Blindsided ( AU - M/L -ADULT) [COMPLETE]

Finished stories that feature the characters from the show, but there are no aliens. All fics completed on the main AU without Aliens board will eventually be moved here.

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kay_b
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Blindsided ( AU - M/L -ADULT) [COMPLETE]

Post by kay_b » Fri Feb 13, 2004 7:48 pm

Disclaimer: Sadly, I do not own Roswell but if I did, I would have hired the writers on Fanatics to replace those who made Season2. Anyway, I'm only borrowing the characters for better imagination purposes. I came up with this fic a month ago and I have no such knowledge if there are other fics or any books similar to it. I do not want to offend anyone or be sued for plagiarism, so if such is the case, please contact me immediately.

Author: Katherine Baltazar (a.k.a kay_b)
Email: kay_orange@hotmail.com

Rating: ADULT

Dedication: This is for the people that I have had the pleasure to become friends with through Roswell. Thanks so much for encouraging me and having faith. To Shelly (aka *Zans-gurl*), Jen (aka Liz Evans), April (aka Comet) and Ashley (aka Ashley777): hope you enjoy this.

~*~*~*~

Summary: Liz has dreams of becoming successful and working hard to be able to provide for her family. While Max is a playboy and a rebel whose goal in life is to woo every girl that catches his eye and claims them as his trophies. What would happen when a spirited young girl comes across the path of a malevolent young boy?



Prologue

Have you ever seen horses competing in a race? Have you ever noticed the black patches they wear at the sides of their eyes? Those are placed there to keep them from getting distracted. It keeps them from seeing the other horses running beside them. It makes them see one goal and one goal alone, to win the race, to get to the destination they were being led to.

A lot of people are like that. They are so focused on achieving their goals that they never notice the others around them. Do you know the saying “stop and smell the roses”? Though it has been said many times, it always is true. Sometimes we are so driven by our dream that we don’t realize that it’s the journey that makes it all worthwhile. Upon reaching our ambitions we celebrate in the triumph for a few moments before setting our sights on something else, something better, something bigger. But the path to attaining it is what teaches us the things we should learn in life, those lessons that we would carry with us for the rest of our days.

For some the goal is to become a winner, something that makes them stand out. For others it is getting back their past, something that they already have that they wish to attain again or to gain more of it. These aspirations may be money, fame, a career, a bigger house, a nicer car, whatever we wish to grab hold of. Unfortunately more often than not, these dreamers neglect the others around them that have helped them through it all. They forget everything that they were taught, everything they valued, no matter what it takes, to achieve their most coveted dream. They become blindsided.


Chapter 1

I’ve always had a happy childhood. Although I now only have my grandma with me, I remember those times when my family was complete. Has anyone ever asked you, what your earliest memory is? I can remember it as if it was yesterday. I was only 2 years old. I was way up in the air, my father holding me, lifting me up above his head as both him and my mother look up to me with huge smiles on their faces. I remember giggling, laughing, looking at them with such adoration.

I wish I could turn back the time…back to when we were all together. My dad died when I was 6 years old. It was in a car accident on his way home from work. I’ve never seen my mom so devastated until that night when the police came to our house to tell us the news. I remember her crying all night and there was nothing I could do to comfort her. We were left with nothing but not even that could compare to the loss that my mom and I felt.

A few weeks after that, my mom had to leave me with my grandma so she could support us. She’s now living somewhere else, working as a maid, just to make ends meet. Although I miss her terribly, I can’t blame her for leaving. She’s not actually gone although sometimes I wish she never had to go. I made a promise to her once, that someday I’d be the one working, to take care of her and my grandma, to give us back the life we had then, maybe even more…

“Liz, dinner!”

“Coming Grandma!”

Well, till next time diary. My grandma’s calling me for dinner.

Liz closes her diary and shoves it under her mattress. She runs out of her room and straight down to the kitchen as her grandmother sets the food on the table.

“Wow, this looks and smells great.” Liz says as she looks at the beef stew and dinner rolls on the table.

“Have you done your homework already?” asks Grandma Claudia.

“Yup, all done.” Liz reaches over for some bread.

“Your mom will be coming tomorrow.”

“I know. She told me last week that she’ll be able to get a couple days off this weekend.”

“What do you want to do then?”

“I dunno, maybe just spend some time here in the house.”

“Why don’t you and her go out?”

“But what about you Grandma?”

“Oh, I’ll be fine. I’m too old to be going around walking all day. Besides I know how much you’ve been missing her.”

“Are you sure? I know you miss her too.”

“Don’t worry, there’ll be time for us to catch up when you get home.”

“Well… ok, I guess. But you know you can change your mind.”

“I know” smiles Grandma.

After dinner, Liz washes the dishes as Grandma cleans up the table. Then she goes off to her room to plan the upcoming weekend with her mom.

As she lays in bed she thinks of the things she could do this weekend with her mom. It hasn’t been easy being away from her. As it is, it’s only her, her mom and her grandma that are left and she doesn’t want them to be separated anymore. She thinks of life and how things should have been. Living in their old house, the one with big rooms and nice furniture, a big yard, little luxuries that she never really thought about before. But after the tragedy that struck her family, her mother sold their house and moved into this one. Though it is nothing compared to the old one, had small rooms, a kitchen/dining/living room, a significantly smaller yard; it was warm and cozy. Despite the struggles they had to go through, they made this small and simple house into their home.


Chapter 2

“Mom, you’re home!” Liz yells as she runs out the door to meet her mother.

“Hi baby”! Nancy smiles as she hugs her tight.

“I’ve missed you so much.”

“It’s only been a couple of months Elizabeth.”

“But it’s been a long two months.” Liz says sadly.

Nancy lifts Liz’s chin to look in her daughter’s eyes. “Hey, enough of that. I’m here. Let’s not waste the day away, ok?”

Liz beams a huge smile at her mom, “Ok.”

They walk over to the house with Nancy’s bag where Grandma Claudia is waiting by the door as the cab pulls away.

“Hi Claudia.” Nancy kisses her mother-in law’s cheek. Although she is her husband’s mother, she feels like she is hers as well after everything that has happened to their family.

“Hello Nancy. You must be tired from your trip. Your room’s all ready if you want to wash up and rest a little.”

“Thanks Claudia.”

They all go in the house. Nancy freshening up, Liz helping her mom with her stuff and Claudia preparing lunch. After eating, Liz and Nancy decide to go out to their small town’s park where there are quaint shops and stalls around the grassy area. Most of the stalls were selling things that are handmade by the people living in this tiny town. There were quilts, woodwork, needlepoint, some paintings, crocheted items, knitted clothes, plants and flowers and other little trinkets.

As they strolled around the park, Liz bought a beaded bracelet and Nancy got a quilt and a couple of flowering shrubs that she could plant in their little garden.

Walking home, Liz and Nancy talked about everyday things, well Liz talked more than Nancy did. She told her mother about school and how high her grades are, the projects she has done for extra credit and the volunteer work she’s been doing at the hospital.

“I’m so proud of you Liz, if only your father could see you now, how much you’ve grown to be a wonderful young lady.” Nancy says with a pang in her heart. “But don’t overdo it. It wouldn’t do you any good if you end up getting sick because of all of the things you’re doing.” Nancy knows why Liz is trying to do all of these. When Nancy had to go live at her employer’s house, Liz has only been 7 years old. Both of them cried so much, Liz for being separated from her mother and Nancy for having to cause her daughter more grief. It broke her heart to see her daughter that way but there was no other choice. It was the only way they’d survive.

The first time she was allowed to have a leave, Liz clung to her and followed her everywhere she went, making sure that her mother wouldn’t leave. One night, Liz made a promise that when she grew up, she would take care of her and Claudia and she wouldn’t have to go away again. Nancy cried silent tears as she watched her little girl sleep. How unfair it was that her little child had to have that determination of bearing the responsibility for all of them.


Upon reaching their house, Liz went in to look for her grandmother to show her the bracelet she got and the new quilt that Nancy handed to her while Nancy went to their yard to find a place for the new shrubs.

“Grandma, we’re home!” Liz rushed through the front door expecting to see her grandmother there. Thinking that she would be in her room, Liz ran up the stairs. But she gasped the minute she reached Claudia’s room. Lying on the floor beside her bed was Claudia, she was pale and without a pulse.

“GRANDMA!”

Hearing Liz’s scream Nancy dropped the plants in her hands and rushed into the house and up to the rooms. She covered her mouth as she gasped at the sight before her. Liz was cradling Claudia’s head in her lap, tears streaming down her face, her brown eyes wide with fear.

“Liz, go call the hospital, tell them to send an ambulance, quick!” Nancy moved swiftly, taking Liz’s place as her daughter rushed down the stairs to call for an ambulance.

Nancy immediately tried to administer CPR after trying to look for Claudia’s pulse and realizing that she wasn’t breathing. She robotically went through the motions, counting inside her head, but her heart was sending a silent prayer, hoping that Claudia would soon come out of it.

After making the call, Liz ran back to her grandmother’s bedroom. She was standing at the doorway, watching her mother performing CPR. She knew then that her grandmother’s heart had stopped.

As Nancy was pumping Claudia’s chest, she saw Liz standing outside the room, looking so afraid. “Liz, go and wait for the ambulance outside.”

“But-“

“Go Liz!”

Liz ran out of their house. Once she was outside, she was pacing, she didn’t know what to do. She tried talking to her dad, for him to take care of her grandma, that she makes it through this.

Soon the ambulance arrived. Liz ran up to the EMT and led them into their house. Nancy was still doing CPR and moved away to let the medical team do their job. She hugged Liz tightly as they cried and prayed that Claudia would be alright. They rode in the ambulance with the two EMTs and Claudia, as the sirens blared and rushed them to the hospital. But by the time they got there, it was too late.

Liz held on to Nancy for dear life as she cried her eyes out. Nancy tried as much as she could to comfort her only child but she was grieving as well. Mother and daughter embraced, never letting go, as they mourned for another loss in their family.


Chapter 3

*RING*

“Evans’ residence, how may I help you?”

“This is Nancy Parker, I wish to speak with Mrs. Diane Evans.”

“Nancy? It’s Agnes. Are you ok? You sound awful.”

“Hi Agnes. Actually I don’t know if I’m ok. My mother-in-law, Claudia…she died 2 days ago.” Nancy whispers to the phone as she feels the loss washing over her again.

“Oh no. I’m sorry. How’s your girl?”

“She’s not too good Agnes… I’m sorry but I’d really like to talk to Mrs. Evans.”

“Oh, of course. I’ll bring the phone to her, hang on.”

“Thanks.” Nancy twirls the cord around her finger as she waits for Mrs. Evans to come on the line.

Nancy could hear muffled sounds through the line, knowing that Agnes has informed Mrs. Evans of the call.

“This is Diane Evans. Nancy?”

“Uh good morning Mrs. Evans.” Nancy says nervously. “I’m really sorry to bother you but I have no other choice. You see, my mother-in-law died two days ago…and I know I’m supposed to report back to work today but I have to take care of the funeral and my daughter…” Nancy rambles on as the worry begins to engulf her.

“Oh my god, I’m so sorry to hear that Nancy. Is that why you called? Do you need to stay there longer? If you do, I truly understand.”

“Thank you Mrs. Evans. I just wanted to let you know what’s going on. I didn’t want you to think that I just left without any notice.”

“Oh no, don’t you worry about it. How is your daughter by the way? As I recall, she has been living with your mother-in-law hasn’t she?”

“Yes.” Nancy answers with a simple word that carries a lot more complications now that Claudia is gone.

“What is going to happen to her now?”

“I honestly don’t know Mrs. Evans. I don’t want her to be alone but I can’t afford to stop working for you and find a job around here.” Nancy says troubled by what to do. She knows she has to go back to the Evans in a week at the most, but she cannot leave her only child, the only member left of her family.

“Well why don’t you bring her here with you?” Diane suggests.

“Please don’t be offended Mrs. Evans but I do not want Liz to work as a maid. It’s not that I am degrading your offer but I want my daughter to just concentrate on her studies so she doesn’t have to end up like me.” Tears begin to fill Nancy’s eyes. She knows with a conviction that her daughter was meant for better things, finer things, than being a maid.

“Nancy, that’s not what I meant. She could stay here. God knows we have more than enough space for one little child…”

Nancy interrupts, “Mrs. Evans thank you but—“

And Diane cuts her off, “Listen Nancy, I didn’t mean that we would have your daughter work for us. She could stay here, for free.” As Nancy was about to say something Diane continues, “She can go to the public school, only it is a bit far but she can take the bus. I’m not asking for anything in return, only that you don’t consider quitting. If the only problem is that you don’t want her to be alone, then bring her back here with you. She doesn’t have to work Nancy, I promise.”

“Oh Mrs. Evans that’s quite generous of you but I simply can’t impose….”

“Nancy, you are one of my trusted helpers here if not the most. You work hard and I know it’ll be difficult to replace you. Can you imagine what it would take to have to train someone all over again? It would be utterly impossible. Please…accept my offer. It’s a ‘win-win situation’ as my husband says. I get to keep you employed with me and you get to keep your daughter with you. What do you say?”

“Um…I guess it is a good solution…but…I have to discuss this with my daughter first.” Nancy concedes.

“Of course, it is a major decision. After all, you’ll be uprooting her and moving her to a city that is so different from where she grew up. Lord knows if I do that to my babies, they’d probably hate me with a passion.” Diane says as she tries to lighten the conversation. “Just call me as soon as you’ve made up your mind. I could have one of the drivers fetch you.”

“That won’t be necessary Mrs. Evans.” Nancy informs her employer.

“Oh stop it, it’s an order. Diane says with a giggle.

“Thank you Mrs. Evans. Thank you so much.”

“Oh, when is the funeral?”

“Tomorrow.”

“Well I better let you go then. Again my deepest condolences to you and your daughter.”

“Thank you.” Nancy hangs up the phone thinking of what Mrs. Evans offered with regards to Liz.

As much as she wants to accept the offer, the decision has to be made by Liz. But God knows that she’ll be devastated if Liz decides to stay here. She’ll have to resign from the Evans and find a job here. However, she’s been getting a big salary ever since she worked there and giving that up would be tough. Although they have some savings, that might not last them before she finds another job especially with more expenses due to the funeral. And getting a job here wouldn’t pay half as what she was earning from the Evans.

Nancy takes a deep breath and steels herself as she starts to get ready for the funeral. She walks over to the next room to check on Liz. And as the past couple of days, Liz is asleep, her face marred by tear tracks. She moves to sit on the side of the bed and she strokes her daughter’s silky smooth hair.

‘Why did this have to happen to us? Everything was working out fine…then this. It’s been the same way when Jeff passed….’ Tears begin to stream down Nancy’s cheeks as she thinks about the sorrowful events of the past weekend. She starts to recall everything that they once had.

When Jeffrey was still alive they had everything. They weren’t exactly living a life of luxury like the Evans but they could afford to buy things when they wanted to. She remembers when she told Jeff about the pregnancy, he was so excited that he came home from work the next day with a little stuffed white bear that was so smooth and cuddly, perfect for a little baby. At first she laughed at the thoughtfulness of her husband, the daddy-to-be. Jeff was so excited that he started to make plans about renovating the bedroom next to theirs. It was intended to be a nursery but they left it white and empty so that when the new one would come, they’d have free-range to do whatever they pleased. Then she looked at him with so much love she thought she was going to burst. And in actuality, she did. She cried and hugged her husband so tight, she never wanted to let go.

Jeff accompanied her to every checkup. They went to different baby stores, buying the crib, a rocker, dressing table, baby clothes, toys, accessories, everything that were associated with a baby, Jeff got it. He was even more ecstatic when they were told that they were expecting a girl. Jeff had tears in his eyes and Nancy knew that this child might become spoiled with the amount of love they had to give her. The room was painted baby pink and all the furniture was white. The crib was in the middle of the room and the rocker was placed right beside it. The dressing table was in one corner and there was a little cabinet beside it. Inside, there were different baby clothes you could think of; sleepers, onesies, jumpers, shirts, dresses, tights, jackets, hoodies, shoes; in baby pink, baby blue, light yellow, peach, mint green, lavender, white. And Jeff came home with a stuffed toy everyday for 7 months after finding out about their little bundle of joy, until the day Elizabeth Anne Parker was born. But Nancy and Liz’s favorite was the first one he ever bought his daughter, that little white teddy bear that Liz had beside her ever since she came into this world.

They were so happy, their small family. Everything was perfect in their family. Husband and wife had a little daughter they doted on. Their house was big enough for the three of them. It had a spacious living room, a formal dining area, a big kitchen with the informal dining in the same space, a den, a huge yard with grass and trees and beautiful plants and flowers and a small pool that they could go in during the hot summer days. There were 4 bedrooms that each had their own bathroom: the master’s bedroom, Liz’s nursery, Claudia’s room whenever she came to visit which became often after the birth of her only grandchild and another guestroom, just in case they had visitors. Jeff had a great job and worked while Nancy stayed at home to take care of Liz. They lived a modest life but had enough money to afford expensive things every now and then.

Unfortunately in one night, that family lost everything. While on the way home, a semi was weaving across the road with a drunk driver at the wheel. As Jeff was rounding the bend, they had a head-on collision, killing Jeff instantly. When the truck smashed onto his car, Jeff was crushed between the steering wheel and the driver’s seat because the airbag did not deploy due to the hard hit causing it to malfunction. When Nancy was told of the horrible news, she cried so hard, the pain of losing her beloved husband overpowering her. Her only salvation was Liz. She recalled hearing Liz’s voice as she tried to comfort her. And Nancy just held on to her daughter, afraid that she might disappear as well if she let go.

After Jeff’s funeral, their lawyer informed them that they had some money saved up in a bank but it’s not really a lot since there are still payments to be made such as the funeral arrangements, house mortgages, bills, among other things. Although there would be some insurance money coming in, it would not be enough in the long run if Nancy decides not to work And without any previous work experience, she knew that there would be tough times ahead for them.

So with that, she sold their house and moved in with Claudia. Nancy saved half of what she got in the bank earning interest in a time deposit and the other half for Liz’s trust and college fund. She didn’t want Liz to be left penniless in case something happens to her as well. After Jeff’s untimely death, she knew that nothing in this world is permanent.

As Nancy continued to mull over these things, Liz turned and opened her eyes. They were puffy from crying all night and seeing her mother with her own tears, made her sob out loud. Nancy looked at Liz realizing she’s awake, she tried to smile but it didn’t quite reach her eyes.

“Why does this have to happen to us mommy?” Liz asked.

Hearing Liz call her ‘mommy’ made Nancy’s mind up. She was taking her daughter with her. She needed to take care of her for she’s all Liz has in this world.

“I don’t know sweetie, but we’ll be alright. Cause now, we have two angels watching over us.” Nancy said, holding Liz’s face as she brushed her daughter’s tears away with her thumbs.

Liz hugged her mother, crying on her shoulder, letting her mom soothe her like back when she was a little girl.

“We’ll be alright Liz, don’t you worry baby…we’ll be alright.”


Chapter 4

The next morning, it was cloudy and Liz couldn’t help but think that maybe even God is as gloomy as she is. Liz was wearing a black peasant dress with short sleeves and black sandals. She just brushed her hair and let it down, and only had some blush and lip gloss. She didn’t bother putting on any makeup on her eyes knowing that it would be pointless.

Today is going to be hard. Today is Grandma Claudia’s funeral. And on top of it all is the fact that she doesn’t know what’s going to happen to her. Liz shook her head slightly, trying to dispel those thoughts away. She should concentrate on the funeral first. Although there aren’t a lot of people attending, trying to control herself is the only thing she needs to focus on.


At the cemetery Liz was crying non-stop. No matter how hard she tried she couldn’t. Nancy was holding her, knowing how draining this is. Some of their neighbors were there, the Graysons, the Mayhews, the Cartiers and a few other people in town who knew Claudia Parker. As the casket was lowered to the ground, Liz buried her face in her mother’s chest; unable to look at her grandmother for the last time. All the way back to their house, Liz was quiet. She never spoke a word even when the guests were paying their condolences to the only two people Claudia left behind.

After everyone has gone home, Liz went quietly to her room. Nancy noticed this but didn’t say a word, understanding her daughter’s broken heart. Nancy knew what it felt like. It was only ten years ago that she had to go through the same thing, but she had Liz to think of and the knowledge that Jeff wouldn’t want her to neglect their only child. And now, she has to do it all over again.

As Nancy was cleaning up, she remembered the sweet gesture that her employers did. They sent some flowers to the funeral and once again, Nancy was thankful that she’s working for such wonderful people. But at the same time it reminded her of the decision that she has to inform Liz about. So she hurried in doing all the tasks, cleaning, washing the dishes, fixing the rooms. But she didn’t want to go into Claudia’s room yet. She wanted to talk to Liz before doing that and maybe they could also discuss what to do about Claudia’s things. Even though she didn’t want to rush Liz with this since her daughter is still grieving, she had to be back at the Evans in 4 days.

After finishing on tidying up the house, she got some leftovers from the dinner she made for the guests. Preparing a plate for Liz, she put the food on the tray and went up the stairs to bring Liz some dinner. Liz hasn’t spoken all day aside from crying at the funeral but when they got home, she went straight to her room and hasn’t come out since.

Nancy tapped lightly on Liz’s door before opening it. Opening the door slowly, she saw Liz lying in bed on her side. She’s obviously awake because Nancy can hear her small sobs but she was looking out the window with her back to the door.

“Lizzie, baby… I brought you something to eat. You haven’t eaten all day sweetheart.”

“I don’t want any.” Liz whispered.

“But you have to eat honey, you don’t want to get sick do you?”

“Fine, just leave it there.” Liz still hasn’t moved from her position as she spoke with her mom.

Nancy placed the tray on the bedside table and sat on the side of Liz’s bed. “Liz, look at me.”

Liz finally turned to face her mom and Nancy’s heart broke upon seeing her daughter so dejected. “I know what you’re going through baby. But you have to be strong, you know that your grandmother wouldn’t want to see you this way.”

Suddenly Liz sat up and all the hurt she felt burst out into words. “What do you know? You’re never here! It was just me and Grandma! It was her who took me to school when I was scared, it was her who comforted me when I had nightmares. She was the one I told about my first crush, my first kiss, my problems, school, my life! And where were you huh?! You were with some other family, taking care of them, taking care of other kids!!!”

Nancy gasped at Liz’s outburst. She had no idea that Liz was harboring all this inside her.

“Lizzie, you know the reason why I had to go. If there was another way to support us and be able to stay with you I would.” Nancy said softly.

“But you didn’t” Liz sobbed.

“Oh baby…” Nancy started crying and hugged Liz tightly. “If there was any way for us to be together I wouldn’t have left you. Do you know how hard that was? Your father just died and then I had to go away… it broke my heart too Liz. I never wanted to be separated from you but I had to. And it’s been getting harder every time.”

Liz cried harder, asking in her mind why all of this is happening to them.

“And I do know what you’re going through baby… cause I experienced it twice in the past.”

Liz looked up to meet her mother’s eyes “Twice?”

“Yes, one with your father and one with you.”

“Oh mom, I’m so sorry, I didn’t mean any of it.”

“I know you don’t… but they are true, all of it. I wasn’t here for you for a long time. I’ve missed seeing you grow up into the beautiful young lady you are now. And there isn’t a day that I don’t regret that.”

Then Liz pulled away from Nancy. She pulled her knees to her chest and wrapped her arms around her legs. “But what are we going to do now?” Liz asked her mother quietly, fearing what will happen to her now that Claudia is gone.

“Well, honey, I actually need to talk to you about that.”

Worriedly, Liz stares at her mom.

Nancy takes a deep breath, nervous about what Liz’s reaction will be and more importantly her decision.

“Well, honey, I was thinking if… you would… like to livewithmeattheEvans?”

“What?”

“Well, it’s the only sol—“

“No I mean what did u say, I didn’t understand you.”

“I want you to go with me, to the Evans. We can stay there. I talked with Mrs. Evans and she’s ok with it. You’re not going to work there of course, I made sure of that. She knows that you were staying with your grandmother and now that… well, she says you’re welcome to come with me. She knows that I would quit my job to be with you if you decide to stay here and that’s why she made the offer.”

“But what about school?”

“Well, there’s a school in the area although it’s a bit far from the Evans’ residence but I just have to call your school now and have your records transferred… that is, if you want to go.”

“What will happen if I don’t?”

“Well, I’ll look for a job here.”

Liz ponders on that for a while. “Will it be better for you if we go?”

Nancy reaches for her daughter’s hand. “Liz, don’t think about that. I just want you to decide on where you want to stay. I’ll be wherever you are” she said as she smiled at her daughter.

Liz just sits there, thinking for a moment. “Ok, I’ll go”

“Liz, are you sure?”

“Yes mom. I know that we need that job and working here won’t pay half of what you’re getting there. So I’ll go…. “ Liz pauses to ask another question but she’s a bit nervous about it so she looks away.

Nancy cups her chin turning her head to face her. “What is it Lizzie?”

“When do we… have to leave?” Liz asks faintly.

“Mrs. Evans gave me the rest of the week off but I have to be back there by Sunday.”

“But what about this house?”

“We don’t have to sell it. We have enough money and I don’t want to lose it either.”

“Neither do I.”


For the rest of the week, Nancy and Liz were packing up most of Liz’s and Claudia’s belongings. It was hard at times when memories would come bubbling up causing the Parkers to remember and cry over losing Claudia.

As Sunday morning came, they were getting everything ready. Nancy was making breakfast while Liz was bringing her bags down. They ate breakfast quietly, trying hard not to break the silence for each knew that once the dam is broken, they’ll be crying once again. But a few minutes after they had breakfast, they see the Evans’ car driving down the road, Liz started to feel nervous.

“Honey, the driver is here.” Nancy yells as she looks for Liz. She notices that Claudia’s bedroom door is open so she hands the chauffeur their bags and tells him to wait for a couple of minutes as she gets Liz.

She peeks in the door and sees Liz holding a framed photo of Claudia.

“I miss her Mom” Liz says as a few tears slip down her face.

“I know baby, I miss her too. But I’m sure that she’s looking down upon us right now.”

Liz looks up to her mother as more tears fall.

“I know this is going to be hard. But remember that Claudia wouldn’t want you to be crying over her a lot. It’s ok to cry especially since we have been with her for a long time. But always know this… wherever we are, your Grandma and Daddy will always be with us, here.” Nancy points to Liz’s heart and places a palm on her own.

Liz nods and kisses Claudia’s picture as she places it back on her grandmother’s nightstand.

They go through the house for anything they might have left behind. Nancy knowing that they’ve got all they need, walks out to the car to give Liz some privacy.

Liz looks around the house one last time. She sheds a single tear as she goes out the door, locking it behind her.

Nancy opens her arms to embrace Liz as she walks up to her. She kisses her daughter’s forehead and brushes the tear away with her thumb. Then they all get in the car and head on to the Evans’ mansion.

As the car pulls away, Liz turns to look back whispering her goodbye.

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kay_b
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Post by kay_b » Fri Feb 13, 2004 7:52 pm

Chapter 5

As they approach the Evans’ mansion, Liz is surprised to see the big black iron gates. She couldn’t see the house yet and she’s already anticipating how big it really is. As they go through the long driveway, Liz looks at the lush gardens with the bright and colorful flowers, the perfectly trimmed bushes and the manicured lawn. If Liz was in awe of the garden, she was even more astonished to see the mansion.

It was huge, painted white with beige trim. The front of the house looks like a Spanish villa that has two floors with the living room, informal and formal dining rooms, kitchen, family room, den and game room all on the first floor as well as the maids’ quarters which consisted of 3 rooms, one for Liz and Nancy, another for the two other maids and the third for the gardener and the chauffeur. The second floor has eight bedrooms: the master bedroom with one connecting room which was converted to Mr. Evans’ office and study, two bedrooms for each of the Evans children and the rest are used as guestrooms. All the bedrooms have bathrooms and the Evans’ bedrooms each has a balcony opening out to the Olympic size swimming pool and Jacuzzi at the back. The living room, formal dining room and the den and game room also have glass doors opening out to the pool.

The car slowed as they approached the front steps to the house, then made a complete stop. As the driver who Liz now knew as Ed Harding opened the car door for them, Nancy immediately went around back to get their bags from the trunk. As Liz stepped out, she was gaping at how beautiful the mansion was.

“Liz.”

Liz turned her head to look at her mother.

“Come on, Mrs. Evans has been waiting for us.” Nancy said as she reached out for Liz’s hand.

Liz grabbed hold of her mother’s hand as they walked into the house where she will now live in.

Upon entering the massive mahogany front doors, Agnes greeted Nancy by hugging her. “I’m so glad you’re back Nancy.” Then looking over to Nancy’s left “And this must be your Elizabeth.”

“Hi and please call me Liz” Liz greeted back.

“It’s good to finally meet you. Your mother always spoke about you.” Agnes smiled at the petite girl. “I’m sure Tess will be pleased.”

“Tess?”

“Tess is one of the maids here but she is your age. She’s Ed’s daughter, a sweet girl so I’m sure that you and her would get along, although she could be a bit feisty at times.” Nancy said with a laugh.

“Here let me help you with your things.” Agnes said as she took one of Liz’s bags.

“Oh, thank you but that isn’t necessary.” Liz said.

“Nonsense, we’re a family here.” Agnes smiled at Liz. Then she turned to Nancy. “I’m placing Liz in your room and Tess and I will be in the other room. I’m sure that Liz would want to stay with you.”

“Oh thank you for taking care of that Agnes. We could have done that later so you didn’t have to do it by yourself.” Nancy said gratefully.

“Don’t mention it. Tess helped. She was really excited when I told her that Liz was staying here.

“Agnes, are the Parkers here already?” Mrs. Evans called out as she came out of the den.

“Yes Ma’am.” Agnes answered.

“Good afternoon Mrs. Evans.” Nancy responded.

“Oh good, you’re here. Agnes please ask Ed to help you bring in their bags to their room while I have a talk with them.”

“Yes Mrs. Evans.” Agnes smiled at Nancy and Liz and went to get Ed.

Mrs. Evans motioned for the Parkers to follow her in the living room and she tells Agnes to have Tess bring them some iced tea.

As they walked through the halls of the house, Liz was taking in Mrs. Evans appearance. Diane Evans is the epitome of someone with high standing in society. She is very elegant and classy judging by the way she is dressed. She is about the same height as her mother and has blonde wavy hair with every strand in place. Today, she is wearing a simple light blue dress that reaches just above her knees. The dress is sleeveless though she is wearing an off-white cardigan, matching pumps and pearl earrings with a matching necklace. She is absolutely prim and proper although her face completely shows that she has a kind heart.

As they settle on the couch, Diane asked “Is this your daughter?”

“Yes, this is Elizabeth.” Nancy said as she introduced her daughter proudly.

Liz greeted Mrs. Evans with a soft hello.

“You have such a beautiful daughter Nancy. And I’m glad that you decided to stay here with your mother, dear. She tells me that you are doing quite well in your studies. Is it true that you are a candidate for valedictorian?”

“Actually, I was but since I moved…” Liz says meekly.

“Oh, I didn’t know that. Hmm… maybe there is something we could do. Do you have your school records with you?”

“We don’t have those yet, but I already called her school when we made the decision to come with me. They said they’d be able to send her records by tomorrow.” Nancy answered.

“Well, do you at least have your previous report cards?”

“Yes, I do.” Liz responds.

“May I please see them?”

“Of course” Nancy reaches in her bag to retrieve Liz’s documents and hands them over to Diane.

As Diane peruses them, she is amazed by Liz’s marks. “These are really good.”

Tess comes in with a tray loaded with a pitcher of iced tea and three glasses and places the tray on the coffee table. She pours the tea in the glasses and hands one to each of them. As she gives the last glass to Liz, she smiles at her and Liz smiles back, realizing that this is the Tess whom Agnes was referring to earlier.

“Tess, would you please call Mr. Evans from his study and tell him that I need to discuss something with him.” Diane instructs the girl.

“Yes, Mrs. Evans.” Tess said.

“Thank you.”

Tess immediately leaves the room. After a few minutes a tall man with grayish hair walks in. He is a bit big in size and Liz could only assume that this is Mr. Evans. Philip Evans is wearing charcoal gray slacks and a white button-down shirt with his sleeves rolled up. Obviously he was busy working but Liz noticed that as soon as he stepped in the room, he immediately went to Diane’s side which seemed to relax him.

“Philip, this is Elizabeth, Nancy Parker’s daughter. You remember me mentioning this to you a few days ago.” Diane says tactfully omitting Claudia’s death which resulted to Liz’s change of residence.

“Oh yes. It’s good to meet your acquaintance Elizabeth.”

“Good afternoon sir. And please call me Liz.” Liz says addressing both Philip and Diane.

“Philip, I wanted you to look at Liz’s grades. She is a very excellent student. And I was thinking of having her go to Wilmington Academy instead of the public school in the next town.”

“Oh Mrs. Evans, that would be too much.” Nancy started.

“Nancy, it’s nothing. Philip and I were actually looking for someone to sponsor to that school and I think Liz is the perfect candidate. Don’t you, Philip?”

Philip studies Liz’s records and is very pleased with what he’s seeing. “Why yes, these grades are very good.”

“And she was even her school’s candidate for valedictorian. But she lost it because she had to move here.” Diane told her husband.

“But Mr. and Mrs. Evans, we couldn’t pay for--“ Nancy said but she was immediately interrupted by Diane.

“Nancy, we’ve discussed this. I told you that Liz will not be working here. And besides this is a free scholarship. We will be paying for everything whether it goes to Liz or not. And since we haven’t found the right candidate, until now,” Diane smiles at Liz, “I think it’s only right to give the scholarship to Liz after having to pull her out of the candidacy in her old school.”

“I agree with Diane, Nancy. It’s the least we could do after all this.” Philip tells the Parkers.

“Well, thank you for your offer but the decision is with Liz.” Nancy turns to face her daughter.

“Um, thank you. That is very generous of you… But I would only accept it if you allow me to work here. That’s the only way I know of being able to repay you.” Liz replies.

“Oh no, that would not work Liz. You see, if you accept this scholarship, we expect you to focus on your studies.” Philip informs her.

“But I couldn’t accept this for nothing.”

“We understand and appreciate your thoughtfulness Liz. But we do want you to focus on that and nothing else. And working here would disrupt that. You see, every year, parents of the students at Wilmington take turns in sponsoring students. And this year is our turn. This will be our first scholarship, so we want our chosen student to do his or her best.” Diane says.

Liz sits quietly as she ponders on this.

“We’re sorry to spring this up on you like this but we need to make our decision by tomorrow since school has already started. And we really want you to have it Liz.” Diane continues.

“Well I know that this will be a great opportunity as Wilmington Academy is one of the best schools in the country. So I guess I can’t pass this up. However, I do want to be able to help around the house. I’ll do it only after I’m done with my homework and everything else concerning school.” Liz says.

Nancy, Diane and Philip look at each other, seemingly talking to one another without words. Then they nod and smile.

“Alright Liz, we agree to that but you’ll only help once you’re done with your schoolwork”. Diane tells Liz as they submit to her terms.

“I’ll call your old school first thing tomorrow morning to make a follow-up on her records.” Nancy says to the Evans.

“And I’ll call Wilmington to inform them of our new student.” Philip exclaims.

“Thank you so much Mr. and Mrs. Evans. I don’t know how else to show you my gratitude.” Liz expresses.

“Just show us that we made the right choice and that will be more than enough.” Philip answers.

“I give my thanks as well Mr. and Mrs. Evans and trust me when I say that you won’t regret picking Liz.” Nancy beams proudly.

“Alright then, I’m sure you’re a little tired from your trip. We’ll let you get settled down.” Diane said.

They all leave the living room, Nancy and Liz going into the maids’ quarters and Diane and Philip going into the study to prepare the scholarship.

Their room is a small cozy one with two beds, a night table in between, a small desk on one side and the cabinet on the other end of the room. Liz sits on the bed beside the window looking out to the garden as she plays back everything that happened to her today. In a matter of a few hours, she moved into a mansion (given that she’s one of the help), and will be going to one of the most prestigious schools. Liz starts to smile but remembering the reason why she had to come here, her smile fades fast.

Nancy notices this “Liz?”

“Is it wrong to be happy about all this? I mean, the reason I was given this chance was because Grandma….” Liz cuts her sentence, unable to say the tragic event that happened last week.

“No, it’s not baby. I’m sure that both Grandma and Daddy are very happy for you right now. I know I am. I understand that you may be feeling guilty” Nancy says as Liz nods. Then cupping her daughter’s face “but it’s not your fault. There is nothing to be guilty about. This happened because God has a purpose, though we may not know what it is yet, He has His reasons for the things that happen. Don’t feel guilty for being happy about going to Wilmington. I’m absolutely positive that your Grandma and Daddy are so proud of you.” Nancy hugs her daughter as Liz hugs her back.

“Oops, sorry. Are we interrupting?” Tess says shyly as she and the Evans’ gardener ran in the room.

“Not at all Tess. I’m sorry I wasn’t able to introduce her to you earlier.”

“That’s ok Mrs. Parker.” Tess tells her as she walks closer to them pulling the other teen along with her. “Hi, I’m Tess Harding and this is Kyle Valenti, the gardener.” Tess offers her hand.

Liz noticed that both Tess and Kyle have blue eyes, though Tess’ are brighter than Kyle’s. Tess has short blonde curls and fair complexion. She’s slightly shorter than Liz but she is bubbly. Kyle on the other hand looks like a joker although he is a bit silent right now. It seems that Tess is the one always pulling Kyle with her. Kyle has brown hair and looks a bit muscular and somewhat tan. Liz thinks that it’s because of his work. He’s about a few inches taller than her but not extremely that Liz has to tilt her head all the way up to look at him. But both of them seem nice and friendly and Liz is glad about that.

Liz takes Tess’ hand and shakes it firmly, then moves to shake Kyle’s hand as well. “I’m Elizabeth Parker, but everyone calls me Liz. It’s nice to have someone who are the same age as I am around here.”

“Oh don’t worry, the Evans kids are the same age as us. Well, only Isabel, Max is her older brother and he’s a year and a half older than Isabel. How old are you? See, me, Kyle and Isabel are all 16 and Max is 17 turning 18 soon.” Tess says cheerfully.

Liz grins at Tess’ ramblings while Kyle rolls his eyes. “Sorry, she gets too giddy sometimes.” Kyle responds.

“No problem, it’s ok. I’m 16 and I know I would get excited too.” Liz answers.

Tess turns to Kyle and sticks her tongue out at him. Kyle just grins and Liz just laughs at their antics. Nancy is delighted to see Liz in her old self again, somehow diminishing her doubts of taking Liz with her. She starts unpacking and putting their things in the cabinet as the three teens continue getting to know each other and the Evans children as Tess informs Liz of what to expect.

“Well, Isabel is really nice. She’s not stuck up despite growing up in this place. I guess they have your mom to thank for that. I don’t know about Max though…” Tess says as she tilts her head slightly as she seems to think about what to say about Max.

“All I know is, he’s a spoiled brat!” Tess continues.

“Tess!” Nancy exclaims.

“But it’s true, he’s a meanie and he doesn’t listen to anyone, well, except you. He doesn’t even respect his parents and the Evans are two of the nicest people I know in this town.”

Liz starts to think about that. Is it true that the Evans boy only obeys her mom? Why? And more importantly, is that the reason why she’s been here all this time? To take care of him than be with her? Liz shakes her head slightly, they already discussed this. She knows that her mom would have stayed with her and her grandmother if she could.

“Well, we gotta go Tess. Let them rest a little and we have some work to do too.” Kyle says as he’s already by the door.

“Ok, I’m coming. We’ll see you later Liz. It’s really nice to have another girl here.” Tess smiles at her, and runs to follow Kyle with her blonde curls bouncing around her face.

Liz gets off the bed to help her mom fix their things and couldn’t help but ask. “Is it true…about the Evans kid? That he only listens to you?”

“No, although he does tell me about the problems he encountered as he grew but that’s all. I give him some advice and it depends on him whether he follows it or not. I guess he did and that’s why Tess thought he listens to me more than his parents.”

“What kind of problems did he have?”

“Oh just the usual stuff you teenagers go through. Like crushes, first kisses, girls. Well in your case it would be boys.”

Suddenly Liz feels guilty remembering the words she yelled at her mother last week after Claudia’s funeral.

Understanding Liz’s change of mood, Nancy smiles at Liz. “He reminds me of you sometimes, the determination you have when you set your mind on something, when you worry over little things. When he talks to me, I often imagine what it would be like if you were the one sitting next to me. It helps me think of what to say to him…. But I have to admit, he has changed a little from when he was a young boy. I don’t know if it’s the crowd he’s been hanging with. All of a sudden he became so popular, although Isabel and their circle of friends are popular too because all their parents are the richest around here. Still Max has his own peers aside from the others and those friends of his are quite different from the ones that come here usually.” Nancy tells Liz a little bit of the kids she came to know.

“What do you mean by different?”

“Well I don’t really know, he doesn’t tell me much about them and he started drifting away then.”

“Is he really a brat like Tess says?”

“Oh don’t worry about him. He really is a sweetheart, both Max and Isabel are.”

Liz just nods, wondering what they would be like when she meets them in person. Their parents are nice so the children can’t really be far off, right? Liz can only hope that the saying ‘the apple does not fall far from the tree’ is true for the Evans as well.


Chapter 6

As the day went on, Liz tried to find something to do so she went to look for Tess around the house. It was late in the afternoon so she thought that Tess may be in the kitchen helping with cooking dinner. Going to the kitchen, she saw two blonde girls about her age. One was tall and curvy and the other was a couple inches taller than her and was talking quite fast.

“I’m telling you Izzy, if Michael doesn’t do something special for our anniversary, I’m breaking up with him!”

“But Maria, it’s not really your anniversary, I mean you’ve been together for just what? 7 months?”

The one referred to as Izzy suddenly sees Liz. “Oh, hello. Can I help you with anything?”

“Um, no, I was just looking for Tess.” Liz answered softly.

“Well, I think she’s in the greenhouse with my mom.” Izzy told her.

Maria notices Liz uneasiness “Hi! I’m Maria Deluca and this is Isabel Evans.”

“Oh, sorry. I didn’t even get your name.” Isabel said as she smiled at Liz.

“Hi, I’m Elizabeth Parker.” Liz informed them.

“Parker? Where have I heard that name before?” Isabel tried to remember.

“Um, my mom is Nancy Parker.” Liz said as she gave Isabel the information she was trying to recall.

“Oh my god! Really? Wow!” Isabel walked closer and pulled Liz to the table where she and Maria were seated.

“Hey, I know your mom too, she’s like the coolest. She usually lets us get away with anything.” Maria giggled.

“Yeah, my mom told me that Nancy was bringing you here. That’s so cool. Your mom talks about you a lot.” Isabel mentioned.

Just then, Diane entered with Tess following her carrying a basket of freshly cut roses.

“Hi Diane.” Maria greeted as she moved to give Diane a quick peck on the cheeks.

“Why hello dear. How was your shopping trip?”

“It was ok mom.” Isabel replied. “Why didn’t you tell me that Nancy’s daughter was coming today? We could have just stayed in.”

“Oh, well, we didn’t know what time we would be arriving.” Liz said meekly.

“Girls, I actually wanted to tell you this later at dinner but I might as well tell you now.” Diane said as she pulled a chair to sit beside Isabel.

“What is it mom?” Isabel was curious.

“Well your dad and I already chose the student we’ll be sponsoring.”

“Really?”

“That’s great Mrs. Evans.” Maria exclaimed.

“Who is it?”

“You were just chatting with her.” Diane nodded towards Liz.

“That’s so cool!” Isabel pronounced.

Liz managed to get a glimpse of Tess and saw a slight frown on the girl’s face.

“Ooh, girl, you have got to hang out with us. We’ll introduce you to all the right boys.” Maria said with a wink.

“Ok, now don’t you go corrupting Liz. She’s a really good student.” Diane grinned at Maria.

Isabel, Diane and Maria continued laughing, Liz noticed that Tess has left. So Liz followed her shortly.

As Liz caught up with Tess in the hall, “Tess?”

Tess turned to face Liz, “Congratulations Liz.” Tess gave Liz a smile and Liz could see in her eyes that she was sincere about it.

“I’m sorry I didn’t tell you before.” Liz said guiltily.

“Hey, it’s ok.” Tess shrugged.

“I couldn’t help but notice your frown earlier when Mrs. Evans told Isabel and Maria.”

Tess eyes widened, “Oh, I’m sorry. I didn’t know you saw that.” Tess shook her head. “I just thought that we would be able to hang out more you know. But since you’re gonna study at Wilmington, you’d probably end up hanging out more with Isabel and her friends.”

“Oh no. That won’t happen. Isabel and Maria…they’re…different.”

“You mean rich?”

“Yeah.”

“One thing you should know about Isabel and Maria and the rest of their group is that even though they come from rich families, they are very down-to-earth. They actually belong to the richest families in this town but they don’t flaunt it. They treat everyone the same way.”

“That’s good to know.” Liz smiled at that. “So…where do you go to school?”

“The one in the next town.”

“Oh, that’s where I was supposed to go. That is, until Mr. and Mrs. Evans offered this scholarship at Wilmington.”

“See, these are good people. That’s why I like working for them. They’re also in a way sponsoring our schooling, mine and Kyle. They give us money for expenses like lunch money, fees for projects and things we need.”

“That’s nice of them.”

“Yeah.”


As the night moves on, everyone has eaten their dinner and are preparing for the next day. Since Liz records are to be sent by tomorrow, she won’t be attending Wilmington until everything has been sorted out. This means that she may go to school by either Tuesday or Wednesday. So in the meantime, she decided to help around the house like cleaning the Evans kids’ rooms.

On Monday morning, the Evans children have left for school and Mr. Evans went to his office. Diane was in the study talking on the phone with the admissions office of Wilmington Academy. Liz’s papers arrived first thing in the morning and Diane was faxing them over to the academy. But since there were still some things she needed to get such as school supplies and uniforms, she’ll be starting at Wilmington on Wednesday


After having breakfast, Liz started to clean the rooms, beginning with Isabel’s. When she first opened the door, she was surprised. It was a huge room, almost as big as the entire first floor of the house she and Claudia lived in. She walked in and looked around. The king sized four-poster bed was in the middle of the room, with a white gauzy canopy. A walk-in closet was in one side of the room and an entertainment center with a TV, DVD player and a stereo sound system was on the opposite wall. There’s a vanity table in the room that had a lot of make-up and perfume. And on the last side was the balcony.

Liz wanted to walk outside but the doors were locked so she just started making the bed. Then she moved around the room, picking up some clothes on the floor, folding the clean ones and putting them back in the closet and placing the dirty ones in the laundry basket. After doing a little dusting, she moved on to the next room.

Opening the door, she saw that this one was almost the same as Isabel’s. It was the same size, with the same walk-in closet and entertainment center. Only, this one had PS2. Instead of the vanity table, there was a dresser with a big rectangular mirror right above it. She walked over to the doors of the balcony and noticed that it was unlocked. Going out into the balcony, she saw a big telescope and wondered if the guy who slept here was as interested in astronomy as she is. She smiled as she leaned over the railing, seeing the green lawn and the inviting pool below. She saw Kyle trimming some bushes and she waved at him as he said hello.

Then she walked back in and saw the study table beside the bed. There is a computer, some books and some trophies. Liz walked over to them and picked one up. It was a 1st place trophy for track awarded to Maxwell Evans.

Then leaning over, she saw a bulletin board with news clippings about Maxwell’s races and victories. Liz just shrugged, remembering what Tess said about Max, she thought that he probably changed when he became a jock.

‘He’s probably very popular.’ Liz thought. Then her arm brushed against something on the table. What she saw was a picture frame. But when she looked at the photo, she was stunned. For in it was the picture of the most handsome guy she has ever seen. There was a young man, toned and muscular in a track uniform. But despite the nice tan and hard body, Liz couldn’t take her eyes away from his face. He had a chiseled jaw, perfect nose, thick dark hair and the most gorgeously intense hazel eyes. Looking at the face of the man, Liz felt a pull unlike any other. She saw some more pictures and there was one in particular that seemed to call to her. As she picked it up to look at it more closely, she saw that this was an older one taken perhaps a couple of years ago. He was smiling at the camera holding up a huge fish. It looks like this photo was taken on a fishing trip. She could see that he looked more relaxed, happier and in a way, he seemed free. Liz couldn’t understand why that thought entered her mind but it was there.

Realizing that she has already wasted a lot of time, she proceeded to clean the room. As soon as she was done, just as she was about to leave, she looked at the picture one last time before going out. As she closed the door behind her, Liz had a huge grin on her face and for the life of her she couldn’t stop smiling all day.


Chapter 7

Today, Liz was to go to Wilmington Academy to get her uniforms and some school supplies. Since she’ll be starting school tomorrow, Nancy and Diane accompanied her to the academy. Arriving at Wilmington, both Nancy and Liz were amazed at the huge school grounds with the massive buildings around campus. There were several students walking around the pathways, on the lawn, and the steps of the main building.

Liz was getting more excited as she saw the students and the surroundings at Wilmington. Then they went to the campus store to get everything she needed. As her measurements were taken, the clerk told them to look around for the things she’ll need. Diane told them to get whatever Liz wanted since the scholarship will be paying for everything. But Liz didn’t want to abuse that and just got the necessities.

After getting the right fit of uniforms, they were advised to go to the administration office to get Liz’s schedule. Walking down the hallways, Liz kept looking right and left, absorbing everything that she sees. Diane noticed this and was pleased with Liz’s enthusiasm.

As they went in the admission’s office, the president of the Parents’ Association greeted Diane. Diane greeted her back and introduced Nancy and Liz.

“Amy, so good to see you again.” Diane said as she gave a kiss to each of Amy’s cheeks.

“Ah, Diane, lovely as always.” Amy smiled.

“Amy, I want you to meet our chosen recipient. This is Elizabeth Parker and her mother Nancy Parker.” Then motioning to the Parkers, “this is Amy Deluca, she’s the President of the Parents’ Association at Wilmington.”

“Yes, I remember Nancy.” Amy grinned at Nancy then turned to Liz, “Hello Elizabeth.” Amy said offering her hand.

Nancy nodded and smiled at Amy and Liz gave her a firm handshake.

“You’d be impressed with her Amy. Both Philip and I were, her records are superb. She could give some of the students here a run for their money.” Diane laughed.

“Oh if only she could, then maybe some of the students would actually have the eagerness to learn.”

As the day progressed, Liz got hold of her schedule and other requirements. Due to her high grades most of her classes were AP. Then they were given a tour by Amy and Diane as both parents were active participants and donors.


When they got home, Nancy immediately went back to work and Diane went to Philip’s office to check anything else that they may have forgotten regarding Liz’s transfer to Wilmington.

Liz went to their room and arranged everything, getting her uniform ready and her books and notebooks and other things in her schoolbag.

Then she went off to her duties of cleaning the Evans kids’ bedroom. As usual she went about cleaning Isabel’s room first. After that, she moved on to Max’s.

The first thing that Liz noticed was that the room was dark, noticing the drapes were not drawn yet. She moved about cleaning and picking up the clothes on the floor. Then she went to the bathroom to get the dirty laundry and clean it as well. She was leaned over the hamper when the door suddenly opened.

Liz gasped as she saw the guy in the picture wearing nothing but a pair of black silk boxers. Involuntarily, Liz’s eyes raked over him, from his rumpled hair to his bare chest and muscular limbs.

Max was surprised to see this petite brunette in his bathroom, trying to remember if he brought her home with him. Then he knew he was alone when he went to bed last night, he studied the girl, her brown doe eyes looking him up and down. Max started to smirk immediately knowing that she is interested but as the seconds ticked by, he was starting to get angry at the girl who was gaping at him. “Get out.”

“Huh? Uh…what?” Liz stammered.

“Get. Out!” Max’s bellowed.

“Oh, um…I’m cleaning the bathroom.” Liz told him softly.

“And I need to use it! Now leave!”

Liz hurriedly went out and could not believe what just happened. Not only did she leave the bathroom, but she went running out of Max’s room and straight into the laundry area.

Liz was panting as she got there and handed Max’s and Isabel’s dirty laundry to Agnes.

As she was walking back into the kitchen, she was in a daze. She didn’t even realize that Tess was calling to her.

“What?” Liz was startled to Tess in front of her.

“Are you ok?” Tess asked worriedly.

“Huh? Oh, yeah.” Liz was shaking her head. Then as realization sets in she sat at the breakfast nook and covered her face with her hands.

Tess sat across from her and asked again. “What’s wrong?”

“God, I just made a complete fool of myself.” Liz confessed.

“Why, what happened?”

“Well, I was cleaning in Max’s bathroom when the door suddenly opened and he was standing there in just his boxers!” Liz exclaimed.

Tess giggled, “He must have given you an eyeful.”

“That’s not the worst part.” Liz groaned.

“What did you do?” Tess asked wide-eyed.

“Well… I sort of stared at him.”

“What do you mean by ‘sort of’?”

“Um… I just stood there, gaping at him.” Liz grimaced.

“Oh my god!” Tess laughed out loud. “I must admit, although he is a jerk, he is a total hunk.”

“God, Tess, it was so embarrassing.”

“Don’t worry about it. It’s nothing that he’s not used to. I told you he was a jerk and a brat. And despite what your mom says, it’s true. I mean, the guy doesn’t have a heart. He treats girls like they’re properties to be claimed and doesn’t care about anyone else but himself.”

“Really?”

“Yup. Take my word for it, stay away from him.” Tess said looking Liz right in the eyes.

“How would you know that he treats girls that way?”

“Seen and heard straight from the horse’s mouth.”

“What?!”

“Yeah, once he was talking to one of his friends over the phone and he was yapping on and on about this girl that he just broke up with. Apparently, the girl got clingy so he dumped her but of course not after they done the deed.”

“Tess!”

“What? You know what I’m talking about don’t you?”

“Well yes but…”

“But what?”

“But you don’t talk about other people’s sex lives in public.” Liz admonished her.

“Why not? Max does it.”

“Well…that’s him. And you said it yourself, he’s a jerk.”

“Hmm, tell me something Liz, have you ever done it?” Tess asked her teasingly.

“Um…” Liz could feel her cheeks burning up.

“Oh my gosh… you’re a virgin!”

“What?! Tess!!!”

“You are. Look at how much you’re blushing.” Tess said coyly grinning.

“So what if I am?”

“Nothing, I was just curious.”

Then Liz pondered at where this conversation has taken them and couldn’t help but ask, “Are you…still…um…”

“A virgin?” Tess continued with a smirk.

Liz nodded.

“Well…technically I am. But…Kyle and I are thinking about it.”

“Wow! You and Kyle? I didn’t know that. He looks like a great guy.”

“That he is.”

“I’m happy for both of you.”

“Thanks but don’t go blabbing it out ok? My dad will kill him if he hears a word of this.”

“Don’t worry, your secret’s safe with me.”

Both girls giggled as the made a pact.


The next day was Liz’s first day at Wilmington. She was so excited about it that she hardly slept last night. She was all ready to go. Nancy smiled seeing Liz this way. Liz was always excited about going to school and this time isn’t different and even more so since Wilmington is a very prestigious institution.

Isabel offered Liz a ride to school in her red convertible which Liz accepted gratefully. While Max took his black jeep and left pretty early for practice.

As they arrived, Isabel took Liz’s arm and started to walk toward her friends. Liz was adamant about it as she kept telling Isabel that that is not her place.

“What are you talking about?” Isabel questioned. “What do you mean by ‘your place’?

“Um well…those are your friends…” Liz replied nervously.

“And your point?” Isabel said with a cold stare.

“It’s just…” Liz started to fidget “Isabel, I don’t mean to sound offensive but all of you come from wealthy families and I don’t.” Liz said looking down at her shoes.

Isabel’s stare softened “Elizabeth, just because our families are rich, doesn’t mean we act like snobs…. Well, maybe except for Max” Isabel said shaking her head. “But what I’m trying to say is that my friends are really good people, they’re very down to earth. I’m sure you’ll like them once you get to know them.”

“I’m sorry Isabel. I didn’t mean to judge your friends like that when I haven’t even had the chance to meet them.” Liz responded. “And please, it’s Liz.”

Isabel grinned widely, “Well then come on Liz.” And both girls took off to the steps of the main building where Isabel’s friends were waiting for them.


Isabel Evans was one of the most beautiful girls at Wilmington. She was tall and curvy with blonde hair that reached past her shoulders. Though she was considered a snob by most of the student body and garnered the nickname ‘The Ice Bitch’, she was anything but. To Isabel’s friends she was one of the most caring people they have come across. Isabel always volunteers at various charitable events and institutions in their community especially during the holidays which earned her the title of ‘The Christmas Nazi’ among her family and close friends.

And now, taking Liz into their group wouldn’t be too difficult, thought Isabel. Maria already met her and Isabel told her friends the night before that today was Liz’s first day and that she’ll be bringing her along to meet them.

Maria was a bit excited about the new girl having met her previously at the Evans’ mansion and hearing from her mother how good of a student she is. Michael heard about this new girl from Maria and his parents after Amy had talked to them. He knew that Maria was excited to have a new friend but he was wondering about this one. A lot of students tried to get in their group simply because their families had the most money. Michael hoped this wasn’t another one of them. Alex was also excited about this new girl. Isabel told him that she was a really nice person and was a candidate for valedictorian in her old school. Alex was impressed at that and wondered what she’ll be like once they meet her up close.

Aside from the Evans, the Delucas, Guerins and Whitmans had the top firms in the country and the fact that their children are all friends made their group absolutely popular at Wilmington.

Maria Deluca, the only daughter of Amy Deluca is a vibrant person and was always jumpy and giddy. Amy is a famous designer who has clothed most if not all of the top celebrities during award ceremonies and other infamous events. Maria looked like she was following her mother’s footsteps and a lot of families wanted their son to snatch her. But as contrasting as their personalities were, Michael Guerin was the one who stole her heart.

Michael Guerin was the eldest son of Henry and May Guerin, owners of the highest earning investment corporation, Guerin, Inc. Henry or Hank as his friends call him is a top investment broker and has been earning huge money for his family and his friends. May, on the other hand, is a counselor and leads charitable organizations for children abused by their parents. Michael was a tall guy with wild spiky hair and a big build and was considered a bully to those who don’t know him since he doesn’t talk much. He likes drawing and painting which was encouraged by his mother since he was young. Some of the common rooms in their house displayed his paintings and guests have often asked about it, wanting one of their own. But Michael never did make any for the pretentious people in their society. He has given a couple to his family’s close friends as gifts but he doesn’t flaunt it nor take compliments well. He has his sights on attending art school but his parents don’t know it yet.

Alex Whitman was the only son of Charles and Anne Whitman. Charles Whitman was owner of Whitman Corporation, one of the biggest computer companies in the US, next to Bill Gates’ Microsoft. Alex was as keen on computers as his father. And due to such, he’s already being groomed to inherit their company. Alex was tall with short dark hair and kind of lanky until he was a sophomore. But a vacation to Sweden the summer before his third year changed him, giving him a toned average build which Isabel was greatly appreciative of. Isabel and Alex are a great match and both sets of parents were happy of the couple’s relationship.


As Liz and Isabel approached them, Liz started feeling nervous. Although she had friends back home, she never really had a specific group she could call her own. She was a floater and it was because she focused on school and nothing else. Although the same is expected of her by Mr. and Mrs. Evans, she couldn’t help but think that maybe having Isabel inviting her to their gang would be a good start for her.

“Hey guys!” Isabel called out as Alex approached her and wrapped his arms around her waist.

“Good morning sweetie” Alex greeted his girlfriend with a quick peck.

“Hey, not around the new girl, you don’t want to make her puke now do you?” Maria said.

Isabel stuck her tongue out at Maria and whirled around to Liz. “Liz, this is my boyfriend Alex.” Then turning around, “And you already know Maria and that’s her boyfriend Michael.” Isabel concluded with a smile. “People, this is Elizabeth Parker.”

“Nice to make your acquaintance, little lady. Alex Whitman at your service.” Alex said with a bow.

Liz smiled at him genuinely.

“Hey, remember me?” Maria asked as she moved to pull Liz closer.

Liz nodded.

“And this is my Spaceboy, Michael Guerin.” Maria took her boyfriend’s hand in hers.

“Hey.” Michael gave her a quick nod.

“Hi.” Liz answered.

“So Elizabeth, how are you taking in Wilmington so far?” Alex asked.

“Um, it’s ok. Quite different from my old school but I’m very excited about it.” Liz replied.

“Spoken like a true geek.” Michael chimed in.

“Michael!!! Rude much?!” Isabel yelled at Michael.

“No, it’s ok. I really am a geek. He was only telling the truth,” Liz responded.

“I’m apologizing on behalf of my significant other half. Although I don’t know how significant he is right now.” Maria glared at Michael.

Alex knew what Michael was doing and immediately changed the subject. “So, what’s your first class?”

“Um, it’s AP Physics.” Liz said looking at her schedule for confirmation.

“Whoa, I didn’t know you’re in that class.” Isabel shifted to look at Liz’s schedule. “Oh wow, most of your classes are Advanced Placement?!!!”

“Really?” Maria was stunned and snatched Liz’s schedule away from Liz.

Michael leaned over Maria’s shoulder and saw that it was true. ‘She must be a freaking genius.’ Michael said to himself.

“Um yeah. That’s the schedule they gave me.” Liz said humbly.

“You know who’s in the same class don’t you?” Alex told Isabel somberly.

Isabel looked at her boyfriend and her eyes widened as it dawned on her.

“Don’t worry about it. I’m sure she’ll be ok.” Michael told them, knowing where their thoughts were going. He motioned to Liz, “Just get out of class as soon as it’s over.”

“Why?” Liz wondered.

The four just looked at each other and started talking as if Liz wasn’t standing right in front of them.

“Do you think he knows?” Maria asked.

“I don’t think so.” Isabel shook her head.

“I don’t know if that’s a good thing or a bad thing.” Alex said.

“Whatever. Just make sure she’s not alone if he starts to show interest.” Michael ordered.

“What’s going on?” Liz asked loudly.

Isabel looked worriedly, “Um, Liz, have you and Max met at the house?”

Liz was wondering where Isabel was going with this. “Um, no. Well… we did bump into each other but I didn’t tell him who I was and I pretty much avoided him all day yesterday.”

Michael was curious. “Why were you avoiding him?”

Liz blushed, “It’s a long story.” She tried to change the topic and said, “I have to go, I still need to find my locker.” And with that Liz ran into the main building despite hearing the others calling for her.


Liz couldn’t understand what they meant about her AP Physics class and who they were talking about. She can only assume that it was about Max but she didn’t want to pry. This is the second time that she had heard something disconcerting about him. First with Tess and now Isabel and her friends. ‘What is it with Max Evans?’ she wondered.

Liz shook her head slightly to clear her mind and tried to look for her locker. Unfortunately, she was looking at the locker numbers and didn’t notice someone running straight towards her. At the last minute, she heard someone yell but it was too late as she slammed onto a hard body.

As she was about to fall, strong hands grabbed her arms and was able to hold her steady. She was a little dizzy as she tried to regain her balance. But when she looked up, she saw the same amber eyes that she came to know so well. Speaking of the devil…

“Damn it! Why don’t you watch where you’re going?” Max yelled.

“Um…uh…I was looking for my locker.” Liz held up the piece of paper that had her locker number.

“Well, didn’t you hear me telling you to move?!” Max said as he started picking up his stuff.

“I’m sorry, I…I didn’t.” Liz said softly.

Some of the students began to stare as they saw the new girl with Max Evans. One girl who saw what happened started rushing up to Max.

“Max, are you ok?” Courtney asked trying to sound concerned. She had straight blonde hair, a slender body and is very promiscuous.

“I’m fine.” Max growled at her, while looking at Liz.

Courtney was one of the many girls that Max once dated. And as the numerous girls before her, she too fell for Max, was dumped by him and was still trying to win him back. She quickly looped her arm around Max’s as she tried to get his attention away from the new girl which she thought was kind of mousy.

“C’mon Max, why don’t we head to class.” Courtney tried to coax him.

Max glared at her and callously removed Courtney’s arm from his. “What the hell are you talking about? We don’t even have the same class. And I very much doubt you’d be in it.”

“Well…I just thought…that maybe…maybe we could walk together.” Courtney stammered.

“Do I have to spell it out for you? We’re through! It’s been over months ago!” Then Max smirked, “Tell me Courtney, why do you keep hanging around me? Can’t get enough fucking nowadays?”

Courtney looked like a fish out of water as her mouth opened and closed trying to come up with some witty comeback. As the other students started to murmur, she just bit her trembling lip, turned around and walked away.

Upon hearing Max, Liz gasped. She can’t believe the words that are coming out of Max’s mouth. How could it be possible that he is Isabel’s brother, that he’s Mr. and Mrs. Evans’ son? The Evans are kind and thoughtful. They care about the people around them and would most definitely never say something as vulgar.

Max got his bag once again and looked at the clumsy girl, then went off to class. As he went to his desk, he knew that he has seen that girl before but he can’t remember where. He knew that she was the new student who was the current topic of conversation of most of the population of Wilmington but no one really knew where she came from. And thinking back to those big brown eyes looking so innocent, he knew that he wouldn’t stop till he found out everything about her.


Eventually Liz found her locker and was a few minutes late to her first class. She explained to the teacher why she was late and was excused since it was her first day. Then she felt someone staring at her and her eyes scanned the room. As the teacher pointed to her lab partner, she instantly recognized who it was. It was the same person that Tess and Isabel and her friends warned her about, the same person that yelled at her twice now, and the same person whose picture had enchanted her…it was Max Evans.


Chapter 8

The rest of the day went well for Liz though she shared some of her classes with Max. She would always feel embarrassed and shy around him especially when remembering what happened in his bedroom the day before. At lunch, she sat at a table with Isabel and her friends to whom she told most of her life story. Isabel and Maria had tears in their eyes after Liz told them about her dad and grandma. Though she didn’t tell them much, the emotion in her voice was enough. Alex and Michael had sympathetic looks thinking of how they would cope if the same thing happened to them.

“I’m really amazed by what you’ve gone through Liz.” Isabel said as she sniffed.

“Despite all that, you still manage to have good grades. You must be a genius. Not that many people would be able to overcome that like you did.” Maria commented.

“I had my mom and grandma…then.” Liz lowered her head.

“Hey, come on. We should be happy that we have a new addition to our group.” Alex said trying to lighten the mood.

“Yeah, this calls for a celebration.” Michael chimed in.

“Hmm, I know! We could go clubbing!” Maria exclaimed.

“Maria, we’re not legal yet.” Alex reminded her.

“Well, what about we go shopping?” Isabel suggested.

“Nuh uh, no way.” Michael was vehemently shaking his head. “The only ones who’d enjoy that would be you girls. And you’d make us carry everything. There is absolutely no way that you would drag me shopping with you two.” He said while pointing at Maria and Isabel.

“Well what then?” Maria asked.

“Why don’t we ask what Liz likes to do?” Alex urged. “What do you wanna do this weekend Liz?”

“Um…I don’t know. I have some homework to do and chores and…” Liz started listing down excuses.

Isabel held her hand up, “Wait a minute. It’s the weekend, you don’t have to do your homework till Sunday which I’m sure won’t be too hard for you anyway. And what chores? My mom told me you’re not supposed to do any housework.” Isabel told her.

“What are you two talking about?” Michael asked.

Only Maria knew about Liz’s background and Isabel regretted saying all those things. She looked at Liz silently and Liz nodded.

“Well since my mom is working for the Evans, they allowed me to live there after my grandmother died. I thought I could help around the house doing chores and stuff since not only are they letting me live there for free, they’re also paying for my scholarship.” Liz said without an ounce of shame.

“Liz… you know you don’t have to do that.” Isabel said.

“I know. But it’s the least I could do. It’s the only way I could think of to repay the kindness your family has shown to me and my mom.” Liz smiled.

The remaining three stayed quiet, digesting the new information about Liz Parker.

“Well, why don’t we go out Saturday after lunch? That way, you have time to do your homework and some chores.” Michael looked at Liz.

Maria and Isabel grinned widely and Alex gave Michael a pat on the back knowing that this is his way of accepting Liz into their small gang.

“So what do you want to do Liz?” Isabel asked her.

“Well… I haven’t been around much yet so I don’t really know where to go. I’ll leave it up to you guys.”

“I got it!” Maria shouted. “Why don’t we just hang around my house. We could lounge by the pool while you guys play video games or whatever.”

“Nice!” Michael and Alex shared a high five liking the idea already.

“Um… I don’t have a swimsuit.” Liz said quietly.

“Oh, don’t worry about it. My mom is a designer and we always have extra clothes lying around. We’ll just get one suit for you.” Maria beamed.

“Well, what do you say Liz? Are you in?” Isabel asked.

“Ok.” Liz grinned.

Liz was astonished at the kindheartedness of Isabel and her friends. Here they were, knowing that she’s a maid’s daughter and they have not shunned her away. In fact, the more they took her in their group. Despite the fact that they were rich and popular, those things were not important to them. They sought out the person’s values and Liz’s humble upbringing gave them an insight as to the kind of person she is. Money and social standing didn’t matter to her. And to Isabel, Maria, Alex and Michael; it was what sealed Liz’s acceptance.


When they got home, Isabel and Liz went to their respective rooms to change. After freshening up a little, Isabel started on her homework. A few minutes later there was a knock on her bedroom door.

“Come in.” Isabel called out.

“Hi.” Liz moved into the room carrying a rag and a duster.

Isabel was stunned. “What are you doing?”

“Oh, I was gonna clean your room but I can come back later if I’m disturbing you.” Liz started for the door.

“Oh god. Liz… you’re not supposed to do this. Mom told me that they want you to focus on school.” Isabel took the rag and duster out of Liz’s hands.

“But…but…” Liz stammered.

“Look, if you want to do something then….” Isabel looked around trying to find something for Liz to do. Then she saw her books on her bed. “How about helping me with my homework. You’re obviously quite intelligent and God knows I need some help with some of these.” Isabel said with a pleading look.

“Um…sure. Ok, why don’t you get everything ready while I go clean up Max’s room.” Liz said and got the rag and duster.

“What?! No! Liz!” Isabel knew she was whining but if she thought that there would be no one else who is as determined as her brother, she was wrong. ‘She’s even worse than Max is.’ Isabel thought.

“Liz. If you keep doing this…um…” Isabel tried to think of what she could do to stop this. “I’m gonna tell mom!” Isabel said with a rush.

“What? Why would you do that? You know exactly why I’m doing this and I also get to help out the others.” Liz said referring to the other maids including her own mother.

“But we’re not expecting any payment from you…or your mom. Listen, I think it’s pretty obvious that my family has more than enough. And my mom is really grateful to your mom cause she’s been with us for years. Knowing you has made me realize how hard it must have been for you being away from her especially cause your dad passed away.” Isabel said sadly.

“My mom told me that your staying here is in exchange for Nancy not quitting. And as for the scholarship, I saw your records too Liz. Mom said you were supposed to be valedictorian.” Isabel grinned.

“I know my parents and they only want to help. Rather than give some things and money away to some people we don’t know, they’d start with those close to them. Nancy is close to our family Liz, we actually consider her as a part of ours. And being her daughter automatically extends that to you.” Isabel saw Liz smiling.

“But most of all, if the situations were reversed, my mom would want someone to help us out the same way that she’s helping you.” Isabel said.

“Now if you’re really adamant about the payment thing,” Isabel waved her hand dismissively. “Then why don’t we start with my homework. If it works out well, then you can be my sort of tutor.” She grinned showing all her pearly whites.

Liz pondered on this for a few minutes then nodded her head. She still didn’t want to impose herself on the Evans and decided that she’ll do the chores when neither Max or Isabel is around. But she’ll also try to help out Isabel with her schoolwork in any way she can. After all, Isabel is a good friend and friends always help each other out.


Max came home an hour after Isabel and Liz. He didn’t see them since they’ve been cooped up in Isabel’s room all afternoon. He decided to relax a little and go for a swim.

After doing several laps, he called for Tess and asked for some juice. Tess hurriedly went to the kitchen to get Max a drink when Isabel and Liz came down.

“Hey Tess.” Liz greeted her.

“Hi!” Tess smiled back. “So how was your first day?”

“It was great. Except for a little accident it was ok.”

“Accident? What accident?” Isabel immediately stood up from looking in the fridge.

“Uh, I kinda bumped into Max while looking for my locker.” Liz said shyly.

Tess shook her head. “Why do you get into these situations with him?”

“What are you two talking about?” Isabel wondered.

Tess turned to face Isabel with an amused expression on her face. “Well, yesterday Liz was cleaning Max’s bathroom when he opened the door wearing nothing but his boxers.”

“Tess!!!” Liz blushed.

“What? It’s ok Liz.” Tess turned back to Isabel. “Anyway, Liz was so shocked that she just stood there gaping, even after Max told her to leave… no, correction, yelled at her was more like it.”

“Oh god. Liz, on behalf of my brother, I apologize. He’s usually not in the best of moods first thing in the morning.” Isabel was slightly horrified, wondering what Max thought about her new friend.

“Oh, it was nothing if not embarrassing. He just wanted to use the bathroom and I just stood there. He had to ask me to leave twice.” Liz said.

“Well, I have to bring this to him but you have got to tell me what happened at Wilmington.” Tess winked at her and went out with an ice-cold glass of orange juice on a tray.

When Tess got to the pool, Max was already sitting on one of the lounge chairs with his eyes closed. Tess put the glass on the table beside him and was about to leave when he suddenly spoke.

“What took you so long?” Max was irritated.

“Isabel wanted to talk to me.” Tess replied coldly.

Max moved to look into the kitchen and saw Isabel talking with someone who thought looked familiar. Then when the girls walked out to the patio, he saw her. The instant he recognized her, he was startled. ‘So she’s a friend of Isabel’s’ he deemed.

“Tess, did Isabel tell you who that girl is?” He asked nodding his head towards the patio.

“Um, yeah…” Tess answered slowly, unsure whether to give any more information to Max.

“Why is she here?”

Tess didn’t know what Max was getting at. “She lives here now.” She answered uncomfortably.

“What?! Since when?” Max whipped his head around so fast Tess thought it would snap off his neck.

“Since Sunday.” Tess looked at Max strangely. ‘Why is he asking all this?’ she wondered.

“Wait a minute. You mean she’s been here since the weekend and I didn’t know about it?!” Max was shocked. How could he not know that this fresh meat was living under the same roof?

“Probably because you’re not around all the time.” Tess smirked.

“Well, I think I should go over there and introduce myself.” He sneered.

“What are you thinking Max?”

“What the hell do you care?”

“Look, if you try anything with Liz, not only will I tell Nancy but your mom as well.”

“What I do is none of your business! You understand me?!” Max yelled at Tess. “Besides, my mom can’t do anything, and I don’t see why this would be of Nancy’s concern.” He pondered out loud.

“Hmm, I don’t know…. Maybe it’s because Liz is her daughter.” Tess glared at him

“She’s what?!” Max eyes grew wide.

“You heard me.” She huffed.

Max composed himself and glowered back. “Watch your tone. I am still your employer.”

“Correction, your parents are my employer, not you.”

“But you have to do whatever I tell you. Now leave.” Max shoved Tess aside.

“Jerk” muttered Tess as she went back in the house, leaving Max staring at his sister’s new friend.


Isabel and Liz continued their homework out at the porch at Isabel’s suggestion since she was feeling stuffy in her room plus the kitchen is nearer for study breaks. As Isabel looked out to the pool she saw Max staring at them. But she noticed that Max didn’t even regard her. She realized that his complete attention was directed at Liz.

Liz didn’t see this cause she was facing Isabel with her back towards the pool. She continued studying with her head bent down over a book.

Isabel didn’t want Liz to become one of Max’s ‘trophies’ and made a vow to lure Liz as far away from her brother as possible. Liz was too nice and too good of a person to turn into such. She didn’t mind when it was one of the social climbers at Wilmington. Liz is better than all of those pompous sluts who kept throwing themselves at her brother. But it’s one of her friends now, and someone who she thinks will be a very close one at that. If Max crosses that border, there’ll be hell to pay. And it won’t only come from her, she knew that her friends would be falling in line as well.

If only Max was the same person he was before, she won’t disapprove if he goes after Liz. Heck, she’d even help to push them together. But times have changed and there is no way that she’ll allow Max to hurt Liz, not even if he’s her own flesh and blood, she’d choose her friend over him anytime.


As the night went on, Isabel was surprised at how easily she did her assignments. That confirmed Liz becoming her study partner/tutor. She made it effortless and quick to comprehend. There were times when Isabel could just bang her head on the table trying to wrack her brains out. And Liz would give her a simple solution and she’d wonder why she hadn’t thought of it. When they were done, Isabel was surprised at the amount of work they finished. Some assignments weren’t due till next week but since Liz had her working at a fast pace, even those were finished in record time. Isabel told her parents and they were pleased. She didn’t tell them about Liz being the one cleaning their rooms but she informed Liz that if she continued to do so, she will be telling them faster than she can ask her not to.

It’s not that Isabel was being mean, but she didn’t want Liz to be doing chores like a maid. Although her mom agreed to Liz living here with Nancy, both mothers had an agreement that Liz will not work and be treated as a maid. And her family respected that request. She knew that if she was in Liz’s shoes and was ordered to be a maid, she would not be as cooperative. She would be definitely rebelling against everyone around her.


That night, Tess went into Liz’s room while Nancy was still in the kitchen helping Agnes clean up. She told Liz about Max’s questions.

“I’m just telling you to watch out ok?” Tess told Liz worriedly.

“Tess, I’m thankful that you’re concerned but I’ll be fine. Max can’t do anything bad to me and I can most definitely take care of myself. I’ve been doing it for years now in case you didn’t know.” Liz said with a smile.

“Look, you don’t know Max. He can charm his way into any girl’s panties if he wants to.”

“Well, then I’ll be the first to disappoint him won’t I?”

Tess glanced at Liz sideways, seemingly assessing her if Max decides to go after Nancy’s daughter. “Just promise me this, if he comes on to you and you think you can’t handle it, just tell me. Kyle and I will do anything to help you.”

Liz held Tess hand in gratitude but she also can’t help but think why everyone thinks that Max is some evil monster. She just can’t understand how one person can be the kind of guy everyone is making him out to be.

“I’ll be fine. And we don’t need to bring Kyle into this. I mean, come on, what harm can Max really do?” Liz asked as she got off the bed and began to prepare her things for school the next day.

“A lot more than you think.”

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kay_b
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Post by kay_b » Fri Feb 13, 2004 8:06 pm

Chapter 9

Thursday and Friday didn’t have any major event. They were regular school days and were spent with Liz hanging out with Isabel and her friends and tutoring back at the mansion. Isabel and Tess made it their mission to counter every chance that Max may have to get to Liz.

And so far it worked. Until now.

Max knew what Tess and Isabel were trying to do. Hell, Isabel even got her friends in on it too. Their eyes would narrow whenever they caught him staring at Liz. He tried to get to her in the classes they shared but as soon as the bell rang, one from their group would be waiting for her at the doorway. He tried to talk to her at home but his sister or Tess would always drag her away. Finally his patience has run out. He was using too much wasted energy trying to get to talk to this girl. And Max wasn’t in AP classes with Liz for no reason. He was intelligent and clever enough to go through one channel that the others failed to watch out for. Nancy.

“Hey Nancy.” Max greeted Nancy in the greenhouse bearing his most charming smile.

“Why, hello Max.” Nancy greeted back. “What can I do for you today?”

“Oh nothing. I just heard about what happened to your mother-in-law. I am so sorry.” Max gave his sincere condolences.

“Thank you Max.” Nancy said softly.

“My mom told me about it just recently. I’m sorry I wasn’t here to meet you when you got back.” Max said.

“That’s ok Max, I know how hectic your schedule is.” Nancy told him while re-potting some of Diane’s orchids.

Max smirked, “Well, I still apologize.” Max moved around the greenhouse, touching some of the plants’ leaves. “So…I heard that you brought your daughter along and that she’s studying at Wilmington as well.” Max said with an air of nonchalance.

“Yes, haven’t you met her yet?” Nancy wondered.

“No, unfortunately I haven’t.” Max tried to look as disappointed as he could.

“Hmm, I thought you two would have met by now. I mean, she’s usually either with Tess or Isabel and seeing how close she is with them I thought they would have introduced you to each other.”

“That’s just it, they’ve been hogging her all to themselves and I just want to meet her.” Max pouted.

“Don’t you worry, I’ll introduce you to her as soon as I’m done here.” Nancy grinned at Max.

“Really? Thanks, you’re the best. I’ll see you later Nancy.” Max suddenly stood up and waved as he went out the door grinning innocently like a cat who just swallowed a canary.


Going back into the house Max bumped into Diane. He kissed his mother’s cheek and smiled broadly.

“You seem to be in a happy mood.” Diane grinned at her son.

“Yup, that’s because I am.” Max answered.

“And may I know why this is?” Diane looked at Max questioningly.

“Nothing, can’t I just be happy?”

“Of course you can. I just want to know why so maybe that smile of yours will become permanent.”

At that last sentence, Max smile faded a little. He was about to lose it but he didn’t want his mother to notice.

“It’ll tell you someday Mom, but not right now.” Max headed to his room.

“Max, wait.” Diane called out.

He paused in the middle of the stairs but he didn’t turn around to face his mother.

“It’s Friday night, you’re usually out. Don’t you have anywhere to go?”

Max turned to face Diane slowly. “When I was always going out you’d always ask me to stay in. And now that I’m staying in, you want me to go?”

“No. Absolutely not, Max. That wasn’t what I meant, you know that. I was just wondering.” Diane moved to the end of the staircase.

“Don’t worry about me Mom, I’m fine. Trust me.” Max put on a fake smile for his mom and turned to go to his room.


Since Isabel and Maria were busy preparing the get-together for tomorrow, they had a few errands to run starting at the mall. No matter how much they tried to convince Liz to go with them, she managed to get them off her back and stay home. She had a lot of homework to do since she had to do a little catching up due to starting late at Wilmington. But the smart girl that she is, she had done her homework quickly and went to clean up the rooms while Isabel was still out.

Liz was already done with Isabel’s room because she started with hers in the possibility that Isabel might return early and catch her there. So she proceeded to the next room, Max’s. She went into his room and started fixing his bed.

“You don’t have to do that you know.”

Liz was startled hearing Max’s husky voice.

“Oh God, you scared me.” Liz exclaimed clutching a pillow.

“Why have you been avoiding me?” Max was standing at the doorway of his balcony. He walked over to Liz and circled around her like a vulture stalking its prey.

“Um, I… I haven’t been…avoiding you.” Liz stutters.

Max smirks at this knowing he can make her fluster. “I’m Max Evans.” He says extending his arm and offering his hand.

Liz takes Max’s hand with one of her own and shakes it. “Liz Parker.” She smiles at him, once again enamored with his eyes.

Max notices how soft her hand is and how his large hand engulf her small one in a warm shake. Eyes glittering, “It’s a pleasure to meet you Liz.”

“Uh…yeah…you too.”

“Maybe you should put the pillow down now that we’ve been introduced.”

“Huh?”

“The pillow” Max said pointing at the object that Liz is hugging fiercely.

Liz looks down and realizes that she has just wrinkled the pillowcase from holding on to it so tightly. “Oh….” She puts it down on the bed and tries to smooth over the case with her palms.

“Uh…sorry about that.” Liz says sheepishly.

“Not a problem.” Max replies as he looks at Liz appreciatively.

Liz is wearing a pair of denim shorts and a flannel shirt. The shorts aren’t skimpy but it still shows the smooth expanse of her skin. She moves around the bed and starts to clean up again.

Max walks closer to her and takes her wrist. “I said you don’t have to do that.”

“Uh…um…” Liz stares at Max’s hand that’s holding her wrist.


After the mall, Isabel and Maria went into the grocery store to buy some provisions. Maria was pushing the cart as Isabel was putting in items that were on her list.

“Oh yeah that’s good. Nachos are a definite must.” Maria told her.

“I know, Alex will kill me if we forget that.” Isabel smiled.

They continued going through the aisles. “You know, I’m really glad that Liz is in our group now although, she might be feeling like the fifth wheel or something. Do you know if she’s feeling that way around us? You know, you and Alex, me and Michael…Hmm, maybe we should try to find someone for her too.” Maria says out loud.

“I don’t know about that. She’s too good of a person to think that way. But you’re right. Maybe we should try finding a guy for her.” Isabel pauses to grab some bags of chips. “As long as it’s not Max.”

“Oh absolutely. Maybe Mom knows some models that would be suitable for her. We just have to know what she likes…” Maria judges Isabel’s attitude at how Max became the topic then continues. “Too bad, I can see a potential for her and Max, if only he didn’t become such a…”

“Prick?” Isabel offered, finishing the sentence.

“Yeah. No offense but he was a great guy. I mean, he was my honorary girlfriend you know.” Maria said reminiscing about how it used to be way back then.

“Yeah, if only things didn’t change.” Isabel said sadly.

“Iz, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to switch the conversation this way.” Maria touched her best friend’s arm.

“I know. It’s ok. Max did this to himself. I just wish I knew why. Maybe things could have stayed the same.” Isabel tried to give her a smile but it didn’t reach her eyes.

“Me too. We were all close once, I somehow feel guilty, like, there was something we could have done.”

“Unfortunately there’s none.”

“I just hope he doesn’t start anything, you know.” Maria said knowing that Isabel would catch her meaning.

“Well, as long as he keeps his paws away from Liz, then there won’t be any problem.” Isabel ended as they moved on to the next aisle.


“I can clean my room on my own. Besides, we wouldn’t want these hands to become rough and callused from working menial chores.” Max brushed Liz’s palms with his fingers relishing the softness again.

“Um, no…I mean no, they won’t. It’s nothing. I mean this is nothing.” Liz smiled nervously.

“Well, if that’s the way you feel about it. It is a nice surprise seeing you here…all alone…” Max moved in closer. If he didn’t have a handsome face he would have looked menacing.

“Uh…I…I have to…um…continue…” Liz breathing becomes heavy as she tries to pull her hand away.

“Ok, ok. But let me help. After all, this is my room.” Max releases her hand.

“You don’t…you don’t have to. Unless you want to…I mean, this is your room…like you said…it’s your room.” Liz stammered as she finished making Max’s bed.

‘What is wrong with me? I sound like a blubbering idiot’ Liz thought as she went on to dusting some of Max’s things. But as she got to his desk where his trophies were, he was quickly beside her.

“Don’t. Don’t touch those.” Max said in a cold tone.

“Uh…um…ok.” Liz walked away and headed to the bathroom to take his laundry.

Max stood frozen in front of his desk for a few moments. When he saw Liz emerge out of the bathroom with his clothes, he swiftly moved in to take the loaded basket from her with a captivating smile plastered on his face once again.

“Hey, that’s too heavy. You shouldn’t be carrying this much of a load, for someone as petite as you.” This gave Max an excuse to admire Liz from head to toe.

“Uh thanks.” Liz allowed him to take the basket and they went down the stairs to the laundry room.

As they got there, Nancy was folding the clothes that were fresh from the dryer. “There you are. Liz, this is Max. Max, this is my baby Liz.”

“Mom!!!” Liz yelled embarrassed.

Max just smiled. “It’s ok. We already met Nancy.” He informed her as he put the basket down.

Liz just stood there, feeling a tad awkward as she bit her bottom lip. Max saw this and wanted to be the one nibbling her lower lip, imagining if it would be as soft as her hands were.

Then Tess came in and Max’s smile turned into a scowl.

“Hey, I was looking for you.” She said to Liz but she was worried about Max being there as well. “Come on Liz, we have that…uh…stuff…to do.”

“Huh?” Liz had this dumbfounded look.

“You know…stuff…” Tess tried her hardest to come up with something to say to pull Liz away but that was the best she could do. So she just looked at Liz in a weird way to convey her thoughts, hopefully without Max noticing.

“Oh…um…ok.” Liz replied. "Well, it was nice meeting you Max.” She smiled at him sincerely.

“It was nice to meet you too Liz.” Max answered looking at Liz sweetly as Tess pulled her away.


Once they were back in Tess and Agnes’ room and out of earshot, Tess pounced on Liz. “What was that all about?”

“What?”

“Liz, don’t play dumb cause I know you’re not.”

“Ok, well, he caught me in his room again.” Liz said shyly.

“What? Ohmygod!”

“Ssshhh.”

“Sorry, but what is this? Why are you always getting into these encounters with him? Like it’s destiny or something.” Tess giggled.

“Oh come on, you don’t believe in that stuff do you?”

“No, but you have to admit, this is way too weird. No matter how hard we try, your paths just keep getting crossed.”

“We?”

Tess knew that she said too much. ‘I knew my mouth would get me in trouble.’ She thought.

“Well, uh…” Tess knew that there was no way out of it. She sighed, “Look, it’s just that Max is bad news. He has this reputation for being the bad boy around here and I don’t mean just at Wilmington. I’m talking about the entire town. So naturally, Isabel and I do not want you to get involved with him.”

“Ok, first off, we are not involved or are we getting involved. We just met! Second, I do keep hearing these things from the both of you so maybe it’s about time that you give me a proper explanation.”

“I wish I could Liz but it’s not my secret to tell.”

“Secret? This is some big secret now?”

“Well, not really but…” Tess hesitated for a couple of minutes but finally relents. “Ok, whatever I tell you, promise me that you won’t tell anyone else about it. Promise?”

“I promise.” Liz said seriously holding out her left pinkie.

“What?” Tess looked at her hand in wonder.

“It’s a pinkie promise.”

Tess laughed. “Gosh, you really are a goody two shoes.”

“Am not.”

“Yes you are, but that’s a nice quality, Liz. Don’t ever lose it ok?”

Liz nodded then extended her hand even further. Tess took it and they made a pinkie pact.

“Ok, well see…damn, I never thought this would be hard.”

“Well, just spill it out, you’re killing me here.”

“Ok, ok. Well, see…”

“You said that already.”

“Are you gonna let me continue or what?”

Liz bit her lip and waited.

“Well, Max wasn’t really like this a few years back. He hung out with Isabel and her friends too. He was actually a part of their group. Then they kind of paired off and Max tried to find something to do when the others had plans of their own, if you know what I mean.” Tess snickered. “Then he went to try out for track. He was good at it too. He was given a position in the varsity. And he would come home with trophies and they’d have parties for his victories.”

“Yeah I saw those.”

“Now I don’t really know what happened but somewhere along the line, he started drifting away from them. They all thought it was because he was always busy with sports but personally, I think something major happened. Cause soon he wasn’t bringing home trophies, no parties and he was always in a bad mood. No one could talk to him. He was barking out orders even to Mrs. Evans, can you believe it?”

Liz shook her head no but the wheels were already turning.

“He stopped hanging out with their group completely. He became cold even towards Isabel which was weird cause they were always so close. He was the kind of big brother that girls always wished for but that changed as well. I felt sorry for Isabel cause she would always try to bring Max out of his sour mood but he’d just yell at her. Then I guess Isabel felt defeated and just gave up.”

“That’s so sad.”

“And well, you know how they act around each other now. Max has changed a little for the better because he’s not as grouchy as much as he used to be. But he’s often not around, usually at his own friends’ parties till the morning of the next day. Mr. Evans has scolded him about it several times but nothing fazes him. I think he’s actually doing it on purpose just to piss off his dad.”

Liz absorbed all this information, wondering what really happened to Max for him to make a complete change.

“But that’s not the worst part. He has had a lot of girlfriends, well, I don’t really believe that he thinks of them as girlfriends. More like a good fuck I guess.”

“Tess!!!”

“What? It’s true, he collects ‘em, uses them then dumps ‘em after he’s done. He’s actually known for it. He thinks he’s God’s gift to womankind and honestly, he is quite goodlooking. But that still doesn’t give him the right to treat girls that way. One word to describe him is ‘player’. That’s what he is, a true blue player. And that’s why we’ve been warning you about him. You’re too good for his shit Liz.”

“Me? No, nuh uh. This?” Liz pointed to her face. “There is absolutely no way that he’s interested in me.”

“I’ve seen him looking at you, Isabel too. Maybe you just haven’t noticed, although I can’t imagine how you couldn’t have since he looks at you like you’re his next meal. Just be careful ok, cause when Max sets his sights on something or someone, he always gets them no matter what.”


Chapter 10

Saturday was here and Isabel and Liz were on their way to Maria’s. They arrived around 10am and headed straight to the kitchen knowing that that’s where Maria would be fixing their lunch. When they got there, they saw Michael and Maria in a heavy make-out session.

“Ahem” Isabel disrupted them while Liz tried to hold in her laughter when the two jumped apart. “Just wondering if you needed our help with anything.” Isabel smiled innocently.

“Uh no.” Maria moved away from Michael, making herself busy with pouring out the potato chips and nachos into bowls.

Michael made himself busy tasting the pasta sauce he was preparing.

“Wow Michael, I didn’t know you cooked.” Liz said astonished.

Michael just nodded, smiled and offered a taste to Liz. Liz leaned forward and sipped the small amount of sauce on the ladle.

“Oh didn’t we tell you? My Michael is a great cook.” Maria beamed proudly, hugging Michael’s waist from behind.

“That is so delicious.” Liz said savoring the taste of the herbs and fresh tomatoes mixing together.

“Glad you like it.” Michael turned and went back to his cooking.

“What can we do around here Maria?” Isabel looked around, trying to find something to do.

“Well, you can set the table for us.” Maria held out the plates to Isabel.

Isabel took them and walked to the nearby table. They were all going to eat in the kitchen since it was big enough to have a table for 6 in it. She went about putting down placemats, plates, table napkins, coasters, spoons, forks and knives and glass goblets.

Liz was looking around the kitchen, marveling at the Victorian style when Maria noticed this.

“Would you like to have a tour of Casa Deluca Liz?”

“Sure.”

“You two man the kitchen while I show Liz around the house.” Maria hooked her arm with Liz’s and headed for the stairs.

Once Maria was out the swinging door, Michael mumbled. “Yeah right, isn’t that what I’ve been doing ever since I got here?”

Isabel just giggled.


Maria and Liz strolled around the big house. They started at the second floor where Maria showed Liz the master bedroom which belongs to Amy. Amy’s room was pristine white which has a connecting room for the office that she uses at home during late-night ideas that suddenly pop in her head. Liz marveled at the designs Amy had that Maria showed her and even those that Maria did herself.

Then they proceeded to Maria’s room. Maria’s room was quite cozy. You wouldn’t think that you were in a mansion because it looked so homey. There was a sleigh bed in the middle of the room and a study desk on one side. There was a walk-in cabinet that adjoined to her bathroom. There was a comfy small couch that had several pillows. Liz noticed that there were a lot of scented candles and vials of aromatherapy oils. She also noticed a guitar in one corner of the room.

“Do you play?” Liz asked, touching the strings.

“Yup and I sing too. I mean, not to sound conceited and all but I caught up pretty good, thanks to Alex.”

“Alex?”

“Well he was the one who taught me. I was only singing before. And sometimes when we get together like this, he’d bring a guitar and he’d play as I sing. Then he started teaching me how to play and I liked it.” Maria grinned.

“That’s great. I wish I could hear the two of you someday.”

“Hey, maybe we could do that later. We have all day.”

Then they went on to the guest rooms where Maria took some swimsuits from the dresser drawers. But before Liz tried any of them, they finished the tour by going downstairs and looking at the living room, office, entertainment room, formal dining and back to the kitchen. There is also a pool house but Maria told her they’d go there later.

As they reached the kitchen, they were surprised that Alex was already there. He was already seated at the table as Isabel was pouring sodas in everyone’s glasses and Michael was mixing the pasta and the sauce.

“Hey, just in time.” Alex acknowledged them.

“Hey, how come no one told us you were already here? We could have cut the tour short.” Maria left the suits on the window seat and went over to Alex to give him a quick peck on the cheek as she moved to sit at the head of the table.

“Hi Liz.”

“Hi Alex.” Liz gave him a small wave.

“So I heard that my girlfriend has a new tutor.”

“Um, yeah.” Liz bowed her head.

“Cool.” Maria said. “Maybe you can also help me with some of the stuff I’m having trouble with.”

“Sure, no problem.” Liz said softly.

“Ok, everyone let’s eat.” Michael placed the pasta in the middle of the table and the garlic bread that he made as well.

They enjoyed their meal as they discussed about a lot of different things: Alex and Maria’s musical talents, Michael’s cooking, Isabel and Maria’s day at the mall, and Liz’s thoughts about Wilmington.

After having such a hearty lunch, Alex and Isabel helped clean up since Michael and Maria cooked. Well, actually it was mostly Michael but Maria claimed that she helped with the preparation. Liz felt guilty for not doing anything but everyone told her that she was the guest of honor. So in order to take her mind off the clean up duty, Maria dragged her to her room so Liz can try on some of the suits. Maria told Isabel to follow as soon as she was done.


Reaching Maria’s room, Maria handed several suits to Liz, starting with a black one. It was a two piece with a bra-like top and a thong. Liz immediately declined once she saw the bottom.

“Uh, no.” Liz handed the suit back to Maria.

“Why not? This is a nice one, real sexy.” Maria said moving her eyebrows up and down, giggling.

“That’s exactly why, it’s too sexy.”

“What? No it isn’t. I have one exactly like it.”

“Well maybe not for you but it is for me.” Liz said shaking her head from side to side.

“Fine, fine. Let’s move on to the next.” Maria placed that on the bed and declared it as the reject pile.

Then she handed a light green one which was a bikini top and boy cut bottoms. Liz tried it on in the bathroom as Maria changed into her own tropical-printed bikini with a matching short sarong. When Liz got out, she was a little embarrassed with showing her stomach though she had a trim one. Maria was already done and turned to look at Liz.

“Why are you covering your stomach, chica?” Maria walked over to Liz and moved her arms to her sides.

“Well it shows my belly.”

“You do not have a belly.” Maria pushed Liz to let her look at herself in the mirror. “You have a nice body and a flat stomach, despite the fact that we just ate. But this isn’t the right color for you.” Maria shook her head and got another pair. “Here.” Maria handed her a one piece that had tiger stripes.

However, that one was actually a two piece but was connected by a metal ring in the middle, making it a one-piece suit. The minute she got out, Maria grimaced and gave Liz another two-piece.

This one was colored red and as Liz went into the bathroom, Isabel came in and saw the pile on the bed. She was already wearing a chocolate brown two-piece with a bra-like cut for the top and regular bikini bottoms that was covered in a matching long sarong.

“Are these the rejects?” she asked, eyeing the swimsuits.

“Yup. Can you believe that she was ashamed of her body?”

“Why?”

“She said she has a belly.” Maria scoffed. “If she has a belly, then I’m a whale.”

“Ok, let’s not go there.” Isabel rolled her eyes.

Liz came out and was wearing a burgundy two-piece swimsuit that had triangle cut string bikini top and string bikini bottoms.

“Hey, that’s good on you.” Isabel grinned.

“Yeah… but the color… Although it’s a good color on you, it doesn’t work with the suit.”

Liz moved to the bed and got the last one they picked out. “Ok, this is the last one. Hopefully, this will be it.”

When she came out of the bathroom, Maria and Isabel had huge grins on their faces.

“What?” Liz asked.

“Oh girl, that is so you.” Isabel said.

Liz was wearing a white two-piece with the same style as the burgundy one. It was a string bikini with the triangle tops and matching string bikini bottom.

“Yeah, I like this one too.” Liz smiled.

“Then it’s yours.” Maria informed her.

“What? No. Maria, I can’t take this.” Liz was shaking her head vigorously.

“Sure you can.” Maria nodded.

“No, of course not.”

“Hey, you can see that we’ve got a lot here. Take that. I’m sure we’d have more get-togethers like this. And that suit is perfect on you.”

“Maria, I can’t accept this.”

“Well you better ‘cause there is no way that I’m taking it back.”

“What? Isabel!” Liz turned to look at Isabel, pleading at the girl to side with her.

“Don’t look at me. I’m with Maria on this one.”

“But…but…”

“Just take it Liz. There is no way that Maria would give in on this.” Isabel informed her.

With a heavy sigh, Liz accepted. “I’m not a charity case you know.” She said quietly as she sat on the bed, folding the other suits neatly.

“What? Oh sweetie that’s not what we meant by this.” Maria sat right next to her. “I mean, why waste money buying one when we have all of this that no one has ever used.”

“But your mom sells these.”

“No, she doesn’t. Those suits are there for guests in case they want to go for a dip but didn’t bring any suits with them.”

Isabel sat on the other side of Liz. “Liz, we’re not doing this because we pity you. You’re our friend. But…I think the money issue is still bothering you, isn’t it?”

“A little…. I mean, how could I not? Look at you all, you’re rich, you live in these huge houses, studying at one of the most expensive schools in the country and have all these luxuries available to you. I’m not saying that I’m jealous. It’s just that I know I don’t belong with you guys. I’ve seen how other students look at me. They know that your parents are paying for my tuition and other school expenses. And you accepted me into your group just like that. They think that you’re doing it ‘cause your parents told you to. Please don’t get me wrong, I know that your intentions and actions are sincere but you can’t help but think about these things.” Liz said faintly.

Isabel took Liz’s hand. “Liz, I thought we already discussed this. But I think I should explain a little bit more about us. Then after today, I don’t want to hear anymore about this money issue, ok?”

After a while, Liz reluctantly nodded.

And Isabel continued, “Those other students, they belong to a popular group. Max is actually in it.” Isabel shook her head slightly. “But that’s not the point. The point is those were the ones who wanted to be in our group at one point or another. Not to sound conceited but they’re jealous that you became a part of us and so quickly. See, those are the arrogant pigs of Wilmington. They take pride in being rich and flaunting it wherever they go. We’re not like that. And that’s why we have never accepted them.”

“But you, you’re intelligent yet you never flaunt it or lord it over anyone. You acknowledge what has been given to you with gratefulness. It’s not that we’re saying you should be overly thankful, but you’re not abusing it either. Let’s say that if those jerks have the same brain as you do, and this is just a hypothetical because we all know that that is a huge impossibility, I mean they’re only there because they’re either jocks or mommy and daddy donated a wing or…” Maria rambled.

“Maria, you’re getting off-track.” Isabel admonished.

“Oh, sorry, where was I? Oh yeah ok. It’s like this. If you gave the same opportunity to those jerks, they’d be acting all so high and mighty over everyone. That’s the kind of people they are. And yes, Max is one of them.” Maria told her. “But the main thing here is you’re not like them. And that’s what we like about you.”

“Honestly, we like to think that we’re like you. Just because our families are rich doesn’t give us the right to show off. Those are our parents’ money, not ours. We’re just lucky we were born to them. But money can disappear just like that. One day you can be on top and the next you’re at the bottom of the barrel. Yes, money may give you an easier life but it’s not the most important thing in the world. Your dignity, values, beliefs and principles in life are the things that will take you far. We admire that in you Liz. Despite all the things that happened in your life, you’re still here, standing strong.” Isabel smiled slightly.

“I know what you mean.” Liz nodded. “I didn’t tell you this before but as I recall, we used to be able to afford a lot of things. We’re not as rich as you are but we could buy little luxuries in life. I remember my room when I was just a little kid and it was full of all these stuffed toys. We had a nice house with big rooms, 2 cars, a huge yard, lots of clothes, lots of toys.” She paused and took a deep breath, “Then when Daddy…” Liz wiped a lone tear away. “Well, we had to sell almost everything. The only thing I have left of him is a little white teddy bear he bought for me when my mom told him that they were pregnant.”

“Oh Liz.” Maria and Isabel hugged Liz, feeling so sorry for her as well as flabbergasted by the amount of strength that this small wisp of a girl had in her.

After a few moments, Maria got off the bed. “Look, I thought we’re here for a celebration. I mean it may not exactly be a lavish party but all the important people are here. So what do you say we go downstairs and begin our afternoon of fun.” Maria quickly went to open her door but just before she went out she looked back one more time at Liz. “And that suit belongs to you now. Don’t you even dare think of trying to return it.” And with a wink and a smile, she hurried down the stairs to look for Alex and Michael.

“Well, you heard her. Let’s go.” Isabel took Liz’s hand and followed Maria.


When they reached the den, Michael and Alex were already wearing their swim shorts. Alex was in a navy blue one with a white button down shirt and Michael wearing a dark green pair and no shirt. Both were too engrossed in the video game they were playing to notice the girls. Isabel had to interrupt the game by standing in front of the wide screen TV.

“Hey!” Both guys yelled, moving their head from side to side, trying to catch a glimpse of what was happening on the TV screen.

Michael’s mind was still focused on the match with Alex that he didn’t even look at where Maria was standing and what she was wearing, or lack of it. But when Maria called his attention, he swiftly looked in her direction, seeing his lovely girlfriend in nothing but a teeny weeny bikini.

Liz was laughing at how the guys looked, their mouths hanging open and she could practically see drool coming out.

Then without any further warning, Michael dashed towards Liz and Maria as Alex picked up Isabel and carried her out to the pool.

Since Michael was bigger than Alex, and Maria and Liz weren’t as big as Isabel, he was able to grab both girls, with one hand around the waist of each one. The girls went screaming as the boys plunged in the water.

Soon a water fight began with the girls trying their hardest to dunk the boys underwater.

The rest of the afternoon was spent frolicking around the pool area: lounging out in the sun, talking, and munching on some junk food. Isabel’s digital camera was being passed around as pictures were taken.

All in all it was a great relaxing afternoon well spent.


Chapter 11

Sunday came and went with nothing much happening. Max was out of the house most of the time except during the family dinner which Diane demands that both kids attend every Sunday.

As the night wore on with the Evans family complete under one roof, Isabel was organizing the pictures she took of her friends at Maria’s house, showing some to her mom. Unknowingly, Max came into the den where his mother and sister were.

“What are you looking at?” Max nodded toward the bunch of pictures scattered on top of the table.

Before Isabel could gather all the photos, Max managed to swipe some of them.

“Give those back Max.” Isabel demanded.

“Honey, Max is just looking at them.” Diane told Isabel.

“Yeah, what’s your problem Iz?” Max smirked.

Isabel stood from her seat on the couch and went beside Max. “Give them here Max.” She told him through gritted teeth.

“These are pretty nice Iz.” Max continued perusing through them.

Isabel knew that Max wasn’t going to give them back till he’s done so she tried to swipe them away. Unfortunately, Max was much faster, moving them out of Isabel’s grasp.

“Alright you two, cut it out.” Diane started getting in between the two siblings.

“He started it!” Isabel yelled.

“I wasn’t doing anything wrong, I’m just admiring these.” Max said innocently.

“Isabel, let your brother look at those. He won’t ruin them.” Diane tried to pull Isabel away from Max who was still teasing Isabel by offering the pics then taking them away just when Isabel almost has a hold on them.

“Look, I’ll be done soon.” Max smiled sweetly.

Isabel angrily stomped her way back to the couch knowing she won’t win as long as her mother was in the same room.

A few more minutes passed and Max was finally done, gracefully handing the precious photos back to Isabel.

As soon as her hands touched the edges, she grabbed them away from Max and furiously went to her room.

Max just watched her move up the stairs with a coy smile across his lips. What Isabel didn’t know was Max had his hands behind him, holding one picture.

A candid solo picture of Liz in the white bikini Maria gave her, smiling at something outside the frame of the lens.


Going back to the privacy of his own bedroom, he lied down on the huge bed. Then pulling something out of his jeans pocket, it was the picture he ‘borrowed’ from Isabel.

He stared at it, wondering what Liz could be smiling at. But more importantly, he was thinking about how scrumptious Liz looked in that white bikini. How he wished he was there to see it in the flesh, so to speak.

After about a half hour of doing nothing but gazing appreciatively at the pic, he made a decision. He was going after Liz.

He started formulating a plan as to how he’d manage to do that considering the fact that Isabel and Tess are already guarding his new girl like a hawk.

‘Well, they can’t always be wherever she is. I’ll just catch her when she’s all by her lonesome self.’ Max thought.


As the week began, that was exactly what Max did. He’d show up wherever Liz was; at school, at home, in class, when she would be cleaning up the rooms. He was spending so much time at home that his mom was beginning to notice. But Diane never complained, she was happy that Max was spending more time at home.

At school, he would always manage to talk to her during the classes they shared even if they were just about nonsense. As long as he got some time with her, it would be ok.

Some of the people he hung out with started to notice too. They would ask Max about it, and his only response was, ‘none of your goddamn business’. And they left it at that, coming to the conclusion that Liz is now Max’s new prey.

On Liz’s side, she was ok with the treatment Max is showing her, making her wonder more and more about the gang’s warnings. Her only assumption toward that is that maybe they were wrong. Or maybe Max has changed but because of the huge gap that has formed between them, they failed to notice it.

She liked the conversations she had with Max. Though some were petty, others had some depth to it, confirming it for her that Max is an intelligent person. She could only deduce that maybe that was the reason why Max has had a lot of girlfriends. But there was also this nagging memory of her second meeting with Max where he utterly humiliated that girl, Courtney. She knew that there was something more to what everyone was telling her and what she was seeing with her own eyes. And she thought that maybe, with the chance of her and Max becoming friends, she could finally unravel the mystery surrounding Max Evans.

If one was to describe Max, everyone would say that he’s a dream. Tall, dark, handsome, elusive and mysterious, those are the words to describe him when you meet him for the first time. With eyes that speak of unfathomable depths and emotions, you would know that there’s more to it than meets the eye if you know where to look. And Liz caught that when they finally got the chance to introduce themselves to each other in his bedroom. In a way, Liz knew they were kindred. On the outside everything is fine, Liz was happy, Max was cocky and both presented determination and strength. But on the inside, there is something more, something that consumes them from the inside out until even the outside appearance can’t hide it anymore.


Their encounters continued for the entire week, their meetings growing longer, their friendship growing closer. But as the week is about to end, both sets of friends knew something was up.

“Max!”

“Huh?” Max looked around the table wondering who was calling him. Then he felt his foot being nudged. “What is it Pam?”

“I’ve been calling you for like the past hour or so. What’s up with you lately?”

“Quit exaggerating, lunch only started 30 minutes ago, and we don’t even share a single class.” Max went back to his lunch but every once in a while, he would throw a glimpse back to the table at the far end of the quad.

Pamela Troy, known to be one of the sluttiest girls at Wilmington was in Max’s group. She too wanted to belong with Isabel and their friends but was denied every time. When Max finally got out and started hanging with other people, she invited herself along. She is about Maria’s height and way busty, thanks to Daddy’s money. She always bought the trendiest outfits but whatever she wore, it always looked skanky on her. She was one of the girls that Max hooked up with when he left his group. And although she wanted more, Max did not. So she settled for being just a ‘friend’ rather than lose all that hard work of being in a popular group at last.

She followed the direction of Max’s look and saw that he was staring at his sister and his old gang. Looking more closely, she saw that he was staring at the new girl.

“Are we eyeing our new victim?” Pam sneered.

Max immediately glared at Pam to shut her up which she complied with in a snap.

“FYI Pam, she’s not a victim.”

“So you are going after her?”

“What’s it to you?”

“She’s in your sister’s group.”

“So?”

“Max, do you know what would happen to you if you go after her? Maria and Michael would bury you alive, not to mention Isabel.”

“Well, I’m not going after her. Wait a minute, why am I even explaining myself to you?”

“Because you would need my help.”

Max laughed evilly, “Are you serious? That is the most ridiculous thing I have ever heard.”

“And why is that?” Pam huffed.

“One, because you’re dumb, you wouldn’t know how to plan anything even if your life is at stake. Two, because if you get anywhere near Liz, Isabel’s gang would skin you alive.”

Pam looked away. She was a little hurt about what he said. “You better watch your mouth Evans, you wouldn’t want anyone backstabbing you.”

Max grabbed Pam’s upper arm and gripped it tightly. “Listen whore, you try doing that and Isabel and Maria won’t have anything left to injure ‘cause I would do it myself. You got it?”

Pam was a little frightened by that and she could only nod. She knew Max wouldn’t hesitate hurting her to make sure that she doesn’t get in his way. Somehow, she started to fear for the new girl as well.


On the other end of the quad, Maria, Michael, Isabel, Alex and Liz were all laughing and having fun looking at the pictures.

“This is so funny.” Maria laughed, pointing at a photo of Michael and Alex doing muscle poses.

“Hey, you’re hurting our feelings.” Michael exclaimed.

“You mean egos?” Isabel asked.

“Haha, your girlfriend’s a real riot Whitman.” Michael told Alex.

“I know.” Alex groaned.

“Oh poor baby, are you offended?” Isabel leaned over to wrap her arms around Alex’s waist.

“Ok, stop with the PDAs.” Liz groaned.

“Aww, you’re only jealous. You know we should really find you a guy.” Isabel told her.

“Uh-uh. No. No way.” Liz strongly shook her head no.

“Come on. I’m sure we can find someone for you, don’t you think so Maria?” asked Isabel.

“What? I’m sorry, I didn’t catch that.” Maria looked back at Isabel.

“Are you ok?” Michael asked concerned.

“Uh, yeah I’m fine.” Maria said distractedly.

“Well I was telling Liz here that we should find a guy for her. What do you think?” Isabel asked again.

“Um, yeah ok.”

“Maria?” Liz spoke softly.

“What?”

“Are you alright?”

Maria shifted all her attention back to her friends. “Yeah I’m fine. Just a little worried with a test coming up next week.”

“Oh, well, I could help you study if you want.” Liz offered.

“Thanks Liz.” Maria smiled.


Lunch lasted for another 30 minutes before they parted, each heading to their respective classes. But Maria’s thought were somewhere else.

Back at the quad during lunch period, she saw Max staring at their table, more specifically, at Liz. She knew Max was up to something. She sometimes saw the two talking, laughing and she also noticed how Max looked at Liz. She never saw that look before on her old friend, even when he was still a part of them. And because of that, she made a silent vow to watch over Liz.

As much as she would have liked for the two to get together, things are different now. Maybe if everything was back to the way things were, she would have done everything to help Max in his quest. But times change, people change. And for someone that she used to trust so openly, it was hard to accept Max’s new attitude. And now, it was blatantly obvious to anyone who knew what they were looking for, that something was brewing between Max and Liz.

Unfortunately she only had her own notions as to what was going on in Max’s mind. So she decided that she was going to gather more proof. But as soon as she had that, there is no way in hell that she’s just going to stand back and wait for everything to fall apart. She will do anything to get to the bottom of this, even if it means going up to Max himself.


Chapter 12

Soon, Liz started liking Max more and more each day. And along with that, Isabel, Maria and Tess’ anxiety grew as well. They noticed the talks those two had, the look Max gave Liz and more significantly, the look that Liz gave back.

They knew that Max was beginning to win Liz over. Max was overly pouring his attention to their friend and the added fact that Liz didn’t mind was causing their fears to increase. Unfortunately, their words of warning weren’t doing much, for Liz was being shown a different side of Max. How could they make her see the real Max when he was doing everything in his power to make him look good in her eyes? It was a dilemma and the girls knew they had to do something fast before Liz falls.

The girls decided to form a plan to keep Liz away from Max. Isabel would keep Liz with her for hours to study. Maria also did the same getting her further away by inviting Isabel and Liz often at her house. Tess would always ask Liz to keep her company while doing her chores. Weekend hangouts were always planned ahead of time to make sure that Max doesn’t get the chance to ask Liz out.

All those plans worked for a couple of weeks but still Max and Liz managed to become friends. Whenever Liz would be cleaning the rooms, Max would make it a point to be there. Since Liz always does this whenever Isabel wasn’t around, Max knew that no one can interrupt them. He even moved to a different seat in the classes he shared with her so they were beside each other. This somehow worked to Max’s advantage when their professor told the class to partner up with the person beside them. Max was jumping for joy when this was announced because he knew that it would give him more time with Liz no matter how much Isabel objects.


One weeknight at home, Liz was in Max’s bedroom, working on a Physics project. Isabel tried to coerce Liz to doing some tutoring but Liz had to decline because she had to finish her homework too. As Liz went into the room, Isabel had a scowl on her face and Max smugly snickered at her.

“Hey thanks for doing the project with me than hanging out with Isabel again.” Max said as he closed the door.

“What? What are you talking about? This is OUR project Max.”

“I know that but I thought maybe you want to hang out with her than me.”

Liz placed her hand on his arm, “Max, all of you are my friends. It’s really flattering that you’re all treating me so well.”

Max covers her hand with his, “That is only because you deserve it.” He beams at her.

Liz looks at their hands and smiles back at Max.

They begin to work side by side, talking about a lot of things, their project, how Liz is coping at school, and at one point, Max tried to bring up the topic as to why Nancy brought her to his house as a way to get her to open up to him, but she went silent. Max didn’t push again, getting a little concerned that he might come upon a setback if he tries to bring up the subject once more. So he changed the topic back to their project.

After a few more minutes he tested the waters again, asking about the weekend that she spent at Maria’s place.

“Hey I forgot to tell you that I saw the pics of you at Maria’s.” Max began.

“What pictures?” Liz asked still staring at her work.

“Oh you know, the one where you had a pool party I think.” Max peered at Liz judging her reactions.

“What? Ohmygod! Those pictures!” Liz blushed frantically.

Max smirked, “Yeah those pictures.”

“That was about two weeks ago.”

“Yup.”

“Um, what pictures did you see exactly?” Liz started fidgeting.

“The one of the pool party…where you were in your swimsuits.”

“Oh no.” Liz bowed her head, trying to sink in her chair.

Max shifted his seat closer to her. He was so close to her, he can smell the strawberry scent of her hair. He couldn’t help himself and sifted his fingers through her hair, feeling the soft silky strands. “Don’t be embarrassed, I think you look wonderful.”

Liz was getting nervous and excited both at the same time but she couldn’t meet Max’s eyes. She was worried that she’d begin to stutter again so her eyes stayed glued to the books in front of her. “I don’t think I looked good in those. I mean, I thought I looked fat and Maria and Iz insisted that I wear that bikini.”

“I’m not only talking about that day Liz.” Max tucks a strand of her brown tresses behind her ear.

And Liz could only smile.


Back in Isabel’s room, she is furiously talking on the phone with Maria as Tess is seated on the loveseat watching Isabel move back and forth.

“Oooh, that arrogant jerk!” Isabel fumed.

“Why didn’t you stop them?” Maria questioned.

“I tried ok. But they were partnered in that damn AP Physics class and now they have to work on projects together, much to Max’s satisfaction.” Isabel was pacing her room.

“I’ll bet.” Maria muttered.

“What was that?”

“Nothing, it’s nothing Isabel.”

“You’re hiding something.” Isabel says suspicious of Maria’s previous comment.

“No, I’m not.” Maria replies in a firm tone. “Look, can’t you think up of anything?”

“I’m at a loss. I actually have Tess here with me, trying to come up with something to get Liz out of that room.”

All three girls fell silent for a few minutes.

“Argh! I hate this!” Isabel screams.

Maria quickly moves the phone away from her ear and places the receiver in front of her face. “Ow! Cut it out! I know how you feel ok?”

“I’m sorry. It’s just, you know how I hate feeling helpless and not in control.”

“Yeah, yeah. Look, has Tess come up with anything?”

Isabel looks at Tess and the shorter blonde just shakes her head no.

“Nope, nada.” Isabel informs Maria.

“Look Iz, I think I should you should know about this but I’m not sure if I should tell you.” Maria starts.

“What? What are you talking about?”

“Well, there’s something going on here but…oh nevermind, forget I said anything.”

“Great, first you start off with this ‘I think you should know but I’m not sure if I should tell you’ bit, then you totally dismiss it. Uh-uh, no way girl. You know how I hate that, so spill.”

“Ok, I have a feeling that Max has something up his sleeve.”

“Maria, we all know that already.”

“No, I mean, like a real plan. I saw him staring at Liz during lunch the other day.”

“Girl, I saw him do the same thing out at the porch when Liz started tutoring me, that’s nothing new. He even questioned Tess about her that very same day.”

“No Izzy, I saw the way he looked at her. In all the time I have been friends with your brother, I’ve never seen that look in his eyes.”

Isabel was silent for a moment. Maria was always correct with sensing vibes from other people and if she thinks that there is something more going on here, Isabel would believe her completely.

“What do you think it is?” Isabel asked worriedly.

“I don’t know but I’m definitely gonna find out.”

“How?”

“Just look and listen. That’s all we can really do at this point.”

“How would we know what to look for?”

“Anything that he does and says that concerns Liz will be the proof we need that he’s definitely up to something. Until then, there’s nothing else we can do.”

“What do you plan on doing once we do get proof?”

“We lay it on him. He’s gonna be sorry he chose Liz this time.”


As Liz stepped out of Max’s room, she could hear Isabel speaking loudly in her bedroom. She knocked on the door and peek her head in.

Isabel was still talking to Maria and rambling on and on. Tess has already left to get back to her chores.

“Hey.” Liz started.

Isabel abruptly stopped her pacing and ranting on the phone. She was surprised to see Liz.

“Hey Liz. Um, what can I do for you?”

Liz looked confused for a moment. “I thought you said you needed help with your homework a while ago. Max and I are done for the day so if you still need help, I’m here now.”

“Oh yeah…right.” Isabel looked around. “Well, uh… I’m done actually, turns out I could do it by myself.”

Then both girls could hear a series of ‘hellos’ on the other end of the line.

“Ohmygosh, sorry about that Maria.” Isabel quickly spoke on the receiver. “Liz is here now and she was just asking if I needed help with school stuff.”

“Well, ask her how it went.” Maria ordered.

“No way, I can’t ask that?”

“Ask me what?” Liz inquired.

Isabel turned to face Liz, seemingly forgetting that she was in the same room.

“Look, why don’t I put you on speaker then you can ask her yourself.” Isabel moved to her bedside table to switch on the speaker phone.

“Ok, you’re on.”

“Hi Liz! How are you?”

Liz giggled, “We were just together in school a few hours ago Maria.” Liz rolled her eyes at Isabel.

“Oh, yeah, yeah. Well, ok, might as well get to it. How did your studying with Max go?”

“Well…it was okay…I guess.”

“Just ok?”

“Yeah, what else is there?” Liz questioning eyes met Isabel’s.

“Okay…well I guess I was just wondering if Max was hitting on you or something?”

“What?” Liz immediately blushed.

“Um, Maria and I were wondering if Max was coming on to you?” Isabel asked softly.

“No, I don’t think so.” Liz replied.

“It’s just that we’ve seen the way he looks at you and how he’s trying to get close to you all the time.” Isabel said.

“He’s just being friendly. We are in the same class and assigned to each other as lab partners no less. So of course we’ll be working together, talking and stuff.”

“No chica, I don’t think you understand. Max always, always has a hidden agenda. And I’ve seen it in his eyes that he is most definitely up to something.” Maria told her.

“Look, we know how he works. We’re just worried. He’s not popular for nothing you know. I think Tess has told you how he has had a lot of girlfriends. Well, that’s what he does, he sweet talks his way into their skirts. And we don’t want you to be added to his long list of…trophies.” Isabel informed Liz.

“Trophies?”

“Yup, he calls them that way.”

“Oh…” Liz nodded.

The three fell silent once more. Then Liz looked straight at Isabel.

“Look, I think I can take care of myself. If anything like what you’re asking happens, I’ll inform you guys right away. But so far, Max has treated me with nothing but kindness. So you’re right Maria, I don’t really understand. But that doesn’t mean that I’ll stop being friends with him because of what you’ve told me. I thank you guys for your concern, but didn’t you ever think that maybe he has changed? You don’t hang out with him anymore and you all try to stay as far away from him as possible, how could you ever know if he has turned back into the Max that you obviously loved and miss? And at this moment, I think that’s the Max I’ve been seeing. Maybe you guys just have to look deeper than trying to find something to warn me with. Please don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to sound mean. I actually am grateful. But maybe you should stop speculating and see for yourself that Max isn’t what you’re all claiming him to be, at least, I think he’s not. It’s pretty transparent from your comments that you were all very close once. Don’t you want to have that back again? Just give him a chance ok?”

And with that, Liz left Isabel’s room, leaving the two girls to ponder on her words.


Chapter 13

Another week has passed and Liz has not heard any Max-bashing coming from Maria, Isabel or Tess. They pretty much kept their word to try to look for something deeper, something that would indicate a change in Max.

However, Maria was still very much set on finding more proof. Seeing that look in Max’s eyes at lunch the past week really struck her. When Max left their group, she was the one who was affected the most by it. The guys and Isabel were angry, hell, they still are. But Maria was hurt.

She and Max were really close. Some people thought that they were closer than Max and Isabel. Everyone in their circle knew that fact and the parents even thought that they would end up together when they were younger. But that quickly changed when they heard Maria call Max her girlfriend. The parents were shocked, fearing what it could mean. The kids knew about it already and didn’t pay any attention to it. But seeing the faces of the parents made them laugh so hard. They hurriedly explained the so-called term of endearment.

Maria made Max her honorary girlfriend because she could tell him anything that she needed advice on. Max was a good listener despite Maria’s crazy ramblings. Maria did the same in return but she also became Max’s matchmaker, always trying to find the perfect girl for her best friend. Unfortunately, Maria never did find that one special girl for Max.

Until now….


Max and Liz were spending a study period together. The two were hunched over a table and Max was blatantly staring at Liz.

“What?” Liz looked at him and asked.

“Nothing.” Max smiled.

“Do I have something on my face?” Liz went rummaging in her bag, trying to look for a compact mirror.

“Yeah, you do.”

“Huh? What?” Liz moved her head from side to side trying to look for something.

“Gorgeous deep brown eyes, a cute little nose, and beautiful sweet lips.” Max was intensely gazing at Liz’s lovely innocent face.

Liz blushed a crimson red upon Max’s open appreciation of her looks. She didn’t know what to say about it so she bowed her head down and remained quiet.

Max was still looking at Liz intently, smiling when he saw her blush which confirmed that she was affected by him. He took some loose strands of her hair that covered her face when she lowered her head. She tried to hide her blushing through a curtain of her silky brown locks but Max tucked those behind her ear giving him a much clearer view of the object of his desire.

“Why don’t we go out this weekend Liz?”

“Huh?” Liz swiftly raised her head to look at Max, surprised and baffled by the sudden invite.

“Go out, like on a date. Actually that’s what I’m asking, I want us to go out on a date this weekend.”

“I can’t Max.”

Max instantly frowned at her response. “Why not?”

“Maria and Isabel already made plans.”

Max was seething; he knew what Maria and Isabel were doing. Apparently they were on to him but that wouldn’t stop him.

“You’ve been hanging out with them almost everyday already.”

“I know…it’s just that…um….” Liz started to fidget, staring at her hands. She was torn between telling Max about what the others have been saying about him and her loyalty to her new friends.

“It’s just what? It’s just that they don’t trust me?”

Liz whipped her head to look at Max. “No Max, that’s not it.”

“Oh come on Liz. We both know that’s the reason why they’ve been hogging you to themselves. Hell, even my group knows it.”

“They…they do?”

Max smirked, “It is quite obvious.”

Liz nibbled on her lower lip. She decided to tell Max about the things that Maria, Isabel and Tess have told her. She thinks that if she tells Max, maybe this would be a way to start patching things up between them.

“Ok, since you know about it already. The girls have been telling me a lot of um….not so nice things about you.”

“Like my having lots of girlfriends?”

“Well, that’s one of them. They also told me about how you all used to hang out together and were really close.”

Max became silent and stared out into space. He remembered those days too.

“They miss you Max. They just might not be good at showing it but they do. And now that it’s out in the open, maybe you guys could talk and try to resolve this and be all friends again.” Liz smiled at him softly.

Those last few words broke him out of his trance. ‘Be all friends again’, yeah right. He turned to look back at Liz and her smile made him realize how beautiful she really is. It almost made him want to back off this whole thing. Almost.

“I don’t think that’s an option right now Liz.”

“Why not?”

“Too many things have happened in the past.”

“Like what?”

Max shook his head. “I can’t tell you now. Maybe someday.”

Liz nodded, accepting Max’s reluctance to tell more.

Silence ensued between them, until Max brought up the subject of dating again.

“So you won’t go out with me because the others don’t want you to or you yourself don’t want to?

“Max…”

“Do you always do what other people tell you?”

Liz started getting irritated at that. “Of course I don’t.”

“Then why are you letting them do it now?”

“I’m not. It’s just that I don’t know what to believe anymore. They’ve been telling me all these things, warning me not to trust you. But here you are showing me that I could.”

Max took her hand in his and looked straight in her eyes, “You can trust me Liz. Besides, how will you know what to believe unless you see it for yourself right? Give me a chance Liz.”

‘Give me a chance’, those were almost the exact same words she told Isabel and Maria. How could she not when she asked her friends to do the same?

“Ok.” Liz whispered.

“Yes? You’ll go out with me?”

Liz simply nodded. “On one condition.”

“What is it?”

“This will be kept just between the two of us. The others won’t agree to it and would do anything and everything to make us break the date. So we keep it a secret…for now.”

Max gave her the most enchanting smile she ever saw across his face. “Anything you want Liz.”


Later that day, Max was out with his friends. They were at Sean’s house, drinking the night away. Sean is Maria’s cousin and the two haven’t been getting along since they were born. Sean’s father is Amy’s brother and is also a successful businessman. Ironically, Amy and her brother are very close. It’s like the closer Amy and her brother are, the more detached Maria and Sean are from each other.


Ever since Max arrived at the house, he had a wide grin running from ear to ear.

Sean greeted him by giving him a light slap on the back. “Hey Evans, what’s got you on cloud nine today?”

“Could it be about the new girl?” Pam spoke, walking towards the two boys.

“Ah, Elizabeth Parker. She’s a cutie, would love to sink my teeth into her.” Sean laughed.

Max immediately turned to face Sean, the smile on his face quickly replaced by a murderous glare. “You touch a single hair on her and I’ll kill you.”

Pan and Sean were both stunned.

“Hey, I was only kidding, man. You know I wouldn’t step on your territory.” Sean said, backing away with both hands in the air.

“Max, what’s gotten into you? You know that Sean was just pulling your leg.”

“Well, he can go off and pull someone else’s.” Max stormed off to the kitchen to get himself a beer.

“What’s that all about?” Sean looked at Pam.

“I don’t know, but whatever it is, it doesn’t look good.” Pam was staring off to where Max went.

“What are you saying?”

“I know he’s sort of possessive but I have never seen him this way.”

“Jealous are we?” Sean stared at Pam.

Pam hit him on his shoulder. “No, I’m not. It’s just scary the way he’s carrying on like this. I’m starting to get scared for that Parker girl and you know it takes a lot to scare me.” Then shifting to brush herself against Sean, “Besides, as long as it’s not you going after that girl, I wouldn’t have anything to be jealous about now do I?”

“You’ve got nothing to worry about babe.” Sean kissed Pam deep, walking blindly to the couch to start some heavy make-out session.


Being left to his own most of the night, Max was mulling over everything in his mind. First, he was glad with the arrangement about not having to tell anyone he is now dating Liz. Although he’s sure that people would soon notice, at least he wouldn’t have to deal with Isabel and the others for some time and he wouldn’t have to introduce Liz to his own peers.

Second, he was thinking about where to take her on their first date. He knows that it has to be something spectacular to throw her off the notion that the girls were giving her about him.

Third, he thought about what Liz said regarding his sister and the others. Did they really miss hanging out with him? He can’t even remember when he started distancing himself from them, but he knew that he had to go. He couldn’t let the others know about what happened. For some reason, letting the others in was not an option no matter how hard he tried until the guilt slowly ate at him. He thought they’d think he was a loser and it would be better for them to hate him than think lowly of him. Sometimes he wished that things could be the same as they used to but the risk of their shamed looks was too great for him to handle.

He wondered what the others said to Liz. He already knew the things they would have told her regarding his reputation. But what about their old friendship? What did the others say about that? Liz said they missed him, but if they did, why haven’t they come up to him? Because he would have driven them away, that’s why.

And lastly, he was going out on a date with Liz. He knew that she was his former friends’ territory but that didn’t stop him. He has never been this determined with a girl before. Although he usually got everything he wanted, he has not spent this much effort on a single girl. He kept asking himself why. What does Liz Parker have to make him want her so much? Was it a form of revenge against his old friends? No, why would he want revenge on them, they haven’t done anything to him. He was the one who pulled away not them. Was she some kind of way of proving something to others and to himself? If so, what does he have to prove? Or was everyone right about him? Was she just another one of his conquests?
Last edited by kay_b on Fri Feb 13, 2004 8:18 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by kay_b » Fri Feb 13, 2004 8:13 pm

Chapter 14

On the day before Max and Liz’s first date, Max was racking his brain for something to impress Liz on their first rendezvous. On her end, Liz was politely rejecting another weekend invite from Maria.

“But why can’t you go? It’s not like you’ll be doing anything there at the Evans?” Maria whined.

“Uh, I have to help my mom.” Liz tried keeping a straight face.

“With what?”

“Well, uh…oh, we have to clean my grandma’s old house. Yeah, that’s it. We have to go there to clean up a little.” Liz lied.

“Oh…” Maria slumped on her bed.

“I’m really sorry Maria, you know I’d go if I could. “ Liz said softly.

“Well, ok. But you’ll hang with us next week right?”

“Yeah, sure ok.”

“Great, Isabel and I are going shopping and we want you to go with us. Tess too, I think she’s about to have a day off next weekend so we’ll schedule our trip around hers.”

“That’s really nice of you.”

“Well, you know we have to stick together.”

“Huh?”

“Oh, um, you know. We girls should stick together.”

“Uh, I have to go Maria. Homework, you know.”

“Ok, sure. Talk to you later.”

After saying their goodbyes, Liz and Maria hung up.

‘Whew’, Liz thought. ‘That was close. I really hate lying but what can I do? Hopefully this thing between them and Max gets resolved soon. Maybe whatever this is that’s going on between us could help them get back their old friendship.’


The next day, Max catches Liz in the kitchen.

“Hey.” Max smiled.

“Hi.” Liz smiled back.

“So I have everything planned. We’ll go to this really swanky restaurant just outside of town and—“

“Wait, back up. Swanky restaurant?”

“Yeah…what’s wrong?”

“Max, we don’t have to go to some expensive restaurant.”

“But I thought you’d like that.”

“Max, you know that I’m not that kind of person.”

“Well yeah but—“

Liz cut him off immediately, “why are we going out on this date Max?”

Max scratched the back of his head. “Uh, to get to know each other.”

“Exactly, and we don’t need to go somewhere fancy to do that. Heck, we don’t even have to go out on a date to do that.”

“What? No, Liz. I really want to go on this date but if you don’t want to go to an expensive restaurant then we’ll scratch that. We’ll go wherever you want to go.”

“Max, this isn’t about what I want.”

“Yes, it is Liz.” Max moved so close to her that she could feel his breath on her face.

Liz looked up to meet Max’s eyes and just at that very moment, Tess walked in.

Tess’ blue eyes widened at the scene. “Oh, uh, excuse me. Um Liz, I need to talk to you.”

Max turned around and glared at Tess. “Can’t you see we’re talking here?! C’mon Liz, let’s go somewhere more private, where we won’t be disturbed.” Max pulled on Liz’s arm and almost dragged her out of the kitchen.

“Uh, I’ll be with you in a minute Tess.” Liz called back just as the kitchen door swung close.

‘Damn, now what?’ Tess thought.


“Max, slow down. Where are we going?” Liz was half running, half walking out the yard.

“To the pool house.”

Upon reaching the pool house, Liz was staring at Max’s back as he was closing the French doors. It was quite obvious that he was angry.

“Max, what’s wrong?”

“What’s wrong?! You want to know what’s wrong! Didn’t you see how Tess tried to pull you away again!”

“Calm down. Look, I’m here aren’t I?”

Max took a couple of deep breaths. “I’m sorry Liz. This is just getting to be irritating.”

“I’m sorry too Max. I’m sorry about what’s happening.” Liz said softly.

Max held Liz by her shoulders. “Let’s just forget about it ok? I want us to enjoy our date tonight and if we think about this more, it’s definitely going to ruin our moods.”

Liz nodded.

“So, where do you want to go later?”

“I don’t know, I mean if this is about trying to get to know each other, we can do that without having to eat at some expensive restaurant right?”

“Of course. So what do you have in mind?”

“Honestly, I’m ok with just grabbing a pizza or something.”

“Then pizza it is.” Then Max got this idea that made his face light up. “I know the perfect place we can go to.”

“Where?”

“It’s a surprise.” Max grinned.


That night, Max and Liz went on their date. Both were decked out in jeans. Liz was wearing a red tank top with a matching knitted button-down sweater with long sleeves. She left her hair down and she was wearing black sandals. Max was wearing a black button-down shirt with the top two buttons left open. He was also wearing black leather shoes. Their first stop was at Tony’s pizzeria where Max ordered a large pizza with the works. Then taking the pizza to go, Max drove them to an auditorium.

Liz had a curious look on her face, wondering what they were doing there. She looked at Max but his only answer was another charming smile.

Max helped her get out of the jeep by holding her hand. But as they went in the auditorium, Max never let go. When he switched the lights on, Liz was surprised to see that they were in an indoor basketball court.

“What are we doing here Max?”

“Do you like to play basketball Liz?”

“Um, I haven’t played before.”

“You haven’t?” Max asked as he set the pizza box down on one of the bleachers.

Liz merely shook her head no. Max took her hand once more and led her towards the basket where there was a rack filled with balls.

“Well then I’ll teach you.” Max smiled and placed a ball on Liz’s hands.

Liz just looked at the ball and threw it. It was short of the basket and Max chuckled.

“Hey, I thought you said you were gonna teach me.” Liz asked with one brow raised.

“Ok, here.” Max walked up directly behind Liz and handed another ball to her. Then moving closer he took both of her hands and positioned her on how to shoot the ball.

Liz threw the ball and this time it touched the rim. She was grinning back at Max.

“That was good but I think you can do better.” Max gave her another ball and took the same position behind her.

Liz jumped up as she threw the ball and this time it went in.

“Oh wow! I did it!” She turned around and wrapped her arms around his neck.

Max hugged her back, feeling how soft her body was, thinking of how her body molded into his so perfectly.

Liz noticed the position they were in and quickly let go.

“Let me see if I can do this on my own.”

Max moved back and watched her shoot the ball towards the net. In one try, Liz was able to shoot it by herself.

“Nice job. Think you can take me on a one-on-one game?”

“No way, you’re good at this. Besides you’re way taller.”

“Hey, I’m a track runner not a b-ball player. And as for the height issue, I’ll lighten up on you.”

After carefully deliberating on this, she gave her ok.

“Great, here are the rules. You try to steal the ball from me as I dribble it. If you get to steal it and shoot, I get the ball next. If I shoot it, you get the ball. Each shot scores us 1 point. But before we begin, I think we should take these off.” He said pointing at their shoes. “It would only make you slip if you run in those.”

Both of them took off their shoes and placed them on the sidelines. Then the game started with Liz having the ball first.

Liz was doing fine considering that this was the first time she ever played basketball and Max was clearly impressed. They were working up a sweat as the game went on. Max was leading by a meager 2 points.

When Max had the ball, Liz tried to swipe it away from him but Max kept turning in circles. Then Liz started to feel exasperated so she started tickling Max. Max tried to keep from laughing but Liz was determined to win this time. Soon enough, Max let go of the ball and the two were entangled in a tickling match. They kept squirming and laughing on the floor as one tried to out-tickle the other.

After a couple more minutes, they both found each other lying on the floor with Max hovering close above Liz. Both Max and Liz were breathing heavily and Max was entranced with Liz’s flushed look. Her hair was splayed on the floor, her cheeks were rosy and her ruby lips were parted slightly.

Liz was staring up at Max’s deep eyes, long dark lashes, perfectly sloped nose and sweet lips. She couldn’t help but feel more flustered as she felt Max’s body pressing on her own.

Then Max shifted, his head lowering down, his lips moving closer to hers. Liz saw his eyes staring intensely at her. Just as Max’s lips slightly brushed against her own, Liz pushed Max away, got up and quickly took the ball and scored.

Max was still lying on the floor wondering what the hell just happened. One minute he was about to taste Liz’s lips then he was watching her shoot the ball in the basket the next. He slowly stood up and brushed off his pants. He shook his head slightly to clear his mind off of what could have been.

“Ok, Annie O. Let’s take a break and eat. I’m starving, aren’t you?”

“But then that means you win.” Liz pouted a little.

Max sighed loudly, “Ok, fine. We’ll call it a tie.”

Liz simply shrugged and put the ball down. Max helped her get up on the benches so they could enjoy their pizza.

“I have to admit, this is a far cry from the elegant dinner I was planning.” Max opened the box and the delicious smell of their food made their mouths water.

“Yeah but it’s more fun this way isn’t it?” Liz was placing some napkins near Max’s lap and was opening the soda cans they bought from Tony’s as well.

“True.” Max gave one slice to Liz and got one for himself.

The two started eating while taking glances at one another.

“How did you get to have access to this place anyway?” Liz asked between bites.

“One of the coaches at Wilmington coaches basketball here too so I asked for a favor.”

Liz just nodded at that.

The two continued their dinner until they were both full. Liz and Max cleaned up, throwing the napkins and soda cans away and setting aside the leftovers in the box. After that and putting their shoes back on, the two were still seated at the bleachers, resting a little as they talked.

“So tell me more about Liz Parker.”

“What do you want to know?”

“Hmm…tell me what it was like for you growing up?”

“Uh…it was ok. I was living with my grandma when my mom left to work for your family. My dad just died a few months before that.”

“I’m sorry Liz.” Max gave her a sincere look.

“It’s ok. I’ve learned to deal with it. I had a good childhood, although he died when I was six years old. He was a very loving father. He was always there whenever I needed him. I remember having a nightmare once and I was crying out for him and my mom. Then he came in, wiped away my tears and stayed with me till I woke up the next day.”

“You must miss him a lot.”

Liz nodded her confirmation, unable to speak with the emotion in her voice.

Max moved closer to wipe away a tear that dropped down her cheek.

Liz looked in Max’s eyes and saw the genuineness there. She knew she was seeing a different side of Max, a side that he hasn’t shown anyone in a long time.

Max moved closer and closer, staring straight at Liz. Then both could feel each other’s gentle breaths on their faces.

Liz started closing her eyes, unconsciously leaning closer to Max.

Max leaned closer and brushed his lips with Liz’s.

Feeling Max’s lips on hers, she moved in nearer.

Max started to kiss her. Closing his eyes at the feelings she elicited from him. Max’s mind was reeling, here he was simply kissing the petite girl in front of him and he was experiencing all sorts of things from her: happiness, contentedness, comfort, excitement. How could one kiss invoke these feelings from him?

Liz was getting lightheaded as the kiss deepened. This was her first kiss and she was feeling the butterflies in her stomach. Liz felt her body being awakened, electrified.

Max was holding her tightly to him as Liz wrapped her arms around his neck once more. She was playing with the hairs on the back of his neck and he was feeling the sparks running down his body.

When the need for air grew stronger than the kiss, both teenagers parted and took in deep breaths.

“Wow” Max whispered as he leaned his forehead against Liz’s.

Liz still had her eyes closed, feeling Max’s soft breaths.

Max couldn’t understand what was going on. This was the first time he ever felt anything this intense for anyone. But whatever it is, he liked it. He liked it a lot.

Liz was savoring the taste of Max’s lips on hers, her first kiss.

After gaining back their senses, Max looked at Liz and smiled. He wanted to kiss her again. He knew he was going to get addicted to her.

“Don’t you think we should be heading back home?”

Alarmed, Max wondered what went wrong. “Why? Didn’t you enjoy this?”

“I did. It’s just that…it’s late and I didn’t exactly tell my mom where I was going.”

“What do you mean by exactly?”

“I didn’t tell her that I was going out with you.”

“What did you tell her?”

“That I was at Maria’s.”

“I understand. Let’s go then.” Max held Liz’s hand and walked out to the jeep.

After putting the box of leftover pizza on the back seat, he turned to face Liz.

“Liz, did you uh…did you enjoy the kiss we had?” Max couldn’t believe he was stuttering. ‘What the fuck is going on with you Max? It was just one kiss!’ He thought to himself.

“It was my first.” Liz whispered.

Max was stunned. His mind couldn’t comprehend how someone as beautiful as Liz hasn’t ever kissed a guy before. For that matter, he was stunned that he was using the word ‘beautiful’ on anyone.

But his heart was feeling overjoyed at the fact that he was Liz’s first kiss. For the first time ever, he felt his heart fluttering. He leaned to kiss Liz once more, deepening it when she kissed him back.

“For a beginner, you sure kiss good.” He grinned.

Liz blushed and ducked her head.

Max pushed her chin up with a finger and gave her another sweet peck on the lips. He helped her get settled on the passenger seat before going to the driver’s side. As he got in and fastened his seatbelt, he looked over at Liz and gave her a sweet smile as he started the jeep. He held on to her hand all the way as they started the drive leading back home.


After hanging out at Maria’s, Michael was cruising along Main Street in his big black Expedition SUV. Stopping at an intersection waiting for the traffic light, Michael was surprised to see Max’s black Jeep right in front of him. But what caught his attention the most was the person sitting next to Max.

It was Liz and both her and Max were smiling at each other sweetly. They didn’t even notice him. Michael couldn’t believe his eyes. Maria told him that Liz wouldn’t be able to join them because she and Nancy were going back to their old house to do some clean up duty. But here she was, sitting too close next to Max.

He knows that Liz would never lie about her plans this weekend and it seemed to him that she was enjoying their company. His eyes narrowed and he gripped the steering wheel tighter as he thought that Max must have influenced the poor girl. He was going to make it a point to talk to Liz the next time he sees her.

As the traffic light switched to green, allowing the cars in Max’s lane to go, Michael eyes almost bulged out as Max leaned over to kiss Liz right smack dab on the lips before they turned left in the direction of the Evans’ mansion.

He is definitely going to have a long talk with Liz.


Chapter 15

Parking the Jeep in the garage, Max helped Liz out and took the box of leftovers. They went in the house through the kitchen; both were very quiet but were still holding hands. Max put the box inside the fridge and walked Liz to her room. As he reached for the doorknob, he gave Liz another deep kiss. When they parted, they whispered their goodnights and Liz went into her room.

Liz didn’t realize that her mother was still awake. Nancy was sitting on her bed, quietly reading a book. She was watching Liz as she tried to tiptoe in the room.

“I’m still awake.” Nancy spoke.

“Ohmygod!” Liz yelled, placing a hand on her chest.

Nancy smiled at Liz’s horrified expression. “I didn’t mean to scare you baby. Did you have a nice time?”

“Yeah, I had fun at Maria’s.” She mumbled as she changed into her pajamas.

“I wasn’t asking about Maria.” Nancy gave her daughter a pointed look.

Liz knew she was busted and didn’t have any other choice but to tell the truth. She walked over to sit on her mother’s bed.

“Um, I have something to tell you.” She started. “I wasn’t at Maria’s.”

“I think we already established that.”

“Ok, well, uh…I was…with Max.” Liz softly informed her mom.

“I already know that too.”

Liz was surprised and it clearly showed on her face.

“It’s kind of hard not to notice both of you arriving at the same time.”

“Oh…”

“It’s ok. Max is a nice young man. If you two like each other, I won’t get in the way.”

“Really, Mom?”

“Really.”

Liz lunged forward to give her mom a big hug. She was so happy that her mother was ok with her dating Max. If only the others would think the same way.

Nancy thought that Liz was really all grown up now. She had never heard any news about her dating anyone else when she was with Claudia. But now, here’s Max. She could only hope that if this doesn’t last, Liz wouldn’t get hurt too much. But then again, it could be a love to last a lifetime.

After that tender moment between mother and daughter, Nancy kissed her goodnight and went to sleep. As Liz lay in bed, she reflected on everything that happened to her that night. Her fingertips were stroking her lips lightly, feeling the kiss as she closed her eyes. Then she suddenly bolted upright on her bed. With a startling realization, she knew without a doubt that she has fallen hard for Maxwell Evans.


The next day, Liz was having a dilemma. She didn’t know how to act around Max. They said they’d keep the date a secret for now, but does that mean they should pretend that everything was as it was before? Should they behave as boyfriend and girlfriend? No, Max never said anything about that and Liz didn’t want to presume anything in that department. So in the end, Liz just tried to act like nothing was going on despite her growing feelings for him. However, that proved to be difficult whenever she and Max were alone. He would always try to sneak a kiss from her or hold her close. Liz was too scared about getting caught by Isabel and Tess that she would often push him away. Eventually Max stopped and the day was spent the way it always was, just lounging around the huge house.


Come Monday, the gang met up at the quad before first period as a practice that they’ve grown accustomed to. Maria, Isabel and Alex were all relaying the weekend activities that Liz missed. However, Michael remained silent, watching his friends talk animatedly. It was difficult not to notice it and Maria passed it off as another one of his mood swings. Whenever Michael had these episodes, the best solution was to stay out of his way till he has calmed down.

When the bell signaled the start of the day at Wilmington Academy, everyone rushed to their classes. As Liz picked up her schoolbag, Michael walked up to her.

“Hey, we have to talk later, maybe around lunch. But I don’t want the others to know, ok?”

“Uh, sure. Ok Michael.”

Michael nodded his goodbye and headed to his own class.

Liz started walking to her classroom as well, wondering what that was all about.


When lunchtime came, Michael was waiting at the door to Liz’s class. As soon as Liz got out, he took her arm and they went in an empty classroom.

“What is this about Michael?” Liz asked.

“I saw you Saturday night.”

Liz eyes widened.

“What exactly did you see?” Liz spoke slowly, enunciating every word. She sat down on one of the desks and started breathing heavily.

“You know that on the way home from Maria’s I drive through Main Street, right?”

Liz nodded numbly.

“Well, you wouldn’t believe who I saw right in front of me as I was waiting for the light to turn green at the intersection.”

Liz bit her lower lip.

“I saw Maxwell’s jeep. But more importantly, I saw you sitting right next to him. And you two seemed…very close.”

Liz expression changed from fear to sadness. She knew it was too good to be true. That one night was so perfect and now it’s all over.

“What’s going on between you and Evans? Why did you have to lie about going back to your old house?”

“I guess there’s no point in hiding anymore.” Liz whispered.

Michael folded his arms over his chest, waiting for Liz’s answers.

“We went out on a date.”

“You what?!! Michael yelled. “I thought Maria and Isabel has instilled in you that Max is bad news. No, he’s not just bad news, he’s the worst kind there is.”

“Please don’t tell them Michael.”

“Why shouldn’t I? Are you planning to keep this going?”

Liz looked at Michael forlornly.

“Jesus! For someone who’s a genius, you’re really dumb, you know that!”

“Look, all this time, I’ve heard nothing but bad things about Max. But I’ve never once seen this in him. If he really is as bad as you say he is, don’t you think I wouldn’t have gone out with him?”

“You don’t know him as well as we do. You weren’t here when it all happened!”

“What really did happen Michael? No one ever talks about it so how can I know what it is!”

Michael threw his hands in the air in frustration. “Why can’t you just take our word for it huh? Do you think we want this? Max was our best friend!”

“Then why are you treating him like he has the plague?!”

“Hey, we weren’t the one who pulled away! We weren’t the one who started avoiding us. If you want to know so badly, why don’t you ask your boyfriend? Cause I sure as hell would love to know!”

“He’s not my boyfriend.” Liz said.

“You got that right! You think he’s gonna treat you like his girlfriend? Love you and respect you? Well I got news for you little girl, he won’t!

“You said it so yourself, you don’t know him! So how could you know how he’ll treat me?”

“Cause I’ve seen it Liz. I’ve seen it with my own eyes. If you don’t want to believe whatever we’ve been warning you about Max, that’s fine! But don’t come crawling to us for help when he dumps you which would usually happen after he’s taken what he wanted all along!”

Liz finally broke down and started crying. She wasn’t used to fighting with anyone. And here’s Michael, scolding her for going out with Max and breaking her heart in the process.

Seeing her cry, Michael walked over to Liz and hugged her. “I’m sorry Liz. I just don’t want you to get hurt.”

“I know. But it’s too late Michael, I’m starting to fall.” Liz sniffled.

Michael grimaced and looked straight at Liz. “Alright, maybe Max has changed. And I really hope for your sake that he has. But what if he hasn’t Liz? Have you thought about that?”

“Ever since I got here, Max has been nothing but nice to me. So it was really hard to understand all the things you were telling me. And I know you wouldn’t lie about something like that. But what if he really has changed and he just doesn’t know how to approach you yet? Michael, please believe me, the Max I have come to know has always been kind to me.’

Michael sighed, “Listen, I didn’t really mean what I said before. If he does break your heart, you can come to us anytime and then I’ll go and break his face.

Liz quietly giggled. “Does this mean you’re ok with it?”

Michael brushed away her tears and placed his hands on her shoulders. “I’ll make you a deal. Even though I still don’t like this one bit, I won’t tell the others about you and Max.”

At that statement, Liz’s face immediately lit up.

“I’m not finished. You’ll be the one to tell them.”

Liz doe eyes grew even bigger. “No, Michael, they’ll be so angry with me.”

“Oh you can definitely count on it.”

“Michael!”


Back at the quadrangle, the other three are wondering where Michael and Liz are.

“They don’t have a class together so where could they be?” Maria asked.

“Maybe they both got held up in their classes.” Alex offered.

“Stop wondering, here they come.” Isabel said.

When Michael and Liz got near, it was pretty obvious that Liz had been crying.

“Liz! What happened? Are you alright?” Isabel quickly went to Liz’s side.

“What’s going on Michael?” Maria charged at her boyfriend.

“Nothing Maria. Geez, Liz and I were just talking.”

“Did you do this?” Isabel was glaring at Michael.

“Well, yeah, sort of.” Michael rubbed his eyebrow.

“What?! Michael what is wrong with you?!” Maria slapped Michael’s shoulder.

Isabel was about ready to lunge across the table to get to Michael if only Alex wasn’t holding her back.

“Stop. Michael didn’t do anything. We were just talking.”

“About what?” both Maria and Isabel questioned at the same time.

“That’s what I’d like to know.”

Liz whipped her head around and saw Max standing behind her.

“Max.”

“What the hell did you do to her Guerin?!” Max was staring venomously at Michael.

Michael stood up fast seeing Max at their table. “None of your damn business Evans.”

“What are you doing here Max?” Alex asked.

Max looked over at Alex, “I came for Liz. I saw how she looked and wanted to know what’s going on.”

When Max saw Liz walking out to the quad with Michael, jealousy raged inside him. But when he saw the state she was in, anger boiled to the surface as he walked over to where she was.

“Wow, I didn’t know you had a heart left, Max.” Maria commented.

“Back off.” Max threw the comment at Maria.

“Better watch it Evans, you’re in our territory.” Michael pushed Maria behind him.

“Like I said, I only came for Liz.”

Max started picking up Liz’s things but Maria was faster as she slammed a perfectly manicured hand on Liz’s bag.

“What do you mean you came for Liz? She’s with us if you haven’t noticed.”

“Not anymore.”

“What does that mean?”

Liz felt like she was watching a tennis match as Max and Maria started on each other. But now that the conversation is about to steer into a dangerous path, she just had to step in the ring.

“Max, no.” Liz tried to call his attention by grabbing his arm, but Max wouldn’t budge.

Isabel was silently observing all of the commotion. She was torn between her best friends and Max. No matter what Max has done, he will always be her brother. And like the others, she was hurt and angry too. But despite the cold gap that emerged between them, she knew that this was going to happen soon. She knew that someday, all of them would once again come face to face with Max. Her only wish was that it would be on good terms, not like this.

Liz’s silent plea cut through the haze of Max’s anger. He quietly picked up her things but Maria wouldn’t let go of Liz’s bag.

“Let go.” Max ordered Maria with a hint of annoyance in his tone.

“No, not until you tell me what you meant by that.”

Max sneered, “Wouldn’t you like to know.”

“Cut the crap Max!”

“Then let go Blondie!”

“NO!” Maria screamed.

“Fine, you want to know, you really want to know!” Max was yelling at Maria’s face.

Michael was trying to calm Maria down but he knew that this was long overdue between the two of them so he just stood back. Alex and Isabel were trying to shoo the other students away who were trying to see what the commotion was. And Liz kept tugging at Max’s arm, wordlessly begging him to let her handle this.

“Why don’t you stop beating around the bush and just spill already!”

Max stepped back and calmly spoke. “Liz belongs with me now.”


Chapter 16

Maria gasped loudly. Alex and Isabel’s jaws dropped open. Michael winced, knowing what was to come. And Liz was shocked. Although she knows that she has fallen for Max, she doesn’t know what he feels for her. And after asking him to keep their dating a secret, everyone now knows with a single statement from Max.

As Maria composed herself, she shook her head no. “No, that’s impossible. You are such a liar!”

“Why don’t you ask her where she was last Saturday?” Max continued.

“She was at their old house.” Maria confidently answered.

Max leered at her, “Are you sure about that?”

“Why don’t you just enlighten us since you’re so smug about it?”

“She was with me.”

“Max, stop.” Liz kept tugging on Max’s arm.

“We were out on a date Saturday night.”

Maria looks at Liz, “Is this true?”

Liz nibbles on her lower lip, fearing her friends’ reactions. Slowly, she nods her answer.

“Liz!” Maria exclaimed.

“Why? Liz…I…I don’t understand….I…” Isabel didn’t know what to say. She has warned Liz time and time again, she even made sure that Liz wouldn’t have a chance to be alone with Max. And yet all of that hard work failed.

“I’m sorry I lied to you guys. I didn’t want to but I knew you wouldn’t approve. I’m so sorry.” Liz said softly, tears starting to fall the second time today.

Maria once more rounded on Max. “This is your doing isn’t it? You influenced a sweet innocent girl. God, Max, when are you ever gonna stop?!”

“No, Maria, he didn’t –” Liz tried to explain but Max interrupted her.

“I did not influence her to lie to any of you. It’s quite obvious that you were the one who pushed her to do it!”

“We pushed her?! She wouldn’t have to lie if you never asked her out in the first place! Besides we were only telling her the truth of how cruel you really are. You’ve become a player and done nothing but collect girlfriends. Fuck ‘em and dump ‘em, isn’t that your M.O.? Just leave Liz alone! You’ve got a pack of sluts always drooling after you, why don’t you go pick one of them?”

“Don’t you think that should be Liz’s decision? I thought you considered her a friend, not a puppet.”

Maria scoffed, “You prick!”

Max just leered, “Is that the best you can come up with?”

“No, I also think you’re an asshole, a no-good son of a bitch who fucked up everything! What happened huh, Max? What made you change so much into such a jerk? You think you’re better than all of us? Well, I got news for you, you’re not! You are nothing! I wish I never even met you because I couldn’t imagine I would associate myself with someone like you!”

“Well, you got your wish then, didn’t you.” Max said calmly, then turning to Liz, “Do you want to stay here?”

“Give me a few minutes.” Liz spoke.

Max nodded and left the table, glaring at the crowd of students who watched the exchange between the most popular kids in Wilmington.

“Why did you do that?” Liz asked them, getting angry at the turn of events.

“Liz, I can’t believe you went out with him after all the warnings we gave you.” Maria told her.

“I’m gonna tell you what I told Michael and that is the Max I know is absolutely different from the one you’ve been telling me about. He’s very kind and sweet and unless I see otherwise, I’m going to keep dating him. I really like him and if you can’t trust him, then trust me. I can take care of myself. I don’t want to sound ungrateful and I really appreciate everything you’ve done for me. I asked you once to give him a chance. I did, and although I don’t know him as long as you guys have, I consider myself lucky to count him as one of my friends. If you can’t accept this, I’ll understand. I just hope I won’t lose you over this.”

Alex put his arms around her shoulders and squeezed her tight. “Don’t worry Liz, you won’t. Just know that if anything happens, we’ll be here, right guys?”

Maria and Isabel nodded.

“You already know what I’ll say.” Michael spoke.

“Thank you.” Liz hugged each one and started walking away from the table.

“Liz, wait!” Isabel ran up to her.

“I’m sorry. I know how it feels to get caught in the middle. I’m really sorry for what happened. Max really is a great guy, only if you don’t count the attitude he’s shown us these past couple of years. But maybe you’ll be the one who’d be able to change him back. If there is anyone I would want my brother to be with, it’ll be you. And like what Alex said, if it doesn’t work out, we’ll be here to support you.” Isabel smiled and gave Liz a hug.

“Thanks Isabel. You don’t know how much that means to me.” Liz returned the smile and hug.

When the two girls let go, Isabel saw Max watching them, obviously waiting for Liz.

“I think you better go.” Isabel nodded towards Max.

“We’ll talk later ok? I mean just because we’re dating doesn’t mean I can’t hang out with you guys anymore.” Liz hiked her bag up her shoulder and started going in Max’s direction. “See you later Isabel. Please tell Maria I’ll call her later and thank everyone again for me.”

“Will do.” Isabel waved and then went back to her friends.


As Liz reached Max, they just smiled at each other but remained silent all through out lunch. When the bell rang, Max walked Liz to her next class but neither has yet said a single word. Upon reaching the door, Max broke the silence.

“Do you want to get a ride home with me later?”

“Ok.” Liz nodded and held the door handle.

Just as Max had taken a couple of steps to the other end of the hall, Liz touched his arm. Max turned to face Liz.

“I think we need to talk. Is it ok if we do that on the way back to your house?”

“Sure.” Max said and both went to their respective classrooms.


As the bell rang signaling the end of the day, Max headed to the parking lot to wait for Liz. But before he got there, he ran into some distraction.

“Max!” Pam called out.

Max groaned loudly, not the least bit worried that Pam might hear. “What do you want now Pam?”

“I just want to know what you’re up to Max.”

“Why?”

“Because I think you’re biting off more than you can chew this time.”

“Spare me the bullshit already. What is this about?” Max folded his arms across his chest, clearly indicating that he was getting pissed.

“What are you doing with Liz Parker? I mean there are others out there, why her?”

“If you’re referring to yourself, been there, done that. You know I don’t go for seconds.”

“Fuck you Max.” Pam glared.

“You did. And to be honest, it wasn’t really that good.”

Pam tried to slap Max but he grabbed her wrist before her palm ever touched his face.

“Don’t you even dare.” Max towered over Pam.

Pam wrenched her hand away and rubbed her wrist, trying to ease the pain from Max’s grip.

“I’m just worried about what you’re going to do to her. Liz is different. Why her when there are other sluts who’d willingly kiss the ground you walk on. I’m not saying I’m her fan. She’s just been through too much to receive your shit.”

“Are we growing a conscience here?”

“Max, I’m serious. Not her ok? Go find someone else to play with.” Pam pleaded.

“What’s so special about Liz that’s got everyone looking out for her? She’s big enough to handle herself, she doesn’t need a bunch of babysitters.”

“Max, please.”

There was a slight pause as the two stared at each other.

“I don’t know what my plans are yet ok? Are you happy now?”

“Not quite. Just…I don’t know…. If you’re planning to just toy with her, don’t ok? Drop her once the thought enters your mind. It’s better for her to get hurt that way than fooling her to believe that you care for her.

“What makes you think I don’t?” Max muttered as he pushed past Pam and headed to the parking lot where Liz was already waiting by his Jeep.


Liz was wondering what was keeping Max. She wanted to get out of there fast. A lot of the other students were already beginning to stare and whisper whenever she was around. She didn’t like being the center of attention that way and having experienced it again brought back painful memories.

When she went back to school after taking a few days off after her father’s death, everyone had sympathetic looks on their faces and she hated it. They didn’t know what she was going through and the students and teachers pitied her. They stared and talked about her as if she weren’t there. It was a feeling that she never wanted to go through again. That made her promise to herself that she would do everything to take care of herself and her mother when she becomes a grownup.

After the lunch incident, the stares and gossiping made her feel like she was 6 years old again back in her old school. And no matter how hard she tried to ignore them, it was proving to be a very difficult task. She wished Max would get there soon, she wanted to leave ever since the bell rang.

When she saw Max walking rapidly towards her, she placed a huge grin on her face. But when she saw his sour mood, it quickly faded.

“What happened?” Liz asked her concern clearly on her face.

“Nothing, get in so we can leave.” Max said monotonously.

Liz silently got in the jeep, sitting on the passenger seat, fastening her seatbelt as Max started the engine.

On the way home, Max kept looking over at Liz.

“What?” Liz asked.

“Nothing.”

“What’s wrong Max?”

“Are you angry…about what happened during lunch?”

“A little.” Liz said softly.

“I’m sorry about that. I didn’t think it would get that heated.”

“I’m not really angry, just irritated. I mean, why can’t you just sit down and talk and resolve this thing already. Don’t you think it has gone on for too long?”

“It’s not that simple.”

“Why?”

“I can’t say. It’s complicated.”

“Fine.”

Max turned to look at Liz once more.

“Maybe it will get resolved eventually. I don’t know…it’s just…”

“Complicated.”

“Yeah.”

Silence ensued between them for several minutes.

“What did you mean by what you said back there?” Liz inquired, her fingers laced together.

“I said a lot of things.”

“Well, the part about, um…me belonging with you.” Liz whispered.

“Oh, that…uh…I was trying to throw Maria off my back.”

“Oh, ok.” Liz lowered her head. Somehow she hoped that Max meant that they’re in a relationship now.

Suddenly, the jeep swerved to the side of the road making Liz shriek.

“Max!”

The jeep stopped suddenly and Max took Liz’s hand.

“Sorry about that.” He smiled sheepishly for just a moment before replacing it with another brooding look. “I’m gonna be honest with you Liz. When I said that, I don’t really know why I said it or why it even entered my mind. But the thing is, it’s there, I can’t deny it. I don’t know where this is headed and we’re still getting to know each other. I do want to keep dating you and maybe something more will come out of it, but right now, I’m not sure of that and I don’t want to lead you on.” Max looked at Liz judging her reaction.

Liz nodded solemnly, “I understand.”

“Liz…”

“I understand Max, really I do.” Liz tried to give him one of her best smiles.

“Listen to me, I’m not saying that there totally won’t be anything that will develop between us. Who knows? We’ve only been on one date. Maybe…we’ll know with a few more.” Max caressed her cheek with the back of his hand and pulled her face close, brushing his lips against his.

Liz responded, deepening the kiss. Her heart could literally burst with joy. She and Max are going to keep dating. She wished that maybe something more will come out of it. She wished that maybe this could develop into a romantic relationship. As Liz kept kissing Max, she sent a silent prayer to make her wishes come true.


Chapter 17

Days turned into weeks, weeks turned into months. Max and Liz relationship became stronger as they got closer. Liz tried to juggle her time between her schoolwork, friends, and Max. As soon as she gets off from school, she tackles her homework immediately. Then she’d check if Isabel would need help. If she did, Liz would stay for a few hours but if not, she’d go to Max and work on their project. Some weekends are spent with the gang but most often than not, Max occupies her free time. Liz has been working herself over this and running herself haggard. Max would tell her to slow down but she wouldn’t hear it. The main reason is that she didn’t want her friends to think that Max is pulling her away from them. But as Max demands more and more of her time, that is exactly what has been happening without her even knowing it.


Maria was the first to notice when Liz started spending less time with them and more with Max. Since she experienced going through the same thing with Max, she feared that the same thing would happen with Liz. Maria did everything to have Liz spend more time with them but Max had a stronger hold on her friend. And despite her feelings of loathing towards her cousin Sean, she even went as far as enlisting his help to watch over Liz when she’s with Max.


Isabel on the other hand, was torn between siding with Maria and being happy for Liz. The others still have a fierce sense of protectiveness for Liz over what lies ahead of her. They still had very strong objections towards Max but would try to accept the way things are for Liz’s sake. Although she was apprehensive of this budding relationship between her brother and her friend, deep down she was elated with it. She knew how kind Liz is and maybe she could be the key to bringing Max back to his old self.


Alex has not said much regarding everything ever since Max pulled away from them. He thought that Max has been going through something that was much deeper than any of them could ever imagine for him to close himself off to everyone and start hanging out with people who were too different from the real Max Evans. And now with Liz in the picture, he can’t really tell if it’s a good thing or a bad thing due to the events that have happened ever since this started. But as long as Max does not hurt Liz, then he is in favor of this new relationship between the two.


Michael was the one who like Maria, was not ecstatic when he learned of Max and Liz’s new friendship. However, like everyone else in their gang, they would be happy for Liz, or at least pretend to be. He did not like it one bit but he had no choice in the matter. Liz was right when she said that she could take care of herself. She has gone through so much and is still standing strong. He only hoped that when… no, if the time comes that Max proves to be the asshole that he is, Liz would be able to endure it. But no matter what, he would be the first in line to beat up Max if he does hurt Liz in any way. Well, maybe second because he is sure as hell that Maria would stop at nothing to get to their former best friend.


And lastly, there’s Max. His thoughts about Liz were purely that, about Liz. He still doesn’t know what he’s doing with her. But after that fight with Maria and everyone else, he wanted to know more about Liz and what makes her the way she is. When he first saw her, he knew that it was just for the game. Seeing Liz with his old friends made it much more interesting. The minute she was brought into their group, she was to be untouched. However, Max had other plans. Winning her would be the ultimate goal. But what Pam said stuck with him, Liz has gone through too much for him to do this to her. What were his plans really? He would have her fall for him, maybe they would have sex, and then what? He knew that Isabel and the rest would kill him if he ever hurt even just a strand of Liz’s hair but he still went on to befriending her. And now he didn’t even know what he was feeling for her. He had his suspicions that Liz is beginning to think of him more than just dating buddies and those thoughts were slightly backed up with their conversation in the jeep. But what did he mean about Liz belonging to him? Did he say that to really throw Maria off his back or did he mean it subconsciously? Whatever it was, he was going to go through with this, to see where this would take him. He had to admit, he was having fun being with Liz, and he really is getting addicted to the girl’s kisses. He could only hope that whatever this is going to be, that it wouldn’t bite him in the ass in the end.


Liz was busy helping out in the garden. She was watering some of the plants with a hose as she brought back the event of yesterday in her mind. She was so giddy and she has never felt that before. Butterflies were swimming in her stomach and she couldn’t contain her smile.

Although she was hugely embarrassed at first, Max managed to convince Liz to join him in the pool. Since the bikini Maria gave her was the only swimsuit she has, she wore that which Max was thankful for. Seeing her picture in that white bikini was awesome but seeing her in the flesh left him speechless. Max could feel his insides stirring as Liz slowly got in the warm water. He knew he was sporting a huge grin as he openly appreciated Liz’s body. Liz was at first surprised when she saw Max’s body. He was built like a god, not too lean and not too muscular. He was just right. At the thought that Max might have caught her admiring his perfect physique, she quickly blushed and smiled back.

Max took her to one corner where the plants and man-made waterfall were. As they reached a spot underneath the waterfall, concealing them from view, Max quickly kissed Liz so passionately. When the need for air became stronger than the need to kiss, the two separated panting heavily. Max couldn’t get enough, his hands roamed her soft smooth skin, touching her bare back. Both of them were lost in a daze. Max was nibbling the silky skin on Liz’s neck, hugging her tighter and tighter, crushing her to him. Liz mind was rapidly clouding over as she tilted her head for Max. She could feel Max’s smooth skin burning her as his chiseled chest pressed onto her own. Max’s touches were driving her crazy.

Max turned her face once more to him as he met her lips with his. He kissed her deeply, his tongue requesting access into her mouth. Liz slowly gave in and their tongues dueled wildly. Max was so intoxicated of her taste, he couldn’t even imagine what it would be like if they went on further. When that thought entered his mind, he felt his lower body tighten. He was quickly getting swallowed into a sexual haze and he couldn’t stop. Max was getting a hard on fast.

Liz was responding to Max’s kisses, allowing him entrance into the deep recesses of her small mouth. She was making soft whimpers urging Max on. She was pushing her body onto him, if only she could get under his skin. She was starting to play with the hair on his nape which Max loved. When she felt his hard flesh touching her thighs, she knew she had to stop but her heart wouldn’t let her. With every ounce of control, she carefully pulled away from Max.

Gasping for air, she quickly apologized. “I’m sorry Max…it’s just…we’re moving too fast.”

Max touched his forehead to hers, “I know…I’m sorry too…I just couldn’t help it.”

Both of them smiled at each other. Then being in a playful mood, Liz jumped up slightly and placing her hands on top of Max’s head, she dunked him underwater.

Laughing, she quickly swam away. Max didn’t surface and swam underwater to get to Liz. When she couldn’t find him, she started to worry.

“Max?” Liz kept turning looking around for him.

“Max.” Liz kept treading water, looking for him everywhere in the Evans’ massive pool.

“Max!” Liz started panicking. Then she felt a hold on her ankle and she was pulled under, making her sink. Once underwater, Max moved in to kiss her. They kissed in the deep end of the pool for some time and when their lungs once more screamed for air, they broke the surface with Max holding on to Liz’s waist and Liz’s arms wrapped around Max’s neck. They were smiling at each other.

When Max looked at Liz, her deep brown eyes were threatening to engulf him. He couldn’t remember being this happy even when he was still with his old friends. And now, this small wisp of a girl who suddenly came into his life was making him feel things that he never felt before.

He kissed her gently, “Be mine Liz.”

Liz giggled, “I thought I already belonged with you.”

“Not just like that. I want you to be mine. Mine and no one else’s.” Max seriously spoke.

“Max?” Liz was confused.

“Say you’ll be my girlfriend. Say you’ll be mine.”

Liz’s smile slowly spread on her lips and her face. She felt her joy all the way down to her toes.

“As long as you’ll be my boyfriend, mine and no one else’s.”

“Whatever you want Liz. Just tell me, it’s yours.”

“That’s what I want. I don’t want you to be with anyone else but me. Promise me?”

“I promise.” Then Max kissed her deeply, relishing in the feeling of tasting Liz and holding her in his arms.



Liz thoughts were broken when Max sneaked up behind her and suddenly wrapped his arms around her body. Liz’s reflexes were quick to react and turned the hose on her assailant getting Max drenched down to his clothes and shoes.

“Oh my goodness, Max I’m so sorry!”

Max chuckled, “It’s ok. I just have to get you back for that.” And Max quickly pulled Liz to him, embracing her from behind and getting her wet along with him in the process.

“What were you thinking about?” Max asked as he moved his mouth near her ear to whisper.

“Nothing.” Liz blushed.

“Then why are you blushing?”

“Am I?”

“Yes you are. And I think my girlfriend looks so cute when she blushes.” Max grinned.

Liz turned around in his arms and kissed him. “I love hearing you say that.”

“I love saying it…almost as much as I love seeing you blush.”

Liz blushed again. “Stop it.”

Max laughed out loud just as Diane heard him and was actually surprised by it. It’s been a long time since she heard Max laugh and she was delighted to hear it coming from her only son. She saw Max running around the garden teasing and laughing with Liz. The instant she met Liz, she knew there was something about the young girl. And if this is the effect that Nancy’s daughter would have on her son, she would do anything to make them stay here forever. She only hoped that this friendship will last. But what Diane didn’t know is they’re already beyond that.

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kay_b
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Post by kay_b » Fri Feb 13, 2004 8:33 pm

Chapter 18

Weeks passed as the two had openly declared to their respective groups that they were already in a boyfriend/girlfriend relationship. There was an eruption when Liz told the gang, but actually it was just Maria and Michael yelling. Liz told them once more that it was her life and her decision. Isabel and Alex stayed silent and just gave her their support and wished that what she and Max have is real. The four told Liz that they just didn’t want to see her get hurt since they have known Max for a long time and have seen his erroneous ways. If only Max was the way he was before, Liz wouldn’t hear a single peep out of them against this whole thing, but they would even encourage it.

Over at Max’s table, no one reacted much except for Sean and Pam but the two kept their mouths shut, fearing Max’s anger if they ever voice out their objections. It’s not that they didn’t like Liz for Max, but they knew how Max was with girls. They were the ones he was hanging out with when his drastic attitude change started. They saw how many girls Max had left weeping. They knew how many sluts he has been with. And they knew that this stunt with Liz might result to the same thing. Although they were considered an asshole and a bitch, they knew when to draw the line. And this was definitely it…if only Max could see that too.


On clear sunny day, Liz and Nancy were supposed to go to their old house to do some cleaning. Max insisted that he would drive the two of them there. But at the last minute, Diane had some chores for Nancy as she was throwing one of her dinner parties.

Nancy told Liz that they would just go the next weekend but Max informed them that he could help Liz. At first, Nancy was adamant against Max cleaning their house, but after a long time of convincing and telling her that it would be good for him to learn to do some housekeeping in the future, Max had finally won.

Diane also enlisted the help of Tess and Isabel so the two girls had no idea about Max and Liz’s day out. Soon, the two were in Max’s jeep heading out to Claudia’s house.

Once they got there, Liz jumped out and quickly went into the house. She had a lot of good memories and she looked and touched all her old things. Max was standing in the doorway, watching how happy his girlfriend was. This was Liz’s childhood home, where she grew up. When she saw max watching her, she blushed and took his hand. She gave him a brief tour of her house since it was extremely small compared to the Evans mansion.

She showed him the living room, dining room/kitchen, her mother’s room and very solemnly, she showed him her grandma’s room too. Max noticed how sad Liz had become and when he looked at her face, he saw a lone tear rolling down her cheek.

“Shh, it’s ok Liz, I’m here.” Max kissed the tear away and hugged her tightly.

“I’m sorry…I just miss her so much.” She sniffled.

“I understand, it’s ok to miss her especially since you grew up staying with her here. I won’t pretend to know what you’re going through because I don’t. If anything happened to my grandparents, I’m sure I would be devastated too.” And then, Max thought of changing the topic to bring Liz out of her mood. “C’mon, how about we get started.”

Liz nodded and the two went about sweeping and dusting the entire house. One room that Liz wasn’t able to show Max was her own. Upon reaching her bedroom door, Liz opened it carefully. She walked slowly into her room, lightly touching her things, smiling wistfully. Wave after wave of memories flooded her brain.

Max kept watching her, observing how she was behaving in her room. It was like she was in her own world; brushing her fingers across some of her things, lost in her thoughts, a small smile spread across her face.

When Liz got to her bed, she laid back unceremoniously, savoring the feel of her cool sheets and soft pillows. She cuddled and made herself comfortable, completely forgetting that Max was in the same room.

When Liz threw herself on her bed, Max tried to hold in his laughter at how Liz was acting like a little girl who was awed by the toys in FAO Schwartz. When she closed her eyes, Max couldn’t help but think of how sweet and innocent she looked. He walked to the side of the bed and sat down.

Feeling the bed shift, she opened her eyes. Liz looked directly in Max’s eyes as he brushed the back of his hand on her face. She held his hand and pressed her cheek to it.

Max couldn’t help what he was feeling, his heart was about to explode. He bent down and kissed Liz hard. Liz responded immediately, opening her mouth to give access to Max’s tongue. Their tongues dueled, savoring each other’s tastes.

They didn’t even realize it when Max had already laid himself on top of Liz. They were so lost in their kisses and touches. Soon, Max was pulling up Liz’s top. Liz sat up a little and allowed Max to take off her shirt, breaking their kiss. Once Max dropped her shirt on the floor, they went back to devouring each other’s lips.

Max’s hands were quickly roaming over the expanse of Liz’s skin and Liz’s hands weren’t idle too. She reached under his shirt, feeling his rippled abs. Max’s stomach clenched when he felt Liz’s warm palms and his skin, her fingers inching upward, making his shirt ride up. He quickly broke the kiss once more to take off his own shirt, dropping it next to Liz’s.

Once the two were already half naked, they proceed to kiss again. Max leaned down once more as Liz lied down back on her bed. Things were heating up so fast and neither of them could stop it.

Max moved from Liz’s mouth down to her neck sucking on her sweet skin. Liz’s breathing was rapidly getting heavier. Her hands traveled up his back, as she held on to him, tilting her head back to give Max more access to her.

Max couldn’t get enough. He started fumbling with the clasp on Liz’s bra. Liz arched her back off the bed to allow him to take it off her. Once he unclasped it, he gently pulled the straps off her shoulders. He moved back a little to admire Liz’s body. When he removed her bra, Liz instinctively covered her breasts with her arms, crossing them over her chest.

Max dropped her bra and slowly moved Liz’s arms to her side. Liz stared blushing and Max kissed her fully on the lips. When he pulled back, she was about to cover herself again.

“Don’t. Let me adore you.”

Liz gave him a half smile and stopped her movements. Max eyes were focused on her upper half.

Upon Max’s intent stare, she was getting embarrassed. Liz nibbled on her lower lip.

Max lovingly stroked her face. “Don’t be embarrassed. Do you know how beautiful you are?”

“I’m not. I’ve got small breasts.”

Max chuckled lightly, “I think they’re perfect.” Then he moved down to kiss her breasts.

Liz took in a sharp intake of breath as she felt Max’s warm lips on her breasts. She looked down to see Max gently nipping at her soft flesh.

Max looked up and without breaking eye contact, he gently started sucking on Liz’s nipple.

“Ooohh…” Liz let out a shuddering breath.

“It’s ok. Just tell me when you wanna stop and I will. We won’t do something you don’t want to.” Max assured her.

“I…I don’t… I don’t want to stop.” She whispered.

Max smiled and moved up to kiss her. But soon his mouth moved to her other breast to give it the same affection as the other one. Max also sucked on her nipple and Liz bit her lower lip, pushing her chest closer into Max’s mouth.

Liz started gripping the sheets as Max continued his actions. When he saw that Liz was enjoying this, he moved to kiss her belly. Liz looked at him, noticing where he was headed, gasping for air.

“Just tell me when you want to stop.” Max told her but he was already unbuttoning her jeans.

“Keep going.” Liz said with a raspy voice.

Max smiled and unzipped her jeans. He tenderly slid her jeans down to her ankles. Then he got off the bed to pull them off her. Standing to look over his girlfriend’s petite body, he couldn’t help but think of how wonderful it would be to see and feel all of her. Max’s eyes stayed on her white lace panties for a short while.

Liz blushed once more which didn’t escape Max’s notice. He simply smiled and moved to lie on top of her. He kissed her lips so passionately. Liz started to feel Max’s erection through his jeans. Her hands moved towards his waist and started to fumble with the button of his pants.

“Liz?”

“Help me.”

Max nodded and helped her take off his jeans, leaving him in just his black boxers.

This time, he moved slowly on top of her. His hard on was pressing on her stomach. Max kept kissing her, only stopping when they were in dire need of air. Max soon felt Liz’s hands on the waistband of his boxers. He quickly held her hands, stopping their motions.

“Liz, do you know what you’re doing?”

Liz could only nod, her mind was filled with a sexual haze and she wanted no one else but Max.

“Liz, you have to know, if we do this, there’s no going back.” Max softly spoke.

“I know, and I don’t plan to.” Liz whispered.

Max gave her another longing kiss, deepening it as he pulled down her panties. Liz raised her hips up to help him and kicked off her underwear from her ankles. Max, then, pulled off his own underwear, dropping his boxers on the floor next to her panties.

Max pulled back and inhaled deeply, relishing in seeing Liz in all her beauty. Liz blushed knowing that Max is staring at her intently.

“I can’t tell you enough how mesmerizing you are to me.” Max kissed her once more, moving downwards, towards her mound.

When Liz noticed this, it was like a knife cut through the fog she was in. ‘Was she ready for this?’

“Max, no.”

Max stopped kissing her belly. “What?”

“It’s just…it’s….”

“Just tell me sweetheart.”

“It’s…embarrassing.”

“What is?”

“This. What you’re going to do.”

Max smirked, “And what is it that I’m going to do?”

“Max.” Liz whined.

“I…thought…you…wanted…this.” Max said between kisses.

Liz took in a shuddering breath, “Yes…I do.”

“Then just relax and let me bring you to ecstasy.”

Max continued to kiss Liz, lowering and positioning himself between her legs as he spread them apart. Liz started blushing. Max looked up to her face to see her reaction and smiled. Seeing her flushed, he leaned forward to kiss her folds.

Liz gasped at the contact and started panting. Max continued peppering her with kisses then started to lick her inner folds. Liz bucked up at the sudden contact and started to squirm. Max kept lapping at her with his tongue, enjoying the responses Liz gave him. She continued to squirm and breathe heavily. She also started to feel something warm and tingly at the pit of her stomach, feeling her skin burning.

“Max…what’s…happening…to me?” She whispered.

“Just feel it, Liz. Just let it happen.”

Max knew she was about to cum. So very gently, he inserted a finger in Liz’s vagina. Liz tensed when she felt it and Max softly spoke to her, his deep and husky voice, soothing her.

Liz started bucking harder, writhing on the bed, Max inserted another finger. Gently pushing and pulling, in and out, going deeper, coaxing Liz to orgasm.

“Aah, Max…what are…you…doing?”

“Getting you ready baby.” Max was starting to pant after Liz. He could smell the sweet scent of her sex enveloping him and he was fighting hard to control his own hormones. His main goal right now is to pleasure Liz.

“That’s it baby, just feel it.” Max’s fingers were already soaked due to Liz’s wetness. He quickened the pace as his fingers went in and out.

Liz was gripping the sheets, she started to see colors all around her, her eyes were closed tight. “Max.” Liz sobbed.

“Just let go Liz.”

“MAX!!!!!” Liz screamed as her first orgasm ripped through her entire body.

Max watched Liz as she climaxed. He had never seen anyone look so beautiful as she did now.


When Liz got down from her high, her breathing was labored. She was totally spent and they haven’t even gone that far yet.

“Wow”, was all she could say.

Max smiled at her but it was obvious that he was having some discomfort.

“Thank you Max.” Liz looked at him slyly. “Now, let me do it to you.” Liz rolled them over so she was on top.

She straddled Max’s hips and his painful erection only increased due to the movement and feeling Liz’s sexual juices on his stomach as she lowered herself slowly.

The wait is going to kill him, he was sure of it. Liz started kissing his chest, rubbing his arms lovingly. Then she sucked his nipples.

Max groaned and squirmed.

Liz moved lower, trailing soft fluttering kisses to his stomach, lower belly, then to his penis. Liz’s eyes widened at his size, he was huge. ‘How will he fit in her?’

She could see that Max was uneasy and wanted to help his release. She gently held his hard on in her soft, warm hands.

“Liz…” Max hissed.

Liz smiled coyly. She could see that some pre-cum leaked out from the tip. She leaned down to lick it and Max fiercely bucked up. She now knew that he was at her mercy.

Very slowly she started licking him and Max started writhing. Who would have thought that Liz would transform into such a vixen?

After a couple of minutes of good licking, Liz slowly put Max’s cock in her mouth, inch by inch. Now it was Max’s turn to grip the sheets. Liz was new at this and she could only put up to ¾ of Max’s length. Then she started a slow pace.

Liz’s head started going up and down. Her hot mouth was engulfing his dick and he felt like he was in heaven. Max kept wetting his lips, closing his eyes tight and tilting his head further onto her pillow. He began to quicken the pace by bucking his hips up a little faster. Soon enough Liz’s head was bobbing up and down, sucking him hard and fast, holding on to his thighs and massaging them.

Liz’s ministrations were driving him insane. He couldn’t hold himself any longer. He didn’t want to shock Liz by cumming in her mouth but if she didn’t stop soon, there would be no other choice.

“Liz…I’m…about to…” Max panted.

Liz just kept going. And then she touched his balls.

“Aaaaahh…Lizzz…” Max leaned up a little and watched his girlfriend swallow his load, her eyes locked with his.

Liz kept swallowing his cum. Though she has never done this before, she wanted to bring Max the pleasure that he brought her.

When the last drop shot down Liz’s throat, Max slumped back on the bed. Liz wiped her mouth with the back of her hand. Max reached for her and brought her up to him, kissing her ferociously.

“That was awesome.” Max gasped.

“Yeah…” Liz blushed suddenly. “I’ve never done that before.” She whispered.

“You’ve got to be kidding me.” Max was surprised.

Liz shook her head no.

“Then thank you baby. That was the best.”

Liz didn’t know whether to take that as a compliment or whatever else. She knew he had girlfriends before she even came here but that still hurt a little.


They lay in bed naked for a few more minutes and Max was caressing Liz’s soft skin. Soon, he was ready for more. He rolled on top of Liz and resumed another kissing session. Liz was more than happy to respond. After a few minutes of passionate kisses and heated touches, both teenagers were craving for a deeper connection.

Max’s penis was hard once more and Liz’s moans weren’t helping. He wanted her, right here, right now, more than anything else in the entire world.

“Liz…I can’t stop.” Max said between kisses.

“Neither can I.”

At that, Max slightly pulled back to look at Liz’s eyes. When he saw that she was as sure as he was, he had to ask, just to hear her say it.

“Are you sure about this? I told you if—“ Max started.

“I’m sure.” Liz said confidently.

Max went over the side of the bed and pulled out his wallet from the back pocket of his jeans. He fumbled with it a little before pulling out a condom. He tore through it quickly and encased his shaft. Then he positioned himself once more between Liz’s milky thighs.

Slowly he entered her, inch by inch. Although he was in pain with need and desire, he wanted to take his time, to savor the bliss he knew he would have.

Liz winced upon his entrance, but Max dismissed it. Her walls were being stretched as Max sheathed himself in her inner folds. A little more than halfway through, Max reached her barrier.

He was surprised, no, shocked was more like it. It never occurred to him for one minute that Liz is a virgin. He hasn’t had sex with anyone who was a virgin before. Yes, he may have had his share of girls but not one of them was a first-timer. When he felt her maidenhood, he stopped.

“Liz, why didn’t you tell me?”

“You didn’t ask.”

“We can stop right now.”

“No! I want this Max, and I know you do too. I can feel it.” Liz smiled so enchantingly.

Max simply kissed her with his eyes open as he plunged through her hymen. Liz winced and bit her lip as tears fell from her eyes. Max kissed them away lovingly. Then looking at the brown haired, doe-eyed petite girl beneath him, he realized that Liz has given him the greatest gift she could ever give him. Herself.

“Max…please.” Liz bucked her hips up.

Max kept staring at her as he started pushing in and pulling out. He began to move inside her, feeling her pussy walls enclosing his cock. As their pace began to accelerate, their eyes locked. At that moment, Max felt something stir, not in his loins but deep in his heart.

He was starting to fall.

Liz clung to his neck and played with the hair on his nape. Max continued holding her, caressing her back, her neck, her face. When he couldn’t take it much longer, he began to pound her. Liz whimpers urged him on and on. She knew she was close once more.

“Max…I’m…it’s happening again.”

“Yes baby…I know.”

“Max…” Liz writhed.

“Liz…”

“Oh…oh my…oh god…MAAXXX!!!!!!!” Liz arched her back and came hard.

When Max felt Liz’s hot cum drowning his penis, he came too.

“Oh yes… yeah…aaahh… LIZZZ!!!!!!!!!”


After their mutual orgasm, Max collapsed on top of Liz. Though he was afraid that he was squashing her, he couldn’t roll off her. He was too exhausted from their shared climax.

When a minute passed, he started to move to her side. However, Liz held him to her tight.

“Don’t.”

“I’m crushing you with my weight.”

“Uh uh.” Liz shook her head.

“I’m too heavy.”

“No…you’re warm.” Liz embraced him even tighter.

Max sweetly kissed her forehead and rolled off her, effectively pulling himself out. He stood up and went into the bathroom.

Liz was too tired to protest and simply lay there and waited.

When Max came back, Liz noticed that he no longer had the condom on. She raised an eyebrow to question him while directly looking at his dick.

“I cleaned up a little.” He answered.

Liz began to get off the bed. When she was about to walk in the direction of the door, Max held her tight at the waist. He pulled off the quilt that was covering the bed and saw that it had some of Liz’s blood and juices.

Liz blushed when she saw what he was looking at. Throwing it in the hamper, Max pulled Liz on the bed with him. He knew Liz was worn-out judging from her yawns. He asked her where he could get another blanket and Liz plainly pointed to her drawer. When he finally pulled out the right one, he took a clean blanket and covered Liz all the way above her breasts. Then he slid under them to lay beside her. He spooned Liz with her buttocks and back pressed against his front.

Even though he wanted to have another round with her, he knew he shouldn’t. He kissed her shoulder and cuddled close to her wanting to feel her warm smooth skin.

Liz was glowing inside and though she wanted to stay awake, she couldn’t no matter how hard she tried. Soon she was asleep and she turned to face Max and curl against him.

Max watched the sleeping beauty before him. Thoughts and feelings were running rampart inside him. He had a lot of things to do, thoughts to ponder on and emotions to sort out.

As he gazed at his angel, he couldn’t help but think that he will never feel for anyone like this again. He has already made a lot of mistakes and there is no way in hell that he would drag Liz with him. He knows that he has to change, he knows that he finally has to face his demons even if it’s all for Liz’s sake. But in order to do that, he has to learn to stand up on his own first and foremost.

A single tear rolls down his face as he places his cheek on top of Liz’s head. And in the room that she grew up in, he whispers the words that he wished he said earlier when she was still awake to hear it.

“I love you Liz.”


Chapter 19

On the drive home, Max was unusually quiet. Liz thought he was just tired and sat quietly in the jeep beside him. But even though he was hardly saying a word, he couldn’t help but hold onto Liz’s hand and give her loving stares. He knew this was going to be hard for both of them but there was no other choice. So he was going to take every chance he could to memorize her.


A couple of days pass and Max is still in his funky mood. Liz tries to not worry about it because even though he seemed off, he would still kiss her, hold her and caress her so she knew it wasn’t about what happened in her room.

Days turn into weeks and Liz is beside herself with fear. She could not understand what is going on with Max. it has become obvious that he is trying to distance himself from her but she doesn’t know why. She tries to talk with him but he simply tells her not to worry and gives her a peck on her forehead. This dance keeps going on: Max seeming to pull away, Liz trying to confront him about it and he would just dismiss it with a kiss. However, he still keeps doing it. Liz is beginning to worry that now that they’ve had sex, Max is already done with her. She hoped and prayed that she was just being paranoid.


Max doesn’t know how much more of this he could take. He has been trying to pull away from Liz but she is always there wherever he turns. He is trying to think up of ways to end it with her but he couldn’t. He knew that he would be hurting Liz and that his old friends would kill him. But physical wounds would not compare to the emotional ones, he knew that if he hurts Liz, he would be hurting himself more, knowing that he will be the one breaking their hearts.


As two weeks have passed, Max is getting agitated by the affection Liz is giving him. Though deep down inside, his heart cries out for her and only her. He couldn’t imagine what kind of hurt he would feel now that his heart has felt so much love for her. He hasn’t even heard her say it. But he knew that he would be better off not hearing those words from her then breaking her heart after. He knows that the only way to make this a little less painful for Liz is to make her hate him.

Max inhales deeply as he walks slowly towards his old friends’ table, where Liz is sitting beside Alex. With every step he takes, he stares at her intently, memorizing her brown eyes, cute nose and warm sweet lips. He hears her laugh at something Alex said and he closes her eyes as the sound of Liz’s laughter drifts to him. Tears begin to pool in his eyes but with a gulp of air and one last step, he quickly wipes them away.

“Hey.” He greets quietly.

Liz’s face immediately lights up when Max approached them. “Hi.” She smiles brightly.

“We need to talk.”

The others instantly tense up, and throw glances at each other.

“About what Max?” Liz asks innocently.

“About us.”

Liz looks a little taken aback. True that she was getting worried about them but Max has still been showing signs of affection so she thought that whatever was going on is just a phase.

“Um, what about us?” She asks nervously.

Max looks towards the others and sees Michael, Maria and Isabel getting ready to pounce. He closes his eyes and opens them to look directly at Liz.

“It’s not working anymore.”

“Wh...What do you mean?” Liz bites her lip.

Max shrugs, “It just isn’t working for me anymore, what else is there to say?”

Liz blinks rapidly, “Well, I thought we were doing fine.”

“You thought wrong.”

“But…”

“It’s over Liz.”

Michael and Maria stand up after hearing that. As much as they want to interfere, they know they can’t.

Alex speaks up. “Max, maybe this isn’t the best place for this.” He looks around and sees that some of the students are watching them.

Max doesn’t even care. The only picture burning in his mind right now is how Liz is hurting. He wishes that he could take all of this away, that he could have met her before everything happened.

“Like I said, there’s nothing else to say.” He says nonchalantly. “I…I gotta go. I’ll see you around.” He turns to walk away, he can’t even bear the pain to look at Liz.

Liz is standing there, shocked. How could all this happen, without any warning, just like that and it’s over? Mustering up enough courage, she runs up to face Max head on.

“Yes, there is.”

“What?” Max stops in his tracks.

“There is something more to say. Why don’t you tell me what happened? Why did you suddenly feel that it’s not working out? Did I do something wrong?” Tears begin to pool in Liz’s eyes.

“No, you didn’t do anything wrong. It’s just…over. I don’t…feel whatever I felt for you back then.”

Liz starts to get angry. She knows that something is bothering Max and the only way to get it out of him is to force him to say it.

“You don’t feel whatever you felt? You mean you don’t love me anymore, just like that?” Liz’s voice begins to get louder.

“What are you talking about? I never said that!”

“Yes…you did.” Liz says softly.

Max was stunned. He never thought for one minute that she heard him. He tried to deny it but he only succeeded in looking like a fish out of water with his mouth opening and closing as he sputtered.

The entire student body has now gathered to watch the live soap opera happening in front of them. As the rest of the gang tried to shoo people away, Max and Liz were locked in a staring match.

“You…you heard me?” Max whispered.

Liz nodded.

Max took a deep breath then stood up straighter. “Well it’s over now.”

“How can it be over? You don’t just stop loving people in a snap.”

“Well, maybe you don’t but I can.”

Liz’s tears started to fall and Max could barely contain himself from wiping them away and kissing her and tell her how sorry he was for making her cry and more importantly, to tell her that he loves her with his entire being.

“Then maybe you didn’t really. Maybe you didn’t really love me. Was it all just a lie? Was I just another pawn in your game?”

Max couldn’t even look at her now. He had his head turned to the side, knowing that one look at Liz would cause him to break down.

“God, I fought with the only friends I got to know here, I went against them every time for you. I kept on asking them to give you a chance, that maybe you’ve changed. I’ve defended you against them and all this time, they were right!”

Max’s jaw clenched tighter with every word feeling like a knife stabbing through his heart.

“I was so stupid! I gave myself to you and I was just another trophy, wasn’t I? Wasn’t I?!!! Liz was crying openly, her fists clenched on her sides. She wanted to pound on his chest, to beg him to take it all back, to make her see that their accusations were all wrong…that he really DOES love her.

When her friends heard her say that she gave herself to him, they gasped and their eyes were as wide as saucers. They didn’t know about this and now, Max was breaking up with Liz, their self-control were on thin ice.

Max had his eyes shut when he heard Liz refer to herself as another conquest. For if there was one thing he did that was right, it was her. But he had to give her up, one way or another. He opened his watery eyes and gave her the answer that would drive her away forever.

“Yeah, I guess you were.”

Liz gasped. She was breathing hard and she didn’t want to believe what she was hearing.

“What did you expect? Did you really think I would fall for a maid’s daughter?” He sneered.

“I hate you.” Liz ran crying and Isabel went after her.

Max closed his eyes, wishing he could die right on the spot. Unfortunately, his wish was about to come true.


Since he had his back turned to the others, he didn’t know what was coming. Michael pounced on him, jumping him from behind. As the two boys toppled, Michael had Max pinned to the ground in an instant.

“You bastard! I warned you, you asshole!” Michael kept punching as Max tried to shield himself with his arms. He didn’t even try to fight back knowing that the hurt being inflicted on him is hardly a speck compared to the pain he’s experiencing inside.

Some of the faculty members wondered what the commotion was and was surprised to see Evans being beaten up by Guerin. They quickly tried to pull the two students apart and had to hold Michael back as he was still trying to get some punches in. The teachers were busy tending to Max’s wounds and dragging Michael away towards the dean’s office. They didn’t notice Maria standing close to Max.

In a flash, Maria slaps Max hard across his face. “We told you to stay away.” She said venomously.

Upon seeing Maria about to make her move, Alex knew what was going to happen but he allowed her to at least have one shot against Max before he would pull her away.

“Ms. Deluca. Maybe you should join Mr. Guerin with the Dean.” One of the teachers spoke.

“Gladly.” Her eyes narrowed on Max before walking away with Alex in tow.

“Do you care to explain what happened, Mr. Evans?”

“No Sir. Nothing happened.” Max walked dejectedly to the school clinic, not feeling anything else other than the pain in seeing Liz so hurt and knowing he caused all of it.


Isabel ran after Liz but somehow managed to lose sight of her. She walked through the entire school, checking if she hid in any of the vacant classrooms but she was nowhere to be found. Finally, she thought of going out to the soccer field.

When she was out on the field, she didn’t see anyone. Then her eyes caught movement of someone under the bleachers. Moving closer, she saw that it was Liz. She was hunched over, crying and sobbing so hard. Isabel walked over to her slowly, not wanting to startle the girl that she came to know as her friend.

Isabel sat down beside Liz and placed her hand on the smaller girl’s shoulder. Liz didn’t even acknowledge her. Her face was covered by her hands as she continued to weep.

“I’m so sorry Liz.” Isabel said sympathetically. She just stayed beside Liz as she cried her heart out.

After a few more minutes of sobbing through her pain, Liz calmed down but tears still poured from her eyes.

“I…should be…sorry, Isabel.” She sniffed. “You w-warned…me and…I…I didn’t…l-listen.”

Isabel wrapped her arms around Liz as a few tears slid down her face. “It’s not your fault Liz.”

“Oh God…it’s hurts…so much…” Liz whispered between sobs as her crying resumed.

Isabel just hugged her tight, wishing that Liz could gather some strength from her to get through this. After everything that has happened in her young life, Isabel doesn’t know if Liz would be strong enough to get through another heart ache. One thing she did know is that without a doubt she and the others would be there to help Liz with whatever she needed. And then, she’ll kill Max with her bare hands.


Back at the Dean’s Office, Michael, Max and Maria’s parents were called in. Since Hank and Philip were at work and couldn’t get out of their schedules, the mothers were the ones who came. Diane and Amy were talking quietly waiting to be called in when May Guerin arrived.

“Diane? Amy? What are you two doing here?”

“Apparently, the kids got called in because of some incident today at lunch. I don’t know what it is exactly but they only mentioned Max.” Diane informed them relieved. She couldn’t imagine what Philip would do if both Max and Isabel were hauled in there.

“I wonder what this is all about? It couldn’t be about a fight because they called me in for Maria.” Amy said.

Before anyone said another word, the dean’s secretary came out and escorted the three most prominent mothers of Wilmington students in to the office.

What they saw was an ugly sight. Maria had an air of arrogance in her and Michael’s clothes were dirty and rumpled and his knuckles were bruised and bloodied. Max looked like the crap was beaten out of him. Diane immediately rushed to her only son.

“Max! What happened?” Diane asked as she studied her son’s wounds.

“Mike, what’s going on?” May inquired.

“Mrs. Evans, Mrs. Guerin, I’m so sorry to call you in but your sons have been in a fight today. Well, more like Michael here,” The dean nodded towards Michael. “He was caught by some of the faculty members beating up Max.”

“What? Michael, is this true?” May was flabbergasted.

Michael remained silent.

“Why would you do this?”

“Why don’t you ask the prick.” Michael spoke angrily.

“Michael!” May was appalled by how Michael is behaving. Then quickly turning to Diane, “Oh my god, Diane, Max…I am so sorry.”

Michael instantly stood up. “Why are you apologizing to him?” Then he turned to Diane. “Mrs. Evans, I’m sorry that you got involved in this but I am not the least bit sorry for what I did to your son.”

“Michael, what has gotten into you?” May asked, surprised at her eldest son’s actions.

Michael just sat back down, May sat beside him. Mother and son were arguing in murmurs.

“Excuse me, but why is Maria in here too?” Amy questioned.

“Well Ms. Deluca, Maria slapped Max.”

Amy gasped, and looked at her daughter, then at Max. She saw the telltale signs of Maria’s handprint on Max’s cheek.

“What has gotten into you kids? What is going on? We send you to one of the best schools in the country and you act this way?! You better do some explaining young lady!” Amy staggered.

Maria defiantly looked straight at her mother and calmly spoke, “I don’t owe anyone an explanation.”

“Would somebody please start talking? Max?” Diane pleaded. “I know all of you were close once, what caused this?”

“This is the reason why we called you to come in, they wouldn’t tell us what went on today and I figured you’d be able to coax it out of them”, the dean informed the mothers.

“It’s not what, it’s who.” Maria informed her godmother.

Max threw an angry stare at Maria, willing her to shut up. ‘Surely Maria wouldn’t involve Liz in this right now’, he thought.

“It’s your beloved first born, Diane. He started all this.”

Max breathed a sigh of relief.

“Then how come he looks like he’s been trampled to a pulp?” Diane asked.

“You should ask him that yourself.” Maria sneered towards Max.

Diane turned to her son, “Max?”

Max had his head down and wouldn’t look at his mom. He knew that he brought this on himself and the pain in his heart was overshadowing everything else.

“It’s nothing mom. I’m fine.”

“How can you be fine? Look at you!”

“Just leave it alone Mom.”

“How are you going to tell this to your father?”

“I don’t know.” Max said softly.

Diane looked defeated, “What am I going to do with you.” She sank back down on her seat.

“Well, while you three ponder on this, I cannot let this incident go unpunished. Maria will get detention and Michael will be suspended. Both terms will last for a week.” the dean informed them.

“What?” All the ladies uttered.

“You kids belong to the most outstanding families and the other students look up to you. I cannot condone this, even if this all happened within your own group.”

“Hmph, he does not belong in our group.” Maria pointed at Max before crossing her arms over her chest.

“Well, if that’s all there is to say about it, can we get out of here now?” Michael sarcastically asked.

“Yes, you may all go back to your classes now.”

“Wait a minute, you mean, he won’t get punished?” Maria questioned referring to Max.

“He did not fight back Ms. Deluca, you were the ones who attacked him.”

“I don’t believe this!” Maria threw her hands in the air.

“Maria! You assaulted Max, you should be happy that charges aren’t being made against you.” Amy scolded her daughter. “This isn’t over, we’re going to have a long talk when you get home.”

“Yeah, after detention.” She huffed as she proceeded to her next class.

“It was well worth it Maria.” Michael muttered as he followed his girlfriend out of the office to make arrangements with his teachers.

“I’m gonna go too Mom.” Max addressed the other women politely, “Mrs. Guerin, Ms. Deluca”. He gave them a quick nod to excuse himself and quietly walked out and headed to his locker.

“Again, I’m really sorry about having to call you all in. We will still try to get to the bottom of this, that I can assure you.”

“Thank you.” Diane said.

All the three women walked together towards their respective cars.

“Diane, I’m really sorry about what Michael did.” May said apologetically. “I promise that Hank and I will reprimand him as soon as he gets home and will be grounded from all activities, including seeing Maria for a while. Not that I’m punishing Maria too, Amy.”

“I understand completely May. What I can’t understand how they could get so violent. And I’m sorry for Maria slapping Max, Diane.”

“Thank you, but I think there’s something more going on that the kids are not telling us.”

The women said goodbye to each other as they got in their cars. Driving home, Diane was worried about what Philip was going to say, she knew that her husband would want the truth from Max even if he squeezes it out of him. There was only one person left she could think of who might spill…Isabel.


Chapter 20

Alex was the first one informed about Maria’s detention and Michael’s suspension. He promised them that he would look after Liz while Michael’s gone. It’s during these times that they are grateful for their families’ power and influence. Though they were never brought up that way, it helps to be able to lord over the other students and bully them with just a stare. Especially with the latest Wilmington drama, they are sure that Max and Liz will be the talk of the entire student body for some time.


Once the families are complete and everyone is accounted for, things are turned upside down in three households.

Hank was in his and his wife’s bedroom changing as May told him about the incident at school. When he heard about Michael beating up Max, he rushed out and straight into Michael’s bedroom. He burst the door open to see Michael on his study desk doing some homework.

“What has gotten into you?! Have I ever taught you to be violent?! Answer me!”

“I take it that Mom already told you.” Michael said calmly.

“You bet she did! Why did you do that? And to Max? He was your best friend!”

“Yeah…was.”

Hank twirled his son’s chair so he can look him directly in the eye. “Michael, stop being such a smart ass and tell me what happened!”

“I can’t.”

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

In the Deluca house, Amy was already starting on Maria as they were sitting at the dinner table.

“Why can’t you tell me what made you slap him?” Amy asked sternly.

“Because it’s not my story to tell.” Maria answered back.

“Oh no young lady, you made it your story when your palm touched his face!”

“Fine, you wanna know what happened? Nothing! It’s nothing Mom!”

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Diane was able to corner Isabel when she got home. But then she saw Liz’s tear-streaked face and wondered what that was about. ‘Could it be connected to Max?’ She shook her head slightly and called for Isabel to join her in Philip’s office.

“What do you mean it’s nothing Isabel? Your brother got beaten up by Michael, your childhood friend. How can you say it’s nothing?”

“Mom, I can’t tell you right now, ok? It’s not my story to tell. If Max and Liz—” Isabel could smack herself on the forehead after blurting out Liz’s name.

“Liz? What does Liz have to do with this?”

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

“A lot ok, Dad. Look, the bottom line is, this is about Max and Liz so I can’t tell you anything else until they speak up. But I can tell you one thing; I do not regret punching Max, not for one minute.”

“Michael, you do know that this will be on your record. How can you just sit there and not care about it!”

“Because that son-of-a-bitch hurt a good friend of mine! How would you react if you were in my shoes?”

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

“Well…I don’t know.” Amy sat there thinking about it.

“You see. I know it’s a bad excuse to say that I did it for Liz but I did. She’s my friend Mom, and Max hurt her so bad.” Maria said sadly.

“What happened between them?”

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

“Mom, you know I can’t tell you that.”

“Isabel, I have a right to know. I was the one who insisted on Nancy to bring Liz here and if Max hurt her and caused all this mess then I have to do something.”

“I understand what you’re saying Mom, but we can’t interfere. If you do, Max will hate you. I’m not saying you should stay out of it forever cause when you put it that way, Liz is our responsibility. But Max should be the one to tell you, no one else. And Mom, please promise me that you won’t corner Liz about it, she’s hurting enough as it is.

Diane sighed, “Fine, I won’t but it’ll be a different story when your father gets a hold of this.”

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

“I can only imagine what he’ll say when he gets to the bottom of this.” Michael shook his head, glad that he’s not in Max’s shoes.

“I think Philip will handle this calmly, he does love Max a lot.” Hank said.

“Yeah, but now there are other people involved; not just Liz but Nancy too.”

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

“Poor Liz and Nancy, I feel like we should do something for her daughter.” Amy told Maria.

“Don’t’ worry Mom, we’re already on that.”

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

“Who’s we?” Diane asked.

“The gang and even Kyle and Tess.” Isabel answered.

“Well, I hope whatever this is, that she’ll get over it soon. Honestly, I hoped that Liz would bring back the old Max and their friendship would grow closer. I couldn’t ask for a better daughter-in-law than Liz.”

“Me too Mom, me too.” Isabel whispered.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

When Philip got home, he and Diane talked in their bedroom. At first he was angry that Max got involved in a fight but when Diane told him that Isabel said this was about a girl, his anger dissipated. He headed to Max’s room to look in at his son. Knocking softly, he opened the door when there was no response.

“Max? Son?” Philip peered in to Max’s room.

Max was lying on the bed, an arm over his eyes. He was breathing deeply and his entertainment system had a Counting Crows CD playing. At first Philip thought he was asleep, but when Max opened his eyes slightly, he knew they had to talk.

“What happened Max?” Philip asked as he pulled a chair close to the side of Max’s bed.

“It’s nothing Dad.”

“That’s what your Mom said your answer would be.”

“That’s because it is.”

“Max, can you honestly tell me that all this is for nothing?” Philip was referring to his bruises, black eye, broken lip and somber mood. “Why don’t you start from the very beginning?”

Max looked at his father uncertainly.

“Whatever you tell me will not leave this room. It stays between the two of us.”

“I can’t.” Max whispered, tears pooling in his eyes.

Philip nodded, patted his son’s leg and got up. “Whenever you’re ready to talk, I’ll be here.” He headed towards the door but before he could twist the doorknob, Max spoke softly.

“I broke her heart.”

“Whose?” Philip turned and sat back down on the chair.

Max’s lip trembled as tears rolled down his face. He shook his head no, he couldn’t say her name, simply because it hurt too much.

“I promise you Max, whatever you tell me will be our secret, ours alone. I won’t judge you for whatever it is that happened. I’m here just to listen. And maybe we can resolve whatever it is.”

“You can’t Dad, no one can. What I did was irreparable.”

“Talk to me son, I’m here. I’ll be here all night if I have to.”

Max took in a deep breath and exhaled very slowly, wishing that it could somehow take away the hurt…but it doesn’t.

“It’s Liz.” Max said longingly.

“Liz? You mean Nancy’s Liz?”

Max nodded.

Philip was taken aback. “Oh. Uh, what happened?”

Max stiffened and got a little curious as to his father’s reaction. “What do you mean by ‘oh…uh….’ What was that?”

“Nothing Max, I didn’t mean anything by it.”

“Then why did you have that shocked look on your face when I told you it was her?” He was getting angrier by the second. “Is it because she’s Nancy’s daughter, that she’s a maid’s daughter?! What, you think she’s not good enough?!” He stood up from his bed and faced his father furiously.

Philip placed his hands on Max’s shoulder, “Max, calm down. That’s not what I meant. I was just surprised because I didn’t know that something was happening between the two of you without my knowledge, and both of you are under my roof.”

“So what?! Are you saying that we can’t be together?! Well you’re too late Dad. I already broke up with her!” He slumped back on the bed after his tirade, feeling the pain wash over him once more.

“Max, you’re blowing this out of proportion. The only reason I was surprised was because this is not just about some random girl from school. I had no idea it was about Liz and we are all living in one house, how could I have not noticed.”

“I don’t know. Maybe because you’re too busy at work?” Max muttered.

“Max. You know I try to spend time with you as much as I can, but you’re always out of the house. It’s only recently that I been seeing you around here and…” Realization dawned on him. “That’s because of Liz isn’t it?”

“Yeah.” Max replied sadly. “Look Dad, as much as I appreciate this father–son moment we’re having, I just want to be left alone. Please.”

“Ok, Max. Just know that I’m here to listen.” Philip then got up and headed to the door.

“Thanks. Oh and Dad,” Philip turned his head to look back at Max. “Please don’t tell Mom about this. At least, not yet.”

“Sure son.” Philip nodded before he left the room.

When Philip got back into the master bedroom, he sighed deeply.

“Is it about Liz?” Diane quickly asked.

“I’m not supposed to say but since you brought up her name, then yeah. I don’t know what to do Di. This is Nancy’s daughter.”

“I know. I’m afraid that Nancy might leave. I’m not trying to sound so superficial, worrying about losing a maid. That’s not even what I’m worried about. Nancy has become a good friend of the family. I don’t want to ruin that.”

“Neither do I, but what can we do?”

“We sit and wait?” Diane offered.

“If only it was that simple.”


In Nancy and Liz’s bedroom, Liz is sobbing quietly, trying to stifle her cries so her mother won’t hear.

“Lizzie?”

Liz quiets down, trying to calm herself and even out her breathing to pretend that she’s asleep.

Nancy moves to sit on Liz’s bed and brushes her hair away from her face.

“I know you’re awake Liz. Tell me what’s wrong.” Nancy tries to soothe her daughter.

Knowing it would be pointless to convince her mother otherwise, she relented. “It’s nothing Mom.” She sniffled.

“Then why are you crying?”

Liz opened her eyes and Nancy’s heart stopped upon seeing her daughter’s red puffy eyes and tear-stained face. “Oh sweetheart. What happened?”

Liz simply shook her head and hugged her mother. “I can’t tell you now. Please, not now. It hurts too much.” She whispered.

“Ok, Lizzie, but know that I’m here whenever you need me.” Nancy rubbed Liz’s back and kissed her forehead. ‘Oh my poor baby’, she thought as she cuddled Liz close to her.

After a few minutes, Liz fell asleep in her arms from exhaustion. Watching over her only child, she was lost as to what to do. The only thing left was to sit and wait until Liz opens up to her.


Chapter 21

That week, Max and Liz avoided each other. When they were in class, they would not even look at the other. It even came to a point where Liz asked to be reassigned to a different lab partner. Max did not object at all. At home, they locked themselves in their own rooms, not wanting to risk seeing each other.

During Michael’s absence, Alex, Maria and Isabel surrounded Liz. No one even dared to hassle Liz with the events of the previous week. Although the gossip mill could not be avoided, the gang pretty much shielded Liz from all of it.

Unfortunately for Max, the break up made all his former friends hate him even more, along with his own sister and Tess and Kyle. But despite all of their anger, the only one that mattered is Liz. Seeing her so broken is making him hate his own self.


After a week of doing nothing but avoiding Liz, he couldn’t take it much longer. He started to isolate himself, mostly keeping to himself and eating lunch alone. Sometimes he wouldn’t eat at all and would rather spend his time in the library to get some peace and quiet. As his guilt begins to eat him up alive, he stopped attending all his classes and stayed in his room all day where he thinks of nothing and no one but Liz.

Diane and Philip begin to worry about him wasting his life away. They started to realize how serious this relationship was between Max and Liz. They asked Nancy if she had any clue as to what’s going on but unfortunately she had none. She told them that she couldn’t get anything out of Liz either and was worried about how quiet she has become. This had not happened before even with the deaths of Jeff and Claudia so this behavior change in Liz is also scaring her. But there is nothing any of them could do except to let them sort it out for themselves and hopefully open up to them soon.


Another week passes and the lack of change in Max and Liz’s demeanor causes everyone to start worrying. Liz is starting to withdraw into her shell and Max is still avoiding everyone and has the Counting Crows blaring in his room.

Alex dropped by the Evans mansion shortly after class one day. He was greeted by Agnes and he asked for Max.

“He has been in his room all day, Mr. Whitman.”

“Agnes, the name’s Alex. Mr. Whitman is my dad.”

Agnes smiled at the kid. Isabel’s friends were always very kind. She escorted him all the way to Max’s bedroom door. Then she told him that she will bring up some snacks and drinks for them shortly.

Alex nodded and knocked.

“Go away” was the muffled response from the other side of the door.

“No can do, man. Open up.”

The door immediately swung open revealing Max in a pair of old black sweats and a gray tee-shirt. It was pretty obvious that he was surprised to see Alex.

“A-Alex. What are you doing here? Shouldn’t you be at Wilmington?”

“Classes already ended.”

Max blinked then looked at his watch. “Oh…yeah.” He made this gesture, parting his lips slightly to show his bottom set of teeth. “Sorry about that. I didn’t realize what time it is.”

“I’ll bet. Look, can we talk?”

“Uh…sure. Come on in.” Max sidestepped to allow Alex to move into his room.

After closing the door, Max moved swiftly to tidy up a bit. Alex sat on his computer chair and waited for Max to settle down.

Alex noticed Max’s scruffy look. “Wow, you look…uh…different.”

Max rubbed his unshaven face. “Yeah, I know. So…what brings you here? Did you come by to scold me or did Maria ask you to smack me some more?”

Alex shook his head. “No one knows I’m here. Not even Isabel. I know that she and the girls have plans to head over to Maria’s right after school.”

“What about Michael?”

“He got grounded by his Dad.”

“Oh.”

“I’m just gonna cut down to the chase. I know that you drifted from us and I’m not here to interrogate you on that. I just want to know what happened with you and Liz.”

“Alex…”

“Max, the girl has turned into a freaking zombie. Maybe you haven’t noticed it since you’ve been cooped up in here ever since you broke up but give the girl some closure and talk with her .”

“You don’t understand…”

“Then make me. Tell me what went wrong.” Alex rolled his seat closer. “Max, all this time, you did not hear a single word from me about you pulling away. When you hurt Michael, Maria, Isabel and I, you never heard a peep out of me. I respected your decision because I thought maybe you were going through something that none of us could understand at the time. I knew that you felt left out at times so I stayed quiet. I can only imagine how weird it must be for you, when back when we were kids, we all hung out together. And then we grew up and paired off, leaving you left out most of the time. I’m sorry for ever making you feel that way.”

Max sighed at Alex’s speech. Suddenly all the conflicting emotions he felt back then just simply disappeared. ‘Maybe this is the moment’, he thought to himself.

“Alex…ok, yes, maybe I felt left out sometimes but that didn’t really bother me. I was happy for all of you. There were moments when I wished that there were 6 of us, then maybe we could all hang out on group dates or whatever.” He tried to hold in a chuckle, “I even went along when Maria tried to play matchmaker on me which were all disasters. I just…I….”

“Look, it’s obvious that I won’t be able to make you open up that part yet, but what about this with Liz? I don’t want to sound like Maria and Michael but I hate to say that we told you to stay away. Liz had the right motive in giving you a chance, I thought maybe she’d be the one to make you open up and come back to us. That’s why I never said a word against your relationship. And for a time, I thought things were going well for the both of you.”

“They were.” Max whispered.

“Then what happened?”

Max pressed his lips together in a thin line. He didn’t want to break down in front of Alex, one of his childhood friends. But he was right, Alex never said anything bad about what happened, he never lashed out against him. Could he really confide in him with his deepest darkest secret and trust him enough not to tell anyone?

After waging an internal battle between his mind and heart, he finally gave in.

“I think I should start from the beginning…”


Just as Max was about to proceed, Tess knocked on the door. Alex noticed the instant change in Max’s attitude. Max opened the door slightly and saw the tray with some sandwiches and a full pitcher and two glasses filled with ice.

“I brought up some snacks that Agnes said you and Alex might like.” Tess spoke dryly.

Max opened the door wide enough for Tess to come in. “Just put them on the table and leave.” He ordered her coldly.

Alex noticed that Tess was completely stiff and saw the look of contempt on her face. She rushed to the study table and deposited the tray on it. Then she hurriedly walked out of the room with a huff.

“I take it she knows what happened?”

Max shrugged, “I guess.” He walked over to the table and got Alex’s share and gave his friend his food and a tall glass of iced tea. “Here.”

“Uh, I’m not really hungry Max.”

Max just looked at him with a raised eyebrow.

Alex smiled sheepishly, “Ok, maybe a little.”

The two young men chomped down their sandwiches and emptied their drinks. Soon they were back in their seats with Alex on the computer chair and Max on his bed.

“So, you were saying about the beginning?” Alex started.

“Uh, maybe we should just talk about this some other time.”

“No way Max, I’ve waited so long for this, I’m not going to let you chicken out again. I know that the friend I knew back then is still in there and all this time, I hoped to see him again. I’m here as a friend Max, your old childhood best friend.”

“You might change your mind when you hear what I have to say.”

“I’ve tolerated your becoming such a jerk, what makes you think I’d stop now?”

‘It’s now or never’ Max took a deep breath and got down to it.

He looked over at his study table where all his trophies and articles and news clippings were posted. “You remember when I started winning those?” He nodded towards his table.

“Yeah…”

“Do you remember when I started getting 2nd place instead of first?”

Alex nodded, wondering where Max was heading with this.

“Do you know Nick Baxter?”

“Yeah, he was the freshman who got recruited in your varsity team.”

“Yeah, he was.”

Max took another deep breath. This was going to be harder than he thought.

“Alex, I never told another living soul about this. I’m asking you now as a friend to please promise me that this will stay just between us and no one else.”

“Sure.” Alex quickly nodded.

He wet his dry lips and spoke, “Nick started winning more meets than I was, do you remember that?”

“Yeah.”

“I got jealous of him. For a long time, I had all the attention. I hate to admit it but the trophies, the victory parties, it all got into my head.”

“That’s only natural Max. You were the star of the track team.”

“Until Nick came along….I got so caught up in winning it all back, in regaining my title that I would do anything for it.” He took a deliberate pause. “And I did.”

“I don’t understand Max. What are you saying here?”

“Do you remember the tragedy that struck then?”

Alex nodded solemnly.

“I caused that.” Max lips trembled.

“What do you mean?”

Max got up and started pacing. When he stopped, he took in a different stance and was staring off into space, as if he was the only person in the room.

“I practiced so hard, I pushed myself to the limit but it still wasn’t enough. I ran myself haggard, getting up in the wee hours of the morning to practice, going to school, partying with you guys and the jocks, then going for another run at night. I tried to balance my time as best as I could. I didn’t realize that I was running myself into the ground. When I still couldn’t get to 1st place, that’s when I started pulling away. And at first it was only because I needed time to practice some more. I couldn’t give up time for school because if my grades dropped, I’d be pulled off completely from the team.”

Alex just listened, not uttering a single word so as not to disrupt Max’s concentration. He knew that his friend needed to get this out.

“Then I met Brandon, one of the basketball players and a friend of Sean’s. Sean told him about what I was going through; apparently he discovered my early morning runs one day and I kinda told him the stress I was having. Anyway, Brandon uh…”

Alex looked at Max carefully as he struggled to find the words.

“He gave me something to help.”

“He gave you drugs.” It wasn’t a question. Alex said it in a form of a statement.

Max merely nodded, then proceeded to tell the rest of the story in a blur.

“I took some, only to test them. But then I performed better, better than Nick during practice. So I started taking it regularly. I won once, but then Nick found out about it and he threatened to report me to the Dean. I managed to throw him off my back but only if I would give him some of what I was taking.”

Alex couldn’t believe his ears. Max Evans, his longtime friend would never do something as shocking as taking drugs! He was dumbfounded, how could something this big slip past them. They were his best friends, how could they not know, how could they not have noticed.

Max continued, not noticing the expressions playing across Alex’s face.

“So I gave him some. I implicitly drilled into him the right dosage.” Max shook his head slightly, he now had a faraway look, as if he was transported right back into that very moment.

“At the day of the finals, he was nowhere to be found. So we went on, tension was running high and I ran as hard as I could and I won. It was the most meaningful victory to me because when I got caught, I swore off those things and flushed every last one I had down the toilet. After a long while of losing to Nick, I finally won again and with no help from the drugs.”

Max’s eyes pooled with unshed tears and Alex just sat and waited for Max to finish his entire story.

“At the party, we all found out why Nick never made it to the finals.” Max’s voice started to break, “H-His mother found him…in h-his room…he overdosed…he was r-rushed to the ER…but he n-never made it.”

Max completely broke down right before Alex’s eyes. Alex didn’t know what to do for him. Max slumped down on the floor with his back against the side of his bed. Alex slid off the chair and sat in front of Max, willing him to see that he was not alone, that he didn’t have to carry this burden alone.

“It w-was my fault. I k-killed him.”

“No Max! You didn’t! He took the drugs from you. He threatened you to give it to him. You told him about the right dosage but he refused to listen. The blame is on him, not you.” Alex gripped the side of Max’s head. “Do you hear me?! It’s not your fault!”

Max struggled and was able to break free from Alex’s hold. “Don’t you see? I gave those to him! If it wasn’t for me he would still be alive! And it was all because of my pride and greed to win, to get more of those damn trophies!”

Alex didn’t know what else to do. Max has been carrying this with him for years. He knew Max needed help, more than he could give but he didn’t want to lose his trust. After all this time, Max finally spoke up.

“Is this why you broke up with Liz?”

Max nodded. “If someone found out, I’ll be dragging her down with me or she’d break up with me before I could even say a word. I had to do something. I can’t allow that to happen to her, not to her.” He sobbed.

“Max, buddy…you should have told us sooner. Everyone would see it the way I do, that none of it was your fault.”

“No! You promised not to tell anyone!” Max had a vice-like grip on Alex’s upper arms.

“I won’t tell anyone, I promised.”

Max finally released his hold and drew his knees up. He hugged his body to himself and cried for all the pain that his mistakes brought him.

Alex just stayed until his friend had calmed down. He now knew the reason why Max changed. He was ashamed of a wrong that he didn’t commit. It was all Nick’s doing. But now that he knew, what could he do to save Max from himself?

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kay_b
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Post by kay_b » Fri Feb 13, 2004 8:52 pm

Chapter 22

As the days passed, Alex was always pre-occupied. And it didn’t escape Maria and Isabel’s notice. But because of Liz’s increasing depression they had to prioritize her.

What they didn’t know was, Alex was secretly trying to find more information about Max, Nick, Sean and Brandon. He was also trying to look up information about the rules at Wilmington, looking for loopholes and the like.

Unfortunately, he wasn’t as successful as he wanted to be. He needed to consult with an adult but that would mean having to tell everything and betray Max’s trust. He thought that maybe they could just wait till they have graduated before telling someone in order to help Max. His only worry is that might be too late.

The last blow was Max breaking up with Liz. Adding to their hurt is the fact that they are living under one roof, getting to see each other and the pain reflected in their eyes is too much. Anyone who had broken up badly with their boyfriend or girlfriend usually would avoid each other at all costs. But how do you do that if the other person is attending the same school and living in the same house. Albeit it is a huge house, a mansion really, there would still be times that they’d run into each other.

And Alex knew that if things keep going the way they are now, either Max or Liz would break down. The only question is, who would go first.


Isabel and Maria tried everything they could to bring Liz back to her old self. They organized sleepovers, trips to the mall, beach and pool parties, and so on but none of it worked. Liz was beginning to alienate herself from them. Most of her time was poured into studying and she hardly spoke unless a question was asked directly to her.

After a couple of weeks, she started to avoid everyone, including Isabel and Tess. She kept to herself and used all of her time and energy in school. The only good thing from it was she was getting the best marks in the entire class. If she kept at it, she’ll be able to graduate an entire year ahead of her batch.

Diane and Nancy have noticed the change in their own children. But both kids insisted that they were fine. When Nancy became aware of Max’s change, at first she thought he was slipping back into his depression. But whenever Liz was in the same room, Max would glance at her without her knowing. And that’s when Nancy finally put the pieces together.

From the conclusion she came up with, Max and Liz became really serious, more than the typical teenage relationship. And they must have broken up badly to be this way. Both teenagers were lovesick, but the question is who broke up with whom. She tried to get Liz to open up to her to no avail. Eventually she had to find another source.

If Isabel was Diane’s, Tess was Nancy’s. She questioned Tess to a great extent to learn all there is to know about the two’s breakup. Tess reluctantly spilled the beans to Nancy. But Nancy didn’t want to believe it. There is no way that Max would talk that way to Liz, especially after seeing his stolen glimpses of her daughter. She made a promise to herself that she will not interfere because she knew that doing so would only cause a bigger rift from Liz.

Until she saw Liz crying one day.

Liz was in the pool house since hardly anyone would go in there now that it was winter. It has been more than a month after the breakup and to see Liz still hurting made her feel a sharp pain in her heart.

She quietly walked up to her daughter and wrapped her arms around her. Liz turned around and collapsed in her mother’s arms, burying her face as she sobbed uncontrollably.

Nancy couldn’t hold it in much longer. She wanted to do anything she could to help Liz. And as much as she hoped that her warm embrace could comfort her only child, she knew that Liz has to let it out even if it means having to pry about it.

“Liz, this is unhealthy. You have to release it. Talk to me baby.”

“I can’t, you’ll hate me.” She whispered.

“How could you say that? There is nothing in this world that could make me hate you. It’s just you and me now, I would never turn my back on you no matter what the reason may be. I want to help you my darling but you have to let me in.”

“I know…I’m so s-sorry Mom.”

“Sorry about what honey?”

“I…I can’t…”

“Lizzie, you’re beginning to scare me baby. What’s going on?” Nancy let go of her daughter and tried to make Liz look at her by tilting her chin up.

Liz’s face was all red and blotchy. Her eyes were puffy and she was having a hard time breathing as she continued to sob.

“M-Max and I…he…he was my boy-boyfriend.” She began.

“He broke…up with me…because he said…I-I‘m a…maid’s daughter.”

“He what?!” After a brief pause, Nancy spoke again. “No, it can’t be true. Max wouldn’t say something like that.” Nancy said more to herself than to Liz.

“But he did! And right in front of everyone at school!” Rage was starting build inside Liz. “I don’t care that you’re a maid Mom, it’s decent work. It’s what kept us afloat all these years. But I never thought for one minute that he would see us so lowly.”

Liz cried once more, anguish consuming her whole.

“I’m so sorry baby.”

“It’s n-not your…fault Mom. It’s mine. I…I went against…w-what everyone has been…t-telling me. I th-thought he was different…different from what they’ve…all been s-saying to me. I lied to everyone…who has treated me kindly; you, Isabel, my friends. And for what? For this?!”

“It’s not your fault Liz. You didn’t know it would end this way.”

“But they all warned me…and I still got involved.” Liz sobbed.

“And that’s not even the w-worst part.”

“What are you talking about?” Nancy wondered.

Liz simply shook her head, unable to speak any more.

“Liz, look at me.”

Liz looked straight into her mother’s eyes.

“Whatever it is Liz, you can tell me. I’m here.”

“No, you’ll h-hate me.” Pain and despair reflected in Liz.

“You are my life Lizzie, I could never hate you.”

“But you will.” Liz cried.

“No, baby, nothing you say can make me hate you.”

“Mom…” Nancy could hear the desperation in Liz’s voice. “I…I think…I think I’m…p-pregnant.”

In that brief moment, Nancy’s world came to a halt.

“Pregnant?”

Liz nodded.

“Oh Lizzie…” Nancy embraced Liz tightly.

“I’m so sorry Mom.” Lizzie cried even harder.

Nancy pulled back slightly, “Are you sure about this?”

Liz managed to calm down a little to answer her mom as clearly as possible. “Uh, not really. I mean, we used protection but I’m a couple days late.”

“Well, it might be a false alarm but we can go to the doctor to be sure.”

“Oh God, what if I am? I’ll be expelled! All my goals will go down the drain, everything I’ve ever worked for. Oh Mom, I’m so sorry. I’m so, so sorry.” Liz hugged her mother once more.

“It’s ok sweetie. It’ll be ok.” Nancy said, smoothing her daughter’s hair to comfort her. ‘But what will they do if Liz is pregnant? And Max! What will she do about Max?’ Nancy continued to ponder this all through the night, impatiently waiting for the sun to rise.


Chapter 23

Coming home from the clinic, Nancy accompanied Liz back to their room. She tucked Liz in bed the same way she used to when she was a little toddler. After kissing Liz’s forehead, Nancy went out of the room quietly to start her work.

For the rest of the day, Nancy was like a walking zombie. She did do all of her chores but she was simply going through the motions. Her mind and her heart were back in the bedroom she shares with Liz.

‘How much pain does she have to experience? Why are we going through all this?’ She felt that hope is like sand slipping through her fingers. No matter how much she tries to make everything work, all the decisions she has made since Jeff’s death are backfiring on her and worse, on Liz too. When she left to work with the Evans and leave Liz, she didn’t know that her daughter had harbored negative feelings about it. When Claudia died and she brought Liz with her to the Evans’ mansion, Liz got involved with Max and is now going through such heartache. ‘Why? What have we done to deserve all these heartbreak?’


When Liz woke up, she simply opened her eyes, but she hasn’t moved another inch since. She’s lying in bed, staring at nothing, recalling the visits to the doctor’s office.

She was asked several questions. She was embarrassed to answer them, but more so because her mother was in the same room. As much as she wished Nancy wasn’t there, she couldn’t ask her to leave. She was her strength.

They were asked to come back two days after the test to be given the results. It was pure torture for mother and daughter but there was nothing else to do but wait.

When she received the phone call, she was in the kitchen, hoping that no one else would come in and find out that she’s speaking with a doctor. But as luck would have it, Max came in. She couldn’t speak, she was holding the phone to her ear but none of the words registered. When Max saw her and realized they were alone, he went straight to the fridge to get a soda and quickly went back to his room. Even though she was grateful that the encounter was cut short, she felt her heart twinge at the sight of him. When she was able to focus, the nurse on the other end of the line was confirming a schedule for her second visit.

Sitting in the office with her mother right next to her, Liz was beside herself with worry. Whatever the doctor would tell her, she knew that it would change her life forever. She grabbed on to her mother’s hand, gripping it tightly, and expressing how thankful she was to have her.

The doctor came in, and to Liz, everything went in slow motion. She couldn’t understand the words coming out of the doctor’s mouth as she tried hard to hear every word or read his lips. Finally, seeing her mother’s smile brought everything back to normal, and not just in terms of the doctor’s motions.

The test came out negative.


As the weeks passed, Liz has been slowly deteriorating and it didn’t escape Nancy’s notice. Neither did Diane’s. Both mothers’ worries over their children increased with each passing day. Diane now knew that it was Max’s fault and she felt greatly responsible for Liz. She witnessed the growing relationship between Max and Liz and she did nothing to stop it for she thought that Liz could bring back the Max that she knew. Although she too was hurt to see Max break down a few years ago, seeing him go through another was causing even greater pain. This time, Max didn’t lash out. He became passive and quiet, which made it harder because she doesn’t know what her son is going through. She even found herself slightly grateful when Max was always angry back then and would rather have him that way than this.

At the same time, Nancy is coming to a decision to leave the Evans as soon as Liz graduates from Wilmington. But along with that, her fear of making another mistake with her daughter’s life is weighing greatly upon her.


Liz’s hard work of trying to pour her time and energy to her studies allowed her to avoid having to sort out all the hurt and heartache she is going through. And it is also allowing her to graduate a year early. When she was told about this, she was in a daze that has become her world. The news brought her back for a brief moment. She surprised her own self and was staring at the college applications being handed to her by the councilor. When she told her mom about it, all the pain was forgotten for a short while as they rejoiced in Liz’s success.

However, only Nancy knew about this. Liz didn’t tell the others about it because she has been trying to pull away from them. This time, it was Isabel who is getting hurt.

They tried to talk to her, to have her confide in them. Liz only apologized for her behavior but she didn’t change. She kept telling them that her schoolwork was her priority at the moment.

And one day in a class that Liz and Michael shared, Liz was asked to stay behind. Michael stayed in the hallway, the closed door to his left, and listened in.

“So Liz, have you decided where to send your applications to?” The teacher who was also her college adviser asked.

“Yes, I’ve filled out applications to a few actually but my first choice is Harvard.”

The teacher smiled, “That’s good Liz. Harvard is a fine university. I’m sure you’ll have no problem getting in.”

“I hope so.”

“Well, I won’t keep you any longer. You can hand the forms to me tomorrow morning so we can send them in as soon as possible.”

“Thank you Ms. Taylor.”

Liz left the room but as she turned towards her next class, she bumped right smack into Michael.

“Sorry.” Liz immediately apologized without even looking at the person.

“No harm done. Are you ok?”

Upon hearing his voice, Liz looked up. “Oh…hi Michael.”

“Headed to your next class?”

“Yeah. Um, I gotta go.”

“See ya.” He mumbled and quickly headed off to his own class and to tell the others of the latest news.


At the lunch quad, the 4 friends were quickly discussing the new information that came from Michael.

“I don’t get it…” Isabel mumbled.

“How could she not tell us about something as big as this?” Maria wondered.

“She just wants to get it over with.” Alex replied.

“Get over what?” Isabel asked.

“Everything. Or should I say Max. She wants to get out of here as soon as possible. Once she’s in college it’ll be a thousand to one chance that she’ll run into him.” Alex looked at his girlfriend, knowing that she’ll feel guilty once more.

“She’s leaving isn’t she?” Isabel asked with sad eyes.

“Yeah.” Michael answered.

Silence ensued.

Liz came over to their table and immediately noticed the sorrowful mood. One look at their faces, then at Michael, told her everything.

She sighed and sat down. “Michael told you guys huh?”

All four heads nodded.

“Why didn’t you tell us Liz?” Isabel questioned.

“I didn’t know if it was definite yet.”

“But you’ve filled out your college applications already.” Maria said.

“Look, I didn’t tell you because I didn’t want you to make a big deal out of it.”

“A big deal? Of course it’s a big deal! Liz, you’re graduating high school an entire year early. How can it not be a big deal?” Maria exclaimed.

Liz glared at Michael.

“We’re happy for you Liz. Congratulations.”

“Thank you Alex.”

“So where have you applied to?”

“Um, I’ve filled out forms to SCU, Boston University, Stanford and Harvard.”

“Cool! I think you’ll be a shoe-in for Harvard.” Alex yelled.

Liz smiled, “I can only hope so.”

“So, um, will you be transferring if you get in?” Isabel asked.

“Yeah.” Liz pursed her lips to a thin line.

Isabel merely nodded.

The rest of their lunch was spent in silence.


When Isabel got home, she rushed towards Max’s room and pounded on the door.

“What the hell are you doing?!” Max shouted as he opened the door.

Isabel pushed him inside and slammed the door behind her.

“You just had to ruin everything don’t you?!”

“What the fuck are you talking about?!”

“Everything, our family, our friends, Liz!”

Max scowled, “Whatever happened between me and Liz is none of your business. Now get out of MY room!”

“You are so selfish! How could you have switched from being the perfect older brother to being a complete prick?! Honestly, I’m glad that Michael and Maria punched you. I would have too if I didn’t have to run after Liz that day. You broke her heart Max! How could you say all those things? I warned you to stay away, but you just had to follow your dick, didn’t you?!”

“Shut it Isabel.” Max warned her with a deadly calm voice.

“NO!”

Max gripped Isabel’s arm hard and shoved her out the door. “If you have nothing better to say, then I suggest you get out of my sight!”

Brother and sister faced off in the hallway.

“You changed her! Do you know that?! She’s now a walking zombie! And it’s all thanks to you!” Isabel yelled.

Max couldn’t take it any more and slammed the door in his sister’s face.

All alone in his room again, he leaned back on the door and couldn’t hold the tears in much longer. He slid to the floor as he cried, his heart calling out for Liz.


Chapter 24

As fall turned to winter, Liz and Max and the rest of the gang continued their schooling. Both Max and Liz spent all their time and energy to their studies. They figured if their too exhausted with school, they’d be too tired to think of anything else.

The holidays came and went. The Evans had hosted and attended several parties, making the entire household busy with activities. Liz spent most of her time locked in her room when all this was going on, her head buried in her books.

Even when the Evans had their Christmas Eve celebration with just their family and the household help, Liz stayed in their room, making excuses saying she wasn’t feeling well.


As the months went on, college forms were sent and acceptance letters were received. When Max got his acceptance letter from Stanford, his family was so proud of him. His mom and dad beamed, even Isabel, although they weren’t talking much, her eyes showed that she was happy for him to which he acknowledged with a small smile.

In another part of the mansion, Liz got a letter from Harvard. On the day that the letter arrived, she was wondering what it would say. She handed the letter to her mom, too nervous to open it herself. She sat on her bed fidgeting. Nancy’s eyes started to widen and Liz started to nibble on her lower lip. Then Nancy put the letter down and looked at Liz with tears in her eyes.

“What? What did it say?”

Nancy smiled slowly.

“I didn’t get in didn’t I?” Liz asked sadly.

Nancy gave the letter to Liz. Liz picked it up and read the letter herself, mumbling out the written words.

“Ohmygod…I’m in.” Liz whispered.

Nancy smiled and nodded.

“I’m in. I’m in! Oh God, I can’t believe it” Liz was stunned, clutching the letter in her hands.

“Congratulations honey.” Nancy hugged Liz tightly, kissing her daughter’s head. “I’m so proud of you baby.” Nancy’s smile shone with pride.

“Thanks mom.” Liz returned her mother’s embrace.

Then Liz read the letter again, “Can you believe it? And it’s on full scholarship!” She shouted.

“Yes I can. C’mon Liz, you’re a walking genius. Did you really think you wouldn’t be accepted?”

“I had my doubts.”

“After everything that has happened, you deserve a break and…here it is.” Nancy exclaimed.

“Thanks Mom.” Liz smiled.

“Aren’t you going to tell Isabel?”

“I don’t know...”

“Honey, I think you should. If the tables were turned, you wouldn’t want to find out from someone else would you?”

“No, I guess not.” Liz sighed and got off the bed. She looked at her mom who gave her an encouraging nod and she went off heading towards Isabel’s room.

Liz knocked quietly on the door.

“Hey Liz.” Isabel greeted as she opened the door.

“I need to show you something.”

“What?” Isabel asked, confusion clearly written on her face.

Liz handed the letter to Isabel.

The minute she saw the letterhead, she quickly looked at Liz then back at the letter.

And then she screamed.


Max opened his bedroom door wondering what all the noise was about. When he opened the door, he saw his sister jumping and squealing at someone but he couldn’t see who it was because Isabel’s back was blocking his view. He was about to walk over and yell at her but immediately stopped in his tracks when he saw Liz.

She was beautiful. Although it was obvious that she lost weight, her face was glowing and her eyes were shimmering with happiness. He was both hurt and glad at the sight. Hurt that she was happy and he couldn’t share in it and glad that maybe she has finally gotten past the hurt he caused and is moving on with her life.

Liz felt someone staring at her and stopped to look at the direction where she felt she was being watched. And she saw Max staring at her. Her heart lurched at the sight of him. He was so thin and pale and had dark circles under his eyes. She wanted to go over to him and comfort him but she knew that she couldn’t. ‘He’d probably push me away if I did’, she thought. Her demeanor changed in an instant and then she felt an ice cold grip around her heart.

Isabel wondered what Liz was looking at behind her and what caused the sudden shift in her mood. When she looked back, she saw her brother staring at Liz. Not wanting to ruin Liz’s moment, she asked her to come inside her room so they could discuss her plans. But Liz simply shook her head no. She gave Isabel a small smile and left to go back to her own room.

When Liz started down the stairs, Isabel scowled at Max and went back into her room.

Max was left alone still standing in the hallway, staring at Liz’s retreating form. After a couple of minutes, he quietly walked back into his bedroom with his head hung low.


That night, Nancy knew that she and Liz have to talk about her college plans.

“Sweetie, can you sit beside me for a few minutes?”

“Sure mom.” Liz stopped brushing her hair and walked over to Nancy’s bed.

“Liz, now that you got in to Harvard that means you’re moving there right?”

Liz nodded with a curious look on her face.

“Well, I’ve been thinking…maybe I should move there with you.”

“What?”

“Liz, I promised you that I wouldn’t leave you ever again and there is no way that I am breaking that.”

“But what about your job? Mrs. Evans? Does she know about this?”

“Not yet. I wanted to talk to you about it first.”

“But…we owe her, them, a lot, for what they did for us. I mean I want to leave Mom, you know that. But I didn’t want to say anything because of it.”

“I thought about that too. I hate seeing you so broken.”

Liz bowed her head, thinking about Max once more.

Nancy continued, “So I’ve decided to pay her with our savings. I mean, I’ve been keeping an account for your college fund and it’s a huge amount now. But because of that scholarship, we can take some from it and pay the Evans. What do you think?”

Liz mulled over this for a few minutes. “I think it’s a good idea but I thought you said we needed the work. And what about the Evans?”

“I could find other work in Massachusetts, I’m sure there are a lot of employers there. And about the Evans, well… I’ll be talking to them after we make a decision. I just didn’t want to make one without you.”

“You know I would want you go with me Mom. I…I need you there…after…after everything.” Liz said quietly.

Nancy gave her a small smile and hugged her daughter fiercely. “I’m here always, baby...always.”


The following night, Nancy requested a meeting with Mr. and Mrs. Evans. Diane thought they should have this little meeting in the study judging the grim expression on Nancy’s face.

“So Nancy, what is this about?” Philip asked.

Nancy took in a deep breath, “I’m really sorry about this but…uh…. I guess there really isn’t a better way to say this. Liz and I are leaving as soon as she graduates.”

“Oh.” Diane said surprised.

“Well, we were informed that Liz will be graduating a year early.” Philip said.

“Yes, she is. Please Mr. and Mrs. Evans, we don’t want you to think that we’re being ungrateful. Actually, I intend to pay the money you spent on Liz for her education at Wilmington.”

“What? Nancy, no. When we offered the scholarship to Liz, we were glad that it was going to her than some random child we didn’t know. And Liz more than qualified for it so we don’t want you to pay for anything. We are the ones who are grateful to you for staying with us this long.”

“I’m actually sad to go. Honestly, Max and Isabel have been like my own kids. They made it less difficult for me during the times that I’ve been missing my own child. But now…I’m all she’s got. I can never leave her on her own. Not ever again.”

“We understand Nancy.” Philip said.

“We’re just sad to see you go too.” Diane added.

Nancy nodded.

“Where will you be going?” Philip asked.

Nancy smiled proudly, “Liz got accepted to Harvard.”

“What? Oh my goodness! That is wonderful!” Diane exclaimed. “Oh, we should have a celebration for her…and Max! Max got accepted to Stanford. We can have a party and invite their friends.”

“That’s wonderful news. And thank you for the lovely thought of giving Liz a party but she’s really not into those things…and I don’t think it will be a good idea.”

“Is this about Max and Liz’s break up?” Philip inquired.

Nancy was surprised. “You know about that?”

Philip shook his head, “No, not really. When I asked Max about the fight he had with Michael in school months ago, he kept saying it was nothing. After a while, I was able to break through and he mentioned Liz’s name but he didn’t tell me how and why.”

“I think that the two got serious. I was able to get Isabel to tell me who broke up with whom and she told me that it was all Max’s fault but she wouldn’t tell me anything else.” Diane said.

Nancy nodded. “Liz told me what happened.”

Diane straightened in her chair, expecting more information.

“But I won’t tell you what the details are. I can’t. Yes it was Max who ended the relationship but I can see both of them hurting so much. The behavior that Max showed Liz at the beginning was the Max we all knew then. I don’t really know why either but Max made a complete turnaround on Liz in the end.”

“Is the decision to leave yours or Liz’s?” Philip questioned.

“It’s actually both of ours. A lot has happened to Liz, not just with Max. All her life she has been dealt with heartaches and sorrow and it hurts to see her this way. I’m sure it’s hurting you too to see Max so…different. I know that no parent would want to see their children in pain and not be able to do anything. Leaving is the least I can do for my daughter. She deserves a whole lot more than I can ever give her but at least it’s a start.” Nancy answered.

“I understand Nancy. And I’m sorry for whatever Max has put Liz through. I actually feel responsible for this ever since I saw them together. I was the one who insisted to bring her here. I am so sorry.” Diane expressed solemnly.

“Thank you but really you don’t have to apologize to me for Max’s actions. If there’s anyone who needs to settle this, it’s them. They have to sort it out for themselves. As much as I want to interfere, I know I can’t. That might only make me succeed in driving my only daughter away. But again, thank you Mr. and Mrs. Evans, for everything.” Nancy moved to shake Philip’s hand then to Diane but Diane surprised her by hugging her.

“Thanks to you too, for everything. We will miss you.” Diane smiled.


On graduation day, Maxwell Evans and Elizabeth Parker received their diplomas. Although both of them tried to appear happy, anyone who knew them enough would see that their smiles didn’t reach their eyes.

A small celebration was held for Max with just his parents and Isabel at a really expensive restaurant. While Liz had her celebration at the Evans where Nancy and Agnes made Liz’s favorite foods and all of them, including Tess, Kyle and Ed had a nice quiet dinner in the maids’ quarters.

“So what are you gonna do now Liz?” Tess asked.

“Well uh…” Liz looked over to her mom who gave her a small smile, “Uh, we’re going to move back to Grandma Claudia’s house first. And then we’re gonna head off to Massachusetts.” She smiled.

“Cool.” Kyle commented.

“I’m gonna miss you.” Tess swiped a tear.

“We’re all going to miss you both.” Agnes said, looking at Nancy and Liz.

“I’m going to miss all of you too.” Nancy said, looking at everyone’s faces.

“Hey, I thought we’re celebrating here.” Ed spoke.

“Yeah, you’ll have time for the tears tomorrow.” Kyle added.

Tess slapped his arm. “Ow!” Kyle yelled as he rubbed the sore spot.

The others just laughed.


When they were clearing things up, Tess approached Liz.

“Hey, are you going to tell Isabel and the others where you’ll be?”

Liz looked at her, “Yeah, I guess.”

“Here, this is from me and Kyle.” Tess gave her a wrapped medium-sized box.

“What? Tess, you didn’t have to.”

“We know, but we wanted to give you something to remember us by.”

Liz opened the package to reveal a small teddy bear with the name LIZ embroidered on its shirt.

“We know it’s not much but at least when you see it, you’ll remember us.” Tess said.

Liz sniffled, “Oh Tess, thank you. It’s so adorable.” Liz hugged it tight then pulled Tess for a hug too. “I will never forget you. Thank you for everything and…I’m sorry.”

Tess pulled back, “Sorry for what?”

“For not listening to you, for ignoring your warnings.”

“Oh Liz, it isn’t your fault. If there’s anyone to blame, it’s him.”

The two girls hugged each other again. When they separated, they heard the car horn, signaling that the Evans have arrived.

“I guess I have to go tell Isabel tonight.” Liz sighed.

“Yeah.”

“Wish me luck.”

“You won’t need it.” Tess smiled.


Liz went to Isabel’s room and knocked softly.

“Come in.”

Liz opened the door and Isabel was already changed into her pajamas.

“Hey Liz! Congratulations!” Isabel walked over and hugged the petite girl.

“Thanks.” Liz hugged her back. “Uh Isabel, I have to tell you something.”

“What is it?” Isabel asked as she went back and sat on her bed.

Taking a deep breath, Liz blurted it out quickly, “My mom and I are leaving tomorrow.”

“What? Leaving? Where to?”

“Well, we’re going to spend a few days at my grandmother’s house. Then we’re heading off to Massachusetts.”

“Wha—? When?”

“Uh…tomorrow.”

“Tomorrow? Why so soon?”

“We still need to find an apartment there and my mom needs to find a job and settle in.”

“Oh…”

“Yeah…”

The two girls fell silent.

“Oh Liz.” Isabel rushed and hugged Liz fiercely. “I’m so gonna miss you, you know that right?”

Liz pulled away. “Of course, I’ll miss you too.”

Both girls had tears streaming down their faces.

“Will you come back to visit?”

“I don’t know…”

“Liz, I’m so sorry for what happened between you and Max.”

“It has nothing to do with you Isabel so you shouldn’t be apologizing. If anything, I should be the one to do that. You and Maria and Tess warned me so many times but I ignored it. I should have trusted you.”

“No, Liz, this isn’t your fault. It’s his ok? He was the one who caused all this.” Isabel said, her anger rising.

Liz shook her head, “It’s over. I just want to forget all of this.”

“I understand. Are you going to be ok?”

“I don’t know. There are a lot of things that happened, a lot that I have to sort out. There’s hurt and pain and anger…I just….” Liz sobbed.

“It’s ok Liz. You don’t need to explain. I just hope that eventually, all that will disappear and you’ll be your old self again. You’ve changed and I hope that you’ll get through this soon. I know you can cause you’re the strongest person I know.” Isabel cried.

Isabel embraced Liz, wishing she could give her own strength to the brown haired girl she had the honor of befriending.

‘I hope so too.’ Liz silently prayed.

When their tears have dried, Isabel asked, “What time are you leaving?”

“Uh, in the morning I think.”

“Ok.”

“I have to go and do some more packing.”

Isabel nodded.

Liz hugged her again and left the room.


The next day, the entire Evans household was in the living room, even Liz and Isabel’s friends were all there. Max didn’t know what was going on but he was ordered by both his parents to come out of his room. He stayed in the far corner of the room where Alex sat beside him.

“Did you talk to her?” Alex started.

“Who?” Max asked.

“Liz.”

At the mere mention of her name, Max’s demeanor changed.

“No, I didn’t. Where is this coming from?”

“Don’t you know?” Alex was surprised.

“Know what? What’s going on?”

“Max, Liz is leaving.”

“Leaving?! Where to?”

“She and Nancy are going to Massachusetts. She got accepted into Harvard. Jeez, how could you not know? Isabel rounded us up last night.”

“She didn’t tell me.” Max eyes narrowed. He started to look around, trying to find his sister.

Just before he could say anything else, Liz and Nancy went out of their room. Tess was walking beside Liz and it was obvious that both had been crying.

The Parkers were surprised to see everyone assembled in the living room.

“What’s all this?” Nancy wondered.

“It’s just our way of saying goodbye.” Diane stepped forward. Then she turned to Liz, “Congratulations Liz.” She hugged her briefly.

“Thank you Mrs. Evans.” Liz hugged the older woman back.

“Here, it’s a graduation gift.” Diane handed an envelope to her.

Liz wondered what it was. When she opened it, she was shocked to see that it contained money. She quickly closed it and tried to give it back.

“Oh no, I can’t take this. Mrs. Evans, thank you but this is too much. I can’t—“

“Hush, don’t worry about it. It’s ok. We’re just happy for you. You made us proud Liz.”

“Thank you.”

“Hey, we don’t have our gifts yet.” Michael began, scratching his brow signaling that he was slightly embarrassed.

“We’ll just bring them over when we visit.” Alex added, moving closer to Liz.

“Good luck out there, though I’m sure you’ll do great. We’ll miss you Chica.” Maria moved towards her for a hug.

“I’ll miss you all too.” She whispered as the four shared a group hug.

“Hey! Wait! Wait!” Isabel yelled, running down the stairs.

Everyone looked at her as she came towards Liz, gasping for air.

“Here. This is for you.”

“Isabel, you didn’t have to.”

“I wanted to.” Isabel smiled.

Liz looked at Isabel’s present and saw that it was an album.

“I made it last night…to remind you of us.”

Liz flipped through it and saw the pictures of her and her friends. A tear started to roll down her face. “Thank you. You don’t have to worry about anything. I will never forget you.”

The five friends hugged once more and Max wished that he could join them. No matter how much he wanted to take Liz in his arms and never let her go, he knew he didn’t have the right. So he just hung back behind the crowd and watched Liz.

“Thank you so much for the kindness you have shown me and my daughter. I can never tell you how much we appreciate everything you’ve done for us.” Nancy spoke through her tears.

“I’ll miss you guys. And thanks.” Liz said once more to her friends.

Everyone escorted them out to the car where Ed was waiting for them. Kyle helped him load their bags in the trunk as Nancy first got in, followed by Liz.

They waved goodbye to everyone when the car started to move.

As the car pulled out of the driveway, Liz looked back one last time. Everyone has walked closer to the car, standing on the drive path. But there on the top of the front steps was Max watching the car drive away. The sun shone on his face and Liz saw tears in his eyes. As much as she wanted to turn away, she couldn’t. Their eyes locked on each other until their figures became too small to see.

Liz settled back on her seat and cried. Nancy reached over and wrapped her arms around her weeping daughter.

Max went back to his room where he laid in bed and cried his heart out; the anguish, pain and the realization that he may never see Liz again washing over him.

As their tears continued to fall, the lovers said their goodbyes to each other in their hearts.


Chapter 25

10 years later

In the years that have passed, Max Evans changed a lot. He is now a successful lawyer working with his father in Evans and Evans, Philip’s father’s law firm that has been passed from father to son. And for years now, Max’s has been filling the role of the son in the second half of the firm’s name. At 27, he is still one of the most handsome men any woman can come across and is still making girls swoon with one look from him. He now owns his own house and a couple of cars though he returns to the mansion for the Sunday family dinners that he and Isabel would not dare miss or they would have to face the wrath of Diane.

Although he has changed back to the old Max that everyone knew and loved and got back with his old friends, some things about him were irreparable, like his heart. He has never loved anyone else like he loved Liz and because of that he hasn’t had a girlfriend since. Philip and Diane are beginning to worry that Max will be a bachelor forever. They’re worried that he’ll die old and alone with no one to take care of him throughout his years. Max hasn’t even gone out on a date with another girl because once that idea creeps in his head, the name Liz immediately pops in. After several attempts, Isabel and Maria finally gave up in trying to be his matchmaker.


Isabel and Alex have gotten married a year ago and are expecting their first child. Alex is now in charge of running the family business with his father as a silent partner. Alex just informs him of the day to day activities but he now makes the decisions with it. Isabel on the other hand, is also a lawyer in the Evans’ law firm but has currently taken a leave of absence due to her pregnancy. She most handles family law and cases dealing with children as she requested from her father. But right now, her focus is on their new baby and everything that the baby MUST have as according to her.


Michael has gone on to become a famous painter with the encouragement of his mother although Hank still wishes that he would take over their company someday. He and Maria are engaged to be wed but no date has been set yet. As for Maria, she has followed her mother’s footsteps and became a famous fashion designer.


And Liz Parker, co-owner of the swanky and classy restaurant Parkers’, has become a successful businesswoman. Nancy and Liz decided to use some of their savings, which they were supposed to give to the Evans, to start a small catering business. By word of mouth, more and more people began liking their culinary services and they went on to open a small restaurant. It was pretty much like a diner in size but since most of their clients were from the upper class, their patrons required a posh atmosphere. Soon, their restaurant grew and is now one of the best known fine dining restaurants in Massachusetts. And now they already have a branch in Boston, New York and LA, which goes to show how flourishing their small business has turned out.

However, as their business grew, the more Liz got involved. And the more she got involved, the more the changes in her were revealed. Nancy thought that moving would be a good change for Liz and could be a way to pave a new start for her daughter. But when Liz graduated and got engrossed in running the restaurant, Nancy noticed how indifferent she was becoming. Nancy wanted to think that Liz’s childhood promise and determination to make a better life for them are the reasons spurring her on this quest. But at the back of her mind, she knew that Max was a big factor too.

In simpler terms, Liz has become a cold-hearted bitch with nothing but career and success in mind.


Today was Tess and Kyle’s wedding. Both the Parker and Evans families were invited as well as Maria who was escorted by her fiancée and Agnes.

Mr. and Mrs. Evans came along with Isabel and Alex Whitman. Maria and Michael were there too. When the two couples saw each other, they all decided to sit together.

Nancy and Liz came as well and Agnes waved them over since she has already saved seats for them. But as they walked over to where she was, Mr. and Mrs. Evans saw Nancy and they talked to her for a few minutes. Hearing Nancy’s name called, the four friends looked over and saw Liz.

“Liz!” Isabel yelled and tried to run towards her as much as her pregnancy could.

“Isabel!” Liz greeted and walked hurriedly over to her friend.

“Ohmygod! Is it really you?” Isabel was surprised.

“Yeah.” Liz laughed.

“You look spectacular. My goodness, look at you. I’ll bet guys are lined up to date you. Are you married?” Isabel raised Liz’s left hand looking for a ring. Finding none, she continued, “Do you have a boyfriend?”

Liz laughed out loud, “God no. I’m too busy to have a boyfriend let alone a husband.”

“Oh yeah I heard about your restaurant. I’m so sorry I haven’t visited for a long time, as you can see...” Isabel pointed towards her protruding belly.

“When are you due?” Liz asked, touching Isabel’s pregnant stomach.

“Soon I hope.” Isabel giggled. “C’mon, everyone would want to see you.”

They walked over to where the others were seated and Maria screamed.

“Liz!!!”

“Hi Maria.” Liz greeted.

Oh wow, you look stunning.” Maria commented.

Liz looked down at herself. She was wearing a simple light blue dress and had her hair all tied high on her head. She was wearing matching sandals and a small beaded purse.

“Thanks Maria.”

“Hey.” Michael said and gave Liz a quick hug.

Alex did the same. “How have you been?”

“Busy. Terribly busy. I’m sorry I wasn’t there at your wedding. I wanted to go and I would have but we had a lot of clients during that time and I had to supervise some of the workers personally. I’m really sorry.”

“Hey no problem with me. You have to apologize to the Mrs. But I think she already forgave you judging the huge smile on her face.”

Liz looked around her four friends. It was great to be with them again. She had truly missed them.

Nancy went over to Agnes and then she looked around for Liz. She saw her with her old friends and was happy to see her smiling freely.


Max was fixing his tie, rushing up into the small chapel. He knew that Isabel was gonna berate him for being late again. As he got in, he craned his neck looking for his sister and his friends. What he didn’t expect to see was the love of his life standing right next to them.

He was frozen on the spot. He couldn’t make his feet move no matter how hard he tried. His mouth felt dry and when Liz moved her head in his direction, he quickly hid behind the last pew. He actually felt silly but seeing her happy and laughing with their friends, he didn’t want to ruin her mood so he took his seat in the last row.

During the rest of the wedding ceremony, Max couldn’t focus on it even if he wanted to. His concentration was directed solely on Liz. In his mind, he was memorizing her features. From where he was seated, he could see the right side of her face. She has grown into a very stunning woman though she was still petite. In his eyes she has become even more beautiful if that was possible. He ached to be able to talk to her, to hold her. And suddenly he realized that he could feel his heart beating loud. His feelings never changed for Liz. He wondered if she was married and the thought of that scared him down to his bones. He hoped that she didn’t have a husband or a fiancée or a boyfriend. ‘And if she didn’t, then what? Get a grip Max. Do you think she would even want to talk to you after everything you did?’ Max thought to himself.


When the wedding was over, all of the guests proceeded to the chapel grounds for the garden reception. Tess and Kyle were making rounds, greeting their guests. Philip, Diane, Nancy and Agnes were seated together in one table while the five friends were in another. Max decided to sit himself with the other guests who he didn’t even know. That table was a couple behind Liz’s so he could still have a good view of her from where he was. He introduced himself as a friend of the couple to the other guests around the table and they were satisfied with that, some of the women were just glad he was there.

“Oh God, Liz!” Tess pulled Liz into a hug which Liz happily returned. “It’s so good to see you.”

“You too Tess. You look beautiful. You’re glowing!” Liz complimented. “You too Kyle.”

“Thanks Liz. And thanks for coming.” Kyle said.

“No problem. I’m really happy to see you two finally settle down.”

“Yeah, me too. How about you? Are there any prospects yet?” Tess asked.

“Yeah, right. Please Tess, you know me. I don’t go out with guys who are only looking for some fun.”

“Aren’t there any guys who wanted a serious relationship? That would be hard to believe with you Liz.” Michael commented.

“Yeah, any guy would drool over you Chica.” Maria added.

“Well…there may have been a few but I just wasn’t interested in them.” Liz answered.

“I’m sure you’ll find the right guy soon.” Isabel said.

Liz smiled back at her. ‘Not if I can help it.’ She thought silently.

“Oh, since you’re here, you have to join the other single ladies when it’s time to throw the bouquet.” Tess spoke.

“What? No. Tess, I don’t think—” Liz began.

“Uh uh, there will be no excuses. You’re joining and that’s final. Now if you’ll excuse us, we have to see the other guests.” Tess took Kyle’s hand as they went over to other tables.

“You guys are joining too right?” Liz asked worriedly.

Isabel turned to Liz to look at her, but before she could answer her, she saw Liz and the way she looked back when they were in high school. She didn’t know what it meant but it made her gasp and think of her and Max.

“Isabel, are you ok?” Alex asked worriedly after hearing his wife gasp. “Is it the baby?”

“No, no. I just remembered something.” Isabel waved him off.

“Liz, we can’t join in that. Isabel is married and I’m engaged.” Maria told her.

“Please don’t tell me I’ll be the only one there.” Liz groaned.

“Oh no, Tess and Kyle’s single women relatives would join too.”

“Oh great, like that’s a big relief.” Liz said sarcastically as she slumped back on her seat.

The four friends all looked at each other. The old Liz wouldn’t act that way and they were caught off guard.


The time for the bouquet toss arrived and Liz was literally dragged to the dance floor by Kyle upon Tess’ instruction which Kyle happily obliged. Max stayed in his seat but craned his neck to watch Liz.

“C’mon Liz, it’ll be fun.” Kyle said.

“Easy for you to say.” Liz muttered.

“Look there are other women joining, you might not catch it.”

“And if I do?”

“Well you know they say that whoever catches it will be the next one to marry. Maybe it’ll be a sign for you.”

Liz huffed.


When the host announced it, about 7-8 single women gathered at the center of the dance floor. Tess looked directly at Liz and smiled coyly at her and turned around, getting ready to toss her bridal bouquet to the waiting ladies behind her.

Liz was in the middle and there were other ladies in front of her, which she thought would be a safe place since she didn’t have any plans of running after it.

When the emcee asked Tess to throw it, the other ladies started hollering. Then with a quick fling of her arms the bouquet flew threw the air.

The other ladies scrambled for it, waving their arms up to catch the precious bundle of flowers. Liz raised her hands to protect her head from the flailing arms. Then by a mysterious twist of fate, her fingers tangled on some piece of ribbon. Bringing her arms down, her eyes widened when she saw the bouquet in her hands.

“Ohmygod!” Liz exclaimed.

“Ohmygod!” Isabel and Maria screeched.

“Ohmygod!” Tess squealed when she turned around.

“Ohmygod.” Max whispered from the far end of the reception area.


Liz was pretty much sulking after that. Then her mother went up to her to cheer her up a little as she pulled her towards the Evans.

“Hello Liz.” Diane and Philip greeted her.

“Hi Mr. and Mrs. Evans.” Liz answered.

“We hear that you’ve become quite the successful CEO of Parkers’.” Philip said.

“Uh yeah.”

“Wow, you caught the bouquet.” Diane spoke.

“Yeah. I didn’t even want to join but Kyle dragged me out there.”

“Is there a lucky guy?” Diane continued.

“I wish, she’s so busy, I’m thankful she even has time for me.” Nancy said.

“Mom.” Liz pursed her lips.


On the other end of the celebration, Michael was pulled fiercely on the arm by Max.

“Hey, where the hell have you been?” Michael was surprised to see Max.

“Somewhere. Look, you have to do me a favor.” Max spoke rapidly.

“What is it?”

“You have to catch the garter.”

“What? What are you talking about?”

“Kyle will throw Tess’ garter to a bunch of guys. You have to catch it.”

“Why the hell would I do that?” Michael started to scowl.

“Because I saw Liz catching the bouquet.”

“Oh…I see. Well why don’t you catch the garter for yourself?”

“Because she probably still hates me.” Max said sadly.

“But Maria will kill me if I join.”

“No she won’t. Explain it to her.”

“Fine. But what if I don’t catch it?”

“You have to.” Max pleaded.

“Fine, ok. I will. Jeez, the things I do for a friend.”

“Thanks Mike. I’m glad we’re friends too.” Max flashed a huge grin and went back to his seat.

Michael went up to Maria and told her about Max’s plan. He could see Maria animatedly talking to Michael and moved her head from side to side, obviously looking for him. Max waved at her and she just smiled and shook her head.


When Kyle called some of the single men on the floor, he was surprised to see Michael. He just shrugged and turned his back on the guys that assembled. And then he threw the garter high up in the air.

Michael had to push and shove some guys out of the way to reach it. Luckily, he caught the garter.

Liz saw this and breathed a sigh of relief the same time as Max did.

Both Liz and Michael were directed to the center so Michael can put the garter on Liz’s leg. They also had to dance along with the newlyweds. Both of them were laughing at how Michael made that magnificent catch and how the other guys were complaining that he cheated. All together it was a fun event, much to Liz’s relief.


Isabel went over to sit beside Max.

“Why are you hiding all the way here?” She began.

“I don’t want her to see me yet.” Max answered.

“Why is that?”

“Because I don’t know what to say to her.” He sighed. “Do you think she still hates me?”

“I don’t know.” Isabel shook her head slightly.

“God, do you see how beautiful she is?” Max asked.

“Yeah, she is.”


When the dance finished, Michael led Liz back to their table just in time to hear her mobile start ringing.

“Parker” she answered.

“What? What do you mean you have a problem?”

“Damn it, I leave you guys for a day and shit happens!”

“Fine. Give me 30 minutes, I’ll be there.

“No! Tell them to stop everything. You just might fuck it all up if you don’t!”

Liz flipped her cellphone off. Alex, Maria and Michael were somewhat shocked to see this side of Liz which they knew never existed before.

“I’m sorry you guys. Gotta run. Talk to you again soon. Alex say bye to Isabel for me. Bye.” And with that, she took off towards her mother to inform her that she was leaving. Then she went to find Tess and Kyle to say goodbye.

“Was it just me or did I hear Liz swear a few times?” Maria asked aloud.


While Max was talking to Isabel, he didn’t notice Liz leave. When he did, he looked everywhere. When he couldn’t find her, he stood up and moved his head in every direction trying to look for Liz.

“What?” Isabel asked, standing up slowly.

“She’s gone.”

“What do you mean she’s gone?”

“She’s not here anymore.” Max replied still looking around.

“Maybe we should head over to our table.” Isabel tugged Max’s sleeve and they walked over to where the others were.

“Where’s Liz?” He asked immediately.

“She left.” Maria said.

“Where to?”

“We don’t know.” Alex answered.

“She got a call and then she said she had to go.” Michael added.

“Great, how will I find her again?”

“Well Mom and Dad are over there talking to Nancy. Lay low and I’ll ask her for you.” Isabel offered.

“Thanks Iz.”

Isabel waddled over to the table where Nancy and her parents were still seated.

“Hi Nancy!”

“Isabel! Oh look at you, you’re positively radiant.”

“Comes with the pregnancy I guess.”

“Yeah, I think it happens to all mothers” Nancy said.

“It’s good to see you again.” Isabel moved to give Nancy a quick peck on the cheek.

“You too my dear.”

“Nancy, do you know where Liz rushed off to?” Isabel asked.

“Yes. She had to go attend a meeting with the construction company for the new branch we’re opening here.” Nancy replied.

“Oh Nancy, I didn’t know Parkers’ are putting up a branch here.” Diane exclaimed. “That would be utterly wonderful.”

“Thanks. Liz has been very hands-on with the restaurant ever since she graduated. Sometimes I even have to ask her to take a break or else she’d work herself to death.”

“I know how that’s like.” Diane nudged her husband.

“Don’t worry Isabel. I’m sure Liz will make time for you. You two have been so close then.”

“Yeah…Well, I better get back to my husband before he freaks.”

The Evans laughed at that, knowing how overprotective Alex has become, more so when they found out about their first baby.

Isabel walked back to her own table and was met with everyone’s expectant stares.

“Nancy said she had to go to a meeting for the new restaurant they’re opening up here.”

“So that means she’ll be staying here, right?” Max asked.

“I guess so.” Isabel answered.

“Good.”

“What are you planning to do Max?” Maria asked.

“I don’t know yet.”

“Just make sure you don’t break her heart this time.” Michael said threateningly. “You know what’s gonna come to you if you do.”

“Yeah, I haven’t forgotten that. And I don’t have any plans on breaking anyone’s heart this time, especially not hers. I’d die first before I do that.”

“Glad to hear it Maxwell.” Alex gave him a pat on the back.

“Thanks” was Max’s only reply telling him more than enough as he and Alex communicated silently.

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kay_b
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Post by kay_b » Fri Feb 13, 2004 9:13 pm

Chapter 26

One Friday, a week after the Valenti wedding, the Delucas were getting ready for a fashion show. It was quite hectic and Amy and Maria were running around everywhere trying to have everything ready by the weekend. The show will be held on Saturday evening and mother and daughter were rushing up with the last minute details.

“Damn it!” Amy yelled, slamming the phone on the table.

“What’s wrong?” Maria entered her mother’s office.

“The caterer had to cancel!” Amy said throwing her hands in the air.

“What? Why?”

“I don’t know, something about a stupid secretary making a double booking. Apparently they don’t have enough staff to do it.” Amy threw a phone book open, looking for another caterer who could accept them this late.

“Mom, mom!” Maria held down Amy’s hands as she was almost tearing the pages out with the way she was flipping them. “I got an idea.”

“Stop dawdling Maria. I haven’t got all day. What is it?”

“Why don’t we get the Parkers’?”

“The Parkers’? Amy’s eyes widened. She ate at that restaurant once when she was in New York and liked it so much that she kept returning every time she visited the Big Apple.

“I know how much you love that place and their food is great. So will they be ok with you?” Maria asked.

“Ok? Ok? Maria, they are more than ok! But how? Do you think they’d cater for us? I mean it’s already Friday.” Amy fretted.

“Mom, do you know who owns Parkers’?”

“Someone whose last name is Parker? I don’t know! Just tell me already!” Amy yelled.

“Do you remember Elizabeth Parker?”

Amy seemed to think about it for a minute. “The name sounds familiar. Isn’t she Philip and Diane’s scholarship recipient?”

“Yup” Maria grinned widely.

“Yeah, you were friends with her…OHMYGOD! She’s the owner?”

“Yup. She and her mom Nancy.”

“Oh, Nancy, I remember her. She was a great cook. Oh Maria, do you think we could get them. The guests will be pleased if we get the Parkers’.”

“I’ll give her a call right now.” Maria said as she picked up the phone.


Liz was walking around the half-constructed restaurant when her mobile rang.

“Parker.” She spoke icily.

“Hey Liz, it’s Maria.”

“Oh hi Maria.” Liz greeted warmly, her voice changing quickly. That didn’t escape Maria’s notice.

“Listen, I know it’s very late and all but I need a huge favor from you to which I would owe you my first child if you grant it.”

Liz giggled, “What is it Maria?”

“Well, I told you about the fashion show tomorrow night right?”

“Yeah.”

“Well…our caterer backed out at the last minute and now I need you to take over, please, please, pretty please!”

Liz immediately got out her organizer to check the New York branch’s schedule since it’s the nearest.

“Liz, are you there?”

“Yes Maria, I’m still here. Hang on while I check my schedule.”

After a few minutes of silence Liz spoke again. “Ok, I can get some of my staff to come here but they’ll be arriving tomorrow morning. Then they have to head on out to your venue so they can get everything set. Do you have a menu ready? I need that before I call there so I can have them whip up whatever they can now.”

“Uh, well, not really. We let the other caterer handle that since Mom and I are too busy with the clothes and the models and the layout and—“

“Fine. Say no more Maria. I’ll just set the menu for you. How many people would be attending? It’ll be mostly finger food and wine right?”

“About 250-300 and yes mostly canapés and champagne. Oh thank you, thank you, thank you. Liz, I owe you a big one.”

“Don’t worry about it. I’ll call them as soon as we hang up. Will you be at the venue today?”

“Yeah, we’re having a dress rehearsal this afternoon.”

“Good. I need to check out the place so I’ll know where everything goes and where the staff can prepare the plates. I’ll talk to you later then. Bye Maria.”

“Bye Liz. And thanks again.”


Saturday evening has arrived and the place was packed. Behind the runway, Maria and Amy were like chickens whose heads were chopped off as they were all over the backstage area making sure that everything was set. In a corner of the room, Liz has her headset on, giving orders to her staff who were preparing the table where the guests could get some of the gourmet snacks. Some of the staff are going around with glasses filled with wine and champagne served to the guests personally.

The town’s rich people and high society came for the event. Liz recognized most of them from her days at Wilmington. She even saw Pam and Sean seated together a few rows behind the first.

The Evans, Guerins and Whitmans were present. Diane took Nancy’s arm and they sat together on the first row. Philip and Hank were busy discussing business as usual.

Liz was overwhelmed to see her mother sitting among her former employers. ‘I guess we finally did it Dad’ she thought to herself. After all the hard work they’ve put in, they were finally back where they belong.

Liz was too busy assigning tasks to her staff that she didn’t notice someone approaching her. Max was directly behind her, watching her work. Even when she sounded so stern towards her employees, she still moved with grace.

Liz felt someone staring at her back and thought it was another member of her team standing idly, waiting for an order from her. She turned around swiftly and bumped right smack into Max.

“Jesus, don’t you watch where you’re—” Liz eyes grew big.

“Hello Liz.” Max said huskily.

Liz composed herself and gave him a cold glare. “Max.” Then she turned her back to him and started yelling once more.

Max blinked, “I can see you’re busy. Uh, I’ll just come back later.”

Max didn’t move as he waited for Liz to acknowledge him. But she didn’t.

She knew that they would run into each other eventually. But no matter how much she told herself that she would be ready, her heart knew she wasn’t. If it wasn’t for her father and grandmother, she never would have entertained her mother’s idea of opening a branch here. There was no way she would have ever returned to this god-forsaken place if it wasn’t for her family.

She drew in a breath but still had her back towards Max. She focused on what each and every one of her staff were doing to take her mind off the fact that he was standing close behind her, too close.

A couple minutes later, she felt Max’s presence disappear. She slowly turned her head to look behind her and saw that he was gone. She took in a deep breath to calm herself down and went back to work, speaking more reservedly towards her team this time.


Max walked back to his seat slowly. He knew she was going to be there because the Parkers were invited to this event. He just didn’t know that she’d be working. He knew about Parkers’ and that it was owned by Liz and Nancy. It helped to be one of the top rising lawyers of the country which allowed him to get the information he needed. He had eaten there a few times when his cases took him to Boston and New York. But not once did he see Liz during those visits. Maybe she was avoiding him, which wouldn’t be a shocker really. He even knew that if they meet again, she would probably treat him badly. However, he didn’t anticipate the cold stare he got from her. It was like staring into the eyes of someone whose heart was wrapped in ice. Back in high school with those precious times he shared with Liz, her expressive eyes and kind heart were what drew him to her the most. And he hated to think that he was the cause of her losing that.


When the show was over and the guests were mingling with each other, Max tried to look for Liz. A lot of people, especially the women were trying to catch his attention but he concentrated on finding the one person he wanted to see.

He wanted to talk to her so badly. He wanted to apologize to her for the way he treated her back then. He wanted to explain why he did what he did. He wanted to tell her that she was the only girl he ever loved. But the real question is would she even give him a chance to do all that.

He went into the improvised kitchen but he couldn’t find her. He began asking for her from one of the waitresses but she told him that Ms. Parker decided to leave early, complaining of a headache. That only confirmed his suspicion that she was avoiding him at all costs.

He knew that he had his work cut out for him. But no matter how hard it would be, he wasn’t giving up. Not with Liz, not this time.


Chapter 27

Since he was the Delucas’ legal adviser, Max managed to acquire Liz’s phone number by secretly retrieving it from Maria’s phone book. Now he was back at his magnificent, very masculine office, seated behind his dark mahogany desk with a piece of paper in hand, staring at it.

‘To call or not to call…’ He thought of the different scenarios that could happen if he calls Liz. He knows that he should talk to her in person but she won’t even look at him let alone sit down and talk. But if he calls her and she finds out who it is, she’ll probably hang up, tell someone in their group of friends, and eventually they’ll be able to trace it back to him stealing her number from Maria. And then at least one more person would hate him and Maria would definitely let him have a piece of her mind over what he did.

He sighed, exhausted over all these thoughts running through his head.

“Is there anything else you would need?” his secretary, who’s a few years older than him, asked as she placed some files on his desk.

“No, that would be all. Thanks Laurie.” Max immediately reached for a file and started reading it. He noticed that Laurie was still standing in his room.

Max raised his head to look at her. “Yes Laurie?”

“Uh, Max…are you ok?

“Yeah, I’m fine.”

“You don’t look like it.”

“I know.” He said softly.

“Do you want to talk about it? We could go have coffee or something?” She asked.

Max shook his head no. “I don’t want to go out.”

“We could talk here.”

“Thanks for the offer Laurie but I have a lot to think about first.”

“Max, can I ask you something. I mean, we’ve known each other for a long time and a lot of people, well the ladies mostly, they’re speculating that…. I know it’s not true but I’m kinda starting to think about it.”

“Think about what?”

“That you’re um…” She leaned in close and whispered, “gay.”

“What?!” Max stood up abruptly.

“It’s ok Max. My lips are sealed. Whatever you want to tell me will not leave this room.”

“You’re damn right it won’t because I am not nor have I ever been gay!”

“Well, that’s good to know. It’s just, I’ve known you for so long and not once have I heard you going out with someone. I mean even Isabel was trying to set you up on dates and you keep rejecting it. ”

“Look, I do prefer women, well actually just one in particular but—”

“Oh, so there is someone. Ohmygod, I’m so sorry Max, I didn’t know. This is so embarrassing, forget I ever said anything.”

“It’s ok. It’s not a big deal.” Max sighed and sat back down.

“If you don’t mind my asking…why don’t you have a picture of her around here?”

“Her who?”

“Your girlfriend.”

“Because she’s not my girlfriend…well, she used to be but….”

“But what?” Laurie sat in one of the expensive Italian chairs at the front of his desk.

“I did something in the past that really hurt her.”

“You must really love her if you’re holding on for this long.”

“How do you know that?”

“Don’t get this the wrong way but look around you Max, your office is the epitome of bachelorhood. Not one speck of coziness in here. It’s obvious that it needs a woman’s touch so desperately. And if she was in your life, I know she would have done something about it or I would have heard her voice at least. What did you do?”

Max took a deep breath, “I broke up with her, in a bad way. I sorta insulted her to make her hate me.”

“Why would you do something like that if you’re in love with her?”

“I had to. I was really messed up back then. I didn’t want her to get involved and hurt by it, so I pushed her away.”

“Oh Max.” Laurie’s face showed him sympathy.

“Now I have to find a way to get her back. I just hope I’m not too late.”

“Well, I hope you do too.” Laurie patted his arm then left the office.

And Max gathered up the courage to make a call.


“Parker.” Liz answered her mobile.

Silence greeted her.

“Hello, who is this?” She asked snobbishly. “If you don’t answer me in 5 seconds, I’m gonna hang up. 1…2…3…”

“Liz. It’s Max.” He spoke softly.

It was Liz’s turn to fall silent.

“Liz? Are you there?”

“How the hell did you get my number?!”

“Uh, look, that’s not important.”

“Oh yes it is! Who gave it to you?!”

“No one. I looked it up.”

“It’s unlisted!”

“Liz, please. I…We need to talk.”

“What for? You’ve said everything there is ten years ago. Now fuck off and leave me alone!”

“Liz, please, I’m sorry. For everything, you don’t know what I was going through—”

“What you were going through?! That’s a laugh. I was still in that house months after we broke up, or have you forgotten about that part?!”

“I know, but there were things…I can’t tell you over the phone. Please, I want to talk to you face to face, Liz.”

“You don’t always get what you want Max. And I can assure you that I was going through a lot more than you were. Now don’t ever call this number again!”

“Liz, please…I just want to explain.”

“You?! Explaining yourself to a maid’s daughter?! I wouldn’t want you to stoop so low.” Liz continued, “That’s a load of crap Max and both you and I know that.”

“NO! God, there’s so much I have to say. Please, just give me a chance, just one chance.” Max was getting desperate.

“You’ve had several chances back then. Goodbye Max Evans.” Liz turned off her cell phone in the chance that Max might call again.

“Liz, wait!” Hearing the click sound letting him know that Liz hung up, he quickly dialed the number again…and again…and again….

Gathering his resolve, he went back to Maria’s office.


Max burst through the doors.

“What— Max! What’s wrong? What happened?” Maria asked.

“I need the address of the new Parkers’. Do you know where it is?” Max spoke hurriedly.

“No. Why?” Her eyes narrowed, “Max, what did you do?”

“Damn!” Max paused to think. “Do you know where she’s staying?”

“I don’t know the address but the last time we talked she said she was staying at her grandma’s place temporarily.”

“Great, thanks Maria.” And with that he sped off towards the old house where he experienced the most wonderful night of his life over a decade ago.


As he drove towards Liz’s old house, he thought about everything that has happened for the past 10 years.

When Liz left, he completely broke down and he locked himself in his room for 3 days, never coming out even when it was time to eat. He stayed cooped up in his bedroom, his misery washing over him. If he wasn’t crying he was asleep and if he wasn’t asleep he was crying. His pain was drowning him and he didn’t know how to break through the surface. There were times when he just wanted to end it all. He even wondered if Liz would show up at his funeral.

On the fourth day, Diane and Philip were beside themselves with worry. They kept knocking, calling out for him but he wouldn’t answer them. Diane shouted orders for someone to look for his key but they couldn’t find it. Isabel came home with Alex and the commotion they heard and saw frightened her. Fearing the worst, Philip broke the door down. The Evans rushed through the doorway and saw Max on the floor, curled into the fetal position, sobbing and gasping for air.

His parents kept asking him if he took anything and he still wouldn’t budge. When Alex’s voice pierced through his muddled brain, he looked at his old friend.

“She’s gone” he whispered. That was the only thing he said before he fell asleep from exhaustion.


When he woke up, he was lying on his bed and he saw his mother’s face hovering above him.

“Mom?” his voice was hoarse. He hadn’t shaved in days and he hasn’t showered either. Diane was smoothing out his hair, begging him to talk to her, to tell her what’s wrong.



He remembered the conversation he had with his parents that day, and it was the first step to make everything right again.

“Sweetie, tell us what’s wrong so we can help you.” Diane prodded.

“You know we’re here son.” Philip spoke.

“I’m not dreaming am I? She’s really gone isn’t she?” Max asked.

“Yes Max, she and Nancy left a few days ago.” Philip said.

And that made him cry once more. Diane moved to sit beside him and cradled his head in her lap like back when he was a young boy and he would have nightmares of monsters under his bed.

“It hurts so much, Mom. I lost her. I let her go and I won’t ever see her again.” He sobbed.

“I wish I can take away your pain honey.” Diane’s tears rolled down her face.

“I know it was for her own good but why does it feel so wrong? Why do I feel so much agony?”

“What are you talking about Max?” Philip wondered.

“She would have gotten hurt either way and it will be all my fault.”

“Max, tell us what happened.” Diane pleaded with him.

“I’m so tired Mom.” Max was whispering.

“Max, tell us what happened and we’ll help. We’ll do everything we can to take away the pain. Please, talk to us.” Diane begged.

Max’s eyes took on a faraway look. “I killed someone.”

“What?” Both his parents asked.

“Max what are you saying son?” Philip questioned.

“You see all those trophies?” Max’s voice was low. “I got so greedy, I wanted to win all the time. I took drugs a couple of times to win.”

“Oh Max.” Diane bit back a sob.

“But I didn’t.” Max chuckled. “Those times that I took them, I still lost to Nick Baxter. Do you remember him Dad?”

Philip nodded.

“When he came to Wilmington, he took them all, he won every race and I became his runner-up.”

“Was he the one you say you killed?” Philip asked.

Max nodded. His voice and movements were sluggish.

He seemed to be in a trance. “He found out about the drugs and he blackmailed me to give him some. And I did. And I told him he should take just one before every race. But the bastard took two before he even left his house. And he died. And I killed him.” Tears fell. “That’s why I changed, I had to hide what I did. I had to drive Liz away because I didn’t want her to get involved in that. I…I told her I couldn’t be in love with a…a maid’s daughter….But I did. I still do.” Max broke down once more.

“Oh Max, you didn’t.” Diane hugged her only son.

“Son, Baxter’s death wasn’t your fault.” Philip spoke.

Max suddenly stood up, fury burned in his eyes. “Yes I did! If it wasn’t for me giving it to him, he would still be alive! He could win every fucking race for all I care!” Then he stumbled to the floor. “I don’t want to carry this burden anymore. I just want all this to end. I just want Liz back.” He crawled over to his mother and held her hands in his own. “Mom, please. Bring them back. Tell Nancy to come back. Please, bring my Liz back.”

Diane hugged her son fiercely as she met Philip’s eyes over Max’s head. How could they not know what was happening to him? How could it have come to this?

After finally opening up to his parents about what happened, they made him go through therapy. He didn’t want to do it at first but he soon realized that they were helping. Therapy made him realize that what happened with Nick wasn’t his fault. Nick acted on his own. He could have told the coach about Max’s drugs and ended it there. But he didn’t; he asked for the drugs and took more than what was instructed. Max understood that unless he was there beside Nick to force down the pills in his throat, the blame would always come back to Nick.

The summer before college, he wanted to drive over to Liz’s old house in the hopes that he could still catch her. When he knew he had enough courage and strength to face her, he was too late.

He was already attending Stanford and was home for Spring break when he and Isabel had a long talk. He told her everything she wanted to know and even confessed to her that he thought of taking his Jeep and driving it into a tree, just to find out if Liz would visit him in the hospital if he survived or at his funeral if he didn’t. Isabel cried and held on to him, vowing to help him with whatever he needed and rallying their friends along with her. He opened up to his friends and apologized to them for the hurt and anger he caused. Maria and Michael forgave him instantly after learning the truth.

He studied and worked hard in college. He wanted to be the best that he could be for Liz. Everything he did, every success and triumph were all for Liz. He tried to look for her, tried to call campus dorms, any Parker listing in the phone book in the Boston area. During the breaks, he wanted to go to the East to visit but he didn’t want to shock her without giving her a heads up. Instead, he wrote letters. The first one was to let her know that he might visit soon but he couldn’t mail it. After that first one, he wrote another, and another, and another. Soon enough, several boxes were filled, all with letters for Liz.

As years went by, he never dated. Not that other women didn’t ask him out they did but he always declined. Isabel and Maria even tried to set him up on dates but he always said no. When they did it behind his back, he got angry and told them that if they didn’t stop, he would never speak to them again. When he saw the look on Isabel’s face, he composed himself and apologized. He finally told them that he hasn’t gotten over Liz and he is still hoping that they’d get back together someday.



He just prayed that she’d find it in her heart to forgive him and take him back. He felt what it was like to love Liz and be loved by her in return. And there is absolutely no way that he would give that up without a fight.


Chapter 28

When Max arrived at Claudia’s house, he mustered up his nerve, took a deep breath and strode towards the front door. He knocked a couple of times before Nancy called out.

“May I help— Max?” Nancy blinked twice. She couldn’t believe that Max was really here.

“Hello Nancy.” He greeted softly.

“Look at you, you’re all grown up now.” Nancy took off her gardening gloves and moved beside Max to open the door. “Come on in.”

“Thanks.” Max walked in after Nancy. Memories of that day went through his mind in a flash. He had to shake his head lightly to clear his thoughts.

“Have a seat. Would you like something to drink?”

“Um, some water would be nice. Thank you.” Max said as he sat down on the couch.

Nancy came back with 2 glasses of ice cold water for the both of them. She handed one to Max. And Max nodded his thanks.

After Nancy settled herself on the couch, she spoke, “What brings you here Max?”

“Um, is Liz here?”

“No, she’s still at the restaurant overseeing the construction.”

“Oh…” Max looked down in his glass.

”Why did you want to talk to her?” Nancy inquired.

“Uh, I called her on her mobile today and she really didn’t want to talk. I figured if I come here, she’d at least hear what I have to say, even if I have to yell it from the other side of that door.” He pointed towards the front door.

“Well, I wouldn’t be surprised if it turns out that way.”

Silence enveloped the house.

Nancy spoke again, “Max, it seems that you mean well but I don’t think this is a good idea. Liz…she’s different from the Liz you used to know.”

“Maybe, but I still need to explain why…why I did what I did back in high school.”

“You mean when you told her that you would never fall for a maid’s daughter?”

Max’s eyes widened, “You…you know about that?”

Nancy nodded, “She told me when I caught her crying one night. We were still at your house that time.”

Max was ashamed, “I’m really sorry Nancy. I didn’t mean that. You know me, even when I became rude to everyone, you knew there was something going on and tolerated my behavior. I know that’s no excuse but I just said that because I didn’t want to hurt her.”

“But you did Max. More than you can ever know.”

“That’s why I came here to explain. A lot of things were going on that I couldn’t tell anyone, not even my parents. I thought if Liz and I stayed together and my secret comes out, she’d get hurt and I couldn’t do that. She deserves more than that.”

“I know. My daughter deserves that best and that’s why I opted to leave as soon as she graduated. She needed a new start, away from the pain that you inflicted on her…”

Max bowed his head.

“…and on you.”

His eyes went straight to hers.

“I knew you were hurting too. It was quite obvious.” Nancy stopped for a moment. It was clear that she was waging an internal battle.

“There are a lot of things you don’t know, the same way that Liz doesn’t know a lot of things that you were going through as you mentioned. Secrets never did anyone any good especially if you’re in a relationship. What are you going to do once you’ve said your apology?”

“I’d ask her to take me back.”

“Do you still love her?”

“With my entire existence.” Max said with conviction.

Nancy merely nodded.

“What happened Max? What happened back then?”

“It’s a long story…” Max began and relayed the events of the past 10 years of his life.


When he finished, Nancy felt pity for the boy she once took care of. “I’m sorry that you felt that you had no one to turn to. Your parents love you so much. You should have told them the day it happened.”

“I know. Believe me if there was any way I could turn back time, I would in a heartbeat.”

Nancy looked at the clock on the wall. She knew she still had time before Liz would come home. So she decided to tell him once and for all.

“Max, I know that you and Liz got intimate in this house.”

Max blushed right down to the tips of his ears. “Uh…she told you that too?”

“She had to.”

“What do you mean?” Max started to feel his heart thumping wildly.

“There was a time when we were still living with you that she had a scare…a pregnancy scare.” Nancy said softly.

Max went pale, his skin was ghostly white.

“I’ve never told anyone, she asked me not to. I promised myself that I wouldn’t get involved in Liz’s love life. But everything that happened when you two broke up hurt her to the core. She’s changed Max, the same way you had back then. I wouldn’t tell you this if I had another choice, but my daughter is slipping away and I think you’re the only one who can help her.”

‘A pregnancy scare’, those were the only words running through his mind. ‘Oh God, what have I done?’

“Max?”

“W-Was it just a f-false alarm?” He stammered.

Nancy nodded. “She was a couple of days late and she was so scared of what it could mean. It turned out that it was only because of all the stress she was going through.”

This time, it was Max’s turn to nod. “I’m so sorry Nancy. If I had known…”

“There would be nothing that you could have done. It was just a scare, nothing more.”

“You said you need my help. That she’s changed. How?”

“I assume you’ve somehow talked to her a little on the phone?”

“Yes.”

“Then you were probably a little surprised at the way she spoke.”

Max nodded again.

“That’s what she’s like everyday, except towards me and to her friends. But to most people, and even to our employees, she’s been known to be heartless and cold.

“What can I do? She won’t even talk to me.” Max asked, perplexed.

“I know that sometimes, I can still see glimpses of my Liz. Isabel gave her an album on that day we left. She still looks at it and sometimes she’d shed a tear or two at a particular page. I didn’t know why but I stole a peek at it once. I didn’t know what page it was but I saw the tear stains. It was a picture of her and the others at Wilmington. At first I thought she was just missing them, but at the corner of that picture was you. You were staring at her and I guess Isabel managed to include you in the frame.”

“I don’t want to assume, but….do you think she still has feelings for me?”

“I honestly don’t know Max. She’s so closed-off. I’m losing my grip on my daughter. You have to do something, break through the walls she has built up for herself. She’s the only family I have left.”

“I hope I can. But I don’t want to push too hard. After finding out about that…what happened then, I don’t know if it’s right for me to enter her life again.” Max said solemnly.

“You told me you still love her.”

“And I do, with all of my heart. But…after all the pain I’ve caused her…how could I make up for all of it?”

“By loving her.”


Liz couldn’t focus on her work after that call from Max. ‘What the hell does he want?’ She kept racking her brains for answers but she couldn’t come up with one. She tried to bury herself in her work and finding a more suitable house to live in if her mom is staying here. She never told her mother about her future plans, but in her mind, it was all set up. She’d find a better place than her grandmother’s house for her mom, nothing overly fancy and insanely big, just the right size for Nancy and her when she visits. She’d finish the new branch, have a grand opening party then leave for Boston the next day. In her mind everything would work out alright. But her heart knew that leaving Nancy here would mean a more difficult journey for her.

For the past 10 years her mother has been by her side all the time. She didn’t know how to exist without her, but she knew she had to start somewhere and this would be the best place to do so. She could still come back anytime, she reasoned with herself.

When she was at Harvard, she hardly dated. She tried to have fun at parties she went to with her classmates, tried to have a social life, tried to date a couple of guys, tried to forget everything about Max. All attempts failed. Her last resolve was to bury herself in her work, and that was exactly what she did. Sadly, she also buried the old Liz along with it.

When she graduated from college, she immediately went to help her mother with their business, putting in what she learned and earning more had allowed their small catering business to grow into the well-known establishment that it is today.

She knew that some of her staff hated her but she would always say that if they didn’t like the job, they could leave. There were other people who would beg for their place. She would trap them at their own game and she came off as a bitch to everyone who saw this side of her. All the hurt she kept inside back then finally exploded, transforming her into this person she herself didn’t even know. She made a vow that she wouldn’t allow herself to fall for someone, to be in love and be vulnerable. However, there were times when she wondered when all this would end, if she would ever go back to being the sweet and kindhearted Liz she once was, the Liz who believed in love and all the magic it could bring. But more often than not, the answer she’d find from within was a big NO.


“I have to go Nancy. Thank you for everything.” Max stood from the couch.

“Will you help Max?” Nancy stood up too.

“Of course I will, I just have to think of how I’m going to do it.”

“Won’t you wait for Liz? I thought you wanted to talk to her.”

“I do but…not just yet.” Max walked towards the door.

“Max, were you at Tess and Kyle’s wedding?”

“Yes I was.”

“Why didn’t you approach her then?”

“I couldn’t. She looked happy…before she caught the bouquet.” Max smiled sadly.

“You asked Michael to catch the garter didn’t you?”

Max nodded. “I wanted to catch it for myself but I knew if I did that, she would have probably run off.”

“Yeah, she would have.” Nancy gave him a small smile.

“I better go. I don’t want her to catch me here.”

Nancy nodded and walked Max to his car.

“Thanks again Nancy for taking care of Liz and for hearing me out.”

“I know you Max. I know you and Liz are right for each other despite everything that happened in the past. You just got sidetracked but you’ll find your way back to each other’s arms soon. Fate has already given you a push in that direction, don’t waste that chance.”

Max stared at Nancy, remembering the lady who took care of him all those years ago.

“Don’t worry Nancy, I won’t.”

Max got in his car and drove off just in time before Liz parked where his car was a couple of minutes ago.


Chapter 29

As he drove back home, Max’s mind was reeling. ‘She thought she was pregnant. She went through all that and I wasn’t there. Oh God, please help me win her back. Give me the chance to prove to her how much I love her. Please, let her forgive me for everything and take me back.’ He silently prayed.

Tears were spilling out of his eyes and he was having trouble driving his black Porsche. He headed straight for Isabel and Alex’s house since it was the nearest. He was trying his hardest to control his sobs, his body trembling with emotions.

As he approached their driveway, he parked his car recklessly and ran for the door. He pounded hard on it until Rosa, their maid, opened it.

“Isabel! Isabel!” Max yelled as he pushed past the maid and went straight in.

Isabel hurried down the stairs as fast as she could, struggling with her pregnant belly. “Max, what is it?” she asked concerned at the look of anguish on his face.

Max slumped on the floor, hugging his body and rocking on his heels. Isabel was immediately worried. When she reached her brother, she wrapped her arms around him.

She held his face in his hands, “Tell me what happened. Max! Look at me!”

“She…she had a scare.” Max sobbed.

“A what? Who? Liz?” Isabel questioned knowing that only Liz could make her brother break down like this.

“She…she thought…she was pregnant. And I…I wasn’t there to help her through it.” Max said softly.

“Oh Max.” Isabel hugged her brother.


When Alex got home, he saw Isabel and Max in the living room talking quietly.

“Hello wife.” Alex greeted with a huge smile.

“Hello my husband.” Isabel said somberly.

“What’s wrong?” Alex asked then he turned to Max. “Max, what’s going on?”

Max looked at Isabel then faced Alex. “When we were in high school, Liz thought she was pregnant.”

Alex eyes widened. “H-How? I mean, who told you that?”

“Nancy.”

“Oh….Why didn’t we know about it? She was hanging out with us during that time.”

“She was pulling away remember?” Isabel whispered.

Everyone fell silent.

“What am I going to do?” Max buried his face in his hands.

“Let me ask you this Max, where do you see this heading? I mean if she forgives you and you’re friends again, what then? What do you want to happen between the two of you?” Alex asked.

“Seriously?” Max asked back.

Alex nodded.

“I’ve never loved anyone like I love her. If she’ll have me, I want us to get married and have a family of our own.” Max said with total honesty.

“Really?” Isabel gasped.

“Really.”

“Oh my goodness! Max I’m so happy. Liz is such a wonderful person. You two will make a great couple.” Isabel exclaimed.

“Yeah, that is if she’ll ever forgive me.” Max said solemnly.


For the next few days, Max did everything he knew with regards to wooing women. He sent flowers by the hundreds to Liz. Nancy was astounded to see so many surrounding their house.

“Where did all this come from?” Liz asked sleepily. She woke up to find her mother standing in the front yard which looked like a field of flowers. There were different colored roses, daisies, tulips, irises, orchids, and so many more. She looked for a card, wondering where it all came from.

Just a step away from the door, she saw it. She opened to read it and when she caught a glimpse of the name Max, she instantly tore it up without even reading what was written.

“Who’s it from Liz?” Nancy inquired.

“No one. I want everyone of those thrown out.” Liz turned and walked back into her room.

“But Liz…” Nancy looked all around her, thinking of how she could throw all those beautiful flowers away. So instead, she gave them out to their neighbors and there were enough for their entire neighborhood.


Next he bought sweet treats, chocolates and candies of every kind with the chance that Liz might like at least one of them. Again, after seeing Max’s name on one of the cards, she had everything thrown out. Once more, Nancy gave them to the neighborhood kids.

After that there were several CDs of love songs compiled to tell Liz what Max wants for the both of them. There were songs of asking for forgiveness, of getting to know each other, and of living happily ever after. And Liz did the same thing she did the days before. This time, Nancy kept them without Liz knowing.

And then came the emails and the phone calls. Max never relented and Liz was so angry that she pulled out the phone line out of the wall and turned off her mobile and her laptop for the entire week.


Max was feeling defeated. He never thought that the Liz he knew back in high school, his sweet little Liz, could turn out like this. He wondered if he’d ever see her again, the Liz he fell in love with.

‘I guess the only way to find that out is to see it for myself. If I’d be able to see a small ounce of that Liz inside her, I’ll stop at nothing to bring her back, even if it makes her hate me more in the process.’ He smirked, ‘It’s not like she doesn’t hate me now anyway.’

He took a deep breath, holding a bottle of beer in one hand and a photo frame in another as he walked barefoot in his own house. In it was the very picture he stole from Isabel that day over a decade ago. He traced Liz’s smiling face as he walked into his room. He placed the picture back on his night table and went into his walk-in closet. He reached up for a medium sized filing box and brought it to his bed.

If he wants Liz to open up to him, maybe he should do it first. And there’s no better way to do that than to finally give her all the letters he wrote to her all those years ago.


Chapter 30

“I’m coming!” Liz called out as she ran to the door.

Nancy was supervising a catering gig and she had overseen the construction for the past several days. She was too tired to go with her mother so she opted to have a quiet relaxing day at home.

When she opened the door though, all that about having a peaceful time flew out of her head. Standing in the doorway was none other than Max Evans himself.

“What the hell are you doing here?”

“We need to talk.”

“You’ve said that a million times already.”

“And you’ve rejected it a million times. There’s a lot I have to say and I want you to hear me out.”

“You’ve got a lot of nerve coming in here and demanding that I listen to whatever sorry bullshit you feel you have the need to dish out! And the reason why I rejected you a ‘million’ times is because I Don’t Want To Hear It!”

“Back in high school I thought I killed someone, a couple years before you arrived.” Max said in a rush.

“What? What are you talking about?” Liz said annoyed.

“I took drugs to win my track meets—”

“Oh for the love of…. This is what you wanted to tell me?! I don’t need to hear this crap!”

Liz was about to slam the door on his face but he slipped his foot in.

“It has a lot to do with why I broke up with you.”

“Get your foot out of my doorway!”

“No! Not until you hear everything.”

“I said I don’t want to! Nothing you say will make a difference!”

“Then hear me out. If you say that it won’t change anything then at least listen.”

Liz huffed, “Fine! If this would finally make you stop hounding me then get it over with already.” She moved to open the door.

Max walked in and placed the box he was carrying on the coffee table. He took a deep breath then sat down.

“Aren’t you going to sit?”

“I’d rather stand.”

“Then I’ll stand as well.” Max was about to stand up.

“Good Lord… alright, alright!” Liz moved to the one-seater and settled herself on it.

Max sat back slowly and wrung his hands together on his lap.

“Well? I don’t have all day so if that was it, I suggest you leave.”

“No, there’s more.”

“Well then make it quick!” Liz said harshly.

Max inhaled deeply and let out his breath very slowly.

“You saw all those trophies and articles in my room. When I was in freshman year, I went for track and I got in. I started winning…a lot. And it somehow got in my head. My ego grew as well as my greed. A new student, Nick Baxter, came to Wilmington and tried out for the track too. He was better than all of us, better than I was. I got a hold of some pills, they were to help my performance. And I thought it did but Nick still outran me. Then he found out about it, he caught me with them, and he blackmailed me for it. I gave him some of my stash and told him to take just one a day before a race. During the finals, he took two before he left his house. He didn’t listen and he died.”

Liz was looking at him with a grim expression on her face.

Max continued, “For years I told myself it was all my fault. If I didn’t take the drugs, he wouldn’t have found out and he wouldn’t have asked me for them, I wouldn’t have given him any of it and he would still be alive. That drove me to pull away from everyone I loved, afraid that they would be ashamed and disgusted of me and of what I had done. I became this cruel person that everyone warned you about.”

“So what does that have to do with our past?” Liz asked snidely.

Max took a deep breath, he was about to get to the hard part. “I didn’t want you to know. I wanted to make myself better before I told you and I thought…I thought that I had to do that on my own. I didn’t want to drag you down with what I’ve done. That’s why I said those things. I knew that the only way to drive you away from me was to make you hate me…. And I guess I succeeded.”

Liz’s eyes turned cold and hard. She was staring intently at him, “You bet it did.”

“I know Liz, and I’m sorry. All those things I told you, I just thought it was for the best, that I was doing the right thing. I know now that I was wrong, I’ve known it for years but I never got the chance to tell you until now. I am so sorry Liz. I’m also sorry for not being there when you thought that you were pregnant—”

“What?! Liz stood up. “Who told you that?!”

“Uh, your mom. Look, Nancy only told me because she wanted me to see, to know that there was a lot going on with you too. Things that I should have known, things that I should have helped you with, but I didn’t. And I’m so sorry for turning away from you when you needed me the most.”

“What makes you think I needed you then, huh?! I did alright on my own!” Liz was on the verge of tears and she was trying so hard to hold them in.

Max stood up to face her, “Is this what you call ‘alright’? This isn’t you Liz. I know the real you and what I’m seeing right now isn’t it.”

“How would you know huh? You said it yourself, you weren’t there. And you sure as hell don’t know me so don’t you go all high and mighty on me claiming that you do! You’ve said your piece now I want you to leave.”

“I’m not done.” He opened the box to show her all the letters in it. “I’ve written all of them to you. I didn’t have the courage to send them but I want you to read them now. It’ll tell you more than I could ever say.”

“What, more apologies? I don’t need them Max. The day you say you drove me away for my own good was the day you ended everything between us. I don’t want to have anything to do with you ever again, do you understand me?!”

“I broke up with you because I didn’t want you to get involved in the mess that I was. I thought it was for your own good because I knew I would have just ended up hurting you.”

“Well I don’t exactly remember jumping up and down for joy and celebrating when you broke up with me!”

“Liz I was just trying to protect you.”

“The only thing I needed protection from was you.” Liz said viciously.

“Liz, please. I was going through so much and that was just a minor thing compared to everything you’ve gone through. I didn’t want to add to that.” Max was trying to reach out for her.

“But you did! Don’t you see? You can’t make my decision for me! You should have told me and allowed me to make the decision on my own! The same way that everyone tried to warn me against you but I didn’t believe them. I betrayed and lied to my friends for you! I believed you! And God, I was such a fool!” A single tear rolled down her face.

“Liz…” Max wanted to hold her tight and wipe away her tear, more than anything.

“What? What more do you want Max? Do you want me to accept your apology, to forgive you? Will that make you sleep better? Fine! I accept your apology and I forgive you! There! Are you happy now? Can you finally leave me alone and get the hell out of my fucking life?!” Liz screamed.

Max stood up straighter. “No.”

“What?”

“I said no.”

“What do you mean no? You don’t want me to forgive you? Well fine. But I don’t want you to ever bother me again!”

“I can’t do that Liz. I love you too much to let you go. Call me selfish if you want to but I won’t give you up just like that.”

Liz scoffed, “Newsflash Max, you already did.” Liz turned and began walking towards the door.

Max knew he had one last chance. If she reaches the door and orders him to get out, it will be the end of them.

“Liz. Just look at the box ok? Just read one letter. They’re all addressed to you. I…I really meant to send them but I…I was afraid that you hate me so much that you won’t even open them.”

“Well then what makes you think I’ll read them now?”

”Because I still see you. I still see the old Liz I knew, the Liz I fell in love with, the Liz who made me see that I could be me again, the Liz who made me want to fix my life…for me, for you, for us. I still see that Liz in your eyes, the warm, caring kind and loving Liz. You could lie to everyone else but you and I both know the truth. Just read them Liz. Don’t throw away what we could be because of the past. We’ve both changed. Some might say it has turned out badly but I think it’s the complete opposite. We’re better people because of what happened. I’ve learned to accept things that are beyond my control, to value the people who care for me. And you’ve learned how to be this strong-willed woman who can stand on her own two feet and make her life and the world around her whatever she wants it to be.”

Max continued, “If you don’t want to have this conversation with me face to face, that’s fine, I’ll go. But I’ll leave those here, read them and decide for yourself. If you think that your heart can accept me once again, then I’ll be more than grateful for it and cherish it forever. If not, then I’ll let you go. I’ll disappear from your life forever, no matter how painful it could be. I guess you think that’s just fair right? I hurt you, you hurt me. But whatever your decision is, please let me know. You don’t have to say it to my face, you can just call me or whatever. I’ll be waiting.”

And then he left. Liz closed her eyes briefly and took a deep breath after that exhausting confrontation. When she opened her eyes, her mind was running a thousand miles a minute as she stared directly at the box that Max left behind.

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kay_b
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Post by kay_b » Fri Feb 13, 2004 9:22 pm

Chapter 31

Liz walked over to the box and opened it with trembling hands. She saw at least a hundred letters in it. All of them had a return address, Harvard’s address and even stamps. Max did mean to send them.

Liz took one and opened it. She read through it fast.

My dearest Liz,

I don’t know where to start this. I guess I should get to the point, I’m sorry. I’m so sorry for everything I did and said. I never meant any of it. A lot of things happened before you got here and it’s what made me push you away. I never meant to hurt you the way I did. But if it’s any consolation, I was hurting too. See, when I started with the track team….



She picked up another.

My dearest Liz,

….I’ve been going to therapy, trying to sort this all out. I have to admit, they’ve been helping. I thought for a long time that what happened was my fault. My therapist said that it wasn’t. Though I am partially to be blamed because I took the drugs but most of my sin was for almost ruining my life with it. I didn’t tell him that I already did ruin it when I drove you away….



And another.

My dearest Liz,

I didn’t get to tell you that I was accepted to Stanford. That’s where I am right now. I’m talking law, yup, same as my dad. I’m studying real hard. When we see each other again, I want you to be so proud of me. That’s why I’m doing my best with everything. I’m turning my life around and I’m doing this for us. I just hope I could have the chance to show that to you someday. I miss you so much.



She read through more letters, time ticking away as got to at least halfway of Max’s box. She didn’t even notice the downpour resounding on the rooftop as the night clouds gave way to rain. Some of the letters were written while he was in Stanford, others after he graduated, and still some when he was already practicing law and working with his father. They mostly told her of his day-to-day activities, and how much he misses and loves her.


Liz picked up another and decided that this would be the last one for the day. But when she opened this letter, she quickly noticed that there was something different about it. There were tear stains on the letter.

My dearest Liz,

Happy Valentine’s Day. I miss you so much. I wish you were with me right now. I’d take you out to a romantic dinner then we’ll spend the rest of the night together and I’ll be able to hold you in my arms and wake up with you the next day.

I’m having a hard time right now. I’m envious of my roommate. He’s going out with his girlfriend and how I wish that we were the ones going out. My heart aches for you so much. I keep remembering the day we spent at your grandma’s house. There’s something I wasn’t able to tell you then Liz. Well I did but you were already asleep so I don’t know if you heard me. I watched you most of the night and I realized how lucky I am to have you. It was at that moment that I made the decision to break us up. I never wanted to but I looked at you and I kept thinking how could I ruin someone as precious as you. I can never tell you enough how sorry I am. What I told you that day at Wilmington, it wasn’t true. What you didn’t know was I’ve already fallen for a maid’s daughter. I’ve already fallen for you. That day at your grandma’s house was when I knew for sure that it was you. That I love you. I don’t care whether you’re a maid’s daughter or not. Please believe me when I say that that doesn’t matter to me. My heart twisted in pain when you ran away crying. I had to stop myself from running after you and taking back everything I said. When Michael started hitting, I accepted his punches because they were nothing compared to the pain I felt inside.

I don’t know if Isabel told you this but I confessed something to her last Spring. When you left, I know you saw me while you were driving away. I wanted to run after you Liz but I couldn’t. It would only be more difficult. I thought that you hating me would make it all easier but it didn’t. I wanted to die right then Liz. I’ve thought about it a couple of times. I wondered if you’d be at my funeral if I did. I wondered if you’d cry for me, if you still have it in your heart to care for me even as a friend.

I wish I could take it all back. I wish I could turn back the time so that when you arrived at my house I’ll be the Max that everyone liked and we wouldn’t have had to feel the hurt that we both went through. I wish there was some way that I could make it up to you.

I’m graduating this year and my one wish is to see you there, cheering me on. Seeing you beaming proudly at me would mean the world to me. Then I’d take you in my arms and kiss you senseless.

I miss you so much Liz. I know that these are just mere words and they would never be enough to make up for what I have done. I just wish I’d have the chance to show you someday what you mean to me.

I love you.
Max



Liz was crying when she finished reading the letter. She sobbed for all the times that they’ve wasted hurting.

Nancy walked in through the front door and caught Liz in the living room, sitting on the couch and leaning over a box. She could hear her daughter crying and wondered what’s going on.

“Liz? Baby, what’s wrong?”

“Mom.” Liz hugged her mother.

“Talk to me Liz.”

“I’m so confused. I don’t know what to do anymore.” Liz sobbed.

“What’s all this?” Nancy picked up one of the letters.

“They’re from Max. They are letters he wrote to me all these years.” She cried. “I have to go. I have to talk to him.” Liz frantically searched for her keys and ran out of the house.

“Liz! It’s pouring baby, you can talk to him tomorrow!” Nancy ran after her daughter.

Liz got in her car and started the engine. “I can’t, I have to talk to him now Mom!”

“Liz! Be careful!” Nancy yelled as the tires squealed and she drove off.


As she drove through the rain, Liz picked up her cell phone and dialed Isabel’s house. She waited for someone to answer the phone.

“Whitman residence.”

“Hi, this is Liz Parker, I need to talk to Isabel, it’s an emergency.” Liz yelled.

“I’m sorry but Miss Isabel is not here.” The voice answered.

“Is Alex there?”

“Sir Alex is not here either.”

“Who is this?” Liz asked.

“This is Rosa.”

“Ok, Rosa, this is Liz Parker, I’m a friend of Alex and Isabel. Do you know where Alex and Isabel are?”

“Yes Ma’am. They’re at the hospital. Miss Isabel is having the baby.”

“Oh, that’s great. Um, Rosa, you wouldn’t happen to know Max Evans’ address, do you?”

“I’m sorry Ma’am but I do not.”

“Ok, thanks anyway.” Liz disconnected the call and quickly dialed another number.

“Maria, it’s Liz.”

“Ohmygod, Liz, I was just about to call you. Isabel has gone into labor!”

“I know. But that’s not why I called, I need Max’s address. Do you know where he lives?”

“Of course I know where he lives, why do you need his address?”

“I don’t have the time to explain it now Maria. Please, can you send it to me?”

“Sure. Are you heading over there right now?”

“Yes.”

“Ok, I’ll send it in a minute.”

“Thanks Maria.”

Liz got the message straight after the call. She was reading Max’s address from her phone when the glare from the headlights of a 10-wheeler truck flashed directly at her.


Chapter 32

Liz didn’t notice that while she was reading Max’s address, her car has veered towards oncoming traffic. She managed to swerve back into the right lane just in time.

The truck honked its horn loudly at her as she breathed a sigh of relief. ‘Oh God, that was so close’ she thought.

She drove more carefully after that. After 25 more minutes, she reached Max’s house.

The first thing she noticed was that it wasn’t as big as the Evans mansion but it still is fairly large if Max is living in it alone.

Liz couldn’t see much of the details of the house since it was dark and rainy. She did notice that the house had two levels though and a fairly huge yard.

As she got out of the car, she ran towards the door but the rain was still torrential and she was getting soaked fast. She rang the doorbell and waited. Looking through a window, she saw that inside the house was dark and she couldn’t see anything except when lightning flashed across the sky, illuminating her surroundings.

She was sopping wet as she rang the doorbell once more. After a few seconds, she could hear footsteps coming towards the other side of the door.


Max wondered who could be visiting him at this hour and in the weather condition they were in. He knew it couldn’t be his family because they were all at the hospital awaiting his nephew’s arrival. His parents and the Whitmans all rushed to the hospital when Alex called them after Isabel was admitted. Diane asked him to go with them but he declined. He told his mother that he and Liz finally talked that afternoon and he was staying at home to wait for her call. So here he was, staying by the phone and patiently waiting, until the doorbell rang.

“Liz!” Max was speechless and frozen on the spot upon seeing his lifelong love standing by his front doorway, drenched.
Max shook his head slightly, realizing that Liz was starting to shiver from the cold rain plus that fact that she was soaked to the bone.

“Oh my God, come in. You’re gonna get sick.” Max ushered Liz into his den where there was a warm fire going in his fireplace.

“Stay here and warm yourself. I’m going to get you some towels and dry clothes.” Max ran to his bedroom on the second floor of his house taking two steps at a time to get some towels from his linen closet and some old sweats and a sweatshirt that Liz could change into.

During all of Max’s frantic actions, Liz could only nod and stare at him because she was just too damn cold. Her clothes were sticking to her like second skin because they were so wet. And having to wait for Max to open his door didn’t help either because the wind picked up and blew harder and she felt like her clothes were being frozen while she was still wearing them.

After about 2-3 minutes, Max came running down the stairs. He went to Liz and helped dry her off with a towel while another was wrapped around her. Liz couldn’t help but revel in the moment.

“Liz, you’ve got to change into these.” Max handed her his old clothes.

“O-okay.” Liz replied while her teeth chattered.

Max assisted her and walked her to the nearest bathroom.


After a few more minutes, Liz was wearing Max’s old clothes and was drying her hair with one of the towels he gave her. Liz looked at herself in the mirror.

‘Now that I’m here, what am I going to do? Do I just tell him I read his letters and that’s that? No, there’s too much history between us.’ Liz slumped on the sink, ‘What am I doing here?’ Liz stared at herself in the mirror for minutes that seemed like hours before she finally straightened herself and walked out of the bathroom where he was waiting for her leaning on the wall next to the door.

“This is a mistake. I shouldn’t have come. Thanks for the kindness and concern but I think I’m going to go now.” Liz said softly.

“No!” Max swiftly blocked her path. “Liz, you’ve gone all the way here. Obviously you thought this, whatever this is, is important enough to make you drive in the pouring rain despite the number of times that you’ve rejected my requests for us to talk.” Max stared at her, “Please don’t go Liz.”

When Max said that last statement, he knew he made a mistake. Liz’s eyes flickered with what seemed like anger.

“Look, I said that it was your choice and I’ll have to respect whatever that choice may be. So if you want to leave, go ahead but at least let the storm settle down before you do.” Max told her.

Liz sighed, “Yeah, I guess it is better to stay here than risk another close call.”

Max immediately jumped at that revelation. “What close call?”

“It’s nothing. I accidentally veered into oncoming traffic while reading a message on my mobile.” Liz answered sheepishly.

Max couldn’t help it and grabbed Liz, checking her for any injuries. “Are you ok? Were you hurt? Where did this happen? Why didn’t you tell me this sooner?”

“Max, I’m fine. I’m ok. I managed to get back on the right lane in time.” Liz assured him.

“Are you sure you’re ok?” Max asked once more.

“Yes, I’m sure.” Liz gave him a small smile and Max could feel his heart doing flip-flops in his chest.

Liz soon realized the state they were in and made a slight movement to get Max to release his hold on her.

Max noticed Liz’s small actions and quickly let go. “Sorry about that.” Max mumbled as he scratched the side of his head.

“Um, are you still cold?” Max asked.

“Uh, a little.” Liz answered.

“Come here.” Max drew Liz close to the fire again and rubbed her arms rapidly, trying to warm her up.

For a few minutes, Liz allowed the warmth coming from Max to seep into her soul.

“Max...”

“Yes?”

“I read some of them.”

“Oh…” Max blinked.

“The last one I read was this.” Liz showed him the letter that had drained him emotionally the most while writing it.

“I was hoping you wouldn’t get to that one till a lot later.”

“But I did.” Liz paused, “Why did you think that? That I wouldn’t cry for you if you had killed yourself. Why did you even think of doing that? What did you think would come out of it?”

“I don’t know. I just couldn’t stand it anymore. The pain I felt, the pain I know I caused you. I just wanted it all to end.”

“Max.”

“I know, I know it’s wrong but I couldn’t help it. When you left, I stayed locked in my room for 3 days. I never went out, not even when I knew that I had to eat.”

“So you starved yourself?” Liz was surprised, she was finding out about this just now. She remembered Isabel called her some time after she and her mother had moved to Boston. She had a feeling it would be about Max but Isabel also valued her friendship and the pain she had gone through. So she refrained from saying anything about Max to her whenever they got to talk.

“Yeah, I don’t remember when exactly but some time after a few days my Dad broke my door down so they could come in.”

“What were you planning to do? Stay there until you rot?” Liz asked a little too harsh.

“I don’t know. Seeing you leave was the only thing running through my mind over and over. My parents confronted me the next day. They had me talk to them about everything that’s going on with me so I told them about Nick and why I broke it off with you.”

“So your parents know about us?”

Max nodded. “My mom and dad liked you a lot you know. Mom even said that she suspected something already when she would see us together and how close we were getting. She remained silent about it because she thought that you would be a good influence on me.”

“I bet she never thought that you could influence me.” Liz said quietly.

“No, she actually felt responsible when her suspicions were confirmed about us getting in a serious relationship then breaking up. She said that she was the one who convinced Nancy to bring you there in the first place.”

“That’s true but it wasn’t her fault.”

“It was mine.” Max said instantly. He sat down on the couch waiting for Liz’s response.

Liz sat on the other end of the couch and paused for a few seconds before speaking seriously. “Half of it was, but half of it was mine too.”

“No, Liz, I was the one who ended it between us. I know I should have told you about all of it and let you decide for yourself but I thought that…. Ok, I know that I’m going to sound conceited here but if I knew that you would decide to stay away from me, I wouldn’t have told you any of it until I finally all sorted it out in my head. But I thought that even if you knew about Nick and everything else that goes along with that, you would have stayed with me. I couldn’t allow you to be dragged through the mud with me. Why do you think I pulled away from my friends, even from my family?” He paused to take a deep breath. “And most of all, I couldn’t stand it if I told you and you’d be disgusted with me. I rather have you hate me for different reasons than the truth.” He whispered.

“But that’s not fair Max. You should have let me decide for myself. Don’t you realize that I’ve gone against everything that Isabel and the others told me against you but I was still there, that was my fault. I ignored them when they were only looking out for me. That’s why I think I should share the blame. If I had listened to them, I wouldn’t have had to go through the emotional turmoil that was in me for years. But I decided that it was better to know you for myself than be dictated by what other people were saying about you. And if you told me what really happened in the past… yes maybe I would have stayed. But honestly, did you make me hate you to spare me or because you didn’t want to be rejected by me?” Liz asked bluntly.

Max thought over that for a while, “I guess it was both.” Max said ashamed.

“That’s why you didn’t send the letters right?”

Max nodded. His head was bowed down so Liz couldn’t see his dejected expression.

Liz started to think things over. Obviously Max had the right intentions but went about it the wrong way. ‘Could she really still hate him after finally learning the truth behind his actions?’ Discussing this over and over would only lead them into a cycle; Max didn’t tell her the truth and broke up with her to save her, Liz hated him because he broke her heart, Max did it to spare her from pain, but it was Max who caused it anyway only for a different reason, so she couldn’t really hate him for that because he had good intentions…. It was unending. But maybe it was time that it did.

As Liz pondered over this, she didn’t notice that Max’s hands were clenched into fists and he was breathing hard. A tear splashed on the back of his hand which caught Liz’s eye.

She moved closer to Max and lifted his face. She felt her heart twist at the pain etched on his face.

“Max…” Liz held his hand.

“I’m so sorry Liz. I know I don’t deserve you but I’ve never loved anyone like you, no one has ever come close to a fraction of what I feel for you. I’m so sorry. I don’t know what else there is to say. I know I made a mistake when I drove you away but please understand that I only did it because I didn’t want you to get hurt but my mistakes. When I decided to break up with you, I told myself that I would make me a better person and win you back after all of that. I just never thought I could hurt you that much. I never knew I could cause you that much pain. You have every right to hate me, I’m even thankful that you gave me chance and read those letters but I’ll understand if you don’t want to see me again. I’m so sorry Liz, I’m just so sorry.” Max sobbed.

Liz had tears in her eyes and hugged Max. The initial feeling of being in his arms exploded inside her. It felt so good to be holding him again. And in that very moment, her heart came back to life.

Max held on to Liz for dear life, thinking that if he let go even just an inch, she would disappear before his very eyes. For ten long years his heart had this gaping hole, it was empty, with only the memories of happier times spent with Liz meagerly filling it. Ten years of longing for her and at last, even if this all ends tomorrow, he had the chance to hold her in his arms once more.

The two wept over years that were wasted, only because of one wrong action that Max took caused them unnecessary heartaches that could last them for a lifetime.

Max pulled back and wiped away Liz’s tears. He stared into her brown doe eyes, letting himself drown in them.

And then he kissed her.

One kiss that expressed how much he loved her. One kiss that meant the entire world to him. One kiss that gave him a taste of what his future would have been like with Liz.


Liz broke the kiss this time. Her head started spinning when Max’s lips touched hers. And she wanted time to think this through. Too much has happened for them to just go back to where they were.

“I’m sorry Liz. I just…I just needed that…to savor what it was like for the last time.” Max apologized.

“Last time?” Liz questioned.

“Yeah, I have no regrets over everything. I wouldn’t be the man I am now if I continued my behavior back then. You made me better Liz. The only thing I wish I could take back was letting you go.” Max said tenderly.

“Liz, I know you probably want to get away from me as fast as you can but please stay. The storm has just gotten worse and I couldn’t bear to think you’re out there in the rain. There’s a guest bedroom you can use. I’ll just go and prepare it for you.” Max stood up from the couch but Liz held on to his wrist.

Max looked back at her in surprise.

“I’m not done.”

“Oh.” Max sat back down and faced Liz.

Liz inhaled deeply before she started. “It’s quite obvious that you thought making me hate you was for my best interest and I can honestly say that you surely achieved that.”

Max nodded slightly with a sullen expression on his face.

“But that was before I knew what was really going on in your mind at the time.” Liz added. “After reading your letters, it did show that you were only looking out for me and there’s no point for me to hold in this hate. I never wanted to be like this Max. I was consumed by hurt and pain and all that anger and this is what I have become.”

“That’s not true. I told you I still see the old Liz in you. I’m seeing her right now.”

Liz gave him a small smile. “We’ve said all these things but what do you really want Max?”

“I want you back in my life.” Max said with fierce passion.

Liz fidgeted a little, ‘Could this really be a new start?’

Max could see the inner turmoil in Liz. “Liz?”

“I can’t give you that Max…not yet. I’d be lying if I say that I don’t have any feelings for you. You were the first guy I fell in love with and as much as I tried to meet other people, I couldn’t. You could say that I had trouble trusting people after that.”

“Liz, I’m sor—”

Liz cut him off, “Enough with the apologies. It’s over. The only thing we could do now is to move on.”

“Move on…” Max felt like a knife was being wedged in his heart. But for Liz’s sake, he was going to put on a brave face. He could break down tomorrow after she’s gone from his life for good.

“Yes. I’d like us to start as friends, to get to know each other again, the new us. Could you settle with that Max? For now?”

Max blinked once, twice. ‘Is Liz really giving them a chance, the chance that he prayed for in a decade?’ He didn’t want to risk believing his ears and be turned down the next day.

“Absolutely. We can be friends, we started out as friends. We could get to know each other again.” Max held both of Liz’s hands.

Liz only smiled. And Max basked in it. It’s been too long since he saw his Liz smiling at him.

“Um Liz, I don’t want to sound like a totally ungrateful creep here but what about the ‘For now’ part?”

Liz shrugged, “I still don’t know where this new road will take us but we definitely can’t go back and pick up where we left off. Let’s just take it one day at a time ok? I don’t mean to sound like I’m leading you on.” Liz sighed, “I’m just tired Max. Tired from carrying all this anger inside of me.” A tear rolled down her face.

“I understand Liz. You don’t have to carry that burden anymore, you can let it go now.” Max whispered as he hugged Liz to his chest.

When they separated, Max spoke as he held her face in his hands. “We’ll take it one day at a time, there’s no rush. I’m just glad that we’re talking again. Everything else can wait.” Max pulled Liz up with him. “Now come on, this has been a tiring day.”

After hearing that, Liz felt all the exhaustion in her mind and body. She allowed Max to lead her to the guestroom where she spent the night alone, sleeping peacefully for once after several years.

In the other bedroom though, Max couldn’t sleep knowing that Liz is so close. His heart was thumping loudly for joy over the new start he has with her. And he vowed to make everything right this time. There is no way that he’s letting her slip away from his grasp again. Nancy was right, fate has given them another chance and he was taking it for all it’s worth.


Chapter 33

The shining rays of sunlight filtered through windows of the guestroom and Liz squinted from the strong glare. She sighed and cuddled the pillow next to her, feeling rested. That was the first time in a long time that she was able to sleep well all through the night.

Stretching dreamily in bed, Liz opened her eyes slowly. At first she was startled that she wasn’t in her room. She quickly racked her brain wondering where she was. She looked at her clothes and then she remembered that she was at Max’s house. She also remembered the long overdue talk they had last night.

She got off the bed and checked her clothes if they were dry. Seeing that they were, she went into the adjoining bathroom to get changed. After getting herself ready, she went down the stairs to look for Max.

The delectable smells of breakfast drifted through the house. She found her way into the kitchen where Max was cooking breakfast. He was wearing a grey shirt and black sweatpants. She didn’t know if it was the smell of bacon or Max’s back that was more delicious to her palate.

“Hey, you’re up.” Max greeted as he turned holding plates of food with omelets and strips of bacon for each of them. “I was just finishing this before I went up to get you.” He had this silly grin on his face. Despite not being able to sleep the entire night as his mind ran over yesterday’s events again and again, he was deliriously happy today. He placed the plates on the kitchen nook that was already prepared for them.

Liz sat down across Max as he asked, “Would you like some coffee?”

“Yes please.” Liz handed a cup to Max.

Max poured freshly brewed coffee in her cup. “Here’s the cream and sugar.” Max pointed to them.

“Thanks.”

They ate their breakfast in companionable silence. Liz even insisted on helping Max with cleaning up which he reluctantly allowed her to do so. Soon it was time for Liz to leave and doubts took root in Max’s mind.

‘What if this is just it? What if after she goes home, she’ll realize that it’s not worth it and—’

“Max?”

“Yeah?”

“Where were you? You spaced out for a few minutes”

“Don’t mind me, I was just thinking about some things.”

“What things?”

Max turned to face Liz and stared intently at her. “Things about us.”

“I thought we already discussed everything last night.”

“No, there were still some things but I don’t want to go into them right now. I guess I was just thinking where we go from here.”

“I thought we were going to try to be friends.”

“Yes of course but are you sure that’s what you want Liz?”

“What do you mean?”

“I’m not trying to be a jerk. It’s just…I want you to be sure that it’s what you want because if you wake up one day and decide to pull away again, I don’t think I’ll survive it.”

“Don’t worry, I won’t.”

He nodded and their eyes locked on each other. The shrill of the phone ringing pierced through the serene atmosphere.

Max walked over to the phone hanging on the kitchen wall to pick it up.

“Hello?”

“Max, Isabel’s baby is here.” Diane voiced through the other line.

“That’s great Mom. What did they name him?” Max said as he smiled at Liz.

“Alexander Philip Whitman. Oh you should see the huge smile on Alex’s face. He’s hovering over the baby constantly. If you think Isabel was too much, you should see Alex. No wonder they ended up together.”

Max chuckled. He witnessed first hand Alex’s protectiveness over Isabel, more so when she was pregnant. He wondered if he would be acting the same way when it was his and Liz’s turn. ‘Wait, where did that come from? Friends first Max, don’t forget that Liz is calling the shots on this one.’

“Max honey, is everything ok? Did Liz call?” Max’s thoughts were interrupted by his mother’s questions.

“Everything’s fine Mom, actually—”

“Achoo! Sorry.” Liz cringed and excused herself to go to the living room.

“Who’s that? Was that Liz? Is she there? Oh Max, are you two back together?” Max felt like he was being interrogated by the police instead of his own mother.

“Mom, I can’t talk much right now ok. You can ask your questions when I drop by later. Will you be at the hospital all day?”

“I’ll be back this afternoon but your dad and I are on our way home.”

“Ok, I’ll see you later then. Bye Mom.”

“Bye Max. We’ll talk later. I mean it. Love you honey.”

“Love you too Mom.”

Max hung up and went to look for Liz. He found her in the living room looking at some of the pictures on the mantle.

“Sorry about that. My mom kept asking me these questions.”

“I understand totally.” Liz paused, “Speaking of which, I better head on home too. My mom is probably beside herself with worry.”

“Ok. Um, I’m heading over to the hospital later, do you want to go with me?”

“I don’t know Max, I still have a few things to do at the restaurant.”

“Oh ok.”

“Maybe you could drop by for dinner tonight?” Liz spoke hurriedly.

Max instantly lit up, “Sure. I’d love to. Should I bring anything?”

Liz shook her head no, “Just yourself would be fine. Well, I’ll see you later.”

“I’ll walk you to your car.”

“You really have a nice house Max.” Liz commented while they were walking.

“Thanks. I know it’s still kinda bare though. Isabel wanted to decorate it but Alex wouldn’t let her while she was pregnant. You know how Iz could get about these things.”

“Yeah, I remember.”

They reached the car and Liz got in on the driver’s seat.

“Hey, no cellphones while driving ok?”

Liz smiled, “Don’t worry, I learned my lesson. Bye Max.”

“See you later Liz.”

Liz drove off as Max watched her leave.


The minute Liz parked the car, Nancy was out the door, rushing towards her.

“Where were you? I was pacing and worrying all night! You didn’t even call. I couldn’t sleep thinking that something bad happened to you.” Nancy scolded.

“Mom, I’m fine. I’m sorry I didn’t call but I got caught up. Besides I told you I was going to see Max.”

Nancy calmed down a little when Max’s name was mentioned. “Well? Did you see him? Did you talk? What happened?”

Liz laughed, “You’re acting like Mrs. Evans.

Mother and daughter walked in the house as Liz relayed the talk that she and Max shared the night before.

“By the way, Max is coming over tonight for dinner.”

“Oh, are you guys back together?” Nancy grinned.

“No, we’re not. We’re going to take it slow and get to know each other again.”

“That’s good. So what do you want me to cook for dinner?”

“Mom, it doesn’t have to be anything special.”

“What? You’re joking right? Max is coming over and you don’t want to make him anything special for dinner? Why did you invite him then?”

Liz sighed, “I just want a quiet night ok.”

“Alright, fine. I’ll just make some pasta and a simple salad, would that be ok?”

“Yes Mom, whatever is fine.” Liz sniffled. “I’m going to go take a hot bath and something for this cold.”


Max just arrived at the hospital a few minutes earlier when his mother returned and he knew there was no way of escaping her inquisition.

“Max! Good, I still caught you.” Diane went to her son and kissed his cheek.

“Hello to you too mother.” Max replied.

“So? How did it go last night?” Diane started.

Max shook his head, “I knew you wouldn’t waste any time.”

“Are you two back together? What happened?” Diane looped her arm around her son’s and they walked towards Isabel’s room.

“We talked about a lot of things. Basically, she has forgiven me and we’re getting to know each other again.”

“But are you back in a relationship with Liz?”

“No, not yet.” Max said softly.

“But you want to, don’t you?”

“More than anything.” Max smiled wistfully.

“I do hope everything turns out well for you honey. I always knew you and Liz would end up together.”

“Mom, as much as I hope we end up that way, don’t expect anything yet ok?”

“Why not?” Diane looked at her son quizzically.

“Because there are some things that we haven’t talked about yet, things that happened that has hurt her deeply. We may be talking now but we’re still nowhere close to being what you want us to be.”

“I’m sure you’ll be able to change her mind Max. You already got her to forgive you so that’s a start right?”

“Right.”

They reached Isabel’s room and were surprised to see Maria and Michael there too. Max walked over to his sister who was listening to Maria talk animatedly. Alex was showing off his son and joking around with Michael at the other end of the room.

“Hey.” Max greeted them.

Isabel looked up and saw Max. Both her and Maria noted that there was something different. “Hi.”

“Hey Max.” Alex called out. “Wanna see your nephew?”

Max walked over to his friend and gazed at the new addition of their family.

“Hey there.” Max whispered.

The baby looked at Max and blinked.

“This is your Uncle Max, Xander.” Alex shifted his son in his arms to give Max a better view.

“Hello.” Max smiled.

The baby yawned and closed his eyes.

“He’s tired from all the excitement. Put him down for a minute so he can rest, Alex.” Isabel said.

Max went to his sister and kissed her forehead.

“How are you?”

“Tired and sore but other than that, I’m fine.” Isabel answered.

“How about you Max?” Maria questioned.

Max looked at Maria closely. He knew by her tone that she was on to something and looked like she was on the verge of exploding.

“I don’t know, why don’t you tell me Maria.”

“Oh knock it off Max. We know Liz was at your house.” Isabel said.

Max looked at his mother. “Mom!”

“What? I didn’t say anything.” Diane told him from where she was cooing at her grandson.

“Liz called me last night asking for your address. So she was there huh?” Maria’s eyes sparkled.

“Might as well spill it Max. You know those two won’t stop until you give in.” Michael said.

Max sighed, “Yes, she was there.”

“And?” Alex prodded.

“Oh God, not you too.” Max whined.

“Max, don’t whine. It’s so unbecoming.” Isabel reprimanded him.

“So she was there and I assume you two talked. We won’t press for details but at least let us know what the standing is.” Maria said.

“That’s just between me and Liz.” Max replied.

“Let me guess, you’re not back together are you?” Isabel inquired.

Max scratched the side of his head, “No, we’re not…yet.”

“That’s my girl.” Maria exclaimed.

“What?” Max scowled.

“Oh come on Max. You didn’t seriously think that once you’ve talked, she’ll be back in your arms, did you? An entire decade passed with you and her not speaking to each other. Did you really think it would be that easy?” Maria responded.

“No, I didn’t.”

“So did she forgive you?” Michael asked. He was seated at the small table in the room and eating some of the pastries that he and Maria brought.

Unfortunately for him, Maria saw this, “What?! Michael! That’s for Isabel and Alex!” Maria stomped over to him and took the plate out of his hands.

“But I’m hungry.” Michael whined.

“What is it with today? That’s two supposedly grown-up men that I’ve heard whining within the hour.” Isabel said to Maria.

“We’ll eat later.” Maria sternly told her fiancée.

“Going back to you, Max. Did she forgive you?” Isabel looked at her brother.

“Yes.”

“Well that’s good isn’t it?” Isabel asked with a grin.

“Yeah. It’s a start. We’re going to get to know each other again. Like you said Maria, it’s been a decade since we last spoke. So we’re going to try to be friends again.”

“Friends? That’s it?” Alex asked.

Max nodded. “For now.”


When the evening came Max arrived early at Nancy and Liz’s old house. He brought red wine with him which Nancy thanked him for since it would compliment their Italian dinner.

Liz wasn’t there yet and Max was a little worried about that. Nancy assured him that Liz called telling her that she’ll be a little late.

“How are Isabel and the baby Max?”

“They’re doing great Nancy. The baby has Alex’s eyes and nose and Isabel’s chin.”

“I’m sure he’s going to be a cutie someday.”

“You can visit them tomorrow at their place. I can take you there if Liz is busy.”

“Why thank you Max. I’ll think about it. I still don’t know our schedule for tomorrow but we don’t have any occasion to cater to so maybe I will take you up on that offer.”

“No problem Nancy. Just tell me when.”

Liz came through the door in a hurry. “Sorry I’m late. I got caught up with the last house.”

Max swiftly turned to her and smiled warmly at her. He went to her to help her with her purse and coat.

“Did it meet our requirements?” Nancy asked Liz as she placed the pasta on the table.

“8 out of 10.” Liz answered.

“House? What’s this about a house?” Max inquired.

“Oh, we’re looking for a house that will be nearer to the restaurant.” Nancy told him.

”Where have you looked?” Max asked Liz.

“Lots of places.” Liz exhaled.

“Have you tried in Isabel’s area? I know they’re developing a lot of nice houses there. There are also some around mine.” He added the last part quietly.

“No, I haven’t looked into that. Maybe I’ll do it tomorrow.”

“Liz, it’s a Sunday tomorrow. Why don’t you visit your friends instead of going around the entire town looking for a place to move into?” Nancy said

“Yeah, I’m sure Isabel would love to see you. And Alex can’t wait to show off his newborn son.” Max chuckled.

“Hmm, maybe. I’m not sure yet.” Liz thought out loud.

“Liz, I’m ordering you to go see them. And that’s the end of discussion.” Nancy said as she placed the salad. “Now let’s all sit and eat before the pasta gets cold.”

All three discussed general topics and what life has brought them to for the past several years. Max was very impressed with Liz’s accomplishments though it was Nancy who was telling him everything. Liz remained quiet most of the time except when she was asked directly.

When dinner was over, Liz took over cleaning up the kitchen and Max offered to help. Nancy thought it would be a good idea to leave the two of them alone so she told them she was going to bed and left them in the kitchen.

“Sorry you got clean up duty. You’re our guest, you’re not supposed to be doing this.” Liz said.

“It’s no problem. It’s better than eating alone at home. If I had dinner at my house, I’d be the one doing the cooking and cleaning. So this is the least that I could do after that wonderful meal.” Max replied.

Liz smiled and nodded.

“I offered to take your mom over to Isabel’s tomorrow. She will be discharged in the morning and Maria is thinking of throwing a surprise party for her tomorrow when they get home. Alex already agreed to it. And everyone will be there, even Tess and Kyle. You should be too. I can come over and pick you and Nancy up if you want.”

“No, I can drive us there. Thanks though.”

“Liz, it’s ok. It won’t be a problem if I come here.”

“It’s just going to be a waste of time.”

“Huh?”

“I mean, you driving all the way here when you’re already there, it’s pointless and impractical. I’ll just bring my own car.”

”Ok.” Max agreed knowing that if he pushed further, Liz might decide not to go completely.

They finished cleaning up and just talking some more. More like Max asking a lot of questions about Liz and what her life was like at Harvard.

Soon, it was time to go home. Liz promised Max that she’ll be at Isabel’s party tomorrow as he headed out the door.

“Thanks for inviting me over Liz.”

“You’re welcome.”

“Well, goodnight. I’ll see you tomorrow.”

Liz nodded. “Goodnight Max. See you tomorrow.”

Max waved as he drove away and Liz waved too before going back in the house, not knowing that Nancy was looking on from a window upstairs with a smile on her face.


Chapter 34

“Surprise!” Everyone yelled as Isabel, Alex and Xander came through the front door of their home.

Xander was startled and began to whimper.

Isabel looked at everyone who was there, her parents, her brother Max, Alex’s parents, their friends Michael, Maria and her mother Amy, Tess, Kyle, and Liz and Nancy. This was her family.

“Oh wow, you guys.” Isabel went to hug each of them as Alex tried to soothe his son with soft whispers.

Their living room was decorated with a huge banner saying ‘Welcome Home, Xander’, baby blue balloons everywhere, and a table in one corner laden with presents.

“Oh thank you. I never expected this.” Isabel exclaimed.

“There, there Xander. It’s ok.” Alex cooed.

“Oh let me have him Alex.” Anne took her grandson, humming a tune until he finally settled down.

“Wow, Mom you have got to teach me that.” Alex was awed by how quickly Xander quieted with his mother.

“I wouldn’t be surprised that he calmed down so fast. I used to sing that to you when you were an infant yourself.” Anne informed him.

“Really?” Alex was smiling.

Charles nodded, “Yup, whenever you got cranky, that was the only way to get you to stop crying.”

“No wonder he’s got a talent for music.” Isabel beamed as she hugged her husband from behind.

“Can I hold him?” Maria asked, her arms outstretched.

“Sure.” Isabel smiled. “Is it ok Anne?”

“No problem, I have a lifetime to gush over him.” Anne had a small smile across her face as she went back in time to recall when she first brought her newborn son home.

Maria carefully held Xander in her arms. “Oh he is going to be such a heartbreaker when he grows up.”

“Not if I can help it.” Isabel suddenly interjected. “He is going to be my little baby boy forever.”

“Oh no! My nephew will probably go crazy with you hovering around him all the time Iz.” Max laughed.

“Don’t you worry Sweetcheeks. Your Aunt Maria will be here to create a diversion against your mother anytime.” Maria whispered conspiratorially although it was loud enough for everyone to hear.

Everybody laughed as Maria gave her friend a coy smile, overly acting with Xander as she whispered fake plots against Isabel in his ear.

“Maria! You’re supposed to be on my side!” Isabel tried to give her an angry stare but she ended up laughing with the rest.

Xander was wide-eyed as if he was really listening to his Aunt Maria.

Maria moved beside Liz as they cooed at the baby. She offered the baby to her friend but Liz simply shook her head no. Liz has been quiet for a while now and Max was watching her closely, wondering what was going on in her head.

It was clear that they had a long way to go but he was willing to walk that path as long as Liz was by his side no matter how long it takes.

“Hey, I’m betting that everyone is starving. Let’s go in the dining room to eat.” Diane called out.

“Yup, let’s go!” Michael exclaimed.

As the party moved to the dining area/kitchen, Michael quickly dug in. Diane and Nancy were handing out the plates and utensils to the guests. Nancy offered to cater this small party at no cost. It was part of her gift to Isabel. The realization that Isabel was already a mother astounded her. Here was the girl she used to look after when she was a young child. And now, she has a child of her own to take care of.

“Wow, thanks for the food Nancy. This is mouth-watering.” Alex said with a mouthful.

“Alex.” Isabel stared at him.

“Sorry.” He mumbled.

“Really, it’s like I now have two kids to take care of.” Isabel joked good-naturedly. She knew that sometimes, she was the one who acted childish and her husband would reprimand her maturely.

After everyone has settled down in chairs all over the room with plates in hand, they ate the delectable feast that Nancy prepared. They all loved it and promised to get the Parkers’ to cater all of their parties, especially now with the new restaurant being built.

Xander was sleeping peacefully in his bassinet. Isabel checked on him every once in a while. At one point, after looking at her son and sitting back down in her chair, she saw that Max and Liz were sitting next to each other. Liz was quiet and it seemed that her mind was somewhere else. Max was merely staring at her and he looked happy just to be sitting beside her.

Isabel wondered when those two would get back together. ‘Maybe I could help Max out. I just hope that he never hurts her again because if he does, I will tear him to pieces. There won’t be anything left of him for Michael to pound.’

On the other end of the room, two mothers were talking in hushed tones. Nancy and Diane were silently observing their children, each of them hoping that they would get back together soon. It’s been a long time since they have seen their children truly happy and they knew that only the love of the other can bring them such happiness.

Maria and Michael were watching Max and Liz too. Maria was giddy to see them together. Although she and Michael had physically attacked Max back in high school for hurting their friend, they knew that it was a different story this time. They knew that Max would die first before he hurts Liz again. And now, they hoped that they were on their way to becoming another couple soon.

Alex was studying Max. It was obvious that he was happy that Liz was here with him. He could also see that Max was trying his best to win her back. But more importantly, Max’s eyes shone with love for Liz. He couldn’t imagine that the Liz he knew in high school who always had a smile on her face was the same Liz that is sitting right across him. She was playing with her food and it was clear that her mind was far away. Max was trying to engage her in a conversation but she would only answer his questions and comments with a nod or a shake of her head. Wherever the old Liz, he hoped that she would return soon.


After the finishing up most of the food, they all moved back to the living room for the presents.

The table where all the gifts were placed was moved to the middle. Alex was holding Xander in his arms as Isabel sat beside him to start opening the colorfully wrapped boxes.

As always, Maria took charge. “Ok, let’s start with this one.” Maria pulled out a box wrapped in baby blue paper with a blue bow on it. “This came from Nancy.” Maria smiled at her.

“Nancy, you didn’t have to. The food was already more than enough.” Alex said.

“It’s ok. Besides Isabel was like a daughter to me.” Nancy replied.

Isabel tore the box open to see a Baby Gap box with 5 pairs of baby socks and 3 pairs of baby shoes that consist of a pair of suede shoes, soft-sole sneakers, and even hiking boots. “Oh my…” Isabel gasped. “These are too cute!” She held them up for everyone to see. “Aren’t they just the cutest?” Then she moved to Nancy and gave her a tight hug. “Thank you so much.” Both of them had tears in their eyes as they pulled apart. They both knew that Isabel’s gratitude weren’t for just the gifts.

“Ok, next is from my mom.” Maria handed another box to Isabel.

After tearing the wrapper, Isabel pulled out several little outfits. There were a few shirts and sweatshirts, some khaki pants and jeans, a baby denim jacket and even a little brown leather jacket.

Isabel had a huge grin on her face as Alex chuckled. She showed it to everyone as she thanked Amy. “Oh Amy, I love them.” She placed the jacket over her son, imagining how cute he would look in it. That’s when she saw the tag indicating it was a Deluca baby clothing line. “Oh Amy, I am definitely going to shop in your store for Xander for years to come. He would look so adorable.”

They all laughed. In true Isabel fashion, her baby would always be wearing the trendiest clothes.

“Next one is from Tess and Kyle.” Maria gave a box wrapped in white and blue wrapper printed with little teddy bears to Isabel.

Once more she opened it with excitement. Inside the box were stuffed toys of a small basketball, a football and a baseball.

“Oh Kyle. This definitely came from you.” Isabel giggled as showed the toys to everyone in the room.

“He wanted to buy the real things but I told him that Xander was too young to play with them. So as a compromise, we got those instead.” Tess grinned.

“That way he’ll know what a basketball, a football and a baseball looks like as he grows up.” Kyle added.

Everyone laughed again. Kyle was always so sports-minded.

“This one is from the Whitmans.” Maria pushed a wrapped package which was obviously a baby carriage.

“So this is why you didn’t want me to get one.” Isabel eyes narrowed on her husband.

“What can I do? Mom already got it the week you were planning to get one.” Alex shrugged.

When Isabel opened it, she gasped. It was a beautiful carriage, fitting for a prince. It was purely white with little ruffles and lace and the wheels had an intricate pattern. And the handle bar and little knobs were actually gold-plated.

“Wow!” Maria’s eyes opened wide.

Michael gave a low whistle.

“Oh my God, I didn’t know it was going to be this expensive. Mom, Dad, Xander doesn’t need such a lavish thing.” Alex commented.

“Of course he does. You’re are only son and he is our only grandson…for now. He deserves the best.” Charles said.

“But Alex is right, this is too much.” Isabel said softly.

“Kids, we’ve worked hard to give you the life that you have. What good is earning all that money if we can’t spend it on our children and grandchildren?” Anne told them.

“They’re right Isabel. We have worked to provide the best for you and you should enjoy it while you can. This is our grandson, it is the grandparents’ right to spoil the grandkids.” Philip grinned.

“Oh great, Xander is going to grow up spoiled.” Isabel muttered. “Hey, what’s this?” Isabel picked up a brown bear from the carriage. It had a blue ribbon around its neck and a rattle in one paw.

This time, it was Alex’s turn to gasp. He looked directly at his mother. “You kept it? After all these years?”

Isabel gave her husband a confused look.

Anne had tears in her eyes as Alex took the bear and showed it to his son.

“Xander, this is Grizzly. He was mine when I was a toddler. Now he belongs to you.” Alex said softly.

Isabel stood up and kissed Alex on the lips. Her boys looked so adorable together.

“Well since Charles and Anne already gave their present, we’re going to give ours.” Philip pushed another huge box towards Alex and his daughter.

Isabel sighed as she gazed at another huge box. “I don’t think I want to know what’s in it.”

“Of course you do Iz, this is a present from us. Mom, Dad and I all pitched in for this.” Max said grinning proudly.

Despairingly, Isabel and Alex opened the huge present. Inside was a navy blue, diesel-fueled, fully loaded toy Ferrari!

“OHMYGOD!” Isabel yelled.

“Woohoo!” Michael exclaimed.

“What the—” Alex stammered.

“Whoa.” Maria spoke.

And Liz, well she just remained silent.

“Do you like it?” Max asked.

“Like it? Max, it’s great. This is so much fun!” Alex thanked his friend with a slap on the back.

“Fun?! Fun?! That is an accident waiting to happen. Mom, Dad, don’t think I’m being ungrateful because you really didn’t have to do this. And I mean it. You DIDN’T have to. But a car?! A car?! He’s 2 days old!”

“We know that Iz but it’s for when he grows up a little.” Max said.

“Well you could have gotten him that then. Although I would have put a stop to it if I knew.”

“C’mon honey. It’ll be safe, Xander won’t drive that thing out on the streets. And besides, how many babies can say they have a car?” Alex chimed in.

“Hmm, let me guess, all the grandkids in this town?! It’s too much! Take it back!”

“WHAT?!” Max, Alex, Michael and Kyle all shouted.

“I mean it. Take it back.” Isabel stood her ground.

“Izzy, I know that it’s not really an appropriate gift but what else could we give Xander? Everything that he needs, you already bought and more. At first I was against it too but after thinking about it, I gave in. We wanted to give him something that you or Alex would never think of.” Diane informed her.

Isabel turned on her husband. “Alex Whitman, if our son turns out to be a spoiled brat, you’ll be the one disciplining him!”

“Does that mean we can keep it?” Alex asked.

“Yes.” Isabel answered exasperatedly.

“Alright!” Alex rushed to the car after putting Xander back in the bassinet.

“Boys.” Maria, Isabel and Tess said after their men went to examine the car.

“Hey, we’re not done yet.” Maria called out to the guys.

They stopped briefly to look at Maria then stayed beside the car as they waited for her to continue.

“Ok, this one is from Liz.” Maria handed the box to Isabel.

Isabel took it and smiled at Liz. When she opened it, it had different kinds of children’s books in it.

“Aww, thank you Liz. I don’t have THESE yet.” She gave a meaningful glare at Max. “Look everyone, they’re children’s books.” Isabel saw more in the box. “Wow, there’s a lot in here.”

“It’s a complete set of children’s fairytales. Kids like being told a story before they go to sleep. I thought it could help.” Liz spoke.

“Oh it will, most definitely.” Isabel browsed through them quickly.

“It’s not a surprise that Liz gave you books.” Nancy said.

“Why?” Isabel inquired.

“Well, you all know how intelligent Liz is.” Nancy began.

“Mom.” Liz warned her mother.

“Oh hush Liz, this could be informative to Xander’s parents. Anyway, Liz started reading at age 2.”

“What?” The parents and her friends all looked at her.

“How come we didn’t know that?” Maria asked.

“No wonder you’re such a genius.” Alex complimented.

“Hey Nancy, what did you do? I mean how was Liz able to do that?” Isabel asked, wondering if Xander would be able to do the same when he’s at that age.

“I don’t really know. I think reading to her even when she was just a newborn baby helped. I discovered it one day while I was cleaning, she was sitting in a chair with the newspaper. I thought she was just imitating her dad. Then she started talking. At first I thought she was just talking to herself, pretending that she could read. Then her voice got louder and I was surprised that she was talking about the news. I went to her and she was actually reading the paper! I called Jeff at work immediately to let him know what his daughter was doing. He couldn’t believe it either. When he got home, we asked Liz to read different words from other books and that was exactly what she did, she read them, at 2 years old.” Nancy finished her story.

“Wow! If you have a kid, do you think it’ll be as bright as you Liz?” Kyle asked.

For a minute, Liz paled and she felt a jolt run through her. She couldn’t answer him, she didn’t know what to say. She took a deep breath and just shrugged. She couldn’t trust her voice at the moment to utter even a single word.

Max saw Liz struggle, and then it was clear to him as to why she was behaving this way. He had to get her out of there.

“Hey, do you want to go outside for some fresh air for a few minutes? I’m sure they won’t miss us if we step out for a while.” Max asked Liz tenderly.

Liz shook her head no. “I’ll be fine.”

“Are you sure?”

Liz nodded.

“Hey Maria, do you think you can hurry this up a little, Xander hasn’t seen his room yet.” Max called out.

“Oh yeah, ok, ok. This is the last one.” Maria gave the last gift to Isabel and Alex.

“What is this?”

“Just open it, it’s from me and Michael.” Maria beamed.

They tore off the wrapping and were awed by what they saw. It was a painting of Isabel, Alex and Xander all huddled together. The couple was admiring their son who looked back at them wide brown eyes, Isabel was cradling Xander in her arms, his left hand clutching his father’s index finger as Alex gazed lovingly at him.

“How?” Isabel looked up at Michael.

“That day we visited. Maria took your picture and I painted it.” Michael responded.

“Oh Michael, it’s beautiful.” Isabel chocked back a sob and hugged her best friends.

“Thanks, you two.” Alex kissed Maria’s cheek and hugged Michael quickly.

“It’s Michael who did all the work, I just took the picture.” Maria spoke.

“Yeah but you captured the right moment, thank you Maria.” Isabel and her hugged tightly.


Soon, the celebration ended and everyone left to give the new family some peace and quiet as they spent their first night together in their home.

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kay_b
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Post by kay_b » Fri Feb 13, 2004 9:33 pm

Chapter 35

For the next couple of weeks, Max tries to spend as much time with Liz as he can. Whenever they were at their respective companies, Max would make sure that they could have lunch together. He also spends a lot of time at their house whenever he could. He’d often have dinners with Nancy and Liz. He’s hell bent on trying to get to know more about her every day. All in all, he wouldn’t let a single opportunity pass if it means that he could spend some time with Liz.

One night, he asked Liz out on a dinner date. At first she was reluctant but Nancy insisted that she should go. And that was what she did.

Max took Liz to one of the fine dining restaurants in town and he was wearing a black suit with a silvery blue tie. He looked so handsome that women who passed them would always do a double take. Liz was equally stunning. She was wearing a black slip dress with two thin straps holding it up. She wore her hair down and Max couldn’t help but think how soothing it would feel to run his fingers through her strands. A pair of diamond earrings was her only jewelry. She was carrying a black beaded purse and a black chiffon shawl. And to complete the entire outfit, she had on a pair of strappy, black, high-heeled sandals.

When Max came to her house to pick her up, he was speechless when he saw her. If Nancy wasn’t in the same room, he would have ravished his Liz right then and there.

As they walked in the French restaurant, Liz was gathering the attention of the men in the establishment. This wasn’t left unnoticed by Max and he placed his arm around her shoulder and held on tightly.

Over dinner, they talked about everything they could think of. Liz was opening up a little more to Max and the other people and some of the working staff were in awe of the love that shone in the eyes of the beautiful couple.

“God, did you see Isabel’s face when she saw the car?” Max asked. “Honestly, I was ready to bolt out of there if she starts throwing things at me. I knew she wouldn’t be able to do that to our parents but she would never hesitate on me.”

Liz laughed and Max was delighted that he caused it. “I thought she was really going to have you return it. Besides, why did you buy it anyway?”

“Well, Dad thought it would be a great present. Xander is his first grandson. Although I’m sure that when we have kids of our own, we can expect him to spoil them as much.” Max blurted.

Liz was stunned speechless and Max realized his mistake.

“I’m sorry Liz. I…I didn’t mean to say that…I…” Max stuttered trying to apologize.

“No, it’s ok. I just didn’t know you were thinking those things about us.”

Max turned serious, “Is it wrong for me to think that? Is it just my wishful thinking?”

Liz shook her head no. Max breathed a huge sigh of relief.

“You don’t know how much that means to me Liz.” Max reached for her hands. “Does this mean you’re taking me back?”

“No…just so you know that there is that chance. I’ll be honest with you. You know that I still have feelings for you and I think eventually we’ll end up together.”

“But?”

“But, it’s just too soon. There are things…”

“That we haven’t talked about.” Max finished her sentence. “That’s actually what I was hoping we could do. Talk, about those things.”

“Actually, there’s just one left.” Liz stated.

“The scare right?”

Liz nodded.

“Is that what happened at the party 2 weeks ago? I saw your reaction when Kyle asked you about having kids of your own. I knew that it could be that but I didn’t want to press you about it then.”

“Can we not talk about this here please?” Liz requested.

“Will we ever get to discuss it? I know that there are still things that you’re holding inside you. I don’t think your mom even knows it. But you have to let it go Liz. Please.”

“I know. I just…don’t know how.” Liz shed a tear and Max wiped it away with his thumb.

“Let’s finish this then we can go somewhere private to talk ok?”

Liz nodded her consent.

They finished their dinner in silence and Max immediately asked for the check. He wanted to get out of there as quickly as possible while Liz was still inclined to talking about the past.


Max drove them straight to his house and to his surprise, Liz did not utter any objections at all. He led Liz into the house and they went to the kitchen.

“Do you want coffee, wine, anything to drink?” Max asked.

“Um, just tea please.”

Max nodded and started boiling water. He pulled out 2 cups and a tray from different cabinets and placed them on the counter. He also got 2 teabags, sugar and cream and put them on the tray. Both of them were silent while Max was moving around the kitchen with Liz merely observing him. Soon, the tea kettle whistled and Max placed it on the tray too.

They went into the den where there were a couple comfortable two-seaters. Max thought it would be a proper place for them to talk. He wanted Liz to be as relaxed as possible as she tells him more of the past. They each made their own tea and Liz took a sip. She returned the cup to the table and took deep breaths.

“You ok?” Max asked as he looked at her closely.

Liz nodded.

“You ready to tell me what happened?”

Liz nodded once more.

“So what happened at Xander’s shower?”

“I felt awkward. It brought back memories. Your dad talked about how Xander was his first grandchild. And I kept thinking…” Liz trailed off.

“About how it wouldn’t be the case if I really got you pregnant.” Max finished.

Liz nodded again, her head bowed down.

“Tell me what it was like.” Max moved closer to her and took her hands in his.

“I was so scared at first. I didn’t want to tell my mom but I couldn’t turn to anyone else. I didn’t want you to know and I was sure that if Isabel and the others would find out, they’d run to you about it.”

“I think they would have beaten me up if you told them.”

“Well maybe they won’t go to you in a good way but you’ll definitely learn of it and I didn’t want that.”

“Why not Liz?”

“Because…because you dumped me. I thought you didn’t want me. Y-you said you couldn’t fall for a maid’s daughter. What more if you impregnated one?!” Liz’s voice started to crack. “I was certain that you would have shunned me away.” Tears fell from her brown eyes and Max wrapped his arms around her.

“I wouldn’t. If you had told me, I would have stayed with you. You would have found out earlier that everything I said was a lie, that I was deeply in love with you.” Max pulled back and held her face. “I’m so sorry I wasn’t there. I’m sorry I wasn’t able to be with you through it.”

Liz shook her head, “No more apologies remember?” She tried to smile but it didn’t reach her eyes.

Liz continued, “After my mom and I went to the doctor, we had to wait for the results. I stayed in our room most of the time. I just laid in bed sorting it all out in my mind. And then…”

“And then what?” Max prodded.

“And then I…I wondered what it would be like. The waiting makes you conjure up things in your mind. And I thought what if I am pregnant. I kept racking my brain thinking about what would happen. I would have lost my scholarship, I wouldn’t be able to go to college. And there was you. How would I be able to tell you or keep it from you while we were in the same house, I couldn’t ask my mom to quit her job because we needed the money, more so if there would be another mouth to feed, not to mention the expenses of having a baby.”

“First, my parents wouldn’t have taken away your scholarship to Wilmington. And second, you know I would have helped you, don’t you?” Max questioned.

Liz shook her head, “You told me you didn’t want me. How could I know that you would be there if I needed you?”

“That’s why you couldn’t tell me and thought of keeping it from me.” Max was actually making a statement than a question.

“Yes.”

“Oh Liz, I’m so sorry.” Max hugged her tight, never wanting to let go.

After some time, Liz pulled away. “It’s ok, there wasn’t really a baby.”

Max studied her closely, “But you wish there was don’t you?”

Liz nodded mutely.

“Is that why you were silent all that time at Isabel’s?”

“Yes. I felt all those emotions washing over me. Maybe I wouldn’t have turned out to be this cold person if there was a baby, you know? Maybe the baby would have kept me the way I was back then. And if we left, I had this dream that someday we’d see each other again. And you’d find out about our child and you’d come and get us.”

“But more importantly, a part of me wished that there was one. Back then while I was lying in bed waiting for that call, I wanted it to be real. I wanted an entire being that was half you and half me. A baby that came from us” Liz sobbed.

Max embraced her and kissed her forehead. Then he whispered, “You will have that baby Liz, I promise.”

“I didn’t even tell my mom about it. You’re the first person I ever told about my true feelings during that time in my life.”

“Remember that you could always come to me Liz, and I will always be here for you. I made that mistake of letting you go years ago and I have no intention of committing that same mistake ever again.”

Liz looked up to meet his eyes, “Do you think we have another chance? At getting back together and being happy?”

“Yes, but only if you would let me in.”

“I want to Max, I really do.”

Max gave her a million-dollar smile.

“I think I’m ready.” Liz said softly.

“You’re taking me back?”

She nodded, “If you think you can put up with me.”

“Absolutely.”

Max cradled her face and kissed her with as much passion as he had kept inside him for 10 long years.

Liz responded slowly at first, but as Max deepened the kiss, she gave in to the desire that stirred inside her.

As their lips melded, Max swiped his tongue on her lower lip, seeking entrance into the recesses of her warm, sweet mouth.

Their tongues dueled and when the need for air became greater than the need to kiss, they parted.

Max rested his forehead on Liz’s, breathing in her sweet scent.

“I’ve missed that. I’ve wanted to do that ever since I saw you at Kyle and Tess’s wedding.

Liz abruptly leaned back. “You were there?”

Max nodded.

“How come I didn’t see you?”

“I hid from you. I sat at a table on the far corner so you wouldn’t see me. I didn’t know how you would react so I thought it was better for me to just stay away for the time being.”

“Yeah, I probably would have run away.”

Then Max pulled her face close to his. “And I would have run after you. I told you Liz Parker, I’m never letting you go ever again.”

Liz smiled and this time initiated a kiss which Max was more than happy to return.

When they separated, Liz felt like she was free, free from all that burden she carried inside her for a decade. She smiled wistfully as Max hugged her tight.

Pulling her close, Max made a silent vow, ‘Someday Liz, I promise you that someday, when the time is right, we will have that baby.’


Chapter 36

After that talk with Max, Liz stayed over at his place upon his persistence. Nothing happened though, Max just wanted to savor the feeling of having Liz back in his life and being able to hold her in his arms as he sleeps and see her first thing in the morning when he wakes up.

Liz wore an old sweatshirt of his and Max felt a wave of protectiveness sweep over him. He wondered what it would be like when they were married and living together. They were definitely moving in his house because when he bought it, he had a family life with Liz in mind.

Waking up the next day, Max found himself alone in bed. Panic instantly set in as he quickly got off the bed and ran to the bathroom in search of Liz. Finding it empty, he ran down the stairs and searched the den, the living room, his office and his entertainment area. He rushed back up to check the guestroom and the spare room. Still he couldn’t find her. He rushed back down and went through the dining area until he reached the kitchen where he found Liz making breakfast.

As he leaned against the doorway, he took in the sight of Liz busying herself while he willed his heart to calm down. He could picture her living here with him, a wedding ring on her finger glimmering in the sunlight. And he’d watch her and take in her beauty.

He walked behind her and wrapped his arms around her waist as Liz reveled in his warmth.

“You scared me.” Max mumbled on her neck.

“Why?”

“I thought it was all a dream.”

Liz pinched his arm.

“Ow.”

Liz turned around as Max pulled his arm back.

“Just making sure that you’re wide awake now.”

Max hugged her close. “I love seeing you this way. Here in my house, wearing my shirt.”

“Getting a little possessive are we?”

“With you? Always.”

Max leaned down to kiss her, hard.

“Mmm, that’s a good way to wake up in the morning.” Liz said.

‘It’s going to be every morning if I have anything to say about it’, Max thought.

“What do you have plans for today?” Max asked.

“Well, I’m supposed to go over and see how the construction is moving along.”

“Can’t you take a day off?”

“Why?” Liz asked slowly with a glint in her eye.

“I just want us to spend this day together. It is the first day I’ll be spending with you as my girlfriend again.” Max beamed.

“Hmm, ok, I’ll make a quick stop over there and rush back here.”

“No.”

“No?” Liz raised an eyebrow.

“No, I’m going with you.”

“Don’t you have work to do?”

“Not really.” Max shrugged.

“Well what will we do all day?”

“We could look for some houses for Nancy.”

“Ok. We’ll do that. Now come on, let’s eat.”


After seeing that everything is going smoothly, they left the construction site of Parkers’ and headed in Isabel and Alex’s neighborhood. Liz thought of stopping over at Isabel’s to say hi and Max reluctantly agreed.

“Why don’t you want to go see your sister?” Liz was curious.

“It’s not that. It’s just…she’s going to find out that we’re back together and she won’t let you leave. Then she’ll call Maria to come over and they’ll be hogging you all day.” Max said with a pout.

Liz giggled, “Aww, don’t worry. I won’t let that happen.” Liz touched Max’s face.

Max looked over at her, took her hand and kissed it as they drove up the street towards the Whitman’s house.


“Hi you guys. What brings you here?”

“Hey Isabel, we were in the area looking for a house for me and my mom and I thought we’d drop by to see you.” Liz spoke.

“How are you doing Iz?” Max asked.

“Tired since my son keeps waking up in the middle of the night.”

“I’m sure he’ll adjust soon.” Max said.

“I hope so.” Isabel sighed. “So, you’re looking for a house around here?”

“Yeah, we want to move somewhere closer to the restaurant.”

“What about your grandmother’s house?” Isabel questioned.

“Oh that’s staying, we’ll never sell that.” Liz answered.

“Where’s Xander?”

“He’s sleeping, Max. I just put him down. Maybe he’ll wake up in a little while.”

Liz reached for Max’s hand and squeezed it as they shared a smile. That quickly got Isabel’s attention.

“OHMYGOD!” You’re back together!” Isabel gasped.

The two just grinned at her.

“Oh I’m so happy for both of you.” Isabel first hugged Liz then Max. “Wait till Maria hears this.” Isabel quickly reached for a phone.

“No!” Max took the receiver from his sister.

“What? Max! Give me the phone.” Isabel held out her hand.

“Isabel, please. If you call Maria, she’ll come over and we’ll never get out of here.” Max said.

“You can call her after we’re gone. We still have a busy day and we just wanted to say a quick hi.” Liz told her friend.

“Alright, but you know she’s going to want to get together right away.” Isabel forewarned.

“Yeah, that’s why we don’t want you to call her just yet.” Max replied.

“Anyway, we have to go. Tell Maria I said hi.” Liz stood and hugged Isabel once more.

“Won’t you stay for lunch?” Isabel offered.

“No, thanks anyway, sis.”

Max and Liz waved goodbye as they drove off in his Porsche.

Isabel smiled and waved back. ‘It’s so good to see those two finally happy. Now, to tell Maria’ she thought as she picked up the phone and dialed Maria’s mobile.


They went over to the model homes in the area and looked around. The cost was not a problem with Liz. She just wanted to make sure that it had everything they needed and the layout that she and Nancy wanted. They wanted it to have a huge kitchen, formal and informal dining areas, a sufficient living room, and an office that will all be found in the first floor, 3 bedrooms and 3 baths, and another office in the second floor and at least a two-car garage.

Liz liked one of the three model homes a lot. It had everything she wanted and one of the rooms had a huge balcony. She knew that this was going to be her room. So just like that, she told the developer that she wanted one like it.

“Oh you made an excellent choice. That is actually a great house to start a family in.” the lady told them.

“What?” Liz threw a quick glance at Max then back at the woman. “Oh no. We’re not…” Liz stammered, unable to make a comprehensible sentence.

“We already have a house. This is for her mother.” Max stated.

“Oh. Well, I’m sure your mother will love this.” The developer replied. “So where would you want to build it?” The lady asked as she led them to the site map. “We already have some homes built in the lots that we know would appeal to buyers so we could look at those too.”

“I’ll have my mom decide on that one. I’ll bring her by tomorrow if that’s ok with you.” Liz answered.

“Certainly, I’ll be here to show you around.”

“Alright, I think we’re set then. Thank you so much.” Liz bid her goodbye as Max walked her out the door.

Max noticed an instant change in her once they were out of the office and back in the car.

“I’m sorry about what I said back in there.” He paused. “I meant it though, about the house.” Max said. “I want you to move in with me Liz.”

“I…I can’t...not yet…don’t you think it’s too soon?” Liz was feeling nervous about this conversation.

“No. I’ve spent 10 years without you. I don’t think I’ll last another day. Not after experiencing what it’s like to hold you in my arms as I sleep. I’m not trying to push you Liz, that’s the last thing I want to do. Just know that the offer stands, ok?”

Liz nodded, “Ok, I’ll think about it.”

“Thank you.” Max leaned over to kiss his Liz on the lips.


As they drove back to Liz’s house, she kept on asking Max about him hiding out during the Valentis’ wedding.

“I can’t believe I didn’t see you. My mom didn’t mention it either and she stayed longer than I did.”

“I don’t think she saw me.” Max said. “I came in late and you were sitting in the church with the others. I also saw you during the bouquet toss. Kyle looked like he was dragging you out on the center to join the other women.” Max chuckled.

“He was.” Liz replied.

“I also saw how you looked when you caught it. It looked like you wanted to throw it back to Tess.” Max laughed.

“I would have if I could.” Liz laughed along with him.

“Why didn’t you want it?” Max inquired on a slightly serious tone.

“You know what they say when you catch the bouquet.” Liz answered softly.

“Don’t you see yourself getting married someday?”

Liz bit her lower lip and slowly shook her head.

Max let it go for now. He realized that he still had some work to do but he was happy with the progress he’s having.

“So…when I saw you catch it, I practically begged Michael to catch the garter for me.” Max spoke to break the silence.

“Why didn’t you catch it yourself?”

“And risk you running away?” Max asked with a raised brow. “Nah, I took my chances with Michael. And trust me, he didn’t want to do it at first because he knew Maria would question him about it. But I told her why and she agreed to lend her fiancée.”

“Yeah, I saw how he lunged for it. I wondered why he did that. I just assumed he was out there to look after me, like he’s always done.” Liz recalled the talk she shared with Michael when she and Max first got involved.

“Yeah, Michael is a good friend and an all-around great guy.”


When they arrived at Liz’s they saw Maria’s car and wondered what she was doing there for a brief moment. Both of them had the same thought when she rushed out the door.

“Isabel.” Max and Liz said at the same time.

“It’s true!!! Ooooh!!! This is so great!!!” Maria embraced the couple at the same time.

“Isabel told you?” Max asked as he pried Maria’s arms away.

“Of course. Who else do you think it is?” Maria replied. “Ohmygod, I can’t believe this. Well, I mean I can but I just never thought….Actually I did think it, plus hoped and wished for it since you two are my good friends, but it’s still a surprise, a wonderful surprise! So here I am, I drove here straight away where I’ve been waiting for hours. Where were you two?” Maria finished with her hands on her hips.

“We were looking for a house.” Liz quickly answered.

Maria stared wide-eyed, “You-you, a house? You’re moving in together?” Maria pulled Liz’s left hand to her to look for a ring.

Liz snatched her hand back, “No. It’s for me and my mom” she answered with a scowl.

“Oh…well anyway, the reason I’m here is to invite you two to a pool party at our house. You know, like back in high school. It’s this weekend, Saturday. We’re all going to be there, so make sure to keep your calendars cleared because I expect you to be there too. And if you’re not, I don’t care if I have to search for you in the entire town but you will attend my party.” Maria demanded menacingly.

“O-kay.” Max shot a look at Liz who was simply smiling at their friend’s antics.

“Well then I better go and buy some supplies. See you two lovebirds on Saturday.” Maria blew them a kiss as she got in her car and drove away.

“Gotta hand it to Hurricane Deluca. When she tells you to do something, you better do it or face her wrath.” Max said in a low voice.

Liz just laughed as they went in to tell her mother about the house and the new development between her and Max.


As Saturday came, the entire gang was gathered in Maria’s backyard. Michael was manning the grill, Max was helping Liz with the salad she was making from scratch, Alex and Isabel were setting the table while Maria was preparing their drinks.

When the food was placed on the table, everyone sat down to eat and talk. The men were wearing their swim shorts and shirts while the ladies were wearing their swimsuits. Isabel had a red one-piece on since she still has some pounds to shed due to the pregnancy and a sarong that reached to her ankles. Maria was wearing an emerald green two piece bikini that complemented her eyes and a matching translucent sarong and Liz was sporting an original Calvin Klein two-piece that had black bikini bottoms and a printed floral top. She was also wearing a medium-length black sarong to match it.

Everyone was joking around, mostly teasing Max and Liz about their new relationship. They enjoyed their afternoon in the sun, recalling the old days and catching up on each other’s lives since they weren’t really able to hang out together ever since Liz came back.

“So when is the wedding finally Maria?” Alex asked.

“We still haven’t decided on a date yet.” Maria answered.

“Goodness, you’ve been engaged for a year now.” Isabel told them.

“So? What’s your point Iz?” Michael asked her.

“Nothing. I was just wondering.” She glared at Michael.

“Waitaminute, weren’t we teasing Max and Liz? How come we’re on the hot seat now?” Michael was chomping on some ribs.

“Oh no, don’t turn this back on us.” Max shook his head.

“We haven’t really talked about everything yet but we will. We’re just still busy. Once we’ve picked out a motif, I think everything is going to fall in place soon after.” Maria said.

“See, this is what I like about this place. Even though our families have very high profiles, we can just lounge around without having to worry if our faces will appear on the society pages tomorrow.” Alex sat back and placed his arm on Isabel’s backrest.

“I totally agree with you there Alex.” Michael and Max commented.

“Can you imagine what it would be like if people were following us around?” Isabel shuddered. “I hate to think of Xander growing up in such an environment.”

“That’s true.” Maria nodded. “If that was the case, I’m sure the paparazzi would have feasted on who’s with who, our engagement,” she looked at Michael. “Your marriage and Xander,” Maria turned to Isabel and Alex. “And the latest would be you two, the hotshot lawyer Maxwell Philip Evans who’s romantically involved with the owner of the famous restaurant that bears her family name, Elizabeth Anne Parker.” Maria said mimicking a reporter’s voice.

“It’s a good thing you decided to stay here permanently Liz.” Isabel told her friend.

Liz responded with only a smile. However, it didn’t quite reach her eyes and everyone failed to notice, including Max.


Chapter 37

After checking out the houses that were already built, Nancy and Liz found the house they wanted on the biggest lot which meant a huge yard where Nancy could continue her gardening. They were set to move in two weeks.

Nancy and Liz, along with Max spent most of their free time furnishing the new house. They didn’t want to take out any of the furniture in Claudia’s house so they bought almost all of their things.

Nancy was doing most of the packing while Liz was working on the restaurant. The construction of the new Parkers’ is coming along nicely and would probably be done in 2 months or so.

“Here’s the last of them Liz.” Max said as he carried a box into the new house.

“Thanks Max.” She looked at the label on the side indicating that the box had some of her books in it. “Can you put it in my bedroom please?”

“No problem.” Max trudged up the stairs to Liz’s room.

Shortly after, Liz followed Max in her room.

When the door closed, Max turned around and saw Liz. He gave her a huge grin and hugged her tight.

“Eew, you’re sweaty.” Liz struggled against him.

“So?”

“You should shower first before you hug me.”

“As long as you take it with me, I will.” Max said playfully.

“Haha, Mr. Evans.” Liz stuck out her tongue.

“Fine, I’ll go. But you better be ready to give me a kiss when I get back.”

“Don’t worry, I will.”

“See you later.” Max gave her a quick peck then left.


After finishing arranging her room, Liz went down the stairs to see if her mom needed help with anything. Liz found her mother in the office filing some papers.

“Hey, I can do that. But I’ll have to do it tomorrow ‘cause I’m so tired.” Liz slumped in an armchair.

“Where’s Max?” Nancy asked.

“He went home to freshen up. He’ll be back though.”

“I suspected that much. You two are getting so close. I’m glad that you’re back with him Liz. He’s a good influence on you. You’re smiling more, you’re kinder, nicer to everyone. Even the staff noticed the change.”

Liz just smiled.

“What are you thinking?” Nancy narrowed her eyes on her daughter.

“Nothing.” Liz shook her head.

“Liz. You know we don’t keep secrets from each other.”

“I know. And it’s nothing, really.” Liz emphasized the last word to appease her mother.

“Well whatever it is, you’ll tell me soon enough.” With that, Nancy left the room.

Not being able to keep anything from her own mom, Liz went after her.

“Actually, there’s something you should know.” Liz fumbled with the button on her shirt.

“What is it?” Nancy questioned.

“I was thinking of going back to Boston once the restaurant here opens.” Liz said softly.

“What?! Why?!”

“That was my original plan even before we came here.”

“What about Max? Does he know about this?”

Liz bit her lip and her eyes filled with tears. She just shook her head no in response.

Nancy stepped closer to her daughter. “Why do you have to go? I thought the reason we opened a branch here is because we decided to stay here.”

“No, that was your decision Mom. I never even wanted to go back here in the first place.”

“I understand that you might have felt that way then but what about now? I thought you’re happy here.”

“I am but…”

“But what Liz?”

“But I can’t allow myself to be that vulnerable again. I’m so close to that Mom, and I can’t afford it.”

“Liz, you can’t live your life this way. You can’t live life in fear and not taking the risk to experience something great.”

“Or something completely horrible.” Liz said sensitively.

“Lizzie.” Nancy paused. “I thought for sure that when you got back with Max, you were on your way to going back to who you are, who you really are, before everything changed you.”

“I am. But don’t you see? If I let my guard down and I get hurt, I don’t think I’ll survive it. I won’t ever be the person I used to be and I’ve accepted that. This is me Mom. Those 10 years changed me and whatever I am, that’s not going to improve anymore. Yes, at some point Max brought me back, but not completely. Too much has happened that can never be erased.”

“Of course I accept you for who you are baby. Don’t ever doubt that. But if you go back, you’ll be alone, you’ll be miserable.”

“That’s the consequence I have to face. I can’t stay and risk everything again. I’ll die Mom, I know it.”

“I can go with you.”

Liz shook her head slowly. “You have to stay. Someone needs to manage the new Parkers’. Besides, this is your home. You wanted to come back. I can’t ask you to leave again.”

“You are my home baby.” Nancy hugged her daughter.

“And you are mine. Don’t worry, I’ll come visit every chance I get.” Liz gave her mom a sad smile.

“And Max?” Nancy gazed in her daughter’s eyes.

“I’ll tell him about it soon. I’m just finding the right time.” Liz whispered.

“That boy loves you Liz. Everyone can see it so clearly.”

“I know. But I have to do this. Maybe…maybe when I’m stronger I can come back and pick up my life.”

“But you’re strong now Liz. Facing him head on, talking to him and taking him back proved that.”

“It’s not enough.” A lone tear escaped Liz’s eye.


Only a month to go before the restaurant is finished and Max and Liz have gotten closer than ever. He spends every time he can with her. They always have lunch and dinner together. Max stays until the last minute at Liz’s new house especially now that it’s closer to his own home. Sometimes, Liz spends the night at Max’s house although nothing really happens. Max is just happy with being able to hold Liz all night and if he has to take it slow, he’ll do whatever it takes not to rock the boat.

However, all that changes in one hot night.

“Summer is definitely here.” Liz wipes her brow.

Max just readjusted the temperature to make Liz feel more comfortable. “Yeah. Is it ok for you to stay the night?”

“I guess.” Liz shrugged.

“Do YOU want to stay the night?” Max sat beside her and pulled Liz on his lap kissing her neck.

“Mmmm, okay.” Only the sound of Max’s kisses filled the room until Liz spoke again. “Max?”

“Yeah?” Max stopped kissing her and looked in her eyes.

“Make love to me.”

Max eyes widened in astonishment. “What?!”

Misunderstanding Max’s question, she started getting up. “If you don’t want to that’s ok.”

Max tightened his hold on her in response. “Liz, look at me.”

Liz stared back in his hazel eyes.

“Do you really think I would say no to such an offer? Don’t you know how much you mean to me? What you do to me?” He paused. “As much as I would love to carry you to my room right now, I have to know if you’re serious. I mean, are you sure?”

Liz just nodded.

“What brought this on?”

“Nothing, I just thought it was time.” Liz uttered.

“Do you really want this? I know I do but I need to know that you feel the same way.”

“Yes.”

That one word meant more to Max than the entire world. He cupped Liz’s face in his hands and kissed her passionately.

Max got off the couch with his arms still carrying Liz. He walked up the stairs and straight to his room without breaking the kiss he was sharing with her. He has waited for this for over 10 years. Finally, after the long wait, Liz is back with him. In a few minutes their bodies will become one and Liz will be his forever.

“Oh God, I’ve waited for this moment for so long.” Max mumbled along Liz’s jaw. “I’ve dreamed of this so many times but nothing can come close to what I’m feeling right now.”

Max laid Liz on the bed and they began to undress each other. The desire stirring in the pits of their stomachs is dangerously threatening to overwhelm them. Liz didn’t want to rush this because it will be the beginning of the end.

With only their underwear on, Max got on top of Liz savoring the sight of her almost naked body.

“You are so beautiful.” Max said huskily. His fingers trailed light touches on her skin and Liz shivered in response. Goose bumps followed his every touch.

Liz was breathing heavily. She knew that this will be a long and unforgettable night.

Max slowly pulled down her bra straps, kissing her shoulders lightly. Liz arched her back to allow access to the clasp of her bra. Max unsnapped it and peeled it off her. He kissed the top of each breast with small pecks.

He was getting intoxicated with her. Scents of strawberry and vanilla wafted through the air. With every kiss and lick, he tasted her. “I can never get enough of this.”

“Then don’t stop.” Liz urged him on.

Max moved his hand to her left breast, massaging it gently. Then he lowered his head to kiss it while his right hand massaged the other. He started to suck lightly on her nipple.

“Oooohhh.” Liz moaned.

Max smiled and gave her right breast the same attention. Liz’s chest was heaving. Then he moved lower to kiss her stomach and her hips. Max hooked his thumb on the top of her panties.

Liz lifted her hips off the bed and Max removed her white lace panties. Max kissed her between her legs as he massaged her inner thighs. Liz was beginning to squirm as Max continued his assault.

His face could feel her heat and Max knew how aroused Liz was. He could smell her sweet and heady scent and he could hardly wait. But he knew that this night was for Liz. And so he devoted all his attention in bringing her to the most pleasurable night she ever had.

He wanted to taste her and that was exactly what he did. With the first lick, Liz’s hips bucked up in surprise.

“Sshhh, relax baby.” Max smiled placing his hand on top of her trim stomach. With his other hand, he started stroking her outer folds and Liz wriggled once more. He kept licking her slowly and it was driving Liz mad. Then Max inserted one finger in her wetness.

Liz’s hips jumped off the bed as she gasped. “Max!”

Max looked at Liz. He loved her reactions to him. “Just feel baby.” He inserted another finger and began stroking her insides so very slowly.

Liz was biting her lip so hard she was sure she was going to draw blood soon. She was getting so wet and her juices were beginning to flow. She felt like it was pure torture.

Max grinned and lowered his head to drink her.

“Oh my… Max. Oh please…” Liz moaned.

Max kept pressing on, wanting to drive her over the edge.

“I’m so close….Please Max…” Liz begged.

Max briefly paused, “You don’t have to beg me baby.” He stroked and licked her faster, deeper.

Liz was squirming and moving her head from side to side. She tensed up before cumming hard.

“Max!!!” Liz held on to his head as Max devoured her.

As Liz came down from her high, Max used that break to remove his silk blue bowers off. His erection was so hard for her. He moved up her body and kissed her fervently.

“Oh wow, I’ve never felt that way before. Except that first time.” Liz said.

“I’m glad that I’m the only one who can make you cum that way honey.” Max said between kisses.

“Um, Max?”

“Yes?”

“You’re actually the only one I’ve ever been with.” Liz confessed.

Max stopped and looked at her. “Don’t get me wrong, but how come? You’re so enchanting. It’s hard to believe that you haven’t been with anyone else since. They’re fools to let the opportunity pass.”

“There were some who tried. I was the one who couldn’t give myself to them.”

Max’s heart burst with love for the woman beneath him.

“I haven’t been with anyone else too. I felt like I would be cheating on you and I couldn’t do that.” Max admitted.

Liz beamed and kissed him with so much desire.

Max felt the stirrings of passion from deep within.

“Max, I want to return the favor.” Liz said shyly.

“Mmm, I’d like that but if you do it, this will be all over too soon.”

Their lips melded, tongues dueled and hands touched the other all over. Max was high on the feeling of being this intimate with Liz.

“Max…”

“What?”

“Now, please. I can’t take it anymore.”

Max smiled and obliged his girlfriend’s request. He shifted between Liz’s legs. Their fingers intertwined as Max pushed himself until he was fully sheathed inside her.

“Oh Liz! My sweet angelic Liz.” Max moaned at the sensation of being engulf by her warmth.

“Max…” Liz whispered into the night air.

Max started to set a rhythm. Their bodies started rocking back and forth going deeper, harder. He looked at Liz as she met his thrusts.

“Oh yes Liz, that’s it baby.”

“Max…it feels so good.”

“I know sweetie… I know”

They continued the pace, going faster and faster with every stroke.

“Oh God, Liz! I’m almost there…”

“Yes, me too.”

Liz’s walls clamped down on him and he couldn’t get enough of the pleasure he was feeling. He was so close but he wanted to wait for her. So he focused on achieving her climax. He drove in her more vigorously.

“Max…don’t stop…please…”

“Look at me my Liz.”

Liz strained to open her eyes and look at her lover. Once their gazes locked, Max thrust deep before exploding within.

“MMMAAAAXXXXX!!!!” For the second time tonight, Liz’s orgasm rocked her to the core.

“LLLIIIIZZZZZ!!!!” Max yelled as he came inside Liz. He shot deep inside her, bathing her womb with his seed.

As they came down from that intense bliss, Liz hugged Max to her tightly, etching everything that happened in her memory.

Max rolled off her and spooned her from behind. He was so happy. The last barrier has been broken down. They were truly together now.

He pulled up a blanket to encase their naked bodies. He glanced at Liz who had her eyes closed. Kissing her head, he cuddled her closer to him

“I’m never letting you go Liz. I promise you that nothing will come between us ever again. I love you Liz, always and forever.”

Like the scene that happened years ago, Max told Liz that he loves her. Only this time, whilst Max thought Liz was asleep, he clearly heard her reply.

“I love you too Max, always.”


Chapter 38

A month has passed and everyone in town is excited to attend the opening of the new Parkers’. Nancy and Liz were so busy preparing everything. Even Maria, dragging Michael with her, offered to help. Banners, huge floral arrangements, and balloons filled the place. The entire restaurant was buzzing with activity. Tables were set elegantly for their patrons, trays of food came through the kitchen doors often to serve the invited guests. Of course, all of Liz and Nancy’s friends were there too. They even had a dance floor set up in the center for everyone to liven up the party. It was a joyous moment in everyone’s eyes, but for the mother and daughter, it was bittersweet.

Liz was leaving for Boston the next day. Nancy wanted so badly to go with her but she knew that she needs to allow her daughter to go out on her own and experience life for herself. She was such the dutiful daughter and she kept the promise she made when she was but a mere child. Nancy was so proud of Liz. Now it was Liz’s turn to let her wings soar and live her life.


The six friends were all having fun. They were in one circle dancing together. Liz tried to put the thoughts of leaving in the back of her mind. But she knew that she had to tell Max and once she had done that, the dam will certainly break.

A ballad came through the speakers and the voice of Sheryl Crow started to sing softly.

Come to me now
And lay your hands over me


Max offered his hand to Liz. She accepted it and he led her to the middle of the dance floor and held her close.

Even if it’s a lie
Say it will be alright
And I shall believe


Max placed his arms around her waist as Liz’s arms encircled his neck. They moved along with the slow rhythm of a song that precisely described their relationship.

I'm broken in two
And I know you're on to me
That I only come home
When I'm so all alone
But I do believe


“I’m so happy Liz.” Max smiled down on his girlfriend as they danced.

Liz nodded but her mind was focused on the song. It was speaking to her.

That not everything is gonna be the way you think it ought to be
Seems like every time I try to make it right it all comes down on me
Please say honestly you won’t give up on me
And I shall believe
And I shall believe


“Are you ok?” Max wondered why Liz was so quiet.

Liz tried to smile and nodded again, hugging him tighter. The lump in her throat was making it difficult for her to talk.

Open the door
And show me your face tonight
I know it's true
No one heals me like you
And you hold the key


In the middle of the song, Max released Liz from his embrace and knelt down on one knee before her. Liz eyes widened and everyone who knew the couple gasped. Max fished a tiny box out of his pocket and held Liz’s left hand.

“I know you’re going to think it’s too soon, and maybe it is. But I’ve never felt anything like this before. You’re the only woman I have ever loved, Liz and I can’t tell you enough how sorry I am for what I have done in the past. Despite all of my flaws, you forgave me and gave us a chance. And now that we’re together, I want to make it official. You make me a better person Liz. All those years we were apart, I’ve done everything I did for you. All I have is for you. You own me Liz. I thought I would never have an opportunity to let you know how much you mean to me, how much I love you. But here we are, together. Not only did you give me a second chance to love you but to feel you love me back means the world to me. I want to let everyone know, I want to scream it to the world. I told you I would never let you go again. So here I am kneeling before you.”

Max took out the engagement ring he got from Tiffany’s. It was a beautiful Lucida ring with a square-cut, 1.5 carat diamond in a white gold setting.

“Elizabeth Anne Parker, will you spend the rest of your life with me as my wife?”

All of the women in the room had tears in their eyes. But Liz was sobbing softly.

Never again
would I turn away from you
I'm so heavy tonight
But your love is alright
And I do believe


Liz took a deep breath and closed her eyes briefly. When she opened them, she stared into the eyes of the only man she ever loved.

Max held in his breath awaiting Liz’s answer.

Nancy didn’t even want to look. This moment could make or break the couple.

That not everything is gonna be the way
You think it ought to be
It seems like every time I try to make it right
It all comes down on me
Please say honestly
You won't give up on me
And I shall believe


“I can’t.” Liz whispered.

I shall believe

Max blinked, “What?”

Liz shook her head as her lips trembled. Her eyes showed the pain she was going through and Max saw it. He couldn’t understand why Liz was saying no when her heart was openly breaking.

And I shall believe

Liz broke free from Max’s hold and ran to the backroom. Max quickly ran after her. He found her sitting in a chair in the office, crying her heart out.

Max kneeled in front of her once more. “Liz, talk to me.”

Liz just continued to cry.

“Please. If you want to wait, that’s fine with me. You know I would never push you to make a decision you’re not ready for. I just wanted to let you know how I felt, that I always pictured a future with you. Maybe I shouldn’t have proposed out there. I’m sorry Liz, I didn’t mean to put you on the spot like that. I was just proud and wanted to let everyone know that we’re together. Please forgive me my love.”

“It’s not you.” Liz sobbed softly.

“What are you talking about?” Max asked.

Liz uncovered her face that was blemished by her tears. “I’m going back to Boston tomorrow Max.”

“What?! But why?! I thought you were happy here. I thought we were doing fine. Was it something I said? Did I do something wrong? It’s because I proposed too soon isn’t it? Liz, I’m so sorry. I just couldn’t stand being apart from you anymore. I can take it back, I’ll wait. I’ll wait forever if I have to. Please, you can’t go. You can’t leave me.” Max spoke hurriedly, his voice cracking with emotions. He hugged Liz and placed his head on her lap.

Liz ran her fingers through his raven hair. “It’s not you Max, you didn’t do anything wrong. In fact you made me feel again. You saw the bitch that I was when I came here and you managed to chip through the ice. I have you to thank for that.” She paused. “But when you made me feel again, you made me hope that something better can come out of seeing you again, of getting back together with you.”

“But there is. We’re happy, arent’ we? Are you unhappy with me Liz? Tell me what I need to do.” Max sobbed.

“There’s nothing you can do Max. I have to face my demons myself.”

“But I thought we were past that?” Max raised his head to look at her.

“Max, all my life I have gone through one heartache after the other. When we broke up back in high school, it wrecked me completely—”

Max interrupted. “And I am so sorry for it. I thought you believed me that I didn’t want to hurt you but—” Liz placed a finger on Max’s lips.

“The break up wasn’t the only factor that made me change. I kept my emotions all bottled up inside me. Yes I grieved when I lost my dad and grandma and when my mom left to work for you, but my heart never really coped. I’ve lived through life with people I love leaving me. And right now, I can’t afford to allow myself to be vulnerable like that again. If something goes wrong with us Max and we part, I won’t survive it.”

Liz cupped Max’s face in her hands, tears streaming their cheeks. “Don’t you see? I love you so much that I’m terrified of losing you.”

“You’ll never lose me Liz. I promise you that you won’t.”

“We don’t know that. That’s why I have to go. I need to learn to be brave and strong.” Weeping, she leaned her forehead on his. “I just hope that you’ll be able to wait for me till then.” She whispered.

“You know I will wait for you no matter how long it takes. But please, don’t leave me Liz.” Max was gasping as he sobbed. “You say that if we break up in the future you’ll die, but what about me? Don’t you know that you’ll be killing me if you go?” Max cried.

“Max…”

“Liz, please…please, I’m begging you.”

“I promise I’ll come back soon Max. We’ll talk on the phone always, we’ll email each other all the time. I’m still going to come and visit.”

“I can’t even sleep when you’re in a different house, what more when you’re in a different state?”

“I’m so sorry Max.” Liz whispered.

Max took a deep breath and pulled away.

“Max?”

“Don’t be sorry Liz. You’re right, you have to do this. I have to let you go.” Max stood up and composed himself.

Liz blinked once, twice.

“Just remember that I’m here always. I love you.” Max kissed the top of her head and walked away.

And Liz’s heart broke once again.


The next day, the gang minus Max accompanied Nancy and Liz to the airport. Liz’s flight was in the afternoon and they all had lunch together to spend a little more time with Liz before she leaves.

When the PA system announced that her plane was boarding passengers, everyone gathered around Liz.

“Promise me you’ll call as soon as you arrive.” Nancy reminded her.

“I will.” Liz nodded.

“Come back soon ok?” Maria hugged her.

Liz smiled at her friend.

“Don’t overwork yourself, you hear?” Michael gave her a quick hug.

“I won’t.”

“You better be here for Xander’s birthday.” Alex gave her a hug and a kiss on the cheek.

“I’ll be here.”

“I’ll miss you Liz.” Isabel embraced her for a long time.

“Take care of him for me.” Liz whispered for only Isabel to hear.

Isabel nodded as they separated. “Take care of yourself too ok?”

“Ok.” Liz smiled sadly.

The second boarding call boomed over the speaker.

“I’ll miss you so much baby.”

“I’ll miss you too Mom.”

Mother and daughter shared a long embrace.

When they parted Liz was crying again. Nancy sobbed and tucked her daughter’s hair behind her ear. “I’ll call you everyday sweetie.”

Liz just nodded. She picked up her bags and headed to the terminal.

As she sat on her first-class seat, she quickly strapped on the seatbelt and hugged the pillow that her tears were quickly soaking.

Max didn’t even come to say goodbye. She knew that she hurt him by leaving but she thought that it wasn’t that bad since he told her that he would wait for her.

‘God, please help me through this. I don’t know if I’m doing the right thing. Will standing alone make me stronger? Am I making the right choice? Will I be able to get past this? I know that all the hurt that I experienced turned me into this mean person but it made me achieve my goal for me and my mom.’

Liz sighed, ‘My mom, how will I survive without her? We’ve been together through everything. And my friends, they’ve always looked out for me. I’ll miss them so much. But the one person I’ll miss most is Max. I have hurt him so much. Please help him God, please ease his pain. I love him so much and he deserves a better me. All this time he turned his life around to become a better person for me, for us. And now I have to do the same. He deserves that for all the love he has given me. He was the one who brought me back to the person I was, back to the real me.’

The realization hit her entire system like an electric shock. ‘It was him. Max was the one who made me better. Being with him made me stronger. I didn’t have to leave, but he loved me enough to let me go. Oh no, I have to go back!’

As she tried to come up with a way to get to Max the fastest, she recalled their conversation yesterday…

“…Don’t you know that you’ll be killing me if you go?”

She also remembered his letters, especially the one that struck her the most and made her drive out in the rain to go to him.

“… I wanted to die right then Liz. I’ve thought about it a couple of times. I wondered if you’d be at my funeral if I did. I wondered if you’d cry for me…”

‘No! Oh Max, I’m so sorry. What have I done?’

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kay_b
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Post by kay_b » Fri Feb 13, 2004 9:43 pm

Chapter 39

As soon as the plane landed in Boston, Liz immediately jumped up, grabbed her carry-on luggage and ran out the terminal gate. She quickly looks for several ticketing offices that would have another plane going back.

“Please, I need to go back! It’s an emergency, a matter of life and death.” Liz was rambling.

“Ma’am, I’m really sorry. It’s the summer season and all our flights are booked.”

“Isn’t there someone who cancelled at the last minute?” Liz leans over the counter trying to see the monitor that the ground steward was looking at.

“I’m sorry Ma’am, but there really is none. I wouldn’t normally say this but you can check with the other airlines.”

“I already did! Please, I’ll pay twice the amount of a first-class ticket! I just need to get on a plane, now!”

“I really wish I could help you but my hands are tied.”

Liz exhaled loudly. ‘Now what am I going to do?’

“When will your next flight be?” Liz asked.

“Tomorrow, but they’re all booked as well.” The man paused, “If you’d like, you could leave your name and number and we can call you if there is a seat available. That is, if you still can’t find an earlier flight with any other airline.”

“You can do that?”

The man nodded.

“Oh thank you, thank you, thank you.” Liz reached in her purse and gave the man her calling card. “Call me any time of the day and I’ll be here.”

The man gave Liz a slight nod.

She moved towards one terminal after another, finding anyone who was willing to give their seat up for her. Unfortunately, no one would do it saying one excuse after another plus the fact that it was illegal. She could only hope that she could get on a plane by tomorrow.


After getting her bags checked out, she hailed a taxi. She was dialing Max’s number as she told the driver her address.

“Pick up, please!” Liz kept dialing his home, work and mobile number to no avail.

His secretary told her that he wasn’t there nor did he call. She kept getting her answering machine at his house and must have left over a dozen messages already. And his cellphone was turned off or out of range. As the minutes ticked, panic was swallowing her whole.

Tears were starting to fall as she kept trying to call him.

“Miss? Are you ok?”

“Huh? Oh I’m fine.” Liz sniffed.

“I’m sure whatever it is, it’ll turn out ok.” The cab driver tried to console his passenger.

“I hope so.” Liz whispered as she said another silent prayer to keep Max safe.


Several more minutes passed before she reached her house. It took most of her will not to instruct the driver to turn back around. She would have waited at the airport all night if she had to. However, she knew it would be pointless to stay up all night in the hopes that she could jump on a plane. Besides, she was promised a ticket as soon as one becomes available. ‘Why did I even get on this one in the first place?’

She paid the cab quickly and ran up the steps to the front door. She wanted to get in quickly to try and call Max again.

As soon as she opened the door, she ran for the phone as if her life depended on it. She tried several times once more and again he wasn’t picking up.

With her bags all over the living room, the phone in her hand, she slid down the wall onto the floor. She drew her knees close and wrapped her arms around them as she placed her head on her arms and cried for her love.


In her hurry to get inside, she didn’t notice that the kitchen light was on. She didn’t notice the pair of hiking boots that walked towards her. She didn’t notice the person wearing the boots crouch down in front of her and wrap his arms around her…until he whispered in her ear.

“What took you so long?”

Liz’s head quickly shot up. Her eyes widened. “Oh my God. Is it really you?”

Max nodded.

She asked, “Am I dreaming?”

He shook his head no and smiled, wiping her tears away with his thumbs.

Liz smiled broadly and lunged for him, wrapping her arms around his neck tightly.

“Max!”

Max was knocked back on his heels as he hugged her back fiercely. He pulled her up with him as Liz peppered his face with kisses.

“I’m so, so sorry. I wanted to fly back. I realized I was wrong. Please forgive me.” Liz sobbed.

“Sshhh, it’s ok Liz.”

“I-I thought you were going to kill yourself and I was so scared.” Liz said softly as she hugged him even tighter.

“Why would you think that?” Max pulled back.

“The letter with your tear stains on it and you said if I go I would be killing you. I don’t know, I just remembered them when I was sitting in the plane then it was already moving and I couldn’t get out. I kept calling you on the plane, in the cab. I must have left over a hundred messages on your machine, with your secretary and your voice mail. Then I went all around the airport for hours, trying to get on a plane to go back to you.”

“I wasn’t at home or at work because I was here. My mobile must have run out of battery. I was busy preparing dinner and then when you still weren’t home I was getting worried. I just went back to the kitchen to get the car keys when I heard you open the door. Then when I came out to greet you, you were crying.”

“I thought I had lost you.” Liz cried and clung to him once more.

“That’s never going to happen, baby. I told you I would never let you go again. You didn’t think I would just let you leave without a fight did you?” Max gave her a small grin.

“But how?”

“I took a flight this morning.”

“That’s why you didn’t come and say goodbye.” Liz concluded.

Max nodded, “I knew about Isabel’s plans of taking you to lunch. I kept trying to come up with a solution as to how to get you back. This was actually her idea. Then I borrowed a key from Nancy.”

“And all that time, they didn’t say anything.”

“I told them not to. My plan wouldn’t have worked if they did.” Max chuckled, “I guess I didn’t need a plan after all.”

Liz shook her head, “I had a realization on the plane.”

“About what?” Max asked as he led her to the dining table.

“About us.” Liz answered very quietly. Then she gasped as she saw the lighted candles, the roses, the elegant dinner.

“I was going to seduce you to come back with me.” Max whispered.

“You don’t have to.”

Max stopped abruptly and faced her.

“Wait, what about us?” He asked slowly.

“I shouldn’t have left. You’re my savior. You made me stronger by being with me. I don’t know what I was thinking. I thought being able to stand on my own would make me better, but I was wrong. I would probably just be miserable and would have gone back to being a bitch towards everyone. I was happier when I was with you… and my mom and my friends. I’m sorry you got hurt before I realized my mistake.”

Max shook his head. “At least I didn’t have to make you see it. You learned it on your own. I actually came here to make you realize that, but that would only mean pushing you to make a decision you probably weren’t ready for. I’m glad you sorted it all out by yourself. Just know that I’ll always be right beside you whenever you need me.”

“I’m glad you’re here.” Liz confessed shyly.

“Me too.”

She closed the gap between them and stood on her toes. “Can I kiss you?” She whispered.

Max beamed and swooped down to give his girlfriend a very hot and passionate kiss.

When they parted, Liz’s eyes were glazed. “Wow.”

“I know.” Max eyes were sparkling.


The lovers ate and talked more about where they would go from here.

“If we commit ourselves fully to each other, it might not be easy. I mean, I might not be easy to deal with at times—” Liz started.

“It doesn’t matter. I’m willing to face anything that comes our way. We’ll be able to tackle any obstacle that life may throw at us. I know it won’t be easy. If it was, it wouldn’t mean as much to us as it does now and in the future. As long as we’re together, we’re stronger. Our love makes us stronger.” Max caressed her face.

“Do you still have the ring?” Liz asked.

Max nodded. “Why?”

Liz offered her left hand to Max.

“My answer is yes.”


Chapter 40

If you would have asked me if I saw myself here ten years ago, I would have said no. But now that I am, I have to say that having faith in the people around you helped me get to where I am. I never thought I would be married at the rate my life was going. But here I am, in a hotel suite on the Caribbean Islands with the love of my life.

I guess you’re wondering why I’m writing rather than spending time with my husband. Well, he’s asleep right now and he looks so adorable, I don’t have the heart to wake him. Looking at him now, his slightly flushed face, those long eyelashes resting on the top of his cheeks, his slightly parted mouth, his bare and deliciously chiseled chest…mmmm, I want to kiss him all over but I don’t want to risk waking him up.

In the 3 months that we were engaged, yes, just three months. I know it’s short but we’ve spent a decade apart already, why waste any more? As I was saying, in those 3 months of planning and preparing, he was always right beside me. When we came back from Boston, everyone was so happy. My mom and my friends had a small surprise welcoming party for me. Apparently my husband, hmmm, I like the sound of that. Well my husband-to-be called in ahead and told them that we were coming home. My friends are big on surprise parties. But of course we spent a few days and nights of just being together, alone, without any interruptions whatsoever while we were in Boston. Let me just say that not only did we get to know each other mentally and emotionally, we most definitely got to know each other physically, in the most intimate of ways, everyday! I guess the saying ‘Absence makes the heart grow fonder’ is so very true (insert giggle here). Look at me, I’m giggling like a teenager.

Our wedding was, in one word – Beautiful. The wedding ceremony was held at a very small chapel where only our close family and friends were invited. My Mom, the Evans, the Whitmans, Amy Deluca, the Guerins, Kyle, Agnes and Ed were there. And I knew that my Dad and Grandma were present too.

Isabel was my matron of honor and Michael was Max’s best man. Maria and Tess were my bridesmaids. Little Xander was the ring bearer but since he was hardly a year old, Alex had to carry him and the pillow where our rings were tied.

The rings were a present from my mom although she and Max picked them out together. They were simple platinum bands though mine had tiny little diamonds imbedded and scattered around it like the stars shining on a clear night sky, while Max’s was wider of course, but without the diamonds. He said there was a symbolism to mine. Like the stars where you make a wish, we captured the stars in our hands and made our dreams finally come true. We’re together and that’s all that matters.

I remember while we were planning the wedding. While Amy and Maria designed my gown, Isabel, Maria, Tess and I discussed the things that I wanted like the flowers, the music, the motif. But most often, it was Maria who found what she wanted in her own wedding. So now, she and Michael are getting married next month.

My dress was really elegant. It’s a white gown with a satin bodice held up by two spaghetti straps and a full flowing skirt. The bodice was embroidered with pearls and beads and the train had one to match.

I had to admit I was nervous during the week before that. Two days before the wedding, Max and I were not allowed to see each other. And it was painful not being able to have him hold me at night as we slept. Diane said Max was suffering too. And on the day of the wedding, you should have seen him. Actually I didn’t but Maria did and she told me he was a wreck. I pitied him a bit because he thought I was going to stand him up. He’s still worried about that sometimes.

And when I was walking down the aisle with my mom, I couldn’t tear my eyes away from him. He was so gorgeous in his tuxedo, I wanted to run all the way to him and jump him right there. He had tears in his eyes when I got close enough to see his face. My heart was thumping wildly when I saw the look of love that he had for me… me! I still don’t know what I did to deserve this man.

The reception was held, where else, at Parkers’. It was just those who were at the chapel but we had the whole restaurant closed. I can still hear the song Maria sang for us as we danced.


Who’d have thought this is how the pieces fit
You and I shouldn’t even try making sense of it
I forgot how we ever came this far
I believe we have reasons but I don’t know what they are
So blame it on my heart oh

We couldn’t take our eyes off each other. Max was holding me so tenderly close. One hand was covered entirely in his and he held it close to his heart. I literally felt his heart beating wildly.

Love moves
In mysterious ways
It’s always so surprising
When love appears over the horizon
I love you
For the rest of my days
Still it’s a mystery
Of how you ever came to me
Which only proves
Love moves in mysterious ways

I placed my head on his chest, listening to his heartbeat and it was beating at the same time as mine did. I closed my eyes as Maria’s voice filled the air. She was right. That song was us. It told the story of our journey.

Heaven knows love is just a chance we take
We make plans but then love demands a leap of faith
Hold me close, never ever let me go
Even though we think we know which way the river flows
It’s not the way love goes oh

A leap of faith. That’s what love is all about. Taking those chances that you never thought you had to. Making that jump is what makes it more worthwhile. I recall what Max told me when he went after me in Boston, ‘…it won’t be easy. If it was, it wouldn’t mean as much to us as it does now and in the future.’

Like the ticking of a clock
Two hearts beat as one
But I’ll never understand
The way it’s done oh

He was right. It may have taken us a long time to get here but we made it. And I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

Love moves
In mysterious ways
It’s always so surprising
When love appears over the horizon
I love you
For the rest of my days
Still it’s a mystery
Of how you ever came to me
Which only proves
Love moves in mysterious ways

Love moves in mysterious ways…


“What are you doing way over there?” Max crawled on the bed towards his wife and wrapped his arms around her, both of them wearing nothing but the sheets.

“Writing.” Liz answered as she tilted her head to give Max greater access to her neck.

“Writing what?” He mumbled between kisses.

“Our wedding…mmmm…” Liz answered breathlessly.

“What about it?”

“I wanted to write down everything I felt. That way when I look back, I could read this and I’d know exactly how it happened and exactly how I felt.”

“All I need to do is look at you to know exactly how it felt for me.”

“And how did it feel Mr. Evans?” Liz asked playfully.

“Like I won the lottery, Mrs. Evans.” Max grinned.

“Oh, I forgot to give you my gift.” Liz got off the bed to retrieve a small white box from her luggage.

“What? What gift?” Max was curious.

Liz walked back to him, clutching the sheet around her. “Here you go.” Liz handed the box to him with a huge smile.

Max could only smile back while he watched Liz moving gracefully across the room.

“You know I’ll never get tired of watching you.” Max moaned.

“I doubt that.”

Max pulled back, “It’s true. I love watching you. I can never forget when I first noticed you. I couldn’t take my eyes off you. I remember Tess warning me to stay away.” Max chuckled.

“Unfortunately, her warning didn’t work.” Liz laughed.

“More like fortunately, because I am now holding the most beautiful woman in my arms and I’m lucky enough to be able to call her my wife.” Max spoke seriously as he stared in her chocolate eyes.

Liz responded with a soul-searing kiss.

When they separated, Max was in a daze and he couldn’t wait to have Liz back in bed with him. But she wanted her to open her gift for him first.

“Open it already!” Liz was like a kid at Christmas as she sat giddily on the bed.

“Ok, ok. I don’t really understand why I have to do this now when we can do other more ‘productive’ activities. You know we only have a week-long honeymoon.” Max hinted at his wife as he was untying the ribbon.

“That’s where you’re wrong. We have more than a lifetime.” Liz leaned in to kiss Max as he beamed at her.

Liz pulled back after a couple of minutes and insisted on Max to open the box already. He opened the small white box slowly to tease Liz and he kept laughing at her impatience. But when he saw what was inside, the laughter was replaced with confusion.

He pulled out the gift and studied it peculiarly, his forehead furrowing in curiosity.

“Booties? You got me a pair of little white baby boo—”

His question hung in mid-air as he gaped at his wife and his breath caught in his throat. He stared at her face then her belly then back again. At the same time his mouth was opening and closing like a fish out of water.

“Does this mean what I think it means?” Max asked staring intently at his wife’s face to gauge her reaction as she answered his question.

Liz simply nodded.

“So that means we’re having baby right? We are, aren’t we?” Max pressed on.

“Yes.” Liz answered with a huge smile that made her glow.

That was the second time that that one word meant more to Max than anything.

In a flash, he scooped his wife in his arms and twirled her around the room as he rejoiced in this new knowledge that they will finally have the family that they longed for. It was the start of a man’s promise being fulfilled to the only woman he ever loved.


Epilogue

“Oh God! It hurts!” Liz sobs.

“It’ll be ok baby. Just a little bit more.” Max holds on to her hand.

“That’s what you said ten minutes ago!” Liz yelled squeezing Max’s hand harder.

“C’mon Liz, just one more. Then it’ll be all over.” The doctor urged her.

“I can’t…no more…please.” Liz was exhausted.

“Just one last push Liz and we’re done.” The doctor said.

Taking a deep breath, she pushed once more.

Liz screamed for a few more seconds before her voice was replaced by their baby’s cries. Max cut the cord and watched as their baby was cleaned up.

“You did it Liz. You did it baby.” Max kept peppering her face and lips with kisses.

He looked at his first born child, his baby girl and took her in his arms.

“Liz look, she has your eyes. And…” He moved the blanket a little to the side of his daughter’s face. “Thank God she has your ears.”

Liz giggled weakly and cradled her daughter as Max handed the baby to her.

“What are you going to name her Liz?” Nancy’s voice came from behind the video camera.

Liz turned her head to look at the camera and smiled, “Claudia”

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

The scene froze where Liz was smiling at her newborn baby girl. Max remembered every single thing that happened since Liz told him that they were expecting their first child. He was so protective of her, it bordered on being obsessive. He attended every pre-natal and post-natal check-up and read dozens of books about pregnancy and parenthood.

When they were told that they were having a girl, tears slid down Max’s cheeks and Liz lovingly wiped them away as she lay on the exam table with the ultrasound device on her belly.

He lavished on everything for Liz and his unborn daughter. He gave everything Liz craved. He had the nursery built using the guestroom beside the master bedroom in their house. That way, the nursery was connected to their room. He bought the crib and the nursing chair for Liz. And the rest of the baby furniture was bought by the excited grandparents.

Liz was blooming the entire time even during the times that Max would hover over her whenever she wanted to go out shopping and walk all over the mall for baby clothes, accessories and toys.

On a bright Spring morning, Liz was waddling her way towards Max in his office at home. He almost never went to the Evans’ office since Liz reached her 8th month. There were times when he knew he was driving Liz crazy but he loved her so much, he just couldn’t control himself.

Max recalled when Liz came into the room and her maternity dress was soaked. Max knew what it meant and went to her immediately, toppling his chair back. He drove rapidly to the hospital and parked it haphazardly as he went to help Liz get out of the car. He carried her all the way in despite her protests, until the nurses attended to his wife.

He remembered how Liz acted when she was in labor. She must have used all the curses she knew. Max bore it all by her side. He felt like his fingers were being crushed by Liz though her hand was way smaller compared to his.

And when they heard the baby’s cries, Max caressed Liz and kissed her while the nurses and doctor cleaned up his little girl. Liz had the name Claudia in her mind since she found out she was having a girl. And he wanted the baby to carry her mother’s name. And so, on a clear and sunny afternoon, Claudia Elizabeth Evans was born.


“Daddy?” Max and Liz’s first born was seated on the couch with her father right beside her. Her head was tilted to one side, a habit she obviously inherited from her mother. She was wearing a tiny pastel yellow nightshirt and her little feet were covered in socks, ready for bed.

“See that Pumpkin, that’s you when you were born, baby.” Max told her.

“I no baby.” Claudia said, shaking her head, her pigtails moving from side to side.

“Yup, you’re a big girl now, aren’t you?” Max switched the TV and DVD off and placed his baby girl on his lap.

“Uh-huh, ‘um 2.” Claudia informed him, holding up 2 of her tiny fingers.

“That’s right, you’re turning 2 tomorrow.” Max kissed her chubby little hand. “Why don’t we go check on Mommy ok?”

“Kay.” Claudia nodded vigorously.

With Max carrying her, Claudia clung to her daddy’s neck as they went up the stairs to the nursery.

When they reached the nursery, Max saw Liz putting some of the new baby clothes they bought for their second child in their respective drawers.

“Hey.” Max kissed Liz’s nape.

“Hey!” Liz turned around and smiled at her family.

“Mama!” Claudia squealed.

“Hello my sweet Pumpkin.” Liz kissed her daughter’s chubby cheeks.

Claudia reached for her but Max pulled her back. “No Claudia. Mommy can’t carry you.”

She looked at Liz then back at her dad. Her big hazel doe eyes filled with unshed tears and her lower lip stuck out in a pout.

“Oh no.” Max cringed, “Sweetie, Mommy’s already carrying your baby brother, see.” He said pointing to Liz’s huge belly. “She can’t carry you too.”

The tears started to fall as she turned to Liz then back at Max once more, but Claudia remained silent. Her small lips trembled as she stared at her father.

Liz smiled and pushed Max who was still holding Claudia, till they were all at the couple’s bedroom that was connected to the nursery. She sat down on their king-sized bed as fast as her pregnancy allowed her to and reached for Claudia.

Claudia rubbed her eyes and whimpered softly as Max settled her on the bed beside Liz. Liz lovingly held her daughter and hummed a lullaby, embracing the adorable little angel as they snuggled in bed together. Claudia sucked on her left thumb and curled beside Liz, playing with a few strands of her mother’s hair as she stared at her. Liz tucked her little baby under the blanket and quilt. She untied Claudia’s ribbons and smoothened out her soft wispy chocolate brown hair.

Liz’s soft strokes and humming were automatically making Claudia sleepy. Her eyes drifted close, her long lashes resting on top of her cheeks. Liz placed a tender kiss on her daughter’s head and turned towards Max, giving him that wonderful smile that she reserved for her husband.

Max couldn’t help but stare at his girls, his wife and his daughter, his life’s treasures. He smiled back at Liz and climbed on the bed beside Claudia.

He wrapped his arms around both of them and he placed his palm on his wife’s protruding belly to complete the circle.


The next day Claudia woke up early. She has turned 2 today and she was very excited. She sat up and looked at her mommy and daddy who were still fast asleep. She wanted to wake them up to get ready for her party. She crawled up her father and sat on his chest. Her small hands patted on his cheeks, trying to wake him up.

Max was having another sensual dream about Liz but the dream changed and his Liz was slapping him across the face. His brow knitted together, his forehead wrinkling as he tried to bring back the other vision. Then a stronger slap woke him up. He almost sat up but felt something heavy on his chest and his paternal instinct reached out to grasp it around the waist.

When the haze between sleep and being awake faded, he saw his little daughter on his chest smiling at him, the index finger of her right hand was in her mouth and her left hand was clutching his shirt.

“Daddy!”

“Claudia, ssshh.” He put his index finger on his lips to quiet down his daughter. He saw Liz was still asleep.

Claudia followed what her dad was doing. “Ssss…” She blinked at her father, adoration in her eyes.

“Let’s get breakfast ok?” Max knew Claudia wouldn’t be able to keep quiet for a long time. So he kissed Liz’s forehead and slipped off the bed. He carried his daughter down to the kitchen where he could make her some pancakes.

He secured her on her booster seat and started getting the ingredients. “Do you like pancakes Pumpkin?”

“Pa-cake!” Claudia clapped her hands and giggled.

“Pancakes it is.”


Liz woke up and found herself alone in bed. The smell of bacon wafted from the kitchen and she got hungry immediately. She put on her robe and went down the stairs. As she got nearer towards the kitchen, she could hear Claudia’s giggles.

“Hello my little birthday girl.” Liz gave her daughter an Eskimo kiss and Claudia squealed with delight.

“She’s really excited isn’t she?” Max asked as he flipped another pancake on a plate.

“She sure is.” Liz laughed as her daughter’s chubby little hands held on to her cheeks and gave her a sloppy kiss.

Liz turned towards Max and seeing him making breakfast reminded her of that morning after they had that talk which led them to where they were now.

Seeing the look of love in his wife’s eyes, Max reached around Liz’s round belly and hugged her.

“Everything all set?”

Liz gave her husband a quick good morning kiss before replying. “Yeah, everything’s done. Isabel helped with the decorations and Mom supervised the food.”

“Oh dear Lord, Isabel took charge of the decorations?!”

Liz’s laughter filled the room, “Stop it Max. Would you rather I go around climbing ladders and hanging up the signs and balloons?”

Max eyes widened, “You didn’t…did you? Tell me you didn’t Liz.”

“No, my mom was watching me like a hawk.”

“Yeah, remind me that I owe her for that.”

“Pa-cake!” Claudia pointed at the stove where one pancake was rapidly burning.

“Oh shhh—sugar!” Max exclaimed.

Liz stifled her giggles and got her daughter ready for breakfast. She started setting the kitchen nook for her and Max and got Claudia’s Care Bears plate and utensils. And of course her baby bottle of milk. She finished tying a bib on Claudia when Max placed the pancakes, bacon and fresh strawberries and blueberries on the table. Liz got the maple syrup while he was pouring milk in one glass for Liz and orange juice in another for him.

“Mmm, pa-cake.” Claudia said.

“Ok, ok, here’s your pancake sweetheart.” Liz cut up little pieces of pancake on Claudia’s plate and poured some maple syrup on it. She placed the plastic fork on her daughter’s hand and the Evans family started happily eating their breakfast.


Max was giving Claudia a bath and washing off the syrup all over her face and hands as Liz was laying out her daughter’s pink birthday dress. It was designed and created by Maria for her honorary niece and it reached a couple inches below Claudia’s knees with a full fluffed skirt and short sleeves and accentuated with pale pink ribbons all over.

“All done.” Max placed Claudia on her bed and dried her up. Liz powdered her baby, changed her diaper and put on her pink dress, white socks and tiny pink baby shoes. Liz fixed Claudia’s hair into little pigtails.

“Wow…” Claudia looked at her dress.

“Yeah, wow. You look pretty baby.” Max exclaimed.

“I no baby. I two now.”

“Yeah that’s right. Daddy forgot Pumpkin.” Liz told her daughter.

“’S Kay.” Claudia nodded slightly.

Both Max and Liz laughed.


When they arrived at Parkers’ it was dark and quiet. Claudia clung to her daddy, she didn’t like dark places.

Then all the lights switched on and her entire family and friends jumped up from everywhere yelling, “Surprise! Happy Birthday, Claudia Elizabeth!!!”

Claudia giggled and clapped her hands.

“Happy birthday Pumpkin.” Both Max and Liz placed a kiss on each cheek at the same time, sandwiching their daughter in between.

Claudia giggled and squealed when she saw her birthday cake.

“Mama, cake!” Claudia yelled, excitedly pointing to the 2-tier butter cake with marshmallow icing specially made for her.

“Yes sweetie, you’ll get your cake but first you have to blow the candles ok?”

“Kay.” Claudia nodded.

Everyone formed a semi-circle with Max, Liz and Claudia in the middle. Nancy and Diane were at the sides taking pictures and Philip with his video camera was filming everything.

Max and Liz helped Claudia blow out her candles and everyone applauded.

Games were played, the food was enjoyed by everyone as always, but the little kids enjoyed the cake the most. Claudia had icing on her mouth and gave her parents a toothy grin.

When the party ended, the Evans and Parkers and their friends stayed to help pack up some things and food and Claudia’s abundant gifts of toys, books, clothes, a baby portrait from her Uncle Michael and a pink toy car that the Evans and Parker grandparents gave her just like Xander’s. Isabel thought it was payback for what Max put her through with Xander’s own car.

Claudia was slumped on her daddy’s shoulder, tired and asleep. She was exhausted from all the excitement. They all said their goodbyes as they walked to their cars.

Max was placing Claudia in her car seat when Liz stopped walking and groaned.

Max froze and looked at Liz. Liz was looking down on the ground then raised her head to stare straight at her husband.

“My water broke.”

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

“Oh God! It hurts!” Liz sobs.

“It’ll be ok baby. Just a little bit more.” Max holds on to her hand.

“That’s what you said two years ago!” Liz yelled squeezing Max’s hand harder.

“C’mon Liz, just one more. Then it’ll be all over.” The doctor urged her.

“I can’t…no more…please.” Liz was exhausted.

“Just one last push Liz and we’re done.” The doctor said.

Taking a deep breath, she pushed once more.

Liz screamed for a few more seconds before her voice was replaced by their baby’s cries. Max cut the cord and watched as their baby was cleaned up.

“You did it Liz. You did it baby.” Max kept peppering her face and lips with kisses.

He looked at his newborn son, his baby and took him in his arms.

“Liz look, he has your lips. And…” He moved the blanket a little to the side of his son’s face. “Oh no, my ears!”

Liz giggled weakly and cradled her son as Max ran to the waiting room to get Claudia.

“What are you going to name him Liz?” Nancy’s voice came from behind the video camera.

Liz turned her head to look at the camera and smiled, “Jeffrey”


The End

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