaculate hair as she step aside to let Max in. “Come in.”

Entering the tastefully decorated apartment, Max couldn’t help but look around. While they had been together for nearly two years now, and engaged for eight months, Max was always surprised when he entered her apartment. With muted beige tones on the walls, the furniture was all expensive antiques which Ava took great pride in telling any one who asked that they were imported from Europe, and the only decorations on the walls were similarly non descript paintings by unknown artists. Unknown by Max anyway. There wasn’t one personal photo or collage to be seen in the entire apartment.

Seeing that Ava was still standing near the door, he realized that he hadn’t said anything since she answered the door.

“It’s such a nice night, I thought we could go for a drive.”

Ava glanced disdainfully out of the still open front door at the Corvette that was parked in her driveway.

“Is the top down?”

“Yeah, but it’s not cold.”

Scrunching up her perfect nose, the result of a plastic surgeon Max had been told; Ava formed her lush lips, also from the same surgeon, into a pretty pout. “I’ll have to go and get a scarf.”

Hands in his jean pockets, Max watched her cross the living room in her normal graceful, fluid way. While he knew that she had had work done, and he knew of her exploits through High School, the woman that now stood in front of him was like a completely different person. Perfectly toned, educated enough and seductive enough to keep him interested, Max knew for a fact that there were many men out there who would gladly take his place if given the option.

Ava removed a wisp of silk from a breakfront drawer in her hallway and now stood in front of Max, her mind on other things until Max gently ran his fingers down the side of her smooth face. Looking into his amber eyes, Ava allowed she to disappear in their depths as Max slowly lowered his lips to join hers. His hand framing her face, her stroked her soft cheek with his thumb as his mouth slanted over hers, gently sucking her bottom lip. Moments later, he broke away, planting a quick peck on her now rosy lips before standing tall again.

“What was that for?” she asked, her voice teasing and seductive as she slid her hands around his waist.

“You just looked tempting, as always.”

After another quick kiss, Max eased her gently away and turned her towards the exit. “Your chariot awaits Milady.”

After closing the door behind them, Max helped Ava into the car before going around to the driver’s side and seating himself. Starting the engine, Max saw Ava fix her silk scarf over her flawless hair. He knew without looking that her jaw would be rigid and her posture full on tension. Ava didn’t like his car. In fact, she always asked that if they were going out together, that they take her Lexus rather than his Corvette. But Max wouldn’t be deterred. His ‘Vette was his rebellion against his parents and their plans for him. In the end, she had given up, and now would just cover her hair up and force a smile. Taking her hand and lifting it to his mouth for a kiss, he pressed on the accelerator and reversed out of the driveway, taking a moment to change gears before driving away.

“Where are we going?”

“Nowhere in particular. I thought we could go for a drive in the desert for a while. It’s usually beautiful and serene out there this time of the year. I just wanted to be with you.”

Flashing a smile his way, one filled with meaning, she replied, “You wouldn’t miss me so much if you would just set a date you know.”

“Yeah.”

Max inhaled the warm desert air deeply before releasing it. While he fully intended to marry her one of these days, at the moment, he just didn’t feel it was the right time. His parents both seemed eager for their only son and heir to get married and provide them with grandchildren, but there was something holding Max back. Something he couldn’t quite put his finger on.

The early evening lights of Roswell began to fade as they left the city limits, heading into the small grouping of hills just outside the city and towards the alleged site of the 1947 crash. While he may have been one of the ‘popular’ kids in school, Max had always enjoyed coming out here for peace and quiet, to collect his thoughts and plan his future. One that didn’t include being a lawyer and following in his fathers footsteps. If Max were to be honest with himself, more often than not, those plans included a petite brunette, who’s pigtails he had once dipped in ink when he had been seated behind her in Science all the way back in 7th grade.

“It’s so beautiful out here.” Max said, mainly to himself.

“Hmm? Oh, I guess. If that’s what you like. I don’t usually come out here. It’s so isolated and quiet.”

Ava replied, not realizing the tie Max had to the area. Storing her reply for later consideration, Max turned his thoughts back to the woman at his side, just as she turned to him.

“Hey, why don’t we go back into town for a drink?”

Retaking her hand and pressing another kiss to it, Max smiled at her and turned the car around, heading back into Roswell.


Part Two

Basking in the afterglow, Maria was draped over her husband’s slick chest, idly drawing patterns on his skin, her thoughts running a mile a minute.

“You’ll never guess who walked into our store today.”

“Hmm?” Was the only response she received from Michael as he fought against the sleep that threatened to overtake him. He was always more than happy to sleep after they had sex, but it seemed that the female psyche thought it was times like this when they should be able to share their inner most thoughts and feelings. Sighing to himself, Michael captured Maria’s hand as it stilled and brought it to his mouth. Kissing each finger softly, Michael gave his full attention to his wife.

“I’m sorry babe. You were saying something about someone who came into your store today?”

Frowning slightly at Michael through narrowed eyes, Maria knew that he was trying, for which she was grateful, but sometimes she wished he wasn’t so much like a man.

“Yeah. Max Evans.”

Raising an eyebrow in interest, Michael grunted.

“Since when did he move back to town?”

“I’m not sure, but he’s Liz’s new neighbor.”

“Seriously?”

“Yeah.”

Distracted by Maria’s fingers, Michael didn’t comment, instead giving his full attention to the hand and adjoining arm of the woman beside him.

“Hmmm.” Was his only response as he rolled over and pinned his wife beneath him. His mouth suddenly more interested in Maria’s neck, he began kissing and licking his way to her collarbone, almost causing Maria to lose her track of thought.

“Mmmm. He looks great Michael. You should see him. Ohhhh, right there baby. I think Liz has a thing for him.”

Now, many people believe that men are incapable of multitasking, and Michael didn’t want to prove anyone wrong, but in this case, he couldn’t help it. Stopping his ministrations on his wife’s neck, he backed off her for a moment.

“You think what?”

“I said that I think Liz has a thing for him.”

“And what makes you think that?”

“Every time I mention him, she nearly bites my head off. She never has anything nice to say about him when she does talk about him, and surprisingly, that’s a lot of the time.”

Staring at his wife, he tried once again, in vain, to figure out how her mind worked. He loved her like crazy, and was amazed that she loved him in return just as much, but there were times, such as these, when he swore that she was either completely crazy, or there were wires in her brain that were crossed, causing moments of complete insanity.

“Maria, honey, I know both Max and Liz, and I know that Max was a total bastard to Liz from the first moment he laid eyes on her. I think it’s only fair that Liz hates him just as much as he did her.”

“But he’s not the same punk kid he was back then Michael. You should see him. He seems almost normal.”

Rolling off of her and onto his back, Michael rubbed a hand over his face.

“Maria, just because you exchanged five words with the man for the first time in years does not mean that he’s changed. If this is the first time that Max and Liz have seen or spoken to each other since High School, then I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s just a little shocked to see her again. I’m sure the pranks will start up again in no time, especially if they’re living next to each other.”

Throwing a frustrated glance at her husband, Maria wondered just what it was about him that made her fall so deeply in love with him. He just didn’t get it. He probably never would. Hadn’t he ever heard that teasing someone of the opposite sex was sometimes a way of disguising feelings of attraction? I mean, their version of foreplay was usually arguing. To anyone outside of their family and friends, that was usually the sign of thinly disguised hatred, not passionate love.

Groaning in annoyance, Maria decided that she needed to get up and make something for dinner.

“Doesn’t your shift start soon? You’d better get up and get ready. I’ll go and make some dinner that you can have before you go.”

Getting out of bed and putting on a nearby shirt of Michael’s, Maria walked out of their bedroom and into the kitchen leaving an equally frustrated Michael in their bed. Thinking over her words, Michael sat up and tilted his head in the direction of the door.

“DOES THIS MEAN NO MORE SEX BEFORE WORK?”


Part Three

Seated at a booth in the bar where Max usually performed on the weekends, Ava took a sip of her strawberry margarita while Max nursed a Heineken. As soon as they had entered the bar, Max’s thoughts had gone to the song he was still working on at home for the party in a couple of weeks. He had, with permission from his father, had taken 6 months off from working as a Lawyer. Time which his family and the Harding’s thought were going to be dedicated to the planning of the wedding and their future together, but couldn’t have been further from the truth.

Having enjoyed music in High School and College, Max had taught himself to play the guitar and in his final year of College had been a part of a band that played weekly at both the on campus coffee shop and bar. Music, like the desert, gave him the opportunity to relax and take a break. It was never something that his parents or Ava could understand and they didn’t want to.

“So honey, when are you going to stop pretending to be a rock star and go back to a real job?”

Jerked out of his thoughts by the voice of his fiancé, Max turned to look at her, again taking in the smoothness of her skin and the sparkle in her bright blue eyes.

“Ava, I’m not pretending to be a rock star. If you ever took the time to come and listen to me play, I know you’d realize that. You already know that I’m taking time off from working in my father’s firm. I need the time off and I’m not going to cut it short.”

Having slipped one of her shoes off, Ava rubbed her foot along one of Max’s calves, slowly working her way up.

“But honey, if we’re going to live the way we should and have the social contacts that we want, you need to be in an important job, mixing with the right people. There are no right people to mix with when you’re slumming it baby.”

Aroused from the actions of Ava’s foot, Max couldn’t help the splash of cold water from her words. He knew that she didn’t like him performing his music, but he didn’t realize that her opinion was that he was ‘slumming’ it. True, the people who came to the bar and those who worked in it weren’t from the same social circles as they were, but they weren’t lesser beings. They were just as good, if not nicer than the people they considered ‘friends’ and Max was proud to call them friends and told Ava exactly that.

“Ava. That’s rude. These people may not be in the same circles as us, but that doesn’t make them below us. I’m proud to call these people friends.”

Not stilling her foot, Ava moved it further up Max’s thigh, feeling just how aroused this was making him, even though his words weren’t those of love or lust.

“That’s fine honey. If anything, it makes you the bigger man. Being friends with the regular folk. But when we’re married, we won’t be inviting them around for dinner with our real friends. I mean, what would they think?”

Unable to control his body’s response to her actions, Max reached down and removed her foot from his groin. He didn’t appreciate sitting here, being told what he could or couldn’t do, who he could or couldn’t be friends with while she tried to turn him on in order to get her own way.

She may not look or sound like the same girl he knew as Tess, but her priorities were always focused on the same person. Herself. Quickly finishing his beer, he got out of the booth and offered his hand to Ava, who quickly took it. It was time to take her home.


Part Four

Liz jogged past the new golf course and through the covered bridge on her way home a few nights later. The early evening air was breezy and a welcome relief to the hot sweat she had worked up in her couple of hours worth of running around Roswell. She stopped and ran in place as she watched a hand glider soar high into the burnt orange sky, spiraling upward as they caught a thermal.

I wonder what it’s like to soar so high above the ground at the mercy of the winds and currents. To have a birds eye view of the world.

While she had enjoyed living and working in Boston, she was still a small town girl at heart, and being back in her home town brought her a peace and tranquility that she thought she would only find once she left the alien themed town of Roswell. Casting a longing gaze at the hang glider, still soaring in the sky, she turned and continued on her way home.

So focused on her breathing, she never saw the pot hole in her path until her foot landed in it and twisted, throwing her off balance and onto the dirt on the side of the road. Stunned for only a moment, Liz moved to get up when a sharp stabbing pain in her ankle told her that she had managed to do some damage to herself. Again.

Maybe I should take Maria’s advice and just stick to the treadmill. No pot holes to contend with in your own living room.

Fighting the urge to moan, Liz sat herself down and gently moved her injured ankle in front of her. Hands pressing lightly on the sides of her ankle, she knew better than to remove her shoe because of the swelling, so she lightly massaged it, hoping that after a few minutes, the pain would subside enough so she could get up and hobble home.

Swallowing the pain, Liz looked down the road and realized that it was a lot further to her place than she realized. Especially if she was going to limp home rather than the faster option of running. It would be well into the evening by the time she got home at that rate. Behind her was nothing but random hills and empty spaces. It would be a while before anyone was heading along this road and she wasn’t in a position that brought her to any one’s attention should they happen to drive past. She would have to do it on her own.

Allowing herself a few moments to catch her breath and prepare herself for the pain she hoped she wouldn’t feel when she stood up, Liz ran her tongue over her dry lips and wished that she had brought her water bottle with her, not to mention her cell phone. Sucking it up, she took a deep breath before struggling to her feet. The stabbing pain ripped through her ankle and caused her to cry out, tears welling in her eyes.

Sinking back down into the dirt, Liz fought off tears as she realized that she would probably be here a while before she could try to walk home. Ignoring the dirt that was on her hands, she wiped at the tears on her face as she heard the distant drone of an engine gradually grew louder as it headed in her direction. Her heart leapt at the possibility that the person driving the car would be a nice person and help her out, but as the car drew nearer, she recognised the soft yet restrained purr of a sports car and closed her eyes, hoping that her suspicion of the identity of the driver would be wrong.

Ignoring the sharp pains that still shot up her leg from her ankle, she stood and composed her face into an expression of indifference as she tried to look as relaxed as possible as the corvette came into view. She could not give Max Evans the benefit of seeing her at her worst. The driver downshifted the corvette as it neared and the horn sounded of ‘You Are My Sunshine’ as it slowed to a stop next to her.

“What have we here?” Max asked skeptically. “The little health nut actually wasting time standing in one spot? Winded? Out of breath?”

Rolling her eyes and refusing to look in his direction, Liz raised her head a little higher.

“Just enjoying the view actually. I’ve always thought the sunsets over the desert were so beautiful.”

Resting his forearms over the windscreen as he peered over the glass at the woman on the side of the road, Max frowned at her response. He hadn’t been particularly polite in his comments, and while her body language showed that she was relaxed, the tone of her voice had started out as harshly as his own, but the final comment was said more as a comment to herself rather than to his rude interruption. Sighing in resignation that she wasn’t even going to look at him, he sat himself down in the driver’s seat and gunned the engine.

“Well, then I won’t distract you. You’re almost out of daylight anyway. See you around Parker.”

With a final beep of his horn, the Corvette sped off down the road, in the very direction that Liz needed to go. As soon as the sound of the engine faded away, Liz’s shoulders slumped and she once again sank to the ground.

I’m an idiot.

Running the dirt around her through her fingers, Liz’s thoughts ran to the meeting she just had with Max. Sure, they had never gotten a long, but one of them would need to suck it up and be the better person. So far, it seemed that it wouldn’t be Max; therefore, it would have to be her.

I could have just told him that I hurt myself and asked if I could get a lift home. Surely he wouldn’t have been rude enough to just laugh and leave me on the side of the road.

Determination setting her back bone rigid, Liz decided that pain or not, she wasn’t going to stick around on this partially deserted road, waiting for the night to settle in and leave herself food for any wondering Coyotes. Standing up again, she braced herself once again for the pain and began to hop her way down the street. After ten hops, she realized that the pain was a lot tougher to ignore than she had thought. Not to be deterred however, she pushed aside her pride and began to crawl on the side of the road.

I’m never telling Maria about this.

Back at the condo…

Resting an ear against their shared common wall, Max strained to hear any sounds of movement in the condo next door, but it was completely silent. There wasn’t even a light on in the apartment. He knew this because he had gone out to his car to get some CD’s he’d stored in the glove compartment, even though he didn’t want them. Liz should have been home by now.

“I guess I could always get some milk from the store.” He told himself as he grabbed his keys and wallet from the kitchen bench before leaving his apartment. The minute the headlights of the Corvette shone on the chocolate brown hair of the petite brunette, Max’s jaw went slack.

What is she doing sitting on the side of the road?

Bringing the car to a stop on the opposite side of the road, Max quickly got out of the car.

“What do you think you’re doing Parker?” he asked as soon as she looked in his direction, his eyes taking in the dirt that was covering her face. He started to get a little concerned.

“I… um…”

Crossing the road and kneeling in front of her, he couldn’t help but reach over and tuck a piece of her hair behind her small ear. Leaving his hand hovering there, he looked into her eyes for a moment before quietly asking, “Are you okay Liz?”

Max tried to ignore how he felt when her red tongue flicked out to moisten her lips while she nervously looked around everywhere but into his eyes. Sighing, Max took things into his own hands.

“Come on. I’ll give you a ride home.”

Getting up and making his way back to the car, he continued to talk, not realizing that she was still sitting on the side of the road.

“You know, it’s not safe to be out alone after dark, even in Roswell. Especially with the new Prison on the other end of that valley.”

“Thanks, but I—“

Shaking his head at the tone of her voice, he opened the car door and moved to get in, when he looked back and saw that she hadn’t moved. His eyes raking over her, he finally noticed that she was keeping one of her ankles in front of her. Shaking his head, he quickly made his way back to Liz, putting his hands under her arms to help her up, trying to be as gentle as possible.

“Ow! Be Careful!” she said through gritted teeth. “My ankle.”

Seeing her standing up, the light of his headlights making the dirt on her pants and hands noticeable, Max realized that she must have been crawling along the side of the road before coming to a stop where he had found her. Wordlessly, he scooped her up into his arms and crossed the road, lifting her over the closed door on the passenger side and lightly placing her on to the seat.

Despite the fact that she was so slight, she felt surprisingly solid in his arms. Dismissing the thoughts that followed, after he clicked the seatbelt around his injured passenger, he rested his arms against the door and leant down towards her, glaring at her until she met his gaze.

“I must have really done some number on you when we were kids Parker. You little dope, what were you going to do? Sit here, on the side of the road, until tomorrow morning or the next, or until Maria reported you missing?”

“I don’t know.” Was the only response he got.

Pushing off the door and making his way around the front of the car to his seat, he cursed quietly under his breath. He didn’t think he had ever met anyone as stubborn as Michael Guerin, but it seemed that he was wrong. World, meet Liz Parker.

Liz watched with hooded eyes as Max walked in front of the car, the headlights doing everything to highlight his body, causing Liz to see him as a man rather than Max Evans. Her eyes made the steady journey from his visible knees up his strong thighs, stopping momentarily over his butt before making their way up his body, finally resting on his face profile, and the harsh set to his five o’clock shadow covered jaw line.

He’s beautiful.

If only he was someone other than Max Evans.

Even covered in dirt, she’s gorgeous.

If only she was someone other than Liz Parker.

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JBehr'sChica
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Postby JBehr'sChica » Sun Apr 08, 2007 4:46 am

A/N: Thanks everyone for the FB! Sorry for the delay in posting this next part. This week has been fairly busy what with the Easter weekend and all. I'm in the process of writing the next two chapters, so now that I have a couple of weeks off, hopefully the posts will be a little quicker.

Once again, many thanks to Alison for being my beta!

Chapter Five

Having stopped quickly at the store to pick up the milk that Max didn’t really need as well as some things he needed to tend Liz’s injury, Max turned the Corvette into his driveway, alongside the Jeep that was occupying Liz’s. Parking the car and walking around to Liz’s side, he unbuckled her seatbelt before putting his arms under her knees and shoulders, effortlessly picking her up and lifting her out of the low set car.

“I-I can probably—“

“Shut up Parker. Where are your keys?”

Turning her body so that she was now pressed against Max’s hard chest, Liz put her hand into the pocket of her pants and found her house key. Holding her hand out to Max, unable to look him in the eye due to the embarrassment she was currently feeling, Liz didn’t realize that her free hand was caressing the back of Max’s neck, playing in the long dark strands of hair.

Swallowing hard, Max took the offered key and managed to open her front door without dropping her. A couple of strides into the front living room, and Max carefully placed Liz on the sofa, making sure she was comfortable before reaching beside her for a cushion. Putting it on the coffee table, Max moved it so it was closer to the sofa and moved Liz’s ankle to rest on it, keeping it elevated. Leaving her there, he walked back out the front door and Liz could hear him taking out the bag that he had placed into the boot of the Corvette.

Entering her apartment again, Max took the bag through to the kitchen where Liz could now hear him rummaging through some of the drawers before opening the freezer. Trying to see around into the kitchen, Liz craned her neck as far as she could without moving her ankle and nearly fell off the sofa. Hurriedly, she tried to get back into her original position, but not before Max returned and saw her.

Putting the ice pack, disinfectant and a washcloth onto the coffee table, Max gently helped her back into the chair and instead of putting her foot back onto the table, took a seat next to her and moved her foot into his lap. Taking it between his two large hands, he raised it, examining it closely. He barely touched the outer edge of her ankle with his thumb as he eased her shoe off.

Liz couldn’t help but wince as the slight movement.

“Sorry.”

Nodding in understanding, Liz almost held her breath as Max’s strong hands lightly felt her ankle for any breaks.

“Well, there’s not enough discoloration for it to be broken. If you stay off it this weekend as much as possible, you should notice some improvement by Monday.”

Biting her lip as Max moved her leg back to the table, Liz couldn’t help but ask a question.

“Are you a doctor or something?”

Having picked up the washcloth from the table, Max glanced at Liz and saw that it was genuine question. Shaking his head, he reached out for her hands, which she held out, and began to gently dab at the dirt on the palms of her hands.

“No. I’m a Lawyer. But one of my College roommates became a Doctor and I spent a lot of time in the lead up to midterms and finals helping him review and study, so I picked up a little.”

“Ahh.”

They fell into a comfortable silence as Max tended to her hands. Once they were clean with disinfectant, Max placed the things to the side and reached into his pocket for a rolled up elastic bandage. Once again moving her ankle to his lap, he began to wrap her foot, beginning at the arch of her foot and wrapping it in a perfect figure eight. Pinning the ends with the silver clips, Max gently placed her foot back onto the table and placed the ice pack on top of it.

“I’m just going to go back to my place for a few minutes. I won’t be long.”

Getting up and taking the washcloth and disinfectant back into the kitchen, Max put everything away before walking to the front door.

“Don’t move.”

Closing the door behind him, Liz sat there, looking at the door, completely stunned. Who was the man who had just been in her apartment? Picking up the phone next to the sofa, Liz dialed Maria’s number from memory.

“Hello?”

“Hey Maria.”

“Liz? What’s wrong?”

“I had a little accident when I was running this afternoon and I’ve sprained my ankle.”

“Again?”

Liz laughed.

“Yeah, I know. I think I’m going to take your advice about the treadmill.”

“Sounds like a good idea chica.”

“Anyway, I wanted to let you know that I won’t be coming into the store tomorrow. I need to keep off my foot all weekend and hopefully I’ll be right for Monday.”

“Did you go to the Doctor?”

“Something like that.”

“Okay, well, I hope you get better. If you want, I can stop by tomorrow afternoon.”

“That sounds great ‘Ria. I’ll see you tomorrow then.”

“Sure thing Chica. Take care.”

“You too.”

Closing the line, Liz leant over and put the phone onto the coffee table just as Max opened the front door. Seeing her bent so far towards the table, Max frowned.

“What are you doing?”

Sitting up and taking a deep breath, Liz thought briefly about being rude, but remembered her thoughts back when she was stranded on the side of the road.

“I just called Maria and told her that my doctor told me to stay off my feet all weekend, so I wouldn’t be coming in tomorrow.”

Grinning at her doctor comment, Max closed the door and took a seat next to her on the sofa. Putting a plate holding a toasted cheese sandwich and a cup of tea on the table next to the sofa, Max leant back a little while Liz opted to start with the tea. Taking a sip, Liz sighed and let her head fall back in bliss, unintentionally exposing her throat to Max, who watched as her movements caused the buttons at the top of her shirt to part slightly, offering him a glimpse of what lay beneath the material.

Clearing his throat and moving in his chair, he looked away, reminding himself that he was engaged to Ava and that the woman next to him was Liz Parker, the woman who, as a girl, he had teased unmercifully. Looking back at Liz quickly, he saw that she was now reaching for the sandwiches that he had made back in his apartment. It was probably not something she would have made herself, seemingly so health conscious, but it was something quick and filling that Max could put together for her in a short time.

After a few minutes, Max decided that he needed to get out of there as soon as possible. Being in this close company with Liz Parker and seeing her in the light he was at the moment made it difficult to concentrate.

“So, which one is your bedroom Liz?”

Okay, so that came out wrong.

He thought to himself as Liz’s head swiveled at alarming speed, her mouth open in shock. Trying to salvage what he could of his comment, he shrugged.

“You’re going to need help getting to your room so you can go to sleep, so which one is it?”

Swallowing, Liz blinked a couple of times before finding her voice.

“It’s the second door on the right.”

Nodding, Max stood up and quickly picked Liz up, following her directions. Entering her room, he was surprised to see the burgundy feature wall that was prominent in the room, but did nothing to make it look smaller. If anything, it made it seem larger. Her bedroom was decorated with Japanese styled furniture; her bed resting on a flat bed of darkly stained timber, the bed, while probably a queen size, looking small in the middle. The covers were white with the apple blossom pattern starting at the bottom of the bed and ending just near the top; the pillows both white and black with Japanese characters on them.

A lot of thought had gone into this room.

Unlike mine. I think I bought the entire ensemble straight off the floor, complete with all the cushions and stuff it was on display with.

Putting Liz onto a chair near the adjoining bathroom, Max looked at her, hands on his hips.

“Which drawer are your pajamas in?”

“Max, I’m pretty sure that I can—“

Holding a hand up to silence her, Max softened the look on his face.

“Come on Liz. Let me save you from hobbling around for tonight. Just let me know where they are”

Biting her bottom lip, Liz looked at Max for a few moments before deciding that it wasn’t like he was going to look into her panties drawer.

“Second drawer on the left.”

Turning his back on her, Max opened the drawer that she told him to, and bit back a gasp at what lay inside. Unable to help himself, he touched the silky material of the numerous nightgowns that Liz owned, his mind filling in the blanks of what she must look like in each of them. Taking a deep breath, he closed his eyes and blindly reached for one.

Put a lid on it Evans! She’s short remember? A guy has to break his neck just to bend down and look at her. And you’re merely the errand boy for the evening—not to mention engaged!

Walking into the bathroom and hanging the long, black, silky nightgown on the hook on the back of the door, Max went back to the bedroom, picked Liz up and brought her into the bathroom, putting her onto the closed toilet.

“Your nightgown is behind the door. Do what it is that you do before you go to bed, then give me a call when you’re ready to get into bed.”

Closing the door quickly, Max went back into the living room and leant against the wall. She had a nice collection of things that he shouldn’t know she had. He wasn’t going to sleep well tonight. Glancing around the living room, he noticed the myriad of personal pictures that filled the bookshelves and mantelpiece. Walking over and taking a look, he recognised pictures from when they were in high school and saw others that must have been taken while she was in College. There were a couple of photos of Liz with the same wimpy guy he had seen ring her doorbell last week, which must be her boyfriend. He looked familiar, but couldn’t quite peg it. Before he could think on it any further, he heard Liz yell from her bathroom.

Knocking on the bathroom door, he waited for Liz to say it was okay before he opened it. Seeing Liz in the nightgown he had selected made him breathless. While it wasn’t flimsy or showing much skin, against Liz’s skin, it was extremely sexy.

I’ve gotta go.

Scooping Liz into his arms, he didn’t look into her eyes at all as he brought her into the bedroom and laid her down onto the turned down bed. Taking a spare pillow and putting it under her injured ankle, Max carefully pulled the covers over Liz before taking a step back.

“I, um, put a glass of water and some pain killers next to the bed. My numbers next to the phone if you have any problems. Can I get you anything else?”

Liz shook her head. She was embarrassed enough that Max had seen her in such a state, but then he’d been so caring and tender, looking after her foot, and then he’d offered to help her get ready for bed. When Liz had seen what he had selected for her to wear to bed in the bathroom, she had been shocked. And really turned on.

She had managed to get changed, leaving her dirty clothes in the laundry hamper near the door and had spent the next few minutes being too scared to call Max back. Now that her foot was bandaged, would it be so bad if she got into bed by herself? She was scared about Max seeing her like this. She had never let a guy see her in her nightgown before. Even though she was engaged to Kyle, she had never slept with him, even though he had tried a number of times. It wasn’t like she had never slept with anyone, but after the embarrassment of her first time, she had decided that she would wait before she tried it again.

When Max had opened the door to take her through to her bed, she had seen his eyes the moment he saw her, and while she was pleased that she caused him to notice her as a woman, she was petrified that he might try something.

“No thanks Max. You’ve done more than enough.”

Scratching his ear, Max nodded.

“Okay then. I’ll go home. If you need help in the morning, give me a call. Night Parker.”

Walking out the door, Max headed down the corridor, only steps away from the freedom of whatever he was beginning to feel about Liz Parker when her voice stopped him.

“Wait!”

Walking back, he peered around the doorjamb.

“It… it was… nice of you to help me. Thank you.”

Grinning, Max winked at her.

“All part of my penance. Past wrongs and all that. Sleep well.”

Liz couldn’t help but smile back at him as he once again turned and left, the sound of the front door closing softly letting her know he had left her apartment completely. Sighing, she thought about how much Max had surprised her tonight. Maria wouldn’t believe her. Reaching for the painkillers and glass of water Max had left on her bedside table, she quickly swallowed them before turning the light off and laying down. Closing her eyes, she mentally began erasing her thoughts of the day from her mind, clearing it enough to fall asleep when she realized that she needed to cancel her weekend plans with Kyle.

Sitting up and turning the light on again, she reached for the telephone and dialed Kyle’s number.

“Hello?” came his pleasantly intoned voice.

“Hi honey, it’s Liz.”

“Funny, I was just about to call you. What’s up?”

“Not too much. I just thought I’d better let you know that I won’t be driving to Albuquerque tomorrow like we planned.”

“Too far already? And you haven’t even been there two weeks!”

Sighing, Liz wondered if it was too late to just hang up on her fiancé and call Max instead.

“It’s not that. I had a little accident this afternoon and my doctor told me to stay off my ankle for the entire weekend. It should be fine by Monday.”

“Oh.” Disappointment colored Kyle’s voice. “See? I knew if I left you all on your own in that small town, you’d get into trouble.”

Shaking her head and rolling her eyes, Liz felt like strangling the man she had agreed to marry.

“What? It had nothing to do with my being here by myself Kyle! It was an accident. An. Accident! It could have happened anywhere.”

“I see,” he said grudgingly. “Well, you’re okay, aren’t you? I’ll come up tomorrow afternoon and take you for a drive. How about that?”

“Um, sure, Okay. That would be nice. I’ll look forward to seeing you.”

“Great. See you then babe. Love you.”

The click of the line made any reply superfluous, allowing Liz to hang her phone up before turning the light off yet again and relaxing into her imported mattress Closing her eyes, she was quickly transported into the arms of sleep, but her dreams weren’t filled with the face of the man she was engaged to, but rather filled with scenes of her neighbor and herself in states of undress that would normally leave little miss Elizabeth Parker red faced and stuttering. However, in her dreams, little miss modesty was happily helping the Adonis from next door take off her nightgown that he had chosen for her to wear.




Punching his defenseless pillow so hard that a seam bulged to near breaking, Max ordered himself to relax. Laying his head into the depression his fist had made, he tried to put Elizabeth Parker out of his mind. How could someone who seemed so bright on the surface have such a hidden stubborn streak? She might have done serious injury to her ankle if he hadn’t come along.

Yep, the same old Elizabeth. She might have curbed that childish inclination to stick out that bottom lip of hers, and possibly resisted the impulse to cross her arms, but her nose had been raised so high it was a wonder the thing hadn’t popped out of joint. Imagine a tiny girl like that out there in the dark alone. What was wrong with that sorry excuse for a boyfriend who had been around some time last week? He shouldn’t be letting her run loose out there anyway.

Max did have to admire her spunk though, from experience, he knew she was in considerable pain, yet she’s barely uttered a sound the whole time he’s been with her. Only the minuscule crease between her slender eyebrows gave any inclination of her discomfort. And, he had to admit; it did seem kind of gratifying to see her with grubby knees and hands, with those soft brown strands falling across her face. Come to think of it, he hadn’t checked her knees to be sure they didn’t need some disinfectant as well. Oh well. It was a miracle that she’s allowed him to help her at all, after all the pranks he’d pulled on her when they were kids. But then, she’d always been the perfect target.

Max suppressed the urge the chuckle as a few incidents came to mind. But once they started, an amazing number of them paraded by—an endless line, in fact, of thoughtless deeds. His initial humor swiftly turned to guilt. He hadn’t realized just how much of a jerk he had been to her when they were young.

Closing his eyes and replaying the memories, he took the time to look at them from Liz’s point of view, which made him feel even worse. Before he opened his eye again, his memories took him to the way she looked in the black nightgown he had selected for her to wear to bed that night. Moaning softly in remembrance of how the silk had felt on his arms when he carried her from the bathroom through to her bed, he rolled out of his bed and onto the floor, automatically beginning some reps of push-ups.

He wasn’t sure whether his arousal was a carry over from Ava’s earlier ministrations or if little Lizzie Parker was really having such a big impact on him.

“1….2….3….4….”

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Postby JBehr'sChica » Mon Apr 30, 2007 8:23 am

A/N: I apologise for the amount of time it took me to get this update written. In hopes to get into everyone’s good books again, I did a two chapter update, and am close to getting the next two chapters finished and sent off to my beta, the ever wonderful Alison!

Rowedog: Thanks SO MUCH for being such a terrific beta. Even though I read through what I’ve written before I email it to you, I miss a lot of stupid mistakes due to my habit of writing in the extremely early hours of the morning. But you never give me crap about it :grin:
Cassie: I can’t wait for Liz to ditch Kyle either! There’s nothing worse than a guy who thinks you can only do what he lets you.
Emz80m: I only hope that these next chapters keep you interested in sticking it out to the end. Thanks for reading.
Natalie36: Didn’t Shakespeare write ‘The course of true love did never run smooth’?
Begonia9508: I think it’s hard for the majority of the male population to ever admit, even to themselves, when they’ve fallen for someone. Especially if they’ve acted like their only joy in life was to make someone else miserable. :P Could any guy who’s just rummaged through a women’s sexy lingerie really get to sleep?
Mica: Thanks for reading :)
Alien_Friend: While it’s always nice to read a story where the male lead is nice to the female lead from the very beginning, when things start out less than stellar, it’s nice to get a glimpse of the other side of someone’s persona.
Polar vixen: Thanks for coming back  I hope I can keep you interested with these next chapters.
Blink1lit: Sorry I haven’t posted an update sooner. I’ll try to get them up sooner.
Stars at Night10: I think it’s hard for both Max to reach out the hand of friendship, or even just plain civility to Liz because he knows that there is no reason for her to believe he is sincere. But Liz hasn’t, until now, seen anything to show her that he’s not the same kid he was either. But, I’m sure you noticed that, niceties aside, they still checked each other out ;)
BehrObsession: I love your screen name. Pretty much sums it all up doesn’t it? I think I would be getting disillusioned with an engagement if it had been around the 2 year mark and no plans had been made either. I think if I was willing to move away from the city that my fiancé lived and worked in, to start a business, it would be a key indicator that all was not right.
Behralicious87: Here’s another helping ;)
Natz
Michelle in Yonkers:
“rather filled with scenes of her neighbor and herself in states of undress that would normally leave little miss Elizabeth Parker red faced and stuttering. “
I wrote that because the perception of Liz taken from the show is very similar to me. I wanted to portray that even though she comes across as this shy, reserved sort of girl with very clear definitions of right, wrong etc, that these things cross her mind just as much as the next person. But hey, if your next door neighbor was Jason Behr, or as hot as him, I think even a Nun would need to exercise a little self restraint: :P


Chapter Six

Part One


Despite a few sleep interruptions during the night to take more pain medication, Liz woke fairly rested the following morning. By early afternoon, she noticed that although she still couldn't put her full weight on her ankle, at least is was possible to get from one room to another on her own.

It felt strange to be at home on a Saturday, normally the busiest day of the week at the store. But she had to admit that it was a treat to be free to enjoy the glorious spring day. Through her open windows, she could hear the gentle breeze ruffling through the leaves on the trees beneath the clear sky, while birds chirped their joyous songs across meadows and treetops.

With a sigh, Liz picked up the novel she had started reading earlier in the week and a tumbler of iced herbal tea out onto the deck and carefully lowered herself onto the chaise. Taking a quick sip of her tea, she sighed in pleasure before opening her book at the place she had finished at previously. She had read Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice a number of times, a particular weakness of her romantic nature, and each time, she was stunned by the arrogance shown by Mr. Darcy towards Elizabeth Bennett. She understood that, with the era of the story and also the way in which someone of his station would have been raised, it was a given that his attitudes would be superior than those around him, but nonetheless, it always managed to surprise Liz.

Pride knows no station, no era nor gender.

Liz thought to herself as she mentally replayed the evening before as she sat stranded on the side of the road with her sprained ankle because she couldn't bring herself to tell Max that she was injured.

Thank God he came back. Even if it was because he needed to go to the store.

Last night, after Max had gone back to his apartment, her conscience had pricked at her as she lay in bed. She knew that she could have, no, should have been more appreciative of Max Evans' ministrations, yet she had resisted all but a grudging, mumbled thank you. But, her other half reminded her, the opinion of him that she harbored inside had been acquired over many years. One good deed seemed less than sufficient reason to change it.

The sliding door on Max's side opened just then, and Liz held her breath while he came out to the edge of the deck and paused at his banister. Apparently unaware of her presence, he yawned, and stretched, his long, tanned arm visible from her position. He inhaled deeply and turned, then leaned to peer around the dividing lattice. Shirtless, his raven hair still mussed from sleep, he quirked a half smile and flicked a gaze at her foot.

"How's it this morning?"

The half smile had caused Liz's heart to jump slightly and beat a little faster, not to mention the sight of his bare chest resulting in her lack of breath. She couldn't remember seeing him without a shirt on before, but she had to give credit where it was due. Max Evans was ripped. Reaching for her iced tea, she took a quick mouthful before swallowing and replying.

"Afternoon." she corrected with a small smile. Immediately, she felt her smile slip as his face became hardened. "It's, um, it's feeling better."

"Keeping off it?"

She nodded. For a fleeting second, she expected him to say more, but a resigned look settled over his features and he merely gave a hint of a polite smile.

"Well, see you around Parker." Stepping out of sight, he returned inside and she heard the door slide closed. Liz released the breath she hadn't realized she'd been holding.

Well, that was sure sweet of you Liz Parker. What a display of gratitude. Maybe you don't have to act like the two of you are best buddies, but you're both grown up. It could be possible he's trying to extend an olive branch your way. You might at least give the guy the benefit of the doubt.

Settling back into the chaise, she opened the book on her lap once again and tried to get back into the saga between Mr Darcy and Elizabeth Bennett. But her mind refused to cooperate. When she heard the Corvette drive away shortly after that, an oppressive silence settled around her.

Part Two

"Missed you at Brunch this morning," Kyle said as he helped Liz hobble to his green Volvo the next afternoon. "Mom and Dad asked after you."

"Oh?"

"Mom wanted to know whether we'd set a date yet."

"Oh."

Reaching the car, Kyle opened the door for her, helping her into it before making his way to the driver’s seat. Arranging her bandaged foot, Liz reached for her seatbelt as Kyle started the car.

"Where are we going?"

"I thought we might drive out to Las Cruces. I hear they're having a carnival there this weekend."

Liz bit back the reply that attending a carnival wasn't exactly the perfect thing for her right now with her ankle being what it was, instead plastering a happy smile on her face and nodding in agreement. It seemed more and more that no matter what Liz wanted to do, or what her opinion was on something, Kyle had to have complete control.

"Are you getting rested after your trip?" Liz asked after they exited the Roswell town limits and headed onto the open road.

"Hm? Oh, yeah." Kyle replied, reaching across and taking her hand in his. "You know Liz, I've been thinking. It's silly of you to have your money invested in that dinky little shop in a place like Roswell. You should be in Albuquerque where I could look after you and all that."

His proprietary tone wore on her last nerve and the passing landscape suddenly lost its definition through the misty haze of her vision. Pulling her hand away, Liz took a moment to gather herself before replying.

"What do you mean, 'look after me'?"

"You know. If you had to go running, at least you would be on level roads with sidewalks. You'd never had tripped and hurt yourself."

Liz raised her chin. "I didn't trip. I just wasn't watching where I was going Kyle."

"What's the difference? You wouldn't have to pay attention if you were on the flat land."

"Kyle, I don't want to talk about this. I'm very happy owning the business with Maria and the business is doing fine."

"Maybe..."

"Kyle..." she warned, frowning at him.

"Okay, okay," Raising one hand in concession, he shrugged. "I was just talking with Mom and Dad about this over brunch and Mom agreed with me. I mean, after we're married, you won't have to work at all, so what's the point?"

Liz sat in disbelief, looking at her fiancé across the seat. His neat, navy-checked shirt with its button down collar and sleeves rolled to the elbow, a birthday gift from her last year, went well with his tanned skin. Dark blond hairs on his arm curled over the brown leather band of the watch she had given him for Christmas from the store. No doubt about it, from his impeccably groomed head to the toes of his shiny wing tips, Kyle looked every inch the self-reliant young executive.

Kyle glanced in the mirror, and then passed a slower vehicle as he turned onto the highway that would take them to Las Cruces. Steering into the right hand lane again, he brushed a lock of hair from Liz's face and smiled.

"I just care about what happens to you. I love you."

"I know," she said with a sigh, "I love you too. I just don't want to argue about anything today."

"Then we won't. Let's just enjoy being together. After all, I don't get to see you every night now that you moved up here, which is taking some getting used to, I might add." He paused. "Now that you've got the store off the ground, have you given any serious thought to setting a date?"

Liz shrugged. It did seem different now that they lived in different towns. She had time on her hands nearly every night. And he didn't even phone that much, now that it involved long-distance expense. But that seemed a poor reason to jump into a major decision involving lifelong commitment.

"I'm just not ready yet."

"Well, think about it will you? I don't like all the space you put between us."

Liz swallowed hard and forced a smile on her face.

"I will, I promise."


Part Three

Max's headlights picked up the green Volvo parked on the street behind Liz's Jeep when he came home from dropping Ava off at her apartment after their day together. As he pulled into the driveway and turned the ignition off, angry voices carried from outside the condo, to where Max could see his neighbor and some guy glaring at one another on her doorstep.

"But it doesn't make sense Liz! I wish you'd see it my way for a change!"

With her arms crossed, Liz tapped a fingertip against her forearm as Max had seen her do dozens of times in their past encounters. This woman was pissed.

"I don't agree. You knew I had this chance and you could just as easily have said something back then, before Maria and I formed the partnership."

"Guess I figured you had brains enough to come to the smart conclusion on your own." The man replied stubbornly.

Hesitating as long as he could without appearing obvious, Max took his guitar case from the passenger seat and strode up the walk.

"That is the most chauvinistic thing you have ever said to me. I can't believe you're so-- so--" Liz's dark eyes flashed in Max's direction and she clamped her lips together.

As he approached them, Max cleared his throat. "Everything okay here?" He asked in a casual tone.

The man snapped his head around and peered at him through the dim light that bathed him in shadow.

"Yeah pal, get lost."

"Sorry, I live here."

Ignoring the pair, Max inserted his key into the lock and let himself in. But after setting the instrument down, he left the door open a crack.

"Maybe you'd better go Kyle," came Liz's voice. "This discussion isn't accomplishing anything."

"Well, I think it is, and I have a few more points to make. You might as well hear them so you'll get the whole picture."

Max curled his fingers inward just listening to the guy's belligerent attitude.

"Look," she reasoned. "It's been a long day. I'm tired; I have a headache and my ankle's sore. I just want to go back inside and be by myself."

"Not 'til I've said a few more things!"

"Come on Kyle," Liz groaned. "Give it a rest. It's pointless. You're not going to change my mind."

"You seem awfully sure of that."

Having reached his limit, Max stepped outside and tapped the man's shoulder. "I believe the lady asked you to leave, man."

A good three or four inches shorter than Max, Kyle's only advantage was body weight. Where Max was tall, slim yet muscular, Kyle was slightly stocky and athletic. Glowering at him with narrowed eyes, Kyle gave him the once over before dismissing him, turning his attention back to Liz.

"Butt out."

"I will. Just as soon as you trot down to that crate at the end of the walk and take off."

Already Max's fists ached to rearrange the guy's preppy face. "Or do you need some help?"

Shooting a look at Liz, Kyle looked back at Max. Letting out a disgusted snort, he turned on his foot and headed back to his Volvo.

"There's not much reason to hang around here, that's for sure!" He yelled as he got into his car, and with a screech of the tires, drove off.

Hearing Liz release a pent-up breath, he gave her a small smile, watching as her cheeks flushed slightly in embarrassment.

"I am so sorry about that. That was my fiancé, Kyle Valenti. He's not usually like that."

Max shrugged. "A guy should know when he's worn out his welcome-- however temporarily that might be."

A small smile softened her lips. Glancing down at her foot, Max look back into Liz's eyes.

"Need help getting back in?"

"No. Thanks for asking though. I'm fine, really." She peered down at the road as the taillights from Kyle's car mounted a distant hill, then disappeared. "We were just having a bad day."

He gave a nod. "Well, night then. Take care."

Liz lifted a hand in a wave as Max turned and went inside. A beam of light illuminated the stoop just before his door closed.

She glanced down at the empty road once more and grimaced. Kyle sure had been in a strange mood. He'd never acted as though he owned her before. She couldn't help but wonder if this were a new side of him just being revealed, or just his frustration over her hesitancy to set a wedding date.

Not even tempted to put on the ten o'clock news, Liz freshened up and dressed for bed early, knowing it would feel good just to be off her foot. Turning on a lamp, she took the most recent issue of a bridal magazine out of the stack on the far end of the counter, and then hobbled back to the bedroom to change. Moments later, after plumping her pillows behind her, she relaxed against them and opened the magazine, leafing idly through the pages. She hadn't even decided whether she wanted a big wedding or a smaller, more intimate one, let alone in which season of the year to plan it. But this two-year engagement had to come to an end sometime. Everyone expected it. Once she and Kyle were married, things would settle down. After all, there'd be no reason to argue over jobs or places of residence.

As she perused the various wedding gowns and bridesmaid dresses among the glossy pages, a tea length dress in a delicate light green raw silk material caught her eye. The light pale pink embroidery on the neckline and black organza underlay looked stunning and Liz could already see Maria wearing something exactly like it. The model in the photo was wearing pink pumps to match the embroidery and had her hair up in a loose bun. The more she looked at the picture, the more she could see Maria. Ticking the page, she thumbed through a few more pictures before deciding to give up the search. She’d had these magazines ever since the day after Kyle proposed, yet she could never make herself go through the entire thing to find something that she wanted to wear on the day she became Mrs. Kyle Valenti. Putting the magazines aside on her bedside table, Liz was about to turn the light off and try to get some sleep when the sounds of soft guitar music, slow and moody, floated through her bedroom from next door.

Liz didn’t recall Max Evans playing any instruments during their growing up years, but then she’d never inquired after any of his possible interests either. All she had cared about was keeping out of his way, lest he yank her hair, tape a ‘Please whistle’ sign on her back or flip her schoolbooks out of her grasp. Now, despite his appearance as a member of some rock band, the enchanting melody that hovered, breathless, on the spring night belied that impression. Apparently somewhere along the way, Max had acquired some actual talent.

Thinking back on the evening, it had been kind of a shock when Max had ‘invited’ Kyle to leave. No doubt she could have accomplished the same thing herself, eventually, but still, it had come as no small relief not to have to do so. And the flabbergasted look on Kyle’s face had been comical, almost priceless. Oh well, she decided, once her fiancé finished sulking he’d be over their difference of opinion. Things would get back to normal.

Liz switched off the bedside lamp and stared up at the ceiling as the lilting music caressed her ears.

Resting within the canopy of a huge weeping willow, Liz sat up and blinked her eyes, more refreshed than she’d ever felt in her life. A breeze played across the long fronds like an angel harp, plucking notes and chords in a melody that rose and fell like ocean breakers against the sand. Above the boughs, a great bird dipped and soared in perfect time with the tempo of the sweet, swelling refrain.

She stood, reveling in the feel of the cool sand beneath her bare feet, and ran down to the water’s edge, where the salty breeze rustled her long skirt about her like a frothy cloud of mist. Idly, she tried to hold the fragile snowy satin in place with one hand, aware that suddenly in her other, she held an exquisite arrangement of flowers, white and pure. The time had come, she knew. He would be here soon.

Brushing a fold of filmy tulle away from her eyes, she scanned the seashore, trying to pick out his fair head in the distance. Finally, she saw him, hurrying her way, arms opened wide. She smiled and started running toward him, hoping to shorten the distance by half.

As he drew near, she flung herself into his embrace. They had waited forever for this moment.

The ocean paused, motionless, while their lips met in a slow, sensuous and promising kiss as the waves swirled around their feet, bubbles of white foam tickling their skin. When the need to breathe overrode any other sense, they parted, foreheads touching. Eyes closed, enjoying the desire that their kiss had only increased, Liz sighed in contentment as she opened her eyes to gaze up at her husband. Her husband! Hers! Her lips spreading in a wide smile, she brought her doe eyes to gaze into blue ones she knew so well, but instead of meeting them, they came to rest on the amber eyes that had haunted her childhood nightmares.

Realization washed over her as she noticed the head that was touching hers was not light brown but black. The lips that had been so intimately conversing with her own only moments ago, were not thin, but instead deliciously full and now split in a smile that matched her own. Smile dropping from her face, she quickly let go of the man in front of her and quickly stepped back until there was a fair distance between them.

She was married to Max Evans?


Gasping for breath, Liz bolted upright, clutching at the sheet that covered her and swallowed as she tried to calm herself down.

Could it be? In the strange Netherlands known as sleep, could she actually have dreamt of Max Evans? She must have lost her mind!

But the tumultuous feelings that had stormed within her in her dreams would not go away, or be dismissed as easily as she had hoped.

A/N: Chapter Seven is ready and raring to go. But I thought I'd let people get some reading in first :grin:

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JBehr'sChica
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Postby JBehr'sChica » Tue May 01, 2007 6:45 am

A/N: As promised, here is the next chapter. This is the chapter that gave me the most trouble to write, as I'm not someone who writes this sort of thing. I guess there's a first for everything right? I'm amazed that so many people have read this story since I posted chapter 6 last night, so I hope y'all enjoy this chapter.

WARNING: This chapter contains a Max/Ava sex scene.


CHAPTER SEVEN

Part One


Liz made her way cautiously to the back door of the store on Monday morning, favoring her ankle. Though still tender, the swelling had gone down, and she found she could walk on it with care.

“Maria? I’m here!”

Entering the office and quickly taking a seat on a nearby chair, Liz wasn’t surprised when the door leading to the showroom floor flew open and her best friend rushed in.

“Welcome back. How is your foot?” She said as she peered over the desk to get a look.

“Did the doctor say you could resume your normal life already?”

“Ah, I didn’t see a doctor actually.”

Frowning in confusion, Maria put her hands on her hips and slightly tilted her head in question.

“What? Why not? How do you know you should be out on it then?”

Liz gave Maria a wry smile.

“Because it feels better. Trust me.”

Leaning over, Liz quickly opened one of the desk drawers and placed her handbag inside.

“Oh. Well, that’s a relief. I’m glad there are still strangers in this world one can trust. Who was it?”

For the first time since she could remember, Liz found Maria’s normal inquisitiveness somewhat overbearing and wondered how Michael dealt with it. Focusing on one of the tiny pleats down the front of her lilac shirt, she struggled with what she would tell Maria.

“It was, um…”

Looking up at her best friend, she hoped Maria would drop it, but the expecting look on her face told her that that wasn’t going to happen.

“Max Evans.”

An annoying smile widened Maria’s face as a smug expression brightened her eyes.

“Oh. Well. No wonder I have to drag all the lurid details out of you. So, are you going to tell me the rest of it now, or do I have to die of curiosity?”

Grabbing a folding chair along the wall, she tugged it close to the desk and plopped onto it. Resting her chin in her upturned palm, she looked at Liz and grinned unrepentantly.

Mentally counting to ten and releasing a deep breath, Liz realized that her best friend wouldn’t leave her alone until she told her everything. It had been the same through high school, and would no doubt be the same until their dying day.

“It was no big deal really. He just gave me a ride home, bandaged my ankle then left.”

“Yeah, right chica. And our bid on that oceanfront property in Arizona was approved too.”

“Come on ‘Ria. Maybe he was a Boy Scout out looking for a good deed; I don’t know. He just happened along after I fell.”

There was no way in hell she was telling Maria that he had ‘happened by’ twice before she got home and once more afterward. And she didn’t allow her own mind to dwell on his concern that seemed entirely sincere or how gently he had ministered to her injury. A flash of her unexplainable dream surfaced, but she dismissed it as quickly as it had come.

Maria stared long and hard, then, with a sign, perused her nails on her right hand. She blew on them before rubbing them lightly against her dove gray blouse.

“I suppose Mr Personality came rushing right up to be at your side.”

A flush started upward over Liz’s face as she focused her attention beyond her partner’s slender frame.

“Well, he… um… came yesterday and took me for a drive.”

Maria coughed and got up, crossing to the coffeepot. Pouring herself and Liz a cup, she quickly added cream and sugar before handing one to Liz and resuming her previous position.

“Let’s see. You were hurt on Friday, right? And—“

“Come on,” Liz interrupted none too patiently. “I’m a big girl now, I don’t need anyone to hold my hand when I cross the road, or to kiss my boo boo’s better. Anyway, Kyle has another life, you know that.”

Swallowing a mouthful of the rich brew, Maria nodded slowly.

“Why is it that you don’t like him all of a sudden Maria?”

“I wouldn’t say it’s all of a sudden, exactly,” her friend admitted. “It’s just—now that I’m married, I see things differently from the way I used to.”

“Like what?”

“Like a person’s idiosyncrasies. Like faults that will never go away but will forever be a part of that someone which somebody else will have to live with. That kind of thing.”

Liz pondered the statement momentarily before speaking again.

“I love Kyle.”

“I’m sure you do. But—“ Turning away, Maria set down her now empty coffee mug.

“But what Maria? You might as well finish what you’ve started. Who knows, perhaps what I’m imagining you mean might be worse than your answer.”

Exhaling noisily, Maria swiveled back towards Liz.

“Look, I don’t hate the guy. He’s decent enough. He’s bright and successful. But… personally, I don’t think you’re in love with him. Besides, the guy has no lips.”

There was a brief pause in the conversation, the faint traces of the music that was playing in the salesroom being the only noise.

“Excuse me?”

Realizing her mouth was gaping Liz shut it. Only the lifelong friendship she had known over the years kept her from taking offense at Maria’s judgmental remark.

“You asked.”

Maria replied as she straightened matter-of-factly and checked her watch, then started towards the staff door, entering the sales floor.

“Time to open. Anyway, you’d better take it easy today. If you handle the phone and stuff back here, I can look after whatever customers happen to come in.”

Liz gawked after her partner’s departing back and reached for the delivery log to see if any shipments might have arrived in her absence. Then, suddenly thirsty, she rose and hobbled over to the coffeepot.

But Maria’s comments hung suspended in her thoughts even as she downed a whole cup back before pouring another to take back to the desk.


Part Two

Max smiled when Ava’s voice came on the line.

“Hello?”

“Hi Babe,” he answered. “Listen, it’s Mom’s birthday. I was wondering if you’d like to be in on the celebration. They’re having a little family barbecue tonight. Nothing elaborate.”

“Sure, sounds lovely. When shall I be ready?”

“An hour good enough?”

“I’ll do my best.”

“Hmm,” he teased. “Like you have a problem looking beautiful.”

“Maybe not for you anyway,” she said on a light note. “See you in an hour.”

Max showered and changed into a pair of tan jeans and an olive green, open necked sports shirt. It had been weeks since he’d visited his parents, and he was looking forward to the evening.

Ava’s bright floral skirt and white silk blouse, Max decided upon seeing her when he went to pick her up, complemented both her lustrous tan and his own clothes. He reveled in the knowledge that the two of them blended in so many ways. His mother and father thought a lot of Ava. They had met her during business dealings with her parents in the years Max was away at College, and it was through their urging that the two of them began dating. When he and Ava finally announced their engagement, both families had been pleased.

Turning onto the circular drive of his parent’s hacienda as he’d laughingly named their sprawling Spanish style home in Roswell, he admired the manicured grounds that during his childhood, he’d always been careful not to damage. One of the city’s prominent Lawyers, Max’s father, Phillip, kept his residence picture perfect as a prime place to wine and dine both current and future clients. Each Christmas, the display of brilliant colored lights that adorned the property drew hordes of cars through the newer development of Roswell. The rest of the houses in the development were slightly more modest in comparison, but all showed the similar Spanish influence of the Evans’.

“Well, we’re here.” Max announced, pulling up before the triple garage alongside the ivory-stuccoed dwelling. He got out and went around to Ava’s side.

“I’ll probably need my sweater,” she said, accepting his offered hand. She reached inside and removed it from her seat back.

Going in through the side gate, they could already see several people clustered near the gazebo and others at the pool. Blue green underwater lights glowed softly against the dusky sky, accenting the irregular contours of the tiled, scalloped edge. Japanese lanterns outlined the entire backyard, their glowing orbs casting circles of color along the grass and sculptured shrubs.

“Oh Max, honey!” His mother, Diane, gushed, coming towards them. “And Ava. We’re so glad you both could make it!”

Max smiled and wrapped an arm around her compact, motherly form as he bestowed a kiss on the top of her blonde hairdo and inhaled her expensive perfume. Beneath his fingers, the rich texture of the sparkly plum-colored ensemble she wore bespoke its elegance.

“Happy Birthday Mom.”

“Yes, Happy Birthday.” Ava echoed. She also leaned forward and hugged her.

“Your parents should be here shortly Ava,” his mom told her with a bright smile, then looked up at Max. “This started out just for the family, but you know how things get out of hand once your father lets the word slip. Oh, excuse me, I see Dwayne and Evelyn Mitchell arriving.” Giving Max’s arm a quick squeeze, she nodded to them both and took her leave.

Max swept a glance to the huge built in barbecue, which took up a good portion of an alcove along the back wall of the house. His father, in chef’s apron and hat, attended a huge slab of beet on a rotating spit. He grinned and waved a spatula.

Max waved back, extending the greeting to include a few other familiar faces.

“Let’s find a seat shall we?” He said, guiding Ava by the elbow to some vacant chairs near the water. He grabbed two cups of punch as they passed a table laden with finger foods and beverages.

“I love this place,” Ava breathed as they took a seat. “It’s just the thing I hope to have one day. I’ll love playing hostess to all our friends.”

Placing a hand on Max’s thigh, she took a sip of the punch he had given her, gazing around the backyard, her mind picturing their future. Feeling somewhat smothered by her hand on his thigh and the talk of ‘their’ future plans, Max quickly drank the small glass of punch he had gotten himself, enjoying the small bite of the alcohol in it. If Ava’s words were any indication of the tone of conversation for the evening, he was going to need something stronger than punch.

Situated prominently on the highest elevation in the development, the hacienda occupied three choice, oversized lots and had a sweeping view of the country club gold course. But despite his parent’s affluence, Max knew they were well liked by their neighbors and respected all over town.

He tried to picture himself living once more in such a setting, raising a family of restless boys and a daughter who were forbidden, as he and his sister Isabel had been, to touch anything lest they mar the perfect beauty. He’d have much preferred sturdy swings or a fort, even a tree house to romp in. But lacking those, it somehow seemed easier to expend his boundless energy in other directions.

Which had been unfortunate for poor little Elizabeth Parker. He thought with chagrin.

“Oh, there’s Mom and Dad,” Ava remarked, swinging her legs over the side of the chaise. “I think I’ll go say hi.”

“Sure,” Max said. “I’ll go to the car and get the gifts we brought for the birthday girl.” He waved and grinned at the newcomers, pausing to give Ava’s mother a hug and shake her father’s hand on the way to the gate.

When the meal was at last ready to eat, Ava and Max found a spot in line and started filling their plates with the succulent beef, roast potatoes and corn, garden salad and rolls. Max reached for a beer while Ava accepted some more punch, then they took their seats at one of several round linen-covered umbrella tables scattered about the lawn.

Both sets of parents joined them. Mrs. Harding, a delicately boned, reserved woman of rare beauty not unlike her daughters, chose the chair next to Ava while Mr Harding, a commanding presence anywhere, took the one next to his wife. He rested his soft, fine, attorney hands, as well groomed as the rest of him, on the tablecloth beside his plate.

“I’m so glad this is a grand night,” Diane said as she chose the next spot. “They said it might rain again.”

“Oh, I think it’ll stay mostly in the hills, Diane,” Phillip declared, “It’s getting too late for showers down in the valley.” Tugging out a chair, he put his brimming plate on the tablecloth and sat in the chair next to Max before quickly starting to eat. After a few minutes of silence as everyone began eating, Max took a mouthful of beer and swallowed before turning to his dad.

“So, how’s business Dad?”

“Booming as always. Sure wish you were still at the office though.”

“I know Dad, but I really felt like I needed to take the time off.”

Sighing, Phillip rested his wrists on the edge of the table and looked at his only son. He knew that Max was somewhat dissatisfied with his life as Lawyer, but even still, it was something that seemed to come naturally to him. His charisma endearing all those he worked with and for, a trait that had helped the Evans & Harding firm gain more clients than before he started. He had originally thought the time off was to help with wedding preparations with Ava and Diane, but in the last few weeks, Ed Harding had made a point to convey to him that no such plans were even in the beginning stages yet. Something he said his only child Ava was none too pleased about.

“I know Max. And you can have the time off like we agreed. Just let me know when you’re coming back and we can get things back on track.”

Throwing a grateful glance at his father, Max deliberately avoided Ed Harding’s gaze as he turned his attention back to his plate of food. Conversation around the table ceased again until, minutes later, Diane broke the silence with news of Isabel.

“I spoke with Isabel this morning, and she said that she and Alex will be here for July 4.”

“Really? That will be wonderful Diane. Tell me, what is Isabel doing in Boston while her husband works?” Ava’s mom asked before taking a sip of her martini.

Taking another drink from his beer, Max took the time to look at the people he was sharing the table with. Taking into account the physical appearance of both his parents and Ava’s, as well as what they were wearing and how they carried themselves. He knew that his parent’s relationship was that of equality and while Phillip Evans was more than capable of providing for his family, he didn’t stand in the way of his wife’s career, something she had had before they got married all those years ago. While both his parents were busy with demanding careers, they had managed to spend time with both himself and Isabel as they grew up even managing to go away for a couple of weeks a few times of the year for a family holiday.

Looking to his side at Ava, he saw that she was mirroring her mother in her mannerisms, and attitudes, but the stubbornness and hidden arrogance was completely her father’s influence. In the courtroom, Max had no problems with Ed Harding, in fact, if he was ever in the situation were he required legal representation, if his father was not available, he would be more than happy to hire Ed. But as a man and father, Max hoped he never became anything like him. He catered to Ava’s every whim and treated his wife like an automaton with no mind of her own. Although, Max had never noticed that she complained or that it wasn’t true.

Mentally chastising himself for the very thought, he quickly drank the rest of his beer and excused himself from the table to get another one. He half listened in to the conversation about Isabel, and automatically covered Ava’s hand on his leg with his own, squeezing slightly in acknowledgement. Everything seemed so… routine. So automatic. Like a book that he had read a million times before. But that’s how his life was. It was probably why he enjoyed pouring all his feelings into his music. It was something that no one told him he could do, but something he had chosen for himself. Every night he played at the bar was a night that he could be who he wanted to be; whether Ava liked it or not, he didn’t care.

Awhile later, after the buffet table had sat idle for ten minutes in a row, a serving girl hired for the evening wheeled out a huge sheet cake ablaze with lit candles. Everyone rose and sang ‘Happy Birthday.” Max’s mom made a wish and blew out as many of the flames as humanly possible, then laughed as those around her came to her rescue and finished the job.

“Sure wish I could see inside some of those presents,” Phillip teased, eyeing the stack while he cut the cake and passed it around. “Hurry up Diane and eat!”

Blushing, she chewed a dainty portion. “No matter what they contain, the thing that would make me happiest is to hear that my only son will be taking this lovely young woman for his wife.” She inclined her head in Ava’s direction. “I’m getting anxious for some grandchildren to spoil.”

The laughter that followed made Max feel warm around his collar. He shifted in his chair, then got up and brought over a small wrapped gift, which he handed to her. “All in good time Mom. In the meantime, I hope you like this.”

He watched her unwrap the box and lift the turquoise necklace and matching earrings from the enclosed tissue paper. He almost missed his mother’s delighted response as he recalled his own surprise at discovering that the little fashion boutique where he’d bought the jewelry had belonged to Liz and Maria.

Part Three

“I had a really lovely time Darling,” Ava said on her doorstep two hours later. A few light sprinkles misted the night air from scattered clouds above as she snuggled close and turned up her face.

“Want to come in?”

Max paused, thinking of the evening, his observations of the people celebrating his mother’s birthday and his own revelations of his perspective of the sort of life he was living. Looking down into Ava’s blue eyes, seeing her lush lips slightly parted in anticipation of his answer, he lowered his head until his lips met hers. Ava was a woman that any man would give his right arm to be with, but he was seriously rethinking their engagement. What was wrong with him? The kiss deepening, his tongue tangling with hers, the answer to his question flashed into his mind. Liz Parker.

Pulling away from Ava and taking a deep breath, he soothed her swollen lips with his thumb before quickly kissing her again. Taking a few steps back, he smiled and declined.

“Not tonight Ava. I have a long day tomorrow.”

Frowning at his retreat, Ava crossed her arms and frowned at her fiancé.

“Max, you don’t work at the moment. What could possibly take all day and stop you from being in my bed tonight? It feels like weeks since we had sex.”

“Tomorrow night is the party at the bar that I play at. I have sound check and rehearsal with the rest of the band all day tomorrow before the party that night.”

Rolling her eyes in annoyance at his mention of his musician gig, Ava fought the urge to yell at him to grow up. Closing the distance between them, a seductive swing to her hips, she moved her hand lightly over Max’s hard chest, resting it behind his neck, fingers playing with the long hair on the nape of his neck. Pressing herself into him, she brought her face close to Max’s, her tongue flicking out to tease the corner of his mouth.

“And what about the sex Max? Don’t I turn you on?” She whispered as her other hand went wandering south of his belt.

Swallowing hard, Max’s eyes closed at the attention she was paying him. He may not feel completely decided about marrying the woman in front of him, but there were times, such as these, when your body ignored your head and reacted on stimuli. Groaning softly as her hand squeezed the bulge now evident in his jeans, Max’s hands wrapped around Ava’s small waist as his mouth took possession of hers, putting his tongue to use on her, like she had on him. Pulling her flush against his front, he lifted her slightly as he moved them back until she was against the wall. Moving his hands from her waist, he slowly pulled her blouse from her skirt and moved his hands up her sides, feeling her warm skin as he moved up to cup her breasts. Grinding his hips against hers, he left Ava’s mouth and moved down her neck, leaving open-mouthed kisses in his wake.

“Max—oh, Mmmm. Max, maybe we should go inside.”

Ignoring her words, he slipped a leg between hers, pulling her closer to him so his thigh pressed against her hot center. Reaching behind her, under her shirt, his hands went to work on her bra as he captured her mouth with his again, taking time to nip at her bottom lip. Ava’s hands went from Max’s forearms, to the back of his head, bringing his as close as possible, happy to see that Max wasn’t immune to her charms. Now if only she could get him to commit to a date!

His fingers finally undoing the clasp at the back of Ava’s bra, his hands moved down her back, trailing along her spine, until they reached the top of her short skirt. Taking his hands out from under her blouse, he reached down and began pulling her skirt up over her thighs until the panties that were the only barrier between her wetness and his thigh were visible. Senses reeling, Ava’s protests faded as she felt herself fall under the spell that Max always seemed to cast when he became physically aggressive. She no longer cared that they were in front of her apartment, pressed up against the wall next to the sensor light near the front door. That any sudden movements could turn the light on them once again, almost like a spotlight. And she certainly didn’t care that her neighbors could walk out any moment and catch them in the act.

Feeling Max’s fingers move to her panties, Ava moaned in anticipation of their destination, causing her to push into Max more. Her hands dropped from his head, she reached down to his belt and began to undo it, making quick work of the button fly, reaching in to his boxer briefs and grabbing what she wanted the most. Gripping it tightly, she stroked it a couple of times, reveling in the groan from Max’s throat and the automatic thrust of his hips into her hand.

Ever since he had taken leave from their father’s law firm, and taken to indulging in his rock star daydream, Ava had felt that Max was becoming more and more detached from her and their pending wedding. During their time together, Max had rarely been the instigator in love making, Ava having to come on to him, but on the rare occasion that he was the initiator, Ava knew she had never been with someone so good, who left her more than satisfied, even wanting more. There had been a couple of guys in high school she had slept with that had come close, but who would have thought that the mischievous yet somehow quiet and introverted Max Evans could be a God in bed?

As Max’s fingers slipped past her panties and touched her slick folds, Ava gasped at the electricity she felt from his touch. Whether it was because it had been a couple of weeks since she’d had him, or the fact that they could get caught at any time, she wasn’t sure, but it felt so fucking good. Moving her hips upward, she rubbed against Max’s strong thigh as well as his long fingers, trying to get them to move where she wanted to be touched the most. Her fingers were still at work on Max’s erection, shifting between soft and hard strokes but when Max’s finger entered her, she almost yelled out loud and wrapped her leg around his thigh, allowing him closer access. Abandoning Max’s rock hard shaft, she brought her hand to meet Max’s as it slowly moved in and out of her wet heat. The fact that Max was being so daring had turned Ava on so much that she knew it wouldn’t take much for her to find her release, and she didn’t want it to be by Max’s fingers, talented as they were.

Reaching up with one hand, she grabbed the back on Max’s head and brought it down to hers, her lips meshing with his, her tongue diving deep into his mouth. Her other hand pulled Max’s away from her center and brought it to her breast. Knowing automatically what she wanted, Max began to squeeze and rub them the way he knew she liked it as her free hand moved to Max’s manhood and guided it to where it would do the most good. Moving her black thong to the side, she positioned Max at the entrance of her womanhood and rolled her hips forward. On automatic pilot, Max’s hips thrust forward, none too gently, and took possession of what was freely on offer. His mouth moved from Ava’s, down her neck, biting and licking as their bodies frantically came together again and again. Breathing heavily, he moved up to her ear where he hovered, his lips just touching the shell of her ear.

“You’re always so wet for me baby.”

Oh god, it’s that Max.

“Mmmm yes Max, because you make me so hot.”

Ava gasped as Max thrust into her hard, pushing her against the wall enough that she could feel the texture of the bricks on her ass leave scrape the tender skin.

“What do you want me to do?”

It was like Max had a number of personalities hidden within him. The outward Max that most people knew, the outgoing, teasing bully that some knew in elementary school, the quiet, studious type that friends in College associated with, the man who was now fucking her like he was the king of an Alien planet and she was a slave for his enjoyment, to do whatever he demanded. As far as she knew, only she knew this version of Max, and boy, was she happy when he came out to play.

“Ohhhh—Mmmm---- I want... I want.. you Max.”

Licking the edge of her ear, his heavy breathing filled her hearing.

“How do you want me?”

How could he be so in control when she was about to fall apart? Didn’t this affect him at all?

“Oh fuck Max, I want you so hard. I’m so close.”

Max grunted in response and thrust into her harder, the only sound around them of their heavy breathing and the rustling of their clothing against each other and the roughness of the wall behind Ava.

Biting hard on Ava’s earlobe, Max’s free hand went to where they were intimately joined and touched the center of Ava’s pleasure, sending off sparks of ecstasy to her entire body.

“I want you to cum for me baby.”

That was all Ava needed to hear. She had started this, wanting to be in control, but also wanting to show Max that he needed to stop screwing around and get his ass back into the game. To decide and plan for their future together. But it seemed that tonight, Max had something to prove.

Wrapping her arms around Max’s neck, Ava’s orgasm rolled over her harder than any before as she shouted loudly, her hold on Max being the only thing keeping her from falling to the ground. Max was only moments behind her, his hips moving faster as he neared completion before coming to a stop, pressed hard against her.

He hadn’t meant to attack her outside of her apartment. He hadn’t even wanted to be with her tonight. His plans had been to go home, have a shower, and practice the song he’d written for tomorrow night before getting some sleep. But when he had been kissing Ava and Liz’s face flashed into his mind, he had felt the need to prove his mind wrong, to prove to himself that he was with the right woman, and that he shouldn’t second guess his choice.

Feeling Ava surrounding him, he lightly kissed her swollen lips and rubbed her back until her strength returned to her enough that she could stand on her own. Getting his own breathing under control, he felt himself blush at what had just happened. It wasn’t like he was a prude, or that he had only ever been with Ava, but he never thought he would become an exhibitionist. Yet, here they were.

Quickly and quietly fixing himself up, he watched as Ava did the same, and felt himself blush again as she slipped her black thong off completely before reaching into her shirt and slipping her matching black bra out as well. Seeing her seductive grin, and not missing the quick flick of her tongue on her lips, Max scratched his ear and looked at his shoes.

“You sure you don’t want to come in Max?”

Clearing his throat, Max gave a small smile.

“Not tonight.”

Backing away, further than before, he held his hand in the air for a moment in farewell.

“I’ll call you later.”

As Max made his way to his car, his mind was completely blank. There were times like these, when he’d been with Ava and they’d made love, or straight out had hot, rough sex, but his memories of those times were more like out of body experiences. And those memories always left him extremely embarrassed and blushing like an innocent.

Getting into his car and turning the ignition, as Max drove away from Ava’s and towards his own apartment, he couldn’t help but feel as if, by his actions, he had proven the voice in his head was right.

Damn you Liz Parker!

There you go. End of sex scene and my embarrassment. I had help writing it, but I would still appreciate any and all feedback regarding it for future chapters...

Again, thank you for reading this far :)

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JBehr'sChica
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Postby JBehr'sChica » Thu May 03, 2007 8:35 pm

A/N: Thanks to everyone who left feedback. In answer to the question of what it will be like between Max & Liz... well, that part hasn't been written yet, but I hope I can do it justice.

Thanks for reading :)

Chapter Eight

Unable to sleep, Liz got out of bed and slipped into her black silk robe, leaving the ends of the belt untied and dangling loosely for comfort. Since the evening Max had helped her with her ankle, she had taken to wearing the nightgown he had selected to bed. Not bothering to turn on the light, Liz left her bedroom and used the moonlight shining in through the windows to find her way to the kitchen. Opening the fridge and taking out a Perrier, she sipped the sparkling water and slipped out the door leading to the balcony and looked out into the night.

Storm clouds from earlier that evening had drifted off, and now a full moon frosted the treetops and occasionally faraway rooftops in glowy, glistening white. A pair of crickets chirped in regular cadence, calling first from one side of the house and then the other. But aside from their chorus, even the wind was quiet. The whole week had been unseasonably mild, indicating the possibly of an early summer.

Deciding it was too nice a night to waste, Liz stepped onto the wooden deck and lowered herself onto the chaise, her hands crossed over her abdomen as she gazed up at the few stars visible beyond the roof overhang. Life was so relaxing here that she doubted she'd ever willingly live in the city again. She supposed Kyle was still mad about their difference of opinion the other night. He hadn't phoned for days, which was unusual for him, and confirmed her suspicions that he still hadn't forgiven her for daring to express an opinion that differed from his.

Surely he wouldn't always be so bullheaded, she assured herself. Once they were married, they'd have more time together and would be able to communicate more fully about their feelings.

It had been that way earlier in their relationship, back when they couldn't spend enough time together, back when he'd call just to hear her voice, back when it was important for him to know how she felt on one thing or another. How had they drifted to this near-married state they were in now, where they'd grown so comfortable with one another that the little things no longer seemed of any value? It was a mystery.

She sighed and closed her eyes, breathing deeply of the clean desert air.

Liz had nearly drifted off to sleep when she heard the adjoining patio door slide open on its tracks. She held her breath and listened as Max strolled outside. She could make out his silhouette beyond the edge of the divider. The far end of the banister creaked beneath his weight as he sat down and leaned against the side support. Liz waited, unmoving, hardly breathing, wondering whether to let him know she was there as he stared off into the distance.

A sudden flicker of her ridiculous dream surfaced in her mind, and she pushed it away by concentrating on the moment.

Max was toying with something resembling a straw or pencil, and from time to time he broke off a chunk of it and tossed it. When he rid himself of the last piece, he rubbed his hands on his pant legs, then slid them into his pockets.

Watching him, Liz noticed that his head was dropping listlessly, his shoulders sagging. The posture seemed so unlike his usual confident demeanor, she couldn't help but feel curious. As she drew a deep breath for courage to speak up, a gnat or mosquito brushed past her upper lip. She sneezed and waved it away.

Max stiffened, then resumed his resigned pose as he exhaled, the sound akin to that made in disgust.

“I guess you can't sleep either.” Liz finally said.

“You're right.”

He peered off in the other direction, the outline of his profile and strong shoulders gilded by the moon.

“Nice night to be restless though.”

Liz berated herself for not being more eloquent. She never usually had that problem.

“Yeah.”

After a few silent seconds, he moved to the near side of the railing into plain view. That was when Liz noticed that he was shirtless. She had seen him in a muscle tee before, even without it, although that was back in high school. But seeing him without anything covering his broad and very defined chest, which he seemed to have kept in shape in the passing years, made Liz blush as she again recalled her dream from earlier, her mind rapidly filling in extra scenes.

“How's the ankle?”

Liz was sure she heard him say something, but the smallest moves he made with his arms caused the muscles in his chest to contract and release in a way that was mesmerizing. Especially when it was all highlighted with the glow of the moonlight.

“Liz?”

“Huh? What?”

“I asked how your ankle was.”

“Oh.” Reaching to the small table next to the chair for her bottle of sparkling water, she quickly swallowed a mouthful before mentally telling herself to stop paying attention to the half naked man only a few feet from her.

“Yeah, it's nearly normal actually. You were right to make me stay off it.”

“Guess there's a first time for everything.”

His bitter tone was no less than she had coming, of that she had little doubt. She'd barely said a civil word to him since she moved in.

“Bad day?” she asked at last.

“You could say that.”

“Worse than mine a few nights ago?”

She hoped her light tone would put him at ease. The two of them had never carried on a normal conversation in their history, not as far she could remember.

He chuckled and cocked his head.

“How is Prince Charming, anyway?”

Liz felt a giggle bubble up inside of her, and she didn't bother to hold it back.

“Actually, I think I'm still banished from the kingdom, if you must know.”

“I can relate to that, believe me.”

“Is that right? The... um... woman whose voice I heard at your place the night I complained about your music?”

He sniffed and adjusted his position a little, the ripple of his muscles with the movement of the moonlight once again drawing Liz's attention to the bared flesh he had on display.

“Yep. My fiancée, Ava Harding.”

“Harding? I remember a Tess Harding at school, are they related?”

Max had to laugh at her question, even though it was completely innocent. There were times that Max truly wished Ava Harding was some distant relative of Tess, from the pleasant side of the family, but the cold, hard truth of the matter was that she wasn't. She was just a wolf in sheep's clothing.

“Um,” he said, ducking his head slightly, looking at her from the side of his eyes, his hand reaching back to scratch his ear. “Ava is Tess. Tess is Ava. She changed her name after school.”

Liz frowned. While she and Max weren't exactly bosom buddies back in school, she was pretty sure that he and Tess weren't either.

“Long story.”

Liz gave a small smile at his correct reading of her silence and shrugged.

“Need to talk?”

Liz's mounting interest shocked even her, yet somehow in the semi-darkness it seemed safe to be open with Max. He couldn't really make out her face, nor she his. And since they had no designs on each other, it provided enough freedom for honesty.

He inhaled a huge draught of air and slowly let it out.

“She wants to get married.”

“To you or someone else?”

He snorted.

“Me. Of course, you probably doubt her sanity.”

Liz ignored the barb.

“Why should I? Do you love her?”

The query hung in limbo for a timeless moment.

Max regarded his neighbor steadily without answering. He'd opened his mouth to reply, then thought better of it. And even he wondered at the proper response.

“Our parents want us to get married too. Now.”

“Hm. That makes it tough.” She paused, then raised her head his way again.

“You are engaged, though?”

He nodded. “For a couple of years already. It seemed a good idea at the time.”

“Doesn't it now?”

Max considered the question briefly before he responded. Surprisingly, Liz's voice and her relaxed pose emitted sincerity, and Max felt no pressure to reply in haste.

“I don't know. Sometimes I think it does. Other times...”

Liz lowered her legs to the deck and sat upright and took another drink from her water bottle.

“Oh, sorry Max. It's Perrier. Could I offer you some?”

He shook his head.

“I'll just get something from inside. Back in a second.”

Hearing his footsteps retreat back into his apartment, Liz took a deep breath and quickly reflected on their conversation so far. Part of her couldn't believe they were having a conversation without being completely rude with each other, especially about Max and his fiancée. The other part of her was in complete silence, but the message was clear. Why hadn't she taken the time to talk with him sooner?

Max was true to his word. Moments later, he returned to his position, this time nursing a bottle of beer. Swinging a leg over the partition, he crossed to her side of the deck and took a seat in the remaining chair, comfortably extending his long legs. Opening the bottle with his hand, he quickly took a couple of mouthfuls before turning his attention back to Liz.

“So, ah... how did you and Tess end up together? I didn't know you were dating her in school.”

Max laughed at her referral to Ava as Tess. It had taken him a while to get used to it as well.

“I wasn't. We weren't. When I came back to Roswell after graduating from College, my parents had decided that Ava and I would make a great couple, not to mention it would be like a business merger for the future. I'm sure you know that my dad and Ed Harding are partners in a law firm. When I re-met her, she seemed so different from the Tess I remembered from school, she had matured quite a lot and was fun to be around. A few months later, I proposed. We got engaged. And here we are.”

Liz nodded in understanding. It was obvious that the Max Evans she was acquainted with, the one she always pictured in her memories was in fact very different once you scratched beneath the surface.

“I see.”

Max raised the beer bottle to his mouth and took a slow drink before deciding to turn the question on Liz. Liz however, was quite enraptured by the condensation on the bottle and the few drops of water that fell from it, landing on his chest and slowly making their way down his tanned skin only to be soaked up by the top of his worn sweatpants. She swallowed hard and took a drink of her own.

“So, Liz, how did you meet whats-his-name?”

The question brought Liz's mind back into familiar territory, causing her to smile.

“Kyle. I was taking a night school course in business management for extra credit. He gave a lecture on finance one evening. He's a CPA. He still teaches a class one night a week.”

“You're engaged too right?”

“Yes, and my fiancé hates it that I'm living here. He says he doesn't like the distance between us. Know what's really funny?” She waited 'til he shrugged. “He wants to get married now too. So we're in the same boat, you might say.”

Max watched the way the silver moonlight reflected on her sleep tousled hair and shone on the black silk of her robe, emphasizing the curves that were hidden beneath the material. For the second time in a week, he considered Liz's CPA boyfriend an ass for living so far away from this next door neighbor of his. For all her independence, she appeared tiny and vulnerable in the pale glow of the night, someone who should have another person looking out for her.

Oh well. He thought. There was nothing he could do about that.

He stretched and yawned, quickly throwing back the rest of his beer.

“Well, I should go back where I belong so you can turn in. Thanks for listening Liz.”

“No trouble Max. Thanks for being good company. Good night.”

“Night.”

Standing there, he watched as Liz collected her now empty Perrier bottle and reached out to take his empty beer one. He noticed that she was wearing the same nightgown he had picked out for her the night she hurt her ankle, and he found it hard to breath. Seeing the way the material intimately caressed her milky skin as she did the simplest of movements, kicked his brain into neutral. It was like his brain had taken a leave of absence, deciding that Max could fend for himself.

As she took the bottle from his hand, he was close enough to see the valley between her breasts as the edges of the robe moved away slightly. Swallowing, Max tried to tell himself to move back to his side of the balcony, but his feet were determined to stay where they were. His free hand captured her wrist and he found himself lowering his head to hers.

[i/]I'm just going to kiss her on the cheek as a 'thank you'. That's all.[/i]

“Thanks again Liz.”

While his head was telling him to kiss her cheek, his southern most head was telling him to kiss her lush lips that were only a breath away. Right now, he didn't care where he kissed her, as long as he did. Framing her cheek with his other hand, he gently moved her hair from the side of her face and rested his hand lightly on the back of her head, guiding hers to meet his.

When his lips finally came in touch with her soft ones, he sighed at the feeling of rightness that swept through his body. After allowing Liz a few moments to pull away if she wanted, he started softly moving his lips against hers, a small smile crossing his face as she kissed him back. Pulling her closer to his body, he shivered slightly as the feel of the silky fabric moved against his bare skin. The hand that held her wrist, slowly brought it around himself, encouraging her to hold him, like he was her before letting her go and placing his hand on her waist. As his thumb stroked the side of her waist, he angled his head a little more and began to taste the woman in his arms.

He had been with his fair share of women, probably a little bit more than the national average, if there were such statistics, and he had kissed many more. But there was something about the kisses of Elizabeth Parker that he could only classify as innocent and unsure, yet completely addicting. Sucking on her bottom lip, he opened his eyes and glanced at the closed ones in front of him. She felt perfect. Massaging her lips with his once more, he pulled back slowly, again sucking on her bottom lip for a moment before letting go completely.

For a few breathless moments, they stared at each other before time came flooding back.

“Good night Liz.” He said softly before climbing back over the partition to his apartment, leaving Liz there, somewhat stunned.

The click of the door being locked jolted Liz from her stupor. She had just been kissed by Max Evans. The man, who as a young boy, made her life complete hell. And just to add insult to injury, she had kissed him back and enjoyed it. Entering her own apartment and placing the bottles into the trash, Liz lent up against the bench and closed her eyes, reliving the moments spent lip locked with Max.

Was it wrong that she didn't regret it?

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Postby JBehr'sChica » Thu May 10, 2007 9:04 am

Drum roll please.....

UPDATE!
You've been waiting for it, hell, I'VE been waiting for it, and without further ado, here it is!

Many, many thanks go out to Alison, my ever fantastic Beta who fights off sleep in order to read these chapters as they get sent to her. I was pretty excited with where the story was going after I finished this chapter (and the following one) which is why I was so eager to get it posted ASAP. Thanks for the great work yet again!!

Many thanks also go out to DreamerMaxBehrian for the great posts made. It's hard to laugh out loud in your head, but when you're at work and reading posts like these, you find that those you share offices with probably wouldn't understand... So I laughed out loud anyway!

Edited to mention: dmb, if you wait a few seconds, you'll have your update!! :P

I hope everyone enjoys this next chapter. I know I enjoyed writing it.

Taya

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Chapter Nine


Pulling two guitar cases out of the Corvette, Max hit the alarm button on his key remote and headed into the bar where he had weekly gigs. Nodding in greeting to the members of the small band he played with, Max walked past the bar and through the many tables, finally reaching the stage where he quickly took his electric guitar out and plugged it into a nearby amplifier.

Taking a seat on a nearby stool, he swivelled around to glance at the rest of the band, who were waiting for his signal.

“Baby?”

The drummer nodded, and began the count.

Five songs and 4 hours later, Max and the band decided that it was time for a break. They had all brought a song to the bar that morning, and after breaking for a late lunch, they would finalise their set for that evening. Exiting the dimly lit bar, Max's eyes automatically closed when hit with the bright light of the brilliant day outside.

Pulling his sunglasses out of his jacket pocket, he slid them to rest on his nose before stopping next to his car, pausing to survey the surrounding area. The bar was a few streets away from Liz and Maria's store, and he vaguely wondered whether Liz had had lunch yet.

“After last night, I doubt I'm the first person she would want to see today.”

Opening his car and hopping inside, he quickly pulled out of the parking space and headed towards a nearby steakhouse. Without realising it, he found himself driving slowly past Liz's store but a flash of white from the side of his eyes showed that the object of his unconscious thoughts was heading to the same steakhouse he was.

A smile crossing his face, he parked the car and sat, watching Liz through the window as she was shown to a seat, the waiter obviously taking a drink order before walking off and leaving Liz to her lunch. This steakhouse was the best in Roswell, opting for a buffet lunch menu as opposed to the evening menu.

As Max entered the restaurant he made a few quick selections from the line of entrees, then scanned the dining area until he 'spotted' her dark head from over the top of the booth she was occupying. Nonchalantly, he headed over to her booth and stopped.

“Well,” he said, manufacturing a look of surprise with raised eyebrows. “Looks like they let just about anybody in here these days.”

Liz's fork stopped midair, lettuce dangling from the tines, but her smile appeared sincere.

“So it would seem. They let you in didn't they?”

Shrugging out of his leather jacket, he laid it over the back of the booth before sliding in across from her. Settling himself in his seat, and his plate in front of him, he leant back against the booth and looked at the woman sitting across from him, his smile matching hers.

“Hi.”

“Hi.”

They sat there like that for a few moments until the waiter returning with Liz's drink arrived.

“Here's your ice tea Ma'am. Can I get you anything sir?”

Not taking his eyes off of Liz, he gestured that he would have the same as her. After the waiter left, Max focused his attention to the plate of food in front of him, Liz following suit.

“So, um, how's everything?”

“Fine. Everything's fine. You?”

Pausing to take a drink that the waiter had left for him, Max shrugged in response. The awkwardness of the moment was understandable, but he was surprised that it wasn't as bad as he had thought it would be, given that they were both engaged. To other people.

“Can't complain. How's work?”

Starting to cut into the rib fillet she had cooked at the buffet, Liz found the question a surprise. After the kiss last night she thought seeing him again, let alone having a conversation with him, would be extremely awkward, but it was turning out to be nothing more than the normal awkwardness of running into an acquaintance and joining them for lunch.

“Ah, good. Busy this morning, so we're taking the time for our breaks while it's quiet. What about you? How has your morning been?”

Now halfway through his meal, Max took another drink before answering.

“You know the music I've been keeping you awake with at un Godly hours of the morning?”

Liz grinned. “It will forever be ingrained in my memory Max.”

Chuckling, Max nodded before turning his attention back to his food.

“Well, I have a gig tonight and that music has been in rehearsals for that. I was asked to write a song for the owner's daughter for her birthday tonight, so the majority of that music has been my trying to put something together.”

“Any success?”

“Well, I put something on CD for her, but truthfully, I would have to say that it's most definitely not my best work.”

Placing her knife and fork across her now empty plate, pushing it slightly to the side, Liz crossed her arms, and rested them on the table between them.

“Why's that? I get the impression that you're extremely passionate about your music.”

Chewing on the last piece of medium rare t-bone, Max looked at the women in front of him. He wondered if she had always been easy to talk to. Maybe that's a question he would know the answer to if he hadn't spent the majority of their childhood finding ways to piss her off.

But she looked really cute, all flustered and on the verge of crying with her hair in pigtails.

Swallowing hard, Max coughed as the piece of meat in his mouth went down the wrong way. Finishing off his ice tea, he took a moment to catch his breath before pushing his plate to the side of the table, next to Liz's.

“I am. It's something that's mine without any interference from anyone else.”

There was a small pause between their conversation before Liz decided to get a coffee from the drinks bar. Getting out of the booth, she took a step in that direction before turning back to Max.

“I'm going to get a coffee. Would you like one?”

A wide smile was her only answer.

“How do you take it?”

“White with one.”

Exchanging small smiles, Liz left, leaving Max to his mental musings. Liz was probably the only person in the entire world well within her rights to hate him due to everything he did to her when they were growing up. But here she was, understanding how important his music was to him, when she had only known he was even involved with it during the few weeks they had lived next door to each other. Ava, who he had been engaged to for the past two years, and dating for months before that, didn't even understand it. In fact, she detested it with as much passion as he loved it. What was wrong with this picture?

A mug being placed in front of him turned his attention back to the person he was spending lunch with as the gentle aroma of her perfume filled his senses. Slightly floral, yet somehow oriental, but definitely something that he could learn to love.

Ava. Engaged to Ava. You love Ava. Ava is who you're planning on spending the rest of your life with. Ava Harding. Remember that. Just be thankful that Liz is even talking to you.

“Here you go.”

“Thanks.” Raising the mug to his lips, he took a sip and sighed in pleasure as the caffeine went straight into his system.

“So, any plans for tonight Liz?”

“Not at the moment.”

“I was wondering if you and whats-his-name --”

“Kyle.”

“Kyle would like to come to the bar tonight. That way you can hear the product of my constant practice as it becomes actual music.”

Laughing, Liz thought about it for a moment. She couldn't deny that she was very interested in hearing and seeing Max perform, especially if the music drifting through her apartment the last few nights had been any indication of the final result, but she knew from experience that Kyle wasn't someone who enjoyed the bar scene. The first and only time she had suggested it back in Albuquerque had resulted in their first argument.

“Well, as tempting as the offer is, I know that Kyle doesn't much like to go to bars.”

Max nodded. He'd assumed as much.

“Consider it a personal favor Liz. I've made your life hell since you moved in, and I want to make it up to you. I'll even buy your drinks for the evening as well.”

The almost pleading look in his eyes was the final straw for Liz.

“Okay. We'll be there. What time does it start?”

“8pm.”

“And it's the bar over on Olive?”

“Yeah. So if I save you a booth, I can look forward to seeing you in it from the stage?”

Smiling into her mug, she looked over the rim and winked at Max.

“Count on it.”

Finishing their coffee, they both reached for the check, their hands colliding. For a moment, there was nothing else in existence apart from the feel of each others hands, the breaths they took and the way their eyes seemed to be locked on to each other.

It was the ringing of Liz's cell phone that broke the moment.

“Hello?”

“Liz, did you forget that I'm here?”

“No Maria, of course I didn't.”

“Did you forget that it's a working day today?”

“No.”

“Did you forget that I'm at work right now?”

“Maria, of course I didn't. What's wrong?”

“You've been gone for nearly 2 hours Liz. I'm waiting for you to come back to work so I can have lunch with my husband.”

“Oh shit. Maria, I'm so sorry. I got caught up with... something.”

Liz bit her bottom lip, trying not to smile as Max grinned back. Standing up, Max grabbed his jacket and the check.

“I'll pay the bill.” He mouthed before heading towards the cashier. Liz nodded in reply.

“Something or someone chica? Are you having lunch with Kyle?”

Closing her eyes, Liz felt a wave of guilt wash over her at the mention of Kyle's name. She had all but forgotten about him during her lunch with Max.

“I was having lunch with Max Maria, and we lost track of time.”

“Max? As in Max I-hate-that-rat-bastard-I-hope-he-rots-in-hell Evans?”

“One and the same.” Liz sighed, resting her forehead on the palm of her hand.

“Where are you?”

“At the Barbecue Pit just down the road from the store.”

“Then, when you leave, grab me some of their salad and chicken and bring it back for me. I'm going to close the store for the rest of the afternoon, and you my friend are going to tell me, in painstaking detail, just what is going on between you and Maxwell Evans. Understood?”

“Yes Maria.”

“Good, now get going. I'll see you when you get back.”

Closing her phone, she grabbed her purse and got out of the booth, making her way to the cashier were Max was waiting.

“I'm under strict orders to get some lunch for Maria before I go back to work.”

Max laughed.

“From what I remember of Maria from school, that sounds like her.”

Accepting a take away container from the waitress, Liz quickly headed back to the buffet and filled it with Maria's requested lunch. Grabbing a bottle of water from the nearby fridge, she quickly paid for it and joined Max outside.

“You didn't have to wait you know.”

“I know, but I don't want to rush back to the bar.”

A warm breeze blew Liz's hair into her eyes as it caused her white skirt to sweep to the side, making her almost a dreamlike vision to the man in front of her. Her sunkissed skin was almost flawless apart from the small scar above her eye, but that only made her more attractive to Max. Fighting with the wind, Liz managed to push her hair behind her ears without dropping Maria's lunch and laughed softly at the sight she must make.

“I'd better get back to work.”

“I'd better get back to the band too.”

Liz watched as Max got into his car and started the engine. Waving slightly, Liz began walking down the sidewalk to the store where Maria was no doubt, coming up with all sorts of ideas in her depraved mind. As she neared the store doors, she noticed that Max was driving slowly alongside the sidewalk.

“So I'll see you tonight?”

“Tonight at 8pm.”

Smiling widely, Max waved once more before driving off towards the bar as Liz's hand reached for the handle of the stores doors, ready to face the million of questions that Maria would have ready for her.

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JBehr'sChica
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Postby JBehr'sChica » Sun May 13, 2007 11:35 pm

A/N: Thanks to everyone who's left feedback! I'm still amazed at how many people read this story, and how many actually take the time to leave feedback (even the novels from dmb! :lol: ) The story is going in a completely different direction as I originally anticipated, which makes writing it as much fun as I hope everyone has it reading it.

DreamerMaxBehrian:: I feel your sorrow and pain! I really appreciate your feedback on the story! I find that it makes me think about the story, and the characters in it and where they're heading. So I hope your computer lets you continue to leave it!
FrenchDreamer: I'm glad you enjoy the story! I'm sure, with your talent, no matter what you put together as a banner for the story, it will be terrific!

~~~~~~~~~~~
Chapter Ten

Part One

“You know I don't like bars Liz, so why are we going to one?”

Liz could hear the sound of people laughing and talking as they crossed the road and headed towards the open doors of Bar Abduction, her arm threaded in Kyle's, yet pulling him along more than being escorted.

“Because a friend is playing here tonight and we were invited.”

Mumbling to himself, Kyle allowed himself to be pulled along, and joined Liz as they entered the Bar. The lights were fairly dim, the attention being focused on the stage at the back where Max sat, with the other members of the band, tuning their instruments and preparing for their set.

Seeing Max on the stage, Kyle's arm wrapped itself possessively around Liz's petite waist, pulling her to his side. He personally didn't know Max Evans from Adam, but the unpleasant reminder of his unnecessary interruption of the conversation he had with Liz late last week made him extremely wary of him.

“Where's this friend of your Elizabeth, that invited us to this.. bar?”

Rolling her eyes at Kyle's use of her full name, Liz decided to pretend that she didn't hear his question, instead, her eyes falling on her best friend and her husband, who were currently sitting at the bar.

“Look, there's Maria and Michael.”

Not waiting for Kyle to follow, Liz quickly made her way to the bar, wrapping her arms around Maria in welcome.

“Maria, I'm so glad you decided to come.”

“Chica please, I said I would. Although, it took a bit of convincing to get Spaceboy here to agree to it.”

Letting go of Maria, Liz turned her attention to Michael and gave him a hug as well.

“Hey Michael.”

“Hi Liz.”

Moments later, Kyle appeared by Liz's side, once again possessively wrapping his arm around her waist.

“I see you found your friends Liz. Michael, Maria, good to see you again.” He said, reaching his free hand out to shake Michael's.

“How's married life treating you?”

“Good.”

It was no secret to either Maria or Liz that Kyle didn't like her friends much, probably Maria and Michael the most as they didn't conform to any sort of social standard that Kyle liked to sort people into. They were their own people, and they weren't apologetic about it. In fact, it was one of the things that drew Liz to Maria in the first place, and something she found enviable in the relationship Michael and Maria shared. Kyle liked things to be in an order that made everything simple, and controllable.

“If you'll excuse us, I'll find us a booth or table. Liz?”

Shaking her head, Liz declined. She didn't mention that her 'friend' had reserved them a booth, and frankly, since their argument of last week hadn't been resolved, and apart from the possessiveness he was displaying, he was treating her like she was still in exile.

“I want to catch up with Michael and Maria before the band starts.”

“Whatever.”

Once Kyle walked away, Liz took a deep breath in relief. Kyle had shown up at her door earlier in the evening, prepared to take her out to dinner and possibly a movie. But Liz had mentioned the invitation to see the band play and literally put her foot down when Kyle had told her to decline the invitation. Suffice it to say, Liz had never wished that Kyle wasn't around more than she was tonight.

“Is it just me, or is Mr CPA got something stuffed up his ass this evening?”

Michael asked as he took a swig from his beer bottle. Liz and Maria looked at him in disbelief.

“I mean something bigger than usual because that boy looks pissed to be anywhere near here.”

Maria couldn't help but laugh at her husband's observation and reached over to kiss his cheek while Liz could only laugh at his normal bluntness. Michael always said whatever was on his mind, whether you wanted to hear it or not.

“He's not a fan of bars like this. Together with the fact that we have an 'unresolved' argument pending from last week, and the fact that I made him come here tonight instead of going along with his plans like I usually do, means that he's giving me the silent treatment, and trying to make me feel guilty.”

“Is it going to work this time?” Maria asked, sipping from her margarita glass.

Liz sighed in resignation.

“Oh Maria, I don't know what's happening. We've had arguments before and as you know he loves his silent treatments. But normally we get over them. This time is different.”

“Chica, normally you get over it because you compromise. Kyle doesn't meet you halfway on anything. It's his way or nothing. That's no way to live.”

“I know Maria, but isn't being married about compromise?”

“Sure, but from both people. Not just one of them.”

Maria gestured for Liz to give her a hug, which she readily did. Tonight wasn't about putting Liz and Kyle's relationship under a microscope. It was to listen to Max's band play, try to get Michael and Max to renew their friendship and keep an eye on whatever it was that was happening between Max and her best friend.

“Honey, let's just enjoy tonight and listen to Max play. Pretend that Kyle isn't even here.”

Liz laughed softly.

“I know it sounds bad, but do you promise?”

Laughing, Maria kissed her best friend's cheek.

“Tonight it's about you and Max.”

Liz stood up and rolled her eyes.

“There is no Max and I, Maria.”

Maria's right eyebrow rose in question and her eyes flicked to just over Liz's shoulder. Turning around, Liz saw the man in question walking towards her. Wearing faded dark blue jeans with a tight black tshirt covered by an open light blue business shirt, sleeves rolled up to reveal his muscular, tanned forearms, Max Evans looked too good to be true.

“Liz, you came.” He said, leaning down and pressing his lips against her cheek in greeting.

If he were to admit it, when he looked up from his position on the stage and saw her standing there, talking to Maria, his heart gave a little jump of delight and he felt his face flush. It was all he could do not to get up and go to her straight away.

“Did you think I wouldn't? After all, you said you'd buy my drinks all night and reserve a booth for me as well.”

Grinning, Max nodded.

“That I did.”

Turning to Maria, he copied his earlier greeting, kissing her on the cheek as well.

“Maria, nice to see you again. You look great tonight.”

Maria flicked her hair over her shoulder and pouted playfully.

“I'm sure you say that to all the women, Max Evans.”

“Only the beautiful ones Mrs Guerin.”

“Once the charmer, always the charmer, huh Maximillion?”

Turning slightly, Max saw Michael leaning against the bar, having returned from his quick visit to the bathroom.

“Michael.”

The two men looked at each other for a few long, drawn out, and extremely silent moments before smiling at each other and hugging.

“So you're the friend huh?”

Max scratched his ear sheepishly.

“That would be me.”

“Damn man, it is great to see you again.”

“You too Mike.”

Turning his attention back to Liz, he took Liz's hand and gestured to the barman on duty.

“Louis, give this lady whatever she wants and bill it to me.”

“Sure thing Max.”

“Now, let me show you to your booth Ma'am.”

Shaking her head with a smile, she gestured for Maria and Michael to join her.

“Did Kyle join you tonight?”

Liz nodded.

“He's around here somewhere. Bars aren't his thing, so he's acting like a petulant child.”

“Chucking a tantrum.”

“Exactly. Seems like his repertoire is fairly small.” Michael commented as he took a seat in the booth Max stopped at, resting his arm across the back of it.

Helping Liz into the booth, Max stood next to it.

“Our set should be starting soon, so sit back and I hope you enjoy it. I'll come and say hi when we have a break.”

Just as he walked away, Kyle appeared in his place.

“Liz, I found us a table near the door.”

Before Liz could respond, Michael did for her.

“Valenti, sit your ass down. Who gives a shit what you found?”

Stifling a laugh, Liz moved along enough for Kyle to take a seat.

“Kyle, the band is about to start. Can't we just sit and enjoy the evening rather than have an argument again?”

Without a word, Kyle took a seat and gestured for someone to take their drink order.

“A Samuel Adams for me, and the lady will have a glass of the house white.”

Maria glanced at Liz, who shrugged, causing Maria to kick her under the table.

“Um, I'll have a Long Island Iced Tea instead of the wine thanks.”

Shooting an annoyed glance at Liz, Kyle turned his attention to the band.

It was going to be a long night.

Part Two

Liz sat entranced at the music Max was playing, almost hypnotised by his voice as he sang. Never had she thought that behind the mean exterior she had previously associated with Max Evans and the analytical mind she knew he must possess as a lawyer, lay a deeply musical man.

“He's amazing.” She breathed, no longer paying attention to the man beside her, who seemed more than eager to leave.

“Liz, I think we've seen enough to merit being decent guests. If we leave now, we can still make a late dinner reservation.”

Mesmerised, Liz paid no attention to Kyle at all.

“Or I leave without you.” Kyle said, standing up and waiting for her to join him.

“Huh? Oh, bye.”

Snorting in annoyance, Kyle spun on his heel and headed towards the door, ignoring the people who blocked his way as he rudely pushed past them.

“Kyle?”

Looking up to see who said his name, he stopped in his tracks, his eyes widening in surprise.

“Ava?”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

rowedog wrote:Done! Here you go! And might I add… how do Ava and Kyle know each other??!! It’s killing me here! And I’m not even obsessed like dmb!! Imagine how she’ll take it!


Muahahaha! :twisted:
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Many thanks to DreamerLaure for banner!



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