Unforgivable Memory (AU M/L Mature) Part 14 10-09-05 [WIP]

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Hopeless Romantic
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Post by Hopeless Romantic » Tue Aug 09, 2005 2:06 pm

Part Ten

The one thing I noticed about this town that was different from all the other places I had been was that time seemed to move in a different way. Before I felt like I had nothing to do and was sitting around waiting for something exciting to happen. Adventure wasn’t something I would hold my breath for.

I would meet the same types of people only in different places, and there was nothing too great about that. Usually though, I would come into a school and be picked up by a guy who wanted to bring me to the nearest party so he could get me drunk and we could hook up. I would most likely meet all of his friends and they would be the people I would spend my time with. It was the same thing every time, and I had expected Roswell to be exactly the same too.

Then fate stepped in. Max Evans was waiting in the front office of just another school that I happened to walk into, and he just happened to be assigned as my “guide” because he was a troublemaker at the school. I never would’ve known I’d be meeting people who would become my friends faster than any other people I had met. I never would’ve known what it felt like to be a part of a group.

It hadn’t even been a whole week but already I felt like more at home than I ever had, and that was saying something.

Another good thing was that there hadn’t been any more weird flashbacks since the last one. I didn’t know if that was a good thing or not. I was still torn between wanting to belong in Roswell with my new friends and just letting that be enough, and finding out where I came from, who I was. I had been searching for the answers for so long, and now when I was ready to put it behind me, it was pushing its way to the surface. The parts of the movie I missed were being told to me; the rest of the filmstrip was coming into view.

The only thing that got my mind off of it was spending time with Max and the rest of the group. Alex was constantly making me laugh, and had already decided that he would be my “big brother” since we were both the only children in our families.

“We’ve been seriously deprived, Liz,” he told me one day during lunch. “It’s a good thing I came along to let you know.”

It was sweet, but when he started giving me the dos and don’ts of dating and boys I covered my ears and blocked him out, smiling at Max the entire time.

Isabel was continuing to puzzle me, and I still wanted to know exactly what was between her and Max. I had one chance to find out, and that was through Maria DeLuca, who was kidnapping me for shopping on Friday afternoon so we could get outfits for that night. The boys still hadn’t told me what there was to do on Friday nights in a town like Roswell, but I figured I would find that out from Maria too.

So, when she pulled up to my house in her red jetta Friday afternoon, even though I had walked into the house a few minutes before that I rushed outside.

“Hey chica! Ready to go?”

I slid into the seat next to her, and fastened my seatbelt. “Definitely,” I replied happily. “I don’t even remember the last time I went shopping.”

Maria smiled. “Yeah, we need to find you a hot outfit for tonight. Something that will blow Max’s mind, and permanently remove Tess from his thoughts.”

Maria had gone straight into Anti-Tess mode and I’d been in the car for two seconds. The girl definitely wasn’t shy when it came to her hatred for the blond cheerleader. It was just another thing the two of us had in common.

“You’re so bad. Max is obviously with her for a reason…she can’t be all bad.”

Lies! All lies! How did I let this stuff come out of my mouth? There were several things wrong with that statement...like the fact that it says Tess might be good, or that Max actually has valid reasons for being with her. Ok, so the fantasy was taking over and I couldn’t help but hate the evil witch that made off with the prince. Could you blame me?

“Don’t you dare, Liz. You don’t like her anymore than I do. It’s only a matter of time before Max makes his move.”

That’s me blushing. “You think?”

Maria waved her hand flippantly in the air. “I’ve been friends with the kid since we were in diapers. My Max-Radar is always on target.”

I laughed, “Max-Radar?”

“Well, when you know someone for as long as I’ve known him you just sort of know,” she replied with a shrug.

Amazing that she actually had to explain something like that, isn’t it? Most people know what it’s like to have friends that you’ve known your whole life, even if it is only one friend. What I had missed out on in life hit me hard when I thought about things like that. Maybe I had been friends with someone like that before, but I didn’t remember it.

Maria and I talked the rest of the way to the mall about my classes, which are nothing exciting. I have Biology AP with Max, which is probably the best class on my schedule, and Maria and I have English together. I think she even said something about Isabel and Michael being in one of my classes, which was good. I didn’t know if my “big brother” was in any of my classes, but hopefully if he was I wouldn’t have to hear the dating lecture every day.

Pulling into the Roswell Outlet Mall I realized once again what a small town this was. The mall wasn’t any bigger than a bunch of shops that just happened to be next to each other. Compared to some of the malls I had seen in my lifetime this was small, but I guess it fit with Roswell. We walked through the glass doors, feeling the cold air hit us. It was a contrast to the hot weather we’d had the past few days, especially since my first day it had been a little chilly. My shorts and tank top did nothing to protect me from the cold, and Maria’s skirt wasn’t much help either.

“Where to first, Liz?” Maria asked, scanning the mall after she pulled her sunglasses from her eyes and placed them in her bag. “I’m thinking you need a skirt. Max will love that.”

I rolled my eyes. “I still can’t believe you’re dressing me for someone who might not even be interested. Max has a girlfriend, remember? Let’s try to keep that in mind while we’re on this little endeavor, ok?”

Maria kept walking like she hadn’t even heard me. “Yeah, sure Liz, whatever you say.”

I gave up, trailing after her as we made our way through the mall. With Maria’s help I found an outfit pretty fast, and I actually liked it. I wasn’t usually a short skirt kind of girl, but Maria helped me pick out a nice one and I didn’t feel too exposed.

Rifling through the clothes racks, I decided to bring up some of the things I wanted to know. I had a feeling Maria was expecting this so I tried my hardest not to sound too ridiculous, knowing that was probably a lost cause.

“So, Max and Isabel seem close,” I said nonchalantly, sighing at how lame I sounded.

Maria looked up at me and smiled, pulling some shirts off the rack and into her arms. “Yeah, they grew up together. They’re parents grew up together too in Roswell, and when they had Max and Isabel, they were always together. They’re like brother and sister though.”

“Oh, okay.”

“Any other questions, Liz? You’ve only got me for about another hour.”

I looked up from the rack, startled by her teasing. “Maria, I’m not using you to get my questions answered.”

More clothes was piled into her arms. “I know. I’m serious though. How else are you going to find out all the stuff you need to know?”

“You don’t mind my asking?”

She walked over to me, slinging her free arm across my shoulders. “Of course not, Liz. We’re friends now, this is what we do.”

Shaking her head with a laugh she walked towards the fitting room, piled down with clothes. I glanced down at the two tops in my hand and shrugged, following after her. I could always just try on whatever she didn’t like.

We left the mall an hour later, arms filled with bags, and bodies greatly appreciating the warm Roswell sun. I had gotten a skirt, a top, and matching shoes. It was the first time I had gone to the mall and not cared about what I bought. Before, any money I made in whatever jobs I picked up was put away for saving. I wanted to have enough money to get away from my dad when I turned eighteen. I guess being in Roswell, meeting these people, had changed the plans a little.

“So, what’s next?”

Maria shrugged, pulling the car out of the parking spot and heading towards the main road. “We can go to my house and get ready if you want, or I can take you home and pick you up before tonight.”

“What are we doing tonight?”

Maria shook her head. “You know I’m under strict orders not to tell. For some strange reason Max wants your first night out in Roswell to be a surprise, not that anything exciting is going to happen. I swear that boy is putting a lot of thought into you.”

That’s me blushing again. “It is kind of sweet,” I relented with a smile, “even if I can’t stand surprises.”

I had never really been surprised before, so my opinion didn’t have much to go on, but with this experience I could tell I wasn’t one for being out of the loop. It felt like I wasn’t a part of what was going on, even if in reality I was at the center of it.

“Well, only a couple more hours, and we have plenty to do until then!”

I looked at her, suspicion in my dark eyes as she grinned at me mischievously. “What are you planning, Maria?”

“Well, we’re starting with that hair,” she pointed out, reaching to tug at a strand of my dark locks.

“What’s wrong with my hair?”

“Well, nothing really…it’s just you always have it down and straight.”

“So, what are you planning on doing to it?” I asked. “Maria, I refuse to let you transform me into one of those girls.”

She looked at me as we pulled into her driveway. “One of those girls?”

I shrugged, not meaning anything by it. “I’m not one of those girls that obsesses about her looks. Some girls are like that but I’m not.”

Maria nodded like she understood. “Right, the whole valedictorian thing…”

I wasn’t going to lie. Yeah, I was just more concerned with getting my work done. Sure, I got in trouble in school, but that didn’t mean I didn’t do good in my classes. I needed to have good grades so I could go to a good school and get a scholarship and get away from my dad.

“Who told you about that?”

Maria shot me a look as she pulled her bags from her car. “Who do you think?”

I followed in suit, grabbing my stuff and following her to the front door, knowing full well the only person who knew about my classes and grades was Max. Without replying, I followed Maria into the house, smiling at the fact that Max had obviously been talking to Maria about me.

Maybe it wasn’t anything more than friendly talk, like how Maria had told me about Max and Isabel, just something that came up in conversation. I had this small feeling of excitement inside at the fact that it might be something more than that.

“So, Max talks about me?” I asked finally, grinning like an idiot.

Maria laughed at the look on my face. “Let’s get you ready for tonight, lover girl,” she replied, pulling me into her room.

The smile didn’t leave my face the rest of the night.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
TBC...
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Post by Hopeless Romantic » Sat Aug 13, 2005 2:09 pm

A/N: AH! We're getting closer and closer to the new stuff...

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Part Eleven

“Why are you smiling so much?”

I looked over at Max, who was sitting next to me on the bleachers and smiled even wider than I had been. We were at the Varsity football game, watching as our team got trampled by the other, and my smile hadn’t left my face.

I shrugged my shoulders, feeling myself break out into giggles at the movement. Maria, who was sitting next to me looked at me and started laughing too. My hand covered my mouth as the offending sound broke through and I looked back at Max. Was he pouting at me?

My laughter stopped as I stared at him, “Max, why are you so serious?” The word serious left my lips a little high pitched, and Maria snorted through her laughter.

Max shook his head in defeat. “You really are a light weight, aren’t you?”

Smiling proudly, I nodded at him. “I told you Max. I never drank before in my LIFE!” I threw my hands up to emphasize my point and kept grinning.

Max had brought Maria and I some drinks before the game. We had met up an hour early and tailgated. It was my first experience ever, and I loved it. Alex had brought a portable grill and made us burgers and hot dogs. Maria and I had loaded up on chips and soda before we left her house and we brought all those things to the game. Max and Isabel had arrived last, tugging along a cooler.

“What’s in that?” I had asked as they pulled it over to the rest of us.

Max had given me that small smile again. “It’s a surprise.”

We spent the hour before the game eating burgers and drinking beer and this cool Smirnoff Ice drinks. After about three of them I was feeling pretty lightheaded and dizzy so Max had stopped me from drinking anymore. Now that some time had past I could still really feel the affects of the alcohol, but I was a little more coherent. I think it worked out perfectly because I got to hold on to Max so I would keep my balance.

“I liked my surprise Max,” I told him happily. “Thank you.”

Leaning over, I gave him a quick kiss on the cheek, emphasizing the sound of it and letting out another giggle as I pulled away. I didn’t know what was wrong with me. I never giggled. I laughed, or maybe chuckled, but I had never been one to “giggle”.

Max followed my lead, leaning over and giving me a softer and more deliberate kiss on the cheek. I could feel his warm breath on my ear as he leaned in to whisper, and a part of me wanted to laugh, but I was so affected by his closeness I couldn’t even move.

“You’re welcome, Liz,” he whispered hotly in my ear. “But that wasn’t your surprise.”

He pulled away and turned back to the game, and I just stared at him, a goofy smile on my face. No one had ever treated me like he did, and I felt more and more certain with each moment I spent with him, that I could get used to being with him.

****

The game ended, our school losing by a disastrous amount, but I was too giddy to notice it. The alcohol in my system causing giggles to burst from my mouth at any given moment and I was powerless to stop it. Everything was moving in slow motion and my legs felt a little heavy, but I was having the time of my life. Max was holding me up, his arm swung possessively around my waist as I talked his ear off.

“I think you’ve been hanging out with Maria too much,” Max commented quietly, laughing as I stumbled a little at the bottom of the bleachers.

“Hey! I take offense to that!” Maria was already off the bleachers, waiting with Alex as Max helped me climb down.

“You should,” Max replied, shooting her a smile.

Maria stuck her tongue out at him, and I let out another round of giggling. Maria seemed to think it was the funniest thing in the world when I started laughing because she always seemed to join in. Max and Alex exchanged a look.

“We never should’ve introduced these too,” Alex quipped, pushing Maria back to her feet as she slumped against him.

I looked up at Max, eyes wide and innocent, and slightly blurry. He was shooting me looks out of the corner of his eye, but his head was facing the field. Tess, who had been cheerleading up until this point, was going to be joining us at any second. He’d obviously been waiting for her the entire time, and I felt a little bit annoying.

I shook my head as I realized the way I had been acting, hanging all over him, smiling like an idiot, talking his ear off. I felt mortified. I wanted to crawl in the nearest hole and never come out.

Instead I did the next best thing.

“I’ll be right back,” I said quickly, darting away from them in search of the bathrooms. I didn’t need to use them, but I wanted to get away, a feeling growing in the pit of my stomach at my last thoughts.

Was Max simply waiting for Tess? Was he only hanging out with me because she wasn’t there? Tears filled my eyes fast as my state of drunkenness made me over emotional. I didn’t know what I was doing, getting so worked up over a boy. Max was just another guy, someone I met in my “travels” who would forget me as soon I left. It’s what happened every time, so why did it bother me all of a sudden?

Suddenly there was a solid wall of flesh right in front of me, and the impact knocked me back a step. I let my hair shield my face as I wiped my eyes and looked up.

“Hi,” a soft country accent drawled. It was hardly there, but I could notice it because I had traveled so much.

“Hi,” I replied quietly, looking up at him. He was definitely cute. He was only a little taller than me, with light brown hair and blue eyes. I could tell right away that he played sports because he was definitely built. I could tell even through his shirt that said “Roswell High Athletics”.

“I’m Kyle,” he told me, extending his hand. It was then I noticed he was on crutches.

“What happened to your leg?” I asked, ignoring his question but slipping my hand into his.

“I sprained my ankle last game, that’s why I’m out here and not on the field.” I should’ve guessed that he was a football player. He was grinning at me, giving me the once-over, and slowly slid his hand from mine. “I’ll feel better if I get your name though.”

“I’m Liz,” I slurred slightly, but hoped he didn’t notice. I had a feeling the grin he shot at me meant that he did.

“Are you having a good time, Liiiz?” he asked, mimicking the way I’d said my name.

“Yes,” I said with a smile. “Do you always make fun of girls you’ve just met?”

He laughed. “No, you’re special.”

We stood there talking for a few more seconds, and I genuinely liked talking to him. He was really nice. He went to Roswell High; his dad was the town’s sheriff. He was typically the all-American type boy, but I knew that there was something missing. Kyle was just like all the boys I had met in other towns. Nothing special, but someone to have fun with because they were nice. He was someone who would forget about me almost as quickly as I would forget about him, when I ended up leaving this town.

The fact that it didn’t bother me at all made me wonder why the thought of it had bothered me before, and then I realized it.

“Hi, Liz…” I heard from behind me. I turned around, coming face to face with my answer.

It was Max.

He was the first person I had actually felt a real connection to. He was the first person who made me want to stay, who made me want to deal with my dad a little longer just so I could stay and see him one more time. He was the first person who made me feel special, and that was a feeling no one had come close to comparing.

I smiled up at him, feeling the world spin. Was that the alcohol? I had felt so grounded when I talked to Kyle. I felt the drinks in my system, but this feeling with Max was different. It was like he was turning my world around, and all it took was that smile.

“Max…”

“Hi, I’m Kyle,” he threw in, extending his hand for Max to take.

Max reached out, putting his hand in the other boy’s and shaking, but his eyes never left my own. The world around me was going crazy, like a swirl of noise and people that I couldn’t keep straight, but then there were his eyes, and I had the strangest feeling in the world as Max laced his fingers through my own and gave me another smile.

“I was worried about you,” he told me softly. “You were gone for a while.”

“I’m fine.”

“She was with me.”

I turned to look at Kyle, feeling the world slide around me as I lost the hold I felt I had when I was looking at him. I gave the other boy a smile. “It was nice meeting you, Kyle,” I told him honestly, “but I think I should get back to my friends.”

Kyle shot Max a look before returning to my eyes. “Can I see you again?”

“Liz, we should meet up with everyone. They’re going to worry about where we went.”

I didn’t look back at Max’s comment, knowing if I did I’d get lost again and then Kyle would be left out. I did like him, but I knew there was nothing about him that could compare to what I was starting to feel for Max.

I shrugged my shoulders at his question, and he looked a little disappointed but smiled at me. “There’s a party at the old Soap Factory. If you want to meet me there, I’ll be waiting. If not, well, that’s okay too.”

I smiled at him. “Ok.”

Max was tugging at my hand, so I said goodbye. I liked the fact that Max was a little jealous. It was nice that the tables were turned, and he had to see me with another guy instead of me having to think about him and Tess. It also made me feel like there was something on his side of this, and that made me feel all warm and fuzzy inside…but then that might’ve been the alcohol. I couldn’t really distinguish much of anything at this point.

Our fingers fell from each other’s as we made our way out of the crowd. Max’s hand guided me, and I could feel his skin burning my own as it pressed my lower back. When we reached the rest of the group his hand slid from my back and I could feel the loss of warmth. I felt myself shiver, and didn’t even look at Max when he looked at me.

“You’re back!” Maria smiled happily, clinging to Michael as he held her. His hair was wet, and I figured he’d taken a shower before coming out to meet us. He’d worked hard in the game, scoring us two touchdowns, but it of course hadn’t been enough to beat them. He smiled at Max and me as we walked up, and something about the whole scene felt right.

Maria and Michael, leaning into each other, Alex and Isabel, smiling at each other from opposite sides of the circle, and Max and I, him standing slightly behind me, our bodies centimeters from touching. Something about it felt like things were falling into place, but then something changed.

“Max!” a high-pitched voice shrieked happily. I turned just in time to watch Tess run towards Max and kiss him straight on the lips. I turned to look at Maria as Max greeted Tess, smiling at the face Maria made.

Just like that Tess had come in and slammed the fantasy from my mind.

Tess didn’t even bother greeting the rest of the group, her eyes shot to me for a second but then turned back to Max.

“So, Max…my parents are out of town. Do you want to come back to my place?”

I saw Max look helplessly at Isabel, but she just shrugged, not knowing what to do. Not liking Tess one bit, I decided I would say something to her, that way Isabel wouldn’t ruffle any feathers and Max wouldn’t look bad in front of his girlfriend.

“We’d love to come to your place, Tess!” I gushed trying my best to sound like I really thought she was inviting us.

She shot me a look. “I was speaking to MY boyfriend. I didn’t say anything about you.” She looked around contemptuously at our circle, and I felt anger rush through my body. Who did she think she was criticizing my new friends and thinking she was better than them.

“Well, I’m afraid that tonight we go where Max goes, so I’m not so sure your idea is a good one. Unless your bed has room for the rest of us,” I replied sweetly.

Max’s eyes snapped to my face at my implication, obviously wanting to deny it, but I just ignored him. My eyes stayed trained on Tess’ blue gaze as she tried to stare me down. There was no way I was backing out of this one.

“Fine,” she snapped finally. “I’m going out with the girls.” She reached down to pick up her duffle bag, leaning up and giving Max a slow and deliberate kiss right in front of me. When she pulled back I looked at her, acting unaffected. She wanted me to be jealous, wanted me to wish I was in her shoes, but that was the last thing on my mind.

When Max and I kissed there was going to be at least SOME passion coming from him, because that kiss had seriously lacking, and the last thing I wanted to do was kiss someone who rather be doing anything else than kissing me.

When she left, Maria let out a huge sigh of relief. “I thought she was going to steal you from us Max!”

“Not with Liz here!” Alex said proudly, clapping me on the back so hard I stumbled forward.

Max’s arms looped around my waist and pulled me back up. When I had my balance he moved his hands, and I felt the loss again. “Let’s go guys,” he said finally, staring down at me. Everyone started walking towards the parking lot, but Max back for a second and then walked behind everyone. I felt myself move to catch up with him, and he looked down at me and smiled. “It’s time for your surprise, Liz.”

His fingers laced through mine and a thought flew through my mind so fast I almost couldn’t stop it from leaving my mouth. Looking down at our hands as he pulled me from the stadium, there was one thing I knew for certain at that moment.

I didn’t need anything more than this.

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Post by Hopeless Romantic » Wed Sep 07, 2005 1:45 pm

A/N: I don't own the line from Sexual Healing
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Part Twelve

“Can I take this damn thing off now?” I asked impatiently, tugging at the scarf that had been tied securely around my eyes. Even as the wind whipped around my face it stayed put, blocking my view from where Max was taking me.

I heard his laugh before I heard his reply and I snapped my head in his direction, slowing my movements when the alcohol caused my head to spin.

“No, Liz. You have to be patient. You’ll like the surprise I promise,” Max assured me, his hand squeezing mine before returning to the steering wheel. I had to stop myself from reaching out and grabbing his hand again.

I nodded and waited a few seconds before smiling at him. “Are we there yet?”

“No.”

“Are we there yet?”

“No.”

“Are we there yet?”

“No!” he said loudly, laughing at me and starting the giggles all over again. I had kept them under control for most of the ride, mainly because Maria had ridden with Micheal in her Jetta. She had protested to him driving, saying something about how her car was the key to her mom’s relationship, but her tirade was cut short by Michael putting her in the car, kissing her hard and fast, shutting the door and running to the driver’s side.

Throwing my head back, arms out, I yelled as loud as I could, “Are we there yet!?”

Max didn’t answer, but I felt the car stop, and I sat and waited as I heard some rustling. When I felt my car door open I turned and put my legs out of the car, reaching blindly with my hands for something to hold onto.

Max’s hands found mine, and as one of them entwined with my own, the other came up and tugged at the blindfold, pulling it from my eyes, and I was met with the most beautiful sight I had ever seen.

The sky was blanketed in darkness, away from the bright city lights, and I could make out stars as they scattered among the heavens. A fire blazed in the background, and I could see Isabel, Alex, Maria, and Michael gathered around it. The flames scattered across the ground, and shadows danced across their features as I looked at them, but then I brought my gaze back to the best part.

My eyes met warm amber ones, dark in contrast to the light behind them. He smiled, and something just clicked inside of me, the rightness of this moment, being here with them, with him.

“This is amazing, Max,” I whispered soberly, the effects of the alcohol being pushed aside for the huge feeling this whole scene was causing inside of me.

“I’d hoped you would like it…” he trailed off, looking back to his friends. “We all wanted to do something for you, to kind of welcome you to Roswell.”

He brought his eyes back to mine, but this time I had to look away. I had never felt anything like this before, this acceptance, this belonging. I couldn’t hold it in because it was more than I had ever experienced in my entire life; it was too much to handle.

“What’s wrong?” he asked when I refused to meet his eyes.

“No one has ever done anything like this for me, Max. I just—I don’t know how to thank you.”

He gave me another smile, and my heart swelled even more. “Well, first of all,” he admonished, brushing his hand across my cheek, “no more of this.” I hadn’t even realized my eyes were tearing…I wasn’t surprised though. All those emotions had to get out somehow. “Secondly, just have a good time, and promise me you won’t move again.”

He said the last part with a smile, and I could tell that he was trying to play it off as a joke, but a part of me was just as worried that my dad might pull the disappearing act again. The last thing I wanted was to leave all this behind.

“I promise,” I said sincerely, letting him pull me from the car so we could join everyone else.

As we walked over to the fire, Alex stood up from the blanket and cupped his hands over his mouth.

“Ladies and Gentlemen! I’d like to introduce Liz Parker, the newest and shortest member of our group! This is her Official Initiation Ceremony!”

Everyone laughed at him, and I joined in beaming from the inside out at how welcomed and warm this whole thing made me feel inside. It wasn’t just the fire.

“Want another drink, Liz?” Maria asked me, standing up and teetering over to the cooler.

“Don’t you think you’ve had enough, blondie?” Michael asked from where they had been sitting together.

“Michael, this is a PARTY! It’s a Celebration!” she informed him in drunken seriousness, stressing the last words and nodding. She pulled two drinks from the cooler and stumbled over to me, handing me one and opening the other for herself.
“Well, I hope it’s this fun in the morning for you,” he replied quietly, but she heard him all the same.

She lifted the bottle up, and waited for me to do the same. “Cheers, Liz. You and I are officially chugging buddies, okay?”

“Chugging buddies?” I asked warily, eying the full bottle and wondering what that meant.

Maria nodded. “We have to do cheers and then drink the drink! Think you can do it?”

“I don’t know, Maria…”

“You do realize this is her first time drinking, Maria. There’s no way she’ll finish that.” This came from Max and I shot him a look before turning to Maria and hitting my bottle with her own.

“Let’s do it.”

Maria squealed happily and pushed our bottles together for a second time before we lifted the bottles to our lips and started to drink. It was cold, and after a few gulps it started to burn going down. I realized drinking it in larger gulps made it faster, and I closed my eyes as the icy feeling sent tears prickling at the corners. Swallowing quickly, I knew there was no way my stomach was going to be able to hold all this in, but Max’s challenge was fresh in my mind and I refused to back down.


I finally felt the bottle go dry and I pulled it from my lips, tipping it over in front of Max with a flourish to show him that I had done it. Maria pulled her bottle away just as I did and smiled at me proudly.

“You did it!” she shrieked happily, coming over to me and jumping around excitedly.

I joined in, but was hit with a wave of dizziness and felt myself tip backwards. Strong arms gripped me underneath my arms and I fell back as I felt someone’s chest behind me for support. Looking up, I saw Max staring down at me with a smile.

“Ok, you’re officially an alcoholic.”

“I am not!” I replied indignantly, trying to wrestle myself from his grip. He wasn’t even holding me that tightly, but the alcohol in my system made it impossible to do anything easily.

Isabel started laughing from behind me, breaking out into drunken giggles like I had been doing the entire night as Alex hiccupped beside her.

Watching him, I felt a hiccup tear from my throat as I looked at Max with a serious expression on my face and I completely lost it. Falling forward slowly, I waited to let myself go until I felt his arms around my waist and then I put all my weight on him. He shifted slightly, before leaning down to whisper in my ear.

“I never said it was a bad thing.” His breath was hot in my ear again and I closed my eyes at the feel of it. Damn him for having a girlfriend. Damn him for wanting to be with someone else. His next statement threw my entire thought process off. “You seem to end up in my arms a lot when you’re drunk…there’s no way that’s a bad thing.”

Our eyes met, and the world tipped again. I could feel myself getting lost.

“Max is she okay?” Michael asked from beside us, breaking us out of our trance.

“She’ll be fine. She’s going to have one nice hangover tomorrow, but she’ll be okay.”

Maria was curled up in Michael’s lap, peppering drunk kisses on his face as he smiled and tried to carry on a conversation with Max.

“Don’t worry, Maria will be right there with her, curled up in bed and swearing never to drink again. I’ve heard that one before.”

Maria pulled back for a second, ignored Michael’s comment and looked up at me. “It’s okay if we’re hungover, Liz! It just means they get to take care of us tomorrow.”

I looked at Max. “That doesn’t sound like a bad idea…”

“We’ll have to see about that,” Max said quietly to me as Michael started adamantly refusing to Maria, eventually caving under her kisses.

I smiled and leaned into Max a little bit more. He smelled nice…it wasn’t anything I could name, but it was just a distinct smell. Ok, Liz, stop smelling him. The last thing I needed was him looking down and seeing me sniffing his shirt. That wouldn’t be awkward.

I tried to clear my head a little bit but the last drink was making it somewhat impossible. “Max, I think I need to sit down.”

He detangled himself from my arms and held my hands in his own, leaning down and grabbing the blanket, he brushed it off before rolling it and tucking it under his arm.

I looked at him wondering what he was doing, but he just smiled at me. I thought I was going to sit on that blanket. Why was he rolling it up and putting it away?

He tugged on my hand and led me away from the fire. He gave the others a look before turning back to me. “It’s time for the rest of your surprise.”

I stared at him. There was more? He had already gotten me drunk, initiated me into the group, and made me feel happier than anyone had ever done before in my life. How could there possibly be more?

“We need to walk for a little. Do you think you can?”

His hand was in mine, and even though the world was spinning, the thought of this night getting even better pushed my feet to walk wherever we had to go. I nodded and we started moving farther away from the fire and the rest of the group. I didn’t even get nervous, being out in the dark and in the middle of the desert. For some reason being with Max made me feel safe, and I knew that I could just hold his hand and let him lead me and I’d be fine.

We walked up this big rock, and my legs started to hurt a little but I didn’t say anything, after a little while Max told me to close my eyes and we walked the rest of the way.

I waited as he unfolded the blanket and laid it on the ground, and then I could feel him tugging at my hand again and I took a step closer to him.

“Ok, open your eyes, Liz.”

I opened my eyes slowly, and took a second to get accustomed to the darkness before my eyes widened at the sight before me. We were sitting on a small cliff or ledge almost, the dark sky surrounding us and the stars lighting up the night. The campfire couldn’t even be seen, and there was nothing stopping the complete brilliance of the stars from lying opened before us.

“This is so beautiful, Max,” I said seriously. “I’ve never lived anywhere that I could see the stars like this. It’s the most amazing thing I’ve ever seen.”

He took a seat on the blanket, waiting as I plopped down next to him. “I figured you’d like it. I mean, you liked the house so much and this just seemed like something you’d find…I don’t know, special or something.”

Staring up at the sky, and looking at Max, I thought about everything I had felt since I had come to Roswell, New Mexico. This was the first place I had ever felt like I belonged, the first place that ever felt like home. I was with people who actually made me feel like I was a part of their world, instead of just some random visitor. It had only been a few days since I had come here, but I felt more and more comfortable with them as each moment passed. I cared for each of them more and more each time I saw them, laughed with them.

All those feelings, feelings I had never experienced before in my life, there was no way to put it in to words, but thinking about what Max had said, it kind of felt right.

This was special. Roswell, my new friends, this night, it was all something special and wonderful that I would never forget no matter where I had to go. If my dad one day decided to move again, and if I had to go with him, I would take Roswell with me, I would take them all with me.

“What are you thinking about?” Max asked from beside me.

I was quiet for a little bit longer. “You were right, Max. This really is special. Not just tonight, but everything about this place, everything about you guys…It’s hard to explain but it feels right. It feels right like nothing in my life has ever felt before.”

He just continued to look at me, even after I turned to stare at the stars, until finally he spoke.

“I know exactly what you mean.”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
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Post by Hopeless Romantic » Sat Sep 24, 2005 7:17 pm

Thanks for the feedback! I Started writing a new part for this :D so I'm updating again!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Part Thirteen

After the night in the desert, my life felt perfect for the first time ever. I had great new friends, my dad and I had hardly spoken due to my infrequent appearances at home, and I was having the time of my life.

Everything with Max and the rest of the group was so much fun. I always found myself laughing and joking around when I was with them, and it was a feeling I could definitely get used to. I actually looked forward to school in the morning just because I knew it was going to be another great day.

The only thing that could ruin my mood in the morning was my dad, and after the weekend I had just had, the last thing I wanted was a confrontation. When I woke up I was extremely quiet, trying my best not to wake my dad even though I was pretty sure he was up. There was something about him that made me think he just didn’t ever sleep, like he was way too paranoid to close his eyes even for a second. It was the same with the way he always watched over his shoulder.

My dad was a mystery, but he wasn’t one I cared to try and solve.

Tiptoeing into the kitchen, already dressed for school and just hoping to get a little bit of breakfast I wasn’t prepared for what happened next. My hand shot out, gripping the frame of the door as the room swirled around me and something deep inside my head forced its way out.

“Elizabeth!”

I was sitting crouched under a table, my hands gripping tightly at something in my arms, but I couldn’t figure out what it was. It felt soft…my attention was pulled to the opening of the kitchen, and there she was. I couldn’t make her out completely, but her voice was calling me. Her eyes were filled with frustration, but she wasn’t angry. I couldn’t feel anger.

And there pushing slightly behind the frustration in her gaze was the love that immediately filled her expression when she looked at me.

She was laughing. I wanted to get up, I wanted to see her for real. I didn’t want this mess of shapes and sounds and feelings. But I stayed under the table and she was coming toward me, arms held out.

Scrambling to my feet I reached for her arms, and just as I was about to find myself in them, they were pulled back.

“What the hell is that?” an angry voice asked from the place my mom had been standing before at the entrance of the kitchen.

“Puppy!” I squealed happily, leaning down to pick him up.

“Are you encouraging this? You know I’m allergic to animals.”

He was angry, but she was calm. They were so different, but still behind his expression of anger there was something deeper, something pushing its way out. It was something I had never seen in his eyes before.

“I just found them, Jeff.” She turned to me. “Liz you know you can’t keep the puppy.”

“Puppy! Puppy!”


Everything around me cleared as a sharp voice broke my thoughts.

“Elizabeth!”

I turned to look at my dad, anger in my eyes. I wanted to go back; I wanted to see more. “Yes?”

“What are you doing?” he asked angrily. It was then I realized the position I was in. I was crouched on the floor, like I was hidden under a table, hiding a secret from my mom and dad.

“I dropped something,” I lied quickly, standing up and straightening my pants. He nodded and eyed me curiously before walking past me into the kitchen. I stood there, my mind reeling at what had just happened, and suddenly I wasn’t hungry anymore.

With a quick goodbye I rushed out of the front door, beginning the familiar walk to school. Max had offered to pick me up, even though it was out of his way, but I liked the walk, and on a morning like this it was something I needed.

Was that real? It had certainly felt real. Everything about the scene felt vaguely familiar, but I couldn’t understand why it had happened. One second I’m walking into the kitchen and the next I’m crouched under a table hiding a puppy from my parents.

Parents…my mom had been there again. This time she was even clearer, but I still couldn’t see her. My dad had been there too, only I could make out what he looked like. As much as I wanted to remember my past, a part of me had always figured it was hidden for a reason, and that uncovering it might not be as good of an idea as I thought it might be. I didn’t understand why they were coming back to me now.

What was with this town?

There was no mistaking the feelings I had felt in the memory, and I hoped that if the scene had actually never happened, that at least the feelings were real. My dad had loved my mom. She had loved him back, and she had loved me.

Tears stun my eyes, and I wiped them away. This feeling was new; it was something I hadn’t felt before. Just like the feeling of being accepted by the group, the feeling of familiarity around the town and the house, this feeling of love was something I had yet to experience, but the impact of it was amazing. I had never felt better in my life. I was confused as anything, now wanting to uncover the mystery of my life even more, but all I could focus on was her. My mom, the woman who had loved me.

When I had gotten the first “flashback” I had been almost upset about it, because I had been feeling at home in the town of Roswell and I hadn’t wanted anything about that to change. I had always wanted a memory of my mom to resurface but it never had, so I had accepted that for so long that when it happened I couldn’t understand why.

But this new memory was more than welcomed. The feelings I got from it were feelings that I had been dying for my entire life. The first one had showed me that my mom felt love for me, but the second one had something that the first didn’t. My dad was in the second one. He was happy, and he was in love with my mom. I didn’t really know what questions that answered or what that meant for me and my dad, but it did go into the “file” I had in my head where I kept everything I knew about him. The movie in my head was becoming clearer, and I was even more curious to find out what had happened to my mom now that I knew they had been happy at one point.

It was all I could think about as I walked down the sidewalk towards school. Usually my head was filled with thoughts of Max, those girlish fantasies that everyone has. They usually had to do with max riding in on a big white horse, rescuing me from my evil father while we rode off into the sunset. Tess was usually stuck in horse poop yelling as we faded into the horizon.

Hey, it could happen…

Walking up to the school, I noticed Max waiting by the front entrance and I smiled. His hands were shoved in his pockets and he was rocking back on his heels looking around for something. His eyes came in my direction and he smiled, waving goofily as I approached him.

“Hi Liz.”

“Hi Max.”

More rocking and silence while we smiled at each other, I looked behind him at the door to the school.

“Is it just me or does the idea of school just really suck right now?”

He turned to look at the door and nodded his consent. “I could definitely pass on that whole learning thing today.”

More silence, and this time I wondered what the hell we were being so weird about. Sure, this weekend had been the best of my whole life, but it didn’t mean anything. I wish that it had, but Max still had a girlfriend and even though we flirted with each other, while that was the case there was nothing between us.

“Wanna skip?” he asked suddenly, breaking me from my thoughts.

“Can we do that?”

“Sure,” he laughed. “All we have to do is leave right now.”

I looked at him, and then looked at the school. “Where would we go?” I couldn’t believe I was actually considering this. Sure, I was a rebellious kid, and on occasion I had skipped class and gotten in to trouble, but I had never skipped a whole day before. The idea was a little thrilling, and I couldn’t help myself from getting a little excited.

Max looked like he was thinking when he started smiling again. “I could show you my place.”

“Your place? What’s your place?”

Insert one mischievous smile from him and a frown from me because I knew what was coming.

“It’s a surprise.”

Groaning, I picked my backpack up from the floor. “Lead the way.”

There was a certain thrill about running to his car and jumping in, both of us laughing the entire time. Sure, people were still pulling in and out of the lot because school hadn’t officially started yet, and there was no way anyone would’ve even noticed what we were doing, but I still couldn’t help the giddy feeling that rose in my chest.

Max pulled his car from the lot so quickly and both of us were laughing and smiling so much that we didn’t even realize the people who had noticed us. The only thing on my mind was the fact that I was going to spend the whole day alone with Max Evans. What more could a girl want?

He pulled onto an old highway after driving through the residential streets for a short time and I reached towards the radio, asking first if it was okay. When he nodded I clicked on a station, waiting as the music started. His first preset was commercials, but when I hit the second button I smiled.

It’s the greatest feeling in the world when you’re riding in a car, the wind blowing through your hair, and you’re sharing smiles with someone, and then the radio comes on and that song that just describes how you feel perfectly at the moment plays in the background.

Why do you look so familiar?
I could swear that I have seen your face before
I think I like that you seem sincere
I think I’d like to get to know you a little bit more

I think there’s something more
Life's worth living for

I don’t know if Max noticed it too, but his eyes came to mine as we sped down the highway, and everything felt right again.

“So, where are we going?” I asked over the song, not wanting to lower it.

“I told you it’s a surprise…” he said. “Besides we’re almost there.”

He finally pulled off of the road, but I couldn’t see anything other than desert when I first looked at where he brought me. Stopping the car, he waited as the dust cleared around us before getting out. I followed his lead, meeting him at the front of the car.

“What is this place?”

He took my hand and pulled me away from the car. “It’s this way,” he said simply.

I followed him and suddenly I realized that he wasn’t just taking me into the farther into the desert. I hadn’t been able to see the edge of the ground from where we had been in the car. This place was different from where we had been on Friday night. From what I could remember, Friday’s place had been filled with rock formations and things like that. This place was basically flat, until you got the edge.

Max pulled me close to the edge, so close I felt like the wind was going to knock me over. I stared out, my mouth wide at the beautiful sight in front of me. There was a huge expanse after the point where we stood, and beneath us looked like a lake. There was a lake in the middle of the desert.

“This is the quarry,” Max explained.

I nodded, acting like I understood while my eyes roamed across the view.

“I’ve never brought anyone here before,” he told me, and my eyes left the quarry to stare at him.

“Why’d you bring me here?”

He swallowed. Was he really close or was that just me? His hands were on my arms, his eyes were searching mine, and I stared at him, waiting for my answer and whatever else was coming.

“There’s something about you Liz, something I can’t even explain.” He raked a hand through his hair and I could feel the loss as it left my arm to do so. “When I’m with you, I…” he trailed off, his eyes becoming dark.

I knew what he meant, but I couldn’t believe what he was saying. This is what I had been waiting for, but what about Tess? He was still with her, and I wanted to know why. I had so many questions that I wanted answered, but as he stood there, his hands on my arms, his eyes staring at me the way they were…Nothing else seemed more important than what was about to happen, and I sure as hell wasn’t going to ruin the moment by asking.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
TBC...
Last edited by Hopeless Romantic on Sat Sep 24, 2005 7:28 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Post by Hopeless Romantic » Sun Oct 09, 2005 10:46 pm

A/N: Now that Spread 'Em and Traveling Soldier are complete, I want to try and just get this finished before I start posting SWLB. At the same time I'll probably post We Are, a six-part story about Alex's death from the POVs of the other characters.

Hopefully i can get this finished! Enjoy.

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

You know that feeling when you’re pushed into a pool and the ice water just surrounds you and you’re shocked back to reality. Well, that’s what it felt like when Max pulled away from me.

“I can’t do this Liz. I’m sorry…” he trailed off, shoving his hands in his pockets and backing away from me.

All the warmth was gone, and he was moving away. We had been so close, so close to creating that real heat. Our lips had been inches away from each other, all I had to do was step on my tip toes and we would’ve been connected, but then his hands dropped to his side and the ice water poured over me.

I didn’t know what to say. I shoved my hands in my pockets too, and looked down at the ground. I felt like a child that had just been scolded, or something like that. I was sticking my hand in a cookie jar before dinner time and I got caught by my mom and yelled at.

“It’s not that I don’t want to, Liz…because I do.”

I looked up at his admission, wondering what to make of him. I still said nothing. I decided to turn and look at the quarry, found myself kicking rocks off the edge, when he came up behind me to explain.

“My mom cheated on my dad,” he said simply. “I promised myself I would never do that to someone.”

I didn’t know what to say. We had never been this completely honest with each other. Our conversations had been great, almost deep, but we’d never touched on anything about our pasts, about our families. I wanted to tell him everything about me now, about the memories, about my dad. I wanted him to know me the way I thought he wanted me to know him.

“What happened?” I asked finally.

He took a deep breath, going to the edge of the quarry and sitting down, his legs dangling at the sides. I watched him for a minute before joining him, and looked at him while he stared off into the distance.

“I was ten. My mom and dad had been having problems, but I didn’t really understand any of it back then. One day I came home from school and my dad was sitting in the living room, his head in his hands. It looked like he’d been there for hours, just sitting…all broken and lost.”

I couldn’t imagine what it must’ve been like to find my father like that, or someone that I pictured as so strong looking so lost. I think a lot of kids have these ideas in their heads of their fathers, that they can handle anything, that they’re so strong. I could see how watching a person you had that idea about cry or be sad broken would make you just as hurt.

“My mom had left. She had run off with another man, and she left us. I was ten years old and she left me. My little brother Tommy was only two years old. It was like she didn’t even care.” There was an anger in his voice that I had never heard before. It was like frustration, mixed with hurt, because he couldn’t understand how someone could do that.

I had no idea Max had even had a little brother until this point. He had never said anything about it, but then I had never really asked. I wanted to know more. I wanted him to tell me everything, but I didn’t push it.

Placing my hand on his arm in what I hoped would be comforting, I waited as he continued.

“I’ve never really told anyone this. Everyone basically knows what happened, but I’ve never said anything about it…only Isabel really knows. Our families were best friends since we were little so…”

I could tell that this affected him more than he wanted it to. “Have you heard from her since?”

He shook his head sadly, eyes still trained on a spot in the distance. I guess it made it easier, not looking at anything in particular. “I wonder what happened to her, if she’s happy, if she has another family that she stayed with and loves.”

I saw what this all came down to when he said that. He didn’t feel loved. I recognized it because it was something I had lived with my entire life, or for what I could remember of it. Up until recently when I got the flashes, I was sure I had never been loved. It was a feeling I wished he didn’t have to feel.

“Sometimes people do things that we can’t understand…they make bad choices, and they hurt. But I don’t think it has anything to do with love. I’m sure your mother loved you, but people are flawed, people are selfish. You’ve got to see the other people around you who love you very much. That’s what’s important.”

I didn’t know where this wisdom was coming from, but I hoped it helped. He looked from the quarry and finally made eye contact with me. We were both silent, because there didn’t seem like a whole lot to say.

I thought about my dad, and how he had loved my mother. I had felt that in the flashback. I knew without a doubt that he had loved her and at one point he had loved me. Something had happened between them, and I didn’t know what that was yet. That part of the movie in my mind was still missing, but I knew that whatever had happened, it didn’t change the fact that my dad had loved my mom at one point. That was what I wanted him to see.

I pushed some of the rocks off the edge, and stared out like he had. The sun was shining but there was a breeze pushing through my hair and I closed my eyes, leaning back as it hit my face.

“I don’t remember the first years of my life,” I said suddenly, eyes still closed. “Something happened when I was younger, and all I remember is waking up in the car with my dad. I don’t even know how I knew he was my dad, but we drove for miles, and the only thing he said to me was ‘don’t ask questions’.”

I couldn’t believe the words were actually coming out of my mouth. I had never told anyone this stuff, but saying it was almost indescribable. It was like a weight being lifted off my shoulders, and once I started I didn’t want to stop.

“We’ve been moving from place to place, always like we were running from something, or hiding, but I’ve never known anything. I’ve never been able to ask.”

He was looking at me the way I had been looking at him. His hand was on my arm this time, and I couldn’t get over how right this felt. I felt like I had known him forever.

“We came to Roswell and I just didn’t want to know anymore. I met you and your friends and you guys made me feel welcomed for the first time in my life, and I didn’t care about the past anymore. I just wanted us to stop running. I didn’t want to have to leave. And then the weird thing happens. The night that you dropped me off—,”

“The night with the house?”

“Yeah, I was walking into the house and I got this memory flashback or something. I didn’t even know how to describe it, but there I was, and my mom was running to me. I had never had a single memory about her before. I had no idea who she was, what she looked like, if she loved me or what happened to her, and then this thing comes out of nowhere.”

I stopped and took a deep breath. I was getting so into the story I was forgetting to breath.

“Why’d you get a memory all of a sudden though?”

I shook my head, “I have no idea. I think there’s something about this town, about Roswell and the people in it. I feel like I’ve been here before.”

He was quiet for a second. “What if you have?”

“What?”

“What if he have been here?” he stated more than asked. “You don’t remember anything about your life before, what if Roswell had been a part of it?”

I thought about that for a second. Sure, the possibility had crossed my mind, but I had always just dismissed it for the same reason. “I don’t think so,” I told him. “One thing I knew without even asking was that we never went to the same place twice.”

Even as I said it I was filled with doubt. Had we come to Roswell before? Is that why this place was so familiar? I had no idea what it would mean if that was the truth, but I decided that for now I couldn’t think about it.

“I had another flashback this morning.”

“Really?” His genuine interest was startling. I had always been scared that if I let someone in they would find all of this stuff to be weird. I had been scared to let people in before, because I didn’t want to lose the few friendships I had. I was once again amazed by the fact that Max made me feel so comfortable, that I trusted him so much.

“Yeah, that’s why I told you all this stuff. I’m not sure what happened between my mom and my dad, and why she’s gone, but I felt something in this memory that I’ll remember for the rest of my life, no matter what I find out.”

“What’s that?” he asked, eyes out in the distance again.

“My dad loved my mom. I get the feeling that something bad happened, something he did, but I’m not even sure what it is. I feel like he did something to make her leave, but no matter what I know that he loved her.”

That was all I said, but that was all that needed to be said. He smiled at me, and I felt his fingers lace through mine as we both sat there and stared off across the expanse.

“Come on,” Max said suddenly, pulling himself up and dragging me with him. I stumbled to my feet, and wiped my pants off.

“Come on, where?”

“I want you to meet someone.”

I gave him a look. “Lemme guess.”

He smiled that smile of his and I lost it. “It’s a surprise.”

We walked to his car, hands still linked, letting go only to get in. He put the car into gear, and pulled out of the quarry spinning dust up as he drove off. We drove back to town, and I noticed it was only noon. We still had another two hours before school was let out and our day together would be over.

He drove fast. Maybe he was aware of the time like I was. Maybe he wanted to spend as much time together as possible. Maybe I should calm down before the excitement from the day gives me a heart attack.

We pulled in front of a house finally, and he shut off the engine. We sat there for a second, both of us calming down from the rush of the day before Max unbuckled his seat belt and came around to my side of the car just as I was about to open the door.

He pulled it open for me, and I smiled and thanked him, inside cheering like a giddy little six year old that got the bike she wanted on Christmas morning. “Where are we?”

That damn smile. I should know better than to ask him.

He led me inside, and I could hear movement in the kitchen. I had a pretty good idea of where we were but I wasn’t sure. The house screamed bachelor pad, but it looked like it had been cleaned recently. I could imagine three boys living here, immersed in sports and games. We walked through the kitchen and a large woman was cleaning the dishes. She looked like one of those grandmothers from the old movies, all cute and perfect, with their little aprons on as they took care of the house.

“Hey Gramma,” Max greeted. He introduced me and we talked for a little before Max pulled me away and up the stairs.

“She’s been helping out ever since…” he trailed off but I knew what he was saying. We walked up the stairs and stopped at a room with a big sign on the door reading “Do Not Enter”. Max knocked and waited. “Tom, open up!”

The door swung open a second later and a boy bounded into Max’s arms. Tommy was ten years old, but pretty small for his age. He was lean, like Max, only Max was probably more muscle…I averted my thoughts back to Tommy.

“This is my friend, Liz,” Max introduced and Tommy turned, noticing me for the first time. I could see Max all over the little boy’s face. Even down to the ears that stuck out just a little too much. Max probably looked exactly like Tommy when he was ten years old. I was just glad that the year for Tommy seemed better than it had been for Max.

“Nice to meet you, Liz. You know you’re the first girl Max has ever brought home?”

I smiled at that, and at Tommy, who was probably the cutest kid I’d ever seen in my life. “Is that so? I guess that makes me kinda special, doesn’t it?” I looked at Max as I said it and he just smiled.

“Are you staying for lunch? My nana is making chicken. She makes the best chicken in the world. Sometimes she talks about opening a restaurant to sell her chicken, but I don’t know if she’s really gonna do that. Do you like chicken?”

I was surprised by the amount of words he could get out in one breath, but he said it all with a huge smile on his face and I couldn’t resist. “Would that be okay?” I asked, looking up at Max.

“Its fine,” Tommy replied, not even giving Max a chance to answer. Tommy reached up, pulling at my hand and bringing me into his room. “Wanna play video games while we wait? I have a lot of video games. We can play Mortal Combat or Mario Brothers…Max thinks he’s the best at Mario Brothers but I’m getting better. Are you good at video games?”

“I’ve never really played them before.”

“Well, you’re probably a fast learner. You look smart. I’m sure you’d kill Max in a game of Mortal Combat.”

“Hey! I resent that,” Max cried from above us as Tommy pulled me onto the floor in front of the television.

“Put your money where your mouth is, Mr. Evans,” I challenged with a smile.

He sat down next to me, helping Tommy set up the controllers before handing one to me and keeping his own. “You’re on, Parker.”

~~~~~~~~
TBC...
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