Here Be Dragons (MM / ML Adult) (Complete)

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tequathisy
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Here Be Dragons (MM / ML Adult) (Complete)

Post by tequathisy » Tue Jan 03, 2006 12:47 pm

Winner Round 12

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Winner Round 9

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Mrs. Whitman

Title: Here be Dragons.
Paring: ML, MM.
Rating: AU with aliens, Adult.
Summary: Maria gets lost on a car journey and ends up in the mysterious town of Roswell where she makes an amazing discovery - the journal of a girl who had been brought back from the dead by an alien three hundred years ago.

A/N Before the discovery of America, it was believed that if you sailed too far into the unknown territory at the edge of the world you would meet huge sea monsters, large enough to devour whole ships. Mapmakers labelled the ends of the world with the simple, ominous warning - Here be Dragons.

In this fic, the town of Roswell has been moved from New Mexico to Massachusetts for reasons that should become clear in the next few chapters.

Thanks To Islandgirl5, my beta. And to Amara for my beautiful banner

For xmag for encouraging me to write this – I hope you like it.

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One


“You’re listening to KROZ, your local radio for all the latest news, gossip and music. It’s 9.0. We’re going to play some soul classics for you this evening, but first a weather update. A surprise rainstorm has left many roads impassable and Highway Patrol are urging motorists to stay off the roads. If you have to drive, drive carefully. Roads are extremely slippery and visibility is very poor….be warned that Route….is…zzz….and if you’re heading….sss…..also…..zzzz…..”

“Shit.”

With one eye on the road, Maria twiddled the tuner button backwards and forwards but all she got was static and white noise. Until in frustration, she snapped the radio off. Without the radio the car was filled with an eerie silence that made Maria feel uncomfortable. Not for the first time, she regretted not forking out the extra $80 to have her CD player fixed.

She had been trying to save money and at the time had been proud of herself for not spending the cash on the CD player in her car. She had reasoned that she could always find something to listen to on the radio and a CD player would be superfluous. Of course two days later she had bought a great pair of boots with the money she saved on the car.

And that was her problem, she was always full of great plans but when it came time to act on them she suddenly found herself lacking the dedication or will power to see them through. Like this trip, last weekend she had spent two hours pouring over maps and looking up routes online to draw up an itinerary. She had gone to bed last night fully intending to get up at 6am and be on the road by 7.

But this morning, the bed had been too comfortable, she had spent too long in the shower, she couldn’t get her hair right, she found some clothes in her closest that she just had to bring on the trip which meant she had to repack. By then it was almost midday so she had to get lunch. So by the time she actually got underway it was well past one.

“If you’d stuck to the plan Maria, you’d be in a nice warm bed in some Travel Lodge instead of lost in the middle of no where.” She spoke aloud, her voice barely audible even to her own ears over the din of the raindrops pelting the roof of the car.

The storm outside showed no signs of abating, in fact it was getting worse. The wipers were pushing sheets of water off the window with every swish. Maria had to sit hunched over the wheel, her nose almost pressed to the glass to see outside. And even so, she could see very little apart from the huge drops of rain, silver in the light of her headlights.

It felt like hours since she had passed another car or any sign of civilisation. The last human she had seen was a policeman at a roadblock telling her to take a different route because the road she was on was completely flooded. With a sigh, Maria realised that she should have gone back to the previous town then and bedded down for the night instead of wandering around roads she didn’t know in the pitch dark.

She had been trying to reach the next town, which according to her map was only forty miles away, but somewhere along the route she must have taken the wrong turn or missed her exit. And now she hadn’t a damn clue where on earth she was.

There were no lights anywhere along the road, not from streetlights or houses or gas stations. Which left only two conclusions. She was either in the middle of nowhere or there was a power cut.

Maria glanced at the clock and made a decision. If she didn’t find a town or at least pass a house in the next ten miles, she would pull the car into the side of the road and sleep in it until morning.

“I really wish I hadn’t had that big gulp.” She groaned. She desperately needed to go to the toilet. Soon her only option would be to go at the side of the road. And she knew that if she climbed out of the car even for a couple of seconds she would get soaked, which would leave her damp, cold and uncomfortable for the night.

“Please let me find a town.” Maria begged the night. Her back and shoulders ached from hunching so far forward all night. Her head was throbbing in pain and she really, really wanted to lie down.

Suddenly out of the darkness, Maria saw a small figure dressed in white standing in the middle of the road, directly in front of her car, and it wasn’t moving. Acting instinctively, she pressed her foot down hard on the brakes and spun the wheel in an attempt not to hit the person. On the slippery surface of the road, the wheels slipped and slid, causing the car to swerve and spin before coming to a bumpy rest on the grassy verge.

“Oh my god.” Maria gasped, checking her head and chest to make sure she was alright. Her heart was thumping madly against her ribcage. She grabbed her flashlight from the glove compartment and quickly climbed out of the car. Within seconds she was soaked and shivering, the raindrops fell so hard and fast they stung her skin.

“Hello, is someone there?” Maria called out, shining the light around. “Hello?”

Nobody answered her call and she could see nothing by the light of her flashlight.

“Hello?”

After walking several yards in both directions, Maria came to the conclusion that she had imagined the figure in white. “You’re overtired Maria. It’s time to call it a night and get some sleep.” She told herself unhappily, knowing that she would have to spend the night in the car with no way of drying off.

She had noticed some trees up ahead during her search and decided to pull the car under them in the hope of some shelter. Maria climbed back into the car and turned the key. Nothing happened. She tried again, it gave a slight jerk and then nothing. The clock on the dashboard faded and the lights went out.

“Sonuvabitch.” Maria shouted, thumping the wheel hard. “No, I’m sorry Baby, I didn’t mean that. Please start for me baby, please.” Maria pleaded. She took a deep breath and turned the key again. But it was useless, the car was dead. “You bitch. As soon as we get home I’m getting a new car and you’re going straight to the scrapheap.”

She thumped the wheel and sat back in the seat. She was pissed, cold, wet, hungry, needed a restroom and wanted to cry. And then she saw the lights.

At first they didn’t even register with her but suddenly she jumped up and cried out in relief. She grabbed her purse and keys and got out of the car again, so happy to have a place to go that she didn’t even notice the rain. With the feeble light of her flashlight and the bright light of the building ahead she managed to find a path through the bushes and trees at the side of the road. When she emerged at the other side she was shocked to find that there were several buildings grouped together. Most looked like homes but one had a neon sign shinning brightly.

“A bar. Alcohol.” Maria squealed in delight almost skipping towards the door, wondering how she had missed the town when she had been searching along the side of the road earlier.

The bar was dimly lit but warm and welcoming. A real log fire blazed in the fireplace and a man sat a piano playing, the keys tinkling beneath his touch. There was only a handful of people in the bar, gathered in groups around the fire. They stopped talking and turned to stare at Maria when she entered. She gave them a small smile, knowing that she must look a real state.

As she walked to the counter, Maria was aware of a loud squelching sound she made with every step and a trail of water left in her wake.

“Good evening Miss.” The bar tender greeted. “How can I help you?”

“My car broke down outside, I was wondering if you could call a garage for me.” She paused when she realised that there was absolute silence from all the other patrons and a glance over her shoulder told her they were watching her intently. They looked away when they spotted her watching them, but nobody said a word. She turned back to the man behind the counter. “And I need a motel or an inn for the night, can you recommend one for me?”

“There’s a good motel in Safehaven, about forty five minute drive from here. Kyle here will have your car going in a couple of minutes.”

Maria turned to look at the man in the mechanic uniform who had approached the bar when he heard her car had broken down.

She shook her head. “I’m wouldn’t dream of asking you to go out on a night like this, it can wait until the morning. I just need a place to stay the night, with a bed.”

“There’s no motels in this town.” The bar tender told her.

“An inn then or a B&B, anywhere I can sleep because I can’t get back into the car and drive tonight, even if Kyle here…. Where did he go?” Maria asked, noticing that he had disappeared.

“He’s gone to have a look at your car.” The bar tender told her. “I’m really sorry Miss, but there’s no place here that rents out rooms for the night.”

“Ugh.” Maria moaned and let her head fall onto the counter, the tears that had been threatening earlier were now flowing down her cheeks.

“You poor dear.” A sympathetic voice said softly into her ear and Maria felt a gentle hand rubbing her back. “You’re soaked through and you’re shivering. I have a spare room at my house, it’s not the Ritz but it’s warm and dry and the bed’s quite comfortable. How does that sound?”

Maria looked up at the elderly woman who had taken pity on her and smiled. “That sounds like heaven.”

“There’s no need to put yourself to all the trouble Mrs. Whitman. Kyle will have the car fixed in no time and the lady here can find a room in Safehaven.” The bar tender said.

Mrs. Whitman tutted her disapproval. “Now Jack, that’s no way to treat a visitor in our town. She’s obviously in no fit state to be out driving, especially not on a night like this. She’s coming home with me and that’s final.”

The door burst open and Kyle the mechanic came rushing in, shaking himself like a dog to get rid of the excess water. Like Maria, he was drenched.

“Now see, here’s Kyle. She can be on her way again in a couple of minutes.” Jack said, sounding relieved.

“Actually I couldn’t get it started.” Kyle said as he joined them. “I’ll tow it to the garage tonight and work on it in the morning. Are you staying with Mrs. Whitman?”

“Yes she is. Bring her bags to my house please, good boy.” Mrs. Whitman answered, she patted him fondly on the cheek then gestured to Maria. “Come on my dear, let’s get you warm and dry.”


<center>~*~</center>


Mrs. Whitman’s home was a beautiful colonial house a couple of minutes walk from the bar. It smelled of home baking and beeswax furniture polish. Maria had felt at home in it almost at once.

Mrs. Whitman had ushered her up the narrow stair into a small room at the top. A big brass bed took up most of the room, at its foot lay an old carved chest. A lamp on the desk bathed the room in a soft glow, making it look and feel very cosy. There were two windows, so low down that Maria had to bend at the waist to look through them. There was a small private bathroom for her to use.

“There’s plenty of hot water so have a nice long shower and when you’re done come back downstairs and I’ll have a lovely bowl of soup ready for you. Here’s some towels and I’ll get you some dry clothes.” As she spoke, Mrs. Whitman peeled Maria’s dripping wet clothes off her and bundled them up.

“Thank you Mrs. Whitman, you’re an angel.” Maria said.

“I’m just a good neighbor.” She smiled kindly at Maria and left the room, pulling the door closed behind her.

Maria stood under the steaming hot water for ages, letting it warm her skin and wash away the pains and aches of the day. Mrs. Whitman had supplied old-fashioned shampoo and soaps and Maria applied them liberally.

When she finally emerged, her skin was pink and wrinkled and she smelled of flowers. She found a large T-shirt, sweater and a pair of sweatpants and a handknitted pair of socks waiting for her on the bed, obviously belonging to a man. The outfit was several sizes to big for her and she looked slightly silly in them but they were warm and soft. She dried off her hair and brushed it out, letting it fall over her shoulders in curls.

She picked up her watch from the desk and grimaced when she saw that it was almost 11pm. She had never called her mother, who no doubt would be frantic about her. She rummaged through her purse to find her cellphone. “Crap, no signal.”

As Maria climbed down the stairs, she was sure she heard a man’s voice arguing. Maria presumed that they were in the kitchen on the other side of the closed door. She stood on the stairs wondering if she should go in or wait until they were finished arguing.

“…Should have sent her to Safehaven.” The man’s voice said, clearly he was annoyed.

“How? By broomstick? Her car wouldn’t start.” Mrs. Whitman’s voice answered. She sounded cheerful and friendly and either didn’t hear the man’s annoyance or chose to ignore it.

“And why’s that?” The man asked. He said something else that Maria didn’t catch so she took another step forward, standing on a loose floorboard as she did. It squeaked loudly, alerting them to her presence.

The door was flung open. “There you are dear, you look much better already. Come in here now and have a bowl of soup. She gently tugged Maria into the kitchen and pushed her into a seat at the table. There was nobody else in the room.

“It’s carrot and coriander. Help yourself to some bread.” Mrs. Whitman said, placing a bowl of piping hot soup in front of Maria.

Two delicious bowls and several slices of bread later Maria was full. She pushed her bowl away with a satisfied smile. “That was wonderful Mrs. Whitman. I never thought I’d say this, but that was even better than my mom’s.”

Mrs. Whitman glowed. “I won’t tell her you said that. If you like I’ll give you the recipe before you go home.”

“That would be great. Can I use your phone to call her and let her know I’m ok?” Maria asked.

“Of course dear, it’s in the parlor.” Mrs. Whitman told her guest.

Like the rest of her house, Mrs. Whitman’s parlor was spotlessly neat and tidy and furnished to match the period of the house. Maria felt like she was in an Antique shop or a living museum. The only apparent concession to modernity was a couple of lamps and a telephone that belonged to the 1950’s.

Maria dialled her mother’s number. It was answered on the first ring. “Maria?”

“Hi Mom, I’m really sorry I didn’t call sooner. I had no signal on my cell.”

“Are you alright? Why didn’t you use a payphone? Have you any idea how worried I’ve been? Where have you been until now?” Amy Deluca asked rapidly.

“I’m fine, I got diverted because of the storm and I got a little lost and my car broke down but I’m fine now.” Maria assured her mother quickly. She bit her lip, this was going to require a lie. There was no way that her mother would sleep tonight if she knew that Maria was sleeping in a complete stranger’s house. Even if the stranger was a kind elderly woman. “I’ve checked into a motel in a place called… Safehaven.”

Amy was quite for a moment. “You’re making that up, there’s no such place as Safehaven.”

Maria laughed. “I swear, it’s a place. Listen, I haven’t a lot of change left so I have to go. I’ll call you tomorrow. Good night, love you.”

As Maria replaced the receiver, Mrs. Whitman came into the room carrying two mugs of hot chocolate. “Where am I anyway?”

“You’re in Roswell.” Mrs. Whitman said, handing her a cup and nodding for her to take a seat by the roaring fire. “Where are you from dear?”

“Oh, I’m from New Mexico originally but I’m living in New York now. I go to college there.”

Mrs. Whitman nodded. “What on earth were you doing driving around these roads so far from home on a night like tonight?”

“I’m heading to Salem to do research on my masters thesis. I left later than I had planned to this morning and then I got diverted because of the storm and I guess I took a wrong turn somewhere or missed the right turn and I ended up here.” Maria explained.

“Salem.” Mrs. Whitman repeated. “So you’re doing a project on witchcraft?”

“Actually my theory is that women who were accused of witchcraft were modern and progressive and were accused by men who wanted to keep them in their place. Witchcraft was only the excuse they used to exert their authority and make the women submit.”

“That sounds fascinating. You must be a very smart young lady.”

“Not smart enough to read a map.” Maria laughed.

They were interrupted by the sound of the front door opening and heavy feet stomping on the floor. A moment later the door of the parlor opened and a young man stooped through.

“Hey Grandma.” He said, straightening up. Maria felt her pulse speed up as she took in his appearance. He was tall and lean, a damp T-shirt clung to his body showing off his well toned physique. He brushed back his shaggy wet hair and Maria had an urge to lick her lips. He was gorgeous.

Mrs. Whitman jumped up and pulled him closer to the fire. “This is my grandson Michael. He lives here with me. Michael this is Maria, she’s staying with us tonight.”

“I heard.” He said dryly.

Another man was standing in the doorway, covered from head to foot in bright yellow rain gear. It took Maria a second glance to identify him as the mechanic from the bar earlier. He nodded at her and Mrs. Whitman. “Your car’s in the garage, I’ll get to work on it first thing in the morning. Your bags are here in the hallway.”

“Thank you.” Maria smiled.

Kyle declined Mrs. Whitman’s offer of soup and said goodnight.

“I’ll fetch you some soup dear.” Mrs. Whitman told her grandson. She kissed his cheek affectionately as she passed him.

Michael sat back in his chair and regarded Maria. His look was so searing that Maria looked away and watched the flames dance in the fireplace. Her cheeks were burning but it wasn’t from the heat of the fire.

“Nice outfit.” He commented eventually.

Maria pulled the sweater further over her knees. “Your grandmother gave it to me, I hope you don’t mind.”

“Not at all.” He smiled, his eyes still roaming over her body.

“Is it still bad out?” Maria asked conversationally, stifling a yawn.

He shrugged. “I think it’s dying down now. You look beat.”

She yawned again as she nodded. “I’m exhausted.”

Mrs. Whitman came back into the room as Maria yawned again. “You poor dear. Michael, take her bags up to her room will you. And show her where we keep the spare blankets in case she gets cold tonight.”

Maria rose to her feet. “Thank you so much for everything tonight Mrs. Whitman, I’m so grateful.”

“Not at all my dear, it’s a pleasure to have company. Goodnight, I hope you sleep well.”


<center>~*~</center>


“There are spare blankets are in the chest at the end of the bed if you need them.” Michael informed Maria.

“Thank you.” Maria said wearily, now that she was warm, dry and fed, all she wanted to do was sleep and her eyes were growing heavier by the second.

As Michael made his way out of the room, he had to brush past Maria who was still standing in the doorway. When his body brushed against hers, Maria felt a tingle of electricity course through her body.

He dipped his head closer to hers, so close she could feel his warm breath on her face. “I’m right next door if you need me for anything. Sweet dreams.”

She was too tired to even flirt back so Maria nodded and waited until he had gone before closing the door and flopping onto the bed. She was fast asleep within seconds.


<center>~*~</center>


“Maria.”

Sometime during the night, she woke up with a start and sat bolt upright in the bed. Her heart was hammering in her chest. She fumbled around on the nightstand until her hand found the light switch and she flicked on the lamp.

“You were just dreaming Maria.” She told herself. With a shiver she realised that the room was freezing and even though she was lying under two blankets and a heavy comforter she was still cold. Michael had said there were blankets in the chest. So she climbed out of the bed and opened the chest.

The chest was made from real solid oak wood and the beautifully carved lid was very heavy. Maria reckoned that it was at least two hundred years old.

“Maria.”

With a slight scream, Maria whirled around, dropping the heavy lid with a crash. “I did not imagine that.” She said to the empty room.

You must have imagined that. There’s no one here, she told herself. That voice had belonged to a young woman and as far as she knew she was the only young woman in the house. She listened carefully but heard no further sound. Not a creak of a floorboard, or a whisper of wind. Even the rain seemed to have stopped.

“Get a grip.” She commanded herself. She was too tired to go though her purse in search or her cypress oil right now. With a shiver she opened the lid of the chest again to get a blanket.

Her first thought was that she had broken the lid when she dropped it. The inside of the lid had fallen off and was lying on top of the blankets. Then she realised that it wasn’t broken but that there was a concealed compartment inside the lid, which had come loose, when she dropped it. “Cool.”

She slipped the piece back into place, it was stiff and tricky but she managed it. Then she saw the journal, nestled in the fold of the blanket. It was dirty and tattered, the pages yellow and stiff and it smelled strongly of must and age. She lifted it out delicately and opened it up. The spine cracked as she did.

“Oh my god.” Lying between the two pages lay a single white rose. Its petals were pure white and soft to the touch, fresh. When she lifted it to her nose she was hit with the soft, sweet fragrance of rose. Maria frowned, how did a fresh rose get inside a dusty old journal in the secret compartment of a dusty old chest?

But before she could give it any more thought, her attention was drawn to the words written on the page. Although the writing was faded, she could still make it out.

September 23rd, 1699.

My name is Elizabeth Parker and five days have passed since I died.


<center>~*~</center>
Last edited by tequathisy on Wed Jun 14, 2006 9:39 am, edited 20 times in total.
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Post by tequathisy » Mon Jan 09, 2006 7:39 am

Thanks to everyone who left feedback, I've been planning this story for ages so it means a lot to me that people like it.

Xmag My very own PR woman!!! I’m so glad that you like it.

ISLANDGIRL5 Thanks for all the help.

Gretita Creepy is what I was going for.

Behrlyliz Thank you

Shobhna Guerin

Kittens

Ellie Thanks.

RhondaAnn I aim to please

FaithfulAngel24 Thank you. You may find that Maria’s theory changes a little before the end of the fic

Majandria You’ll find out about Liz is this part.

nibbles2 Your questions will be answered in good time.

AngelicFairy Can’t tell you, you’ll just have to read to find out!!


Some lines taken from the pilot episode. //italics// denotes Flashes.



Two


September 23rd, 1699

I’m Elizabeth Parker and five days have passed since I died.



It was beginning to feel like autumn. For the first time in months, there was a nip in the air and Liz had worn a cloak when she decided to go berry picking in the woods around her home. She had enjoyed a very successful day. Her basket was brimming over with berries of many different types and she walked along the path back to the town, leaves’ crunching underfoot, her mind filled with recipes and ideas for how she would use the berries. Preserves, pies, and jams; her mouth watered in delight.

She was almost at the edge of the forest, and could see the wisps of smoke curling from the homes of the town. The laughter of children playing close by filled the air. She was so occupied with the thought of all the lovely things she would bake for Jeremiah and Sarah, that she didn’t see the wolf until it was only a couple of feet away.

It stood directly in her path, its teeth bared and back arched, growling menacingly. Liz froze at once, unsure of what to do. She knew that any sudden movement would only startle the beast and it would attack, but if she stood still and did nothing she was in grave danger.

She cast her eyes around for anything that she could use to defend herself. There was a stick lying at the edge of the path, almost buried by undergrowth. Bravely, she inched towards it, keeping one eye on the wolf and the other on the stick.

Crack.

A small twig cracked beneath her foot. With a snarl, the wolf leaped at her, his claws sinking into her stomach, ripping her dress and skin. A bloodcurdling scream escaped her lips before darkness enveloped her.

“Elizabeth, you must look at me.” A voice said, soft but firm. She opened her eyes and could just make out the faint outline of a man hovering close to her. She was so cold and so tired and in so much pain. He placed his hand on her stomach. Then she was filled with a light that was soft and warm and took her pain away.

“You’re all right now, the wolf jumped past you and you fell, spilling the basket of berries, and you rolled on top of them.” The man was speaking again, but this time Liz could see him clearly. He was young and handsome. His eyes were honey brown, they were the most beautiful eyes Liz had ever seen. “Don’t say anything, please.”

Then he was gone.

Liz climbed unsteadily to her feet. What had just happened? The basket of fruit lay upturned on the ground, its contents scattered all over, and many of the berries were squashed. There was a rip in her dress where the wolf and pierced it with its claws, it was covered in red berries. Even as she spun around, trying to locate the mysterious man who had saved her she could hear the sound of feet racing towards her.

Several townsmen burst through the trees, some brandishing clubs and pitchforks. They circled her, taking in her disheveled appearance, their eyes drawn automatically to the bright red stain on the front of her dress.

Her father raced towards her. “Lizzie, what happened?”

“A wolf.” Liz answered her voice quavering.

A murmur of alarm ran through the assembled men. Jeffery gasped in horror and began to run his hands over his daughter’s stomach. She stepped back from him and lied for the first time in her life. “Father, I am fine. I dropped my basket and fell on the berries when he leaped over me.”

“It did not attack you?”

Liz shook her head. “Truly father, I am fine.”

“Blessed be, you were most fortunate my daughter.” Jeffery said. “Come, you must return home and change your clothes.”

“Yes father.” She bowed her head to him and picked up her basket. There were still some berries in the bottom, enough for a pie perhaps.

A man separated himself from the others and blocked her path, when Liz attempted to walk around him he moved in front of her.

“Excuse me Brother Lawrence.” She asked.

“She is lying.” He called loudly. The other men, who had been examining the tracks in the ground paused and looked up.

Liz felt her heart thump in her chest. How could he know that she was lying? What had he seen?

“What are you talking about?” Brother James asked.

“There was a man here with her before you arrived. I saw him, he did something to her.” Lawrence told the men. They all turned to her, their eyes watching her accusingly.

Liz raised her chin and looked directly at her father, she would answer him and no other. “There was a man here. He wanted to make sure that I had not been harmed, and then he left to give chase to the wolf so that it wouldn’t go into the town.”

“What man? Who is he?” Jeffery demanded.

“I…I do not know him father.”

“It was one of the travelers.” Lawrence supplied helpfully. “I saw him put his hand on her and make a light.”

“Make a light, with his hand?” Jeffrey repeated dubiously. “Brother Lawrence, perhaps you were mistaken. It is well known that your eyes are not the most reliable in town and it is dark and gloomy here in the woods.”

Satisfied at that, the other men returned to their task and Liz slipped quietly away.

Once she was clear of the trees, Liz was able to breathe again. She was alarmed to realize that she was shaking, she touched her stomach with her hand. In the dell below her the town was bustling with activity and noise. On the hill above it was the traveler’s encampment.

Since their arrival in Rosalind’s Well three months earlier, the travelers had kept to themselves most of the time. They only joined the other town’s people for Sunday worship and on trading days. Slowly over the summer, they had begun to build houses. Liz could see four completed ones standing proudly on the hill, another two or three in the process of being built. Many of the townsfolk had remarked on the ‘travelers’, as they called themselves, remarkable skills at house building. They were highly skilled in their crafts, that was for certain. Liz and her husband had already purchased a number of high quality items from them. Until today, she had never given them much further thought.

And now, she didn’t know what to think. One of them had placed his hand on her stomach, inches below her heart and healed a fatal wound, bringing her back from the dead. Only God had that kind of power, so who were those people? Were they angels? Servants of the Lord? Or was it an evil power, given to them by Satan?

“Elizabeth.”

She looked back towards the town, her husband was racing up the hill towards her. He looked frantic. A couple of other men were behind him, struggling to keep up.

“Elizabeth, my dear. I have just heard about the attack. Are you well?” Jeremiah asked, when he reached her he pulled her to him and embraced her.

“I am fine Jeremiah, I am on my way home to change my clothes. I am covered in berry juice.” Liz assured him, stepping out of his reach before he could examine her closer.

“I am joining the other men in the wood to help them search for the wolf. Sarah is with your mother. I will return at nightfall.” He kissed her cheek and waved for the other men to hurry into the woods with him.

Liz watched him go, then trotted down the hill into the valley. As she hurried down the hill, she realized that her hair was loose about her shoulders and as she picked up pace it began streaming behind her. She had no idea where her cap was. It was the first time since she had become a woman that she had allowed her hair to come loose, it was a rule of her church that hair must be kept confined under a cap at all times. In normal situations Liz would never have dreamed of allowing so much as a single tendril to escape the tight bun she usually wore, but today she relished to feel of her hair flying behind her in the wind. At the bottom of the hill, two older women stared at her not attempting to hide their disapproval. Liz did not even stop to bow her head to them.

When she reached her house, something made her pause before she went inside, a prickle on her spine. Slowly, she turned and looked back up the hill in the direction she had come down. A man was standing there, and although she was too far away to see, she knew that he was staring straight at her.

It was him.


<center>~*~</center>


The next morning, the Sabbath, the townspeople of Rosalind's Well rose early and assembled in the small wooden church. The building was over sixty years old and had been built for a much smaller community, but in recent years the population of the town had swelled. With the addition of the travelers at the beginning of the summer, conditions in the church were cramped and worshippers were crammed against the walls and in the aisles. Only three weeks ago, it had been decided to remove two of the pews and although it meant fewer places to sit, it did allow more room for the people to fill.

As the wife of the minister, Liz was fortunate to be guaranteed a seat. She always took her seat early on Sundays, to Jeremiah’s right and read a passage from her Bible as she waited for the service to begin. Jeremiah believed that it was important that she was there to set a good example to the younger women in the town, many of whom he believed were too concerned with finding husbands and other frivolities. They had been behaving even worse than usual since the arrival of the travelers, who had many handsome unmarried men amongst their ranks.

Today, Liz could feel all eyes on her and unusual level of excitement in the chatter, on several occasions she heard wolf and berries. She kept her eyes trained on her Bible, but the words swam meaninglessly in front of her eyes. She was never so relieved when Jeremiah stood up on the pulpit and silenced the crowd with a glare.

It always struck Liz how different her kind and gentle husband was from the man he became when standing on the pulpit preaching to his flock. With the power of his voice he could silence the entire town and hold them captive and attentive. With one look he could make a sinner repent, a naughty child behave, a twittering girl become serious. Even the town’s elders respected him and sought his advice.

When they had first married, Liz had been terrified of him, afraid that she would disappoint him by failing to live up to his high moral standards. But over the two years of their marriage she had come to see a different side of him, he was soft spoken in his home, gentle with his wife and devoted to his daughter. She had come to love the two sides of his character.

She loved coming to church to watch him as he spoke. His words always inspired her to live her life the way the Lord expected. Yet today, she could not concentrate on his words, and her reactions and responses were automatic. For the first time since she was a child, she found that she was not listening to the minister but was keenly aware of the congregation all around her. She could hear every rustle of clothes, every sigh of boredom, every murmur of prayer, every suppressed cough, and the page of every prayer book being turned.

Liz wondered if he was there, the man who had somehow saved her life with the touch of his hand. As the service continued, everything faded away, the crowd, her husband and all she was aware of was the feel of somebody’s eyes on her. His gaze was hot, like the sun on the hottest day of summer it warmed her. She raised her eyes from her Bible and looked at the crowd. She found him at once. He was standing by the wall, staring straight at her. He was by far the most handsome man in the church. Liz met his glance for a second then looked away.

Before long, Liz was shocked to find that the service was over and the congregation was spilling out of the church. She pushed her way through the crowd but by the time she was outside, there was so sign of the man. As she stood scanning the crowd in search of him, she became aware of two women watching her. They were beautiful and blonde, one was as tall as most of the men in town, the other was smaller with piercing blue eyes. She knew by their fine clothes that they were travelers. The taller blonde bowed her head in greeting then turned and made her way through the town quickly, the smaller one trotted quickly in her wake, gesturing and talking rapidly.

“Elizabeth, my dear.” Jeremiah’s voice shook her from her thoughts and she turned to face him. “Brother Knowles is very ill. I must go to his home and visit with him. Will you lock the church for me?”

She took the large brass key from his hand. “Of course.”

Jeremiah pulled on his cloak and walked away in the company of some of Brother Knowles’ relatives. Liz went back into the church and took a seat in the back pew, waiting for the stragglers to finish their prayers and leave. One by one they got up and left, Liz pretended to be reading her Bible so that none of them would stop and talk to her. Eventually the last one left and Liz locked the door behind her before returning to the solitude of the church.

But she was not alone, he was there.

“I thought we should talk.” He said simply.

Liz nodded and took a step towards him. “What is your name?”

“I am Maxwell Evans, Max.”

“I am Elizabeth Parker.”

He smiled sadly. “I know, the ministers wife. You must have a lot of questions.”

“Yes.” Liz nodded again and then was silent, her mind racing with all the questions she had to ask. After a moment, she reached down and undid one button on the front of her dress. Max stared at her, transfixed, unable to move or take his eyes away from her stomach.

Liz parted her dress just enough to reveal a glowing silver handprint on her stomach. Max’s eyes widened when he saw it and Liz quickly buttoned her dress up. “Did your husband see that?” He asked in alarm.

“No…he…uh, never mind.” She wasn’t about to explain to this stranger that since she had almost died in childbirth, she and her husband and not lain together again in case she got pregnant.

She took a deep breath. “What are you? Where did you come from?”

In answer, he raised his and pointed his index finger to the heavens.

Liz followed his finger with her eyes and stared at the ceiling. “You’re not an…. An angel. Are you?” She asked.

Max smiled in amusement. “No, I’m not. I am a traveler from the stars. I came to Earth from another planet.”

In fear, Liz turned to leave.

“Elizabeth…” Max called, hurrying after.

“I must go, my daughter is at my mother’s house I must take her home.” Liz cried, her voice laced with rising hysteria.

Max stopped her by the door when her hand was at the latch. He stood close to her, close enough for her to feel his breath on her face.

“Elizabeth, listen to me. You cannot talk to anyone about this, not your parents, not your husband, no one. You do not understand what will happen if you do. Please Elizabeth, my life is in your hands.”

He let go of her arm and left the church. Liz leaned against the door, breathing hard long after he had gone. She did not know what had frightened her more, his startling revelation or how she had felt when he touched her.


<center>~*~</center>


“You seem very distracted.” Jeremiah commented after supper that evening. They were sitting by the fire. Liz had her Bible open on her lap but she was staring at the flames, deep in thought.

“I’m sorry.” She said.

Jeremiah placed his books on the small table and pulled his chair closer to his wife. “Is there something troubling you? Perhaps it would help to talk about it.”

Liz looked at him. “Mother told me today that Martha Ridgewood’s child will not see out the winter. That will be her fourth child to die. She is a good woman, devout and pious. She keeps a good home and loves her family dearly, I cannot understand why God allows her to suffer so.”

“It is not for us to question His wisdom, if He feels it is time for little Susan to join him in his glorious kingdom then we must accept it. His plan will be made clear to us one day,” Jeremiah said with a look of fervent belief in his eyes.

“What if there is no plan, no design? What if it is just chance and accident that lets people live or die?” Liz pressed.

Jeremiah took her hand in his. “I know what has made you think like this. You had a very lucky escape yesterday with the wolf. But you must not think like that, God spared you for a reason, just as he spared you the night Sarah was born.”

“Of course, I did not mean to sound as though I was questioning Him.”

“Liz…is there something else bothering you?” Jeremiah asked.

Looking into his kind green eyes, Liz suddenly wanted to confide the truth to him, to reveal what Max had done. Then she remembered the way Max had looked at her as he pleaded with her to say nothing. His eyes were filled with fear. He had held her life in his hands and saved her, it was the least she could do for him. So Liz met her husband’s glance and smiled. “There is nothing.”

He kissed her chastely on her forehead and returned to the letter he had been writing. With a sigh Liz picked up her bible again. It had fallen open near the beginning and her eyes were drawn to a passage half way down the page.

And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.

Genesis (chapter I, verse. 26)


Liz frowned, her whole life was spent according to the bible and its commands. She had never questioned a word of it before, never had reason to question it. But now, in light of Max’s revelations, Liz found herself wondering if what she had been brought up to believe wasn’t true.


<center>~*~</center>


In the middle of the night, Liz rose to attend to her daughter who was crying. She was seven month’s old and her first teeth were cutting. Liz paced the floor, gently cradling the baby in her arms, rocking her until she finally fell back to sleep.

She placed Sarah into her crib, and caressed her face gently. “Good night my sweet angel, I may not know what to believe anymore but I know that you are a true miracle.” She kissed her rosy cheek and tucked her in snugly.

Liz glanced at her husband, sleeping contentedly in their bed and suddenly no longer felt tired. She grabbed her cloak, silently crept out of the room and slipped out onto the porch.

She could see a figure standing by the well in the center of the town, and as though sensing her presence he turned to look at her. Liz felt her heart skip a beat when she recognized him.

“Max.”

They stood unmoving for a long time, then Max slowly approached her. He stopped a couple of feet in front of the porch.

“I can’t imagine how you must feel now. I have thought about telling you a thousand times.” He said.

“You have? Me?” Liz asked in surprise.

Max smiled.

“What is it?”

“I have never seen you with your hair loose before, it’s beautiful.”

Liz touched her hair in surprise. She knew that it was vanity to take pride in her personal appearance and tried her hardest not to, but she was proud of her hair and often felt a little sad that she had to wear it covered all day long. Jeremiah never complimented it. He would not encourage vanity.

“I keep picturing you when you got it tangled in the blackberry bushes and had to wait for your father to find you before you could be freed.”

“Goodness, that’s right. I had forgotten about that.” Liz smiled at that memory, but it quickly faded and she frowned. “How did you know that? That happened when I was four years old, you have only been in Rosalind’s Well for three months. Did you read my mind?”

Max held up his hands. “No, I cannot do that. When I healed you, I made this… I don’t know…a connection with you. And I got a rush of images. An image of you with your hair knotted in bramble flashed into my mind and I knew how you felt about it.”

“How did I feel about it?”

“Embarrassed and you were terrified that you would have to have your hair cut off but you were trying to show that you didn’t mind because pride is a sin.”

Liz nodded in shock.

Max swallowed nervously. “I have never tried this before, but maybe I can make the connection go the other way. So that you can see that you have nothing to be afraid of.” He advanced onto the porch where she was standing.

He paused shyly. “I have to touch you.”

Liz nodded her permission and Max took a step closer. Liz prayed silently that he wouldn’t notice how sweaty her palms had suddenly become, or how loud her heartbeat was pounding in her ears. She didn’t notice the tremble of Max’s hands as he raised them and placed them on her both sides of her head, cupping her face gently.

“Now, just take a deep breath and let your mind go blank.”

Almost at once Liz was hit with a rush of images.

// A silver sky, three moon glowing a sickly green color.//

//A being, tall and white clasping his hands together as he breathed his last breath.//

//Stars racing past. A planet coming into view, blue and green.//

//Seeing a tree for the first time, a flower, the dark night sky, human beings.//

//Travelling by wagon in search of a place to call home. Standing on the hill over looking Rosalind’s Well.//

//Watching Liz reading her bible during church service, watching her draw water from the well, watching her laugh and talk with other women, watching her soothe a crying infant. Watching her with her husband.//


Liz could feel everything he was feeling as she watched the most significant events of his life through his eyes. She felt his dismay as he watched his planet die, his hope for a new life on Earth, his disappointment when he realized how primitive and closed minded the people of earth still are. His loneliness.

She could see herself as Max Evans saw her and in his eyes, she was beautiful.

He took his hands away from her face and bowed his head. “Good night Liz. Sweet dreams.”

As she watched him walk away, Liz didn’t notice a man skulking in the shadows.


<center>~*~</center>

September 23rd, 1699

I’m Elizabeth Parker and five days have passed since I died. And now, for the first time in my life, I feel alive.”


<center>~*~</center>
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tequathisy
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Post by tequathisy » Wed Jan 18, 2006 8:31 am

Hi everyone. Thanks for all the amazing feedback.

Majandria

RhondaAnn
Well, Michael is in the present so unless he’s over three hundred years old it’s unlikely he came with Max.

Xmag Yes, it’s going to be very hard on Liz!! As for Alex, you’ll know soon enough.

nibbles2 Maybe

Ellie

FaithfulAngel24
You’re making me blush, thank you for your kind words.

Behrlyliz While I have your attention, have you the next chapter of One West Roswell written yet? Thanks.

Timelord31

Maya

ISLANDGIRL5
Again, thanks for all your help.

Antarian Chick Are you saying that Liz should arrange for her husband to have an accident? As for Michael, I’m not saying anything yet except that Michael is in his 20s.



Three


It took Maria a moment to remember where she was when she woke up the next morning and found herself in a strange room. Sometime during the night she had kicked all the covers off the bed and onto the floor, but even with only a sheet for cover she was hot and sticky. She frowned, hadn’t she woken up shivering during the night.

With a groan, Maria rolled onto her stomach to reach her watch. It was heading towards eleven o’clock in the morning. “Better get up lazybones.” Maria said to herself and climbed out of bed. She pulled the frilly drapes back from the window and crouched down to look out.

Thankfully, the rain had stopped and the sun was shining brightly. The view through the window was breathtaking. To each side of Mrs. Whitman house were more neatly kept colonial houses, all grouped around a small lake that glittered and sparkled like diamonds in the sun. Beyond the lake was a large forest whose leaves were turning all the beautiful shades of fall. It was one of the prettiest towns Maria had ever seen.

Maria picked up the journal off the nightstand and turned it over in her hand. She lifted it to her nose and sniffed it. It certainly smelled genuinely old. But there was no way it could be real, aliens had not landed on earth three hundred years ago. The girl who had written it either was delusional or had a very vivid imagination. But it was interesting and she certainly wanted to read more.

Her stomach rumbled and Maria was suddenly aware that she was really hungry. She showered and dressed quickly and made up the bed. While she was putting the extra blanket back into the chest, Maria examined the secret compartment. She could barely see the partition in the lid and couldn’t open it, even after she had dropped the lid down heavily as she had done the night before. If it hadn’t been for the journal sitting on the nightstand, she would have thought she had dreamed the secret compartment.

In the kitchen Mrs. Whitman had a feast laid out on the table for her, and Maria suspected it was served on the good china too.

“Did you sleep well dear?”

“Great, thanks. I didn’t mean to sleep so late this morning.”

“You were tired, you look a lot better today. Have some scones, I made them fresh this morning. And some of my homemade jam.” Mrs. Whitman urged, she was watching what Maria eat like a hawk and Maria found herself eating twice as much as she normally did in case she offended her host.

“It’s so nice to have visitors, we hardly ever get any here.” Mrs. Whitman said as she poured a cup of breakfast tea for Maria.

“You’ve been so good to me.” Maria smiled gratefully.

“It’s nice to have somebody to fuss over, Michael hates when I fuss over him.” The older woman smiled.

“Is it just you and Michael who live here?” Maria asked, remembering the voice she thought she had heard during the night.

Mrs. Whitman nodded sadly. “Yes, his parents died when he was a child and he’s lived with me since. I think he would have moved out by now but he doesn’t want to leave me on his own. He’s such a good boy.”

“That’s so sad. How did they die?” Maria asked. The bit her lip. “I’m sorry, you don’t have to tell me.” She added hastily.

“It’s alright. Helen, his mother must have been swimming and got into difficulty and Matthew, my son went in to help her. They were both drowned.” Mrs. Whitman told her, she wiped a tear from her eye. “Michael was only six at the time.”

“In the lake outside?” Maria asked.

“Yes, it looks beautiful, but that lake is very dangerous. Many people have lost their lives in it through the years. It’s very deep you see. If you want to go swimming there’s a river just outside of town.”

“Oh, hopefully I’ll be leaving soon. I mean, not that I don’t want to stay here but I need to get to Salem to do my research soon. I hope they can fix my car today.”

“I’m sure Kyle will have it ready for you in no time, he’s the best mechanic in the state.” Mrs. Whitman assured her. “Hopefully you’ll come back here someday, perhaps when you’re returning to New York. Or maybe you’re in a hurry to get back home, do you have a young man waiting for you in New York?”

Maria scowled. “No, no young man. I’m free and single.”

“So is Michael.” Mrs. Whitman said happily.

“Oh…I…uh….good for him.” Maria stammered, she felt her cheeks blush warmly. What was wrong with her? She wasn’t they type to blush at a grandmothers not so subtle attempt at matchmaking.

“There are plenty of girls in this town who’d love to settle down with him, but none of them can convince him. He’s broken quite a few hearts already, let me tell you. He’s very handsome, don’t you think?” Mrs. Whitman continued.

“Very handsome.” Maria agreed politely.

Of course, Michael entered the kitchen as she said that. “Who’s very handsome?” He asked with a knowing smirk.

“Kyle is.” Mrs. Whitman answered without missing a beat. “And good with his hands too.” She winked at a very shocked Maria.

Michael took the seat opposite Maria and smirked knowingly. “Right, Kyle is handsome. If you like I can take you down to his garage now to see if your car is ready.”

Maria took a sip of water to get herself under control. “That would be great, thank you Michael.”


<center>~*~</center>


After Mrs. Whitman was happy that Maria and Michael could eat no more, they were allowed to leave the breakfast table and walk to the garage. The sun was shining brightly, the heat from the summer was gone but it was still warm and pleasant.

“This place is so pretty.” Maria commented. “It’s surprising that you’re not inundated with tourists.”

“We like it this way.” Her companion answered.

“I figured as much from the friendly welcome I got last night.” Maria said sarcastically.

Michael scratched his eyebrow. “Yeah, I heard about that. I guess they were just surprised when you landed in the bar so late when most normal people were inside.”

Maria stopped, suddenly aware that they were being followed. She whipped around to find a gaggle of small children following them, trying desperately to stifle their laughter. “Hi Sheriff, hi Lady.” They chorused.

“Hi.” Maria smiled.

“Hey you lot, go and play somewhere.” Michael told them and although there was a gruffness to his voice, he was smiling too.

The kids tore away shrieking and laughing.

“You’re the Sheriff?” Maria asked in disbelief.

Michael pulled up the hem of his shirt to reveal a shiny badge clipped to his belt. “Yes. Why is that so hard to believe?”

Maria shrugged. “I don’t know, you just seem like the kind of guy who breaks the law instead of upholding it.”

“Not anymore.” Michael smirked enigmatically.

They had reached the end of the row of houses facing the waterfront and were facing a large white building that went right down to the lake. There were a couple of boats moored along the jetty in front of the building, an upturned one on the grass behind it and a couple of old vintage cars, gleaming in the sunshine. Michael led Maria into the building where they found a group of five men standing around staring at the engine of Maria’s car.

Apart from Kyle, none of the men looked like mechanics, two of them were even wearing suits. They all looked perplexed.

“I take it by the expression on your face that you haven’t figured out what the problem is.” Maria guessed.

“I’m afraid not.” Kyle admitted. He scratched his head. “Have you had any problems with it recently.”

Maria laughed. “It’s just one big problem. In the last five months I’ve had problems with the fan belt, the carburettor, the heater and the brakes.”

“Maybe you should just buy a new car.” Kyle suggested jokingly.

“Sure, it’s on the top of my list of things to buy when I win the lottery. Unfortunately, I’m a poor student so I’m stuck with this one.”

“Did something happen to it while you were driving? There were marks on the road that looked like you lost control of it before you stopped.” Kyle went on.

“Oh, yeah…I thought I saw somebody and I stopped but I skidded because the road was so wet. When I tried to start it again, it wouldn’t go.” Maria explained.

“You saw somebody?” Michael repeated with a frown.

“I thought I did. But when I got out to check there was nobody there.”

“What did the person look like?” Michael asked.

She shrugged. “A girl, long brown hair, white dress. I was just imagining it, I was really tired and stressed last night, and it’s like you said everyone would have been inside at the time.”

There was silence in the room after Maria had finished speaking and she noticed the men exchange strange looks with each other. For a moment she was afraid that somebody was going to tell her that she hadn’t been imagining the girl and had hit her with the car or something equally awful.

Instead, Michael nodded. “Probably, you were dead on your feet last night. Kyle, do you think you’ll be able to get the car started today?”

The mechanic shrugged. “I’ll try a few things, I should have it done later today.”

One of the other men, dressed in a dark suit stepped forward. “Maybe we could tow it to Safehaven. The mechanic there might have more experience with cars like this.” His spoke in a loud booming voice that Maria recognised. He had been the one arguing with Mrs. Whitman in the kitchen last night.

“That seems like a lot of unnecessary trouble.” Maria countered. And expense, she thought to herself. “I’m sure it’s something simple and Kyle will figure it out soon.”

“Of course I will, there’s no need to tow it to Safehaven.” Kyle said cheerfully, but there was an underlying tone to his voice that Maria was sure was directed to the man in the dark suit.

“Great, I’ll be at Mrs. Whitman’s so if you get it fixed you can find me there.” Maria smiled. She opened the front passenger door of the car and picked up some of her belongings from the seat and glove compartment.

After leaving the garage, Maria took a seat on a bench facing the lake and took in the spectacular view. She opened the map on her lap and tried to find Roswell on it. She found Safehaven quickly and Garrison, which had been the last town she had passed before getting lost but she couldn’t see Roswell anywhere.

A shadow fell across the map and Maria looked up to find a pretty blonde standing beside the bench. “May I sit here?” She asked.

“Sure.” Maria said, gathering her things close together to make room for the other girl to sit down.

“It’s a beautiful day, isn’t it.” The blonde said after a while.

Maria nodded. “It’s really lovely. Can you show me where Roswell is on the map?”

“Uh…of course. I’m Courtney, by the way.” She other woman smiled. She took the map and pointed to a spot. “It’s around there, but it’s so small that it doesn’t get included on a lot of maps.”

Maria took the map back and circled the area Courtney had shown her. “That’s odd, on this map it looks like it’s just forest here. There aren’t even any roads marked on it.”

Courtney shrugged. “It’s obviously not a very good map, no wonder you got lost.”

“I guess.” Maria frowned, folding up the map.

Courtney looked at her watch. “It’s getting kind of late, shouldn’t you be leaving soon?” She spoke in a friendly manner, but her eyes were cold.

“My car isn’t fixed yet so I have to stay a little longer.” Maria replied, trying not to show her surprise at the other girl’s rudeness.

The blonde’s eyes narrowed. “Do you mean you’ll be staying another night?” This time she didn’t even try to act friendly.

“I can’t leave until my car is fixed so, yeah I guess I might have to.” Maria answered. She gathered her things together and stood up. “I should get going. Thanks for your help.”

“Wait.” Courtney stood in Maria’s way. “Michael and I have a thing going, so you needn’t think that just because you’re staying in his house for a couple of nights means that anything is going to happen between the two of you.”

“Nothing could have been further from my mind.” Maria assured her, then stepped around her and walked away.


<center>~*~</center>


“You’re more than welcome to stay for as long as you need to.” Mrs. Whitman assured Maria happily.

“It probably won’t be that long anyway, my car’s a heap of junk unfortunately, but generally it’s easy enough to get it back on the road.” Maria assured her, she bit her lip in hesitation. “I get the impression that not everybody wants me around, I hope I’m not causing too much trouble for you.”

Mrs. Whitman dismissed Maria’s worries with a wave of her hand. “Don’t be silly, I love having you here. It’s so nice to have company to stay. I just hope that it doesn’t interfere with your plans too much.”

“Not really, to be honest I could have done most of the research online but I like to do it myself. It’s funny, when I was at school I hated history because it was just facts in books. But now that I have to go out and find things out for myself I love it. My mom says it’s because I’m naturally nosy about other people’s business, even if they’re dead.”

“So many young people nowadays don’t appreciate history, it’s important to know where we came from.” Mrs. Whitman said, taking a seat beside Maria. “If we don’t respect our history and learn from it then we’re doomed to make the same mistakes over and over again. But at the same time I believe that history and tradition shouldn’t restrict the decisions we make today. Just because things have always been done one way doesn’t mean that it should always be done that way.”

Maria nodded, she had the impression that Mrs. Whitman was talking about something else now but she didn’t understand what it was. “There’s such a strong sense of history in this house and this town. At least, what I’ve seen of it anyway. Has your family lived here for long?”

Mrs. Whitman nodded proudly. “My late husband’s family have lived here, in this very house since 1699. It was the first house to be built in Roswell. My own family has been here since then too, we have a house on the next block.”

“1699?” Maria repeated. “Wow, that’s amazing. Did both of your families arrive at the same time?”

“Yes, we came here, to America together on the same ship. We belonged to the same religion and we weren’t welcome back in the old world so we fled to America. Most of the families who live here can trace their ancestors back to that ship. Have you any interest in your own genealogy?”

“My grandmother traced her years ago, she was able to trace our roots back to the early 18th century, but it was really tricky because she traced it through her grandmothers.” Maria explained.

“Oh? Why did she do it that way?”

Maria smiled wryly. “The women in my family have a really bad track record when it comes to keeping men. None of the men on my mother’s side have ever outlived their wives. Most of the women were either widowed or deserted within their first year of marriage and several of them had children illegitimately and never married at all. Grandma said there was a curse on us.”

“Do you believe that?” Mrs. Whitman asked.

“No, of course not. I don’t believe in curses or ghosts or anything like that.” Maria laughed. “We just have sucky taste in men, that’s all.”

Mrs. Whitman placed her hand on Maria’s and squeezed it gently. “So then, you grew up without a father?”

“Yeah…he left when my Mom told him she was pregnant. They were only seventeen so I kind of understand why he left. But he’s older now, he could have got in contact.” Maria said, a little sadly. She shook her head to clear her melancholy. “I never missed him though, my mom and my Grandma were the only family I needed.”

“Maybe you’ll be the one to break the cycle.” Mrs. Whitman smiled.

Maria snorted. “I highly doubt that, not with my record to date.” She looked at the old grandfather clock. “I should email my friend and let him know that I’m going to be delayed. Is there anywhere in town that has Internet access?”

“The library has, just tell Susie that Mrs. Whitman sent you and she’ll be happy to help.” Mrs. Whitman told her rising to her feet as the oven-timer rang. She removed a delicious smelling cake from the oven and laid it on the counter to rest. “If you’re going out you should put on a sweater, it’s getting cooler out.”

“Sure.” Maria smiled, feeling as though she had been transported to her own grandmother’s kitchen. She climbed the narrow stairs to the room she had slept in the night before to get a sweater.

Her eyes fell on the journal sitting on the nightstand and she picked it up.

I don’t believe in aliens either, Maria thought to herself. There was no way that what was written in the journal was true. It was either an elaborate hoax, for what end she didn’t know. Or, Max Evans had duped Liz somehow.

Maria frowned. Mrs. Whitman had said that her family had arrived in Roswell in 1699, which was the same time as the ‘travellers’ had arrived in Rosalind’s Well according to Liz. Were Roswell and Rosalind’s Well the same place or were they different?

She shook her head. “You’re crazy Deluca, there’s no way it’s true.” If Mrs. Whitman was descended from the travellers of Rosalind’s Well and what Liz had written in the journal was true then that meant Mrs. Whitman and Michael were descended from aliens.

Maria laughed at her own foolishness, there was no way that Mrs. Whitman was an alien.

She left the journal back on the nightstand but as she did she caught sight of the rose which had fallen on the floor. It was still as fresh and sweet smelling as it had been the night before.

“Explain that.” Maria murmured to herself. It was too late in the year for roses to be growing and how had a fresh one got into the concealed compartment in the chest anyway?

She picked up the journal again and held it for a moment, even if it was a hoax and she didn’t believe in it, she was really curious to know what happened nest. Making a decision she put it into her oversized purse and pulled on a sweater.

A few minutes later she found the library. Like most of the other buildings in the town, it was from the colonial period but immaculately preserved. The shelves were jammed with books and the historian in Maria was itchy to explore it.

Susie the librarian was an elderly lady, around the same age as Mrs. Whitman and she greeted Maria in a friendly manner. The public computer was in use so Susie directed her to a comfortable armchair by one of the windows where she could sit until it became free.

Sitting in the chair, Maria pulled the journal from her purse, flipped to the next entry and began to read.

I have never been a stranger. I have never needed to introduce myself or tell somebody my name. As Jeffery Rosalind’s daughter and then as Jeremiah Parker’s wife everyone already knows who I am. They know every little thing about me. They know what meat my mother cooked for dinner, what color material I bought for my new dress, what day I do my laundry on. I have never resented the lack of privacy before because I have never had something to hide.

But now, for the first time in my life I have a secret. And if my secret is ever discovered, people could die.”


<center>~*~</center>
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Chapter 4

Post by tequathisy » Fri Jan 27, 2006 7:44 am

Thanks to everyone for the feedback. All you lurkers out there, I know you’re there so come on in and say hi.



Majandria
Ellie
nibbles2
Galliard
Timelord31
RhondaAnn
FaithfulAngel24
Behrlyliz
Grace52373
Xmag
Antarian Chick



Four.


I have never been a stranger. I have never needed to introduce my self or tell somebody my name. As Jeffery Rosalind’s daughter and then as Jeremiah Parker’s wife everyone already knows who I am. They know every little thing about me. They know what meat my mother cooked for dinner, what color material I bought for my new dress, what day I do my laundry on. I have never resented the lack or privacy before because I have never had something to hide. But now, for the first time in my life I have a secret. And if my secret is ever discovered, people could die.”

“Good morning Sister Elizabeth. I see you are hard at work.”

Liz looked up from her tub of washing and watched as Alex Whitman came into her garden. Of all the travellers - aliens - she had met yet, Alex Whitman was by far the friendliest. While all the others were polite, they were by and large aloof and quiet, only mixing with the townspeople when they had to. Alex was one of the very few who seemed at ease with them and he often stayed long in the market or after Service to talk to people in town.

“Yes Brother Whitman, unfortunately these clothes won’t wash themselves,” Liz laughed pulling a dress from the tub and giving it a good shake before pegging it on the line.

“Perhaps one day somebody will invent a machine that will do it for you.” Alex smiled.

“That would be heavenly,” Liz agreed. A thought struck her, Max, Alex and their fellow travellers had arrived in earth in a craft that flew through the skies. Perhaps a machine that washed clothes for you wasn’t outside the realm of possibility.

“I heard you had a most fortunate escape on Saturday,” Alex commented.

“Yes, I was very lucky, thanks to your friend Brother Evans.”

Alex’s whole body tensed at Liz's remark. He frowned deeply. “Thanks to Max?” He repeated with an edge to his voice.

Liz bit her lip. It had not occurred to her that she should say nothing of what had happened with the wolf to Alex. “He was able to scare the wolf away before it attacked me. He was very brave.” Liz smiled. “Didn’t he tell you?”

“No, he didn’t.” Alex sighed, but he visibly relaxed. “Max is a very humble and modest man.”

“He is a good Christian,” Liz agreed, relieved that she hadn’t got Max into trouble with his people. She plunged her hands back into the soapy water and pulled out an apron to hang on the line.

“I am here to return your husband’s watch, I was able to mend it for him,” Alex told her, pulling a pocket watch from his pocket. He handed it to Liz.

“That’s wonderful, he will be so pleased. How much does he owe you?”

Alex waved his hand. “I wouldn’t dream of charging him. He has made us feel very welcome since we arrived in Rosalind’s Well. You are married to a good man Sister Elizabeth.”

“Yes I am,” Liz agreed. She pocketed the watch and returned to the tub of clothes, a slight frown marring her pretty face. For some reason she was annoyed that Alex had changed the subject from Max and was now praising her husband. She wanted to know more about the mysterious alien who had saved her life.

“I see you are busy so I will go. Good day sister Elizabeth,” Alex said with a bow. He turned on his heal and departed, whistling as he walked through the town.

Liz pulled the last garment from the tub. It was the dress she had been wearing when the wolf attacked her. When she had got home she had immediately removed the dress and soaked it in a tub of cold water and fortunately had been successful in washing out most of the stains – both blood and berry. She ran her fingers inside the material and poked them through the large tear.

She could sew it up, but the tear would be obvious and would inevitably lead to lots of questions. Perhaps she could cover it up with an apron, but that meant she would only be able to wear it around the house and not in the town. Liz sighed, it was one of her favorite dresses, it was comfortable and easy to wash and now it would be consigned to the bottom of her chest.

With a sigh, she shook it out and hung it on the line.


<center>~*~</center>



“That was delicious,” Jeremiah told Liz as he pushed his dinner plate away from him. He took his newly repaired watch from his pocket and looked at the time. “Brother Alex did a wonderful job with this watch. They really are a great asset to this town.”

Liz, who was nursing her daughter, looked up at her husband. “The travellers?”

“Yes, I met with a group of them today. They have volunteered to build a new church for the town. They promise it will be large enough to house everybody during services. Isn’t that very generous of them?”

“Very generous,” Liz agreed, part of her desperately wanted to ask more about the group he had met with, wanted to know if Max had been among them. But the other part of her knew not to ask and didn’t want to raise her husband’s suspicions.

Jeremiah nodded to himself and stood up. He watched Liz feed Sarah for a moment longer, and Liz could tell by his stance that he was preparing himself to ask another question. She looked up at him expectantly.

“I also met with a couple of the town’s men. They are worried about that wolf that attacked you. One of them had the most absurd story,” Jeremiah told her, he gave a nervous laugh. “He claims that the wolf really attacked you and that one of the travellers did something to you, to heal you.”

Liz took a moment to steady her nerves under the pretence of burping her daughter. “That is ridiculous, if the wolf had really attacked me then I would be seriously injured. How could one of the travellers have healed me?”

“That is what I told him.” Jeremiah assured her, but Liz could tell it was not the end of the matter. He attended to the fire for a moment before turning his attention back to his wife. He cleared his throat. “Brother Lawrence has made a very serious allegation about the travellers. He claims that he was in the forest late one night and saw two of their women use magic to clean their clothes. He says that since then he has watched them carefully and believes that all of their people possess this ability.”

“Brother Lawrence has been known to tell tall tales before,” Liz reminded her husband. “Most likely, he was in the woods spying on the two women and they caught him so he has fabricated this ludicrous tale to use as his defence if they complain to you about him.”

Jeremiah nodded. “I agree.” He hesitated causing Liz to look up at him sharply. She could see that he was in two minds whether or not to continue the conversation. At last he spoke up. “Brother Lawrence has told his story to a number of the town’s elders. They seem to think that there may be some truth in what he has to say.”

“They believe that the travellers have magical powers?” Liz asked, injecting a note of disbelief into her voice. She was surprised how easy it was to lie.

With a sigh, Jeremiah took a seat on the chair beside his wife. “They are genuinely concerned about Brother Lawrence’s claim.”

Liz snorted. “I believe that the some of the elders feel threatened by the travellers. They are skilled craftsmen, they have been here only three months and already have houses that many of the other townsfolk are envious of. Their clothes are obviously made from high quality material, they seem far stronger and healthier than any of us. The elders are worried that they will lose their positions of power and authority to the travellers.”

Her husband listened to his wife’s tirade in shock, he had never heard her speak so before. Normally she was mild mannered and, like him, saw the best in everyone. “They have already decided on a course of action. They will watch the travelers carefully for the time being to see if there is any merit in a further investigation.”

Liz said nothing, but rose from her chair to put Sarah in her crib. By the time she had finished fussing over the baby, Jeremiah had picked up a book and was busy reading it. Liz took a seat beside him but could not settle. Her mind was racing with thoughts of Max. He had risked his life to save her and now his secret could be discovered. She had to help him, or at least warn him that the elders were investigating him. She fidgeted in her seat uncomfortably, more than anything she wanted to get out of that small room and away from her husband.

Noticing that she was not reading or sewing as she normally did, Jeremiah put down his book. “Is something bothering you my dear?”

“No.” Liz assured him with a smile. She jumped up suddenly. “I forget to bring in the clothes off the line. I’ll just be a minute.” She picked up the basket from the corner and let herself out into the cool night air.

The sky was cloudless and the almost full moon made the night seem very bright. She stood on the porch admiring the stars twinkling above her head for a moment. Again, for the hundredth time that night her mind wandered to Max. Did he ever stand at his door looking up at the stars, dreaming of home? She wondered was he married or betrothed. She had seen nothing about a girl in the …flashes. At once she remembered how he had felt as he watched her and her cheeks flamed bright red.

She shook herself out of her reveries and made her way around to the small garden at the side of the house. Her dresses were flapping gently in the gentle breeze, damp from the night air. One by one she pulled them from the line, gave them a good shake and fold them into the basket. It was only as she folded the last dress that she realized one was missing. The one she had been wearing at the time the wolf attacked her.

“No,” Liz cried to herself. She frantically pulled all the dresses from the basket, carelessly tossing them on the ground as she did. But there was still no sign of the dress. She gathered the others up again and stuffed them into the basket before searching the garden, hoping that it had blown off the line. Her search proved fruitless, the dress was gone.

“Elizabeth?” Jeremiah’s voice called. “Is everything well?” He rounded the corner of the house. “You have been out here for a long time.”

Liz took a deep breath to calm her nerves. “I was admiring the sky, it is very beautiful out here tonight, isn’t it?”

Jeremiah turned his face upwards. “Yes, I never cease to wonder at the glory of God’s creation. Come inside dear, it’s cold out here.”

“Coming.” Liz told him, she picked up her basket and followed him inside.


<center>~*~</center>


It was a common practice for the women of the town to gather at the well in the morning after breakfast time. If the weather was fair, they would chatter happily for half an hour as the waited for their turn to draw water. But this morning, Liz distanced herself from the other women, the chatter she normally enjoyed was now tedious and irritating. A search of the garden early that morning had not yielded her missing dress. And she was worried about who could have taken it. Her eyes kept wandering up the hill towards the traveller’s encampment. She could see several people hard at work building houses. Was Max one of them? She longed to speak to him, to let him know what had happened.

A group of women were coming down the hill, buckets in hand. They always timed their arrival at the well so that they arrived as the town’s women were finishing up. Liz had believed that they were being polite but now she wondered if they had another reason for avoiding the townsfolk.

Liz watched them approach with interest. They were talking animatedly amongst themselves but as they approached the well the traveller women grew quieter. In the lead was the tall blonde that Liz had noticed staring at her on the Sabbath. She was the tallest woman Liz had ever laid eyes on and looked strong and healthy. She was also breathtakingly beautiful. Her friends gathered around her and Liz had the impression that they were all trying to impress her.

As if sensing that Liz was watching, the tall blonde turned and nodded her head in her head in greeting. Liz returned the gesture.

The last town’s woman drew her pail of water and made for home. Liz rose slowly and made her way to the well. As she lowered her bucket into the dark depths, she was aware of the tall blonde approaching her.

“Good day Sister,” The blonde greeted.

“Good day.” Liz smiled as she slowly began to raise her pail upwards.

“You are Minister Parker’s wife aren’t you?” The blonde asked. When Liz nodded in affirmation she continued. “I am Isabel Evans.”

Evans? Was she related to Max? His sister? Or his wife? “I am Elizabeth, it’s good to meet you Sister Isabel. You have been living in our community for some time now and yet we have never met before. I hope you know that if you or any of your friends are ever in need of anything that you can come to us.”

Isabel smiled. “Thank you, but we are quite self sufficient. We have everything we need.”

“But one day a time will come when you may need us and I hope that you will not be afraid to ask for help,.” Liz persisted, not really sure why she wanted to befriend this woman so much all of a sudden. “Rosalind’s Well is a small community, we only have each other to rely on.”

The other woman nodded. “Thank you,” she said again, politely but still a little cold.

“It is a long way to come for water every day, and a hard hill to climb with a full pail,” Liz commented in a friendly manner.

“Yes, it is.” Isabel groaned. “The men are working on a scheme to divert some water from the stream closer to our little village. Who is Rosalind anyway? Why was she so important that she got a well named after her?”

Liz removed her pail from the hook and handed it to the other woman. “Rosalind is my family’s name. My grandfather discovered this place and decided to set up a new community here, he brought people from his own church here. They had been forced to come here from England to escape persecution there.”

“I see,” Isabel said, deep in thought, though she covered by pretending to be busy attending to her pail of water.

“So this town was a place of refuge for travellers who had travelled a long way from home. They found a place here where they could settle down, build a new life and be happy and free,” Liz continued. Isabel had become still at her words. She looked up at Liz. “I don’t know why your community had to flee but I want you to know that Rosalind’s Well is your home now and you’ll be happy here too. Just like we are.”

With that Liz picked up the pail of water and departed.


<center>~*~</center>


Late that night, just as Liz was thinking it was time for bed there was a loud knock at the door. It wasn’t an unusual occurrence as Jeremiah was often sent for late at night. Jeremiah answered it and Liz could hear him arguing with the men on the other side of the door. After a few moments he stepped back to allow his visitors to enter.

The first man was Brother Lawrence, he had a smug smile and a gleam in his eye that immediately made Liz feel uneasy. With him were three of the town’s elders, Brothers Stamp and Blake and Doctor Bosonnet and the town’s sheriff James Brown. They stood around the fireplace, rubbing their hands.

Jeremiah looked apologetically at Liz. “These men would like to speak to you my dear.”

Doing her very best to appear calm and unbothered, Liz nodded and waited for them to begin.

One of the men pulled a bundle from underneath his cloak. Liz recognized it as her dress at once. He held it out to her husband.

“Do you recognize this?” Blake asked.

“It’s my dress. It went missing from my clothes line during the night.” Liz said, surprised at how even her voice sounded.

A puzzled frown marred Jeremiah’s handsome face. He glanced at the men. “What is so important about that?”

“Take a look at it.” Blake instructed. He watched as Jeremiah unfurled the dress and examined it. The minister’s face went pale and his eyes widened in shock as he took in the dark red stain and the shredded material. He looked up at his wife, his eyes full of questions.

Liz waited for a question, unwilling to give them the satisfaction of seeing her become flustered.

“Can you explain to us how this dress became torn?” Stamp asked, his voice ice cold.

“It’s an old dress and I wear it a lot, some of it has become worn. After the incident with the wolf when I spilled all the berries on it I was a little too zealous when I was scrubbing it and I ripped it. I had intended to sew it today but when I went out to fetch it off the line it was gone,” Liz explained calmly.

Jeremiah handed the dress to her and crossed his arms. “You have your explanation, is that all?”

The men exchanged looks.

“Surely you cannot believe that my wife is lying about this,” Jeremiah asked in his best Sunday voice. “If she had been attacked by a wolf she would have been seriously injured.”

“But the traveller did something to her, I saw him,” Lawrence burst out.

“Please tell me that you do not believe these absurd fairy stories over my wife.” Jeremiah asked the men, glowering at them. “It is inconceivable that a man could place his hand on a seriously injured person and heal them unless he is the Son of God.”

“I saw him,” Lawrence repeated, his voice was quieter but no less confident. “Make her show you her stomach, you’ll see.”

“You will do no such thing.” Jeremiah thundered at once. He stalked up to Lawrence until their chests were almost touching. “How dare you come into my home and spread these malicious lies about my wife. I want you to leave right now.”

James stepped forwards and snatched the dress from Liz's hands. “This is not berry juice Brother Jeremiah, this is blood. How is there blood on her dress? This material is strong and durable, there is no sign of wear or of it being threadbare anywhere except the hem and sleeve cuffs. These rips are sharp and shredded, they were not caused by over vigorous scrubbing. We dare ask these questions because we must know the truth.”

“That is not blood, it is berry juice,” Liz told him, there was an audible tremble in her voice. “When I fell on the berries I was in a state of shock, perhaps I landed on stones or thorns and I ripped it then.”

“There is a simple way to prove what you are saying,” Brother Blake said. “Show us your stomach as Brother Lawrence suggested.”

“I will not,” Liz declared, folding her arms around her body. She looked to Jeremiah for help.

“I want you all to leave my house now,” He commanded them in an authoritve voice.

“We can do this here and now, or I can call a town meeting and do it in public,.” Blake announced.

Liz gasped, she could net believe that these men would force her to bare her stomach in public to satisfy their curiosity. Beside her she felt Jeremiah bristle with rage.

Sheriff Brown stepped forward. “You need not show all of these men. I am your mother’s cousin, we are kin. You may show your stomach to your husband and me, the others will take our word.”

“I will listen to no more of this,.” Jeremiah shouted loudly. From the other room came the sound of Sarah whimpering.

“Then we will bring this up at the next town meeting,” Blake threatened.

Liz knew that if this matter went to the town meeting she would have two awful choices to make. Anybody who spoke at the town meeting was required to place their hand on the bible and swear to tell the truth. So she could either lie and commit perjury or reveal the truth about what happened and perhaps condemn Max and his friends to death. Neither was an option she was willing to take.

“Jeremiah, I have nothing to hide. I will show my stomach to you and Sheriff Brown and let the matter be finished,” Liz said in a steely tone.

“My dear, you don’t have to do this,” Jeremiah said to her quietly.

“Please, I would like to end the matter now before it reaches other ears,” Liz told him.

All the men apart from Sheriff Brown and Jeremiah made their way outside. Once they were alone, Liz undid three buttons on her dress and revealed her stomach. It was unblemished, no trace of a scratch or scar, and thankfully no silver handprint. She turned to face the men and allowed Sheriff Brown to bend down to peer closely at her. He picked up a lamp and brought it close to her skin.

“You can see that there is nothing there,” Jeremiah said, pulling the older man away from his wife. “I think that is all you needed to see. Please leave.”

“I am very sorry that we had to ask you to do that Sister Elizabeth,” The Sheriff began, but Liz turned away from him and hurried to her daughter. She picked her up and began to soothe her until the infant was asleep again. She kissed her fondly on the forehead and returned her to the crib.

While she was attending to Sarah, Jeremiah had roughly ushered the Sheriff outside. She could hear his remonstrating with the men loudly on the porch. He came back in after a few moments and almost slammed the door in anger, just catching it in time and closed it gently. He cast a glance towards the bedroom. “Is she sleeping?”

“Yes,” Liz assured him. She watched him pace the small room silently as he tried to calm down. It was very rare to see Jeremiah angry and Liz was unsure how to deal with the situation. Part of her longed to tell him the truth and seek his advice, but she knew that she could not. She must do whatever she could to preserve Max’s secret. It was the least she owed him.

“I’m going to go to bed,” Liz announced. She kissed her husband’s cheek. “Don’t stay up late.”

“I won’t,” Jeremiah promised. “I couldn’t sleep now.”

“Good night,” Liz said quietly.

In the bedroom she undressed quickly and stood before the small glass that her parents had given to them as a wedding present and examined her stomach. The silver handprint had faded during the day and now there was nothing on her stomach that indicated that anything had happened to her. Although it had saved her earlier, Liz found that she was disappointed. She had liked the mark, had liked having something on her body that proved that what had happened that day had been real and not a dream.

The sound of a chair scraping the floorboards in the next room reminded Liz that Jeremiah could walk in at any moment so she pulled on her night-gown and let her hair out of its tight bun. She picked up her hairbrush and took a seat on a small three-legged stool beside Sarah’s crib. It was a nightly ritual for her, she would brush her hair while she watched her daughter sleep.

But tonight, not even the sight of her beloved child could stop her mind from wandering to Max. She wondered what he was doing tonight, was he thinking of her? Liz sighed, she would have to tell him what had happened tonight to let him know that people in the town were suspicious of him and his people.

At the thought of seeing him again her heart began to race. She knew that they would have to be careful when they met in case somebody was watching and jumped to the wrong conclusion or had their suspicions raised further. And she knew that it was wrong to be looking forward to spending time with a man who wasn’t her husband. But she didn’t care, all she wanted was to see Max again.

Finally Liz roused herself from the stool. She climbed into bed and blew out the candle. But the room was still bright, the full moon outside was shining brightly through the window. Knowing that she wouldn’t sleep unless it was dark, Liz hopped out of bed and went to the window to draw the curtains closed. Movement in the square outside caught her eye.

A group of men, the same men who had come to her house just an hour earlier were standing at the well in seep conversation, their arms were gesturing wildly. One of them held up a long piece of cloth for the others to look at and in dismay Liz realized that she had never got her dress back from them after they left the house.

Not wanting to see anymore Liz pulled the curtain closed and got back into bed, but she could not sleep. When Jeremiah crept into the room, she pretend to be asleep and long after he had began snoring lightly, Liz lay in her bed wide awake.


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Post by tequathisy » Wed Feb 08, 2006 10:57 am

Once again I'd just like to thank everyone who nominated me over on memories and to anyone who has actually voted for me. I've never been nominated before so it's a huge thrill. It's true what they say, it's an honor just to be nominated.

Anyway, enough of that.

Timelord31 No, the signs would be that it ends badly.
sylvia37 Thank you
FaithfulAngel24
RhondaAnn
Ellie
Xmag
Maria and Liz have a lot in common.
Majandria I’m glad you like the dreamer chapters even though you’re not a dreamer. There are important clues about both couples in the other couples chapters.
Behrlyliz Thank you, but still no update for One West Roswell? What’s up with that?
nibbles2

And to all the lurkers who read and don't leave feedback, please come in and let me know what you think because I really want to know.


Five


Maria jumped at the feel of a hand on her shoulder and stifled a scream. She had been so absorbed in the journal that she had forgotten she was in Roswell library.

“I’m sorry dear.” It was the old librarian, Susie. She smiled at Maria. “The computer is free now.”

“Great, thanks,” Maria said, stuffing the journal back into her purse.

“That must be a good book,” Susie said conversationally. “You were totally absorbed in it.”

To Susie’s obvious surprise Maria started to laugh.

Of course, it’s a book. Maria realised. It wasn’t the journal of a deluded young woman, it wasn’t even a journal. It was an unpublished manuscript. It had probably been written before home computers were invented, maybe even typewriters judging by the age of the pages.

“It’s a really good book,” Maria agreed with a smile. She took her seat at the computer terminal and opened up her email account. As she typed her apology to her friend she couldn’t help chuckling to herself at her own silliness, she had actually started to believe that the journal might be genuine. She wondered who could have written it, the writing was very feminine so perhaps Mrs. Whitman or her daughter.

Fingers crossed I’ll be on the road again soon and be in Salem before long.
Maria.


She finished her email and sent it. There were a couple of emails from friends in her account, which she read but didn’t bother to reply to. She logged off and rose from the computer but on a whim sat back down and googled Roswell.

She found a small town in New Mexico with the same name, and a voice actor on The Simpsons but no other mention of Roswell anywhere, not even on routemaster.

Maria approached the desk. “Excuse me Susie, have you any maps that show Roswell?”

“Oh…yes…I’m sure we have,” Susie answered, looking a little flustered by the question. She stood up from her desk and made her way over to a desk against one of the walls. After searching through a couple of drawers she selected one and unrolled it on the desktop for Maria to examine.

The legend at the bottom of the map was dated 1903.

“Have you anything more recent? Like from this century?” Maria asked. “I just want to see how I got lost.”

Again Susie seemed a little flustered by the question. “Oh…no…. We don’t keep maps like that here. You might find one at the gas station but I don’t think you will. There isn’t much of a demand for maps showing how to get to Roswell. We already know where it is.”

“Alright, I’ll try there.” Maria smiled. She bent over the map to look closer at it. Something caught her eye. “That’s funny,” she said

“What is dear?”

“On the map, Roswell is spelled with an apostrophe. Ros’ Well. I wonder why that is.” Maria looked at the elderly woman.

Susie rolled up the map again and returned it to its drawer. “The town was originally called Rosalind’s Well when it was first founded but it was changed to Roswell over the years. I have to close for lunch now so if there’s anything else you need you’ll have to come back later.”

“No, I’m finished. Thanks for all your help.” Maria left the library with the distinct impression that she was being kicked out.

The street outside was deserted and Maria guessed that everyone was gone inside for lunch. She knew that if she went back to Mrs. Whitman now she would probably be served another huge meal and because she was still full from breakfast Maria decided to wait a little longer before going back.

She wandered along the street admiring the houses. The whole town was amazing to see, the houses were beautiful and the gardens filled with the glorious colors of fall. It was like taking a walk inside a postcard.

The street was on a gentle slope and at the top, the highest point of the town stood the church. It was a plain building and obviously very old, but it looked as though it had been recently painted. The white wood gleamed like fresh snow. Without consciously deciding to, Maria wandered inside.

At first glance there was nothing very interesting about the inside of the church. It was like any other. But as Maria turned to leave the sun hit the large stained glass window above the entrance directly and flooded it with light. Maria paused to look at it.

It depicted a group of people, men, women in long dresses and children all gazing at the sky above them. There were five stars in the sky in a V formation and the one in the centre was the largest and brightest. It was cut from clear glass and a ray of light seemed to shine from it directly onto a spot right in front of the altar.

The floor was paved with flagstones, many of them worn with age. The one in front of the altar was larger than all the others and had writing on it. Maria approached it cautiously.

<center>Here lies Maxwell Evans
Beloved of his people
1699
“.”
</center>

“Oh my god.” Maria gasped covering her mouth with her hand, she was genuinely upset that the Max Evans she felt she knew was dead. She shook her head and reminded herself that it was a book, it wasn’t real.

The author had just borrowed the name, maybe to give the book a feel of authenticity. She just hoped that the author had let him live longer than he did in real life, because if not, the Max Evans in her book would be dead in less than four months.

“…could try and talk some sense into Gloria.”

Maria turned at the sound of the approaching voice and watched as two men entered the church. The man who was speaking was the man from Mrs. Whitman the night before and the garage this morning.

His last remark elicited a guffaw of laughter from his companion who, judging by his clothes, Maria guessed he was the Minister of the church. “Have you ever tried to talk some sense into Gloria? Once she makes up her mind about anything, that’s it.”

“If you tell her to get rid of the girl then she’ll do it,” the man argued. The two men blinked as their eyes adjusted to the darkness of the church.”

“I will tell her no such thing. Gloria is reaching out to help somebody in her hour of need. Remember, the Good Book says ‘Be not forgetful to entertain strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.’ Hebrews, chapter 16,” the Minister replied.

Deliberately being noisy to alert the men to her presence, Maria picked up her jacket and purse from the pew she had left them on. The two men stopped talking abruptly. The Minister looked embarrassed but the other man just glared at Maria.

“Hello, you must be the girl staying at Mrs. Whitman’s house. Can I help you with anything?” The Minister asked kindly, rushing forward to shake Maria’s hand. “I’m Reverend Rendell.”

“Maria Deluca. I hope you don’t mind my being here. I’m a history major at school so old buildings like this fascinate me,” Maria told him, ignoring the other man who had joined them and was still staring at her coldly.

“How wonderful,” The Reverend gushed. “It’s good to see a young person take an interest in history. Sometimes I think that all they are interested in is M&Ms and pods.”

The other man made a choking sound and thumped his chest. His glare switched from Maria to the Reverend.

“Are you alright Eugene? Can I get you a glass of water?” The Reverend asked, slapping the man a couple of times on the back. He noticed Maria’s confused expression. “Maybe I got the names wrong.”

“Eminem and ipods?” Maria suggested with a laugh.

Reverend Rendell shrugged. “Probably, it’s all gobbledegook to me.”

Maria smiled politely and made a show of checking the time. “Oh goodness, I didn’t realise it was so late. Mrs. Whitman will have lunch ready for me. It was nice to meet you Reverend.” She nodded at the other man and hurried down the aisle.

A couple of minutes later she heard the sound of footsteps hurrying after her. Her follower quickly overtook her and stood on the sidewalk to prevent her from continuing. It was Eugene, the unfriendly man from the church.

“Young lady, I’d like a word with you,” he announced, panting lightly from his chase. “I am Mayor Harding and I demand to know what business you have in this town and when you will be leaving.”

Maria stared at him in shock for a moment. “You were in the garage this morning, you know that my car isn’t fixed yet. I’ll be leaving the minute it is.”

She made a move to walk around him but he stepped in her way again. “Isn’t it convenient that your car broke down right here in Roswell.”

“Not really, I’m miles from where I want to be, I can’t get my car started and I haven’t even started doing my research and I’m supposed to be back in New York in a week. As far as I’m concerned, it’s very inconvenient.” When she was finished, Maria stepped out onto the street to get away from him.

Harding reached out and grabbed her arm and pulled her back to him. He spoke in a low threatening voice. “Listen to me young lady, you’re not wanted here. Stop poking your nose into places it doesn’t belong. You are not welcome in our church or our Library and anywhere else in this town. Mrs. Whitman was kind enough to give you a place to stay – so stay there. Your car will be fixed soon and when it is, I want you to get into it, drive away and never come back. Do you understand me?”

Maria wrenched her arm from his grasp and rubbed it where he had been holding, she knew that it would bruise. “Like I would want to come back here. This is the weirdest place I have ever been.”

She marched furiously down the street, along the lakeshore and past Mrs. Whitman’s house until she reached Kyle’s garage. Without pausing to knock she went straight inside.

The mechanic was standing over the open hood scratching his head. He jumped slightly at Maria’s entrance.

“Is that thing fixed yet?” Maria asked harshly.

“I’m sorry, but it’s not. Nothing I’ve tried is working,” Kyle informed her. He took in her furious expression and angry stance. “I’m sorry,” He added again.

“What kind of a mechanic are you anyway? All I’ve seen you do is stare at the damn thing, that’s not going to fix it. You’re not even dirty,” Maria ranted.

“I’ve tried everything I can and nothing’s worked,” Kyle protested, his voice rising with anger.

Maria sighed and ran her fingers through her hair. “I’m sorry. I shouldn’t be taking it out on you.”

The handsome mechanic frowned. “Are you alright? Did something happen?”

“Mayor Harding – ” She paused, this was a small town, you’d never know who’s cousins you were talking to. “Are you related to him?” Maria asked.

Kyle grinned. “Thankfully, no. What did he do?”

“He told me that I wasn’t welcome here and that I was to leave and never come back.” Maria revealed. “He was at Mrs. Whitman’s house last night telling her to get rid of me and I overheard him telling Reverend Rendell to tell Mrs. Whitman to make me leave. What did I do to him?”

“Nothing.” Kyle sighed. “He’s just not a nice guy.”

“And it’s not just him. I get the impression that a lot of people don’t want me here.” Maria continued. “It’s not my fault that I got lost and my car broke down, why are people being so unfriendly?”

“We’re just not used to visitors, that’s all. You’ve just been unfortunate to run into a couple of rude people. But most of us are happy to have you here…Isn’t that right Michael?”

Maria swivelled around and found that Michael was standing at the entrance to the garage. He gave Kyle a funny look before turning to Maria. “Grandma sent me to find you, lunch is ready.”

“Ok, thanks Kyle and sorry about before,” Maria said.

Kyle dismissed her apology with a wave of his hand and turned his attention back to the car.

Michael followed Maria out. “What happened before?” He asked.

“Oh…I yelled at him because my car wasn’t fixed., Maria admitted. She rubbed her arm, it was still hurting where Mayor Harding had held her. She scowled at Michael. “You’re the Sheriff right? Well, I’d like to make a complaint. Your Mayor assaulted me today.”

“Harding assaulted you?” Michael repeated, sounding unconvinced. “He’s not that stupid.”

“Really?” Maria spat. She rolled up her sleeve to show Michael her arm and sure enough there was the beginning of a bruise.

Michael held her arm gently in one hand and ran his finger lightly over the marks. His touch was soft and warm. Her skin tingled at the caress. Maria found herself holding her breath.

Their eyes met and for a moment neither moved.

“I’ll have a word with him,” Michael said eventually, his voice sounding a little hoarse.

Maria cleared her throat. “Thanks.”

He nodded and slowly let go of her arm, his had grazing her skin as he dropped it.

Michael tore his glance away from her and looked in the direction of his grandmother’s house. “We should get back before Grandma starts making dinner.”

“I’m sorry for being such a nuisance,” Maria said, more to fill the awkward silence than to really apologise.

“Harding’s the nuisance, not you,” Michael said with a shake of his head. “I’ll make sure he doesn’t bother you again.”

Maria smiled. “Honestly, the way he was acting, it’s like this whole town has something to hide.”

“There’s nothing to hide.” Michael said quickly and completely unconvincingly.


<center>~*~</center>


Mrs. Whitman provided another feast for lunch and Maria struggled to eat enough to satisfy Mrs. Whitman’s watchful eye. Whenever she tried to protest that she was full, Mrs. Whitman would make a soft tutting noise and load up her plate with more food. Thankfully she was too busy feeding Maria to notice that there seemed to be some tension between her visitor and her grandson. Michael ate quickly and departed almost at once to attend to some business.

After lunch Maria had to practically wrestle the tea towel from Mrs. Whitman’s hands to dry the dishes. The older woman wouldn’t hear of allowing her to do the washing up but Maria insisted on being allowed to help. She wasn’t used to being waited on hand and foot, as the daughter of a single parent she was used to helping out around the home.

“What do you think of our town?” Mrs. Whitman asked.

“It’s lovely, it’s so pretty and … unspoiled.” Maria told her. “I can’t believe that a place like this isn’t flooded with tourists.”

“I guess other towns have more attractions and we decided that we didn’t really want tourists here. We didn’t want to commercialise the town,” Mrs. Whitman told her.

“You mean the town decided together? Did you like vote on it?” Maria asked.

Mrs. Whitman smiled. “We have a town meeting every month and it often comes up for discussion. Some people want to bring tourists in, they say it would be good for us to…and other people don’t want us to open the town up to tourists. They think we’d lose our community if we did.”

“It certainly seems like a very close-knit town,” Maria commented.

“Oh yes, everyone knows everyone here. There are no secrets in Roswell,” Mrs. Whitman said with pride.

Maria frowned. She didn’t really like the sound of that. “Doesn’t that bother you though, wouldn’t you like variety and privacy sometimes?”

“No dear, I like knowing everyone and been known by everyone. It gives me a sense of place and of home. I know that I’m safe here. I have nothing to be afraid of in Roswell.”

Was there something to be afraid of in the outside world, Maria wondered? Again she was left with the feeling that she wasn’t being told the whole story.

Full from lunch and not really willing to go outside again and risk running into Mayor Harding, Maria went upstairs to her room after she had finished helping Mrs. Whitman. She pulled the desk chair over to the window and looked out. The journal lay unopened in her lap.

Framed by the windowpanes, the town of Roswell really did look like a postcard. It was breathtakingly pretty and neat. All the houses were immaculately pristine, the gardens uniformly tidy and maintained. The streets were litter free.

But as she sat in the chair, Maria couldn’t shake the feeling that there was something there that she couldn’t see. There was no Macdonald’s, no Burger King, no K-Mart. There was no outside presence in the town at all. The people of Roswell were really serious about not letting any outsiders into the town.

But why?

Was there something that they felt they had to hide? What could be so important that the Mayor would physically manhandle a young woman and threaten her just to make her leave? Almost everyone she had spoken to since she had arrived here had been eager to get rid of her. The bartender had done his best to persuade her to drive to the next town. Kyle seemed friendly, but he had gone out in the middle of a storm to try and fix her car so that she could drive the forty miles to Safehaven. Courtney, Mayor Harding they had told her to leave.

There are no secrets in Roswell” Mrs. Whitman had said.

Maybe the secret was Roswell. It wasn’t on any maps. They townspeople did their best to make sure that nobody came here or stayed here.

So what was in Roswell that everybody here wanted to protect?

Maria’s eyes landed on the journal in her lap. “Maybe they’re all aliens.”

She laughed to herself. As if.

But.

She couldn’t shake the feeling that the answers lay in the journal. It might be a work of fiction, but Maria was beginning to think that it was based on real people and events that had happened in Roswell’s past. Max Evans had certainly existed. The Rosalind family had named the town. The Whitman family was still here.

So maybe the answer to the puzzle was in the journal. Why was it so important to her to find out what it was? She could be gone tomorrow and never be back.

At that thought, the memory of Michael holding her arm, the way he had looked at her flashed into her mind. The thought of never seeing Michael again made her stomach churn.

She turned her head into the room and her eyes landed on the rose still lying on the dresser. She reached out her hand and picked it up. Maria frowned, the petals were still soft and pure white. But that was impossible, even if it had only been picked yesterday and put into the chest before she arrived in Roswell it should be starting to wilt and fade by now. It had been without water for at least almost 18 hours. Yet it still looked freshly-picked.

There was a mystery here, no doubt about it and the journal had the answers. So she picked it up and opened it again.


<center>~*~</center>

“I didn’t know his name until five days ago, we have only spoken twice, and yet I cannot stop thinking of Maxwell Evans. I have not seen him since the Sabbath. I long to talk to him, to be in his presence, to gaze on his face. Nothing can satisfy the ache, not food nor sleep, not my husband or my child. I long for Max.”

<center>~*~</center>
Last edited by tequathisy on Fri Feb 10, 2006 1:08 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Post by tequathisy » Mon Feb 20, 2006 1:55 pm

I'd just like to thank everyone who nominated for me and then voted me for the awards over at memories. I'm really shocked that I won, especially as I didn't think many people were reading this fic. So if there are any lurkers out there, and I know you're there now, come on in and let me know what you think.

Ellie
Behrlyliz
RhondaAnn
Thanette
I guess I should have left a note about this at the start, this is an alternate universe so the crash of ’47 never happened. Roswell NM, is just a small town in the desert.
nibbles2
janesdilemma
FaithfulAngel24
Timelord31
Majandria




Six



I didn’t know his name until five days ago, we have only spoken twice, and yet I cannot stop thinking of Maxwell Evans. I have not seen him since the Sabbath. I long to talk to him, to be in his presence, to gaze on his face. Nothing can satisfy the ache, not food nor sleep, not my husband nor my child. I long for Max.”



<center>~*~</center>



The following day the women of the town had arranged to go into the woods together to look for nuts, berries and wild mushrooms. It was an annual event that the young women usually looked forward to. The chances to leave their houses and chores to venture out into the woods came rarely so was always greeted with relish.


It was a beautiful autumn day and there should have been a festive atmosphere but following the near wolf attack a few days earlier most of the women were anxious and nervous about entering the woods alone. Eventually it was decided that a number of young men would accompany them. To her dismay, Lawrence Trilling was amongst them.


As they made their way up the hill Lawrence manoeuvred himself until he was walking alongside Liz. She ignored his presence but it didn’t deter him.


“Are you afraid?” He asked as they approached the brow of the hill. She didn’t answer. “You don’t have to be, I intend to stick close to you all day.”


Liz grimaced but remained silent, she was determined not to let him goad her into anger. As they grew closer to the trees, several of the other women began to squeal nervously and clutch the arms of the young men sent to accompany them. Liz smirked, clearly some of the women intended to collect more than berries and nuts today.


Realising that she was the only one who could reassure them that there was nothing to be afraid of, Liz moved tot he head of the group, Lawrence close on her heals. “Come Sisters, I found a wonderful spot full of all kinds of berries when I was here on Saturday. Follow me.”


She turned and made her way into the forest, not stopping to look back. Behind her she could hear the sounds of a few tentative footsteps following her, until gradually all the women had entered the wood. She led them along the path she had followed on the previous occasion and after fifteen minutes arrived at the grove where she had found the berries the previous day.


The women set to work picking the bushes clean and as they worked they forgot their fears and began to chat happily and sing. Yet Liz could not enjoy the conversation. When anyone tried to talk to her she answered politely but with short answers and they usually gave up after a while.


To her relief, one of the younger women had struck up a conversation with Lawrence and he had forgotten about his intention to shadow Liz. Slowly she worked her way along the bushes drawing farther and farther away from the crowd. Nobody paid her much attention and she was able to slip out of the grove unnoticed.


It was a relief to be away from the chatter of the women and the watchful eye of Lawrence. She wandered along another path without giving much heed to where she was going. Occasionally she stooped to pick up a mushroom or a few nuts whenever she happened to see them but for the most part she just wandered deep in thought. And her thoughts were all of Max.


So when she first saw him standing by a tree, Liz almost believed he was a figment of her imagination. Then he moved and the leaves crackled beneath his weight and Liz knew he was real. She was so happy to see him that she rushed forward instinctively to greet him and only stopped herself when there was only a few feet between them.


“Max.”


He nodded. “Hello Liz.”


“I was hoping to see you.” Liz told him unable to stop the smile spreading across her face.


“I heard about today and I hoped you would be here, I wanted to see you too.” Max admitted just as happily as Liz had. “How are you?”


“I am very well, thank you.” Liz answered. “And you?”


He nodded. “I’m fine, busy. We have so much work to do before winter, we hope to have a house built for every family before the winter starts.”


“If you need help, there are many men in the town who are skilled in the art of house building and could help your people greatly.”


Max smiled wryly. “Thank you, but we have our own skills and it would probably be better if your townsmen were not aware of them.”


Liz frowned, momentarily confused. Then her eyes widened in understanding. “You mean your magic powers.”


“They are not magic, on my home planet everyone has the ability to manipulate the molecular structure of things to…”


Liz blinked. She had understood nothing that he had just said.


A bright red blush spread across Liz's face and she looked away from Max. For the first time she was embarrassed by her lack of education.


“I’m sorry.” Max apologised. “I keep forgetting how much humans still have to learn about science.”


“Can you show me what you can do?” Liz asked shyly.


Max glanced around. His eyes fell on a rosebush close by. In the summer it had been covered in beautiful blooms but by now all the flowers had withered and faded. He snapped off the end of one branch and held it gently between his fingers. Liz watch in awe as a glow emanated from his hand.


Before her eyes, a beautiful white rose blossomed from the dead twig.


“Goodness.” Liz gasped. She glanced at Max and then back down at the flower. “It’s so beautiful.”


“Yes.” Max said, his voice sounding strange. When Liz looked up at him, he was looking not at the rose but at her.


Liz blushed again but this time did not look away. Max handed the flower to her. As their fingers brushed against each other Liz felt a warm tingle run through her body. Without taking her eyes from his she brushed the silky petals against her lips and then raised it to her nose. Its scent was sweeter and lovelier than she had ever remembered a rose smelling before.


Max moved a step closer to her, his eyes never leaving her lips. Liz held her breath, waiting.


Then his expression changed and he shook his head. He stepped backwards, away from her. “I shouldn’t have come, it was wrong of me.”


“No Max, don’t say that.” Liz said in distress, she took a step closer to him but he stepped back again.


He held up his hand to stop her advancing any closer. “I should go.”


“Wait Max, you’re in danger.” Liz blurted out to stop him from leaving.


Max paused and turned back to face her. “What?”


“One of the townsmen, Lawrence Trilling saw you heal me. He told some of the elders, they came to my home and made me show them my stomach.” Liz explained.


“Your stomach?” Max’s eyes widened in fear and drifted from her face to her stomach.


“There was nothing to see, the silver handprint had faded. But they had my dress, the one I was wearing that day. I managed to wash most of the blood out and it’s too hard to tell if it’s blood or berry juice. But there’s a rip in it where they wolf slashed it, I tried to come up with an explanation that would ease their suspicions but I do not think they were convinced.”


Max moved to closer to where she was standing but stayed at arm’s length. “Who were the men?”


“Sheriff Brown, Harold Blake, Richard Bosonnet and Noah Stamp. And Lawrence.” Liz glanced over her shoulder, almost expecting him to have followed her. “He told Jeremiah that he had seen two of your women use their powers to clean clothes. Jeremiah doesn’t believe him and maybe the other men don’t either but they will use it against you. They are watching you now, all of you.”


“Have you told anybody about what happened?” Max asked.


Liz shook her head. “Not a soul.”


“Then you lied to your husband.” Max asked, he sounded apologetic, guilty.


“Yes.”


“I am so sorry Liz, I have put you in a very difficult position. Thank you for warning me that we are being watched. I will see to it that everyone is more careful.” Max said. He bowed his head and turned to leave.


“Don’t go.” Liz pleaded. Max stopped in his tracks but he didn’t turn around. Slowly, cautiously Liz approached him. “Stay, talk to me. I…I was talking to one of the women from your people on Monday. Her name was Isabel. Is she your …?”


“She’s my sister.” Max answered his back still to her.


Relief washed over Liz. She stared at his broad back, not knowing what to say. She wanted him to turn around and face her. She wanted to pour out her confusing feelings, to ask him why she felt this way. To know if he felt the same. But the words wouldn’t come. Instead she reached out to him.


Her touch was light, like the touch of a butterfly’s wings but Max’s whole body jerked as though he had been burned. He wrenched his body away.


When he turned to face her she could see the emotions swimming in his eyes and without saying anything, Liz knew that he felt it to.


They stared silently at each other.


“Liz…” Max whispered thickly. He caressed her cheek lightly, brushing away a tear that Liz didn’t even know she had shed with his thumb.


From a distance she heard shouts and realised that people were calling her name. Max lifted his eyes in the direction of the voices and stepped back.


“I have to go.” He told her.


“Max, I never got to thank you for saving my life.” Liz told him. “Thank you.”


Max nodded then left quickly.


Liz brushed away the last of her tears and picked up her basket. When she turned around she realised that one of the young men who had accompanied them on the berry hunt was standing silently a couple of yards away.


“You startled me.” Liz exclaimed pressing her hand to her heart which was still beating rapidly in her chest, She was relieved that it wasn’t Lawrence.


The boy jerked his thumb in the direction of the grove. “They’re looking for you, they think a wolf carried you off.”


“No, I found some lovely mushrooms and wandered off in search of more.” Liz said with forced joviality, She lifted her basket to show him her find.


“Elizabeth…Elizabeth.” Came the voices, nearer this time.


“Found her.” The boy, Peter Abbott, yelled.


Within minutes two more men had come crashing through the trees and undergrowth into the clearing. They were brandishing sticks and looked about fearfully as though expecting to find a wolf.


“She’s alright.” Peter Abbott told them, waving at them to lower their weapons. He turned on his heal and began making his way back to where the others were waiting anxiously.


Liz slipped the rose into her basket and followed his lead, accompanied by the two youths who lectured her the entire way back about the dangers of the wood.


There was a loud cry of relief and admonishment when Liz returned to the grove where the other women were. They gathered around her to hug her and make sure that she was unhurt. As she assured them that she was fine Liz saw Peter Abbott approach Lawrence Trilling and speak quietly in his ear.


A smile spread across Lawrence’s face and he turned to stare at her with such malice that it almost froze her heart.



<center>~*~</center>



That night, Jeremiah was called out to attend the deathbed of an elderly farmer who lived a mile out of town. Liz expected him to be gone for some time. At first she was relieved to have the house to herself, her husband had immediately sensed that something was bothering her and had watched her carefully all evening for signs. She had attempted to act as cheerfully and as normally as always but by the time he left she was exhausted.


Liz found herself pacing the small rooms of the house like a wild animal that had been caged. Several times she stood at the window and gazed up the hill at the encampment where the travellers had set up home. There were several fires burning and she could make out the silhouettes of people passing back and forth in their lights.


She held the white rose in her hand and brushed it against her face, remembering how gentle and soft his touch had been. She longed for it again.


On the hill the fires grew lower, the lights in the houses around her were quenched telling Liz it was late. But she wasn’t tired and she knew that if she went to bed she would only toss and turn and be unable to sleep. She would have loved to take a walk outside under the bright moonlight and stars but Sarah was sleeping and Liz could not leave her. In truth, Liz thought maybe it was a good thing she could not leave the house. If she went outside, Liz knew deep down that she would not be able to resist climbing the hill in search of Max.


More than anything she wanted to tell somebody what was happening, the pressure of keeping the monumental events of the past few days to herself was eating away at her. Liz needed to vent her feelings or she felt that she would surely explode.


She began pacing the room again and as she passed Jeremiah’s desk an idea took hold of her that grew each time she did a turn of the room. She couldn’t talk about it with anybody, but she could write it down. Her mother had given her two books when she married. One was filled with her own recipes, patterns for clothes, instructions for growing her own garden, in short everything she would need to know to run her own house. The second was an empty journal that Liz was supposed to fill up in the same fashion and give to her daughter when she married. So far Liz hadn’t written anything in it.


Liz rushed quietly into the bedroom and opened her hope chest, which lay at the foot of the bed. Under all the line she found the leather-bound journal and pulled it out. Then she sat down at Jeremiah's desk and began to write. The words flowed onto the pages as she wrote, and she didn’t stop until she had recounted all the events up to that moment.


When she was finished she pushed the journal away from her in relief, it felt good to have unburdened herself of the secret without telling anybody else and breaking Max’s trust. She was surprised to see how low the candle had burned while she was writing and she wondered what time it was. She wondered where Jeremiah was. He would get little rest tonight and would have to be up early in the morning. He worked so hard and never complained, Liz thought fondly.


Jeremiah. He was her husband and she was very fond of him, loved him in a fraternal way. He was a good man and the best father she could ever wish for her child. He would never strike her or harm her in any way and Liz knew that she and Sarah would never want for anything. Before Max Evans had saved her life she had been content with her lot in life but now for the first time she wanted something more than what this small town had to offer. She wanted Max Evans.


But it could never be.


My feelings for Max are strong, undeniable but they were dangerous. If I ever acted upon them, even once I would be ruined. I am a married woman, a mother of a small child. If it was found out that she was in love with another man my reputation would be ruined, it would bring great shame to my parents, Jeremiah. Sarah would grown up with the stain of adultery attached to her name always.


I must forget about Max Evans.



With those words written, Liz picked up the rose placed it amongst the pages of the journal and closed it. She returned it to it’s place at the bottom of the chest and promised that she would not think of Max Evans again.



<center>~*~</center>



For two days Liz kept her resolution to forget about Max Evans. She did not look for him amongst the men in town, she averted her gaze whenever she found it wandering to the top of the hill. From dawn to dusk she worked hard, cleaning her house, making preserves from the autumn fruits, sewing, washing, gardening cooking. Whenever her thoughts wandered to Max she would busy herself with a task. At night she studied her bible and talked with Jeremiah, asking him all about his day. The time passed slowly.


The third day was the Sabbath. The only day when she would be forced to be in the same place as Max while they both attended Service. Liz was almost relieved when Sarah woke in the morning with a slight fever.


“My poor darling Sarah Rose, don’t fret dear, Mama’s here.” Liz cooed as she cradled her baby daughter. She looked up at her husband who was going over the notes for that day’s sermon. “She’s too ill to leave with Mama today. I’ll stay here with here.”


Jeremiah nodded absently and kissed his daughter’s head gently. “I’ll say a prayer for you both.”


Liz watched him go and never felt so guilty in her life. She was relieved that her daughter was ill, relieved that she wouldn’t have to go to service today and was harbouring feelings towards a man who wasn’t her husband.


She prepared a medicine for the baby from some of the herbs in the kitchen by following a recipe given to her by her mother and fed it to Sarah. She kissed her daughter tenderly, before returning her to her crib. When she was sure that Sarah was asleep Liz made her way to the window at the side of the house and peered out. The window was not facing the town but instead faced towards the hill on which the travellers were building their new homes. A string of people were heading down the hill to the small church dressed in their Sunday best.


By some unknown force, Liz felt her eyes being drawn to a group of men who seemed in high spirits as they came down into the valley. In the middle of them was Max. Unlike his companions he was sober and quiet, his head was down, his hat pulled low over his face. One of his friends pushed him playfully and Max, caught unawares stumbled forwards and almost crashed to the ground.


A young woman rushed forward, obviously scolding the other men as she helped Max up and straightened his clothes. She was petite and slim with long golden curls. The other men hurried off leaving Max alone with the girl. Liz saw him brush away her hands and attempt to walk on. The young woman skipped after him and linked her arm through his. She chatted happily as the made their way down the slope. When they reached the bottom, Max paused suddenly and his turned his face towards Liz's house. Liz was certain that he knew she was watching him. The blonde woman turned to look in the direction Max was staring in. She was clearly confused and couldn’t see what had captured his attention.


Liz could feel her heart hammering in her chest as Max stared at the house. After a moment, the other woman tugged his arm and brought his attention back to her and they moved off towards the church. Once Max was out of her line of sight Liz sat back down at her daughter’s side and wrapped a blanket around her body. She suddenly felt cold and empty.


The morning crawled slowly towards afternoon. Liz tried in vain to read her Bible but the words swam meaninglessly in front of her eyes and after half an hour she threw it down. She pottered around the kitchen and made a pie from some of the berries she had picked on the hunt a few days before. She was alerted to the end of the service by the sound of a large crowd of people on the move shortly after eleven o’ clock. Every impulse in Liz's body wanted to go back to the window or even outside to watch the crowd in the hope of seeing Max again but instead she forced herself to sit by her daughter’s side and ignore everything else.


When Sarah awoke almost an hour later her fever had broken and she gurgled happily in her crib. She hungrily ate the bread and milk that Liz fed her.


“You’re all better now darling, aren’t you?” Liz cooed, tickling the tiny girl’s tummy. “Papa’s late home from service today, will we go and find out where he is? Do you want to go see Papa?”


Once Sarah was wrapped up warmly, Liz left the house and made her way to the church. It was almost an hour since service had ended and there was nobody around. She felt safe that she had successfully avoided Max.


She pushed open the door of the church and went inside. “Jeremiah?” She called softly.


“I am here. Is something the matter?” Jeremiah answered at once as he hurried down the aisle to Liz, glancing in concern at his daughter.


“Sarah’s all better.” Liz hurried to assure him. “We thought we’d come and see if you were ready to come home.”


Jeremiah breathed a sigh of relief. “Thank goodness. I am almost finished here. There is a young couple in the sanctuary who are planning to be married shortly and I was advising them.”


A woman stepped out of the Sanctuary and smiled politely at Liz and Jeremiah. “Forgive us Revered Parker, we have delayed you. I apologise for detaining your husband for so long Sister.”


“Not at all, congratulations on your marriage. I hope that you are blessed with every happiness.” Liz replied warmly.


“This is Tess Harding.” Jeremiah informed his wife.


Tess beamed and Liz suddenly recognised her, she was the woman who had walked down the hill with Max that morning. A wave of dread washed over her and she could feel her body tremble. As though sensing her mother’s distress, Sarah whimpered.


“Hush sweeting.” Liz murmured against her daughter’s head.


The woman turned back to the sanctuary. “Come Maxwell, we have delayed Reverend Parker long enough. He wants to be away with his wife and child.”


Liz raised her eyes slowly to the door, sure enough it was Max who emerged from the sanctuary into the church. He bowed politely at Liz but his eyes never reached hers.


“Thank you for all your help Reverend. Come Tess.” Max said softly as he gently took Tess’s arm and guided her out of the church.


Sarah let out a loud wail as though in great distress. Liz rocked her gently. “I should take her home.” She said to her husband.


He nodded. “I have to lock up here and I’ll be home in a few minutes.”


Liz nodded and hurried out the door. She paused for a moment outside and watched as Max and Tess made their way up the hill arm in arm.


A sob escaped from Liz's throat and a hot tear rolled down her cheek. She brushed it away, angry with herself. She had a husband and a daughter she had no right to cry now that Max was to marry another woman.


But the tears came anyway.



<center>~*~</center>
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chapter 7

Post by tequathisy » Tue Feb 28, 2006 12:37 pm

Once again, thanks for reading. There's a big clue in this chapter, but it's kind of hard to spot. There's a gold star for anyone who spots it.

RhondaAnn I didn’t mean to imply that Sarah was picking up on Liz’s distress. In my head, Liz was upset and unconsciously squeezing the baby and that’s what caused her to cry. I don’t know why I didn’t just say that.

FaithfulAngel24

Ellie Liz is married an has a child. Max is engaged. He’s an alien. He dies in 4 months and Liz comes back as a ghost. It’s going to be hard to pull a happy ending out of that hat!!

sylvia37

Xmag You’ll just have to wait and see, on both counts!

Behrlyliz

Timelord31

Antarian Chick No, there’s only one version of Michael and he’s in the present.


Seven


Maria was falling, it was dark all around and she couldn’t see anything. She tried to reach out and grab something to break the fall but her hands wouldn’t move. They were tied, she realized. She screamed and it echoed all around her, wherever she was, it was a tight space.

Her mouth was still open when she hit the black water. Her body crashed into it hard and painfully, she swallowed great gulps of it trying desperately to breathe in air but there was none – only the dark cold water. Maria struggled hard to reach the surface but without the use of her hands it was useless. She attempted to kick with her feet but they were laden down, something was attached to them, dragging her down into the murky depths beneath. And all the time she was choking on the water.

“Maria, Maria wake up.”

With a huge gasp of breath, Maria sat upright, clutching frantically at the hands that were holding her shoulders and shaking her. She already knew that it was a dream, but she could still feel the dirty taste of the black water in her mouth, her lungs still burned for air. She couldn’t stop the scream that escaped her lips. “Help.”

“It’s ok, I’ve got you. Maria, it was a dream. You’re ok.”

Slowly the room around her came into focus. She was on the bed in her little room in Mrs. Whitman’s house. Michael was kneeling on the bed shaking her.

“You’re ok,” he repeated softly. He rubbed her arm gently and smiled. He was so close to her that she could see the gold flecks in his brown eyes.

“I’m fine. God, I’m sorry I just had a really bad dream,” Maria told him, she pushed her hair out of her eyes and was shocked to find that it was damp. It’s sweat, not water she told herself.

“Must have been a pretty bad dream, you were screaming loud enough to wake the dead,” Michael chuckled. He handed her a glass of water from the bedside table.

There was a gentle tap on the door and Mrs. Whitman entered wearing a long pink nightgown. “Is everything alright? I heard screaming.”

Michael moved away from Maria. “She was just having a bad dream.”

“I’m fine,” Maria added quickly, not daring to look at Michael who she had suddenly realised was only wearing a pair of cotton boxers.

Mrs. Whitman walked over to the bed and put her arm around Maria. “Sweetie, you’re shaking. What was the dream about?”

“I don’t know, I was tied up and I fell and landed in water. I thought I was going to…” Maria bit her lip, suddenly remembering that both of Michael’s parents had drowned in the lake outside the window. She glanced up at him and met his intense gaze. “Sorry,” she mumbled.

He shook his head. “Will you be ok now?”

She nodded. “Fine. I’m sorry for waking you in the middle of the night.” The clock by her bed said it was just past four in the morning.

“Don’t be sorry. Good night Maria, night Gran.” He held Maria’s gaze for a moment more until Maria was sure her cheeks had turned scarlet red, then nodded and left the room.

Mrs. Whitman hugged Maria. “Will you be alright by yourself or would you like me to make you a cup of warm milk, it might help you get back to sleep.”

“No I’m fine,” Maria said at once. Although she would have liked some company, she already felt bad enough about dragging the old woman out of bed in the middle of the night, she certainly didn’t want her to start waiting on her too.

“Ok so. I’ll get back to bed, I need all the beauty sleep I can get at my age.” She stood up from the bed and then suddenly stooped to pick something of the ground. It was the white rose. “Pretty flower, we don’t get many of those around here,” she said as she handed it to Maria.

Maria took the flower with a frown on her face. “Roses?”

“White ones, for some reason they won’t grow here.”

“That’s weird,” Maria commented looking at the flower.

Mrs. Whitman shrugged. “Apparently the soil is too acidic or something. Good night dear.”

“Good night.” When she was gone Maria examined the flower again. It was still as fresh as it had been the first time she saw it. Then she remembered something from the journal. She pulled back the blankets and found the journal. Maria scanned through the lines she had read earlier that evening until she came to the passage where Liz described how Max had brought the rose back to life.

“There’s no way…no it’s impossible,” she murmured to herself lancing from the book to the flower and back again. But she couldn’t deny the knot in the pit of her stomach that was telling her she was standing on the edge of a steep ravine and about to take a tumble into the dark abyss.


<center>~*~</center>


“Did you sleep ok after your nightmare last night?” Michael asked over breakfast the next morning.

“Yeah,” Maria lied, she had in fact dozed fitfully and got up at the first sign of life from the other occupants of the house. Even after a shower and breakfast it still wasn’t seven, a time Maria had never seen before.

Michael looked unconvinced but said nothing. “So what are you going to do today?”

Maria shrugged, “Call into Kyle and see if he’s fixed my car. And then hopefully I’ll be able to get out of your hair and be on my way.”

“Oh…yeah, he’ll probably get it done soon,” Michael said. Maria couldn’t help but think he had sounded disappointed. A butterfly danced across her stomach at the thought.

“But if I get a chance this morning I’d like to explore the town a little more, maybe take a walk in the woods around the lake. It looks so beautiful.”

“It’s very pretty at this time of year,” Michael agreed. He scratched his eyebrow nervously. “I’m off today so if you’d like somebody to … uh… show you some of the scenic spots I’m available.”

“Funny, I heard otherwise,” Maria couldn’t help but tease. Michael looked at her in question. “I met your girlfriend yesterday.”

“My girlfriend? I don’t have a girlfriend.”

“Does the name Courtney ring a bell?” Maria asked.

A dark cloud crossed Michael’s face. “She’s not my girlfriend. We had a thing a while back, but that’s over.”

“Then maybe the next time you see her you could remind her of that because according to her, you still have thing,” Maria said lightly, trying not to show that she was elated to hear he was single.

Just then there was a tap on the door and Kyle entered the kitchen. “Good morning folks.”

“Hi Kyle, have you come to tell me good news?” Maria asked, silently hoping that Kyle still hadn’t fixed the car so that she could spend the morning with Michael.

“Yes and no,” Kyle replied. He took a seat at the table and helped himself to a slice of Mrs. Whitman’s delicious home made bread. “I’ve figured out what the problem is but I can’t fix it, so I need to go to Safehaven to get a new part for it. I’m heading out now.”

Maria groaned. New parts meant expensive. “How much will this set me back?”

Kyle shrugged. “Don’t know yet.”

“Why do you need a new part?” Michael asked.

“Because the old part won’t work anymore and I can’t fix it,” Kyle said, his voice a little strained.

Michael frowned. “Why can’t you fix it?”

“I don’t know, my tools won’t work on it,” Kyle answered.

“Your tools won’t work?” Michael asked sounding very surprised. “And have you tried anyone else’s tools?”

“Of course, but they didn’t work and nobody else has the tools I need,” Kyle told Michael through gritted teeth.

“How long will it take to get the car fixed after you have the new part?” Maria piped in, before the two guys erupted into a strange argument.

“A couple of hours,” Kyle guessed. “By the time I get to Safehaven, run a few errands there and get back it’ll be late this evening. So it’ll be tomorrow before you’re back on the road.”

Maria grinned at Michael. “Looks like you’re stuck with me for another night.”

“How lovely,” Mrs. Whitman exclaimed as she came back into the kitchen.

For the first time, Maria realised that she had been absent during breakfast. She frowned at her elderly hostess who just smiled innocently.

“Would you like some breakfast Kyle dear?” Mrs. Whitman asked.

Kyle glanced longingly at the food on the table but shook his head. “Thanks I’ve already eaten and I should be on my way.” He stood up. “See you guys later, bye Mrs. Whitman.”

Mrs. Whitman smiled at the two young people left at the table. “Maria, you should do something special today while you’re here. Michael’s off today, he could –”

“I’m going to take her for a drive,” Michael interjected hurriedly. “Show her some of the sites.”

Mrs. Whitman clapped her hands. “I’ll make you up a nice picnic basket,” she offered excitedly. “You go and get dressed dear and I’ll have it ready for you when you come down.”

Getting dressed turned out to be more difficult than Maria imagined. She wanted to look nice but at the same time she didn’t want to look like she wanted to look nice. When she had packed her bags for the trip she had thought she would be doing research and studying and not dating, so she hadn’t brought anything suitable to wear on a date. “This is not a date,” she reminded herself.

In the end she wore the only skirt she had brought with her, a tank top and light off the shoulder sweater. It looked pretty and casual without seeming like she was trying hard to impress anyone.

“Anyway, he doesn’t know what I wear normally so he doesn’t know if I’m dressed up or no.” she mumbled to herself in the mirror.

When she was finally satisfied with her appearance she returned to the kitchen where Michael was waiting with a basket.
“Ready?”

Maria nodded. “Yes.”

Mrs. Whitman followed them to the door and watched them climb into Michael’s pick up truck. “Have fun,” she called

<center>~*~</center>

Michael followed the road out of Roswell for about half a mile then turned off it onto what could only be described as a rough track through the woods. Maria had to keep on a firm grip on the door as the bounced up and down over the uneven surface.

After a few minutes he came to a stop in a small glade. “Here we are.”

Maria peered out. The place was pretty but she couldn’t see anything specifically special about it that would make it worth stopping for. “Where’s here?”

“You’re such a city girl,” Michael teased as he climbed out of the truck and picked up the basket. “This is the end of the track, we’ll have to walk the rest of the way.”

“Oh.” Nobody said anything about walking, Maria glanced at her sandals, they weren’t made for hiking through a wood.

“You’ll be fine,” Michael told her. “Lets go.”

Fortunately it had been a dry summer so the ground wasn’t too muddy and Maria was able to pick her way over the logs and trees roots with relative ease. They walked at a slow pace, in comfortable silence for the most part. Michael would occasionally stop to tell Maria the name of a plant or point out a particular bird or animal that he had spotted in the trees. Maria had gathered a bunch of wild flowers, which she planned to give to Mrs. Whitman when they got back.

As they walked deeper into the woods, they could see the lake sparkling at intervals between the trees and Maria realized that they were getting closer and closer to it.

“How will we find the way back?” She asked.

“We’ll just take this path back to the pick-up,” Michael said as if the answer was obvious.
Maria glanced behind her fearfully. It looked the same in every direction and she couldn’t make out any paths. “What path?”

“The one we’re on,” Michael assured her. He glanced down at her worried face and laughed. “Don’t worry, I know where we are, I’m not going to let anything happen to you.”

“Ok,” Maria said doubtfully.

Michael just grinned and took her hand in his. They walked on but Maria was no longer aware of the beauty of the fall colors or the sound of the birds singing, all she could concentrate on was the feel of Michael’s hand on hers.
After a few minutes they reached the lakeshore. The forest’s trees came right down to the water but at some stage a small jetty had been built so that it was possible to actually stand right out on the water. It looked very old though.

“Is that safe?” Maria asked.

“Hold on and I’ll check it,” Michael told her, he let go of her hand and walked out onto the jetty. “It’s fine.”

Gingerly Maria stepped out and made her way to the end where Michael was standing.

“Wow.” Maria gasped. The view was spectacular. Away to the left, almost on the opposite shore she could see the town of Roswell. Mrs. Whitman’s house was visible at the water’s edge, she could see Kyle’s auto shop at the end of the row of houses and rising above them all, the church’s steeple. From the distance the town looked bigger than she had realized and was nestled in the heart of the forest – hidden, almost.

“Yeah,” Michael agreed.

Maria sat down on the jetty, removed her sandals and let her feet dangle over the edge. The water was freezing.

“Careful,” Michael warned her.

She bit back a teasing remark and lifted her feet from the water. Michael had good reason to be nervous of the lake she reminded herself. “It’s like somebody just left a really big mirror down in the middle of the wood,” Maria commented looking out over the surface of the lake, there was barely a ripple in it.

“Don’t let it fool you, it’s pretty dangerous, nobody swims in it anymore,” Michael said in a strained tone.

The water was crystal clear and still. Maria had lived for a while on the Atlantic coast before she moved to New York with her mother and knew of the dangers of currents and rip tides in the ocean but it was hard to believe that the lake she was looking at now was dangerous. Then again, according to Mrs. Whitman, many lives had been lost in it including Michael’s parent so she wasn’t going to argue with him.

“Do you come out here often?”

Michael shook his head. “Not really.”

“It must be a great make-out spot,” Maria giggled, then quickly looked away so he wouldn’t see her blush.

“Maybe in the past but not anymore, people don’t like to come out here,” Michael told her.
“Why not?”

“Supposedly it’s haunted,” Michael said in a spooky voice.

“Ha ha.”

“No, really. People in town swear it’s haunted.”

“By what?”

Michael looked at her. “They say there’s a girl who appears to men and lures them to their death in the lake,”

A shiver ran down Maria’s spine “Who is she?”


“Just a girl. Nobody knows who she was or why she haunts the place but they say that she has long brown hair and wears a long white dress,” Michael glanced at Maria. She was looking out into the distance and biting her lip.

“I’ve seen her,” She whispered.

“The night you arrived here? You said that you saw you on her on the road,” Michael asked.
Maria nodded.

“The thing is, she only appears to men,” Michael was watching her intently now as if waiting or something.

For a moment Maria considered telling him about the voice in her room that night, the journal. But instead she shook her head. “It’s like I said, I was tired and hungry and just imagining things. Anyway I don’t believe in ghosts.”

“Neither do I,” Michael told her. He lay back on the jetty with hands behind his head and closed his eyes. “But all the same, there are some people who refuse to come out here.”

Maria watched him for a moment, taking the opportunity to stare at his face. He was so handsome he almost took her breath away. He opened one eye lazily and smirked at her. “Nice view isn’t it.”

Her cheeks flamed bright red and she looked away. “So what do you believe in?” Maria asked to divert the subject away quickly.
Michael propped himself up on his elbow. “I believe in God our father. I believe that my grandmother is the best cook in town, maybe even the state. I believe that only girls should wear pink. I believe that cats are evil. I believe that Metallica are the greatest band of all time.”

“Do you believe in aliens?” Maria couldn’t help ask.

He paused for a moment. “I don’t believe that earth is the only planet in the universe that has life on it.”

“Do you believe that aliens have come to earth,” Maria persisted.

“No. Do you?”

Maria shrugged. “Maybe.”

“Why did you pick witchcraft to study at college?” Michael asked suddenly.

A laugh erupted from Maria’s throat. “I’m not studying witchcraft. I’m doing a thesis on women who were accused of witchcraft.”

“Tell me about it,” Michael asked, resuming his prone position on the jetty and closing his eyes again.

Maria lay down beside him and began telling him about how she discovered a love of history and her fascination with women who were accused of witchcraft in the past.

They quickly became engrossed in conversation and the morning flew past. Around noon they opened the picnic basket and ate what Mrs. Whitman had supplied.

“I think you might have point about your grandmother being the best cook in the state but only this state. My mom’s the best in New York,” Maria said as she cleared up after lunch.

“Grandma will be very offended if she knew you said that,” Michael teased.

“Don’t tell her I said it then,” Maria smiled. She picked up the bunch of flowers she had gathered on their walk and sighed. They had wilted in the sun. “Maybe I should have waited until we were on the way back to pick these.”

“Can I have two?” Michael asked.

“Sure,” Maria held out the bouquet and he selected two of the freshest. He twisted them in his fingers for a moment then tossed them out onto the lake. Maria could see his lips moving silently and she realised that he was praying.

She waited patiently until he was done.

“It’s my parents anniversary today,” Michael said suddenly. “They used to come out here all the time, it was their secret spot.”

“Oh…I’m sorry Michael,” Maria said softly. She glanced at the two flowers floating on the water. “Is this where it happened?”

Michael nodded his head once. “Yeah.”

“Oh.” Maria frowned. She wondered why he had brought her out here and today of all days.

As if sensing her thoughts, Michael turned to her. “I feel closer to them out here, but it’s a lonely spot.” After another moment of silence he added “Thanks.”

Maria shrugged, uncertain what to say.

“Let’s get back,” Michael suggested. He picked up the basket and climbed off the jetty then turned and gave his hand to Maria to help her down. Then hand in hand they picked their way through the trees and pack to the pick-up.

“See, I told you that you’d be ok with me,” Michael grinned as he unlocked the door and held it open for Maria.
“Thanks, I had a really lovely day,” Maria said, her voice jolting as they once again traversed the bumpy track back to the road.

“Me too.” Michael stopped the truck when the reached the road. “It’s a pity that you’re leaving so soon, I’d really like to see you again.”

Before Maria could answer there was a loud thump on her window. “Agh.”

She turned and was surprised to find Kyle standing outside on the road. He opened the door. “Hey guys.”

“Kyle, what are you doing here? And where’s your jeep?” Michael asked, peering out past Maria.

“It’s about ten miles down the road from here. It stopped this morning and I couldn’t get it started again. I couldn’t get a signal on my cell either so I walked back here,” Kyle explained.

“Get in,” Michael instructed. Kyle hopped in beside Maria, who moved closer to Michael to make room for him.

Michael turned his truck and made for the spot where Kyle and left his jeep.

It was parked at a right angle to the road and it was clear that Kyle had braked hard just before he stopped, as if he had swerved to avoid something.

“What happened?” Maria asked in alarm.

“There was a deer on the road,” Kyle told her, but from the corner of her eye Maria could see him exchanging looks with Michael.

“We’ll just be a minute,” Michael said and climbed out of the car. They got ropes from the back of Kyle’s jeep and tied it to the back of Michael’s pick-up. As they worked Maria could see that they were having an intense conversation. Kyle was gesturing angrily at the woods to the left of the road.

After a few minutes Michael climbed into the pick-up and Kyle got back into his jeep. Slowly Michael began to drive, towing Kyle’s vehicle behind him.

“What was Kyle so upset about?” Maria asked.

“Nothing,” Michael said quickly. He sighed. “He’s just pissed that his jeep broke down and he had to walk.”

“So I guess I won’t be leaving tomorrow after all.” Maria said to Michael when they were almost back in town.

“I guess not.” He smiled. “I’m beginning to think that somebody wants you to stay here.”

Liz. The thought flashed through Maria’s mind unexpectedly. She shook her head, that was nonsense. “Can you drop me at the library please, I need to let my friend know that I won’t be in Salem tomorrow.

“Sure,” Michael pulled up in front of the library. “See you at dinner.”

“Bye,” Maria waved at Kyle as he passed, then skipped up the steps into the library.

Susie frowned when she saw Maria enter but quickly put on a smile and set her up on one of the computers.

Maria logged into her email and began writing to her friend in Salem.

Hi Bobby
I’m afraid that I’m still having car trouble so I won’t be in Salem for another few days. I guess I won’t have much time to do my research once I get there but hopefully what I need will be available on your online database anyway.
See you whenever I get to Salem.
Maria.

PS.I have just heard a really strange story. Have you ever heard of a town called Rosalind’s Well or a person called Elizabeth Parker nee Rosalind?

Maria replied to a few more emails and logged off the computer. When she was finished, she took a seat in the armchair she had used the day before and pulled Liz's journal form her purse and began to read.

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Post by tequathisy » Sun Mar 12, 2006 11:14 am

Thanks once again for reading.

Xmag where’s Max? he’s around!!
Fehr'sBear aliens, ghosts, dragons and now cannibals. This town has everything!! LOL
Behrlyliz can’t say
RhondaAnn no, he wouldn’t take just anybody. And Maria’s not just anybody.
Ellie there is a happy ending. Sort of. In a round about way. But probably not how you expect.
sylvia37 very close, but no cigar.
nibbles2 what’s significant about the lake? All will be revealed.
Behrlyliz ching ching
candycane14 thank you.

here's the next part. let me know what you think.


Eight



It was a beautiful sunny day. The kind of day when Liz wanted to take of her shoes and cap, let her hair free about her shoulders and skip through the woods and fields. But she resisted the childish urge and contented herself to roam freely about the woods in search of more berries. She had taken a new path today, exploring a part of the forest she had not entered before.


The sound of running water enticed her off the path, towards a clump of trees and bushes. Liz brushed through the branches and came out on the bank of a babbling stream. She removed her apron and spread it over a log that was lying on the ground and took a seat under a tree that was covered in white flowers.


Soon the temptation was too much and Liz reached down and undid her shoes and slipped them off her feet. She wriggled her toes happily in the air before dipping them in the cool clear water of the brook. Absentmindedly, she reached up and pulled her cap from her head and ran her fingers through her hair, letting it fall down around her shoulders. It made her feel young again, and free.


crack


Liz jumped in surprise at the sound of a twig snapping under foot. She spun around and found that Max was standing behind her. Like her, he had discarded his formal collar and jacket. His head was hatless, his shirt open at the neck.


“Max.” Liz said his name like a prayer.


He moved closer to her until he was just out of arm’s reach, their eyes were locked on each other.


Max reached up and broke a twig from the tree. He ran a finger along it and the twig glowed briefly and became a beautiful white rose. He handed it to Liz.


“It’s beautiful,” Liz said in awe, lifting it to her nose to take in its sweet scent.


“It is like my love for you Liz, it will never die,” Max said in a whisper, he moved another step closer and touched his hand to her cheek, so softly it was like a breath against her skin. He stroked her hair and pulled her closer to him, wrapping his arms around her.


He placed a finger under her chin and gently, slowly guided her face closer to his. As their lips touched, the blossoms fell from the tree, showering them in white petals.


And then Max was gone and Liz was lying in her bed.


“It was a dream,” Liz exclaimed in disappointment. She glanced at Jeremiah who was sleeping soundly beside her. A pang of guilt hit her hard. He would be devastated if her knew what she had been dreaming of.


As silently as she could be, Liz crept from the bed and made her way to the trunk where she kept her journal. Then she stole quietly from the room and into the kitchen. There was still glowing embers in the fireplace and Liz was able to light a candle. She opened her journal and quickly scribbled all the events that had happened since she had last wrote in it.


When she was done, Liz opened up the first page where she had put the rose Max had given her. That had been five days ago and even though she had kept it in her journal for the entire time, it was still as fresh as a flower that had just been plucked. Could what he told her in her dream be real? Would it never die?


<center>~*~</center>



There was a lot to be done to prepare everything for winter. The weather had turned noticeably colder in the last few days and the trees were losing their leaves rapidly. Liz found herself very busy, she had washed all the light summer clothes, made sure that all necessary repairs are carried out and folded them away neatly until next summer and retrieved the heavier winter clothes and blankets. She had been picking berries and nuts every day and preparing them for later that day when her mother was coming over and they were going to preserve and pickle them.


She was almost too busy to think.


But even as Liz said it to herself, she knew that it was false. Her every waking moment was filled with thoughts of Max. No matter how hard she worked she could not stop thinking of him. And when she slept at night, he was there in her dreams.


Liz checked that Sarah was still sleeping and gathered her bucket. She followed the other women to the well, but kept her distance from them, as she didn’t want to be drawn into conversation. Though she greeted everyone in a friendly manner and smiled politely.


When she reached the well, the other women were deep in conversation about the travellers and Liz listened in as she waited her turn to draw water.


Ruth Bosonnet, the doctor’s daughter, was leading the conversation. “My father says that though they have been here for almost four months now, not one of them has asked him to pay a visit. Not once in four months.”


“They do seem to be in very good health,” another woman commented. “And people are less likely to be ill during summer.”


“Perhaps they have a doctor of their own,” Martha Whytebrow suggested.


“They have not,” Ruth scoffed. “My father went up to their settlement and asked to meet with him but he was told they had no doctor. They told him that they have no use for a doctor.”


“So what do they use if one of them is taken ill or injured?” The women asked.


“They have a ‘healer’ amongst them. According to papa, they say he was been given a gift by God and can heal through prayer.” Ruth made another snorting sound. “It’s such an old-fashioned notion. I believe in the power of prayer as much as the next person, but everyone knows that there have been incredible advances in modern medicine of late that are far more effective than praying.”


“But we cannot overlook the power of prayer,” her friend added hastily, nodding and bowing at Liz.


“Oh of course not,” Ruth added, seeing Liz for the first time. “But God has granted us knowledge and learning also and we have used these gifts to find medicines and cures that can do far more than praying can.”


“Lawrence Trilling told me yesterday that they are not Christian at all. They only come to church as a façade. They really worship a pagan God,” Martha Whytebrow said suddenly. She shook her head in disbelief. “That man has the strangest notions.”


Ruth eyed her friend curiously. “Why were you talking to Lawrence Trilling yesterday?” Martha blushed and the conversation changed as the girls gathered around her to tease her about Lawrence. Liz took the opportunity to fill her bucket. As she was winding the bucket back down the well shaft she saw a large group of girls leave the traveller settlement and begin the trip down the hill to the well.


Liz had not seen Max since she had learned of his engagement but she had seen Tess a number of times. She was glowing with happiness and pride and wherever she went, other girls from her community followed her, looking at her in adoration, swarming around her as bees to a queen.


It made Liz almost furious with jealousy.


She was furious with Max too. And furious with herself for her for being jealous of Max and Tess when she was the one was married and had a child. But even though she knew that her feelings were irrational, she couldn’t do anything to get rid of them.


Unable to stay there and face Tess, Liz drew her bucket up quickly and hurried home, splashing half of the pail of water along the way in her haste to get away from Tess.



<center>~*~</center>



“Liz…Liz….Elizabeth.”


Nancy Rosalind’s impatient tone finally registered with Liz and snapped her out of the daze she was in. “Yes Mama?”


“Are the raspberries ready?” Nancy asked. Without waiting for an answer she lifted the plate of juicy ripe berries from her daughter’s lap and added them to the pot. She stirred them into the mixture and returned the pot to the fire. All the while she kept one eye on her daughter.


When she was done, Nancy pulled a stool over to where her daughter was sitting. “Liz dear, what is the matter. You have been so quite and withdrawn these past few weeks. Is something troubling you?”


Liz shook her head. “No mother, all is well.”


“All is not well, I can see that you are troubled by something. You are so pale and thin. We have been working here for three hours and you have only said four words to me,” Nancy pressed. She took her daughter’s hands in her own. “Are you ill? Or with child?”


“No,” Liz said at once. “No, Jeremiah and I…we will never have another child. After Sarah was born…”


“Ah. Now perhaps I understand the cause of your melancholy,” Nancy said with a nod. “You are young, married less than two years. You miss the intimacy of being with your husband. That is quite natural, it’s difficult to be forced to abstain from that which we enjoy. But there are other ways to…without risking pregnancy.”


Liz felt her cheeks burn bright red. Although she was wrong about the cause of Liz's quietness, her mother had hit close to him. Part of Liz was longing for that type of pleasure and intimacy that husband and wives share. But not with her husband.


She bit her lip, longing to tell her mother of her confused feelings for Max. But she knew that her mother would be very disappointed to hear of it, perhaps even ashamed and angry and Liz couldn’t bear to upset her mother like that.


“Speak to Jeremiah about this. He’s a good man, a good husband. I am sure that he will do everything in his power to make you happy,” Nancy urged.


Instead of bringing her comfort, Nancy’s words just added to Liz's woes. She knew that her mother was right, Jeremiah was a good man and the best husband she could ever ask for so it made Liz feel even worse to be coveting another man.


Forcing a smile, Liz stood up. “You are right Mama, come we still have a lot of work to do,” She made her way over to the table and picked up the basket of nuts. “I found a lovely bushel of walnuts yesterday. What shall I make with them?”


Nancy’s answer was interrupted by a knock on the door and Liz hurried to answer it.


“Tess,” She exclaimed in surprise when she opened the door to find the pretty blonde on the other side. “Good day to you.”


“And to you,” Tess responded with a respectful bow. “Forgive me for interrupting you while you are at work, but Reverend Parker asked me to come by. We, my fellow travellers and I, have invited you and your husband to sup with us tonight. Reverend Parker has accepted the invitation and asked me to let you know. I hope that I have not come too late. I know that it is late notice and you might have begun to prepare your evening meal already.”


“Uh…no. Thank you, that’s very kind of you,” Liz stammered. Her mind was in turmoil, part of her was already dreading the excursion up the hill and having to sit with Tess and Max for dinner and part of her was overjoyed at the thought of spending time with Max that evening.


“We will be dining at seven. I am so glad that you will be eating with us, good day Sister,” Tess smiled, she bowed again and departed.


Liz leaned her head against the doorframe and sighed. Was the pleasure of seeing Max, worth the torture of watching him with his new fiancée?




<center>~*~</center>



Jeremiah and Liz stood at the top of the hill that evening and looked down on the town of Rosalind’s Well.


“I have never seen it from up here at night before,” Liz said, almost in a whisper. “It is so small.” She turned her face to the night sky. It was a clear night and the sky was twinkling with stars. The size of the universe was unfathomable. It made Liz feel so tiny, so insignificant.


“Yes, I suppose it is,” Jeremiah agreed. He took Liz by the elbow and turned her to face the encampment on the hill. “But growing larger. I feel that there are good things in store for Rosalind’s Well if only the people of the town would be more welcoming and accepting.”


“It seems from talking to the women at the well every morning that people are growing colder and less welcoming of them,” Liz sighed.


“Yes, I think you were right when you said that people in the town are threatened by the traveller’s obvious wealth and power,” Jeremiah admitted. “That is why I agreed to come up here for dinner, I cannot ask people to welcome these strangers if I don not lead by example.”


Liz pressed his arm fondly, feeling proud of Jeremiah. He smiled at her affectionately and led her towards a large bonfire where a large crowd had gathered. There was silence as Jeremiah and Liz approached.


It was Max who stepped forward, his hand held out to them in greeting. “Reverend Parker, Sister, welcome.”


Jeremiah clasped his hand and shook it warmly. “Thank you Brother. It is an honor for my wife and I to dine with you.”


When Jeremiah said the word wife, Max’s eyes turned to Liz. His glance was brief, he barely blinked at her, but Liz felt herself flush warmly and her legs begin to tremble.


Max indicated towards a group of wooden trestle tables. “Today is an important feast day for us. It is the birthday of the founder of our church. So we celebrate it by breaking bread together. Come, let us eat.”


Everyone took their places at the table. Max led Jeremiah and Liz to the table in the centre. Alexander Whitman was sitting opposite her, deep in conversation with the man beside him. He nodded at Liz as she sat down. A number of young women appeared and placed a large pot at the top of each table.

“This is a traditional dish where we come from,” Max explained as he began to ladle out the stew into bowls and pass them around the table. When he had served everyone where they were sitting he moved to the next table and began to serve the people there. A tall woman approached their table with a large pewter jug and poured everyone a drink.


It was Isabel, the tall blonde woman who shared Max’s last name. She smiled at Liz as she poured the liquid, which was a deep purple color. “This is a traditional drink from our home. There is no alcohol in it,” After she had filled everyone’s glass she moved to the next table and began to pour for everyone there.


Liz looked around for Max and saw that he had moved on to another table and was serving everyone there.


“It’s our custom, on this feast day our k…leader serves the people to show that we are all the same. We eat this simple food and drink as our ancestors did before us to honor our past,” Alexander explained when he saw Liz watching Max.


“Maxwell is your leader?” Jeremiah asked in a surprised tone. “He is very young.”


“But very capable,” Alex told him. “We had a very difficult journey here and I believe that we would not have arrived here safely without Max in command. Our community owes him a great debt.”


After a short while, when Max had served everyone he returned to their table and dished out his own meal. Isabel took the seat to his right hand side. Max lifted his hand and at once all conversation was halted and all eyes were on him.


“Today is a very special day for us. Not only is it the birthday of Zanath of Antar but it marks our first feast day here on … American soil. We have travelled a long way, through many perils but we have reached sanctuary and a place to call home here in Rosalind’s Well. We have amongst us Reverend Parker and his wife and I ask Reverend Parker to say grace for us tonight.”


Jeremiah rose to his feet and blessed himself. “Oh Lord, bless all of us gathered here tonight. We thank you for the food, which you have provided for us, and we pray that you will always be bountiful in your generosity. We thank you for delivering your children safely from peril and for bringing us to this place where we are safe. Amen.”


There was a loud chorus of Amen’s and then everyone began to eat. The stew was piping hot, even after the delay between being served and been eaten. It was full of flavors that Liz could not identify but was delicious and filling.


“Thank you for the brevity of your blessing Reverend,” Alexander laughed after taking a few mouthfuls. “The last time we celebrated this day, our food was cold by the time our Priest had finished his blessing. Do you remember?”


Beside him Isabel smiled at the memory. “Yes, the people who were sitting furthest away and out of his line of sight had eaten most of theirs before he had finished but the rest of us had to wait.”


“To be fair to Reverend Brixton, there were many more of us then and it took me a lot longer to serve all the tables, so of course your meals were cold,” Max laughed, his smile faded quickly though as he looked out over the crowd who had assembled there. “Our number is so small tonight, we have lost so many since last we celebrated Zanath together.”


“I apologise, I should have prayed for absent friends,” Jeremiah said at once.


“No, tonight is a night for celebration. We have mourned out losses long enough,” Max said. His eyes met Liz's briefly and then looked away quickly. “Tonight is a new beginning for all of us and should be a joyous occasion.”


“May I ask where you have come from? Your accents are hard to place. It almost sounds as though you have been here for two or three generations,” Jeremiah asked.


“We come from a small province in Europe,” Alexander said. “To the north, it is said that our accents resemble very closely the American one.”


“Reverend, I must tell you that you will soon have a second marriage to conduct for us,” Max announced suddenly, clearly changing the subject from his place of origin. “Alexander and my sister Isabel have become engaged and would like for you to conduct the ceremony.”


“Isabel is not of age yet but she will be in a couple of months and then we shall be married,” Alexander said with a huge smile. He placed his hand on top of Isabel’s and the couple smiled at each other, their love for each other clearly evident.


Liz averted her eyes from the tender display of love, it was too private to watch. Instead her eyes drifted to Max. He too was watching her.


The rest of the crowd faded away and it was just them.


“Where is your bride to be?” Jeremiah asked Max, jolting him back to attention.


Max quickly turned his face to Jeremiah, Liz could see the guilt in his eyes. “She is dining with her family, over there.”


Liz followed his finger and saw Tess sitting at another table. She was watching proceedings at Max’s table through narrowed eyes. She smiled at Max when she spotted him pointing her out and bowed her head to Jeremiah. When the small blonde’s glance fell on her, Liz’s blood ran cold. It was full of malice and hatred.


The conversation turned to agriculture and the approaching winter and Liz paid little attention to it. Instead she watched the people gathered around. To her eyes they looked as normal as any other group of people she had ever seen though, perhaps taller, healthier and stronger than most others. Children ran between tables laughing under the watchful of eyes of their mothers, girls gossiped happily, young men and women flirted, the older members of the community cast talked in serious tones. They were normal people, it was hard to believe that they had travelled from another planet.


Liz touched her hand to her stomach where Max had healed her. Her grandparents had fled from their home in England because the church authorities there were persecuting them. All along the eastern coast of America, people who had come from Europe to escape religious persecution had founded towns and communities.


The travellers had crossed the universe, could life on their home planet have been so bad that they could find no refuge there? It was evident by Max’s tone and remarks that they had lost a large number of their people before they came to Rosalind’s Well. Here, they had finally found something that they couldn’t find anywhere else in the universe - a place to call home, safety. Yet Max had risked all that when he saved her. Why?


She glanced up at him and found that he was watching her. He looked away at once.


After dinner was finished, the young men and women began clearing the tables. The older people gathered around the fires. By the largest fire, a band of musicians began playing. Their music was slow and mournful.


Jeremiah touched Liz's arm to get her attention. “Maxwell has something to show us, come.” They followed Max and Alexander away from the fires to a clear patch of grass.


“This is where we would like to build the new church,” Max told Jeremiah. “This is the highest point of the hill. In our culture we like to build as close to the heavens as we can.”


“We know that some people in your town will not be happy that we have chosen to build up here instead of down in the valley but we hope that most people will be pleased with the location,” Alexander added hastily.


“I think this is the perfect location,” Jeremiah said at once. “There will be detractors of course, there always are but I am sure that most of the people will be very grateful that you wish to build a new church for all of us. And it will help to strengthen bonds between the two communities.” He turned to Liz to seek her opinion.


She smiled at him. “It’s ideal.”


Satisfied with her approval, Jeremiah turned back to Alexander and the two quickly became engrossed in conversation about the architecture of the proposed church.


Liz tuned them out and began walking along the markings Alexander had made in the grass to indicate where the outside walls of the church would be. She looked down into the valley at the twinkling lights of the town, the only light in a vast sea of darkness.


The hairs on the back of her neck stood up and she could feel her skin flush, as though she was standing beside a large fire. When she turned, Max was standing beside her. He smiled sadly at her. “This will be the porch. The altar will be at the other end.” He said, in a loud voice.


“I see,” Liz said. She glanced at her husband, they had wandered away from the site of the church and off into the darkness. She looked back at Max.


“How are you?” He asked gently.


“I am fine,” Liz told him. She had so many feelings bubbling up inside of her, so many things she wanted to say. “I need to talk to you,” She blurted out.


Max glanced in the direction Jeremiah and Alexander had gone. “We are free to talk now.”


“No.” Liz shook her head. That was not what she meant. “I need to see you privately, somewhere far away from other people. I need…. I cannot stop thinking of you Max.”


Max took a step back from her. “I think of you too, all the time. But we cannot see each other, we cannot meet to talk. You are a married woman and I…I cannot see you Liz.”


Liz hung her head, wretched with misery. “I wish I didn’t feel this way Max, but I do. I know that there can be nothing between us but I can’t go on like this. When I’m not with you, it feels like something is missing from me.”


“Please…” Max said hoarsely. His face was full of anguish. “If there was any way for us to be together, I would come for you in the morning but there is none. You have a family and you cannot leave them, I would not ask you to. And I have responsibilities here. I cannot forsake my people Liz.”


A tear trickled slowly down Liz's cheek, she brushed it away angrily.


Max grimaced at the sight of the tear. “I am sorry Liz, I never meant for you to suffer because of what I did that day.”


“Don’t say such a thing,” Liz admonished aghast. “You saved my life.”


“And now you have to lie to your husband, your parents, your community.” Max shook his head.


Liz wanted to tell him that the price of her secret was worth it. Just knowing Max, being privilege to his secret made the burden she now had to carry more than worthwhile. There was a loud cheer raised from the bonfires. Liz glanced in the direction of the other travellers. “Max, when you healed me, you risked everything that your people had built here. You risked your own safety. Why?”


Max looked away for a moment then back to her. “It was you.”


“I…” But Liz's words were cut off by the sound of approaching footsteps.


“Max? There you are.” His sister Isabel came towards them carrying a lamp. Liz turned her face away so that the beautiful blond wouldn’t see her tears.


“We are ready to start the Chakot-I,” Isabel said to Max. She held her lamp up. “Where’s Alexander?”


“He’s showing Reverend Parker the irrigation system,” Max answered. He turned back to Liz. “I must go.”


“I’ll wait here for Jeremiah,” Liz told him, trying to keep the tremble from her voice.


Max nodded, then tore his gaze away from her and walked back to the fires with his sister.


Liz took the opportunity to compose herself before Jeremiah returned.


“Stay away from him,” a voice said making her jump. Liz whirled around and found Max’s betrothed standing behind her. Her eyes were cold and full of hatred.


“He is mine,” Tess told her advancing slowly. “Stay away from him. I see the way you look at him. I know what you want, but you can’t have it. Max is to be my husband. Mine.”


“I…uh…” Liz stammered.


A slow smile made it’s way across Tess’s face, but it did not make her look any friendlier. It made her look even more spiteful and menacing. “If I see you with Max again, if you try to meet him I will kill your daughter. I can kill her without touching her and making it look like you did it.”


Liz gasped in horror. “No, please. There is no need to threaten my daughter. I am a married woman, my husband is a minister. I would never meet another man. You have no reason to be suspicious or threatening.”


“Just remember that the next time you are with Max instead of begging to meet with him far from other people,” Tess said coldly. “Stay away from Max.” With that she turned on her heal and headed towards the crowd.



<center>~*~</center>
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tequathisy
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Post by tequathisy » Tue Mar 28, 2006 11:23 am

sorry for the delay in posting this part. thanks to everyone who left feedback.

Fehr'sBear I like Tess too, when’s she not being evil but she’s an easy villain.
RhondaAnn Jeremiah and Liz were invited because Max and the others wanted to integrate more with the humans.
Behrlyliz yes, the lake is where Rosalind’s Well once was. Why? You’ll have to keep reading to find out.
candycane14 Liz's grave? That’s a very good question!
Maya welcome back
Xmag Tess just threatened to kill Sarah. It was a nasty, but effective way of keeping Liz away from Max. I don’t think she’d actually kill a baby.
sylvia37 I want them together too.
Ellie Tess is bad, put she’s not the one who’s responsible for Liz's death. Or is she??
nibbles2 yes that was the clue. Figure it out!!!
dragon7 thank you.
Kristy Very good, yes the aliens chose to live on top of the hill for that reason.


Nine


When Max Evans healed the fatal wound on my stomach and restored me to life, my first thought was that he was an angel. And even though he has denied it and told me that he was born, not in the heavens but another planet I believed that God had sent him to earth for a very important purpose. I still believe it. I know that I can trust Max and therefore I assumed that his fellow travelers were as honest and decent as he is.

But now I wonder.

One of them has threatened to harm my seven-month-old daughter. Only a monster could say such a thing. I promised to keep Max’s secret because I believed that I was doing the right thing, but I have I allowed a nest of vipers to set up home in our town and endangered the lives of my families and neighbors?


Maria shut the journal abruptly. A knot of fear was forming in her stomach. The last entry had been frightening. Suddenly the aliens living on the hill had turned from friendly to a dangerous and menacing threat.
Her eyes drifted to the window and she half expected to see some sort of alien fortress looming on a hill over the town, casting a dark shadow over Roswell. But there were no hills around, the woodland area was flat.
Then she remembered a line from the journal. The site for the new church was on the highest point of the hill. Maria frowned, but that didn’t make sense.

Unless…

"Bye Susie." Maria called, as she hurried out of the library. Out in the street Maria dashed up the slight slope to where the church was standing. When she reached the door she was panting, not from the exercise but from fear.

Slowly Maria turned around. She was standing in the porch, where according to the journal Max and Liz had conducted the conversation. Maria fished out the journal from her bag and scanned through it until she found the line she wanted. Butterflies were dancing in her stomach.

Anybody standing in the doorway of the new church in daylight will have a wonderful view of the surrounding countryside – the woods, streams, and fields. Down below us I could just see roofs of the houses of Rosalind’s Well as I bird would see them, the smoke unfurling from the chimneys.

Maria looked up from the journal and took in the scene before her. There was certainly a wonderful view of the surrounding countryside, though most of it was covered in trees. All the buildings around the church were on the same level, perhaps one or two feet lower down.

Then there was the lake. But Liz had made no mention of any lake in her journal, ever. According to her, there should be a valley with a town where the lake was now.

The butterflies had left her stomach and were clutching her heart. Maria felt as though all the air had been sucked out of her body. The town of Rosalind’s Well was under that lake, she realized. The aliens had flooded it and wiped it off the map, pretending it had never existed.

No wonder they were afraid of the lake. If she had built a lake on top of the homes of a town full of innocent people she would have been afraid to go into the lake too.

"Hello Maria."

With a scream, Maria whirled around and found Reverend Rendell smiling at her.

"Are you alright dear?" He asked coming closer.

"I’m fine, you just startled me." Maria said backing slowly away. Her heart was thumping so loudly she was sure that the Reverend could hear her. Maybe he could, maybe aliens had supersonic hearing.

"You should be running along before you get yourself into trouble."

"Why would I be in trouble?" Maria asked. What did he know? Was that a threat?

The minister looked at his watch. "It’s lunch time, Gloria will have lunch on the table by now." He smiled at her and Maria realized that he was being friendly.

"Of course, I should get going. Good bye Reverend." Maria said, walking backwards away from him. Back on the street she turned away and hurried down the hill to the lakeside. She couldn’t go back to the house yet. She was too jumpy, Mrs. Whitman and Michael would know that something was up. What would they do to her if they knew she had figured out their secret?

She took a seat on a wooden bench facing the lake and looked out over it. It looked so serene and quite but suddenly its stillness became menacing because she knew that it covered up a deep secret. Suddenly Maria became aware that she was being watched, slowly she turned and found two women standing on the sidewalk across the street from her, staring at her. They turned away at once and hurried up the street.
Maria’s eyes traveled along the windows of the houses by the lakeshore. She wondered if there were people – aliens inside watching her. Nervously she rose to her feet and made her way along the path away from the town. The path led into a large clump of trees, which Maria assumed was part of the forest but she quickly found that it led to a large open area. There was a baseball field and a basketball court. On the other side of the field she could see a large building which she guessed was the school. Close by was a children’s playground fenced off by a bright red fence. There were a couple of children gathered around the climbing gym. The waved at her and called out.

"Hi lady."

Maria waved limply back and put her head down, continuing on the path.
It reached its end in a small garden that was filled with bright flowers. It was hidden from view on three sides by large mature trees and on the fourth was the lake. There was a small jetty leading from the garden to the lake. Maria opened the gate and entered the garden.

In the middle was a large stone plinth with writing on it. She made her way over to it and read the inscription.

<center>IN MEMORIUM</center>
<center>This garden was built to remember those people who have lost their lives in Lake Rosalind.</center>

Underneath that was a list of names. The first name on the list was Maxwell Evans 1st October 1699. Maria counted twenty names below his. The drownings had occurred roughly one every fifteen to twenty years, usually in the fall and from what she could see only three were women.
The last two names on the list were Helen and Michael Guerin’s.

Underneath the list of names was a line of strange symbols which Maria guess was alien writing. She didn’t quite know when she had gone from thinking the journal was a good book to a genuine account of first contact with an alien life form but she now believed without a doubt that Liz Parker had been brought back from the dead by an alien.

Maria’s legs trembled and she fell to her knees. Her whole body was shaking and she felt terror course through her body. She had landed in an alien’s lair. "Oh God." She moaned. She had to get out of here.
Her hands brushed something on the ground. She looked down and spotted a bunch of fresh flowers and a note.

To Helen and Mike, we miss you every day. G & M.XXX

Maria traced the names of Michael’s parents in the stone. Again, she had the feeling of being watched and she stood up and turned around.
Courtney was standing at the gate of the remembrance garden, blocking Maria’s only way out.

"You’re still here I see," she snarled.

"Yes I am, but believe me it’s not by choice. I want to get the hell out of here just as badly as the people here want me to leave," Maria returned.

"Sure, I know what you’re up to but it’s not going to work," Courtney said, her eyes flashing with hate and anger. "Michael is mine so stay away from him. I see the way you look at him. I know what you want, but you can’t have it. Michael is going to be mine. Mine."

"I think that you and I must be talking about completely different people because the only Michael I know isn’t even a tiny bit interested in you." Maria said smugly. What the hell are you up to girl? She berated herself. Try not to piss off the girl with alien powers.

Courtney’s eyes narrowed. "You don’t want to make an enemy of me. I can be a very dangerous person to cross."

Maria took a deep breath to stop herself from telling Courtney to go jump in the lake. "Look, I’m sorry that you’ve got the wrong idea about me. I’m not interested in Michael. I’m staying at his grandmother’s house for a few days while my car is in the shop and then I’m leaving. That’s all."

"For somebody who’s not interested in him, you spend a lot of time throwing yourself at him. Swanning around in your little outfits, taking drives into the woods with him, running to tell tales on our Mayor."

Maria held her hands up, she didn’t want to get into an argument with the other girl. Courtney looked like she was capable of being quite nasty. "I’m sorry Courtney, I’m really not interested in Michael. All I want is to get out of Roswell."

"Why are you so anxious to go all of a sudden?" Courtney asked.

"I’m supposed to be back in New York soon and I haven’t any work down on my thesis. I need to get to Salem," Maria explained.

Courtney was silent, mulling over what Maria had said. "You know, I could drive you to Safehaven if you like and you could get the train to Salem. I’m sure that Kyle will have your car fixed in a day or two and he could leave it in Safehaven for you to collect on your way back."

Loathe as she was to accept a ride from Courtney, Maria knew that it was her best chance to get out of Roswell that day. It only took her a moment to decide. "That would be great. As long as I’m not putting you to any trouble."

A broad smile lit up Courtney’s face. "It’s no trouble. I’m happy to do it." She unlatched the gate and held it open for Maria.

With shaky legs Maria forced herself to walk to the gate. "Thanks Courtney," she said with a fake smile, desperately trying not to show how nervous the other girl made her feel.

"I’ll go home and get the car and pick up at the Mrs. Whitman’s in about thirty minutes," Courtney suggested. She stuck her hands in the pocket of her jacket and trotted off in the direction of the school.

Maria expelled the breath she had been holding and waited a moment for her heartbeat to slow down before jogging down the path towards Mrs. Whitman’s house.


<center>~*~</center>


"Hello dear. Are you hungry? I’ve just made lunch."

Maria looked into Mrs. Whitman’s kindly face and smiled. How could she be afraid of Mrs. Whitman?

"Thanks but I’m fine. Actually I have to go. Courtney has offered to give me a ride to Safehaven so I can catch the train to Salem. But we’re leaving in about half an hour. I’m going to ask Kyle to leave my car in Safehaven when it’s done and I’ll pick it up there," Maria said without stopping to take a breath.

Mrs. Whitman’s face fell in disappointment. "You’re leaving?"

"I have to be back in New York in a couple of days or I’ll lose my job and I really have to get my research work done before I go back because I won’t be able to get back to Salem again this year," Maria explained apologetically.

"Of course, I understand." Mrs. Whitman nodded. "We’ll miss you here. It was so nice to have you around."

"I’m going to miss you too," Maria said sadly, meaning it even if Mrs. Whitman was descended from an evil disgusting green thing that liked to suck people’s brains out through their noses or whatever they did on Planet Antar.

Mrs. Whitman pulled Maria into her arms and hugged her tightly. "Be sure to come back and visit us," she told her young friend.

How? Maria wondered, Roswell wasn’t on any maps. "Of course I will," Maria smiled. She pulled away and was surprised to see tears forming in Mrs. Whitman’s eyes. "I should go and pack. Courtney will be here in a minute."

She looked through the open door into the kitchen. The table was set for three people but nobody was sitting at it so she probably wouldn’t get to say good bye to Michael, Maria realized with a pang of regret.

Maria ran up the stairs and into her small room at the top. She made quick work of gathering her things together and stuffing them back into her bag. When she was finished she took the journal from her purse and held it in her hands.

Part of her wanted to take it with her and find out what happened but another part told her to put it back where it belonged. If they found out that she had taken it they would know that she had discovered their secret they might come after her.

Making her decision, Maria placed the rose back into the journal where she had found it. She took a moment to run her fingers over the still fresh petal before closing the journal. Then she lifted the heavy lid of the chest.
The only problem now was opening the secret compartment. She rapped it several times with her knuckles, tried to slide it open with her fingernail. No luck. She took the lid in her two hands and banged it closed, it still didn’t open.

Downstairs she heard the doorbell chime.

"Maria," Courtney’s voice called out in a sing song voice.

"I’m coming," Maria answered. She placed the journal into the chest and covered with a blanket. With any luck it wouldn’t be found for a while and they would have forgotten all about her by then.

She grabbed her bags and jacket and left the room.

"Maria."

The voice made her freeze in her tracks. It had come from behind her. From the bedroom she had just left. Slowly, almost against her own will, Maria turned.

There was somebody in the room. She could feel it.

"No way," Maria muttered and turned her back on the open door and continued down the stairs.

Mrs. Whitman was waiting at the bottom with a package in her hand. "These are some cookies I made. If I had known that you were going today I would have made you something special."

"Oh Mrs. Whitman, I’m sorry I never got you anything either. You’ve been so nice to me and I didn’t even get you anything to say thanks," Maria exclaimed guiltily.

"Don’t be silly, I’ve loved having you here," Mrs. Whitman told her affectionately.

"We have to go now," Courtney chimed in tapping her watch.

"Ok." Maria told her. "Can you say goodbye to Michael for me? Tell him …tell him bye." She hugged the old lady tightly. "Thanks so much for everything."

"Let’s go," Courtney called impatiently from the door.

"Goodbye dear," Mrs. Whitman said and kissed Maria’s cheek.

Maria returned the kiss and hugged her one last time before following Courtney to the door and out to the car. She glanced up the street hoping to see Michael but there was no sight of him so she climbed into the car.


<center>~*~</center>

The only sound in the car was the radio, neither of the two girls had anything to say to the other, but it was clear to Maria that Courtney was silently gloating more and more with every mile they put between Maria and Roswell.

Suddenly there was a burst of static shock and the radio station was gone.

"I hate when it does that," Courtney swore she twiddled the knob until she came to the sounds of another song playing. Maria recognized it at once as Dido’s Here with me.

I didn't hear you leave, I wonder how am I still here,

Maria wondered where Michael was. Did he know that she had left yet? Did he care?

I don't want to move a thing, it might change my memory

It wasn’t like anything had happened between them so why was her stomach churning at the thought of never seeing Michael again?

Oh I am what I am, I'll do what I want, but I can't hide

She couldn’t hide from it. She had fallen hard for Michael in the short space of time that she had been in Roswell.

I won't go, I won't sleep, I can't breathe, until you're resting here with me
I won't leave, I can't hide, I cannot be, until you're resting here with me


Her breath caught in her throat. Maria almost asked Courtney to stop and turn back. She didn’t want to leave Michael. She knew, without doubt, that she would miss him and think about him for the rest of her life.

I don't want to call my friends, they might wake me from this dream
And I can't leave this bed, risk forgetting all that's been


What if they did something to her to make her forget Roswell? Forget Michael? The last few days already felt like they had happened years ago.

Oh I am what I am, I'll do what I want but I can't hide
I won't go, I won't sleep, I can't breathe until you're resting here with me
I won't leave, I can't hide, I cannot be, until you're resting here with me.


"Stop," Maria blurted out.

Courtney glanced at her. "What?"

"Stop, turn around. Go back," Maria pleaded. "I forgot something, you have to go back."

"Too late for that now," Courtney said coldly any pretence of kindness completely gone "You’re not going back. You’ll never see Roswell again, bitch." The car sped up, taking the corner at a dangerous pace.

"Please, it’s important. I have to go back," Maria begged. She had to go back to Michael.

"No!" Courtney screamed. Her eyes flashing with rage "I know what you’re going to do, but it won’t work. He’s mine and I’m taking you back there."

Maria shrunk back in her seat, terrified of Courtney. She braced herself against the dash as they rounded another bend at breakneck speed. "Courtney, slow down," Maria warned.

"SHUT UP!" Courtney screamed. "Just shut up, I hate you and your stupid voice and your stupid blonde hair. Just shut up or I’ll throw you into the lake. You bitch."

"Courtney, look out!" Maria screamed, her attention caught by something on the road.

The road ahead was straight and even and standing right in their way was a young woman, with a white dress and long brown hair. Maria just had time to notice that she was soaking yet before Courtney swerved to avoid her and the car went off the road.

The car careered off the road and ploughed into a large oak tree. The force of the impact caused both girls to wallop their heads off the dashboard.

Maria sat up clutching her forehead. "Oh my god." There was blood on her hand. She looked over at Courtney who was slumped over the steering wheel. Maria tapped her shoulder. "Courtney? Courtney are you alright?"

The other girl didn’t move. Maria turned her face slightly, she could see that the other girl was breathing, which was a good thing she supposed but she was unconscious.

"Crap," Maria muttered. She searched the floor for her purse and fished out her cell phone. There was no signal.

"Crap," Maria said again. She undid the safety belt and climbed out of the car. Her legs were shaking and she dropped to the ground.

"Maria."

It was the voice again. The one from her room just before they left. The one who had woken her that first night and led her to the journal.
Maria looked up. The girl was standing there. Maria had expected her to have disappeared as she had done the night her own car had broken down.

"Liz?"

The girl nodded. Maria was slightly disconcerted by the fact that she was talking to a transparent ghost but she forced herself to her feet and stumbled closer to Liz.

She was shocked to see that Liz had dark bruises on her face and arms. Her wrists were bound together with frayed rope. There were blood stains on her dress, which Maria realized was in fact a night gown. Water dripped from her hair and dress but left no puddle on the road beneath her.

Despite her bruises, her wet appearance her ripped and stained dress, Liz was beautiful. She took a step closer to Maria without seeming to move.

"Help me," She implored, her brown eyes filling with tears.

"How? What do you want me to do?" Maria asked.

Liz said nothing but glanced over Maria's shoulder to the car. Maria followed the direction of her glance.

The radio which had been silence in the collision came to life again. Dido’s voice blared out of the car.

I won't go, I won't sleep, I can't breathe until you're resting here with me
I won't leave, I can't hide, I cannot be, until you're resting here with me.


"I don’t understand, what do you want me to do?" Maria asked, turning back to Liz. But she was gone.

I cannot be, until you're resting here with me.


"What does that mean? I don’t know what you want from me," Maria cried out, spinning around. "Come back Liz, I want to help you but I don’t know how?"

She turned as she heard the sound of a car approaching. She recognized the jeep as Michael’s. He pulled to a screeching halt close to the car and jumped out.

"Are you ok? What happened? Did Courtney do something to you?" Michael asked. He grabbed Maria gently by the arms and pulled her to him.

"I’m fine. Courtney’s in the car, I think she got knocked out. Michael….I saw her."

"Saw who?" Michael asked.

"I saw Liz, the girl in white. She wants…." Maria’s answer trailed off as she saw the look of disbelief on Michael’s face.

He touched her forehead. "You’re hurt." The he pulled a clean handkerchief from his pocket and pressed it to her head. Maria swallowed nervously at his proximity. She didn’t know if it was the bag on the head or Michael, but suddenly she was feeling very light headed. Her legs gave way beneath her and she buckled to the ground.

Michael scooped her up into his arms and carried her to his truck. He placed her gently on to the passenger seat.

"Look at me Maria. Can you see how many fingers I’m holding up?"

That was a stupid question, Maria thought. If he’s just hold his fingers steady and stop swaying so much she’d be able to answer.

"Yeah, I think you have a concussion, Michael said. He leaned across her and picked up a bottle of water. "Take a drink."

Maria sipped the water as he held it to her lips.

"I’m going to radio Kyle to come out here and then I’ll take you back to Roswell," Michael told her.

"Ok." Maria nodded, the jarring caused a pain to shoot through her head and she moaned.

"Just lie down and I’ll go see to Courtney," Michael said gently. He helped her lies down and covered her with his jacket. "I’ll be backing a minute."

"Mm...k," Maria mumbled. Her last conscious thought was a giddy satisfaction that Michael was only going to check on Courtney now.
She was only vaguely heard of the radio in Michael’s jeep coming to life.

I cannot be, until you're resting here with me.



<center>~*~</center>


The first thing she was aware of, as she came to was that somebody was stroking her cheek gently. She turned her head and blinked. There was somebody sitting by her bed. Handsome, with dark eyes and brown hair.

"Max…" The name slipped of her tongue before she realized that she had said it.

"It’s me, Michael." He withdrew his hand from her face.

"Where am I?" Maria asked trying to look around, but her head hurt so she lay still on the pillow.

"You’re in grandma’s house, in Roswell. You got a nasty bump on your head but you’ll be ok," Michael told her gently.

Maria touched her forehead gingerly. There was a large bandage over her left eye. Her face felt sore and tender to the touch. "Ow."

"Is anything else sore?"

"No, just my face. Do I have a black eye?" Maria asked, shifting uncomfortably in the bed.

"I’m afraid so. But it’s not too bad, it’ll heal in a few days. You girls were lucky that it wasn’t worse," Michael told her.

Oh yeah, "How’s Courtney?"

"She’s fine," Michael glowered. He sounded angry, Maria thought gleefully. "What happened in the car?"

Well, the ghost of a girl who was brought back from the dead by your alien ancestor three hundred years ago appeared on the road and caused Courtney to hit a tree because she wanted to prevent me from leaving Roswell until I’ve helped her but I’ve no idea what that involves, but it has something to do with a Dido song.

Maria smirked, she couldn’t tell him that. "I don’t know, there was something on the road and Courtney swerved to avoid it."

"What was it?"

"I…I don’t know." Maria shrugged.

"Were you two …by any chance arguing?" Michael asked.

"I told her that I needed to come back here because I forgot something but she didn’t want to turn around."

Michael nodded. "She says that you went crazy and grabbed the wheel and forced her off the road."

Outraged, Maria sat up in the bed. "Why would I do that? She’s the one who went crazy and started screaming at me. She’s a psycho. She…whoa." Maria grasped her head as it began to swim.

"Lie back," Michael instructed gently, plumping the pillows behind her and guiding her down. When he was sure Maria was ok he asked. "What was she screaming about?"

"I told you, I wanted to come back to Roswell but she wouldn’t turn around. She went all crazy and started saying how…uh…she hated me and my hair and uh…stuff."

"What kind of stuff? Maria, she’s made an allegation against you so you have to tell me what happened." Michael said in a grave voice.

Maria sighed. "I wanted to come back and she didn’t want to let me because she thought I was coming back to you and she says that you belong to her. I tried to tell her I’m not interested in you but she wouldn’t listen. She started screaming abuse at me. She wasn’t watching the road, I tried to warn her but I never grabbed the wheel. I swear."

"So I guess that’s why you didn’t say goodbye."

"No…I wanted to, but Courtney was in a rush and I needed to get to Safehaven to get the train." Maria reached out and caught his hand. "I’m sorry."

Michael squeezed her hand gently and let it go. He stood up and pulled on a jacket that was hanging on the back of his chair. "I have to check on Courtney and find out if she wants to change her story. I’ll see you later. Grandma is downstairs, I’m sure that she’ll be in to check on you in a couple of minutes. There’s a bell on the table, you’re to ring it if you need anything."

Maria glanced at the little bell on her bedside locker and smiled. "I’m fine, I just need to rest a little."

"Ok." Michael returned her smile. He hesitated beside her bed for a moment then swooped down suddenly and kissed her cheek. "I’m glad you’re still here," he murmured before straightening up and exiting the room hastily.

A huge smile graced Maria’s lips and she touched the spot where his lips and brushed her cheek. The butterflies were dancing happily in her stomach.

Michael had barely left the room before Mrs. Whitman came in to check on Maria. Her concern and obvious delight to still have her in Roswell touched Maria deeply. So she allowed the old woman to fuss over her for half an hour before telling her that she needed to rest.

"Ok, I’ll leave you alone. But promise me that you’ll ring the bell if you need anything," Mrs. Whitman urged. She hugged Maria tightly and kissed the top of her head before leaving.

Maria waited until she heard Mrs. Whitman climb down the stairs and go into the kitchen before she crawled out of the bed and opened the chest to retrieve the journal from its hiding place.

Liz had brought her to Roswell for a reason. She wasn’t going to let her go until Maria carried out whatever it was she needed her to do. The only way to find out was to read the journal.


<center>~*~</center>
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tequathisy
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Post by tequathisy » Thu Apr 06, 2006 11:54 am

Once again, thanks to everyone for leaving feedback.

Behrlyliz thank you. You’re so sweet.

Ellie thanks

pandas2001 it’s not enchanted but there may be something else at work.

Xmag Courtney had no other intentions than to get Maria out of the town.

Lolita an alien ghost story!!!

Zans-gurl thank you *blushes* now that I have your attention – any chance of an update for evil comes quietly??

Fehr'sBear I wouldn’t count Courtney out just yet.

Galliard You make a good point and I’m usually the first to complain about things like that. But, we’re only seeing Tess and Courtney from Liz and Maria’s pov. Rest assured that when they are dealing with people in their own community, they are sneaky and manipulative and two faced. Liz and Maria don’t normally have dealings with the other members of their community. In Maria’s case she’s leaving and never coming back. In Liz’s case Tess issued her with a threat that she knew would keep her away from the travelers so Tess and Courtney felt it was safe to be openly nasty.

Also, I wanted to show how Liz died because it was the only thing that was going to get Maria to stay in Roswell and help her. If she hadn’t seen it, Maria would have walked to the train station. And the Mosse book is on my to-read list.

Antarian Chick thank you.

And to any lurkers, hope you all like it too.



Ten


“Lullaby and good night
In the sky stars are bright
'Round your head
Flowers gay
Set your slumbers till day

Close your eyes
Now and rest
May these hours
Be blessed.”


“Is she asleep?” Jeremiah asked in a whisper.

Liz stroked her daughter’s cheek. “Yes. Look at her Jeremiah, she is so beautiful.”

Jeremiah rested his chin atop Liz's head and gazed at his infant daughter. “She is very beautiful.” He agreed.

How could anybody threaten somebody so small and helpless and innocent, Liz wondered? How would she live if any harm came to Sarah? She watched her baby daughter sleeping and vowed to stay far away from Max Evans forever, she would never do anything to harm her beloved child.

“It is late, come to bed.” Jeremiah called.

“Is the door bolted?” Liz asked, standing up and closing the shutters by Sarah’s crib firmly.

“Yes. Are you worried about something? Wolves, perhaps?” Jeremiah asked.

“No, of course not.” Liz said at once. She changed into her night clothes and climbed into the bed. Jeremiah was soon asleep but Liz lay awake, listening to every creek and sound from the house. Imagining that every noise was Tess coming to take her daughter away. When she was sure that she wouldn’t wake Jeremiah by climbing out of the bed, Liz got up and crept into the kitchen with her journal.

She made sure that all the doors and windows were shut fast then took a seat, curled upside the dying embers of the fire and wrote about the night in her journal. The small book was quickly becoming her closest friend, her only confidante and the only outlet for her confused and tormented feelings.

A noise outside made her jump. She knew that it was not her imagination or a normal sound of the night so Liz crept to the window and peered out. There was a group of men standing outside her house, huddled together in the cold. One of them was holding a lantern with the shutter open just the smallest amount to allow only a thin shaft of light out. It was illuminating a book in the hands of another man.

Liz frowned and crept to the door. There was a space between the bottom of the door and the floor, it wasn’t very much but it allowed Liz to press her ear against it and hear what was being said outside.

She could just make out a man’s voice, he spoke in a clear distinct voice, but softly.

“I call forth and loose the Holy Spirit, the heavenly host, the holy angels of God, to surround, and protect, and cleanse with God’s holy light all areas inhabited by the forces of evil. I ask the Holy Spirit to permeate the minds, hearts, bodies, spirits and souls of all your children, creating a hunger and thirst for God’s holy word, and to fill us to overflowing with the life and love of my Lord, Jesus Christ.”

Liz gasped in horror. It was a prayer from delivery from the forces of darkness. The man raised his hand and Liz could see that in it he held a cross. The men around him blessed themselves and began to walk away from the house. Liz hurried back to the window.

They stepped into a patch of moonlight and it allowed Liz to see them more clearly. She recognised most of them at once, Doctor Bosonnet, Sheriff Brown, Blake and Lawrence Trilling – the men who had called to her house to accuse her in the past. With them were three other men of the town – Newell, Mitchell and Nicholson. They were all influential elders in the town, members of the town council.

It was the man who had been leading the prayers whom she did not recognise. He was behind the other men, he walked with an air of arrogance about him. As they reached the well, he stopped and turned back to face the house. He held up the lantern in his hand and for a moment it illuminated his face. He was younger than the other men. Liz drew back from the window, terrified that he had seen her.

Liz did not return to bed that night but kept a vigil at the window.


<center>~*~</center>


The following day Liz made her way to the well as usual to draw water. Her mind was filled with the events of the preceding twenty-four hours and she paid little attention to her surroundings as she made her way.

It wasn’t until she reached the well that she realised that all was not as it should be. Instead of the usual cheerful chatter, the women were silent although they spoke in low whispers to each other. It was clear by the way that they were looking at her that Liz was the topic of conversation.

“Good morrow sisters.” Liz greeted with a respectful bow of her head. Some of the women returned the greeting half-heartedly, others turned their backs to shun her. Liz was stung by their behaviour but kept her head high and high and waited her turn to lower her pail.

In front of her was Hannah Morris, her stomach large with child. She had been an outcast in the town for many months now as it was widely held that the child had been in her belly for more time than she had been married. When Liz set her pail by her, Hannah jerked violently and fell to the ground clutching her stomach.

Forgetting her sinful state, the other women rushed to her, crying out in alarm. Liz bent down to see if she could help.

Her action caused Hannah to scream. “Stay away from me. Get her away from me, she is trying to harm my child, my poor innocent child.”

Another woman pushed her way through the crowd and grabbed the hysterical Hannah by the arms and shook her gently. It was Rebecca Lane, Liz knew her as a friend of her mothers who lived outside town and was grateful for her interception.

Rebecca shook the sobbing woman. “Hannah, you’re talking nonsense. This is Elizabeth Parker, wife of the Revered. She would harm nobody.” She gestured for some of the other woman to help Hannah to her feet. “We will take you to the doctor’s house.”

Liz smiled gratefully at the older woman, who nodded courteously before departing with the sobbing Hannah on her arm. She looked to the other women but they cowered away in fear. With shaking hands, Liz lowered her bucket into the well. She kept her eyes focused on the dark water below and did not look at the other women again. When she had pulled the full pail up, she removed it from the hook and walked away, keeping her head up all the time. She had done nothing to be ashamed of and she was not going to let a silly young girl like Hannah Morris destroy her reputation.

She was shaking violently when she reached the safety of the house. There was a ball of fear in the pit of her stomach that almost made her ill. Every bone in her body was telling her that something bad was going to happen. She could feel it in the air around her and it was gathering force.

The whispered rumours that had started after she had been saved by Max had obviously grown and been heard by many people. Last night men had stood outside her house and prayed for protection against dark forces, today she had been accused of witchcraft. Today, the women of the town, some she had played with as a child, had been afraid of her. One of them had accused her of harming her unborn child.

Nobody had said the word yet, but Liz knew what they were thinking.

Witch

Liz had been young when the Salem witch trials had taken place. Only in her fourteenth year but she could remember clearly the way fear had gripped the small community. She remembered how men and woman that had known each other all their lives suddenly looked at each other strangely, fearfully.

What would happen to her if an accusation was made?

Sitting at the table, Liz buried her face in her hands and wept. She could carry the burden of all these lies and secrets anymore. She needed to be free of them. But there was nobody she could tell. More than anything she wanted to climb the hill and find Max Evans. She knew instinctively that he would help make her feel better, that just being in his presence would make her problems fade.

But she could not visit him. His betrothed had made it alarmingly clear that she would harm Sarah if Liz ever tried to see Max again.

Thinking of her daughter, Liz made her way over to her crib and saw that Sarah was awake. She lifted the child up and held her close. Liz stood at the window looking out onto the forest that surrounded the town. It was a beautiful day and she longed to escape the confines of her small house. Making her decision, Liz fashioned a sling to carry Sarah and gathered her basket.

In less than half an hour she had entered the wood and was making her way through its winding paths. Although by now most of the leaves had fallen from the trees and were carpeting the ground, but Liz preferred the wood this way. Without the heavy canopy of leaves, the gloom of the forest was gone and it was bright and cheerful. Most of the nuts and berries had been picked clean by animals and the townspeople but occasionally Liz would find a bushel that was only beginning to ripen or a clump of mushrooms amongst the root of a tree concealed by leaves.

She found herself drifting away from the paths she usually trod and into a part of the forest she had never been before. Her feet seemed to find their own way and Liz simply followed. They brought her to a clearing along the bank of a stream. There was a man sitting on fallen tree stump.

“Max.”

The handsome alien jumped up in surprise and whirled around. He made a few hurried steps in her direction, and then froze. A smile lit up his face. “Liz. I did not think you ever came here.”

Liz glanced around the clearing and gasped. She knew it. It was the spot in her dreams where she met Max and he gave her the undying flower. But how? She had never been here before, she was sure of that.

“I’ve never been here before Max…but I…have seen it. I have dreamt about this place.” Liz said in shock.

Max looked away guiltily.

“Have you…can you…?” Liz did not know what to ask but it was clear by his reaction that Max was hiding something from her.

He took a breath and looked her in the eye. “I have a confession to make. I did not mean to do it, but I did and I apologise. You see, I dream of you Liz. Long before that day, I dreamed of you. And in my dreams we are here together and I do not have to hide my love for you. I think that I might have brought you into one of those dreams.”

Liz frowned. “How is that possible? Is it like that time when you showed me the flashes?”

“Something like that.” Max nodded.

“But you said that we had to be touching.”

“Liz…I cannot explain it. It shouldn’t have happened, but…” Max trailed off. He glanced down at Sarah who was playing with the collar of Liz's dress. He reached out and touched her hand. “You daughter is very beautiful.” His voice was wistful.

“So we shared a dream?” Liz asked incredulously. “Does that mean that what you told me is true…about the flower?”

“Yes.” There was no hesitation or uncertainty in Max’s answer.

“Then how can you marry her?” The question was out of her mouth before she had a chance to consider her words.

“I have a duty to my people, I have to do what is right by them.” Max hung his head. “I have no choice in this matter Liz.” He looked back up into her eyes. “If I was free to do as I pleased then I would be with you in a heartbeat. But it can never be, you are married and have a family. My fate is with Tess.”

“Does she know how you saved my life?” Liz asked.

Max shook his head. “I have told no one about what happened that day. When we arrived here we made rules and the most important of those was never to use our powers in front of humans. There are some among us who believe that we should… assert our dominance over humans and it has been difficult to keep them in line. If it was discovered that I had broken the rules then I would not be able to insist that everyone else does.”

“You cannot even tell your betrothed?” Liz asked.

“No…I feel that she would not be happy. She does not think highly of humans. I do not want you to think badly of her. When she looks at humans, she sees only their ignorance, she believes them to be primitive and I am afraid that she is a little contemptuous of them. But I believe that when she been amongst humans for longer, she will see that there is a goodness to them.” Max sighed and rubbed his brow.

He looked tired and tense. Liz realised that as the leader of his group he must have troubles that she could not even imagine. It made her own problems seem insignificant.

By now, Sarah was bored of being constrained by the sling and was fussing loudly to be released. Liz untied the sling, lay it out on the ground and let Sarah sit on it. She handed her some pinecone to play with and the little girl chatted happily. Liz took a seat on the stump where Max had been sitting.

Max hesitated before taking a seat on the stump close to Liz but not touching. They watched Sarah play for a while. Both wanting to say more but knowing that they could not.

Eventually the silence grew too much for Liz and she had to speak so she picked a new topic. “Why did to you have to leave your home? What happened to you there?”

“It is a complicated story. For many centuries the people of my world lived in harmony with each other. We worshipped our Creator as you do here on earth. Over the years, our society made my advancements in industry, science, travel. We made many discoveries about our planet, about the universe. Many of those were at odds with our faith. Over the centuries, people stopped following the faith and made up their own rules. They did not believe in The Almighty Father and therefore did not believe that His teachings should not govern their actions. Slowly the old order was destroyed and it was replaced with a barbaric new tradition. Life became worthless, children became slaves, education and culture were lost. It was a nightmare world.”

His voice trailed off and he looked up into the sky, remembering the place he had left behind.

“The number of people who kept the faith dwindled until it was less than ten thousand on the whole planet. We gathered together when we could to celebrate our faith and to try and make others see the error of their ways. We had a sacred relic, a stone called the granilith. We believe that the Creator had given it to our forefathers. There is writing on it. We cannot read it because the language was lost in time but it was his message to his people.

Three years ago, a scientist discovered a new source or power, a very potent and destructive power that could be used to destroy whole planets. Soon after, they began to invade other worlds and destroy them. They would kill or enslave the inhabitants of the other worlds and rape it of its resources. Until all that was left was an empty shell.”

Again Max was silent as he stopped to remember. Liz could see his body was trembling at the memories. Without thinking, she reached out and placed her hand on his arm. It appeared to soothe him.

“Then one day there was a disaster, an explosion. It occurred on an important feast day for us, the people of my church, so we had been gathered together to celebrate it. The explosion killed everyone and everything within a four hundred-mile radius at once. It poisoned the air and the water. Millions of people died within days. But the granilith kept us alive. It saved us. We were able to leave the planet in a ship. We travelled through space for over two years in search of a place to land. Earth was the only planet that we could find that was habitable by us. When we landed here, we destroyed the ship so that humans would not develop the technology. It leads to ruination.”

“It must have been so frightening for all of you.” Liz said quietly.

Max gave her a small smile. “Yes, but we knew that the creator would lead us to no harm. He spared us because we had faith and he brought us here. I believe that He brought me here for a reason Liz.”

Liz's eyes locked onto Max’s. There was so much emotion hidden in their depths that she felt she could drown in them. It was Sarah’s gurgle that broke the spell and brought Liz back to reality. She pulled her hand away from Max’s arm.

“You look so human. Are the people from your home humans?” She asked to move the conversation on.

“We are similar, there are some differences. We were able to …adapt our bodies to look like humans. The real differences are in our blood. Our cells are completely different to yours, but as humans do not have the ability to examine blood closely yet it is not a cause of worry for us.”

“Will…what would happen…is…is it possible for your people to…marry humans?” Liz asked timidly, She did not take her eyes from Sarah as she spoke.

Max cleared his throat. “Yes. I imagine that over the next few years, as we grow more comfortable amongst humans that there may be some marriages between the two communities. I hope so.”

“And will you then continue to keep your secret or will the humans you marry be told the truth?”

“It is my hope that we will be able to reveal the truth to others soon. We are hesitant to declare our origins now. We have seen how some people here on Earth react to anything that does not conform to the norm. Perhaps is a few years, when we have been accepted into the community of Rosalind’s Well, then we can reveal our truth.”

“I hope so Max, I hope that you can be happy here.” Liz told him honestly. She glanced back up at him, tears shining in her eyes. “I hope that you can be happy with Tess.”

To her dismay, a fat tear rolled down Max’s cheek. He looked away, embarrassed. “As long as you are happy and my people are safe, that’s all that matters to me.” Max told her, his tone wretched. “I wish that things were different, that we were free…but it cannot be.”

Max rose to his feet. He looked at Liz and without taking her eyes from hers he spoke. “I loved you from the first moment I met you and there is nothing in this world or any other that will change that. If you never need help I will be here for you but there can be nothing between us. I wish you every joy and happiness in your life.”

Then before Liz had a chance to stop him Max was gone.


<center>~*~</center>



Somehow Liz managed to find her way home and carry out the rest of her days chores. By the time Jeremiah was due home she had managed to prepare dinner and compose herself so that all seemed normal. Jeremiah would never know that she was heart broken and distraught.

She was very grateful that Jeremiah seemed distracted by something else and did not try to engage her in conversation. The only thing he said throughout the meal was grace and to ask for a second helping of the mushroom and pork pie. Liz barely touched hers and only took a couple of bites of her vegetables.

It was only after Liz had finished clearing up after dinner and returned to find Jeremiah standing by the window gazing out into the night that she realised that something was troubling him.

“Jeremiah, is there something amiss. You have been most quiet this evening.” Liz pressed, glad to have something else to think about for a brief while.

Her husband tore his gaze away from the window and turned to look at his wife. It was the first time that Liz had really looked at him since he came home that evening and she was shocked. He looked pale and haggard. A deep from marred his face.

He took her hand and led her to a seat in front of the fire. “There was been a very worrying development in town today. As you know, Lawrence Trilling has been telling absurd stories about the travellers and several members of the town council have accepted them at face value.”

Liz nodded, there was a stirring of anxiety in her gut.

Jeremiah sighed. “Well, apparently, there’s a group who operate here in America. Their mission is to hunt down and kill witches and those who practise the black arts. It turns out that Sheriff Brown had an occasion to meet a member of this group in the past. They told him that should he ever have any suspicions with regard witchcraft that they would help him carry out the necessary investigations. A man arrived in town yesterday evening from that group.”

“A witch hunter?” Liz gasped in horror. Immediately, the image of the men gathered in front of her house the previous night sprang to her mind. “Have you met him?”

“I refused. Blake and Doctor Bosonnet came to me today, they thought that I should speak with him but I would not. I will not condone this man’s actions or allow him to spread fear and hatred in my community. He and his group are fear mongers. They prey on ignorant townspeople and turn them onto paths of ruin and sin.” Jeremiah's voice had risen to as shout as he spoke. When he was finished he fell back into his chair coughing and panting.

“Are you well?” Liz asked in concern, she pressed her hand to his forehead. His skin was damp and flushed. “Jeremiah, I think that you have a fever. Perhaps you should lie down.”

“No, I cannot. I have work to do. I am sure that he has already begun to spread his lies about and people are already listening to him. I must write a sermon for the service on Sunday to encourage people to remain calm and not listen to him.” Jeremiah stood up, he seemed to sway for a moment before straightening up and marching over to his desk.

At the exact moment he sat down at his desk, there came a knock on the door. It caused Liz to jump in alarm. Her heart, already beating at an unnatural fast pace, thumped in her chest. Her eyes locked onto Jeremiah's.

For a moment, neither of them moved. Then the knock came again, louder and more urgent. Jeremiah rose and made his way to the door. He gestured for Liz to remain where she was but she followed him, clutching the back of his coat as he lifted the latch.

The man on the other side of the door was tall, young and well dressed. Liz would have described him as handsome, he certainly had fine features, but his eyes were a bright piercing blue. There was a coldness to them that frightened Liz and made him look terrifying.

“Good evening Reverend, Sister.” The man bowed, his eyes flicking over Liz with interest before returning back to Jeremiah. His voice was smooth, clear and emotionless. “My name is Pierce. I was hoping that I could talk with you.”

“Pierce?” Jeremiah asked, he drew himself up to his full height and spoke in his best pulpit fashion. “There is nothing I wish to discuss with you.” Though he sounded calm and controlled, Liz could feel him trembling beneath her touch. She rubbed his back to let him know that she was there for him.

“With respect Reverend, I believe that we have a lot to discuss. A very serious matter has come to my attention and I must-”

“You must? On whose orders must you? You have no authority here, your word means nothing. I already spoke to Brother Blake about you. I do not want you here. I will not talk with you, help you, nor encourage anybody else to talk with you.”

Pierce sneered. “I am not surprised at your attitude Revered. The town council warned me that you would not listen. She has a power over you.”

Liz flinched at his last remark. Jeremiah bristled angrily. Liz could see his knuckles turning white as he gripped the door.

“You and your kind are the servants of Satan. Everywhere that you go, you bring fear and hatred and prejudice. Innocent people have been hanged because of you. I will not allow you to do the same here. Leave. Leave my home and leave my town.” Jeremiah spat out. Then he slammed the door with force.

Through the door, Pierce could be heard shouting. “Open your eyes Reverend, see the viper in your own house. Jeremiah strode away from the door so that he could not hear what the man was saying. Liz peered through the crack between the door and its frame. She had watched him from this very position the night before as he prayed outside hr house.

“Is that the witch hunter?” She asked in a trembling voice.

“Yes.” Jeremiah answered in disgust. He picked up a volume of books and slammed them down at his desk.

Liz glanced at him sharply. There was a sheen of sweat on his skin and his breathing was harsh. “Jeremiah, I am worried about you, you should rest.”

“I cannot. I am far too busy.” Jeremiah sighed and rubbed his face. “Can you get me some water please?”

Liz brought him a glass of water and he gulped it down. “Jeremiah, I really think that you should rest now. You are ill.” Liz urged.

“I am fine.” He snapped. His shoulders slumped. “Forgive me my dear, I am angry and worried about what damage this man will do while he is in town. I fear that he will destroy the relationship with the travellers and turn people against them.”

Jeremiah took her small hand in his and kissed it before holding it to his cheek. The gesture surprised Liz, even when they had been intimate, Jeremiah was not usually so affectionate, though always tender and gentle. They stayed like that for a moment before Jeremiah released her hand and turned back to his books.

Liz kissed his forehead and retired to the bedroom. After getting Sarah off to sleep, Liz dressed for bed and lay down. She could not sleep, her mind was too full of all the days events. She was frightened by the arrival of Pierce into town, especially as she had already been accused at the well that morning. There was something in the way he had looked at her earlier that had terrified her.

But more than the fear and her concern for Jeremiah and what was going to happen, there was the hurt of losing Max. Her heart pained her to think that they could never be together. If Max has asked her to leave Rosalind’s Well and be with him that afternoon she would have gone without a moment’s pause. She would have left the only home she had ever known, her parents, her husband, everything, to be with Max Evans.

She could see them in her mind’s eyes as they were earlier that day. Max and Liz sitting on the log, with Sarah playing happily at their feet. They could have been a family, they could have been happy together but they never would be.

Alone in her bed, Liz buried her face in her pillow and wept herself to sleep.


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Liz was falling, it was dark all around and she couldn’t see anything. She tried to reach out and grab something to break the fall but her hands wouldn’t move. They were tied, she realized. She screamed and it echoed all around her, wherever she was, it was a tight space.

Her mouth was still open when she hit the black water. Her body crashed into it hard and painfully, she swallowed great gulps of it trying desperately to breathe in air but there was none – only the dark cold water. Liz struggled hard to reach the surface but without the use of her hands it was useless. She attempted to kick with her feet but they were laden down, something was attached to them, dragging her down into the murky depths beneath. And all the time she was choking on the water.

She awoke with a scream, gasping for air and clutching her chest. It took her a few moments to realise that she was safe in her own bed and not in the water. She untangled herself from her sheets, which had become twisted around her body as she had struggled in her dream.

As she made her way over to the crib to check that she had not woken Sarah, Liz glanced outside. Already the sky was beginning to brighten. Sarah was sleeping contentedly, but Jeremiah had not even come to bed.

Liz wrapped a blanket around her and made her way to the parlour.

The candle on Jeremiah's desk was still burning, but it was almost out and the room was dark. Jeremiah was sitting in his chair, slumped over the back, his arm sticking out. Liz sighed, he must have fallen asleep at his desk. His position looked so uncomfortable.

“Jeremiah.” Liz called quietly and touched his arm. He was stiff. She shook him gently. “Jeremiah.” He did not stir. Fear was already beating its familiar drum in the pit of Liz’s stomach. She shook her husband again. He did not move.

“Please Jeremiah, wake up.” Liz pleaded. She put her hand on his cheek, it was ice cold to the touch. There was no life in him.

“No.” she cried. “Please Jeremiah wake up.”

But her begging was futile. He could not wake up.

With tears dripping down her face, Liz turned his head to her and recoiled in horror.

His handsome face was grotesque. The area around his eyes had swelled so much that she could barely see his them. His cheeks and lips were three times their normal size, his lips were blue. His mouth was hanging open and Liz could see his tongue. It too was blue and swollen.

Liz pulled him to her, wrapped her arms around his cold and lifeless body and wept.


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Last edited by tequathisy on Fri Apr 07, 2006 10:30 am, edited 1 time in total.
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