Gold Diggers (Adult, AU, CC, Mature) Complete 09/22

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

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nibbles2
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Re: Gold diggers (Adult, AU) Chapter 26 26/08

Postby nibbles2 » Fri Aug 29, 2008 12:48 pm

No, you're not seeing things, it's a new part. Twice in one month, go me.

Thanks to everyone who left fb, I caught most of it before it was wiped and it's always appreciated.

As always, thanks to my beta orangesky.


27

Michael was not having a good day.

His appointment at the doctors that morning had left him feeling angry. Afterwards he had gone to see how things were developing at the Wilson Road Project. While most of it was going well, there were a few problems. Nothing major and nothing that would normally have annoyed him so much. Really it was that center, sitting on the corner of the street, mocking him, that had bothered him the most. He had driven around afterwards, trying to calm down but he was pissed off and angry when he arrived back at Evans HQ. He just wanted one person to look at him cross-eyed and he knew that it would set him off.

So he really, really was not in the mood for the circus that had set up camp outside his office.

The area around Tess’s desk was swarmed with people. Marty Freeman and Tess were standing in the middle arguing with each other.

“What the hell is going on?” Michael asked in a tone a hell of a lot calmer than he felt.

Tess and Marty both whipped around to face him and spoke at the same time. “Where the hell have you been?”

Michael stared at them in shock. Nobody spoke to him that way.

Tess was immediately contrite and looked like she wanted the ground to swallow her up. Marty, one of the few people in the world who could get away with talking to him that way just waited for an answer.

“I was busy. What’s going on here?” Michael asked again.

“I told you about this weeks ago, I sent you a memo on Friday,” Marty replied, annoyed.

Michael shook his head; he had no idea what Marty was talking about. “What memo?”

“About the interview with Forbes.” Seeing that Michael still didn’t understand, Marty explained further. “Forbes wanted to interview you and your dad. I told you about it weeks ago.”

Oh, that. Michael groaned internally. He had thought that he would avoid that particular torture as his father was taking time off. “I presumed that was cancelled.”

“No, of course not. They’ll interview you alone.” Marty stepped closer and spoke in a low voice so the journalist wouldn’t hear. “It’s important that we get your name and face out there as the head of Evans Limited Michael. Please just do this.”

“Fine,” Michael agreed with a sigh of defeat. If it had been anybody else he would have told them to take a hike. He motioned to all the other people standing around and to their mountain of paraphernalia. “What’s with the rest of the stuff?”

“That’s the photographers and their teams and their equipment. They want to set up in your office, but this one,” he waved at Tess who was standing behind them waiting for Michael to fire her “wouldn’t allow us in.”

“I knew you wouldn’t want them in there,” Tess said meekly, unknowingly redeeming herself in Michael’s eyes.

“They need to take your picture Michael,” Marty told him in a voice that killed off any arguments before Michael could make them. Michael nodded and Marty signalled that they could go into his office to set up their equipment. He waved an attractive blonde woman forward. “This is Ms. Jennifer Howard; she’ll be conducting the interview.”

“It’s lovely to meet you Mr. Evans,” she said holding her hand out to him.

Michael shook her it. “You too Ms. Howard. I’m very sorry about the delay. I was away from my office on Friday so I missed the memo.”

“Oh that’s quiet alright. I know that you’re very busy at the moment. I apologise if this is inconvenient for you.”

It was of course - massively inconvenient. Michael had done practically no work on Friday, very little over the weekend and none at all so far today. He dreaded to think of the mountain that was awaiting him. “Not at all,” he assured her hoping it didn’t sound as fake to her as it did to him.

“We’ve set make-up and wardrobe up in the office over there, so if you’d like to go there first we can begin.”

Make-up and wardrobe. Things just got better and better.

“Sure.”

Jennifer smiled at him and he tried to return but it probably came out as a grimace instead. Marty led him to the office, actually a small meeting room, where the make-up people were waiting. Tess followed after them.

Marty spoke in a low voice as they walked. “Thank you Michael. Try and not be so surly during the interview. And don’t be monosyllabic. Talk to the woman, answer her questions. Flirt a little. And just let them take your picture, please.”

“Give me some credit,” Michael snapped. “Tess?”

Tess appeared in front of him looking meek and scared. She could hardly speak. “I’m really sorry sir,” she began.

“Order me a steak sandwich and a Snapple, peach. Please?”

Tess blinked in surprise, unsure what had shocked her more – that he hadn’t fired her or that he had said please. “Yes sir. Anything else?” She waited nervously for the other boot to drop.

“No, that’s all for now.”

“Ok. Um…. Jesse Rameriez called for you; he says that he needs to talk to you right away.”

“Have him come up to me as soon as this crap is over,” Michael instructed.

The interview was as horrible as Michael expected but he behaved dutifully and answered all questions apart from the personal ones. He was friendly, charming, talkative and even flirted. A photographer snapped shots of him as he spoke and Michael successfully resisted the urge to swat him away like an annoying fly. Marty stood by the wall of the office listening in and he seemed to be please with how it went.

When they had finished talking, he was made change his shirt and pose for photographs - leaning against his desk, looking at a book by the book case and looking out at the city from the balcony off his office. Then he was given another shirt, his hair was styled differently and he was asked to do it all again. The photographer tried to get a picture of Michael looking relaxed and happy. In the end he settled for the serious and moody shot instead.

“Why couldn’t they have used the photos I did from the last shoot?” Michael asked Marty as he signed the release forms.

“Different magazine, different kind of photos needed,” Marty said casually before hurrying away to talk to one of the publicists.

Michael frowned but was distracted when Jennifer came up to him to say goodbye.

“Thank you Michael, the interview will be in next month’s copy.”

“You’re welcome and again, I’m sorry about the mix-up earlier.”

Jennifer smiled at him, “How about you make it up to me tonight over dinner? I’m not flying back to New York until tomorrow and it would be nice to have company tonight.”

“Sorry, I’m very busy tonight.”

She pouted sexily, unperturbed by his rejection. “That’s a shame. If your schedule clears up, I’m staying at the IMM. Room seven-eight-oh-one. I don’t mind if it’s late.”

***


Like Michael, Max’s day had been no picnic.

It had started out having to apologise and practically beg Nancy for his job back. And that in itself was enough to classify the day as a ‘bad day.’ But having to then spend the rest of the day with her silently gloating as she kept an eagle eye on him was a thousand times worse.

She had scrutinised everything he did as if he was launching a rocket into space instead of counting pens. He had been so determined not to give her the satisfaction of having anything to complain about that he had spent the day giving one hundred percent of his focus to the job. And it was exhausting. His whole body hurt from the effort and the tendrils of a bad headache were snaking around his skull.

All he wanted to do was go home and sleep until his alarms went off in the morning. Alas, it wasn’t to be. He had to catch a bus – A bus! The ignominy of it – and cross town to get to his second job.

If asked what would be the worst thing that could happen at his new job, Max would have said being recognised and having his picture in the tabloids while he was on janitorial duty. Being a janitor was bad enough; he really didn’t want anybody to know about it. As far as he was concerned, that would be the nightmare scenario.

At least that was until he arrived at his new job and met his co-worker on the evening shift.

Ruben Jefferson was a male version of Nancy. Same height, same Napoleon complex, same resentment of the rich people he was forced to interact with daily at his job. If Ruben had been black like Nancy, Max would have been convinced that they were twins.

“God hates me,” Max muttered to himself.

“What was that?” Ruben asked, annoyed that Max didn’t appear to be paying attention as he explained how the buckets were to be stored by color and size.

“Nothing.”

“Good. I don’t like people who answer back and I won’t tolerate insubordination. Do as I tell you, keep your mouth shut and you’ll do fine. Don’t cross me. I can have your job like that.” Ruben snapped his fingers to show what he meant.

Max nodded, he had learned from working with Nancy that it was best to obey and keep quiet no matter how frustrating it was. “I understand. You won’t have any problems with me.”

That answer satisfied Ruben and they moved onto the next lesson – how to use a mop. Which turned out to a lot more beneficial than Max had anticipated. After all he had never used a mop in his life and although it’s a pretty easy piece of equipment to master, the demonstration proved useful for Max.

Finally, after listening to Ruben for over two hours, Max was given his own mop, bucket and ‘caution, wet surface sign’ and was told to get mopping.

To his dismay, the corridors he was asked to mop were public corridors leading from the bedrooms to the recreational areas on each floor. The only good thing was that he had been given a baseball cap as part of his uniform. By keeping his head down and the cap pulled low over his eyes Max was able to avoid eye contact and remain anonymous.

He made a point of reading the names on every room door and on his third or fourth corridor, he came across Claudia Parker’s room. He wasn’t sure if Claudia was the name of Liz’s grandmother’s but so far it was the only Parker he had seen.

Max lingered longer on that corridor hoping that Liz might show up but after twenty minutes he couldn’t hang around any longer and had to move on. When he finished mopping he was given the job of going around the corridors and polishing the pictures hanging on the walls. He couldn’t help but wonder why he hadn’t been asked to do that at the same time as he mopped the floors but he stuck to his policy of keeping his mouth shut and doing as he was told. He lingered along the same corridor again until the painting shone like polished diamonds and still no sign of Liz.

It was on his third trip down the corridor – as he took the long way back to base that he bumped into Liz.

She didn’t recognise him as she passed until he called out. “Good evening Ms. Parker.”

Liz stopped and turned. Her eyes raked over his uniform clad body. “Max?” She asked in complete shock.

“Hi Liz,” Max couldn’t help grin.

“Oh my God. Do you work here?”

“Today’s my first day.”

“What about your job working for your brother?”

Max resisted the urge to point out he was working with his brother at their family company and not for him. “I work there too, this is my second job.”

Liz’s mouth flapped open but she couldn’t formulate a sentence. Max quiet enjoyed her shock. He didn’t think he had the ability to surprise her.

“Wow,” Liz said at last. “You’re a janitor.”

“I wish,” Max laughed in self deprecation. “I’m lower than that; I’m the assistant to the janitor. Trainee assistant actually.”

Liz shook her head in disbelief. “Oh my God.”

“You said that already.” Max checked his watch, it was getting late and he knew that Ruben would come looking for him soon. “I have to get going and you should go see your Grandmother.”

“Yeah. Do you get a break later?” Liz asked, shaking herself out of her stupor.

“In about an hour.”

“Do you want to meet up for coffee in the canteen then?”

“I’d love to but aren’t you in a hurry to get to the club?”

She shook her head. “I have the night off. I’ll see you in an hour.”

Max watched her go into Claudia Parker’s room before he hurried to find Ruben. He couldn’t help smiling as he made his way. Strange how the prospect of having a cup of coffee with Liz turned his whole day around.

***


“Michael, it’s good to see you again,” Jennifer Howards said in a sultry tone when Michael approached her in the bar of the IMM. “I’m glad that you changed your mind.”

“Can I get you a drink?” He asked.

“Allow me,” Jennifer insisted. She turned to the bar tender, “A dirty martini, three olives for me and a bourbon for my friend - neat.” She smiled at Michael. “I did my research.”

“Clearly,” Michael responded. He nodded at the bar tender to indicate that the drinks were to be put on his tab then gestured to a small table in a secluded corner.

“This is a really nice place,” Jennifer commented after the drinks have been delivered to their table.

“Thank you. I didn’t think the Forbes expense account covered rooms here.”

Jennifer shrugged. “They don’t but I decided that I’d treat myself while I was here. Besides, I wanted to get inside your head and I thought that staying here might give me some insight. I know this place was your baby.”

“And what kind of insight did you gain from the hotel?”

“You like the best things in life, you have high standards and judging by the price of the cashew nuts in the mini bar – you have a lot of money.”

Michael smirked. “That’s some great insight that you got there.”

She accepted that with a shrug. “I grilled you over an hour today and I didn’t learn anything about you. We spoke about a wide range of things – your family, your company, your charity foundation and not once did I see so much as a chink in your armour. I’ve interviewed a lot of hard nosed business men in the past few years and not one of them was as quick or adamant to shut me down when I ventured into personal areas. You’re a very hard man to get to know Michael.”

“I answered any questions you had about the company and our plans. What more do you need to know?”

“You’re the CEO of one of the most profitable companies in the country. You’re certainly the only possible replacement for your father when he retires. Rumor has it that your sibling’s behaviour has annoyed your parents so much that you’ll be given a controlling stake in the company rather than an even three way split. Your company yields a lot of power here in LA and you’re spreading your wings. In short, you’re already rich and powerful but that’s only a drop in the bucket to what you’ll be in ten years time.” Jennifer paused to let her words sink in. “I believe that we have a right, and a duty, to know about the people who have that kind of power and influence. We need to know how they think and what motivates them.”

Michael had to admit to himself that she was smarter than he had previously given her credit for. “Did you figure out how I think and what motivates me?”

Jennifer smiled. “No. You are highly motivated but I cannot figure out what it is that drives you. Care to fill me in?”

“No.”

She laughed and raised her glass to him. “Well I love a challenge.”

“To challenges,” Michael said. They clinked their glasses before drinking them down.

Michael signalled to the bartender for another round. Jennifer put her hand on his thigh. “Why don’t we take these up in my room?”

“Great idea,” Michael agreed. It was what he had come here for after all.

***

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Re: Gold diggers (Adult, AU) A/N pg 16 11/28

Postby nibbles2 » Thu Dec 11, 2008 6:01 am

I have an update. Quel shock!!

Thanks to

uw51
Alien_Friend
Natalie36
Emz80m
RiceKrispy
tequathisy
begonia9508
LairaBehr4
spacegirl23
RhondaAnn
Cocogurl
April
bella_svetlana
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Tamashii
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paper
Egyptian_Kiss
Janetfl
Titch22
Metallicageek



For reading and fbing.

And a big thanks to Orangsky for being my beta. This part is much less bad because of her.

I'll do my best to have the next part for you over the Christmas period.

Enjoy

28

Mind over matter.

There was nothing physically wrong with him. There was no reason that he couldn’t have sex. Jennifer was beautiful and willing and clearly knew what she was doing. She used her tongue wonderfully, kissed his neck the way he liked it and ran her hands over his body in all the right ways. Currently, she was making quick work of his shirt buttons, nibbling and sucking on his neck as she went.

Any straight man with a pulse would kill to be in his position. And he wanted to be here. He wanted to have sex. God knows it had been a long time since he’d gotten any. Eleven months. Almost a year.

For fuck sake Michael, this is so stupid. There’s no reason you can’t do this. Just stop thinking so much. Let it happen, he told himself.

Jennifer pushed his shirt off his chest and as she began to kiss down his body, her hands slid lower to the buckle of his belt. Michael lay back against the mattress and eyed the ceiling. His eyes strayed to a cobweb in the corner. It really pissed him off. There weren’t supposed to be any cobwebs in this hotel. But there it was, hanging there, taunting him. Just like that fucking center.

He immediately shut down that train of thought, because he certainly wasn’t going to get anywhere thinking about the center. Jennifer slipped his belt from its loops and tossed it over her shoulder. He wondered at that. Why the hell had she taken his belt off? As she began to toy with the fly of his pants, her tongue twirled around his belly button.

“Don’t,” he breathed out, pushing her face gently away from his navel. It was a move Carla used to do. Shit. Images of Carla sprang to Michael’s mind and his hands curled around the bedsheets, twisting them into his fist. He forced himself not to think of her. Instead, he searched his mind for a memory that could…inspire…him now. He tried to think of some of the girls he had dated before Carla: a threesome he’d had with two Victoria secret models after a runway show in New York once, an actress who’d given him head in the back of a limo mere minutes before they arrived at the red carpet for her movie premiere.

Nothing.

Jennifer’s hands moved inside his briefs and began to caress his cock.

Nothing.

He cleared his mind. This was stupid. What the hell was wrong with him? Why couldn’t he just get it up? Why was it such a problem? He wasn’t some fucking loser who was never going to have sex again because some bitch had screwed with his mind. It was ridiculous that he was making such a big deal out of this. It was the most basic function known to man. So why couldn’t he just do it?

He felt Jennifer’s surprise at his lack of reaction and he wanted to give some kind of explanation but really, what could he say? It’s not you, it’s me? He looked down at her and saw her frown before she shifted her position and lowered her head to take him into her mouth. She looked up and met his gaze and he was reminded, suddenly, of Maria. Jennifer looked a lot like her.

His cock twitched and Jennifer smiled, lowering her head again.

Michael felt a wave of panic wash over him and his heart quickened. The thought of her going down on him was suddenly repulsive, not arousing. Still, he resisted the urge to push her away violently. Instead, he looked around frantically and spotted his phone on the bed near his waist. Surreptitiously, he pressed a button. The phone made a ringing sound, causing Jennifer to jump in surprise.

“Sorry,” Michael said, as he brought the phone to his ear. “Yeah?” He pretended to listen for a minute as he pulled his body away from Jennifer and swung up into a sitting position. “Ok, I’ll be right there.” He ‘hung up’ the phone and stood up, pulling up his trousers at the same time.

When they were buttoned he turned back to the blonde. She was pouting with disappointment. “I’m sorry, I really have to go.”

“It can’t wait?” She asked.

He shook his head and pulled his shirt on. “No. It was nice meeting you. I’m sorry it had to end like this.”

“It doesn’t have to end like this,” she said, climbing onto her knees and crawling across the bed until she was kneeling in front of him. She tugged at the bottom of his shirt and kissed his chest. “I could go with you and wait while you do whatever it is you have to do. Or…I could delay my flight back. We could meet tomorrow instead.”

He sighed and pushed her hands away gently so that he could button his shirt. “I really can’t.” He bit his lips in time to stop the it’s not you line from escaping.

Jennifer slumped in defeat before reaching for her purse and searching inside it. She pulled out a business card and handed it to him. “Take this and next time you’re in New York, look me up.”

“I will.” He took the card and made a show of putting it into his wallet before he grabbed his suit jacket, pulled it on, and left.

***


Max watched in delight as Liz threw back her head and laughed so heartily, her whole body quivered with laughter. Tears of amusement leaked from her eyes and she actually slammed the table with her fist.

He couldn’t help the grin that stretched from ear to ear. It was partly in response to her laughter, which was contagious, and partly because there was something so great about making her laugh. It would be impossible not to smile.

A nurse at a table in the center of the room watched them and laughed along with Liz. The worker behind the counter giggled and shook her head. Max watched until Liz got herself under control. When she was done, he handed her a napkin so she could wipe her eyes. “I’m really glad that my terrible life is such a source of amusement to you,” he said in a mock sulky tone. Still, he couldn’t wipe the grin off his face. His eyes twinkled in merriment.

“I’m sorry, I’m sorry,” Liz gasped breathlessly as she dabbed at her eyes. She blew out her breath and brushed back the hair that had fallen in her face then looked at him with an expression of deep seriousness. Max chuckled in response and Liz giggled in surprise. “What?” she asked innocently.

He just smiled. God, it was amazing how a simple cup of coffee could transform his day from damn near hellish, to suddenly wonderful.

“I’m sorry, I won’t laugh. Finish telling me about your day,” Liz said.

Max shook his head and grinned playfully. “So you can laugh at me some more? I don’t think so.”

“I won’t laugh,” Liz promised, though she lacked a certain sincerity by giggling again.

In truth, Max had played it for laughs, describing the nightmarish Ruben and his apology to Nancy with exaggerated mannerisms and impressions. It felt good to make a joke of his humiliation, to turn it into a source of amusement. The tension Max had been carrying around all day slid off his shoulders and dissolved into a pool of Liz’s giggles.

“I should get back to work before Ruben comes looking for me,” Max said with a sigh.

“Let him come, I want to see him,” Liz pleaded, bouncing in her seat like a little kid.

“I’d rather not have him pissed at me on my first night.”

Liz pouted and made an exaggerated pleading face. “Awwww.”

Max sighed dramatically. “If you promise to come back and have coffee with me on your next night off, I promise that I’ll wait for him to come find me so that you can witness my humiliation for yourself.”

“I’m going to hold you to that promise.” Liz laughed.

“I really do have to go,” Max said reluctantly.

“What time do you finish?”

He looked at his watch. “I have another hour and a half.”

“Maybe…that is, if you don’t mind…you know, if you’re not too tired-”

“Liz.”

“Could you give me a lift home?”

“Sure. I’ll meet you in the parking lot at eleven thirty. You know my car, right?”

Liz nodded.

“See you then.” Max turned and, whistling as he walked, went to find Ruben. It was time to be assigned his next mind-numbing chore.

***


Without ever making a conscious decision about where he was going, Michael found himself in the elevator at the hospital. He’d thought of going home and trying to delve into some of the work that had piled up over the weekend, but instead he’d found himself here.

He needed to talk to Maria – he had some information to pass on after his conversation with Jesse earlier that day – but that wasn’t why he was here, really. He was really here because he wanted to see the two girls who had made surprising inroads into his life lately. Not that he would admit that to himself.

It never entered Michael’s mind that Maria wouldn’t be at Maddie’s side, even though it was after ten at night. So when the nurse at the desk told him Maria had gone home for the night, he’d looked at her in shock.

“Gone home?”

The nurse nodded in understanding. “I know. Apparently she doesn’t actually live here.”

“Huh.” He made to head for the elevator but stopped. “Would it be ok if I stop by and see Maddie for a minute?”

“Visiting hours are over…” The nurse trailed off as she looked into Michael’s eyes. Who could say no to them? “Okay, but just for a minute.”

“Thank you Susan.” Michael grinned.

He made his way into Maddie’s room quietly and took a seat at the side of her crib, reaching in and brushing her tiny fist with his finger. She opened an eye, gazed at him sleepily, and shut it again. A smile crossed Michael’s features.

At the window, the nurse looking in hugged a chart to her body as her stomach flip flopped. There was nothing more adorable than seeing a man as strong and big as Michael being so tender with a baby. No wonder all the nurse had crushes on him. Susan smiled to herself and went on with her rounds, unaware that she had received a very rare glimpse at the vulnerable side of Michael Evans.

***


Maria wasn’t overly surprised when she heard the knock at her door, even though it was approaching eleven. Alex had texted her earlier to say that he had a medical question to ask, and Liz had unexpectedly left her keys lying on the kitchen table that morning. She just figured that it was one of them.

Because she figured it was one of them, Maria made her way to the door barefoot with her damp hair held up in a messy ponytail and her face coated in a lurid green face mask, dressed in an old oversized t-shirt and a pair of shorts as pajamas.

And squeaked in shock when she opened it.

“Michael?”

A range of emotions flooded her: surprise, relief, embarrassment, curiosity and delight.

“I’m sorry…I’ve come at a bad time,” Michael said at once.

“No, no it’s fine. Come in,” she said, and quickly stepped back to allow him access. “Sit down. I’m just going to go clean this gunk off my face.”

She rushed into her bathroom and splashed warm water on her face until it was clear then patted it dry before hurrying back to Michael. “Sorry, I was just pampering myself.”

“Do you have a special occasion coming up?”

Maria felt a flush across her cheeks and prayed that he didn’t notice. She often took time to pamper herself – long soak in the bath, conditioning mask in her hair, moisturising mask on her face, paint her nails, shave her legs – that wasn’t unusual. But maybe this particular night, maybe she had taken extra care in her routine. It wasn’t that she wanted to impress anybody exactly, but…

She cleared her throat and shrugged. “No, I just felt like it. Uh…can I get you a drink, or something to eat?”

“I’m fine, thanks.”

She tugged down the oversized t-shirt she was wearing in an attempt to cover her butt and took a seat on the armchair opposite him.

“Great band.”

“Huh?” Maria asked in confusion.

Michael gestured to her t-shirt which had a faded picture of the Ramones on it. “Right. Yeah, they’re cool. My boyfriend was in a tribute band in college. This is his. Or, was his. I stole it.”

“You’re seeing somebody?” Michael asked.

“No. No. I mean my ex-boyfriend. I dated him for a year in college. I’m single. Very single. I haven’t even been on a date in months, but that’s just because I’ve been pretty busy lately. Working and stuff. You know?”

Shut up Maria.

“Yeah, I know,” Michael said with a wry smile. “I hardly have time to eat some days.”

“Plus my last break up was such a mess, I just wanted time out from the whole dating thing.”

“I know that feeling too. I broke up with my fiancée almost a year ago and it still hurts like a bitch sometimes.”

“You still love her?”

Michael laughed humourlessly. “The funny thing is, I probably didn’t really love her at all. I thought I did or, as much as I can. What hurts is how it happened. She made a fool out of me, she abused what I gave her and she did something that I can never forgive. Something that hurts every day.”

“Want to talk about it?”

“No.” He couldn’t believe that he’d even told her that much, the words had just poured out.

“Fair enough. Is there something else you want to talk about?” Maria held her breath nervously. She had been totally expecting the other shoe to drop.

“It’s about Maddie. I spoke to my lawyer today, he’s been looking into her case. She’s going to be appointed a ward of the court this week.”

“But I thought they were going to wait until she’s been released from the hospital?”

“Well, apparently Doctor Fisher used his connections and got her case bumped up.”

“Why would he do that?”

Michael sighed and rubbed his eyebrow. “Actually, that may be my fault. I told him to take care of her. He probably thinks that he’s doing the right thing, getting her case heard quickly and having her future decided quickly. He doesn’t know that we have plans.”

Maria’s shoulders sagged and she leaned back in the chair. “I spoke to the social worker today when I submitted my application form. She said that she’ll do what she can to speed it along, but it will still take a couple of weeks. They won’t award custody to me unless I’ve been approved as a foster carer.”

“When will Maddie be released from the hospital?”

“Soon, I think. She’s doing really well. Another week maybe.”

“Shit,” Michael swore. “I mean, it’s good she’s doing well, but it could be problematic.”

“I can’t believe I’m sitting here wishing she was ill,” Maria said with a guilty smile. She ran her fingers through her damp hair.

“Don’t. I’ll talk to Jesse in the morning and have him find out what judge will be overseeing her case. He’ll find out what it will take for you to get custody.”

“What…like a bribe?” Maria asked.

Michael couldn’t help but laugh. “No. He’ll explain the situation and hopefully the judge will see that giving Maddie to you is the best thing for her. Then they’ll work out a way for that to happen.”

Maria frowned, a little worried. It sounded less than legal.

“It’s fine,” Michael assured her. “You won’t get into trouble for it, I promise. And if it doesn’t work, we’ll find another way. Maddie needs to be with you and I’m going to make that happen.”

“I really can’t thank you enough, Michael.”

He shook his head. “You don’t need to thank me.”

“But I do Michael, and not just for the money. Don’t get me wrong, I’m extremely grateful for that. But you gave me the motivation to apply to foster Maddie when I’d talked myself out of it. And it’s nice to have somebody else who cares about her too. For a while it felt like I was the only one and well, it’s good to know that other people care too.”

Michael shifted uncomfortably. He looked uneasy with the topic so Maria searched around for a different subject. Her eyes fell on the clock. “Oh shit, is that the time?”

“It’s late, I’m sorry. I should go. I just wanted to tell you my news.”

“You don’t have to go. I was just wondering where my roommate is. She was supposed to be home a while ago. My car is being repaired at the moment and she’s taking the bus, so I’m a little worried. I’m going to call her.” Maria stood up and walked into the kitchen to find her phone.

Michael remained in his seat and watched as she dialled the phone, speaking quietly into it. The t-shirt she was wearing was large but still stopped just below her butt, an inch above where her shorts ended. She kept tugging the shirt down which caused it to slip from her shoulder, revealing the skin beneath.

He suppressed a groan. The last thing he wanted or needed was to complicate his relationship with Maria by having an attraction to her. Not that it mattered anyway. He couldn’t act on it.

“Is she ok?” Michael asked, rising to his feet when Maria hung up the phone.

“Yeah, she’s getting a ride home with a friend of hers.” Maria replaced the phone on the cradle and made her way to the fridge. “Are you sure I can’t get you anything – a sandwich, a drink...ice cream?”

Michael tried to remember the last time he’d had ice cream, tried to remember the last time he’d been offered ice cream. He came up blank. “Actually, ice cream sounds good. What flavor do you have?”

With a sheepish laugh, Maria opened the freezer door to reveal a selection of eight different tubs, each a different variety. “What’s your poison?”

Michael stood behind her, looking over her head into the freezer to read the labels. “I don’t think I know what half those labels mean.”

“What’s your favourite flavor?”

“Pistachio.”

“Damn, the one flavour I don’t have. Can I interest you in lemon sorbet instead?” She looked up at him with a smile and Michael had to take a step back from her. How was it that just standing beside Maria affected him more than any other woman had in the last year?

“Sounds good,” he managed to say.

“Great.” Maria pulled the lemon sorbet out of the freezer, grabbed two spoons, and sat at the table, placing the tub in the middle. “Would you prefer a bowl?”

“No, this is fine.” Michael sat opposite her and took up his spoon. “Why do you have so much ice cream?”

“It’s for emotional support. You know, bad day at work, not feeling well, PMS-ing, too many bills.”

“Messy break ups?”

“Yeah, I’ve devoured many a carton of ice cream because of a break up.”

“What happened with the last one? It must have been bad if it put you off dating completely.”

Maria groaned and dug into the ice cream. “Ugh. It’s just…I was dating this guy for almost four months and I thought it was going great until the night we had a party for my friend Alex’s birthday. The ex got a little drunk and made a pass at my best friend. Told her he was in love with her.”

“Oh. And did she…?”

“God no, Liz would never do that to me. She told me and I dumped him and that was it. I just…it did a number on me. It just put me right off dating and men. I already had trust issues to begin with and that didn’t help, and it was totally humiliating. I’m not in any hurry to put myself through that again. You know?”

He nodded in response. “Unfortunately, I know only too well. My ex-fiancée – ” He stopped talking and shook his head angrily.

“You don’t have to tell me if you don’t want to.”

“She slept with my brother.”

“No.”

Michael nodded grimly. “Yeah.” He swallowed a spoonful of ice cream thoughtfully. “Her cheating on me, I can get over. I mean, I’m pissed at her, but it’s nothing I can’t get over. It’s him. What he did to me, that’s what really kills me. He’s my brother. I thought he’d never do something like that. I thought that being brothers meant something to him, but clearly it doesn’t. I’m just the stray mongrel that his parents took in.”

Maria bit her lip, remembering something Michael had said once:

“It doesn’t matter how nice you are to her. She was somebody’s garbage and now that’s what she’ll always be.”

Maria had been appalled at the time, but realized now he’d been talking about himself, talking about how his own brother had made him feel. She reached across the table and took his hand in hers. “Assholes.”

“Yeah.”

***


Max yawned and rubbed his eyes as he waited for the red light to change to green.

“Tired?” Liz asked.

He nodded. “Exhausted. It was a long day and I get to do it all over again tomorrow.”

“Welcome to the real world, rich boy,” Liz teased, though she smiled at him sympathetically.

“Does it get easier?” Max asked.

Liz shrugged. “I think you just find it easier to cope with.”

The light finally changed and Max put his foot on the gas. “I’m really glad that you were there tonight. I don’t think I could have gone through it without you.”

“I didn’t do anything,” she protested.

“You were there, that’s all you needed to do.”

“Well, you were there for me when I needed you too. So I guess we’re even. You don’t make commission on the cups of coffee I bought, do you?”

Max shook his head.

“That sucks,” Liz laughed. Her phone rang and she fished it out of her bag. “Hi Maria…I’m fine. I’m getting a lift home with Max…I’ll tell you when I get home. Will you be up?...Ok…see you soon.” She hung up with a thoughtful frown on her face.

“Everything ok?” Max asked.

“Yeah, just my roommate wondering where I am. She says she needs to talk to me about. There’s something going on with her.” She shrugged. “So, if you’re working two jobs, and I’m working at night, when are we going to see each other?”

“There’s always coffee in the cafeteria, I guess.”

“With Ruben the terrible breathing down your neck? I’ll have coffee with you whenever I can, but with my schedule, I can’t make it to the hospital every evening. Besides, it would be nice to spend some time together where neither of us has to work.”

Max felt his heart speed up. “Like a date?”

Liz flushed and looked down at her hands, biting on her lip nervously. “Yeah, I guess. If you want?”

“I want. There’s nothing more I want.”

“So we just need to come up with a time we’re both free.”

It was easier said than done, but by the time Max pulled his car in front of Liz’s apartment building, they had set a date for the following Sunday. It was the first time that was convenient for both of them.

“But it’s a week away,” Max whined.

“We’ll see each other at the hospital. Hopefully.” She smiled at Max. “So, here we are. Do you…want to come in?”

“I do but I won’t. Your roommate wants to talk to you and I’m really tired. I need to go home and go to bed or I’ll never get up in the morning. But I’ll walk you to the door.”

They climbed out of the car and walked in silence to the door.

Liz turned to face him and smiled uncertainly. “So…”

“So…” Max repeated. He rubbed the back of his head. “Uh…”

They smiled in embarrassment, laughing a little at their own silliness and Liz pressed the doorbell so Maria could let her in. They heard the sound of footsteps hurrying to the door before it was pulled open.

“Hi Liz.” Maria’s gaze fell on Max and her welcoming smile faded. “Hi.”

“Maria, Max. Max, Maria,” Liz said.

Max stuck out his hand. “Nice to meet you.”

Maria hesitated before shaking his hand uncertainly. Then she stood back to allow them in.

“I’ll be just a minute,” Liz told her, pulling the door towards them to give them a little privacy. She waited until Maria’s silhouette had disappeared from the door. “Well, I guess we should say good night.”

“Good night.” Max’s voice was suddenly husky.

They stared at each other, both wanting the same thing but knowing they shouldn’t Finally Liz giggled, stood on her toes, and pressed a kiss to Max’s cheek. “Good night,” she said, before slipping inside.

She leaned back against the door for a moment to allow herself to calm down before going into the kitchen to find Maria. She stopped in the doorway, surprised to find Michael Guerin sitting at the table eating the last of the ice cream she had mentally labelled for herself.

“Hi,” she said awkwardly.

“Hi Liz.” He stood up and rinsed his spoon in the sink. “I should get going.”

“You don’t have to go because of me,” Liz told him.

Michael shook his head. “It’s late, and I have an early morning meeting I’m not prepared for yet.”

Maria stood up and led him out of the kitchen. Curious to know what was going on between her best friend and the mysterious Michael Guerin, Liz crept to the door and peered around. She was unable to hear what they are saying, but could clearly see Maria pull him into a warm hug.

“Are you ok?” Maria asked as she pulled back from Michael.

“I’m fine,” he told her, surprised that she would think he wasn’t.

She smiled. “Ok. Thanks for coming over. Let me know how it goes with the judge.”

“I will. I’ll probably see you at the hospital.”

Maria caught his arm before he could leave. “Michael, I’ll do anything. It doesn’t matter what it takes...I’ll do it.”

He looked her in the eye and nodded. “Me too,” he promised her sincerely.

“Thank you.” She kissed his cheek and watched from the door as he made his way to his car. He started the engine, waved up at her, and drove off.

Maria closed the door and turned to find Liz standing behind her, ice cream in hand.

“We should talk,” Liz said with a smile.

“Oh yeah.”

***
Last edited by nibbles2 on Thu May 05, 2011 1:15 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Gold diggers (Adult, AU, Mature) CHAPTER 29

Postby nibbles2 » Mon Jan 19, 2009 4:40 pm

Mega apologies for the non-posting but I'm here now, so I hope you'll all forgive me.

Janetfl I think you can all imagine how Maria’s going to react. I don’t imagine anybody will be surprised by that.

Begonia9508 Yeah, Michael was really setting himself up for failure with that one.

tequathisy Obviously, I’m not going to tell you that just yet.

Ricekrispy

April Thank you

Wench on a leash Actually, Max and Michael finding out they are seeing/dating/emotionally involved with roommates/best friends is going to be interesting. (Or I hope it will be anyway.) I love that I give you butterflies.

Alien_friend Thank you.

Kay_b I have been at this for over two years and almost thirty chapters so I thought it was about time I started the relationships moving along.

behrluv32 not just yet.

Tamashii Thank you. Sorry Santa nibbles wasn’t able to bring you a new part.

Natalie36 thanks

Emz80m thank you

killjoy thanks

POM Michael and Maria will happen soonish. Kinda.

starcrazed Thank you. You’ll be happy to hear that there’s going to be a lot more candy in the future, I was really slow developing that plotline so far.

Titch22 thanks for reading.

xmag thank you

RhondaAnn You pretty much hit the nail on the head. And no, Max and Isabel don’t know that Michael knows.

spacegirl23 well for a young, handsome, successful man to have that condition, I think speaks a lot for Michael’s frame of mind right now.

Paper The answer’s to one of those questions in yes.

MetallicaGeek sorry I couldn’t update sooner

ausietasha77 better late than never

cameramandc here you go




Chapter - 29


“I know why Maria Deluca doesn’t like you.”

A photograph landed on the financial report Michael was reading. He glanced up at his private detective Chris then back down at the photograph. It showed three teenagers, a boy and two girls, with their arms around each other, grinning happily for the camera. The girl in the middle was Maria Deluca, the boy to her right Alex Whitman and Michael recognized the other girl as Maria’s roommate, Liz.

He sighed. “She went to high school with Alex Whitman?”

“And kindergarten and elementary school and college. They even had an apartment together for three years. According to their high school yearbook, the three of them were voted ‘Most Likely to Still Be Best Friends in Their Nineties’ by their classmates.”

Michael threw the photograph on the table and folded up the report he had been reading, slipping it back into his briefcase. “Is she involved in the center?”

Chris shrugged. “She’s not an official volunteer or worker, but we know that there were a couple of volunteers we hadn’t been able to identify. She could have been one of them.”

“Shit,” Michael muttered to himself. He really hadn’t been expecting that. It certainly explained Maria’s hatred for Michael Evans, though. He couldn’t blame her for that.

“I have more news,” Chris said, and placed the latest edition of ‘Rattlebag’ on the table. It was open to a page on celebrity sightings.

Michael picked it up and read the piece that Chris had pointed to. It was a photograph of Dwayne Ryder having dinner with none other than Carla Sanchez. Lakers Star Has Dinner at NOBU with Mystery Date, the caption read.

“How the hell did Carla meet him?” Michael asked.

“She was at the Lakers game on Friday night. She must have met him there,” Chris said.

“Fuck.”

Chris looked at him in surprise. “I didn’t expect that kind of reaction from you. I thought it might be a good sign that she’s moved on to a new target.”

“Carla was at the Lakers game that Max and I were supposed to go to on Friday night and now she’s on a date with the gay player who Isabel played beard for,” Michael said furiously. “She’s gotten to Isabel again. I thought I told you to let me know if Carla was in touch with Isabel again.”

“I didn’t know,” Chris said.

“What the fuck do I pay you for?” Michael yelled. His outburst attracted the attention of the other patrons of the coffee shop they were sitting in. He took a deep breath to calm down and spoke again in a lower, more controlled tone. “That was one of the things I insisted you keep an eye on.”

“I’m sorry Michael.” Chris sighed. “In my defence, I’m working on three or four different things for you. I can’t keep track of Carla twenty-four seven and do all the other things you require as well. And may I remind you...I came to you about Carla in the first place. Now, instead of trying put an end to her games I’m looking into the back ground of nurses, sabotaging the work of a center that helps homeless, drug addicted teenagers and trying to ruin-”

“Ok, fine. Sorry,” Michael said. “Never mind. You do a good job, Chris. Put a call into Dwayne Ryder and warn him off.”

Chris nodded and stood up. “I should get going. People to spy on, lives to ruin. Oh, you might want to turn to page seventeen.”

Michael watched Chris leave before flipping the magazine to page seventeen, to an article written by Dickie Byrd. It was a kiss and tell story by a stripper who had spent a night in the Presidential suite at the IMM with Max.

He sighed and tossed the magazine away. Seeing Max screw up usually made Michael feel good but today, he felt nothing.


***


Liz rubbed her eyes and shook her head, trying her best to wake up. She and Maria had stayed up until almost two in the morning discussing Michael Guerin’s incredible offer and Max Evans’ surprising career move, and what both men’s decisions would mean for the two girls.

Liz wished she could go home and sleep for a while, but she had labs in the evening and had to be at work early that night for a debriefing with Julie about her stripping debut. She wouldn’t make it out to see Grandma Claudia tonight, which also meant no Max. It was hard enough missing out on seeing her grandmother, but knowing that Max wouldn’t be at the club later either was truly disappointing. She would miss his presence so much.

To top it all off, there was an article in that piece of trash magazine about Max hooking up with Ivanna. She’d have to listen to Ivanna gloat at work, all night long. Liz wondered why Max hadn’t said anything about sleeping with the blonde Amazonian before.

Shaking those thoughts out of her head, she pushed through the door of the diner and looked around for her friends. She spotted them by the window and could immediately tell by the incredulous look on Alex’s face that Maria was in the process of telling her news.

“Did you hear this?” Alex asked by way of a greeting as Liz joined them.

“Yeah, we’re in the presence of a millionaire,” Liz teased as she hugged Maria. She slid in beside Alex and hugged him too.

“I’m not going to be a millionaire. All that money is for Maddie, not me,” Maria said. She frowned at them. “I’m not doing this for the money.”

Liz was quick to assure her. “We know that. We’re just kidding.”

“Right, sorry. I knew that. I’m just tired and it’s making me cranky,” Maria told them. She yawned to punctuate her point.

Almost immediately Liz yawned too. “I’m so tired,” she groaned.

“I should have let you get to bed,” Maria said, guilty for having kept Liz up so late on the one night of the week she could have had an early night.

Liz waved away Maria’s statement and turned to Alex. “You said you have a problem?”

Alex sighed, but just as he was about to explain, a waitress came and took their order. Liz and Alex ordered without complaint, clearly knowing exactly how appalling their food would be. Still, they didn’t seem to care and Maria smirked at that. Sometimes she thought this place was like a cult. Once you got sucked in, you were in for life.

Once the waitress left, the girls gave Alex their undivided attention as he told them about his dilemma with Izzie Smith.

“Are you sure that’s wise?” Liz asked. “The girl clearly has a problem and you’re already stretched way too thin.”

Maria nodded in agreement. “Not to mention she doesn’t actually sound like she really wants to quit. If she did, she’d go into rehab or therapy.”

“To be honest, I agree with both of you. I don’t really have the time or resources to take this on and I know she’s a long way from really wanting to be clean, but she has taken an important first step. She came to me. I can’t just say, ‘Sorry Izzie, but I don’t have time to help you right now, and I don’t think you want help anyway’. That would not help the situation.”

“Guess not,” Maria said. “But we’re not saying don’t help her.”

“Just take care of yourself. You’re working all hours of the day. We hardly see you anymore,” Liz said.

“You’ve lost weight, you look exhausted, you haven’t shaved in days, you’re pale. When was the last time you had a full nights sleep? Or a day off?”

“If we didn’t know better, we’d think you were on drugs.”

Alex couldn’t help but grin at the way the two of them spoke as one.

“What are you laughing at?” Maria asked in surprise. She looked at Liz, who shrugged in confusion.

“Nothing,” Alex said. “Thank you for your concern. I’ll try harder to take care of myself, promise. Although I don’t think either of you are in a position to be talking to me about not getting enough sleep.”

Both girls yawned simultaneously then laughed.

“We were up late talking,” Liz said, by way of an explanation.

“Well, I was referring to you studying full time and then spending your nights working and you,” he nodded at Maria, “are about to become a single mother.”

“Nothing’s definite yet,” Maria said quickly. She was afraid of jinxing it.

“Ok.” Liz waved her hands to get their attention. “The three of us have to make a promise to take care of ourselves better.”

“Agreed.” Alex nodded.

“Right after we’ve finished filling our bodies with the toxic waste that is our lunch,” Maria joked as the waitress dropped off their food. She met the waitress’s eyes. “No offence.”

The waitress shrugged, not at all bothered by Maria’s remark. In fact, having an inside view of the kitchen, she was probably agreeing with her.

“So, what’s the medical problem you have?” Liz asked, after they had all taken a few mouthfuls of food.

“I need to figure out what it is that Izzie is addicted to and I’m hoping that one of you will know.”

Maria shrugged. “Sorry Alex, I don’t deal with a lot of pills. Most of our medication is given intravenously.”

“Round, pink pill isn’t a lot to go on,” Liz said. “But, I can ask around.”

“Me too,” Maria said.

“What we really need is a sample,” Liz said. “I could have it analyzed at a lab at college.”

“Unfortunately, the only person with a sample isn’t likely to share it with us. Not unless we pay her a lot of money, that is.” He reached into his pocket and pulled out the lining to show it was empty. “And I’m not giving the last of my money to a drug pusher.”

“Because that would be the ultimate irony,” Liz said with a sympathetic smile.

“In the meantime, we’ll do our best to find out what it is that Izzie’s taking and I’ll continue to counsel her in the hope that she doesn’t go back to her pusher, go back to the pink pills.” Alex shrugged and waved his hand to indicate that the subject was closed. “Anyway, Liz, tell me your news.”

“I don’t have news,” Liz said quickly, throwing a look in Maria’s direction. She’d made Maria promise not to tell anybody about Max’s new job.

Maria opened her mouth to protest her innocence but Alex cut her off. “How did your big debut go?”

“Oh, that. Yeah, it was fine.”

“Actually, on second thought, that’s all I need to hear. I mean it...that’s all I need to hear,” Alex said.

The girls laughed and changed the subject, talking about an old high school friend who’d just gotten engaged. Lunch passed quickly and too soon and the threesome had to leave the diner and head back to work or, in Liz’s case, class.

“This is terrible,” Maria said, as they walked out to parking lot. They’d been discussing when they could all meet up again, but hadn’t been able to arrange a time within the next week. Alex was so busy at the centre – it was chronically understaffed – that he could barely afford time to go home and sleep most days. Liz had classes, studying for her fast approaching finals, visiting her grandmother and working at the club. Maria had the most free time on her hands but even she was working long hours and spending a lot of time with Maddie. And if her goal to foster Maddie came to fruition, her free time would be quickly swallowed up.

“It’ll be fine.” Liz tried to assure her, turning to Alex for agreement. But Alex had stopped and was staring across the parking lot, toward a silver BMW that had just pulled in. “Al, what is it?”

“That’s her,” he said in a hushed voice.

They followed his gaze. “Izzie?” Liz asked.

“No, the drug pusher.”

“I have an idea,” Liz said. “Come on, Maria.” She grabbed Maria’s hand and pulled her in the direction of the car. Alex watched nervously as the approached the gorgeous brunette who was heading towards the diner, too busy searching in her purse to watch where she was going.

Liz walked straight into her and smacked the purse out of the other woman’s hand as they both went tumbling to the ground. She immediately popped up and began helping Carla to her feet, brushing her down and apologizing in an exaggerated fashion. As Liz tangled with Carla, Maria was quickly scooping up the contents of the purse, strewn around the ground. She handed the purse back to the owner, who snatched it off her and stalked past them.

“She is a nasty, foul-mouthed bitch,” Maria said in disgust, as Alex joined them. “I hope you hurt her when you landed on top of her, Lizzie. She acted like you had done that on purpose.”

“Which I did.”

“But she didn’t know that,” Maria pointed out. She shook her head and then reached into her pocket and pulled out a small bottle. “Hey, look what I found.”

She unscrewed the cap and poured some of the contents into her hand. They gathered around and looked at the mystery tablets. They all shook their heads blankly.

“Let’s divide them up and ask around,” Liz suggested. There were twelve in the bottle, so they each took four.

“See you around, I hope,” Alex said with a sad smile and hugged both girls. He made for his car, Liz headed for the bus stop, and Maria crossed the street, walking back inside the hospital.

***


Carla cast a cold eye around the diner and grimaced. This place was hell. Why did these idiots come here day-in and day-out for the worst food she’d ever eaten? And God knew she’d eaten some honest-to-goodness shit in her life.

She’d never been able to understand the mentality of people who settled for crap and mediocrity. The stooges who were paid minimum wage and never aimed higher were bad enough, but at least they had an excuse for eating in this shithole. The doctors and the hospital managers in decent suits – the ones that could afford to eat at the better restaurants down the block – deserved to be horse whipped.

She spotted the person she was looking for sitting at the counter, and made her way over. She’d the seen the woman on Diane’s floor a few times.

“Excuse me, is this seat taken?” She asked, pointing to the empty seat beside the woman. A nurse: overweight, bad haircut and eating alone. She was exactly the type it was easy to get information from, exactly who Carla was looking for.

The nurse barely looked at her, too engrossed in her trashy magazine and cheeseburger. Carla rolled her eyes, discreetly wiped the seat, and sat down.

“You work across the street?” She asked, friendly as can be.

The nurse grunted her reply and flipped the page of her magazine.

“So, what’s good here?” Carla asked, grabbing a menu and pretending to read it.

“Nothing.”

“That burger looks good.”

The nurse said nothing, just turned another page. Carla glanced over her shoulder to see what was so fascinating, and almost fell off her stool. Her picture was in the magazine. Sweet. Now if fat bitch would just look up and see who was sitting beside her, maybe she’d get somewhere.

“On second thought, I should probably skip lunch. I have a date tonight,” she said airily.

The nurse looked up. “Look lady, I’m on a break here, and I don’t…” she trailed off and her mouth fell open, displaying a mouthful of half chewed burger. Carla managed to pretend not to notice. The nurse glanced down at the magazine and back up at Carla. “This is you.” She held up the magazine to show Carla her picture.

Carla faked embarrassment, hushing the woman and glancing around to make sure nobody else had noticed. “Please don’t make a fuss. I’m just dating him. I’m not a celebrity.”

“You look like one,” the nurse commented in awe, her burger forgotten.

“Thank you.” Carla smiled with fake humility. She could barely contain her glee. This was going to be so damn easy. “You’re so sweet. I wish I was a celebrity, like Isabel Evans.”

“I’ve seen her.” The nurse scoffed. “She’s a stuck up bitch and she’s not all that in the flesh. She looks like she needs to sleep for a week and eat a decent meal.”

“What about her brothers? Are they as hot in the flesh as they are in the magazines?”

“Well, I’ve never seen the older one in any magazines, but he should be. He’s hot. And Max Evans, wow...there aren’t words.”

“Do you see much of them?”

She shrugged. “Max, not a whole lot. He doesn’t come as much. Isabel’s there a lot, though. And the other one…”

“Can I take your order?” A waitress asked.

Carla could have screamed at the interruption. “Coffee. Black.”

“How did you meet Dwayne Ryder?” The nurse asked.

“A friend introduced us. What were you saying about the other one?”

“What…oh yeah, well, he comes in pretty regularly and visits his mother, but he never really stays long. But when he’s finished, he doesn’t go home. That’s the weird part.”

“Where does he go?” Carla asked, trying to pretend that she wasn’t dying to know.

The nurse shrugged. “Fourth floor.”

“What’s on the fourth floor?”

“Neo natal.”

“Neo natal? As in newborn babies?”

“Yeah.”

What the hell was Michael doing in the neo natal ward? Carla wondered. He didn’t like babies. And he wasn’t the type to visit people in the hospital. And who did he know that had a baby? She’d been keeping tabs and as far as she knew, there was nobody.

The nurse finished her burger, threw some money on the counter, and left. Carla sat staring at her coffee until finally she shook her head. The fat bitch must be mistaken.

***



Max knocked on the door of Michael’s office and entered. His brother was sitting at his desk, busy writing something while he ate a sandwich. He glanced up as Max entered and waved him in.

“You look like shit.”

“Thanks,” Max said. He dropped heavily into the chair and rested his head against Michael’s desk.

Michael put down his pen and frowned at his brother. “Are you ok? Is it the article? Don’t worry about it. Dad probably won’t even see it.”

Max shot up in alarm. “What article?”

“There’s an article about you and a stripper in Rattlebag. You didn’t see it?”

“No. Damn. Shit. Have you got it with you?” Crap. The last thing he wanted was for Liz, and her new job, to be made public knowledge. It would embarrass her and he knew she wouldn’t be comfortable with the attention.

Michael shook his head. “No, but it’s probably online.” He pushed away from his desk and gestured for Max to take his seat so he could use Michael’s computer.

Max quickly found the website for Rattlebag and immediately spotted a photo of himself. He clicked on it and a new page opened. For a moment, he thought he’d been redirected to a porn website. Then he realized what it was.

My Night of Passion with Max Evans

Underneath the heading was a picture of Ivanna from the club dressed, or rather, barely dressed in a tiny bra that just restrained her massive breasts and a pair of panties just as small.

He felt a wave of relief wash over him that Liz hadn’t been outed, but his relief was short lived. She didn’t like Ivanna and there was no way she was going to be happy to hear how he had ‘made love’ to Ivanna on the dining room table before ‘taking her passionately’ in the shower.

Just when things were going so well between them too. “Damn.”

“Dad’s going to be pissed, but it happened a while ago, right? Before you started working here and improving yourself? Tell him you’re ashamed of yourself but that it’s in the past, yadda yadda.”

“Dad’s not really my biggest concern. I mean, yeah, he’ll be pissed. But it’s not like it’s the first time. It’s just…” Max paused and stood up to pace the length of Michael’s office. “I’ve kind of being seeing somebody and…”

“Yeah, she’s going to love reading this,” Michael said sympathetically. “Were you seeing her at the time?”

Max shook his head. “It was after we met the first time, but before we really got to know each other. And we’re not together, really. That’s the problem. She’s uncertain about me, for obvious reasons, but I’ve been making progress and this is going to undo all that.”

“You’re really into her,” Michael said in surprise.

“Yeah,” Max said. He faced the window and looked out at the view across the city. After being cooped up in the stationary closet all day, it was nice to be able to see daylight. He turned back to Michael and leaned against the window sill.

“What else is going on?” Michael asked, resuming his seat at his desk.

“I got a second job. It sucks as much as my first one. I have to work late every evening this week. I’m exhausted and it’s only Tuesday. When I close my eyes all I see is pens and pencils. I’m very, very close to quitting on Nancy again and I know she won’t take me back a second time. I have enormous bills to pay and even with my two jobs I can’t pay them all and my rent. And I need out of the closet.”

Michael laughed.

“You know what I mean.” Max grumbled.

“Yeah, which is why I laughed. If you were really coming out I would have been very sympathetic and supportive of you.” Michael grinned.

Max flipped his finger at his brother, earning another laugh from Michael.

“I brought this on myself. I know that. And I’m trying to improve and be better. But why does it have to be so hard?”

“Cause Life’s a bitch,” Michael replied.

“Yeah.” Max sighed and checked his watch. “Well, back to hell.”

“I’ll walk you back down,” Michael said, and stood up. They travelled down to Max’s floor in the elevator together, mostly in silence, and reached the stationary office at the same time as Nancy.

“Good afternoon, Mr. Evans,” she simpered.

“Nancy.” Michael greeted her with a nod of his head. “Can I have a word?”

“Of course, Mr. Evans.” She opened the door to the office to admit Max, who made a face at Michael behind Nancy’s back before he trudged inside.

Nancy pulled the door closed and waited for Michael to speak.

“Nancy, you do a great job here and we appreciate that. It’s why I don’t interfere in the way you run your department.”

“Thank you.” Nancy smiled nervously. She was expecting a but.

“But you can’t do this,” Michael said. “It’s not ok for you to keep Max counting pens in the closet all day, every day, just because you like the feeling of power it gives you. I want Max to do one of the stationary runs a day. It will be good for him to meet the rest of the staff and get to know the building and departments better.”

“This is my department Mr. Evans, and I’ve always had the authority to run it as I see fit. Your father has always been supportive of my decisions. I see no reason to change that now.”

“I just gave you a reason - I told you to do it.” Michael reminded her coldly. “You might be a department head Nancy, but it’s the smallest department in the company and I’m head of the company. Max does one run a day.”

Nancy made a face as though she was sucking on lemons, but she nodded curtly.

Michael left without saying anything further. Back in the elevator he shook his head in disbelief, shocked that he had done something nice for Max.

***

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nibbles2
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Re: Gold diggers (Adult, AU, Mature) CH 29 01/19 PG 10 an p12

Postby nibbles2 » Thu Jan 29, 2009 4:01 pm

Two updates in ten days!!

Heavenli24 Yes, big things will happen, soon.

begonia9508 I think that’s a perfect description of Carla and leech and an snake, she’s a sneech.

confusedfool thank you

Alien_Friend Would Michael use that knowledge for good or evil though?

tequathisy what is he trying to ruin.

spacegirl23 More on Liz’s reaction to the article in this part.

Janetfl Hmm, well we don’t know why Michael is so against the center so it’s hard to say if knowing Maria is connected to Alex will have any impact on that.

Natalie36 Nancy needed to be put in her place.

xmag Michael knows exactly what kind of person Carla is.

April I love that everybody hates Carla, I’m very proud of that fact. Best villain is my most favoritist award ever.

LairaBehr4 Hoorah! Feedback.

Tamashii Michael was surprised too.

RhondaAnn No, Carla won’t be happy when she’s dumped by the Laker player. But as Michael didn’t make the call, she’s not going to know it was him.

loviedovie glad you’re all caught up.

killjoy Yes, he’s a manipulative bastard though I prefer the term, complex. They are all complex.

Wench On A Leash You know if I was starting this again, the one thing I’d change is how they are all connected. It’s way too pat and coincidental. But I’m glad it amuses you.

Thank you Orangesky

Thirty

A week after Maria started working at the hospital, fresh out of nursing school, she’d tripped over a patient’s crutch lying on the floor of the hospital cafeteria and stumbled into the lap of a young pharmacist. His name was Jack Stanton and immediately following the incident, they’d dated for two months. Their break up was amicable, and they remained good friends to this day.

So it was to Jack that Maria went that afternoon, pink pills in hand.

Jack picked up one of the pick pills and examined it in the way Maria imagined a jeweler would a diamond. He blew out a breath and shrugged. “I’m stumped.”

Maria sighed and held out the bottle for him to return the pill to. “You really have no idea?”

“Sorry, it’s not something I’ve seen before. Or at least, not one I’m familiar with. If you leave them with me, I’ll ask around. Somebody here should be able to identify it. In fact, my supervisor will probably know. He handles a lot of the licensed stuff. It is legal?”

“See, that’s sort of the problem. I don’t know if it’s legal or not. They might not be. That’s partially why it’s so important to identify it.”

“I’m pretty sure they’re legal,” Jack said. “They don’t look as though they’ve been manufactured in some back alley lab, anyway. But…they may have been stolen or smuggled or illegally obtained in some way.”

Maria suddenly felt a little uncomfortable. She had, after all, just illegally obtained them herself. She hoped she wasn’t giving herself away. “Will having them get you in trouble?”

“Nah…I’m often asked to identify particular pills. Leave them with me.”

***


“So…how are you doing?”

Isabel chewed on an already ragged nail and kept her eyes trained on a stain on Alex’s shirt, instead of on his face. “Ok.”

Alex waited.

“Awful,” Isabel said, after a few moments of silence. “I’m not sleeping great and I have a constant headache. All I can think about are those pills. I even threw away my phone and bought a new one, just in case I would be tempted to call Carla. But it doesn’t matter. Not really.” Her laugh was self-deprecating. “I know her number by heart.”

“But you’ve resisted calling her. That’s good, Izzie. It shows you have strength and determination.”

Isabel flushed at the praise. She didn’t believe she was strong, but Alex’s faith in her helped.

“Have you taken any other steps?”

“Yeah. I’ve moved back into my parent’s house. It looks like my Mom will be released from the hospital soon, so I moved back in to my parents’ house so I could help them out. Oh, and Dad asked me to completely redecorate a room downstairs so we could use it for Mom’s bedroom. Plus, I have to meet with the physiotherapist and Mom’s care team to make sure we have everything she needs.”

“Sounds like a lot of hard work.”

“It is, but I enjoy that kind of thing. I used to want to be an interior designer. That’s how I met Carla, actually. I took some classes and she was the teacher.”

“Oh,” Alex said in surprise.

Isabel grinned. “Yeah. We clicked straight away, you know. We had so many of the same interests and ideas. She was so much fun to be around. And it never seemed to faze her that I was super rich or a little bit famous. She just seemed to like me for me. I thought she was great. I gave her the key to my apartment, I brought her on vacation with me and my family… I even set her up with my brother.”

“When did she start pushing drugs on you?”

“I don’t know.” Isabel shrugged, trying to remember. “She didn’t really at first. I used to go clubbing all the time and a lot of people in the VIP areas used coke and X. I had been…curious…about them for a while, so I mentioned to Carla that I wanted to give them a try. She even tried them with me. She used to warn me to be careful…” Isabel stopped talking as her memories became clearer. She shook her head angrily. “No, she did. She pushed them on me. I would wake up the morning after a heavy night and she always had something to ‘help’ me. Oh my God… she was playing me the whole time.”

“She got you hooked on the pills and you never noticed because you were too busy thinking about the illegal stuff?” Alex guessed.

“Yeah. I knew I had a problem so I stopped doing coke, but then the headaches started.”

“And you became dependant on Carla and the pink pills.”

Isabel pushed her hair back off her face and groaned. “I’m so stupid.”

“You’re not stupid. She’s just very smart. And very evil.”

Isabel smiled gratefully at Alex. She suddenly felt a little lighter, a little freer.

“Are you still using the Hepatrin?”

“I have to, Alex. You don’t understand how bad the headaches are.”

Alex shook his head. “They’re not real headaches, Izzie. Don’t you see that?”

“Trust me, they’re real,” Isabel said with a wry smile. “I have them all the time. It’s ok. Hepatrin isn’t addictive. I can take it. The headaches will go away now, it just takes time. I’ve done this before, Alex.”

Alex resisted the urge to point out that so far, it hadn’t worked. He knew that right then, Izzie needed support and encouragement. And Alex, he had to give it to her in the best way he could. He knew she had the strength and determination to succeed at this, she just needed somebody to lean on. He could certainly do that.

Isabel glanced at her watch and sighed. “I have to get going. Meeting with the painter. Thanks for agreeing to see me today, Alex. Talking to you really helps.”

“Anytime.”

“You’re a good man, Alex Whitman.” She stood up from the park bench, tossed her empty coffee cup into a trash can, and walked away.

Alex watched her go until she had disappeared from sight.

He still had that niggling feeling. It had been bothering him since their conversation at the bandstand a few days earlier. Something wasn’t quiet right.

***


Professor Wilkes was one of Liz’s favorite professors. She was smart, witty in a dry way, and always interesting. She had an ability to make even the most boring topics seem alive and exciting. On most days, Liz would have been happy just to listen to her read names from the phonebook.

And for all Liz knew, that’s what Professor Wilkes could have been doing during her two hour lecture that afternoon. Liz didn’t hear a single word of it. Instead, she’d spent the entire session reading and re-reading the interview with Ivanna over and over again until the words on the page no longer made sense. She stared so hard at the photographs that she was no longer seeing the images, but the pixels it was made up of.

Liz had been admittedly shocked and a little hurt when she first saw the article that morning, but she’d tried to put it out of her mind. It hadn’t worked very well. In truth, it had been eating away at her all day. By the time her classes were over in the afternoon, she was steaming mad. So mad, she was all set to jump on a bus and head out to the nursing home to confront Max when he arrived for his shift that evening. But when she emerged from the lecture hall and switched on her phone, there was a message from Julia ordering her to come into the club straight away.

Reluctantly, Liz climbed on a bus and made her way to The Dangerzone instead. But, engrossed with thoughts of Max and Ivanna together, she missed her stop and had to walk an extra five blocks to get to work.

As the club loomed into sight, Liz heard her name being called.

“Liz!” Max climbed out of his car and hurried across the street to her. She put her head down and tried to pretend that she didn’t hear him but she knew she’d already given herself away so, resigned to her fate, she stopped in her tracks and waited for him to catch up to her.

Max eyed the rolled up magazine in her hand. His face flushed. “I guess you saw the article.”

“Yes.” Her tone was clipped.

“I’m sorry.”

She shrugged. “We’re not dating and we’re certainly not exclusive, so you have nothing to apologize for.”

“It happened ages ago, right after your first night. I came back to the club hoping to see you again, but they told me you weren’t working. So Ivanna and I got to talking and I got very drunk, and we ended up back at the hotel.”

“She took advantage of you. She was just looking to make money and get her name in the papers,” Liz added in a mocking tone.

“Yes,” Max said. “I mean…I slept around a lot before, but I haven’t been with anybody else since I started coming to see you, Liz.”

“Right.” Her phone rang again. She looked at the caller ID, but didn’t answer it. “That’s the club, I have to go in.”

“Liz…I’ll come by tonight after my shift. I can’t go in, but I’ll wait out here in my car. Come and find me when you’re done and I’ll drive you home. We can talk then.”

“Don’t, Max.” Liz sighed. “Look, I know I really don’t have any right to be mad at you, but… I am. I’ll get over it and we can talk then, but it’s probably best for both of us that you give me some space tonight. Ok?”

“So we’re ok?”

“I have to go,” she said.

She crossed the street and entered the building through the staff door. There were a couple of girls getting changed and they greeted her in a friendly manner, though she had the distinct feeling that she had been a recent topic of conversation, judging by the looks they threw each other when they thought she couldn’t see.

Liz changed into sweats and pulled her hair into a ponytail. On her way out, she noticed that a locker door was left open and all the contents had been removed. It was Ivanna’s locker.

She looked at the other two girls. “Ivanna’s gone?”

One of them, Anna, nodded. “She quit this morning. Apparently, she’s been offered a spread in Playboy, so she’s moving into the mansion or the hutch.”

“The hutch?”

“The Playboy Bunny house,” the other girl, Jacinda, said with a sly smirk. “Ivanna’s onto bigger and better things and Max Evans is her ticket.”

Liz tried to quell the uneasy feeling in her stomach. “What do you mean?”

“She’s been trying to get her claws into a rich sugar daddy ever since she started working here. She was like a heat-seeking missile after her target when Max started coming. She was furious when he made it clear that he wasn’t interested in her.”

“But he had sex with her,” Liz said.

Jacinda smirked. “Yeah, she was like the cat that got the cream for a week. We knew that she must have bagged him. You could just tell that she was bursting to brag about it.”

“She thought it was just a matter of time before he fell in love with her and she was out of here. And then you started working here and she was yesterday’s news.”

“So she went with plan B,” Anna said. “Kiss and tell - get her name and picture in the papers and see what offers came her way.”

“Guess you’re sticking to plan A,” Jacinda said innocently. Anna shot her a look of wide eyed shock then turned to catch Liz’s reaction.

“What? No,” Liz said. “Max and I are friends, that’s all. He just, he… he could tell that I’m new at this and he was helping me out. That’s all. I’m not looking for a sugar daddy. I don’t want to be in the papers or Playboy or whatever. I just want to earn money, pay my bills and get back to my real life.”

“Uh huh,” Jacinda said derisively. She shut her locker door and sauntered out of the room with Anna close on her heals. Once in the corridor, Liz could hear them laugh and talk in low voices.

She sank onto the bench and held her head in her hands. God, she hated it here. She would give anything to be able to just walk out the door and never come back.

“Grandma Claudia,” she said under her breath. The thought of why she was there helped fortify her. She steeled herself and left the relative safety of the locker room to make her way to Julia’s office.

Julia’s assistant led Liz into the office instantly, announcing her presence to Julia.

Liz stepped inside, feeling as terrified as she had the very first time she’d been in the office.

Julia gestured to the seat in front of her desk. Her face was stern and held none of the warmth and understanding it had on their first meeting.

It was all so ironic, Liz thought. She wanted to leave this job more than anything, but now that she was about to be fired, she was praying Julia would let her stay.

“As you know Liz, this meeting was initially scheduled to review your first performance as a featured stripper. However, as other, more serious matters have come to light, I think we’ll have to skip over it. I will say that I was very pleased with how you did and I’ve decided to make you a regular. You’ll need to come up with other routines. Please confer with our choreographer and with wardrobe.”

Liz nodded. Inside, she was relaxing. If Julia was telling her to come up with new routines, it meant she wasn’t going to be fired.

“Now, the other matter is Max Evans. Please explain your relationship with him to me.”

“He’s a client. Or, he was.”

“And that’s all?” Julia asked skeptically.

“Yes.”

“I’ve reviewed the tapes of your private sessions with him in the booths. I think he’s more than a client, Liz.”

Liz bit her lip. She knew she couldn’t admit that she and Max were friends who met up outside the club, or that she had accepted a date with him. It would mean instant dismissal. So she told Julia as much of the truth as she could. She told her that Max had taken her under his wing, so to speak, that he was going through a difficult time and just needed somebody to talk to and that they had fun in the booths together and nothing more.

“You’ve never slept with him?”

“No, of course not.”

“Have you ever met him outside the club?”

“No.”

Julia nodded, accepting Liz’s word. “Ok. Liz, you know that it’s against the rules for you to fraternize with clients outside the club. If there was any suspicion that the girls who work with me were sleeping with clients, I could lose my license. It would cost me my business. I will dismiss you on the spot if I hear of you and Max meeting up outside. He has been very good to you while you’ve been here and I can imagine that it must be very tempting to go back to his hotel with him one night and carry on the party away from the rules and cameras we have here.”

“I’m not that type of girl,” Liz assured her quickly. “I need this job. I am not going to do anything to jeopardize it.”

“Good. I’m glad to hear that, Liz. There are girls who would use their connection to Max Evans to make a name for themselves, or to make some money. As somebody in your position, somebody who needs cash desperately, it could be a massive temptation.”

“I’m not interested in making a name for myself or making money by selling myself. I might be a stripper, but I’m not going to degrade myself.”

“I know, Liz.” Julia was warmer now. “I just wanted to make the situation clear. You may go.”

Liz stood up and left the office, trying not to show that her legs were shaking. In the corridor outside, she leaned against the wall.

She wasn’t going to give up her friendship with Max, he meant too much to her. He hadn’t given her up when maybe he should have. But they would have to be very careful in future. She could not afford to lose this job.

***

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Chapter 31

Postby nibbles2 » Wed Mar 11, 2009 7:39 am

begonia9508 thanks
janetfl There’s no reasons for Carla to expose their relationship unless she herself was to somehow benefit from it.
Tamashii
I am glad that Isabel has remain strong about Carla
yeah, about that….
Alien_friend I think that his decision to go straight to Liz and try to talk to her shows that Max has grown up a little.
behrluv32 I’m glad that makes you happy.
Egyptian_kiss
I guess your chapters are my little pink pills
I just hope that these parts are detrimental to your health.
tequathisy We’ll uncover what’s niggling Alex soon.
RhondaAnn Yeah, Max and Liz will have to be very careful if Liz wants to keep her job.
aussietasha77 Sadly, I think that Ivanna is one of those people who never seem to get what they really deserve, only what they want.
April Bitch of the year, I like it. The scary thing is that she has more tricks up her sleeve. Bitchy tricks.
Rowedog Diane is not naïve or stupid by any means. She’s very intelligent and switched on and we’ll learn later that she’s more streetwise than she appears too. Carla is just that good at manipulating people. She has Diane completely under her spell.
MetallicaGeek
spacegirl23 Evil Carla I think. The pills are just pills.
dreamerfrvrp3
Syikana Well I invented the pink pills so if they knew what they are, that would be surprising.
roswell3053 Carla’s not going anywhere yet I’m afraid.


and a huge thanks to Christable who has stepped into the breach to act as my beta. Thanks Melanie.

Thirty-One

Diane was reading a magazine, her lip curled in disgust, when Michael entered her room that evening. She flung it away happily when she saw him and held her arms out for a hug.

“How are you today?” Michael asked after greeting her.

“Bored,” Diane told him emphatically. “So bored I’ve been reading that awful crap.”

Michael picked up the magazine from the floor and glanced at it. It was a copy of Rattlebag, opened to an article about some woman called Kim Kardashian. He tossed it in the trashcan.

“And apart from being bored, you’re ok?” he asked, gesturing to the trashcan to indicate that he was referring to the article about Max and the stripper.

Diane sighed. “I’d really rather not hear about my son having relations with a woman who would prostitute herself like that.”

“Of course.”

“But, he’s a good looking, single and rich, young man. I think it’s perfectly normal behavior for a young man in his position. Not necessarily commendable but normal. It’s what young men do.”

Michael gave her a brief grin, “True.”

“I’d be worried if he wasn’t living it up,” Diane continued. She took his hand in hers. “Just like I worry about you. I hate seeing you like this Michael, hiding behind your desk. You’re young, single, rich and so handsome. You have so much potential and so many opportunities available to you. I could have died in that accident; I might still be paralyzed for the rest of my life. Do you think that my regret is that I didn’t spend enough time at work? No, it’s that I didn’t spend more time at home with my beautiful children and my wonderful husband. It’s that I never got to see the Taj Mahal or Machu Pichu. Or that I’ve never learned to dance the tango. I’ve always wanted to do that.”

“Mom,”

Diane cut off his protest. “Live, Michael. You deserve to be happy and you can be. You just need to open yourself up to the possibility. I… ok, so things didn’t work out with Carla for whatever reason but there are other girls out there Michael. Take a chance, make a connection.”

“Mom,”

“Promise me, promise that you’ll try. I know I’ve been pushing Carla on you lately. But it’s only because I know you were happy with her and I want you to be happy again. If the door is really and truly shut on Carla,”

“It is.”

“Ok, then, I’ll stop trying to play cupid for you and Carla. Under protest,” Diane smiled. The corners of Michael’s lips turned up slightly. “But, in return, I want you to make an effort to meet somebody. By the time I’m out of here, I want you to have taken at least one nice girl out to dinner.”

Michael suppressed a sigh. His mother looked so determined and he knew, from past experience, that it was much easier to just agree with her. “Fine. One girl, one dinner.”

“Do you need me to set you up?”

“No.”

Diane smiled and settled back in her pillows in triumph.

***


Isabel tapped her foot nervously as she waited for the elevator to reach the penthouse level of her apartment building. There was no sign of Carla’s car, either on the street outside or in the parking area down below and the doorman on duty hadn’t seen her but still Isabel couldn’t shake the feeling that she was lurking near by, ready to pounce.

She shook her head, trying to rid herself of the negative thoughts. ‘Stay positive,’ she told herself. ‘You’re just going to grab a few things and head home. You’ll be in and out in no time. Carla is not here’.

The elevator glided to a stop and the door opened. She stepped out into the polished vestibule and glanced around, half expecting Carla to jump out from behind one of the large potted plants. But the area was deserted. So Isabel let herself into her apartment. The alarm was still activated, so she was able to relax, knowing that Carla hadn’t let herself in.

“Note to self, get the locks changed and then you won’t have to worry about her coming in here,” Isabel said aloud to herself in the empty apartment. She retrieved a bag from the closet and threw some clothes into it. She rejected most of her flashier, designer outfits in favor of comfortable jeans, sweaters and sweatpants.

She was back in the elevator in less than thirty minutes. It was probably the quickest she had ever packed a suitcase.

A doorman came to take the bag from her and load it in to her car as she went to collect her mail. “I’ll bring the car around the front for you,” the doorman offered.

She opened up the brass door to find her mailbox was practically full. She stuffed it all into her purse and shut the door.

As she made her way out, the other doorman signaled for her attention. “Ms. Evans, this was dropped in for you this morning.” He held up a small package for her. She accepted it with a small smile and made her way out to where her car was waiting outside.

A small group of paparazzi were hanging around and they gathered around and took some quick snaps. She just smiled politely and refused to engage in conversation with them. She highly doubted that any of those pictures would ever be used anywhere.

She pulled out into traffic and turned her car for home, satisfied with her evening. She really felt that she had turned a corner in her life, and it felt good.

If she could just get rid of this damn headache.

***


Max looked at the white envelopes in his hand with dismay and trepidation. Three bills and his bank statement.

His watched beeped the time and he knew that he had to leave for the hospital in a minute. With a groan, he opened them up and laid them out on the table in front of him.

His heart clattered in his chest.

“Jesus.”

He knew things were bad but he’d been living in denial. Things were really, really bad. His bank account had fifteen dollars in it. A drop in the ocean of the amount he owed. Even having two jobs wasn’t going to see him out of this mess.

He was in so much trouble.

***


Maria was feeding a bottle to Maddie when Michael came in. He was carrying a gift bag in his hand.

“Look who’s here, it’s Michael,” Maria cooed to the baby. She lifted Maddie’s hand and waved it gently at Michael.

“Hey,” he greeted in return and took a seat in the chair beside them. “How’s she doing?”

“Great,” Maria said with a proud smile.

Michael watched them for a minute. Maddie’s eyes never left Maria’s face as she guzzled on her bottle. Maria smiled down at her, clearly besotted. Something stirred deep inside Michael. He shifted uncomfortably.

“What’s in the bag?” Maria asked.

“Oh,” Michael lifted up the bag awkwardly. He held it out to Maria, then realized that her hands were full so let it dangle in midair before placing it on his lap.

Maria watched him with a amused grin. “Is it a gift for Maddie?”

“Yeah… it’s not much. I just, I… realized that… I just saw it and realized that she doesn’t have one.”

“Open it,” Maria instructed, bouncing a little.

“It’s not-”

“Just open it.”

Michael reached into the bag and pulled out the teddy bear that was inside. It was pure white, incredibly fluffy and had a pink ribbon around its neck.

“It’s so cute,” Maria exclaimed. She took it in her free hand and held it up in Maddie’s line of sight. “Look what your -. Look what Michael got you.”

Maddie remained unimpressed.

“I thought she’d show a little more gratitude,” Michael joked. Maria laughed and handed the bear back to him so that she could wind Maddie.

“Thanks Michael, it’s her first toy.”

“Maybe I should have gotten her something a little more practical. Does she have anything? Clothes or whatever else babies need?”

“I bought a few things for her, just a couple of outfits.”

“You need a lot of things for a baby, don’t you?” Michael asked. “I’ve heard that.”

Maria grinned. “A truck load.”

“Have you got what you need? She’ll be out of here soon, right?”

“I have nothing. I don’t want to buy anything before it’s definite. I’m kind of superstitious. If it goes well tomorrow, then I’ll get some things.” She kissed Maddie’s cheek and held her close. Her nervousness about the outcome of Michael’s lawyer’s meeting with the judge was apparent. Michael wished that he could put her mind at rest, but he knew that no matter what he said, she wouldn’t relax until she knew for certain.

“When will she be discharged?”

“Soon,” Maria sighed. “She had a full six ounces this evening. Her weight’s up. She’s going great. A couple of days and she’ll be ready to go. We might be able to buy a day or two longer but not much more than that.”

Maddie burped loudly and Maria wiped her mouth clean.

“White was probably a bad idea,” Michael said, gesturing to the bear.

Maria laughed. “Yeah, you want to hold her?”

“Sure,” Michael agreed. He put the bear down and held his hands out and Maria placed Maddie in his arms. He dangled the bottom of his tie, just out of Maddie’s reach and smiled as she tried to play with it.

“Do you want me to transfer some money to you now, so that you can get what you need?” Michael asked.

“Not right now, we’ll wait and see how tomorrow goes,” Maria answered.

She watched him play with Maddie for a minute. “Michael, about the money… I just want you to know that, I’m really grateful, eternally grateful to you for doing this. My mom got pregnant with me when she was sixteen and she had to drop out of school to have me. My dad only stuck around for a few years before he left. So things were pretty tough for us. We never had much money. My mother has never had a real relationship because she had to work three jobs for twenty years. She never got to go to college or travel. She missed out on so much for me. And I… I never wanted for anything. I’m not saying that I had a bad childhood but I missed out on things too.

I promised myself that I would never make the same mistake. That I’d have a husband and a stable home before I had any children. I don’t want to struggle the way my Mom did and I want to be able to give my children what I didn’t have. That’s why I had decided not to go ahead with the fostering application. I guess what I’m trying to say, in a very round about way, is that… Money is an issue but I’m not doing this for the money.”

“I know that,” Michael said softly.

“The thing is,” Maria continued. “My mom is wonderful. She did an incredible job raising me, for a sixteen year old high-school dropout. I’m seven years older than she was, I have a good job, and I’ve lived a little. I have good friends, who would support me, my mom would help. I don’t need the money. I can do it without it. What I need from you is your support and your help. I want you to be part of our lives. And I’m going to go ahead with this no matter what. I mean, if I’m granted custody I’ll do it.”

“Are you saying that you don’t want the money?” Michael asked, with a confused frown.

Maria shrugged. “I’m saying that… if the reason you offered the money to me was so that I would do this, then you don’t have to worry about it. And if you don’t have the money or can’t pay it or whatever, that’s fine.”

Michael stared at her, his surprise evident on his face. He knew she cared about Maddie but to hear that she would be happy without the money was completely unexpected. “The money’s yours. I’m not going to change my mind,” he assured her.

“Well, in that case, thank you.” Maria smiled at him.

“I feel like we’ve had this conversation before,” Michael grinned.

“I guess,” Maria shrugged. She looked down at Maddie who was red-faced and grunting and laughed before looking back up at Michael. “Have you ever changed a diaper before?”

“No,” he answered emphatically.

“In that case, roll up your sleeves because you’re about to get your first lesson.”

***


Isabel ate dinner with her father after she arrived back at the family home. They discussed what they had learned at the meeting with Diane’s physiotherapist earlier that day. Isabel mentioned some of her plans for the bedroom she was preparing for Diane. Philip listened and added his comments and thoughts.

After dinner, Isabel told her father she was going to have a bath and an early night and kissed him goodnight. Philip said goodnight and retired to his study to tackle some paperwork he had been putting off for days.

As soon as she was in the privacy of her bedroom, Isabel dropped the cheery façade she had been displaying all evening. She dropped wearily onto her bed and lay there in the darkness. Her head was pounding furiously and it hurt to even try and do anything. She decided to forgo the bath and just go to bed. Perhaps after a good nights sleep she would feel better.

Who was she kidding? This headache wasn’t just going to go away. She needed to take something. So she dragged herself off the bed and into the bathroom. She went through the cabinet but all she had was a few aspirin which would do nothing to ease the pain. ‘Why didn’t you bring something?’ she asked herself. She had used the last of her Hepatrin that morning and didn’t get a chance to get another refill.

Finding nothing, she left her room and snuck across the hallway into her parents’ suite. But there was nothing of use in there either. She knew that there was no point in trying the boy’s bedrooms. There would be nothing in there but shaving cream and toothpaste.

One of the servants might have something, but asking them lead to the potential of them mentioning it to her father and she didn’t want to have to deal with that.

Defeated, and feeling like her head was going to explode, Isabel returned to her room.

Through the fog of her headache, a thought occurred to her. She might not have any medication in her bathroom but she used to hide pills in her desk when she had been addicted the first time. So she staggered across the room to her desk and switched on the reading lamp. She winced as the light hit her eyes. It hurt.

She pulled open the drawers and searched through all the little cubby holes but the search was fruitless.

“Damn,” she cried, sweeping the pile of mail off her desk to the floor in frustration. The package on top emitted a familiar sound.

She stooped down and picked it up to examine it. It was the package that had been delivered to her building that morning. She shook it once. It made the sound again. The noise of pills in a bottle.

With trembling hands, she tore open the package. It contained a small pill bottle and a note.

Call me if you need more, C.

Isabel unscrewed the top of the bottle and emptied the contents into the palm of her hand.

Five little pink pills.

She wiped her mouth and rocked in her seat.

‘Throw them out, throw them out,’ she commanded herself.

Slowly she stood up and walked into her bathroom. She stood over the toilet, her hand hovering in midair.

‘Do it Isabel.’

She took a deep breath and tipped her hand, one pill rolled off and fell into the water with a plink.

She swallowed nervously and dropped a second one in. plink.

There were three left.

It was only three.

It wouldn’t hurt to keep the three of them. For emergency situations.

Like now.

She swallowed one.

She went back into her bedroom and picked up the empty bottle and put the other two back into it. She hid it in one of the drawers of her desk.

Just in case.

***
Last edited by nibbles2 on Thu May 05, 2011 1:43 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Gold Diggers - Chapter 32

Postby nibbles2 » Sun May 03, 2009 2:12 pm

I'm back.

I know, it's been forever. So sorry about that. But I have a new part now so maybe you'll forgive me.

RhondaAnn Max is really only starting to feel the pinch now. There’s plenty more slaps to come.

Emz80m Yes, Isabel really is in deep.

spacegirl23 Michael’s going on more than a date.

kay_b Max will find a way to pay some of those bills, and it’s interesting.

tequathisy Yeah, I think she was.

Tamashii The irony of Max is that when he took everything for granted, he had everything he wanted and now that he’s really trying and working, he’s losing everything. But at least he’s gained Liz.

loviedovie Lol, I noticed the MMM thing years ago. I’m still debating whether to give their future children M names as well.

DaleStateShorty Yes, wait and see. On everything really.

Empress_luci If Maria had said daddy, I think Michael would have legged it. On the other hand…

chanks_girl Thank you. Carla has so much more up her sleeve.

aussietasha77 Thanks, I love Michael and Maddie too.

scorpio6 A new reader – yay. Welcome.

Michelle in Yonkers welcome back. Missed you. Yes, it gets worse. And better. And thank you for betaing this part.

Thirty-Two

“C’mon, c’mon,” Alex muttered as he drummed impatiently on the steering wheel of his car. The light ahead of him was green but none of the traffic was turning into Wilson road. He wondered, for the seven-hundredth time that morning, what was causing the hold up. He has left his apartment earlier than usual that morning to get into work early but as it was, he was going to be over half an hour late.

Finally, just as he was seriously considering pulling into a parking spot and walking to the center, the traffic ahead of him moved and he was able to turn onto Wilson Road.

He swore under his breath. In just one night, it had been completely transformed. Tall billboards lined the entire road, hiding all the buildings and the large building site from view. Large photographic murals depicting aspirational scenes proclaimed the latest development by Evans Ltd. Up ahead, a large crane was being erected and that was what causing the hold up.

Traffic was moving slowly and it was only because of how slow it was moving that Alex was able to spot the small sign for the center, and he signaled the turn. Even though he was watching out for it, Alex almost missed it.

After parking his car, he went out onto the road and accosted the first workman he saw and demanded to know who was in charge. He was directed towards a couple of men in hard hats who were standing around the crane, looking at blueprints. He was told the man in the orange hat was the site foreman but as he got closer to the group of men, Alex realized that one of the other men was none other than Michael Evans.

“Hey you,” Alex shouted as he stormed up to the men. “What the fuck do you think you’re doing?”

“Is there a problem?” the foreman asked, taking a step towards Alex, with his hands out in a calming gesture.

Alex stormed right past him until he was right in front of Michael Evans. He prodded the other man’s chest. “What have I ever done to you?”

“Do you have a problem?” Michael asked.

“Yes, I have a problem. You. Why are you doing this to me?”

“Doing what?” Michael asked.

Out of the corner of his eye, Alex could see a couple of burly security guards making their way towards them but Michael held up his hand to gesture for them to stay back. As well as the guards, there were a couple of large builders and laborers watching. Under these circumstances, Alex would normally start playing the clown and hope not to get beaten up but months of anger and frustration were exploding out of him and nothing was going to prevent him from speaking his mind.

“You have been waging some kind of vendetta against me ever since you bought this land. All I’m doing is trying to help some of the most vulnerable teenagers in this city by getting them off the streets and helping them stay clean. What kind of asshole victimizes homeless teenagers? Why couldn’t you have done the decent thing by us instead of doing your best to destroy everything I’ve built up? You are just as bad as the drug pushers who get them onto that stuff in the first place.”

“Whitman, I’ve done nothing wrong or illegal. Everything has been above board. I offered you money and you turned it down. That was your choice. I can’t be held responsible for what happened just because you got greedy and tried to get more money out of me. Though I guess I should have expected it, coming from you. I’m just doing my job here. But if that results in that place being shut down then, so much the better. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have work to do.”

Alex reached out and caught his arm as Michael walked past. “Don’t walk away from me.”

One of the security guards immediately grabbed Alex and hauled him off. “Should we call the police, sir?” he asked Michael.

Michael stared at Alex for a moment then shook his head. “No, it’s fine. Let him go. He’s done here anyway.”

The guard kept his grip on Alex until Michael had climbed into his car and peeled away.

Angrily, Alex shook of his captor and turned to the site foreman. “You have no right to put those billboards up in front of my building.”

“City code says I have to,” the foreman replied in a bored voice. “I have the papers in my office if you want to see them.”

Knowing it was pointless, Alex just shook his head and went back to the center. He knew that Evans was right, the center was done – nothing was going to save it.

And just as he thought his day couldn’t get any worse, his phone rang.

***



Maria was pacing agitatedly by the hospital door when Alex arrived. As soon as she saw him walk up to the entrance, she ran out to meet him.

“Hi Alex, I’m so sorry about this,” she exclaimed breathlessly.

“It’s ok, just calm down Maria and tell me what happened.”

Maria took a deep fortifying breath before she began talking at top speed and in a higher pitch than normal. “I asked my friend Jack to see if he could identify those pills we stole from Carla. He showed them to his boss and she was able to identify them. They’re controlled pills Alex, the hospital is the only place on the West Coast where they’re available. She asked me where I got them and I panicked and told her that you gave them to me. I’m sorry Alex, I’m just really stressed today and I said the first thing that came to me.”

Alex rubbed her back. “Maria, calm down. It’s fine. I’ll tell her that I got them from somebody at the center. They can’t make me divulge the name of a patient. Relax. Why are you so stressed?”

“Because today’s the day that I’ll find out if I get Maddie or not and I’m just so scared Alex. It’s all I can think about.”

“You have to calm down Maria,” Alex said in a soothing tone, feeling guilty that he had forgotten about that. He patted her pockets and found a small vial of some kind of aromatherapy oil and fished it out. He pressed it into her hand and she sniffed it on autopilot.

After a few moments, Maria took a deep breath and laughed. “I’m sorry Alex. It’s just a really big day for me and I’m freaking out.”

“Understandable kiddo,” he said with a smile. “Alright, if you’re ready we’ll go meet this lady.”

The lady was Dr. Debra Glazer. She was head of pharmacology in the hospital and she was not happy.

“Somebody who is attending your center is being treated for addiction to these pills?” She asked. She had a notebook open in front of her and was taking notes as Alex spoke.

“Unfortunately, she’s not receiving treatment yet. For one thing, we didn’t know what these pills were so it was difficult to determine a treatment plan. I don’t even know if her addiction is physical or psychological. She’s receiving counseling and is doing well so far, I believe. However, without knowing the full extent of these pills, I can’t even begin to predict what kind of withdrawal she’ll go through.”

“What has she experienced so far?”

“Headaches, pretty debilitating headaches. Again, I don’t know if these are real or psychosomatic. Although she has acknowledged that she has a problem and is seeking help, she’s in denial about the depth of her problem and I haven’t been able to fully treat her in fear of pushing her away.

Dr. Glazer nodded and scribbled in her notebook.

”Perhaps you could tell me something about these pills?” Alex suggested.

“Of course,” the doctor said. She put down her pen and placed her hands on her desk, linking her fingers. “These pills are used for treating patients with severe spinal injuries. They are at the clinical trial stage. Only a handful of hospitals are on this program. We are the only hospital on the west coast.”

“Then how… how on earth did they get into the hands of my patient?” Alex asked.

“That is the question of the hour Mr. Whitman,” Dr. Glazer sighed. “I have instigated an enquiry into this matter. I must ask you, is the woman in question an employee of this hospital?”

Alex understood why Maria was panicked about having to explain the origins of the pills. He didn’t like the sound of this. “No. And they’re being supplied to her by somebody else who doesn’t work here either as far as I know. This other person is a very manipulative, dangerous person. I don’t know how she got her hands on them but it is very worrying that she did.”

Dr. Glazer nodded in agreement. “I imagine that you will refuse to give me the name of the user.”

“I’ll talk to her. This may be the opportunity she needs to get rid of the pusher once and for all. What symptoms or side effects does this pill cause?”

“That is difficult to answer. It’s still in trial phase so our knowledge of its effects is limited. It is however, a powerful pill and my educated guess would be that it could cause harm if taken in the manner it has been by your patient. My recommendation would be for her to come to the hospital as soon as possible so that we can run some tests. Alex, these pills have an FDA black label warning.”

Alex rubbed his face with his hands. That was the highest warning there was. He couldn’t believe that this was happening. “I’ll talk to her.”

“Mr. Whitman, I appreciate that you have to respect your patient’s confidentiality. However, this is a very serious matter. I will be doing everything I can to uncover who is supplying these pills and how they got into the hands of your patient.”

“I know. I promise that I will do my very best to help you,” Alex assured her.

Dr. Glazer seemed satisfied that Alex was trustworthy and she visibly relaxed. “This is a very serious situation for us, as you can imagine. It jeopardizes not only our reputation but could prevent us from taking part in further clinical trials. I would like to keep matters quiet, until our enquiry has been concluded.”

“I understand. And I’m certainly glad that I was able to bring this to your attention. You have my contact details and as soon as I learn anything, I’ll be in touch.”

Alex stood up and shook hands with the doctor.

He went to find Maria and tell her what had happened. She was sitting with Maddie, just watching the tiny girl as she slept. Maria was chewing on a fingernail, a habit she had developed shortly after her father had left but had grown out of in her late teens.

“Hi,” he greeted her.

“How did it go?” Maria pounced.

“Let’s get lunch and I’ll tell you all about it.”

They went down to the hospital canteen.

“Is that all you’re having?” Alex asked in concern when he saw that Maria had only picked up an apple.

She shrugged. “I can’t eat today Alex. I feel sick. Right now Michael’s lawyer is meeting with the judge. If it doesn’t go well, God knows what will happen to Maddie. I’m terrified that I won’t get her and she’ll end up in the care of some monster. Plus I totally feel sick for landing you in it.”

Alex waved away her worry. “It’s fine. I told her that I was given the pills by a patient I’m counseling. Dr. Glazer was happy with that. It’s a serious situation but nobody is looking at us as the source. We’re the ones who brought it to their attention and alerted them to the problem. You didn’t get me in trouble.”

Maria’s guilty expression eased and she was able to give Alex a small smile. “Ok. Talk to me about something else. I need a distraction.”

“Then let me tell you about my morning,” Alex began with a hollow laugh. He told her about the erection of the billboards and his run-in with Michael Evans. “I really think that it’s over Maria. I just don’t have the money to run things anymore. If I give up now, and get a job I should be ok. If I hold out much longer, the bank will probably foreclose on my apartment and leave me with absolutely nothing.”

Maria didn’t know what to say. On the one hand, she knew it made perfect sense to cut his losses now. But she also knew how much it meant to him to run the center and honor his mother’s memory. If he quit now, she knew he’d regret it forever. “I hate Michael Evans, he’s total scum,” she said finally, just to say something.

Alex raised his can of orange soda and clinked it off her discarded, half-eaten apple. “I’ll drink to that.”

“You don’t think he’s behind the pills do you?” Maria asked with wide-eyed alarm. “Trying to discredit the center and make you look bad by getting you involved in this?”

“I don’t think so. It was you and Liz who stole those pills, if you hadn’t then I’d never have got my hands on them.”

“Try to remember that,” Maria scolded. “I don’t want you taking all the blame if this does turn bad.”

“Ok,” Alex said to placate her. He took a bite of his sandwich and almost choked. “Jesus, now I know why you spend so much time in the diner across the street.”

***



Maria spent most of the day with Maddie - singing to her, talking to her, bathing her, feeding her, cuddling her and just watching her sleep. She couldn’t shake the horrible feeling that things would go against her and that tomorrow Maddie would be in the custody of strangers who didn’t know her or love her like Maria did.

She knew that Maddie wasn’t going to be discharged for another few days but that day felt like her last day with the baby. If Michael’s lawyer wasn’t able to persuade the judge to put Maddie in her care, then the following day she would be made a ward of the court. For today, Maria at least had the luxury of knowing she was Maddie’s primary care giver.

To make matter worse, there was no word from Michael. She had expected he would call and subsequently had checked her phone approximately every three seconds or so. Alex, Liz and her mother had all called a couple of times to see if there was any news. The other nurses on the ward knew nothing about the secret meeting that day but they did know that Maddie’s fate would be decided the next day, so they were very understanding of Maria’s anxiousness and tried their best to ease her mind.

By about mid morning Maria had started seeing signs everywhere, all of them bad. Liz had called to say that her car still wasn’t ready to be picked up. There had been the whole matter with the pills and scary Dr. Glazer. Alex’s latest news about the center. One of her work colleagues had announced she was getting a divorce. It all seemed to be pointing to bad news.

It was after five when Maria looked up and saw Michael standing at the window. Her heart had leaped at the sight of him, but one look at the unreadable expression on his face made it sink again.

He beckoned her out of the room and she made her way out to him slowly. Her entire being filled with dread.

“Can we go in there?” he asked, pointing to a small waiting room.

Maria nodded and led the way, fully prepared for the worst.

Being in that room didn’t help. Maria hated being in that room because she only ever associated it with bad news. This was where they took parents to break bad news or to give them time with the body of their child. As far as she was concerned, this was another bad sign.

Michael closed the door firmly and gestured for her to take a seat. He too seemed uneasy and anxious.

Hot tears began to fall from Maria’s eyes. The pain was far worse than she had expected.

“It’s good news,” Michael said hurriedly when he realized how upset she was. “But there’s a catch.”

Maria didn’t hear the last part, she threw her arms around his neck with a loud sob. “Oh, thank God. Thank God.”

Michael wrapped his arms around her and hugged her trembling form until she had calmed down. “There’s a catch,” he repeated gently.

“I’m sorry,” Maria apologized. She pulled away from him and pulled a tissue out of her pocket to wipe her eyes. “What is it?”

“Maybe you should sit down.”

He was really nervous, she realized. Her momentary joy vanished and was replaced with panic. “Michael?”

He ran his fingers through his hair and took a calming breath. “Jesse and the judge had a long discussion about this. The judge said that if it was up to him, he would have given custody to you, no question. But he’s bound by the law and he couldn’t just hand her over to you. It would set a precedent. So they brainstormed and they came to a solution. It’s a little out of left field but if you agree to it, it means that we’ll be given custody of Maddie.”

“We? So you’re involved in this catch too?”

Michael nodded nervously. “Jesse came up with an idea and the judge has agreed to it. Uh…Ok…See… Maddie was left under my car. It’s pretty clear that was deliberate. The mother was watching the parking lot and chose my car. Probably because she guessed that I’m rich… So, on that basis, we’re going to claim that the baby was left in my care and that I have a duty of responsibility to her. The judge will agree to that and award custody to me.”

“So you’ll have custody of her, not me?” Maria clarified. “That’s great. But what does that mean, that I’ll have to move in with you and become your nanny? I’m ok with that if you are.”

Michael took another deep breath. “I’d be ok with that too, if that was the best we could get. But I told Jesse to find a way for Maddie to be put into your custody. And he did, but that’s where the catch comes in.”

Maria clutched his hand tightly. “Just tell me Michael.”

“The judge will award us custody, jointly, as husband and wife.”

At first she didn’t understand what he was saying. “…Huh?”

Michael took her hand in his and looked her in the eye. “We have to get married. Tonight.”

***
Last edited by nibbles2 on Thu May 05, 2011 2:03 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Gold Diggers - Chapter 33 (A)

Postby nibbles2 » Thu May 14, 2009 4:19 pm

I'm in a really good mood today so I thought I'd spread the joy...

Leila Thank you. I have waited almost three and a half years to write that line and I’m so glad it came as a surprise to so many.

Alison Alex probably won’t be first in line to throw confetti.

Tamashii Thank you.

Natalie36 Thanks.

RiceKripsy Yes, indeed.

vilandragirl soon, very soon.

xmag The judge and Jesse came up with the marriage thing together. Michael had nothing to do with that but he did get them together so that they would come to a decision.

Alien_Friend I’m blushing. :oops: :lol: Thanks.

begonia9508 Michael and Maria already have a contract drawn up remember.

Neve This was all your idea so if I managed to surprise you then I’m delighted.

Michelle Michael’s not famous. He never played the fame game like his younger siblings. Just because he’s a rich man doesn’t mean his face is well known. I will explain the two names thing at some stage – it’s on my list.

Emz80m Thanks for reading.

Spacegirl23 I think it means they won’t have happily ever after, just yet.

nitpick23 There are some big showdowns coming up.

DaleStateShorty Thanks.

Rhonda Thank you.

Kay_b/b] Who’s going to be the most angry at this? Alex, Maria or Carla – it’s tough to call.

[b]Cocogurl
Thank you.

Empress_Luci Yes, I’m Totally Serious.

Wench on a leash Often with experimental treatment it’s only the wealthy who can afford it. Like the treatment that Maddie had, it cost $100,000.

confusedfool Thanks.

loviedovie Probably not.

POM Getting good? It wasn’t before. :lol: Thanks for reading.



Thirty-Three - A

Hi, this is Liz. I can’t answer my phone right now so please leave a message and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can.

Maria waited for the beep. “Hi Liz, it’s me. I’m just calling to let you know that it looks like there’s a good chance that I’ll be getting Maddie. Uh… I have some things to take care of first so I’m going to do that now. I won’t be home tonight. I’ll fill you in on everything tomorrow. Bye.” She ended the call and powered her phone off before slipping it into her purse.

“Three out of three, that was bad luck,” Michael commented.

“Huh?”

“You called three people and didn’t get to speak to any of them.”

“Bad time of the day I guess,” she said with a shrug. Though truthfully she had timed her calls knowing that Liz was in class, Alex was working and her mother was at yoga. It was far easier to leave a vague message than to explain over the phone that she was eloping to Vegas. She noticed that Michael hadn’t told anybody of his plans either. Though he had made a few calls, to his secretary and work by the sounds of it.

The plane began to taxi towards the runway and Maria shifted in her seat nervously.

“Don’t you like flying?” Michael asked.

“No, I don’t usually mind it. I just… I’ve only flown big planes before. This is my first time in such a small one, it kind of makes me nervous. It’s nice though.” It was in fact, very nice. They were on board a small plane, it had room for about twenty-five people but only half the seats were being used. It was luxuriously fitted out and Maria felt a little like a rock star or a celebrity. She also felt completely out of place in her old and dirty jeans, worn t-shirt and unwashed hair.

“We’ll be there before you know it,” Michael said to reassure her, noticing how uneasy she was.

Maria nodded and clutched the arm rests as the plane picked up speed and raced towards take off. She always thought that if she ever got the chance to fly in a luxury private jet she would have enjoyed it but as the plane lifted off the ground, her heart was in her mouth and she was praying it would be over soon. It was so much smaller than the planes she was used to.

Michael grinned at her. “We’re in the air now, you can relax.”

“Sorry,” she smiled bashfully.

A flight attendant came around and offered them drinks. Maria asked for an orange juice and tried to relax. Michael ordered a scotch.

“I know this is kind of sudden and overwhelming. We don’t have to do it if you don’t want to,” Michael said suddenly.

Maria shook her head. “If we don’t get married, then we don’t get Maddie. I’m fine, really. I guess I am just a little overwhelmed, like you said.”

He nodded in understanding. “So I don’t have to worry about being stood up at the altar?”

“No, I’ll be there,” Maria laughed. She relaxed in her seat and let her hair out of its plait and ran her fingers through it to loosen it out. “Ugh.” Perfect.

“What?”

“I have baby sick in my hair.”

“Attractive,” Michael commented with a smirk.

“At least it’s only vomit and not poo this time.”

“This time?”

Maria nodded with a rueful grin. “One of the hazards of working with babies. Do you think we could go to the hotel first so I can have a shower? I know this is only a marriage of convenience but I’m superstitious and I can’t get married with vomit in my hair.” She wrinkled her nose and considered that for a moment. “Although I guess it could be my something new.”

“That would make the whole thing so special,” Michael joked.

“And I have a coffee stain on my jeans,” Maria noticed. “Wow, I’m going to make Britney Spears’ Vegas wedding look classy.”

“Who?”

“Seriously, you don’t know who Britney Spears is?”

He shrugged, “She’s the one who went crazy? I don’t really follow that stuff. I’ll call the hotel when we land and ask them to put some clothes in our room.”

“They do that?”

“Sure. My dad likes to whisk my Mom away to surprise her every so often and he always asks the hotel to supply clothes so he doesn’t have to pack a bag for her.”

Maria bit her lip, confused. “Michael, you don’t have to answer if you don’t want to. But what is your family situation? I mean, you said your mother was dead and then you refer to your mom and dad. And I know you had a tough childhood but…” she waved her hand to encompass the luxury, private plane.

For a moment she thought he wasn’t going to answer her. He swirled the ice cubes around in his drink. “I was adopted when I was eight. My mother, my birthmother, was a drug addict. She used to… she was a prostitute, that’s how she supported her habit. She died of an overdose when I was two. After that I was put into foster care.”

“So you and Maddie have something in common. Your mothers were both addicts.”

“Yeah and I really hope that’s all we ever have in common. Foster care sucks. Even the good situations are bad. And the really bad ones…” he shook his head, pushing out the memories that were threatening to invade.

“What about your adopted family? How did you end up with them? Did they foster you?”

“No, actually, they’re really my aunt and uncle. My father was the black sheep of the family. Dropped out of college, lived on his trust fund, never held down a real job. He was also a heroin addict. He died of AIDS when I was seven. He told hos brother about me before he died and he, my uncle, he tracked me down and he and his wife got custody of me and they adopted me.”

“How old were your parents?”

“My mother was nineteen when she died. My father was thirty when he died.”

“Your mother was so young.”

Michael nodded in agreement. “She was only fourteen when she ran away. She went to LA to become an actress and met a woman called Lucy who said she’d help her out. Of course Lucy turned out to be running a brothel. She’s the one who forced my mother into prostitution and got her hooked on drugs. She ‘gave’ my mother to her boyfriend as a birthday present and he kept her as a toy to use. When she got pregnant, Lucy kicked her out. When my parents, my adopted parents found out about me, they went to her and begged her to help them find me. Lucy made them wait a year. They had to pay her a million dollars just to get an address from her… I ended up in hospital five times in that year.” He shook his head grimly and took a mouthful of his Scotch.

Maria wished she’d asked for something alcoholic too. She wanted to hug him. He was obviously trying so hard to act tough and pretend that it didn’t bother him but she could see the pain and hurt in his eyes as he spoke. Gone was the confident, assured business man and in his place was a hurt little boy. “What happened to Lucy, did she get sent to jail?”

“She retired to the Bahamas and lived there for a few years until she died of an OD.”

“Wow, that’s terrible.”

“It’s all in the past.” Michael threw back the last of his drink and shook his head. “What is it about you? I’ve gone my whole life and never talked about this kind of stuff and then you come along and I can’t shut up.”

Maria shrugged, “I have a gift. I can make anybody talk. And sometimes, you just have to talk and it’s easier to talk to a stranger than people you know really well.”

“I don’t think of you as a stranger.”

“Well no, I am your fiancée,” Maria laughed. “But you know what I mean. And I want you to know that you can always talk to me Michael, about anything. We’re… we’re going to be a family now.”

Family. That word hit him like a truck. He and Maria and Maddie were going to be a family.

***



“Wow,” Maria exclaimed as she walked through the hotel room. It was large and beautiful and beyond anything she had ever expected. She was once again struck by the feeling of being completely out of place in her dirty jeans and old t-shirt. Michael, dressed in his expensive suit, looked right at home.

Maria was glad that they had no bags and that Michael had clearly been here before and so had declined an escort up to the suite. Penthouse suite, she reminded herself giddily. It meant she was spared further snooty glances like she had been receiving in reception.

“So this is ok?” Michael asked, looking up from his blackberry.

“It’s great,” Maria enthused. She peeked through a door and gaped at the bedroom on the other side. She tried to restrain herself but it was pointless, seconds later she ran across the room and flung herself onto the bed.

Michael followed her in and watched her bouncing up and down with an amused grin. “Having fun?”

“Sure. Do you come here a lot?”

“Now and again, when I need to blow off steam.” He watched her bounce on the bed and laughed. “So, you’re taking this room?”

“If that’s ok with you. Unless the other room is better,” she joked cheekily.

“You can check it out if you like. It’s pretty much the same, just a little smaller and it doesn’t have a hot tub on the balcony.”

Maria opened the door to check out the hot tub and nodded in satisfaction. “Nah, it’s ok. I like this one.”

“I’ll be down the hall.”

“Well this marriage is off to a great start, separate beds already.” Maria laughed too and opened a wardrobe door. “The clothes are in here. Oh, pretty. Uh, your clothes are here too. I guess they assumed we’d be sharing a room.” She searched through the clothes and seized a gorgeous blue and white summer dress. She stood in front of a mirror and held it up. Then she spotted the price tag and her eyes bugged. “I’m guessing that these aren’t free.”

“It’s like a mini-bar I guess. Whatever we used, they charge us for.”

Maria returned the dress to the closet and searched through the rest. Everything was just as expensive. “Michael, I can’t wear any of these.”

“If they don’t fit, I can ask them to send up a rack in another size.”

“No, the size is fine. But these are way too expensive.”

Michael crossed the room and read the label of the blue dress. “It’s fine. Take what you like.” He thrust the dress at her.

“I can’t,” she insisted, pushing it back onto the rail.

“Ok, get married in the coffee stained jeans. I just thought that you’d prefer to change your clothes after showering.”

“Well, I would. And it’s gorgeous… But it would pay rent on my apartment for a month. I can’t wear it… Or, I guess I could wear it and leave the tags on… It could be my something borrowed, something blue.”

“Whatever you like,” Michael sighed, unconcerned. He had learned along time ago that when it came to women and clothes, it was best if he kept his mouth shut.

“Ok. I’ll just go have my shower.” She hung the dress on the handle of the closet and disappeared into the bathroom. Michael checked out the choice of clothes for himself and picked out a grey shirt and a pair of pants.

From behind the closed bathroom door, Michael could hear the water in the shower running and Maria singing. He had a flash of her in the shower. Naked and wet. He shook his head to clear it of that image then beat a hasty retreat out of the room.

In his own room, he laid the clothes on the bed. He pulled off the tags and crumbled them up in his fist. Then out of curiosity, he unfurled them and checked the price. They were less than the dress that Maria had chosen but still enough that it would have shocked her. He shrugged to himself and stripped off to take a shower.

He felt restless, nervous. He knew that what he was doing was crazy. He was marrying a girl who had no idea who he really was and would want nothing to do with him once she found out. This was going to blow up in his face, he knew that. The guilt at lying to her and duping her was getting to him. She was going to hate him for it. But she already hated him. At least if he could get her custody of Maddie, it might go some way to appeasing her.

But why did he care so much?

She affected him in a way no other woman had in a long time. And try as he might, he couldn’t ignore that he felt something for her. Did he want something more than that? Would he be marrying her now if he didn’t?

Christ, he had never been so worked up over a girl before in his life.

He needed a shower to cool down.

Twenty minutes later, showered and dressed, he made his way into the living room. He flopped down onto a seat and rubbed his face. Maria was still on his mind. It wasn’t too late to come clean with her. But he knew that if he told her the truth now, she’d be furious. The wedding would never happen and then the judge couldn’t give them custody. Would Maria still marry him for Maddie’s sake, knowing who he really was? She might, if she had time to cool down and think about things. But the hearing was tomorrow and there wasn’t time for cooling down.

So he’d wait.

In less than twenty-four hours, Maddie would be going home with Maria. He could tell her the truth. Having Maddie would outweigh everything else, he was sure of that.

His attention drifted to the magazines spread out on the coffee table including the latest issue of Forbes. He knew it would be too early for the interview he had done to be featured. But he picked it up and leafed through it in case there were any other articles or pictures of him. There didn’t seem to be any, but he stuffed it under the couch cushion anyway.

The rest of the magazines were women’s stuff and a National Geographic, nothing to worry about there.

“Hey, I’ll just be a few minutes.”

He jumped at the sound of Maria’s voice. She was standing at the door wearing a fluffy bathrobe, her damp hair loose about her shoulders. “I’m baby sick free.”

“Glad to hear it.”

“I’m just going to dry my hair,” Maria told him.

“Ok.”

It was so normal. Like what he and Maria had was real. He could imagine a life with her, imagine Maddie and other children, all the things that he thought he would never have. A real family of his own.

He shook his head. Those thoughts were dangerous. They led to dangerous places. And he knew that once Maria found out the truth, well, it was pointless to even imagine.

A few minutes later, she emerged from the bedroom, her hair dry, her make up in place and wearing the blue dress.

“You look…” he was going to say beautiful. It was the truth, but saying it seemed wrong. It led things down the wrong path. “Great.”

Maria smiled at him. “So do you. Can you see the labels?” she asked, turning her back to him.

He realized she meant the price labels, the corner of which he could see peeking out at the top of the dress. “Yeah, hold on.” He walked over to her and pulled the tag off the dress. “Now it can be your something new.”

“But…,” Maria protested. Then she decided it was pointless to argue. He knew how much it cost and had no problem with it, so why should she? “Thank you.”

“Sure.”

“I just need something borrowed now,” she grinned. She looked around the room and spotted some silk flowers, picked one and put it in her hair. “Ok, I’m all set.”

Michael held out his hand to her and she took it. “Let’s get married.”


***
Last edited by nibbles2 on Thu May 05, 2011 2:13 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Gold Diggers - 33 (B)

Postby nibbles2 » Tue May 26, 2009 11:36 am

chanks_girl Thanks.

Alien_Friend Michael really wants to do the right thing for Maria and Maddie.

Emz80m thank you.

Spacegirl23 After 33+ parts, I felt the time had come for some candy romance. Speaking off….

RhondaAnn The court case to decide Maddie’s future is tomorrow in GD time, so he’s on a tight schedule.

tequathisy

Begonia9508 Thank you.

nitpick23 Not fake flowers – silk flowers. Of the beautiful and expensive kind.

Rowedog I made you speechless!!! Cool.

Empress_Luci Being evil is so much fun.

kay_b The dreamer’s time will come. Eventually.

xmag Hopefully.

Bella_svetlana You won’t have to wait 33 chapters for the dreamers, they’re just taking a back seat right now. But, these chapters do have relevance for Max and Liz’s relationship.

Tamashii So true.

April He’ll be a good husband, if Maria lets him.

Maiqu Glad you’re all caught up.


Huge thanks as always to Michelle In Yonkers. You need to watch Ten things I hate about you. Stat.

While I have your attention - I'll be doing an authors chat at Roswell Heaven on Sunday 7th June at 1pm EST/10am PST. Hope to see you all there.


Chapter 33 (b)

It turned out that getting married was very easy to do. Michael had imagined that such a life-changing thing would be a little more complicated. It was a simple matter of going into the Marriage License Bureau and showing their driver’s licenses. There was no line. He had worried about what would happen when he showed his license with his real name, but Maria had been filling out a form and never noticed.

When they had the license they made their way down the block to the Marriage Commissioner. A ceremony was underway so they had about twenty minutes to wait for their turn.

They took a seat in the nondescript waiting room.

Maria pulled her license out of the pocket of her jacket and put it back into her purse. She laughed as she slid it into its slot. “I waited in line for two and a half hours to get this thing when I lost it last year. I can’t believe that getting married takes less time that that.”

“I know the feeling,” Michael admitted. He noticed that her leg was shaking. “You okay?”

She nodded. “Yeah, I just… this is real. We’re really getting married. And tomorrow, if things go well, Maddie will be given to us. I’m going from single gal to being a married woman and a mother in the space of a day. It’s kind of…”

“Overwhelming?” Michael supplied.

“I was going to say crazy,” Maria laughed. The she remembered something and dived into her purse again. She rummaged through the contents and after a minute pulled out a small glass vial. She opened the lid, sniffed it and then satisfied that it was ok, threw back her head and let a couple of drops of the liquid into her mouth.

“Grief relief,” she explained when she saw Michael’s half-perplexed half-amused expression. “It’s a herbal remedy. My Mom is an herbalist. It helps calm you down when you’re agitated or anxious or nervous. Do you want some?”

“I’m not nervous,” Michael told her.

She shifted in her seat to look him over. “No, you’re not. But then, you were drinking on the plane.”

Michael smiled at her and shrugged. He’d had one drink on the plane, hardly enough to calm him down if he was nervous. But he simply wasn’t nervous. He was worried about having to explain who he really was to Maria but he wasn’t nervous about actually marrying Maria.

A door opened and a woman beckoned to them. “Michael and Maria, come this way please.”

Maria stood up and exhaled slowly. “This is it.”

“I’ll get the witnesses and meet you in there,” Michael told her. He went outside to where their two witnesses were having a smoke by the front door where they had met them first, twenty minutes earlier. They stubbed the cigarettes out and followed him inside.

Michael had the unusual experience of walking up the aisle to meet his bride who was waiting at the top of the room with the marriage commissioner. Apparently the same thought struck Maria and she grinned at him and hummed the bridal waltz under her breath.

The commissioner shook Michael’s hand and the hands of the two witnesses. “Let’s start, shall we?” she asked.

“Ready?” Michael asked.

Maria nodded without hesitation.

The ceremony was very simple and brief. Michael and Maria stood side by side and answered yes to any questions put to them.

“Sign here please,” they were instructed.

Maria signed her name first and handed the pen to Michael. He signed his name Michael Evans while Maria stood back to allow the witnesses sign too.

“That’s it?” Maria asked, with a nervous giggle.

“There’s one more thing,” the commissioner said in a serious tone, causing the newly-weds to looked at her in alarm. She turned to Michael, “You may kiss your bride.”

“Oh, right,” Michael scratched his eyebrow and turned to his wife and suddenly he was really nervous. He felt his heart rate speed up and his palms grow damp. He cleared his throat and stepped closer to Maria, placing his hands gently on her waist and pulling her to him.

He met her steady gaze evenly and then lowered his head to brush his lips against hers. A bolt of electricity ran through him on contact and instead of pulling away as he had intended, he deepened the kiss. One hand snaked around her waist, the other found its way to her face, cupping her cheek and tilting her head.

Maria’s head was swimming. She curled her fingers in his shirt, holding him tightly as his tongue invaded her mouth. She moaned against his mouth.

That sound broke through Michael’s haze and he pulled away from her.

They looked at each other awkwardly and in confusion. Maria touched her lips with her fingers and blushed.

“Congratulations,” the commissioner said with a smile and the newly married couple stepped further apart, eyes averted from each other. If she noticed that the kiss was more like a tentative first kiss than they type she normally saw from newly married couples, she didn’t show it.

The commissioner handed the certificate of marriage to Michael who folded it up and put it his jacket pocket. He risked looking at Maria then.

“I guess that’s it,” Maria concluded.

Michael gestured for her to lead the way out and he followed her. And that was it.

They were married.

***


“We should have got our picture taken,” Maria mused. “For posterity, or whatever.”

They were sitting on the deck of an outdoor café, watching the throngs move up and down the strip. Having dinner with a girl, just like he’d promised his mother, Michael thought. Maria, who had never been to Las Vegas before was watching everything with the wide-eyed interest of a tourist.

“I’m sure there’s somewhere around here that we could get it done, if you want.”

Maria shrugged. “If we see somebody, maybe. Nothing formal, just, you know, a photograph.”

Michael nodded. “Is there anything else you want to do? Hit the casinos?”

“I think I’ve gambled enough for one day,” Maria smiled. “Do you gamble often?”

“Not really, a couple of times a year maybe. I usually come out here when things are really tense and I need to blow off steam.”

“And what does blowing off steam entail exactly?” Maria asked. “Drinking? Gambling? Hookers? Celine Dion?”

“My secret’s out, I’m a huge Celine Dion fan,” Michael said, holding up his hands in defeat. He laughed.

“I knew it.”

“No, usually I come out here, blow some money on the tables, get wasted and… well no hookers, but women of loose morals shall we say.”

Or at least that’s how it used to be, before Carla. Since they broke up and Michael developed his ‘difficulties’, the women had been absent. He had attempted, on a couple of occasions, to overcome his problems by bringing women back to his room. But that had always ended in humiliation for him. Even professionals had been unable to get a stir from him.

Maria shook her head. “What do you do here for fun?”

Michael frowned. “I don’t usually come here for fun.”

“Well, what do you do for fun generally?”

“Uh…”

“You do have fun, right?” Maria asked.

“Sure.” He just couldn’t think of the last time. “I guess, I go to a game. I follow the Lakers and the Kings. I used to go sailing but I don’t have much time for that now. I swim most days, I enjoy that.”

Maria stared at him in shock. “Seriously, that’s your idea of fun?”

“What do you do?”

“Go dancing, go to the movies, have a girls night in, have a girls night out, go skating, go to the beach, go paintballing, go see a show or a concert or a comedian, go shopping. Lots of things,” Maria finished with a shrug.

“I like roller coasters,” Michael exclaimed suddenly. He was almost triumphant that he had thought of something.

“Do you want to go on one now?” Maria asked excitedly.

Michael shrugged. “Why not?”

Maria clapped her hands excitedly. “Which one?”

“Wanna try one out Stratosphere?”

Maria glanced into the sky. “That’s the really tall one, right?”

“Yes,” Michael stood up and held his hand out to her. “Ready?”

***



Two hours and three roller coaster rides later, the door of the newlywed’s hotel suite was flung open and Michael staggered inside, carrying Maria in his arms. He kicked the door closed behind him, stumbled over to the couch and unceremoniously deposited Maria onto a couch before flopping onto an armchair. They were both laughing.

Maria rubbed the back of her head, where she had knocked it against the door frame as Michael carried her over the threshold. “I don’t get how that’s supposed to be romantic.”

“Maybe it’s more romantic if the husband isn’t a quivering wreck,” Michael suggested. Three rollercoaster rides on one night was not a good idea.

“Wuss, you mean,” Maria teased. “I’ve never heard such girlie screaming.”

“Other than yourself of course?”

“I’m a girl, I’m supposed to do the girlie screaming thing. You’re a big, strapping, manly man,” Maria teased. She kicked off her shoes and padded out to the balcony. She gazed at the lights of the city all around her. “The view is amazing from here; plus you can take it in without thinking that you’re hurtling to your death.”

Michael joined her on the balcony and took in the view. “It’s nice, I guess. Do you want a drink?”

“I’ll have a glass of wine please.”

“Ok.” Michael went back inside and investigated the contents of the fully stocked bar. There were a couple of different kinds of wine. There were also a couple of bottles of champagne, one already on ice. He grabbed the bottle and two glasses and went back out onto the balcony.

Maria was curled up on a love seat when he returned to the balcony. He handed her the two glasses and popped the champagne cork. It shot out and landed with a plop in the hot tub.

“Good shot,” Maria laughed, holding out the glasses so he could pour the fizzing, bubbling drink.

Michael sat down beside Maria. “A toast?”

“To Maddie,” Maria declared. “Here’s to her health and happiness.”

“To Maddie,” Michael agreed. They clinked glasses and took a drink.

“Yum,” Maria sighed. Her thoughts drifted to Liz, she was probably at work now, drinking champagne with one of her customers.

“I thought tonight was about fun,” Michael commented when he saw the frown on Maria’s face.

She smiled ruefully. “I’m just thinking about my friend. I wonder what she’s going to say when I tell her that I got married tonight.”

“You think she’ll give you a hard time?”

“Nah, Liz is always very supportive of me. No matter how crazy I get. Although she will probably be pissed that she didn’t get to be my bridesmaid. I’d kill her if she did that to me.”

They sat in companionable silence for a few minutes until an idea struck Maria. She hurried into her bedroom, situated off the balcony and came back with her phone. “It has a camera,” she explained. “So we can get a picture.”

“What, the photograph of us screaming in terror on the rollercoaster wasn’t good enough for you?” Michael joked.

Maria grabbed his hand and pulled him out of the seat and over to the railing so that the lights of the city were behind them. “I don’t think screaming in terror sets the right tone.”

She wrapped one arm around his waist and leaned against him. “Smile.”

Michael put his arm around her shoulder and tried to relax. But having Maria pressed so close to him, with the memory of that kiss still fresh on his lips made relaxing an impossibility.

Maria snapped a shot but wasn’t happy with it as the top of Michael’s head was missing in the picture. “You’re too tall.”

He took the phone from her and ducked down a little so that his head was parallel to hers.

“Cheese.” He took the picture and then handed the phone to Maria so she could bring it back in screen.

“That’s really nice,” Maria gushed happily.

She looked at him for his reaction and they both realized that they still had their arms around each other. They pulled apart awkwardly. Maria turned away and wandered over to the hot tub so that Michael wouldn’t see her flushed cheeks. She too was thinking of their kiss.

Michael leaned on the railing and took a deep breath. His whole body was reacting to Maria. He watched her as she trailed her fingers in the water of the hot tub, it’s light shone through her dress, silhouetting her body. He ran his gaze over her, taking in her bare legs, her slim waist, her soft blonde hair, her pouty lips. He was hit with a powerful blast of lust that he hadn’t felt in a long time. He cleared his throat and tried to shake off those thoughts. “Are you going to take a dip?” he asked.

“Don’t have a suit,” she reminded him.

“There’s probably one in the closet. And please don’t worry about the cost. Honestly, it’s nothing.”

Maria rolled her eyes but smiled at him. “Thank you. I’ll go see what’s available.”

She slipped into her bedroom.

“Idiot,” Michael muttered to himself. A fully dressed Maria wasn’t enough, he had to suggest she strip off and get wet.

“There’s a swim suit here for you as well,” Maria called out a minute later. “Are you going to take a dip too?”

He didn’t answer her immediately, because he didn’t really know what to do. Part of him wanted to just lock himself in his own room so he wouldn’t have to deal with his reaction to her. But he knew that he wasn’t going anywhere. He didn’t want this night to be over; he wasn’t ready for that yet. All they were going to do was hang out. Just because they had kissed earlier - at their wedding - didn’t mean that anything was going to happen between them.

“Michael?” Maria called again.

“Yeah, I’m coming,” he answered.

He stepped through her bedroom door just as she was coming out to find him and they collided with each other. Maria stumbled backwards and Michael grabbed her before she fell to the floor. His hands circled her hips and pulled her upright.

They froze in that position, their eyes locked on each other. Michael’s hands were touching her warm skin. Without looking, he realized that she had already changed out of her dress and into a bikini.

Maria let out a slow, tremulous breath. “Michael.”

In one swift movement, Michael pulled her flush against his body and crashed his lips against hers. Maria’s arms wrapped around his neck and pulled his head closer to her.

Unlike their earlier kiss, there was no hesitation. This time when Maria moaned against his lips, Michael didn’t pull away. He deepened the kiss, sweeping his tongue into her mouth, and ran his hands across her bare skin. Maria clutched at his hair and ran her hand over his chest, she pressed closer and rubbed her body against him. She slipped her hand under his shirt to feel the skin beneath.

They stumbled in the direction of the bed without breaking contact or looking where they were going. Their hands were in overdrive, roaming everywhere they could reach. Michael tore his mouth away from Maria’s lip and began to explore her neck, tasting and nipping until Maria was sighing in pleasure. She began to undo the buttons of his shirt and push it off his shoulders. He pulled his hands away to slip the shirt off. When it was gone, Maria’s hands roamed his naked back and chest, before they went lower and began to knead his butt and work on divesting him of his pants. Michael made short work of removing her bikini top and tossed it on the floor. He palmed her breasts then lowered his head and took a nipple in his mouth. Maria moaned in response and grabbed his cock, gently but firmly. It jumped in her hand, rock hard at her touch. She massaged it and Michael buried his face in her hair and groaned loudly.

Michael had to pull away then so that he could remove his pants completely. He kicked them onto the floor and helped Maria out of her bikini bottoms. Then Michael crawled back onto the bed between Maria’s legs. She slid her arms around his neck to pull him closer. He paused, with his hands on her hips, and stared into her eyes, searching them. Then he lowered his lips to hers and kissed her.

Maria wrapped her legs around him and pulled him down to her. Slowly and gently he entered her. They broke their kiss and gasped.

Michael buried his face in her neck, nuzzling at the sensitive spot there. Maria’s hands raked up and down his back. They moved slowly at first, to find a rhythm and to enjoy the sensation.

All Michael could think about was Maria, how incredible she felt beneath him and surrounding him - Her taste, her smell, the softness of her skin and hair, the sound of her voice as she moaned his name. He was too lost in her to register anything else.

Maria took Michael’s face in her hands and raised it from her neck so that she could look into his eyes. He curled his fingers in her hair and kissed her hard and long.

As they approached their climax, they moved faster. They gripped each other tightly and shared long hot kisses.

Maria came first followed by Michael moments later.

They slowly stopped moving and lay still in each others arms. Michael dropped kisses on Maria’s shoulders and she caressed his back gently.

Michael withdrew from her body and settled onto his side, he pulled Maria back to him and she curled against him. Exhausted and satisfied, they drifted to sleep.

***
Last edited by nibbles2 on Thu May 05, 2011 2:24 pm, edited 4 times in total.

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Gold Diggers - Chapter 33 (C)

Postby nibbles2 » Sun Jun 07, 2009 4:23 am

Leila Actually, at this stage it’s three and a half years. Glad you enjoyed it.

loviedovie Thank you

Alien_Friend Yeah, the morning after is going to be a little awkward.

Alison Yep, sleeping with him might actually be worse in Maria’s eyes than marrying him. The marriage is one of convenience, the sex is something else.

RhondaAnn Thanks

AlysLuv It’s not going to stay a secret for long though.

Mary Mary I don’t know about sensibly.

Cocogurl True, but Maria wouldn’t have married Michael Evans.

April You’ll get your wish soon, now in fact.

begonia9508 Yes, Maria’s a thousand times better than Carla.

spacegirl23 She’s married to Michael but I’m not sure she’ll be coming home to him for a while. And congrats on the Vegas wedding for whenever and whoever.

Kay_b Progressing nicely, but it’s about to come upon a major stumbling block.

Emz80m very shortlived.

scorpio6 Thank you, and you’re right about the storm.

wench on a leash coming up.

Tamashii Thank you.

Neve Thanks. Do you like this twist?

maiqu Thanks

Empress_Luci More Max & Liz and Isabel & Alex coming up soon. What’s happening between Maria and Michael will have impact on the other’s relationships too.

xmag So true.

destinyc New reader, welcome.


and as always, thanks to Michelle in Yonkers for doing the beta thing.


Chapter – 33 (C)


The sound of Michael’s phone ringing woke the newly-wed pair from their sleep. He let it go to voicemail without making a move to answer it. Beside him, Maria rolled out of his arms and onto her back and rubbed the sleep from her eyes. Michael turned his head to face her and they smiled self-consciously at each other.

Michael opened his mouth to say something but the phone rang again. He swore and clambered out of the bed to retrieve his pants. He pulled the phone from his pocket and answered it. “Yes?”

The site foreman immediately began to explain in detail a problem that had occurred. Michael turned to Maria to apologize for the interruption. She was propped up on the bed watching him with a smirk. He blushed and pulled on a bathrobe.

“One second,” he barked into the phone and covered the mouthpiece. “Sorry, there’s a problem at work I have to handle.”

“It’s ok,” Maria said with a smile.

“Do you want to order breakfast?”

Maria sat up in the bed, holding the sheet to her chest. “I’ll grab a shower first, we can order breakfast when you’re ready.”

“Ok.” Michael sat down at the desk and pulled a writing pad towards him so that he could make notes. As he listened to the foreman, Maria slipped out of the bed and into the bathroom.

He watched her retreating derrière with a grin but it faded when Maria was out of sight. His stomach churned nervously. He knew that he was going to have to come clean to Maria. Today. They had to be in court that afternoon and there was no way that he could continue to pull the wool over her eyes.

Maria lingered in the shower, taking her time to shampoo her hair and wash her skin. She was trying to get her thoughts in order. What had happened between her and Michael had been so unexpected that she had no idea how she really felt about it.

She had enjoyed it, immensely, of course. And she couldn’t deny that she was attracted to Michael. But they had a complicated relationship. They had just entered a marriage of convenience, for cripes sake! Sex had a nasty habit of messing things up, which would be less of a concern if Maddie weren’t involved. But she was, and Maddie had to be their first priority. If pursuing a relationship with Michael meant that Maddie could be adversely affected then there was no way Maria was going to risk it. Not to mention that Michael was an emotional quagmire. Did she really want to get involved in that?

Despite what her head told her, she knew she did.

But who said that Michael would want to pursue anything? Maybe it had just been a one night thing for him. Maybe it did mean something to him but he was going to run away anyway, because he seemed the type.

With a groan, Maria turned off the water and stepped out of the shower. Ten minutes later she emerged from the bathroom, dressed in a bathrobe and toweling her damp hair.

Michael hung up the phone and stood up from the desk.

“All taken care of?” Maria asked.

He sighed. “I go away for one day… Anyway, I’m going to have a quick shower. I’ve ordered breakfast. They’ll send it up in a few minutes.”

“Great, I’m starved.”

They paused in front of each other uncertainly. Maria smiled awkwardly. “We should talk.”

“Yeah,” Michael agreed. “I’ll just jump in the shower first.” He made a move to go into the bathroom, then stopped on impulse and pulled Maria gently towards him. He brushed his lips over hers then pulled back.

Maria smiled at him and he tried to smile back but guilt and nerves held it back. “I’ll just be a couple of minutes.”

Maria grabbed a hair brush and wandered out onto to the balcony as she brushed her hair. It was a bright beautiful day outside. She smiled as she remembered Michael’s kiss. Maybe he wasn’t going to run away.

A knock on the door interrupted her thoughts and she hurried to answer it. Two waiters pushed a trolley inside and began to set up the breakfast table. They had it set up in minutes. Maria tipped them and they left.

She grabbed a croissant from the bread basket and took a seat on the couch while she waited for Michael to finish his shower. Maria picked up a copy of the latest edition of Cosmopolitan magazine and began to leaf through it.

She paused at a photograph of Isabel Evans at a movie premier and stuck her tongue out before flipping the page. She came to an article on America’s most eligible bachelors and giggled at the thought that as a married woman now, this was no longer something that appealed to her.

Still, no harm in looking, she laughed to herself as she drooled over the naked torso of a pretty-boy male model. She turned the page and squeaked in astonishment at the sight of her very own husband.

She was so busy admiring the photograph that the name didn’t register for a moment. Then it suddenly jumped out at her.

Michael Evans

Not Guerin – Evans.

With a feeling of utter disbelief, Maria read the accompanying piece.

Who is he? He’s the elder brother of celebubrats, Max and Isabel. He’s also CEO of the family’s Fortune five hundred company.

Why do we love him? The Cosmo office is divided over the question of which Evans brother is the better looking, but we’re all in complete agreement which one is the better catch. Ivy League graduate Michael has eschewed the z-list celebrity lifestyle of his younger siblings to focus on building a successful career. As well as running Evans Ltd, he also owns a number of small companies himself, has amassed a hot property portfolio and is a multi-millionaire in his own right.

Bachelor Status? Supremely eligible. Michael was engaged in the past, so unlike bed-hopping Max we know he’s capable of commitment. But that engagement broke up a year ago which by our count means now’s the perfect time to nab him.


Maria simply couldn’t process what she had read. She stared at the black type until it was nothing more than a blur.

It simply could not be true. It was impossible.

There was no way that Michael Guerin was really Michael Evans. No way.

It was impossible.

The magazine had made a mistake. They had printed the wrong photograph.

Her hands shook and she dropped the magazine.

It was a mistake. And it would be easy to check that.

Almost in a daze, Maria walked into the bedroom. She could still hear the sound of the shower running.

Michael’s pants were draped over the back of a chair. She picked them up and patted the sides until she found his wallet. She tossed the pants onto the ground and opened the wallet.

She pulled out his driver’s license. Michael Evans

His credit cards and bank cards. Michael Evans

His business card. Michael Evans

Maria felt weak. She lowered herself into a chair and took a deep breath.

Michael Evans. How was this possible? She had slept with Michael Evans.

She grabbed his pants again and searched the pocket until she found their wedding certificate.

Michael Evans

She had married Michael Evans.

The water in the bathroom stopped running.

Her shock faded and anger took over.

Maria looked around for her clothes then remembered that she had left them in the bathroom the day before. So she pulled on her blue wedding dress and then pulled a sweater and some clean underwear from the closet. She yanked off the tags without looking at them and dressed quickly.

She found her purse and stuffed her things inside it just as Michael opened the bathroom door and walked into the bedroom through a cloud of steam. He was fastening a towel around his waist. Tiny droplets of water rolled down his chest.

“Hey… what’s wrong?” he asked in concern.

Maria exhaled shakily. “What’s your name?”

Michael froze in the process of drying his hair and looked at her in wide-eyed alarm. His eyes flickered to his opened wallet lying on the chair then back to Maria.

“Maria – ”

“What. Is. Your. Name?” Maria gritted out angrily.

“Why don’t you let me get dressed and then we can talk about it?”

“What’s your name?”

Michael took a step towards her. Without even thinking about it, Maria grabbed the first thing that she could reach and threw it at him with all the strength she could muster. It was a rather heavy, very expensive Waterford Crystal vase. Michael ducked at the last second and the vase hit the wall behind him and exploded in a shower of glass. “You bastard.”

“I’m sorry Maria. I swear —”

“Shut up!” Maria screamed. “Just don’t talk. You have got to be the lowest, most evil… How could you do this? I trusted you and you… Was this all about your vendetta against Alex? Am I just a pawn to you? How could you? How could you use Maddie like this?”

“Maria, no,” Michael stepped forward and trod heavily on a piece of glass. “Shit,” he exclaimed.

“Stay away from me,” Maria told him before fleeing the room.

Michael tried to give chase but he ended up stepping on another piece of glass. He hopped in pain then hobbled out of the room carefully, just in time to see Maria exit the suite. He hurried over to the door and called out her name. “Please Maria, just come back inside and let’s talk.”

Maria was stabbing the call button for the elevator frantically. She whirled around to face him.

“I knew that Michael Evans was a grade A bastard. I didn’t think that even he — you — could stoop so low as to use a baby to get your way! What did Alex ever do to you?”

“This isn’t about Alex. What happened between us has nothing to do with him! I didn’t even know you were friends with him until a few days ago!” Michael stepped out onto the tiled floor of the lobby, wincing in pain.

“Right! It’s a complete coincidence that you just happened to walk into my workplace and your brother walked into Liz’s,” Maria spat. She pressed the button again.

“What?” Michael asked, confused.

A thought struck Maria. “Oh my God — that Izzie girl, at Alex's center, is she your sister?”

“Yes,” he admitted reluctantly. “But—”

His protests were cut off when Maria slapped him hard across the face. Hot tears streamed from her eyes and she angrily brushed them away. “You are a monster, Michael Evans! You are evil and heartless and cruel. If you ever come near me again, I’ll cut your balls off!”

The elevator finally pinged its arrival behind her and the doors slid open. Maria stepped inside and pressed the button for the ground floor. She met Michael’s eyes with a look of cold hatred before the door slid smoothly closed.

Wet, naked except for a towel, barefooted and bleeding, all Michael could do was watch her go.

***
Last edited by nibbles2 on Thu May 05, 2011 3:16 pm, edited 3 times in total.

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Gold Diggers - Chapter 34

Postby nibbles2 » Mon Jul 06, 2009 9:41 am

xmag I don’t think he’ll kidnap Maria, as for the other option….

Emz80m Exactly.

Destinyc That’s very true.

Kay_b We’ll find out what happens to Maddie very soon.

chanks_girl Maria’s aim is fine, Michael ducked. The jerk.

Rowedog More lobbing of stuff, very soon.

RhondaAnn It’s funny but I’d never considered how Maria got home until people started asking. So here it is, she stormed into the lobby of the hotel and ran into the Concierge. He noticed she was upset and asked if she needed any help. She told him she needed to get back to LA. He called her a cab and arranged a seat for her on the next flight out. He charged it to her room and there fore, Michael’s account. She got to the airport just in time to catch her flight.

Tequathisy Yes, major knock on effects.

begonia9508 Yep, Maria might want to never talk to Michael again but she’s not going to have a choice in the matter.

Alien_Friend No, Michael doesn’t know about the Max/Liz relationship. He’s going to find out soon though.

Maiqu A lot of explaining to do.

nitpick23 Yes, Michael got off lucky. So far.

scorpio6 Big mess, but Michael is rich, powerful and determined. So that makes a lot of things possible.

DaleStateShorty The answer to the Maddie question is coming soon.

Zoi New reader, welcome and thanks.

Tamashii Cool, I wanted to surprise people with how Maria found out.

Empress_Luci And worse they shall get.

April Hearing it from a magazine is probably worse. But I think if she had been that close to Michael when he told her, she would have killed him so I think it worked out better this way.

Eva Another new reader. Thanks for reading.

Spacegirl23 It is a bizarre coincidence really. And if I could go back in time three years, I might make it a little less contrived. But what’s done is done. I’m glad you have sympathy for Michael. I don’t want him to be a monster.

Aussietasha77 Oh, wow, It’s going to be a while before all six come together.

killjoy LOL. Love the accent.

wench on a leash Unfortunately, that is probably what’s going to happen.

and of course the awesome Michelle in Yonkers for betaing.

I have to begin by apologizing. After the high of finally posting the last three chapters, I hit a wall. As a result, this chapter is not very good. Or interesting. But, I will have a new chapter soon which I hope will make up for the lameness of this one.

Chapter 34

Max opened his mailbox and grimaced. It was stuffed full, and if the past few days were anything to go by, they were all bills.

He opened them on bus to work. Most of them were reminders of bills already on his pile, some with additional late fines and charges. One or two were new. The most serious one was a final reminder for his rent. It was stern – pay or leave.

“Shit,” Max swore, louder than he had intended. It attracted the attention of people around him and he slunk down in his seat, turning his head to the window so he wouldn’t be recognized.

He pulled out his notebook and added the new totals to calculate how much money he owed now. It wasn’t a lot really. He had dropped more on a night out in Vegas than what he owed now. The problem was that he simply didn’t have the money. Even working two jobs wasn’t going to get him out of this hole. He had to do something more. Right now the biggest drain on his finances was the rent he paid on his apartment — that, coupled with utility bills, sucked up most of his pay check and left him little to live on and pay his other bills. The most obvious solution was to move out. But where would he go?

***


Tess opened the Sprinkles Bakery box excitedly and laughed. Two dozen cupcakes with pink frosting and the word ‘beefcake’ written in chocolate on top. Michael would not be amused.

She snagged one and closed the lid again and laid the box on her desk along with the dozens of other messages congratulating Michael on being named as a most eligible bachelor. She shook her head in amusement. Michael was hot, but he was no Kyle.

Her phone rang again and she answered it at the same time as Marty stepped off the elevator and made his way to her desk. She proffered the box of cupcakes to him as she spoke to the caller.

“Who did these come from?” Marty asked when Tess was finished with the call.

“Jackson and Morgan,” Tess giggled, referring to a client of the company’s.

Marty laughed. “Of course. Where is the bachelor this morning?”

“He’s taking some personal time,” Tess told him. She knew where Michael was but was under instructions not to tell anybody.

“Damn, I wanted to see his face when he saw the article,” Marty considered it for a moment. “On the other hand, maybe not.”

Tess laughed. “I’m sure he’ll be honored. At least that’s what I’ve been telling people.”

Marty nodded in approval. “Good.”

The phone rang again and Tess answered. “Michael Evans’s office….. He’s not in at the moment… I’ll pass it on…. Oh…uh, I think you might have the wrong Michael Evans… No, not as far as I’m aware of…. OK, thank you for calling.” She disconnected from the call and frowned.

“Something wrong?” Marty asked.

“A case of mistaken identity, I think. It was from the office of Simon Miller. They were calling to congratulate Michael on his marriage.”

“What?” Marty half-laughed, half-gasped. Simon Miller was an important contact in Vegas. Nothing happened there that he didn’t know about. In the thirty years Marty had known Simon, he’d never know him to be mistaken about anything.

“It’s obviously a mistake,” Tess muttered, but she didn’t sound convinced. Marty saw something in her expression that told him she knew something.

“Where’s Michael?” he asked.

“He asked me not to say,” Tess told him firmly.

“Is he in Las Vegas?”

She didn’t answer, but she didn’t have to. Her silence told him that he was right.

“I know that you are loyal to Michael. But I report directly to Philip Evans and if he were here, he would insist that you tell me what you know. I can find out for myself, it will just take me longer. So why don’t you save me the time and tell me where Michael is. He’ll never have to know that you told me.”

Tess debated it internally for a full minute before deciding to spill. “Michael went to Las Vegas last night. He’s coming back this morning. He might be in for an hour, but then he has a personal appointment this afternoon.”

“Did he go to Vegas alone?”

“No, he went with a woman.”

Marty swore under his breath. “Please tell me that the woman wasn’t Carla Sanchez.”

“No, it was Deluca, Maria Deluca.”

“Deluca?” Marty breathed a sigh of relief and wracked his brains, trying to come up with a face for the name. “Do you know who she is?”

“No, I never heard her name before yesterday.”

“If you hear from Michael, tell him to call me at once,” Marty told her, calling his instructions over his shoulder as he hurried to the elevator. “I’ll be at the hospital.”

It was only after he’d gone that Tess remembered that she did know the name Maria Deluca. She’d heard Kyle talking about her.

***


Every part of Isabel hurt. It was no exaggeration.

Her headache was back with a vengeance and it had spread to every part of her body. She was in agony.

She knew that she should go to a doctor, but even the effort of arranging a driver to take her there was far more than she could handle right now.

There was really only one option left to her.

She knew, knew that taking the pills again was a slippery slope back to depending on them and on Carla. But she was so desperate and in so much pain.

Once she’d taken them and they had made her better, she would go and talk to Alex. He’d think of something, find a way to help her. She knew he would. Talking to him was already such a help.

He’d be so mad though.

She jiggled the pills in the palm of her hand.

Maybe he didn’t have to know. It was only two pills. Just to make her feel better. She could take them and talk to Alex. He could help her overcome this, make her stronger. Then when she was strong and she knew how to do this, then she could really give them up once and for all.

She tossed the pills down her throat and swallowed.

It didn’t take long. Within minutes, she could feel her pain receding. The light seemed less harsh. The room wasn’t closing in on her anymore.

Cold turkey was too much, too hard. She could do this in increments. One or two pills wouldn’t hurt. They would allow her to work and to function and she could wean herself off them slowly.

But it would mean she’d have to get more, and the only way to do that was to go through Carla.

Isabel hated, really hated, having to be dependant on Carla. She knew that Carla would exploit it to the fullest. It would be like making a deal with the devil.

But it was just for a little while.

***


“I can’t. I just can’t.” Diane shook her head and crossed her arms. Philip could almost imagine her stamping her foot petulantly.

But therein lay the problem. Diane couldn’t stamp her foot. She’d had her first physio appointment the day before. It had been painful for her and massively disheartening. She had managed to remain so positive and upbeat throughout her hospital stay but the appointment with her physiotherapist had done what a truck smashing into her had failed to do – it killed her fighting spirit.

“Diane, honey, please go. I know it’s hard-”

Diane cut him off angrily. “You know nothing about how I’m feeling right now. Don’t give me that bullshit.”

“Di, yesterday was hard. But it was your first day, it was always going to be hard. Things will get easier.”

The nurse in the room intervened before Diane could say anything further to her husband. “Mr. Evans, why don’t you let me get Diane ready… We’ll be out shortly.”

Trusting that the nurse was probably used to this and knew how to deal with Diane, Philip stepped out into the corridor. His phone had been buzzing madly in his pocket but he had ignored it while speaking to Diane. Now he fished it out and began to listen to his voice messages.

As he listened to the last one, Marty rounded the corner of the corridor. “Philip, did you get my messages?”

“I just got it now… Michael is married?” Philip asked incredulously.

Marty shrugged. “He definitely flew to Vegas last night with a woman named Maria Deluca. They stayed at the hotel he always stays at. And there was a marriage between a Michael Evans and a Maria Deluca. Somebody is going to fax a copy of the papers over to me. But my source is reliable.”

“Do you know who this Maria Deluca is?” Philip asked.

“No, I’m on it.”

Philip shook his head, unable to believe what he had been told. “He never said anything. When is he due back from Vegas?”

“Today. He has a personal appointment later so I’m not sure if he’ll be in the office.”

“He’ll be here at some stage, he visits Diane every day. I’ll talk to him then. In the meantime, find out what you can about Maria Deluca.”

“Who is Maria Deluca?" Diane asked from behind them. Philip jumped and whirled around to face his wife. The nurse had evidentially coaxed her into going for her physiotherapy. He made the split second decision not to say anything to Diane until he knew for certain what was going on.

“Business contact,” he said flippantly. He moved behind her chair and spoke to the nurse. “I’ll take her if you like.”

The nurse hung back a little as Philip rolled Diane towards the lift and grabbed Marty’s sleeve. “Why are you interested in Maria Deluca?”

Marty gaped at her. “Do you know who she is?”

“She works here. In the NICU.”

“The what?”

“Neo-natal intensive care unit,” she elaborated before hurrying after her patient, leaving a confused Marty behind.

***


The plane touched down in LAX with a bump and Maria released a sigh of relief, glad the flight was over. She’d almost have preferred to take the bus than fly in another toy aeroplane ever again.

She grabbed her stuff, not that she had much, and followed the other passengers off the plane. She ended up walking behind a young couple who, judging by the way they were fondling each other, appeared to have had a far more successful outcome to their elopement to Vegas than she and Michael.

Maria scowled at them and at the world in general, still furious as hell at Michael Evans.

They stepped onto the moving walkways and the bride leaned her head on her new husband’s shoulder. “I’m thirsty, can I have some of your water?”

The husband pulled a half empty bottle of water from his carry-on and passed it to her. “You know, we’re in California, so as my wife you now own half of my bottle of water.”

The bride giggled and leaned in to make a lewd remark about owning half of his body.

Maria didn’t notice however, she was too busy realizing something huge. As Michael Evans’ wife, was she now a millionaire?

***
Last edited by nibbles2 on Thu May 05, 2011 3:31 pm, edited 2 times in total.


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