Somewhere, Anywhere (M&M, CC/UC, AU, Adult) COMPLETE, 07/23/17

Fics using the characters from Roswell, but where the plot does not have anything to do with aliens, nor are any of the characters "not of this Earth."

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sarammlover
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Re: Somewhere, Anywhere (M&M, CC/UC, AU, Adult) Part 58, 01/22/17

Post by sarammlover » Mon Jan 23, 2017 12:15 pm

I want to say bad bad bad!! But they are so hot together. Holy shit. The pages were on fire. Wow. But now the repercussions from what they just did will be huge. Yikes.

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April
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Part 59

Post by April » Sun Jan 29, 2017 2:33 pm

Carolyn:
right now I want to stay out of the way of the train wreck that will soon happen.
Given what just happened in the last part, I'd say the train wreck is already happening. :?


Sara:
I want to say bad bad bad!! But they are so hot together. Holy shit. The pages were on fire. Wow.
:P Thanks. I put a lot of work into that scene, because I knew it had to be pretty damn hot. But . . . so wrong. So, so wrong.
But now the repercussions from what they just did will be huge. Yikes.
Oh, god, it's . . . awful.




Thanks for reading and leaving feedback!








Part 59








Sleep was a weird thing. One second, it had total control of Maria, and the next second, it suddenly let go of her. She woke up with a start, a gasp of breath rushing into her lungs. It took a moment for her eyes to register what they were seeing. Not her room. Not her home at all. Michael’s.

Michael’s bed.

She turned over onto her back, whipping her head to the right.

Michael.

He lay beside her, sleeping, naked, the thin sheet covering his legs and waist.

Oh god, she thought, horror constricting her chest, making it hard to breathe. Oh god.

She clutched the sheet to her own naked chest as it all flooded back to her. The sex . . . so much of it. They’d been all over each other. She’d never cum so hard in her life, and by the time they’d been done, she’d lost track of how many times he’d gotten her there. They just hadn’t stopped, hadn’t even come up for air. The whole thing had been one giant, continuous experience, and at the time, it had felt amazing. But now . . .

She felt like she was going to throw up.

Careful not to make too much noise, she slowly, carefully sat up, plotting her escape route. Get dressed, get out, she told herself. There was no way she wanted to be there when he woke up. What would she even say to him after all of this?

The mattress squeaked just a little bit as she swung her legs over the side of the bed. She grimaced as Michael stirred, but much to her relief, he didn’t wake up. So she quietly got out of bed, and bent down to retrieve her bra from the floor. She put it on quickly, but when she picked up her underwear, she knew they were a lost cause. Shredded. Michael had been pretty animalistic. But then again . . . so had she.

She had to tiptoe into the kitchen to find the rest of her clothes. Her shirt and pants were both lying on the floor, just a few feet away from a bowl of food that had suffered the same fate. She got dressed in haste, managing to keep the tears and the anger and all the other emotion inside, only because she didn’t want to make a sound.

Despite her best efforts to be completely silent, it didn’t seem to matter. A muffled, “Maria?” came from the other side of that dividing wall. When she looked back, she saw Michael sitting up, a confused look on his face. “What’re you doin’?” he asked.

She bent down to put her shoes on, mumbling, “Going home,” wishing that was what she’d done after her shift today. If she just hadn’t made the mistake of stopping by his place when she knew he was alone for the weekend, maybe this wouldn’t have happened. “What time is it?” she spat abruptly, realizing that it could be the middle of the night for all she knew. It definitely had felt like she’d spent hours over there.

When she cast a panicked glance at the microwave clock, she realized just how many hours she’d spent. It was after 10:00 now. She’d been over there for six hours. “Oh my god,” she groaned, hating herself. She ran to the couch, picking her purse up off the floor, unzipping it and taking out her phone quickly. She had probably a dozen missed calls from Max, along with voicemails and concerned texts.

on your way home?

you alright?

call me, i’m getting worried


She clutched her phone tightly in both hands, feeling as if someone were squeezing all of her insides. Each one of those texts broke her heart more than the next. She wouldn’t even be able to listen to the voicemails. She quickly texted him back, on my way….sorry, and sent it, not sure what she was going to tell him when she got home. How could she explain just being gone for such a long time? He’d expected her home hours ago.

“Don’t go,” Michael begged suddenly, his voice closer now.

“What am I supposed to do, just stay here?” she yelled, whirling around. Bad idea. He’d gotten out of bed now and was standing before her completely naked. “Can you please, please put some clothes on?” she growled.

He actually looked annoyed that she would request that, but thankfully, he didn’t argue it. He made his way over to his dresser and pulled out a pair of sweatpants. “You can’t just leave,” he grumbled as he yanked them on swiftly.

“Watch me.” She slung her purse over her shoulder, prepared to storm out of there with what little—if anything—was left of her dignity.

“No, we need to talk,” he insisted.

“Don’t you think it’s a little late for that?”

“Can we just . . .” He pushed his dresser drawer shut without bothering to take out a shirt and slowly came back towards her. “Can we just talk about what happened?”

“No.” That sounded like a really bad idea.

“You’re fuckin’ kiddin’ me, right?” he grunted angrily.

“What is there to say?”

“What is there . . .” He trailed off in disbelief. “Maria, we just had sex.”

She winced.

“We didn’t just have a really intense conversation or a really intense kiss. We had sex,” he emphasized. As if it wasn’t already emphatic enough.

“So?” she squeaked out.

He made a face. “Doesn’t that mean anything to you?”

She groaned, frustratedly, tossing her purse back down on the couch. “Yeah, of course it means something, but . . .” She felt unable to find the right words to express herself. How could she tell him that it had meant more to her than anything else in the past three years had? That being with him had made her forget about everything else, everyone else. That she’d never felt anything even close to what she’d just felt with him, not even back when they’d been together. What they had done together tonight had been something new, something different. A whole new level of love and lust and arousal. Unfortunately, if she told him that, they’d end up right back in that bed.

“It was a mistake,” she forced out, knowing, logically, that it was. “It shouldn’t have happened.”

“Well, it did,” he said simply. “So what do we do now?”

“Oh, we don’t do anything,” she responded decidedly. “It’s not gonna happen again; we’re not starting up an affair.”

“No, that’s not . . .” He paused, taking a few breaths to try to keep his voice calm. “What’re we gonna do about . . . Sarah?” His eyes traveled down to the floor as he said her name, and his face took on a completely different expression. A sad one. A guilty one. She suspected he hadn’t really given her too much thought until now—he’d been caught up in the moment, but now that the moment was over . . . reality was setting in.

“And Max,” she added. There were two people whose hearts would be broken if they found out about this.

“I don’t care about him,” Michael muttered dismissively.

“Well, I do, okay? He’s . . .” She gasped as she thought of him, thought of how happy he would be to see her when she got home. He would tell her loved her before they went to bed tonight. He would curl up close to her because he’d been so worried. “Oh god,” she choked out, furious with herself for not giving more thought to him before all of this. And even Sarah . . . good, sweet, innocent Sarah. “How could we do this them?” she whispered, horrified.

Michael shrugged helplessly, as though it’d been inevitable. “It just happened.”

“No, it didn’t just happen,” she argued. “You wanted it to happen. You pushed and you pushed, and you wouldn’t let up. I tried to talk some sense into you, but you wouldn’t listen!”

“Oh, bullshit!” he erupted suddenly. “This isn’t something I did; it’s something we did. You and me.” He glared at her, pointing an accusatory finger. “It’s just as much your fault as it is mine.”

She lowered her head, ashamed, knowing in her heart that he was right. It didn’t matter how persistent Michael had been today, because in the end, she was the one who had given in. And once they’d started, it wasn’t like he’d completely manhandled her. No, she’d matched everything he’d given her in a way that was new to her. She’d never felt so wild before.

“We have to tell them,” he blurted, as if it were only his decision to make.

“Are you crazy?” she roared, whipping her head back up to look at him. “We’re not telling them anything. The best way to deal with this is to forget about it and pretend it never happened.”

“Oh, yeah, ‘cause that always works out so well for us,” he said sarcastically. “Maria, what we just did is the most powerful thing I’ve ever felt in my entire life. I can’t just forget about it. I won’t.”

Deep down in the pit of her stomach, it excited her to know that it had been just as thrilling for him as it had been for her. But her mind was actually working now, so it wouldn’t let her get lost in that feeling. “We still can’t tell them,” she said.

“Why the hell not?”

“Because it’ll crush them.” What more reason did they need to keep quiet? “Aren’t you even the slightest bit concerned about breaking Sarah’s heart?”

“It’s gonna break no matter what!” he replied loudly. “Either I tell her, or I stay with her and live a lie. That’s not fair to her. She deserves better than that.”

“You’re engaged to her,” she reminded him. Although, what was the point? She’d tried reminding him earlier, and clearly that hadn’t worked.

“All the more reason for me to end things now,” he said.

“No, Michael, you can’t do that. You are the stupidest person ever if you break up with her for me.”

“Well, I’m stupid then,” he said with a shrug, “ ‘cause that’s what I’m gonna do.”

“No, you can’t!” she yelled pleadingly. “If you tell her, then I have to tell Max, and that’s the last thing I wanna do.”

“But at least you’re not engaged to him,” he pointed out.

“No, I’m just raising a child with him.” That automatically made it so much easier, didn’t it?

“You could raise him with me,” Michael mumbled.

Her heart broke again when he said that, but for a whole new reason this time. Even after all these years, he still wanted their family, the one that had defined his entire senior year of high school. Even after everything that had happened, everything that had gone wrong . . .

If she said the wrong thing, she knew it would give him false hope. So she was harsh. “He is not your son, Michael!” she wailed. “You know, Max and I, we’re not just—we’re not just dating. We have a family together, and that family is the only thing that motivated him to turn his life around and be a better man.” What if he didn’t have Dylan anymore? What would happen to him? Would he go back to being the way he was? Doing drugs? Hating himself? She shuddered at the thought. “I can’t take that away from him,” she said. “He can’t lose us.”

“So what, you’re staying with him out of obligation then?” Michael surmised. “That’s no way to live. You’re not doin’ him any favors. He’s gonna realize you’re not happy, Maria. He’s gonna figure it out.”

“Not if there’s nothing to figure out,” she murmured, her mind already working, making the tough decisions about what she was going to have to do if this were to remain a secret.

“What do you mean?” he asked.

She shook her head, wishing it didn’t have to come to this. But it did. “We can’t keep seeing each other,” she told him. “At work, in class . . . it has to stop.”

“Oh my fucking god,” he groaned. He backed up a few steps, then turned all the way around and started walking away from her.

“We’re around each other too much,” she said. “We just need to make a clean break.”

“Oh, fuck that, Maria!” he shouted, stomping right back up to her, getting even closer this time. “You already left my life once. You really think I’m gonna let you leave again?”

“I really don’t think you have a choice!”

“No, listen to me--” He grabbed her wrists.

“Let go of me!” she yelled, jerking her arms out of his grasp. She glared at him absolutely furiously, wanting to make her decision perfectly clear. “I am not telling Max about what happened here today. End of story.”

“And what if I tell him?” he proposed.

Her heart dropped into her stomach. “You wouldn’t.”

“Wouldn’t I?”

The thought of it filled her with such horror and dread that she had to resort to begging. “No, Michael . . . please,” she whimpered. “You can’t tell him, please.” The only thing worse than Max hearing it from her would be hearing it from Michael. That wouldn’t just break his heart; it would shatter it. “I don’t want him to know.”

“He should know,” Michael contended.

She stared at him pleadingly, and gradually, that determined look in his eyes softened. No, he wasn’t going to tell Max. He was just trying to intimidate her into doing it, and it wasn’t going to work. She was holding her ground on this one, and before she left, she was going to make sure they were on the same page so that their course of action would be a smart one.

“I still don’t think you should tell Sarah,” she said.

He groaned, shaking his head.

“Michael, you can’t. What if she tells Max?”

“What am I supposed to do then, just stay with her?” he lamented. “Is that really what you want? You want me to marry her, start a family with her?”

She shifted uncomfortably, wishing she could be okay with that.

“Didn’t think so,” he muttered.

“I just don’t wanna see you willingly sacrifice the best thing that’s ever happened to you,” she explained.

“She’s not the best thing, Maria,” he told her. “You are.”

She sniffed back tears. “No, I’m the most confusing thing. There’s a difference.”

“Stop it,” he snapped. “I hate it when you talk about yourself like that.”

“Like what?” she asked.

“Like you don’t deserve to be loved. You do it all the time.”

“Well, I am loved,” she pointed out. “Max loves me. And Sarah loves you.” Unable to help herself, she reached out and touched his bare chest, putting her hand right over his heart, feeling how fast it was beating. Hers sped up to match the pace. “We’d be idiots to screw all that up,” she said quietly, slowly removing her hand.

He gulped. “We already did.”

She inhaled shakily, eyes fixated on his chest, heart pounding. God, she wanted to touch him. She wanted to crawl back into that bed with him and forget the rest of the world existed. But that would only amplify the problem even more.

“Don’t say anything, okay?” she whispered, lifting her head to look up into his eyes. He was such a beautiful man, and that made this even harder. “Just forget,” she told him, thinking that he might be able to push the memory of this night to the back of his mind if he and Sarah made enough memories of their own. And she could try to do the same with Max.

Before he could move any closer or try to kiss her again, she swooped up her purse and headed for the door, determined to actually leave and stay gone this time. Maybe she’d never come back to this place. If Sarah invited her over for dinner, she’d make up an excuse. She’d make up an excuse for everything from here on out. She’d even be a complete bitch if she had to. Anything so that she wouldn’t have to be around Michael. It would be too hard to resist him.

“Maria,” he said, stopping her on her way out the door.

Reluctantly, she turned back around, just to hear what he had to say.

“I love you.” There was this look of desperation all over his face, and it was in his voice, too . . . like he just wanted to hear her say it back. Just once. And she did feel it, of course. But that didn’t mean she could say it. She had to take her own advice and forget about everything that had happened today, everything she’d felt. Or at least try to.

For that reason, she left without another word instead of telling him she loved him, too.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~

During the drive home, Maria had time to formulate a lie. She went over it in her head several times, making sure she had her story straight. It was going to be a pretty flimsy excuse for her absence at home tonight, but it was at least plausible.

From the moment she walked in the door, Max was there, hugging her. He seemed relieved. “Oh, I’m so glad you’re home,” he said. “I was worried.”

She blinked back tears, making sure they were all safely tucked back inside when he released her from his embrace. “I’m sorry,” she apologized. “I didn’t mean to go AWOL.”

“What happened?” he asked, looking her up and down, as if he just wanted to make sure she was okay.

“Oh, I . . .” She smiled shakily, trying to look more amused than ashamed. “I decided to swing by the library after my shift at the dorms today. I needed a book for this paper I have to write. So I sat down and started reading it, and before you know it, I guess I just fell asleep.” She shrugged. “Didn’t know I was so tired, I guess.”

“So . . .” Max made a face. “You were asleep at the library this whole time?”

She forced a chuckled. “Yeah. Stupid, huh? Somebody finally came and woke me up when they were closing. I was so embarrassed.”

“I’m just glad nothing serious happened,” he said, squeezing her hand.

“Nope.” She tried to smile. “Nothing serious.”

“Well, I just got Dylan to bed about an hour ago,” he said, “but I was seriously about to call Liz and ask her to come over, so I could go drive around and look for you.”

“Oh god.” She cringed. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to worry you.”

“No, it’s fine now,” he said. Leaning in, he gave her a kiss on the cheek. That little kiss almost killed her. It was so sweet.

“Well . . .” He cleared his throat. “Guess you probably aren’t very tired right now then. You want me to make you a late dinner?”

Actually, she was exhausted, but she wasn’t about to turn down his thoughtful offer. “Sure,” she said. “Let me just jump in the shower first.” After everything she and Michael had done this evening, she definitely needed to . . . clean off.

“I’ll have it ready when you come out,” he vowed, heading into the kitchen.

Maria watched him for a few seconds, appreciative. He really was a good boyfriend. They’d been back together for over a year now, and she really had no complaints. He hadn’t done anything wrong. Not one thing.

“Max?” she squeaked out, feeling the need to apologize one more time. “I’m really sorry.”

He just smiled and assured her, “It’s okay.”

No, she thought, it’s not. And if he knew just what she was really apologizing for, he wouldn’t think it was okay, either.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Maria DeLuca was impossible to forget. Any night spent making love to her would forever be locked into Michael’s memory.

He showered, sat up with the TV on for a while, and then tried to go back to sleep after she left, but it was no use. His mind was racing. With thoughts of her. With thoughts of Sarah.

What was he going to say to his girlfriend? She’d be home tomorrow night, which meant he didn’t have a whole hell of a lot of time to figure it out. His gut was telling him to confess, tell the truth, be completely honest with her and end their relationship. But what if it hurt her even more than he thought it would? Like Isabel. He’d never imagined that breaking up with her would spur her to go off the deep end, but it had. Sarah definitely wasn’t Isabel, but still . . . what if it was something she couldn’t bounce back from?

There was another fear plaguing him, too, a worse one. What if she somehow found it in her heart to forgive him? What if his betrayal wasn’t enough to make her give up hope for him, or fall out of love with him? What if she wanted to give him another chance? He wanted her forgiveness, sure, eventually. Whenever and if ever she was ready to give it to him. But he didn’t want to lead her on and make her think that their relationship could withstand this. Because . . . it just couldn’t. His heart was somewhere else, and it had been for a long time now.

He lay awake all night, dreading the conversation he would need to have with her. And it would have to happen tomorrow. Because he couldn’t curl up with her in bed and act like everything was alright. Maybe Maria could do that with Max, but he didn’t have it in him to fool Sarah like that. Not anymore at least.

His alarm clock buzzed in the morning, a reminder that he was supposed to work an early shift down at the Vidorra front desk. He reached over and slapped the off button, forcing himself out of bed.

The shift was long and monotonous. On a Sunday morning, there wasn’t much activity, wasn’t much of anything to do. Eventually, the sleepless night started to catch up to him, and he nodded off for a few minutes. His cell phone’s vibration in his pocket woke him up, though. When he checked it, he saw he had a text. From Crazy Girl. She said she’d be home around 7:00 and that she couldn’t wait to see him.

He didn’t text her back.

When his shift was over, he returned to his apartment. From the second he walked in the door, his nose was assaulted. It smelled like sex in there. It looked like sex, too. The bed was practically torn apart, and his clothes were still littering the floor. He’d have to do some major cleaning before she got home.

He made his way over to the bed and stood beside it, staring down at the covers, letting the memories of last night drift back into his mind. Memories of his whispered name on Maria’s gorgeous lips. Her legs around his waist. His head between her thighs.

Just in case he chickened out on telling Sarah tonight, he peeled off the sheets. He’d go throw them in the wash and put a new pair of sheets on and make the bed. It was the least he could do before she got home. He had to do something.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Keeping busy helped Maria keep her mind off of . . . other things. So she cleaned her whole house on Sunday. Dusting, vacuuming, scrubbing the floors . . . everything. She was trying so hard to be focused, though, that she actually got finished quicker than she’d intended to. So she had to find another task to occupy herself, and that task ended up being Dylan’s closet. He had a ton of clothes, many of which he didn’t even really fit in anymore. She looked through it, and every shirt she decided to discard went in either the Good Will pile or the throwaway pile if it was too shabby to give away.

Halfway through the closet, she got distracted with all the laughter she heard out in the living room. Max and Dylan had ditched the Xbox today and fired up the Wii instead; but it didn’t sound like they were playing one of their typical sports games. She headed out of Dylan’s room and peeked into the living room to see what they were doing. Dancing, by the looks of it, or at least trying to. It was some kind of dancing game, and Dylan seemed to be winning.

“I’m no good at this,” Max said, laughing as he tried to jump and spin around at the same time.

“You’re too old,” Dylan said, giggling.

“Hey, watch it, I’m not that old,” Max reminded him.

“I’m gonna win!” Dylan exclaimed confidently, moving his arms and legs all about.

“No, it’s a comeback!” Max declared. “Look, my points are goin’ up!”

Maria smiled as she watched them. Both were so engrossed in what they were doing that they didn’t even notice her standing there.

If someone had told her three years ago that Max Evans would end up being a good dad, being a family man, she would have said they were crazy. She still wasn’t sure how it had happened—his stints in rehab were something he kept mostly to himself—but it had happened. Nowadays, Max loved both of his kids more than anything in the world. They brought out the best in him.

The more she watched them, the sadder she became. Because she knew sleeping with Michael had put all that in jeopardy. There was still a very real chance that Michael would defy her wishes and tell Sarah, and that she would then tell Max. And then their whole little family would come crashing down.

Unable to watch anymore, she slipped back into Dylan’s bedroom and shut the door. She tried to make it back to the closet, but she started to cry, and they were the kind of sobs that shook her whole body. She sat down on the floor, using one of the clothing piles as a pillow, and tried to muffle herself. If Max overheard her and came asking what was wrong . . . well, that lie wouldn’t be as easy to formulate as last night’s lame library one had been.

Am I a horrible person? she wondered. She really hoped not. She hoped there was a difference between being a horrible person and just making a horrible mistake. But was there? Really?

~*~*~*~*~*~*~

As 7:00 neared, Michael started to become more and more nervous. The sheets were changed and the bed was made, but that didn’t erase what he’d done. He still knew, still felt the shame of it swimming around inside. Sarah would be home soon, and she’d be so happy to see him. Until he started talking. Until he told her everything.

He paced around for about twenty minutes, and at almost 7:00 exactly, the door handle turned, and in she came. “Hey!” she exclaimed, dropping her bag down right at her feet. She bounded toward him and leapt into his arms, hugging him exaggeratedly. Then she kissed him, and he felt awful for even letting her do that. Twenty-four hours ago, his mouth had been all over Maria.

“I missed you,” Sarah said as he set her down on her feet. She leaned against him, smiling that big, bright smile of hers, always so vibrant. “I know it was only a weekend, but it felt so much longer.”

You’re telling me, he thought. His whole world had changed this weekend. Hers, too. She just didn’t know it yet.

“Oh, my mom and dad and Victor all say hi,” she told him. “The hug was from them. The kiss was from me.”

He took a step back from her, trying to be subtle about it. “Did you have a good time?” he asked, not even sure why he was bothering with typical conversation. He needed to just man up and confess.

“Yeah, I did,” she said. “It’s good to be back, though.” She whirled around, stretching her arms above her head, and backtracked into the kitchen. “Oh, I don’t know about you, but I’m starving,” she said. “Let’s make something to eat.”

He followed her to the refrigerator, making sure not to crowd her. He just wanted to stand back and watch her for a few seconds, because it was all about to come crashing down.

“Are you in the mood for anything in particular?” she asked as she opened the fridge and peered inside.

“Not really,” he mumbled.

Looking back over her shoulders, she grinned suggestively. “You sure about that?”

Oh god, he thought, panicked. He knew that look. She wanted him. She wanted to have sex with him. No way could he let it go that far tonight. Or ever again. “Maybe . . . Mexican?” he suggested, although he wasn’t even sure why he would suggest that. What the hell was he going to do, tell her over dinner? Break up with her over dinner?

She looked a little disappointed that he hadn’t taken the sex bait, but she didn’t make a big deal out of it. “I can do Mexican,” she said, grabbing a bag of shredded cheese out of the pull-out drawer in the fridge. “I could make enchiladas,” she mused as she checked the cheese package’s expiration date. “We haven’t had those for a while. Or I could do my nacho casserole. That’s quicker.”

This is gonna kill me, he thought. Here she was, thinking it was just a normal night. She had no idea . . . no idea.

Even though it was one of the hardest things he’d ever had to do in his life, he took a deep breath and tried to start in. “Sarah . . .”

She was in her own little culinary world, though, oblivious to his distress. “Or I could make Mexican lasagna,” she considered. “My dad sent me this really good recipe awhile back, and I’ve been dying to try it out.”

“I need to tell you something,” he tried, but his voice was quiet.

“You know what? It’s your choice. Totally up to you.” She shut the fridge and set the cheese on the counter. “Enchiladas, casserole, lasagna . . . you just tell me.”

“I slept with Maria,” he blurted. The words burned his throat on the way up.

This stunned look swept across her beautiful face, and for a few seconds, her whole body stilled. There was only silence, the shocked kind, until she managed a confused, “What?”

He felt like crawling in a hole and dying. Who the hell was he to go and hurt this girl? This girl didn’t deserve to be hurt. Ever.

She came closer to him, attempting to smile, as though she thought he was joking. But she was a smart girl, and she knew him, so when she looked him right in the eye and saw his seriousness, that smile morphed into a grimace as the truth set in. “Oh my god.”

“I’m so sorry,” he apologized, his voice a pained whisper.

“Wait, you . . .” She stumbled backward, frowning as she struggled to process it. “You slept with her?”

He gulped.

“When?” she demanded.

He winced, doubting now if he should have told her. This was awful, but he answered anyway. “Last night.”

“Last . . .” Her words faded as the tears attacked her eyes. Her jaw trembled with emotion, and she started to cry. “Oh my god,” she groaned, covering her mouth with her hand as sobs started to make her whole body shake. She didn’t cry for long, though. In fact, as suddenly as she’d started, she just stopped. “What? No, Michael, no,” she said. “You didn’t. I know you didn’t.”

That hurt worse than anything had so far. She still had that unwavering faith in him. She trusted him.

“Why are you saying this?” she whimpered. “It’s not funny.”

“Sarah . . .” He shook his head sadly, wordlessly communicating what she already knew. It wasn’t a joke; it wasn’t meant to be funny. It was real.

Her mouth dropped open, and the tears started to trickle out of the corners of her eyes again. “What . . . what is this?” she gasped. “What’re you . . . I don’t—I don’t understand. Why . . . you really slept with her?” A strangled sob escaped her, and accusation coated her next question. “You had sex with her?”

“I didn’t mean for it to happen,” he said. “She just came by and--”

“Oh my god, here?” she cut in, her voice cracking with sorrow and outrage. “You slept with her here?” Her face contorted in agony as she slumped back against the refrigerator and slid down to the floor, crying heavily now. Her hands shook, and the tears coated her cheeks, as she bent forward, hiding her face in her hands. “Oh, god!” came the muffled cry. “Oh, god!”

What did I do? he thought shamefully. He’d never seen Sarah look so . . . so broken. “I’m so sorry,” he apologized, knowing it wasn’t enough. His natural instinct was to get down closer to her, so he did. “I didn’t mean to hurt you.”

“Stay away from me,” she growled, scooting to the side. She got on her hands and knees, and with what looked to be a great deal of effort, she stood up. He rose to his feet, too, feeling an unfamiliar lump in his throat. He didn’t get worked up like this very often, but when he did . . . it hit full force.

“You cheated on me?” she said, still using that desperate, questioning tone, even though there was no question at this point.

He looked away guiltily.

“Have you been cheating on me this whole time?” she roared.

“No, of course not. Last night was . . .” He swallowed that lump in his throat, muttering, “It was the only time.”

Her tears ceased, and anger replaced them as she stared at him in utter disbelief. “How could you do that to me?” she demanded. “How could you do that, Michael? We’re—we’re engaged. Look at this!” She held up her left hand, showing him the ring she didn’t even know wasn’t hers. “We’re engaged. Aren’t you supposed to love me?”

“I do,” he insisted.

“Oh, well, apparently not, because you screwed another girl!” she yelled. “And where, huh? In our bed?” She squeezed her mouth shut as her lips trembled.

He hung his head and walked over to the couch, gripping the back of it with both his hands.

“Oh, I think I’m gonna be sick,” she groaned. “How could you do that, Michael? We just slept together yesterday morning in our bed. How could you sleep with her? How could sleep with her right there?”

“I don’t know, okay?” He wished like hell he hadn’t. As incredible as it had felt at the time . . . it felt just as bad now.

“Then don’t stand there and claim to love me!” she shouted, coming up behind him. “If you really loved me, then--”

He turned around, cutting her off. “Look, I know you’re gonna have a hard time believing anything I say right now, but believe me when I say I do love you.”

“No, you don’t!” she cried.

“Yes, I do. You’re amazing.” He tried to cup her cheek, but she understandably swatted his hand away. “You’re one of the best people I’ve ever met in my entire life,” he went on. “You didn’t do anything wrong. This is all my fault.”

“Why would you do this then if you love me so much? Why?” she wailed. It took her a moment, but finally, brave girl that she was . . . she asked the obvious question. “Do you still love her?”

He winced, not sure if his answer would make things better or worse. “Yes.”

Her whole body slouched in defeat. “What’s happening?” she wondered out loud.

“I’m sorry, Sarah,” he apologized again. “But I owe it to you to be honest with you.”

“Honest?” she echoed. “That’s a laugh.”

“I’m sorry.” She had to know that it wasn’t just some rush of hormones that had made him cheat on her, though. It was something bigger than that, something he couldn’t control.

“So have you been in love with her this whole time?” she interrogated. “Was everything between us just a lie?”

“No, it was real. And it was great. But I just . . .” He swore at himself inwardly for not practicing this beforehand, thinking of the easiest, least hurtful way to say it. “I can’t ignore what I feel for Maria. It’s too strong. And last night . . . I just gave in.”

“You gave in?” she shrieked. “How long have you known?”

“I don’t know.”

“Answer the question, Michael,” she snapped. “How long have you known?”

“I told you, I don’t know. Lately things have just . . .” He tried to pinpoint a certain moment, a certain event that had been the catalyst for this reawakening, but he couldn’t do it. Certain things had made it obvious, but what he felt for her . . . it had never not been there. “I couldn’t control it anymore, okay?”

“You couldn’t control it?” Her voice was piercing, sharp with hysteria. “Is that what you’ve been doing for the past two and a half years, controlling your feelings for her?”

“No! Of course not!”

“Because it sounds like that’s what you’re saying. It sounds like you’ve been in love with her this entire time, and you just settled for me.”

“I didn’t settle.” He reached out to grab her arms, but she adamantly shook his hands away. “I told you, you’re amazing.”

“You told me you loved me,” she ground out. “You made me feel like I was the one. You fucking proposed to me, Michael! But you’ve known this whole time, haven’t you? You’ve known you were still in love with her, and the only reason you stayed with me is because you can’t have her.”

He wanted to tell her she was wrong, but . . . what if she wasn’t? He did love her, honestly, but deep down he’d always known those feelings didn’t compare.

“And me . . . I’m so stupid,” she said regretfully. “‘Yeah, Michael, take classes with your ex-girlfriend. Work with her. Invite her over for dinner. I trust you.’” She glared at him and shook her head angrily. “God, I’m such an idiot.”

“No, you’re not.” She’d been the most gracious, understanding, patient girlfriend a guy could ask for. She’d never once been judgmental or jealous . . . even when she should have been. Some people just didn’t have those qualities in them. “You’re just . . . you’re too good for me.”

“So does that mean Max is too good for Maria?”

He rolled his eyes, not about to dive into that portion of this predicament.

“God, no wonder you always hated him so much. He’s dating your dream girl,” she bit out angrily. “And here I actually thought she and I were friends. Could I be any more naïve?”

It wasn’t that she was naïve, even though she felt that way; she was just innocent. In twenty-one years, the world had never turned its back on her. Until now. Until him. Some of that innocence was going to be gone now, or at the very least, damaged.

“God, I just—I feel so . . .” She trailed off, staring to pace around now much in the same way he had before she’d gotten home. “I just don’t understand why you would do this, and I don’t understand why this is happening, and it’s not fair. I don’t want this.”

“I’m sorry.” Out of all the stupid things he’d done in his life, this one ranked right up there with his mistake with Dylan. It was something he’d never be able to apologize for enough, something she’d probably never forgive him for. “I wish . . . I just wish I’d done things differently. I screwed everything up.”

Her feet slowed, and eventually, she stopped right in the middle of the floor, her body angled towards their bed. She stared at it hopelessly, lamenting, “Is this really happening right now?” as if she wanted it all to be some horrible nightmare and nothing more.

It is, he thought sadly. I’m so sorry, baby. So sorry.

She turned back around, her eyes boring straight into his. “I hate you.”

That was okay. He hated himself.

She stormed past him, picked up the bag she’d left at the door, and headed out.

“Sarah, wait!” he called after her. But it was too late. She was gone. And since he had a pretty good idea where she was going, he didn’t try to go after her.

His whole body ached. With remorse. Blame. It felt like tiny little shards of his heart were stabbing him from the inside, and the fact that he felt this bad made him feel even worse about how she had to be feeling.

But at least I told her, he thought, trying to remember that this had needed to happen, that it was the right thing to do after doing so much of the wrong thing. Unfortunately for her, his honesty was a little too late. But better late than never.








TBC . . .

-April
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LOVE IS MICHAEL AND MARIA.

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Re: Somewhere, Anywhere (M&M, CC/UC, AU, Adult) Part 59, 01/29/17

Post by sarammlover » Mon Jan 30, 2017 1:01 pm

And just like that, everyone's life is forever changed. I don't know where everyone goes from here. Maria will have to tell Max. Max will seek comfort in Liz and Sarah is out of luck. Sad.

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Part 60

Post by April » Sun Feb 05, 2017 3:46 pm

Sara:
And just like that, everyone's life is forever changed. I don't know where everyone goes from here. Maria will have to tell Max. Max will seek comfort in Liz and Sarah is out of luck. Sad.
Yep, FOREVER changed. Where they all go from here . . . is still very much up in the air.



Thanks for reading!








Part 60








Even though Tess had bought a bunch of baby books and insisted he read them, Kyle found himself easily distracted. He sat up in bed that evening, books cast aside, but at least he was still doing something baby-related. He was looking up names on his phone. Though they hadn’t found out the genders yet, they had a plan in mind: They were each going to come up with one girl name and one boy name. That way, no matter what they ended up with, they were covered, and it was fair.

He was in the middle of browsing through the H names for boys when the doorbell rang. He set his phone aside, got out of bed, and strode out into the hall. Tess was already answering the door, and from the second she opened it, the night took a turn. Because there was Sarah, mascara and tear tracks running down her cheeks. She practically collapsed into Tess’s arms, balling her eyes out, and Kyle didn’t even have to hear anything to know what must have happened. He’d never seen Sarah cry like that before. She looked . . . devastated.

Didn’t take a genius.

He gave them space as Tess hauled Sarah over to the couch and sat down with her. Sarah started telling her what had happened, but it was hard to make out much of what she was saying. Not that Kyle needed to hear it. He already knew, so he slipped back into the bedroom, picking up his phone, checking to see if he had any texts from Michael. He didn’t.

For at least an hour, Sarah and Tess didn’t move off the couch. They just sat together and cried. Sarah did most of the crying, of course, but Tess joined in, too. Kyle made some tea for both of them and listened from the kitchen. It wasn’t easy to think of Michael doing that to Sarah, cheating on her. And it wasn’t that he’d just kissed Maria, either. The fact that he’d actually had sex with her really seemed to be eating away at Sarah’s heart.

Kyle overheard a lot of things he didn’t want to, things like how it had just happened last night, how they’d done it right there in the bed. It infuriated him on Sarah’s behalf. Tess was more vocal about her anger, though. Anytime Sarah said something disparaging about herself, Tess quickly jumped in and slung out an insult at Michael instead. Or Maria. Or both of them. She was heated, but Sarah was just heartbroken.

“It all just happened so fast,” Sarah bemoaned as Kyle put a blanket over her lap. “It’s crazy, isn’t it? You spend so much time getting to know someone and building a life with them, and then in the blink of an eye . . . it’s all over.”

Tess rubbed her shoulder, curling up under the blanket with her. “I’m sorry, Sarah,” she said. “I wish there was something I could say to make you feel better.”

Sarah took a sip of her tea and shook her head. “There’s not,” she said. “I’ve never felt worse than I do right now. I feel like I’m dying. Melodramatic, I know.”

“No, I get it,” Tess said, casting a quick glance up at Kyle. He wondered if, even though he’d never cheated on her, perhaps he’d once made her feel the same way.

“He’s the love of my life, Tess,” Sarah whimpered.

“Maybe he’s not. Maybe there’s someone better out there for you.”

“But I just want Michael.” A few of Sarah’s tears actually dripped down into her cup, and she set it aside on the end table. “But I guess he doesn’t want me.”

Tess grunted angrily, grumbling, “I can’t even believe him. He’s such a loser. How could he do this to you? You’ve done so much for him.”

“Not enough.” Sarah looked down at her lap, all her usual liveliness gone from her. “I’m not Maria.”

“Yeah, you’re not a lying slut,” Tess said. “Be grateful for that.”

Kyle shifted uncomfortably. He understood why it was so easy for Tess to jump to Sarah’s defense—they were best friends after all. But instead of sitting there with them, he wanted to go see how his best friend was doing. He wasn’t the monster Tess would now want to make him out to be. But still, what he had done was very, very wrong.

“I’m gonna go make you something to eat,” Tess said, getting to her feet. “What do think? A sandwich?”

Sarah shook her head. “I’m not hungry.”

“Well, I’ll just make it in case you do get hungry,” Tess said, giving her shoulder one more gentle squeeze before she headed into the kitchen, subtly motioning for Kyle to follow her.

When they were out of earshot from Sarah, Tess muttered, “Unbelievable. How is this happening again?”

How did I let this happen? Kyle wondered. He knew it wasn’t his fault, but he felt like he could have done more, should have done more. He’d known that Michael’s feelings for Maria were more than friendly. He shouldn’t have backed off of his suspicions. He should have found a way to get through to him, making him see that he had to end things before something like this happened.

“I mean, cheating on Isabel was one thing,” Tess went on, “but I thought he’d grown up since then. And how could he cheat on Sarah? She’s so perfect for him. Maria can’t even compare. God, I hate her. She’s such a homewrecker.”

Kyle sighed, feeling like he shouldn’t say anything. If he agreed with her, then she’d feed off his anger, but if he didn’t agree enough, then she’d get pissed at him, too. “It’s . . . crazy,” he said vaguely. “I was thinkin’ I might go check on Michael.”

“Why? He’s not the wronged party here,” Tess reminded him. “He’s the cheater.”

“Yeah, but he’s still my best friend.” It didn’t matter what Michael did, what mistakes he made. At the end of the day, Kyle would never turn his back on him. Ever.

“Well, he’s not my friend,” Tess huffed. “Oh, and I’ll tell you what else he’s not: our children’s god-father. Or your best man. He’s lost the right to both those special titles.”

“Tess . . .” Now really wasn’t the best time to be making those decisions.

“What?” she spat. “I’m serious, Kyle. I don’t want him having anything to do with our family.”

The last thing he wanted was for this whole thing to start an argument between the two of them, so he calmly suggested, “How about we talk about this some other time? You go comfort Sarah; I’ll go check on Michael.”

Irritated, Tess rolled her eyes. “Whatever.” And then she headed back into the kitchen without the sandwich she’d promised to make, so Kyle headed out.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~

The whole apartment felt different to Michael now. It felt . . . depressing. As electrifying as his night with Maria had been, this night with Sarah had been an all-time low. He sat on the couch wallowing in it. No TV. No phone. No anything. Just him and his thoughts. And his regret.

There was never a good way to break a girl’s heart, but there had been a better way. He could have ended things with her first. He could have still been honest with her about his feelings for Maria, but it would have hurt less that way. Because at least then she wouldn’t have had to live with the knowledge that he’d cheated on her.

Why did he do this to girls? He didn’t want to.

Self-control, he thought, figuring he had none of it. These past two and a half years of college had all been a façade. Underneath all of the studying and the grades and the scholarships was the same reckless, impulsive kid who’d always managed to make a mess of things in high school. He was still that same guy. He probably always would be.

That wasn’t exactly a happy thought.

Shango roamed around the living room, probably needing to be let out to go to the bathroom once more tonight. But Michael hardly even felt like he had the energy to get up off the couch, let alone walk down three flights of stairs and stand around outside.

When there was a knock on the door, his energy level picked up a bit. He thought that maybe it was Sarah—but then again, why would she knock? So then he thought maybe it was Maria. Maybe she’d told Max tonight, just like he’d told Sarah.

He got up and answered the door, but it was only Kyle. “Hey,” his friend said.

“Hey,” Michael returned, leaving the door open as he treaded back to the couch and sat down again. “So I take it you heard.”

“Yeah.” Kyle shut the door and slowly shuffled to the couch, hands in his pockets. “She’s over at my house right now. On my couch. Crying. A lot.”

It hurt to even picture it, but Michael had assumed that was where she would go. And that was good. At least now he didn’t have to worry about her driving around while she was upset.

“What the hell, man?” Kyle groaned. “I knew this was gonna happen. But you told me not to worry about it, so I backed off. Turns out I shouldn’t have.”

“It’s not your fault,” Michael said. Kyle had tried to warn him.

“Oh, I know that. But still . . . I’m pissed,” Kyle admitted. “Not at myself, at you. Sarah’s a . . . she’s a pretty special girl, and I can’t believe you’d do that to her.”

“Me, neither.” Michael swallowed hard, wishing he could go back in time and do things differently. “Trust me, it sucks hurting one of the people you care about most in the world. No wonder she hates me.”

A silence settled upon them for a few seconds, and Kyle sounded contemplative when he broke it. “This is . . . different than it was with Isabel,” he said. “Because you and Sarah . . . it’s just different.”

Michael nodded sadly in agreement. It was different because it was more serious. Isabel had been his girlfriend, sure, but Sarah was his fiancée. They’d been together for a long time. They lived together. They had a whole life together.

“So what does this mean then?” Kyle asked. “Are you and Maria back together now?”

Michael almost laughed, because it would never just be that simple. “No,” he said. “She doesn’t wanna tell Max. But I felt like I had to tell Sarah.”

Kyle nodded solemnly. “So now you lost ‘em both, huh?”

He hadn’t thought about that, but . . . hell, here he was by himself. Neither one of them would wanna talk to him ever again. “I guess,” he said, letting the misery over that fact mix in with all the crap he already felt. What if that one night with Maria was all he ever got? What if he’d just thrown away a relationship with a girl who loved him for a girl who wouldn’t leave her boyfriend’s side?

It just got more and more depressing, didn’t it?

“Look, Kyle . . . I really just need to be alone right now,” he said. On some level, he was appreciative that his friend had stopped by, but . . . he felt really ashamed about everything, and it was easier to deal with that shame when no one else was around.

“Alright,” Kyle said, turning to leave. At the door, though, he stopped and turned back around. “I don’t hate you,” he said. “But I am disappointed.”

Michael didn’t even look at him as he left. But man, he sure had that fatherly thing down, didn’t he? Wasn’t that what parents always said to their kids? Good parents, anyway. It wasn’t what his dad would have said to him. No, if his dad had still been alive and had found out about this, he would’ve called him a stupid son of a bitch, maybe told him to go to hell. Probably would have lectured him about what a fucking loser he was. And this time . . . he wouldn’t have been wrong.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Monday. Maria usually hated Mondays, but this was a particular Monday she was looking forward to. She was hoping that it would bring about a return to normalcy. And for a while, it did. She dropped Dylan off at school, ran some errands, paid some bills. But that was done soon enough, and then she was left with nothing but time to think. And dwell.

Picking Dylan up from school was a bit more nerve-racking than dropping him off was, because she knew Michael was usually there on Monday afternoons. She sat in her car, trying to be inconspicuous as she waited for her son to exit the building. When she saw him, she got out of the car.

“Hey, you,” she said. “How was school today?”

“It was alright.” He opened up the back door the car and tossed his backpack on the floor. “Kinda boring.”

“Boring, huh?” She waited until he climbed into his car seat to lean into the back and stretch the seatbelt across his lap. “Yeah, some school days are like that,” she said, casting a worried glance over her shoulder. Still no sign of him. That was good. Redirecting her attention to her son, she asked, “Did you learn anything new?”

Dylan shrugged. “Not really.”

“Got any homework?”

“Nope.” He grinned proudly. “Oh, but I got the friend circle tomorrow. With Micho.”

She stilled as she snapped his seatbelt into place. Right, she thought. Circle of Friends. There was still that. And next year, there would still be football practice and football games. It wasn’t like she could cut him out of her life completely, not without cutting him out of Dylan’s.

She shut the door and let out a shaky sigh as she looked for Michael one more time. There were plenty of people outside—kids loading onto the bus, adults helping to direct traffic, teachers who were eager to leave—but no Michael Guerin. So maybe today wasn’t something to worry about. But maybe tomorrow was.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Michael stood behind the glass doors at the entrance of the school, watching as Maria searched for him. She probably wasn’t hoping to find him, and since these windows were tinted, she wouldn’t. He could have easily gone out there and said something to her, told her he’d confessed to Sarah. But this wasn’t the time or place. It was public, and Dylan was around.

“Ahem.”

He tensed when he heard Vanessa come up behind him and clear her throat. He’d effectively managed to avoid her all day until now.

“Can I speak to you?” she asked sternly.

Oh, this didn’t sound good.

He followed her into her office and she shut the door as he sat down. “What’s up?” he asked casually, pretending he had no idea what she could possibly want to talk to him about.

She sat down across from him, not at all casual. “You wanna tell me what I interrupted the other night?” she asked. But it wasn’t a request so much as it was an order.

“What do you mean?” he played dumb.

“After the dance. You and Maria. You two looked pretty close,” she remarked.

We got closer, he thought, knowing he had to remain nonchalant, like it was no big deal. Like what she’d walked up on wasn’t the prelude to six hours of non-stop sex the next night. “Oh, we were just dancing,” he replied. “For old time’s sake. It was nothin’.”

She narrowed her eyes at him, obviously skeptical. “I told you to keep it professional,” she reminded him.

“I am,” he lied.

“No, slow-dancing with a student’s mother is not professional,” she reprimanded him. “And besides, don’t you have a girlfriend of your own?”

Not anymore, he thought. But that was none of her business. “It won’t happen again,” he promised, pushing his chair back. He stood up, noting that she still had that skeptical look on her face, even as he left the office. Oh, if she’d known just how unprofessional he and Maria had been, then she probably would have told him not to come back.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~

When Michael got back to Vidorra, he felt on edge. It hadn’t really dawned on him until today that, even though he’d told Sarah the truth, he was going to have to keep lying to other people. He didn’t like pulling the wool over Vanessa’s eyes, but it wasn’t like he could just tell her the truth. And what about his mom and his sister? They would wonder why he and Sarah were no longer together. What was he supposed to tell them?

When he got off the elevator and stepped out onto the third floor, he was wracking his brain, trying to come up with some kind of way to explain to his family what had happened without really telling them the complete truth. The only thing that could have—and did—distract him from this was an alert to Sarah’s presence. He didn’t see her, but he did see Tess standing outside the door to his apartment, arms crossed over her chest like a defiant little guard dog. Clearly that meant Sarah was inside, but he asked, “Is she in there?” as he trundled down the hallway anyway.

“She’s getting some of her stuff,” Tess replied coldly, barely even looking at him. She backed up towards the door, making it even more impossible for him to get around her.

“Let me in, Tess.”

“No, she doesn’t need to see you right now. Anything you say is just gonna hurt her more.”

Oh, fuck, he was in no mood for this. “Sarah!” he yelled, reaching over and around Tess to pound on the door.

“Back off, Michael!” Tess snapped, shoving him backwards with surprising strength. “I’m serious. I’m pissed and I’m pregnant. You do not wanna mess with me.”

Just then, the door to the adjacent apartment opened, and a guy poked his head out. “Is everything alright out here?” he asked.

“Yeah, it’s fine. Just--” Michael didn’t finish his sentence as the door to his place slowly opened, and Sarah peeked out.

“It’s alright, Tess,” she said, her voice hoarse. “Let him come in.”

“Are you sure?” Tess asked.

Sarah nodded. “Yeah. You can go wait in the car.”

Tess sighed reluctantly, obviously not happy with the decision, and shot Michael one more death glare before getting out of his way and heading down the hall. The neighbor guy, apparently sensing that this was none of his business, went back inside and closed his door, too.

Michael followed Sarah back inside, surveying the mess that was currently his place. There were clothes and little odds and ends strewn all about. An open suitcase lay on their bed, unzipped but full of clothes, and two full duffle bags sat at the foot of the bed.

“So you’re leavin’?” he asked. To be honest, he hadn’t expected this so soon.

“Well, we can’t very well both stay here, can we?” she pointed out.

“So that’s it then? You’re movin’ out?”

“I don’t know, Michael,” she snapped, throwing her arms up in the air. “I haven’t thought that far ahead. You know, just last night I was happily engaged. Things changed kinda fast.”

He exhaled heavily, hating that he was causing her all this stress in addition to all this pain. “You don’t have to go,” he said. “It’s my fault. I can leave.”

She grunted, pulling the top of her suitcase shut. “Do you really think I wanna stay here?” she growled, struggling to zip it shut. “Do you really think I could even sleep in this bed right now? Trust me, this is the last place I wanna be.”

He supposed he could understand that, but still . . . he was going to feel like an even bigger ass than he already was if she was the one who had to go live on someone else’s couch for the rest of the semester.

Hesitantly, he stepped closer to her, helping her zip her suitcase shut. “I didn’t mean for it to end up like this,” he mumbled quietly. “I know you probably don’t believe me. You have no reason to. But it’s true.”

“How did you want it to end then?” she questioned hostilely.

“I wanted us to be together,” he claimed.

“Really? Or did you just wanna get over Maria? See, I had a lot of time to think about it last night, and I think that’s why you started dating me in the first place. You just wanted to forget about her. But you didn’t. And now I realize you never will.”

He shook his head, resenting the way that sounded. “You make it sound like I used you.”

“Well, didn’t you?”

“No. I fell in love with you. It’s impossible not to fall in love with you.”

“But it doesn’t matter,” she yelled, “because in the end, you still love her more! You chose her over me when you slept with her.” Tears shot her eyes, and she said it again, as if she were trying to get used to saying it. “You slept with her.”

He hung his head, wondering if the shame from this would ever go away. He doubted it. It would have been easier if Sarah was just some random girl, but she wasn’t. She was . . . she was Sarah.

“No one has ever hurt me this bad before, Michael,” she said, obviously fighting to keep the tears inside. “No one.” Shango waddled up to her suddenly and pawed at her feet. “Oh . . .” she whispered, bending down to pet him. For some reason, petting the dog made her start to cry. Maybe because he was the closest thing they had to a kid, and now she was faced with the dilemma of giving him up.

“I’m sorry,” Michael whispered.

“You know what?” She stood back up, wiping off her tears. “I’m already sick of hearing you say that. They’re just words, Michael. All the apologies in the world can’t take back what you did.”

“But I am sorry.” If nothing else, he had to make sure she knew that.

“It doesn’t matter!” she shouted. “I gave you everything I had—my heart, my body and soul—and it wasn’t enough for you!” She glared at him, shaking her head with contempt. “I lost my virginity to you. I said yes to your proposal. These are huge, monumental things in my life that I will never get back, because you took them from me.”

“It was real, though,” he insisted. “Our first time together . . . that wasn’t a rebound. That was all about us.”

“And what about our engagement?” she bravely asked. “Was that all about us?”

He’d told plenty of lies today, so he wanted to tell one more. To her. About this. But he couldn’t. Something in him just couldn’t lie to her anymore.

“You knew even then, didn’t you?” she said, her voice shaking. “You knew you were still in love with her when you proposed to me! Just admit it!”

“I . . .” Oh, shit, he thought. What the hell did I get myself into here? “I had a feeling,” he confessed.

She sniffled, nodding as if she’d expected that. “You know what then?” She twisted off the ring and stormed over to the window. “I don’t want this,” she growled. “This is worthless.” Before he could do anything about it, she pushed open the window and tossed it out into the parking lot.

“No, Sarah . . .” His heart lunged at the thought of that ring being gone forever. Not because it was hers, but because it wasn’t.

“That’s how much your love means to me,” she grumbled, slamming the window shut. She pushed past him, grabbed her suitcase with one hand, and hooked the straps of her duffle bags onto her other arm. Completely loaded down, she struggled out the door, and he was too fixated on the demise of that damn ring to even offer to help her. Not that she would have wanted his help anyway.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~

There was a problem: Whenever Maria shut her eyes, even for just a few seconds, all she could think of was Michael. Even though she swore to herself she’d keep her distance, she kept having these phantom feeling of his hands all over her body, on her hips, threading through her hair. His lips on her neck, tongue massaging her skin . . .

“Are you alive?”

Maria snapped herself out of her daze when Liz came to join her in the kitchen. “Barely,” she said, trying to refocus herself. Liz had brought Scarlet over tonight. Scarlet and Dylan were playing. Max was playing with both of them. It was utterly adorable, the kind of thing that would touch the heart of a girl who wasn’t stuck fantasizing about an ex-boyfriend.

“Insomnia?” Liz guessed.

“Something like that.” The past few nights had definitely been brutal—just a few hours of sleep here and there. Eventually, her body was going to just give out, and she was going to have to sleep the night through. Maybe tonight would be that night. If she was lucky.

“That sucks,” Liz said. She nodded her head in the direction of something on the counter behind Maria and remarked, “That’s a pretty necklace.”

“What?” Maria looked back at the treble clef necklace Michael had given her for her birthday. She’d gotten it out earlier with the full intention of throwing it away, but for some reason, the counter was as far as it had gotten. “Oh, thanks,” she said, sensing an alternative disposal method. “Do you want it?” she offered. “I really don’t wear it anymore.”

“Sure, I’ll take it,” Liz said. “I’ll give it to Alex.”

Maria handed it over. “You think he’ll wear it?”

Liz laughed a little and put it in her pocket. “He can give it to his next girlfriend as a gift,” she said.

“What if his next girlfriend turns out to be Isabel?”

Liz shrugged. “Better than Leanna, I guess.”

“Yeah.” Maria frowned. She didn’t know Leanna at all, but she knew that Liz harbored a massive dislike towards the girl. Did that mean that Alex did, too? “Do you think he’s forgiven her?” she asked, trying not to sound as nosy as she was actually being. “Leanna, I mean.”

“Probably,” Liz replied, “but only because he’s a really nice guy. For most people, I don’t think it’s that easy. I think most people can’t ever really forgive someone who cheats on them.”

Maria nodded slowly, making sure her facial expression didn’t betray her. No nervousness, no panic. But the thought of that really did freak her out. If forgiveness wasn’t an option, then that was all the more reason for Max to never know.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Nightfall had set in a long time ago. Michael wasn’t sure how long. He didn’t care. If he had to stay out there all damn night, he’d do it. There was no way he was going to stop until he found that ring.

He scoured the parking lot with a flashlight that was gradually growing dimmer. Some people who walked by just ignored him; others stared at him as if he were crazy. He probably looked crazy.

He searched under cars, around them, even got up close and personal with a storm drain. But that ring was nowhere in sight.

“Michael?”

Brody, he registered, but he didn’t even stop, didn’t even glance up.

“What’re you doing?” Brody asked. No doubt he’d glanced outside and wondered what the hell he was doing.

“I’m lookin’ for something,” Michael replied, stating the obvious.

“For what?” Brody questioned.

“Just . . . something, okay? I gotta find it.” He saw something shiny by the back wheel of a red Honda, and eagerly, he rushed over to see if it was the ring. But it was just a sparkly rock. Huge letdown.

“Why don’t you come inside?” Brody suggested. “Whatever it is, you can look for it in the morning.”

“No, you don’t understand. I can’t just . . .” He trailed off helplessly when an SUV sped into the parking lot, making a crunching sound as it rolled over . . . something. He knew even before he ran over to check it out that it was exactly what he’d been looking for this whole time.

He bent down, devastated to see that it was in pieces now. How many cars had rolled right over it without even realizing? The diamond was crushed, and the band was broken in half and flattened. Unsalvageable.

“What is that?” Brody asked.

As lame as it was to get emotional over some stupid piece of jewelry, Michael had to sniff back tears. “It’s nothin’,” he muttered, pocketing the shattered remnants.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Maria was so relieved when her academic advisor could squeeze in an appointment with her Tuesday morning . . . but she was less relieved when they started talking. Because she had one very big, one very important question, and she didn’t like the answer she was getting.

“So you’re telling me there’s no possible way I can switch classes?” she asked again, just to make sure.

Her advisor, a very nice but very blunt woman whom she hadn’t ever sat down with until today, shook her head. “No. The other Music Appreciation class is full. And even if it wasn’t, it’s too late in the semester now to drop and add a class.”

“Well, what if I paid some kind of late registration fee or something?” Maria suggested feebly.

“I’m sorry. There’s nothing you can do,” her advisor reiterated.

Nothing?” There had to be something, didn’t there? If not, then this was a devastating blow, one that she wasn’t certain she could absorb. Shoulders slumping, she asked, “So what are my options then?”

“Well, you can either stay in the class, or you can drop it.”

Inwardly, she cringed. “What if neither of those options sounds very appealing?”

“Well, then . . . I’d say you have a tough decision to make.”

Maria sighed heavily. Great, she thought. Fan-fucking-tastic. What the hell was she supposed to do now? Taking college classes, even just one of them, had been a huge ambition of hers for years, one that had seemed unattainable at one point. She didn’t want to just toss that aside. But she couldn’t stay in that class with Michael.

The decision was still very much up in the air when she left her advisor’s office and trudged back across campus to the parking lot. She tried weighing out the pros and cons of both her options, but they just seemed about equal. She had no idea what to do.

“Maria.”

No, she thought, reluctantly slowing to a stop mere feet away from her car. Not now. Did he have to wait until she was in the worst, most stressed out mood to confront her?

“What?” she groaned, keeping her back facing him.

Poor Michael. He sounded unusually awkward as he mumbled, “I sat through an entire music class today.”

“You mean the class you don’t even have to take?” If anyone should have been sitting in there, it should have been her. He should have been the one talking to his advisor, making the arrangements to drop the class. Problem solved. But he wouldn’t do that. He was too stubborn.

“I kept hoping you’d show up,” he admitted.

She shook her head frustratedly, slowly turning around. “I told you, we need to put some space between each other,” she said, unable to stop her own eyes from roaming all over him. “Literally and metaphorically.” Even though he didn’t look his best—looked like he hadn’t slept in days—he still looked . . . enticing. Hard to resist.

“I need to talk to you,” he said, coming closer.

She backed away. “No.”

“Please,” he begged. “It’s important.”

“Oh, so important that we have to go up to your place, right?” she guessed. This was so transparent.

“Look, I’m not tryin’ to screw you right now, Maria. I just wanna talk,” he insisted.

“You never just wanna talk.”

“I do this time,” he insisted. “Come on.” He motioned towards Vidorra with his head and even started to walk in that direction.

“No, whatever you need to say, you can say right here,” she told him defiantly, crossing her arms over her chest.

“Right here?” he echoed.

“Yes.”

“You sure about that?”

Yes.” So what if they were in the middle of a parking lot? It was safer out here. She couldn’t very well jump his bones in front of all these other people, could she?

“Alright, fine,” he said. “I broke up with Sarah.”

Maria nearly lost her balance; it felt like the whole ground shifted underneath her. “What?” she spat, looking around worriedly. Suddenly the idea of having so many other people mulling about this parking lot concerned her, because what if they overheard? Or worse, what if they already knew? “What did you tell her?” she demanded, her voice a hushed, panicked whisper.

“Everything,” he replied.

She felt a lump form in the back of her throat, and it took a minute for any words to get past it. “I thought we agreed not to say anything.”

“No, you agreed,” he corrected. “I couldn’t do it.”

“So she . . . so she knows that we . . .” Maria trailed off, shakily gasping for breath. “Oh my god, Michael,” she breathed nervously. “Why did you do that?”

“Because I’m tired of lyin’ to her. It was eatin’ away at me inside. I had to tell her.”

“No, that was so stupid.” Normally, she wasn’t one to insult Michael’s intelligence, because she knew what a smart guy he actually was. But this wasn’t a smart thing to do. Not at all. In fact, this threatened to ruin everything. “You shouldn’t have done that,” she scolded adamantly. “You’re gonna regret it for the rest of your life.”

“No, it was the right thing to do,” he argued.

“The right thing would’ve been to never sleep with me in the first place!” She raked one hand through her hair, horrified by this new development. “God, I can’t believe you!” She really had assumed that he would keep his mouth shut, if for no other reason than the fact that that was what she’d asked him to do. But maybe she should have known better. Michael didn’t take orders from anyone, not even her.

“I can’t believe you haven’t told Max,” he retorted. “I mean, if you guys are half as close as you say you are . . .”

“We are close,” she insisted.

“You’re lying to him! How close can you possibly be?”

“My relationship is my business,” she growled. “Don’t try to tell me what to do.”

“Why not? You tried to tell me. You tried to make me lie to her,” he pointed out. “And now you’re just pissed ‘cause I didn’t do it.”

“I was just giving you a suggestion.”

“And I didn’t take it. So cry me a fuckin’ river, Maria. Sarah knows. Deal with it.”

“Deal with it?” she echoed furiously. “Do you have any idea how precarious things are for me now? She could tell him. She could tell Max everything. Or she could say something to Liz.” As close as she and Liz were, there wasn’t a doubt in her mind that Liz was still closer to Max. They had a loyalty, a bond, because they had a daughter. If it came down to it, Liz would be honest with him. Liz was just an honest person. “God, Michael, there are so many ways this could get out now.”

“It already has.”

She gave him a curious look.

“Kyle and . . . and Tess,” he mumbled. “They know.”

Kyle wasn’t a concern at all. But Tess, on the other hand? Major concern. Bigger than Sarah, even. “Oh, that’s great, Michael,” she said sarcastically. “Because Tess Harding hates me. And now she probably hates me even more. If there’s anyone who would just be itching to tell Max everything, it’s her.”

“She won’t say anything,” he assured her.

“Oh, really? Are you positive about that?”

Apparently he wasn’t, because he fell silent for a few seconds. Finally, he said, “I’ll talk to her. And Sarah. I’ll make sure they don’t tell.”

“Do you really think they’ll listen to you?”

He shrugged. “It’s worth a shot.”

A shot? she thought. That wasn’t good enough. She needed an absolute, undoubted guarantee that he could get through to those two girls, that he wouldn’t stop until he did. “Michael, you have to promise me . . .” Her mouth started to shake as the fear rose up inside her. If either Tess or Sarah did say something, it wouldn’t end well for her. She’d break Max’s heart, break up their family. And who knew how it would all turn out? “It’s not myself I’m worried about here,” she whimpered.

“Yeah, I know,” he muttered. “It’s Max.”

“And Dylan.” She knew that, if there was one person Michael loved as much as he loved her, it was that little boy. He’d do anything he had to do to protect him. Jump off a bridge. Rope his ex into keeping quiet. Whatever it took. “Think about him,” she urged. “He’s gone through so much in six years. I don’t want him to have to go through this, too.”

Clearly conflicted inside, Michael thought about it for a moment and then sighed heavily. “I’ll talk to ‘em,” he promised. “But for the record . . . I think you’re makin’ a mistake.”

Noted, she thought, but she didn’t intend to change her mind. She understood why it was wrong to keep this huge secret from Max, but at the same time, she needed Michael to understand why it might also be wrong to tell him the truth.








TBC . . .

-April
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LOVE IS MICHAEL AND MARIA.

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Re: Somewhere, Anywhere (M&M, CC/UC, AU, Adult) Part 60, 02/05/17

Post by sarammlover » Mon Feb 06, 2017 11:15 am

I have started my FB so many times....I have nothing. I have absolutely no idea what happens now. I do think Maria needs to be honest with Max though. I will say that. It will be a hell of a lot worse coming from someone else should Max find out. Oy.

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April
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Part 61

Post by April » Sun Feb 12, 2017 1:25 pm

Sara:
I have started my FB so many times....I have nothing. I have absolutely no idea what happens now.
Oh, trust me, lots of things are going to happen. LOTS.
I do think Maria needs to be honest with Max though. I will say that. It will be a hell of a lot worse coming from someone else should Max find out. Oy.
Definitely. Max is not going to react well to this, no matter who he hears it from. But it'd be best if he hears it directly from her.


Thanks for reading!








Part 61








Michael spent the day at work, counting down the hours until he could leave and then really go get something done. Not something he wanted to do, but something he felt like he had to do. Because despite how much he would have loved for Maria to just tell Max herself and get this whole thing out in the open . . . she didn’t want that. She wanted to keep her family intact more than she wanted to be with him. It wasn’t exactly a happy thought.

He drove over to Tess and Kyle’s place, dreading the conversation that awaited him. He knew he had no right to ask Sarah to have his back on this. He knew it would anger her even further. But what choice did he have? If either Sarah or Tess told Max what they knew, then Maria might never forgive him.

Kyle came outside as he was getting out of the car, immediately cautioning, “I don’t know if you wanna go in there right now. They’re venting. There’s ice cream involved.”

“I need to see Sarah.”

Kyle exhaled heavily. “Don’t say I didn’t warn you.”

From the moment he stepped inside, he heard Sarah and Tess gabbing. Laughing, even, the way girls did when they were trying to turn their backs on mankind altogether. The laughter stopped abruptly, though, when he stepped into the living room. Sarah fell completely silent, and Tess erupted. “What the hell, Kyle?” she blared. “I thought I told you not to let him come over here! He’s not welcome anymore.”

“Tess . . .” Michael said softly. As protective as she was over her best friend, at the end of the day, this wasn’t about her.

“No, don’t talk to me!” she yelled. “You are an intolerable jackass who doesn’t deserve the time of day. You’re not our friend anymore. We don’t want anything to do with you.”

“Good thing I’m not here for you then.”

She marched right up into his face and kept on fighting him. “Well, I’m not gonna let you traumatize my best friend anymore! Don’t you think you’ve done enough damage?”

Thankfully, Sarah finally got up from the couch and said, “Tess, it’s okay. I can handle this. You should just relax.”

“Don’t worry about me,” Tess told her.

“I do, though. You’re pregnant. You don’t need to get all worked up.”

“I’m fine,” Tess insisted.

“I’ll be fine, too.” Sarah gave her an appreciative hug, then cast an uncertain glance at Michael. She picked up an afghan off the back of the recliner, wrapped it around her shoulders, and sulked down the hallway towards the back door. Michael followed her, feeling the heat of Tess’s death glare boring into the back of his head as he went.

Once they were outside and it was just the two of them, it felt like they could actually have a conversation. Maybe not a pleasant one, but they could at least talk without being interrupted. And if Kyle managed to keep Tess away from the window, the could even talk without being spied on.

“I promise I won’t keep doin’ this,” Michael began, knowing it couldn’t be easy on her to see him. It was hard even for him to see her, to see that look of pain and hurt in her eyes. “I’ll give you space.”

“Good,” she said, pulling the blanket tighter around her shoulders as the wind whipped past. “Because seeing you every day . . . it just makes it really hard to feel even the slightest bit better.”

“Sorry.” He honestly wouldn’t have even been there right now if he hadn’t . . . if he hadn’t promised Maria. It always came back to Maria for him.

“This better not be another forgiveness attempt,” Sarah warned.

“It’s not.” If she ever found it in that beautiful heart of hers to forgive him, he’d be forever grateful for it. But if she didn’t, he’d understand. Cringing, he said, “Don’t hate me, alright?”

“Too late.” Her expression didn’t change as she stared at him. “I already do.”

“Then don’t hate me even more.” His stomach twisted into knots as he got to the point. “I need to ask you a favor.”

She didn’t say anything for a moment. Then her whole body shook as she laughed at the ridiculousness of that. “Seriously?”

“Yeah.”

“Huh. Well, this oughta be good. What is it?”

“I need you . . .” He paused, groaning as he forced himself to say things he really didn’t want to. “I need you to not tell Max. About any of this.”

You need that?” She raised a skeptical eyebrow. Smart girl that she was, she saw through him right away. “Don’t lie to me, Michael. Lord knows you’ve done that enough. This isn’t a favor for you; it’s for Maria. You’re only here because of her.”

Well, there was no point in denying it then, not if she already knew, so he didn’t even try. “She doesn’t want him to know,” he mumbled quietly.

“Oh, of course not. Affairs are so much more fun.”

“We’re not . . . we’re not having an affair,” he informed her. “She’s stayin’ with him.”

“And lying to him.” She shook her head sadly. “Poor guy.”

“Don’t--” He still couldn’t tolerate any sympathy for Max, no matter how nice these girls thought he was these days. “He’s a bad guy. Don’t feel sorry for him. He doesn’t deserve it.”

“Doesn’t deserve a girlfriend who cheats on him, either,” Sarah quickly pointed out. “And for the record, Michael . . .” She narrowed her eyes at him and suggested, “You might wanna look in the mirror the next time you say Max is a bad guy.”

I’m not like him, Michael told himself. Sure, he’d done some pretty unspeakable things lately, but still . . . it didn’t compare to what Max had done to Dylan. It didn’t compare to almost killing the kid.

The last thing he wanted to do was fight with Sarah about the merits or demerits of Max fucking Evans, so Michael decided to just let it go. “Are you gonna tell him or not?” he asked, cutting back to the chase.

She shrugged. “I hadn’t even thought about it. I assumed Maria would.”

Yeah, he thought sadly. Me, too. Saturday night, when he’d woken up in that destroyed bed and found Maria frantically searching for her clothes, he’d figured that she would be upset about it all, but that she’d tell him the truth. Because Maria didn’t like to lead people on. If something needed to end, she would just end it. Just like she’d ended things with him once.

But apparently this was different.

“Don’t you want me to say something?” Sarah asked pointedly. “Deep down inside? Don’t you wanna have her all to yourself?”

Of course he did, and of course she already knew that. “I’m thinkin’ about Dylan here,” he said, knowing that Maria had outright manipulated him today. By bringing up that little boy, she made him second-guess himself, his own decisions. But he’d still go along with it. For now, at least. And maybe eventually she wouldn’t be able to keep it a secret any longer, and she’d have to tell him herself.

“Max is gonna find out we broke up,” Sarah pointed out. “He’s gonna wonder why. He’s gonna be suspicious, even if I don’t say anything.”

“It’s none of his business,” Michael said. “We broke up. That’s it. That’s all he needs to know. That’s all anyone needs to know.”

“Unbelievable,” she grumbled, shaking her head in dismay. “You cheat on me, break up with me, and now you wanna pull me into this whole cover-up?”

“I just wanna spare Dylan the heartache.”

“No, you don’t. You want him to be your son,” she said almost accusatorily. “It’s all so clear to me now. I don’t know how I never figured it out before. I’m so stupid.”

“You’re not--”

“This is obviously what Maria wants,” she cut back in. “And you just wanna stay on her good side.”

She definitely wasn’t wrong, not in anything she was saying. But her knowing that and him owning up to it right in front of her were two completely different things. He just wanted this whole conversation to be done. “Are you gonna say anything or not?” he asked again. If she intended to tell Max, he had to give Maria some warning so that she could do it herself.

For what felt like a long time, Sarah stood out in that back yard with him, contemplating it. He could see the conflict in her eyes. She was a good person, so on an honest, human level, of course she wanted to tell him. But she was logical, too, so she had to understand the reasons not to. At last, she relented, “Fine, I won’t say anything. Not because of Maria, not because of you. I’ll keep my mouth shut because there’s a child involved. A sweet, innocent child who doesn’t deserve to have his family torn apart over this. A child who already has a father and doesn’t need you.”

He winced, absorbing that shot.

“But that’s the only reason,” she growled, making it clear that this had nothing to do with any residual loyalty towards him.

“Thank you,” he said.

“What about Tess, though? She might say something.”

“Not if her best friend tells her not to.” As pissed as Tess was, if Sarah talked to her and calmed her down, she’d stay quiet, too. And as a mother-to-be, surely it wouldn’t be very hard for her to agree to spare Dylan all this drama.

“Fine,” Sarah grunted. “But I’m not lying to my family, Michael. I’m telling them everything.”

Everything? He dreaded the thought of Sarah’s parents and her brother, the brother who practically idolized him, finding out what he was really like. “They’re gonna hate me,” he said, wishing she’d reconsider.

“Good.”

He sighed, nodding reluctantly. There was nothing he could do. If Sarah wanted to tell her family, if she wanted to tell anyone, then she had that right. Hopefully her parents wouldn’t say anything to his mom. Hopefully they’d just keep it quiet, and then his own family never had to know.

He started to head back inside, but he thought better of it when he remembered that Hurricane Tess was still in there. So he decided to just walk around the side of the house and bypass her altogether. When he was just about in the front yard again, Sarah came scampering up behind him and called his name. “Michael?”

Hands in his pockets, he turned back around.

Her hair flew about her face wildly as the wind picked up. “If I ever find out you and Maria hook up again . . .” She glared at him, unblinking, unflinching. “Then I’ll tell Max everything.”

He gazed at her intently, sensing the seriousness of that threat.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Shango was probably the only creature in the world that would greet Michael as happily and eagerly as he did when he got home that night. He came up to him and tried to jump on him, yipping and yapping and trying to lick his hands.

“Hey, buddy,” Michael said, scratching him behind the ears. This was why dogs were awesome. Unconditional love and all that. It didn’t matter to them whether you made mistakes or not. The best part of their day was always the part when you came home.

Michael stopped to turn on the TV, then trudged over to the bed and flopped down on his back. Today had been long. Today had been stressful. Today had been hard.

What if all the days were like this from now on? And what if all the nights were like this? Lonely, isolated. Just him and his dog. His loveable dog.

Shango must have been gaining too much weight, because he struggled to climb up onto the bed with Michael, and Michael actually ended up having to lift him up. Once he was up there, though, Shango settled in right beside him and started nuzzling him, and for some reason, that made him feel a little better.

He shut his eyes, feeling like he could just fall asleep. TV still on, clothes and shoes still on. He didn’t even have his head on the pillow, but he didn’t care, because sleep sounded like the perfect escape right now from the horrible reality that was his life.

Unfortunately, just as he was feeling that he could nod right off, his cell phone rang. He reached into his pocket and took it out, glancing at the caller.

Mom.

His immediate thought was, Oh, shit. Sarah had probably called her parents and told them everything. And they’d called Krista. And now she was calling him, and she was going to be so upset with him.

Part of him contemplated not answering, but then he knew she’d only call back. So he took the call. “Hello?”

“Michael,” she said, a sense of urgency to her tone. “Come quick.”

He sat up, immediately concerned. “What is it?” he asked.

Her next words chilled him to the bone. “It’s your sister.”

~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Usually it took Michael about an hour and fifteen minutes to get from Carlsbad to Roswell—a flat hour if he sped. But when the whole point of going to Roswell was to get to the hospital and be there for the birth of his nephew, the drive only took fifty minutes. He was lucky he didn’t get pulled over.

It faintly registered with him as he raced through the hallways, trying to find his sister’s room, that he hadn’t been at that hospital in years. Not since Dylan had fallen off the bridge.

“Mom!” he called as he finally turned down the correct hallway.

“Oh, Michael.” She hugged him when he came up to her, breathing a sigh of relief. “Thank God you’re here.”

“Is she doin’ okay?” he asked. When his mom had called him, she’d sounded pretty damn freaked out that this was all happening so soon, and it made him worry that maybe there was something abnormal happening.

“Yeah, she’s alright,” his mother replied. “The contractions are starting up already, though.”

“Yeah?” He’d didn’t envy his little sister for having to deal with those. He didn’t envy her at all right now. These next few hours would be the most demanding, exhausting of her young life. “You know, you really scared me,” he told his mom. “I thought something was wrong.”

“Well, this isn’t supposed to be happening yet,” she pointed out. “She’s supposed to have four more weeks. I’m a little nervous.”

“Yeah, but babies are born premature all the time, and they’re fine,” he assured her.

“I know. It just worries me,” she fretted.

“Wasn’t I born a month early?”

“Yes.”

“And see? I turned out alright.”

She touched his cheek lovingly. “You turned out perfect.”

Perfect? Not by a long shot, he thought, turning away from her touch. “Can I go see her?” he asked.

“Yeah.” His mother pointed out the room and patted him on the shoulder. “It was good of you to come. She’ll be happy to have you here.”

I hope so. If Tina was happy to see him, that would make her one of the only people in the world who wanted anything to do with him right now.

He slipped into her hospital room, flashing her a grin. “Hey, you.”

“Hey.” She was sitting up in the adjustable bed, both hands on her enlarged stomach. Her hair was all fixed up, and she had makeup on. If it hadn’t been for the hospital gown, she would have looked like a girl going to homecoming. “Well, this was unexpected, huh?” she said. “I bet you didn’t picture yourself here tonight.”

“No, but that’s alright.” He stepped up to the side of her bed, wondering why there wasn’t another male figure in here with her right now. “If this baby wants out, let him out.”

She groaned as if she were dreading it. “I wish it was that easy. But I think this is gonna suck.”

“Yeah, well, they call it labor for a reason.”

“I guess.” She grunted, shaking her head. “God, you guys have it so easy. Why do girls have to do this part?”

“Maybe ‘cause you’re tougher than us?” he guessed.

“Yeah, that must be it.” She laughed a little, but soon enough, her amused expression turned into an agonized one, and she started to squirm in pain.

“Contraction?” he asked.

“Yeah, it hurts.”

“Here.” He grabbed her hand, and she squeezed it tightly, so tightly that it actually caused him some pain, too. Not that he was about to complain. For about thirty seconds, she rode it out, and then, as if someone had just released their death grip on her, her whole body relaxed, and it was over.

“So where’s Nicholas?” he couldn’t help but ask. Hell, if there was anyone’s hand she should’ve been squeezing, shouldn’t it have been the baby’s damn father?

“He went to a concert with his friends tonight,” she explained. “I called him, texted him.”

And he still wasn’t there? That seemed strange. “You hear back yet?”

“No,” she admitted. “But he’ll be here. He promised he’d be here.”

Michael didn’t like the sound of this. He remembered Maria telling him about Dylan’s birth, how Max had promised he’d be there, but instead, he’d never shown. He didn’t want that for Tina, but he feared it would happen. “You want me to call him?” he offered.

“Yeah, sure,” she said, smiling gratefully. “Thanks.”

He let go of her hand and grabbed her phone off the bedside table. “Hang in there,” he said encouragingly as he left the room. His mom was down the hall at one of the vending machines now, so he felt free to speak candidly when he got a hold of the little twerp.

Unfortunately, he only got voicemail. ‘Hey, it’s Nicholas. Leave me a message.’

Michael swore inwardly when it beeped. “Hey, Nick, guess what?” he said faux-cheerfully. “Your girlfriend’s havin’ your baby. Leave that fucking concert and get your ass to the hospital now.”

~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Even though Maria had her eyes closed, Max must have known she wasn’t really asleep. He crawled in behind her on the bed and left the light on, opting to wrap his arms around her and move in close rather than lie down and go to sleep.

“Sneaky, sneaky,” she said as his arms encircled her midsection.

“Mmm,” he moaned, moving her damp hair aside so he could kiss the back of her neck. “You smell good.”

“Well, I just showered,” she pointed out.

“You always smell good,” he murmured, his breath warm against her skin. He started to touch and kiss her shoulder, and she had to make sure her body didn’t tense up.

“Oh, I think this is gonna be a long week. I’m already exhausted,” she said, hoping he would get the hint that she wasn’t in the mood for sex tonight. But he didn’t. He just kept pressing gentle, adoring kisses to her skin, giving her a few hints about his own desires.

Thankfully, her phone vibrated on the nightstand as she received a text message, a much-needed distraction. “I should check that,” she said.

“I got it.” He reached over her, picked up her phone and slid his thumb across the screen to unlock it. “It’s from Michael,” he said.

“What?” She flipped over onto her back, immediately on edge.

“He said Tina’s havin’ her baby,” Max revealed as he read the text. “That’s his sister, right?”

“Yeah.” She relaxed a bit, thanking her lucky stars that there wasn’t anything incriminating in that text. She was going to have to be careful about that, though, maybe put a passcode lock on her phone.

“Want me to text him back for you?” Max offered.

“Sure. Just say . . .” She pictured Tina, young little Tina, in the hospital, about to become a mom, and it was surreal. Had she had that phone in her own hands, she would have sent him back a more substantial message. But with Max as the one sending it, she figured it best to keep it simple. “Just say ‘I hope it all goes well,’” she told him.

He grinned and quickly typed out the message with one thumb. “Should I add ‘From Max’?”

“No.”

“He’d hate that.” He sent the message for her and then tossed her phone down to the foot of the bed. “There you go.” He scooted in close to her again, rubbing his legs against hers beneath the covers, smoothing his hands up and down her sides.

“Now I’m thinking about her,” she said, still making no move to let her hands explore any part of him. If she just seemed distracted enough, or tired enough, or just plain disinterested enough, he wouldn’t put any pressure on her. He’d slip into the bathroom and take care of it on his own, and she’d be spared a night of inevitably comparing sex with Michael to sex with him.

“She’s really young, huh?” Max remarked.

“Yeah.” Eighth grade was . . . well, it made tenth grade sound old in comparison. Maria knew the poor girl’s fear level must have been through the roof. In the months leading up to it, you let yourself become confident, maybe even feel like you were prepared. But once that baby was on its way, then and only then did you realize how screwed you really were. “She must be so scared.”

“Like you were?” Max asked quietly.

“Yeah.” Maybe if he’d been there, she wouldn’t have been so scared. Maybe if she’d had his hand to hold, or if he’d been the one to cut the umbilical cord . . . maybe that would have helped.

“I’m sorry,” he apologized as if he were reading her mind.

“It’s okay,” she assured him, able to look back with forgiveness now. They’d both done horrible things to each other over the years. He’d made mistakes, but she’d made some, too. The only difference was that his were public knowledge, whereas hers would hopefully always remain a secret.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Michael fiddled with the adjustable bed, wishing there was room for him on there. If you got it going fast enough, it was almost like a ride. It looked awesome. But Tina wasn’t in the best condition to appreciate the fun of it right now.

“How you holding up, sweetie?” their mother asked.

“It hurts,” Tina groaned leaning forward in the bed.

“I know, but just remember, it’ll all be worth it in the end.”

Tina rubbed at the tears in her eyes, smearing her makeup. “How did you do this twice?” she asked in astonishment as the bed rose up and down. “Wasn’t once bad enough?”

“Oh, when you finally get to hold your beautiful little baby,” their mother said, smiling at the both of them, “you just forget all the pain.”

“All of it?” Michael asked, pressing a button on the side of the bed to make it go lower. Tina finally just reached out and whacked his hand away.

“Well, most of it,” his mother amended.

Tina adjusted the bed back to her liking and leaned back. “Can I talk to Michael for a minute?” she asked.

“Sure.” Krista bent down and kissed the top of her head. “I’ll be right outside.”

Michael reached out for the bed controls once again as she left, but Tina quickly swatted his hand away. “What do you need?” he asked when it was just the two of them.

“Drugs,” she grumbled.

“They already gave you drugs. What else?”

She sighed, looking down at her lap languidly. “Nicholas,” she whispered.

Michael shifted uncomfortably. He had a damn good feeling that little bastard wasn’t going to show, but he didn’t want to tell her that.

“Where is he, Michael?” she cried. “He should’ve been here by now.”

“I can keep calling,” he offered. At this point, he’d already left about six voicemails, each one slightly more infuriated than the last.

“What if he doesn’t come?” she worried.

“Then I’m here. Mom’s here,” he pointed out. “Don’t worry, you’re not alone.”

“But I want Nicholas.”

He sighed, wishing his presence was enough. But he was only this kid’s uncle, and even though that was meaningful in its own right . . . having the father there was more important. “Maybe he’s on his way right now,” he said, trying to lift her spirits up.

“Hopefully,” she said as tears slid out the corners of her eyes. She just sat there with him for a moment, silent, almost . . . calm, if that was possible. Then she looked at him curiously and squeaked out, “Hey, Michael?”

“Hmm?”

Frowning, she asked, “Where’s Sarah?”

His heart sped up, and his stomach clenched. Sarah? What was he supposed to tell her? This wasn’t exactly the time or place for that conversation. But clearly she sensed that something was wrong.

Thankfully for him—and unfortunately for her—a contraction hit, giving him a reason to not have to answer that question. She yelled and screamed as it twisted her up inside, and her hand clasped onto his with a strength he’d never known her to have. This one lasted a little longer this time, and the next one was sure to come a little sooner. This baby was on its way. It wouldn’t be one of those marathon deliveries. No, he’d probably be there in a few hours. And hopefully Nicholas would be there, too.

Michael left the room after the contraction had passed, and he tapped his mom on the shoulder in the hallway. “Swap out?” he suggested.

She smiled at him and gave his arm a gentle squeeze as she went back in. Tina was crying now, so she shut the door.

Michael sighed, raking one hand through his hair, wishing the timing of all of this was different. He knew Tina couldn’t control when this baby came out, but part of him wished it was happening a month from now, the way it was supposed to. That way he would have had time to talk to both her and his mom about his split from Sarah. They wouldn’t have been wondering why she wasn’t there. He wouldn’t have had to avoid answering. They just would have known.

Now what they would know was still up in the air. As much as he didn’t want to lie to either of them about what all had gone down, he didn’t exactly want to own up to the truth, either.

Lost in his thoughts, he barely noticed a certain scrawny, pathetic teenage boy roaming down the hall, hood over his head, hands in his pockets. Once he caught sight of him, though, he immediately wanted to throttle him. “Hey!” he roared, stomping towards him. He tore the hood off his head and yelled, “What the hell, man? What’re you doin’ out here?”

“I just got here,” Nicholas mumbled.

“You just got here?” He glanced down the hall at the clock. “How late did that concert go, huh?”

Nicholas shifted his weight from side to side, all nervous-looking. “I just needed a little time,” he said.

“Time to what?”

“To think.”

“Yeah, well, you should’ve done that before you had sex in the first place.” Michael was well aware that he was being a hypocrite, but in that moment, he didn’t really care.

“I’m pretty freaked out,” Nicholas admitted, hanging his head as if he were ashamed.

“Don’t you think Tina is, too?” Michael pointed out. “You don’t get to be freaked out right now. She’s the one havin’ the baby, which means she gets to be scared. You have to be strong. So go in there and be strong for her. Be a man.”

Nicholas nodded hurriedly and stepped past Michael, stopping in front of the closed door. He didn’t go in there. He just stood there like an idiot.

“What’s the hold-up?” Michael asked impatiently.

“It’s just . . .” Nicholas slowly turned around, his eyes wide with fear. “What if I’m no good at this?” he wondered.

“At what?”

He shrugged. “Bein’ a dad.”

Michael surveyed the kid—the kid. Even though he was a freshman in high school, he still looked young enough to be in middle school. He was a kid who was having a kid, and that had to be head-spinning.

“How am I supposed to know if I’m ready?” he scraped out, his voice thick with emotion.

Gradually, Michael felt a bit of his anger fade, and he actually felt sort of sympathetic. “I think you just . . . know,” he replied.

“Did you know?” Nicholas inquired.

He thought of Dylan, thought of that absolute certainty he’d always felt with him. The same certainty he felt when he’d coached him out on the football field, ate lunch with him during Circle of Friends. “Yeah,” he answered, smiling fondly. “Yeah, I knew.”

Nicholas didn’t look particularly relieved to hear that, probably because he still didn’t know if he was ready, didn’t have that feeling. So Michael felt the need to assure him that he’d still be alright. “Look, Nick . . . I know it sounds overwhelming,” he empathized. “And sometimes it is. But when you have a son . . . that love you feel for him . . .” He remembered what it had felt like to hear Dylan call him Daddy for the first time, or to tuck him in at night when he wore his Guerin football jersey to bed. “It’s the best feeling in the world.” A bond like that, no matter how far or how long it was stretched apart . . . it never went away.

Nicholas gulped and nodded.

“Now go be a father,” Michael urged him. There was a girl in that room who needed him, a girl who, even though she was young, really did love him. He needed to be there for her.

Once Nicholas went into the room, he didn’t come out. More people started to go in, though, mostly nurses who were monitoring Tina’s dilation status. His mom came out into the waiting room about an hour later, sobbing hysterically, worrying that something was going to go wrong, and he had to console her and get her calm again so that she could go back in there and be by Tina’s side during the delivery. Mom on one side, boyfriend on the other. Tina would have plenty of hands to hold onto.

At 2:09 p.m., they moved Tina down the hall to one of the actual delivery rooms. Michael got to squeeze her hand one last time and tell her he loved her before she, Nicholas, Krista, and the doctors and nurses disappeared inside. And then it was all about waiting. And waiting some more. For over an hour, he waited, passing the time with stupid cartoons on TV and junk food from the vending machine. He could hear screaming coming from down the hall, and he wasn’t sure whether it was Tina or somebody else. But it sounded unpleasant.

At 3:31, a nurse in pink scrubs came out into the waiting room and tapped him on the shoulder as he was about to fall asleep. “Excuse me,” she said. “You’re Tina’s brother, right?”

“Yeah.” He sat up straighter, immediately on edge. Was it over? Was everything alright?

The nurse smiled at him. “Would you like to come meet your nephew?”

My nephew, he thought, breathing a sigh of relief. I have a nephew. It was unreal.

When he went into the room, he was hit with this immediate sense of astonishment when he saw the baby in his little sister’s arms. He was bundled up in blue blankets and had a knit cap on his head. Tina had him cradled up against her chest, and Nicholas was sitting next to the bed, stroking his newborn son’s cheeks with his fingertips. Krista was taking a lot of pictures on her phone and crying happy tears.

“Look, Joe,” Tina cooed to her son, “look who it is. It’s Uncle Michael.”

Michael smiled and stood at the foot of the bed. “Joe?” he echoed.

“Yeah.” She shrugged. “Simple, I know, but we both like it.”

Joe, Michael thought. I like it. He liked him.

“He’s so beautiful,” his mother marveled.

“I know.” Tina gazed at him adoringly, then looked up at her mom. “You were right,” she said. “It’s all worth it.”

This is crazy, Michael thought, his mind whirling. Tina was a mom now. She was only fourteen years old, but she was a mom. Which meant their mother was now a grandma, and she still had a couple months until she turned forty.

Crazy.

“Congrats, Teenie,” he said, suddenly feeling like his nickname for her was too childish. She looked older now, instantly.

“Thanks,” she said, smiling up at him. “Do you wanna hold him?”

He inhaled sharply. For some reason, the thought of holding a baby always made him nervous. “Sure,” he said, not about to turn down his first chance to hold his own nephew, though. He moved up closer to the head of the bed, bent down, and held out his arms. Tina carefully handed little Joe over, and Michael held him close to his chest, rocking him back and forth a little.

“Wow,” he whispered when the little guy opened his eyes and looked right up at him. He had brown eyes just like Tina and him. He looked like them.

“Let me get a picture,” his mom said, stepping back, holding up her camera.

Michael glanced at her for a moment, then looked right back down at the baby. His mom took a few pictures as Tina said, “He likes you, Michael.”

I hope so, he thought. For a guy who had a history of fatherly feelings, he’d never actually been around babies all that much. This would be a first.

As much as he already felt like he loved that little boy . . . he felt something else, too. Envy. Pangs of it. Was that weird to envy two teenaged parents? Because even though he was an uncle now, he wanted this moment for himself someday. He didn’t just want to be an uncle for the rest of his life; he wanted to be a father.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Kyle yawned as he trudged out into the hall. He saw flashing lights from the television screen in the living room, and when he walked out there, he saw that Sarah was awake, sitting up on the couch, remote control in her hand.

“Already up, huh?” he remarked as he padded into the kitchen.

“I never went to sleep,” she said, turning down the volume.

He opened the refrigerator and took out a bottle of water for himself. “You want something to drink?” he asked.

“No, I’m good. Thanks,” she replied.

He shut the fridge, and instead of taking the water back to the bedroom like he’d intended, he shuffled into the living room and sat down next to her instead.

“So did you hear that Tina had her baby?” she asked.

“Yeah. Michael’s been texting me all night.” He still could hardly wrap his mind around it. He’d known that girl his whole life. It was hard to fathom her having a kid of her own now.

“Krista sent me a picture,” Sarah told him, “of Michael holding the baby.” She smiled sadly, lowering her head. “I guess she doesn’t know that . . . you know.”

“Yeah.” He unscrewed the lid of his water bottle and took a drink. He had no idea what Michael would end up telling his mom about the break-up. He hadn’t gotten to talk to him much since the whole thing had gone down.

“I’m sorry, Kyle,” Sarah apologized suddenly. “I know this must be really hard on you.”

He frowned. “What do you mean?”

“Well, you and Tess have babies of your own on the way. You should be focusing on that, not on taking care of me.”

“No, it’s no problem having you here,” he assured her quickly.

“Maybe not for Tess. But it’s different for you,” she noted. “Michael’s still your best friend, even if he’s not my boyfriend.”

“True.” He was glad she understood that, that she was level-headed enough to understand that and not resent him for it. “But look, Sarah, even though he’s my friend, it’s not like I approve of what he did to you.”

“I know,” she said. “But it must be hard for you to hear Tess saying she doesn’t want him to be a godparent anymore. And stuff like that.”

He sighed heavily. “Yeah,” he admitted. “You know, if anything ever happened to me or Tess, you and Michael are the people I’d trust my kids with. Isn’t that what a godparent’s supposed to be?”

“It is,” she agreed. “So if that’s what you want, don’t worry about me. It won’t offend me if you still ask both of us.”

“Good to know.”

“So talk to Tess,” she urged, “change her mind. You’ve got a few more months. I’ll be out of your hair well before then.”

“You’re not in my hair,” he reminded her. His eyes drifted to the TV for a few seconds to see what she was watching—some cooking show that probably wasn’t really holding her interest. “So what’s your plan?” he inquired.

She grunted. “Who knows? Just find a small apartment off campus, I guess. Finish out the semester. Go home and spend the summer with my family.”

“And then what? Come back?”

She thought about it for a moment and then shrugged. “I don’t know. I haven’t really thought that far ahead. But I could go to school in Las Cruces, close to home. Or I could transfer up to Albuquerque for my senior year. I mean, I’m gonna have to do four years of pharmacy school up there anyway.”

For someone who hadn’t thought that far ahead, it sure seemed to him that she had a lot of ideas. But nothing sounded set in stone. “So in other words, the future’s kind of a great unknown to you right now,” he summarized, wondering how Michael would feel if she left Carlsbad at the end of the semester and didn’t come back.

“Yeah. Ironic, huh?” She laughed a little. “Miss Prepared, Miss Organized, Miss Planned-Out . . . no idea what she’s doing.”

“Hmm.” He could relate to that. Sometimes the best laid plans just exploded. Maybe because of an unfaithful lover. Maybe because of a paralytic injury.

“Don’t tell Tess, though,” she implored. “I don’t want her to know I might not always be here.”

He nodded, silently making that promise. Tess had other things to focus on right now. When and if the day came that Sarah needed to leave, it would be hard on her. But he’d be there to help her through it.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~

“Am I ever gonna get to hold my son?”

Michael walked around the hospital room, holding a sleeping Joe in his arms. “Maybe,” he answered, grinning. He was getting pretty attached to the kid. They all were. Even though Joe had been a month early, he weighed a good amount and seemed perfectly healthy, so he didn’t have to be hooked up to machines or kept in an incubator.

In the corner of the room, they’d pulled out a cot, presumably for the father of the child to sleep on, but Nicholas had left a while ago and had yet to come back, so Michael took a seat there with Joe instead. “So where’s his dad?” he asked, a bit of bite to his words.

“He went home to shower and change,” Tina said. “But he’ll be back.”

“Huh.” He’d better be, Michael thought. It was almost 5:30 in the morning now, and the kid had to be tired. But if he went home and fell asleep or something . . . there’d be hell to pay. “Did he ever tell you why it took him so long to get here in the first place?” he questioned, if only to know whether Nicholas had been honest with her.

“Yeah. They had car trouble on the way home from the concert,” Tina replied.

“Ah.” He wasn’t about to burst her bubble and let her know that was a lie, not today. But he’d file that information away and share it with her down the line if need be.

“But at least he got here in time,” Tina added. “That’s all that matters.”

Michael nodded skeptically, looking down at the sleeping baby in his arms. He had his little hands up by his mouth, his fingers curled. “So why Joe?” he asked.

Tina shrugged. “Why not? It’s a cute name.”

“His middle name should be Cool,” Michael suggested. “Then he’d be Joe Cool Guerin.”

Tina giggled. “I don’t think so. Besides, he’s already got a middle name.”

“Oh, yeah?” He’d been waiting to hear it.

She smiled at him. “It’s Michael.”

His eyebrows darted up in surprise. “Really?”

“Yeah.”

Well . . . that was really flattering, and not at all something he had expected. “Joe Michael Guerin,” he said, testing out the full name.

“Crawford, though,” she corrected.

He gave her a look. “Really? You’re givin’ him Nick’s last name?”

“Yeah, of course,” she said softly.

He sighed, hating that. Maria had given Dylan Max’s last name at first, but then she’d had it changed once it became apparent that Max wouldn’t be in the picture. And hopefully now it never changed back.

“I should give you a break,” he said, getting to his feet. “You need sleep.” He brought Joe over to his little crib and set him down carefully, making sure he was swaddled up tightly. The nurses said they would bring him down to the nursery once Tina was asleep.

“Hey, Michael?” Tina said quietly.

“Yeah.” He spun around.

Cocking her head to the side, she once again asked the question he was dreading. “Why is Sarah not here?”

He froze up, literally and figuratively. His words just failed him completely, because he had no idea what to say. If he told her the truth, she’d be upset. If he didn’t, she’d be suspicious. “Don’t worry about it,” he finally mumbled, turning to leave the room.

“That’s not an answer,” she called after him.

He stopped in the doorway, contemplating just walking out. But what good would that do? Yeah, he’d buy himself some time, but she’d just ask him again the next chance she had. Tina knew him better than most people did, so naturally she knew that something was wrong.

“Look, Teenie, you just had a baby,” he said, turning back around. “Focus on that, alright?”

“Are you guys still together?” she inquired outright.

The question must have just been a formality, or one last shred of wishful thinking, because at this point, it had to be obvious. If he and Sarah had still been together, there was no way she wouldn’t have been there. “No,” he told her quietly. “We broke up Sunday night.”

“What?” she gasped. “Why?”

“We just . . . thought it was for the best.” He cringed inwardly at the flimsy reasoning. There was no way she was going to buy that.

“But you were engaged,” she pointed out.

“And now we’re not.” He didn’t mean to sound flippant, but at the same time, he didn’t want her probing too deeply. If she asked more questions, then it would be harder and harder to lie. And she was one of the last people he wanted to lie to.

“Michael, what did you do?” she asked, narrowing her eyes at him suspiciously.

Shit. She knew, didn’t she? Still, he played dumb. “What do you mean?”

“Did you do something?” she asked sternly. “With Maria?”

He tried to have no reaction to that name . . . but his silence must have said it all.

“Oh god,” she groaned, shaking her head. “Did you guys, like, kiss or . . .” She trailed off, as though she didn’t really want to ask the question. But she didn’t have to. When he looked away and kept his damn mouth shut, she understood. “Oh.”

Yeah. Oh, he thought. It wasn’t nice to know he was continuing to set such a horrible example for his younger sister. She’d given her son his name as a middle name, so clearly she looked up to him. And he just continued to let her down. “Don’t tell Mom, okay?” he pleaded. “I don’t want her to be disappointed in me.” He’d already dealt with plenty of parental disappointment for one lifetime.

She didn’t say anything. She didn’t even look at him. It was a weird thing, in that moment, because even though he knew she loved him . . . she seemed disappointed in him, too.








TBC . . .

-April
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LOVE IS MICHAEL AND MARIA.

sarammlover
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Re: Somewhere, Anywhere (M&M, CC/UC, AU, Adult) Part 61, 02/12/17

Post by sarammlover » Mon Feb 13, 2017 11:42 am

8th grade. Unbelievable. I still can't believe she had a baby. And Michael truly had a lot of nerve asking Sarah for ANYTHING. And I have a very strong feeling Nicholas will bail. Ugh. April. Killing me.

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Re: Somewhere, Anywhere (M&M, CC/UC, AU, Adult) Part 61, 02/12/17

Post by CandyFi » Sun Feb 19, 2017 1:33 am

OMG April!!! I really hoped that M&M would come back together but there would be no cheating involved.
I cannot believe that Maria will not do the right thing and tell Max. I do understand she doesn't want to break up the family but she is living a huge lie.
Michael asking Sarah not to tell Max, wow I can't believe he actually did that. The poor poor girl.
I am really interested to see how you get them all through this in tact!
Unbelievable that Tina is now a mum! I have a feeling that Nicholas is going to do a runner but I hope I am wrong.
Can't wait for the next part!!
Fi :)

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Part 62

Post by April » Sun Feb 19, 2017 3:39 pm

Sara:
8th grade. Unbelievable. I still can't believe she had a baby.
I know. :shock: Her whole life is . . . so different now, and she doesn't even realize it yet.
And Michael truly had a lot of nerve asking Sarah for ANYTHING.
Yeah. :? After what he did, he really has no right.


Thanks for reading!








Part 62








Feeling completely lethargic, Maria staggered into Parker’s Pastries, very much requiring a boost. “Liz, I’m in desperate need of a sugar high,” she complained. “Got anything here that’ll do the trick?”

“Oh, everything here will do the trick,” Liz ensured. “But if I may suggest . . .” She pulled a tray of cupcakes out of the display case. They were all topped off with purple frosting done so intricately that it looked like flowers on the top. “Freshly made,” she boasted.

“Perfect.” Maria took one of the cupcakes and bit in eagerly. “Mmm, that’s the stuff.” After a restless night and arduous morning, this was going to hit the spot.

“Hey, so I’m glad you stopped by,” Liz said, removing one cupcake for herself before she placed the tray back into the case. “I wanted to show you something.”

“Oh, yeah?” Maria took another bite, covering her mouth when she asked, “What?”

“Well, Sarah and I are Facebook friends, you know, and last night, I noticed something bizarre.” She took her phone out of the pocket of her apron and quickly navigated to something. “Look,” she said, holding it out for Maria to see.

Maria tilted the phone in the right direction so that there was no glare hitting the screen. Liz was showing her Sarah’s Facebook page, zoomed in specifically to her relationship status. It now said Single instead of Engaged. “That’s weird,” she said, barely looking at it for two seconds.

“Yeah. What’s up with that?”

I’m what’s up with that, Maria thought guiltily, setting her cupcake down on the counter. Suddenly, she was just not so hungry anymore. “I don’t know,” she replied dumbly. “Do you?”

“No, that’s why I’m asking you.”

“Well, why would I know anything about it?”

“I just thought maybe you’d heard something, or maybe Michael had said something,” Liz explained, giving her a curious look.

Don’t be defensive, Maria told herself. She had to have a completely non-impassioned reaction to this so-called ‘news.’ “No, I—I haven’t even seen Michael in days,” she fibbed, “so I’m as surprised as you are.”

“Huh. I wonder what happened.” Liz made a face. “I’m being nosy, aren’t I?”

“A little bit.” Hopefully she wouldn’t dig too deeply.

“But it’s just wild. I mean, he just proposed to her, like, a month ago.”

“Well . . . maybe they felt like they were in over their heads with that.” Maria shrugged, having no idea what story Michael intended to send around.

“So then call off the engagement, not the entire relationship,” Liz said.

“Well, maybe they are still together.”

“They’re not.”

“Yeah, according to Facebook.”

“Which is actually a surprisingly reliable source.”

Maria sighed, needing an escape route from this conversation. “Look, I don’t know why they broke up then,” she said. “It could have been anything. Let me know if you find out. I have to go.” At a much brisker pace than she’d entered with, she turned and started walking away.

“Bye,” Liz called after her.

Smiling weakly, she waved on her way out the door.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Michael’s mom yawned as she sat down next to him with a cup of coffee in her hand.

“You tired?” he asked.

“Oh, yeah. It’s been a long thirteen hours,” she said, taking a sip, wincing at the hotness. “At least everyone gets to go home tomorrow, though. That’ll be nice.”

“Yeah,” he agreed. These waiting room couches were like prison beds. Nicholas had managed to drag his ass back, so he’d taken up residence on that cot in Tina’s room. That pretty much left Michael and his mom with no choice but to stay out here, unless they wanted to go home. But neither one of them wanted to do that while Tina and Joe were still there.

“So where’s he gonna sleep when they get home?” Michael asked.

“Who? Nicholas or Joe?”

“Joe,” he clarified, frowning. What the hell? Just how far had Nicholas managed to worm his way into her good graces?

“He’ll be in Tina’s room for a while,” his mom replied. “We got the crib set up on Saturday.”

“Perfect timing.”

“Yeah, really.”

“But you’re gonna let Nicholas stay there, too, huh?” Her house, her rules, he supposed. But he still didn’t like the thought of it. One in five teen moms gave birth again before age twenty. He’d learned that one in social psychology class.

“I’m gonna let him sleep on the couch for a few weeks, just to make sure he’s around to help out,” his mom said. “Or I could let him sleep in your room.”

Michael detested the thought of it. “Nah, he’s fine on the couch.”

His mom laughed a little, blowing on her coffee to cool it before taking another sip. “So where’s Sarah?” she finally asked.

All the hairs on the back of his neck stood straight up, like a marching band at attention.

“I kind of thought she’d be here for all of this.”

So did she, he thought regretfully. Maybe he should have been in communication with her, just so she knew what was going on. She loved Tina a lot, too. Hell, for all he knew, Tina may have been thinking about making her the godmother.

“Michael?” his mom said.

He snapped himself out of his daze and said, “Well, it’s a month earlier than we thought it’d be.”

“Right. But has she even called?” his mother asked. “I don’t even think I’ve seen you text her.”

Truth be told, he’d been banking on his mom being so consumed by her new grandson that she wouldn’t even notice. But there wasn’t much his mom didn’t notice. There were just certain things she chose not to draw attention to.

“She’s really busy right now,” he said. “You know, with classes and work.”

“But this is her nephew, or at least he will be once the two of you tie the knot,” she pointed out. “I don’t know, I guess I just . . . I’m surprised she’s not here. That’s all.”

Don’t be mad at her; it’s my fault, he thought, wondering how Sarah would react if she received a call or a text from his mom, asking where she was. Maybe she’d just tell her the truth.

“Is everything okay between the two of you?” his mother asked, not intrusively, but sensitively.

Even though he would have loved for her to be blissfully ignorant to the whole thing, clearly she was already suspicious, just like Tina had been. “Not really,” he muttered in response.

“Not really?” She reached over and stroked his hair lovingly, concerned. “What’s wrong?”

He leaned forward, hanging his head, placing his elbows on his knees. “Okay, look, I didn’t say anything because . . . ‘cause there was just more important stuff goin’ on,” he started in. “But you should know . . .” He took a deep breath, bracing himself for her inevitable unhappy reaction. “Sarah and I broke up the other night.”

“You broke up?” she echoed incredulously.

“Yeah.”

“Why?”

Because I’m a jackass, he thought. ‘cause I screwed her over when I screwed another girl.

Even though she hadn’t gotten an answer to her previous question, she went right ahead and asked him another one. “Was it her decision or yours?”

“Mine, I guess.”

“Well, why would you do that?” Clearly she was trying hard not to sound mad, but there were still traces of accusation in her voice. “She’s . . . the love of your life!”

“She’s not the love of my life, Mom,” he mumbled, figuring he could just leave it at that.

“Then who--” She stopped short as realization dawned. “Oh,” she said, much in the same way Tina had. “I see.”

Do you? he wondered. His mom, bless her heart, thought way too highly of him, even given his history as an amateur alcoholic and frequent womanizer. Chances were, she didn’t suspect just how colossally he’d screwed things up.

“So you still have feelings for Maria then,” she concluded, letting out a shaky sigh. “Oh, my.”

Michael frowned. She sounded . . . scared. Like the thought of him ending up with her frightened her somehow.

“Well, I guess you had to break up with Sarah then,” she said, still giving him the benefit of the doubt. “You owed it to her to be honest and fair.”

Michael snorted. Honest and fair. Yeah, right.

“I’m not gonna lie, though . . . my heart’s breaking a little,” his mother admitted. “I love Sarah. She fit in so well with our family.”

That’s because she’s Sarah, he thought. The girl could fit in with anyone and everyone. She was that type of person who was just universally loved and admired. Maria . . . wasn’t. But he loved her all the same.

“Do you think you might get back together?” his mom asked, a heartbreaking hopefulness in her voice.

“No,” he said quickly.

“No?”

He swallowed hard. “It was a bad break-up.”

“Well, I’m sure she was devastated,” his mom emphasized. “I mean, you guys just got engaged not at all that long ago. This is a pretty drastic turn of events.”

He nodded, wishing he’d handled things differently. If he could go back in time, there were a million things he would have done differently. First off, he would have never proposed. Second, he would have broken up with her before hooking up with Maria. Maybe he never even would have gotten involved with her in the first place, just to spare her the heartache.

When he looked over at his mom, he noticed her dabbing at the corners of her eyes with her fingertips. “Are you crying?” he asked.

“Yeah,” she said, sniffling back tears. “It makes me really sad. You two were together for a long time. You built a life together; you had a future. And this just feels like it’s coming out of nowhere. And Maria . . .”

“You loved her, too, once,” he made sure to point out. Maybe his dad had never hopped on that bandwagon, but his mom had always embraced both her and Dylan as family.

“I did,” she said. “I always will, but . . . your life was Sarah has been so positive and so wonderful. So healthy. What you and Maria had was . . .”

Complicated? he thought. Intense? Dramatic? It still was.

“Well, I’m just not sure that’s what I want for you, Michael.”

“So you like Sarah better?” he surmised. No big shock there.

“I like her better for you,” she clarified. “Maybe it’s not too late to patch things up.”

“No, it is. Trust me.”

“Why?”

“Because, things with Maria . . .” He hesitated, sighing frustratedly. “They went too far.”

She tilted her head to the side curiously, staring at him sternly. “What does that mean?”

He shook his head, wishing he could follow through on his plan and just lie his ass off to her. But she was his mom. She was the woman who had given birth to him the way Tina had just given birth to Joe. She deserved to know the truth. “I didn’t wanna tell you,” he mumbled, ashamed.

“Tell me what?” she prompted.

He squeezed his eyes shut for a second, praying she would only be disappointed and not disgusted. “I slept with Maria,” he revealed.

At first, she didn’t say anything. When she found words, they were hopeful ones. “After you broke up with Sarah?”

“Before.”

The coffee cup in her hands shook with anger, a bit of the hot liquid splashing over the sides. “You did what?” she gasped, setting the cup down on the floor.

I’m sorry, he thought. Nobody seemed to think his apologies were worth much, though.

“Oh, Michael . . . how could you?” she demanded.

“It’s what I do,” he replied flatly. Was anyone really that surprised that he’d done such a scumbag thing?

“No, it’s what you did, in high school,” she argued. “But you’re not like that anymore. I’ve watched you grow up; I’ve watched you change.”

“Well, apparently I’m still the same.” No one was more disturbed by that thought than he was.

“I just can’t believe you,” she said, more tears falling down now. “You cheated on Sarah? On your fiancée? On a girl who loves you more than anything in the world?”

With a girl who I love more than anything in the world, he thought. Not that that made it right.

“Oh, Michael . . .” she said again. “I’m so disappointed in you right now.”

“I knew you would be,” he mumbled. Somewhere down in the pit fires of hell, his dad was looking up at him with that same unbridled disappointment.

“And what about Maria, huh? I thought she was back together with Dylan’s father.”

“She is,” he acknowledged bitterly.

“So, what, did she break up with him then, too?”

“Nope.” That was the irony of the situation, wasn’t it? He threw away everything for the girl, and the girl threw away nothing for him. “They’re still together.”

“So then are you two . . .” She whirled her hands about in front of her face as he struggled to sort it all out. “This isn’t something that’s gonna continue then, right? It’s over?”

Maybe the sex was. But his feelings sure as hell weren’t. “I guess.”

“What do you mean you guess?”

“I mean she’s stickin’ with Max. So I’ll wait,” he declared.

“And what exactly are you waiting for?”

“To see if she changes her mind. I don’t know.”

His mom’s mouth dropped open in stunned disbelief. “No!” she yelled. “No, I don’t want this for you! I don’t want you to sacrifice all the good things in your life just because you can’t get over your feelings for her.”

“I’m in love with her, Mom.” This went well beyond the typical crush.

“You’re in love with Sarah, too,” she argued.

“No, I’m not,” he growled. Maybe he had been once, but . . . not anymore. “I’m sorry.”

She wiped her tears away and shook her head. In a matter of minutes, she’d gone from being a happy grandmother to a distressed mother, all because of him. “I need some air,” she said, shooting to her feet. She fled the waiting room, leaving him by himself. Which, at this point, was probably where he belonged.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Dylan’s eyes kept darting back and forth that night from the food on his plate to the Xbox in the living room. Max could tell what his son was about to ask before he even asked it.

“Dad?” he finally whimpered. “Can I go play?”

He had plenty of untouched vegetables on his plates, but . . . hell, who could blame him for that? Real men ate meat. “Sure,” Max replied.

Dylan’s whole face lit up with excitement, and he slid down off his chair and scampered into the living room.

“He’s, like, addicted to that thing,” Maria said as she moved her own vegetables around her plate.

“Ah, there’s worse stuff to be addicted to,” Max reminded her. It wasn’t really meant to be a joke, which was probably why she didn’t laugh.

“So how was your day?” she asked when it was just the two of them. He’d gotten home from work late, so they hadn’t really gotten much of a chance to talk.

“Fine,” he answered. “Pretty standard. I met up with Liz for lunch, though. She brought Scarlet.”

“Oh, yeah?”

“Yeah.” That had all been pretty standard, too, except for one thing. “She mentioned something,” he said, not sure if he really wanted to bring it up or not.

“What’s that?” Maria asked.

“Well, she said she’s pretty sure Michael and Sarah broke up.” It had caught him by surprise, that was for sure, and he wondered if Maria knew anything about it. Now that his life was less dramatic than it used to be, other people’s drama was a form of entertainment.

“Yeah, she showed me Sarah’s Facebook status,” Maria said. “I don’t know, though. Maybe it was an accident.”

“An accident?” Max echoed, chuckling. “So she accidentally changed her relationship status to single?”

“You know, Facebook is not the be all and end all of reliable sources,” Maria pointed out. “Who knows what’s really going on? I’d ask, but it’s none of my business.”

“It just seems weird, don’t you think?” Max made a face, trying to fathom how things could go so far south between the couple so quickly. “I mean, he just proposed to her.”

“Well . . . we don’t know what was really going on behind the scenes,” Maria said, pushing her chair backward. She took her plate over to the counter, then grabbed his and brought it over as well, even though he wasn’t done eating yet. “I’m gonna go play with Dylan,” she said, bending to kiss his cheek before heading into the living room.

Max frowned. Maria really didn’t seem to want to talk about Michael and Sarah’s demise. But then again, he supposed, maybe that was a good thing.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Thirty-seven hours after he was born, Joe was able to be brought home for the first time. Tina and Nicholas seemed all excited about it on the outside, but Michael wondered if they were nervous on the inside. Two days ago, neither one of them had ever even changed a diaper, but the nurses had shown them how. There were no nurses at home, though. Just them. And Grandma Krista, of course.

“Do you think he’ll always be this quiet?” Tina wondered as she carried him across the threshold.

“Hopefully,” Nicholas said, reaching over to touch his soft cheeks. “Hey, maybe he’ll even sleep through the night.”

“Oh, no, that won’t happen,” Krista assured them as she slipped past and headed into the kitchen. “My advice is to sleep whenever he does. For the next few months, he’ll have total control.”

Tina laughed and handed the baby over to Nicholas. “So who cried more as a baby?” she asked. “Me or Michael?”

“Oh, Michael by far,” Krista replied.

Michael shrugged, figuring as much. He’d never been an easy kid to raise, apparently, from birth onward. “Is it true that boys cry more than girls?” he asked his mom, thinking he remembered reading that somewhere.

Instead of answering him, she kept her head down as she arranged some ingredients on the counter for sandwiches.

“Mom?” he prompted.

Still no response.

He resigned himself to silence and mumbled, “She’s mad at me.”

Tina gave him a curious look and then motioned for him to follow her back outside. “You got it?” she asked Nicholas.

“I got it,” he replied, rocking Joe in his arms as he headed into the living room.

Michael went out onto the porch with his sister, not sure how long he could stay there today. He had classes and work to get back to, of course, but more than that . . . there was just this tension in the air between him and his mom. It was palpable—she’d barely said two words to him since their conversation in the hospital—and that kind of negative energy wasn’t needed right now, not with the baby home for the first night.

“So you told her?” Tina asked, sitting down on the steps.

“Yeah.” He groaned as he sat down next to her, each of his limbs aching from dozing off in chairs for the past couple nights.

“I thought you weren’t going to,” she said.

“I wasn’t, but then . . .” He thought about what had changed his mind and just shrugged. “I don’t know. I couldn’t lie to her.”

Tina nodded, brushing her hair out of her eyes. “So what’d she say?”

“Ah, you know. She can’t believe I’d do that to Sarah. And she’s not exactly thrilled that Maria and I hooked up again.” He really wasn’t sure which part of her reaction had been worse, the disappointment . . . or the dread.

“Neither am I,” Tina openly admitted. “I’m sorry, but I still have issues with her.”

Join the club then, he thought unhappily. Clearly his family and friends were anti-Maria.

“She gave up on you, even though you were willing to fight for her. I don’t think she deserves a second chance.”

“I can’t help how I feel, Teenie,” he pointed out. He couldn’t control his feelings for Maria any more than she could for Nicholas. Although surely his ran deeper.

“I know,” she said. “But I really liked Sarah. She was so good for you.”

“Maybe too good,” he mumbled. Maybe he’d never deserved Sarah Nguyen in the first place. Just like he’d never deserved Isabel. Just like he probably didn’t even deserve Maria. These girls were gorgeous and talented. If it wasn’t for his particular skillset in the boudoir, he probably wouldn’t even stand a chance with any of them.

“I knew it wasn’t gonna end well, though,” Tina lamented, sadly shaking her head. “When I recognized that ring on her finger . . . I just knew it. And I should’ve said something. But I just kept my mouth shut, hoped for the best.”

Kind of like I’m doing now, he grumbled inwardly. As much as he hoped that Nicholas wouldn’t abandon Tina and Joe someday . . . he just worried that they would. Maybe it was a gut feeling, or maybe it was just a stereotype. Hard to say.

Tina frowned and angled her body towards him. “Isn’t Maria still with Dylan’s dad, though?” she asked.

Michael had to bite his tongue to keep from venting. “Yep.”

“How’s that gonna work then?” Tina questioned. “Is she breaking up with him to be with you?”

He shook his head. “No. She’s too worried about what it’ll do to Dylan.”

“So she’s just staying with him? Like nothing’s changed?” Tina huffed. “I don’t know, Michael, this doesn’t sound like a good situation.”

“It’s not,” he admitted. Who was it who had once told him that Maria wasn’t a bad girl, but she was a bad situation? He couldn’t remember now, but the words reverberated across the walls of his mind. “You think I should just give up then?” he asked, even though he had absolutely no intention of doing that.

Tina gave him a duh look. “Uh, yeah, obviously. But . . .” She sighed knowingly. “You can’t. You won’t. You’re, like, hopelessly in love with her.”

“Hopelessly?”

“Yeah.” She actually cracked a smile, just a small one, and then she fell silent for a few seconds, her brows furrowing as she contemplated something. “I’ll tell you what,” she announced then. “If you start rooting for me and Nicholas, I’ll start rooting for you and Maria. Deal?”

As unnatural as it was to go against his suspicions, it seemed fair enough to Michael. “Alright, deal,” he agreed. Now this way they could both have someone in their corner.

She held out her pinky finger, signaling for him to link his with hers. He rolled his eyes and did the stupid pinky swear thing.

“Will you promise me one thing, though?” she entreated. “Don’t sleep with her again. At least not while she’s still with Max. You’re better than that.”

Am I? he wondered. Even knowing all the problems it would cause . . . he wanted to be all over her again. His hands on her body . . . he craved it.

“Promise?” Tina asked.

Hell, if this whole supportive sibling thing was supposed to be mutually beneficial, he was going to make sure she agreed to something, too. “You promise you won’t have another baby before you’re twenty?” he retorted.

At first she shot him an annoyed look, but it didn’t last long. Her expression soon softened, and she answered with sincerity. “I promise.”

Hopefully she’d be able to live up to that. It’d make things easier on her, on Nicholas, on everyone. She was still a smart girl. She had to understand that. “Then I promise, too,” he said, feeling decidedly less confident about his own ability to keep his word.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Normally Michael felt a sense of relief when he returned to Carlsbad after being home in Roswell for a few days. But not this time. No, this time, in fact, it was ironically opposite. Being in Roswell felt like a bit of an escape for him, and Carlsbad was the harsh reality.

He got home Thursday evening after helping Tina and Nicholas get settled in with Joe that day. Tina had seemed sad to see him leave, but his mom hadn’t said much to him. She was probably happy to see him go, he figured. Right now, he was just one big disappointment.

Tiredly, he trudged down the hallway, hoping his apartment still looked like . . . well, his apartment. It was possible that Sarah had stopped by while he’d been gone these past few days and taken some more stuff. Maybe even some furniture. Most of the bigger items like the couch and the bed were things that they’d split the cost of, fifty-fifty, so they were just as much hers as they were his.

“Michael, Michael, Michael,” he heard a familiar voice ring out behind him.

He slowed with his key card in his hand, stopping right in front of his closed door. “What’re you doin’ here, Isabel?”

“Business.” She came to stand in front of him, and he saw that she was wearing that long, brown trench coat she always wore when she came here to put on a striptease for someone.

“Is that what you call it?” he questioned.

She shrugged. “It makes me money. It’s business.”

“Uh-huh.” She seemed so accustomed to it at this point that it was . . . actually pretty damn heartbreaking. “Doesn’t Jesse usually accompany you for your . . . ‘business’?”

“Usually,” she conceded. “But he’s busy tonight.”

Michael rolled his eyes.

“It’s okay, though,” she insisted. “The guy I’m entertaining . . . he’s harmless. I’ve stripped for him before. He’s the look-but-don’t-touch type. My favorite.”

Did she even hear herself? She’d gotten so used to being objectified that she just willingly objectified herself. “Is there something you want?” he asked impatiently.

“Just thought I’d see how you’re doing,” she replied. “I hear there have been some major happenings in your life this week.”

Oh, fuck this, he thought. No way was he talking about Sarah with her. “Goodbye, Isabel.” He lowered his key card into the lock and pushed open the door, attempting to slip right inside and shut it in her face. But she shot her hand out and kept it open.

“Hey, don’t be rude,” she scolded, managing to push her way inside. “We’re talking here.”

He grunted and made his way into the kitchen to grab a beer, noting that all his furniture still seemed to be in there. Maybe once Isabel left, he could lie down and go to sleep and just forget. About everything.

“So why’d you break up with her?” she asked, shutting the door.

He popped open the tab on the can, but instead of taking a drink, he set it back down on the counter and spun around. “How the hell did you even hear about it?”

“I know a lot of people, Michael. You know a lot of people. People talk,” she explained, swaying towards him with a smile on her face. “So?” She tilted her head to the side curiously, and he knew she wouldn’t let up until he said something about it, so he relented.

“Fine. I broke up with her. It’s none of your business. The end.”

“Hmm, sounds like the beginning to me.”

“Beginning of what?” he spat, annoyed.

“Just some ridiculous romantic melodrama between you and my brother’s girlfriend. That’s all.”

Crap. He hoped his facial expression and body language didn’t give him away. He tried to play it cool. “You think I still have feelings for Maria?”

“Don’t you?” She moved even closer and undid the top button of her coat, as if to see if he would notice. But he barely did. “I mean, why else would you put an end to the most stable, long-lasting relationship you’ve ever had? If I had to bet my hard-earned stripping money on it, I’d say you two are probably fucking like bunnies again.”

“Well, you’re wrong,” he responded quickly, probably a little too quickly. “There’s nothing going on between me and Maria.”

She raised a skeptical eyebrow. “And I’m supposed to be stupid enough to believe that?”

“Well, you did get kicked out of Princeton,” he reminded her, “so . . .” He actually tried to never bring that up with her, but right now, she was just pissing him off. So he really didn’t care about being polite.

“I’m not an idiot, though,” she told him. “I know you, Michael.”

“You’ve never known me.”

“Okay, then maybe you haven’t slept with her yet,” she said. “Maybe I’m willing to believe that much.”

Inwardly, he breathed a sigh of relief for at least being able to lie to her convincingly about that.

“But you will,” she added. “You want to.”

He laughed lightly, trying to be seem more amused by what she was saying than alarmed. “I told you, there’s nothing going on. I don’t have feelings for Maria. That’s not why I broke up with Sarah.”

“Then why did you?”

“Because, it just . . . it wasn’t workin’ out.”

She narrowed her eyes at him suspiciously. “You were engaged, Michael.”

“And it wasn’t working. So I ended it. That’s it. No torrid affair, no ulterior motive.” How he wished that everything he was saying was true. It would’ve been easier, but the more he said, the easier it was to lie. “See, you’re so—you’re still so bitter about what happened between you and me, you just wanna dramatize and sensationalize all of this. You just wanna cause problems for me, stir up trouble. But there’s nothing to stir up. You don’t know me as well as you think.”

“Hmm.” She leaned back against the counter and folded her arms across her chest, thinking for a moment. “Well, I guess I was wrong then.”

“Yeah.” He picked up his beer and took a drink.

“I’ll take your word for it,” she said. “If you say there’s nothing going on, then there’s nothing going on.”

“That’s right.” He smirked on the inside, pleased with himself for being able to fool her. Isabel was an incredibly smart girl, and when she wasn’t dating him, she was entirely perceptive. Who knew his acting would be so damn strong?

“Good thing, too,” she went on, angling her body towards him, “because if there was . . . well, that would pretty much make Maria look terrible.”

He set his beer down, not looking at her.

“You know . . .” Her eyes bore straight into him. “. . . like a whore.”

His whole body immediately tensed up on its own accord. He gripped the edge of the counter tightly, furiously, clamping his mouth shut just so he wouldn’t say anything. But it didn’t really matter, did it? His body language must have said it all. She’d managed to accomplish exactly what she’d been hoping to all along: She got a reaction out of him. All that stuff about taking his word for it and believing what he was saying . . . she didn’t believe a word of it. He hadn’t fooled her; she’d fooled him.

“See you around, Michael,” she said, grinning at him. Probably on purpose, she made sure her body brushed against as she headed for the door.

Once she was gone, he let go of the edge of the counter and sighed in defeat. Dammit. Isabel wouldn’t just forget this conversation, wouldn’t forget the way he’d looked just now. She’d want to find a way to use all of this against him. And possibly, if she was smart enough or bored enough or some combination of the two, she’d be successful.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Only because she didn’t want her grade to suffer any more than it already had did Maria decide to go to Music Appreciation class the next day. Only because she knew they had a test coming up, and she couldn’t bomb it. Only because she doubted Michael would be there.

Her doubts were wrong, though. When she stepped foot in the lecture hall, she spotted him right away, sitting back in his usual seat. He wasn’t on the lookout for her, wasn’t meticulously watching the door for her to come in. In fact, he was sort of just staring down at his lap, looking at nothing.

Crap, she thought, slinking a few rows forward, staying on the far side of the room. She’d really been hoping that he would still be back in Roswell with his family, that he would have stayed all weekend with them. But of course not. Of course he had to be here. Of course he had to look so good, even though he looked so sad.

Even though she wanted to just sit down and try to be invisible, her body seemed opposed to that. She stood next to that lonely seat, trying to not think about him, but all she could do was think about him. So reluctantly, she made her way to the back row, to her usual spot, and uttered a quiet, “Hey,” as she approached him.

He barely glanced up at her and mumbled, “I thought you were tryin’ to switch classes.”

“I was,” she acknowledged. “I couldn’t.” Even though she actually had considered just dropping the class, she figured that would be more problematic in the long run. Not only would it academic roadblock, but she’d lose out on the tuition money. And Max would question it. She didn’t need him questioning anything.

Michael smirked, as though he were happy that she hadn’t gotten her way, that she was stuck here in this class with him whether she liked it or not.

“Look, I’m not really talking to you right now . . .” she told him.

“You’re not?”

“Well, I am, but . . . just for a minute.” She sighed and sat down, careful to keep one empty seat in between them. “How’s Tina?” she asked, letting herself believe momentarily that that was the only reason she was talking to him, that that was the only thing she wanted to know about.

“She’s good,” he answered. “Home from the hospital.”

“And did everything go well?” She’d been thinking about that little girl all week, saying prayers for her.

“Yeah, it was fine,” he replied.

“What’d she have?”

Michael swallowed hard. “A boy.”

“A boy.” She smiled, picturing Tina with a son in her arms. “Wow.” It was just like her and Dylan then. Mother and son. “So you have a nephew.”

“Yep. His name’s Joe.” Michael smiled a bit. Just a little bit. “He’s pretty awesome.”

“I’ll bet.” It was easy to love a baby. They were small and completely innocent, and they didn’t know your faults and your insecurities. And hopefully they never would. “What about her boyfriend,” she asked, “the baby’s father? Was he there?”

“Yeah, eventually,” Michael muttered. “So we’ll see how that goes.”

“Yeah.” She would hope for the best, but statistics didn’t bode well for them, especially since they were younger than even the average teen parents.

“Who knows?” Michael said. “Maybe they’ll be as happy as you and Max.”

She gave him a hard look, knowing that was meant to be a shot at her. And it did sting, to an extent, not because she and Max weren’t happy, but just because . . .

She’d been happier the other night. In bed with him.

“Did you talk to Sarah?” she asked, finally cutting to the chase of what she really needed to know.

“Yep.”

She stared at him expectantly, seeking more of an answer. “And is she gonna say anything?”

“Nope.”

Almost as if she’d been holding her breath on that for days now, she let it out. “And Tess?” she questioned.

“She won’t say anything, either,” he assured her. “Sarah can control her.”

“So . . . so they’re really gonna keep it a secret then?”

“For Dylan’s sake.”

As much as she hated having to use her son as an appeal for both Michael and Sarah to keep their mouths shut . . . at least it had worked. “Oh, thank God,” she sighed.

“Yeah, what a relief,” he agreed sarcastically.

She hadn’t meant to sound insensitive, but she couldn’t deny being glad that no one else was going to find out about her major indiscretion. “I’m sorry, Michael,” she whispered. “I just don’t want him to know.”

“My mom knows,” he blurted out. “So does Tina.”

Her eyebrows shot upward. “You—you told them?”

“Had to.”

Even though her gut instinct was to be mad at him for admitting it again without her consent, she supposed she could understand. They were his family, after all, and even if he hadn’t said anything, they would have realized something had changed sooner or later. “How’d they react?” she asked.

“How do you think?”

She shivered, trying not to think about it. She adored Krista—in some ways, the woman would always be the most maternal figure she’d ever had in her life—and she hated the thought of being hated by her. And Tina . . . well, she already knew how much resentment that girl had towards her. Her only hope there was that motherhood would soften her.

The class started to quiet down when the professor approached the whiteboard and started writing something. Maria took that as her cue to put some distance between herself and Michael before it was too late. “I should . . .” She motioned towards the far right side of the classroom and got up, scurrying down the aisle and a few rows forward so that she was much, much farther away from him. It would be easier this way.

The professor set his marker down after finishing his bubble letters—or rather numbers—for the decade of music they were launching into now. “1970s,” he began. “What music genre comes to mind?”

“Disco,” everyone droned unenthusiastically.

“Disco, right.” The professor laughed and shook his head. “But while it’s very easy to get lost in that musical fad, the Seventies gave us a bigger contribution, one that still influences songwriters and singers to this day: a new and highly varied brand of soul music.”

Soul music, Maria registered, trying to be attentive. Right.

“Sometimes it was political, sometimes danceable. Often sexual.”

The class laughed lightly amongst themselves, but Maria tensed.

“Yeah, I hear your snickers,” the professor said, walking back and forth in the front of the room, “but think about it: This was the decade hot off the heels of the 60s. The sexual revolution was in full swing at this point. Lyrics were more explicit, dance moves more suggestive. Some songs began to outright objectify women, yet almost simultaneously, female musicians began to channel their own sexuality as a form of empowerment. Sex was no longer something to be considered taboo; it was something to be embraced.” He grinned. “And it was.”

The class chuckled again, and Maria shifted uncomfortably. Why did they have to talk about this today? Of all days?

“Barry White, Marvin Gaye, Al Green . . . do these names sound familiar?” the professor asked, and many heads nodded. “Yeah, I thought so. And while their lyrics might not seem so risky by today’s standards, they were revolutionary at the time. Some even worried they were inappropriate.”

Inappropriate? She rubbed the back of her neck.

“What these songs gave people were the inspiration to push back on cultural norms, challenge values. It was an emphasis on pleasure that our country had never seen before.”

Pleasure? For some reason, she couldn’t help but glance back a few rows at Michael, just to see if he was looking at her, too. He wasn’t, but it was almost as if he felt his eyes on her, because almost instantly, he turned his head, and their eyes met.

“But where did we draw the line? That was the question,” the professor went on. “What many had come to consider romantic was what others deemed erotic, and—let’s be honest—that probably only served to make the songs even more popular.”

Maria knew she should have looked away, should have looked at anyone or anything else. But his gaze was too strong, too enticing, and she felt completely captivated by it.

“I mean, imagine yourself as a pop-culture junkie of the 1970s,” their professor urged, “listening to lyrics like, ‘I’ve been really tryin’, baby. Tryin’ to hold back this feeling for so long.’

Her heart was beating faster now, the thud of it growing louder and louder in her ears, gradually overpowering any other sounds in the room.

‘And if you feel like I feel baby,’” the professor continued on, his voice fading in Maria’s perception. “‘Come on, oh, come on . . . let’s get it on.’”

Her breathing already felt heavier. She couldn’t take the heat from Michael’s gaze.

“What do you think?” their professor asked. “What kind of impact would that have had on you?”

Oh god, she thought, still staring at him, even as she felt a tingle of desire between her legs. Oh, no.

They barely made it through the class, but the moment it ended, he came and got her. She took his hand and let him drag her out of the room and down the hall. They plunged into their favorite uninhabited classroom, barely making it inside before they tumbled into each other feverishly. His mouth found hers just as his hand found the door, slamming it shut, and her body arched up into his, wanting to feel him. Needing to feel him.

He shoved both his hands down the back of her pants, squeezing and kneading her ass insistently. The maneuver also allowed him to push her hips forward so that she could feel his raging hard-on. As though she hadn’t already seen the bulge in his pants. As though she hadn’t been imagining it getting harder and harder with each passing second of that endless class today.

She tried to reach down in between them to undo her pants, but he moved her hands away and did it for her. His fingers worked so fast, so expertly, that she could barely comprehend what was happening to her. One second they were kissing, and the next second, she was gasping as he spun her around and yanked her jeans down all the way to her knees, her thong right along with them. Somehow, he didn’t even need words to get her to do what he wanted to. He just pressed his hand onto her back, and she understood that she was supposed to bend over. So she did.

Hands pressed against the wall, legs spread as far apart as her jeans would allow, she stood there, completely open and exposed to him, panting for air. She listened as he quickly unzipped his own jeans, and she heard the urgency in his breathing as he lowered them just enough to release his cock. He stepped up behind her then, taking only a second to position himself. With one hand on her hip and no teasing whatsoever, he entered her fully with one push.

“Oh!” she cried out, reveling in the sensation. There was nothing else like this first moment of being joined with him, nothing that could even compare. She loved it. She loved it so much.

It was frantic and rough, as he started thrusting right away. He gripped both her hips tightly and got into an automatic rhythm. The movements felt smooth and natural. After sitting through that whole class, lusting after him, fantasizing about him, she was already so damn wet. She’d cum in no time at this rate.

He was like an animal as he pounded into her. His skin slapped hard against hers, and the sound alone was so erotic that Maria’s legs started to shake. Oh god, she wouldn’t survive this. Getting fucked by Michael Guerin was an absolute rush, one that she wouldn’t come down from. At least not until he wanted her to.

“Oh . . .” she moaned, squeezing her eyes shut as her orgasm swirled inside her stomach. God, yes. He was going to make her cum, and she was going to revel in every single second of it.








TBC . . .

-April
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LOVE IS MICHAEL AND MARIA.

CandyFi
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Re: Somewhere, Anywhere (M&M, CC/UC, AU, Adult) Part 62, 02/19/17

Post by CandyFi » Mon Feb 20, 2017 8:21 am

OMG they are animals!!! I feel that Maria is going to get pregnant from this and then she won't be able to hide from Max. She must realise now that it's happened again that she can't keep doing this to Max. She needs to end it and then surely Max and Liz can have there happily ever after.

It's really sad that Krista is so upset. I totally get where she's coming from but I also think that she forgets all that Maria did for Michael and needs to be more supportive of him.

Can't wait to see where you take it from here! Surely Isabel will cause some drama! :roll: :twisted:

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