Liz put her car in park outside of the Sheriff’s station and unbuckled her seatbelt, snatching up a brown paper bag full of food from the passenger seat as she stepped out of the car. The receptionist gave her a friendly smile as soon as she stepped inside and waved her through without question, which wasn’t surprising to Liz. She’d been bringing Kyle lunch for years, ever since he became a cop, so everyone in the station knew who she was. She’d always considered it a friendly gesture, but now knowing how Kyle truly felt about her, she thought back to all those jokes his fellow officers would make about their relationship status and how they made such a cute couple and wondered if they were just jokes. Maybe people there really did think they were together and maybe Kyle deliberately chose not to correct their assumptions. As those thoughts continued to mull around in her mind, she was even more glad that she’d decided to talk to Kyle today.
Making her way through the office, she gave a friendly wave to a few of the offices as she headed towards Kyle’s desk in the far corner of the main office. As Kyle stared intently down at his paperwork, he was oblivious to Liz’s presence. But as soon as Liz set the bag of food down and he caught the scent of a burger and fries, his face lit up as he glanced up at her.
“Bless you,” he said, happily snatching the bag up and opened it up before looking at her again. “You aren’t staying for lunch?” He asked, noticing that there was only enough food for one.
She shook her head. “Sorry. I have a few errands to run today. I just thought you could use a little break.”
Kyle smiled as he pulled out the burger and started eating. “You thought right,” he said mid chew.
Liz gave him a small chuckle as she sat down across from him. She started to feel a little uncomfortable as she watched him, uncertain of how to talk to him about Max. She knew he wasn’t going to be happy, but she had to set some boundaries.
Kyle noticed her discomfort. “Is everything okay?” He asked after swallowing another bite of his burger.
“I was just wondering if we could talk about what happened the other night,” she said. “When you showed up at the restaurant.”
Kyle simply shrugged, as if he had no idea that he’d done anything wrong. “Was it a problem? I didn’t think it would be.”
“I just didn’t think you were going to show up.”
Kyle set his food down on the desk and turned his chair in Liz’s direction. “Liz, what’s the big deal? Fridays have always been my time with Lexie. I didn’t think it would be problem if I came to dinner.”
Kyle’s clear obliviousness at the situation only heightened Liz’s awkwardness at the conversation. But still, she pressed on. “It’s not. But it’s clear that you and Max still have some issues with each other, and I don’t want those issues to effect Lexie.”
And just like that, Kyle’s expression turned from confusion to anger. Of course, it’s about Max, he thought bitterly, and his tone became accusatory. “Did Max tell you I can’t spend time with Lexie? So, you’re letting him call the shots now?”
“Max didn’t tell me to do anything, Kyle,” Liz replied, both surprised and annoyed by Kyle’s sudden change in attitude. “I decided to do this. And no one is saying you can’t spend time with Lexie, but she’s trying to get to know Max. Can’t you understand that?”
“No, I can’t,” he snapped, glaring at her while she just stared at him in stunned silence. He didn’t care. He had to make her understand. “I don’t understand why you’re allowing any of this to happen, Liz. I don’t understand why you’re putting your daughter in a position to get hurt. Evans isn’t father material. He already showed that to you once.”
For a moment, Liz didn’t know what to say. She knew he wasn’t happy about Max being back in the picture, but she’d never seen this kind of hostility from him before. Still, as soon as he started question her judgement as a parent, she found her voice again. “We were fifteen, Kyle,” she argued. “Things are different now.”
“Sure, Liz,” Kyle snorted in disbelief. “You keep telling yourself that. Just like you keep telling yourself that you’re not still pining for Max.”
Liz was fuming at this point and she knew that any hopes of having a calm, rational discussion with Kyle was gone. If she said anything now, it would only be something she’d regret later. Shaking her head in frustration, she quickly stood up and left, not sparing him another word.
~ * ~ * ~ * ~
Liz’s mood didn’t improve as the day wore on. Kyle’s words continued to replay over and over in her mind, bothering her in a way she couldn’t quite explain. And that bothered her even more. Liz tried to hide her annoyance from Lexie and her mother, but while Lexie seemed to be unfazed by Liz’s silence throughout dinner, happily telling them about her date with Jason later that evening, the concerned looks from Nancy told Liz that she had noticed. Once dinner was over, Liz immediately began cleaning up, stacking the now dirty dishes and carrying them over to the sink.
“Well, I’m going to finish getting ready for my date,” Lexie said as she got out of her chair. “Thanks for dinner, mom.”
Liz gave her a small nod of acknowledgment before turning on the faucet and grabbing the sponge.
“Do you want to talk about it?” Nancy asked as soon as Lexie was gone.
Liz could feel her mother’s gaze on her, but she tried to ignore it as she continued scrubbing the plates. “Talk about what?”
“Whatever has you in such a horrible mood.”
“It’s just been a long day,” she said as casually as possible. There was a part of her that really wanted to tell her mom about her fight with Kyle, but since she knew that her mother would probably just agree that she was harboring feelings for Max, she decided against it. Fortunately, her mother decided not to push and, instead, just got up from her chair and gave Liz a light kiss on her cheek.
“Well, if you ever want to talk, I’m here.” Nancy grabbed her purse off the back of one of the chairs and draped it over her shoulder. “I’m off to book club. Goodnight, dear.”
Once she was gone, Liz began to look forward to a quiet evening alone with her thoughts. But barely a minute passed before she heard a light knock at her back door. With a groan, she placed one of the now clean plates on the dryer rack before announcing over her shoulder. “Come in.”
The back door open and she turned around to see Max coming in. Immediately, she felt her heart stir and her mind went to her conversation with Kyle earlier. Damn him, she thought to herself, but as her eyes took in Max’s appearance, a small part of her wondered if maybe he was right, but she quickly brushed that thought aside. Even if he was right—which he wasn’t—there was no point in dwelling on things that no longer mattered. Max was engaged. And even if he wasn’t, their history proved that they just weren’t compatible. Hell, it was miracle that they were even starting to get a handle on this co-parenting stuff.
Max frowned as he noticed how quiet Liz was being. And the way her gaze lingered on him made him shift uncomfortably, not liking the way slight twinge of excitement he felt as he wondered if she was checking him out. “Are you okay?”
Max’s question immediately broke Liz out of her thoughts and she gave him a shy smile, embarrassed at having been caught staring. “Yeah, I’m okay. What’s up?”
“I just wanted to talk to you about something,” he said as he shut the door behind him.
She nodded and they both went to the table. Initially, she was going to take the chair next to him, but then thought better of it. She knew that what Kyle said about her earlier was wrong, but for some reason, the idea of sitting next to Max made her stomach do flip flops in a way she didn’t like, she opted for the chair across from him.
Max was barely in his seat before the words came pouring out of him in a nervous rush. “I got a call from my mom the other day.”
Liz gave him a surprised expression. “Really? What did she want?”
“She and my dad want to meet Lexie,” he said and waited, studying her expression for any sign of anger. He fully expected her to tell him no, but instead, she just silently stared down at the table. He continued. “I’ll understand if you don’t want that. I know you and my parents didn’t have the easiest relationship.”
Liz snorted at that, raising her eyes to look at him. “That’s an understatement, considering that the last time we spoke, they had insinuated that I was a whore who got pregnant on purpose.”
Max couldn’t help but cringe a little at the memory of the night, especially when he remembered how he had done nothing to defend her. “Yeah, that was bad. If you’re not comfortable with this, I’ll tell them not to come.”
“Tempting,” Liz said with a smirk and it really was. But then she noticed the look in Max’s eyes. “You want them to meet her, don’t you?”
After a moment, Max nodded his head. “I do. And it seemed like she was excited about meeting Lexie. Maybe they have changed.”
The hopeful note in Max’s voice made Liz sigh in resignation. “I guess it’ll be okay.”
Footsteps came bounding down the stairs in the living room and both Max and Liz looked over to see Lexie heading into the kitchen, her face brightening when she spotted Max.
“Hey, Max,” she greeted happily. “What are you doing here?”
“I just wanted to talk to your mom about something,” he replied. Then his eyes took in the black leather skirt and red halter top she was wearing, and he frowned. “Are you going out?”
She nodded excitedly. “I have a date.”
Max was about ask for more information when they all heard a knock at the front door. Lexie’s smile widened in excitement before the bounded out of the kitchen. Max turned back to Liz. “I didn’t know she and Josh were dating.”
Liz shook her head. “They’re not. Josh is just a friend. She’s going out with Jason.” Max’s continued to stare at her in confusion. “You remember Jason. He joined us for dinner.”
It took Max a moment, but then he remembered and had to resist the urge to roll his eyes. “That guy? Really?” If wasn’t for Kyle’s presence, Jason would’ve been the most annoying person at the table that night. Any chance he could, he’d monopolize the conversation, blathering on about his band and how amazing they were. He also remembered how little Jason seemed to acknowledge Lexie once they got to the table, his entire focus centered on trying to talk to Max. Being the singer of a successful band, Max had plenty of experience with groupies who would tried use him to get their five minutes of fame, and he was starting to suspect Jason was one of them. While he’d grown used to people trying to use him directly, he didn’t like the idea of someone using his child.
Liz gave Max an amused grin. “Uh oh. Daddy doesn’t like his daughter’s boyfriend?”
“It’s not that. He just doesn’t seem like Lexie’s type.”
“What’s wrong with Jason?” She asked with a shrug. “He seemed a little overeager, but overall, he seemed nice.”
Max was about to warn Liz of his suspicions when Lexie came back into the kitchen, Jason following behind her. Jason gave Liz a small wave, but when his eyes landed on Max, his entire body perked up. “Hey, Max.”
Max didn’t respond, just gave Jason a small nod of acknowledgement before turning his attention back to Lexie.
“We’re heading out of here now,” Lexie said and started to grab her jacket off the back of one of the chairs when Jason spoke again.
“Or we could hang out for a little while,” he suggested, trying to contain his eagerness as looked at Max. “Hey, Max, I was wondering if you’d be willing to listen to some of my music. See what you think.”
Is this kid for real?
Max thought to himself, feeling more confident in his suspicion about Jason as stared at the kid’s over excited expression. “Uh, maybe another time,” he responded, trying to be polite. “You two have fun.”
Jason’s smile dimmed a little, but quickly shook it off, plastering a fake smile on his face as he turned Lexie and grabbed her hand.
“Bye, guys,” Lexie said before leading Jason out of the kitchen.
Max watched them go, feeling a wave of protectiveness wash over him. The feeling was powerful and completely caught him by surprise. Behind him, he heard Liz snickering and turned to her.
“Want me to buy you a shotgun?” She joked.
Max rolled his eyes as he smiled at her. “Shut up, Parker.”
Liz started laughing and without realizing, Max found himself watching her, almost mesmerized by the expression on her face. The way her nose crinkled up slightly, how her eyes lit up in amusement, the beautiful way her lips curved upward as she giggled. She always looked beautiful when she laughed. Suddenly realizing where his thoughts strayed to, he squirmed uncomfortably in his chair, hoping she hadn’t noticed the way he was staring at her. If she had noticed anything, she didn’t show as she continued to smile at Max.
“Well, I’ll get out of your way,” he said. “Goodnight, Liz.” He started to stand up from his seat when Liz spoke.
“Or I could make us some coffee?”
With a smile, Max nodded and sat back down while Liz went about preparing the coffee. As he watched her, he tried to ignore stirring he felt in his heart.
~ * ~ * ~ * ~
The line was long at club Deluxe, stretching all the way down the block and around the corner. But being one of the hottest models in the country meant that Samantha wouldn’t have to wait in that line. Walking alongside her two best friends, Gina and Peyton, the three women bypassed the line and made their way to the large black double doors. Immediately recognizing who three women were, the bouncer stepped aside and allowed them inside without question.
The club was packed with people writhing and swaying to the Rihanna song playing over the speakers, others enjoying drinks at the bar or at one of the many tables circling the dance floor. Normally, coming to this club would’ve been one of the highlights of Samantha’s week. But normally Max would be there with her. They’d spend the evening laughing and dancing and being a normal couple in love. The thought of Max dampened her mood further, but she tried not to let it show in front of her friends, but as the night wore on and the drinks continued to come, it became harder to disguise her foul mood.
“Sam, what’s going on with you?” Gina asked, brushing back a strand of her long brown hair as she leaned back on one of the velvet sofas in the VIP room. A waitress came to their table carrying a tray of drinks and quickly set them down before sashaying away. Gina leaned forward and grabbed her apple martini. “You love this club.”
Samantha shrugged. “I’m sorry, I guess my head’s just not in it tonight.”
“Is this about Max?” Gina asked then and when Samantha didn’t respond, she took that for an answer. “Sam, I’m sure he’s going to come home soon and then you two will have your fairytale wedding and live happily ever after. You two were made for each other.”
Peyton, a beautiful tall blond, sat next to Gina, nodding her head in agreement. They both looked so sure, but Samantha couldn’t silence the doubts swirling around in her mind.
“How are the wedding plans coming anyway?” Peyton asked, and Samantha knew that her friend was trying to cheer her up. But the question only succeeded in making her mood plummet further.
“Max and I haven’t really discussed wedding plans in a while,” she admitted. “He’s been so busy with Lexie…and Liz.”
Just saying Liz’s name filled Samantha with jealousy and insecurity…two emotions she’d never experienced before. Angrily, she grabbed her drink and took a big gulp. “Max actually called me earlier. He told me he’s thinking of staying in Roswell a little longer.”
Peyton shook her head. “I’m sure it doesn’t mean anything.”
“That’s what I keep trying to tell myself. That I should trust Max and I do trust him. I just don’t trust her. I don’t trust either of those girls. They’ve been trying to get their hooks into him from day one. He even invited his parents to meet Lexie. I mean, I’m his fiancée and I haven’t even met them.”
She knew she sounded whiny, but she couldn’t help it. In all the years that she’d been dating Max, she’d never met his family. And when they got engaged and she’d wanted to invite them to their wedding, he’d been adamantly against it. But suddenly it was all okay because of Lexie? This only furthered her suspicions of Liz and Lexie’s intentions. Even though Max had assured her that Liz had nothing to do with his parents coming to Roswell, she was skeptical.
“So, do something about that,” Gina said, taking another sip of her martini.
Samantha frowned in confusion. “What do you mean?”
Gina gave her friend a little smirk. “I’m saying go to Roswell.”
“I don’t know if that’s a good idea. Max didn’t exactly invite me.” And that stung as well. How could he not think to invite her to this big family dinner? She was his fiancée. Didn’t that mean anything?
“Maybe not,” Gina said with a shrug. “But he never said you couldn’t come. And you have all the right to be there. You’re going to be his wife.”
The idea was tempting, but Samantha still felt uncertain. “I don’t know.”
“Well, I think it’s a great idea,” Peyton chimed in. “It’ll give you the chance to make things right with Max and let that bitch know that she can’t have your man.”
Samantha didn’t respond to that and her friends, sensing her discomfort, decided to drop the subject. But the idea weighed on Samantha the rest of the evening. The hot, confident Samantha said she was being ridiculous for even considering going to Roswell. She trusted Max and what they had was way bigger than some meaningless high school relationship. However, the new, insecure side of Samantha—the side she was quickly beginning to hate—couldn’t stop picturing Max and Liz alone together in Roswell and all the things that could happen. And as much as pathetic as it was, that second part of her was winning.