Making the Magic Last (AU,M/L,Mature) (Complete)

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Making the Magic Last (AU,M/L,Mature) (Complete)

Post by sweetbrowneyes » Sun Jul 24, 2005 12:17 pm

Winner - Round 8

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Title: Making the Magic Last
Authors: Behrsgirl77 & Sweetbrowneyes a.k.a Tanya and Tiffany
Category: Dreamer of course :wink:
Rating: MATURE
Disclaimer: We own nothing. Sad isn't it?
Summary: Max Evans has been married to the love of his life for three years. But when things start to fall apart because of a problem they can't control and a new girl comes to town, what will become of Max's marriage? Max's POV


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Banner by Babylisou. Pretty isn't it?


Prologue

When I awake, I find myself sprawled across her chest, my cheek resting against her naked breast. My body comes alive at just the thought of what happened last night and my hardness against her thigh causes her to stir.

I roll away, propping myself on my elbow just as her eyes flutter open. I smile brightly and she eagerly produces a smile of her own before it slips away and she scrambles away from me.

“Liz.” I call out to her as my heartbreaks and she scrambles to cover herself from me. Somewhere in the back of my mind I knew this would happen. I knew that even though we shared the greatest experience that two people could share together last night she wouldn’t just fall into my arms and we’d live happily ever after.

But I couldn’t help but hope.

“This is bad,” she mutters. “Bad, bad, bad, bad, bad!”

I grimace. “It wasn’t that bad,” I mutter under my breath as I search for my boxers. “I thought it was pretty good actually. The best that I’ve…”

“I’m not talking about that.” Obviously she heard me. “I mean… I am... I mean…” She sighs and closes her eyes. “Last night was…. this situation is just bad.” She clutches the sheets tighter to her chest as she scans the floor for her clothes. “Horrible,” she spits.

“Liz, you’re crushing my ego…”

“Max,” she hisses as she whirls around to face me, her face still flushed from last night’s events. “This is not a joke. What we did… it was a mistake.” I watch her pick up her panties and bra. “You’re still married for goodness sake!”

“No I’m not,” I say slowly. “We’re divorced as far as I know.”

“And you’ve been officially divorced for what eighteen hours now and we just… we just have sex like you don’t even have a wife at home…”

“As of eighteen hours ago, she’s no longer my wife!” I retort.

She shrugs it off and turns her back to me. “It doesn’t matter. What we did was still a mistake. We just caught up in the moment… in the magic. A huge mistake.”

She disappears into her bathroom and I slump against the bed. “You know, you didn’t have to sleep with me if you were going to make me feel bad afterwards,” I call.

As a response, I hear the shower running and I head for my room. I pick some clothes out of my dresser and cross the hall into the bathroom.

I strip out of my boxers and step into the shower. The water is as hot as I can stand it, which is just what I need right now to clear my head.

So, how do I tell Liz that I’m in love with her when I’m fresh from married life and she thinks that the best night of my life was just a mistake?

Mistake my ass. It didn’t feel like a mistake when she was putting those scratches on my back or asking me for more which I eagerly complied to. I gave her everything I had last night and I’ll be damned if I let it be ruled a mistake.

I determinately push my way through the shower curtain, dry off and hop into a clean pair of sweat pants and a t-shirt. I march straight into her room.

“Just because you’ve now seen me naked doesn’t mean you can just barge inhere Max,” she says calmly from her seat at her mirror as she brushes her long chocolate hair.

She doesn’t turn to face me and I sigh as I stalk towards her. “We need to talk.” I pull her towards me. I can’t help myself and I pull her into my arms.

“What are you doing?” she squeals.

“Liz, last night was anything but a mistake,” I declare as my eyes dip to her lips. I want to taste her so bad. I can feel her giving into me as I wrap one arm around her waist and let my other hand float into her hair.

“Max… you were hurting, you were on the rebound. We both were just caught in the moment.” She bites her lip and I’d rather by kissing her than talking right now.

“But it’s that what this is all about?” I rest my head against her forehead and she hesitantly brings her arms around my neck. “You said we were caught up in the magic. Isn’t that what it’s all about? Doesn’t that tell you that last night was something more than what you want to think it was?”

I think I’ve gotten to her when her eyes flutter close and I tentatively tip my lips towards hers. I hover mere centimeters away, waiting for her to make the last move.

I feel her breath against my cheek and we stand there for what seems like an eternity.

“Max,” she pulls out of my arms and my heart drops just as her arms fall away from my neck. “It was a mistake. We were both together out of pity for one another and that was all it was.”

“Liz…” I reach for her, but she backs away.

“I’m sorry Max.”

With that, she leaves me standing alone in the middle of the room.

TBC……….
Last edited by sweetbrowneyes on Wed Jan 31, 2007 8:16 pm, edited 26 times in total.
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Be at Peace MJ

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Post by Behrsgirl77 » Thu Jul 28, 2005 7:46 pm

A/N - I'm back with a new part! Tiffany and I are so happy you guys are enjoying this so far. We know you have plenty of questions, but as you can see from the post below, you are going to have to wait for them.

Thank you for all your feedback!! Tiffany will be back next SUNDAY with a new part. (I'm posting this early since I won't be home this week :wink: )


Chapter 1

One Year Earlier

“What do you mean you can’t go?” I’ve had about enough of this shit. I wonder when I’ll take priority in her life.

“Max, I already gave Isabel the okay to fly down here. I can’t just turn around and tell her that she can’t. She’s my sister.” I listen to her and I can just about see her face through the phone. She’s probably rolling her eyes and picking at her nails. She always does that when we argue, which is a lot lately.

“Honey, can’t she come next week? I asked you before I bought the tickets if you wanted to go, that I wanted to go with you. And what did you say?” She sighs heavily into the phone and honestly I don’t know why I bother anymore. She just blows me off.

“I said yes, Max. But she’s my sister and I won’t have her change her plans to go see a stupid play or whatever.” I’m at the end of my rope now. I usually have a really good tolerance for bullshit and just belligerent attitude, but she knows how to push my buttons. I guess that’s what happens when you get to know someone so well, and then end up marrying them.

“Rachel, we are married in case you forgot. And most married couples enjoy spending time together. I never get to see you and I ask you for this one night and you can’t even do that for me?” I honestly think I have retorted to whining. That is so not becoming, nor is it me.

“Baby, I know. I’m sorry. I didn’t want to make it seem like I didn’t want to be with you, it’s just I haven’t seen Isabel in almost a year. Please Max, we can go another time.” She switches to the sweet and sugary voice that I’m defenseless against. So I cave.

“Okay, I have to go now. We have a new employee starting today and I have to show her around. I’ll see you tonight for dinner. Love you.”

“Love you, too. Bye.”

That conversation was draining as most of my conversations with Rachel are. It’s funny before we got married we barely fought. Hell up until last year everything between us was going great. Then we received some really bad news and…

“Max?” I look up from my desk and my eyes connect with those of a petite brunette, with long brown hair. If I weren’t so close I would swear it was a curtain of silk. Her deep brown eyes locked on mine. She’s nibbling on her perfect plump lips. Damn she’s beautiful. I guess now would be a good time to wipe the drool from my mouth and talk to her.

“Yes, I’m Max. I’m going to take a wild guess and say you’re Liz Parker?” I reach out my hand for her to shake and she simply smiles. She’s got an amazing smile. She reaches out her hand, “That’s me. Nice to meet you.” Okay Evans get your shit together. You’ve seen beautiful girls before, hell your married to one. Shake it off.

“You too. So, did they show you where your desk is yet?” I ask her and she just shakes her head.

“Then that’s where we’ll start.” I walk around my desk and lead her down the aisle. I take notice of how short she really is. She can’t be more than five foot two. Everything about her elicits an aura of innocence. I wonder how old she is? So I ask.

“I’m twenty five. How about you?” she asks as we finally make it to her desk. It’s really not that far but well she was looking around, you know like chicks like to do? So I waited patiently as she asked where the bathroom and break room were.

“I’m twenty five, but my birthday is next month. So Liz, how long have you been an animator?” That’s my job as well as hers. I’ve worked for Anipix Inc., for close to four years. It’s the best job in the world.

“I’ve been doing it for about three years, but I’ve always loved to draw,” she says and her entire face lights up. I can see she’s really passionate about her work. I’ve seen some of her work and it’s truly amazing.

“Me too. I used to sit in my room when I was in high school and just draw until my hand hurt,” she laughs. God, she does it with her whole face and so I can’t help but join in her mirth.

“So that’s about the end of the tour. I have a meeting in about twenty minutes that I need to get ready for. I still need to introduce you to everyone, but I figured you’d want to get your desk in order.”

“Yes, thanks that would be great.” I turn to leave but her soft voice stops me. “Max?”

“Yeah?”

“Do you have plans for lunch? I mean…did you want to maybe go together? Since I don’t know anyone but you so far?” she looks at me hopeful and I can’t help the grin from forming on my lips.

“Sounds great! I have to meet Maria anyway. See you in a few.” I seriously just lied my ass off. In fact I spent too much time arguing with Rachel on the phone that I was already late for my meeting before Liz even showed up. I know she must have been waiting for me at least twenty minutes. Now I have to haul ass into that meeting.

****

“You ready to go?” I asked softly. She has her head buried in a sketchbook.

“Oh yes. I’m ready. Thanks,” she smiles and walks past me. God she smells incredible, like fresh mangos. I don’t even like mangos and they sure as hell don’t smell like that.

We walk a couple of blocks down from the office to a small deli. “I hope this is okay, they have salad here too?” I ask not really sure if she’s a vegetarian or some shit like that. I know I could never give up eating steak if my life depended on it. That and a nice ice cold beer.

“Max, I’m not a vegetarian,” she rolls her eyes teasingly.

“Whatever munchkin,” Her nose turns up in dislike but then she smiles at me softly. That is exactly why she has earned that nickname from me. Everything she does is just adorable. I don’t think I’ve ever met a girl like her before.

“Munchkin? Since when do we know each other enough for you to give me a nickname?” She says like she’s pissed but her face says something completely different. She brushes past me and into the deli. I follow behind her and after we order our sandwiches we take a seat by the window. “So this is a really cute place.” Cute? I don’t think I would use that word to describe it.

“Yeah,” I say indifferently.

“Oh please tell me you are not one of those guys that sees everything as masculine and if it’s not then it’s just not right?” Did I say that? No. I don’t think so, but then again I’m not disagreeing.

“Men,” She mutters jokingly.

“Well let me ask you, why do women feel the need to associate everything with some cutesy name? Can’t it just be a nice place?”

“It is a nice place. Nice and cute!” She says and takes a sip of her lemon Snapple. I watch as she tucks the few strands of hair that have fallen over her face, behind her ear. She is a piece of work.

“Oh hey, there’s Maria,” I wave over my best friend Michael’s girlfriend.

“Hey Max,” Maria leans over and kisses my cheek and takes a seat beside me.

“So who do we have here?” Maria asks curiously. I know that she knows nothing is going on, I would never cheat on any girl; let alone my wife.

“Maria, this is Liz. She’s a new employee and we’re just out for lunch.”

“Nice to meet you, Liz.” Maria reaches out her hand they begin this long draw out conversation about Liz’s top. Does it really matter that it’s black and pink and that Maria has never seen anything like it before? I don’t think so. Therefore, in true guy fashion I eat my lunch and pretend to really care what they’re talking about.

Amen! Maria left and now Liz and I are just finishing up our lunch with a cup of coffee to go. We step back outside and a slight breeze blows and I see Liz try to cover herself with her arms.

“Are you cold?”

“A little,” she shrugs and I take off my jacket and place it over her shoulders.

“Thanks. So was that your wife?” I see this look pass her face and I wonder what she’s thinking.

“Maria? No, that was my best friend, Michael’s girlfriend. My wife’s name is Rachel.”

“Oh. How long have you been married?”

“Three years.”

“Wow. That’s really great.” Our conversation dies down after that and I have to wonder if I said something wrong. We make it back inside the building and as we wait for the elevator I just watch her out of the corner of my eye.

“Have you lived in Chicago long?”

“No, actually I just moved here about two months ago. So everything is really new for me and I don’t know anyone.”

“Where are you from?” It must be really hard moving to a new place all alone.

“California.”

“Really? I’ve always wanted to go there.”

“Yeah, you’re not missing anything.” She finishes dully and I have to wonder what is on her mind. I don’t know her well enough to ask that question, so I leave it alone.

“Do you like plays?” She turns to me and her entire face lights up, “I love them! I used to go watch them all the time, but since I’ve moved here I haven’t been.”

“I like going to them as well,” She looks at me strangely, squinting her eyes suspiciously at me.

“What?” I ask.

“You. Mister I don’t like pink, or things that are cute; like plays? I find that hard to believe.” Oh she’s testing my manliness. No problem I can handle this.

“Yes. I do. And there is nothing wrong with it. Lots of guys watch plays.” She just smirks and we step into the elevator.

“What?” I ask her again cause she’s holding back a laugh.

“Nothing.”

“Oh, come on. You think that is like gay or something right?” I ask her, where the hell do I get off whining! I hang out with Maria far too much obviously. I need to hang out with Michael tonight. This will be my priority for the day. Do some manly shit or something.

“No. Actually I think it says a lot about who you are. You’re not afraid of doing what you like no matter what people think. You’ll defend it and you don’t back down from it. I think it’s a great attribute.” She smiles and when the elevator doors open up she steps out and hightails it back to her desk.

I have a feeling that there is a lot more to Liz Parker than meets the eye.

****

I’m tired as hell and it’s been a long day to say the least. I’m about to walk towards the elevators and decide to stop by to see Liz before I leave.

“Hey,” I see she’s packing up her stuff to leave.

“Hi. You leaving now too?” She asks while slinging her purse over her shoulder and coming to stand in front of me.

“Yeah, but I wanted to just give you my number. In case of anything…and,” I trail off because maybe she thinks I’m some kind of perve or something. But she does just the opposite.

“Thanks. That would be great, just incase.” She smiles sheepishly at me and I can see the pink tint flush her cheeks. Adorable I tell you. Wait! Did I just use that word, again? No. I take it back. She’s not adorable. She’s just pretty.

We exchange information and go our separate ways once we reach the parking garage. Today was in interesting day, and now it’s time to go home to my lovely wife.

****

“What do you mean, you didn’t get a chance to do it?” I can’t imagine what answer she’s going to come up. She passes by the place on her way home, so how can she not have a chance to pick up my dry-cleaning?

“I told you, I was busy. I don’t know why you can’t just pick it up, Max.” I follow her into the kitchen where she is finishing up dinner.

“Are you serious? You know why I can’t. The place closes before I get home, that’s why I asked you to please pick it up for me.” She just ignores me and begins to dish out our dinner. I watch her and I just don’t know where we went wrong or how we became what we are today.

She’s wearing one of my favorite dresses on her; it’s light beige and comes just above her knees. It fits her body perfectly. It’s really hard to keep fighting with the one person you love more than anything in the world.

“I said I was sorry, Max. Can we just eat dinner now? I’m tired and I’m not feeling well,” she turns before taking a seat at the table and kisses me softly. I can’t help but pull her back and kiss her back harder. She wraps her arms around my neck and my cell phone rings. Nice right?

“Hello?”

“Max? It’s…it’s Liz.”

“Oh hey, Liz. What’s wrong?” I ask her only because I can tell it in her voice.

“I hate to bother you, but I didn’t know who else to call.” She sounds winded.

“It’s okay. Tell me what’s wrong?” I ask again and now I see my wife giving me the, ‘who the fuck are you talking too look’. That’s not good at all.

“I…someone broke into my apartment.”

“What?!” I see Rachel jump from my voice and I apologize to her and explain what’s going on. She already knows that Liz works with me, so at least I didn’t have to explain that part.

“I called the cops. Whoever did it didn’t steal anything but, I’m just scared,” she says and sounds so lost.

“Okay, just calm down. Give me one sec,” I say and cover the receiver and look at Rachel.

“What’s wrong?” she asks concerned.

“Someone broke into her apartment.”

“God! That’s just crazy. Is she okay?” she comes to stand beside me and reaches for my hand.

“Yeah, she’s just really shaken up. And she’s all alone and…”

“Well go get her. Bring her here for the night until things calm down.” Wow! I was not expecting that answer. Don’t get me wrong, Rachel has a great heart but to suggest that another woman, who she doesn’t even know, come to stay with us is just surprising. I love her did I mention that?

“Thanks Rach.” She smiles and kisses my cheek before taking a seat back at the table.

“Liz, you still there?”

“Yes.”

“Give me your address. Pack up a few things for tonight and I’m going to bring you over here.”

“No, Max. I don’t want to put you out or anything. I mean…you don’t even know me. I guess I just wanted to talk to someone.” She really doesn’t sound good at all. I’m sure she won’t sleep at all in that apartment. Besides that I would never leave her alone like that. That’s just not me.

“I know and trust me it’s perfectly fine. Just give me your address and I’ll be there in a little while.” She finally gives in and after I get the address I take off for her place.

****

I reach her apartment and I enter the building. It’s not in a bad neighborhood, and they didn’t steal anything, that’s weird. Then again, the world is a crazy place. There is never a rhyme or reason for someone to break into someone else’s home.

“Liz?” I knock on the door but she doesn’t answer.

“Liz?!” I yell a little louder and knock a little harder and then I hear her footsteps. She opens the door slowly and I can see her red brimmed eyes. I feel so bad for her.

“Max. You got here quicker than I thought. Thank you.” She says and steps away to let me in. She has a really, homey apartment. Everything has a place and it’s spotless, at least I could tell it was before whoever it was came in and threw things askew.

“Yeah. I just wanted to make sure you were okay.” I look down at her and I can tell she’s a few seconds away from total breakdown. So I ask her to gather her things and I help her out to my car. Once we are seated inside I start the car and I feel her tiny palm against my arm. I turn to her to see if maybe she left something.

“Thank you. I…” she starts and I can see the tears slip down the corner of her eyes and I give her a reassuring smile and pat her on the knee.

“Anytime, Liz. You’re not alone anymore. We’re friends aren’t we munchkin?” She starts laughing.

Mission accomplished.

TBC…

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Post by sweetbrowneyes » Sun Aug 07, 2005 12:18 pm

Hey all! Wow! The feedback is amazing guys. Thanks so much. Tanya and I are glad you like this. This part should answer some of your questions about Max and Rachel so we hope you enjoy. :wink:

Chapter 2

“Max, why can’t you just let this go? I thought we already discussed this.”

“It’s just for one night. Isabel will be fine here. She and Maria could go out and do something.”

She looks up from the dirty dish in her hand to give me that look that makes me feel like I’m crazy. “Oh please Max! Maria and Isabel? Are you trying to start another war?”

“Just because you don’t like Maria because she’s a little out there doesn’t mean that Isabel doesn’t. They’ve gotten along fine when we’ve gotten together,” I retort.

“Even so, I’m not going to just leave her here her first night in town.”

I pinch the bridge of my nose. I feel a headache coming on and it’s barely seven in the morning.

“Rach, would you listen to me for a sec?” I grab her arm to get her attention. When she finally turns to me, she picks at her nails and I want to scream. I hate it when she does that. It’s like she just writes me off without even hearing me out. “It’s been weeks since we’ve done anything together and I just really want to spend some time with you.”

I pout, hoping it’d sway her to see my point, but it does no good. “Look, Max, we’ll do something when she leaves okay? I promise.”

I roll my eyes. “Fine.”

I leave for work shortly after. Rachel has been egging on my nerves for weeks now. I love her to death, but sometimes I think that maybe we need to spend some time apart before we strangle each other to death. Ever since we found out that we wouldn’t be able to have kids of our own, we’ve be at each others throats.

You would think that it would be the other way around. But she’s wanted to start a family since we got married three years ago and we’ve been trying to get pregnant ever since. That is until a few months ago when we found out that she was barren. She took it pretty hard and I’ve tried to comfort her, but she pushes me away, causing a rift in or marriage.

“Max,” a soft voice says in front of me. I see small fingers snapping in front of my face and I find Liz standing in front of my desk with a bright smile. “Is there anyone home?”

“Ha ha. Funny munchkin.”

Her smile drops and she huffs as she crosses her arms over her chest. She’s too adorable. “I thought we decided that you weren’t going to call me that in the office. It might catch on,” she whispers fiercely as if someone other than me would hear her.

“Whatever you say, munchkin.” I laugh when she tries to glare at me. “So what can I do for you?”

“Well I wanted to thank you again for letting me stay over the other night and I was thinking that maybe I could treat you to lunch as a sign of my gratitude.”

I smile as her dark eyes twinkle. “Liz you’ve already thanked me more than enough. And no I don’t need any underwear or socks so stop asking.” She giggles and I’m glad I can make her laugh. “So did they find out who broke into your place yet?”

Her smile fades a little. “No. Not yet. It’s weird since whoever did it didn’t steal anything.”

She was so upset up when I picked her up two nights ago. She wouldn’t stop shaking and I was worried for her.

“Hey listen,” I say, wanting to cheer her up. “If you really want to thank me, you can come with me to a play on Saturday.”

I laugh when her jaw falls open. “Really?” she squeals.

“Yeah. I’ve got these tickets and Rachel doesn’t want to go. I remember you said that you loved them so…”

“Oh my God!” I wince at her loud shriek. “Thank you so much Max.” She flings herself into my arms before pulling away and blushing. “Sorry about that.”

I wave it off. “It’s not every day that a beautiful munchkin flings herself into my arms,” I tease. She gives me a funny look before heading out of my office.
**********

“Max I’d really wish that you’d tell me what we’re going to see,” Liz pouts as we walk arm in arm into the theater. I open my mouth to respond but she shuts me up before I can say anything. “And do not tell me we’re seeing Blue Clues live because that’s just not funny anymore.”

“Liz it’s supposed to be a surprise.”

“Okay fine. How about you tell me what we’re seeing and then I’ll act surprised?” I can’t help but laugh.

“What am I going to do with you?”

“Well for starters you could tell me what we’re seeing.” She wiggles her eyebrows up and down suggestively and I cave.

“We’re seeing the Phantom.”

She grins wildly. “Of the opera?”

“No of the cheesecake,” I deadpan. I chuckle when she slaps my arm. “Yes Phantom of the Opera.”

She squeals and bounces excitedly beside me. “Thanks for bringing me Max.”

“No problem munchkin.” I smile and guide her towards our seats.

After the play, an excited Liz and I head to a nearby restaurant. I can’t believe what a great time I’m having with her. It sort of reminds me of Rachel and me before we started the bickering at every second of the day.

“Max Evans did I see you shedding a tear during the play?” she teases me.

I gasp in mock exasperation. “I have no idea what you’re talking about. What audacity do you have…”

“Oh shove it Max, you were crying like a little baby,” she laughs. “I didn’t know you were that sensitive.”

I was not. “I had something in my eye. That’s all. My eyes are very sensitive you know?”

“Mhm. It’s okay to cry Max.” She reaches across the table to pinch my cheeks. I give her a funny look before grabbing her hand and pushing it away.

“You tell anyone and you’re going to get it,” I whisper fiercely.

She doesn’t look threatened at all. I think I’m losing my touch. Maybe I should go home and do some pull ups or some manly shit like that cause this can’t be good for me.

I decide to change the subject.

“So Liz, if you’re done crushing my ego, let’s talk about you.”

Her eyes widen as if she’s surprised that I’m even interested in her. “Me?”

“Yes you. Why’d you move from sunny California to the windy city?”

She shrugs. “Just a change of scenery I guess. We never really traveled much when I was younger we didn’t have that much money.” She lets out a soft chuckle. “My parents own this small, cheesy restaurant, The Sunset Café, and I worked there ever since I was old enough to work. The waitresses have to wear these ugly bright yellow uniforms with… it was like a hat in the shape of a sun.”

She grimaces and I laugh. “It was so embarrassing because most of my friends would come in there after school and here I am standing in this bright ass outfit with this cheesy hat. It was horrible.” She glares at me as I continue to laugh. “It’s not that funny!”

“That’s priceless,” I sigh once I sober up.

After an hour of laughing and exchanging stories, Liz and I head home. I glance over at her and she smiles, but I can’t help but think that she’s holding back. All through dinner she seemed reluctant to talk about her life back in California. She shared stories of childhood and her parents, but she still seemed hesitant to talk about anything else. I guess it’s no big deal, but I wonder what all happened to her in California and the real reason why she came here.

When I return home, I find Isabel sitting in the living room, watching T.V. I frown when I realize Rachel is no where in sight.

“Hey Iz.”

She smiles when she sees me. “Max, long time no see,” she says. I pull her into a tight embrace.

“I know. So where’s Rachel?”

I join her on the couch and grab a hand full of her popcorn. “She went to bed about three hours ago.”

I frown. She could’ve gone out with me if she wasn’t going to hang out with Isabel and instead go to bed early.

“Where have you been?” she asks me.

“A colleague and I went dinner and to see the Phantom of the Opera. I was supposed to take Rachel but…”

“I kinda screwed that up didn’t I?” I nod, but give her a soft smile to let her now I’m not mad at her.

“Listen Max, there’s a reason why I wanted to come out here on such short notice.” She looks nervous and I grab her hand for comfort. “Max, Alex and I are going to have a baby.”

My jaw drops and I sputter before I can get out my reply. “Congratulations Iz!” I say as I embrace her. “But why do you look so…”

“I’m afraid to tell Rachel.”

My smile drops. No wonder she looks less than enthused. “Iz, she’s going to be so happy for you.”

“I know, but she was devastated when she found out that she couldn’t have children. How’s it going to make her feel when she finds out her little sister is having a baby when she can’t?”

“Isabel, no matter what she’s going to be happy for you. She’s your sister and she loves you. I promise everything is going to be fine.”

She nods. But even after I say it, I can’t help but worry myself.

TBC………

Next Sunday :wink:
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Be at Peace MJ

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Behrsgirl77
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Post by Behrsgirl77 » Wed Aug 10, 2005 9:35 pm

A/N - Okay guys I have to post and run. But both Tiffany and I wanted to say that you guys have some great theories on what's going on, which is very fun to read. Thank you guys so much for the feedback...hope you enjoy...Tiffany will be back with the next part soon!

Chapter 3

I love being home alone. I get to lounge around in my boxers and t-shirt and watch sports all day long. A guy can’t ask for more.

I’m completely comfortable and lounging on the couch and without fail someone has to ring the doorbell. I don’t want to move. Maybe if I don’t answer, whoever it is will go away.

I turn my attention back to the television but now I hear banging and I groan. I already know who it is. I only know one person who is that persistent.

I jump over the back of the couch and answer the door. “It’s about damn time!” she screeches letting herself in.

“Hello to you too, Maria.” I say as I hop back onto the couch. Why does she always interrupt me during a really good game? I swear she’s got some kind of sports radar.

“What the hell did you say to Michael?” Oh damn, I’m taking it my best friend fucked up royally. I groan and lift the remote, pressing the button to turn the television off. No point in trying to watch since now all my attention will be sucked up by her.

“I didn’t say anything,” I feign innocence.

“Yes you did,” she bites out angrily. I run a hand through my hair, trying to figure out what the hell to tell her.

“He told me that something was bothering him but he wouldn’t tell me what. So I gave him some advice.” There, she should be happy with that.

“What kind of advice?” Maria crosses her arms and pins me with a dubious glare. Oh shit, I’m in trouble.

“I told him to do what he felt was right.”

“You asshole!” she screams out and hits my arm with her fist.

“Shit Maria! What is the problem?” I asked jumping from the couch trying to get as far away from her as possible.

“What’s the problem? The problem Max is that my boyfriend broke up with me!”

“I’m sorry, but I don’t see how that is my fault or why I’m being assaulted because of it.” I rush out as she crosses the room to stand in front of me.

“You told him to do what he felt was right, didn’t you?” she asks and if I look closely I can almost see the smoke coming out of her ears.

“Yes.”

“Well he felt like breaking up with me, and that is unacceptable. So, you are going to get your ass dressed and find him. Then you are going to tell him you were drunk when you gave him that advice, and then you’re going to make him beg me to take him back.” Maria is pretty scary, but there is no way I’m going to make my best friend beg her, that’s just low.

“Maria, I’ll talk to him and find out what’s wrong, but that’s all I can promise.”

“Are we friends Max?” she asks me totally switching gears.

“Ah, yes. We are.”

“Were we not friends before Michael came into the picture?” Oh great, she’s going to use the, ‘I’ve been friends with you longer card’. I hate when she does that, I feel so guilty.

“Yes, Maria.”

“Have I not been there for you through everything?”

“Yes, you have. And you know how much that means to me and how much I appreciate it, but…” She cuts me off.

“But? But nothing! I love you, Max. You are like my brother, but if you don’t fix this. I will place your balls on a silver platter.” Ouch! That sounds very painful. I sink my shoulders in defeat and agree to talk to Michael and get him to change his mind.

Boy, the things women will do to get their way.

****

Okay I’m all dressed and ready to go in search of Michael, but just as I’m searching for my car keys. My wife comes bursting through the door with tears in her eyes, with Isabel following closely behind.

“Rachel, what’s wrong?” I asked pulling her into my arms. She’s crying like someone died. And I know the reason. Isabel must have told her that she’s pregnant. I can’t let on that I already knew of course.

“Nothing,” she mumbles against my shirt. I look over her head and see Isabel apologizing to me with tears in her eyes as well.

“Honey, don’t cry. Whatever it is I’m sure it will be fine.” I try and soothe her but that was obviously a bad move. She tenses in my arms and then pulls away pinning me with a hurtful glare.

“Rach, what’s wrong?” I ask again hoping that she will just tell me, so I can try and help her. She’ll be even more upset if she knows that I know already.

“You wouldn’t even begin to understand what’s wrong with me Max!” She spats out and then storms out of the room.

“I’m so sorry, Max. I never meant to hurt her or…” Isabel says. She’s crying too. I can’t handle two women crying at the same time. I knew this was coming but there was no way for me to prepare myself.

“I know you didn’t. It will be okay.” I try and muster up a smile. I excuse myself and make my way into our bedroom. I open the door softly and see her seated at the edge of the bed crying.

“Honey, I’m so sorry. You can’t be angry with Isabel it’s not her fault. And she just wanted to share this with you.” Hopefully she’ll just think Isabel just told me.

“Share Max? She can’t share her baby with me!” Her brown eyes snap to mine and I can see how bad it hurts her. But I don’t know what to say anymore to make her feel better.

“I know that. She’s your sister and she loves you, can’t you try and be happy for her?” I ask as I take a seat next to her. I wrap my arm around her and wait, and pray that she calms down.

“I am happy for her, damn it. I’m sad for me…for us. This is killing me, Max. I don’t know what to do about it anymore,” she cries out and lunges herself into my arms. I smooth down her hair and rub her back gently. Too bad I don’t know what to do about this anymore either.

“I know it is. I told you that we could adopt if you want. It won’t matter to me. It will still be our baby.” I whisper in her ear and she begins to cry all over again. I’m going nowhere and fast.

“It won’t be a part of you or me. It will be someone else’s. I can’t take that.”

“Rachel, it will be ours to love and to care for, it doesn’t matter.”

“It does, Max! It matters to me!” She stands and begins to pace the room like a caged animal. We end up in this argument at least twice a month. Lately, though we just talk in circles, or rather argue in circles. Accomplishing nothing.

“I can’t change the way you feel. But I’m telling you how I feel. I love you and I want to be with you, why can’t that be enough?” I ask coming to stand in front of her.

“Because it will never be enough for me, Max,” she says with a solemn look on her face.

“Do you love me?” I ask still so unsure if this is destroying our relationship enough for her to stop loving me.

“I do,” she answers giving me a small smile before walking towards the bathroom. This is the way it normally ends, with her walking away when she doesn’t want to discuss it anymore.

Maybe it’s just me, but this time when she said, ‘I do’, it felt like she was saying it for my benefit.

I’m probably just tired and stressed out. I can’t possibly talk to Michael at this point. What I need is a nice long walk to help ease the tension.

****

“What are you doing here?” I ask when I see Liz sitting on the park bench.

“Max!” She looks up and smiles offering me a seat beside her. I don’t know what it is about her that draws me in. For that matter, I don’t know why I always feel so comfortable around her. Like I’ve known her for years.

“I couldn’t sleep, you?”

“I’m having a bad day.” I answer vaguely. She turns slightly to face me and then places her hand on my arm.

“You want to talk about it?” That’s a loaded question. I do but I don’t. I don’t really know her that well and this is about my marriage.

“Max, it’s okay. I’m a really good listener.” She gives me a reassuring smile. How can I resist? Besides if I don’t talk to someone, I might explode.

“Don’t say I didn’t warn you.” I take a deep breath and start to divulge my life to Liz.

“…so we got married three years ago, and everything was great. Then we found out after trying for a year, that she can’t have children. We thought maybe the problem was me but after they ran a battery of tests on both her and myself. They found that she has a birth defect that makes it impossible for her to ever get pregnant or even carry a child to term.” I try to explain the easiest way possible, after all Rachel’s problems with conceiving have to do with more than one defect, but that’s not important at this point.

“God, Max I’m so sorry to hear that. I can’t imagine what that must be like.” Liz looks at me with so much sorrow, not pity. It’s completely comforting to know that even though we’ve only known each other for a short time, she still has so much compassion for my situation.

“Yeah, she’s been taking it hard ever since. And I feel completely helpless. I try to talk to her about it, but she just gets furious with me. I feel like she’s blaming me, even though I know she’s just upset. I don’t know how to make it better.” My shoulders sag in defeat. I’m actually pouring my heart out to Liz, and it feels…great.

“You can’t.” She places her hand on my shoulder. I look at her and wonder if she has some insight on the situation.

“Max, I’ve never been in the situation but if I was I can only imagine what it would be like to be told I could never have children. She probably feels like she’s failing you.”

“I know, but you don’t understand. I reassure her all the time that I’m okay with it.” I get on the defense slightly.

“Are you? Max, be honest. And have you thought about adoption?”

“No. I want children, Liz I really do. But to me it doesn’t matter if they are not biologically mine, I’d still love them. Not Rachel, she doesn’t even want to talk about that as an option. She just tells me that it won’t be enough for her, and it’s killing me because I love her, but I can’t help her.” God I’m crying like a damn woman. What is wrong with me? I’m upset but to cry? Never. Yet somehow I feel like a heavy weight has been lifted off my shoulders.

“I’m so sorry, Max. I really am. I know that I don’t know you or Rachel that well, but I know you love her otherwise you wouldn’t care about her feelings. And I wish I could offer you some great advice, but I’m not last person who should be doing that.”

“Do you want kids?” I ask and honestly I don’t know why. I just felt the strong urge to ask her at this moment.

“I did once, but now I’m not so sure. But this is about you not me,” she teases while knocking her shoulder into mine. “So I guess the only thing I can say is, try and see it from her side. And maybe she’ll open up if she feels like maybe she’s not disappointing you.” I turn to her and look her in the eyes. How is it that with just a few words, she managed to make me feel better about the situation? Like there might be some light at the end of the tunnel.

“Thank you, Liz. I’m sorry I just laid this all on you.” She shakes her head, “I’m glad I could help a little.” She smiles and I have to admit she has a beautiful smile. There’s nothing fake about it, she smiles and you can tell she’s being sincere.

“So do you always come out at night and sit by yourself?” I joke.

“Yeah, I do. I have a hard time sleeping and sitting at home staring at the four walls doesn’t make it easier. So, I come out here and then walk home,” she shrugs.

“Liz, are you sure that’s such a good idea? I mean, I don’t want to scare you or anything, but someone did break into your apartment and I just don’t think it’s safe for you to be out alone, at night.” Damn, am I like the big brother or what?

Liz stands up and faces me, a small smile playing on her lips. “I’ll be fine. No one’s looking for me here. I’ll see you soon. Goodnight, Max.” She says before turning and heading off in the opposite direction from which I came.

I wonder what she meant, hell I’m too tired right now to figure it out. I have to get home and try and patch things up with my wife.

I hope things turn out better than they did this afternoon, only time will tell though.

TBC…

*****

My personal note...I posted the next part of Wings today :wink:

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Post by sweetbrowneyes » Sun Aug 28, 2005 9:50 am

Finally we're back with a new part. We're both having muse troubles right now. :roll: Sorry about the wait and thanks for the amazing feedback. Enjoy!

Chapter 4

It’s a shitty world when you have to work on your birthday. I was so very tempted to call out and spend the day in front of the TV scratching myself, but Rachel had the day off and she was in a bad mood when I left. It’s terrible when I don’t even want to stay home and spend time with my wife.

She barely mumbled out a happy birthday before she threw six tickets to the Bulls game on the bed and locked herself in the bathroom to sulk. I know that she’s upset, but I have no clue on how to help her.

I used to have to be held at gunpoint before I would want to leave her to go anywhere. Now I’m kind of thankful for the time we spend apart. I don’t know what that means, but I’m not too sure that’s good for our marriage.

After Isabel went home a few weeks ago, Rachel and I can’t seem to stay in the same room anymore without getting into an argument about the stupidest things. Thankfully, Isabel and Alex returned to visit for my birthday and Rachel’s free time has been otherwise occupied.

Again I don’t think this is all too great for our marriage.

Liz pokes her head into my office and I smile when I see her. She’s been a great friend to me, listening to me rant about Rachel when I need to. Besides being someone that I can vent to, I always have a blast when we go out. It’s just so easy to tease her it’s ridiculous. I feel like I’m in middle school again.

“Hey munchkin. You finally crawled out of your office,” I chuckle. They finally finished it a few days ago and she was able to move from her desk. She practically did cart wheels around the room when she first stepped inside before she finally settled down enough to sit at her drafting table.

“I thought I was going to have to drag you out of there.”

“Ha, ha. Are we on for lunch?”

“Sure. You’re buying.”

She leans against the doorframe, her arms crossing over her chest. “Me? You’re the ‘guy’ you’re supposed to pay.” She does the little quotation gesture with her hands when she says ‘guy’ and I frown.

“Okay, what’s that supposed to mean?”

“What?”

“The quotes around ‘guy’. I’m not sure if you noticed, but I’m all male.” I flex my muscles for effect. I’ve been working on defining my muscles since high school and I must say so myself the work has paid off.

Liz makes a show of yawning and I clutch my chest in mock dramatic pain. “Oh my poor crushed ego.”

She raises her hands in the air, palms outward. “All I’m saying is that there’re not a lot of guys who cry through the Phantom.”

Oh for the love of… “I was not crying!! I had something in my eye.”

“Uh huh.”

“It was an eyelash. It went right for my eye. I swear it.”

“Yeah, whatever Max. So both your eyes were watering because…” She motions for me to fill in the blank.

“Because… if one eye waters, then the other one does too. It’s some weird eye illness I have.”

She smirks. “You mean the ‘A man who cries like a little wimpy boy when things get a little sappy’ virus?”

Okay I take back what I said, I don’t like hanging out with her. She makes me feel bad. “Demeaning my manliness on my special day, how could you be so cruel munchkin?”

“Well the fact that you call me munchkin could be a reason.”

I sigh. I’m never going to win, am I? I grab my wallet and stuff it in my pocket. “So where are you taking me for lunch?” I ask her as we start towards the elevators.

“The cheapest place we can find.” She bats her lashes at me and I give her a funny look.

I wave at a couple of colleagues while we wait for the elevator. I really do love my job. It doesn’t even feel like work to me, even more so since Liz came.

“Speaking of birthdays…”

“Who was speaking of birthdays?”

I ignore her. “Did you forget it was mine?”

She snorts out a laugh. “How could I have forgotten? You’ve been casually slipping it into every single conversation that we have.”

There’s nothing wrong with a little self-advertisement. If you want gifts, you have to advertise and make it known so that there are no excuses for not getting a gift.

“So, what’d you get me?”

The elevator chimes and she steps inside. “Nothing.”

I gasp. She can’t be serious. “Nothing?”

“Nothing.” She smiles innocently and I frown. “Aww, don’t pout. It’s almost as unmanly as crying over the Phantom,” she teases.

“I was not crying!!”

*************

“Really Liz. Did you seriously not get me anything?” She bursts into laughter and I think I missed something. Sure I’ve been asking the same question for the past ten minutes, but that’s not the point.

“Oh fine Max! Yes I got you something,” she giggles and I think she is the cutest thing ever. I also think I’ve been hanging out with her too much because I just said cute; or rather thought it.

“It’s in my office but you’re going to have to wait until we get back.” I nod, satisfied with that.

Maria stalks our way and the angry glare aimed at me has me cowering in my chair. “Hey Maria, aren’t you in a cheery mood today.”

It’s been weeks since she and Michael broke up but she still won’t talk to me because she’s convinced that I’m the one that told Michael to break up with her. I love Maria, but she can be very irrational sometimes.

“Hi Liz, what can I get for you today?” she says as she hold up her pen and pad.

Liz gives Maria her order, the same thing she always gets when we come here for lunch. Maria starts to walk away when I grab her hand.

“Maria, when are you going to talk to me again?”

She growls and yanks her hand out of my grip. Even though Maria’s small, she’s one of the strongest women I’ve ever known, which is exactly why I try to steer clear of getting on her bad side. “When you apologize for ruining my relationship.”

“Maria, I didn’t tell Michael to break up with you. All I told him was to follow his heart and if his heart led him to you then so be it.”

“Great advice Max,” Liz chimes.

I shoot a smile her way. “Thanks.” I turn back to Maria, my smile dropping. “Now if you could quit being a bitch and be rational then you’ll see that it wasn’t my fault.” Her jaw drops, but I know that’s just the way to get to Maria. You can’t really tip toe around her.

“If you want to be mad at someone, go beat up on Michael. But today is my birthday. I deserve some special treatment and I demand a free meal. Now can you arrange sneaking me a large ice cream with extra sprinkles?”

She smiles. “Fine. You’re right. I’m sorry. I’ll steer my anger towards Michael where it’s supposed to be.”

She wraps her arms around my neck and I kiss her cheek. After lunch, Liz and I head back to work. I’m practically glowing beside her when she guides me into her office to give me my gift.

“Ta da,” she sings as she presents a miniature pool table sitting on top of her desk.

Grinning widely, I pick at the big red bow sitting on my gift. “Oh wow. This is cool.”

“I’d thought it’d e fun to kick your ass once in awhile,” she teases.

“Is that a challenge munchkin? Are you challenging me?”

“Damn right I am.”

This is why I love hanging out with her. “Okay then. Let’s get this shit going!”

We move the table into my office and start the game. We’re supposed to be working, there’s some new cartoon that the company is working on, but that can wait, I can work at home. Now I’m concentrating on kicking her ass.

Liz sets up and I let her break. The phone rings just as we start. I send Liz an apologetic smile before I take a seat at my desk and answer the phone.

“Hello?”

“Max, it’s me.”

I smile at the sound of my wife’s voice. I hope she’s in a better mood than this morning. “Hey babe, what’s up?”

“Something came up and I can’t make it to the game tonight.”

“What? Why?”

“Max…”

“Rachel did you or did you not say that we were finally going to spend some time together? I mean it is my birthday. We’ve barely seen each other lately.”

“I know that Max. Would you just listen to me first before you start biting my head off?” she growls.

I mumble an apology and let her continue.

“You know my friend Allison right?”

I sigh and pinch the bridge of my nose. “Yeah.”

“Well she’s allergic to bees and she got stung earlier…”

I immediately feel stupid for yelling at her. “Oh God, is she okay?” This catches Liz’s attention and she takes a seat in front of my desk, looking on in worry.

“She’s in the hospital and her husband is out of town. So I was going to stay at the hospital with her so she wouldn’t be alone.”

“Okay. But I’ll see you when I get home right?”

“I don’t know. I’ll just talk to you later.”

“Okay. I love you Rach.”

There’s a quiet mumble from her before I’m met with the dial tone. Why does it seem like very time we’re going to spend some time together, something comes up? It’s like I never get to see her anymore and that’s having a lasting effect on our relationship.

“Sorry about that,” I mumble to Liz.

She frowns and I know she knows that something is wrong. “What? Are you okay?”

“Yeah. Rachel she’s… she can’t make it to the game tonight.”

She lays her hand on top of mine. “Is everything okay? Is she okay?”

I stare at her small hand lying on top of mine and I marvel at how caring she is. “She’s fine. A friend of hers was stung by a bee and she’s really allergic. She’s staying at the hospital with her.” She squeezes my hand and I look up at her with a smile. “So…”

She smiles back. “So… what?”

“So… that means that there is an extra ticket to the game and I need to find someone else who wanted to go, the Bulls play the Pistons.”

She clears her throat and shifts in her seat. I bite back a laugh and decide to have a little fun with her.

“I could ask Erick to go. He loves basketball.”

Liz sputtered. “That asshole! He thinks he’s God’s greatest gift to mankind. Why would you ask him?”

I shrug. “Well then I don’t think I know anyone else who likes basketball…”

“I love basketball.” She smiles widely.

“Really. Oh well in that case I could ask Margie. Her husband is a huge fan of the Bulls.”

“Max!” She narrows her eyes threateningly and I laugh.

“Okay, okay. Don’t get your panties in a bunch munchkin. You can go.”

She squeals and I cringe. What is with women and their high-pitched noises?

“Great. I’ll pick you up at six?” She nods and I smile. I clap my hands together and make my way towards the pool table. “So let me kick your ass in pool real quick so I can get back to work.”

*************

Liz and I meet Maria, Michael, Isabel and Alex at the stadium before we all head in together. Maria’s busy chatting it up, making a show of talking to everyone but Michael. He tries not to notice, but I know it affects him.

He ignores her when she laughs loudly at something Alex said and turns to me.

“What’s with the face Max?” Michael asks me.

I glare at Liz as she giggles beside me. “He’s just being a baby because I beat him in pool.”

I scoff. “She did not.”

“Three times,” she gloats.

“I let you win,” I grumble. Who knew that short little Liz Parker was such a pool shark? She just keeps on surprising me the more I hang around her and I’m not sure I like that or not. It usually puts me in some unmanly positions.

“Max, you’ve always sucked at pool,” Alex laughs. “My dog could beat you at pool.”

I flip him off.

We find our seats. They weren’t bad. We’re in the center, five rows up from the floor. Liz happily tugs on my arm as a vendor passes me some nachos and her, a hog dog.

“Will you calm down,” I laugh.

“I’m just so excited,” she squeals. She smiles at me and I find my own lips tugging upward. I was bummed that Rachel couldn’t make it. It would’ve been the first time in a long time that we would’ve done something other than arguing. But being here, seeing Alex cracking corny jokes to an exasperated Isabel, watching Michael and Maria try not to jump each other and Liz smiling at me like a kid waking up on Christmas morning makes up for it.

We all were cheering for the Bulls but even with all of Maria and Liz’s yelling they lost. Seventy-two to Fifty-eight.

Dejectedly, we head out of the stadium and into the packed parking lot. “Oh well. At least it was a good game,” Isabel says. She was the only one who didn’t have some emotional attachment to the game. “What happened to that Michael Jordan guy? Did he play tonight?”

She looks on in confusion while everyone else bursts into laughter.

*********

Rachel was nowhere to be found when I returned home. She left a message, saying that she was still at the hospital and that she’d be home late. I fall asleep waiting up for her and by the time I wake up, its morning and I see her dashing out the door, yelling that she has a meeting and needs me to take Alex and Isabel to the airport.

I groan aloud at what our marriage has become.

I pick up Alex and Isabel from their hotel and take them to the airport. Isabel’s the first to notice something’s wrong.

“How’s everything going with you two?”

I sigh and run a frustrated hand over my face. “The same. Ever since you told her you were pregnant, she’s been impossible. I just…. I don’t know how to help her. She’s completely pulling away.”

Isabel ducks her head. I know she feels responsible. “I’m sorry.”

“It’s not your fault. She’s just… I don’t know what she is.”

“I know she can’t carry a baby to term, so what other options do you have?” Alex says. “How about adoption?”

I’m shaking my head before he even finishes. “All we do is argue when I bring it up. She wants a child of her own that we created together. She doesn't understand that no matter what I love her and even if we can't have a child that doesn’t change the way I feel about her.”

Glancing through the mirror, I catch Isabel’s sympathetic smile. “Maybe I could talk to her and see if I can’t get her to at least talk to you,” she suggests.

I send her a soft smile, but as I see through the mirror, it doesn’t reach my eyes because I know that no matter what, it seems like nothing’s going to make this better.

TBC……..
Last edited by sweetbrowneyes on Mon Jan 02, 2006 11:40 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Be at Peace MJ

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Post by Behrsgirl77 » Thu Sep 15, 2005 9:16 pm

A/N - *thud* No your eyes are not decieving you. I have an update!! I swear we don't mean to leave you guys but well when the muse is not there, it's just not there :wink:

Tiffany and I can't express how thrilled we are that you guys are enjoying this! We want to thank all of your reading, and/or feedback!! And we did want to point out that we know that a portion of the material is touchy as far as subject content. I personally want to say that I 100% understand what your feelings are and I respect them, more than you know. So with that said, on with the story :wink:



Chapter 5

“Come on Parker, say you’ll do it.” I try and persuade her once again. This is a losing battle. What the hell was I thinking? She’ll never go for it.

But can I help that I’m trying to be a good guy and make her nights less lonely? No, I don’t think so.

“Max, come on! A blind date at your house with your wife? That’s really weird and creepy. No, thank you.” She rolls her eyes and walks passed me. Too bad for her, I’m not giving up on this. Besides, what’s wrong with wanting to have her over for dinner?

“Liz, it’s not a big deal.”

“Yes, it is. I don’t know this guy,” she starts and I have to honestly say she is so stubborn. I love a challenge did I mention that?

“Liz, I told you I know him. He’s a friend of mine, besides you don’t have to worry about anything cause you’ll be at my house.”

“Maax…”

“Liiz…” I’m giving her the puppy dog eyes and everything. That obviously isn’t earning me shit right now.

“Fine! But if I hate him, I’ll make you pay.”

“Oh I’m shivering in my boots munchkin.”

“Shut up! And get back to work!” Hmm, she’s got a temper. That’s okay. Now, you want to know the downside of my plan?

I haven’t told the wife yet.

****

“Max, what are you doing? I already set the table.” She watches me as I remove two more plates from the cabinet. I’m a dead man. She’s gonna yell or at the very least throw something sharp at me.

I waited too long to tell her, but better late than never in my book.

“I forgot to tell you, I invited Liz and Rick over, you remember Rick right?”

“Yes, but what do you mean, you forgot to tell me?” She’s pissed, her nostrils are flaring and everything.

“It slipped my mind.” She just pins me with this glare.

“I’m sorry Rach. I wanted to tell you before I even got home, but I didn’t want you getting upset.”

“Upset? I’m not upset. I’m hurt. I know that I’ve been skipping out on you lately, but I don’t want you to think you can’t come to me with things.” Now I feel like a total asshole.

I reach for her and pull her into my arms. “I know baby. I’m sorry. I know these past few weeks have been hard on you.” She pulls away slightly to look me in the eyes. She’s so sad all of the time. I wish I knew how to make this better for her.

“I know I should be happy for Isabel, and I really am. But it really gets to me because she says she understands but how can she? She can have children and I can’t.” Instead of talking, I just hear her out.

“I know there are other options, I know that. It just doesn’t make it easier. I feel like it’s my birthright because I’m a woman, to be able to have kids. And I can’t! It’s completely and utterly frustrating. I can’t make it better and I can’t make it go away. I feel trapped, Max. Trapped and alone.” She cries out to me and I pull her closer. I never knew she felt this way. Then again, maybe I never took the time either. This just makes everything worse.

“Rachel,” I start only to get cut off. She pulls out of my embrace and begins to pace like a caged animal.

“I feel like I did something really bad to deserve this. Am I that bad of a person that I’m being punished? I don’t know what to do to make it go away, and everyone tells me time will make it, but how is that possible? Time isn’t going to take away the fact that whenever I walk into a supermarket and see a woman with her children, I’m going to feel like I’ve been robbed. Time is not going to take away the pain of seeing a woman walk around pregnant, knowing that it can never be me! It’s never going to go away, nothing will ever take the feeling away!” She screams out at me, and I think I finally understand, if not just a little the magnitude of the situation from her perspective.

How did I not before? I’m a man, incapable of having a life grow inside of me. It is my birthright to help create, but I cannot nurture, nor can I carry a living breathing human being within my body. Putting myself in her shoes for just a moment gives me a bigger and brighter picture of her feelings.

“Rachel, I’m so sorry I never took the time to see it through your eyes. I…I…” Don’t know what to say. It was easier before to talk to her, to think that I was helping her, but now I know no matter what I say, it’s only going to hurt her more.

So the question that has to be asked is, what happens to us from here?

****

Dinner is not going well at all. Rachel is upset. Liz is uncomfortable because she thinks that Rachel is upset with her being there. Rick, well Rick is eating so he seems pretty happy with that.

And me, I’m a basket case.

That’s not even the worse part. No, the worse part is that I’m starting to develop feelings for Liz. I’m an asshole. My wife is suffering and I’m having feelings for another woman.

This is some situation I’ve gotten myself into. And I have no idea of how to get out from under it either.

“I’ll be right back.” Rachel excuses herself from the table and Liz takes that opportunity to grab my attention.

“Max, this is horrible. She hates me!” Liz hisses out.

“She doesn’t hate you, we had a fight…not a fight a discussion before you came over. Trust me Liz, it’s not you.”

“Are you sure? I can leave.” Liz asks me looking concerned. I know I probably look like hell, but I can’t hide my feelings at the moment.

“Yes, I’m sure. Stay. I’m going to help Rachel in the kitchen.” I explain before taking a few steps into the kitchen.

“Do you need some help?” I offer as I reach my wife’s side.

“No,” she answers me coolly.

“I’m sorry.” I have no idea why I’m apologizing, but I don’t know what else to say.

“Don’t be.”

“Rach, don’t be like that.”

She turns around narrowing her eyes, and lowering her voice.

“Don’t think that I don’t see it.”

“See what?”

“You and her.” She hisses out.

“Liz?”

“Yes! Who else do you think I’m talking about?” She challenges me.

“I thought you liked her.”

“I do…I did…that’s not the point. The point is, that you like her.”

“Of course, she’s my friend. Generally you like your friends.” I try and lighten the mood, but realize that was a mistake.

“Friends? That’s what you’re calling yourselves.”

“What are you insinuating?” I retort angrily.

“You have feelings for her.”

“No, I don’t.” I’m lying but how can I tell her that right now? After the kind of day she’s had, I couldn’t do that.

Then she goes quiet, not another word. She just looks at me and walks away.

A few minutes later, I’m still standing in the same spot where she left me. I know that I shouldn’t have lied to her, but I couldn’t tell her how I’m feeling about Liz. It’s wrong of me to feel that way in the first place, and I need to stop those feelings as soon as possible.

“Hey.” Liz peeks her head inside the kitchen door. I turn around and see her worried expression.

“Hi. Sorry, I’ll be right out.”

“Uhm, Rachel left.”

“What?!” I practically run her over rushing for the door.

“Yeah, she said she needed something at the store and then she left.”

I reach the front door in time to see her headlights back out of the driveway. I slam the front door closed and ask Rick to leave.

“I’m going to head out now too, Max. I think you just need some time.”

“No!” I reach out my hand to Liz.

“Please, just stay for a few minutes.” I plead with her. She nods and takes a seat on the living room couch.

“So what happened?” she asks me after a few minutes of silence.

“She’s really upset about the baby situation. I don’t know what to do.”

“Maybe you guys should think about counseling or something.” Liz offers and I have to smile. I wish I didn’t feel anything more than friends for her, but I don’t. My feelings for her grow by the day.

I’m an asshole.

“We talked about it and she says that no matter what there will always be this empty space inside of her, making her feel defective.” Her words not mine. I think Rachel is perfect, but she’s not happy, not anymore.

“I don’t know what to say. I know you love her, Max. And I know this is really hard on you too. I wish I had great advice to give you, but I don’t. I just want you to be happy.” Liz smiles sadly at me before kissing my cheek and saying goodnight.

****

I don’t think I realized until I sat in the dark for about two hours, what great advice Liz gave me tonight.

“Where were you?” I ask startled by Rachel’s sudden appearance in our bedroom.

“I was out, thinking.” She offers me a slight smile, but it never reaches her eyes. I watch as she mechanically moves around the room.

Did she always do that? And if not, how long has she? It’s funny how one word can change your whole world around.

I never thought about it as hard as I did tonight. And now seeing my wife as unhappy as she’s ever been, I have to wonder if there isn’t something else I’m missing.

“Rach?”

“Yeah?” She turns around to face me, not looking me in the eyes. And that’s when I realize it; the only thing I have to do now is ask.

“Are you happy with me? I mean, do I make you happy?” And suddenly for the first time since she walked in the room, our eyes meet.

Her silence confirms my thoughts.


TBC…

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Post by sweetbrowneyes » Sun Sep 25, 2005 4:40 pm

I'm back... on time... with a new part which is a miracle considering I'm about to strangle my muse. :roll: Anyway... thanks for all the feedback and your insight. It kinda seems like you guys want Rachel and Max to stay together. :lol: Sorry to disappoint, but yeah... you guys know what happens. We hope you enjoy! :wink:

Chapter 6

She’s here just as I’d hoped she’d be, sitting on a bench in the middle of the park.

In the month that I’ve known her, she’s become my confidant and personal verbal punching bag whenever I would get frustrated with Rachel. She’s always trying to cheer me up and for that I’m thankful because when I go home at night, there’s usually nothing to rejoice about.

My wife is just a shell of what she used to be and I don’t know how to get her back. She let me in a little tonight before slamming the door right in my face once more. I don’t know if I should push her or just leave her alone and at this point, since I’m no longer making her happy, I’m about ready to give up.

It’s just barely ten in the evening and there are a few couples out for a late night stroll. I watch Liz watch them as they wander through the park without a care in the world. She’s oblivious to my presence and with a little light shining on her from a lamp post nearby, I definitely can see why I’m attracted to her.

I know it’s wrong. I’m a jerk. I should die a thousand deaths, but what am I supposed to do when my marriage is falling apart and I have this beautiful woman willing to stand by me and help me through this, if just as a friend? It makes me wonder if I would ever feel this way about her if Rachel and I weren’t at odds.

It’s not like as soon as you get married your attraction to other people just magically disappears. Its how you handle it is what counts and my attraction for Liz doesn’t extend beyond friendship.

Stuffing my hands in my pockets, I step forward, snapping a twig and gaining her attention.

She waves a little, a smile lighting her face. She truly is a beautiful person, inside and out.

“Do you have some sort of Liz sensor that lets you know when I’m here or not?” she teases as she scoots over to make room for me.

I chuckle. “I think we both just like to come out for some fresh air.”

She nods, turning her attention to a couple walking by us, holding hands. Rachel and I used to be like that.

I slump forward, resting my elbows on my knees and my chin in my hands. Liz knows I usually don’t come out here unless I’m having problems with Rachel, which explains why I’m always here as of late.

“Why is it that when I need you, you always seem to be there?” I ask.

“I guess you're just lucky to have me in your life,” she teases with a soft smile. “I’m such a good person and all.”

“You are a good person Liz,” I return.

She gasps in surprise. “Excuse me? Was that a compliment I heard? From Max Evans himself.” I can’t stop my smile as I roll my eyes heaven ward. “Now I know something’s wrong.”

“Hey! I’ve complimented you before!” I retort.

“When? Was it before or after all the short jokes?” A spurt of laughter bubbles out and I feel some of the weight lifting off my shoulders just before the guilt comes crashing down.

Here I am out with another woman, who I just happen to be attracted to while my wife is at home, depressed and feeling like there’s no one she can turn to. It isn’t fair.

Liz rubs my back comfortingly when she sees that I’m no longer laughing. “You okay?” she asks.

“I don’t make her happy anymore,” I start. “I don’t know how to patch this up. She says she feels trapped and… and robbed and she doesn’t know how to make things better. I don’t either.” I sniffle, trying to keep the tears at bay. “She feels so alone, but… but I’m right there. Why can’t she see that I’m there for her if she’d just let me in?”

I lean back, lifting my eyes to the dark sky. “I don’t want to be selfish, but I’m hurting too. Don’t I count? She shoulders this burden all by herself, and I just… I don’t know if I want in anymore.”

“Max you can’t leave because of that.”

“I know that Liz. But she’s miserable and I’m miserable… I love her, but I don’t think this is going to work out.”

She doesn’t respond and I don’t blame her. I wouldn’t know what to say if I were in her place. This whole situation is shitty.

“Are you going to cry?” she asks when I sniffle.

“No,” I lie.

She frowns. “Well maybe you should.”

“Why? I thought it was unmanly.” I say with a forced smile

“Yeah, but sometimes it’s just good way to let things out.”

“Why go through all these motions, why keep trying if I don’t even make her happy anymore. Am I not good enough for her?”

“Oh Max,” she cries as she wraps her arms around me, giving me the comfort that I’ve been lacking for the last few months. “You are a wonderful guy and Rachel is just going through a rough patch right now.”

I’m about to tear out my hair. “I know that Liz, but how do I help her? She’s so sad all the time and she barely lets me touch her without flinching. It makes me wonder if she thinks I’m doing something wrong…I love her but I don’t think that’s enough to get through this anymore.”

“I wish there was something I could say to make you feel better.”

I don’t know how to tell her that just being here with her helps and complicates things all at the same time. But right now, you couldn’t pry me out of her arms if you tried.

I don’t know how long I blubber like a baby in her arms. Once I can finally pick up my pride from the ground, I sit up and wipe my nose with the sleeve of my jacket.

“I’m sorry,” I sniffle.

She smiles and cups my tear stained face in her hands. “Max, we’re friends and that’s what I’m here for.”

I smile as she wipes away my tears. “I swear if you ever tell anyone that I was crying then I’d advise you to sleep with one eye open.”

“I’m so scared,” she utters in a less than enthused tone.

I bump her shoulder with mine and she sends me a funny look as she hooks her arm around mine.

“It just seems like I’m always weighing you down with my problems.”

“Max, don’t worry about it. I mean if I had a problem I’d like to think I could come to you.”

“I’ll be here for you munchkin.” She smiles and starts to swing her feet back and forth. “But to be honest, Liz, it doesn’t seem like you have many problems. Why is that?”

It’s like she has her life in complete order. There’s no chaos, no dangerous curves ahead. She’s just Liz without any complications.

“I have problems, Max everyone does. I just learned to hide them well.”

I frown, knowing good and well that there’s more to her story. I don’t push for her to continue.

“So, what are you going to do about Rachel?” she asks. Whatever it is she isn’t telling me, I know it’ll come out sooner or later.

“I don’t know. Maybe we should take some time apart. There’s just nothing there anymore.” I shrug my shoulders, feeling utterly defeated.

Liz frowns. “So you’re just giving up? You’re to going to even try?”

“Liz I…”

Her disgusted snort cuts me off. “Just like the typical male. Not even trying to make it last…”

“What?” Why is it so hard to understand women? “Making what last? My marriage? Cause it feels like that’s been over for some months.”

“No Max, the magic.” At my confused frown, she begins to explain. “You know like when you love someone… the whole time you’re together and everything you do, it’s like…”

“Magic,” I finish.

She drops her tearful gaze. “Yeah.”

I see a dark cloud pass over her eyes and I know that she’s talking about more than me and Rachel. “Liz?”

She lets out a soft laugh as she wipes away the few tears that escaped and shakes her head. “I’m just being stupid.”

“Liz what’s going on?” I don’t like seeing her like this. The last time I saw her upset was when her place was broken into and I’d give anything to make her feel better.

“Max, there’s a lot that you don’t know about me. You’re my friend and I trust you, but there are some things that I’ve done and I’m ashamed of that I haven’t told you about.”

My heart is pounding in anticipation. My first thought is that she killed someone. I don’t know why, but that would explain why she left her home town for Chicago. It could’ve happened.

“The reason why I left California was because my parents disowned me. I…. I was engaged to this guy… Kevin. He was… is a very successful doctor and we were in love. He’d do anything for me and my parents adored him. It was perfect.”

I rub her back soothingly just as she did for me. “I… at my bachelorette party, I got drunk, met up with my ex boyfriend… one thing led to another and we ended up sleeping together.” She glances at me, judging my reaction before continuing. “Apparently I told him that I wanted to get back with him and he believed me. I don’t… I don’t remember anything about that night and I told Kevin what happened.”

She sniffles and I wrap my arm around her shoulder and pull her close. “He told me that it would take him some time, but he’d eventually get over it and that he loved me no matter what. I thought that we could make it and that he could get over it. I never set out to hurt him. I really loved him, but I guess we couldn’t… there wasn’t any magic left to save.”

“So, what happened?”

“He left me at the altar.” She shrugs and wipes her eyes as if it shouldn’t mean anything to her. “He told my parents what I had done and they just knew that I had fucked up my life. My wanting to be an animator was a waste of time to them and when I told them I was moving to Chicago, they disagreed so much that they threatened to disown me if I left. So here I am.”

“Shit Liz,” I mutter. “Fucking assholes.”

“It’s my own fault. I shouldn’t have cheated.”

“Still he didn’t have to leave you at the altar. He could’ve been man enough. You know what? I’ll just kick his ass. How’s that sound?”

That earns me a tearful smile as she sniffs against my chest.

It takes awhile before either of us is ready to head home. Once our tears have dried, I walk Liz home, insisting that she shouldn’t be out this late alone. I circle the park once more before heading home myself; half hoping that Rachel has already gone to bed. I’ve been trying to come up with a solution to this whole thing. Liz was right about one thing, if I love Rachel, then I can’t just let her go. We have to work this shit out and that’s what I plan to do by any means necessary.

I find her asleep in the couch, the remote dangling loosely from one hand and a box of Kleenex in the other as an old black and white movie plays on the TV. The sight tugs at my heart and I move across the room and flip off the TV.

She stirs, whimpering in her sleep when I gather her in my arms, but settles down as I make the trek up the stairs. She seems lighter than the last time I held her like this and I’m sure if from the many meals that she’s missed.

I lay her in bed, tucking the sheets around her before I shed my clothes and climb in next to her.

“Max?” She stirs and I smooth back her dark hair as her eyes flutter open.

“I’m here Rach.”

She turns on her side, pulling the blankets under her chin. “I was trying to wait up for you. Where’d you go?”

“To the park. I needed to do some thinking.” I don’t think telling her that Liz was there would go over too well with her right now, so I choose to keep silent.

“I’ve been thinking too.”

“Rachel I don’t want us to be like this anymore. I can’t stand this tension between us.” She drops her gaze and I know she feels it too. “We don’t connect like we used to. It’s like the magic is gone.”

“Magic?”

“Yeah. Like when you love someone and whenever you’re with that person and every time you see them it’s like magic.”

She nods. “Yeah. I remember it used to be like that between us. What happened to that?”

“We stopped talking. We both gave up and never tried to work this out and Rachel you mean so much more to me than that. You know what I had to go through to get you… how I chased after you… all that work isn’t going to be for nothing.”

She smiles. A real smile that I haven’t seen in months. I had almost forgotten how much I missed it.

“I’m sorry for being such a bitch,” she cries. “It just hurts is all.”

“I know Rach. But I’m here for you. I love you and I’m not going anywhere. Can we try and make this work?”

“I want that Max.” She scoots into my waiting arms and I sigh in content.

Maybe now we can start to heal and get our marriage back.

TBC………
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Be at Peace MJ

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Post by Behrsgirl77 » Sun Oct 09, 2005 3:49 pm

A/N - Hey guys I'm back with an update. I know took me long enough, but I basically forgot it was my turn to write and Tiffany informed me that it was indeed my turn.

Anyway, Tiffany and I have been discussing the feedback and we find it so very entertaining to read. Funny how each of you have your own perspectives on the Max/Rachel/Liz triangle.

Thank you so much for the feedback!! Hope you enjoy!!


Chapter 7


“Talk to me munchkin,” I say as she enters my office and throws herself dramatically into my guest chair.

“You know Max, I thought we discussed that you wouldn’t call me that in public.” She tries to sound pissed, but I can see the twinkle in her brown eyes.

“We’re not in public, please continue.”

“You just wouldn’t believe it! Besides being totally obnoxious he has this terrible habit of scraping his teeth against his fork! I just stare at him and want to jab his eyes out with the damn thing.” Her nostrils flare and I can’t help but burst out laughing.

“This isn’t funny! It’s all your fault, Max.” She glares at me and I just continue to laugh.

She’s telling me about this guy she went out on a date with, someone I hooked her up with. I still can’t figure out why I’m making it my personal mission to get Liz a date. It’s not like she can’t get her own dates, but I guess I want to regulate them or something. Weird.

“How is it that in the past month you managed to set me up with a total of ten guys, and they all suck?” She blinks disbelievingly at me.

“So when are you seeing him again?” I chose to dismiss her question, not only because I don’t want to talk about why I know they all have things wrong with them. Things that I know women hate, but also that I don’t want to think about the ramifications of those actions. Because thinking about why I’m doing what I’m doing, would make it all too real and I’m not ready for that.

“Tonight.” She rolls her eyes and smiles. I love her smile; it makes me want to as well.

“You know Rachel and I were going out to dinner tonight, why don’t you and Eddy come with us?” Her eyes snap up to meet mine briefly before turning away.

“I don’t think that’s such a good idea,” she offers not looking at me.

“Why not?”

“Max, you are trying to work your marriage. I don’t think it would be a good idea for me to go out to dinner with you and your wife.” I’m sensing some animosity coming from her, but I can’t imagine why.

“Liz, Rachel will be perfectly okay with it. In fact, she asked me to extend the invitation.” She looks at me with a shocked expression, I understand. I too was just as confused, but Rachel brought it up in a conversation last week.

“She did?”

“Yes. So we’re having Mexican, why don’t you call Eddy up and invite him. Seven sound good?” I ask and she is speechless, poor thing. “Liz?”

“Oh yeah. Sorry. Sure that sounds great.” She smiles before leaving my office.

****

“I invited Liz and Eddy tonight, hope you don’t mind.” I ask as I enter my bedroom. Rachel has her back to me as she rummages through her closet.

“That sounds good. How are they getting along?” It’s funny to me that Rachel always wants to know how Liz’s dates go. She’s probably just being friendly, which is why I think tonight will go pretty smoothly.

“Okay I guess. I mean this will be their second date, so can’t be that bad right?” I ask wrapping my arms around her waist and kissing her shoulder gently.

“Right. What do you think about this?” She turns and pulls out a red dress. I’m I missing something? We are going to a local Mexican restaurant and it’s pretty casual.

“I love it, but don’t you think you’d be a little overdressed?” She sighs and pulls away from me to continue to sift through her closet.

“Rach, you okay?” I ask and she stiffens a bit but then continues with her task.

“I’m fine. Why wouldn’t I be?” She asks dismissively.

“Never mind, I’m going to take a quick shower and we can leave when you’re ready.”

“Sounds good.” I walk across the room and into the bathroom, and maybe it’s just my paranoia kicking in, but something is definitely wrong.

****

“So then I told him he can just continue blowing smoke up her ass if he wanted.” Liz finishes talking about a meeting she had a few days ago.

“You know how he is Liz. He’ll kiss anyone’s ass to get ahead.” I say taking a sip of my coffee. We decided to go out for dessert afterwards.

“So Eddy, what do you do for a living?” Rachel asks and to be honest I feel kind of guilty. She’s been really great tonight and she’s been very involved in most of the conversations going on at the table. Even though, I can’t lie and say that most of the conversations start with either Liz or myself.

“I’m a graphic arts designer,” he says and I can’t help but watch as he lifts his fork to his mouth and scrapes his teeth against it. I quickly shoot Liz a look and we both start to crack up.

“What’s so funny?” Eddy asks.

“It’s nothing.” Liz stifles another giggle while trying to recover and answer him.

“Obviously it was something if you felt the need to laugh.” I think this asshole needs a crash course in how to treat women. I have to remind myself to kick his ass later.

“Yes. I agree, Max.” I well damn, I turn to my wife and see the confusion etched across her face as well.

“Honey, it was nothing. Just an inside joke. No big deal.” I explain and a flash of hurt crosses her face before she recovers with a smile. Eddy, however doesn’t get the hint and continues to badger Liz for information.

“Eddy, seriously you need to relax.” I pin him with a stern glare, and he backs down. I quickly shoot a look at Liz, who seems very unsettled. I give her a quick smile and wink, which earns me one of her classic bright smiles.

****

The rest of dinner went by without much incident, but there was this unexplained tension. And boy did it last. Rachel wouldn’t even look at me for the rest of the night. I wrack my brain for the next hour trying to figure out what the hell happened.

I’m not naïve enough to believe that she didn’t catch the small exchange between Liz and I, but it was completely friendly. I feel like no matter what I do, it will be wrong. And more importantly I feel like I can’t be myself anymore, not with Rachel, for fear of her reaction.

Honestly I’m at the end of my rope in trying to figure out how to fix everything. And I’m beginning to wonder if there is a fix.

****

“What do you think I should do?” Michael asks me during the commercial break. He came over to watch the football game with me today and I welcome the distraction. It’s been days since our dinner incident and I’m still trying to figure things out.

“I think that if you love her and want to be with her, go for it. Don’t waste your time playing games. It’s not worth it. All you end up doing is wasting time, and you don’t know how much of that you actually have.” I say taking a swig of my beer. I think I’ll have to retract my last statement about Michael being a distraction.

“So things going that great between you and Rachel?” he asks with a smirk on his face. I curse under my breath before I turn to him.

“It’s going. Good or bad? Still not sure, I’ll get back to you on that.” He nods before turning back to the game.

“Now tell me about that hot little number you work with,” he says out of nowhere and I find myself choking on my beer.

“You okay, Maxwell?” I nod but turn to him with what I’m sure is a very perplexed look on my face. I can’t talk about Liz…not now. Not while I’m trying not to think about her.

“Ah, hot little number?” I try to be cool and not let me guard down, but I realize it’s too late.

“What? That’s what Maria called her.”

“It’s Liz. And she’s just a friend.” He ponders it for a moment before cocking his head to the side and nods smugly.

“Get your mind out of the gutter. I’m married and she’s just a friend.” I feign innocence. But he can read me like a book.

“Whatever you say bro, I’m not judging you.”

“Wait. Who said anything about judging?”

“I didn’t. I just said that I wasn’t.” I narrow my eyes knowingly at him.

“You got something to say, Guerin?” He turns to me to speak but the sound of the front door, and my wife stop him.

“Max,” she calls out and I rise off the couch, throwing a menacing look over my shoulder at Michael.

I see she has some groceries in her hands and I quickly rush to help her. Once inside the kitchen we put the food away and I see she has something on her mind.

“Hey, don’t I get a kiss?” I ask pulling again flush against me. She pecks my lips quickly and pushes her hair back away from her face.

“What’s wrong?”

“I just, nothing.” She shakes her head as if to remove her current thoughts and then looks up to meet my eyes.

“I’m going over to Monica’s for a few hours. I promised her we’d look through her vacation pictures.” Sound innocent enough.

“Okay. Have fun.” I tell her kissing her temple quickly before we head out into the living room.

“Max! You missed it man! Touchdown!” Michael yells out and Rachel gives me a small smile before excusing herself to change.

“What are you doing tonight?” I ask once Rachel leaves the house.

“I’m going to call Maria and see if she’ll take me back.” We both shake our heads.

“Whipped.” We both mutter out at the same time.

****

Ever wonder what a guy does when he has no one to hang out with? He goes to a bar to watch the same game he could be watching on television. I know it doesn’t make sense, but there it is.

I tried to call Liz, but she wasn’t home and she didn’t answer her cell phone. So I sit and watch this pathetic excuse for a football game, while sucking down yet another beer. Realizing how quickly beer runs through my system, I make my way to the restroom.

As soon as I exit, I make my way back over to my table only to find a familiar brunette sitting there. Her hand is propped up and her cheek resting in her palm. Her hair flows perfectly down her back and I don’t think I’ve ever seen a more beautiful site.

No. I did not just say that. It’s all the beer I’ve had. It’s making me delusional or something. Trying to get my nerves under control, I trail my hands down my face before walking closer.

“Hey Max.” There is that damn smile.

“Hey Liz, what a surprise.” God help me but I smile back just as brightly.

“I know. But I ran into Maria and she told me that if I was looking for you tonight, that you’d be here.”

“Good to know someone is keeping tabs on me,” I joke and she giggles a little. When she shifts, her hair does a pretty good job of hiding her face, and without thinking, I reach out and push it gently behind her ear.

“T-Thank you.” She blushes and I realize now that our eyes are connected, that I’m not the only one with feelings in this friendship. Either that or the buzz I feel from the beer is making me paranoid.

We sit for the next three hours talking about any and everything, as we usually do and while I stopped drinking two hours ago, Liz was sucking down the beers like Corona was going out of business.

“I’m drunk,” she hiccups and I smile at how adorable she looks. I realize quickly as we exit the bar that she must have walked here. She stumbles beside me and I quickly lift her in my arms.

“I know you are munchkin. I don’t know what you were thinking. You can’t possibly drink that much alcohol. I’m surprised you haven’t passed out yet.”

“Hey, I’m a tough drinker, Evans. I can drink you out of the pond.” She huffs and hiccups at the same time.

“Pond?” I laugh and she manages to punch my chest jokingly.

“Take me home, Max.” She murmurs gently and I have to seriously stop my mind from it’s torrid thoughts of the double meaning those words possess.

“I am. Where are your keys, Liz?” I ask before she completely passes out in my front seat. She throws her purse at me, and I quickly rummage through it to find the keys. I turn to her once more and a small smile touches my lips at how innocent she looks.

I climb out of the car and walk over to her side opening the door for her. “Can you walk?” I ask her but she’s out already. I reach in and lift her in my arms, being careful not to hit her head as I extract her from the seat.

Finally, I manage without dropping her, to get inside of her apartment. Luckily, she left a small lamp on so I don’t trip over the furniture. I take a quick look around and since I have no idea where her bedroom is, I place her on the couch. I lean down and remove her shoes and lay her gently down. Then I pull the blanket off the back of the couch and cover her with it.

I sit on the edge of the couch watching her for a few minutes and then I decide to walk around a bit. It’s not a very big apartment but it’s cozy nonetheless. She doesn’t have any pictures of her family, which I can understand because they disowned her, but still I’d think she’d have something. I continue to walk around when something catches the corner of my eye and I walk closer to a table on the other side of the room. At first it looks empty, but then I see that there is a picture on it, but it’s faced down. I reach out and turn it over.

To my surprise, it is a picture of Liz and who I believe are her parents. They’re all smiling and they look really happy. I can’t imagine what it must feel like to have your parents walk away from you, for a decision you made. Right or wrong they’re your parents and they should always support you. At least that’s what I would do, if I were a parent.

I shake my head of those thoughts quickly and place the picture back in its original position. It’s getting late and I really should be getting home. I stop in front of Liz one last time.

As much as I want to ignore it, I can’t. Liz Parker has cast some kind of spell over me, and whenever I’m with her I’m this completely different person. I actually begin to resemble my old self, before all the pain, all the tears and all the heartache. I feel alive again.

And that’s probably the worst thing in the world. For the past month, Rachel and I have been working on our relationship and yes, on the surface everything seems great. However, if someone were to take a closer look they’d see that we’re holding onto something that isn’t there anymore. Neither of us is able to let it go, and that’s the problem.

I turn towards the door but without taking my eyes off of the petite beauty asleep a few feet from me. And then I think about my wife. I love her, I really do, but sometimes I have to wonder if that’s enough.

TBC…

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Post by sweetbrowneyes » Sun Oct 16, 2005 9:40 pm

Posting and running. Sorry for any spelling mistakes, grammar errors and all that. I'll edit later. So here's the part you've all been waiting for... sorta :lol: Thanks for all the feedback. Enjoy!

Chapter 8

One Month Later

I pout as Maria and Liz continue to giggle shamelessly on the couch across from me. They’ve been naming off all the apparent ‘flaws’ men have for the last hour now and I’m starting to feel insignificant.

“Why is it that whenever you two get together, my feelings end up getting hurt?”

Maria shrugs her shoulders and gives me a simple answer. “Because you’re a guy.”

“So?”

“And you need to know the error of your species’ ways,” Liz adds.

I snort. “Like women don’t have their own errors?”

I’m met with silence and I feel the heat of their stares. I know I’ve just said the wrong thing and I think it’d be a wise decision to keep my mouth shut right now.

“That’s quite a bold statement there Max.” Liz crosses her arms over her chest and props her feet on her coffee table. They barely reach and I stifle a laugh. “Can you back it up?”

Maria raises her eyebrow in a daring challenge as Liz smirks knowingly. “I could back it up… but I won’t justify this with a response.”

“Wimp,” Maria mutters. Liz snickers and I send her a hard glare. I’m not stupid. I know better than to go up against a woman.

“Speaking of wimps, did Michael come crawling back to you?” I ask, while trying to stifle a laugh.

“As a matter of fact, he did. He had the flowers, the jewelry… the whole nine yards…”

Liz smiles approvingly. “Are you going to take him back?”

“Yeah.” She smiles wickedly and I know this can’t be good for Michael. “But I want to make him squirm for a little bit.”

“Of course. He deserves it.”

“Aw come on ladies. You can cut him a little slack can’t you? I mean the guy was just confused,” I say in Michael defense. Obviously it doesn’t go over too well with Liz and Maria because they stare at me as if I’ve grown a second head.

Maria’s first to start the bashing, but I’m thankfully saved by my cell phone going of in my pocket. I thank the heavens before flipping open my phone.

“Hello?”

“Hey Max. Where are you?”

“Hey baby. I’m over Liz’s. She and Maria are complaining about the flaws of the male species.” I shoot them deadly glares as I move into the hallway for privacy.

She laughs. “Sounds like fun.”

“Rach, you’re supposed to be on my side,” I whine.

“Sorry gotta stick with the women on this.” I huff as she laughs. “Anyway, the garage called and my car is ready. Could you pick me up from work and take me over there?”

“Yeah. Are you ready now?”

“Um… I’ll be ready in about an hour.”

I frown and glance at my watch. It’s 2:50 now. She gets off at three. “Rachel it’s almost three.”

“I know. But I have something to take care of. I’ll be waiting out front of my building at four okay?”

I sigh. “Fine. I’ll see you then.”

“Okay. Love you.”

“Love you too.”

I return to Maria and Liz and I catch them scrambling to act like they weren’t just eavesdropping on my conversation.

“Everything okay Max?” Maria asks casually.

“Yeah. Rachel needed me to pick her up from work.”

“How are things going between you two? You seem happier,” Liz says.

“They’re better I guess. We haven’t had an argument in a while.” Though we haven’t talked much either. “We went out to that new restaurant the other day and had a good time.”

I just don’t know any more. For awhile it seemed like things were getting better and my marriage was rebuilding itself, but now… now I think I see the end near and that scares me to death.

Liz smiles and seems genuinely happy for me. I don’t know why, but it disappoints me. I don’t know what I expected. Maybe for her to fall to my feet in a fit of devastation because she can’t have me like she so desperately wants?

I don’t understand these feelings I have for her. I figured that if she was dating and Rachel and I where getting along, then they’d go away.

No such luck.

I find myself thinking of her when I know I shouldn’t. Unnecessary jealousy creeps up on me when see her having a good time with one of the dates I set her up on. My heart beats a little too fast when I’m with her and the excitement I feel when I know I’m going to see her is like nothing I’ve ever experienced. The closest thing I’ve felt to this is with Rachel and even then it wasn’t this strong. Especially since I’ve only known Liz for just some months. I’m overly giddy and it’s so totally wrong.

I’m married and trying to work on my relationship for goodness sake. I find myself thinking about Liz more than I do my own wife and it’s becoming something that’s growing too evident for me to ignore.

These feelings I have are only complicating matters and I need to find someway to deal so I can concentrate on salvaging things with my wife.
********

I step into the kitchen to find Rachel at the stove. I step behind her and slid my arms around her waist. “Something smells good,” I murmur against her neck.

She stiffens but I refuse to let her go. It’s been too long since I held her and I think it’s time to start getting back to where we were before our marriage started to break into pieces; starting with the little things.

“Sloppy Joe and French fries,” she says. “Max!” she giggles as I run my lips over her neck. “Stop, I have to finish this.”

The doorbell stops my assault on her neck and I let her wiggle out of my arms. “If you can get those buns over there, I’ll go get the door.”

With a final kiss, let her go and retrieve the hamburger buns. It’s not long before I hear voices in the other room and I immediately recognize one of them to be Liz’s. I quickly turn off the stove and make my way into the living room.

There goes my heart again. I try and contain it. I’m not sure how much my face gives away, but the grin I’m sporting isn’t helping my case. Damn these feelings.

“Hey Liz. What are you doing here?”

I notice her clutching a jacket in her hands and I recognize it to be mine. “You left this over at my house.”

My grin dimming a bit, I glance at Rachel. She’s smiling politely so I relax.

“I didn’t know if you needed it or not so I thought I’d just drop it off.” She hands me the jacket and nervously stuffs her hands in her pockets.

“Thanks.” She smiles that smile that gets me every time.

“Hey Liz, did you want to stay for dinner?”

To say I’m shocked would be an understatement. Liz’s eyes flick to mine. I shrug stupidly before she stares wide eyed at Rachel. “Um… I… I wouldn’t want to intrude.”

“Nonsense. You like Sloppy Joe?”

Liz let’s out a nervous laugh. “Um yeah.”

“Great.” She smiles at me and heads into the kitchen. Shocked into silence, Liz and I follow.
**********

To my surprise, dinner goes better than I suspected. Rachel and Liz seemed to get along perfectly which relieved tons of pressure off of me.

I glance at Liz who’s sitting beside me, fast asleep. Rachel had gone to bed while Liz and I opted to stay up and watch a movie.

I smile when I look at her peaceful features. She really is beautiful.

I grab a blanket and a pillow for her from the closet in the hallway, kiss her cheek and wish her sweet dreams before I head upstairs.

I find my wife still awake and reading a novel she just bought. “Hey. Liz gone?”

I scratch the back of my head. It’s weird having my wife here and then the woman I have feelings for asleep downstairs. “No. She fell asleep so…”

“Oh.” She looks away and returns to her reading. I can already feel the argument coming.

I let out a long sigh. “What is it Rach?”

“Nothing.”

I drag a hand down my tired face. I’m not in the mood for this right now. “What. Obviously something’s wrong.”

“Nothing,” she insists. But I know better. I know that tone better than anything these days. She’s looking for a fight and I’m stupidly taking the bait. It’s all we know how to do anymore.

“Is this about Liz?” She says nothing and I get my answer. “Rachel what do you want from me!?”

“I just wanted a nice evening with my husband and then she had to come over…”

“She was bringing me my jacket. You didn’t have you invite her to dinner!” I seriously don’t get her anymore and I’ve lost all patience with her.

“I was trying to be polite. You didn’t have to invite her to stay afterwards! God, I can’t stand her!”

“Could’ve fooled me. You’ve been playing nice all this time,” I snort. “She’s my friend, what do you want me to do?”

“Max… it’s just that I feel like you would rather spend your time with her than with me!”

Like a deer caught in headlights, I stare at her in awe. It’s sad because she’s right. My own wife sees that I’d rather spend my time with someone else than her.

“Rach…”

“No. Just leave me alone Max.”

With that, she turns her attention back to her book. Fed up, I storm out of the room, slamming the door in my wake. I grab a blanket and a pillow on my way to the living room and stretch out on the love seat.

“Was that about me?”

My head snaps up and I flip on a lamp to see Liz wide awake. “What? No Liz. We were just…” I can’t even muster up the strength to lie to her.

“Look, maybe I should just go.”

She starts to sit up and I panic. “What? No Liz. I could really use the company right now… if you don’t mind. Please…”

I’ve been reduced to using the puppy dog eyes, but it works. After a moment’s hesitation, she settles back on the couch.

We talk and she takes my mind off of more pressing matters as she always manages to do. I laugh with her and I feel a little bit lighter.

I shift on the couch, feeling something poking my back. I find Rachel’s purse and pull it free. I start to set it on the coffee table before I spot the small piece of paper falling from it’s opening.

Curious, I unfold it and read it’s contents.

Nathan Freeman

555-9854


It takes awhile before everything clicks in place. The increasingly frequent trips to her girlfriend’s house, the many times she comes home late, the way she’s always tense around me, it all make sense now.

She’s cheating.

“Max? What’s wrong?”

I hadn’t noticed her moving to sit beside me. I simply hand her the slip of paper and I know she immediately gets it.

“Oh Max. You can’t just jump to conclusions like that.”

“What else could it be Liz? It explains everything,” I cry.

“Max you don’t know that. Don’t just assume things. It’ll only make things worse.”

I sigh and bury my head in my hands. “Geez! Why do you have to be so rational?”

She shrugs when I send her a small smile. “I’m a rational gal.” She bumps her shoulder against mine and I let out a short spurt of laughter. “Now should we sleep or stay up to ungodly hours and watch Nick at Nite?”

“Definitely Nick at Nite.” She nods in agreement and I flip on the TV, feling relax and comforted in her presence.
**********

I wake up to the sound of the front door slamming shut and I jerk up, causing Liz to stir beside me.

“Wha.. What is it?” I glance at my watch. It’s barely seven in the morning and I wonder where Rachel off to so early.

I hear her car starting and I quickly shove on my shoes. “Where are you going?” Liz asks as she stretches sleepily.

“I’m going to follow Rachel,” I mutter as I search the room for my keys.

“What? Why?” she asks though she follows my lead and pulls on her shoes.

“She’s been keeping secrets and I think it’s time I find out what they are.” I grab the phone number I found last night and race out the front door with Liz in tow. With a wish of good luck, Liz heads home while I tail my wife.

I follow Rachel for almost ten minutes before she stops a few blocks from her job. She goes into a building which looks like a small doctor’s office and I follow determinedly.

She’s taking a seat in the waiting room when I barge in. “Max!” she squeals. “What are you doing here?”

“I could ask you the same thing,” I growl. “What’s this about Rachel? Whose number is this?”

She looks wide eyed at the number I hold out to her. “Max there’s an explanation for all of this…”

“What? Are you seeing someone else!? Is this why you’ve been so withdrawn! What the fuck is going on Rachel!”

The few people in the room stare, but I don’t care. I’m so mad right now I could blow a gasket.

“Max listen…

“Mrs. Evans…” I whip around to see an older man step out from the doors behind me. “I can see you now?”

My anger is wiped out of my system only to be replaced by confusion.

She pulls me over to the unknown man. “Max, this is my psychiatrist, Dr. Freeman.”

My gasp is loud and echoes in the silence of the room. I think I need to sit down. “What?”

“We need to talk.”
********

As soon as we get home, I demand answers. How is it that she was seeing a shrink and I knew nothing about it? Have we drifted that far apart that I didn’t even notice it?

“I’ve been seeing a psychiatrist for awhile now Max. There were two others before Dr. Freeman, but they didn’t work out…”

I pace the space in front of her, trying to get my mind to process all this. “Why didn’t you tell me? Why every time I asked if you wanted to seek professional help, you shut me down? Why did you do all this by yourself?”

She shrugs as if there’s a simple answer to it and I know its not. “At first I didn’t want to see one Max. But I realized that this whole situation was ruining our lives. I couldn’t go on like I was… like I still am and I needed some help.”

I stop pacing and kneel in front of her, taking her hands in mine. “Rach, why didn’t you come to me? We could’ve done this together.”

“I know. But I wanted to do this myself. I needed to do this for myself. You guys were right when you said that I needed to talk to someone. I just felt so lost and I’m sorry for pulling away from you, but I had to do this Max.”

I nod, understanding why she did it. “But why did you keep it a secret? Rach I would have supported you all the way. I…”

“I know that Max. And maybe that was a bad decision on my part, but it’s all done now. We can’t go back.”

I sadly catch the double meaning in that, but I don’t want to believe it.

“I’ve only been seeing Dr. Freeman for a few weeks, but he’s already helped me see a few things.” I swallow thickly, dreading what’s about to come. “Max I think we should separate… at least for awhile.”

“What?” I’m unable to steady myself and I plop to the floor with a soft thump. I’ve worked so hard on this relationship and it’s just falling apart right in front of my eyes.

“Max, I’m not happy and I know you’re not. You have to run to another woman to find any type of comfort. I’m your wife and I’m supposed to provide that, but I can’t…”

“What are you talking about?” I know damn well what… or who she’s talking about. But everything is just happening so fast, I can’t think straight.

“Max I’ve been trying to accept your and Liz’s friendship; which is why I asked her to dinner last night. But there’s no denying how you feel about her. There’s more than friendship. There’s a connection that you and I don’t have. I can see it. It hurts and I see it. You’re not happy and neither am I.”

I have no rebuttal to that. She knows about my growing feelings for Liz and I can’t deny it. I wouldn't know how to.

“Max, our relationship isn’t… wasn’t strong enough. I think that if it wasn’t for me being… me being barren then something else would’ve torn us apart. We can’t communicate… we never were able to. There’s no trust…”

“I trust you,” I protest weakly.

“If you did you wouldn’t have thought I was cheating and followed me. If I would have trusted you enough to support me through this, then I would have confided in you about how I was feeling and the psychiatrist.”

She’s crying now, but I couldn’t begin to guess how I’m feeling now. “Rachel, I never wanted us to end up this way.”

“I know you didn’t. I didn’t either, but I want to be happy and I want you to be happy and I’m not the person for that job and vice versa. I think… I think we’ve reached our end.”

I don’t know what to say to that. I don’t think there’s anything I can say. I tried. I tried so hard to make this work.

Rachel kisses me softly before leaving me alone on the living room floor. I have no idea what I’m going to do next.

TBC………
Last edited by sweetbrowneyes on Tue Feb 14, 2006 6:30 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Post by Behrsgirl77 » Sat Nov 05, 2005 8:28 pm

A/N - I'm back! Your eyes are not deceiving you, but it took me awhile to get this part started, so I sat down a few hours ago and put my mind to it, and a few cups of coffee later...here we are! *lol*

Tiffany and I want to thank each of you for your feedback, and to all the lurkers, thank you for reading, we hope you enjoy!! Also for those of you who have nominated this fic for best Combined Author, we also thank you for thinking of us :wink:

Enough of the babble...here is the part you have all been waiting for! Hope you enjoy!!



Chapter 9


So after that conversation with Rachel, I managed to drag myself up off the floor and out to my car. I took a long drive and reflected back on my life for the past three years. I ended up moving in with Michael temporarily, he really doesn’t have the room and it seems that Maria is over more often than not. It’s only been a month, but I need to figure out what I’m going to do.

In any event, once I was convinced I had my head on straight, I knew I needed to talk to someone about it. The most logical of choices was Liz. But I knew that was a bad idea. Especially with the way I’ve been feeling about her, I knew that going to her was wrong. If I’m right about what I’m feeling, then she is the last person I need to talk to. And so, I now find myself standing outside of Maria’s door.

Why Maria? That’s a pretty easy answer, she knows Rachel and she knows Liz, but most importantly she knows me. And right now, I need someone that can see it from all sides. If I’m wrong, then she can provide me with a serious distraction.

I knock, and there is no answer. Great, just when I work up my nerve to talk about my feelings, no one is here to listen to them. It figures. I turn and that’s when I hear the sound of the locks being turned.

“Hey you. What brings you buy?” I smile at her smile. I notice right away she is wearing an apron. That’s weird.

“I needed to talk. Why are you wearing that?” I ask as I walk past her and into the living room.

“Oh please! You sound like Michael. I know how to cook, Max.” She waves me off, but leans up and kisses my cheek regardless.

“I know. It’s just that you don’t do it often, if ever.” That earns me a slap on the arm.

“Why don’t you take your jacket off and come with me in the kitchen. I’m assuming that you knew Michael wouldn’t be here, so what did you want to talk about?” she asks as she rinses her hands and busies herself with cutting up a carrot.

I shrug and pull up a stool at the counter, “Rachel and I broke up, as you know. But I think, no actually, I know it’s over.” I finish sadly. While I know it’s for the best, it still saddens me that I couldn’t make my marriage work, but something else I realized, was that it takes two people to make a marriage.

“Max, I’m so sorry.” I know she is, but a part of her, the part that is just bursting to break through, is happy.

“What happened?” I know that Michael didn’t share any of the details with Maria; no matter how hard she pushed.

“I thought she was cheating on me.” I confess shamefully. I definitely jumped to conclusions on that one. But what else was I supposed to think?

“Was she?” Maria asks, eyes wide and ready to attack. I chuckle a little, but shake my head.

“So…” she waves me on to continue in true Maria fashion.

“So, we fought and then she told me that it wasn’t working. She was right and I was blind to it. I was trying to so hard to deny what I was feeling, that I managed to let way too much time go by.”

“Does this have anything to do with Liz?” she asks and I know why. Because while Liz did play a part in allowing me to feel things I’ve never felt with my own wife, it wasn’t all her. In fact, if Liz didn’t come around, I know sooner or later Rachel and I would be in the same position we’re in now.

“Yes and no. I have feelings for Liz, everyone can see that, except maybe Liz, but that’s beside the point. Maria, it’s like I knew deep down that Rachel and I were wrong for each other.” She gives me a pointed look, I guess I should explain this a little better.

“What I’m saying is that, up until a month ago I never let myself think past the fact that I was married and that I needed to be a good husband. I forgot who I was in the process and I forgot what I wanted out of my marriage. I spent so much time trying to figure out what will make Rachel happy, that I forgot about myself. That’s not a marriage, and it’s taken me this long to figure that out. Maybe I’ll never know what it really is, but I know what Rachel and I had wasn’t a marriage.”

“You loved her Max. You loved her enough to ask her to marry you, even I can’t deny that.” She’s right but there is more to it than that.

“Maria, I asked Rachel to marry me because…” I’m ashamed to voice this aloud.

“Because what?” I look away; her gaze is penetrating me. I feel awful. But that’s what happens when a man sits in a room and stares at the ceiling for weeks on end. All I had was time to think, and this is what I’ve been thinking…

“It was the most logical step. I mean, you meet a girl, you like her and you go out on more dates. Then you fall in love, and ask her to marry you. That was my foolish naïve self, obviously,” I laugh self depreciatingly.

“Obviously,” she mumbles but I know she sees where I’m going with this.

“I loved her Maria, I know that now and I knew it then. But I didn’t ask her to marry me because she was the only woman I wanted to be with. I didn’t ask her because she was the love of my life, I asked her because she was the woman that I was in love with at the time. I didn’t think past that. I didn’t think that I’d be in this position with her three years after getting married. No one does, I guess, but if I had taken one moment to stop and look at my life, I would have seen all the signs.”

“What signs?” Now Maria has comes to stand beside me, resting her elbows against the counter.

“There were so many and I ignored them all, so did she. The most important one however, was when I looked at her I didn’t feel the love I wanted to feel. And when she looked back, I didn’t see it either. We loved each other, but we weren’t meant to be together.”

“Max, I understand you’re going through some serious shit, but you’re not making sense. I’m trying to understand what you’re saying. Don’t get me wrong, I know that you and Rachel were wrong from the start but…” I cut off her rant before she really gets started.

“When she walks in a room, it doesn’t light up. And when she smiles, my heart doesn’t skip a beat, and she cries my heart doesn’t break.” I look at Maria and her eyes convey the understanding I was searching for.

“Sometimes you can love people in different ways, and sometimes your heart lies to you and makes you see things that aren’t really there. I understand, Max. I really do. Sometimes that magic just isn’t there.” I nod my head in agreement. I feel lighter now that I have someone that truly gets what I’m feeling and…wait…what did she just say?

“Maria, what did you just say?” She looks at me confusingly but repeats it anyway.

“The magic that is love…true love wasn’t there for you and Rachel. You’ll find it Max, someday, soon.” She winks and I just stare at her blinking. I must look like an imbecile but I can’t help it.

“Max, are you okay?” she asks reaching out a hand to my shoulder.

“She said that.” I whisper out.

“Who, said what?”

“Liz, she said something so similar to me about love being like magic.” A smile begins to light up my face without preamble.

“I knew that girl was smart, but now I know she’s a fucking genius!” Maria says pulling me into a tight hug.

“You are going to be just fine, Max.” She reassures me.

“Thank you, Maria.”

“For what?” she asks curiously.

“For listening to me ramble on about my life.” I mumble out.

“Max, you might be my boyfriend’s best friend, but I consider you to be one of my best friends as well. So anytime you need me, day or night, I’ll be here for you. Now, what’s the next step?” she asks crossing her arms in front of her chest.

“I need to get divorced.” Five words I never thought I’d say. While a part of me is saddened that it has come to this, another part of me feels like this may just be a new beginning to a life and love I’ve only ever dreamed of.


****

“Hey, come in.” I nod and step into what used to be my living room. Feels weird that I used to live here, it feels so foreign to me. I wonder if it always did?

“You want something to drink?” She asks me and I can see that seeing me again hurts her. Which is the last thing I wanted. That’s why I know this is the right thing. I want to make this easy for her; it’s the one thing I know I can do to make her happy.

“No. How about we sit down, Rach?” I motion over to the couch and she simply nods. She’s nervous, I can tell. Regardless of everything, we still know each other’s mannerisms really well.

“How you been?” I ask taking her hand in mine. She smiles and tells me she’s been doing really well. A part of me hates to hear it; the other part is relieved. She has been unhappy for so long, and if being without me makes her happy, then I’m glad.

“That’s good to hear.” I honestly don’t know how to start the conversation out. Before I arrived I had it all in my head, now that I’m here, sitting beside her, it’s not so easy.

“Max, are you okay?” she asks turning to face me.

“No. Rach, I’m not. Truth is, we’re not okay.” This is it, the moment of truth.

“Max…” she begins and I cut her off, because she needs to hear what I have to say. Last time she got to speak, this time I need to.

“Rachel, just let me say what I need to say, okay?” I look to her pleading her with my eyes to let me do this. I know she can’t, but I can.

She nods and so I begin. “I’ve been thinking about us, and our marriage these last few weeks. And I realized that we loved each other, but we got married for the wrong reasons.” I don’t want to hurt her, but I want to be honest.

“I married you because I loved you, enough. It’s sad to say and I don’t want to hurt you any more than I have, but it’s the truth. I thought loving you enough, would make our marriage work. I never thought of consequences of doing that.”

“Are you saying that you didn’t want to marry me?” Her eyes lock on mine and I nod, but funny how I don’t see hurt or anger in her eyes.

“I thought that’s what you do. You get together and you fall in love and get married. That’s the fairytale version. Real life isn’t so easy, and we’re finding that out the hard way. I don’t want you to think that I regret it, and we had some good times, Rach. But it wasn’t enough.” I try to explain. I don’t want her to feel worthless to me, because she isn’t and never will be.

“I know what you mean. When you asked me to marry you, I wanted to say yes. At least that’s what I told myself, because I loved you Max. I really did, but I guess you put it best when you said, that you loved me enough, because I loved you enough too. So I said yes, and a part of me knew it was wrong. But I was afraid of letting you down. I thought it would be enough to stay together, but I realized it wasn’t. I know that we started down the path we ended up, a long time ago. Me not being able to have children, that was just my excuse to be angry with you because I knew this was wrong. That we were wrong, and I’m so sorry for that, Max.” I pull her into my arms, she’s crying now and I don’t want her to shed another tear over me…us.

“Rachel, look at me.” I gather her tear-stained face between my hands and kiss her lips softly.

“You don’t have to apologize to me, ever. I know you didn’t mean it and I didn’t mean all the angry words I said to you. But that’s the past and I don’t want to live there anymore. I guess the only way to describe it is to say, that I knew I was Max and you knew you were Rachel, but we never learned how to be Max and Rachel. I’m so sorry, that I didn’t see it sooner. But we both need to let go otherwise we’ll end up hating each other. And I don’t want to hate you Rachel, I don’t. I need to let you go, and I wish for only one thing.” I whisper to her as I brush the tears from her cheeks.

“What?” she asks gently.

“I wish for you to find the love of your life. A man who will love you unconditionally and who will cherish you with everything he has. You deserve that, we both do. And I want you to be happy, so incredibly happy.” I tell her looking in her eyes, willing her to see the sincerity of my words.

“I want that too, Max. I want that for you so much. I’ve hurt you…we’ve hurt each other. We need to close this chapter on our lives and walk away. I want you to fall in love with the girl of your dreams, and as much as I wished that it was me, I always knew deep down you’d find her.” I’m confused by her words at this point. What is she talking about? I’m guessing she can read the question in my eyes, because in the next breath she says something I never expected.

“I knew it the moment I saw the two of you together,” she begins and I try and cut her off, but she places a lone finger against my lips.

“It’s her Max. Liz. She’s the one your heart has been looking for all this time. The moment you introduced me, the light I saw in your eyes…I knew she was it. I know how you feel about her, Max. I hope you do as well. It would be a shame to let that go so soon. You have to give it a chance, even if you think it’s too soon after us.” To say that I’m speechless is a serious understatement.

“I don’t hate her, Max. I know I said it, but I didn’t mean it. I guess I was hurt that I finally realized what it was like to see a man look at a woman with only love shining in his eyes. And I wished that for just once, I’d seen that reflected in yours when you looked at me.”

“I’m sor—” I try to apologize but she won’t accept it.

“That was wrong of me. I was jealous of her. I was jealous of how you looked at her, when I couldn’t even look at you that way. It was stupid, and I know that now. So I want one wish for you, Max.”

“And what’s that?” I ask resting my forehead against hers.

“If she is the one, then I want you to love her with your entire heart. And don’t be afraid to tell her every single day how much you love her. I want…” she begins to cry harder but won’t let me hold her, it’s not my place anymore, and we both know it. So she stands instead.

“I want the next time I see you to be a happy time. I want you to remember to smile and laugh, because lord knows over the past few years, we haven’t done that nearly enough. Life is short, Max. And if we blink too long, it will pass us by and we’ll be left wondering how we let it slip away. So, I wish for you to find the love of your life and have a beautiful family. More importantly I want you to invite me to your wedding.”

“Rach…”

“I do. I know it sounds morbid. But I want to witness one of the happiest moments of your life. Because I know the next time you say I do, it will be forever, Max.” She smiles past her tears and I know this is it. This is the end of our relationship. It saddens me, yet leaves me yearning to fulfill her wish.

“I’ll only promise, if you do as well.” She nods and I pull her into a hug, the last one we’ll ever share.

“I love you, Max. A part of me will always love you, but I’m your past. And so I want you to walk out that door, and into your future.” I nod and without another word I turn towards the front door. Just as I reach out to open it, I hear her whisper out, “Don’t look back, Max.” I know what she means and I know deep down this will probably be the last time I see her for a long time.

****
So here I stand a lonely man, and behind this big white door is truly the person I know I’m supposed to be with.

I can now admit that I love Liz. I really do, but the truth is, I don’t really know her all that well. And so I figure the best way to learn about someone is to spend as much time as possible with them.

I take a deep breath and reach up to ring her doorbell. I’m nervous all of a sudden. I know why too, because I’m finally free and I know what I want. And it’s the petite brunette that just opened her door, wearing a short pair of white shorts and light blue tank top. She is simply perfection to me. Liz never has to try. She just is to me.

“Hi Max,” she smiles and I want to kiss her breathless, but I can’t. Not yet anyway. I don’t want her thinking I’m jumping from my wife…er soon to be ex-wife to her. Besides, I have no idea for sure how Liz even feels about me. I could be jumping to conclusions and then I’ll just look stupid.

“Hi Liz. I was hoping you weren’t busy and maybe wanted to watch a movie with me?”

“Did you bring snacks?” she smiles and tries to peek inside the bag I’m holding. She knows me too well. I would never forget the snacks.

“Do I look like I’m that inexperienced when it comes to you?” I smirk brushing past her, but not before I kiss her cheek softly. She smells incredible.

I make my way into her tiny kitchen and begin to unload the bag of junk food I bought.

“Oh Max, did you get me Twinkies?” she asks standing on her tiptoes trying to dig into the bag.

“Listen munchkin, slow your roll. You’ll see what I bought in a second. How about you grab the movie out of the other bag there.” I motion towards the small video bag she has completely over looked. I love her enthusiasm.

“I have Cheetos, popcorn, Doritos, chocolate chip cookies…” I begin to rattle off all the things I purchased as I lay them on the counter. After I’m done, well not really but she doesn’t know that yet, I turn to her.

“Is that it?” she eyes me suspiciously. Did I mention how amazing she looks? Her hair is loose and falling over her shoulders perfectly, her skin completely flawless and her eyes big, bright and shining. I wonder how she feels about me when she looks at me. God, I know how I feel. My stomach rumbles at the thought of her, my heart begins to beat that much faster and I wonder if I’m doing a good job of showing her how I feel, when I look at her. I want to tell her so bad, but I can’t. The timing is all wrong. Besides, she doesn’t even know that Rachel and I are getting divorced. One step at a time, Max.

“Yes, that’s it. Is that not enough?” I joke and she bumps me with her hip. Then she goes in for the kill.

“Max, you didn’t forget did you?” She pouts and I’m in love all over again! It’s hopeless. I have to tell her about Rachel and me. I have to make her understand how I feel, and then maybe someday soon I can tell her how I feel about her. Just not today.

“Forget what? Come on, Liz. I want to watch the movie.” I tug on her arm but she plants her feet and struggles out of my grasp.

“Liz!”

“No! You forgot!” She crosses her arms and she looks hurt, but I know her better than that. She’s just messing with me, cause she knows damn well I didn’t forget.

“I’m sorry.”

“I don’t believe you.” She narrows her eyes and before I know it she has the bag in her hand, and she’s digging in it to find what she’s looking for.

“Ah ha! I knew you didn’t forget!” She says as she successfully pulls out the box of Krispy Kreme donuts and holds it triumphantly in the air.

“Of course I didn’t forget! Now can we watch the movie?” I ask as I make my way over to her. I lift her off her feet effortlessly and carry her into the living room.

“Yes, we can watch the movie.” She kisses my cheek as I deposit her onto the couch. I love her sweet kisses.

“Do you want some milk?” She nods as she takes a bite out of a donut. I shake my head; sometimes she acts just like a child.

****

“Liz! You ate all the damn donuts!” I screech because during the movie she must have swallowed the whole box.

“I did not!” She denies as she wipes the crumbs from her lips.

“Well where did they go?” She shrugs and looks away.

“I can’t believe you didn’t even let me get one.” I shake my head. I’m not really mad, but I am wondering how in the hell she ate them all. She’s so tiny, and I’ve seen her pack away some food but a whole box of donuts.

“Max, I’ll be right back okay?” she looks at me with sad eyes and now I feel bad.

“I’m sorry, Liz. I didn’t mean it.” She just nods and walks away. I’m still trying to figure out what to say to her when she comes up behind me and tells me to close my eyes.

“Liz, what are you doing?” I ask with a smile playing on my lips. She always does silly things like this and I adore her for it.

“Just close your eyes.” I feel her whisper against my ear, and a shiver runs down my spine. I follow her order nevertheless. I feel her move around to my side and she then tells me to open my eyes.

“What the hell? Where did they come from?” She smiles and kisses my cheek.

“You really didn’t think I ate them all did you?” she looks at me and well I did, so I tell her.

“Jerk! Max I can’t eat a whole box by myself.”

“Yeah well.” I shrug but take the plate of donuts she handed to me. Looks like during the movie she got up and put some in the kitchen.

“Max, are you okay?” My head snaps to hers, how the hell did she know?

“I’m…” I was going to say I was fine, but I can’t lie to her.

“I’m getting divorced.” She gasps softly, and quickly turns the television off and pulls the plate from my lap to give me her full attention.

“I’m sorry, Max. I had no idea. You didn’t tell me,” she begins and I can see her hurt in her eyes.

“I know I didn’t, and I’m sorry. I just needed to get my head together,” I begin and she nods her understanding.

“We talked, me and Rachel really talked for the first time and we finally put it all on the table.”

“What did she say? Did she say it or…”

“I was honest with her. I told her I loved her, but I wasn’t in love with her the way I should have been.” I look up to regard Liz’s reaction to my words, and funny how all I see is her sympathy for me. She doesn’t judge me, she accepts me for who I am with all my faults and she’s still there in the end. How can I not love her?

“Then what?” She places a hand on my leg and I can’t help but feel my temperature rise at her innocent gesture.

“She told me that when I asked her to marry me, there was a part of her that didn’t want to say yes. See the thing is Liz, we both were living a lie and we got so caught up in it, that when it fell apart we were still trying to keep it together. Sad part is, there wasn’t ever anything to keep together.”

“Max, you loved her. You asked her to marry you. You can’t tell me there wasn’t anything between the two of you.” Now she has pulled her hand away and is trying to process what I’m saying.

“I did love her. I still do, and a part of me always will. But not like you think. I asked her to marry me because I thought that was what I was supposed to do. It’s not what I felt in my heart. It’s what I felt in my mind. Liz, I’ve let my mind dictate my life for too long and I’m tired of it. Rachel was too. I need to start living my life through my heart.” I look her in the eyes. Does she see it? Does she see my feelings for her? I’m inclined to think yes, but I know better. She hasn’t opened her heart to me, but I’m a patient man. I know what I want and I’m willing to do anything for it.

“Max, are you sure? This is your marriage and if you throw it away, you might not be able to get it back.” She whispers out and I see her body tremble.

“Liz, Rachel and I were over before we began. We ran around putting a façade to not only ourselves but to everyone else. She wasn’t the love of my life. We couldn’t make the magic last, because we never had any to begin with.” I finish and somehow I’m within a mere breath of her lips. I want to kiss her more than I want my next heartbeat, but I can’t. She’s not ready. So I pull away.

“Max, I’m still sorry it ended this way. But if you’re sure,” she looks at me seemingly unsure of herself suddenly. I don’t want to ruin the friendship we have, especially since I know she doesn’t know how I feel about her, so I answer her as simple as possible without giving away too much.

“I’m positive that she is not the one I’m supposed to be with.” I smile slightly before lifting her to her feet.

“Max! What are you doing?”

“We need more snacks. The night is still young,” I say pulling her behind me. When we reach the kitchen I quickly dig through her fridge for some drinks, while she opens up a bag of chips.

“Max?” she asks after I turn with two ice-cold sodas in my hands.

“Yeah?”

“You still gonna live with Michael?” I wonder why she is asking me this question, now of all times.

“For now. Until I find my own place in town. Seems like there have been so many people moving in over the past few months. I don’t want to have to move that far, but let’s just say that staying at Michael’s house is not always comfortable.” I look away blushing.

“Why?” I knew she’d ask.

“Let’s just say Maria visits often and then uhm, you know…” I wiggle my eyebrows and her eyes open wide in understanding.

“That must be really awkward,” she says while blushing behind her soda can. I just nod.

“Max, what if you moved in here with me?” I look at her and blink in confusion. Did she just ask me to move in with her?

“Liz,” I’m about to protest. That is not a good idea. Not good at all. I’ll have no willpower if I’m living with her right in the next room.

“I’m serious, Max. I know it’s not that big, but you’d have your own room and I’m quiet and I’m your bestest friend!” she smiles brightly and she’s practically beaming with happiness. I can’t say no.

“Okay. On one condition.” I level her with a serious look.

“You keep your hands off my junk food.”

“Never!” she announces.

“Deal!” I smile and she thrusts herself into my arms. God, I don’t know how I’m going to hide my feelings from her anymore.

TBC…

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