AFTER HOURS - (All, Mature) [COMPLETE]

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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Believer2
Addicted Roswellian
Posts: 124
Joined: Wed Dec 08, 2004 5:20 pm
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Post by Believer2 » Sun May 13, 2007 8:28 pm

Max smiled politely as he watched his uncle, the man he thought had been his father, happily kiss his new bride, Max’s aunt Diane. The small wedding was taking place at Philip’s condo with a justice of the peace and a few intimate friends. Max could tell the groom and the bride were gloriously happy and the whole thing felt like a soap opera, but he was happy for the two of them. The relationship between the three of them was strained at best, but they were all at least trying.

After staying for the toast and cake, Max made his excuses to leave and headed home. The clear summer night sky had been beautiful – it was the type of night that should have been shared with someone. Max sighed and wondered if he had made the right decision. After he had joined AA and broke up with his girlfriend, Max had a moment of clarity. He had been fooling himself all this time, thinking he had moved on, but he hadn’t. Not really. He was still in love with her, Lily.

He could try to deny it, try to talk himself out of it, but when it came right down to it, there was no avoiding the truth that he had not given her up. In his heart, he still clung to her. He had dated the ‘perfect’ girlfriends thinking that’s what he needed to do, but none of them compared to her. She was even a part of the reason he drank – so he could forget her, forget how he felt about her. But nothing could remove her from his heart.

Would he ever find her? Max threaded his fingers through his hair. Last week, he had finally confessed to Michael who Lily was and why he was looking for her. He chuckled a bit at how startled the other man had been, but it felt good to finally tell someone. Michael had just stared with open jaw.

“You mean, you haven’t even seen her or anything?”

The two were sitting in Parker’s Place, finishing up their strawberry rhubarb pie.

“No. I don’t even really know her name. I call her Lily but to be honest, she was stuttering so bad, I could only guess.”

“Whoa, whoa, whoa. Start over.”

“I was working as a night security guard for Solaris Elevator Systems in the dispatch department – I was putting myself through law school. I had the graveyard shift – midnight til 6AM. I wasn’t a dispatcher and normally there were one or two guys there to take the emergency calls. I just guarded the building. One night, it was storming pretty badly and the power went down. A call came in from the elevator banks in the Sears Tower and the dispatcher was actually on the other phone line, helping someone else. He motioned for me to take the call, so I did. A voice came over the intercom…”

Max trailed off as he thought back to that night. The voice that had called to him was filled with fear and panic. He tried to calm her down so that he could hang up and call for help, but she had started to hyperventilate. He stayed on the line with her, persistently asking questions and forcing her to concentrate on responding to him. While she worked on some of her answers, he was able to put her on hold and had the dispatcher call a technician.

“So how did you get Lily as her name if she was stuttering so bad?” Michael asked.

“I asked her for her name and all I could make out was ‘Li-Li’. So I told her that I would call her Lily. I asked her what she did for a living and she told me she did research. She was having a hard time talking and trying to breath, so I told her that she could just sit and try to concentrate on breathing. I wanted to distract her, let her know I was still there, so I told her the first thing I could think about. My mother.”

Michael sat, waiting.

“I’ve never told anyone about my mother and what it was like growing up with that woman. But suddenly I was telling her everything.”

Max swallowed his coffee, remembering that conversation. While Lily hadn’t talked a lot, she did say something that Max had held on to in his heart. In a quiet, whispering voice, Lily had suggested to him, ”Perhaps her own pain imprisoned her love for you. She didn’t know how to break free for you, but she probably wanted to. I imagine that you’re an easy person to love.”

The quiet words had given him hope that his mother had some love for him and after he found out the truth, it gave him comfort to know she had been right. His mother had been locked away in her own pain.

“So, how long were on the line with her?”

Max returned his focus on his friend, “Probably about an hour and a half. The technician had to go to the building and switch over the electric to the backup generator. He then had to manually crank the elevator so that the security guard could open the doors.”

Michael suddenly rushed forward, “Wait, someone was there, opening the doors?”

“Yeah. It was the only way to…” Max suddenly realized what Michael was trying to get at.

“Maxwell! Snap out of it – what was the name of the security guard?”

“Shit! I don’t know.”

“Damn, Sam Anders, the guard that retired, said that he didn’t work the night of the storm. Maybe I could find out from the company employment records. Damn, why didn’t you tell me this before?”

Max had the grace to blush and admitted to his friend that he had been embarrassed. He hadn’t wanted to admit to anyone that he had fallen in love with a voice. Michael calmed down and he asked, “So you really fell in love with her voice? Not knowing that much about her?”

“I know it sounds bizarre. But she had this voice, the kind of voice that made me feel like I could tell her anything without fearing judgment – that she would understand and everything would be ok.”

“She could be this really old hag and nasty.”

“Yeah, but I don’t think so.” Max looked confidently back at Michael.

“Something else happened, didn’t it?”

Max grinned slightly as he remembered Lily’s voice on the other end of the line thanking him for talking to her, admitting that he had made the darkness seem less threatening and asking him to continue talking. Her voice was so comforting and it seemed to soothe old wounds. So he had made a confession to her, something he had never told another soul – in one of her drunken moods, his mother had tried to beat him to death. Her response had nearly driven him to his knees and brought tears to his eyes. The shame and hurt he had felt all those years, thinking his mother hated him so much she wanted to kill him, melted at her words of praise for being strong enough to survive. That’s when she had won his heart.

“You’re not going to tell me, are you Maximus?”

Max shook his head. Michael had shrugged it off and continued to talk about how he could track down the security guard that had helped Lily out of the elevator. Max left the situation in Michael’s hands, knowing his friend wouldn’t let it go until there was either an answer or an absolute dead end. He felt confident that his friend would track Lily down and he was ok with waiting.

While he waited for her, Max had decided to stop dating other women. To date other women had no purpose other than distraction. He had nothing to offer the women, since he felt in his heart that Lily was woman for him. And to use another woman as a means to keep him entertained while he waited wasn’t something he ever wanted to have to admit. So, he gave up dating. And sex – for the most part. The no sex part was the hardest part – he was a healthy, good-looking guy who had his fair share of women approaching him. To turn down blatant sexual invitations down was incredibly hard and was leaving him extremely frustrated – who could blame him if he broke down once in awhile? He just made sure to only accept those women who knew that he didn’t want anything further than a one night affair.

Max was brought out of his thoughts when his phone rang and he saw it was Brody. Never unwilling to turn down his biggest client and good friend, no matter it was past midnight, Max answered. He was surprised to learn that Brody was on his way to Scotland and wanted a contract drawn up for an archivist who would be going through his family vault. Max was happy to distract himself from his thoughts of Lily and rushed to get Brody his contract.

The day Max dropped off the contract at Brody’s office, he received a call on his cell phone from Michael. Michael told him that he would be flying to Arizona to look into a case and wouldn’t be able to make their weekly basketball games.

“Arizona? What’s in Arizona?” Max asked as he struggled through the crowd of people getting in and out of the elevators. As Michael explained his case, Max pushed his way outside of the building, barely pausing as a young woman dropped her phone, and got into a cab. Michael’s case interested Max and suddenly the thought of a vacation and getting away from things sounded really good. He asked Michael if he would mind some help on the case and was glad to hear his friend enthusiastically accept.

~*~

There was something about Lilyze Parker’s case that bugged him. He didn’t know, couldn’t put his finger on why, but he knew that there was something about the Parker case that he was missing. Michael sighed as he sat back in his seat on the plane and tried to think about the case, but he couldn’t. Not with Maria DeLuca’s voice ringing in his ears. To say she had been pissed that he was going to be gone, working on another case, was an understatement. Right after he had said he was going to Tucson, Arizona, she had ripped into him and left him very aware that for as small as she was, she was scary.

Michael actually grinned as he thought about how fiery the blonde got, using wild arm gestures and pacing as she told him her opinion of his work ethic. When he got her to calm down long enough to sit and listen to his explanation – he could sense her vibrations all the way all the way across the room and he was glad there was a desk between them.

She had come to his office at his request so he could explain that he would be taking a week or two to go to Arizona. He could tell from the look on her face when she walked in that she thought he had some news for her, good news, and he really hated to disappoint her. Her hope had immediately swung into an outpouring of anger, but then freezing disapproval as she crossed her arms across her chest, challenging him to explain. He faltered badly at first, he really hated disappointing her, but he told her it was for a case, unable to give her details about the case. She hadn’t been placated, but she did grudgingly give him credit for actually going on a case instead of just taking off on vacation. He had promised that when he got back that he would give her case his undivided attention, promising to call in as soon as he got home. When she still didn’t say anything, he began to sweat and promised to take her case along to work on it whenever he had free time. She nodded tersely and had gotten up to leave.

Michael still couldn’t believe what had happened next. As she turned to leave, he had sworn at himself when he saw the welling of tears – he hated seeing women cry because it always made him feel helpless. He reached out to reassure her he was still working on her case and for some reason, the works stuck in his throat and he could only stare at her luminous green eyes and full pouty mouth. For the life of him, he couldn’t figure out why, but he had reached down and kissed her. Hard.

When he pulled away, he saw her eyes were wide and his breathing was labored. Silence stretched between them, but then, he couldn’t remember how, they were back to kissing. She was a full participant and had tugged at his hair, urging him closer while he dug his hands into her hips, grinding them together. Minutes, hours, he didn’t know, flew by with the air around them growing hotter and heavier. He had wanted to continue yet in the back of his mind knew they shouldn’t. He was working up the nerve to pull away when Maria pulled away first.

Her breathing was just as labored as his and she was staring at him with shock. Suddenly, she reached out and slapped him. Hard. And then she ran. Michael was left stunned, hurt, and frustrated. The sudden intense desire he had had for the short blonde took him by surprise. He thought he had experienced it all, but it was different with her. More intense, hotter.

Michael squirmed in his seat and was thinking about how Maria’s lips had looked so swollen after their kiss when Max’s voice broke through his thoughts.

“Uh, Michael, I think you need a blanket. Now.”

Startled, Michael was about to ask why when Max threw his pillow into his lap and he became aware of how Maria still affected him. Turning bright red, Michael rang for the attendant and asked for a blanket. Out of the corner of his eye, Michael saw Max laugh and he defensively explained,

“It’s that damn Maria chick. She kissed me and then left before it got good.”

Max laughed even harder and Michael reluctantly explained what happened.

“Sounds like you might have a thing for her.”

“No way! Not possible! It’s just…its been awhile.”

“Huh.” Max grinned disbelievingly and went back to his legal documents, leaving Michael steaming at the thought that he could, possibly, just a little bit, have a thing for Maria DeLuca. He shuddered at the thought, half in disgust and horror and the other half…he didn’t want to think about it.

After grabbing their luggage, Michael and Max rented a car. The plan was to drive to the area that Jeff Parker thought was the crash area. Looking at the map, it looked like the best guess was the small cities between Tucson and the New Mexico border on Interstate 10. The highway was littered with a few tourist traps and but not much else to distract from the stretches of desert.

Three days later, outside of Benson, AZ the car stereo was blaring Metallica and Michael kept trying to figure out what was bugging him. They had spent three days looking at accident reports in 1988 in three different small towns and they had gotten nowhere. He slammed the steering wheel in frustration.

“Damn it!”

“Michael, stay on the road!”

Michael steered the car back into their lane and apologized.

“What’s bugging you?”

“There’s something about this case that keeps bugging me. I don’t know what it is, but damn it, I know it’s important!”

Michael pinched his nose and adjusted his sunglasses, “There’s a missing part of the puzzle, and I feel like I know what it is, that it’s staring me straight in the face, but I don’t know what it is.”

“Ok, let’s look at it logically. Why don’t we make a list of all the things you know and remember about the case.”

For the rest of the drive towards Dragoon, Michael talked out loud and listed what he knew about the case while Max wrote it down. They were still at it when they arrived at the hotel for the night. Michael spread out the notes on his bed and reached for another slice of pizza they had ordered. While he chewed on the gut wrenching combo of bacon, mushroom, jalapenos and Tabasco, Max looked at him in disgust and ate his own supreme pizza.

“Michael, look at the facts. 1. The accident happened fall of 1988, so that narrows it down to September, October and November – right before Thanksgiving. 2. You know Jeff Parker took her to a hospital. 3. You know the car went over the side of a road into a lake or river and it wasn’t recovered in the eight months that Jeff lived in Tucson afterwards. You’re most logical steps is to look at accident reports since the hospital records won’t do you any good.”

Michael threw down his uneaten crust, “I know you’re right. It’s just, I’ve got this nagging feeling I’m overlooking something.”

“Give it a rest for tonight and in the morning we’ll head to the library.” Max packed away his own case files and pulled on his MP3 player to read, but Michael kept gnawing on his pizza and staring at the notes. Finally, after getting nowhere, Michael threw in the towel and was cleaning up his mess when he spilled the contents of his backpack on to the floor. He was gathering up his notes from Maria’s case when a newspaper clipping grabbed his attention.

A light bulb suddenly went off in Michael’s head. He pulled out Maria’s case file and the clippings from the other investigators. He scanned threw them, heart racing as the missing puzzle pieces finally came together.

“YES!!!” Michael shouted as he jumped up and grabbed the notes from the Parker case. “I KNEW IT!!!! YES! I AM THE MAN!!!!” Michael jumped on Max’s bed, shoving crumpled notes into his face. “Max! This is it, this is what I was looking for! It fits!”

Max pulled off his earphones, “Calm down, what the hell are you talking about?”

“The Parker case. You know how it’s been bugging me?”

“Yeah.”

“I kept thinking that I was missing something and then I saw it – Maria’s case.”

“Maria’s case? Isn’t she looking for her missing sister?”

“Yes! Exactly!”

“Exactly what? You’re not making any sense.”

“Listen Maxwell, Maria’s sister Liz went missing from their school on August 27th, 1988. She and her aunt figured that her mother, Nancy came and got her. Nancy disappeared and the case went cold. Two years later, a car was discovered in an old river bed that had been flooded in ’88, outside of Vail, AZ. The body was identified as Nancy Parker but the body of Liz Parkingson was never found.”

Max turned over the facts in his mind. “So, the body in the river, was Nancy Parkingson and her daughter Liz was never found. Jeff Parker must have seen the crash in ‘88 and rushed in after the car. He found little Liz, brought her out and took her to the nearest hospital.”

“Yes! Jeff Parker found Liz Parkingson! He only stayed in the area for a year, so he wasn’t around when Nancy was found and identified! It all fits!!!”

“Oh god. Michael, I think you’re right.”

“I know I’m right! Lilyze Parker is Liz Parkingson!”

Max sat stunned as Michael rushed around the room, gathering up his notes and trying to pack. “Move it Max, we’ve got to get back to Chicago!”
I'm a believer!

Believer2
Addicted Roswellian
Posts: 124
Joined: Wed Dec 08, 2004 5:20 pm
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Post by Believer2 » Sun May 13, 2007 8:29 pm

Maria was startled out of her deep sleep by the ringing of her cell phone. She cursed the bright morning light and groaned at the realization she had only four hours of sleep. She grabbed her phone and growled “This better be damn important!”

Silence greeted her threat and she was pissed to find that she had missed the call. She checked her phone to learn that it was Michael Guerin that had called. She threw the phone on her dresser like it burned her. She knew he was in Arizona and wasn’t really working on her case, so he must have been calling about their kiss. Damn kiss. Ever since their kiss, Maria didn’t know what to think about that guy. She had kind of thought it was cute that he had called her the next to day to apologize and had stuttered badly.

She hadn’t been at her best – she had snapped at the poor guy. In her defense, it had sounded like he was sorry that he kissed her, that he regretted the entire thing. Sure, she was just as sorry it happened too, but he made it sound like it was the worst thing that could have happened to him. Kissing her, Maria DeLuca, was a privilege damn it!

It didn’t help that the kiss had been the hottest, gut burning kiss she had ever had. Not even Billy had stirred that kind of emotion in her. Maria was honest with herself and admitted that she wanted to explore those feelings, see how hot things could get, but she also admitted that she was scared. Michael Guerin was unlike any other guy she had ever been with. He was arrogant, and crass, and unsophisticated. His taste in music alone was offensive. But he did have those deep eyes, and those cute freckles, and that mouth…that mouth knew how to kiss.

Damn him!

Maria pulled the covers back over her head and tried to forget about Michael Guerin’s mouth.

~*~

For the first time in her life, Isabel was unsure about how to deal with a man. After the Gaming Olympics, she had stopped by Alex’s office to surprise him with a celebratory lunch and follow up meeting. Secretly, she hoped to get Alex to finally ask her out and maybe find out how he felt about her. To her surprise, Alex was just leaving the building with the girl from the band, Crashdown. Isabel had stood off to the side of the doors and watched as Alex and the dark goth-looking girl laughed at something.

She saw the girl get a teasing, flirty look on her face and she placed her hand on his bicep in coquettish manner which infuriated Isabel. But what made it worse was that Alex was flirting right back. Isabel saw him place his hand at the girls lower back, escorting her as they walked. He leaned his head closer to hers as they talked, but it was when the other girl turned her head towards his that Isabel’s heart stopped.

She watched in dawning horror as everything around her slowed down in slow motion. The girl slowly smiled and her lips reached towards Alex’s. She couldn’t watch it- just couldn’t bear to see her Alex kiss another woman, so she did the only logical thing a woman in love did – she ran. She ran into the nearest Starbucks and tried to calm herself. Unconsciously, she grabbed a few napkins from the dispenser and started cleaning off her table. As the visions of Alex and that…morbid vamp kissing, Isabel scrubbed even harder.

Before she knew what she doing, Isabel started picking up spread out newspapers, straitening the chairs, tables and the shelves of merchandise – all the while thinking of Alex and that other girl. Once in awhile she’d stop and turn to face the hapless employee who was trying to stop her from cleaning and ask, “What does he see in her?” or “Why didn’t I say anything?” The hapless employee gave up trying to talk to her when she went on cleaning without hearing anything she said. The store manager came out and after getting the same response, shrugged and gave her dust rag.

Three hours later with store scrubbed from corner to corner, Isabel was pushed out Starbucks with a basket full of coffee and pastries. Dejected, Isabel walked aimlessly until she realized she was near Parker’s Place. Knowing how much he loved that place, Isabel walked towards the diner hoping he’d show up. The small diner was not overly crowded, but busy enough to distract her. She made her way to the dining counter and ran into Alex’s assistant.

“Hannah!” Isabel forced out her bright model smile. “Hi. Are you picking up lunch for Alex?”

The older woman looked surprised to see her there, “Actually no. I’m picking up my own lunch.”

“Oh. Well, um, you know, I was thinking of taking Alex to lunch this week. As a follow up. To the Gaming Olympics. You know, to make sure he was satisfied with everything and go over…stuff.”

Hannah just looked back at her, not saying anything.

“Is he going to be free this week?”

The woman looked back with an assessing look and told her, “No. This week he’s working from home and this Sunday he’s off to Scotland for a vacation. With Ms. Parker.”

Isabel could feel the blood drain from her face as she took in the words from the other woman. Her Alex was going on vacation with another woman. Isabel didn’t know how she got home, but when she did, she stared at the phone and wondered if she should call him.

~*~

Kyle knew what was at stake. He knew this was his one, big chance. If he blew it tonight, he wasn’t sure if he’d ever get another change with Ava. The last two months had been the longest two months of his life. He never knew waiting could be so tortuous. He went through an emotional rollercoaster of highs and lows – hoping he didn’t have HIV, believing he did. His father had even expressed concern over Kyle’s abrupt mood swings and heavy tension, but Kyle refused to worry his father. His father was getting ready to re-marry and he didn’t need to be distracted by his son’s problem. He’d only tell him after he found out the truth.

The only person he could talk to was Maria, his soon to be cousin. She had been his lifeline and had been at turns sympathetic and blunt, knocking sense back into him. When the results finally came back negative, Kyle had been so relieved, he got down on his knees and thanked Buddha and God, counting his blessing twice. He then called Maria to share the good news. His second call was to Ava. He knew he would have to apologize and even grovel a bit to get her to listen to him. He rubbed the belly of his Buddha before calling her, hoping she was no longer seeing Maria’s friend.

Again he thanked his lucky Buddha that Ava was open to listening to him and even seemed willing to meet him for dinner. He would have to tell her the whole truth – he couldn’t’ risk losing his good karma by lying. He prepared his speech over and over again, trying to figure out the right words. The night of his date, he still hadn’t come up with the right words, but he did have an idea. He hoped that while the words may not impress her, his actions might. He stopped to buy her flowers, and as he thought about what kind to buy her, he knew right away what would fit her the best.

~*~

Alex looked around Edinburgh airport and looked around for Lyze. He had really needed to get out of the office and away from Vivian. The woman was one of the sexiest, smartest, most talented gamer he had ever met, but the woman was too much for him to handle – she was way too competitive. It seemed like every conversation they had, she had to one up him. He had gone out with Vivian as a reflex, trying to run from Isabel, and for the first date, it seemed ok. But by the end of the second date, he knew he didn’t like her in that way.

She didn’t make his heart race or his pulse skip a beat. And he really tried. But she wasn’t Isabel. He had asked Vivian out for lunch a couple of days ago so that he could personally tell her that he wasn’t interested. He expected a reaction, just not the one that she gave him. She had listened to everything he had to say and then she declared that she wasn’t afraid of a challenge – she wasn’t going to give up. Alex didn’t know how to react and was actually a bit flattered that she was so interested in him. He gently insisted that she didn’t need to pursue it and finally confessed that he was already in love with someone else.

His confession convinced her that he was sincere and with great aplomb, she let it go. Alex felt terrible that he had to hurt her, but at the same time, he was extremely relieved that he finally confessed, out loud, that he was in love with Isabel Avens. Having to face his feelings, Alex didn’t know what to do next, so escaping to Scotland seemed like a blessing. He was going to spend the next week exploring the UK with Lyze and then, maybe then, he could finally make a decision about what do about Isabel.

~*~

Ava realized she was in big trouble and Kyle Valenti was responsible. Part of her screamed at her disloyalty to Ed’s memory, but she part of her acknowledged that Ed had been her substitute for parental love. She loved him, needed him, but as an immature child looking for guidance and approval. This feeling she had for Kyle, was far deeper, stronger. Being with Kyle felt right to her.

She had told herself before their date that she wouldn’t let him sweet talk her into anything or get out of talking to her. That she would stay neutral and listen to everything he had to say before making any kind of decision. But then he showed up with tiger lilies. He told her they reminded him of her – bright and bold, yet delicately feminine. Who wouldn’t have softened just a little at a man who thought about what kind flowers fit her best? And if she softened just a little bit more when he took her to her favorite restaurant, Nacional 27, she was only human.

Then he told her about his health scare, the reason behind his abrupt change in behavior the night of his BBQ. She was really glad that he respected her enough to tell her the truth, and she couldn’t help her first initial doubt about being with him. But when he boldly told her about his feelings for her and his intention of “courting” her, she gave up any pretense of being indifferent and was thoroughly charmed. She knew that the initial attraction that she had felt for him would grow. And she was in trouble.

~*~

Lilyze clutched the arms of her plane chair and subconsciously chewed her lower lip as she thought about what she was going home to. Her life was about to be toppled all over again and it happened within days. She had arrived in Scotland and fell in love with the beautiful scenery and peace. At Brody Davis’s home, she lost herself in the vast amount of treasures she found. She spent two solid weeks taking pictures and notes of every single piece so she could do in-depth research when she got home. Alex came to visit and they planned on spending at least two weeks touring the UK. But while they were Glasgow, Lilyze’s cell phone woke her up in the middle of the night, making her heart jerk, thinking something had happened to her father.

While she was immersed in work, Lilyze didn’t have to think about her father or her mixed up feelings. But when she wasn’t working, she did come to terms with three things: 1) Her father, while keeping her was wrong, hadn’t done anything to wrong her. She woke up from an accident that he did not cause without her memory – the woman who had driven the car off the road, was at fault for her lack of memory. 2) Who she was before the accident, didn’t change who she was today. 3) She needed to know about her previous life and how she ended up in the river for her father to rescue. Even if Michael Guerin was unable to find anything, she would continue to pursue the answers, even flying down to Arizona herself.

The scientist in her as well as personal curiosity drove her to seek answers, no matter how long it would take. There were things and feelings that she could never explain, and maybe her former life would explain them. The biggest answer being why she always felt sad, as if missing something, in March. But there were other things like, why she only liked vanilla ice cream but felt she needed to get a taste of chocolate with it. Or why the smell of cedar oil made her smile. Or why she felt the need to carry a small pack of tissues. Or why the song ‘Girls Just Wanna Have Fun’ lifted her spirits whenever she needed.

So when her father called in the middle of the night to tell her that Michael Guerin found her former family, she was again thrown into an abyss of emotional turmoil. She was nervous about what he found, excited to learn the answers about her past, scared of the unknown, and worried about how it would affect her life.

~*~

Maria’s heart was racing so fast, she had to sniff her cedar oil to make sure she didn’t have a panic attack. She was grateful that Aunt Amy was driving, because she didn’t think she could have concentrated enough to drive. Yesterday, she finally worked up the nerve to call Michael back, without listening to his voicemail, and was ready to launch into her prepared speech about the kiss not meaning anything to her when he shut her up with three simple words: I found her.

Her heart stopped for beat and tears she never knew she had, streamed down her face. She didn’t hear anything else he said, she couldn’t. All she heard was – I found her.

It was his shouting that finally broke through to her and she demanded to know the details. He told her that he was on his way back to Chicago and she needed to meet him at his office. She hung up the phone without finding out what time and she called Aunt Amy. She didn’t care that it was in the middle of the night and Amy had to get up at 3 to go back. What mattered most was that Liz was found.

Aunt Amy reacted by bursting into hysterical tears and sobs, while Maria yelled into the phone and Jim tried to calm both women.

Now, here she was, parked in front of Michael Guerin’s office sharing her bottle of cedar oil with her Aunt Amy, trying to calm down.

~*~

Michael Guerin paced back and forth, nervously going over the facts before his clients showed up. He didn’t know if he was doing the right thing, but it didn’t seem fair that one found out before the other.

~*~

Lilyze held on to her father’s hand, a nervous habit she had, while her outward appearance looked serene. Over the phone, her father told her that he didn’t know what Michael had found – they were to meet him in his office to go over it. The entire trip back she sat next to Alex trying to rationalize and think through every possible scenario that she could think of.

The good friend that he was, Alex let her talk things out and nodded in appropriate places. And when she finally ran out of logic and she tearfully admitted she was terrified, he gave a comfortable shoulder to cry on. He let her hold his hand and hang on, while she let her tears fall. And when she wiped her tears away, Alex gave her the advice that they both knew she knew: Follow her heart.

Now here she was, standing in front of Michael Guerin’s office door, holding her father’s hand, trying to stay calm.

~*~

Damn it – where were those damn women!?! Here he stood with the most important information they need, wanted, and they were LATE! God, women! He wanted this over with!

Finally! Someone was here!

Michael stomped over to his door and there stood a serene looking Lilyze Parker and her father. He nervously showed them in and popped his head out, wondering where that crazy woman, Maria was. He spotted her on the passenger side of a car, sniffing a small bottle of something. Losing his patience, Michael stormed over to the parked car and pounded his fist on the window.

“Damn it – hurry up!” He barked as pulled open the door.

Maria stumbled out of the car as Michael grabbed her arm, “Don’t you dare yell at me!”

“Let go of my niece!” Amy shouted from the driver’s side of the car, trying to stop Michael but was blocked by her seatbelt.

“You’re taking forever!”

“Let go of me!” yelled Maria as she pulled her arm away. “Can’t you see I’m nervous?”

“What are you so nervous about? Isn’t this what you’ve been waiting for?”

“I’m preparing, damn it!”

“For what?”

“For whatever you have to tell me, you goon!”

Michael stopped to stare at the fuming woman before him and while she was hot as hell, he saw underneath her outrage: a trace of fear and nervousness.

Then, her lower lip trembled, just a quiver.

He didn’t stop to think; he just grabbed her by her upper arms and placed a fierce kiss on her lips, barely touching her tongue with his, before pulling away.

“That was to comfort you. Come on.”

Left speechless, Maria could only follow as he walked away.

Amy DeLuca stood stunned as she watched her niece follow the tall lanky guy docilely. Not sure if the world was still spinning on its axis, Amy followed.

As Michael walked back into his office, he briefly touched his lips, not sure why they still tingled. He put all thoughts of the kiss behind him as he saw Lilyze and her father standing patiently by his desk. Michael embarrassingly realized he only two chairs. He looked around and realized that the only place for all of them was his living room. He motioned for Lilyze and Jeff to move towards the other room and looked behind him to make sure Maria was still following him.

He smirked a bit as he saw her slight bemused look on her face. Good – it was better than the scared unsure look. He motioned for her to follow them and he waited for Amy to join them.

As Maria sat down in a leather armchair, she finally noticed the other people in the room and she jumped to her feet again. She was about to yell at Michael when she noticed the other woman who was about her age. She took in the dark brown hair that was neither straight nor curly. The large dark brown eyes and small stature instantly made Maria feel familiarly protective. She was simply dressed in a navy blue and white short sleeved wrap around dress and sandals.

Lilyze couldn’t help but stare at the young blonde woman who had followed Michael into the room. She was beautiful in a bold, sexy way with her sleek straight blonde hair and vivid green eyes. A stunning white cotton halter top and jean shorts paired with platform heels made her look older than Lilyze suspected she was. When she noticed the look of tears in the other girl’s eyes, she instinctively reached for her tissues, hesitating as she realized how familiar it all felt.

Michael stared at the two women staring at each other. He was about to say something when he felt a hand on his arm, stopping him. He looked down to see a crying Amy DeLuca holding a hand to her mouth as she stared at the small brunette. He waited.

Maria knew. She just knew. Like the first time they met, she knew. And she knew the other girl didn’t recognize her. It was there in her eyes. But there was also a familiarity, a sliver of recognition.

Lilyze stared. Her heart pounded in her chest. She knew this girl – she didn’t know how she knew, but she knew. When the other girl’s tears fell, Lilyze instinctively grabbed her hand. As the other girl leaned her head on her shoulder, the smell of cedar oil and sandalwood brought back a hidden memory. Another time, another setting, but the same. Her hand tightened around the other girl’s and a name floated in her mind and she whispered, “Maria.”
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Post by Believer2 » Sun May 13, 2007 8:32 pm

Seduction was on Isabel’s mind. She was going to seduce Alex Whitman into falling in love with her. She knew he had come home early from his vacation- he had responded to her work email, answering her inquiry as to when he’d be free for a follow up lunch. When she saw his email response, she had called him. He was home and he was recovering from jet lag but he’d be free the next day.

That fit Isabel’s plans just perfectly. She called him an hour before their lunch break and offered her sincere apologies. She was running late, and couldn’t make lunch, but asked if he’d be willing to do dinner? She’d even stop by his place with take out from Parker’s Place. He had hesitated, offering to reschedule, but she was insistent.

She dressed with care. She wore a bright red strapless sheath, knowing that it hugged every curve just right. She chose open toed strappy silver heels and dabbed on her favorite perfume between her breasts and stared at herself in the mirror. She left her hair down, long and curly around her face. Her eyes were bright and her cheeks were flushed with nervousness and excitement. Alex Whitman didn’t stand a chance.

~*~

He didn’t stand a chance. Isabel Avens was up to something and no way was he, Alex Whitman, going to stand a ghost of a chance against her. Not with that dress. Or that perfume. Or the way her hair was falling around her bare shoulders, teasing him. He could barely follow along the conversation that she was trying to have, more interested in staring at her.

He saw her smile seductively before she teasingly slapped him on the arm. Suddenly, he knew what she was doing. She was flirting with him. He pulled away and suddenly stood up to put some space between them.

“Don’t do this, Isabel.”

“Do what?” Isabel looked at him with confusion.

“Don’t tease me.”

“I’m not.”

Alex retorted in disbelief, remembering that night, “You’re telling me you’re flirting with me on purpose? Me? The geeky, socially awkward outcast that doesn’t have the balls to be man enough for you? I didn’t think you were that cruel, Isabel.” He turned away.

Every word that he repeated to her New Year’s Eve criticism, made Isabel wince. She looked at him and realized the easy going manner and humorous persona hid a sensitive soul. “Alex…”

“I think you should leave.”

Isabel jumped up from her seat, angry that he would dismiss her without hearing her side “Why do you keep throwing that night in my face? I apologized and you accepted!”

“Gee, I don’t know. Maybe being completely emasculated and humiliated isn’t something I really want to repeat.”

“I’ve apologized! Why can’t we move on?”

“Because you meant what you said.” Alex stonily faced her. Steeling himself against her distressed feelings, he saw her search his face and try to find something.

“Alex, please.”

“Please? Please let you toy with my feelings? Please let you walk all over me? Are you so bored, you’ve decided to grace me with your presence and allow me to practice my flirting with you?” Alex sarcastically bit out, letting his hurt and insecurity out in the open.

“No, Alex. Its not like that.” Isabel felt desperate, sensing that she was losing him before she even had him.

“Then what is it? Why this sudden interest?”

Alex saw her hesitate and lower her eyes before she looked at him square in the eye. She threw back her shoulders and with a proud tilt of her chin, she boldly confessed, “I’m in love with you.”

Of all the things she could have said, that was the last thing he expected. He was stunned silent and all he could do was stare.

Isabel was able to hold his gaze for what seemed to be an eternity, but she searched his eyes and didn’t see any reaction. Worse yet, there was no trace of reciprocated love. Suddenly embarrassed and hurt, Isabel tore her eyes away from Alex and ran for the door.

Isabel’s sudden disappearance finally snapped Alex out of his stupor. He grinned to himself as he lunged after her.

Tears blinded Isabel and she was going on instinct as she searched for a way out from her humiliation, but a large hand grabbed hers and swung her around. While she squirmed and tried to pull away, Alex clamped both hands on her shoulders and forced her to face him.

“Tell me again.”

Isabel stubbornly kept her face averted, “You heard me.”

“I did, but I can’t be sure if it was just me hallucinating or if you meant it.”

Isabel angrily kicked Alex in the shins, “I meant it, you jerk!”

“I was hoping you’d say that.” Alex smiled broadly before pulling Isabel into a kiss. He put all of his pent up love into the kiss and wouldn’t let her go until they both needed air. Forced apart, Isabel stared into Alex’s eyes and saw what was hidden all this time. What she found humbled her and she felt all the frozen recess of her heart melt. For the first time since she lost her innocence, she allowed herself to feel and receive his love.

She reached up and pulled his head back down to her lips.

~*~

Maria fought sleep and tried to keep her eyes open. She didn’t want to sleep and run the risk of waking up to another day without her sister. She felt her hand being squeezed and she turned her head to find Lyze smiling with reassurance. Just like they had when they were younger, the two instantly bonded and spent the majority of the night catching up with each other.

As she hugged her sister in Michael’s office, Maria thanked Jeff for keeping her safe and Amy had added her thanks as well. Jeff had guiltily told them about the circumstances, but neither Amy nor Maria blamed him. Nancy had taken Liz and almost killed her, Jeff saved her.

Lilyze smiled at her father, finally letting go of any lingering anger over his lie. Maria and Lyze left Amy and Jeff to talk, marveling over how ironic fate was while the two girls went to grab some ice cream. Maria bought chocolate while Lyze bought her vanilla and they spent the evening comparing notes back in Maria’s condo. They took turns laughing and crying as they opened all the packages Maria held for her. Close to dawn, they were laying on the floor covered with several blankets and about an arm’s length apart, sleepy but reluctant to close their eyes. But sleep did claim them. For Maria, sleep was finally a comfort, having her sister back. Lyze wasn’t afraid of the dark with Maria’s hand as her anchor and she slept without fear. Neither one let go of the other’s hand.

Their peaceful sleep was interrupted with the arrival of Amy and coffee. Maria groaned, not ready to get up. Lyze could barely open her eyes. As they stood there rubbing their eyes, Amy suddenly reached out and grabbed both of them around the necks into a bone crushing hug. She started crying as she held both of them while Maria struggled out of her grasp.

“Air!!! I need to breath, Aunt Amy!”

Amy them both go but couldn’t stop herself as she brushed Lyze’s hair away from her face, “I’m just so happy to see my girls back together again!”

Lyze smiled at her aunt, suddenly realizing how much she had missed her drama queen aunt. As Amy fixed them both muffins, Lyze tried to update her on what was going on with her life. She told them about her career as an archivist and her part time job at the radio station, helping out Sasha. While Maria had told bits and pieces, Amy told Lyze about their move from New Mexico, meeting Jim Valenti, and her job at Parker’s Place. The three of them couldn’t believe how close they had been to each other all the time and never realizing it.

It was as they were cleaning up the breakfast dishes that Maria startled them with a sudden “Oh my god!” She turned and with an excited little jump, she declared, “We have to have a party!!!”

Amy loved the idea, while Lyze took a little persuading. As she listened to her aunt and sister plan, Lyze looked around the small condo and saw it was stuffed with an eclectic taste in furniture, odds and ends, and several pictures of Maria and her friends. She smiled at one of them where Maria was posing with four other people. Maria was so full of life in all of them, she hoped that she wouldn’t disappoint her with her boring self.

Lyze agreed to ask her father about having the party at the diner while Maria and Amy immediately started organizing the decoration and menu. The two of them were in the middle of preparations when Lyze laughing left them to go back to her apartment and change. She called her father to reassure him she was fine and to ask about the party. Her next call was to Alex and to her surprise, the voice of Isabel Avens answered.

Once she got Alex on the phone, she told him the good news and explained about the party the next night. He was happy for her and confessed he had some news as well. He and Isabel finally admitted their feelings for each other and were together. Lyze happily congratulated her friend and told him to be sure to bring her to the party. She wanted to get to know Isabel. When she hung up with Alex, Lyze called Sasha and Rusty inviting them to the party. Ava didn’t answer the phone, so Lyze left a message.

Maria and Amy busily called the rest of their small family and asked them to come over so they could tell them about Lyze in person. Vivian, Jesse and Mark had all been stunned to learn about Lyze and her disappearance. They were also a bit hurt that Amy and Maria would have kept it from them, but they understood how deep of a hurt the two women had gone through. They were ultimately happy that Lyze was discovered and looked forward to meeting her. Maria rearranged their schedules so that they could record the following week.

Lyze opened the door to her apartment later that night and welcomed Maria, Amy, and Jim. She poured them all a glass of wine while Jeff greeted them from the kitchen, an apron around his waist. Lyze gave them a small tour of her two bedroom apartment and just smiled when Maria threw down an overnight bag into her room. She had already stocked the freezer with vanilla and chocolate ice cream, knowing Maria would stay the night.

Looking around Lyze’s apartment, Maria could only describe it as classically elegant. Everything was neat, no clutter, no mess, and there was hardly any furniture. It barely looked lived in. There were only a few pictures of what Maria could only assume were friends. Maria’s heart contracted as she remembered Lyze telling her the night before that most kids in school had picked on her for her whispery voice and small stature, none really wanting to friends with such an outcast. She smiled as she thought about how similar they were. She had never really been alone – always being popular and friendly with everyone, but she had been lonely, just like Lyze.

After their family was gone, Lyze brought out the ice cream and Maria brought out the pound cake she had swiped from Amy’s stash. Maria told Lyze about Michael and his hot kisses that bothered her. She was only a little insulted when Lyze teased her about being in love. She patiently explained to Lyze that she couldn’t possibly be in love with such an arrogant, rude, mannerless goon – she had much better taste in men. But Lyze only laughed and pointed out that love wasn’t logical – hadn’t Harlequin pointed that out to her listeners all the time?

Maria threw a pillow at Lyze’s head but missed as she ducked. It was the start of a hysterical pillow fight and Maria claimed victory as she grabbed Lyz’s pillow from her. As her prize, Maria demanded to know who Harlequin was since Lyze worked on the radio show. Lyze smiled broadly and announced, “Me.”

Maria’s jaw dropped and demanded to know how since her voice sounded so different on the radio. Lyze explained that it had started out as a joke. Sasha was really the DJ, but the night she was suppose to debut, Sasha lost her voice due to a bad cold. She begged Lyze to fill in for her and Rusty hooked up a small computer program that enhanced her own quiet voice, but it distorted due to the amplification. Sasha and Rusty produced the show with her and when she couldn’t broadcast, Sasha would step in. The same program that enhanced her voice, took Sasha’s and was able to match it pretty close to Lyz’s. Maria was stunned but also so happy to learn her favorite DJ was also her sister. Maria confessed that she had called in about Eric Torrence aka Phantom and they both laughed at the story.

Lyze had a confession of her own and told Maria about the one voice that haunted her. She told Maria how she had been working late one night in the basement of the Sears Tower and forgot about the time. When she realized what time it was, she rushed to get out. But that night, it was storming badly and as she got into the elevator, the lights went off and the elevator jerked to a stop. Lyze’s voice trembled as she remembered her terror and Maria wrapped an arm around her shoulders.

“It was so dark, and all I could think about was that I was trapped, I couldn’t get out. I-I was so scared and was beginning to panic when I remembered the emergency phone. I groped my way over and was able to get the phone off the cradle. The voice on the other end…oh Maria. It was the most beautiful voice I had ever heard in my life.”

Lyze got a small dreamy smile on her face and Maria teasingly let out an “Awww!!!”

Slapping her lightly on the arm, Lyze continued telling Maria how the voice had continued to talk to her, keeping her from losing it. She had been so busy trying to concentrate on breathing without panicking that she forgot to ask for his name. And when the service technician had pried open the doors, Lyze had been so grateful to climb out that she barely said thank you to the voice and rushed out of her trap.

It was only after she had been able to calm down the next day that she realized that she had no way of getting in touch with the voice at the other end of the phone. She had tried calling the building supervisor and then the dispatch area, but no one knew who she had been talking to. The one dispatch guy that had claimed to take the call didn’t have the same voice as the one she remembered and she came to a dead end. She told Maria that she still hoped to find that man someday.

When Maria asked why it was so important to find him, Lyze blushed bright red and Maria guessed, “You’re in love!!! You’re in love with a voice!!” Maria laughed a bit at Lyze’s embarrassment then told her that it sounded like the most romantic thing she’d ever heard. Her brain started thinking of all the ways that Lyze could find him and when she suggested hiring Michael, Lyze flatly refused. She didn’t want to admit her silly little crush to outsiders. Maria could understand, so she suggested that Harlequin tell the story on the show and see if the guy would call in.

Lyze chewed her lower lip and admitted that she had thought about it several times over the last two years, but she just couldn’t make herself do it. Maria then schemed that she could call in about her ‘friend’ who was pining away for the voice, and to her surprise, Lyze said she’d think about it. Then she quickly changed the subject back to Michael.

Maria sighed before finally relenting and told Lyze that since Michael had kissed her, she hadn’t been able to get him out of her head. She had never felt so… wonky over a guy. Lyze pointed out that she wouldn’t feel so wonky if Michael was like all the other guys Maria dated and discarded – that alone must say something. Then she asked, “Are you brave enough to admit it to Michael and face whatever it is?”

The question made Maria pause and think things over. She then smiled ruefully, “Now I believe you’re Harlequin.”

Somehow the night seemed to speed by and the two of them fell asleep around dawn, again not letting go of the other’s hand.
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Post by Believer2 » Sun May 13, 2007 8:35 pm

Isabel fidgeted in the back taxi until Alex grabbed her hands. She relaxed long enough to smile and he kissed her before whispering, “Relax. You’ll like Lyze.”

“Alex, was she the woman you were with at the Gaming Olympics?”

“Mmm.”

Isabel looked away and Alex had to force her to look at him, “What’s bothering you?”

“I-I just remember that the two of you looked really close.”

“We are. We’re good friends, Isabel.”

Isabel didn’t say anything.

“I admit that I wanted to fall in love with her.” Isabel jerked her head up to stare at Alex with narrow eyes, but he only laughed and kissed her. “I couldn’t fall in love with her because I was already in love with you, Isabel.”

At his words, Isabel melted into Alex’s arms and finally looked forward to meeting Lyze.

~*~

“Ava, hurry up! We’re going to be late.” Kyle checked his watch again.

Ava rushed out from the bedroom, “I’m ready. I just had to put on one more thing.”

“What?”

Ava held out her left hand and showed him the engagement ring he had given her. When he had given the ring to her a week ago, she hadn’t been ready to wear it, thinking it was too soon. They had only been dating for two weeks, but she realized that she didn’t need any more time to know she was ready. Kyle stared at the ring before asking, “Does this mean…”

“Yes!”

Kyle grabbed her into a bear hug and swung her off her feet. He leaned in for a kiss but Ava pulled away to mock at him, “We’re going to be late.”

Kyle growled and was torn between going to the party and staying home to make love to his fiancée. Ava laughed and moved out of his arms, “Hurry up, Kyle. They’re waiting for us.”

Kyle just glared back and again checked his watch. He then came up with a devilish smile and rushed Ava, lifting her over his shoulder and carrying her back to the bedroom. As he swatted her butt, he claimed “We have just enough time for a quickie!”

~*~

Michael tugged at his shirt collar and almost dropped the 12 pack of beer he carried. He didn’t know how he got roped into going to this party, but he didn’t like it. Not one bit. That Maria cast some voodoo vibes on him, he just knew it. It was the only explanation he could find for his quickened heartbeat and sweaty palms as he thought about being in the same room with her. The reason he couldn’t keep his mind off of her. Yeah, voodoo, that was it. Good thing he was bringing Max along. Max could help keep Maria away from him.

When Amy had first called him about the party, he was at the basketball court, waiting for his and Max’s turn. The woman didn’t ask, she just quickly announced that she needed him to help with the decorations and errands, so she’d expect him around 6:30. She hung up on him before he could get another word in edgewise and Michael was left staring at the phone. Max had laughed until Michael came up with the idea dragging him along.

Max agreed to go if Michael won the game and the two of them fought on the courts until Michael sank his last three pointer and won the game. After cleaning up and getting ready, Michael received another call from Amy who ordered him to pick up some extra beer and wine on the way to the diner. Again, she hung up before he could get a word in edgewise. He glared at Max before the other guy could smirk and the two drove to the nearest grocery store.

While they were pushing the card down the liquor aisle, Max stunned Michael with his casual comment that he must like Maria an awful lot. Michael stopped walking and glared at his friend, “What the hell are you talking about, Maxis?”

“Maxis? Look, I’m just saying that since your little kiss, it seems like you’ve been kissing each other quite a bit.”

“Twice! We’ve only kissed twice!”

“You’ve counted?” Max tried to hide his laugh, he had never seen his friend look so outraged as Michael’s jaw swung open.

“No. They didn’t mean anything.”

“Uh huh. Seems to me you’re a bit hot and bothered over nothing.” Max teased as he walked away, leaving Michael standing in the aisle with a 12 pack of beer.

Michael slowly burned at Max’s suggestion and tugged his collar. He didn’t like this one bit.

~*~

Amy paused in her decorating as she watched her two nieces from behind the counter. It had been so long since she had seen that brilliant smile of Maria’s and Liz, no Lilyze, had grown into such a beautiful young woman. She had given Jeff Parker a piece of her mind in a private conversation where she ripped into him for keeping her niece hidden from them for so long, but then forgave him for raising such a bright and lovely young woman. Besides, she liked her job. But, looking at the two of them, she realized that all these years, Maria had been haunted by the memory of their Liz. The music and lively personality only masked it. It was only now that Amy could see that she was really happy, no longer haunted by painful memories. It saddened her that she never realized how much Maria was hurting, but she had been so busy making sure they survived those years, she hadn’t seen past the front her niece put up.

“This is the first time I’ve really seen Lilyze so carefree.” Jeff Parker spoke from behind her. Amy turned and he saw the question in her eyes. “Lilyze was such a quiet and serious child, I worried about her. It didn’t help that she didn’t have any friends in school. Only in college.”

“She was like that even when she was younger. Maria was the more outgoing, rambunctious one.”

“Kids teased her something awful about her whispery voice. Sometimes she’d come home with tears but she wouldn’t tell me who was teasing her. I could only tell her to be proud of her voice, to never be ashamed.”

Amy blinked away the sting of tears and she smiled warmly, “You raised a wonderful daughter, Jeff.”

Jeff smiled back thankfully, “So did you, Amy.”

The two parents stood watching their children laugh and blow up balloons.

~*~

Kyle hugged Maria and introduced her to Ava. He then explained that Ava was good friends with Lyze and Maria warmed to her right away. She grinned even brighter when she noticed that Ava was sporting a ring on her left hand. Kyle grinned back and told her the good news. Maria squealed with happiness and rushed to find Jim and Amy.

~*~

Alex was right, Isabel did like Lilyze. The shorter woman was genuinely warm and friendly as they were introduced. She had felt awkward standing there, towering over the other woman, but Lyze put her at ease by offering the two of them some wine and asking about Isabel’s event planning business. As they talked about some of the events they had mutually attending without meeting, Lyze suddenly got an odd look on her face. She looked over her shoulder and then around the crowd. Concerned, Alex asked if she was ok. Lyze shook of his concern and smiled brightly as they went back to the conversation.

Isabel felt herself stiffen up as she caught sight of the Goth looking woman from that one afternoon. The other woman was just as tall as herself and while she didn’t have the same generous curves as Isabel, she did have a magnetic personality. It was the way she intensely looked at a person and then seemed to circle her prey before making her move. Isabel knew that Alex loved her and wanted only her, but she couldn’t help but feel just a little intimidated.

~*~

The party was at full swing when Max and Michael had finally showed up after picking up all the last minute items Amy wanted. The diner was practically bursting at the seams with people and it was set up with a small stage area for the band to play in the corner. Michael tensed as he caught sight of Maria. She was dressed more provocatively than he had ever seen her in a gold sparkling top and low slung jeans that looked spray painted on her. His jaw dropped when she turned and he saw nothing but bare back from neck to the top of her jeans. He shoved the bags he was carrying towards Max and stalked after the crazy woman. Didn’t she know that half her top was missing?!?

~*~

Lyze watched as Isabel clutched her friend’s arm a bit tighter and defiantly watch an approaching woman. Lyze recognized the dark woman as Vivian, a childhood friend of Maria’s. She was about to run interference for Isabel when a shiver went down her back and she again heard a familiar husky voice. She whirled around trying to find the source of the voice, but could only see a crush of people, mostly friends of Maria and Amy’s.

~*~

Michael barely heard Max give a shout of protest and pushed his way towards the blonde. When he finally managed to get to her, she turned those wide green eyes on him and he promptly forgot what he was going to say. She looked expectedly at him and when he didn’t say anything, she sighed and rolled her eyes as she turned back towards the speakers she was setting up. Seeing her bare back again, Michael reached for Maria’s arm. He knew she was going to protest, knew she would yell at him later and possibly slap him again, but as Michael settled his lips on hers, he felt it would be worth it.

~*~

Maria forgot about the speakers she was adjusting and the live microphone she was still holding. Instead she lost herself in Michael’s heated kiss and wrapped her arms around his neck. She barely noticed that he was gripping her hips tight and moving her slowly backwards, towards an open utility closet. And she didn’t even register the door slamming shut. Nope, the only thing she could think about was Michael’s lips. She moaned breathlessly as his lips trailed a path of fire down the side of her neck and settled right below her jaw.

She heard him softly grunt as she moved her hands down his back to grab his butt. Something blocked her one hand and she pushed it away, never hearing the microphone drop to the floor by their feel. Their kisses grew more heated and Michael suddenly grasped her by the hips and forced her upward so she had to wrap her legs around his waist. When his fingertips brushed against her nipple under her top, she flung her head back gasping at the pleasure that shook her. It wasn’t until the door was flung open and her aunt’s outraged voice, that Maria was able to face reality.

She turned scarlet as Amy reached down and picked up the fallen microphone and turned it off before handing it back to her. She moaned in humiliation as she realized the entire diner full of people had heard her make out session with Michael. She couldn’t face it! She reacted by slapping Michael’s shoulder and demanded, “Put me down, you goon!”
Michael let go of her and blushed bright red as he faced a crowd of laughing people. The couple stood frozen, unsure of what to do when people started clapping and whistling. Maria was on the verge of tears when Lyze came to her rescue by having her father announce that food was ready and pulling the embarrassed couple out of the closet into the back kitchen. It was while they were in the private employee break room that Maria finally loosened her tongue and started raging at Michael and his dirty urges. Before Lyze could say anything, Michael interrupted by arguing, “Hey, it wasn’t just my dirty urges in that closet. You were right there with me, blondie!”

“Excuse me?!? If you hadn’t grabbed me…” Maria faced Michael, furious and hurt.

“You were begging to be grabbed!” Michael squared off, glaring at Maria.

“What!!!!!!”

“Half your shirt’s missing, in fact, most of its missing!”

~*~

Lyze smiled a bit as she quietly backed away from the bickering couple. As she walked back through the darkened bakery area, she heard someone come into the kitchen. Thinking it was her father, Lyze rushed forward to help him with the food. She was startled when instead of her father, there stood a tall, handsome man standing in front of the refrigerator. She was captured by his intense amber eyes and slightly curling dark brown hair. He wore jeans and plain black tshirt that stretched across his lean muscles. As her eyes traveled to the bulging biceps holding the bags of groceries, she felt her cheeks burn as she thought about how stupid she must seem, standing there and staring at him.
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Post by Believer2 » Sun May 13, 2007 8:36 pm

Taking a deep breath to calm her sudden racing heart, she ducked her head and smiled briefly as she walked past him. It wasn’t until she was back in the crush of people that Lyze realized she had been holding her breath the entire time. She let go of her breath and found her father to help with the food, but she couldn’t help but wonder at the handsome man in the kitchen.

“Oh Lyze, honey, could you stick these in the fridge to cool? Michael seemed to have dropped them.” Amy thrust a large covered bowl in her hands and walked away, muttering about public make outs. Lyze laughed a bit and curiously opened up the bowl. The heavy scent of bruised strawberries met her nose. She reached in to grab one and bit into the lush berry as she walked back into the kitchen. She stopped mid-bite as she came face to face with the handsome stranger again.

The stared at each other, neither of them moving.

~*~

Max couldn’t tear his eyes away from the beautiful woman in front of him. When she had appeared out of the back area, he had been too stunned to say anything. She wore her long brown hair loose and around her shoulders. The black crochet halter top revealed smooth dusky skinned arms and shoulders and just a hint of her stomach at the top of her low rise jeans. When she had walked by, his eyes were drawn downward towards the lower back where the delicate curve of her spine was hidden by her top but revealed the curve of her jean covered butt and length of her legs. She was tiny, barely came to his chest, but in his mind she was the perfect fit. He couldn’t think of anything or anyone – he could only stare.

She had disappeared before he could figure out anything to say, but here she was again. This time, a strawberry in her mouth.

He watched as she finished biting into the berry and slowly chew as she stared back at him. He didn’t know if she was trying to tempt him, but she was doing a really good job of it. He finally cleared his choked throat and tried to say something, but before the words could come out, Michael stormed out from the back of the kitchen and stomped his way towards the dining room.

Max watched as he walked away and turned back to the woman, but she had disappeared. Frowning, Max knew he had to go calm his friend down before looking for some mystery woman. Taking one last look around the kitchen, Max walked out to see about his friend.

~*~

Lyze saw Michael’s stormy countenance and knew something happened with Maria. She rushed towards the employee area and found her sister crying. Setting down the bowl of strawberries, Lyze grabbed her sister’s hand and Maria rested her head on her shoulder. She wailed that she had yelled at Michael and blamed him for the embarrassing moment in the closet. She knew it wasn’t all his fault, but she had reacted in anger and didn’t want to listen when he wanted to talk.

Lyze let Maria cry it out and then cleaned up her face while scolding her. She told Maria to go apologize and do it before he left. Maria wiped away the last traces of tears and hugged Lyze before rushing towards the dining area. Shaking her head at that dramatics, Lyze grabbed the bowl of strawberries and walked back into the kitchen, half hoping the handsome stranger would still be there. She felt disappointed when she saw he wasn’t.

After placing the berries into the refrigerator, Lyze walked over to the kitchen counter and watched the crowd of people. The majority of people there were friends of Maria, Amy and Jim’s. The party was two-fold, a celebratory reunion, but also an engagement party for Amy and Jim. While Lyze was happy for Aunt Amy and Jim, she kind of wished that she had an excuse to leave. The crowd was just too much, too suffocating. That’s when she heard the voice again. This time Lyze was determined to find out the source and rushed into the dining area.

She was pushing through the crowd, trying pinpoint where the voice had come from and was distracted by Ava. Ava introduced Kyle, Jim’s son, and showed off her left hand. Lyze grasped the hand and then hugged her friend. She could see by the look in Kyle’s eyes and Ava’s face, that they were both very much in love. She was so happy for her friend and she looked forward to getting to know her soon to be new cousin.

Lyze lost track of the voice and the time as she talked with Ava and Kyle. Amy found them and put them to work getting the cake and champagne ready, while she tracked Maria down. Exchanging pitying looks for Maria as Amy got a murderous look in her eye, the three of them split up to take care of their tasks. Jim stopped Lyze on her way to the kitchen and asked if she got a chance to meet Kyle. She smiled as she saw the genuine pride and love the man had for his son. She was telling him about how she was actually friends with Ava, when Jim interrupted her and told her that his fiancée was bearing down on them.

An exasperated Amy asked Lyze to go grab the strawberries for the cake and rushed off to direct Ava and Kyle. Jim smiled sympathetically and walked off to slow down his fiancée. Lyze hurried into the kitchen and stopped abruptly as the handsome man stood almost exactly where he had been before, standing in front of the refrigerator. This time, she noticed he was mid-swallow of his beer. Their eyes locked as he finished swallowing and lowered the bottle. She swallowed with him and was about to say something when Amy poked her head around the door, shouting for the strawberries.

Lyze blushed a bit and forced herself to walk towards him. Their eyes never left each other. She saw him take a breath as she stepped closer, standing directly in front of him. She looked up and blinked as she saw up close how handsome he was.

~*~

Max didn’t know if she could hear his heart beat, but he could. He could feel his blood rushing through his veins as she stepped closer and he had sucked in a breath as she stopped right in front of him. He didn’t dare move; he didn’t want to break the spell. He barely noticed her reaching past him, but he felt a cool draft of air as she opened the cooler door. She reached across, her should brushing lightly against him, and the contact electrified both of them. Neither could move as the brief contact sent goose bumps down their arms.

~*~

Lyze couldn’t breath. The stranger before her was so handsome and his eyes were so soulful, she couldn’t bear to turn away.

“Lyz! You have to help me talk some sense into that space boy!” Maria shouted as she stormed into the room, unaware of the tension. Lyze visibly jumped and whirled around, clutching the bowl of strawberries. She swallowed the sudden disappointment and tension, and opened her mouth to say something.

Max swore under his breath, not believing they were interrupted again as he stood behind her.

“MAX! That ditzy blonde…” Michael swore as he rushed into the kitchen and caught sight of Maria.

“I’m not ditzy!” Maria raged as she grabbed the first thing she could get her hands on and threw it at him.

Dirty dishwater dripped down Michael’s face as he stood stunned. Maria gasped and then made the mistake of giggling. The sound of her giggles broke Michael out of his stunned stillness and he rushed Maria. He didn’t stop as he hefted Maria over his shoulder and took her towards the back employee area.

Max and Lyze watched in bemusement. Finally alone, Lyze looked over her shoulder and her eyes met his again. Again, Lyze felt breathless and her heart started to race again.

“Lyze! I need those strawberries!” Amy shouted through the door. Lyze couldn’t believe their luck and shouted back, “Coming Aunt Amy.”

Suddenly Lyze was spun around, strawberries spilling to the ground. Her arms were grasped tightly and the handsome stranger finally spoke, “Say something again.”

Lyze’s eyes went wide as she recognized the husky voice. “Oh my god, its you.”

Max stared at the woman before him, “You.”

“Lyze! Where are those strawberries?”

Max growled low in his voice, and he grabbed Lyze’s hand. He pulled her towards the back of the diner, towards the employee break room. When they arrived, Michael and Maria were locked in a heated embraced but Max ruthlessly walked past them, ignoring their startled look. He walked Lyze up towards her father’s office and locked the door behind him. He stood with his back against the door as he pulled Lyze to stand between his legs.

He gently cupped her face, smiling as he stared at her. “Is it really you, Lily?”

He saw her bite her lower lip before breaking out into a smile, “Yes.”

“Oh god, I’ve been looking for you…”

“Me too…”

Soft kisses filled with longing, pent up desire, and love said more than words could ever express. Words weren’t needed as soul mates finally rediscovered each other.
I'm a believer!

Believer2
Addicted Roswellian
Posts: 124
Joined: Wed Dec 08, 2004 5:20 pm
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Post by Believer2 » Sun May 13, 2007 8:38 pm

Epilogue

Hello, who’s on the line with me tonight?

Max.

<slight> Max…what can I do for you?

I’d like to request a song.

Oh?

Yes. I’d like for you to find a song for my dream girl.

Dream girl?

Yes.

Would you like to explain?

One night, three years ago, on a dark and stormy night, as I was working as a security guard, I received an emergency call. The voice on the other end was terrified, but beautiful.

You fell in love with her voice?

Yes. Strange as it sounds, I did. The voice was one that made me feel like I could confide in her, tell her anything. I told her things that no one ever knew. I wanted to meet her, to see if she was as beautiful as her voice. But it took me three years to find her.

Were you disappointed?

Disappointed?

Wasn’t she plain and a bit boring?

No. She was as beautiful as I dreamed she’d be.

Dreamed?

Yes. I spent three years dreaming of her, searching for her.

All because of her voice?

No, because of what the voice held.

Which was?

A promise. A promise of a future.

And she didn’t disappoint you?

No. In fact, she was more than I ever dreamed possible.

Max…

Lilyze Parker, you are my every dream. Every wish I ever had or will have, is you. And I can’t wait to spend the rest of my life with you, if you’ll have me.

Max?

I know you can’t see me, but I’m on bended knee, surrounded by our friends and family – can you hear them?

Oh my god…

I’ve asked your father, your sister, and your aunt for their blessing:

Lyzzie!!!! Now we can have a double wedding!!

Maria, stop screaming! Lyze, honey, he’s a keeper! Jeff and I both agree.

So, what do you say? Lilyze Parker, aka Harlequin, will you marry me?

Max. Oh my god…YES!!!!

~*~

Hello listeners, this is Columbina,. As some of you might know, Harlequin has retired to get married. But never fear, After Hours will still be on their air with me, as your host. Tonight, I’ve got a special song to start the evening. This song goes out to Max and Lyze, on their wedding night, from their family and friends. Here’s to a happy ending to a beautiful love story and the start of a bright new one…


"At Last" Etta James

At last
my love has come along
my lonely days over
and life is like a song

Ooh At last
the skies above are blue
well my heart was wrapped up in clover
the night I looked at you

I found a dream
that I could speak to
a dream that I could call my own
I found a thrill
to press my cheek to
a thrill that I have never known

well

You smile
you smile
oh and then the spell was cast
and here we are in heaven
for you are mine at last

I found a dream
that I could speak to
a dream that I
could call my own
I found a thrill
to press my cheek to
a thrill that I have never known

well

You smile
you smile
oh and then the spell was cast
and here we are in heaven
for you are mine at last


The End
I'm a believer!

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