Some Enchanted Evening (M/L Mat) Epilogue p2 13Mar COMPLETE

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Some Enchanted Evening (M/L Mat) Epilogue p2 13Mar COMPLETE

Post by LairaBehr4 » Mon Aug 14, 2006 6:53 pm

Title: Some Enchanted Evening
Author: LairaBehr4
Rating: Adult
Disclaimer: I own nothing.
Summary: Based on Challenge #65 by Poison Ivy, found here (third post down).
Max lives in New York City, and is bored. Liz is in NYC to buy a wedding dress. They get trapped in an elevator together, and find each other fascinating … what on earth will they do? And what will happen when they get out?

This is a big fluff story, and will probably be told in five or six parts. Just something to entertain you all … I can't promise to update regularly, though ...

I had TWO incredible banners made for this part! (well, three, actually, but one of them was re-done). One is by Poison Ivy, who came up with this challenge, and one is by Behrsgirl77. Thank you both!!

By Behrsgirl77:

By Poison Ivy:

Some Enchanted Evening

Part One

Elizabeth “Liz” Parker, soon to be Valenti, finished pulling her sweater over her head and stepped out of the large, luxurious dressing room.

“Well?” asked her friend Maria Deluca, who was waiting expectantly. Behind her was a beautiful view of Central Park and, beyond that, the skyline of Central Park East. Liz got dizzy just from the thought of being up so high, and the ominous grey clouds gathering thickly against the setting sun did nothing to relieve her nerves.

“You’re right, it’s fine,” said Liz

“Just fine?” Maria was offended. Here she’d worked her butt off to design the perfect wedding dress for her friend, who’d been thrilled about it when she’d first tried it on four months ago. But now, two weeks before the wedding, Maria’d received a panicked phone call from Liz saying she was on her way to the Atlanta airport and was flying up to New York City to try the dress on one more time.

“No, not fine. It’s beautiful, Maria. It’s just like I remembered it.” Liz sighed. “I don’t know why I was freaking out like I did.”

“Hey,” Maria put her hand on Liz’s shoulder, softness and sympathy in her voice. “What’s going on, babe?”

“I don’t know,” Liz looked up at her friend, who was a good five inches taller than her. “A week ago, for some reason, I just started freaking out about everything. I’ve changed the flowers three times. I’ve had the caterer re-do the entire menu. I’ve checked on all the bridesmaid’s dresses, the shoes, the hair-stylist and make-up artist, everything.”

Maria listened as her friend ranted, continuously running her hand soothingly across Liz’s back. “Okay,” she slowly ventured, “but what’s really going on, Liz?”

Liz thought for a moment whether she should tell Maria the whole truth. Finally she figured, if anyone would understand, Maria would. The two of them had known each other forever, had grown up together in Atlanta, had always remained the closest of friends even though Maria lived in New York and managed her own design studio now. She could trust Maria.

“About a month ago, I started having this nightmare. I dreamed it was mine and Kyle’s wedding day, but as soon as the day started, everything was going wrong. They had chicken instead of salmon, the priest had a heart attack before the ceremony, the flowers were pink instead of white, the dresses were stained or torn … I mean, everything was so messed up. And since then I’ve just had this compulsion to check over everything again and again. I just really don’t want anything to ruin this day, you know?”

“I know, babe. But listen, everyone has pre-wedding jitters. It’s a big thing, getting married. And it’s okay to be a little nervous.”

“You think that’s all it is?”

“Totally,” Maria assured her. “Hell, I freaked out when Michael asked me if I would start dating him exclusively. I can’t even imagine what it’d be like to be getting married.”

“I just can’t shake this feeling that something’s wrong,” Liz confessed softly.

“Well, whatever it is, I know you’ll get it figured out and fixed before the fifteenth.” Maria smiled down at her friend and squeezed her shoulders. “You gonna be okay?”

“Yeah,” Liz said. Truth was, she did feel better having told someone what she was feeling, but she didn’t feel particularly reassured that it would all end up alright.

“Your flight back is at nine, right?”

“Uh, yeah,” answered Liz.

“Well, it’s nearly seven already. You’d better go if you’re going to catch your flight.”

“It’s that late already?” Liz couldn’t believe how fast the time had gone.

“Yeah, and I’m supposed to meet Michael downtown in about – ew – three minutes.” Maria looked at Liz, who was still looking around the studio trying to find where she’d misplaced her purse, boots, coat and scarf. Then she had a better idea. “Hey Liz, what if you blew off your flight and I cancelled on Michael and we live it up for a night? You never did have a bachelorette party.” Maria wiggled her eyebrows suggestively.

Liz laughed, but said, “No, you should go. I don’t want his first impression of me to be the girl who usurps his girlfriend with no warning.”

“You sure? Cuz you’re going through some stuff right now, and I’d be more than happy to -”

“No, please, go ahead, Maria. I feel like having some time alone anyway.”

“You sure, hon?”

“Yeah,” Liz said.

“Okay. I’m going to turn on the automatic lock, so all you have to do is close the door and it’ll be locked up for the night. Okay?”

“Okay. Thanks, Maria.”

“Anytime, babe. Your dress and I will see you in two weeks!” The two of them hugged once more before Maria reluctantly left Liz alone.

As Liz eventually found her belongings, she still couldn’t shake the feeling that something about the wedding was off. Maria had said it was just nerves. Maybe she was right, but that still didn’t relieve Liz the way she’d thought it would.

At a little after seven, Liz left the Deluca Designs studio, closing the door firmly behind her, walked down the hall to where the elevators were, and pushed the “down” button. The doors opened, and she stepped inside quietly, wracking her brain to try to find what was so wrong with her upcoming wedding.


Max Evans walked into the law firm of Leman & Walker for what he hoped would be the last time in his life. “Hey, Sarah,” he greeted the paralegal as she walked by him heading back to her desk from the copy room. “Do you know if Tess is still here?”

“Hi, Max!” Sarah greeted him. She’d always liked Max, and could tell that he was “one of the good ones”. She wasn’t interested in him for herself, but anyone with more than two brain cells to rub together could tell that he deserved much better than that hussy Tess Harding. “Yeah, I think she’s back in her office.” She thought about what she wanted to say, and decided to go for it. “I’m sorry to hear you guys broke up.” A blatant lie, but Max didn’t need to know that.

“Yeah, thanks.” Sarah was friendly and smart, and Max knew she didn’t like Tess and was just being nice to him because she thought he was a good guy. “I’m just gonna go see her really quick.”

“Okay, take it easy, Max.” Sarah continued her trek back to her desk.

Max quickly walked to Tess’ small office and knocked on the door. “Come in,” he heard her say.

He opened the door and stood in the doorway. “Hey,” he said.

“Hi, Max,” she replied. She didn’t really know what all to say – she’d never really liked this part about breaking up.

“You have my stuff?” Max asked, breaking the silence.

“Oh, yeah, it’s right here.” Tess reached under her desk, pulled out a cardboard box with Max’s things from her apartment and placed it on top of her desk. Max moved to take it.

“Thanks. I left your stuff with your doorman this morning.”

“Thank you, Max.” Tess wasn’t a fool, she knew that she and Max were over and there was no use trying to fight for it. She just hoped that by making this as quick as possible, the pain would go away sooner. Like ripping off a bandaid, she thought.

“Okay. I’ll see you around, Tess.” He sincerely hoped not to, but he wasn’t about to say that.

“’Kay, bye.” Tess said.

Max left her office silently, and made his way back out the door and towards the elevators. As he did, he thought about his most recent failed relationship, and all the ones from before that. He was getting so sick of Manhattan women. They were almost all just out for his money. They made him feel used and cheap, and they usually didn’t even make an effort to be kind or interesting people. Tess had been smarter than most, but he still couldn’t muster up enough feelings towards her to make it worthwhile. He’d been feeling for a while now that something in his life was wrong. He’d had fun during law school and the first couple of years working, but he was starting to crave something besides the city. He felt he was in the wrong place in his life. He needed a change, but he hadn’t figured out what yet.

He reached the elevators and managed to push the “down” button with his elbow without dropping the box he was carrying.

After waiting several seconds, the doors opened to reveal a petite woman in a black pea coat with a red hat, scarf and gloves. Max hardly noticed her as he entered the elevator; he was a bit preoccupied with the awkwardness of the box. All of his books were stacked on one side and it made it tricky to carry. He could also distinctly hear the clinking of bottles, telling him that at least Tess was classy enough to return the liquor he’d left at her place. A bottle of Grey Goose and a few bottles of Corona, if his memory served him.

He eyed the elevator buttons and saw that the light next to the “L” for Lobby had already been pushed. The doors closed and Max set the box down for the remaining 48 flights.


Somewhere in the abyss between the 34th and 33rd floors, the silence between the two inhabitants of the elevator was interrupted as the four-by-six steel box decided it had a mind of its own and stopped in the midst of its journey to the lobby. The lights flickered on and off, and the usual hum of electric cables died into a deafening silence. Soon the lights dimmed completely, and the emergency lights came on instead – a dull yellow contrast from the bright white lights that had shown off the silver hue of the elevator interior only moments before.

As the elevator lurched to a stop both the inhabitants of the elevator grabbed onto the railing along the walls to keep from falling. Max was the first to recover and immediately tried the “Door Open” button, but to no avail. Then he picked up the red emergency telephone. The operator picked up after the second ring.

“Regent Offices, this is Carlos speaking, how may I help you?”

“Hi, Carlos,” answered Max. “We’re in one of the elevators and it seems to be stuck between the 33rd and 34th floors.”

“How many of you are there, sir?”

“There are two of us in here,” Max turned to regard the young woman in the elevator with him. She appeared to be rather frightened – her mouth was slightly open and she was still gripping the railing.

“Well, sir, there’s a power outage due to the storm, and we don’t know when we’ll be able to get you out. But there’s a back-up generator that should be able to power the emergency lights and the air circulator so as long as you don’t panic, we’ll get you out of there as soon as we can.”

Max sighed, but he knew if the power was out that this was the best that they were going to get.

“Thank you, Carlos.”

“Thank you, and sorry for the inconvenience, sir.”

Max hung up the phone and turned to Liz. “It looks like we’re going to be here for a while,” he said dryly. Liz’s eyes went wide, and she tried to breathe normally, but she couldn’t quite manage it. Max had just enough time to cross over to her before she fainted in his arms.

Last edited by LairaBehr4 on Fri Apr 13, 2007 4:56 pm, edited 11 times in total.
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Post by LairaBehr4 » Wed Sep 06, 2006 9:16 pm

I want to thank you guys for being so kind and understanding with my lack of updating. I did warn you all! But, as a reward for your patience, I present the following chapter! Keep in mind, it’s long. I mean, LLLOOOOOOOONNNGGG. “Hire a babysitter” long.

My thanks and appreciation to all of the following:
RosyLady – oh, she’s definitely claustrophobic.
Morning Dreamgirl – I told you I’d post it! I miss you.
Sprayadhesive (x3) – dude. I just love you. I don’t think the English language (nor the French or Spanish ones, for that matter) have yet come up with the words to adequately describe it. Thank you.
Michelle17 (x2)
Dreamsatnight – I miss you!
Behrsgirl1230 – thank you, sweetheart.
Queen Fee (x2) – thanks!
Michelle in Yonkers –
Michelle in Yonkers wrote:I loved the feeling of — dare I say it? — destiny, that shone through the chapter. Liz feeling out of sorts about the wedding; Max feeling out of sorts about his life; both knowing that something's wrong, and aching to make a change and fix it; Liz declining the offer to go with Maria, staying behind and letting herself out at exactly the right time; Max showing up, picking up his box, and leaving immediately at exactly the right time...
Thank you! That’s what I was going for!
And there's liquor in the box — what a nice touch. Any candles?
Read on and find out …
L-J-L 76 (x2)
Sweet Liz
Augustus Snodgrass
Blue*Soul – love ya, darling!
Dreamerfrvrp3 – Mwah!
Maya – double mwah!

Some Enchanted Evening

Part Two

Max didn’t know what to do. Sure, he had a sister, but Isabel wasn’t really the fainting type. He lowered her ever so gently down to the floor of the elevator. Her hat fell lightly off her head as he did this, letting her long dark hair fall free. Crouched down on the floor, his weight supported by the balls of his feet, he removed his coat, wrapped it into a ball, and eased it underneath her head for support. Thinking quickly, he turned over to where he’d put his box down. He shuffled through the books and a couple of shirts and knick-knacks before his hand closed over the neck of the Grey Goose. Being careful not to break it, he raised it out of the box. He unscrewed the cap and set it down. Then he used his free hand to support her neck and the base of her skull, lifting her up just a little. He put the open bottle underneath her nose and waved it back and forth.

Her breath immediately deepened, and with a sudden gasp her eyes opened wide. Her glance darted from the wall, to him, to the other wall, to the ceiling, and back to him again.

“Are you okay?” Max asked gently. Quickly he recapped the bottle and put it aside, then turned his complete attention to her.

“What … what happened?” Liz tried to move but he held his hands to her forearms to calm her.

“Hey … stay still for a minute, calm down. We got stuck in the elevator and you fainted.”

Liz immediately started hyperventilating again. “We-we-we-we’re stu-uck?”

“Yeah,” he replied, trying to keep his voice as soothing as possible.

“Oh my God, I-I gotta get out of here …” Liz was panicking. Again she tried to sit herself up, but Max would have none of it.

“No! No, listen to me. You have to calm down. You’re just going to pass out again. Come on, now. Take a deep breath,” he breathed in, sucking air between his teeth, motioning with his hands that she was meant to follow his example. She tried, and soon the light-headedness had dissipated, though the panic hadn’t, altogether. Her eyes closed and she concentrated on keeping her breaths even and deep.

“Are you claustrophobic?” Max asked her. She only nodded, still not opening her eyes. She was still laying down with him leaning over her.

Max looked around the elevator to see if there was anything he could do to help. When he saw that there was a switch for the light, he decided it was worth a shot. “Do you think it will help if we turn the lights off?”

Liz opened her eyes. “Can we?”

“Well, there’s a switch, but I’m not sure it’ll work since we’re running on the generator. You want me to try?”

Liz nodded again. Max stood up and flipped the switch. The overhead yellow bulb died and a gold-white line trailed around the base of the floor and the ceiling in its place.

“Is this better?” Max asked after his eyes had adjusted. He could just make out the dim form of her body, still flat on the floor. Her features were muted to him in this new soft light, but her skin and hair reflected even the faintest light. When he could make out the white of her eyes, he could swear she was glowing.

“Much,” she said. She propped herself up onto her elbows. Immediately he was there to help her. “Thank you,” she said, looking at him calmly for the first time since the elevator had stopped. “I know this” her hand indicated she was talking about the lights “can’t be pleasant for you.”

“It’s okay,” Max reached out to help her as she shifted and dragged her legs over, finally leaning her back against the wall. “It’s kind of nice, actually.” He let out a wry laugh as he lowered himself to sit along the wall as well. “This was pretty much what I was planning on doing when I got home anyway.”

“What, rescuing fainting damsels in distress?” she kidded.

“No,” Max laughed. He took her joke as an indication that she really was feeling better. “Just lighting a fire, maybe having a good drink, and definitely enjoying some good company.”

“Whose did you have in mind?” Even through the dark, he could see her smile as she asked the question.

“I was thinking Sinatra, I’ve really been neglecting him lately,” he said quite seriously.

Liz laughed, then turned her head turned her head down as she slid her gloves off her hands and stuffed them into her coat pockets. “Oh, well, I’m afraid you’ll find me a poor substitute for Sinatra.”

“I don’t know, I’ll bet you could hold your own.” Liz looked up at him, unsure if he was teasing or not. She could barely make out his face, but there was a light reflecting in his eyes that she could swear she could get lost in. The weak light caused more shadows than not, and while Liz didn’t want to see the four walls closing in on her, she did wish she could see this man better. They’d barely glanced at each other when he’d walked in or during the journey downwards. Now, though she could see the outline of his eyes and mouth, the tresses of his hair, the vague shadow of his nose, there was an air about him in the light that made him both at once intently close and yet ethereal.

It was only at this moment that Liz realized she didn’t even know his name. She held out her right hand to him. “I’m Liz,” she said.

“Max,” he said, clasping her small hand in his large one. Her skin was soft like cream and silk, and her hand was feather-weight.

Slightly unnerved by the feelings his mere hand was evoking, she slowly eased hers out of his touch and turned away, reaching over to where his coat was still bunched up on the floor where her neck had been. “Here you go,” she handed it to him.

“Thanks,” he returned. Silence claimed them. It was strange – they’d struck up conversation so easily, so effortlessly, but now neither of them could think of anything to say.

Finally, Liz sighed, “Do you know how long we’re going to be here?”

“It could be a while, I’m afraid,” Max told her. “I talked to some guy earlier, he said they were sending somebody, but …”

“Yeah, I remember,” said Liz. “So, I guess we should just make ourselves comfortable, huh?” She leaned over her legs to pull off her high-heeled boots, lowering the inside zipper on each one, moaning and stretching in satisfaction as her feet were released. The boots were flung over to near where her hat lay, forgotten from when she’d fainted earlier. Then she uncurled her crimson scarf from where it hung loosely around her neck, and it soon joined the other items. She unbuttoned her coat and lifted her hips to completely slide it off her body, and it too was tossed into the growing pile.

Max tried to keep his thoughts from straying as she rid herself of the items of clothing and heard her moans and sighs. She started stretching her arms, neck and back by raising her joined hands far above her head and leaning from one side to the other. When she started to lean her arms behind her and curl forward, it got to be a bit too much for Max. He grabbed the bottle of vodka and handed it to her. “Want a drink?”

Back with the rest in a minute
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Post by LairaBehr4 » Wed Sep 06, 2006 9:17 pm


A little less than two hours later, Max and Liz had completely finished the vodka and had moved on to the Coronas. They had talked about lots of things – music, movies, even sports (they were both big baseball fans; Liz rooted for the Braves, while Max was a Mets fan), but so far they’d managed to keep things fairly light. The alcohol only helped.

“So what do you (hiccup!) do for a living?” Liz asked giddily.

“I’m a lawyer. Contract law,” Max answered as he wiped a thin layer of lingering alcohol from his mouth with the back of his hand.

“Wow, um, (giggle) what kind of contracts?” Liz was getting more and more loosened up as she drank.

“Mostly joint projects or investments between companies. It’s kind of boring, really.”

“Then why do you do it?” she boldly inquired.

Max shrugged. “It just kind of ended up happening. I got a job with this firm here in the city after law school, and I’d taken a few classes on it, and it was the only opening they had at the time.”

“And you just took it because … it was the first thing to come along?”

“Basically,” Max pondered her question. “It wasn’t the first offer I’d had, but it was the best at the time. My specialty was in employment and labor law. See, my grandfather, he lived in Pittsburg and was one of the first members of the United Steelworkers union in the 1940’s. He and I were really close, and he used to talk about the conditions that they had before the union.” Max paused, his thoughts lost as his mind drifted back. “He died when I was nineteen. He only really talked to me about what it was like back then during the last few years of his life, as I was getting older.” He couldn’t even really believe he was talking about this, let alone with a total stranger.

“So you went to law school because of him?” Liz hoped her voice was portraying the genuine interest she had in hearing his answer, but she was a bit of a lightweight, so she couldn’t really be sure.

Max, however, was able to pick up on what she was trying to say without words. It gave him the encouragement he needed to continue. It was hard for him to talk about his grandfather; his loss was something that Max still felt keenly, even seven years later, and the memories he had of him were guarded close to his heart. With most people, talking about Grandpa Aaron just felt wrong – it was as if he was letting them see him too closely, too intimately. Tess hadn’t even known he’d had a grandfather.

But something about this situation, this moment, made Max feel safe and comfortable in sharing the significant impact this man had made on his life. Maybe it was the liquor that had gotten him to loosen up enough to tell her. Maybe it was the dimness, the darkness around them that afforded a sense of safety, because they could hardly even see each other, that made it more like one void talking to another. Maybe it was simply that, being stuck in an elevator, there was nothing else to do.

Or maybe it was her. Maybe she was the one who was making him feel safe and secure, with all his fears put aside.

“Actually, my dad went to law school. He does family law. He got scholarships to Penn State and UPenn, and moved here after law school. When my grandmother died when I was a baby, my dad got my grandpa to move up here, too. My dad, he made a good living with his work, but it was more about trying to help people for him. My granddad was the same – he got behind the union and brought others in to try to make the conditions better for all the workers and their families. I guess that aspect of the law appealed to me more than divorces and alimony and child custody cases.”

“I can understand that,” Liz said supportively. “I think he’d be really proud of you.”

Max sighed and shook is head. “I don’t know. I mean, it’s not like I’m really using that now, you know? And I just haven’t felt … happy, I guess, for a long time. I stayed in the city for college and law school because it was what I wanted, but now … I’m just not so sure. My sister keeps bugging me to go visit her; maybe I’ll do that sometime.”

“You have a sister?”

“Yeah, a twin sister, Isabel. She lives in California now.”

Liz smiled. “I always wanted a sister.”

“You don’t have one?”

Liz shook her head, indicating the negative. “Only child.”

“Well, there were times I wished I was an only child,” Max joked, trying to get her to laugh. The mood in the car had suddenly turned very, very serious, and Max wanted to make her smile and enjoy herself. It was, he felt, the least he could do after she listened to his stories about his dead grandfather and his mind-numbing job.

“No, you didn’t,” Liz said.

Whoa, Max thought, that wasn’t the answer I was expecting.

“You love your sister very much. I can tell. Your voice changed a little bit, like it did when you talked about your grandfather. Even when she really annoyed you, you never would have wanted it any different.”

Max was in a minor state of shock. She could tell all that just from his voice? That was …

“Amazing,” he whispered.


“I said, you’re amazing.”

She smiled widely. “Thank you.” Unsure of how else to respond to that, she rescued herself from saying anything further by taking a swig from her beer bottle.

Max was the one who broke the silence and odd sense of awkwardness where only honesty and comfort had reigned before.

“So, what about you?” he asked.

“What about me?” Liz coyly replied.

“Tell me something about you, some significant person in your life.”

Liz thought for a moment about telling him about Kyle, but immediately decided not to. This was actually the first time she’d thought of Kyle since waking up, and he hadn’t had the kind of impact on her life that Max was talking about anyway. No, talking about Kyle would be all wrong.

“Well, I guess my grandmother was really important to me. She was amazing. She grew up in Roswell, New Mexico, you know, with all the aliens?” They smiled at each other, and Max nodded to symbolize his understanding. “My grandfather, he wasn’t very nice to her or my dad, by all accounts. My dad moved to Atlanta and my grandfather died, and my grandma decided that she was going to do everything she’d ever wanted to. She was in her fifties, and she went and learned how to fly a plane, and decided to volunteer for piloting all over the world. One time, she was flying supplies to a dig in Greece that was being sponsored by Oxford University, and she ended up staying for over a month. My dad was freaking out – I mean, no one knew what had happened to her or anything. She started to work for the archeologist she met there on the dig, and she convinced him that he could make his mark in his field by unearthing Native American artifacts in the southwest. She helped him there, too, and she got really good at it. She even had her journals published in the American Journal of Archeology.”

“Wow, that’s really impressive,” Max was in awe of this clearly driven woman. He listened to Liz as she talked, and he started to understand what she’d meant when she told him his voice had changed. He guessed it was because of the nearly nonexistent lights, but his other senses seemed enhanced – he could smell her perfume mixed with the scent of warm beer and vodka, and he could hear the changes in her voice. When she mentioned her grandfather, it was strained and slightly broken. But as she talked about her grandmother’s accomplishments, her voice grew stronger, larger, as though she was telling a fairy tale to a room full of children.

“Her name was Claudia,” Liz took a drink from her beer. “She died of complications from a stroke when I was fifteen.”

“I’m sorry,” Max told her.

“And I’m sorry about your grandfather,” she returned sincerely.

“So did you go into archeology, too?” Max asked.

“No,” Liz laughed. “I was a biology major and I started a job with Glaxo-Smith-Kline, but it wasn’t what I expected it to be. I quit about a year ago. Since then, I’ve mostly just been helping my parents out with their restaurant and trying to figure out what I want to do with my life.”

“It’s hard to do that, isn’t it?” Max said knowingly.

“Yeah, it is. I mean, I keep making these decisions that I think are the right ones, and I don’t think I’m afraid to try new things, but things just never seem to come together the way I hope they will, you know? I’ve felt like this ever since college. Everything just feels … wrong, you know? Like I’m not doing the right things with my life, no matter how hard I try.”

“I know exactly what you mean,” Max contributed. “It’s as though you’re in the wrong place, and you can’t tell if you mean it literally or figuratively. And all the things that you thought would make you happy – I don’t mean fancy clothes or expensive cars, …”

“Yeah, but just … your job, your apartment, girlfriends, boyfriends, the very air around you.”

“Yes! It all just feels like it doesn’t fit for you. Like trying to fit a square peg into a circular hole.”

“Exactly,” Liz exclaimed. “Like you’re doing everything you’re supposed to, but it’s empty, and you can’t figure out why.”

“Do you think it’s fear? I mean, do you think it’s because we’re afraid to do something daring or drastic to change our lives and see if it’s any better?”

“Maybe,” Liz honestly answered him. “I mean, that would definitely explain why you admire your grandfather so much, and why I idolized my grandma – because they took the risky leap into the unknown, you know? But I don’t know if that’s really it. I think maybe it’s just that the catalyst for change just isn’t there.”

“So basically what you’re saying is, we’re stuck.” Max realized the irony of his words just after they left his mouth. Through the soft, dim light, they met each other’s eyes, and both burst into laughter. “No! I mean,” Max managed between cackles, “that wasn’t what I meant.”

“I know,” said Liz as she continued to howl. When they settled down to mere giggles and their breaths began to even out, Max started again. “So,” he giggled again, “we’re stuck.”

Liz laughed again at the phrase, and then responded. “Yeah, pretty much. We just feel so tied to our lives, you know? They may not be much, but they’re ours. And there’s no really good reason to change right now. I mean, the desire is, but not the inspiration or the imperative need. Your grandfather had a chance to make life better for himself and his family and his co-workers and their families. My grandmother suddenly found herself with a grown son and no more abusive husband. In both cases, there was a catalyst, something that forced them to re-examine and change their lives. Maybe that’s what we’re missing.”

“A catalyst,” Max said thoughtfully.

“Yeah,” came Liz’s wistful reply. In silence, they both pondered the meaning of this mysterious and illusive catalyst. They could both feel it there, just out of reach, but stubbornly refusing to come any closer until it was damned well good and ready.

Liz suddenly giggled again as a particularly silly thought came into her head.

“What?” Max asked.

“I was just thinking of the first time I heard that word.”

“What, catalyst?”

“Yes.” Liz laughed again. “It was … it was at a party in the seventh grade. I had a crush on this boy, but I was so shy about it. My friend Maria told me she had the perfect catalyst to set it all into motion.”

“What did she do?”

“She got this group of us to play ‘Truth or Dare’. He was there, too, and she dared him to kiss me.” She laughed again and covered her eyes with her hand. “Can you believe that? My first kiss, and the guy had to be dared to do it.”

Max laughed with her. “I’m sure he enjoyed it,” he assured her.

“Yeah,” Liz sighed as her laughter subsided. She took a swig and emptied her Corona, then handed it back to Max. “May I have another one, please?”

Max took it from her. “Sure,” he said. He sat up and crawled over to his box, where he’d already placed the empty Grey Goose bottle and his own finished Corona bottle. There were still two more beers at the bottom of the box. As he began to dig for them, Liz felt the need to stretch a little herself, and mimicked Max’s action of crawling across the floor until she, too, was reaching into the box, searching for the Coronas. Their hands brushed each other’s a few times, and the sparks they’d each felt when they’d shaken hands earlier returned. Trying to ignore it, they continued their excavation.

Max finally emerged victorious. He leaned back, this time against the side wall near where the box was, close to the corner of the car. As he reached for his keychain to open the bottles, Liz took a seat near him, but still on the back wall opposite the elevator doors. She folded her legs Indian-style, while Max stretched his out straight in front of him.

He handed one open beer to her, which she took, thanking him. The other bottle he lifted to his own mouth to drink from. Again, Liz’s movements echoed his.

“You want to do it?” Max said.

Liz had to cover her hand to keep from spitting the beer out of her mouth. “What?” she choked.

Max laughed at her. “Play ‘Truth or Dare’. You want to?”

Liz calmed herself, a little embarrassed by the assumption she’d made about his first question. “Yeah, okay, but um …” she waved her hand around the stationary car. “What are we going dare? I mean, there’s not a lot of options.”

“Good point,” Max mused. “Want to play ‘Truth or Truth’?”

Liz grinned. “Okay.”

“Ladies first, please.”

“Okay, well, since I told you mine, tell me about your first kiss.”

Max groaned. “It was awful. I was ten, and I was playing on the swings with this girl from my apartment building after school in the park nearby. Her older sister was supposed to be watching us, but she was making out on a bench with her boyfriend. The girl, Kim, she said she wanted to know what all the fuss was about, and she asked to kiss me. I said okay, but I just had no idea what to do. I didn’t know where to put my hands or anything, and I didn’t close my eyes right away and she didn’t either so we were both just staring at each other. And I started thinking about the weirdest things, like whether it was going to rain that night.”

“You didn’t!”

“No, I really did. I was thinking about the clouds that had been getting darker all day and … hey, stop laughing! I didn’t laugh at yours.”

“You’re right, I’m sorry,” Liz said, but she couldn’t make the smile go away. The reason wasn’t what Max thought it was, though. It was because, the same thing happened when she kissed Kyle. She had to force herself to concentrate on the kiss, because otherwise she started thinking about the menu for her parent’s restaurant that week or something similarly unromantic.

“Okay, just for that, tell me your most embarrassing moment.”

“Oh, in high school, I was walking to class thinking about a history test we were about to have. It was freshman year and I didn’t know the campus that well, and there was this pole …”

“You ran into the pole?”

“Yeah, about ten minutes after they’d finished painting it. It was terrible! I had this big blue stripe all down my forehead, my nose, my chin, all the way down to my waist.”

Max grimaced. “Oooh, that is pretty bad.”

“Tell me about it. Okay, my turn. Tell me the first dream you ever remember.”

“I had a recurring dream for about five years when I was a kid about flying over the city and looking down, seeing it from a bird’s eye point of view.”

“That’s pretty cool, I like that,” Liz told him.

“Okay …” It was Max’s turn, but he was having trouble thinking of a question. “Umm, favorite ice cream?”

“Vanilla. You?”


Liz chuckled. “Typical New Yorker.”


“I said, typical New Yorker. My best friend moved here to New York. When she lived in Atlanta, she never drank coffee. Now she needs three cups just to see color in the morning.”

“Well, what do you drink?”

“Is that your question?”

Max laughed. “Sure.”

“Sweet tea.”

“I’ve never heard of it.”

“What?” Liz gasped. “You don’t know what you’re missing.”

“What is it?”

“It’s iced tea that’s been sweetened.”

“Well, then, why do you need it? Why not just put sugar in iced tea?”

“Because, you just … it’s …” Max started to laugh as she struggled for an answer. “I don’t know, okay? Makes it easier, I guess. Cuts out the middle step. Open and enjoy!” she smiled, satisfied that she’d answered adequately.

“Whatever you say,” Max continued to laugh. He still didn’t quite get it, but he chocked it up to a cultural difference and let it go. “Your turn,” he reminded her.

“Umm … have you ever been in love?” Liz wasn’t really sure if she wanted to hear the answer to this one. She really did like Max, she found it easy to talk to him; he made her feel safe and special and … she knew she shouldn’t be having these feelings for him, especially considering he was almost a total stranger, but she couldn’t help herself.

“Wow, that’s, uh, that’s a tough one. I guess I’ve thought that I was at the time, but in retrospect, I wasn’t. I’ve thought a certain girl was smart, beautiful, funny, and all that, but I’ve never felt like I wanted to spend my life with someone. I’ve never met someone I wanted to spend every day with, come home to every night, have kids with, stuff like that.”

“Wow, that’s … that’s a good answer.” Liz thought about what he’d said, and she realized, he hadn’t found the real thing yet. She wondered if she’d found it in Kyle, the person she wanted to do all those things he talked about with. She tried to imagine coming home to him every night for the rest of her life, having his children, growing old with him. But though she tried, she couldn’t see that. She couldn’t see herself spending her life with Kyle.

Suddenly, she knew exactly what was wrong with her upcoming wedding. It wasn’t the dress, or the food, or the flowers; it was the groom. She couldn’t get married to Kyle. They’d been dating since college, and they’d been engaged almost two years, but Liz realized, she wasn’t getting married for the right reasons. All of her friends were already either engaged or married. Some of them even had one or two kids by now. She felt like she should get married, not that she wanted to.

“What about you?” Max’s voice interrupted her revelations.

“Same,” she answered honestly. Liz began to think of all the things she’d have to do as soon as she got back to Atlanta, starting with calling off the wedding.


“Huh?” Liz was startled from her thoughts.

“It’s your turn for a question,” he reminded her gently.

“Oh, um …” Her mind frantically searched for a question, any question. “Um, if you were stranded on a desert island, what three movies would you take?”

Max laughed. “You go from ‘spending your life with someone’ to ‘three movies on a desert island?” He was surprised that she hadn’t continued the more serious line of questions.

“Yeah! That’s my question,” she smiled, “so answer it!”

“Okay, okay, no need to get all bossy,” Max teased. “I’d probably take ‘History Of the World’, ‘When Harry Met Sally’, and ‘The Godfather.’”

Liz let out an exasperating sigh. “What is it about guys and ‘The Godfather’?”

“You do realize you stole that line from ‘You’ve Got Mail’, don’t you?” Max said.

“You do realize you seem to enjoy romantic comedies more than I do, don’t you?” Liz returned. He smiled a lopsided smile, and Liz thought it was incredibly adorable.

“Touché,” Max conceded. He shifted his eyes back up to meet hers, and Liz could swear she was about to faint again. How had she not realized the power in his eyes before?

“Okay, my turn,” Max said. “If you could do anything right now, what would it be?”

Liz wondered if she should be as honest as she wanted to be. Normally she would have shied away from such a question, considering the answer she was about to give, but the liquor was making her feel bold. She put the bottle of beer to one side, put her weight on one arm to hoist herself up, and leaned over to where Max was. As she got closer, she could hear him hold his breath and felt him stiffen. She hoped against hope that she wasn’t about to embarrass herself beyond redemption here. She lifted her face to his and lightly pressed her lips against his.

Max hadn’t foreseen this. He wasn’t sure exactly what he’d expected from her, but he’d sensed her mood change a few minutes ago and he was trying to find out what was in her head. Was this what she’d been thinking of? Her lips were soft and warm when they touched his, and the sensation made him smile.

She backed away slowly, and Max could tell she was nervous about his reaction. He’d opened up more to her, had enjoyed talking to her, had relished her company so much just in the short time they’d been here. Wondering if this could be the catalyst he'd been lacking, he leaned towards her.

“I’m sorry, I--” Liz began, but was cut off as Max kissed her, taking advantage of her open mouth to push his tongue gently inside. When it made contact with hers, the last thing on either of their minds was the weather.

The kiss went on, for how long neither of them could guess. Max put his hands on Liz’s waist and pulled her closer to him. She shifted until she was straddling him, his back still against the wall. As they continued to kiss, she began to rock gently into him. They both moaned, but neither was willing to pull away.

Liz shifted again until Max’s growing hardness was pressing into the part where her front-back seam met the inseam of her jeans, and the stiff bump created by this intersection was pressed against her clit. She leaned her hips into him again and couldn’t escape the louder, stronger moan that grew in her throat and was greedily swallowed by Max.

Everything in their bodies hummed in mutual pleasure. They continued dry-humping and kissing until Max finally pulled his mouth away. “Liz, I’m …”

“I know,” she whispered, “me, too.” They looked into each other’s eyes, then kissed again.

Max finished first with a loud cry. He looked up at Liz and knew she was close. Just as he was about to lean forward to put her on her back and help her finish, the car suddenly jolted to life and the lights flickered on.

They looked at each other again, getting first good view of the other for the first time since Max had first turned the lights off. They both smiled.

Max was the first to return to reality. “The camera,” he said urgently as he remembered that the elevators in this building had cameras. They’d probably been down during the power shortage, but they’d definitely be working now.

“Oh shit!” Liz scrambled off of him and reached over to grab his coat, handing it to him, then her own. She was mortified, embarrassed, and very, very frustrated.

Max looked around to gather his and Liz’s empty beer bottles, then slipped his coat on. As he watched her nervously, shakily, try to button up her coat, he grabbed her hands and turned her to face him. “Come home with me,” he whispered.

There were so many reasons why she shouldn’t, she knew, but the only word that came out was “Yes.”

TBC sometime this century!
Last edited by LairaBehr4 on Mon Nov 13, 2006 11:01 am, edited 3 times in total.
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Some Enchanged Evening, Part 3

Post by LairaBehr4 » Wed Oct 18, 2006 9:26 am

Once again, thank you all for your support! You guys are awesome. I’m shocked, dismayed, and flattered beyond belief at the response this story has gotten. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Now you guys have to promise to be nice, because I've never written a chapter like this, and I might not be able to show my face around the site for a week. :oops: :oops: :oops: :oops:

Sprayadhesive (x2)– I “love” you too!
Zanity (x2)– thanks
Lorastar – don’t worry, the dress will get some use out of it yet.
RosyLady – sorry, this century is the best I can do.
Sylvia37 – You know, that little stunt you pulled at BTF wasn’t very nice …
Maya (x3)– thank you, so much!
Augustus Snodgrass –
Augustus Snodgrass wrote:Laira, you make me do happy dances!! Woot, woot for the catalyst!
Haha, you’re too funny.
Poison Ivy (x2)–
Poison Ivy wrote:I don't I couldn't have got someone better for the challenge! I love it!
Now that’s a compliment I just don’t deserve. Thank you.
Queen Fee
Hazz (x2)
Force – thanks! And welcome.
BehrObsession -
BehrObsession wrote:That was one hell of a catalyst for both of them.
Yeah, I just love that word …
Behrsgirl1230 -
Behrsgirl1230 wrote:Thanks for making Max a Mets fan!!
Just for you!
POM – thank you! I’m a huge fan of your stories, so your compliments mean a lot. Thanks again!
DramastarOF06 –
DramastarOF06 wrote:I love the whole destiny thing you have going. It's like...fate.
Thanks! That’s what I was going for.
Michelle in Yonkers (x3)– thank you a thousand times over! Here’s the next chapter for you.
L-J-L 76

Warning - this is an NC-17 part.

Some Enchanted Evening

Part Three

The office building they were in had a covered driveway for taxis to pull into. Because of the snow storm, several taxis were huddled together under the sanctuary offered by the protruding roof, while the security guard had taken pity on the drivers and let them into the lobby. They grouped together clutching their coats to them as they stood across from the security desk. Carrying his box in one arm and holding Liz’s hand in the other, Max found the driver of the taxi at the front of the queue and gave him the address of his building as he helped Liz into the backseat, and then jumped in after her.

Liz was in a daze. Sixty seconds ago she’d been making out – okay, more than making out – with a guy he’d known less than three hours. Now she’d been thrust out into the freezing cold, more biting than anything Atlanta had ever afforded her; and more shockingly, she’d agreed to go home with this man. She knew she shouldn’t – she hadn’t even told him about Kyle, after all. She decided that before anything else happened, she needed to tell him at least that much. But then, Max did something that spoiled all of Liz’s good intentions.

He kissed her.


Liz felt as though she couldn’t breathe. The sensation of being kissed by this man was all-consuming.

Max was feeling a bit guilty that he’d gotten off in the elevator and she hadn’t. But it wasn’t just about that, though – Max had loftier goals than just reaching his goal, or helping Liz to reach hers. When she’d first kissed him – hell, when she’d first brushed the bare skin of her arm against his while they were looking for the Corona bottles – it was as though every sense of feeling, every ability to feel that his body contained, had come alive after years of dormancy and gone shooting to those too-few centimeters where his skin touched hers. He wanted to feel like that all over; and more importantly, he wanted her to feel it, too. He wanted to make sure that she felt as much pleasure from his touch as he did in hers.

Max leaned forward against Liz until her back was up against the door, still kissing her. He dropped his hands from where they’d held her gently around her delicate neck, grasped her knees, and shifted them so he was sitting between them. They were both still wearing their long winter coats, which, if either one could have cared at all, would have made them very uncomfortable. But right now, all they wanted was more of the other.

Max lifted his head from Liz’s, and immediately the empty cold assaulted her from where his lips, nose, skin, breath had just been. Liz opened her eyes, searching for him, even though she knew he was still there. He had leaned back a little and one of his hands was grasping her scarf.

“Lift up,” he whispered. Liz complied and lifted her head from the windowpane. Max unwrapped her scarf from around her beautiful neck for the second time for the second time that evening, then immediately bent down again to sample the skin there. In no time at all he heard Liz gasping, could feel the deep rising and sinking of her chest as she drew one arm around his neck and the other around his torso. Max then moved his own hands down her body. Grasping her over her coat and clothes until the former fell open, framing her spread legs. Max slipped his hand between their mid-sections, noting that he was just as worked up as she appeared to be. He cupped her over her jeans, relishing the moment her gasping became whimpering.

The taxi pulled to a stop at a red light. The snow had been falling well over an hour now, and though the city streets were salted, the efforts of mere humans weren’t enough to keep up with Mother Nature. More than six inches of snow clung to the ground, hugging it like a blanket. The taxi helplessly sunk lopsidedly towards the shoulder of the road, causing Liz to slip a little deeper, a little closer to Max. His hand caught her by her core, and the heat of it, even through the thick denim, was incredible. She arched further, and Max reciprocated with equal pressure. He moved his hand and fingers experimentally, deducing with amazing speed and accuracy what she liked. When her whimper became a moan he raised his head back to hers and kissed her deeply. His other hand, which he’d been using to cradle her head as he’d kissed her neck, snuck below her coat and sweater, first drawing indistinguishable patterns on her stomach, then creeping further up to cup her breast – softly at first, and then more roughly.

How long they remained in this delicious state neither could say. It seemed as if they’d always been like this, yet hadn’t ever been like this, both at the same time. All they knew was, when Liz had returned to reality after feeling the effects of Max’s ministrations, the taxi driver was at a standstill in front of a building, and demanding his fare.


If Liz had been slightly more alert, Max would have had his hands full trying to convince her to go into another elevator after what they’d endured earlier that evening. As it was, the walk to the front door and through the lobby, the journey up the elevator and down the hallway all passed her by in a blur. They must have happened, though, because by the time she could even partially register what was going on, Max had her pinned against a door in a darkened apartment. He was alternating between touching her, kissing her, neither of which he seemed to be able to get enough of, and shedding the clothes from his own body. There was no awkwardness, no shy pauses, just a simple “Are you sure? We don’t have to,” whispered gently as he framed her face between his hands. Thinking that it seemed a little late to be asking that question, Liz responded the only way she could think to – by kissing him just as fully and as passionately as he’d first done in the taxi. From then on there were no more questions asked between them, no words, for none were needed. They proceeded from there, both learning – or perhaps instinctively knowing – what the other wanted, needed, craved. And when at last they became one, both knew that no experience before this had ever been as rewarding or beautiful.

Again and again they made love as the snow fell onto the streets below.


Love be still
Love be sweet
Don’t you dare
Change a thing

At 3:42 in the morning, Max opened his eyes and immediately beheld an angel sleeping on the pillow next to him. He wondered if he was dreaming, but then all the memories of what had happened that night returned. He smiled contentedly.

I want to photograph you with my mind,
To feel how I feel now all the time

Unable to help himself, he reached out and softly traced the contours of her face. Lightly she raised her cheek into his fingers before leaning back down into her pillow without waking. Max continued his perusal of her forehead, cheeks, nose, mouth, chin, neck, and collarbone. He could see the top swell of her breasts before they disappeared underneath the down comforter. His gaze lingered there before coming back up to her peaceful sleeping face, her mouth slightly open as she breathed.

Say that you'll stay
Forever this way
Forever and forever
That we'll never have to change

He caressed the soft skin at her neck again, then her shoulders and arms. How had this beautiful creature found her way into his life? Twelve hours earlier he’d been dreading the evening trip to pick up his stuff from his ex. They’d dated for six months, yet he felt more of a connection to this small wisp of a woman in one evening than he had during all that time he’d been with Tess. Or with any other woman, actually. Max wasn’t new to relationships, and he certainly wasn’t a virgin, but being with Liz tonight had made him feel as though he was. He’d always tried to be a considerate lover, but he’d never desired to please anyone as much as he had tonight. He’d let that desire drive his actions – every kiss, every touch had been expressly to see, hear, feel how good it had made her feel. And the more he’d pleased her, the more pleased he himself had been.

Don’t move, don’t breathe
Don’t change, don’t leave

She was a mystery, an enigma, a bundled mass of contradictions. She was shy, yet bold at intervals. She was brave, but frightened of something like an elevator. She could be so quiet one moment, then completely outspoken the next. She had intelligence and understanding beyond what he’d hoped to meet in another human being. Her insight wasn’t limited to certain areas; rather, he could feel that she understood things about himself that he hadn’t been able to talk about with other people. Max wondered how long it might take him to figure out every habit, every quirk, everything essential that made up this woman that he was lucky enough to have in his bed. He couldn’t put a time frame on it, but “forever” had a nice ring to it.

And promise me,
Say you'll stay
We'll stay
This way

His hand had developed a mind of its own as Max reflected back on their earlier excursions. He suddenly realized that the comforter had been pushed down to expose her tummy and waist, and he was tracing circles and figure-eights on her exposed breast. Liz’s breathing had changed; her hand came up to intertwine their fingers, and her eyes were fluttering behind closed eyelids. He knew in a moment she would awaken.

I get afraid
Don’t think ahead
Let’s just stay
This way in bed

Sure enough, Liz soon opened her eyes. Max could swear he could see stars in them, but he was unsure whether they came from the city’s evening lights flooding in from the bay windows behind him, or from within her.

“Hey,” he whispered.

“Hey,” she said back, her voice cracking a little. She squeezed his fingers lightly.

Feels so good inside your arms
Home is everywhere you are

Max leaned towards her and placed an open-mouthed kiss on her shoulder. Then he rested his chin against it, fitting the contours of her shoulder into the curves of his under-jaw and neck. He released his hand from her grip, using it to turn her face to his. He had something he needed to say to her, and he wanted to make sure she knew he was being honest with her.

Liz couldn’t help the way she started to shake when he took his hand out of hers. His gaze was so serious, and she was almost nervous about what he was about to say to her. It occurred to her for a brief second that perhaps she should be worried, but looking into his eyes, she found it impossible.

“I just wanted you to know that, uh, I’m clean, and … I don’t usually do this,” he said to her.

Say that you'll stay
Forever this way

At that moment it struck Liz that they hadn’t even thought to use protection. She was usually adamant about it, but for some reason tonight, it simply hadn’t occurred to her. She’d only done that once before, after getting rather drunk at a New Years’ Eve party. The next morning she’d flipped out and made Kyle and her go get blood tests.

Max had taken this step out there and told her what she knew was the truth. She knew it had to have been difficult to bring up something like that, for so many reasons that she couldn’t have begun to articulate. Wanting to give him the same reassurance, Liz lifted her arm up and wrapped her hand around Max’s bicep, lightly grazing his skin with the tips of her nails. “I know,” she told him gently. “Me, too.”

Forever and forever
That we'll never have to change

Max gave her a small smile, then kissed her shoulder again. This time, though, rather than backing off, he pulled further forward and kissed her lips. He brought his head directly over hers, deepening their kiss. When he suddenly broke away, Liz felt the same rush of cold she’d felt when he’d done the same thing earlier in the taxi.

Max pulled the comforter and sheets off of her and began to run his hands up and down her body. Sometimes his touch was so light, it felt like butterfly wings against Liz’s skin. Other times he pressed into certain nooks and crannies where she was especially sensitive, and she shivered from the pleasure of it. Max took his time in getting to know every line and curve of her body, but not once did he bring his mouth to replace the job his hands were doing.

Don’t move, don’t breathe
Don’t change, don’t leave
And promise me
Say you'll stay
We'll stay
This way

He finished his perusal of her torso and skipped over the area that was craving his touch more than anything, tracing instead the outlines of her thighs and knees, pausing to run his fingertips over the curve in the back of her right knee. Liz clutched at the sheets, gasping unevenly, but her eyes always stayed locked on his face. Max turned and met her gaze as he sat back and leaned her foot against his chest, running his fingers down her calf. He turned and met her gaze as he started massaging her foot lightly, and Liz felt her jaw quivering. Soon he placed her foot back on the bed and gave her left foot the same treatment. He took the same journey up her left leg that he had taken down the right one, learning that the tendon in the upper back knee on her left side gave her more pleasure than the same spot on the right. He laid down now, his lips reaching just below her belly button, and Liz began to hope that she’d soon feel his mouth lower. But instead, he placed open-mouthed kisses on her tummy and ran his fingers around the curve of her buttocks. His kisses against her skin became harder, and soon he was sucking, licking, biting, and soothing the space just below her belly button and to the right a little bit. His hands were now grazing the sides of her breasts, and though she had been entertaining a different idea of what she’d like him to do to her right now, it all felt too good for any complaining. She closed her eyes and existed only sensations he created on and within her.

Don’t move, don’t breathe
Don’t change, don’t leave
Promise me
We'll always be
This kind, this sweet
This good to me
Promise me
We'll always be

Max was hoping the little spot he was kissing would bear a mark tomorrow, just as he knew he’d show souvenirs of this night all over his neck, chest, shoulders and back. He also knew exactly where he’d be going from here, but he’d wanted to keep her guessing a little.

Liz was in such a daze that she didn’t feel him lift up and shift further down the bed. But her eyes flew open at the first touch of his tongue against her nether lips. He drew his tongue up her sensitive skin and closed his mouth over her clit, causing Liz to bow off the bed. Max lifted his face up a little and smiled at her.

“Something the matter?” he asked teasingly.

Liz laughed at his joke, threading the fingers of her right hand through his hair. He bent back down and started kissing her again. “No-nothing,” she managed to say, falling back down onto the pillows.

Say that you'll stay
Forever this way
Forever and forever
That we'll never have to change

Max smiled at the reaction he witnessed in her. She was grasping his hair so hard it was almost painful, but he didn’t care. Her juices tasted like heaven, and he just wanted more. He continued to lick, kiss and suck until he’d had his fill. Then decided he wanted to be able to watch her clearly as she fell apart in his arms yet again. He braced his weight on his left arm and pulled himself up. His right he slid down, inserting two of his fingers into Liz and using his thumb to press small circles into her swollen clit. Liz came only a few seconds later, calling out his name, but still he didn’t remove his hand from her core. His movements with his thumb caused her to feel aftershocks of pleasure for so long, that she couldn’t remember a time when she hadn’t been there like this.

When she finally came down, Max brought his hand to his lips and licked her taste from them. “You’re amazing,” he whispered to her.

Liz lowered her head, blushing as she whispered back, “Thanks.” Max was suddenly struck with a case of déjà-vu, and he racked his brain to think of why. He recalled, then, that she’d done something similar when he’d whispered those same words to her in the elevator earlier that night. Smiling, he turned her face back to him and kissed her.

After more kissing and caressing on both their parts, Max finally slid into Liz, and it felt like home.

Don’t move, don’t breathe
Don’t change, don’t leave
And promise me
Say you'll stay
We'll stay
This way


At 7:30 that morning, Max grudgingly turned off his beeping alarm clock. After that instinctive move, thoughts and memories immediately assailed his mind of the evening – and morning – he’d had. He closed his eyes and smiled widely, resting back down on the pillow. He went to put his arm around Liz, but encountered only a cold and empty space in the bed. His eyes opened sharply to look for her, but the only sign of her was a dent in the pillow. He called her name and searched the apartment, but it was useless. She was gone.


Song used is 'This Way' by Jewel
Last edited by LairaBehr4 on Tue Dec 05, 2006 9:14 am, edited 4 times in total.
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Some Enchanted Evening Part 4

Post by LairaBehr4 » Sat Nov 18, 2006 2:58 pm

Hi guys,

Sorry it took so long - work has been difficult the last few weeks, and Lord knows my apartment is nothing but a breeding ground for distractions. Anyway, I hope it was worth the wait!

Eternal thanks to Spray, my beloved beta!

Thanks to:

Roswell3053 (x2)
Queen Fee
Zanity (x3) - Maybe I'll utilize chapterettes when I start on your (first) challenge, which, by the way, I've already started brainstorming in anticipation of this fic ending.
Dreamsatnight (x3)
Lorastar (x5) - what are you talking about? Everybody LOVED the Chapterette - right, guys? BTW, how's the star?
Augustus Snodgrass (x3)- Your feedback is never crappy. Quit spurring on the masses! Good luck on finals.
L-J-L 76
Poison Ivy - I'm eternally indebted to you for granting me this challenge.
Dreamer 4 Ever
Maya (x2) - hey! The challenge made it that way!
Cocogurl - thank you. Let's go see if we can get Double to post!
Michelle In Yonkers

And happy 21st birthday to Ashley, aka Morning Dreamgirl! This one's for you.

For the purposes of clarification, words in italics are people's thoughts, words in bold are spoken over the phone, and words in bold italics are songs.

Some Enchanted Evening

Part Four

Liz wasn't afraid of flying, but her heart hadn't stopped pounding ever since she'd woken up. She'd opened her eyes at around 5:45 that morning, and her eyes had been filled with the still-dark sky blanketing the world, coming in through the large bay windows and the city lights illuminating the beautiful man sleeping next to her. Her first reaction had been to smile, a smile she could feel all the way to her fingers and toes. But it was quickly followed by shock. Guilt. Panic. Shame.

She'd cheated on Kyle. She'd never cheated on anyone before, and she'd cheated on Kyle. With a stranger. A stranger she'd never met before tonight. She'd never done that. Not once. Not even in college, where random hook-ups were pretty much the order of the day. What the hell was wrong with her? She had a fiancé to break up with and a wedding to cancel, and to top it off, … she'd cheated. And while she couldn't quite bring herself to regret her actions, she was heartily ashamed of her behavior. The world and life she'd left behind her after exiting that elevator last night was crashing down around her, fast.

As quickly and as quietly as she could, she slipped out of bed and dressed herself. She found her purse, boots, coat, gloves, hat, and scarf. Her hand reached for the doorknob, but rather than grabbing and turning it, she paused. It felt wrong to leave like this, like she was walking away from something so good and might never find anything like it again. She turned on her heel and dashed back into the bedroom. She walked over to the sleeping deity in the bed, her back to the window. Dawn was a long time coming, she knew. After staring a few moments, she leaned down and lightly kissed his stubbled cheek. His reaction, even in sleep, was immediate – he breathed in a little deeper, and as he breathed out, she could have sworn he whispered her name. But it was probably her imagination. After all, he'd only met her that night, and Liz was a common enough name.

Finally ready to leave – as ready as she could be, anyway – she forced herself to walk quickly back to the door, and this time, not to hesitate as she opened it and left.

She was shaking the entire taxi ride to the airport. A confused bundle of contradicting thoughts and feelings consumed her mind. She barely registered buying a new ticket or going through security or boarding the plane. Her cell phone she kept off, not wanting to face the world until she could come to terms with everything that had happened last night. She tried to concentrate on deciding what to tell Kyle, but the memory of Max's lips on hers distracted her. She tried to think of how on earth she was going to break the news to her parents that the wedding was cancelled, but it was so hard to focus when the taste of him was still on her tongue.

All in all, it was a very unproductive flight for one Liz Parker.


As the plane taxied to the gate, Liz knew it was time to face the music. She pulled her cell out of her purse and, with only the slightest amount of trepidation, pressed the power button. In a few seconds, the contraption joined in the surrounding chorus of cell phone chimes from the other passengers as it sprang to life. There was scarcely enough time for the phone to beep three times in quick succession, letting her know that there were 8 new messages for her, before it rang again. "KYLE CELL" ominously lit up the screen in big, black, bold caps. Liz pressed the "Send" button to accept the call.


"Liz? Oh God, is that you? Where the hell have you been? Your parents and I have been trying to get ahold of you all night! They said your flight got cancelled. Why didn't you call?" His voice was slightly relieved to hear from her, but mostly angry, which Liz could understand. If he'd been stuck in a strange city and hadn't called, she'd be pretty upset, too.

"I'm really sorry, Kyle. It's a long story, but I'm at the airport now. I'm coming to see you soon. We need to talk."

Kyle groaned. "We need to talk? That's never a good thing."

"No," Liz sighed. "It's not."

But even as she said the words, she knew she didn't really believe them.


If it hadn't been for the smell of her still clinging to the bedsheets or her marks on his skin, Max might have thought that it had all just been some wonderful dream. But it hadn't been, and now she had just disappeared without a trace. There was no fooling himself into thinking that she might have gone to fetch coffee or the like - she was gone and he knew she wouldn't be coming back.

Max tried to think if there was any way to find her, but the only thing he really knew about her was that her name was Liz and she was from Atlanta where her parents owned a restaurant that he didn't know the name of. He didn't even know her last name. There were over four million people living in Atlanta. Needles were found in haystacks with less effort.

For reasons he couldn't even express, Max knew he wouldn't be up to working today. He called the firm and left a message claiming illness, then dragged himself back to his bed and buried his head in the pillow she'd slept on last night. He clutched it tightly and fell back into a troubled sleep.


"You cheated on me?!"

Liz could only imagine what he must be feeling. With the wedding drawing so near, they hadn't been able to have much time alone for the last few weeks, and when they finally did, this wasn't what either of them had imagined they'd be doing.

"Kyle, I ..."

"SHUT UP! YOU don't get to talk here. You fucking cheated on me, Liz!"

"I know," she said softly from her seat on the couch. It wasn't going very well, needless to say.

Kyle was standing over her, looking like he was ready to kill her. Having a little bit of self-control, he backed off a little and began pacing, muttering obscenities and insults under his breath. After a few awful moments of this, he stopped in front of her again, breathing heavily. "God, aren't you even going to say you're sorry?"

Liz steeled herself for his reaction to this one. "No." She wasn't sorry. She couldn't be sorry. And today wasn't the day to lie to him about it.

Kyle advanced on her and raised his hand. Liz shrunk back into the couch, honestly afraid that he might really hit her. When he saw her reaction, Kyle reined himself in again, but that didn't assuage his anger in the least. He walked over to the wall and pounded his fist into that instead. Liz felt a little ashamed of herself. While she'd seen the way he used physical activity as an outlet, he'd always kept it constrained to the gym or the field. She'd never seen him so angry that he had needed to hit something, anything, right at that second.

Slowly, he turned around to face her again. "What the fuck did you think was going to happen after you told me this, Liz?"

Liz sat up a little straighter. "I thought we'd call off the wedding," she said with a resigned realism. Quite simply, this was what she expected to happen, what she wanted to happen. She needed to make sure he knew that there would be no apologies, no begging for him to forgive her and take her back.

Kyle was eerily still as he processed her words. When at last he spoke again, his voice was calm and most of the anger had disappeared, though, she knew, had not diffused. "That's what you want?" Liz nodded her head. Kyle kept standing in the same place. If it hadn't been for his fists clenching, an onlooker might have thought that he was not affected by what was happening. "You're breaking up with me?" he asked her. She nodded again.

Kyle was silent for a long time. He turned his head away from her, looking instead at his carpeted living room floor, but not really seeing anything.

Liz didn't know how long he kept up this excruciating silence before finally he looked back and her, rage laced in his voice. "Go, then." Moving as she would around a predatory animal, Liz slowly stood, picked up her purse and coat, and exited the premesis.

Once she was safely in her car, Liz breathed easier. She knew that this would probably be the last time she'd see Kyle. He really was a good guy at heart, and Liz doubted he'd do anything to hurt her. She wasn't sure what this would mean for them and their circle of friends, though. Liz's closest friends had both moved from Atlanta a long time ago - Maria had gone to New York, and Alex had gone to school in San Francisco and found a job in Silicon Valley. Most of the people she hung out with in Atlanta were people she'd known with Kyle in college. After his anger dissipated, she had no idea what he might do or say to them, whether they'd accept her the same as they'd done before or be forced to pick sides between her and Kyle. Not for the first time in the last twenty-four hours, the future seemed very uncertain.

Now, on to what could quite possibly be a tougher crowd - her parents.


It was Friday afternoon, and Max couldn't decide if he was happy about that or not. The effort it had taken to get him out of bed and ready for work this morning had been nothing short of herculean. He wasn't sure he would have managed it if it weren't for the fact that the remnants of Liz's stay were beginning to fade, and he couldn't bear to witness it. He'd never had a problem throwing himself into his work and using that as a means of venting any frustrations or escaping, but he'd lost interest in what he was doing. He couldn't focus. The passion he'd once been able to channel into contract law now refused to be tamed. He saw himself in a new light - a shark in a suit, helping big companies suck every dime they could out of every possible crevice. He didn't like what that made him.

Telling his assistant that he still felt a little sick, he left the office a few hours early. He thought of going home, but quickly dismissed the notion. Instead he took the subway, which he continued to use out of habit, to Washington Square Park. Though it was not as densely populated as it was in the summer months, there was still a fairly regular shuffle.

Washington Square Park had been one of Max's favorite places while he'd attended undergrad at NYU. The park, or one of the restaurants or cafes nearby, allowed him a place to read, study, people-watch, or simply to think. Though he currently lived on the Upper East Side, every once in a blue moon he'd come back here. As he sat down on a bench, he tried to think of the last time he'd been there. He' realized with a shock that it had been almost two years ago - just after his sister had moved to San Francisco.

Almost on cue, his cell phone began to ring. Max pulled it out of his pocket and checked the ID. He smiled his first genuine smile in 2 days when he saw his sister's name. "Hey, Iz!" he called into the phone.

"Hey, Max! How are you?

"Not bad, how about yourself?"

"I'm doing well. Hey, why aren't you at work? I called there and they said you weren't feeling well? But you sound okay.

"Yeah, I just," Max paused - after all, how much did he really want to tell his sister the real reason why he'd taken off from work? "I guess I just needed a few hours to myself."

"Then why didn't you go home?"

Max sighed. "It's a long story, Isabel. Hey, how's it going with that guy you've been seeing?"

"Alex? He's wonderful. He makes me really happy, Max. Max had to admit it - she really did sound happy, happier than he could remember, actually.

"That's great, Iz. And work's going okay?" Isabel had always had a feel for design and architecture, but felt as though the company she'd worked for in New York had pigeon-holed her. She'd moved to San Francisco to a company that offered her more room to explore, and had finally "found her bliss", as she said, in interior design.

"Work is going really well, actually. I'm starting to pick up some projects in Oakland and Berkeley, and one in San Jose. It's pretty exciting."

"That's great," Max said with as much enthusiasm as he could muster.

Isabel wasn't fooled. "What's wrong, Max?" she asked.

"I don't know." That was a lie, he knew perfectly well, but he just didn't want to talk about it. "I just ... I think it might be time to start thinking about making some changes."

"Really?" Isabel asked with a little timidity.

"Yes. I don't like where my life is going." Max gave a little laugh before asking, "Do you think it's possible to have a quarter-life crisis?"

Isabel laughed from the other end of the line, and her laughter fed Max's and brightened his spirits. "I definitely think it's possible, Max. What do you think your crisis stems from? What is it that you want to fix?"

"I don't know. I wouldn't even know where to start."

He could almost see Isabel pondering his words; one hand on her hip, one curled below her jaw with a single finger tapping her cheek. "Max, why don't you think about moving?" she said after a pause. "When I needed to make a change, I thought the best place to start was to change my place, my actual physical location in the world. Do you think that makes sense?"

"Yeah, I could see that," Max said, warming up to the idea almost before the words had even left his mouth.

"There's a lot going on out here. There's a lot of immigrant labor, and new immigration laws they're talking about are going to affect a lot of people who can't even understand what's going on because they don't speak the language. They could really use someone intelligent to fight for them."

Max listened to what Isabel told him, and it was a though someone had turned on the light. All the fears and uncertainties that had dominated his decision-making over the years were pushed to the side. He could move. He could do something that was not only interesting, but worthwhile. He could maybe get back some of that passion that he'd lost years before, the passion that had been rekindled by a stranger in an elevator and felt broken and burdensome without her there anymore.

"Just think about it, Max," Isabel said, taking his silence as a rejection of her idea.

"No, no, I-I will," he quickly stuttered into the phone, amazed at where his thoughts had taken him.

From the recesses of his mind, words flowed back to him:

"The catalyst for change just isn't there. The desire is, but not the inspiration or the imperative need."

Max's breath caught in his throat. Suddenly, that catalyst didn't seem so illusive anymore.


It's coming on Christmas
They're cutting down trees
They're putting up reindeer
And singing songs of joy and peace
Oh I wish I had a river
I could skate away on

Joni Mitchell's haunting words spoke straight to Liz's heart as she sat at her parent's kitchen table on a Friday afternoon with a bright pink and white phone book in front of her and a portable phone in her hand. Her mother had put the phone book together to keep track of everyone involved with the wedding - the priest, the reception hall, the DJ, the seamstress who'd be making the adjustments to the bridesmades gowns, the tux rental place, the flower shop, and of course, all the guests. One by one, Liz called them all and relayed the news that the wedding had been cancelled. She'd gotten started yesterday, but hadn't been able to finish. She was trying to be as patient and polite as she could about it, but it was beginning to frustrate her that almost everyone began to pry into the why's and wherefore's of the cancellation instead of leaving the personal details private.

But it don't snow here
It stays pretty green
I'm going to make a lot of money
Then I'm going to quit this crazy scene
I wish I had a river
I could skate away on

"Need some help?" her mother asked as she entered the kitchen. She held up her cell phone for Liz to see.

"Yes, please," Liz smiled. Her parents hadn't taken the news very well, and had demanded angrily that she tell them why the wedding was cancelled. Liz had stubbornly refused to give them any details, which led to her father storming out in a fury and her mother telling her how disappointed she was before following him. These were the first words either of her parents had spoken to her since yesterday morning, and Liz welcomed the offered flag of truce.

I wish I had a river so long
I would teach my feet to fly
Oh I wish I had a river
I could skate away on
I made my baby cry

Nancy Parker sat down adjacent to Liz at the table, but before she reached for the phone book, she put her hand on Liz's forearm. "Look, Liz, your father and I were stunned by what you ... what you had to say yesterday. We just want to make sure that you're not making a mistake."

Liz looked her mother squarely in the eye and said with firm, even words, "I'm not, Mom."

Nancy hadn't expected such an unhesitant response and was a little put-off by it. "Sweetie, do you want to at least just tell me what happened while you were visiting Maria?"

He tried hard to help me
You know, he put me at ease
And he loved me so naughty
Made me weak in the knees
Oh I wish I had a river
I could skate away on

Without breaking eye-contact, Liz told her mother, not for the first time, "I just realized that I can't marry him, Mom. I don't love him that way."

"But hon, everyone gets nervous before their wedding. I know you've been feeling overwhelmed by it all, but--"

"No, Mom, that's not it. I don't want to spend my life with him, or grow old with him, or have his children. Now please, leave it alone."

I'm so hard to handle
I'm selfish and I'm sad
Now I've gone and lost the best baby
That I ever had
Oh I wish I had a river
I could skate away on

Her voice left no room for argument. With a sigh, Nancy looked over and dialed a number into her cell.

Liz looked up a number, too. But just as she was about to press the "Call" button for a dial tone, the phone rang, startling both her and Nancy.

"Hello?" Liz answered.

An automated voice replied: "This is a message for Elizabeth Parker to confirm your appointment with Dr. MacIntyre for Thursday, December 28, at ten-fifteen AM. Again, your appointment with Dr. MacIntyre is for Thursday, December 28, at ten-fifteen AM. Thank you."

I wish I had a river so long
I would teach my feet to fly
Oh I wish I had a river
I made my baby say goodbye

Liz hung up on the voice and made a note in the corner of the phone book. As she traced over the letters, her thoughts drifted to Max, as they were wont to do every few seconds or so. She wondered what he was doing right now.

Forcing herself not to get carried away with her thoughts while under the scrutining eye of her mother, she got back to making the tedious calls.

It's coming on Christmas
They're cutting down trees
They're putting up reindeer
And singing songs of joy and peace
I wish I had a river
I could skate away on


The moving plans had worked out splendidly. Max had enough time to pack everything up, give in a three-week notice, help hire and train his replacement and was still able to spend Christmas with his parents here in New York. And while most of his belongings were being shipped to San Francisco, he'd decided to drive his car there himself. If all went according to plan, he'd arrive in time to spend New Years' Eve with his sister and her boyfriend.

As he walked out of his barren apartment for the last time, Max drank in the sight one last time. He'd been fortunate to have such an incredible apartment, and an incredible 26 - nearly 27 - years in New York City. One night stood out, though, as the best of all - and in his mind's eye, he saw his bed back where it used to be, with a beautiful brunette sleeping in it peacefully. The thought of it filled him with equal amounts of happiness and deep-cutting pain.

Max forced himself to leave these thoughts in this apartment. He was starting a new life, and it would have been bad luck to keep hold of too much luggage from the old one. But as he closed the door behind him, he couldn't help from muttering to himself, "That's one hell of a catalyst."


Liz walked out of the office in a state of shock and disbelief. She couldn't believe what her doctor had told her. She couldn't believe how much her life had changed from one short month ago. And though there was no doubt in her mind as to who her partner had been, she just couldn't believe that this was how their single night together had turned out.

She was pregnant.

Song used is 'River' by Joni Mitchell
Last edited by LairaBehr4 on Tue Dec 05, 2006 9:18 am, edited 3 times in total.
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Post by LairaBehr4 » Tue Dec 05, 2006 5:25 pm

Some Enchanted Evening

Part Five

Liz couldn’t believe it. She was pregnant?! She was pregnant. She was pregnant. She was pregnant …

She’d be lying to herself if she said that she hadn’t fantasized about somehow running into Max again, but she knew it was useless. It had been a one night stand. Right? They lived far away, they both had lives and jobs in their respective cities, and they didn’t even know each other at all. One frightening experience of getting stuck in an elevator, and they talked a little, but she knew as soon as she’d woken up that morning in his bed that there wouldn’t be a happily ever after for them. Even after that wonderful night … Liz still got shivers just thinking about it … but it was all wrong for starting a relationship. She’d been engaged, for God’s sake! Granted, she had intended to call off her engagement before they’d even kissed, but still. And he hadn’t even known that about her. No, their happily ever after would never be.

But now she was pregnant with his child. She knew it was his – before the trip to New York, she and Kyle had been so busy with work and the wedding plans, that they hadn’t had intercourse for several weeks. By the time they realized it, it was so close to the wedding that they decided to hold off until then. It couldn’t have been Kyle’s baby. She was only a few weeks along, and if it hadn’t been for that doctor’s appointment, she wouldn’t have even known it for Lord knows how much longer.

But Liz was glad she knew. She was glad to have this baby. Her hand went to her flat stomach almost absentmindedly as she walked to her car, clutching the prescription for prenatal vitamins that her doctor had given her. As she felt her fingertips touch the sensitive skin below her bellybutton, her heart swelled with a love that already knew no limits for the child growing there. And she knew, knew, knew this baby didn’t, couldn’t, belong to Kyle. It belonged to the only man who had ever really touched her heart. Liz couldn’t keep the tilt off her lips as she thought about bringing that wonderful man’s baby into the world.

Immediately following, though, the panic hit her. She carried in her womb the progeny of a man, and she didn’t even know his last name.

She had to tell him. She had to tell him. She just had to.

Rather than going back to her parent’s house, she drove to the airport and, for the second time that month, parked her car in the long-term lot.


Maria heard the door to her studio open. She looked at the clock on her desk and sighed. It was the middle of the afternoon, too soon for Michael to be there. That meant whoever it was probably wanted her to make them a dress, and she couldn’t stand any more work. “I’m sorry,” she called from behind a partition where she was busy putting the finishing touches on a dress for a Christmas party that the mayor’s wife would be wearing. “I’m completely overbooked until February. The wait list for a dress is eighteen months, and for suits is a year, and I won’t scandalize you by saying the stating price out loud. You’ll have to go somewhere else.”

“Maria?” a small panicked voice cried.

Maria perked up. “Liz?” She rushed to the partition, the dress forgotten, her maternal instincts taking over at how broken the voice sounded. “Oh my God, Liz, what are you doing here?” Liz didn’t answer, only burst into tears. Judging from the red marks at her eyes, it wasn’t the first time today. Maria gathered her friend in her arms and softly stroked her hair, letting her cry.

When Liz had calmed down a little, Maria turned her head up to face her. With her thumbs she wiped the tears that were still falling. “Is this about Kyle?” she asked softly.

“No!” Liz began to cry again, and Maria instantly regretted her question.

“Okay, okay, calm down honey.” Maria resumed running her fingers through Liz’s hair in an effort to calm her.

“Oh, God, Maria, I’ve messed up so badly,” Liz managed through her sobs.

“Why, honey?”

“I-I slept with someone wh-when I was here last time,” Liz confessed.

Maria tightened her grip a little around Liz’s frame to show her support. She knew her friend took sex very seriously, and if Liz had slept with a guy, it wasn’t just a careless mistake or a mindless fuck. She knew that Kyle must know about this, and that it was probably why the wedding had been cancelled. Telling him must have been so awful for her. Maria wanted Liz to know that she wouldn’t have to fear any judgment or recrimination from her. Instead she just stood there, silently giving her friend everything she needed.

“He – he was so wonderful, Maria. We talked for hours. We met in this building and it was just so …” a small ghost voice whispered in Liz’s head, and she repeated its word aloud to Maria. “Amazing.” Liz felt Maria’s chin nod against the top of her head. Though she still cried, she found breath enough to tell her, “I found out today that I’m pregnant.”

Maria was stunned. It took a strength she didn’t even know she possessed not to cease her hand’s ministrations in Liz’s hair or drop her arm and shriek, “You’re WHAT?!” When she knew she’d be able to keep the shock and concern out of her voice, she asked, “His?” She was amazed at how soft her voice sounded, even to her. Liz nodded. “What’s his name?”


“What’s his last name?”

“I don’t know.”

“Does he work here?”

“I don’t know. I don’t think so. I’ve been downstairs for the last hour and a half calling everyone with a first initial “M” that I could find in that computer directory in the lobby.”

“Really? How come I didn’t get a call?” Maria tried to crack a joke, and was delighted when she heard a small laugh coming from Liz.

“You were in the bathroom,” she joked back.

Making a joke in the middle of her breakdown could only be a good thing, Maria thought. Now that the mood was lightened a little, Maria got back to a more serious line of questioning. “Do you remember where you guys went after you left the building?”

“We went to his apartment. I don’t remember where. It was dark. I didn’t see. I don’t remember …”

Maria could feel Liz’s hand bunching up her sweater and knew she was seconds away from crying again. “Okay, Liz, Liz sweetie, you’ve got to calm down. You’ve got to calm down. This isn’t good for you and the baby, honey. Please stop crying. Think of your baby, Liz.” That seemed to do the trick, for Liz’s breaths deepened and her death grip loosened. “Okay, now sweetie, why don’t you sit down here, and I’ll go get you some water and a tissue, okay?” Liz nodded as Maria helped her into a plush loveseat along the wall. Maria’s studio contained a small kitchen with a water cooler, and she quickly filled up a plastic souvenir cup from Ellis Island. As she passed by her desk on her way back to Liz, she grabbed a box of tissues.

Maria made Liz finish the water while she sat next to her, smoothing away the tear tracks which ran down her face. When the water was gone and Liz’s face was something like its usual color, though a bit pale, Maria noticed, she asked again softly, “Liz, are you sure you don’t remember anything about his apartment?”

Liz thought for a minute. “We were high up. I could see over the roofs of other buildings. I didn’t recognize any of the buildings, though.”

“Were they close by or further away?” If the building she’d seen had been moved back a bit, there might be a small garden or park nearby.

“I don’t really remember. I,” Liz laughed, “I wasn’t really paying attention to the view.”

The two of them laughed together at this information. “He was pretty cute then, huh?” Maria asked with a wide smile.

Liz nodded, but Maria’s question chased away her smile and her jaw began to shudder. She looked down at the carpet and began to get lost in her memories. Oh, why couldn’t I keep my big mouth shut?, Maria silently cursed.

“It wasn’t about that, Maria. I mean, yes he was, but he was more than that too. He was smart and kind and sweet and,” Liz laughed when she remembered he’d been carrying a box of booze, “maybe a bit of an alcoholic, but he … he just got me, you know? I told him about kissing Jeremy after you dared him to back in the seventh grade, and about GSK, and about my grandma.” Liz met Maria’s eyes then in silent understanding. Of all people, Maria knew how close Liz and her grandmother had been, and it spoke volumes about this man that Liz had shared it with him. “And he told me about his life, too, and … when he asked me to go home with him, I just couldn’t say no. I didn’t even think about … everything that was happening, everything with Kyle … until the next morning.” The tears began to fall as she continued. “And I just freaked. I just got so scared and mixed up that I couldn’t even thing straight. I just left.” She lost her fragile control and began to sob again, more violently than before. “I just walked out on him. Oh God, what must he think of me!”

Maria wasted no time in embracing Liz again. “Oh honey, I’m sure he doesn’t think badly of you.”

“No, no, he does, I’m sure he does! If I had a guy walk out on me like that, you’d hire a skywriter.”

Maria laughed. “Or put up flyers in his neighborhood, like Samantha in that one episode of ‘Sex and the City’.”

Liz smiled as best she could in the middle of her crying jag. “Yeah.”

Grabbing another tissue from the box, Maria dried Liz’s tears. “Sweetie, if you guys got as close as you did in that one night, I’m sure he doesn’t think of you that way. I’m sure he knows you’re not like that, and he’ll understand when we find him and you explain.”

“Really?” Liz asked.

“Really.” Maria kissed Liz’s forehead and was pleased to hear her breathing even out. “Okay, why don’t you go use the bathroom and wash your face, and I’ll go look in the phone book online, and we’ll see how it goes, okay?”


The rest of the afternoon was spent trying to find the mysterious Max. The online search came to a crashing halt when Maria discovered that a last name was required in order to make a search. So instead they turned their attention back to the building, and once again called everyone in the building whose first name began with an “M”. Once again, the results were fruitless. Exhausted, Liz sat down in Maria’s desk chair while her friend once again went to bring her some water.

“Hey Liz!” Maria yelled from the kitchen.


“What did you mean earlier when you said this guy was an alcoholic?”

“Oh,” Liz laughed. “That was kind of a joke. He was carrying a box of stuff, and there was some liquor inside. He said he’d just broken up with his girlfriend.”

“He what?” Maria asked as she came back into the room.

“He said he’d gotten the stuff from his girl … friend …” Liz’s voice trailed off as her eyes met Maria’s, and realization dawned.

“Oh, shit!”

“Liz!” Maria cried, scandalized. Liz almost never cursed! And now she’d done it twice in one day.

“Maria! He might not even work here! We’ve been wasting all this time! Oh my God, what are we going to do?”

“Liz, what did I tell you about calming down? Now come on and grab your coat.”


By the time darkness fell, Liz knew there could be no greater friend in the world than Maria was to her. After ushering her out the door and into one of the now very familiar elevators, Maria grabbed a taxi from the head of the queue and made him drive them all over the island of Manhattan, telling Liz to keep her eyes opened and see if she recognized anything. For more than two hours up, down, and all over, taking side streets where it was necessary to avoid traffic, but trying to stick to the main streets where it would be easier to see to the tops of the buildings. But even this expedition yielded no results. Liz couldn’t see anything she recognized, and when Maria asked what had been so damn interesting during a taxi ride that she couldn’t even recognize a single marker from the route, Liz blushed furiously and murmured something about “interesting conversation.” Maria wasn’t fooled for an instant.

“I’m so sorry, honey,” Maria told her as they exited the cab in front of her apartment building in Greenwich Village, near the intersection of Fourth and Seventh. “Is there anything I can do? Anything at all?”

Liz’s stomach grumbled loudly, making both women laugh. “I kinda just want to sleep for a while,” Liz said.

“Nuh-uh, missy, you heard little Baby in there. We’re getting you some food!” Maria linked her arm in Liz’s and marched the both of them down the street. Beautiful smells of all kinds of food wafted up at Liz, making her stomach growl some more. “Okay,” Maria guided as they walked down Seventh Avenue, “we’ve got a bunch of little diners and cafés here, but if you want something special, like Italian or Indian or French or something, just let me know and I will make it happen. Oh! But no spicy food for you. Baby no like the spicy food.”

As they walked along, Liz spotted an Italian restaurant called Cucina Stagionale at the corner of Bleeker Street. “Hey,” Liz tugged on Maria’s arm, “let’s go in there.”

“As Alex would say, ‘your wish is my command’!” Maria laughed, and they headed inside.

After they ordered their food, Maria asked, “So, have you heard from Alex lately?”

Liz nodded her head in the affirmative. “I called him to tell him about the wedding. He was really sweet about it. Said he’s been doing really well there. He’s still dating that woman he told us about last Christmas, Isabel.”

“Oh yeah? Did he bring her back to Atlanta for Christmas this year?”

“No, he asked his parents to come out there for Christmas instead. They haven’t been there since he finished college, and I guess he really wanted them to meet her. I think her family was going to be there this year, too, or at least some of them were.”

“Wow, meeting the family! Our little Alex! Who would have thunk it?”

“I know,” Liz laughed. “It’s hard to believe. I mean, he’s such a great guy, but so few people realize it, you know?” Liz paused as the waiter delivered their food; pasta linguini for Maria and chicken in mushroom sauce, along with a salad and risotto, for Liz. “But he’s really happy there. He even asked me to come down and visit over New Year’s and meet her, but after losing all our deposits on the wedding stuff it just didn’t seem practical.”

Maria chuckled. “Yeah, he asked me, too. As much as I love Alex, I’m not giving up both Christmas and New Year’s with Michael.”

“You and Michael didn’t spend Christmas together?”

Maria shook her head. “He’s not big with the holidays. His adopted dad was a real prick and he still just doesn’t really get into the whole 'family' scene. I wanted him to meet my mom while she was up here, but he said the combination of both Christmas and meeting the woman who brought Maria Alejandra Deluca into the world was just too damn much,” Maria smiled proudly. A lot of her personality came from her mother, and she was damned proud of it. Still, she understood Michael’s hesitation. “I think I’ll wait until there’s a more low-key opportunity to introduce them.”

“Good idea.” Liz said as she devoured her food.

Maria laughed. Her pregnancy wouldn’t be hidden for long if she kept on eating like that.


After dinner was over, Maria asked if there was anything else Liz wanted to do with regards to finding the illusive and mysterious Max. But in a city of over eight million people and not even a last name to start with, Liz could recognize a lost cause. “I think I’ll just walk around for a while.”

“Liz, are you sure? You don’t know the city that well and I don’t want anything to happen to you.”

Liz placed a hand on Maria’s arm. “I’ll be fine, I won’t walk far. I know where you live, I’ll take a taxi back if I have to. I just want to be alone for a little while.”

“You have your phone?” Maria raised her eyebrows and was only satisfied when Liz pulled her phone out of her purse and showed it to her. “Okay, well, the park’s only a few blocks up that way and over one block, and then it’s a straight shot back here to Seventh and back up to my apartment. Call me if you need anything.” Maria didn’t like leaving Liz alone, but it had been a stressful and emotional day for her, and she’d back off if she had to.

They parted ways. Liz walked up Sixth Avenue until she could see the park a block away. She found an empty bench and sat down, mulling over the day’s events in her head. Down the street she could see a building with illuminated letters spelling out “New York University.” For a moment, something clicked in her head; had Max gone to school at New York University? Or had he only said he’d gone to university in New York? Liz strained her memory and tried to recall, but nothing jumped at her from her mind. Still, it was nice to think that maybe he did go there. Maybe he used to have classes in that same building she looked at now. Maybe he used to sit in this park and study or read.

But it didn’t matter. She’d lost him now, and it was her fault entirely. Now she had to take care of her unborn baby, and she’d have to do it alone. Liz thought about Amy Deluca, another unwed mother who raised her kid in the Bible Belt, facing numerous obstacles after her ardently Catholic parents disowned her for getting pregnant at 16. Despite periods of unemployment and plenty of people ready to make her life difficult, she’d always managed to have a roof over her daughter’s head and food on the table, as well as being both mother and father to her child. Liz never really understood until now that, underneath that unflinching demeanor and take-me-on-if-you-dare attitude that Amy exuded, how frightened she must truly have been. Liz felt an acute kinship to Amy now, when she herself had given up on finding the father of her baby and was struggling to put together the rest of the pieces of her life before her child was born. She wondered if Amy might have any advice for her, especially for how to tell her parents.

Oh, her parents. It would have been one thing if she was working independently of the café or if she was living in her own place, but she’d moved back in with her parents after quitting GSK, and though at times it felt as though she’d been living at Kyle’s, now that was certainly no longer the case. She’d saved well while she’d been working and there was enough money to fall back on, maybe even enough to support herself until after the baby was born. Plus, having a newborn in the same house as her parents, who were up at five in the morning so they could open the café at 6:30, was probably not a good idea. She’d have to move out, and soon.

But move where? The thought of having her sometimes meddlesome parents around when she was going through so much wasn’t very appealing. They’d never stop questioning her about the baby’s parentage. She hadn’t told them about Max yet, and therefore they still harbored the dream that she and Kyle might yet work things out. She’d have to tell them the whole story soon, or they’d think the baby was Kyle’s.

And Kyle. She’d already hurt him so deeply. She had tried to break up with him calmly, but he’d assumed that she was getting nervous and wanted only to postpone the wedding. He’d demanded that she be honest with him, and so she was. He was still so angry at her. When he heard that she was pregnant, he’d become as livid as he’d been that day at his house a few weeks ago. Though Atlanta was a large city, Liz began to think that it might not be big enough for Kyle, herself and her baby.

Liz began to think of where else she might be able to move to. Perhaps Savannah. Liz had stayed there several times in her life, and she’s always enjoyed it. It was so close to the ocean, which had always appealed to Liz, and the thought of raising her child to have a love of water like the one she had made Liz happy. And it was less than four hours from Atlanta; it would be so easy to go home for a weekend, and easy for her parents to come visit her, if they wanted. But still, there was something off in the plan. Something didn’t quite seem right. She’d have to give it more thought before coming to a decision.

Liz laughed as she felt her phone vibrate in her purse. She pulled it out and flipped it open without checking the caller ID. “I’m fine, Maria,” she said.


Liz gasped. “Oh my God, Alex! Hey!”

“Hey yourself. Why did you call me Maria?”

“Oh, I thought she was calling to check up on me.”

“Why would she be checking up on you? Why wouldn’t you be fine?”

“Well I kinda flew up here on a spur-of-the-moment thing.”

“Why? Is everything okay?”

“Yeah, everything’s fine. I just … I needed to come back up here.”

Alex paused before he responded. “Liz, are you sure you’re okay? You’ve sounded kinda down the last few weeks. Is it because of the wedding?”

Liz sighed. Well, she’d have to tell him sooner or later. “No, it’s not because of the wedding. It’s because … I’m pregnant.”

She could hear Alex gasping in surprise. “I-is it Kyle’s?” he asked kindly.

Liz tried not to roll her eyes. “No, it’s not Kyle’s.”

“Wow, Liz … wow.”

“Yeah, I’m still kind of wowing about it myself.”

“When did you find out?”

“Today, actually.”

“Aah, hence the trip to Maria’s.”


Alex took a deep breath. “Liz, if there’s … if there’s anything I can do for you, you’d let me know, right?”

“Yeah, I know,” she smiled. “Actually, can you … just … keep this to yourself for a little while? You and Maria are the only people who know so far.”

“You didn’t even have to ask, Liz.”

“Thank you, Alex.” Liz clutched the phone. Even though he was 3,000 miles away, she felt as warm as if Alex had his arms wrapped around her right that minute.

“You know,” he continued, “the reason I called was, I just heard that there’s a new lab opening up in Monterey. It’s for the aquarium to try to treat some of the diseases caused by the pollution out here. It’s being funded by Cal State Monterey Bay, the city and the aquarium. The article I read sounded really interesting. They’re accepting applications starting next week. I know it’s far from home but I thought I’d let you know about it anyway, but now you probably don’t want to leave home.”

An aquarium. The bay. A job. Water. Tingles began to shoot up and down Liz’s spine, reminding her of when she’d grazed Max’s fingers in the elevator. “Where would this lab be at, Alex?”

“It’ll be in one of the university buildings, but they’d be working pretty closely with some of the animals in the aquarium, too.”

But a lab job while she was pregnant … “What kind of positions are they hiring for? I mean, they usually don’t let pregnant women do much in a lab because some of the chemicals can be harmful.”

“Well, the article says they’re hiring at all levels to try to fill up the program, and at all areas of involvement in the lab. Liz, are you seriously thinking about doing this?”

“How far away is Monterey from where you live?” she asked, not acknowledging Alex’s question.

“About an hour, maybe a little more.”

A job. A lab. Water. Friends close by. The bay. An aquarium. Liz could feel her heartbeat speed up. Developing treatments for diseased marine animals might take years because of all there was left to learn. A job like this could offer some stability. And universities gave some of the best health care around. She wouldn’t need much for now …

“Can you find the article online and send it to me, please, Alex?”

“You’re going to come out here?”

A lab. A job. A baby. The water. Friends. The aquarium. The child …

The catalyst.

Liz took a deep breath. “I’m going to give it a shot.”

Alex was stunned into silence for the second time in only a few minutes. “O-okay, I’ll … send it to you right away.”

“Thanks, Alex, you’re the best!”

“No problem. Say hi to Maria for me.”

“I will.

“And Liz?”


“Congratulations. I forgot to tell you that before. You’re going to make a great mom to one incredibly lucky kid.”

For the first time today, the tears that filled Liz’s eyes were out of happiness. “Thank you, Alex,” she told him.

They hung up, and Liz stood to make her way back to Maria’s apartment, her mind already half way to Monterey. Unlike the idea of Savannah, this felt good. This felt right.


January 4

Max loosened his tie as he set down his briefcase on the entry table. His apartment here was certainly not as fancy as his place back in New York, and maybe not even as big, but it felt comfortable and homey. All it really needed was a petite little woman with big brown eyes …

Shaking his head, he continued down the three steps to the front room and headed into the bedroom on the left. He changed out of his suit and into some jeans and a T-shirt, then went and looked out of his bedroom window. He still liked to be up high and be able to see everything around him. Of course, in Half Moon Bay, California, the highest up he could get was only on the third floor. He looked outside and shook his head. It was 65 degrees in January! And while it certainly was overcast, the temperature was about forty degrees warmer than he was used to at this time of year. He laughed at people walking in the kinds of coats he’d only wear if he was back in New York right now. The songs were right. Californians were spoiled

Max walked back through his apartment and into the kitchen,, then took a quick look in his fridge. A cursory glance told him he’d wasted his time. Isabel had certainly done a wonderful job in finding him an apartment and getting it ready for him. All the necessary appliances, furniture, and materials were there, on top of which Isabel had decorated it before his arrival as a welcoming gift. She’d done a marvelous job. Half Moon Bay was just as magical as its name implied. The water was gorgeous. When he looked at the window outside of the kitchen window, he could see the ocean, which was only two blocks away. Granted, the cliffs prevented swimming just there, and the water was too damn cold for it at this time of year anyway, but there was a proper beach just a few miles away for when the weather would permit it. The town was small, sweet, even a bit quaint; but San Francisco was only thirty miles away. His first two days at work had been pleasant enough. He’d taken a job with a medium-sized firm, and with his background in both contract and employment law, he’d immediately been assigned to work on a case that some of the workers for a farm a little further inland were taking against their employer. Today, one of his colleagues had taken him to see the conditions that their clients lived and worked in. It was appalling, and it gave Max a sense of purpose, like he was doing something meaningful with his life. He still had a bit of savings after the move, and the pay he garnered now was enough to support himself.

Max prepared himself some dinner, which consisted of chicken and vegetables cooked on the stove in olive oil. It was a bit extravagant for daily use, but he wanted to use all the food Isabel had bought him before it went bad.

As he sat down to eat, his cell phone rang. It was his sister. “Hey, Iz.”

“Hey. Mitzi Gaynor’s on channel 49.”

Leaving his food for a minute, Max walked back into the front room and used the remote to turn on the TV and go to channel 49. “Aw, look at my girl. She hasn’t changed a bit.”

Isabel scoffed. “That’s because it’s a movie. In reality she’s about 75 years old now.”

Max shushed her, then spoke to the figure on the screen as he walked back into the kitchen to fetch his plate. “Don’t listen to her, baby.”

“I can’t believe you still have a thing for her,” Isabel laughed.

“You’re just jealous,” he humphed. Mitzi Gaynor had been Max’s first celebrity crush when he was about six years old. His mother, an avid musical lover, could watch “There’s No Business Like Show Business” a hundred times over. And while any friends who knew of her penchant infinitely preferred Marilyn Monroe in that film, Max declared himself smitten with Mitzi and couldn’t wait until he was old enough to ask her out. At this, his mother had to explain to him that, although she was only in her early twenties in the movie, the movie had been made almost thirty years before he was born, making the star older than even Diane was. Though the dream was lost, Max still kept an eye out for her movies when they were on TV. At this particular moment, he was watching her and Rossano Brazzi looking over an ocean view far more tropical than the one outside his own window. Brazzi was singing about finding love at first sight and holding onto it.

Some enchanted evening
You may see a stranger,
You may see a stranger
Across a crowded room
And somehow you know,
You know even then
That somewhere you'll see her
Again and again.

Some enchanted evening
Someone may be laughin',
You may hear her laughin'
Across a crowded room
And night after night,
As strange as it seems
The sound of her laughter
Will sing in your dreams.

“You know,” Isabel’s voice interrupted his thoughts, “the guy who plays Joe Cable in this movie is a lawyer down near Santa Monica.”

“No kidding.”

Who can explain it?
Who can tell you why?
Fools give you reasons,
Wise men never try.

Some enchanted evening
When you find your true love,
When you feel her call you
Across a crowded room,
Then fly to her side,
And make her your own
For all through your life you
May dream all alone.

As Isabel and Max watched the movie over the phone in silence, Max wondered if there were any other people watching this right now who felt the lyrics speaking to them as keenly as he did.

Once you have found her,
Never let her go.
Once you have found her,
Never let her go!


January 14

Maria had been right that day in the seventh grade. There was definitely nothing like a good catalyst to set things into motion.

After taking a flight back to Atlanta, Liz told her parents about being pregnant. As she predicted, their thoughts immediately turned to Kyle. The looks on their faces when they discovered that, despite the timing, Kyle wasn’t the father of her baby, made Liz feel the way she though a pet must feel when their owner discovers her favorite pair of shoes serving as a litter box. To say they were disappointed was putting it mildly. But they managed to put it aside long enough to tell Liz that they’d support her any way they could. But Liz could feel their sadness weighing down on her like a chain, and though she loved them and knew they loved her, the episode made her more determined than ever to strike it out on her own.

She submitted a resume to the Monterey Bay aquarium and to CSU Monterey Bay, and received a phone call almost immediately to set up a phone interview for a couple of days later. Though Liz didn’t want to count her chickens before they hatched, they seemed to be pretty eager to bring her aboard.

Afterwards, Liz had called Amy Deluca and invited her to lunch. Amy was flattered and glad to spend some time with Liz, but she sensed immediately that there was something going on that Liz wanted to talk about. Sure enough, the whole story came out before they’d finished their entrees. By the time they were done with dessert, Liz’s love and appreciation for everything that had made Amy Deluca who she was had taken on a whole new level. And while she couldn’t remember much about being pregnant (except for labor, which she recounted in such away that left Liz white with terror), the advice she had for being a single parent was invaluable. Liz would have to call Maria and make sure she knew exactly how lucky she was.

Her interview went off without a hitch. They were thrilled when Liz said she didn’t mind relocating, and even offered to pay the necessary expenses. When Liz told them she was pregnant, they expressed disappointment at not being able to make immediate use out of her in the lab, but were able to find a temporary position reviewing lab tests and results and advising on procedures until she returned from maternity leave. A few hours after the conclusion of the interview, she was formally offered the job, to start the first week of February.

Now she was just starting her sixth week of pregnancy. Nowhere near as sad or afraid as she’d been two-and-a-half weeks ago when she’d taken that plane to New York City, Liz was looking forward to this next phase of her life, confident that, though she had no idea how, this step would take her closer to where she was meant to be. For the first time in a very long time, she was beginning to feel something almost like happiness.

All she needed was the embodiment of a certain honey-eyed specter who haunted her dreams, and the picture would be complete.

Song used is 'Some Enchanted Evening' by Rogers and Hammerstein
Last edited by LairaBehr4 on Wed Apr 25, 2007 10:01 am, edited 4 times in total.
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Post by LairaBehr4 » Wed Jan 17, 2007 6:16 pm

You guys thought I forgot about this part, didn't you?

Thanks to the following:

Alien_Friend (x2)
Maya (x2)
Beautiful86 (x4)
Augustus Snodgrass
Queen Fee
Dreamerlaure (x2)
Dreamer19 (x2)
Alien614 (x2)
Michelle In Yonkers

Thank you all for hanging in there.

Some Enchanted Evening

Part Six

It was Valentine’s Day weekend, and Max wanted nothing more than to lock himself in his apartment and bury himself in work until the world recovered from its obsession with candy hearts and tiny cupids plastered everywhere.

His sister, though, apparently had other ideas.

“Max! Come on and let me in! I know you’re in there.”

Max shook his head. It was nine in the morning on a Saturday, and Isabel lived almost 30 miles away in Palo Alto. While that may not sound like very far, with Bay area traffic, it took a lot longer than one might think. Reluctantly, he got up from the desk and walked over to the door, his body still a bit stiff from sleep. He unlocked the door and opened it to reveal his sister, her tall, blonde glory barely discernable from underneath her winter attire, two bags of groceries at her feet.

“Help me with these,” she walked past him into the warm apartment.

“Lovely to see you, too,” Max smiled as he bent down to collect the bags.

“Sorry,” Isabel took off her gloves and stuffed them in her coat pocket. She let out a groan as she unwrapped her scarf from around her neck. “It’s so cold out there!”

Isabel was right. Gone was the 65 degree weather, and here instead was the frosty cold air from the arctic and the ocean. The overnight low had been in the low teens, and even the golden California sun couldn’t manage to bring the high any greater than the mid-twenties. Max was wearing sweat pants, a hoodie, and wool socks to try to stay warm. Having just come in from the cold, Isabel’s cheeks and nose were tinged with pink. But despite her complaining, the cold seemed to agree with her – for some reason, her skin was shining with a healthy glow that no make-up could provide. She’d looked like that for a while, actually. At first, Max had thought that it was just because he hadn’t seen her for so long, but the beauty hadn’t faded in the weeks since he’d moved. California must be making her absolutely blissful to have caused beauty like that.

Max placed the grocery bags on his kitchen table, scattered with catalogues and other bits of mail, and watched Isabel continued to divest herself of her winter outerwear. “What’s all this for?”

“I’m making you breakfast,” Isabel answered as though it were the most obvious thing in the world. She was wearing a pair of black leggings and an oversized cream-colored turtleneck that fell to her knees, and … ballet flats? They’d have to address that later.

“Aw, thanks, Iz.”

“No problem.” Isabel hung up her coat, scarf and hat on Max’s standing coat hanger near the front door, but there was something in the way that she’d refused to meet Max’s eyes when she’d mentioned breakfast that told him something else was going on as well.

Realizing he’d have to dig to get whatever was bothering her out into the open, Max reached into a cabinet and pulled out a coffee mug. He filled it with coffee from the machine on the counter and walked over to Isabel, who had started pulling the contents of her grocery bags out onto the table and organizing them in a way that only made sense to her. “Not that I’m not grateful or anything, but how is it that I come by this honor?”

“What do you mean?” Isabel still refused to meet his eyes. She didn’t even look at the coffee cup.

“I mean, why aren’t you with Alex today? Did you two have a fight?”

“No, we didn’t have a fight.” Max saw Isabel give a small smile, so small she probably didn’t even realize that she was doing it. At least now he could be satisfied that whatever was going on with his sister, it probably wasn’t anything bad.

“So then?” Max sat down at the table and rested his chin in his hand, waiting for his sister to give him the scoop.

“What?” Isabel asked defensively. She looked at him for a second, and then turned away again.

“Izzy, come on. It’s Valentine’s Day. If you’re going to be making breakfast for anyone, shouldn’t it be Alex? Or better yet, shouldn’t Alex be making breakfast for you?”

“We already had breakfast,” Isabel answered matter-of-factly.

“Well, that was informative … and non-responsive.”

“I just figured, it was your first Valentine’s Day here, and you’re working so hard and you haven’t really met anyone yet, and I didn’t want you to be alone.” Isabel said all this very quickly, betraying to Max that there was more to it than what she was telling him.

“That’s really nice of you, Izzy, but we could have just gone to lunch or something. You didn’t have to drive out here so early on a Saturday morning.”

“I didn’t drive, Alex did.”

“Oh. Where is he, then?”

“He’s driving down to Monterey to see a friend of his. He’s going to come back and pick me up later today.”

“Okay, but I would have driven out to you. You didn’t have to stay stranded out here with me.”

“Where do you keep your measuring cups again?”

Max had to laugh at the change in subject. “What’s with the sudden need to be so domestic and maternal?” His suspicions started to form before he’d even gotten the last word out of his mouth. Upon hearing his question, Isabel’s mouth opened a small bit, and her eyes flitted again to her brother’s, and then away again. The fraction of a second that they held each other’s gazes was enough to tell Max everything. “You’re pregnant,” he stated, knowing he was right. For the first time since she’d walked in, Isabel stopped her busy work and faced him properly. “You’re pregnant!”

Isabel started laughing and crying all that the same time. “I am!” she said.

Max immediately engulfed her in a hug. “I’m so happy for you, Izzy.” He could feel her small bump against his abdomen, where there hadn’t been one before. How hadn’t he noticed it when he’d seen her these last weeks?

Together they stood, arms wrapped around each other, for indeterminable minutes. When Max finally leaned back to look at his sister’s face, the smile could have lit up the entire Bay area for a month. He wiped away her tears, which he knew were only from happiness, and kissed her forehead. “I’m so happy for you,” he repeated.

“Thank you,” she whispered. When she finally had stopped crying and had her breathing under control, she smacked him lightly in his chest. “Now humor a pregnant woman and go sit down and let me make you breakfast.” Max laughed and did as she ordered.

“So, does Alex know?” he inquired, all thoughts of work forgotten.

“Yeah. Actually, we’ve known for a while now. We were waiting … to make sure nothing happened.” Isabel had had a pregnancy scare when she and Max were in college. She’d gone to the doctor just to be sure, and though it had turned out to be nothing, Isabel had discovered from her visit then that the lining of her uterus, where a fetus develops until birth, was thinner than most women’s. The doctor had told her then that her chances of bringing a baby successfully to term were slim, and that she would most likely miscarry any pregnancies. Though she hadn’t thought herself ready to have a child at twenty-one, the news that she might not have one ever had been a devastating blow.

Max nodded understandably. He looked down and noticed for the first time the cup of coffee which he’d meant to give to Isabel. Knowing she wouldn’t be drinking it now, he helped himself, knowing the one resting on his desk in the living room would be cold. “So how far along are you now?”

Isabel smiled again as she cracked eggs into a bowl. “About fifteen weeks. I found out just after Thanksgiving, but I didn’t tell Alex until about a week after. I was just … scared, you know? I was really scared.”

“I know. But Alex would have helped you. The guy worships you.”

“You’re right, and he’s been more than perfect. On his birthday in September, we talked about getting married when the time was right and having kids, and I told him everything. I cried so much, and he was so wonderful about it, but we never brought it up again. We knew it wasn’t right then, and so we just kind of dropped it. I just didn’t know how to go from that to suddenly telling him I was pregnant with, but probably wouldn’t actually having, his baby.” She smiled again as she started scrambling eggs.

“When I did tell him, he cried. He said he hadn’t brought it up again because he didn’t want to make me sad or upset, but he’s happy. He’s so happy about this, Max. I told him I didn’t want to make any plans or anything until we knew the baby would make it, and he hasn’t said anything, but after New Year’s I found a catalogue from Macy’s in his car with a bunch of the corners folded over, and when I looked, he’d marked all these cribs and changing tables and mobiles. I never even told him I’d found that thing.

“When I made it to twelve weeks, he filled the entire apartment with flowers. The floor, the walls, the furniture, everything. I still don’t know how he did it,” she turned away from the stove so she could look at Max, one hand still working the spatula. “I’ve had to fight to do anything for myself. It’s wonderful. I love it.” Isabel was smiling, but soon her fear took over her face instead, and she wrapped her arms around herself and shivered.

Max was up again and standing in front of her, holding her as she fought back her tears. “Hey, it’s okay, Iz. You’re past three months! That’s so good, Izzy. You’re out of danger.”

Isabel shook her head against him. “Not yet. Not entirely. There’s still a chance until we get to 20 weeks. The doctor’s got me coming in twice a week until then. That’s why I didn’t say anything before. There’s still a chance I could lose my baby …”

“Shh, Iz, you can’t think like that,” Max murmured against her cheek as he held her. “You can’t get so worried about something that hasn’t even happened. You just have to be safe, and be careful, and it’ll be okay. It’ll be okay.”

Isabel knew he was right, and made herself calm down. Max released her, but this time he stayed standing against the counter instead of going back to the table. “So are you going to tell Mom and Dad?”

Isabel shook her head no. “I don’t want to tell anyone until we get to twenty-one weeks. I just feel like, the more people we tell before then, the more people will be disappointed if anything happens. If everything goes okay, I’ll shout it from the rooftops. Until then, everyone knows who needs to know.” Max nodded, but Isabel knew he didn’t agree with her. “Max … if anything happens, they’re too far away to do anything, and if nothing happens, they’ll be just as happy six weeks from now.”

“Okay.” Max still didn’t agree, but he understood her logic, and it wasn’t his decision to make. Deciding to change the subject, he said, “So tell me about all the plans that you and Alex aren’t making.”

Isabel’s laugh echoed across the tiled floor of the kitchen.

Continued in the next post
Last edited by LairaBehr4 on Sat Mar 03, 2007 5:58 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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Post by LairaBehr4 » Wed Jan 17, 2007 6:16 pm


Liz opened her eyes to the sight of her room, blessedly bare of anything pink or red. The world had clearly gone insane. She could swear that Valentine’s Day wasn’t half this annoying last year.

Maybe that’s because you had a boyfriend last year, snarled an ugly little voice in her head.

“Oh, shut up,” Liz said to the voice. She turned over in her nice, warm bed and tried to fall back asleep so the voices couldn’t bother her anymore. She’d never heard voices before, but ever since she’d gotten pregnant and moved out here and started living alone, they’d suddenly taken up residence in her brain, and they were always at their worst in the mornings. Liz hoped the next 30 weeks of pregnancy would go by quickly; maybe having another human being around, even one who couldn’t talk yet, would be enough to make the voices go away again.

Oh boy, pregnancy sure is fun, the voice said again as she closed her eyes.

Three quick and friendly knocks echoed from the front door. Groaning, Liz checked her alarm clock. It was ten o’clock on the first day in 3 weeks that she didn’t have to go into the lab for some reason or other. Who was knocking on her door?


Usually Liz would have been thrilled to see Alex, especially since he and his girlfriend had been really busy ever since she’d come out there and they had only seen each other twice. But right now, Liz really, really, really wanted him to go away.

“Liz? Are you there?” Alex called again.

“Go away,” she mumbled.


Liz sat up, bracing her weight against her arms, and started flailing her legs around. Damn it, she wanted to sleep!

“Last chance for a free breakfast!”

She blew her hair out of her face and reluctantly got out of bed. She walked out the room and to the door, thinking of all the delightful ways she could remove various limbs from Alex’s body. The voice in her head chimed in with a preference for paper. That’d be an awful way to lose an arm – paper-cut it off. Hmm, that could work.

She opened the door and gave Alex the death glare to end all death glares.

“Oh, I’m sorry, Mr. Reaper, I was looking for my friend Liz. Let me know when she gets back.”

“You are an evil person and you will pay,” Liz gritted.

“Aw, come on, Liz. My girlfriend abandoned me to go hang out with her brother. On Valentine’s Day, of all days. I’m all alone and dateless. Let me take you out to breakfast and you can mock me for being a dateless loser.”

“I’d rather go back to sleep,” she turned around with every intention of marching straight back to her bedroom.

“No, no, no, no, no,” Alex said, coming into her apartment and grabbing her arm lightly. “You are pregnant and you need to start eating for two.”

“I’d rather be sleeping for two.”

“Well, all in good time. For now, you need to eat. I’m worried about you. You’re not eating.”

Liz gawked in horror. “I do eat!”

“Liz, I haven’t seen you eat at all since you moved here.”

“Alex, you’ve seen me twice, and it’s been after 7:30 at night both times. Of course you haven’t seen me eat. You don’t see the sun rising in China either, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen.”

“Regardless, I’m going to take you to breakfast. You can pick where. So go get dressed, and for God’s sake, use some mouthwash!”

Paper cuts were sounding better and better every second.


Forty minutes later, Alex and Liz were being shown to their table in the Trailside Café. Though the sun was shining, it was far too cold to sit outside, but the restaurant was less than 100 yards from the shore, on Cannery Row, and Liz asked for a table with a good view.

“You always did love the water,” Alex remarked.

“Yeah,” Liz said wistfully. She was feeling much more like her usual self.

“I’m sorry I didn’t call you first, I wanted to surprise you. You said you’d been going into work every day for a while now, I figured today wouldn’t be any different.”

“It’s okay. I’m sorry I was so grumpy,” Liz answered.

“Yeah, what was that?”

Liz shook her head. “Must be a pregnancy thing. I temporarily channel Maria or something.”

Alex laughed. “How’s it going? Are you okay alone? Do you need anything?”

Liz smiled. Alex really was a wonderful guy. “No, I’m doing okay. The job’s going well, and I’ve got most of the stuff I need taken care of. My mom’s already talking about coming out here for a few weeks when the baby’s due.”

“Maria wants me to reserve a spot for her on my couch, but I’m not sure if that will work out.”

“Why not?”

“Oh, uh, no reason,” Alex said, too quickly. He grabbed his menu and opened it. “So what do you think you’re going to have?”

Liz perused the menu. “I’m thinking maybe just the buttermilk pancakes. I don’t think I could handle anything with eggs.”

Alex nodded understandingly. “Do you want to get some oatmeal or fruit with it or anything? I know how pregnant women can--,” Alex abruptly stopped talking, and he looked as though he’d said something wrong.

“Alex?” Liz questioned. Suddenly, she started smiling. “Oh my God, Alex, is Isabel pregnant?” Alex had a look on his face that clearly said there wasn’t a hole on earth big enough for him to fall into. “She is, isn’t she?!”

“Liz,” Alex said softly, “You can’t tell her you know. Seriously, you can’t. Nobody knows. Not my parents, not hers, no one. She’s telling her brother today. That’s the only other person who knows. You can’t say anything.”

Stunned, Liz agreed. “Yeah, okay.”

Seeing she meant it, Alex’s serious expression turned into one that could only be described as joy personified. He smiled widely and couldn’t stop the laughter that tumbled out of his mouth. “We found out in December. God, Liz, I’m so excited. I’m not supposed to be, but I just can’t help it. I want to just tell everyone! I’m going to be a dad! Can you believe it?”

“I’m so happy for you, Alex! You’re going to make a great parent.”

Alex’s smile faltered for only a second. “I really hope so.”

“Alex, what is it?”

Figuring he’d already given away too much for concealment, Alex told her. “It’s just, Isabel’s been told that the chances of her carrying to term are pretty low. That’s why we’re not telling anyone. She’s still got a few weeks to go before we can be sure we won’t lose the baby. She’s so scared …” Alex stared at the tablecloth without really seeing it.

“So are you,” Liz pointed out. Alex looked back at her and nodded. Determined not to let the serious air dictate the conversation, Liz said, “Let me know when it’s okay, and I’ll get you guys a baby present.”

Alex laughed. “Deal.”

The waitress came by and took their orders. When she left again, Alex started talking first. “I’m actually really glad you know now, because I’ve kind of got something planned for Isabel when we get to her twenty-first week.”

“Oh yeah? What’s that?”

“I’m going to ask her to marry me.” Alex grinned widely.

Liz’s smile soon matched his. “Really?”

“Yeah, I mean, I’ve actually been planning to for a long time. March fifteenth is her birthday, and it just happens to coincide with her twenty-first week, and the doctor said once she’s past twenty weeks, the baby can survive outside the womb if it needs to, so, no more miscarriage. We talked about getting married on my birthday, and that was when she told me about, you know, being challenged in that area. I didn’t want to bring up having kids again until later because it upset her so much, but I’ve always wanted to ask her to marry me. I had this great idea of filling the apartment with flowers that spelled out “Will you marry me” on the wall or something, but she was so worried about making it through the first trimester, that when she did, I did it then instead, so now I have to start all over again from scratch.”

“Wait, wait … how far along is she?” Liz was confused.

“Fifteen weeks.”

“Oh, okay.” Fifteen weeks – only four weeks ahead of herself. “Continue.”

“So, now I have to find some other big idea for asking her to marry me, since I already used up my stroke of genius for the year.”

Liz laughed. “Oh, Alex, you’ll have another one. What are you thinking of so far?”

“Well, I figured I’d make up something about a conference in Tahoe or Reno and then ask her to elope once we were there, but I don’t think she’d like that idea. I think she’d prefer the traditional wedding with her family there and everything. Plus I don’t want her to think that the only reason I’m asking her is because of the baby. I mean, while I’m thrilled about the baby, I wanted to do this months before I even found out about it.”


“So, I thought about maybe doing a boat ride, but I don’t know if this cold front will ease up in time. I’ve thought about buying tickets to the opera or ballet or something, but it just doesn’t seem right.” Alex slammed his head down on the table with an agonizing “ARRRGH!”

Just as the sound of the impact faded, the waitress came back to the table with their food. “Um,” she said, looking at Liz, “should I leave this here, or let him beat himself up with the furniture a little more?”

Alex sat up with a horrified expression, and Liz couldn’t stop laughing. “No, I’ll make sure he doesn’t try to drown himself in the Eggs Benedict,” she promised. The waitress smiled back and put down the plates. “Enjoy your meal,” she said, giving one last strange look to Alex.

Liz was on the verge of hysterics. “You couldn’t have warned me she was coming over?” Alex asked.

“I didn’t see it. And besides,” she chuckled, “that was hilarious!”

“Yeah, well, the least you can do for laughing at me is help me figure out how to ask my girlfriend to marry me!”

“Okay, okay,” Liz’s laughter died as she regained composure. “Well, I mean, I haven’t actually met Isabel yet, but it seems like she might just want something that’s special and private, with just the two of you. Circumstances, you should probably decide - and, by the way, I'd advise you not to take a pregnant woman on a boat ride - but she just seems as though she likes to draw lines between what’s private in her life, and what isn’t. Make this something private. That’s the best advice I can give you.” She picked up her knife and fork and started cutting into one of her pancakes. “Oh, and good going dropping the Tahoe thing. Bad idea.”

“Well, that’s something. And I guess I still have a few weeks to decide.”


“You know," Alex mused, "you should come out with us for her birthday. I really want you to meet her, of course.”

“Of course!” Liz smiled.

“And plus, she has her brother out here, so we’ll probably be going out with him that night, too. You might like him. He’s a good guy.”

“Yeah, and being pregnant with another man’s baby makes me quite the catch,” Liz scoffed.

“I’m serious, Liz.”

Liz shook her head. “Alex, I appreciate it, but I’m just not interested right now. Besides, taking someone she barely knows with you isn’t exactly keeping it private.”

“No, I guess not,” Alex frowned and turned his attention to his eggs. Liz didn’t want to disappoint him, but she just wasn’t interested in being set up right now. She’d had one glorious night of perfection, which she’d managed to screw up beyond hope. Now, she just wanted to focus on setting up a life for her and her baby, a permanent and beautiful reminder of how once, just for a moment, she’d understood what it was like to touch and be touched by another person’s soul.

Last edited by LairaBehr4 on Thu Jan 18, 2007 11:33 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Post by LairaBehr4 » Sat Mar 03, 2007 4:42 pm

Hi everyone! Okay, it's this part and the the epilogue. My first finished story. Yay! I DO have some follow-through!

Thank you to everyone who read, commented, and stuck with me during the winter hibernation:

Augustus Snodgrass
Sprayadhesive, my love
Phyco352 - welcome to the madness!
dreamsatnight - how are you feeling?

You guys are awesome.

Some Enchanted Evening

Part Seven

Six months later – August 10

Yellow morning sunlight filtered through the rainforest-colored curtains. At the window’s edge, a small direct ray, only a sliver, caught a crystal wind chime that hung from the ceiling and projected dancing rainbows all over the apartment. Behind her closed eyes, Liz could picture the familiar sight that waited beyond the warm cocoon of her comforter. The world around her was suspended in a fragile still and calm in the dawn of the new day; the kind that the smallest movement would destroy. Liz had no desire to be the one to break the spell.

Her baby, apparently, sensed none of this. She – for Liz now knew it was a she – moved quickly, almost violently, in her own snug mommy-made cocoon. Liz slid her hand under her shirt and over her bare protruding stomach slowly – so slowly that not even the sheets shifted over the movement. Gingerly, lightly, she ran her outstretched palm in circles, and tried to communicate silently to her little daughter that it would be better to go back to sleep.

Her baby girl responded by making her have to pee.

Liz sighed, sat up as best as she could five weeks ahead of her due date and 35 pounds heavier than she’d ever been in her life, and swung her legs over the side of the bed.

The morning spell was broken.


Max’s radio alarm jolted him into the land of the living on a cool, blustery August morning. He never would have believed that he’d still need the same attire in August as he did in February. Yet here it was, seven in the morning, and only 42 degrees outside, according to the report of the Saturday morning disc jockey. And it would only get about fifteen degrees warmer. If it were up to him, he’d spend the day in his sweats, make some coffee and breakfast, and spend the morning leisurely reading his newspaper and the latest NYU Law Review.

But Isabel was determined to spend the day with him in Monterey. She’d been on leave from work for several weeks already, her pregnancy having defied medical pessimism and lasted now into her 39th week. She was due to go into labor in a few days, but having been stuck at home with Alex watching over her every minute was giving her a terrible case of cabin fever. His intentions were impeccable, but the execution of them made Isabel want to do a little executing of her own. A panicked and hushed phone call made surreptitiously during Alex’s shower had sealed Max’s Saturday plans – provide some company for his sister and her fiancé, or face the wrath of said sister. It was a no-brainer, and you didn’t have to be a law school graduate to know that.

Right on cue, the metallic chimes of his cell phone alerted him to a call. Max took a quick gulp of coffee, knowing exactly who was calling and what they’d want.

“Morning, Iz,” he greeted.

“Morning. We’re about to leave, so you’ll have around an hour to finish getting ready.”

“I’m not you, Isabel. It takes me five minutes to get ready.”

“Oh, shut up.” Max could hear Alex’s laugh in the background.

“See you soon.”


Max took another sip of his coffee, then got some bread from the cupboard and popped two slices into the toaster. In the middle of another sip, his cell phone rang again. This time he checked the caller ID. It was from Isabel’s cell again.

“Isabel?” he answered, with a slight tinge of concern in his voice.

“No, it’s me,” said a more masculine voice than Max had expected.

“Alex? What’s up, man?”

“Hey, I need to make this quick while Isabel’s in the other room. I just wanted to say thanks for agreeing to give up your Saturday like this. I know Isabel probably didn’t give you much choice in the matter.”

“What?” Max exclaimed, shocked. “How did you know about that?”

“I know I’ve been driving her crazy. Honestly, it’s the only thing I could think of to do to keep her from worrying about something going wrong at the last minute. This has been tough enough on her already. I just figured, if she’s going to be going crazy about something, might as well make it me instead of the baby.”

Max laughed. “You know, you’re all right, Alex.”

“Thank you for noticing. I’ll see you in a bit.”

“Yeah, later.”

Max hung up the phone, still chuckling. His sister certainly had picked a winner. Max remembered how, on the night of his sister’s birthday, the three of them had gone to dinner in San Francisco on Pier 39. Isabel had excused herself to go to the bathroom, and while she was gone, Alex told Max that he was planning on asking her to marry him that night. He wasn’t asking for permission, but he did hope to have Max’s approval, if nothing else, in the absence of her parents. Max had given it whole-heartedly, and the two of them had sat there grinning like idiots for the rest of the dinner, annoying the hell out of Isabel, who knew she was being left out of a secret. The next morning, she’d called her brother and told him that she was engaged. The exact details of the proposal had failed to be disclosed to neither himself nor his parents, which led Max to believe he was probably happier not knowing exactly how Alex had finally asked. After all, there are some things that a brother just doesn’t want to know.

After finishing his breakfast, Max took a quick shower and got dressed for their day in Monterey. He also took a quick look around his apartment to make sure everything was ready for when his parents would come in. They were waiting for Isabel to go into labor to fly out and help their daughter take care of her first born child, whom none of them had ever thought would make it so far already. However, being in their late fifties, the idea of staying overnight in the same apartment as a newborn failed to appeal to them. So it was decided that they’d stay with Max. There were clean sheets, clean towels, and pillows on the couch that folded out into a king-size bed. A look in the fridge, though, told him he definitely needed to stop at a grocery store before they flew in. Isabel was right – grocery shopping and cooking were definitely not his strong points.

Continued in the next post
Last edited by LairaBehr4 on Sun Mar 04, 2007 11:50 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Post by LairaBehr4 » Sat Mar 03, 2007 4:43 pm


Liz waddled to the front door of her apartment and checked one last time to make sure she had everything. Keys, check. Wallet, check. Book, check. Chapstick, check. Ipod, check, but she didn’t really feel like using it today. Still, it was good to have in a pinch. She chose to leave her cell phone on the kitchen counter. Today, she just wanted to spend some time in solitude, away from the office … away from everyone. Just some time by herself. With her baby girl. After all, she wasn’t going to have many quiet weekends left.

Her gaze fell on the framed sonogram picture next to the door. Liz couldn’t help the smile on her face as she looked at the grey and grainy image and caressed her tummy again. Every day she could feel her baby growing, moving inside of her. Though she hadn’t really thought seriously about a name yet, she already had several pictures in her head of what her baby would look like. The picture showed a round head and a body that resembled the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man. A dark gray swirl at the crown of the head showed that her daughter already had a full head of hair. But Liz’s mind’s eye saw much more detail that any of her sonogram pictures could. Dark hair, olive skin, a button nose, an apple blossom mouth … but the eyes. The eyes continued to elude her. Try as she might, she could never make them look quite right.

Ah well, she’d see them soon enough.

Liz made a mental list of possible activities for her as she shrugged into a large maternity jacket. She could go walk around Old Town Monterey, maybe have lunch on Fisherman’s Wharf. She didn’t particularly care to go to the aquarium, since she was there frequently for work, but maybe taking some time to enjoy Cannery Row might be nice. Old Town had a converted theater made into a movie cinema, and a few book stores varying from your stereotypical Borders to a few specialty book shops. Maybe she could check out Presidio. She’d also heard that it had been a good season for whale watching, but something told her that it wasn’t a great idea to spend an hour on a boat when she was 35 weeks pregnant. From somewhere in the back of her head, she had a strange case of déjà-vu as she thought about the whale watching, but she couldn’t think of why.

At that moment, her cell phone began to ring. Liz felt liberated as she walked out and closed the door on the sound. No one was going to intrude on her plans for the day.


“Hold on, I’m trying to get a hold of her,” Alex told his fiancée – his beautiful, pregnant fiancée – as she got ready to walk out the door.

“Hello, this is Liz Parker’s cell. I’m not available right now, but please leave a message, and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can. Thank you, and have a good day.”

As soon as he heard the beep, Alex began to talk. “Hey Liz, it’s Alex. Isabel and I are heading down to Monterey today with her brother, and we wanted to see if you wanted to grab lunch or something. Call me back if you get this. Later.”

“No answer?” Isabel asked as he flipped the cell shut and reached for his coat.

“No. She’s probably still sleeping.”

Though his voice was understanding, Isabel spotted his frown. She knew he worried about his friend, who was here alone and pregnant. Isabel had met Liz a few times, and she was nice and certainly smart, but a little shy and stand-offish. Isabel wouldn’t be surprised if Liz didn’t call them back until that night, but she didn’t want to say that to Alex, especially since he seemed to be thinking along the same lines himself.

“We’ll see what happens when we get there,” she assured him. “But we’d better go, we still have to pick up Max.”

Alex grabbed the car keys from the hook on the wall. “Okay,” he said as one automatically found its way to the small of her back. “Let’s go.”


Isabel had decided going to the aquarium would be a calming way to pass the morning until they were all hungry enough for lunch. This, however, proved to be a rather bad idea; in the second weekend of August, the city of Monterey had more than its usual share of tourists and families out for their last vacation before school started. Isabel, tall as she was, kept tripping over the children who darted all over the place, giggling and pointing as they ran from one location to the other in no predictable or orderly fashion. The aquarium was quickly abandoned, and the trio walked the few blocks back towards the downtown area. As they passed by the Monterey Bay Inn, the smell of seafood broiling made Isabel’s mouth water, and they stepped into the hotel and through the lobby to ask the concierge if the restaurant had room for another party of three. Soon, at Isabel’s request, they had a table on the outdoor patio, directly above the bay. An entire herd of seals bathed in the sun on the rocks below them and barked for scraps as the drinks and appetizers were brought out. Over the railing and across the blue water, the other side of the bay could be seen. Boats ran their whale watching tours back and forth towards the Wharf. It was a beautiful day in Northern California.

As the three of them waited for the main courses to arrive, Max watched a small sail boat leave the dock and smoothly glide over the water towards the open mouth of the ocean. A tingle crawled down his spine, reminding him of a night last December back in New York. The beautiful memory threatened to draw him in, and any other day he would have indulged the inclination. But today was about his sister and his soon-to-be brother-in-law, sitting in still excitement across from him. Opening the conversation, Max said, “I still can’t believe you guys don’t want to know the sex of the baby.”

Isabel rolled her eyes good naturedly. “Oh, not this again.”

“Well,” Max laughed, “I just think that if I were having a baby, I’d want to know if it was a boy or a girl. I mean, how can you think about names or clothes or decorating the baby’s room if you don’t know what to expect?”

“We’ve got plenty of time to buy the baby clothes and furniture and wallpaper that fit his or her personality,” Isabel informed him.

“And we’ve talked about names for both, we just haven’t made any final decisions,” added Alex as he took Isabel’s hand.

“And we’ve already got the nursery decorated with Sesame Street characters,” Isabel continued, “so it’s not leaning one way or the other.”

“We got enough clothes together to last for a while that aren’t gender-specific.”

“And bottles and blankets.”

Max looked back and forth between the two of them as they completed and added to each other’s thoughts. The crick he got in his neck vaguely reminded him of watching a tennis match. But it was a good crick. Seeing his sister so adeptly matched with another man, who made her feel happy and complete, made Max smile with joy for her. “I never doubted that you guys were ready. I’m just saying. If it was me, I’d want to know.” Isabel and Alex nodded, but didn’t say anything. Deciding to push the subject just one last time, Max asked, “So you’re sure that neither of you are secretly hoping for one or the other?”

Alex and Isabel turned to each other for a few seconds, then looked back at Max and started shaking their heads ‘no’ at the same time. “We really don’t care,” Alex said.

“As long as it’s healthy,” Isabel said softly. Her gaze drifted out over the water. Silence and stillness enveloped the trio, marred only by the light breeze in the air. After a moment, Alex squeezed her hand lightly.

That small gesture brought her back to earth just as their food arrived.


Liz was sure to leave a hefty tip for her waiter, since he’d probably never had such a difficult patron to serve in his life. She’d ordered and re-ordered, changed her mind, and had enough special requests for the preparation of her food that she started to remind herself of Meg Ryan’s character in ‘When Harry Met Sally’. Captain’s Gig Restaurant, was not exactly the finest restaurant on the Fisherman’s Wharf; it had a casual atmosphere and was no doubt accustomed to a more low-maintenance clientele.

They did make damn good clam chowder in a sourdough bread bowl, though. Liz had been a fan ever since she’d moved here. Today, she’d also had a salad (with spinach, not lettuce) with baby carrots, Parmesan cheese and olive oil (on the side), a cup of orange slices, and a small pasta primavera with ham (which was not usually included in the dish and had to be added after Liz’s request). Liz had no doubt that the entire staff thought she was stark raving mad.

Or merely pregnant.

The waiter came and took away the bill. Liz spent a few minutes looking over the serene waters of the bay. From where she sat, she could look up and see where the sail boats in their docking stations, one lone sail boat heading out of the bay, and the way the land curved back up and around and seamlessly merged into the main coast of California. There was something very special about this moment, and how far her life had come in the last year. She’d found her catalyst and seized it with both hands. Though not everything had worked out the way she would have wished it, and despite the enormity of single parenthood that loomed before her, she felt incredibly at peace.

She tried for a moment to summon the image of the man she’d met on the night that had changed her life forever. But the image was beginning to fade – not suddenly or noticeably, but very, very, achingly slow. The curve of his jaw was becoming less distinct to her. She could not recall exactly the soft lines of his eyebrows. Had his eyes been the color of gold, like the tacky treasure chest near the register of the restaurant, or the firm brown of the wood paneling on the counter?

What she did recall with absolute certainty, though, was his voice, which she still heard sometimes in her dreams; the way that his skin felt against hers; the way that she knew him, almost instantly, better than people she’d known all her life. She remembered the way her soul recognized his, and the way he made tingles shoot up and down her spine.

Much in the way that traces of those tingles were creeping around her spine as she watched that boat.

“Can I get you some more water, ma’am?” the waiter suddenly reappeared, destroying the day’s second bout of stillness. His sour grimace from earlier was gone; instead, he wore a grin that spread from one ear to the other. He must have really liked his tip.

“Yes, please,” Liz answered. He refilled her water with his pitcher. She asked then for a cup of herbal tea as well. The waiter nodded, then went back to the bar, where he and the bartender appeared to be deep in conversation about some of the waitresses. Liz took another sip of her water and turned back to watch the sail boat until it was out of sight. Afterwards she sat at the table, enjoying the breeze from the open window. Her tea was delivered, and she enjoyed it without hurry.

At some point, Liz suddenly realized that the restaurant had nearly emptied of all its customers. She finished her tea and set the cup down with a definitive clank. Slowly, she scooted her chair out and stood up. As her back straightened, a dull pain shot through her belly. Apparently Baby didn’t agree with some of her food choices. Liz made a mental note to buy a ginger ale at a soda stand on her way back to downtown.

She made it three steps towards the door before the pain shot through her again, and she collapsed to the floor with a cry.


Isabel wanted to go to an art gallery several blocks away. Normally she would have walked, but she “weighed” a ton and declared that she had done her share of walking for the day. So the three of them walked the short distance back to the Wharf’s parking lot, located on the other side of the Wharf from where the Bay Inn was situated.

“Is it just me, or does the wharf look a little … deserted for this time of day?” Alex asked.

“Yeah,” Isabel concurred, “I noticed that too. You’d think there’d be at least a few more people around.”

Max followed their gazes over towards the wharf as he continued walking towards the edge of the sidewalk and into the car park. Perhaps a half a dozen people could be seen. Max didn’t know much about Monterey, since this was his first time there, but he had noticed the throngs of people swarming the wharf, coming and going, when they’d first parked the car. Still, he couldn’t say with certainty whether or not the present desertion was really that remarkably strange.

“Max! Watch out!” Isabel called as he was jerked backwards. A flash of red letters on white swooshed in front of him. He gasped in fright and stumbled back, chilled by the speeding ambulance that passed only a few inches in front of him.

“Oh, God!” cried Isabel. Her hand covered her mouth. “Oh, God.”

“Whoa!” he managed between quick pants. “What the hell was that?!”

Alex released his grip on the back of Max’s sweatshirt. His eyes followed the ambulance, which came to a screeching halt in front of the wharf. Three uniformed EMTs jumped out and ran onto the wharf. “I don’t know,” he answered, struggling to catch his breath himself. “You okay?”

“Yeah,” Max said. “Thanks to you.”

“Oh, God,” Isabel was still repeating. “Oh God, oh God, oh God.”

“Iz?” Alex and Max turned around. One hand was still over her mouth, but the other was clutching her stomach.

“Oh God, oh God, oh God, oh God, oh God …”

“Isabel!” Max touched her right shoulder, while Alex was already standing at her left.

When she met their eyes, the look on her face said it all.

“We need to get to a hospital.”


Liz tried to open her eyes, but it seemed to take so much effort. Strange voices and sounds hummed around her, but she couldn’t seem to make any sense of any of them. The only thing she knew for certainty was that a siren was sounding loudly in her ears, in her head. It must be close by.

Another pain hit her stomach again. She screamed for a moment.

“Miss? Miss. Can you tell me your name?”

Miss? Liz hadn’t been called “miss” since she was sixteen. No one in Atlanta said “miss.” They all said “ma’am.”

Then she remembered. She wasn’t in Atlanta.

“Miss? How far along are you?”

That’s right. She was pregnant. That was … first full week of December, and this was …

“Thirty-five,” she croaked out. “Thirty-five.”

“I can’t hear you. Miss, I can’t understand you. Can you say that again?”

Liz opened her eyes. There was movement everywhere, and her eyes were immediately drawn to the one thing in front of her that was staying still - the jade green eyes of a man with graying hair in a dark blue shirt. “Thirty-five weeks.”

“What’s your doctor’s name? Miss? What’s your doctor’s name?”

“Ca-ca-cal State M-mon-”

“Cal State hospital? Is that right?” Liz nodded. “Can you tell me your doctor’s name?”

“Am … Amajoyia.”

He smiled. “You’ve got Dr. Amajoyia, huh? That’s good. She’s a good doctor. You’re in excellent hands.”

Liz tried to smile, but could only shout out again. The pain, the pain, the pain. “What’s … what’s wrong with my baby?”

“You’ve gone into premature labor. We have your purse here. Can we get your wallet out?” Again, Liz nodded her consent. He turned away from her and started rifling through something at his feet.

“Okay, Miss … Parker. You’re gonna be just fine, Miss Parker.”

Liz tried to nod again, but couldn’t find the energy. Her eyes slipped shut. She heard the man’s voice saying, “Miss Parker? Elizabeth? Elizabeth, stay awake. Why is her heart rate dropping?”


“If you’ll just fill these out,” the emergency room receptionist said politely. “We’ll get you a wheel chair and contact your doctor. She’ll probably call one of our doctors and ask them to fill in. We’ve got an emergency patient on her way in now, but the next room that opens up is yours.”

“Thank you,” Alex said. He took the clipboard from the receptionist’s hands along with a pen. Then he and Max guided Isabel towards a nearby empty chair.

“Try and relax, Isabel. I’ll worry about filling these out,” Alex told her as she eased into a chair. Max sat beside her, and Alex sat across from her while he took care of the paper work.

“You’re sure Mom and Dad are on their way?” Isabel asked Max.

“Yeah, they were in a cab to JFK when I hung up with them. And between the two of them, they’ll probably get the driver to break the sound barrier just so he can get them out of his car again.”

Isabel laughed. “They’re that bad, huh?”

“For their first grandchild?” Max rubbed Isabel’s tummy. “Of course.”

Alex and Isabel sat there, surreptitiously glancing at each other over the top of the clip board. Both wore matching smiles that couldn’t be diminished.

Max rolled his eyes, but neither of his companions noticed. Desperate to stop the goo-goo eyes, he asked what names they were thinking of for the baby. “After all,” he said, “you haven’t told me yet.”

“Well,” Isabel gave a questioning look to Alex, who nodded his consent. “We were thinking of Katherine Ashley if it’s a girl. Katherine with a “K”.”

Max smiled. “I like that. And what if it’s a boy?”

Isabel paused before saying, “Um, if it’s okay with you, we wanted to name him Aaron Maxwell. And, uh, regardless of whether it’s a boy or a girl, we were really hoping you’d agree to be the baby’s godfather.”

A slow grin crept across Max’s face until it matched the ones that his sister and her fiancé were wearing. “Really?”

“Yeah, really.”

“There’s no one we’re rather have, Max,” Alex agreed.

“Wow. Thank you. I … I’d love to.”

They all sat grinning like idiots for a few more seconds until another contraction hit Isabel.

That was the moment that the emergency room exploded to life. Several people wearing white coats and green scrubs suddenly poured in from swinging doors all around. A distant siren came closer and closer until the lights could be seen from the windows. Doctors and nurses were shouting over each other as those waiting to be admitted curiously murmured over what could be the cause of all this excitement.

From the back of the ambulance a gurney was pushed out carrying the source of the attention. Some of the nosier occupants of the waiting room craned their necks to see what was wrong with the patient, but the sea of scrubs was impenetrable to all the sets of prying eyes.

Except one.

As the gurney quickly made its way towards the back, with one EMT shouting out the details of blood pressure and heart rate, Max noticed the small, thin frame of a woman. Her eyes were closed, and her long hair was haphazardly strewn about under her. But her profile was unmistakable.

“Liz?” he whispered, not daring to believe it.

Max stood up and followed the horded mass to the doors. He was completely unaware of Isabel calling his name or of Alex’s bewildered stare.

When he tried to go through the double doors, though, he was stopped by a male nurse. “You can’t go in there unless you know the patient,” he instructed firmly.

“I do know the patient. Her name is Liz. She’s from Atlanta. Is she okay?”

“You know her?” The nurse had heard from the radio that the woman they’d just brought in had been alone on the wharf and had passed out and gone into early labor. Though her situation wasn’t critical, it was serious. Still, he couldn’t legally tell this to anyone who wasn’t a family member. But the guy looked so worried, so concerned. “She lost consciousness. Her doctor’s coming in. I’ll let her know that you’re here, and when she wakes up, her doctor can decide about visitors.”

Passed out? She’d passed out? Was she okay?

Was it really even her?

Max thanked the nurse and went back to where his sister was sitting alone as Alex turned in the completed forms.

“Max, do you know her?” she asked.

“I think so. I think I met her in New York. I thought she lived in Atlanta, though…” Max couldn’t believe he was even saying the words. He couldn’t even believe it was really her face that he’d seen for that brief piece of a second. What if it wasn’t her? What if it was?

What on earth was she doing here?


From the darkness, a full, warm voice called out to her. “Liz? Liz, can you hear me?”

Not for the first time today, Liz had to pry her eyes open. When she did, she saw the familiar face of her obstetrician, Dr. Frances Amajoyia, blocking out the painfully bright fluorescent lights from above. Her black skin shone like a lantern, but she wore an unreadable expression.

“What … happened?”

“You passed out in a restaurant on Fisherman’s Wharf, Liz, and your water broke. Your body’s gone into early labor. But the baby’s facing the wrong way. She’s coming out feet first, and upside down, and her heart rate has been slowing down ever since the ambulance picked you up. You’re losing fluid too fast and not dilating fast enough.” The doctor took a deep breath. “Liz, we’re going to have to perform a cesarian.”

Liz took a moment to try to digest this information. “D-drugs?”

Frances really hated this part of her job. “We’ll have to give you an anesthetic so we can make the incision. It sometimes causes the baby to be a bit sluggish, but the effects are temporary. Liz, I don’t have to tell you what will happen if we don’t do this.” Liz nodded, but still looked as frightened as a child. Frances knew she had no family here, and wouldn’t be able to call anyone she knew until after the surgery anyway. She’d have to go through this all alone.

Suddenly she remembered the message that had been passed along to her by one of the nurses. “There’s a young man out in the waiting room who says he knows you. He’s been asking about you every ten minutes. Do you want me to bring him in?”

Liz couldn’t believe it. Alex was here? How did he even know that she’d … “Yes, yes, please.” She desperately needed to see a friendly face, to have someone tell her it would be all right.

She followed Dr. Amajoyia’s body as it turned out of the room. But instead of hearing her shoes in an echoing click-clack down the hall, they seemed to walk to the room directly across from her own. “You can go in and see her now,” Liz heard her doctor say. “She’s right in here.”

The tingles from earlier in the day returned with a vengeance as the frame that entered the doorway was not that of her friend Alex, but of someone she never expected to see again.


Max walked out of his sister’s delivery room and towards the door that the doctor was pointing at. As he entered the doorway, his jaw hit the floor. There, lying in a hospital bed, with a belly almost as large as his sister’s, was Liz, looking as pale and scared as she had that night in the elevator.

It took Max a considerably long time to remember how his mouth worked, especially considering what he did for a living. Eventually he managed to whisper her name reverently. And when he did, it confirmed for him that the sight in front of his eyes was not like the illusive dreams he’d had for so many months now. It was real. She was real. And she was really, really … pregnant.

In a similar state of shock herself, Liz said the only thing she could think of.


Last edited by LairaBehr4 on Sun Mar 04, 2007 11:53 am, edited 1 time in total.
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