Complications (AU,CC,ADULT) 12/18/11 [WIP]

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Enthusiastic Roswellian
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Re: Complications( Adult, A/U, M&M, K&T, some M&L & A&I)3/1/

Post by chinkyeyes45 » Tue Mar 29, 2011 8:28 pm

Thanks so much everyone for reading! Special thanks to Earth2Mama and Alien_Friend for leaving such great feedback!

Chapter fourteen:

By the time Wednesday rolled around, Michael was no closer to fixing things with Maria than he had been when he’d left her apartment Sunday night. He’d contemplated sending her a gift, but he knew that she’d see that as him trying to buy her affection. He’d tried calling, but she wouldn’t answer. Caller id was the devil. He left messages, but she wouldn’t call him back. He went to her apartment, and she slammed the door in his face. Michael was at a loss. It had been three days, and it felt like three years.

He had decided against asking Isabel for advice. She was too much like their mother. She instantly disliked every woman that he looked at. Except Courtney. That was only because she didn’t know what had really happened between them. Isabel didn’t have many real friends. Courtney was the only female that his sister had ever been close to, and he didn’t want to ruin that by letting Isabel know what had really caused their breakup. If he told Isabel about his argument with Maria, he knew that she’d try to use that to push him toward Courtney. Isabel had been harping on the two of them getting back together since he’d moved back to San Francisco. They’d dated eight years ago. His sister needed to get over it.

Making a decision, he got up and made his way to Kyle’s office. He was Maria’s brother, if anyone knew how to fix this, it would be him. Michael walked into the office without knocking, and sat down in one of the chairs in front of Kyle’s desk.

“Michael…why do you keep walking into my office? Do you not ever have any work to do?” Michael just snorted at the question. They both knew that Michael did more than his share of work for this firm. The proof was in his status.

“Look, I need a little insight into your sister.” Kyle leaned back in his chair and studied the other man for a few seconds.

“What happened?” He knew that Maria had been in a bad mood when he’d spoken to her on Monday.

“We had a discussion about Bailey’s father and I offended her by asking something and now she won’t speak to me.” Michael waited for Kyle to tell him what to do.

“A discussion or an argument?” People didn’t stop speaking to you over a discussion.

“A slightly heated discussion.” Michael refused to call it an argument. He’d asked a question, she’d told him off, now she wouldn’t talk to him. Arguments usually entailed more than that.

“What did you ask her?” Maria never stopped speaking to people. The girl was voted class chatterbox at her senior banquet for god’s sake.

“Why do you need to know that?” Michael really didn’t see how telling Kyle that piece of information was going to do anything. It would probably just cause another heated discussion.

“Cause depending on the question, there may not be a fix.” Michael really didn’t like the sound of that. There had to be a way to fix this.

“I asked her if she knew that he was married when they were together.” Michael saw the anger enter Kyle’s eyes and tried to calm him down. Kyle really was his last option after all. “Look, I wasn’t trying to accuse her of being some floozy that went around breaking up families, okay? People make decisions at twenty that they wouldn’t make later in life. Not that I think she would have ever made that type of decision. Okay, so one of my friends went to college with Maria, and he told my mother about Bailey’s dad at my sister’s wedding reception, and things just rolled down hill from there.”

Kyle was trying to be calm. “So you went and asked her if she was sleeping with a married man behind his wife’s back? Dude…did you even use your brain before you asked that question?” Michael gave Kyle a very pointed look before answering.

“I am aware of my own stupidity. Thank you, though. It’s always nice to have it pointed out. I just…when I’m around her I don’t always think straight. I’m working on it. Now are you gonna help me or what?” Michael almost left the office when Kyle didn’t answer him. Just as he was getting out of the chair, the other man spoke up.

“I’m guessing that you already tried calling her and going to her place?” Michael nodded and sat back down. “I really shouldn’t help you. But, I guess there are worse guys that she could be dating.”

“Gee, thanks.” Michael knew what Kyle meant, but the insults were starting to wear on his patience.

“Maria hasn’t dated anyone since Brody. She really loved him, and he wasn’t who she thought he was. You gotta catch her somewhere that she can’t just walk away from you.” Kyle thought for a minute. “The laundry room.”

“What?” Maria had a washer and dryer in her apartment. He’d seen her putting in a load of Bailey’s clothes last week.

“You can catch her in the laundry room. Her washing machine broke, and they can’t get to it until next week. She asked me to sit with Bailey tonight while she runs down to do a few loads. I’ll call you before I go up to the apartment, and you can meet her in the laundry room. When she gets there, lock the door so that she can’t leave, and then beg as is if your life depends on it. You may need to duck at first, but things should work out. She likes you.” Kyle sat back and smiled at his own genius.

“And what if there are other people there? Then what? I doubt they’ll let me keep her hostage in a laundry room.” Michael looked at the loon in front of him and shook his head. He and Maria were definitely related.

“No, no that’s even better. It adds a humiliation factor. This will work. You should probably bring her some candy or something too. No, not candy. Something thoughtful. Something that’s unique to her. You’re on your own on that one though, I can’t just hand you all the answers.” Kyle couldn’t wait for the couples’ retreat. He was so evolved.

Michael sat there letting Kyle’s idea sink in. He doubted that it would work, but it was his only option. Now what could he bring to this little hijacking that would be unique to Maria? Michael stood to leave the office, but turned back to face Kyle before he reached the door.

“Call me as soon as she calls you. I’ll need to be in the laundry room when she gets there.”

“No problem, but Michael, this is the only time that I help you out. You screw up again, and I’ll do everything I can to keep you away from her.” Kyle wasn’t willing to let Maria be in a relationship with a guy that wasn’t willing to consider the weight of his words, but he figured that everyone was entitled to one mistake. He watched as Michael acknowledged his comment with a nod of his head, and then left the office. Kyle was pretty sure that his idea would work. Maria was a sucker for sappy romantic gestures.

Maria released a frustrated groan the minute she reached the inside of her office. It sometimes sucked to be a woman. Specifically when you’re one of only three women in a room full of men that assume you only possess half of a functioning brain cell. There she’d been, pitching an amazing campaign, while the jerk of a client was staring at her legs. He’d actually seemed surprised when she’d presented charts and numbers to back her presentation. The fact that he’d decided to go with her pitch was a small consolation when weighed against his parting comment.

“I look forward to dinner meetings with you Miss Deluca.” Ugh! The man looked like the guy from the purdue commercials. He’d made sure to stress the ‘Miss’ at the beginning of her name. No way was she having dinner meetings with that man unless there were at least fifteen other people there. She had a brain; she didn’t need to sleep her way to the top.

Maria was beyond thrilled that this day was over. Sometimes, the men in suits with all the breeding were the worst kinds of assholes. She walked over to her desk and started collecting her things so that she could leave. Looking up at the sound of her door opening, Maria saw her boss standing in her office.

“Mr. Pierce, is there something that you needed?” He rarely came to her office. Daniel Pierce was in his late thirties, tall, thin, and dark. His face was hawkish and Maria couldn’t remember ever seeing him give a genuine smile. He reminded her of Ebenezer Scrooge from a Christmas Story.

“Maria, that was a wonderful presentation. Well thought out and executed.” Maria was waiting for the other shoe to drop.

“Thank you, sir.” She watched as he took a deep breath and prepared herself for the onslaught.

“Though, I doubt Mr. Swinson heard a word that you were saying. He was too busy appraising your physical attributes.” Maria was careful not to avert her eyes. It wasn’t her fault that the man was a perv. “I’m fairly certain that the idea of spending time with you was the only basis for his decision. Perhaps you could wear a longer skirt the next time you’re giving a presentation. As such, I’m going to assign Mr. Darden to the account with you. I’d hate to see you slack off on this in hopes of getting by on your looks.” Maria was seething.

“With all due respect, sir; I work very hard, as you know. I’ve never relied on anything other than my ability to perform my job to more than exceptional standards, and I have no intention of doing so in the future.” She knew that her boss couldn’t stand her. He felt that she wasn’t worthy of her position because she didn’t have a penis. Men!

“So then you object to Mr. Darden working with you on the campaign?” He would just love for her to say yes. It would unleash a whole new tirade, she knew.

“Not at all, I think that it would go a long way to pleasing Mr. Swinson to have a man working with me on his account. It would also make me more comfortable to have someone else there during those dinner meetings he mentioned.” Maria could tell that Pierce was disappointed at her lack of objection to his decision.

“Very good then. I assume that you’ll begin working with Mr. Darden first thing in the morning?” without waiting for her to reply, he left the office.

“Asshole.” Maria grabbed her things and left the office. Some days she thought that it would be better if she were a stereotypical dumb blonde. Then she at least wouldn’t know when her intelligence was being insulted.

Liz had managed not to run into Doug all week. She’d been arriving late to the classes that she shared with him, and leaving as soon as class ended. She was afraid that her luck had run out. Liz was taking her Bio-Chem final, and tried to keep her mind off of the fact that Doug was sitting next to her. He was finished with the exam. A glance at his paper showed that all the questions had been answered. He was waiting for her. Looking up at the clock, she saw that she only had fifteen minutes to finish. She needed to focus. Training her eyes on the exam in front of her with more than a little difficulty, Liz managed to complete the test. She couldn’t remember what questions had been on it, and so she was fairly certain that her grade would be less than satisfactory. Luckily, the only thing that would transfer to Berkeley would be the credits that she’d earned. Her gpa had taken several hits over the past few months. Liz hastily turned in her exam and left the classroom. She’d made it less than ten feet from the class when she felt a hand close around her wrist.

“We need to talk.” Liz tried to wrench her arm from his grasp. But it was useless.

“I really don’t think so.” There were people leaving the room now and they were getting looks. Doug brought his cell phone up and waved it in front of her face.

“Did you get my messages? Amazing the kind of quality pictures you can get with these.” Liz stopped struggling and allowed him to pull her toward the courtyard. He stopped when they reached a bench. Sitting, he motioned for her to do the same.

Liz sat uncomfortably beside him and waited for him to say whatever he felt needed to be said.

“I was really upset when I woke up and you were gone. Why didn’t you wake me?” He had to be joking.

“I just really needed some space. I still do. I don’t think we’re good for each other Doug.” Liz had been looking at the ground while speaking, and so she didn’t see the look on his face.

“So you’re going to the other side of the country because you need space? A little dramatic don’t you think?” His tone was harsh and looking up Liz could see the anger etched clearly on his face.

“No. I told you that I have to go because I’m sick. Whether you agree with me or not, I am.” Liz kept her voice lowered. This really wasn’t a conversation that she wanted to be having in such an open setting.

“What about us? I’m not into long distance relationships.” He needed to let it go.

“Listen, Doug, I already told you. We’re over. I don’t want to be with you anymore.” Her voice trembled. Doug could be vindictive at times. She was aware that he had some very compromising video footage of her.

“Really? It didn’t seem that way when you were sucking my dick on Saturday.” Liz sucked in a breath. She felt like he had slapped her.

Her voice came out strangled. “Saturday was a mistake. I wasn’t thinking clearly.” She wished he would just leave her alone.

“So what was it? A relapse? That’s what you junkies say, isn’t it?” his voice was mocking as he leaned into her and grabbed her face.

“I’m not a junkie.” Liz pulled away from him. “Just leave me alone. I’m leaving, just let me leave.” Her voice was pleading.

“Fine, I’ll ‘let you leave’. But, Liz, when you’re finished pretending? I’ll be here. Hell, I’ll even pay for your return ticket.” He got up to walk away. She stopped him.

“Doug, the video?” she really couldn’t handle that thing being on you tube.

“Don’t worry. That’s just for me. Lonely winter nights and all, you know.” He walked away without a look back. Liz wanted to believe him, but she was no longer that naïve.

Michael was frantically pacing around his apartment. It was almost eight o’clock, and Kyle hadn’t called him yet. What if he’d decided not to help him? Michael was reaching for his phone on the coffee table when there was a knock on his door. He was making his way over to it when his cell phone began to ring. Picking up the phone, he made his way to the door.

“Hello?” the sound of the person’s voice was lost as soon as Michael opened the door and saw Maria standing there.

“….fixed her machine this afternoon, but she just dropped Bailey off at my place.” Huh?

“I’ll call you back.” Michael was vaguely aware that it was Kyle on the other end. Hanging up the phone, he stood speechless. All the words that he rehearsed had flown from his mind the second he saw her.

Maria stood nervously at the door waiting for Michael to invite her in. When he didn’t, she almost turned and walked away. Clearing her throat, she started. “Can I come in?”

“Uh…yeah.” This was unexpected. Michael had been all set to initiate any kind of discussion, and her showing up out of nowhere was a bit of a shock.

“Listen, I just wanted to apologize for the other day. I shouldn’t have gone off on you like that.” What? She stood there with this nervous and sincere expression on her face, and Michael wasn’t sure if he was really hearing the words coming out of her mouth or if he’d slipped into some weird dream.

“Huh?” she was going to think he was an idiot. There had to be some kind of brain exercise he could do stop this from happening when he was around her.

“I just…Brody had pissed me off, and then my day had sucked, and I was a little hurt that you’d ask me what you did, and so I kind of just turned all of my anger and frustration from the day on you. You didn’t deserve that. I’m sorry.” Maria had gotten home, and started to think about things objectively. Michael was a good guy. He wasn’t like Brody, or Mr. Swinton, or Pierce. He treated her with respect. He was good with Bailey. He was hard working. The list of pros was definitely longer than the list of cons. So after the Maytag guy called and said that he could fit her in and came and fixed her washer, she took Bailey over to Kyle’s and headed to Michael’s apartment to apologize.

“Wow. Um…hmm. Do you wanna sit down?” This was the first time that Michael could ever actually remember any woman apologizing to him. Maria walked over to the couch and took a seat. “I wasn’t expecting this.” The statement was made more to himself.

“Yeah, well you should savor it. It probably won’t happen again.” Her tone was teasing and he felt himself relax. He knew that he still owed her an apology though.

“As much as I love hearing a woman admit that she’s wrong, I can’t really let you do it.” He saw that Maria was about to interrupt him and he held up a hand to forestall her. “Look, I shouldn’t have asked that question the way that I did, so I’m sorry for making you feel like I was judging you.”

Maria was sure that he wasn’t in the wrong. It was stupid to argue with someone over an apology, but she couldn’t stop herself. “Michael, you have a right to know certain things. If you had a kid with some woman, and she just popped up out of thin air, I would have questions. Certain levels of intimacy entitle you to answers. Even to questions that people don’t always wanna answer. There are things that I want you to know about me, and there are things that I wanna know about you. That’s what relationships are.”

Michael sat there taking in what Maria had just said to him. She was right. It was funny how she could be right even when she was admitting to being wrong. “So, we’re good?”

“You tell me.” Maria knew that she was wrong to say what she did the other day, but she also knew that Michael was having some issues with Brody showing up. “Michael, Brody is Bailey’s father. I admit that he isn’t a very good one, but there it is. If he decides that he genuinely wants to be involved in her life, I’m going to let him. Is that something you can handle?”

Michael really wasn’t sure what his tolerance for Brody Davis would be. He did know that he wasn’t ready to end his relationship with Maria. “I can try. I can’t really guarantee that I won’t get frustrated with the situation at times.”

Maria could understand where he was coming from. “Okay, well, is there anything that you’d like to know?”

“Yeah. You said that he was talking about getting a place here. Is that definite?” Michael was pretty sure that he didn’t want the other man in such close proximity.

“No. He mentioned it. He’s going to contact me when he knows what he wants to do. But that only applies to his relationship with Bailey. I have made it clear to him that whatever he and I had is over.” Maria wanted Michael to know that she didn’t want a personal relationship with Brody that was about anything other than his relationship with their daughter.

“So he doesn’t know whether or not he wants to be involved with his own daughter. Does his wife know about Bailey?” Michael liked this guy less and less the more he learned about him.

“Yeah, she knows. Bailey was tested as a possible marrow donor for their daughter when she was first born, so Brody told Shelby about her. He came out here when we had the tests done, and that was the first time he’d seen Bailey. When we found out that she wasn’t a viable donor, they went back to Michigan and we hadn’t seen him since. He called a few times, and sends a check every month, but that’s all.” Maria tried not to show how upset she was at Brody’s mistreatment of her daughter.

Michael gave her a piercing look. “Bailey deserves better.” Seeing the look of sadness in her eyes, Michael decided that a change of topic was in order. “I have something for you.”

Maria was surprised at the topic switch. “Really? What is it?”

Michael got up from the couch and handed her a gift wrapped package that was sitting on the counter by the kitchen. Maria gave him a curious look before unwrapping it. It was a hardcover copy of ‘Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland’.

“Michael…” Her voice was a barely audible whisper.

“I remember you saying that your mom read it to you when you were little, but that you lost your copy when you guys moved into a bigger house. I figured that you could read it to Bailey.”

“Michael this is…wow! Thank you!” Maria didn’t know what to say. Michael stood at the end of the couch awkwardly scratching his eyebrow.

“So, you like it?” he hadn’t been too sure about the book. Most women didn’t become overjoyed at a ten dollar present.

“I love it! This is a really wonderful present.” Maria stood from the couch and hugged him.

Michael wrapped his arms around her and allowed himself to enjoy the feeling of having her against him. He grudgingly relinquished his hold on her when she started to move away from him.

“I should go. It’s late and Bailey should really be in bed.” She didn’t look like she wanted to leave any more than he wanted her to go.

“I’ll see you tomorrow?” he let his hands stay at her waist while he waited for her to answer.

“Sure, you can come over for dinner.” Maria was trying to make herself leave, but it was harder than she’d imagined.

“And you’ll come to Easter dinner at my parents’ house on Sunday?” here was the big question. He wasn’t sure that Maria would want to come around his family after his mother’s little information gathering stunt.

“I don’t know, Michael. That may not be such a good idea.” Maria was certain that it would be a very uncomfortable experience.

“Please? We don’t have to stay through the whole thing, but I’d really like it if you came.”

“Michael…your mother doesn’t like me.” Maria felt that it was necessary to point out the obvious.

“My mother doesn’t know you, and my father likes you. But, that doesn’t matter, because I want you there. It would really mean a lot to me.” He gave her his best puppy dog face. The face he’d given his mother when he’d hit a baseball through the front window when he was twelve. She caved.

“Okay. But, if it becomes too unpleasant…” Maria warned.

Michael was quick to reassure her. “We’ll leave.” He gave her a quick kiss when she nodded.

“I’ll see you tomorrow night.” One more kiss and she was gone. Michael leaned against his door and gave a sigh of relief. Now he just needed to talk to his mother on Saturday. He needed to make sure that all of her facts were straight, or she’d be impossible to deal with on Sunday. He prayed for strength.

Maria stood in her office on Thursday listening to her new teammates ideas on a campaign that was already in the works. The fact that she was appalled was clearly written on her face.

“Exactly where do you think we’ll be able to run these ads, the spice channel? This is the most tasteless…” Billy Darden cut her off before she could even get warmed up.

“Stop being such a prude, darlin’. Sex sells.” He looked her up and down and Maria wished that she were wearing a nun habit.

“This is a hotdog ad. The idea for a family barbecue will sell better. In this economy, we need to market smart. Even a block party would be better than what you’re pitching. The client wants to go the route of family values.” Billy was trying to convince Maria that they should advertise with a hot coed in a bikini eating a foot long hotdog with mustard dripping onto her breast. He was such a pig.

“The client wants to go whatever route lands him in your pants. Do you even have a B.S.?” Maria wanted to kick him.

“As in bullshit? Which you are clearly full of. I have a B.A. in advertising you amoeba. You feel like you’re idea is so great? Pitch it.”

“You’ve definitely got me pitching something. You’re really hot when you’re mad.” Maria was shaking her head in confusion. There was no way that he was this dumb.

“Do you even comprehend the term ‘sexual harassment’?”

He gave her what he obviously thought was a sexy grin.

“I missed that lesson. Why don’t you loosen a few buttons on that shirt and educate me?”

Maria really wished she had her pepper spray. “How about this lesson, you pull your weight and stop with the disgusting come-ons, or I will decimate your worthless ass. I could kill you and not a jury in the world would convict me because I’d be providing a public service.”

“So you don’t wanna have dinner with me anytime soon?” he actually chuckled at her incredulous look. “I’m kidding. Don’t worry, I’ll pull my weight. Maybe when this is done you’ll let me take you out and I’ll prove that I’m not that bad of a guy.” He winked at her before he left her office. Maria shuddered. That guy should be the face of the morning after pill. That would be genius advertising.

Leo, her assistant walked into her office just as Billy was walking out. She managed not to laugh when her assistant gave him a very appraising look.

Leo handed her the files she had asked him for earlier in the day before commenting on the man that had just left her office. “I wish he was gay.”

“So do I, Leo. Thanks for the files.” Guys like Billy were a waste of sexuality.

Enthusiastic Roswellian
Posts: 16
Joined: Tue Jun 15, 2010 1:09 pm

Re: Complications( Adult, A/U, M&M, K&T, some M&L & A&I)3/29

Post by chinkyeyes45 » Sat Apr 23, 2011 4:00 pm

Hello everyone! Thanks so much for reading and leaving such great feedback!

keepsmiling7: Doug will cause Liz some un-needed problems in the future. The video is not good at all.

Alien_Friend: Maria's patience will be tested to its limits by the men she works with, but Billy will get his.
Kyle wants Maria and Michael's relationship to work out despite the attitude that he gives to Michael about it.
Easter dinner could be a problem.
Liz is making a good decision for herself, but distance won't fix everything. She still has a long way to go.

Killjoy: Kyle and Tess still have some rough times ahead, but they are in a good place right now.
I'm very sorry if I offended you. Patty's comments weren't really a shot at anyone, but really? He's a devout catholic who doesn't believe in God but thinks that his son-in-law is going to hell. It was mainly for humor.

Onto the next chapter....

Chapter fifteen:

Michael walked into his parents’ house on Saturday intent on keeping his sanity. His mother was in the kitchen with his sister getting ready for the dinner tomorrow. He could hear the television from the living room so he knew where his father was. His mother looked up when he came into the kitchen.

“Michael, good. Wash your hands so that you can knead this dough for me.” Eileen turned back toward the counter and continued to slice apples for her pie.

Michael didn’t even pretend that he was going to acknowledge that order. Isabel looked up from her potato peeling to glare at him.

“Stop being lazy, Michael. You’re gonna be eating this food too. Oh, did I tell you that Courtney’s gonna have dinner with us tomorrow?” Isabel gave him her sweetest smile.

“Why would I care about that?” Michael made sure to put as much disdain in his voice as possible.

“Michael, you know that she misses you. She was the longest relationship you ever had. Don’t you think that means something?” He hated that tone. She used it when she felt that he was being particularly dense.

“Yeah, it means that I’m smarter than I used to be. I stopped holding on to things that shouldn’t be held onto. You should learn to do the same.”

Isabel just glowered at him. “Well she’ll be here tomorrow, so you’d better be nice to her. You’re both coming alone, so you can spend a little time together, it wouldn’t kill you.”

Michael felt that it was time to broach what was sure to be an explosive subject. “I’m not coming alone.”

His mother turned around at that. “You’re not?”

“No, Ma, I’m not. I’m bringing Maria and Bailey. Remember Maria? You invited her.” Michael was reminding himself to be calm. This was his mother. He really couldn’t be disrespectful.

“You want me to sit at a dinner table on one of the most sacred days of the year with an adulteress?” Michael felt like stabbing himself in the eye with a fork.

“Maria isn’t an adulteress, mom.” Isabel was standing there smiling. He supposed that it was nice to not be the one defending your significant other for once.

“I know what I read. That man was and is married, and he has a very sick child. Any woman that would sleep with another woman’s husband and ruin their family has no morals, and isn’t welcome at my table.”

Michael took a deep breath before allowing himself to say anything. “First of all, she didn’t know he was married, because he lied to her, and when she found out, she left. Second of all, the man is still married, so she obviously didn’t ruin anything.”

Eileen snorted at his response. “Did she tell you that? She’s playing the victim, then? Why can’t you ever date a good girl?”

Michael began rubbing his temples. “Maria is a good person. She’s honest, and hardworking, and smart, and funny, and beautiful. And she’s a good mother to an amazing little girl.”

Isabel picked that moment to add her two cents. “Maybe you’re only seeing what you want to see. Are you really ready to play daddy to someone else’s kid?”

Michael shocked himself with his answer. “Yes. If that kid is Bailey, then yes. But Maria isn’t asking me to do that. She isn’t asking me for anything.” Isabel looked at him as if she’d never seen him before.

“I don’t approve of this, Michael.” Of course she didn’t. His mother rarely approved of anything.

“I’m not asking for approval. I’m a big boy and I can make decisions for myself. I’m asking you to be accepting.” His mother was shaking her head before he even finished speaking.

“Mikey, I want you to be happy. I don’t think that this girl will bring you happiness.” His mother had to be the most close minded person on the planet.

“Mom, Maria is very important to me. I care a lot about her, and she does make me happy. Listen…I get that this isn’t an ideal situation, but this is the situation. I’m just asking you to give her a chance.” Michael had never brought another woman home. Courtney didn’t really count because she’d been friends with Isabel before they’d dated, so she’d always been around their house anyway. The fact that he wanted them to really meet Maria should mean something.

“I don’t know about that.” She wasn’t gonna budge, so Michael did the last thing that he could think of.

“Then I’m not coming to dinner tomorrow.” Everything froze. Isabel looked as if she was afraid to even breathe. His mother stood looking at him trying to decide if he was bluffing. “I mean it. If you can’t respect my decisions and my relationship with a woman that is the most amazing person that I’ve ever met, then I won’t be here. I’m spending tomorrow with Maria and Bailey. We’ll go out for pizza. Bailey’s never had pizza before.”

“I’ll have your father clean off one of the old highchairs and bring it in for the baby. Dinner starts at six. Don’t be late.” His mother turned back to the counter and continued cutting her apples. Isabel looked even more shocked than she had before.

Michael walked out of the house and released the breath that he didn’t even know he’d been holding. Easter was going to be a real experience. Before he reached his car his mother called his name, making him turn.

“I’ll expect you at service tonight.” She turned to go back inside of the house before he could say anything. He was surprised that she hadn’t tried to sprinkle him with holy water.

Tess stood looking at the closet that she was now sharing with her boyfriend. They were going to need more storage space. All of Kyle’s clothes were lying on the bed and Tess really didn’t see a way to make them fit in the closet. She had tried to go through her wardrobe and look for things that she wouldn’t mind getting rid of or donating, but she really didn’t have anything that she could part with comfortably. Kyle on the other hand still had shirts from high school. There were holey jeans and old sweatshirts and sneakers that had definitely seen better days. Tess had seen better preserved clothing on the homeless people that ate in the soup kitchens on Christmas. They had to go. Walking to the kitchen, she began digging through the cabinets for a large garbage bag.

Kyle looked up from the television when he heard her rummaging around. He gave her a curious frown. “What are you doing?”

Tess looked up at Kyle and was the picture of innocence when she answered his question. “Spring cleaning. We should have gotten a two bedroom apartment, we need more closet space.”

“Yeah, I know, but there weren’t any available and I really like living here. But it’s really nice of you to take the time organizing all of our stuff so that it fits together. I’ll go to one of those home improvement stores and get some shelves for the closet. It’ll work out.” He was so happy to have her living with him. They were going to put her larger furniture in storage until they could move to a bigger apartment.

Tess felt bad for targeting his old clothes to make space. “Hey, you wanna come and help me go through some of the clothes to be donated? I don’t wanna get rid of anything that you really wanna keep.”

Kyle was about to agree when the baseball game that he’d been watching came back from a commercial break. “You know what? I trust you. Just get rid of anything that looks like its garbage. Leave my high school jerseys alone though.” And just like that, his attention was on the game.

Tess weighed her options for a moment. He would inevitably be pissed when he noticed the gross clothing in his closet had been tossed out. She was positive that he’d get over it when he saw some of the things that she’d be putting in their place. Whistling to herself, Tess made her way back to the bedroom to liberate it from the hideous clothing that was holding it captive.

Tess allowed her imagination to roam free while she was working on getting the apartment organized. She let herself imagine what it would be like to move into a house with Kyle. She wanted a Victorian style house, with a wrap around porch. Someplace with a huge yard for family barbecues. Tess stopped in the midst of hanging one of Kyle’s shirts in the closet. Houses like that were meant for people with children. She heard a little voice in her head telling her that she should try to get pregnant now. Before it was too late to have her own baby. Tess shook her head to clear it of that thought. She wasn’t ready to be a mother. She knew that. She wished that she could fool herself into believing that motherhood was something that she could just decide to do, but she had stopped lying to herself about things when she and Kyle had broken up. Maybe they would adopt someday. If they could make it through everything that was ahead of them, then maybe they’d be able to have a family. Biologically or not.


When they arrived at Michael’s parents’ house on Easter for dinner, Maria’s stomach was in knots. It was one thing to be having dinner with your new boyfriend’s family. It was another thing to be having dinner with your new boyfriend’s family on a holiday, when the family matriarch didn’t like you. Michael reached over and squeezed her hand.

“It’ll be fine. Stop worrying.” Maria managed a rather shaky laugh.

“I’m not worried. Do I look worried?”

“You look like you’re gonna throw up. Want me to get Bailey?” Michael opened the driver’s side door and started to get out of the car. Maria was still sitting in the passenger’s seat taking deep breaths.

“It’ll all work out. Everything will be fine. I’m a successful woman, a good mother, and I don’t need anyone’s approval.”

Michael raised his eyebrow at his quickly unraveling girlfriend. “You’re nuts. Stop with the chanting and get out of the car.”

“You know, I’m really not hungry. I don’t feel well.” Maria was suddenly feeling like they should just start the car and turn around.

“You will get out of this car, and you will eat dinner with my insane family. If you bail now, they’ll think you’re a coward. Then there’ll be no coming back. Nail in the coffin, so to speak.” To his immense relief, Maria rose to the bait and got out of the car.

“You’ll regret daring me to get out of the car when I vomit during dinner.”

Michael laughed. “These are Irish people. They’ll just think that you had too much to drink.” He laughed harder at the outraged look on her face.

Michael walked to the rear door and took Bailey from the car. She was adorable in her pink and yellow frilly dress, lacy socks, and white patent leather shoes. In true Bailey fashion she was trying to rip the bow from the front of her dress.

“You aren’t nervous, are you curly girl?” Bailey gave a large smile and replied with a loud ‘no’.

“See? Now why can’t you be more like your daughter?”

Maria tried to look offended. “Maybe because ‘no’ isn’t the only word I can say. Watch, Bailey do you want a cookie?” Maria gave a smug smile when the little girl responded with a ‘no’.

Michael just shook his head and made his way toward the house. “She only said that because she doesn’t want to spoil her appetite.” He could hear Maria laughing behind him.

Walking through the front door, they were greeted by the sound of his mother yelling from the kitchen.

“Patty, did you bring up the wine like I asked?”

“Of course.” Michael managed not to laugh at the sight of his father making his way to the basement to bring up the aforementioned wine.

His mother came out of the kitchen and stopped at the sight in front of her. Michael was standing in the hall, holding a baby. Eileen lost the capacity to speak for a moment.

“Mom, you remember Maria? And this is her daughter, Bailey.” Maria made her way forward a little and extended her hand.

“It’s nice to see you again, Mrs. Guerin.” Michael’s mother seemed to remember herself. Taking the proffered hand she smiled and shook it.

“I’m happy that you could join us. Everyone hasn’t arrived yet, I should have told them we’d be eating at five and then they’d have been on time. Well, do you think that you can give me a bit of help in the kitchen?” Maria looked at Michael before responding.

“Go ahead, I’ve got her.” She gave him a smile and followed his mother into the kitchen. Walking to the sink, Maria quickly washed her hands before turning to the older woman.

“Just tell me what you need me to do.” Michael’s mother was bending to take a roast from the oven.

“Ah, yes. Would you take that cake from the refrigerator for me and just slide it into the oven? My busy daughter was gracious enough to come over yesterday and help with things, so the food is pretty well prepared.” She didn’t stop what she was doing as she spoke. She didn’t even look up from her task.

“Alright.” Maria heaved a sigh and went to take the dessert from the refrigerator.

“You’re probably wondering why I asked for your help in here when I don’t seem to need it.” Maria turned from where she had just placed the cake in the oven to face the woman.

“I had actually planned on pretending to be oblivious. But, since you brought it up, I’m guessing that you wanted to speak to me.” Maria kept her tone light. She made sure to keep a tight rein on her nervousness. Predators could smell fear. She had no doubt that in this situation Michael’s mother was the lioness to her gazelle.

“Has Michael told you much about this family?”

“He said that you and your husband are first generation Irish American. He told me that your husband is a contractor and you recently retired from teaching. English. Isabel is an interior decorator, and they are your only children.” Maria gave her synopses of what Michael had told her. They’d really only briefly discussed their families.

“Yes, well there’s a bit that he left out, isn’t there?” Eileen gave Maria an appraising look before continuing. “Did Michael tell you that I had wanted to become a nun when I was younger?” Maria shook her head. His mother was going to be a nun?

“I left the convent a week before I was to take my final vows. I wanted to have children. It was a very difficult decision for me to make. I met my husband three years later, and it took us a while, but eventually we were blessed with Michael and Isabel. I have raised my children to be good people. To always try to be fair, and to be good Catholics.” Maria stood unsure of where this conversation was going, but she had a very bad feeling in the pit of her stomach.

“Mrs. Guerin…” Eileen cut her off.

“Let me finish, if you please. I’ve been told things about you by a dear family friend. I’ve also read a few things that have not made a good impression regarding your character. I know my son. I know that he cares for you, and I also know how a man can be blinded by a pretty face. That is why God made mothers.” Maria really wanted to leave.

“Mrs. Guerin, I don’t know…” again Eileen cut her off.

“No you don’t. I suspect that there is very little that you do know about things like family and morality. The only reason that you are here is because I want my son to spend Easter with his family. He’s been away for a long time, and he was missed. I’m not saying any of these things to be cruel, I just believe in honesty.” Maria stood speechless for a moment before finding her voice.

“Honesty? I wouldn’t describe this as honesty. More like preconceived notions, and closed mindedness. I wasn’t born to a woman that wanted to be a nun, but that doesn’t mean that I was raised without morals. We can’t all be as perfect as you apparently are, Mrs. Guerin. I’d imagine that the weight of that halo above your head makes it hard for you to look around and see that mistakes make people stronger in their faith. Not weaker in their character. If you’ll excuse me, I’ve lost my appetite.” Maria’s hands were shaking when she left the kitchen.

She found Michael in the living room with his father. Other people had arrived while she was in the kitchen being lectured. His sister was there with her husband, and so was the woman from the wedding. Michael looked up when the doorbell rang and noticed Maria standing on the edge of the room. Michael got up from where he was sitting with Bailey when he saw that she was crying.

“Maria? Baby, what happened?” his voice was concerned and he was looking from her to his mother standing in the doorway of the kitchen.

“Nothing. I…I’m really not feeling well. Would you mind dropping me and Bailey off at my apartment?” Maria had only just become aware of the tears on her face and she desperately wanted to leave. The room had grown silent when she’d come in. There was, again, the sound of someone ringing the doorbell.

“Maria…” She could tell that he obviously didn’t believe her. Maria didn’t want to cause any more tension than she already had, but she couldn’t stay in this house.

“Michael, you promised. This was a really bad idea, and I really want to leave. You can come back after you drop us off. You should be with your family.” Michael handed Bailey to her and kissed her cheek.

“Okay. Go outside and wait for me? I’ll be right there.” Maria nodded and walked to the front door. When she stepped outside, she saw Max Evans on the porch with two older people.

“Maria, hi. Are you staying for dinner?” He looked uncomfortable.

“No. But I hope you enjoy it. Everything looks wonderful.” She walked away before he could say anything else.

Inside of the house, Michael was barely controlling his temper. He looked at his mother and walked into the kitchen knowing that she’d follow. The door was barely swinging shut behind her when Michael exploded.

“What did you do?” His mother managed to look not at all affected by his anger.

“Do not take that tone with me. I didn’t do anything.”

“Like I’m really gonna believe that. You were alone with her for barely ten minutes, and she’s crying. So what did you do?” Michael had really hoped that his mother would try to get to know Maria. That was obviously not going to happen.

“I cannot be held responsible for some woman’s moods.” Eileen tried to walk past her son but he blocked her path.

“I’m positive that you can. Are you trying to make me miserable or is that just an unsavory side effect?” His mother’s eyes rounded and she gasped.

“Trying to make you miserable? I’m doing what’s best for you. I only want you to be happy.”

“No, you don’t. Because if you actually paid attention, you’d know that I am happy. For the first time, in a really long time, I’m happy. Maria makes me happy. But you’re so busy trying to control everything around you, that you can’t see the way you ruin things. Isabel is all but avoiding you. The only reason that she’s here now is because Alex made her come. He doesn’t want to stand between you and your daughter, even though the only thing standing in the way of you two reaching a common ground is that moral high horse that you’re sitting on. We are adults. I am a grown man. If this relationship is a mistake, then it’s my mistake to make. You should worry less about what Max Evans says, and more about how your family feels. Cause right now, I don’t feel like being anywhere near you.” Michael left the kitchen and grabbed his keys from the living room. Everyone was silent and tried to avoid looking in his direction. His father stood and headed for the kitchen and Isabel followed him to the door. He noticed the Evanses in the living room and didn’t even acknowledge their presence. How the hell was Max gonna be a lawyer if he couldn’t keep any information to himself.

Isabel stepped out onto the porch with him and grabbed his hand.

“Are you okay?” Michael never yelled at their mother. He usually just rolled his eyes and ignored her dramatics.

“No.” He knew that he wasn’t okay. He was still angry and he needed to get it under control before he took Maria and Bailey home.

“Michael?” He looked at her, expecting a lecture about the way he’d spoken to their mother. “I’m glad that you found someone that makes you happy. Maybe you two can come out to eat with me and Alex sometime.”

“Thanks Iz.” She just smiled and gave him a hug before walking back into the house. Isabel had been all set to dislike her brother’s girlfriend. But then he said what he did about being a father to this woman’s child and Isabel realized that this relationship was different than all of his previous ones. Now she just needed to figure out a way to get her brother out of Courtney’s sights.

Michael took a few deep breaths before making his way over to where Maria stood leaning against the car holding Bailey.

“Hey, you alright?” she looked up at him and nodded. “Good. I’m sorry I made you come with me. I was just hoping…I’m sorry.”

“It’s okay. You aren’t responsible for other people’s words.” Maria had managed to calm down once she’d gotten away from the house.

“So, we still need to have dinner.” She was shaking her head at him.

“No, you need to drop us off at home, and then you need to come back here and eat with your family.” Michael leaned forward and kissed her on the top of her head.

“I would, but I’m really in the mood for Chinese food.” Maria smiled at him.

“Not pizza?”

“Pizza’s more of a Thanksgiving food.” He leaned forward and kissed her lightly on the lips. Bailey squirmed between them.

“I happen to make a very good turkey and amazing sausage stuffing. So, you’ll have to save the pizza for new years’.”

Michael unlocked the car and opened the rear door for Bailey. “It’s a date. Pizza on new years.” Taking Bailey from Maria, he strapped her in her seat.

“You booking in advance, Mr. Guerin?” Maria gave him a teasing grin as he opened her door for her.

“I have to. You’re a very busy woman.” Maria laughed and Michael felt himself lighten. Getting in the car, he headed towards his favorite Chinese restaurant.

Enthusiastic Roswellian
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Re: Complications( Adult, A/U, M&M, K&T, some M&L & A&I)4/23

Post by chinkyeyes45 » Sun May 15, 2011 12:59 am

Thanks everyone for reading, I hope hat you're enjoying the story.

Alien_Friend: Unfortunately, Michael's mother is very overprotective and narrow minded. Thankfully he isn't about to let her tell him how to live his life or whom to live it with.

Chapter sixteen:

Tess stood in the airport waiting to see a glimpse of Liz. The last week and a half had been really crazy; it would be nice to have Liz there. She could always be counted on to be responsible and provide a solid suggestion. Tess was a little concerned about her friend’s decision to change schools, but she took a little comfort in knowing that with Liz there it would make things seem a little more normal. She needed all the normal that she could get. Things with Kyle were going really good, she was pretty much all moved in to his place. Their place. But, there was an underlying tension there too. Like a bomb was waiting to go off. Tess knew that it had more to do with her than it did with Kyle. He was the epitome of a supportive and caring boyfriend, and Tess kept finding herself resenting it. His behavior wasn’t even new in their relationship since they’d gotten back together. She knew that he wasn’t acting the way he was because of her recent condition; she knew that it was her own insecurities that made her see it that way, but knowing it didn’t change the way she felt.

Tess was so deep in her thoughts that Liz was standing in front of her before she even saw the other woman approach.

“Tess! Oh my God, I missed you so much!” Liz was practically squealing when she grabbed Tess into a hug.

Tess hugged her friend back and laughed. “Glad to know that you still care.”

Liz let her go, and stood back to look at her. “I can’t believe it’s been a year since I’ve seen you guys. Where’s Maria?” Liz looked around for her other friend.

“She’s gonna meet us at her apartment. She needed to pick Bailey up from daycare so she couldn’t come with me to get you.”

“How is Bailey? She’s walking now, right? Maria sends me video messages of her all the time. I can’t believe how big she is. Can she talk?” Liz was in full ramble, which was definitely odd.

Tess gave her a curious look. “Breathe, Liz. What’s going on with you?”

Liz looked away before answering. “Nothing, I’m just excited to see everyone again. And to be moving to a new place, starting at a new school…”

Tess just nodded her understanding. “Were you able to get any sleep on the plane?” They made their way to the luggage carousel. “Did you only bring clothes?”

“I slept a little. Yeah, just clothes. My parents came to my apartment and helped me pack up the rest of my stuff. They had it sent to their house in Roswell, and when I find an apartment here, they’ll ship most of it for me.” Liz had been relieved when her parents had offered to take care of her belongings.

“That’s probably gonna be really expensive. Remember when Maria and I first moved out here? We had, like no furniture because we had to have a moving sale to get rid of it before we left Michigan.”

Liz laughed at her. “I told you guys that you should have just rented one of those moving trucks.”

“And who would’ve driven it? Maria’s a menace with her Highlander, could you imagine her driving a u-haul? And when we got prices from moving companies they were all too expensive. It was easier to sell what we had, and get new stuff from Ikea.”

Liz shook her head at her. “You guys are wasteful.”

“And yet, you love us.” After helping Liz get her bags they walked toward the parking lot. “It’s so good to have you here. We were gonna go out tonight to celebrate. Do you feel up to it?”

“Sure, but what are we celebrating?”

“You’re kidding? We are celebrating the reunion of Charlie’s Angels.” Tess used her best femme fatale voice.

“Are you seriously calling us Charlie’s Angels?”

Tess gave her a ‘duh’ look. “We are smart, beautiful, and we kick ass. We are totally Charlie’s Angels.”

“Good point. I guess we should celebrate then.” Liz felt better than she had in a long time. She was convinced that things would only get better.

By the time Kyle got to Maria’s apartment to watch Bailey that night, the girls were more than ready to go out. Maria and Tess were so excited to have Liz back with them that it was like watching a group of sixteen year olds. All the high pitched laughter and run on sentences were reminiscent of high school sleepovers.

Maria came out of her bedroom where they’d all been getting ready to go out. “Hey, Kyle. Thanks for doing this.”

“No problem.” He took in the black halter dress and stiletto heels that his sister was wearing and nearly choked. “Where’s the rest of that dress?”

“Kyle, please. Now we shouldn’t be gone past two. Bailey should stay asleep the whole time we’re out, but in case she wakes up just…”

“I know how to take care of a baby oh overprotective one. Does Michael know you’re going out dressed like that?” Kyle was really not okay with his sister going to a club in a dress that would be considered a shirt in some places.

“Relax Kyle, the dress isn’t that short. Maria just has insanely long legs.” Tess’s baby blue bubble dress at least reached nearly to her knees. Liz was the only acceptable one in skinny jeans and a white sleeveless top.

“Besides, we know self defense. And I’ve got the pepper spray that you so lovingly gave me for my birthday.” Maria looked at her brother trying desperately not to laugh.

“This isn’t funny. Where are you girls going, anyway?” Kyle tried to give Maria the look that their father used when she was a teenager and getting out of hand.

“Well, Dad, we’re going to see The Go Go’s. They’re performing at Ruby Skye.” At that the girls broke out into a chorus of ‘Vacation’. Kyle could still hear them making their way down the hall after the door closed. He should have had a brother.

At the club, the girls were in full party mode. The three of them had been dancing since they’d gotten there. Liz was feeling like her old self for the first time in a long time. She signaled Tess to let her know that she was going to the bar. Tess grabbed Maria by the hand to stop her in mid movement and maneuver them towards Liz and the bar.

“Theses shoes are really only meant for looking cute between the car and a restaurant.” Tess laughed at Liz’s assessment.

“They were probably designed by a man. Bastards.” That was unexpected coming from Maria. She and Michael had been doing really well.

“Are you and Michael fighting?”

Maria shook her head at her friends. “Not at all. But the guy that they’re making me work with on my account at the office is the biggest prick in the state. I can’t even complain to my boss, because he’s the biggest prick in the country.”

Liz just patted her friend on the shoulder. There really wasn’t anything that she could say; her ex-boyfriend was the king of all assholes.

“Ooh, I love this song. Maria, dance with me?” Tess was pulling Maria to the dance floor. Maria turned to Liz with her eyebrow raised.

“You guys go ahead. I’m gonna get a drink and rest my feet. I’ll wait here.” Maria nodded and let herself be pulled away.

Liz ordered an apple martini when the bartender finally gave her his attention. When he placed it in front of her, a masculine hand slid a twenty toward the bartender and indicated her drink with his other hand. “And a Heineken.” The man behind the bar nodded and went to get the other drink.

Liz turned toward the man standing beside her. “Thanks.” He was cute. Tall, dark hair, green eyes, and when he smiled she saw a dimple in his right cheek.

“Your welcome. I’m Tom.” He extended his hand and she shook it. He looked up and took his drink from the bartender.

“Liz.” She smiled under his regard.

“So, Liz, what are you doing sitting here all alone?”

“I got tired of dancing, and wanted a drink. What about you?” Liz looked at him from under her lashes.

“I saw you sitting here and thought that you looked more interesting than the rest of the people here. You wanna go somewhere and talk?”

He was attractive, but Liz wasn’t stupid. “I don’t think so. But if you’d like to stay here and talk, I’m willing.”

He tilted his head and looked at her for a second. “To be honest, I was hoping to do more than just talk.” His voice was still friendly, but there was something else there now.

Liz was relieved when she spotted Tess and Maria coming toward them. “Sorry, I’m out with my friends, and we haven’t seen each other for a really long time.”

“Okay. Well take this.” He handed her a card. “It’s my number. Call me if you want to party.” Liz raised a questioning brow. He leaned forward to speak in her ear. His voice was loud enough to be heard over the music, but not loud enough to be heard by the people around them. “You look like you could use more than a drink. Maybe something in a pill or powder? Give me a call.” He leaned back and gave her a wink before walking away.

Liz felt herself begin to panic. How had he known? How had this perfect stranger seen her from across the room and known that about her? Her closest friends didn’t think she was any different than she’d always been. Did other people here know too? Liz looked around trying to see if anyone was looking at her strangely. She was ready to leave. When she brought her gaze back to her friends, Maria was looking at her strangely.

“Liz, are you okay?” Her voice was worried. “Did that guy say something to you?”

Yeah, but she couldn’t tell Maria what he’d said. “No. Nothing. He just gave me his card and asked me to call him.”

Tess gave her a grin. “Nice. He was hot.”

Liz couldn’t help the blush that colored her cheeks.

“Are you sure you’re alright?” Maria was still looking at her oddly.

Liz was still riding her paranoia and read more into it than there was. “I said I’m fine. Why are you interrogating me?”

Tess looked shocked at the harsh tone being directed at Maria.

“I’m sorry. I wasn’t trying to interrogate you, you just look uneasy, and I thought that maybe that guy had upset you.” Maria wasn’t sure what was going on with Liz, but the reaction that she got from her friend was definitely unexpected.

“I’m sorry, Maria. I think I’m just tired. I mean, there was the flight, and then the time difference. I just need some sleep. It’s three in the morning on the east coast.”

“You’re right. We should go. Anyway, Kyle will be relieved that we decided to go home.” The girls made their way out of the club. Neither Tess nor Maria noticed the card that Liz had tightly clutched in her hand.

Michael fell out of bed at the sound of someone trying to break his door down. It was eight in the morning on Sunday. He made his way to his front door, cursing the day that whoever it was that was knocking on his door had been born. When he opened the door, he almost slammed it shut again. Max was standing there with his hand poised to knock some more.

“Maxwell.” It was amazing how wide awake and aggravated Michael became at the sight of the man at the door.

“Hey, Michael. Can I come in?” Max waited for Michael to stand aside and entered the apartment.

“What are you doing here, Max? Shouldn’t you be getting ready for church?” Michael really wasn’t in the mood to deal with his friend.

“Like I believe in all that shit. You know me better than that Michael.” Max scoffed.

Michael could feel his temper rising. “Convenient how my mother doesn’t know about you being an atheist, but she knows all kinds of things about my girlfriend. Care to explain that?”

Max had been prepared for this. “Look, Michael, I really didn’t mean for all that stuff that I told your mother to be taken the way it was. How was I supposed to know that she was gonna do a web search on Maria’s ex? He could have been a nobody for all she knew.”

If Michael had been a jury, he may have believed what the other man was saying. But, he knew Max too well. “Maxwell, you’ve known my mother your entire life. You knew exactly how that was gonna go. I think you were trying to make sure that there wasn’t a spotlight on you, so you put one on Maria.”

“What are you talking about? I don’t have anything to hide.”

“Maybe. Or, maybe you didn’t really want anyone to notice the amount of times you visited the bar. You know, you can’t really drink away a gambling problem.”

Max lost that air of superiority that he’d walked into Michael’s apartment with. “I’ve got it under control. It isn’t a problem.” The defensiveness in his voice belied his words.

“Sure it isn’t. That why I needed to lend you that money a few months ago?” Max had called him in January asking to borrow three thousand dollars. Michael had lent it to him, no questions asked. He regretted that decision now. Michael was certain that he’d only contributed to the other man’s problems.

“I’m gonna pay that back as soon as I can. Anyway, I’m not here so that we can discuss my possible issues.”

“Then that brings us back to my previous question, why are you here?” Michael walked into the kitchen. He needed coffee. It was too early for this shit.

“Michael we need to talk, don’t you think?” Max looked at him waiting for him to agree.

“That depends. Is anything I say gonna be held against me when you need a diversion?” Michael kept his attention on what he was doing while he was talking to Max.

“Are we friends?”

Michael looked up when Max posed the question. “Where are you goin’ with this Maxwell?”

“Just answer the question. Are we friends?” Max looked serious, so Michael humored him.

“Yeah, we’re friends.”

“So, we know each other pretty well, right. We don’t have many secrets from each other?” Thinking about the issue of his drinking at Isabel’s wedding Max added, “Even if we want to, we don’t. Right?”

Michael tried to joke, “This is sounding a little gay.”

“Michael, be serious.” Max gave Michael an exasperated look. He had a habit of doing that. Even though Michael was older, Max had a habit of speaking to him like he was a little kid.

“Yeah, Max.” Michael stopped himself from becoming annoyed. Max couldn’t help being Max. He turned to finish making his coffee.

“So, if I was dating someone that wasn’t good for me, and you knew it, would you say anything?”

Michael clenched his fists before saying anything. “Maxwell, tread lightly.” His voice held a warning that Max chose not to heed.

“Maybe your mom’s right. I knew Maria at college. I didn’t know that the guy that she was dating was married, but that didn’t mean that she didn’t know.” Max liked Maria. He really did, she was a nice person, friendly, easy to talk to, but that didn’t make her a saint.


“No, Michael, just listen. They were together for two years. How could she not know?”

“Max, it’s gonna be a lot harder for you to talk when I break your jaw, so you may wanna shut up now.”

Looking into Michael’s eyes, Max could see that he was dead serious. “You really have feelings for her, don’t you?” Max sounded amazed.

“Gee, Max, I thought you knew everything about me. Whether I wanted you to or not, right?” The sarcasm was thick.

“Look, I’m sorry. Your mother called me and asked that I talk to you. She said that you two had an argument over Maria on Easter, not that I didn’t already know that. Anyway, she’s worried that you aren’t thinking clearly, and she said that she hasn’t seen you all week.” Max really did look apologetic.

“I’ve seen my dad. I’m not really in the mood for my mother. But it’s good to see that you’ll play step and fetch for her when I’m not willing.” Max was such a kiss up. Michael never understood it.

“Michael…I’ll stay out of it.” Max really was sorry that his comments had caused so much trouble.

“Do that.” Michael handed him a cup of coffee and went to sit in the living room.

“So, everything’s going good with you guys? You and Maria, I mean?”

“I’m supposed to play basketball with Kyle later, you wanna come?” Max knew that that was as close as Michael was gonna come to talking about his relationship. Saying that he was playing basketball with his girlfriend’s brother was saying a lot by itself.

“Yeah, I’d like that.” It was still early, though. “What time are you guys playing?”

“I said I’d meet him at eleven. The court’s right outside anyway.”

Max looked at the clock on the wall. It was only 8:30. “I’m gonna go home then. I’ll be back at eleven. I guess I’ll meet you outside.” Max got up to leave. Michael just grunted at him before he walked out the door.

When Maria, Tess, and Liz decided to take Bailey to the playground, they really hadn’t intended to stop by the basketball court to see the guys. Tess ended up mentioning the little game that the guys were playing, and Liz wanted to meet Michael, so they decided to stop off there before heading to the playground on the other side of the apartments. The game was apparently in full swing by the time they got there. Maria was surprised to see Max with them. She really didn’t know much about basketball, but she was certain that the teams were supposed to be even.

“God, there is just something about seeing Kyle when he’s being all athletic. It gets me going every time.”

Maria shot a look at her friend. Before she could comment, Liz asked a question. “Is that Max Evans?” Liz hadn’t expected to see him. She hadn’t seen him since she’d left Michigan State. He had been a really sweet guy, but she’d been too focused on her school work to notice him. She wished that she could go back and have that time over again. She barely registered Maria’s voice.

“Yeah, he’s friends with Michael. Small world, huh? He asked about you at the wedding that I went to. He wanted me to give you his number.”

Liz was both excited and afraid at that thought. She knew from experience that guys that seemed really nice were sometimes just really good at hiding their true characters. “Hmm.”

“Hmm?” Tess mocked. “The really hot guy that’s had a crush on you since your freshman year in undergrad gave your friend his phone number to pass onto you, and all you have to say is ‘hmm’, are you joking?”

Maria tried not to laugh at the expression on Tess’s face. The girl was priceless.

“I don’t know…” Liz looked at Maria. “What kind of guy is he now Maria?”

Maria stopped Bailey from putting a flower in her mouth and turned to answer her friend. When she did, she spotted the guys coming toward them.

“Looks like you’ll be able to find out first hand.” Which was a good thing, because Maria was about to call Max a busybody.

Michael got to them first, and after giving Maria a kiss, bent down to pick Bailey up. “Hey, how are my favorite girls. Did you come to watch me win?”

Maria brushed pollen off of Bailey’s nose before responding. “No, we’re detouring on our way to the swings so that you can meet my friend, Liz.” Maria pointed to Liz where she was standing next to Tess. “Liz, this is Michael. Michael, this is my other best friend in the entire world, Liz.”

Michael shook Liz’s hand. “Nice to meet you.” Turning back to Maria, he said “She gets a whole title in front of her name, and I’m just Michael?”

“How about Michael, the basketball cheater? That has a real nice ring to it.” Kyle came up to them holding his side.

Michael gave the other man an unconcerned look. “No blood, no foul. Stop being such a wuss.”

Kyle was sputtering he was so angry. “We’re playing basketball, not hockey. An elbow to the ribs is a foul.”

Michael just shook his head. “Do you have any witnesses to support this supposed elbow to the ribs? Anyone at all?”

Max laughingly interrupted the two men. “I thought I was studying to be the lawyer. Since when do you need a witness to call a foul?”

Michael shot Max a suggestive finger. “Thanks Judas.”

“Boys, boys, if you can’t play nice, I’m gonna take away the ball.”

Kyle looked at his girlfriend like she was crazy. “Play nice? We are playing the game the way it was meant to be played.”

“Valenti, the game was meant to be played with way less bitching.” Maria gave Michael a look at his choice of words and he remembered the child in his arms. “Sorry. Complaining, I meant to say complaining.” At Maria’s continuing glare he added, “I’m working on it. I have improved a lot.”

Maria conceded the point and turned her attention back to her friends.

Kyle coughed a not so subtle, ‘whipped’, under his breath.

Michel decided not to remind him of the couples’ retreat that he was scheduled to go on in a week.

Maria remembered her confusion regarding the three of them playing and decided to ask the question. “How are you all playing basketball with only three people?”

Max, who had been staring at Liz trying to get her to look at him, answered her question. “We’re playing Boston.”

Maria didn’t look any less confused, so Liz elaborated for her. “It’s like every man for himself.”

“Oh. Why do you know that?” Liz was the last person that Maria would expect to know anything about sports.

“My ex-boyfriend and a few of his friends would play it once in a while.”

Max spoke before he realized it. “Ex? As in no more? So you’re single?”

Michael didn’t even try to hide his laughter. “Smooth Max.” He would’ve said more, but his attention was taken by the little girl that was trying to climb out of his arms. “Whoa!”

Maria reached over and took Bailey from him. “I’d better get her to the park before she launches a one baby revolution. You coming over later?”

“Of course. I gotta do some stuff first, but I’ll be there.” Maria nodded at him and gave him another quick kiss.

When they started to walk away, Max grabbed Liz lightly by the hand. “Liz, can I call you sometime? Maybe we could go out to eat or something?”

Liz hesitated for a second before accepting. “Sure. I’d like that.”

Max smiled at her and she almost forgot to breathe. How hadn’t she noticed him all that time that he’d been right in front of her?

“Okay, so I’ll just call Maria’s apartment? I can get the number from Michael.” He was still holding her hand and Liz felt like she was in high school again.

“Yeah, that’s fine. I’ll talk to you soon?”

He finally let go of her hand, and Liz immediately missed his warmth. “Definitely.”

Liz gave him a smile and turned to catch up with her friends. Max noticed the looks that he was getting from Michael and Kyle. “What?”

Kyle fluttered his eyelashes at him. “That was so romantic. Holding her hand hostage like that. And the way you asked if you could call her? Shakespearean.”

Michael was nodding enthusiastically. “I was touched.”

Max glared at them. “Shut up.” they both laughed at him as they all made their way back to the basketball court.

Liz was lying awake on the sofa bed trying in vain to calm her shaking hands. She hadn’t taken a pill in three days. The bottle that Doug had given her still had six pills in it. Liz had tried not to take any of them, but then the shaking would start, and the cramping, and the nausea. She was just trying to stay healthy. She felt so sick when she stopped taking the pills. Withdrawal. She knew that she was experiencing symptoms of withdrawal. She thought that maybe if she let the pain continue a little longer each time, then maybe by the time the pills were all gone, she’d be able to stand the symptoms because she’d know what to expect. Everything was a state of mind.

Liz had almost left the pills behind. She had thrown the bottle into the garbage pail in the women’s restroom at the airport. Her cheeks colored with shame at the memory of digging through that same garbage to retrieve that bottle only moments after she’d dropped it. Thankfully she’d been alone in the restroom at the time. She could beat this. She knew that she could beat this problem. She just needed a little time. And her friends. Her friends would be able to help her without even knowing what the problem was. They’d help just by being there. Liz felt safe. Nothing could touch her here. She could spend the summer getting better before the fall semester started. She’d take some time before searching for a job, and in the mean time, she’d help Maria with Bailey. She’d go shopping with Tess. Maybe she’d even have dinner with Max Evans. Liz knew that she would be fine. Addiction was just a state of mind. Everything was a state of mind.

Liz repeated that statement over and over again in her head as she reached for her purse to take out the bottle of pills. Her hands were shaking so badly that she could barely get the bottle opened, when she finally managed to get one of the pills out of the bottle, she almost dropped it at the sound of someone in the kitchen. The light came on, partially illuminating the living room in a soft glow. Looking behind her, she saw Michael standing in the kitchen in a pair of boxers drinking a glass of water. He must have noticed that she was staring at him, because he looked in her direction.

“Sorry. I didn’t mean to wake you, just getting something to drink.”

Liz felt herself calm with the realization that he didn’t know what she’d been doing. “N-no, that’s…its fine. I was awake.”

Michael just nodded before heading back to Maria’s bedroom. Liz sank back into the sheets beneath her and allowed the pill she had swallowed to work it’s magic. She wouldn’t be getting to sleep for a long time now. The pill would keep her awake.

Michael climbed back into the bed with Maria and smiled when she curled into him. Her hands stroking his stomach let him know that she was awake.

“Where did you go?” Maria had woken up alone in bed. According to the bedside clock it was three in the morning.

“I was thirsty. We should probably start having these sleepovers at my place.” Michael took in the sight of her lying in bed with her hair fanned out on her pillow and her sleep shirt riding up her thigh and felt his hands itch with the need to touch her. Pulling her closer, he rolled over on top of her and started kissing her lightly on the side of her neck.

Maria ran her fingers through his hair and gasped. It was hard to concentrate on a conversation when he was doing that. “What? Why?” Maria moaned when Michael nipped at her shoulder.

Michael kissed his way up her chin and to her mouth. He let his fingers glide across her stomach underneath the oversized shirt that she was wearing and teased the underside of her breast. “Because, you have a friend sleeping on your couch and I’d hate to keep waking her up when I’m thirsty and only in a pair of underwear.” Maria’s eyes slid closed when Michael began rolling her nipple between his thumb and fore finger. Releasing her nipple he slid his hand down to the hem of her shirt.

Michael smiled against her mouth when she whimpered at the loss of his hands on her breasts. Tugging her shirt upward he prompted her to lift her back from the mattress so that he could remove it. “God I love your breasts.”

Michael lowered his head to nip at the side of her right breast. He could hear her breathing become more labored when he swirled his tongue around her nipple and grazed his teeth against it. When he slid his hand into her panties and pushed two of his fingers into her, her eyes flew open, and she dug her nails into his shoulders.

“Fuck, Michael.” Hooking his fingers into the waistband of her panties, Michael pulled them down and tossed them over his shoulder. Ridding himself of his boxers, he kissed his way back up her body. By the time he joined his mouth to hers in a kiss, Maria was more than ready to feel him moving inside of her. She wrapped her legs around his waist in an attempt to pull him closer to where she needed him, but he held back and refused to be rushed.

Michael ran his hand up and down Maria’s thigh, enjoying the feel of her soft skin against his palm. He chuckled when he heard her frustrated groan and decided to stop teasing her. He slowly slid into her and waited while she adjusted to the feel of him.

“Look at me.” his voice was strained. Michael loved her eyes. Holding her gaze, he started to move in slow deep thrusts. Maria’s hands locked onto his biceps and her tongue came out to peek between her teeth. “God, baby you feel so good.” Michael moved into her harder and she bit her lip to keep from crying out. The need to call out in pleasure became greater with every passing second, and Maria felt her eyes begin to well up with tears at the effort it was taking her to keep quiet.

Grabbing onto the back of Michael’s head, she brought his mouth to hers in a deep kiss, and began moaning brokenly into his mouth. Michael began to pick up speed, and before long his hips were slamming into hers and driving her body into the mattress. When Maria came, she screamed into his mouth so loudly that he swore his teeth shook. After two more thrusts, Michael felt his entire body tense and then erupt with his own orgasm. He knew that he was probably crushing her with his weight resting on her completely, but he couldn’t move. He could feel Maria’s fingers running through his hair, and across his back. There was something soothing about the feeling of her hands stroking his skin while he was resting inside of her. Before he knew it, Michael had fallen asleep.

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Re: Complications( Adult, A/U, M&M, K&T, some M&L & A&I)5/15

Post by chinkyeyes45 » Tue Jul 05, 2011 10:45 am

Hello everyone, sorry for falling off the planet, but we bought a house and moved and everything is really busy right now.
Alien_Friend: Liz and Max would be a huge mistake right now. Liz is reaching her bottom and Max is just trying to get a handle on who he is as a person. There will be more about his issues in later updates.

Killjoy: Michael's mother takes overprotective to a whole new level. She means well, but she needs to back off.

So here we go, I hope you all enjoy.

Chapter seventeen:

Michael walked into his parents’ house Sunday afternoon and was relieved when he realized that his mother wasn’t home.

“If you’re looking for your mother, she’s not in. Some sick friend from church is in the hospital for being old. Your mother went to visit her with a few of her other church friends.” Michael’s father barely looked up from the fishing show that he was watching on the television while talking.

“How do you watch this and not fall asleep?” Michael never understood the excitement in watching a person catch fish. He went fishing with his dad every once in a while and even though he enjoyed it, it wasn’t exactly something that thrilled him.

“Different strokes is all. So, since you’re as stubborn as that woman is, I suppose that you’re here to see me again?” Patty gave his son an amused look.

“I’m not being stubborn. Mom was wrong and she knows it.” Every time Michael thought that he could get over what his mother had done, he remembered the sight of Maria standing at the edge of the room crying, and he got pissed all over again.

“Do you think that she’ll admit that?” Patty laughed when Michael just grunted at him. “Your mother would have made a terrible nun, you know. She’s a good person, she has a good heart, but pride is a mortal sin and she has it in spades. So do you.”

“This isn’t about my pride, Pop.” Michael sat down on the couch across from the recliner that his father was relaxing in.

“Of course it is. Michael, you know your mother. Easter was about a battle of wills between the two of you. You wanted her to accept Maria, and she wanted to prove that she couldn’t be manipulated. She can be spiteful when it suits her.”

“She’s insane.” Michael rubbed his hand across his forehead in frustration. His parents were complete opposites. He never really understood their relationship.

“Those are the best kinds of women.” Patty picked up his beer from the end table and tipped it toward his son.

“What am I supposed to do? Am I supposed to have a relationship with Maria and keep defending it to mom the way Isabel has to keep defending Alex? I don’t want that.” Michael’s sister had been defending her relationship with the man she had just married for the past three years. Alex was accepted into the family eventually, but his mother still made things difficult at times.

“Mikey, it takes all kinds of insanity to make up the world. Is your mother unreasonable at times? Yes. She goes from frighteningly logical to mad as a hatter in a matter of seconds, she always has. But ask yourself something. When your mother said whatever it was that she said to Maria, was she doing it out of spite at being manipulated or out of concern for you?” Patty fixed his son with a stern look and waited for him to answer.

“What is she concerned about? I’m not a kid anymore. She made Maria cry, Pop. No matter how you slice it, she was wrong.”

“I’m not disagreeing with you. Your mother and I have already had this conversation. She judged Maria without knowing her, and that was wrong. But it wasn’t about Maria.” At Michael’s frown, Patty elaborated. “Michael, how many questionable women have you dated? How many strippers and aspiring actresses and singers have you dated? You may not have told us about all of them, but you’ve told your sister, and she tells your mother. Eileen judged Maria based on that.”

Michael was gonna fucking kill Isabel. “There was one stripper seven years ago. Jesus!”

“Hey, don’t you take the lord’s name in vain in this house.” Michael looked at his father and nodded in apology before getting a beer for himself out of the kitchen. When he got back to the living room Patty was watching a Girls Next Door re-run.

“Pop!” the old man jumped a little and hit the channel return on the remote.

“I’m not dead yet, you know.” Michael just shook his head at his father before taking a seat.

“So, what am I supposed to do about mom?” Michael wasn’t looking forward to talking to his mother again, but he knew that he couldn’t ignore her forever.

“First, you’ll apologize for the way you spoke to her.”

Michael choked on his beer. “What?”

“No matter how wrong your mother was, you weren’t raised to speak to her in a disrespectful manner and you will apologize.”

Michael took in the seriousness of his father’s expression and grudgingly agreed. “Fine, I’ll apologize for the way I spoke to her, but not for what I said.”

Patty sighed at his son’s stubbornness. He hadn’t expected any less. “Good. Then, you will calmly tell her what this girl means to you.”

“I already tried that.”

“You will try it again. This time without threatening not to come to a family dinner, or telling her that she ruins everything. This time you will behave like the adult that you want to be treated as. If you do that, and she still can’t respect your decisions, I’ll involve Father O’Malley. Let her try and argue with a priest.” Patty gave a smirk and Michael laughed.

Michael stayed at his parents’ house for another hour before leaving. He had agreed to talk to his mother, but he wanted to wait another few days. He knew that he needed to apologize to her for saying that she ruined everything. That had been something that a sixteen year old would say, and it wasn’t nearly true. Maria had been trying to get him to call his mother since the night of their argument. She felt responsible for the conflict that had resulted from her meeting with Eileen. Women were lunatics. They never admitted when they were wrong, and took full responsibility when they weren’t. How the hell were men supposed to handle that? When it came to dealing with the women in his life, Michael knew that he’d always be at a disadvantage. They somehow managed to deal with an unsettling range of emotions and still were able to make valid points during arguments. It was totally unfair.

Tess walked into Maria’s apartment on Monday determined to find out what was going on with Liz. There was something very off with the girl’s behavior. She and Maria had both noticed it, but they didn’t want her to feel like they were ganging up on her. She was their friend. Tess decided to approach Liz while Maria was at work.

“Liz? Are you here?” the living room was empty and the apartment was quiet. Liz had to be there, because she didn’t have a car yet, and she didn’t really know the area. Before Tess could walk into the back of the apartment in search of her friend, Liz came out of the hall, looking like she was fresh from the shower.

“Hey. What are you doing here?” Liz had been plugging in the blow dryer in the bathroom when she had heard Tess yelling from the doorway.

“I just figured that we could hang out today. I’m done with classes and tests for the semester, my internship doesn’t start until June, and Kyle is at work. I figured that you’d probably be feeling a little cabin fever so I thought we could get out together.”

“Oh, sure. Just let me dry my hair. I was trying to think of something to keep me busy.” Liz hadn’t taken into account her friends having their own issues to deal with when she decided to move to San Francisco. “I was gonna wait a while to look for a job, but now I think I’ll just get it over with. If I don’t find something to occupy my time I’ll go crazy.”

“Tell me about it. Classes have only been out for a little over a week and I’m already stir-crazy. It’s kinda hard to go from non-stop studying to relaxation.” Tess stopped talking when Liz turned the hair dryer on. Twenty minutes later, they were walking out the door.

“Why did you even bother with drying it if you were just gonna pull it into a ponytail?”

Liz just rolled her eyes at Tess and kept walking toward the other girl’s car. “God, I can’t wait for my car to get here.”

“Are your parents sending it? I thought it was a lease.” Tess clearly remembered Liz once telling her that she was leasing a volvo. She remembered because she’d teased Liz about it for a month afterward. Who decided to lease a volvo?

“It was. I’m talking about the car I drove in high school. The Camry? My parents never got rid of it. My dad said that he’d ship it to me. I can’t wait. At least then I’ll be able to drive to job interviews.”

“When’s he sending it?”

“He said at the end of the month. I promised to pay him the shipping cost back as soon as I start working. Did you know that he took a job doing security at night for some company because business is slow at the diner?” Liz had felt terrible when her parents had told her that. She told them that she’d take time off from school and get a job to help them with everything, but they wouldn’t hear of it.

“I didn’t know that. That’s gotta be tough though. Owning a business and working a night job. That must be where you get your work ethic from.” Liz smiled at Tess’s teasing, grateful for the lightening of the mood in the car.

“Hey, so Maria and Michael are…” Liz tried to find an adjective to describe the relationship that she’d witnessed over the past few days.

“Nuclear. They are totally nuclear. It’s like when they’re together you can feel this electricity in the air. Kyle was freaked out about it when they first hooked up, but he’s dealing with it.” Tess had seen the way Michael looked at Maria, and when he entered a room that she was in, the air felt charged.

“Nuclear. That’s a good word for it. I saw him in his underwear.”

Tess’s eyes grew round at that information. “When?”

“Saturday night. I couldn’t sleep and he must’ve forgotten that I was in the apartment because he walked in the kitchen to get something to drink in his underwear.”

“Nice?” Tess had seen Michael in clothes and thought that he was hot. Nearly naked? That could be a positive experience.

“Very nice.” Liz gave her friend a teasing grin, “Does Kyle know that you think Maria’s boyfriend is hot?”

Tess laughed. “I know that Maria’s boyfriend is hot. But, Kyle has nothing to worry about in that regard. The grass in my yard is very green.”

Liz grew serious for a moment. “Tess, I’m really happy for the two of you. After everything that’s happened between you guys…it’s just good to see someone’s life working out.”

Tess swallowed hard. Liz didn’t know about the premature menopause thing. She wanted to wait until she’d seen the specialist to tell her. Liz was supposed to only be coming for a visit and Tess had wanted them to focus on positive things.

“Liz, I’ve gotta tell you something.” Tess parked the car and cut the engine. She waited for Liz to turn toward her in the seat before she spoke. “I’m just gonna come out and say this, okay.” Liz nodded and Tess took a deep breath. “I was diagnosed with premature ovarian failure. I’m seeing a specialist for a second opinion the day after Kyle and I get back from the couples’ retreat. Kyle is being really supportive, but I’m having a hard time coping with it from day to day.” Tess sat staring at the steering wheel after she’d finished.

“Tess…I’m sorry. I didn’t know. Why didn’t you tell me?” Liz couldn’t believe that something this serious was going on in one of her friend’s lives and she hadn’t known about it.

“It isn’t exactly something that I’ve been dying to tell people. I wanted to wait to hear what the specialist said before I told you. I’ve only told Kyle and Maria.”

“Wait, so you told Maria, but you wanted to wait before you told me? Well, I guess we’re not as close as I thought we were.” Liz couldn’t help feeling bitter. She knew that being across the country would put her out of the loop on some things, but this was important, and Tess hadn’t told her. It didn’t occur to Liz that this situation wasn’t about her.

Tess couldn’t believe the way that Liz was reacting. “Liz, this isn’t some kind of measurement on our friendship. Maria and I have been friends forever, and we’ve never really been apart. Its instinctive for me to tell her what’s going on in my life, no matter how big or small, because she’s here.” Liz was facing the window and Tess felt hurt by her refusal to even look at her. “God, Liz I was so happy that you’d decided to move out here, because I thought that it was an opportunity to feel normal. But…what’s going on with you? Are telling me that you’ve been one hundred percent open with your reasons for transferring to Berkeley?”

Liz finally turned to look at her friend. She thought about what Tess had said to her and she knew that her reaction had been uncalled for. “I’m sorry, Tess. You’re right; I’m going through some personal stuff and its overshadowing things that are more important.”

Tess reached across the front seat and squeezed her hand. “Liz, you know that you can tell me anything. Whatever’s bothering you, you can talk to me about it. I’m your friend and I’ll always be your friend, no matter what.”

Liz took a deep breath and tried to force the words out of her mouth. She wanted to tell Tess about the pills and her relationship with Doug, but she couldn’t. She didn’t think that her friends would look at her the same way once they knew. She had seen people with drug problems on the street, and she’d watched the looks that others gave them. She knew the looks that she gave them. She couldn’t take having her friends look at her that way. She decided to tell Tess a little about Doug.

“I was dating this guy, and at first everything was perfect, but then…things changed. He-he just turned into this whole other person. Arrogant, controlling, self-absorbed…it was like I didn’t even know him sometimes. We had a really bad break-up right before I left and it’s been on my mind a lot. I know that ending things with him was for the best, but it still hurts.” Liz held her breath and prayed that Tess bought the lie. Leaving Doug had been easy in comparison to what she was dealing with now. She had been relieved when the relationship ended. But Liz knew that Tess had suffered more than her fair share of heartache and would accept that as an excuse.

“I’m sorry Liz. I didn’t know, I mean, I knew that you had broken up with your boyfriend recently, but I didn’t know how much you were hurting because of it. God, I’m such a bad friend.” Tess pulled Liz into a hug, missing the look of relief that passed over her friend’s face.

“Okay, so I have an idea.” Liz gave Tess a curious look when she pulled out of the hug. “Since you obviously need some personal space right now, why don’t you stay at me and Kyle’s place while we’re away at the retreat? You can even use my car while we’re away.”

“Wow, Tess are you sure?” Liz hadn’t been expecting that, but she was thrilled about the offer.

“Of course. I mean, I know how hard it is to be around two people that are in a happy relationship when you’re nursing a broken heart, and Michael and Maria are still in the honeymoon phase of their relationship. This will be good for you.” Tess gave her an encouraging smile.

“Okay, sure. Thank you, Tess.”

“No problem. Now, enough with all of this melodrama, let’s go shopping.” Tess gave her hand another quick squeeze before getting out of the car.

Chapter eighteen:

Maria sat in her office going over the projected numbers for the Swinton campaign when Pierce walked through her door.

“Maria, we need to have a talk.” He stood in front of her desk giving her his most condescending face. She knew that this would happen. On Thursday, she had filed a sexual harassment report with human resources against Bill Darden. At first, she wasn’t going to do it, but then she’d gotten to her office and read an email from him that detailed a rather explicit dream that he’d had about her. She’d printed it out, and taken it to the human resource director’s office.

“Mr. Pierce, what can I do for you, sir?” Maria wasn’t surprised to hear the acid laced tone that he directed at her.

“For starters, you can go to the H.R. department and recant that ridiculous harassment claim.”

“Ridiculous? Are you kidding me? The man sent me an email describing the way my mouth felt on his penis in a wet dream!” Maria was beyond pissed. She had figured that her boss would be angry at her for not informing him of what was going on before she spoke to human resources, but for him to call it ridiculous?

“Kathleen in H.R. showed me the letter. Do you understand what you’ve done? Do you have any idea how serious this is?” Maria could not believe that he was making her out to be the bad guy in this situation.

“I think that out of everyone involved, I’m the only person that knows how serious this is. I warned him to back off on the sexual come-ons when he was in my office on Wednesday. He chose to ignore my warning.”

“He is going to be fired for this. Don’t you understand that? That man had a bright future ahead of him, and this is going to follow him now. Did you even consider the ramifications of your actions?”

“My actions. This has nothings to do with my actions. I come to work to do a job, not to be verbally assaulted by some walking phallus’s idea of a romantic suggestion.”

“How do you think our clients will react to this? You need to tell Ms. Topolsky that the claim you filed was a result of a misunderstanding. In return, I’ll pull Mr. Darden from the account that I assigned him to work with you on. Obviously you’re more comfortable working with women, so I’ll put Ms. Delaney on the account with you in his place.” He seemed to think that he was being reasonable. Maria didn’t even know where to begin.

“I am not pulling that claim. I do not need help on the account, but if you feel that I do, I will be more than happy to work with any professional from this firm on it. The consequences that Mr. Darden will face are a result of his actions, not mine.”

“Fine, Ms. Deluca. Have it your way. I find this behavior to be very unprofessional. I’m disappointed in you; I thought you were a team player.” He turned and left her office before she had time to respond.

Leo walked into her office with a cup of coffee. “Are you all right?”

Maria took a sip of the wonderful concoction. “Great. Don’t I look it?” she wanted to cry. She was so frustrated.

“As if you could look anything less than fabulous.” Maria gave Leo a grateful smile. “If it makes you feel any better, Pierce and a few of the other neanderthals are the only ones that think you’re wrong.”

“How do you know that?”

“Assistants talk. We know everything that goes on here. Pierce is really only so pissed about what happened between you and Billy because he recruited him. This makes him look bad to the boys upstairs. He’s been keeping Billy clear of sexual harassment claims since the guy started here. Apparently, he was hoping that putting him on the Swinton account with you would move Darden up in the firm, which would in turn move him up in the firm.” Leo said this all in a conspiratorial whisper.

“You really wish he was gay? He looks like he’d be overly domineering.”

Leo gave her a sly look. “Oh, please. It’s all just window dressing. That man is a bottom if I ever saw one. Do you need me to get you anything else?” Leo stood from the seat he’d taken across from Maria and waited.

“No, Leo. Thanks for the pep talk.”

Leo smiled at her. “No problem. Us girls have to stick together. Chivalry may not be dead, but it’s definitely on life support.” He winked at her before leaving her office. Maria squared her shoulders and got back to work.

Maria stormed into her apartment with Bailey on her hip. After dropping her purse and the baby’s diaper bag on the floor near the front door, she walked into the kitchen, put Bailey in her high chair, and searched for comfort food. She put some dry cheerios in front of her daughter, and then she took out a gallon of rocky road ice cream from the freezer, grabbed a spoon, and dug in. She was on her third spoonful when Tess and Liz walked through the door.

Tess immediately noticed what was going on in the kitchen. “Hey, sweetie, rough day?”

Maria snorted. “Men are bastards.”

Tess walked into the kitchen and grabbed a spoon; Liz followed behind her and took a seat at the table. “What happened? This still about the idiot boss?”

“So the guy that he wanted me to work with, the moron that I was telling you about?” She waited for her friends to nod before continuing. “The idiot sent me an explicit email on Thursday, so I took it to my H.R. and my boss is blaming me for this guy getting fired.”

Tess looked angrier than Maria felt.

“You have got to be joking! You should go to your H.R. about his ass too.” Tess dug her spoon into the ice cream with gusto.

“Define explicit.” At their glares, Liz hurried to explain herself. “I mean are we talking penthouse letter, or…”

Maria cut her off. “And I quote, ‘the feel of your pouty lips around my cock has me ready to explode down your throat, but I pull out of your mouth before I blow and bend you over your desk so that I can cum in your ass.’ Eloquent isn’t he? The jerk actually sent it to my company email.”

Tess had started choking on her ice cream halfway through the disgusting recital.

“How did he not expect to get fired?” Liz was baffled. How could anyone be that stupid?

“That’s the best part. Apparently, Pierce has been protecting him for the past year and a half. Keeping other women in the office from reporting him by making them think that their jobs would be on the line if they did. The only reason that he didn’t do it to me was because I went straight to Kathleen in the H.R. department, I’m way too familiar with Pierce’s sexism to go to him with anything like that. But, once he found out, he came straight to my office demanding that I recant my complaint. Bastard.”

Tess was blown away. “So, are other women gonna come forward and make statements against Pierce now? I mean, Billy’s gone, but that ass is still there to make everyone miserable.”

Maria shrugged and kept digging into her ice cream.

“What do you mean you don’t know? Maria, don’t you think you should complain about Pierce too?” Liz knew that if she were in Maria’s shoes, she’d be reporting her boss along with his lackey.

“Can’t. See, Pierce has too many friends in the agency, too many clients that like him. Besides, it’s a well hidden fact that he’s screwing Kathleen. I doubt that she’d take the same action with him that she’s taken with Billy.”

Tess laughed. “If it’s a well hidden fact, then how do you know about it?”


Tess just made an ‘ah’ sound and kept eating.

“Who’s Leo?” Liz was confused. She’d never heard them mention anyone by that name.

“Leo is my assistant. He told me that Kathleen’s assistant said that she walked in on Pierce and Kathleen having sex in her office, she walked out before they saw her though.”

“So, you’re not gonna make a claim about him just because it’ll be more of a hassle than you want?” Liz was indignant. Men like Maria’s boss didn’t deserve to be put into positions of power.

“Liz, I hate to say this, but Maria’s right.” Tess had a pained expression on her face as if the thought of letting Pierce get away with his actions physically hurt.

“No she isn’t. You can’t let this guy walk all over you just because he’s your boss.” Liz’s attitude was wreaking havoc on Maria’s already short patience.

“You know what Liz? I work in corporate America, and as much as I hate to admit it, it’s still a man’s world. There are only so many waves that I can make without screwing myself over in the process. Billy Darden was still a low guy on the totem pole, so they were fine with having to let him go, he’s a dime a dozen, but a guy like Daniel Pierce? No way. They would practically crucify me. There are way too many higher ups willing to stand up for him. And, since I’m a thousand percent sure that the other women in my office aren’t gonna stick behind me, it would be my word against his.” Maria put the lid back on the ice cream, much to Tess’s displeasure, and went to put it back in the freezer.

“How can you be so sure? Maybe they’re all just waiting for someone else to stand up to him first.” Liz didn’t believe that there could possibly be that many spineless women at Maria’s job.

“You still don’t get it, do you? Billy had harassed nearly half of the women in my department and even after they found out about me reporting him, no one stood up. They had all accepted things from Pierce in exchange for not speaking out. They can’t do anything to him without killing their own careers.” It made Maria sick, but that was the reality of the situation.

“So what are you gonna do? Just keep working with that pig?” Liz was so angry. It wasn’t fair.

“I’m gonna keep doing my job. In a few more years, I’ll be able to start my own agency, and I won’t have to worry about guys like Pierce.” Maria walked over to Bailey and started taking her out of her chair.

“Are you gonna tell Michael?” Tess voice was soft.

“I don’t know. It’s not like there’s anything that he can do about it.” Maria lifted Bailey up, and the little girl smiled around a mouth full of cheerios. “So, what did you guys do today?”

Tess perked up a little. “We went shopping and walked around a bit. Liz is gonna stay at me and Kyle’s apartment while we’re away at the retreat.”

Maria gave Liz a surprised look. “Why? Are you already tired of me?”

“No, it isn’t anything like that. I just feel like I’m intruding on your time with Michael. And, like I told Tess, I just got out of a relationship, so it’s kinda hard being around you two.”

“Oh God, Liz, I’m sorry! Michael and I can hang out at his place. I don’t want you to feel like you have to leave.” Maria felt even worse than she already had.

“Maria this is your apartment. Besides, it’ll only be for a week, and then I’ll be back in your personal space. I just need to be alone and clear my head.” Liz tried to keep her tone light. All she could think about was being alone to work out her real issue. She wouldn’t have to hide when she needed to take a pill to calm down. There were only four left. It would be better if she was alone when she ran out of the pills.

“Are you sure?” Maria’s voice pulled her out of her thoughts.

“Yeah, it’ll be fine. I’ll be right downstairs anyway.”

Maria just nodded at her and took Bailey into the living room. She ignored Tess’s curious frown, and followed Maria.

Max glanced down at his cell phone wincing at the name that appeared on his caller id. He really didn’t want to answer this call, but he knew that things would be worse if he didn’t. Taking a deep breath, he flipped the phone open.

“Hello?” He wanted to kick himself when he heard the squeak in his own voice.

“Hello, Mr. Evans. You don’t call, you don’t write, I’m starting to feel neglected.” The voice on the other end was ominous and Max had to swallow before he could speak.

“Mr. Han, hello. I was just about to call you.” Max did his best to keep the nervousness out of his voice as his palms began to sweat.

“Well it seems that I dialed quicker than you did. I assume that the reason you were going to call me was to arrange a time to bring me the money that you owe.” Max felt his stomach sour.

“I don’t actually have all of the money, sir.” Max didn’t have any of the money that he owed the man on the other end of the line.

“I’m sorry to hear that Mr. Evans. I really was hoping that our relationship would remain pleasant.”

Max felt himself begin to panic.

“No, sir…please. I don’t have it all, but I can get it. I just need a little time. Just a few weeks.” Max had no idea where he was going to get the kind of money that he needed, but he would get it.

“Are you certain?” He could tell that Han was enjoying his fear. He could practically see the man’s smiling face.

“Yes. I’m positive that I can get the money.” Max squeezed his eyes shut and rubbed his closed fist against his forehead.

“Careful, young Mr. Evans, only fools are positive, and I don’t suffer fools.” The sharpness was back in the other man’s voice.

“I understand. I will get your money, Mr. Han.” Max put a little more self assurance into his tone.

“The other option is still on the table. You may even enjoy it.”

Max shuddered at the suggestion. “No! That isn’t necessary. Just give me two weeks.”

The other man let out a dramatic sigh. “Alright. But if you don’t have the money in two weeks then you’ll choose option b. whether you want to or not.”

Max heard the line go dead and sank to the floor of his apartment. Where the hell was he gonna get twenty thousand dollars in two weeks?

Option b was not an option. At least not one that he wanted to consider. It was strange to think of a man like Peter Han being attracted to men. He had made it perfectly clear from their first meeting that he would like to get to know Max more intimately. It wasn’t an issue then, because Max had been winning. He’d had an amazingly lucky streak; he’d had the money to pay Michael back, plus enough to pay nearly his entire tuition for the year. But then he’d started losing, so he’d bet more trying to recoup his losses, and everything just kept going downhill. He barely made any money at his father’s firm, he wasn’t a lawyer yet, so he was relegated to information gathering for cases, and that didn’t pay well. Philip Evans was determined not to give his son any unfair treatment. He was a self made man who despised nepotism. Max had actually had to apply for the job, and he’d been put on probation after working there for six months when he’d been coming in late due to his class schedule.

Max knew that his father had the money. But, he also knew that his father would never give him the money. That’s why he’d had to go to Michael the last time he’d been in trouble. Max had told his parents that he was having trouble paying his bills and that he’d gotten behind on a few things. Before he could ask for the money, his father had looked him dead in the eye and told him that real men find a way to take care of their responsibilities. His father. Max knew that his father loved him, but from the time Max was three years old, that man had been putting this crushing pressure on him to not only succeed, but to surpass. He supposed that it was because his parents couldn’t have more children after they’d had him. His mother almost died while she was in labor with him, she’d had emergency surgery due to a placental abruption. In the end, there’d been too much damage for her to ever carry another child. Max had become his father’s only heir. Talk about a blessing and a curse. His mother spoiled him and his father was infuriating in his need to control him.

Philip had controlled Max’s every move throughout his entire life. He pushed him relentlessly to be the person that he felt Max should be. Michael Guerin had been the yardstick by which Max was measured. Because Michael played hockey and excelled at it, Max was forced to strap on the skates and jump in the rink. Michael excelled at art, so Max was forced to take classes in French and Latin to compensate for his lack of artistic talent. Michael had a 4.0 GPA without even trying, so Max was given every encyclopedia and research tool known to man and told to study harder. His own 3.0 GPA wasn’t going to cut it. Michael was accepted to MIT and Max thanked the God that he didn’t believe in that his friend was a year older than him and so was graduating the year before him. Max had no desire to go to that school. He didn’t exactly have the grades either. If he had applied at the same time as Michael and gotten a rejection letter his life would have been even more unbearable.

You would think that all the comparing and judgment that he’d grown up with would have made him hate Michael Guerin. Michael was his best friend; his only true friend. Michael had been the one to throw the opposing team’s center into a wall, nearly knocking the other boy unconscious, after he had checked Max too hard in a little league hockey game. Michael had been the one to help him study for his language tests when he couldn’t grasp the verbs no matter how hard he’d tried. Michael had helped him toilet paper his biology teacher’s front yard when the man had given him a C for the term. Michael had come home and taken him out to celebrate when he’d called him and told him that he’d gotten into Michigan State. Michael knew him better than anyone else, whether he wanted him to or not. If he told Michael about the money that he owed, he’d find a way to bail him out. But Max knew that he couldn’t keep leaning on Michael. He needed to figure this one out on his own.

Enthusiastic Roswellian
Posts: 16
Joined: Tue Jun 15, 2010 1:09 pm

Re: Complications( Adult, A/U, M&M, K&T, some M&L & A&I)7/5/

Post by chinkyeyes45 » Sat Jul 30, 2011 5:12 pm

Hello out there!!! So, thanks to everyone that's been reading this and keeping up with it. I really appreciate it.
nibbles2: Lol, I know. But, thanks for taking the time to read it again anyway.

Alien_Friend: Max has, unfortunately placed himself in a very unenviable position, and it will get worse.
Maria's boss is a total ass. Michael's mother may not make apologizing easy. Thanks for reading!!!

Chapter nineteen:

Kyle was sitting on a bar stool at Bloom’s Saloon having an after work beer with his sister’s boyfriend. If pressed, he would reluctantly admit that he and Michael had developed a sort of friendship, but their relationship worked best with the two of them pretending to barely tolerate each other. Kyle refused to admit to enjoying the other man’s company. Michael was honest in his opinions and that was rare. He reminded Kyle a lot of the guys that he’d grown up with back in New Mexico. In small town Roswell, people were less likely to prevaricate.

“I really don’t wanna apologize to my mother.” After talking to his father, Michael had agreed that apologizing was the right thing to do. He was having trouble forcing himself to do it. He had no problem admitting when he was wrong, but he knew that he wasn’t a hundred percent wrong.

“No one ever wants to apologize to their mother. This is why psychiatrists make so much money. It’s easier to blame your parents than to accept blame from your parents.” Kyle was pretty sure that he’d read that somewhere.

“You don’t get it. Dealing with my mother is like dealing with the Catholic Church. She thrives on feelings of guilt. If I apologize, it’ll only be the beginning.” Maybe he could just send her some flowers.

“So, what are you apologizing for, exactly?” Kyle knew that it had something to do with Easter, but neither Michael nor Maria had told him what had happened at Michael’s parents’ house.

“My mother doesn’t like Maria.”

Kyle gave Michael a confused look. “Everybody likes Maria. Trust me, I know. You have no idea how annoying that was when we were children.” Kyle took a drink of his beer.

“No, see my mother isn’t like other people. She won’t even give Maria a chance. Max told her about Bailey, and then she found out about Bailey’s father being married, and she has her condemnation firmly in place. She said some things to Maria on Easter that upset her, and I blew a gasket and said a few things to my mother that were true, but not necessarily things that should have been said. I haven’t spoken to her since.” Michael took a drink of his beer and waited for any suggestions that Kyle could toss his way.

“What exactly did she say to Maria?” Kyle was trying to be objective, but the idea of someone doing anything to hurt his sister was unacceptable.

“I don’t know.” At Kyle’s look of disbelief, Michael clarified. “Maria won’t tell me.” Michael’s voice took on an edge of incongruity. “She doesn’t wanna come between me and my mother.”

“Is she?” Kyle found it difficult to believe that Maria would come between a mother and her child, but this didn’t really seem to be a situation that his sister could control.

“What’s goin on with me and my mom has little, if anything, to do with Maria. My dad’s calling it a war caused by too much pride in both our cases.”

Kyle was confused. “You’re gonna need to explain that. Are your parents the kind that are never satisfied and wanna run your life?” Kyle felt sorry for people like that. He and Maria had amazing parents.

“My dad is great. He’s never once made me feel like I’m not good enough for anything. He’s totally supportive and I can talk to him about anything. My mom’s never satisfied, but that’s more my sister’s problem. My mother has ideas about a woman’s place in a relationship. Virginal until marriage, catholic and preferably Irish. I’ve never really dated anyone that fit all the criteria.”

Kyle knew that his dad had certain standards that he wanted Maria’s boyfriends to meet. Any guy that couldn’t be compared to Jesus in his second coming wasn’t worthy. They were more lenient with Kyle, but then, he’d been dating Tess since he was in his first year at college, and his parents loved her. Still…

“So have you introduced other women to your family, or is my sister the only woman lucky enough to have the pleasure?”

“My high school girlfriend still speaks to them. She’s best friends with my sister, so that can’t be helped.”

“I take it that the break-up wasn’t pleasant?” Kyle definitely detected some animosity on that last sentence.

“I’m thankful for it now, at the time, it sucked. She was visiting me at school and screwed my roommate while I was taking a mid-term. I finished the test early. His jaw had to be wired shut for six weeks.” Michael’s voice was flat. Kyle had expected more animation in his voice after the previous hostile tone.

“You’re okay with that now?”

Michael smirked at Kyle’s tone. “Not all high school romances are supposed to last. We had fun while it lasted. The only thing that pisses me off is the fact that she lied to my sister about everything. Courtney told Isabel that I dumped her because I didn’t wanna be tied down at school.”

“Why didn’t you tell her the truth?”

“Isabel never had many friends. She spent too much time trying to please my mother, and my mother is never pleased. Courtney’s the only friend that Isabel has ever had that my mother’s approved of. We’re twenty-eight, and Isabel only started trying to please herself three years ago when she started things up with Alex.”

“Yeah, but from what you’re telling me, you’ve never had a problem with ignoring your mother’s pushing.”

“I still don’t. I really don’t care much about other people’s opinions. My dad taught me that. Since I was a kid, he told me that as long as I’m proud of myself, and my decisions don’t harm anyone, it doesn’t matter what other people think.”

“But he wants you to apologize to your mom?”

“He does, but he won’t push it if I decide not to. He knows me. And, he knows my mother. Even though he wants me to apologize, and I agreed to apologize for the way I spoke to her, he won’t force it.”

Kyle was lost. “Wait, so if you don’t wanna apologize, and if your dad will be okay with you not doing it, then why all the stress?”

“Because, Maria wants me to apologize.” Michael didn’t get that. His mother had clearly been offensive toward her, and Maria wanted him to apologize for the way he’d spoken to her.

“I can see that. Maria feels very strongly about family. She wouldn’t be okay with you and your mom not speaking to each other because of her.”

“It isn’t because of her. Not that she’ll believe that.” Michael grumbled something under his breath before finishing his beer.

“So, what are you gonna do?”

Michael stood up and threw some money on the bar. “I’m gonna apologize to my mother for the way that I spoke to her after she offended my girlfriend, in order to make my girlfriend happy.”

Kyle laughed and paid for his beer. Following Michael from the bar, Kyle asked another question.

“So what’s up with Max Evans, and why is he talking smack about my sister to your parents?”

Michael really had been hoping that they could avoid this. “Max has this need for approval from parental figures. I don’t think that he can help himself. As far as him talking shit about Maria…he knows he was wrong. He also knows that if it happens again I won’t be very understanding.”

Kyle nodded in acceptance, but he felt it necessary to tell the other man something. “If he says anything negative about Maria in my presence, I’ll rip his tongue out.”

“Max is a suck up; not an idiot.” The men shared a look of understanding before heading home.

Tess was packing their bags for the couples’ retreat that evening when Kyle walked into the apartment. They weren’t leaving until Saturday afternoon, but she was unsettled and needed to do something to keep her busy. There was something going on with Liz. Tess didn’t know what, but she knew that there was. The break-up with the boyfriend may have been a part of it, but it wasn’t everything. She wanted to push for the real issue, but she didn’t know where to begin. When she had expressed concern, Liz became angry. She’d been almost hostile toward Maria when they had all gone out together. Tess hoped that Liz would be ready to talk about whatever was wrong by the time she and Kyle got back from the retreat.

“Tess? Baby, are you home?” Kyle shouted from the kitchen.

Tess made her way to the kitchen at the sound of her name being bellowed, and walked in to find Kyle digging through the refrigerator. “Hey.”

Kyle startled at the sound of her voice and straightened up, hitting his head on the freezer door. “Ow, shit!”

Tess tried to stifle her laughter, but by the look on Kyle’s face she could tell that she’d failed. “How was your day?”

“It was fine until you tried to kill me.” Kyle grumbled, rubbing the top of his head.

“Oh, yeah. Assault with a major appliance. I’ll do hard time on the inside.”
Kyle grabbed for her, but she flitted away from him. “C’mere.”

Tess shook her head at him and danced away when he reached for her again. “Nuh uh. I’m packing up for the retreat, and I don’t wanna get distracted.”

“How about just a quick distraction. Five minutes tops.” Kyle wiggled his eyebrows at her suggestively causing her to laugh.

“No. Let me finish packing first. I promise I’ll let you distract me for the rest of the night. We can even order pizza so that you don’t have to stop distracting me.”

“You need any help packing?” Kyle knew how to pack a suitcase. He figured that they could finish in half the time and then the distracting could begin. “Why are you packing today? It’s only Monday.”

“I needed something to do. I’m worried about Liz.”

“Okay, and this led you to pack because…?”

“Because she’s being really defensive and won’t tell us what’s really going on. She thinks that because we’re blondes, we’re stupid.”

“No she doesn’t. Why do you think something’s wrong?” Kyle pulled his girlfriend into him where he was leaning against the counter.

“Maria and I knew that something was wrong with her since she got here, and so I decided to talk to her today. I told her what was going on with me, and she got all pissed because she hadn’t known about it, but I understood her feelings once she told me that she had just gone through a really bad break-up. So we spent the day shopping and hanging out, but she didn’t want to tell me anything about her relationship with the ex. Then, we get to Maria’s and she’s totally pigging out on ice cream because she had a hellish day, and so I grabbed a spoon. But, Liz didn’t.” At Kyle’s blank look, Tess explained. “Liz is supposedly going through a traumatic break-up, and she just left the school that she’s been dreaming of attending since she was born, and her best friend had a day requiring comfort food, and she didn’t take the opportunity to delve into the calories. Come to think of it, I haven’t seen her eat anything all day.”

“Tess, that doesn’t mean anything. People have different reactions to heartache.” Kyle rubbed her shoulders trying to calm her down.

Tess brushed his hands away. “I’m telling you that something is wrong.”

“And I’m telling you that Liz is a big girl, and you can’t make her tell you anything that she isn’t willing to tell you.”

Tess moved away from him. “You just don’t get it. She’s my friend and I’m worried about her.” Tess was feeling angry. These mood swings were driving her crazy, and no matter how hard she tried to calm down, she couldn’t.

“I understand friendship. But you can’t control everything.” As soon as he said it, he knew that it was the wrong thing say.

“I know that! I can’t control anything! There isn’t a single thing that I can control right now, but thanks for pointing that out. You know, just in case I forgot.” She turned and walked out of the kitchen. Kyle heard the bedroom door slam a moment later.

“Damn it!” Kyle slammed his hand down on the countertop. It looked like he wasn’t going to be getting distracted by anything anytime soon.

Brody Davis sat in his home office looking through the stack of pictures that the man on the other side of his desk had just deposited in front of him. He was not pleased. In the pictures, he could see his ex-girlfriend and their daughter with a man. They looked happy. Playing in the park, eating at a restaurant, watching television in her apartment. There were a few pictures of her at a nightclub with her friends, and others of her on her way into her office. Maria was not supposed to be dating. She hadn’t dated anyone in two years. Brody knew that for a fact. Her seeing someone now, when he was finally getting out of his marriage, was unacceptable. The doctors told them that Sidney was doing better. Before he’d gone to San Francisco, the doctors had said that her situation was dire. Then, last week, they ran tests and found her doing phenomenally. She was healthier than she had been in years. He could leave Shelby.

“Who is the man in these pictures?” Brody was careful to keep his voice even. It wouldn’t do to get upset in front of the help.

The investigator refused to let his discomfort show. He had worked for more intimidating men that Brody Davis in the past. When he replied, his voice was gruff. “His name is Michael Guerin.”

Brody didn’t care for the man’s tone. Greg Hanson was in his mid-thirties, broad shouldered with a round face and sandy blonde hair. He was utterly forgettable, which Brody supposed was helpful in his line of work.

“That’s all the information you have on him? Surely it isn’t. I’d hate to be disappointed.”

Hanson took a controlled breath before giving any more information. There was something about the other man that set his teeth on edge.

“He’s an architect. A good one. He works for Rooney and Gulde; they have offices in the Bay area. Ms. Deluca’s brother is also employed by the firm. Graduated from MIT, is second generation Irish American, has a twin sister. He’s never been married, has no children, and no real criminal history. He got hit with misdemeanor assault in college for breaking his roommates jaw, the case was dismissed after the roommate dropped the charges. He currently resides at the Mountain Shadow apartments in San Francisco. For all intents and purposes, he’s a boy scout. Closest I could come to anything on him were some gambling debts owed by his best friend. A man by the name of Max Evans. Seems that Evans owes Peter Han some serious money. He and Guerin have been friends since they were in diapers.”

Brody listened to the investigators report attentively. He may be able to use Max Evans in the near future for some information. There had to be a way that he could get rid of this man. If Evans was his best friend then he’d be very helpful to that end.

“He’s an architect?” Hanson nodded. “Does he design houses or buildings?”

“According to his work history at his previous firm, he usually designs buildings. Offices, apartment complexes, hotels…that sort of thing.”

“Thank you, Mr. Hanson.” Brody handed the man an envelope. “You can go. I have things to take care of.”

Hanson snorted at the dismissal before leaving the office. He was happy to be done with Brody Davis. The man had hired him a year and a half ago to keep tabs on a woman living in San Francisco. It wasn’t exactly difficult for him to surmise their relationship. Maria Deluca was a very unlucky woman, Hanson realized. It seemed that Brody Davis was fixated on her.

When Hanson left his office, Brody immediately picked up his phone and called his assistant.

“Hello, Mr. Davis.” Theresa was very good at her job. She always answered her phone before it even completed the first ring no matter the time of day or night. She wasn’t bad in bed either.

“Contact the architectural firm of Rooney and Gulde in San Francisco. I’m having a home built there, and I’d like an employee of theirs to design it for me. A man by the name of Michael Guerin. Make it clear to them that he isn’t to be made aware of who the client is just yet. We’ll contact them later in the week with the necessary amenities that the home should have. Also, get me contact information on a Max Evans in the San Francisco area.” Brody hung up without waiting for her to respond. She’d get it done. Of that he was certain. Picking up one of the pictures that Hanson had placed on his desk, Brody studied it.

“We’ll be together and everything will be perfect again.” He ran his fingers across the close up of Maria entering her office. Putting the picture with the others, he locked them away in his desk drawer. He had to leave or he’d be late. Sidney had a swim class that he needed to get her to.

Chapter twenty:

Liz answered the door while Maria was taking a shower. She felt bad for not helping with dinner after the day that her friend had had, but the thought of eating was making her stomach churn. She hadn’t taken a pill since late Saturday night. Liz was amazed that Tess hadn’t noticed her fidgeting when they’d been out together, but then again, the other girl wasn’t exactly known for her skills of observation. It took her walking in on Kyle screwing someone else for it to dawn on her that her boyfriend wasn’t the most faithful guy ever. Opening the door, she wasn’t at all surprised to see Michael standing there.

“Hi, come on in.” Liz opened the door and made a sweeping gesture.

“Hey, how’s it going?” He gave her a strange look before walking past her into the apartment.

Michael spotted Bailey sitting in her play yard and he went to pick her up.

“Everything’s great, or don’t you and Maria talk about things? Probably not. Talking usually gets in the way of sex.”

Michael turned at the aggression in the woman’s voice. “Did you and I have some kind of a disagreement that I don’t know about?”

Before Liz could say anything Maria walked into the room. What was she going to say anyway? The fact that Michael was there meant that he and Maria would be in the living room longer. They’d wanna have dinner, or watch a movie. She couldn’t exactly take her purse with her into the bathroom without questions being asked, and so she would need to wait longer to have a pill. She should’ve taken one when Maria had first left her alone with Bailey so that she could take a shower, but she’d been trying to convince herself that the pill wasn’t needed. Liz felt trapped.

“Hey, glad you could join us.” Maria said when she noticed Michael in the room. And then she felt the tension in the air. “What’s going on?” She looked back and forth between Liz and Michael waiting for one of them to answer her.

Liz hurried with an excuse. “Nothing. It’s been a long day and I guess I’m feeling a little cranky. I was kind of rude.” She gave Michael what she hoped was a convincingly apologetic look. “I’m really sorry.”

Michael looked at the brunette like he wanted to tell her where she could put her apology so Maria intervened.

“It has been a stressful day. I’m happy to see you though.” Maria walked over and gave Michael a kiss. He gave Maria his full attention.

“Why stressful? What happened?”

Maria had decided not to tell Michael about her issues at work. She had already vented to Tess and Liz, and she was feeling a lot better.

“Just a day. Did you talk to your mother?”

Michael took note of the subject change but didn’t press the issue. “Not yet.”


“I told you I would, and I will. I promise. Just…you gotta let me do it in my own time, okay Blondie?”

Maria took Bailey out of Michael’s arms. “Fine.” Maria leaned closer to kiss him lightly on the lips. “I’m gonna give Bailey a bath before I put her to bed. Why don’t you fix yourself something to eat?” Maria hesitated slightly before leaving Michael and Liz alone again.

“Go ahead, Maria. Michael and I can get along. Really, I promise no more bitchiness.” Liz was hoping that if Maria took Bailey into the bathroom, then Michael would go into the kitchen, and she’d be able to take a pill without him noticing.

“Okay. I’ll only be gone for fifteen minutes. Twenty minutes at the most.” Giving Michael one more look, she left the room.

“You could’ve kept the token apology. Though I figure it was more for Maria’s benefit than mine.” Michael kept his voice light when he spoke. Then he walked into the kitchen to help himself to some dinner.

Liz stood there for a minute not really knowing what to say. Finally finding her voice she fixed him with a hard stare. “Token apology? And what, you think you know me well enough to know when I’m being sincere?”

“Listen girlie, I don’t need to know you to know that you’re lying about temporary bitchiness. I doubt that that’s a temporary state for you.” Michael continued putting the chicken parmesan and garlic bread that Maria had cooked for dinner onto his plate while he was talking. When did she find the time to cook all this?

“Girlie?! Listen, you pig, I don’t know who you think you are, but if I were being insincere when I apologized, I’m sure that Maria would have noticed. She is my best friend, you know.”

Michael laughed. “No she wouldn’t have. Maria really does try to see the best in people. It’s probably the most beautiful thing about her personality. Even when she’s pissed at someone and giving them a piece of her mind, she still tries to think of something good about them. So, I doubt that she’d want to notice that her best friend is a liar.” Michael took his plate to the dining room and took a seat.

“God, what does she see in you?” Liz was livid. Who the hell did this guy think he was?

“No clue. What does she see in you?”

“We promised that we’d get along.” Liz hissed.

“No, you promised. Maria knows me. She knows that I don’t make promises that I can’t keep, and I don’t really see us ever getting along.”

“Maybe we would if you stopped being such a jerk.”

“Personality flaw. But I’m not the one that started this little tiff. I just thought I’d let you know that the, oh so sincere, apology wasn’t necessary.”

Liz hated him in that moment. He was rude, infuriating, and keeping her from taking the pill that she could hear practically screaming her name.

Liz must have stood there staring at him for longer than she’d realized, because suddenly he was taking his plate to the kitchen and putting it in the sink.

“I really don’t like you.” Liz wasn’t sure what made her dislike Michael. Maybe it was the fact that he’d seen through her bullshit and called her on it. Whatever it was that sparked it, the feeling was definitely there.

“Okay. You don’t have to. In case you missed it, my relationship is with Maria.”

“Do you know how much damage not getting along with your girlfriend’s friends can do to your relationship?”

“I think that the fact that I care about her and she cares about me will go a long way. Not to mention the fact that I get along with everyone else in her life. Have a good night.” Michael took himself away toward Maria’s bedroom. As soon as he was out of sight, Liz rushed to her purse and took out a pill.

When Maria left Bailey’s room, she could hear the faint sound of rushing water from her closed bedroom door. She decided to go and check on Liz before she went to investigate the sound. Liz was in her living room organizing her book shelf. Typical Liz…

“Did you two manage to get along?”

Liz jumped at the sound of Maria’s voice behind her. “No blood was spilled.”

Maria raised an eyebrow at the answer. “Liz, what’s going on?” something was off, Maria knew it, she just couldn’t figure out what it was.

“Nothing’s going on.” Liz turned back to the shelf in front of her. It really was a mess.

“Something is definitely going on with you. I don’t wanna be pushy or anything, I’m not trying to be. But you seem different.” When Liz turned to face her again, Maria was taken aback by the look of anger on her friend’s face.

“What am I, defective because I don’t get along with the Neanderthal you’re banging?”

“Excuse me?” Maria was sure that she’d heard her wrong.

“He’s a jerk. You guys don’t even go anywhere together, not without Bailey. What does he think you’re too frumpy to go out for some adult entertainment?”

“You have been a guest in my home for three days, and in that time you think that you know something about my relationship? You don’t know anything about anyone, Liz. You’re too busy being a self centered bitch to think about paying attention to your friends.”

Liz slapped her. It happened so fast that Maria thought she was imagining the sting in her cheek. And then she watched as Liz stormed out of her apartment. Maria stood there in shock. Finally, shaking herself out of it, she debated whether or not to go after Liz. Walking to the front door, Maria froze with her hand on the knob. Moving her hand to the lock, she turned it into place, and went to the phone in the living room.

The phone was answered on the third ring. “Tess, Liz is on her way to your place.” Maria hung up before waiting for any sort of acknowledgement. Turning out the lights, she went back to her bedroom.

Liz made it halfway down the hall before the trembling started. It felt as if her bones were trying to force their way out through her skin. Backing into a wall, she slid down until she was sitting on the floor and clasped her hands together. Why wasn’t it better? She had taken a pill and it should have been better by now. It never took this long to work. Liz knew that she should feel that familiar rush of energy. That feeling of invincibility that was frightening and calming all at the same time, but it wasn’t coming. Maybe she needed another pill. She frantically searched her pockets before realizing that she didn’t have the pills with her. She’d left them inside of the apartment.

“Fuck!” Liz banged her head into the wall. She was overcome with so much despair in that moment that all she wanted to do was crawl into a ball and die. She looked up when she heard a door opening and found herself staring into the face of an elderly man.

“Are you alright young lady?” His hair was white and thin and standing in disarray. He was wearing a dingy looking robe that was barely seen through the crack of the door that he was staring at her from.

Liz pushed herself up and rubbed her shaking hand across her face. They came away wet and she realized that she was crying.

“I’m fine.” Her voice was weak, but the man simply nodded at her once before closing his door. He probably thought that she was crazy.

Liz debated going back to Maria’s apartment to get the bottle of pills. Just one more wouldn’t hurt. But then, she remembered the things that she’d said to Maria. God, what was wrong with her. How could she have said those things to her friend? And she’d hit her. Liz had never hit another person in her entire life. She knew that she should go back and apologize, but she didn’t know if she could face the other girl. When had she become so weak? Maybe she’d always been this way. She’d always relied on the strength and determination of her friends to bolster her own courage. When they were gone, she’d needed the pills. Hopefully, now that they were together again, she could stop taking the pills. Liz knew that if she continued behaving the way that she had been, she’d lose the people that she needed to help her get through her problem. Taking a deep breath, she pushed herself away from the wall and went to Tess and Kyle’s apartment. She prayed that Tess would be able to help her find a way to apologize to Maria.

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Re: Complications( Adult, A/U, M&M, K&T, some M&L & A&I)7/30

Post by chinkyeyes45 » Sun Dec 18, 2011 1:12 pm

Hello. Sorry it took so long to update this fic, but I'd like to thank everyone that has continued to look for it and read.

Maria walked into her bedroom and saw Michael coming out of her bathroom with only a towel around his waist. She forced herself to stop thinking about the argument that she’d just had with Liz and focus on her very sexy boyfriend.

“Whatcha doin?”

Michael pulled her closer to him with a hand around her waist and kissed her forehead. “I figured that since you had a hard day, you could use a nice relaxing bath.”

“Uh huh. And I take it that you’ll be joining me in this bath?”

Michael grinned at her. “I can’t expect you to wash your own back can I?”

Maria smiled at him, and stood there as he undressed her. Michael let his fingers lightly trail along her skin as he removed her clothing, taking pleasure in the gasps that came from her every once in a while. When she was completely naked, he scooped her up into his arms and carried her into the bathroom.

Maria released an obscenely contented sigh when she slid into the bubble bath. The smell of lavender surrounded her and she felt herself relaxing.

“Slide forward a little.” Maria obediently did as she was told. Michael gave her a smirk and dropped the towel that was wrapped around his waist. Maria licked her lips in appreciation.

“Stop that.” Michael gave a snort at the look of pure innocence she gave him. Innocent his ass!

After climbing into the tub behind her, he picked up the bath sponge and started washing her back. Maria melted at the feeling of the water cascading down her shoulders.

“That feels really good.”

“I aim to please. Tell me about your day?”

Maria debated letting him know what was going on with her at work for all of three seconds before she started talking.

“My supervisor is a sexist jerk who wanted me to work on an ad account for another sexist jerk with a sexist jerk.”

“So what happened?”

“Well, I couldn’t really refuse because Pierce, that’s my supervisor, would have used my refusal to reassign the account to another agent. And I worked really hard to land that account, it would mean huge things for my career, even if the client is a chauvinist that’s more concerned with the way I look in a skirt. So anyway, he assigned his protégé to work on the account with me, and from the first second of our supposed partnership he was a pig. I tried to ignore it, but then the ass sent me an email about his porno dream in which I was the leading starlet. I took it to human resources, he got fired, and now my supervisor is going to make my job even more unbearable.”

Michael tried to control his temper. He was supposed to be helping her relax after a long day, and flipping out about what she was dealing with at work wouldn’t exactly go a long way toward accomplishing that goal.

“Okay, so just to be clear, the guy that was hitting on you is no longer an issue?”

“He’s gone. But he was more of an annoyance than an issue. Pierce is the issue, and I can’t think of a way to get around the issue.”

“Do you have anything on him that he could be reported for?”

“Only things that he’s said to me when no one else was around. It would be my word against his, and his word carries a lot more weight.”

“Probably, but most companies wouldn’t want to risk a sexual harassment lawsuit that could make it into the papers.”

“That’s true. But for a lawsuit, I’d need corroboration. None of the women that work with me are willing to risk saying anything negative about him.”

“I take it that looking for a new job is out of the question?” Michael was more than familiar with the gender issues in the workplace. He knew female architects and engineers that were brilliant and had to struggle for semi equal footing. It sucked.

“The agency that I work for is the top agency on the west coast. I’d be screwing myself over by going to another agency.”

“Okay. So you’re kind of stuck.”

“Pretty much.”

“Or…you could get proof of what he’s been doing and saying.”

“How? I’ll take any suggestions at this point.”

“Get a nanny cam.”

“A nanny cam?”

“Maria, you’re a mother. I know that you know what a nanny cam is. Buy one, and set it up in your office where he can’t see it. It’ll probably take awhile, but he’s bound to say or do something that you could use.”

Maria sat there for a minute taking in what he’d said. Why hadn’t she thought of that?

“Aren’t those really hard to install?”

“I think that they sell them with do-it-yourself instructions, but if you wanna be more thorough, I could ask my brother in-law to install it for you.”

“He knows how to do that?”

“Yeah, that’s what he did before he landed the job he has now with a soft ware development company. He paid for his college education that way. It’s how he met my sister. She was having one installed to spy on her landlord. Isabel was convinced that the guy had been going into her apartment when she wasn’t home and looking through her underwear drawer.”

“Are you serious?”

“Yeah, she was pretty freaked out about it.”

“Did she catch him?” Maria was disgusted. She would have felt violated if she were in Isabel’s position.

“Turned out it wasn’t him; it was his fourteen year old son. The little pervert was stealing her underwear and showing it to his friends.”

“Ugh! What did she do?”

“She showed the video to his father and had the locks changed. When her landlord demanded that she give him a key for the new locks she refused. He tried to make an issue of it, and in the end, he ended up letting her out of her lease and she moved into a new place.”

“Wow. I don’t think I’d ever feel secure again if that happened to me.”

“Yeah, well she had a new nanny cam installed and bought a german shepherd. A very protective and large german shepherd.”

“That’s so surreal. How much will it cost to have the camera installed?” Maria brought them back to the previous subject. The thought of anyone having their privacy invaded in the way that Isabel’s had been creeped her out too much.

“I’ll take care of it. Just let me know when you want it done. It’ll probably need to be done after hours so that Pierce doesn’t catch you installing it. Are there already security cameras in the building?”

“Yeah, but they only cover the halls, the lobby, and the executive offices.”

“Okay. I’ll talk to Alex about it tomorrow.”

Maria turned so that she was facing him. Threading her fingers through his hair, she gave him a deep kiss.


Michael stroked his finger along her cheek. “No problem. I don’t like the thought of you being harassed and I really hate it when you’re unhappy.”

“God Michael, could you be any more perfect?” Maria’s voice was awed and Michael laughed.

“I don’t think I can really be described as perfect.”

Maria thought about it. “Well, you can be a little too blunt. And you’re messy. You talk with your mouth full. You watch re-runs of hockey games. You can’t dance and you can’t cook. But I couldn’t imagine you any other way. So that means that you’re perfect.”

Michael actually blushed. There were so many things about Maria that he loved. But the fact that she saw him exactly the way that he was, no rose colored glasses to conceal his faults, the fact that she saw him, and still felt the way she did about him, that was what he loved the most.

“Maria, you are so many different kinds of beautiful.” The hand that had been resting on her thigh began rubbing her back. “I can’t really imagine my life without you in it.”

Maria was shocked. They really hadn’t been together that long. “Michael…”

“I know. But I also know how I feel. I know that I’ve never felt the way I feel about you with anyone else. I’m not trying to overwhelm you or anything, but it’s important to me that you know how much I care about you.”

Maria suddenly felt like her heart was too big for her chest. She wanted to laugh and cry and scream all at once. She loved him. That knowledge hit her hard. The realization that she couldn’t bring herself to say it to him hit her harder. Michael wasn’t Brody. Maria knew that. But there was still that little voice in the back of her mind telling her that if she admitted to loving him, he would let her down. Looking into Michael’s eyes she saw something. There was understanding in those eyes. Those beautiful eyes. He knew how she felt, and he knew why she couldn’t admit it.

“We should get out of this tub before the water gets cold.” Maria nodded at his change of subject. Michael brought his hands to her face and pulled her in for another kiss. It was gentle and firm at the same time. He didn’t try to deepen it; he just held her close to him and kissed her.

Michael stepped out of the tub, and after barely drying himself off, he lifted Maria out and wrapped her in one of the soft bath towels from the closet. He stopped her when she tried to walk from the room by picking her up and carrying her. Placing her on her bed, he proceeded to lick at the droplets of water clinging to her body. The contrast of his warm breath coasting along her skin that was made cool from the water was making her dizzy. Maria closed her eyes and gave in to the sensation of Michael’s mouth that was paying attention to places on her body that she never realized could cause such wonderful feelings. Her stomach fluttered at the nip of his teeth on the inside of her elbow. She gasped at the sucking kiss that he placed on her inner wrist. She squirmed when he licked the area above her knee and giggled when he playfully bit the arch of her foot.

Maria was expecting him to slide inside of her when he climbed back up to the top of the bed. She was surprised when he moved her onto her side so that her back was to his front. Michael started placing kisses along the back of her neck while he slid his hand between her legs and teased her clit. Maria let out a shaky breath when his fingers began to part her folds and he slid his middle finger into her soaking slit. When her hips began to rock against his hand, Michael slid his finger out of her and Maria cried out in frustration.

“Sshh. I’ve got you.” His voice whispered in ear caused goose bumps to break out on her skin.

And then she felt him sliding his cock into her and frustration became relief. Michael kept her body pressed so tightly against his that every time he moved within her, she felt his entire body along the length of her own. She had been resting her head on one of his arms, and she moaned when he slid his hand down to fondle her breast.

“Oh god, Michael.” Maria grabbed the hand that had been gripping her hip and brought it to her mouth. Michael groaned when his fingers were sucked into her mouth. Biting down on her shoulder, he moved harder into her. Maria bit down on his fingers and he nearly came.

“Oh shit!” Michael released her breast and moved his hand between her legs. When Michael pinched her clit, Maria couldn’t stop the scream that pierced the room as her body imploded. Michael’s control snapped when her orgasm hit and he pounded into her with abandon, nearly blacking out at the intensity of his own orgasm.

All that Michael could hear was the sound of his own harsh breathing penetrating the quiet of the bedroom. Michael saw the bite mark on her shoulder that he’d made and placed a kiss there.

“Mmmmm.” Maria felt as if she could stay right where she was for the rest of her life without having any regrets.

“You okay?” Michael was afraid that he’d hurt her. She was a lot smaller than him, and he hadn’t exactly been gentle at the end.

“I’m fabulous.” Maria’s voice was tired and happy. Michael smiled against the back of her neck. He slid himself out of her, ignoring his body’s objection, and turned her toward him. He gave her several slow kisses before leaning back to look at her.

“I hope Liz wasn’t sleeping.”

“She isn’t here.” Maria tried to keep her voice even, but judging by Michael’s frown, she hadn’t pulled it off. She had been so relaxed just seconds ago, but she felt her body tense at the thought of the argument that she’d had with Liz.

“What happened?”

“Nothing. We had an argument. Well, that’s not really true.” Maria didn’t think it classified as an argument. There were no valid points made on either side. It had been more a fight that anything.

“Clarification, please?”

“We had a fight. What happened between the two of you when I left the room?”

Michael seriously thought about lying to her before deciding on the honesty route. “I told her that the false apology hadn’t been necessary. She called me a jerk…or a pig? I can’t really remember which. Bottom line, I don’t think we’ll ever be friends.”

“Michael…” Maria’s voice was whiny.

“Look, I’m sorry that we don’t get along. Well, I’m not sorry, but…you know.”

“I really wanted you guys to get along.”

“I know. It would’ve been great if we did, but you can’t always control the way you feel about people or the way other people feel about you.” Maria knew that he was also talking about his mother’s feelings toward her, but since they were naked in bed together, she decided to ignore that topic.

“She’s acting weird. She said things that she never would have said. It just doesn’t make any sense.”

Michael gave her a kiss. “It’ll be okay. You’re best friends, Maria. Whatever’s going on with her, when she’s ready to deal with it, you’ll be there for her. In the mean time, people fight. Even friends. You’ll work it out.”

Michael moved to lie down beside her, and she rested her head against his chest. Maria fell asleep to the sound of Michael’s heartbeat.

Chapter twenty-one:

Liz was on her third cup of coffee before she was able to tell Tess what had gone on between her and Maria earlier that night. She would have preferred something alcoholic to take the edge off, but they didn’t have anything in the house. Tess said that she was going shopping tomorrow when Liz had asked if there was any wine. She would have requested vodka, but that would be too out of character. She was glad to see that her hands weren’t trembling when she placed the coffee mug that she was using onto the table.

“Maria and I had a fight.” Tess gave her a ‘duh’ look.

“I kind of figured that one out on my own. What happened?”

“I don’t know.” Liz wasn’t sure what had happened. She knew what had been said, and she knew that she had been the instigator, but she couldn’t figure out why she had let the situation get so out of control.

“You don’t know?” Tess was giving her the patented ‘do not bullshit me’ look.

“I was a bitch to Michael when he came over. I don’t know why.” That wasn’t completely true, but she couldn’t tell Tess the reason for her mood.

“Maria got pissed at you because of the way you treated Michael?” That didn’t sound right.

“No, that…okay, I apologized to him for being such a bitch and when Maria left the room he told me that I should’ve kept my fake apology. We both said some things and he left the room. When Maria came out into the living room again and asked me what was going on with me, I felt like she was taking his side, and I told her that he was only using her for sex and that they’re relationship was bogus.” Liz took a deep breath before continuing. “She called me a self centered bitch and I slapped her. I can’t believe I did that. I…I would never…well I guess I would, but…anyway, I walked out after that.” Liz had been carefully avoiding looking at Tess throughout her entire spiel. When she met Tess’s gaze, the look on the blonde’s face spoke volumes.

“Okay, first off, you need to apologize to Maria. It doesn’t matter what either of you said, because the minute that you hit her, you became wrong. You also need to understand the way she feels about Michael. I don’t think Maria even knows exactly how much he means to her, but the fact that she cares a lot about him is hard to miss. And, from what Kyle has told me about Michael, I’m pretty sure that he feels the same way. So you’re also gonna need to apologize for demeaning their relationship. Second, you need to take a really good look at yourself and figure out what is going on inside of you. Because this isn’t you.”

“Maybe it is me, Tess. People change, sometimes not for the better. Maybe I’m a different person now? I know that I said hurtful things to one of my best friends, but that doesn’t mean that they weren’t true. She’s in a ‘relationship’ with a guy that won’t even take her to the movies.” Liz knew that she was wrong, but she felt the need to defend herself.

“Liz, your problem has always been that you think that you’re smarter than the rest of the world. You think that you know everything, even when you don’t know anything about a situation. Michael tries to get Maria to go out all the time, but she feels guilty leaving Bailey with other people, so he comes to her place for dinner. Or to watch re-runs of old t.v. shows at night, or to take Bailey to the park. They’re happy with the way the relationship is, and maybe one day he’ll convince her to get a babysitter so that they can have a real date.” Tess was doing her best not to yell at Liz, because she had thought the same thing about the relationship until she’d witnessed Michael asking Maria to go out to dinner with him and seen Maria turn him down.

“Why would she do that? Going out on a date doesn’t make her a bad mother. Maria isn’t stupid, she has to realize that.”

“She does. Maria doesn’t want to ask me or Kyle to baby sit, because she thinks that it’ll be hard for me to take care of Bailey since I may not be able to have kids. The first time that I watched Bailey after finding out, I had a minor meltdown. You know Maria, she wants to take care of everybody.”

“Oh. I…why didn’t I realize that? Did she tell you that?” Liz felt like such a jerk.

“She didn’t have to. I know my friend.” Tess had known for weeks that Maria was trying not to ask her to take care of Bailey. Tess hated to admit that she appreciated what her friend was doing. She knew that it was selfish of her, but she couldn’t help the flare of jealousy she got when she saw Maria with her daughter. It was only a twinge, but it was there.

Liz snorted in self disgust. “I don’t even know myself.”

“I know you, Liz. The way that you’ve been since you got here isn’t you. We’re your friends and we love you, but we can’t help you with your problems if you won’t talk to us about them.” Tess didn’t know what more she could say to Liz. The two of them had always had different ways of looking at things. Tess and Maria had similar personalities, where Liz had always been the odd man out. That didn’t mean that Tess was taking sides on this though.

Liz looked at her friend and debated how much to reveal about her problems. Liz knew that Tess had problems of her own right now, so she really wasn’t going to be able to take too much of Liz’s shit without snapping. She settled on another partial truth. This one was closer to the real issue.

“Before I came here, I did something.” At Tess’s encouraging look, she continued. “The guy that I was dating, he was into drugs. Speed and ecstasy, sometimes coke too. Anyway, we were at this club and he wanted me to try some ecstasy and so I did, but the next morning…when I woke up we were in a strange room with a woman that I didn’t really recognize and we were all naked. I got dressed and got out of there as fast as I could. I guess I’ve been trying to deal with it and I haven’t been doing it that well.”

Tess was quiet for a few moments. She’d had absolutely no idea that Liz was dealing with anything that serious. “Liz…”

“I just feel really ashamed about my actions. I didn’t want you guys to judge me.” Finally the truth. Liz was ashamed of herself and she was terrified that her friends would reject her, just not for the reason that she’d just given to Tess.

Tess pulled her into a hug. “Sweetie, I would never judge you. Ever.” Tess moved back after a moment. “Liz, everyone does things that they regret sometimes. Taking ecstasy and having a drug induced threesome are probably going to be pretty high on your regret list, but that doesn’t make you any less my friend. I’ve gotta admit that it’s not something that I was expecting to hear from you. But in the portrait of Liz Parker, that probably equals all of one brush stroke.”

Liz laughed a little at that. “That was a different way to look at it.”

Tess waved her hand in a dismissive gesture. “Blame Kyle and Buddha.”

“I really need to apologize to her Tess. I can’t believe the way I acted.” Liz shook her head at the thought. She had basically attacked Maria.

“Yeah, you do. Tomorrow. Tonight, you need to sleep. You look like you haven’t been sleeping too well lately. But Liz, just remember something?” When Liz met her eyes, Tess continued. “You’re safe with us. All of us. There isn’t anything that you could do to change that.” Tess went to get her some blankets.

Liz sat in the living room of Kyle and Tess’s apartment that night thinking about the last thing that Tess had said to her. She wished that she could believe that her friends would still be there for her if they knew about everything. Hopefully she could get control of her problems before they ever found out.