kay_b I think right now it’s wishful thinking and you’ll see why in this part.
chanks_girl The calm before the hurricane is definitely a good way of putting it.
Eva Yes indeed, batten down the hatches.
nitpick23 I think Philip would see along the same lines as you, if Max is taking responsibility for his debts and committed to honouring them, Philip would see that as a positive thing and be supportive. Philip would be much happier if Max spent his life as a janitor than the way he had been.
Alien_friend They had an agreement worked out in relation to how much money Michael would give towards Maddie’s upbringing. I don’t know if that would hold up in a court of law though.
xmag I agree, Isabel needs help but that’s not something she has really admitted to herself yet. Until she can do that, all the treatment in the world can’t help her. I know that doesn’t make sense given that she’s gone to Alex and is getting treatment from him, but she’s only looking for a band aid and not the real treatment she needs.
scorpio6 Better late than never for Max.
Rowedog Bomb drop in this part. Does that save me from the wet trout?
Natalie36 I’ll see what I can do.
RhondaAnn Well, she hasn’t got his money yet.
destinyc Sorry, no vote on where Max goes. It’s already decided.
Killjoy That line was totally for you.
spacegirl23 Well I think the Evans will react with shock at first. After that? Probably more shock.
tequathisy Michael and Maria’s marriage will have far reaching consequences for everyone. And the rent issue is just one reason why Max won’t be moving in with Liz any time soon.
uw51 All addicts are essentially selfish.
Empress_Luci Would Liz and Alex want to take Michael’s money though? Is it hard to type like that?
Zoi welcome back.
vilandragirl It would be great. A little convenient though.
Emz80m spiteful? No. Violent? More likely.
April You don’t know how many times I’ve wanted to enter your fics through my computer and shake your characters so I’m enjoying the role reversal.
Tamashii Thank you, I’m glad you’ve enjoyed seeing Max’s growth.
roswell3053 Calm down? She hasn’t even started yet.
Maiqu It’s going to be very interesting (I hope.)
And of course Michelle in Yonkers who makes these chapters readable.
Liz stifled a yawn as she poured her cereal. It had been after four when she got home that morning and she’d had a mere three hours sleep. Her body was screaming for bed and she had to fight the urge to put her head down on the table and sleep.
Across from her, Alex was stirring his coffee listlessly and looked like he too had little or no sleep the night before.
They yawned simultaneously then looked up and shared a smile.
“Tired?” Liz asked, more to kick-start her brain than an actual conversation.
Alex nodded. “I was tossing and turning all night. This thing with the center and Michael Evans... I’m going to lose, Liz. I think I’ve already lost and I’m just the last to know. My money’s gone. I’m only a few months away from them foreclosing on my apartment… I don’t know what else I can do.”
“I didn’t realize how bad it was,” Liz said guiltily. She had been so wrapped up in her own dramas that Alex’s took a back seat. She was sure that Maria didn’t know either or she would have informed her.
“Yeah,” Alex sighed in defeat.
“Alex, I know that you don’t want to talk about this but… don’t you think that it’s time to talk to your parents?”
“They’re not my parents,” Alex corrected her angrily.
Liz slammed her spoon down on the table forcefully, her tiredness making her more irritable than usual. “They are as much your parents as Grandma Claudia is mine. They raised you and loved you your entire life. And they made a mistake. Grandma Claudia made a mistake too. Everybody makes mistakes. Don’t hate them because they loved you and wanted to protect you Alex.”
Alex stared at Liz in surprise at her uncharacteristic outburst. “They lied about everything, on purpose. They kept major secrets from me that I had a right to know. If I hadn’t accidentally discovered that information about my mother I would never even have known they had a daughter. That wasn’t a mistake, it was something they did deliberately. They deliberately pretended that my mother didn’t exist. I can’t just forgive them for that because I need money.”
“At least talk to them, and find out why they lied to you about her and get some answers.”
“Liz, please just drop it. I’m not going to talk to them. I’m not going to ask them for money. I’m too angry right now and I have too many other things to worry about. Maybe in the future, when things are different, I’ll talk to them. But not right now. So just drop it, ok?”
“Ok. I’m sorry. I just hate seeing you like this,” Liz explained.
“I know,” Alex said with a small smile. “I hate seeing you like this, too.”
“It’ll pass-” The rest of Liz’s comment was cut off when the door of the apartment was flung open so hard, it bounced off the wall.
Maria stormed down the hallway and crashed into the kitchen. She was practically breathing fire. She stood in the doorway, rigid with anger. Liz frantically searched her brain to remember if she had done anything that would have upset her best friend but came up blank. She met Alex’s perplexed and worried gaze. He shrugged.
“What’s wrong?” Liz asked. “Is it Maddie? Did something happen?”
“You will never believe…” Maria shook her head in disgust and thrust a rolled up magazine into Liz’s hands.
Liz unfurled into and scanned the page. Her eyes lit on the photograph of Michael and she read the article with growing shock. Alex peered over her shoulder.
“Ok, why has that got you so worked up?” Alex asked, not understanding why Maria should be so angry about Michael Evans being named an eligible bachelor. “He might be an asshole, but Michael Evans is rich and single.”
“Michael Evans?” Liz echoed. She read the small blurb by Michael’s photo and realized just why Maria was so pissed off. “Alex, this is Michael Guerin,” she explained.
Alex’s brow furrowed in confusion. “What?”
“Michael Evans was pretending to be Michael Guerin the whole time,” Maria spat furiously.
“Oh my God,” Liz muttered, still in shock. She read the article again, hoping it would provide some answers. “Why? Why would he pretend to be somebody else?”
“Was he just pretending to help you to get to me?” Alex asked.
At Alex’s question, Maria’s anger disappeared and she dropped into a chair, tears streaming from her eyes. She began to talk, but it was unintelligible through her sobs.
Liz sat down on the chair opposite her and rubbed Maria’s arms. “Maria, sweetie, you’ve got to calm down. Please, take a deep breath.” Maria complied and calmed down a little but she was still crying and unable to explain why. Liz took Maria’s hands into her own. “What happened?”
Maria was holding a piece of paper which she pressed into Liz’s hand. “I married him.”
Liz and Alex froze in disbelief. “What?”
Liz unfolded the piece of paper and realized it was a marriage certificate, signed by Maria and Michael Evans. She handed it to Alex who dropped heavily into a chair, trying to make sense of what he was reading.
“What?... How? … Why…?” Alex stuttered.
Maria sniffed the last of her tears and took a deep steadying breath. “He said that the judge would only give us custody of Maddie if we were married. So I went to Las Vegas with him last night and we got married. And then… uh… this morning I found that article. So I went through his wallet and stuff and… he’s really Michael Evans.”
“You didn’t find out until this morning? But Maria, he signed his name Michael Evans here,” Alex pointed out, shoving the marriage certificate in her direction.
“I know… I don’t know why I didn’t notice it. Everything happened so fast, one minute I was at work and then I was in Vegas getting married.” Maria buried her face in her hands. “God, I can’t believe how stupid I was. I called you guys when I knew you wouldn’t answer your phones so you wouldn’t talk me out of it. I knew it was a stupid thing to do and I did it anyway.”
Liz took Maria’s hands. “You’re not stupid Maria, you wanted to help Maddie and he totally exploited that and abused your trust. He’s a bastard!”
“Tell me you broke his nose,” Alex sighed wearily.
Maria shook her head. “I’m so sorry, Alex. You know I would never have had anything to do with him if I knew who he really was.”
“I know that, Maria. I’m not angry at you. I’m angry at him.”
“Oh,” Maria’s eyes widened as she remembered something. She reached for the magazine and flicked through the pages until she found the photograph she was looking for. “Recognize this girl?”
Alex took the magazine and examined the picture Maria had shown him. The stunning glamorous woman in the photograph was worlds away from the pale and drawn Izzie he knew, but he recognized her all the same. “She’s his sister.”
“What?” Liz gasped. “He sent his sister to the center?”
Liz swallowed and forced herself to ask the question. “And Max?”
“I asked, Liz, but I didn’t really give him a chance to answer and he was denying everything at the time anyway.”
Alex placed his hand on her arm sympathetically. “He turns up where Maria works, his sister shows up where I work and his brother befriends you at your work. It just seems too coincidental to be a coincidence.”
Liz blinked back her tears. “But why? Why would they do this to us? What have we ever done to them?”
“I don’t know,” Alex said with a shake of his head. He looked at Maria. “What about Maddie?”
“Who knows? I was so mad and shocked that I just stormed out of the hotel and I never even thought to find out if he was really going to help her or if he was just using her. There’s supposed to be a hearing soon but I don’t even know where it is.”
“This has to be the most fucked up thing,” Alex spat. He stood up and stalked into the living room, needing some space to calm down.
Liz watched him go with a worried gaze, then turned to Maria. “Did something else happen between you and Michael?”
“I slept with him,” Maria admitted dully.
“Oh.” Liz didn’t know what else to say. She knew Maria and knew that Maria wouldn’t have just hopped into bed with any guy. She had to have had feelings for Michael. Which would have made his betrayal even harder to take. She pushed thoughts of Max out of her head. She couldn’t even go there right now.
Alex suddenly popped back into the kitchen. “There’s a woman outside about to knock on the door. She looks like a lawyer.”
Sure enough, there came a knock on the door. Maria groaned. “I don’t want to see anyone right now.”
“I’ll get it,” Liz offered. Anything to keep her mind off of Max.
She hurried to the door and opened it to find a tall, attractive, expensively dressed woman in her thirties on the other side. “Hello.”
The woman smiled. “Hello, I’d like to speak to Maria, please.”
“Maria’s not here.”
“Yes she is,” the visitor said in a calm voice, free from reproach. “I want to talk to her about Maddie.”
“Uh… I, um…”
“Who are you?” Maria asked from the kitchen doorway.
“My name is Christine Chung. I work for Michael Evans.”
Maria came down the hallway and stood beside Liz but made no attempt to let the woman inside. Christine wasn’t ruffled. “I’m not interested in anything you have to say.”
“I think you are Maria. I don’t know what exactly happened between you and Michael, though I can guess,” Christine’s eyes flickered to Alex who was standing behind the girls. “All I know is that you are angry at Michael and I’m told you have every right to be. However, Michael asked me to tell you that his offer still stands and if you want to get custody of Maddie that you should come to the hearing. I have a car outside, if you want to come then you have twenty minutes to get ready.”
Before Maria could give a response, Christine nodded and walked away.