Ringing in the New (AU,M/L,Adult) (Complete)

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Shadowlynxbehr
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Post by Shadowlynxbehr » Sun Jun 03, 2007 5:49 pm

Part 18

One Saturday afternoon in March, Tess and Liz looked up from where they were sitting on the couch as Maria came into the room with her arms wide open. “Oh it’s good to be home!”

Tess giggled. “Maria, you’re at Michael’s house, not yours.”

Maria rolled her eyes. “Oh posh, my parent’s house, Max’s house, Michael’s house. What difference does it make? It’s all home to me.”

Michael walked in from the backyard where he’d been with Kylan, Max, and Alex in time to hear Maria’s remark. Walking up behind her, he wrapped his arms around her waist and leaned in to kiss her cheek.

As she turned her face towards his, he smiled at her and spoke. “You can come home anytime you want to Ria.”

Maria returned his smile as she leaned back into him and sighed. “Oh I just love welcome homes like that!”

Tess giggled once more as Max, Alex, and Kylan also walked into the room. Looking at Max she asked, “Are they always like that?”

Max shrugged. “Pretty much yeah. You should have seen the way Maria was when she had to leave and…”

Alex snickered and said, “I remember that!” Just as Maria interrupted. “Hey! No spilling secrets big brother!”

Max grinned. “What you don’t want to know how Michael pined over you…”

“Max!” snapped Michael. “You heard the girl, no spilling secrets!”

As the others began to laugh, Maria piped up. “But wait! What do you mean Michael pined over me?”

Max put on a bored look as he said, “Oh you know…”

Michael moved away from Maria in time to clamp his hand over Max’s mouth. “Max, man why don’t we go back outside and teach Kylan some more baseball, huh?”

Kylan grinned, “Yeah, Max let’s go outside again!”

Max laughed as he swung Kylan up and over his shoulder, “Okay, sport, let’s go.”

“Wait a minute! I want to know what Michael said!” exclaimed Maria as she followed the four guys back outside, leaving behind Tess and Liz who were laughing hard on the couch.

************************************************************

A few hours later all of them were in the backyard having fajitas which Max had made on Michael’s grill. Tess’ boyfriend, Nick had arrived an two hours earlier, just in time for them to go out back for a bit of fun.

They had decided to have a game of baseball in order to let Kylan learn about the sport. Since there were eight of them in all, they had all rotated between the positions of pitcher, first baseman, second baseman, third baseman, short stop, outfield, catcher, and hitter. That way Kylan got the chance to play every position possible. And since they just rotated around, the only competition was between individuals in seeing who could hit the most balls without striking out.

Eventually, they had sat down to prepare the fajitas, beans, and rice before congregating around the picnic table Michael had set up in the backyard. Kylan sat on one end of the table with Liz on one side of him and Max on the other. Alex was on the other end with Tess on one side and Michael on the other. Nick was between Tess and Max, while Maria was between Michael and Liz.

As they sat and ate, Kylan kept watching Max and his mother without them knowing. He’d been watching them all day or rather, ever since that first date they’d had. After finding out from his friend Kyle that they had kissed like he’d hoped, Kylan had expected to see it first hand.

Unfortunately, Max and his mother seemed to act as if it had never happened because that following Monday, Max was picking him up from school and taking him home to stay with him until his mother got home from work. When she did, she just ate the dinner Max had made and they’d exchanged news of their day like they usually did before Max went home.

That was it, no more kisses and not even a hug goodbye. Kylan was so confused that he’d asked Kyle that night if he was sure he’d seen Max and his mother kiss. Kyle had said yes he had and maybe the reason why Kylan wasn’t seeing any difference between his mother and Max was because they were still taking it slow.

So Kylan had tried to be patient, but after a month had gone by, he was losing his patience. In all of that time, Max and his mother had gone out a few times, but it was always with others and never just the two of them. Usually, Kylan went along with them or a few of their friends. Still, Kylan knew that they acted the same around their friends as they acted around him.

Granted, Max and his mom were a lot more comfortable with each other, but Kylan was still expecting more of a show of affection. Sort of like when his mother hugged him or kissed him on the cheek or even held his hand when they were crossing the street. Yet there was nothing of the sort happening between the two of them. Kylan was at a loss of what else he could do to make Max kiss his mother again.

Maria and Michael sat with their heads close together, murmuring to each other when they both laughed softly. Maria shifted to lean towards Liz on her other side and nudged her arm.

“Hey Liz, Michael and I have an idea. See, we’re going to the beach with Max on Monday and we’re gonna camp on the beach until Thursday. So, we thought it’d be even more fun if you and Kylan came with us because Max said Kylan’s on his break this week too. What do you say?”

At that, Kylan began bouncing in his seat. “Yes! Oh yes! Mom please! We have ta go! We do!”

Liz sighed, “Kyl, you know I still have to work…”

“No you don’t,” said Tess as she chewed then swallowed a mouthful of rice. “You know you still have all of those vacation days you have yet to spend! Why not use a few of them now? You’ll still have tons of them left over. In fact, you haven’t used any of them since you started have you?”

Maria laughed. “Well there you go! Your boss just gave you some time off.”

“Tess, I can’t just leave like that.”

“Why not? You know I can handle the clients you have. Aren’t you still working on two of them that I worked on with you when we were partners?”

Liz nodded her head.

“Okay, then, what else do you have for the week?”

Liz thought about it. “There’s the Neely file and the O’Connor’s.”

Tess nodded. “Right, I should be able to handle those.”

“And I was expecting to get a call from the Pena’s.”

“Really? Well, I’ll float that one to Mary for the time being if they call. She’ll hold them off until you get back. Anything else?”

Liz shook her head. “Unless one of the projects that’s been on track decides to go bad one day.”

Tess chuckled. “Which I would have had to handle anyway regardless if you were there or not. So, see there’s nothing that you really need to be there for this week. You’re taking a vacation.”

Liz looked around at all of the other expectant faces at the table and groaned. “Oh come on guys! I can’t just up and go like that! I’ve got to pack for myself and Kylan, then there’s making sure the apartment is in order. And a ton of other stuff that I have to do before I leave which I know I’m forgetting.”

Michael leaned over Maria to grin at Liz. “What? You gonna disobey your boss’ orders?”

“She didn’t order me Michael, she just said I had some vacation time.”

Tess set her fork down and pinned Liz with a stare. “Liz Parker, the work will still be there when you get back! I don’t expect to see you until the following Monday at the earliest. Am I making myself clear?”

Liz looked at Max who wore a grin just like everyone else.

“Boss’ orders,” he stated.

“Yeah, boss’ orders mom! You gotta go now!”

Liz turned to look at him as he gave her a hopeful look. Resisting the urge to groan at his pitiful look, Liz finally relented.

“All right. All right, let’s go to the beach.”

“Yes!” exclaimed Kylan as he clapped his hands together with glee. The others around the table laughed at his enthusiasm before they all turned back to finishing their meals.

************************************************************

“Have you ever been camping Kyle?” whispered Kylan.

“Sure, lots of times. My dad and I liked to go camping on the beach a lot. We’d spend most of the time fishing.”

Kylan grinned. “I don’ think we’re gonna be fishing.”

“Probably not.”

“Did your mom ever go wit you?”

“Not really. She wasn’t much for camping. If she went with us to the beach, we had to stay in a hotel.”

Kylan wrinkled his nose. “Where’s the fun in that?”

Kyle grinned. “That’s what I used to say, but I guess some women just don’t like to do those kinds of things because they think it’s too messy.”

“Really? Then I’m glad my mom doesn’ think it’s messy!”

“No she doesn’t, but I think it’s because she did it a lot when she was little too.”

“Oh. Maria must’ve done it when she was little too.”

“I think so.”

Kylan grinned. “I can’ wait ‘til Monday Kyle! It’s gonna be so much fun! An’ mom an’ Max will be wit each other the whole time!”

Kyle chuckled. “Yeah, I’m sure it will be fun. And hopefully your mom and Max will have fun too.”

“Yeah.”

Kyle stood up from the bed. “Okay, Kylan you should get some sleep. I’m sure your mom is going to be up bright and early tomorrow morning to start getting things ready for your trip to the beach on Monday.”

Kylan yawned as he pulled his covers over him. “Yeah, that sounds like mom. Night, Kyle.”

“Goodnight.”

************************************************************

Alex smiled at Isabel as she made her way through the restaurant towards him. He had agreed to meet her for dinner, which she claimed she owed him for helping her that day she’d hurt her ankle. They had kept in touch after that day, but Isabel had been unable to do much due to the fact that she was still on crutches. She had told him that when she got off of them, she was taking him out to dinner. So, when she’d called and asked him where he wanted to go, he’d suggested one of his favorite restaurants.

When she reached the table, he stood up to hold her chair out and helped her to sit before returning to his own seat.

Isabel smiled in thanks. “Sorry I’m late, but there was a wreak blocking most of the lanes and it took forever to clear. You haven’t been waiting long have you?”

Alex shook his head. “Not that long. I was actually kind of late too. I just came from Max’s place.”

Isabel grinned. “How is Max?”

Alex rolled his eyes. “As paranoid as ever. I swear I’ve never heard him ask so many what ifs in one evening!”

She laughed. “Seriously? What’s he so worried about?”

“Oh, he’s going on a camping trip to the beach on Monday and he just wants to make sure everything is planned right. He just doesn’t want anything to ruin the trip, that’s all.”

Isabel nodded. “I see. Well, let’s hope it turns out good.”

Alex chuckled as he lifted his water glass to tap it against the water glass Isabel had raised. Once they had, they both took a few sips of their water before setting the glasses down. Isabel picked up the menu and began perusing it.

“So, any idea what’s good here?” she asked.

Alex leaned over her menu. “Oh yeah, there’s lots!”

************************************************************

Liz rushed around the apartment trying to get things ready at the last moment. It was now Monday morning and she had thought she’d had everything, but when she’d woken up, her mind had gone into overdrive.

Thinking she would have to purchase a tent for her and Kylan, Michael had informed her that he had a fairly new tent that could house up to six people comfortably. And every time she came up with something else she thought she would need, Max or Michael would tell her it was already covered.

Still, she had spent Sunday going over her list of things she would need to take for her and Kylan. Afraid that she was going to forget something, she’d look over that list again and again until even Kylan was getting frustrated with her.

Maria had come over at one point to tell Liz that she needed to chill out. Their camping trip was just about having fun and taking it easy. Besides, if there was anything Liz forgot, they could just drive about three miles to the nearest town to buy whatever they needed. It wasn’t like they were going to be in the middle of nowhere.

Still, Liz got up early Monday morning and went over her list again. Kylan had finally woken up and hurried to get himself ready, eager to be on the road to the beach. Liz was going to leave her car at Michael’s where they were all meeting. From there they were all going to pile into the Evan’s suburban which they had lent to Maria and Max for the trip.

Kylan came bounding into the living room where Liz was standing amid all of their things. “Mom! We’re gonna be late!”

Liz nodded absentmindedly. “I know, I know, just a second Kyl.”

Kylan rolled his eyes as he made his way to his backpack and began to shrug it onto his shoulders. When he was done, he turned to stare at his mother who was still absorbed in her list.

A few minutes went by before Kylan whined. “Mooooom!”

Liz finally sighed. “Okay, I guess we’re ready then. Let’s get this stuff into the car and we’ll be on our way to Michael’s.”

“Ugh! Finally!”

************************************************************

Max turned to look at Liz again. She had spent most of the drive to the beach in silence as if she had something on her mind. Granted when she and Kylan had first gotten to Michael’s house, there had been too much activity for anyone to notice that Liz was somewhere else.

Plus, she had seemed busy trying to help load things into the suburban. Once everything was loaded and everyone was ready to go, they had all climbed into the vehicle. Maria was driving them to the beach with Michael sitting next to her in the passenger seat. Max and Liz sat in the back with Kylan between them.

At first, the drive had seemed fine because Kylan had been chatting up a storm, letting everyone know what he wanted to do while he was there. Later, Maria had turned on the radio until she found a station that most of them liked and soon even Kylan was singing along to some of the songs.

Still, Liz had remained quiet and Max began to wonder if she had really ever wanted to go to the beach. Maybe she was just doing it for Kylan’s sake and not because she wanted to. He knew he couldn’t ask her about it right then, but he would as soon as he had the moment.

Nearly an hour later, they arrived at the beach and Maria drove them down to the area where camping was allowed. She turned down the radio and asked the others to help keep a look out for a good spot until Michael finally pointed one out.

Maria pulled the suburban into a nearby parking space and everyone began to get out of the vehicle. Max and Michael immediately pulled down the tent from the top of the car and made their way to the spot Michael had pointed out while Liz, Maria, and Kylan grabbed a few of the smaller things to take down to their camp.

Maria and Kylan dropped the things they had carried out before heading back to the car. As Liz made to follow them too, Max motioned to Michael who nodded his acknowledgement. Max set down the tent and went after Liz.

“Liz?”

She turned at the sound of his voice. “Yeah?”

“You okay? You seem a little far away.”

“Oh! Sorry. I’m okay. I just have this feeling that I’m forgetting something that’s all.”

Max frowned. “You sure? I mean, if you only came because of Kylan, then…”

She shook her head. “No Max! I wanted to come really!” She smiled at him. “I used to go camping all the time when I was young, so yeah, I like it.”

“Okay, well I just didn’t want you to be upset or anything.”

She chuckled. “I’m not. Sorry, I guess I’m just really obsessive like that, huh?”

He grinned. “Yeah. Um, what do you think you’re forgetting?”

She bit her bottom lip before finally shrugging. “I don’t know.” Finally she sighed and looked up at him with a grin. “You know what, it doesn’t matter. We’re here and whatever it is, it’s too late now. So, I’m just gonna go help them unload our stuff and we can begin our camping trip, okay?”

He returned her grin. “That’s the spirit.”

She laughed as she turned and jogged up the sand back towards the suburban while Max remained there for a few more moments watching her. She met Maria and Kylan half way and waved to them both before ruffling Kylan’s hair. Max grinned at the scowl Kylan sported at that before returning to help Michael with the tent.

Liz glanced over her shoulder to see that Maria and Kylan had reached the camp site and were now setting the things down. She sighed as she reached into the car to pull out some more things. She still felt like there was something she was forgetting, but decided to put it out of her mind since it was now too late to worry about it.

Instead, she began to focus on enjoying the few days of fun she was sure to have camping at the beach with Kylan, Max, Michael, and Maria. And as she began to think of the next few days, a smile spread over her face.

TBC...
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Post by Shadowlynxbehr » Sun Jun 10, 2007 8:31 pm

Part 19

Liz laughed as she watched Michael and Max racing their jet skis across the water. Kylan was standing on the shore with Maria shouting at them even though neither one of them could hear over the roar of the engines.

It was now Wednesday afternoon and they were still planning on leaving Thursday evening. Every day that they had been there had been full of nothing but fun and sun for the five of them.

As soon as Max and Michael had set up the tent and the others had put their stuff away into the tent, Maria and Liz had walked down the beach to the bathrooms and changed into their bathing suits. Liz wore a one piece with a pair of shorts she’d made from an old pair of blue jeans. Maria wore a bikini, which was basically a sports bra looking top and boy shorts. Over the bikini she wore a matching sheer sarong.

Max and Michael had already donned their swim trunks before they’d set out on the trip as had Kylan. So they were already enjoying the waves by the time the women returned to the campsite. Liz and Maria had chosen to arrange the sleeping bags at that time, knowing everyone would probably be too tired to do it later.

Maria laid her bag next to Michael’s on one side of the tent while Liz placed hers and Kylan’s on the other side. As Liz dug around in her bags, still putting things in their place, Maria finally noticed that Max’s bag hadn’t been touched.

When she asked Liz where Max’s bag was going to go, Liz had shrugged and said she’d thought Maria had known. Rolling her eyes, Maria had taken Max’s bag and spread it out next to Liz’s so that she was now between Max and Kylan. As soon as Maria was done, she grabbed Liz and dragged her out to the beach so they could join the guys in the waves.

Later that evening, Max and Michael had built a fire and set a small grate Michael used often when camping on the top of the fire. It was there they grilled hot dogs and cooked chili in a small pan for chili cheese dogs. After dinner Liz walked with Max and Kylan down to the outdoor showers so they could rinse most of the sand and salt from themselves before going back to camp.

When they returned, Michael and Maria took their turn going to the showers as Liz got Kylan bundled into a much warmer tee shirt and shorts. After both Max and Kylan were dressed, Max took Kylan for a walk along the beach while Liz got dressed.

She was sitting near the fire waiting for Kylan and Max to return while Michael and Maria changed inside the tent. They had spent the rest of the night by the fire telling stories of previous camping trips and other past adventures before finally going inside to sleep.

Maria had pursed her lips and shook her head in exasperation when she noticed Max’s sleeping bag had been moved to the other side of Kylan so that the boy was now between Max and Liz. She knew that somehow when no one was looking Liz had to have been the one to move the bag because she was certain her brother would not have wanted to sleep so far away from Liz.

Tuesday had all of them up at nearly the crack of dawn as they made a hearty breakfast of bacon and eggs on the fire Max and Michael had rebuilt. After breakfast, the guys went to play in the sand, building sandcastles while the girls lay out on towels sunning themselves.

Later the had cold cut sandwiches and chips for lunch before Liz and Kylan went to take a nap. Max decided to join them a few minutes later and Maria and Michael went for a swim with a little water sports when no one was looking.

After their nap, Liz and Kylan went to play in the water with Max since Kylan seemed to enjoy himself more when Max was there. Liz had noticed that Kylan seemed much braver in the waves when Max was there since he often encouraged Kylan to swim a certain way and taught him how to swim against the currents.

They all spent the rest of the day alternating between swimming and sunning until the sun began to set. Once more they gathered around the fire for dinner just like the night before then went to take their showers and sat around the fire for more talking and laughing.

This time Max went into the tent before Liz and Kylan did. So when all the others went in, Max was already in his bag which had once more ended up besides Liz, putting her between Max and Kylan.

Maria had switched the bags again when Liz wasn’t looking and had been lucky that Max went into the tent before Liz could move it again. So all Liz could do was don a puzzled frown, but said nothing since Max was already settling down to sleep.

As they settled down, Michael asked Maria if she wanted to go for another walk along the beach before going to bed, so they had left Max, Liz, and Kylan to their sleep and took a romantic moonlit stroll for some much needed alone time.

Wednesday morning had pretty much been a repeat of Tuesday morning with more sand and sunning. The only difference was in the way Liz had woken up. It had actually taken her a few moments of wakefulness before she’d realized that she was curled up against Max’s chest and his arm was thrown over her arm and torso. Granted, they were still in their own sleeping bags, but that hadn’t stopped them from gravitating towards each other in their sleep.

With quickly reddening cheeks, she had crawled out from under his arm and quickly gotten out of there before anyone had been any wiser. What she didn’t know was that Max had been awake for long moments before she had and had simply lain there enjoying the way she felt in his arms. He hadn’t given himself away when she’d slid out of his embrace and disappeared outside. Needless to say, they both had acted like nothing strange had happened at all and soon it was put out of their minds.

After another lunch of cold cut sandwiches, Max and Michael had decided to walk down the beach to rent a couple of jet skis to ride. Upon returning, Michael took Maria for a ride and Max had managed to convince Liz that Kylan would be perfectly safe with him.

Liz had to let Kylan go because he was starting to pout when she seemed to be unwilling to let Max take him for a ride. Once Max and Kylan were out riding though, she had relaxed since she realized Max knew what he was doing and was able to handle both the jet ski and Kylan at the same time.

Now Max and Michael were racing the skis against each other after having dropped their passengers safely back on land. Maria had sat with Liz when the racing had started, but Kylan’s enthusiasm had soon gotten to her so she had gone back to the water’s edge to join him in cheering the guys on. Liz remained sitting on her towel watching the two cheerleaders and the two racers as they got caught up in the excitement of it all.

Soon the guys stopped racing around the water and began attempting to do some tricks on the skis. Several times one or the other of them would mess up and go tumbling into the water making Maria and Kylan scream in mock horror and they’d all be holding their breaths until whoever it was had climbed back to safety on the jet ski.

It wasn’t long after that when the two of them came in for a break and sat on their own towels to relax a bit. Liz managed to get Kylan to join them although he sat and played in the sand nearby.

Maria lay next to Liz on her back with Michael on his back on the other side of her. Liz was on her stomach, so she could keep an eye on her son and Max was also on his stomach on the other side of her. For the moment, his eyes were closed.

Liz continued to watch Kylan as he heaped sand on top of sand obviously intent on building a masterpiece. A few minutes later, he spoke up.

“Max?”

Without opening his eyes Max replied, “Yeah sport?”

“Can I go out wit you on the jet ski again?”

Max opened his eyes and sighed. “I don’t know, Kyl. I was sort of thinking your mom should have a turn.”

Liz shook her head. “It’s okay, I can ride some other time.”

Max turned to look at her. “We have to take them back in a couple of hours, so it’s now or never.”

“Well I guess it’s never then.”

He simply looked at her with a frown, not saying a word.

Maria broke their staring match. “Kylan, you can ride with Michael so your mom can ride with Max, okay?”

Kylan grinned. “M’kay.”

Liz turned to look at Maria. “Seriously Maria, I don’t…”

“Seriously Liz. We all had to have a turn on the jet ski and since I’ve already had mine, it’s your turn!”

Michael chuckled as he leaned over and gave Maria a kiss on her lips before getting up and stretching. “Okay sport, let’s get a move on then.”

Kylan whooped as he dropped what he was doing and ran after Michael down towards the jet skis. Liz sighed as she watched Michael help Kylan into the lifejacket before donning his own and pushing the machine into the water. Once it was bobbing in the waves, he hoisted Kylan onto the seat and climbed up after him.

Soon the two of them were on their way to racing over the waves again.

Max stood up and did his own stretches before leaning over to hold his hand out to Liz.

“You coming?” he asked.

Liz was about to protest once more, but Maria beat her to it. “Yeah, she’s going. Right Liz? Or are Max and I gonna have to drag you kicking and screaming?”

Liz rolled her eyes as she took Max’s hand and allowed him to pull her to her feet. “Fine, I’m going.”

Max chuckled as he held her hand and led her to the machine. He handed her a lifejacket and put his own on before pushing the machine into the water. Liz followed him into the water and leaned against his offered arm and shoulder to hoist herself onto the seat while he held it in place with his hands on the handlebars.

As soon as she had scooted up to the front and gotten comfortable, Max hoisted himself up behind her and wrapped his arms around her to reach the handlebars. He moved his legs around hers and placed his feet on the pads just besides hers. As soon as he was comfortable, he let go of one handlebar to wrap his arm around her waist.

“Move back a bit and lean against me.”

Liz did as he asked, shimmying back until she was able to lean comfortably against his chest. As soon as he was satisfied that they were both going to enjoy the ride, he put his hands on the bars and revved the engine.

Leaning forward, he spoke loud enough for Liz to hear into her ear. “Ready?”

She nodded as she put her own hands over his on the bars. “Yeah.”

As soon as the word was out of her mouth, Max urged the machine into motion and they were off. The more they raced over the waves the more Liz was glad she’d braided her hair that morning, otherwise she was sure her hair would have made Max miserable behind her.

As it was, wisps of it had escaped making her reach up every now and then to attempt to tuck it behind her ear. Max actually wasn’t bothered by her hair at all. What was beginning to bother him was having her in his arms and him unable to truly enjoy it the way he wanted to.

Granted, he’d been looking forward to taking her out on the jet ski all day, wanting to know what it would feel like to have her sitting in front of him with the waves and wind whipping by them. Now he knew and suddenly he wished they were alone.

He wanted nothing more than to let go of one handle bar and slide his arm around her again, pulling her even closer to his body. That brief contact he’d had earlier before they’d began racing had definitely teased his senses.

And when she tossed her head slightly to the side in an attempt to brush her hair out of the way, she’d exposed her neck to his greedy gaze unknowingly. Max bit his lip to stifle a moan as he resisted the urge to lean forward and suck on the tantalizing skin of her neck.

Not long after that, they hit a particularly strong wave which made the machine bounce and shift Liz further back into Max, making her behind rub against his groin. He tightened his grip on the handles in response as he felt himself suddenly growing hard and her gritted his teeth to keep from losing it.

For her part, Liz hadn’t been aware of her affect on Max until the machine bounced her back into him. The moment she realized what exactly was poking her behind, she felt her cheeks beginning to burn and she did her best to scoot forward to put some space between the two of them.

Needless to say, the rest of the ride had Liz feeling awkward and Max wishing he could just throw caution to the wind so that he could take advantage of having her so close to him.

As soon as Liz saw Michael and Kylan return to land, she turned her head and shouted over the engine as she pointed towards the others.

“We should go in too.”

Max wasn’t ready to relinquish his hold on her yet, but he knew she would persist until he finally gave in. So, with great reluctance he turned the machine towards the camp and took them back in.

As soon as she was able to, Liz slid off of the jet ski and waded back to shore, taking Kylan by the hand and walking with him back to camp where Maria was waiting for them.

“Wasn’ that fun mom?” Kylan asked as he continued to bounce excitedly all the way to the camp.

“Yes it was,” Liz replied.

Liz left Kylan playing in the sand with Maria watching over him as she went into the tent for some time to get herself back together. Max and Michael were returning the machines to the place they had rented them from, so it gave her a respite from him.

She sat on her sleeping bag and took deep breaths trying to calm her rapidly beating heart. Frowning, she absently twirled her ring around her finger as she thought about the incidents of the day.

What was wrong with her? There couldn’t possibly be anything going on between her and Max, could there? After all, he was her son’s babysitter and she knew how Kylan felt about Max. She refused to let anything jeopardize the relationship between Max and Kylan because she knew just how much Kylan needed Max in his life.

So whatever was happening between her and Max had to stop. She couldn’t let anything ruin what they already had. Despite the fact that she had let him kiss her that night on the only date they’d ever gone out on, she had quickly realized what a mistake it was.

Determined to talk to him the next time she saw him and explain that their relationship had to continue on the way it had been before with no more dates or further complications, she had been glad that Max hadn’t seemed to act any different around her when she saw him again.

She had been prepared to tell him that nothing could happen between them for the sake of her son, but had been relieved when Max had seemed to understand that on his own. After that, things had seemed to go back to the way they had before the date and Liz had relaxed again.

She had then gone on the camping trip thinking they were nothing more than good friends since Max seemed to be putting Kylan’s welfare before anything else. However, when his sleeping bag began turning up besides hers, she knew she’d been wrong. She had hoped by moving the bag, it had been enough to get the message across, but obviously not because he was sleeping besides her the following night.

Then she had avoided him as much as she could all that day until he’d asked her to go for a ride on the jet ski. That was the whole reason she hadn’t wanted to go. Not that she was scared of riding one since she’d been on a few rides before. It was that she knew it would put the two of them in close proximity alone out on the water.

Still, she’d given him the benefit of the doubt until she’d felt him against her rear. She closed her eyes and took more deep breaths as she remembered what it had felt like out on the water with Max.

“Liz, get a hold of yourself! You’re acting like a silly teenager with a crush!” she muttered to herself in exasperation.

She leaned forward and placed her elbows on her knees. Burying her face in her hands, she wondered just how she was going to solve this. She knew she was going to have to talk to him about it. Somehow she was going to have to explain to him that they should just continue being nothing more than friends and he should just focus on being Kylan’s babysitter.

No matter what their reactions were to each other, she needed him to understand that she wasn’t willing to pursue any kind of relationship with him. It just wasn’t possible for a relationship to exist between them for a number of reasons. One of them being that he was the best thing that had ever happened to Kylan. There were other reasons too, but Liz wasn’t really ready to admit them to anyone, much less herself.

Hearing voices coming from outside, she realized they had returned so she took another deep breath and schooled herself to face them again. She finally rose from her place and made her way back outside in time to see that Michael, Max, and Kylan had taken to tossing a football around as Maria watched the fire for them.

Liz sat down next to Maria and returned her smile.

“You okay?” asked Maria.

Liz nodded. “Yeah.”

She chuckled. “Wow, was riding that jet ski really that scary?”

Liz shrugged. “It was okay. It’s just been a while, I guess.”

Maria nodded, but didn’t say anything else as Liz turned to watch the guys toss the football around. She knew there was something else there, but obviously Liz didn’t want to talk about it. The two of them remained in comfortable silence until the sun began to set and the guys returned to start dinner.

After dinner, Michael and Maria went off to shower, taking Kylan with them and leaving Liz alone with Max. The two of them cleaned up the remains of dinner and Max tended to the fire while Liz went into the tent to get her things ready for her shower.

When the others returned, Max was still alone by the fire. As Kylan bounded towards the tent, Maria glanced in that direction before looking at her brother.

“Well?” she mouthed.

Max shrugged as he mouthed back. “Nothing.”

Maria scowled before she leaned in towards Michael and whispered something to him. He nodded and went to join Max by the fire. Soon Liz came out and Max quickly went inside to get his things before walking with her to the showers.

“You okay, Liz? You’ve been quiet almost all day.” He’d spoken as soon as they were well away from the others.

She nodded. “Yeah, I’m fine.”

“You sure?”

She nodded once more, but didn’t elaborate any further.

They made the rest of the trek in silence and quickly took their showers until Liz joined Max for the trek back to the camp. As soon as they got back, Liz disappeared into the tent once more to get dressed.

When she walked out, Max went inside to change and Liz took a seat by the fire. Maria and Michael were huddled together talking in low voices and Kylan was near Liz drawing patterns in the sand with a long stick.

Maria lifted her head and looked at Liz with a smile.

“Hey, I need to go into town for a couple of things and Michael’s going to take me. You need anything while we’re there?”

Liz thought about it for a few moments before saying, “Could you get some bottled water, I think we’re going to run out of the ones we have before we leave tomorrow evening.”

“An’ soda! We need more soda!” exclaimed Kylan.

Liz sighed. “I guess we need soda too.”

“Okay,” said Maria. “Anything else?”

“Mom can I have some candy?”

Maria laughed. “Why don’t you come with us, Kyl?”

Kylan grinned. “Can I mom?”

Liz sighed. “I really don’t think they want you tagging along.”

“We don’t mind,” replied Michael. “He can help me carry the stuff, right little man?”

“Yep!”

Max walked out of the tent and sat down near Liz as Maria looked up at him.

“Michael and I are going into town to get some things from the store, you need anything?”

“More bottled water.”

The others laughed at that.

“What?” he asked as he looked around at them.

“Mom already said that,” answered Kylan.

Max grinned, “Okay then, that’s all I can think of.”

Maria nodded as she got to her feet. “Well then, we’ll be back in a bit.”

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

Kylan nodded and got up. He brushed the sand off of him before running to Michael’s side and taking his hand.

As the three of them made their way up the sand towards the suburban, Kylan shouted over his shoulder. “Bye mom!”

“Bye baby. Be sure to mind Maria and Michael, okay?”

“M’kay!”

Liz watched as they got into the car and drove away. The moment they were gone, Max turned to her and dove right in.

“Liz? What’s going on?”

Liz sighed as she turned to look at him. “Nothing is going on.”

Max frowned. “Something is bothering you Liz. You’ve been weird all day. Then there’s the fact that you and I went out on a date over a month ago, yet you act as if it never happened. And every time I try to bring it up or ask you to go out again, you come up with excuses. So, something is going on.”

Liz closed her eyes, but when she didn’t respond Max continued.

“You can’t expect me to just forget about the kiss we shared Liz. I know I wasn’t the only one who felt something that night.”

“Max,” she whispered. “Please, just don’t.”

“Don’t what? What are you so afraid of?”

She shook her head before turning to look at him. “I’m sorry Max. But we never should have gone out like that.”

He stared at her in disbelief.

“Don’t you see? There’s nothing going on because nothing can happen. We can’t let it happen.”

“Why?” came the soft question.

“Max, don’t you know what you mean to Kylan? Can’t you see how much my son needs you in his life and I’m not willing to let anything interfere with that.”

He frowned. “How is what we’re doing interfering with it?”

“It hasn’t yet. But I know it will somewhere down the line. Max, please. Think of my son. He needs you! You’re the best thing that has ever happened to him. That’s why we can’t let anything happen between us. It’s just not possible for anything to develop between us.”

“Liz, whatever happens between us can only be beneficial for Kylan. He wants for the three of us to be together, he’s told me as much!”

Liz shook her head. “No Max, he just wants you to be part of his life. He looks up to you so much.”

“Then let me be a part of his life! Let me be a part of yours!”

“You are!”

“No, you’re not letting me in!”

“I’m not the one that matters!”

Max rose to his feet. “When are you going to understand that it’s not just Kylan who matters to me? I want to be a part of both of your lives!”

Liz closed her eyes. “I’m sorry, but you can’t.”

“Why not? Why can’t I care for you the way I care for your son?”

She shook her head. “Because I can’t care for you.”

He stared at her as her words began to sink in.

“You can’t?” He paused before adding, “Or you won’t?”

She looked into his eyes as she whispered. “I don’t.”

The look on his face told her she had just said the worst thing possible. For him, it was a slap in the face even though he knew she was lying to him. Turning away from her, he made his way to the tent and disappeared inside.

Liz sat there staring into the fire berating herself for not handling things better. The last thing she’d wanted to do was make things worse between them. All she’d wanted was for him to understand that Kylan’s care came first. Her son would always come first and she had been sure that Max would have understood that.

Now she prayed he’d come to his senses and realize that what she’d said was right. Things needed to go back to the way they had been before. They needed to focus on her son.

************************************************************

Max didn’t speak to Liz again for the rest of the trip. That night his bag had once more moved to the other side of Kylan and he’d avoided Liz all of the next day. He drove them back home that evening with Kylan sitting between Maria and Michael in the back and Liz in the front passenger seat.

Maria and Michael had unpacked their things trying to ignore the awkward silence between Max and Liz, while Kylan tried to get them to talk to each other again in any way his seven year old mind could come up with.

In the end, Kylan and Liz had gotten into her car and returned home after a quick and tense goodbye and thanks for the trip. Kylan sat in his seat, sneaking glances at his mother trying to figure out a way to find out exactly what happened between her and Max. He finally resigned himself to waiting for late night since he was sure his friend would be able to tell him what had gone wrong.

As Liz pulled her car into the parking lot, her eyes caught sight of a familiar blue Volkswagen. Suddenly she remembered exactly what it was that she’d forgotten before she’d left for the camping trip. She slid her car into a parking spot and turned off the engine.

Grimacing to herself, she quickly got out of the car and moved to the back to help Kylan out. She helped him into his backpack and grabbed a few bags before leading him up to her apartment.

As they neared the front door, both of them could see Jesse angrily pacing in front of it. Liz unlocked the door and nudged Kylan inside. Setting the bags she’d carried down just inside the door, she spoke to Kylan.

“Honey, go unpack your backpack then get ready for a bath okay?”

“M’kay,” he replied.

She watched him walk down the hall to his bedroom before she closed the door and turned to Jesse with an apologetic look.

“Jesse, I’m so sorry.”

“Sorry! Where have you been? I’ve been calling you every day worrying if something had happened to you! Why haven’t you returned my phone calls! Weren’t we supposed to be meeting for lunch Tuesday afternoon?”

Liz nodded. “Yes we were. I’m sorry Jesse I forgot all about it. Some friends of mine invited Kylan and I on a camping trip at the last minute. I was so busy running around trying to get things organized that I forgot to call and cancel the lunch date.”

Jesse sighed as he closed his eyes. “God, I was so worried that something bad had happened to you!”

“I’m fine,” she gave a nervous chuckle. “Would you believe that all day long on the drive to the camp site I kept thinking there was something that I forgot. I didn’t remember until I saw your car just now in the parking lot.”

He gave her a grin. “Wow, it must have really been a last minute thing then?”

She nodded. “You have no idea.”

He nodded as he lifted a hand to run his fingers through her hair. “Didn’t you take your cell phone with you?”

She nodded. “Yeah, but I lost reception when we reached the beach, so I turned it off. I haven’t had the chance to turn it back on yet.”

Jesse shook his head with a smile. “I really should be mad at you, you know.”

She gave him a pout. “I’m sorry?”

He chuckled. “It’s okay. I’m just glad you’re okay.”

She nodded. “I’m fine. Just tired from the trip.”

“Right. I can understand.” He leaned in to kiss her cheek. “Are you off tomorrow?”

She nodded. “Yeah, I don’t go back to work until Monday.”

He smiled. “Would you be willing to make it up to me by going to dinner with me tomorrow night?”

Liz sighed. “I’ll have to see.”

This time he gave her a pout. “Come on Liz, don’t you think it’s time we worked our way back to dinner dates?”

She chuckled. “I know, I know. You’re right. Let me make sure my mom can take Kylan for the night and I’ll call you as soon as I know, okay?”

He nodded. “Okay. Go get some rest?”

She smiled. “I will.”

She leaned in and let him give her a quick kiss on the lips before he gave her a hug and whispered goodbye. She stood there and waved to him as he got into his car and drove off.

When he was gone she went inside and grabbed her bags to take them to her room. Dropping them on her bed, she sank down next to them and began absently twirling her ring.

That’s what she’d forgotten. She was supposed to have gone on a lunch date with Jesse that Tuesday. It would have been one of many lunch dates they’d been on over the last few weeks after he’d convinced her to give him another chance.

Liz had been surprised when Jesse had shown up at her office with a bouquet of daisies and asked her to go out to lunch with him. He’d told her that he was trying to change for the better and wanted to start over with her. She’d been reluctant to do so, but had decided that just having one lunch with him wouldn’t hurt.

By the time that first lunch was over, she had been convinced that he was telling the truth. It was the first time he had seemed so relaxed and attentive towards her. She couldn’t remember the last time she’d been able to laugh and talk to someone as easily as she’d talked to him.

Of course, she had agreed to meet him for lunch again later that week and after that they’d met for lunch almost every work day. And as time had gone on, she found herself beginning to look forward to spending time with him. That was why when he’d mentioned that he hoped their lunch dates could turn into dinner dates, she’d told him she wasn’t adverse to the idea.

Now that he’d finally asked her to dinner, she was more than willing to go out with him to see if there was any hope for them at all. She could only hope that things would go well for them this time around.

“Mom! Do I have to take a bath?” came Kylan’s yell from his room.

Liz sighed as she settled her ring back on her finger. “Yes, you do young man!” she yelled back.

She got up and stepped into the hallway. “Ready or not, here I come!”

TBC...
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Shadowlynxbehr
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Post by Shadowlynxbehr » Mon Jun 25, 2007 6:53 pm

Part 20

Liz couldn’t help the smile that spread over her face as she glanced up at Jesse. He was holding her close to him as they danced slowly to the waltz the band was playing. When he returned her smile, she leaned her head on his chest and closed her eyes, enjoying the way she felt with him.

Jesse had gone out of his way to treat her to a wonderful night of dinner and dancing. It was nothing fancy really, but the restaurant was a nice quiet one where the two of them had a spectacular view of the city. While they’d eaten, they’d had a light conversation in which Jesse had asked how her beach vacation had been.

He’d laughed at her stories of Kylan and the others and told her he was glad she’d had a good time. When she had told him that her boss, Tess had insisted she go since she’d never really had a vacation since she’d started working at her job, Jesse had to agree with her. He said sometimes he worried that she worked too hard for someone her age. That sometimes she just needed to relax and do something fun.

When Liz had said it was often difficult because she had a son to raise, Jesse said he understood that she had a son, but no one would blame her if she took one day to herself from time to time. Everyone was entitled to some alone time no matter who or what was involved in their life. The more he talked to her about it, the more Liz realized that he was right. She did deserve a day to herself every now and then.

After they’d had dinner, Jesse asked her if she was up for some dancing and when she’d said yes, he’d taken her to a club near his house that had a band that performed a mix of rhythm and blues and jazz. Liz liked the club because it was rather intimate and the lighting gave it a very cozy feel to it. She also loved the way the tables seemed to have their own little alcove, yet you could still watch the band if you wanted to.

They’d been there for a couple of hours already, during which time she’d had a few dances with Jesse or sat and talked with him while they sipped their drinks. Once again, he seemed interested in how things were going with her life and with Kylan and Liz was still thrilled that he now remembered her son’s name.

He’d called Kylan by name ever since she’d gone out with him on that first lunch date when she’d decided to give him another chance. So far, he hadn’t disappointed her in all of the ways he’d seemed to have changed for the better.

As the song ended, Jesse whispered in her ear. “You want to take another break?”

She nodded and allowed him to lead her back to their seats. He motioned to the waitress as they sat down and indicated that they needed more drinks. The waitress nodded and went off to get the drinks for them.

Jesse sat down next to her and smiled. “You doing okay?”

She returned his smile. “I’m doing good, thanks.”

“You sure? I mean, if you want to get home to your son…”

Liz shook her head. “Mom’s going to keep him overnight, so I don’t have to rush home tonight.”

He chuckled. “And here I was just telling you that you needed your own time to do things, guess you’re way ahead of me.”

Liz shrugged. “I think that’s really mom’s fault. She doesn’t get to see Kylan that much, so she’s always eager to keep him overnight. I know Kylan doesn’t like the way she sometimes smothers him, but I think he likes to spend time away from me too. You know, some time away from seeing my face every single day.”

They shared a laugh over that before Jesse said, “Liz, I highly doubt Kylan ever gets tired of being with you. I think you’re a great mom and Kylan does seem like a great kid from the brief times I’ve seen him. You’ve raised him well, it was me that needed the lesson in manners.”

Liz chuckled. “Well, you seemed to remember them again.”

Jesse grinned. “Maybe, but I’m sure I could learn a thing or two from Kylan, huh?”

Liz laughed. “Now that I’d like to see.”

************************************************************

When the club closed for the night, Liz was finally ready to go home. Jesse walked her to her apartment and waited until she’d unlocked the door before telling her goodnight.

“Do you want to come in?” she asked.

He shook his head. “I’d love to, but I can’t. I’ve got to go into the office tomorrow morning, so I should go home and get some sleep.”

“Really? Why didn’t you tell me this before? I wouldn’t have kept you out so late.”

He smiled as he caressed her cheek. “It’s okay, Liz. I wanted to spend as much time with you as I could. Trust me, it was worth it.”

Liz smiled back. “I had a wonderful night, Jesse. Thank you, for taking me out.”

He nodded. “It was my pleasure. Get some sleep okay?”

“Okay, goodnight.”

“Goodnight,” he whispered before he leaned in to give her a kiss.

Liz tilted her head back and closed her eyes as his lips covered hers. As he deepened the kiss, she felt his arms wrap around her shoulders and pull her close to him. He ran his tongue over her bottom lip, seeking entrance to her mouth until she gave him access.

It was a few moments before he finally pulled away and released his hold on her.

“I’ll call you tomorrow?” he asked as he backed away from her.

She nodded. “Okay, night.”

“Night.”

She opened her door and walked inside. After closing and locking it, she peered out of the window in time to see Jesse starting his car and then driving away. As soon as he was out of the parking lot, she released her hold on the curtain and walked to her bedroom.

She was glad the date had gone well. She’d been afraid that after all this time she wouldn’t be able to enjoy herself with Jesse the way she had back when they’d first started dating. But he had seemed to have realized he’d changed and was now doing his best to be the man she’d first been interested in.

She began to change out of her clothes and thought of how Jesse had changed when it came to her son. Now he wanted to know more about her life with Kylan instead of just about her. She was beginning to hope that he would want to spend more time with Kylan to get to know him. If she could see how they got along, maybe there was hope for all of them yet.

************************************************************

Liz smiled when Jesse looked up from his seat at their usual lunch table at their favorite sandwich shop. After their date Friday night, Jesse had called her on Saturday and they’d talked for a while before agreeing to meet for lunch on Monday.

On Sunday, she and Kylan had gone over to Michael’s house to see Maria off to college again since her break was over. Liz had assumed Max would be there too, but when he hadn’t showed up, she began to worry if Max was going to keep babysitting Kylan or not. But Maria put those fears to rest when she told Kylan that Max said he was sorry that he couldn’t make it to see him that day, but he’d see him when he picked him up from school on Monday.

So Liz had taken Kylan to school that morning and reminded him to wait for Max after school before she’d told him to have a good day at school and waited until he was inside his building before driving off. An hour before she was supposed to meet Jesse for lunch, she called her apartment to see if Max needed her to pick up anything on her way home.

Granted, she just wanted to make sure he was really there and was really going to pick up her son from school, but she’d been expecting more than the short, straightforward answers he’d given her over the phone. He told her everything was fine. He didn’t need anything and he’d be on time to pick Kylan up just like always. Not knowing what else to say to him, she’d ended their conversation then by saying she had to get back to her client and she’d see him later that evening.

Jesse stood up and kissed Liz on the cheek, helped her to her seat, then sat back down in his own seat. “How’s work today?”

She picked up her menu and smiled. “Oh, it’s actually like any typical Monday. Rather slow. I thought I’d get back and find a mountain of things to do, but Tess and a few other kept things running smoothly while I was gone.”

Jesse chuckled. “You make it sound like you’re the best one there.”

“Oh no, that’s not true really. I was just worried that some of my clients wouldn’t like dealing with another designer instead of me. Some clients are finicky like that. They refuse to deal with anyone other than the designer who’d first taken their project and no one else.”

Jesse nodded. “I think I can understand that. They probably feel that their original designer is the only one who understands them and their ideas.”

“Exactly!” Liz laughed, before asking, “So how was your Monday?”

He chuckled. “Busy! I’ve got several projects going on right now, three of which have to be finished by the end of the week and one due middle of next week which we haven’t even started on.”

Liz tsked. “Makes you miss being a teacher huh?”

He laughed. “Yeah, some days I actually do, but then I get the paycheck and realize I’m doing what I had always wanted to do and making money at it.”

Liz chuckled. “Oh, I really understand that part too.”

After they ate lunch, Jesse walked her back to her office since they still had some time to kill.

Giving the hand he held in his a gentle squeeze Jesse asked, “Liz? Kylan and Max still get along okay?”

She nodded. “Yes. Why do you ask?”

“No reason really. Just wanted to make sure everything’s still good between them. I know how much Kylan looks up to Max. And Max is really good with Kylan too.”

Liz nodded. “Yes he is. Max is really good for Kylan. He’s taught him so much and he was able to get Kylan to enjoy school. I don’t know where I’d be if I hadn’t had Max’s help with Kylan.”

Jessed nodded. “I understand. You were really lucky in finding a great babysitter like Max. It’s cool that he’s willing to do so many things for Kylan’s benefit, not many babysitters care about their charges the way Max cares for Kylan.”

She nodded as she seemed to look in the distance. “That’s true.”

He glanced at her out of the corner of his eye and noticed she seemed to be somewhere else. “You okay?”

It was a few seconds before she nodded her head. “Yeah. I was just thinking of Kylan for a moment. I mean, I know he looks up to Max and all, but I think it’s more like an older brother kind of thing. I was thinking…”

When she paused Jesse stopped walking and pulled her aside. “What were you thinking?”

She shook her head. “Nothing, never mind. It was just my mind wandering, that’s all.”

Jesse gave her a gentle smile as he took her hands in his. “Oh come on Liz, whatever it was couldn’t be that bad, you can tell me.”

She sighed as she looked up into his eyes. “I was just thinking about what it would have been like for Kylan to have a real father, you know? I mean maybe that’s what he really needs after all. I guess I just hoped I’d be enough for him, but now I’m starting to realize that there are some things I can’t teach him because I’m not his father.”

Jesse sighed. “He’s doing okay, Liz. Don’t beat yourself up over nothing. You’ve done a great job so far.”

She nodded. “I know. But I also realize a lot of it has to do with the fact that I’ve been lucky enough to have other men in Kylan’s life, like Michael or Max. Without them to help me, I could have really messed things up. And maybe it’s not just Kylan. Maybe I’m starting to realize that not only do I need someone to be a father to Kylan, but I need someone to care for me too.”

Jesse sighed as he reached up to cup her cheek. “I’ve been trying to tell you that for years Liz. You’re a strong woman on your own, but even the strongest person needs a shoulder to lean on every now and then.”

She leaned against his hand and slowly nodded. “I think I’m finally beginning to believe you.”

He smiled as he looked into her eyes. “Is that so?”

She returned his smile. “Yes.”

He leaned in and kissed her briefly on the lips, before pulling back to gaze in her eyes again. “Do you think I could be the one to lend you that shoulder?”

She chuckled softly. “I think you just could be.”

Jesse closed his eyes and took a deep breath. “You have no idea how long I’ve been waiting to hear you say that.”

She squeezed his hand. “A very long time, I imagine.”

He opened his eyes and looked around where they stood. Seeing a more secluded area with a bench, he led her to it and indicated for her to sit down. When she was seated, he sat next to her and took her hand in his.

“Liz, you know how much I’ve always cared about you and how hard I’ve been trying to get myself together again. You have to know that I wanted to be a better man for you.”

At her nod, he went on. “I want to be the one you need to lean on, Liz. I want to try to be a father to Kylan too. Whatever you and Kylan need, I want to be able to give it to both of you.”

He waited for a few moments, letting it sink in before sliding off the bench and sinking to one knee. “Liz, will you let me be what you and Kylan need? Will you marry me?”

************************************************************

Liz sat in her parked car and gazed up at her apartment in trepidation. She just hoped that the talk she was going to have with Kylan would go well, after all she wanted their life with Jesse to start on a good note.

After Jesse had surprised her with that proposal, Liz had suddenly realized that Jesse was the genuine thing. He’d proven to her that he’d changed for the better and she knew she enjoyed the time she spent with him. All she needed to do was get him and Kylan together now. Since Jesse seemed eager to get to know Kylan, Liz couldn’t see how they wouldn’t get along now.

So, she’d told him she’d marry him, but she wanted to talk to Kylan about it first and she wanted Jesse to get to know Kylan too. He’d agreed that she needed to talk to Kylan about it and also agreed to go by the apartment the following evening to spend some time with him so they could start to get to know each other.

Sighing, she pulled herself together and got out of the car. She made her way to her apartment and walked inside. As she put her things down on the table near the door, she could hear noise in the living room. Kylan was obviously watching cartoons in there.

Liz walked into the living room to see Kylan sitting on the couch seemingly engrossed in the television screen. However, the moment he realized she was there, he climbed off the couch and hurried over to her with a grin.

“Mom! Max said he’d make us spaghetti an’ meatballs an’ stay to have dinner with us! Can he?”

Liz sighed. “I don’t think he wants to stay and have dinner with us Kylan.”

“Well, I wan’ him to! He’ll stay if I ask him to!”

Liz looked towards the kitchen before taking Kylan’s hand and leading him back to the couch. “Kyl, I don’t think having Max stay for dinner is a good idea. Besides, there’s something I wanted to talk to you about.”

He frowned. “Wha’ cha wanna talk about?”

She picked up the remote to turn the volume down a little before turning to look at her son. “There’s someone I want you to get to know. I think he’s going to be spending more time with us from now on.”

“But I don’ wanna know anyone else! I wanna spend time wit Max!”

Liz sighed. “I know you do honey, but Max can’t always be here. He’s got his own life to live and we need to let him live it. But tomorrow evening, you’ll get to spend time with Jesse so you two can get to know each other, okay?”

“Jesse? Who’s he?” he asked, giving her a blank look.

“You remember Jesse, Kylan. He went to school with me back in New York, remember? And then he moved here and we continued to be friends for a while.”

Kylan’s blank look had disappeared the moment she started reminding him of the man he’d really come to hate. Once more he was frowning at his mother as she tried to tell him that Jesse was going to be spending a lot more time with them so that they could all get to know each other and become a family some day.

Kylan started to shake his head. “No! I don’ wanna be a family wit him! I wanna be a family wit Max!”

Liz sighed. “Kyl, Max is your babysitter.”

“He’s more than that!”

She reached out to take his hand in hers. “Baby, listen to me. I know you don’t really understand this, but I really like Jesse. And today, he told me that he wants to marry me and be a family with us. I want that too, Kylan. Please, could you just meet him tomorrow and get to know him for my sake?”

“I don’ wan’ him to be my family! I wan’ Max! Why can’ you marry Max!”

“Because I care about Jesse and he cares about us.”

“Max cares about us!”

She ran a hand through her hair. “It’s not the same thing, Kylan.”

He jumped up from the couch and yelled, “Yes it is! He loves me! I know Max loves me!”

Liz grimaced as she looked towards the kitchen again. “Kylan, keep it down honey.”

“An’ he loves you too mom! Why can’ you love him like I love him? Why can’ we be a family?”

“Kylan, Max doesn’t love me.”

“Yes he does!”

Frustrated that her son wasn‘t listening to her, she growled at him. “For God’s sake, Kylan! Max is just your babysitter, he’s not your father!”

The moment those words were out, she knew it was a slap in the face for Kylan. Helplessly she stood there and watched as his eyes filled up with tears and his lips began to tremble.

Her heart in her throat, she reached out to comfort him, “Kylan…”

But before she could even touch him, he turned and ran to his room. She heard the door slam shut and a few moments later came the muffled sound of crying. Closing her eyes, she stood there thinking that things hadn’t gone well at all.

As she tried to figure out what she could do to salvage the mess she’d made, she opened her eyes and made to go to Kylan, but stopped when movement caught her attention.

Max was standing in the doorway that led to the kitchen, a look of hurt in his eyes that looked way too similar to the one Kylan had worn right before he’d ran away.

Swallowing, she tried to give him a casual smile. “Hey Max, I heard…”

“You’re going to marry Jesse!” She could tell it wasn’t a question. “Are you out of your mind! After the way he treated Kylan, you’re just going to let that man back into your life!”

She sighed. “He’s changed Max.”

“You don’t know that! All you have is his word!”

“I know he has. Look, I’ve been seeing him for a while and he really is different. He wants to get to know Kylan.”

“You-you’ve been seeing him?”

Liz stopped as she heard the note in his voice.

“Is that why you didn’t want to see me?”

“Max…”

“No, I get it now. I never had a chance did I? After all, I’m nothing but the babysitter.” He hissed between his teeth.

Liz gave him a pleading look. “Max, you don’t understand. I didn’t just make this decision overnight okay? He came to me and told me he changed for the better and after seeing him for a while, I know he’s telling the truth. He’s more like the man I knew from before.”

“Right. And he did all of this for you, huh?”

“Yes! He cares about me Max. And even though he went through a rough period, he’s always been a part of my life. Jesse is a good man, Max. He’s got a great job and he wants to get to know my son. I know he wants to take care of both me and my son.”

“I cared about you and Kylan too Liz! And I already know both of you!”

“It’s not the same thing, Max!”

“Why? Because I don’t have a great job like Jesse?”

“That’s not it!”

“Where the hell was he when Kylan was having trouble getting along with other kids his age? Where was he when Kylan needed someone to help him survive his first day of school? Who was there to teach Kylan how to add or subtract, how to spell his name? God Liz, he doesn’t even know the first thing about your son!”

“He’ll learn. He’s coming over tomorrow evening to start…”

“You don’t even love him!” Max interrupted with a shout.

Liz blinked a few times before answering in a quiet voice. “I care about him. I always have.”

“But you don’t love him,” he answered in a voice just as quiet.

She sighed. “I know you don’t understand this, but I care about him. That’s the most I’ll ever be able to feel about anyone, Max. It just is.”

He stared at her for a few moments before he whispered, “I don’t believe that and I don’t think you believe that either.”

Without letting her say another word, he walked past her towards the front door. Grabbing his things, he looked over his shoulder.

“Dinner’s on the table. Tell Kylan I’ll see him tomorrow.” He moved to open the door before adding, “And consider this my two weeks notice.”

Liz whirled around. “What! No Max, Kylan still needs you as his babysitter! Jesse and I both agreed you are good at that!”

“Yeah? Well, I’ve realized that being Kylan’s babysitter isn’t what I wanted to be good at after all.”

“Max…”

“Later, Liz.”

The door slammed shut behind Max, making Liz flinch. Closing her eyes, she stood there wondering why everything was going so wrong. She’d never had any intention of letting Max go as Kylan’s babysitter and Jesse had agreed that Max should continue to do the job. The only thing that would have changed was having Jesse around more, so why was everyone so dead set against it?

Sighing, she turned off the television and made her way to Kylan’s room. She was going to try to calm him down so that they could have dinner together and hopefully talk about it again. She wanted Kylan to be ready for when Jesse came to see him the following evening.

She just hoped that by that time, everything would be all right again.

TBC...
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Shadowlynxbehr
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Post by Shadowlynxbehr » Sun Jul 01, 2007 4:58 pm

Part 21

Alex opened the door and glared at his best friend who seemed to be trying to pound the door down. “Geez, Max. Where’s the fire?”

Max gave him a defeated look as he dragged himself past Alex and slumped down in a chair. He placed his elbows on his knees and hung his head, wrapping his hands behind his neck. Alex took one look at that pose and knew something bad had happened.

Closing the door, he sat on the couch next to Max. “What happened?”

Max sighed, but didn’t look up. “She’s marrying Jesse.”

Alex now wore a puzzled frown, even though Max couldn’t see it. “Who is?”

“Liz,” came the muffled reply.

Alex stared at him in shock. “W-wait a minute. I thought you were seeing Liz.”

Max groaned and leaned back against the cushion. “I thought so too. But when I asked her about it during the camping trip, she told me there couldn’t be anything between us for Kylan’s sake. I thought I could change her mind still since she said she wanted me to always be a part of Kylan’s life. But then she gets home today and tells Kylan she’s marrying Jesse and she wants them to get to know each other.”

“What!”

He nodded. “Yeah. The only reason I heard any of it is because Kylan started yelling at her half way through it and I could hear him from the kitchen. I went to investigate and that’s when I heard her tell him that she was going to marry him so they could be one big, happy family.”

Alex shook his head. “God, she’s nuts if she thinks he’s going to be good for them.”

Max sighed. “Kylan ended up running to his room and I went to confront her. Turns out she’s been seeing him for a while already.”

Alex’s eyes went wide. “Wait, was this before or after the camping trip.”

Max nodded. “Before. That’s why she’s been avoiding me. He came back into her life and claimed that he’d changed for the better.”

“I see. So, she gave him the benefit of the doubt and started seeing him again.”

“Yep. And today he asked her to marry him and she said yes.”

Alex made a face. “Does she even love him?”

Max dropped his head back on the couch and closed his eyes. “She told me she cared about him and it’s the most she could ever feel about anyone.”

“She’s still holding on to Kyle then.”

Max lifted his head to look at his best friend. “I don’t know Alex. I really don’t know. I thought there was something there when we went out that night. I mean, after we kissed and I left her, I could have sworn she was on the same page as I was. There wasn’t anything to tell me that she regretted the date. She just didn’t mention it again, but she wasn’t really pulling away from me either.”

Alex sighed. “Max, maybe she’s just marrying Jesse because he’s safe to her.”

“What?”

“Well, maybe Liz thinks Jesse will provide what she needs for herself and Kylan. He’s got a good job, which means financial stability.”

“Liz has a good job too! She doesn’t need the money, Alex!”

“I know Max, but try to look at it from a woman’s point of view okay? She’s probably thinking she wants a family. So, to do that, she’s going to need someone she can depend on to provide for her when she needs it. Maybe she’s thinking she won’t always be able to work, so she wants to make sure she and Kylan will be cared for just in case.”

Max didn’t say anything as he sat there in silence, thinking of what Alex just said. After a few moments of silence, Alex spoke up again.

“Then there’s also the fact that Jesse is also safe in that emotional kind of way. After all, she gave her heart to Kyle and he died. Maybe she thinks she’ll have it easier if something were to happen to Jesse.”

Max turned to look at Alex and whispered. “I can’t give her any of that can I?”

Alex shook his head. “No Max, the only thing you can give her is a perfect father for Kylan and a man who truly loves her. She may just be too scared to take that chance with you.”

Max glared at the door. “Yeah well, I’m not stupid enough to hang around and watch her make that mistake. I gave her my two weeks notice.”

“Max…”

He turned to look at Alex with a laugh. “Can you believe she told me she and Jesse both agreed to keep me on as Kylan’s babysitter because I’m so good for him! How can she really think I’d hang around and watch her pretend to be a family with that guy!”

Alex grimaced. “I don’t blame you, but Kylan’s obviously going to miss you.”

Max sighed. “I know. I’m going to miss him too.”

They sat in silence for a few more minutes before Max sighed again and ran his hands through his hair.

“Thanks for letting me rant, Alex.”

He shrugged. “What are best friends for?”

Max chuckled. “I know. Sorry for nearly bursting through your door.”

“It’s okay.” He paused before asking, “You okay?”

Max nodded. “Yeah, I’ll be okay.”

He got up from the couch and made his way to the door before turning to grin at Alex. “Thanks, man.”

“No prob. You know you can come here whenever you need to talk,” Alex replied as he got up and made his way to the door.

Max nodded once before opening the door. He waved to Alex and walked out, shutting the door behind him. Alex reached out and locked the door before turning around.

Isabel stood in the entrance to the hallway leading to the bedroom. She wore a worried look on her face as she stepped into the room.

“You heard?” he asked.

She nodded hesitantly. “Yes I did.” A beat passed before she added, “Alex, there’s something I should tell you about Jesse…and me.”

************************************************************

Isabel looked up at Alex when she was finally finished telling him the whole story about how she’d met Jesse and what he’d tried to make her do. She’d even told Alex how she hadn’t realized that it was Max that Jesse was trying to get rid of until she’d seen him at the apartment the day she’d sprained her ankle. She told Alex that’s why she’d been there when he’d met her, she’d been trying to get an idea of the guy Jesse wanted her to help him get away from Liz.

It wasn’t until she’d seen Max that she’d realized who he was and decided not to get involved in that mess. Then she’d met him and he’d clinched her decision to stay away from Max and Liz.

Alex raised an eyebrow at her. “So, you’re Liz’s co-worker who tried to seduce Max then.”

Isabel blinked. “Wait! I thought you knew about that!”

Alex shook his head. “I knew about the incident, but I didn’t know it was you.”

Isabel’s face flamed as she looked down at her hands. “I’ve been wishing it was nothing more than a nightmare for a while now.”

Alex reached out and took her hand in his. “Hey, at least you seem to have paid your dues for that.”

Isabel nodded as she whispered. “And then some.”

Alex shook his head. “That’s why Jesse sought you out! He figured if you did it once, you’d do it again.”

“Yeah, but I had no idea he was talking about Max until I saw him at the apartment. If I’d known it was Max, I would have said no immediately. I still don’t know why I even agreed to help him in the first place.”

Alex frowned. “I’m guessing the man has a way with words or he’s an expert charmer. He had you fooled and now he’s got Liz fooled too. Yeah, he’s a snake charmer all right.”

Isabel nodded her head in agreement before tugging at his hand. “Alex, I think I have to tell Liz about Jesse before she marries him.”

Alex sighed. “Yeah, I agree with you there.” He turned to look at the clock on the wall before turning to look at her again. “Tell you what, we’ll go tomorrow around the time she gets off of work okay? Max will be there taking care of Kylan, so we can talk to her then.”

Isabel nodded. “Okay, the sooner the better.”

************************************************************

Liz twirled her ring as she sat waiting for the light to turn green. She was worried about the coming meeting between her son and Jesse that would be taking place in a couple of hours and the fact that she was no closer to a solution.

She’d tried in vain to get Kylan to talk to her, but he’d been silent the entire rest of the evening. Barely touching his dinner before sullenly taking a bath and going to bed without much fuss. Later, she’d heard him crying but when she went to him, he’d yelled at her to go away.

She’d gone back to her room and lay listening to his crying until he’d finally fallen asleep. That was when she’d gone back to check on him. Trying to wipe the dried tears from his face without waking him up and tucking him under the covers before going back to her own room. She’d lain there for a while longer trying to figure out what to say to her son come morning.

Still, Kylan had remained sullen and quiet all through breakfast and the ride to school. So all she could do was hope Max would be able to talk to him when he picked Kylan up from school.

She’d called just before she was getting off and Max had told her Kylan was okay, but she could hear from the note in his voice that both of them were still rather upset about her decision. At that point, she knew the only thing to be done was to go home and get ready for Jesse and Kylan to meet.

She was startled by the sound of a horn and came out of her musings to step on the gas and continue the drive home. A few minutes later, she drove into the parking lot, parked her car, and turned off the ignition before gathering up her things.

As she made her way towards her building, she recognized Alex walking towards her. She smiled at him.

“Hi Alex, you here for Max?”

Alex shook his head. “Actually, I’m here to see you. There’s someone I want you to talk to.”

Liz blinked in puzzlement. “O-okay, sure. Um, you want to come up?”

Alex walked alongside her as they continued towards her apartment. When they reached the stairs, he indicated with his head towards the alcove just beneath the stairs.

“Liz, you remember Isabel don’t you?”

Isabel stepped out of the alcove with her hands clasped in front of her and her head slightly down. Liz immediately saw the faint blush on her cheeks.

“H-hi, Liz.”

Liz frowned. “What do you want?”

Alex sighed. “Liz, I think you should hear what she has to say.”

Liz turned a narrowed gaze on him. “How do you know her? Do you even know what she tried to do to Max?”

Alex nodded. “Yes. But she’s regretted what she did Liz and she’s now my girlfriend.”

Liz’s eyes widened as she stared at Alex, missing the way Isabel’s head snapped up in surprise before a shy smile spread over her face.

“Your girlfriend!” gasped Liz.

“Yes, so you know she’s a different woman now. And I need you to now hear what she has to say.”

As Liz turned to look at Isabel again, Isabel hid the smile she’d been wearing at Alex’s proclamation. Liz simply looked her up and down for a few moments before nodding.

“Okay, what do you want to say?”

Isabel swallowed before glancing at Alex. He gave her a nod and a smile of encouragement before she turned back to Liz.

“It’s about Jesse.”

************************************************************

Liz walked up the stairs to her apartment with determination in her steps. She couldn’t believe the gall of Jesse, especially if the story Isabel and Alex had just told her was the whole truth. If it was, then he’d really pulled the wool over her eyes hadn’t he? Well, she was going to find out soon enough.

As soon as the two of them were done telling her their side of the story and had answered her questions, Liz had thanked them both for coming to tell her. Isabel had been afraid Liz wouldn’t believe her after the stunt she’d pulled with Max. She’d even said she wouldn’t have blamed Liz for not believing her too.

But Liz didn’t think Alex was one to let a woman do a number on him like that, so she was willing to give Isabel the benefit of the doubt. Especially since Alex had told her that Max had gone to him last night and told him that she was marrying Jesse, not knowing that Isabel was hidden in the apartment and listening. The minute Max had left, Isabel had told Alex everything and said she needed to tell Liz before it was too late.

Liz knew Isabel had nothing to lose in telling Alex that, except for Alex himself. And seeing that Alex had supported his girlfriend’s wish to come clean without blaming her for what she’d once tried to do to his best friend, Liz knew she had to be the bigger person and forgive Isabel for her part too.

So she had. She’d told Isabel she hoped everything worked out for her and thanked her for telling her the truth before seeing both her and Alex off again. Then she’d turned and made a beeline for her apartment. She was going to run in and tell Max to stay with Kylan for a bit longer while she went and gave Jesse a piece of her mind.

Opening her door and tossing her things on the table, she walked into the kitchen where Max and Kylan were sitting at the table working on Kylan’s homework.

“Max, can you stay with Kylan for a little longer? I need to step out for a few minutes.”

He stiffened and frowned as he looked up at her. “I can’t.”

She shook her head, clearly knowing why he didn’t want to. “Don’t worry. Jesse isn’t coming here. Not tonight, not ever again.”

“What?”

Liz nodded. “So, can you stay?”

Slowly Max nodded. “Okay…”

She smiled at him. “Good!” She leaned over and kissed Kylan’s cheek. “Be good baby, I’ll be back soon.”

She left the kitchen and grabbed her purse from the table as she walked to the door. Fishing her keys out of the purse, she opened the door and came face to face with a startled Jesse.

“Whoa, Liz! Slow down there!”

She glared at him. “You’re early!”

He nodded. “Yeah, sorry. I got off work a little early and went home to change before coming here. So, what’s the rush?”

She reached back and grabbed the door handle before stepping outside and shutting it behind her. “Actually, I was on my way to see you.”

“Me? What for? You knew I was coming…”

“Jesse, tell me the truth. Was all of this just another one of your acts just to get close to me?”

He blinked in confusion. “What?”

She looked him straight in the eyes as she said, “You never changed did you? All of this was an act to try to get me to go back to you again. How exactly were you going to play off being nice to my son?”

He frowned. “Liz, where’s this coming from?”

“Tell me the truth Jesse.”

He backed away from her, holding his hands out to his sides. “I’m doing the best that I can to change for you! What do you want from me!”

“I want the truth!”

“What exactly is this truth you’re talking about, huh?”

She sighed. “Tell me Jesse, does the name Isabel Jacobson ring a bell?”

She saw the slight shifting of his eyes. It was barely there, but she’d been waiting for it. Now she knew, he’d been lying to her from the start.

“Who is that?” he asked, trying to cover it up.

Liz rolled her eyes. “Save it. I already know you’re lying. She came and told me what you tried to get her to do. You never had any intention of changing did you? God and to think I nearly let you near my son!”

Jesse walked towards her. “Listen to me! Whatever that bitch told you…”

“So you do know her!”

“What do you care! She’s the one who did you wrong!”

“This has nothing to do with her! You’re the one who’s been lying to me!”

Jesse growled. “Now you listen to me, Liz! You said you’d marry me this time! It’s time to stop using excuses to get away from me! I’m not letting you go this time! Not now, not ever!”

He reached out for her, but she slapped his hands away. “Don’t you dare touch me, you lying son of a bitch! How dare you think you could weasel your way back into my life! You stay away from me and you stay away from my son!”

“Don’t you be telling me what to do! I’ve had just about enough of your leaving me!”

The door opened behind Liz and Kylan peaked his head out. “Mom? Max an’ I heard yelling.”

Liz whirled around and tried to push Kylan back inside. “Honey, go inside okay? I’ll be in in a minute.”

“But mom…”

“Hey Kylan, why don’t you come outside and tell your mom that she’s going to marry me, huh?” snickered Jesse.

Kylan glared up at Jesse before stepping outside. “No! My mom’s not gonna marry you! She’s gonna marry Max an’ we gonna be a family!”

Jesse narrowed his eyes. “Max? I’ll be damned if that babysitter takes what’s mine!”

Liz reached down and turned Kylan towards the apartment. “Kylan go inside. Jesse, stop swearing in front of my son!”

“What for? He’s gonna be a man someday. It’s never too early to learn new words.”

Liz pushed Kylan inside before turning back to Jesse. “You need to leave.”

“Not a chance in hell. You still haven’t told me you’re still marrying me.”

Kylan ran back outside and yelled at Jesse. “My mom’s marrying Max!”

Jesse glared at Kylan for a moment before growling. “Listen kid, this is between adults. Me and your mom. And she’s marrying me!”

“No! You go to hell!” Kylan screamed.

Liz gasped. “Kylan!”

Jesse laughed. “See, told you it was never too early.” Then the smile faded from his face as he glared at him. “Now be a good little boy and go inside.”

“Not until you leave!”

“I said go inside!” he roared as he lifted his hand to strike at Kylan.

Before his hand reached the boy, Max stepped between them and grabbed Jesse’s hand, shoving him backwards. Without another word, he swung Kylan up into his arms and walked back inside with him.

As he carried Kylan to his bedroom, they could hear Jesse and Liz still arguing outside. Max pushed the bedroom door open and set Kylan on his feet just inside. Leaning over him, he looked into the boy’s eyes.

“Listen to me, Kyl. You stay in this room and don’t open the door until I say you can. You got that? Stay in here until I say you can come out!”

Kylan nodded, looking at Max with wide eyes. “What ‘bout mom?”

Max smiled and cupped the boy’s cheek. “Don’t worry. I won’t let anything happen to her.”

He stood up and closed the door before rushing back outside. The moment he walked out, he saw Jesse’s hands grasping Liz’s arms as he shook her fiercely even while they were both yelling at each other.

Angry that Jesse obviously didn’t care one bit about scaring a little boy and bullying the woman he was supposed to be marrying, Max saw red. Grabbing Jesse’s shoulders, he shoved him off of Liz and quickly stepped between them.

Glaring at Jesse, he hissed. “Get the hell out of here before I rip you a new one asshole!”

Jesse didn’t even say anything as he swung at Max.

Liz screamed as Max ducked the arm and punched Jesse in the stomach. “No! Stop this! Stop it you guys!”

Neither one of them was listening to her as they continued to shove and punch each other right there in front of her apartment door. Their fighting began to draw onlookers and Liz turned to search for her purse, shouting at them.

“Stop it, do you hear me! I’m calling the cops now!”

Spotting her purse a few feet away from the front door, she dove for it, quickly searching for and finding her cell phone. She dialed 911 and waited until someone answered. Quickly she gave them her address and said both her and her babysitter were being assaulted by her ex and they needed help.

As soon as she hung up, she turned back to the fighting only to realize that Max and Jesse were no longer there. Standing up, she looked over the railing and saw that somehow the two of them had gone downstairs and were now fighting on the ground. And from what she could see, Jesse currently had the upper hand.

Scrambling down the steps, she tossed her phone aside and reached out to grab the back of Jesse’s shirt, trying in vain to pull him off of Max.

“Please stop this! Get off of him, Jesse!” A few minutes later they all heard the sirens. “I called the cops! They’re on their way now! Get off of him, you jerk!”

She beat at his back, trying to distract him and he finally began to turn towards her. Growling, he reached out to strangle her, but Liz yelped and scrambled out of the way before he could grab her.

That gave Max the opening he needed to grab Jesse around the neck and throw him to the ground, giving him the upper hand now. He started hitting Jesse with his fists as Liz grimaced behind him.

“Max, stop it! The cops are here!” She looked up as the police cars came to a stop not too far from them before several men got out and rushed to them.

Liz waved her hands at them. “I’m Liz Parker. I’m the one that called.”

One of the officers nodded and walked to her. “You and your babysitter were being assaulted?”

She nodded. “Yes, by him. The one who’s lying on the ground. Jesse Ramirez.”

The other officers surrounded Max and Jesse, pulling a now complacent Max off of Jesse. Still, Jesse wasn’t one to take a beating lying down. The moment they’d gotten Max off of him, he’d lunged to his feet and launched himself at Max.

“I’m not through with you, you fucking babysitter!” he snarled.

Max simply backed away from him as the officers surrounded Jesse and threw him to the ground on his stomach. He continued to snarl at Max as they pulled his arms back and handcuffed him.

Liz walked up to Max and noticed he was holding his side. “Max! You’re hurt!”

He shook his head, his eyes still on Jesse. “It’s nothing.”

The officers yanked Jesse to his feet and began to drag him to a police car. Jesse looked over his shoulder and yelled back at them, “Don’t think for a minute that I’m done with you Liz! You hear me, you bitch! You’re mine! And I’m coming back for you and your fucking babysitter!”

Liz frowned at him before turning to look at the officer that stood next to her. “I’m pressing charges against him. For assault and battery against me, my seven year old son, and my son’s babysitter. I know you just heard the way he is threatening the lives of me and my son’s babysitter.”

The officer nodded. “Of course, ma’am. Why don’t you let me call the EMT so that you and…”

“Max Evans,” replied Max.

“…Mr. Evans can get checked out first. Then you two can go to the precinct to give your statements.”

Max shook his head. “I’m all right.”

Liz looked up at him. “Max, please? Just go and get that checked out, for my peace of mind? Kylan and I will go with you and if they say you’re okay, I’ll drive us all to the precinct afterwards okay?”

Max sighed as he looked into her pleading eyes. “Okay, fine. I’ll go.”

As the officer radioed for an EMT, Liz gave Max a brilliant smile and slid her hand into his, giving it a light squeeze. Both of them were thinking just how grateful they were that nothing serious had happened to any of them.

TBC...
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Post by Shadowlynxbehr » Sun Jul 08, 2007 9:36 pm

Part 22

Jesse was still in jail a few weeks after Liz had found out the truth and confronted him with it. He was still in jail because not only had Liz and Max given their statements, but Isabel had also given her own statement about how Jesse had approached her with a plan to interfere in Liz’s life. When Jesse had been told about the testimonies against him, he’d lost it once more and had gotten into a fight with a few guards prompting them to insist he be moved to a psychiatric facility immediately.

His behavior was clearly that of someone unstable and the statements of those involved seemed to indicate he’d been on that track for some time. Since Liz had officially pressed charges against Jesse for assault and battery on her and her son and Max had pressed his own charges too, Jesse was set to be in the psychiatric ward for a very long time.

Not only did they have the testimony of Liz, Max, and Isabel, but they also had the photographic proof of bruises on Liz’s arms and the various cuts and bruises Max had. Documentation of the most serious of Max’s injuries had been submitted also since he had ended up with heavily bruised muscle tissue around his left ribs.

The examining doctor had even told them that Max was lucky he was in great shape otherwise the ribs themselves could have been fractured or broken. As it was, the doctor was a bit amazed that there wasn’t even a hairline fracture. Still, the bruises around Max’s ribs would remain ugly for weeks and he’d barely be able to move his torso without feeling the pain over his ribs despite the pain medication prescribed to him.

Jesse had already had a preliminary hearing in which the judge had fined Jesse and ordered him to pay all expenses for Max’s medical bills as well as any other medical emergency Liz, Kylan, or Max would have that pertained to that incident. The other thing the judge granted was a restraining order which Liz had requested. The order was to be in effect for the remainder of Jesse’s life unless Liz officially asked for it to be rescinded and it would apply even if Jesse was sentenced to time in the psychiatric ward or jail.

So, for a few weeks Jesse remained in the psychiatric ward awaiting his real trial date while life went on for the others. Liz had apologized to Max for what Jesse had done to him and had even apologized for believing Jesse would have changed for the better. She had told Max that she had known Jesse for so long that she just wouldn’t see past the man she’d known back in college.

Max had understood that Liz refused to believe Jesse could have changed so drastically from the man she’d once known but he’d still remained hurt that she had so willingly chosen Jesse over him. Still, when she’d asked him if he would reconsider and stay on as Kylan’s babysitter, Max had hesitantly agreed to do so. He’d been hesitant because he knew things would be awkward between him and Liz, but he couldn’t honestly leave Kylan when things had been going so well between them.

The week after the incident with Jesse, Kylan had asked Max if he was going to leave and Max had told him he was thinking about it. So, when Kylan had asked Max to stay, Max had finally gone to Liz and told her he would stay on as Kylan’s babysitter on one condition. Liz had to start treating Max the way Kylan had been treating him, as a human being and not just the babysitter.

Max had told Liz that he wanted her to talk to her son more so that she could understand how Kylan really saw Max. He wanted Liz to think of him the way Kylan and Liz’s friends thought of him, as a part of their extended family. Max told Liz that he saw no reason why he couldn’t continue to take care of Kylan and be included in all of their day to day activities in the same way Michael and Tess often were.

Max had seen the look in Liz’s eyes when he’d given her his condition and knew she was going to have a hard time accepting it, but in the end she had agreed to do it because she believed Kylan really needed Max to be a part of his life. Liz had told him she would do her best to try to accept Max as a part of their lives and she would try to treat him better than she had done before.

It was a start in the right direction and Max just hoped that somewhere down the line, Liz would begin to see him in a different light than she’d done before. He hoped that she would get past whatever it was that was making her shut him out and begin to look at him as someone she wanted in her life for many years down the road.

************************************************************

Liz met Max’s eyes from across the huge field of the park where he stood filming the others as they searched for the Easter eggs that Max and Michael had hidden. He smiled at her even as he continued to follow Kylan with the camera and she returned his smile before she went after Kylan, helping him collect more hidden eggs.

It was Easter Sunday and all of them had agreed that a picnic in the park, complete with Easter baskets and an Easter egg hunt would be a wonderful thing to do for Kylan. So Max had arrived at Liz’s house around ten to help her fix the food for the picnic. Then the three of them had hopped into Liz’s car to go meet Tess, Nick, Michael, Alex, and Isabel at the park around noon.

At first Max had been a little wary of Isabel when he’d found out she was dating his best friend, until Alex had told him that Isabel had been the one to tell Liz what Jesse had been up to. After Max had heard Isabel’s side of the story and saw that she had given her own testimony against Jesse to help Liz press charges, he had begun to relax around her. He knew Isabel had turned over a new leaf and he believed Alex had a lot to do with that.

Alex had told him how Isabel had been at the apartment the day Max had come to tell him Liz was marrying Jesse. What had amazed Max was how Isabel risked her budding relationship with Alex by informing him of her role in all of it and that she had wanted to immediately tell Liz the truth about Jesse before she could make a huge mistake.

Knowing everything Isabel had risked losing and the things she’d done to help Liz, Max was now on his way to accepting Isabel as a part of their growing group in much the same way as Tess and Liz were. Like Max, both women had been a little wary since they’d known and worked with Isabel when she had been their conniving boss. Now however, the three of them seemed to be back on friendly terms and everyone else seemed to be accepting Isabel as a part of their group too.

Soon it seemed that all the eggs had been collected and everyone returned to the picnic table so that Max and Michael could count all the eggs and see who won the game. Liz took the camera from Max and began to film Max and Michael as they checked Tess and Nick’s basket, Isabel and Alex’s basket, and the basket she’d shared with Kylan.

Michael chuckled. “Okay, we’ve done the count and it seems we’re still missing three eggs.”

Liz zoomed out to get all of them as Max continued. “As it is, Tess and Nick are in first place, Liz and Kylan in second, and Isabel and Alex in third. However, Liz and Kylan only need two more eggs to beat Tess and Nick if you guys want to go and try to find the other three eggs.”

Isabel chuckled. “I’m happy with what I found, so I don’t want to look for anymore eggs. Do you want to Alex?”

He shook his head. “Nah, I’m happy with our treasures too.”

Liz aimed the camera at Kylan. “It’s up to you Kyl. You want to go try to find the other three eggs?”

Kylan nodded. “Yeah I don’ wanna leave ‘em out there anyway so I wanna go find ‘em.”

Nick chuckled. “Okay then how about it just be me and you Kyl? We’ll let the ladies stay here while we go look for them.”

Kylan grinned. “M’kay!”

Max took the camera back from Liz as Kylan and Nick headed back out to the field to search for the three missing eggs. The others remained at the table and watched as Nick started at one end of the field and Kylan started on the other. The two of them began to make their way towards each other as they searched the area carefully.

Kylan was the first to find an egg. Spotting it among a small pile of rocks, he grabbed it and held it up for them to see before continuing his search for at least one more egg. Nick wasn’t having any luck on his side of the field and as time went on, it looked like neither of them was going to find more than that one egg.

Suddenly Nick reached down, pulled an egg out of a rut in the ground, and held it up for everyone to see. His movements allowed Kylan to spot the last egg in a tree just behind Nick which made him take off running in Nick’s direction. As everyone watched puzzled as to why Kylan was running towards Nick rather than looking for the last egg, Kylan ran past Nick and pointed up at the tree.

“Look! The last egg! It’s there! See?”

Nick turned around and looked up where Kylan was pointing. He chuckled as he walked to the tree and plucked the egg out, handing it to Kylan who had been too short to reach the egg.

“Well Kylan, I guess that means you and your mom won.”

Kylan smiled at him. “Thanks Nick!”

Liz clapped her hands as Kylan ran to her waving his two eggs in the air. “Look mom! We won!”

“Yes we did because you found two of the eggs! I’m so proud of you baby!”

Kylan climbed onto the park bench and placed the two eggs in his basket before looking up at Max and Michael. “M’kay, I found two eggs an’ we won so can we eat ‘em now?”

The others laughed as Max nodded. “Sure sport, go right ahead.”

************************************************************

The sun was beginning to set over the trees in the distance but Kylan, Michael, Alex, Nick, and Tess were still tossing a baseball around. Isabel and Liz sat on a blanket nearby watching them and chatting as Max stood not to far away filming the others. After a while, Max decided to call it quits with the camera since he was losing the light and went to join the girls on the blanket.

Since his side was still rather tender, he couldn’t do that much and his doctor had advised him not to overdo any kind of physical activities. So, he had to content himself with hiding Easter eggs and videotaping the entire day instead of throwing a baseball around with the others.

Isabel excused herself so she could go toss the baseball a couple of times thus giving Max and Liz some time to themselves. When Isabel had joined the others, Liz turned to look at Max with some concern.

“How’s your side?”

“It’s okay.”

“You sure? You’ve been doing a lot of walking around today.”

He chuckled. “Walking doesn’t aggravate it that much.”

“Maybe not, but bending and carrying bags full of food has too.”

He turned to give her a frown. “I thought your hands were already full with being a mother to Kylan. Or is there enough room to be my mother too?”

She rolled her eyes. “I’m not mothering you. I’m just being a concerned friend.”

He grinned. “Is that so?”

She nodded. “Yes.” After a pause, she looked up at him with a grin. Her eyes sparkling she added, “So, did you take your meds like you were supposed to?”

He laughed. “Yes, mom. I took them when I had lunch and I’ll take the last when I have some dinner.”

She laughed with him. “Good!”

Awkward silence descended over them for a few moments as Max continued to look at her. Liz turned away to watch the others playing ball until Max spoke up again.

“You want me to help give Kylan his bath tonight.”

Liz shook her head without looking at him. “No that’s all right. You should just go home and get some rest. Take it easy on your side.”

He sighed. “Liz, I don’t mind…”

“I know you don’t Max, but you’re still healing. And there’s really no reason for you to help out tonight since I’ll be there.” She turned to look at him then, giving him a smile. “I’d rather have you rested and healed before you start doing things like that again.”

Max nodded reluctantly as the others began to make their way towards them. It was now too dark to do much of anything and they all agreed to pack it in and go home.

************************************************************

Liz frowned as she walked into the kitchen to find Max putting away the leftovers. “Max! I can do that. Why don’t you just go home and take care of your side, okay?”

Max looked over his shoulder at her. “Yeah, I’ll go in a few. Aren’t you supposed to be giving Kylan his bath?”

She nodded as she made her way to his side. “Yeah, he’s in the tub playing right now. Really Max, put that down and go home.”

She tried to snatch the container out of his hands, but he was quicker. “I can do this Liz.”

She sighed as she placed her hands on her hips and glared at him. “You’ve been doing things all day Max! Give it a rest already.”

He shrugged. “I’m not tired yet.”

“So? It’s your side that needs the break.”

“It’s fine.”

“No it’s not. I saw you trying to hide that wince earlier when we were loading up the cars to come home!”

He turned away from her, but not before she saw the guilty look on his face. “It doesn’t hurt,” he mumbled.

She grinned at the way he sounded like a petulant little boy. Shaking her head, she grabbed a glass and poured herself some juice before she walked out of the room. Looking over her shoulder, she spoke to him on her way out of the kitchen.

“Fine, have it your way. But if you’re not done by the time I get Kylan out of the tub and ready for bed, you’re going home anyway.”

Max responded with a nod as he continued to put away the leftovers.

Nearly fifteen minutes later, Liz had returned to the kitchen to find Max cleaning the counters. She rolled her eyes as she walked towards him. “Max, I can do that. Kylan’s in bed and wants to say goodnight to you. So go say goodnight and then go home.”

She reached for the cloth he held, but once again Max was quicker. Liz huffed in exasperation. “Come on Max. You’ve already done too much, would you just go relax for a bit.”

“I’m almost done.”

“Max please? Go get some rest.” She held out her hand for the cloth.

“I will,” he answered but refused to hand it to her.

She reached for it again. “Now, Max.”

He pulled it away from her and tried to lift it up out of her reach. “In a minute.”

Liz jumped for the cloth, caught it, and yanked it as she came down. Unfortunately she lost her balance and almost fell forward, but Max reached out to catch her. The moment he did however, pain shot up his side making him wince.

Liz immediately jumped back from him with wide eyes. “Oh no! No Max! Tell me this just didn’t happen!”

She reached out to lift his shirt, but Max pushed her hand away. “It’s fine!” he snapped.

Liz wasn’t fooled. She saw the way he was holding his side. “Max, you’re not fine. Come over here and sit down. Let me look at it.”

“Liz…”

She glared at him. “Max. Sit!”

He sighed in annoyance, but went to sit down as she had instructed. Liz knelt on the floor besides him and lifted the shirt to reveal his injury. She frowned as she looked at it. The bruises were mostly faded now, but it still looked ugly. She reached out to run her fingers over his skin in the lightest of touches.

Max sucked in his breath with a hiss.

Liz pursed her lips. That wasn’t good. She should have been able to at least apply a little more pressure than she just had. “Max, if you continue to argue with me over this, I’m going to give you a few days off and let my mother take care of Kylan during the week.”

Max closed his eyes with a sigh. He knew he’d lost this round. “Fine, I’ll give it a rest.”

Liz smiled as she lowered his shirt. “Good. I’ll tell Kylan you’ll see him tomorrow. Will you be able to make it home?”

He nodded. “Yeah. I thought I was supposed to tell Kylan goodnight.”

She shrugged as she got to her feet. “Don’t worry about it. I’ll tell him your side hurts so you had to go home. We’ll see you tomorrow.”

Max nodded as he rose to his feet. He was in mid-rise when pain rippled through his side again. Liz turned to look at him when she heard his groan. Moving back to his good side, she helped him to his feet and looked up at him.

“Max?”

He gave her a sheepish look. “Um, I don’t think I’m going to be able to make it home. Better call Alex and see if he can come get me.”

Liz bit her bottom lip as she quickly thought of something. “Listen, why don’t you just stay here tonight.”

He looked down at her. “What?”

She nodded. “You can have my bed and I’ll sleep on the sofa bed tonight.”

Max shook his head. “I can’t do that Liz.”

“Max, think about it. If Alex came and got you, you’d have to walk down the stairs, get into a car, get out of a car, and walk up another set of stairs before you get to your place. Do you really want to aggravate your side like that or wouldn’t it just be easier to walk to my bedroom, soak in a nice hot bath for a while, then get into bed?”

Max raised an eyebrow. “You sure you’re okay with it?”

“I wouldn’t have suggested it if I wasn’t. Besides it’s the least I can do since it was technically my fault you aggravated it again. You know, me and my clumsy self.”

He grinned. “Okay, fine I’ll stay.”

She nodded. “Great! Okay, let’s make our way to the bedroom shall we?”

He chuckled. “I can make it there on my own, Liz.”

She grinned. “I know, but I have to go anyway so I can get the bath ready for you. Least I can do, right?”

He didn’t argue with that as he made his way slowly down the hall towards Liz’s bedroom. She was right behind him as he entered her bedroom and stepped around him to precede him into the bathroom. He leaned back against the counter as Liz moved around the bathroom getting the towels and other things she thought he would need for his bath. Turning on the water, she tested it before looking at him.

“Is this okay for you?”

Max made his way to her side and reached out to test the water, trying to bend as little as possible. “Yeah, it’s fine.”

She nodded. “Okay, need help getting in?”

He grinned at her. “I think I can manage that on my own.”

She blushed. “Yeah? Okay. Good. Um, I’m going to tuck Kylan in and then get the sofa bed ready for myself. Just call out if you need me.”

He nodded. “Thanks.”

She left the room and closed the door behind her before making her way to Kylan’s room to tuck him in for the night.

************************************************************

After Liz had put Kylan to bed, letting him know that Max had hurt his side and couldn’t say goodnight to him, she’d gone to get the sofa bed ready for herself. She hadn’t told Kylan that Max was spending the night, thinking it wasn’t wise to tell her impressionable son something like that.

Liz was sitting on the sofa watching TV when she heard Max’s voice. Getting up, she made her way to the bedroom to see Max in his shirt and a towel wrapped around his waist standing near the bed, glaring at it.

“Max?”

He looked up and sighed. “I was trying to take my pills, but the bottle slipped out of my hand and rolled under the bed.”

She chuckled. “Oh, I’ll get it.”

She walked to the side of the bed and got on her knees. Leaning over, she looked under the bed until she spied the bottle of pills near the head of the bed. Scooting forward and lying on her stomach, she stretched her arm out, reaching for the bottle. She had to scoot a little more under the bed to before she finally managed to get her fingers around the bottle.

Max was leaning against the wall as Liz crawled out from under the bed and got back on her feet. He gave her a grateful smile as she shoved her hair out of her face and handed him the bottle.

“Thanks, sorry about that.”

She shook her head. “Don’t worry about it. I’m the one reason why you’re hurting anyway.”

He grinned. “Yeah, about that…”

“What?”

“You know how you said it’s your fault and this is the least you can do to apologize?”

She gave him a puzzled look. “Yeah.”

“Well, I was thinking. There’s something else you can do to make it up to me.”

“O…kay.”

“Go out with me again.”

Liz stared at him. “What?”

“Go out with me.”

Liz sighed. “Max, I don’t think that’s such a good idea.”

“Sure it is. It’ll be fun. You, me, and Kylan. We can go have some pizza, maybe catch a movie. What do you say?”

“You, me, and Kylan?”

He nodded. “Yeah, just the three of us. I know Kylan would be up for it.”

She chuckled. “Yeah, he would be. Can we wait until your side has healed a little bit more before we do? That way you won’t tax yourself when Kylan tries to drag you everywhere.”

Max laughed. “Sounds good to me, but I’m gonna hold you to it Liz.”

She nodded. “Got it. We’ll go out as soon as you seem well enough.”

“Deal,” he replied as he opened the bottle and popped two pills into his mouth. Liz got him a glass of water from the bathroom before she made her way to the door.

“Everything okay now?”

He nodded. “Yeah, thanks.”

She reached for the doorknob to pull it closed behind her when Max stopped her. “Liz?”

She turned to look at him. “Yeah?”

“Goodnight.”

She smiled. “Night Max. Sleep well.”

Max waited until she had walked out of the room and closed the door behind her before he removed the towel from his waist. Clad in his boxers and a shirt, he turned off the light and slid into bed before finally removing the shirt and laying on his good side. Closing his eyes, he was asleep within minutes.

************************************************************

Kylan opened his eyes to see Kyle squatting by the bed grinning at him. “What?”

Kyle chuckled. “Your mom accidentally made Max hurt his side again, so she made him stay the night.”

Kylan sat up with a start. “What!”

“Shh! Keep it down or you’ll wake them up!”

Kylan stared at him with wide eyes. “Are you sayin’ Max is staying the night here!”

“Yep. That’s what I’m saying. Since his side hurts, your mom made him go to sleep in her bed and she’s asleep on the couch.”

Kylan grinned. “Yes! It’s about time!” Suddenly he frowned. “But how come she didn’ tell me that when she tucked me in?”

Kyle shrugged. “Guess she thought Max needed to rest since his side hurts.”

“Oh. M’kay. Then I’ll see him when I wake up! An’ maybe when he gets better he can stay the night again and we will have fun!”

Kyle chuckled. “Maybe.”

Kylan sighed. “I hope so. I hope mom and Max get back together again soon.”

“I hope so too, Kylan. They do seem to be friends again. I guess we’ll just have to be patient.”

Kylan rolled his eyes. “Yeah, well I have been patience. Very patience! An’ mom jus’ keeps messin’ it up!”

Kyle grinned. “I know. But let’s hope she’s learned her lesson this time, okay?”

“M’kay.”

“Okay. Now get some sleep so you can get up bright and early to spend time with your mom and Max.”

Kylan beamed. “M’kay! Night Kyle!”

“Goodnight,” whispered Kyle as Kylan snuggled up beneath his blankets and promptly went right back to sleep.

TBC...
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Shadowlynxbehr
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Post by Shadowlynxbehr » Sun Jul 15, 2007 3:10 pm

Part 23

Max leaned back against the back of the booth and stretched his arm out behind Liz as they watched Kylan playing in the pool of nerf balls. Liz chuckled as Kylan waved at them before both she and Max waved back to him.

Nearly two weeks after she’d agreed to go out with Max and Kylan, they were finally out enjoying themselves. Max’s side was looking much better and he’d been taking better care of himself so that they could all go out together. And so far, their night out had been a blast.

They had gone to Chuck E. Cheese’s first where Max and Kylan had ordered a pepperoni pizza, a ham and pineapple pizza, a Canadian bacon and cheddar pizza, and a chocolate chip cookie pizza for dessert. Needless to say there was plenty of leftovers once the two of them and Liz had eaten their fill, so they decided to pack it all up to go.

However, they didn’t leave once they finished eating. As soon as Kylan was done, Liz allowed him to go play in the nerf ball pool while she and Max finished their last slices. They then sat in the booth letting their food digest and watched Kylan play for a while even as they laughed at his antics and had a light conversation together.

Liz had asked Max if he’d heard from his sister since Michael obviously talked to her at least once a week, if not more. Max said he talked to her occasionally and then it was mostly a one sided conversation since Maria mainly told Max to entertain and watch Michael for her since he was missing her something fierce. When she was done with that, she’d go on to tell Max that he had to take better care of himself or she’d knock him upside the head when she came home for being such a stubborn baby.

Liz grinned at that, telling Max she agreed with Maria. While he’d been taking better care of himself and his side was definitely much better, he’d griped every time someone told him to watch it or take his meds or anything else like that. He wasn’t a very good patient, but he was obviously good at playing nurse since he’d done that for Kylan a time or two during the time he’d been Kylan’s babysitter.

Kylan finally had enough of playing in the pool and scrambled out to run to the booth. Grabbing Max’s hand, he began tugging him out.

“C’mon Max! You promised you’d play games wit me!”

Max chuckled. “I did, didn’t I?”

“Yeah, so c’mon!”

Max slid out of the booth and turned to look at Liz. “You coming?”

Kylan grinned at her. “Yeah mom, you gotta come too!”

Liz smiled. “Of course I am, let me just get the rest of this food in to go boxes and see if they’ll hold them for us.”

The two of them nodded and went off to play games while Liz asked a waitress if it would be possible to pack up the leftovers and hold them while she was playing with her son. The waitress nodded and took the leftovers, telling Liz that she could pick them up on her way out at the to go desk. Liz thanked her and gave her the name Liz Parker so the leftovers would be labeled with that name.

Soon she was out in the huge playroom with Max and Kylan, joining them in the fun and games they were playing. When she joined them, Max and Kylan were playing their favorite game skee ball. Liz just stood by and watched them play that for a while until the three of them went to play the horse racing game.

After competing against each other for several games, tossing the balls up into the holes to get points to make their jockey and horse move closer to the finish line, and teasing each other with jokes, tickles, and playful shoves they finally moved on to other games. Max had ended up winning the most games with four, but Kylan was right behind him with three, and Liz had only won one.

Still, none of them were boastful or upset with their scores since it was obvious they were just enjoying the time they had to spend together. They played a few more games and Liz once more stood aside and watched as Kylan and Max competed in a basketball game in which you threw the basketball into the hoop for points.

After a while, Kylan begged his mom to try it.

“Kyl, I’m not good at it.”

“I wasn’ either mom! But Max showed me an’ he can show you, right Max!”

Max winked at Liz. “Come on Liz, I’m a great teacher.”

She rolled her eyes with a smile. “Okay, fine. Teach me.”

He motioned her over to stand on the line that was on the floor. “Okay, you just stand here. When I put the coins in the machine, it’ll give a buzz signaling the start of the game. All you have to do is keep picking up a basketball and throwing it into the hoop until the buzzer sounds saying the game is over.”

Liz nodded. “Right, so the points come from how many basketballs I get in the hoop.”

He grinned. “Right.” He reached out and picked up a basketball, handing it to her. “Here, just lift it up, aim it at the basket, and throw it.”

Liz took the ball from him and lifted it up until it was nearly covering her face, except for her eyes which peered over the top of the ball. She studied the basket for a moment before placing both hands beneath the ball and tossing it up towards the basket.

The ball bounced against the wall on the left side of the basket before rolling back down to the end. Kylan and Max looked at each other for a moment before Max turned to Liz with a raised eyebrow.

Liz huffed. “See, I told you I can’t play basketball.”

Max grinned. “You’re just holding the ball wrong. Here,” he picked up another ball and stood on the line, showing her how to hold the ball. “When you toss the basketball, hold it from the back like this. Use your hand and wrist like this to propel the ball forward. Don’t hold the ball in front of your face, but lift it higher than your head, like this. When you aim for the basket, you should try to aim for the space above it, not the rim. Okay?”

Liz nodded and watched as Max tossed the basketball towards the basket. It didn’t even hit the wall above the basket like she thought it would. Instead, it hit the rim and then rolled into the basket before sliding down to the end where they were.

Max shrugged. “I’m not the best, but that would still get me points.”

Liz nodded. “I got it.”

Max smiled and handed her another ball as she stepped up to the line. Liz took the ball, and placed her hands on it the way Max had shown her.

“Good, now aim and shoot,” said Max.

Liz looked at the basket and lifted the ball before tossing it like Max had instructed. This time the ball hit the wall above the basket, but it was too high. Max picked up another ball and handed it to her.

“That was better, here try it again.” As he handed her the ball, he stepped behind her and reached around to help her handle the ball. “Okay, put your hands here. Good, now feel how you are supposed to toss it?”

He’d put his hands over hers, showing her how she was to move her hands as she tossed the ball. Liz nodded, “Um, yeah,” was her soft reply.

“Okay, now you lift and shoot,” he said as he went through the motions with her. Together they watched as the ball once more hit the wall above the basket before rolling into the basket itself.

Liz squealed and turned around to Max with a grin. Grabbing the front of his shirt she jumped up and down. “I did it! I did it!”

Max laughed. “Yep, see it’s not that hard.”

She nodded. “Right!” Turning back around to look at the basket she giggled. “Okay, I think I can do it again.”

Max moved to her side and picked up another ball before handing it to her. “Try a few more before we start the game?”

Liz nodded and tossed a couple of more balls. She missed the first, but got the next two and finally was ready to play the game for real.

“You ready?” asked Max as he got the coins ready to put in the machine.

Liz rubbed her hands together. “Ready.”

Max put the coins in and as soon as the buzzer sounded, Liz picked up a basketball and began tossing each one into the basket. Kylan and Max cheered her on as she played the game and while she missed more baskets than she got, they were all impressed with how many she’d managed to get anyway.

They all played the basketball game a few more times before going on to play other games. When they began to run out of games, Liz wanted to try the basketball game again.

“Mom! We already played it.”

“I know Kylan, but I’m getting good. Come on, just one more?”

They groaned, but followed her to the games. Playing one game together, in which Kylan won Liz wanted to play again.

“Mom, can’ we go already?”

“Just one more game.”

Max and Kylan watched her play one more and then she wanted to play another and another. By the time she was on her fourth game, Kylan was starting to pout, so Max decided to intervene.

As Liz picked up another ball to throw, he stepped behind her and ticked her sides making her toss the ball towards the side of the basket. She gave a little shriek and batted Max’s hands away.

Kylan and Max laughed as Liz picked up another ball to toss, but Max was quick again tickling her sides. She tossed the ball which hit the wall beneath the basket and turned to playfully shove Max back.

“Max! That’s not fair! Stop it!”

Max gave her a serious nod as she turned back around to continue playing. He let her toss one ball again before he winked at Kylan, making him laugh. As Liz picked up and threw the next ball, Max tickled her under the arms.

Liz threw the ball and then pumped her fist in the air when the ball landed in the basket. “Yes!” She whirled around to face Max with a smirk. “Take that Max Evans!”

Max gave her a wicked grin before tickling her sides once more. Liz squealed again and tried to back away from Max, but Kylan was now attacking her from behind. This time she was too busy trying to tickle and keep from being tickled to care about the time clock running out on the basketball game.

By the time the buzzer sounded to end the game, Liz was laughing as hard as Max and Kylan were and wiping the tears of mirth from her eyes.

“Okay, guys. You win,” she conceded between trying to catch her breath. “We can go now.”

Kylan clapped his hands. “Woo hoo! Can we go get some ice cream mom?”

Liz turned to look at Max. “What do you think Max? Ice cream sound good?”

Max smiled. “Sure, we can go for ice cream.”

Kylan grinned. “Yea! C’mon, let’s go!”

He grabbed his mom’s hand and Max’s hand before tugging them both towards the exit, intent on getting a frosty treat.

************************************************************

Max had gotten them all ice cream cones at one of Kylan’s favorite shops that was in the outdoor shopping and entertainment mall they went to. Kylan had gotten chocolate, Liz had French vanilla, and Max had chocolate mint. After they’d gotten their cones, they went strolling along the outdoor mall just enjoying looking at everything.

Kylan walked between them, holding Max’s hand with his mom’s arm around his shoulders. They stopped every once in a while to look in the window of whatever store interested them before continuing on. After a while, Kylan held up his mostly eaten ice cream cone.

“Mom, I’m not hungry anymore.”

Max had finished his cone a while ago, so he took the cone from Kylan. “Here sport, I’ll take it.”

Liz gave him a grateful smile since she was still finishing up her own cone. Handing Kylan a napkin she said, “Here, wipe your face and hands.”

Kylan took the napkin and scrubbed his face with it before rubbing his hands. When he was done, he spotted a trash can and ran over to dump the napkin in before running back to his mom and Max.

“Can we go play putt putt?” he asked.

Max chuckled. “That sounds like fun. Huh Liz?”

She nodded. “Okay, but let’s finish our ice cream before we go, okay?”

“M’kay,” replied Kylan before running off towards a nearby window.

“Kyl, don’t go to far. Stay here with us!” Liz called out.

As they got closer to him, she reached out for his hand, but he evaded her.

“Kylan, come on give me your hand.”

“Mom, I’m a big boy now. Why do I gotta hold your hand?”

Max chuckled. “Kyl, you’re never really too old to hold someone’s hand.”

Kylan gave him a questioning look. “Really?”

Liz nodded. “Really.”

He lifted his chin. “M’kay. Then Max you gotta hold my mom’s hand too!”

Max looked stunned, but Liz chuckled at her son’s reasoning and took Max’s hand in hers. She gave Max a smile when he turned to look at her.

“See,” she said, “you’re never too old to hold hands.”

Max returned her smile and curled his fingers in hers, seemingly glad that she hadn’t fussed about doing that. For his part, Kylan seemed pleased as he took up his mother’s free hand after she’d tossed her cone away and together the three of them continued walking towards the building that housed the indoor putt putt course.

************************************************************

Hours later, Max had dropped off Kylan and Liz before going home. As he walked into the apartment, he wore a huge smile on his face. The night had gone better than he would have thought. In fact, he’d really had no expectations other than having a fun time with Kylan and Liz.

Still, he had been pleasantly surprised when Liz had seemed to keep holding his hand long after Kylan had first made them do it. They’d gone to play a game of putt putt, then afterwards went to watch the play of water fountains at the end of the mall. As they’d walked to that, Liz had taken his hand again with Kylan taking Max’s other free hand.

At the water fountains, they’d found an empty bench and Kylan had sat down on one side of Max with Liz on the other. He’d slid his arms over both of their shoulders and as they watched the preprogrammed fountains and lights move to the music, they’d all begun to lean towards each other. They’d stayed that way for a few songs before Kylan began to nod off.

At that point, Liz decided it was time to call it a night. So Max picked up Kylan despite Liz’s protests that he could hurt his side again because Kylan was too heavy. Truth was Kylan wasn’t heavy to Max at all, so he’d carried the sleepy boy to the car and buckled him in the back seat before driving them home.

At Liz’s apartment, Max carried Kylan to his room and helped Liz get the boy into his pajamas and into bed before taking his leave. Liz had asked if he wanted to stay for a while and watch a movie with her, but he decided he should just get home.

Liz walked him to the door, thanked him for a wonderfully fun evening, and gave him a kiss on the cheek after saying she hoped they could do something like that again. Needless to say, Max had been smiling all the way home.

He was happy that she’d enjoyed herself and that she wanted to do it again with him and Kylan. He was also happy with the way she seemed much more relaxed and unafraid to get close to him. He was amazed at how comfortable and natural she had seemed when she’d joked around with him, held his hand, and finally kissed him at the end of the night.

As he got ready for bed, he really hoped that this time she wouldn’t suddenly turn around and retreat from him again. With a sigh, he slid under his covers and told himself not to get his hopes up too high. After all, Liz was good at switching from hot to cold in the blink of an eye. Just because Jesse was out of the picture didn’t mean Liz would finally change for the better.

************************************************************

Liz lay in her bed staring up at the ceiling. Tonight had been more fun than she had thought possible. She’d been hesitant at first to go out with Max, even when Kylan was with them too. But she’d ended up having a great time with them both.

She’d loved watching the way Kylan interacted with Max and vice versa. The two of them had such a way with each other that was entertaining to watch. And watching the way Kylan always seemed to respond to Max’s directions more so than hers, she knew she had been right in saying that Max was the best thing that had ever happened to Kylan. It was the reason why she hoped Max would remain a part of Kylan’s life for a long as was possible.

Still, it wasn’t just the way Max and Kylan were together that had made the night wonderful. She’d been a little afraid that Kylan wouldn’t really like having her around when he was having fun with Max. However, Kylan had seemed to take it all in stride and included her in everything he and Max had done. She’d even been surprised at the way Kylan seemed to act like it had always been the three of them before.

She’d also been a little hesitant in going out with them because she knew how Max still felt hurt about what she’d done. Not knowing how to act around him when it was just the two of them had been a little awkward until she’d realized Max seemed to be okay with just hanging out with her.

So when she’d first felt his arm go around her shoulder, she’d been surprised. Thinking Max wouldn’t want to get close to her, she’d kept a space between them, but as the night wore on, she’d realized that Max wasn’t bothered at all with being friendly with her. And that was just what tonight had been, friendly.

Even when she and Max had held hands, she knew it was nothing more than friendship. She’d seen the look on his face when Kylan had told him to hold hands with her. Knowing he was afraid of what she’d say, she’d taken the first step and taken his hand in hers. She could see the relief on his face when she’d done that, but knew he didn’t think anything more of it.

So while she did hold his hand from time to time after that and then leaned against his side when they’d watched the fountains, she knew he wasn’t thinking of it as anything other than being friends. After all, that had been his condition for staying on as Kylan’s babysitter. He’d told her that she had to start seeing him the way she saw Michael, Tess, and the others. She’d have to start seeing him as a friend of their family.

With a sigh, Liz closed her eyes and snuggled under the covers. She knew it wasn’t such a hard thing to see him the way she saw the others. After all, she had just as much fun with him as she had when she was with the others. Then why was it that every time she held his hand, she couldn’t help but like the way her smaller hand fit in his? Or the way she wanted to sigh and snuggle closer into his warm embrace. Why was it that every time he was near, she swore she could feel her heart speed up just a teensy, tiny, little bit?

************************************************************

Kylan was sitting up in his bed waiting patiently as Kyle finally showed up in his room. Grinning at him, the boy spoke.

“I got mom to hold Max’s hand!”

Kyle chuckled. “You did, huh?”

Kylan nodded. “Yep an’ after that she kept on doin’ it. An’ then later she was sittin’ really close to him!”

“Guess they’re getting close again then.”

Kylan frowned. “They still didn’ kiss though.”

Kyle shrugged. “Well, she kissed him on the cheek before he left tonight.”

Kylan’s eyes went wide for a brief moment before he frowned again. “That doesn’ count! She’s gotta kiss him like she did before!”

Kyle nodded. “Yeah, but it may be a while before that happens Kylan. They still have a ways to go before things can go back to the way they were before.”

Kylan sighed. “I really don’ like all this waitin’. Wish mom would just kiss him already.”

“I think she’s just scared of what Max would do this time, Kylan. He was as hurt as you were when she told you she was going to marry Jesse. It might take a while for Max to get over that.”

Kylan gave Kyle a hopeful look. “Maybe I should talk to him?”

Kyle shook his head. “I don’t know Kylan. Max might not like that you are trying to get him and your mom together. He might not see things the way you do.”

Kylan huffed. “Then what do you think I should do?”

Kyle sat down on the edge of Kylan’s bed and gave him a sympathetic look. “I know you don’t want to hear this again, but you should just be patient with them.”

Kylan scowled as Kyle went on. “Give them time, Kylan. That’s what they really need. Time to get to know one another again, to become friends first. Let them get comfortable with each other and learn to trust one another before they can move to the next step. That’s the only way they are going to be able to see each other as more than friends. They have to get past this thing first before they can be anything more.”

Kylan sighed as he lay back on the bed. “Fine. I don’ like it, but I guess I have ta.”

Kyle smiled as he patted Kylan’s leg. “You’ll see. All this waiting will pay off in the end.”

“I hope so, Kyle. ‘Cause I’m tired of trying to get them together.”

“I know you are.” He watched as Kylan’s eyes drifted closed. “Speaking of tired, you should get some sleep now.”

Kylan didn’t open his eyes as he murmured. “Mm hm. ‘Kay. Night Kyle.”

Kyle said goodnight to Kylan, but the boy was already fast asleep by that time. So, Kyle simply smiled and disappeared as the lights flicked off.

TBC...
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Post by Shadowlynxbehr » Sun Jul 22, 2007 6:38 pm

Part 24

When Maria came home for the summer nearly three weeks later, the first thing she did was go to see her boyfriend, Michael. After spending the day and night with him, she’d gone to see her brother Max just to find out how things were going between him and Liz since she’d heard all about the fiasco with Jesse from both Max and Michael.

Max opened the door and looked at his sister in surprise. “Maria? What are you doing here? Michael told me he was looking forward to spending time with you when you got home.”

Maria waved her hand in dismissal. “I just came from his house and I’m going back over when I’m done talking to you, so you gonna let me in or what?”

Max sighed as he stepped back to let her in. “Come in, little sis.”

She batted her eyelashes at him. “Why thank you big brother.”

Max shook his head with a smile as he closed the door and followed Maria to the couch where they both took a seat. As soon as she was comfortable, Maria launched into her questioning.

“So, fill me in. What’s up with you and Liz?”

Max rolled his eyes. “Gee, no how are you doing Max. I missed you big brother.”

Maria swatted his arm. “You’re avoiding the subject, knock it off.”

When he simply sat there staring into space, Maria sighed. “Max, you know I’m gonna drag it out of you one way or another and I’m not leaving until I do.”

Max turned to look at her. “I think I already told you what’s up between Liz and I the last time we talked.”

Maria quirked her eyebrow. “That was three weeks ago! Are you saying nothing else has happened since then?”

Max sighed. “We’re friends Maria, that’s all. We hang out together with Kylan and do things that all of us like to do. Sometimes we get together with Tess, Nick, Alex, Isabel, and Michael. Sometimes we just watch movies or bake cookies.”

Maria smiled. “Sounds like you got a real family thing growing there.”

Max shook his head. “Not like you think.”

“Huh?”

He shrugged. “I told her that if I continued to be Kylan’s babysitter, she had to start seeing me as a friend the way she sees Michael and the others.”

Maria frowned. “You told her that!”

He nodded.

“And she agreed to do it?”

“Yep.”

Maria shook her head. “Oh Max, what were you thinking?”

He ran his fingers through his hair. “I was thinking that was the only way we seem to be able to get along the best.”

Maria stared at her brother’s profile for a few moments of silence. She couldn’t believe Max would settle with just being Liz’s friend. Not after everything she’d seen and heard before she’d left back to school. She could have sworn the two of them had been growing closer to being much more than friends.

“Tell me something. When it’s the three of you just hanging out, how do you feel?”

Max turned to look at her. “What do you mean?”

“I mean, how do you feel when you’re with Kylan and Liz. What goes through your mind and how do you act with them?”

Max looked at the wall as he thought about her question. A smile began to slowly spread over his face as he thought about what it was like to spend time with Kylan and Liz.

“I love spending time with them. I like the conversations I have with Liz and the way she likes to play games with us both. Kylan is always keeping us both on our toes, but that’s what makes him so special. He’s so easy to talk to and I have some really good conversations with him.”

Max paused for a moment before adding. “I guess I’m happiest when I’m with them. They make me laugh and I know we all like doing things together. I’m finding that Liz and I actually have a lot of things in common as far as things we like to do for fun and Kylan seems to like the things we do too.”

Maria nodded as she listened to him talk even as she saw the smile he wore as he did. Suddenly getting an idea, she asked him another question.

“So, what do you and Liz like to do for fun?”

With that, Max went on to animatedly talk about some of the things they’d done together. Even though Kylan was also there with them, Maria could clearly hear it and see it in all of Max’s actions Her brother wasn’t thinking of Liz as just a friend. To him, Liz was something much more than that. Max was talking about Liz as if she had become a permanent part of his world.

When he finally seemed to slow down in telling her stories about himself and Liz, Maria had to say her piece.

“Max? I don’t think you and Liz were meant to be just friends.”

He frowned at her. “Why not? We get along really well.”

She nodded. “Yeah, I know that. But you can’t be serious when you say that you and Liz are just friends, I know you’re feelings for her run deeper than that.”

Max looked away. “We’re friends Maria.”

“Max…”

He shook his head. “No. There’s nothing else there, okay? We’re just friends.”

Maria stared at him. “And you’re okay with that?”

He didn’t respond to her, just stared at the wall. Just when she thought he wasn’t going to say anything, he spoke in a voice barely above a whisper.

“We’re just friends. Because I don’t think I’ll survive if I have to go through that again.”

************************************************************

Maria paced the length of Michael’s living room as he watched her from his seat on the floor where he leaned back against the couch. She’d been pacing for a while now as she seemed lost in thought. She’d returned from Max’s apartment wearing a troubled look and when Michael had asked her what was wrong, she’d told him about the conversation she’d just had with her brother. Then she’d told him how she knew Max was lying.

Maria was certain that Max wasn’t as happy as he said he was with the way things were between him and Liz. Maria had told Michael that Max hadn’t been able to mask the longing in his eyes when he talked about Liz and the things they did together. She even told Michael that Max had hastily insisted that he and Liz would be nothing more than friends and that she should leave it at that.

Still, Maria wasn’t fooled and she wasn’t about to just sit and watch the two of them giving longing looks at each other’s back when they thought no one was looking. No, she was absolutely certain that the two of them were made for each other and if they couldn’t see it, then it was up to everyone else to make them see it.

In fact, she was certain that even Kylan wanted Max and Liz to be together the way everyone else did. At least Max had that part right. Kylan was a sharp little boy. Maria knew he’d probably done things in an attempt to get his mother and Max together and was probably getting as frustrated as the rest of them with the way Max and Liz just didn’t seem to be cooperating.

Michael sighed. “Maria, wearing a hole in the carpet isn’t going to solve anything.”

Maria stopped pacing to face Michael as she placed her hands on her hips. “I know that, but it helps me think.”

“Look, we all know that Max and Liz belong together but it’s obviously escaping them. I mean, look what we’ve all tried for their sake and still they remain stubborn. What else could we possibly do, short of tying them up together?”

Maria sighed, seemingly defeated until she suddenly perked up and looked at her boyfriend. “What did you say?”

“I said we know they belong together…”

“No the last part.”

He gave her a puzzled look. “What else can we do without tying them up together?”

Maria’s face broke out in a grin. “That’s it!”

Michael frowned. “Maria, I wasn’t being serious. We can’t tie them up together.”

She shook her head. “Not literally no, but I have an idea.”

Michael quirked an eyebrow. “An idea?”

She laughed as she clapped her hands together and began rubbing them in anticipation. “Yep. And I think we should call your sister and ask her if we could pay her and her latest boyfriend a visit.”

************************************************************

Kylan couldn’t even wait for the SUV to stop moving before he was trying to climb over his mother’s lap to push open the door and bound across the grassy area that led to the cabin. As he made his way up the steps, Max caught up with him and tugged at his shirt.

“Whoa there sport, you can’t get in until Michael unlocks the door you know.”

Kylan jumped up and down as he turned around to see Michael unloading the back of the vehicle. “Aw, come on Mike! We can unpack later! I wanna see the inside!”

Michael grabbed a few things and walked towards them with a chuckle. “Hold your horses, Kyl. You’ll have plenty of time to see this place. We’re gonna be here for a week after all.”

“I know but I wanna see! How many rooms again?”

Maria walked up behind Michael as she replied, “Nick said it’s got four bedrooms and a den with a sofa bed. It’s also got a kitchen and a huge room that serves as both dining and living rooms.”

Kylan ticked them off on his hand. “Dat’s seven rooms!”

Max ruffled his hair. “Yep. You got that right.”

Kylan jumped up and down again. “Hurry Mike! I wanna see!”

Liz sighed. “Kyl, we’ll be here for a week remember. One thing at a time.”

“M’kay, but can I pick the room I wanna sleep in?”

Michael nodded as he unlocked the door and walked inside. “Of course you can.”

For the next hour the five of them chose their rooms and unpacked their stuff before getting comfortable in the huge living area. As the girls sat listening to Kylan talk about the things he wanted to do while there, Max and Michael started up a fire in the fireplace.

“Mom can we go swimming in the lake tomorrow?”

Liz looked at Maria and shrugged. “I guess we can.”

Kylan smiled. “Cool!”

Max and Michael sat down with them as Michael spoke up. “You want to go fishing with Max and I one morning Kyl?”

He grinned. “Yeah!”

“Okay, that’ll have to be one morning when we get up before sunrise. It’ll be the best time to catch some fish.”

“M’kay.”

Maria chuckled. “Speaking of fish. I’m hungry. What’s for dinner Max?”

Max widened his eyes. “Why are you asking me? This trip wasn’t my idea! Didn’t you tell me you and Michael had everything planned?”

Michael grinned. “Relax man, we do.” He held his hand out to Maria as he stood up and helped her to her feet. “You guys just relax while Maria and I go whip up some grub.”

As the two of them disappeared into the kitchen, Kylan turned to his mother. “Can we go out on the swing while we wait for dinner?”

“It’s going to get dark soon, Kylan. That might not be a good idea.”

Max stood up. “Let me go see if there’s any lights out there. I’ll be right back.”

Minutes later Max was back to inform them he’d found the light switch, so Liz went to tell Michael and Maria they’d be on the swing for a while. When she got to the front porch, Max and Kylan were already in full swing. However, Max stopped the swing for her to sit down on the other side of Kylan before starting the motion again. Soon they were all relaxing and enjoying the view of the lake.

************************************************************

Maria came outside with a frown on her face. “Hey, the stove wasn’t cooperating with us and we ruined the pasta we were making. But now that it seems to be working okay, Michael and I are going into town to buy some more groceries so we can make dinner again.”

Max frowned. “You want me to try to cook something?”

Maria shook her head. “Nah, we’ve got it. It’s just gonna take longer since we gotta run into town, but we got chips and dips to tide us over until we can eat dinner.”

Michael came out with the keys in his hand. “We shouldn’t be that long. Go ahead and have chips and dips until we get back okay? And there’s drinks in the fridge, but they’re not cold yet.”

Liz nodded. “Okay, just be careful and don’t rush to get dinner done. We’re fine.”

As the two of them headed down the stairs towards the SUV, Maria turned back to smile at Kylan. “You want to come along Kylan? Nick said there’s this really cool ice cream shop next to the grocery store.”

Kylan perked up at that and turned a pleading gaze on his mother. She rolled her eyes. “Fine, if you want to go you can, but you better listen to Michael and Maria okay?”

“M’kay!” Max helped Kylan down from the swing before standing up and offering Liz a hand.

“Guys, I’m gonna see what else you have here and maybe start on a side dish or something okay?”

Maria waved to him as she helped Kylan get buckled up into the back seat. “Sure, if you want to.”

Liz and Max waited until the SUV was moving back up the gravel path before they went inside. Liz followed Max into the kitchen and sat at the table while Max rummaged around looking for something to make as a side dish for their dinner.

************************************************************

Two hours later, Liz and Max were sitting in the living room in silence. Max was absently stirring some dip with a chip he had in his hand while Liz chewed on her bottom lip and stared at the front door. Both of them wondered why the others weren’t back yet since they knew the town wasn’t that far away.

As Liz’s worry grew, she was suddenly startled by the ringing of a telephone. She shared a look with Max before they both got up and followed the ringing which led to a phone hanging on the wall of the kitchen. Max picked up the receiver and spoke into the mouthpiece.

“Hello?”

Liz watched as relief spread over Max’s face.

“Hey Maria, we were starting to get worried.” He leaned down so that Liz could listen in on the conversation.

She leaned closer to hear what Maria was saying.

“…about that. Listen, we got the groceries and were on our way back, but halfway there, we had to turn back to town. There’s a road block. Apparently there’s been a huge chemical spill of some kind and they told us that it could take several hours before it’s all cleaned up and the eighteen wheeler removed from the road. We’ve been advised to get a room for the night here in town because they don’t think they’ll have it done until dawn or later.”

Liz frowned. “Isn’t there another way up here?”

“Michael asked them that, but they said there wasn’t any other road that led to the cabin. There are detours for other roads, but not to the cabin. So we’re stuck guys!”

Max sighed. “Well, I guess we’ll just have to make the best of tonight and hope it gets cleared for you guys to come back in the morning.”

“Yeah, Michael’s getting us a room right now which is why I’m calling you to let you know. Kylan’s with me. You want to talk to him Liz?”

“Yeah, put him on.”

They heard the phone switching hands and then Kylan’s voice came over the line. “Hi mom.”

“Hey Kylan, listen Maria says you are going to have to stay in town tonight.”

“I know mom. They tol’ me what happened. Mike’s gonna go check in the mornin’ to see if it’s clear. Then we can spend the rest of the week at the cabin havin’ fun.”

“Okay baby. I just want to make sure you’re okay.”

“I’m okay.”

“Good. Now remember…”

“I know, listen to everything Mike and Maria say.”

“That’s right. I’ll see you in the morning okay?”

“M’kay. Night mom! Tell Max night for me!”

Max chuckled. “Goodnight sport. See you tomorrow.”

“Yeah! Bye Max! Bye mom!”

They said goodbye and talked to Maria one more time before hanging up the phone.

Liz sighed as she looked at Max. “Well, guess we should go scrounge up a light dinner and then try to get some sleep, huh?”

“Yeah. I’ll see what I can make to go with the rice and beans I cooked. Why don’t you go check on the fireplace?”

Liz nodded as she watched him begin to look for something else to make with the rice and beans he’d already cooked earlier. With another sigh, she made her way out of the kitchen to go check on the fire they still had going in the fireplace. She knew she wasn’t going to get much sleep that night because she’d be too worried about Kylan being in a strange town with only Michael and Maria for company.

TBC...
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Post by Shadowlynxbehr » Sun Aug 12, 2007 11:15 pm

Part 25

Max glanced up to see Liz poking at the remains of her dinner. He knew she was worried about Kylan. He’d managed to find a few cans of beef stew in a cabinet, so he’d heated a can over the stove along with the beans and rice. When it was ready, he’d called Liz out from the room she’d claimed as hers for the week and the two of them sat down to a quiet dinner at the dining table.

Neither one of them had much to say as worry for their friends and Kylan seemed to keep them both preoccupied. It wasn’t until he’d realized that he had stopped eating and was now pushing the leftovers around his plate that he knew he’d been lost in his thoughts. Looking at Liz, he realized she was doing the same thing.

With a sigh, he reached out to gently touch her hand. When he knew he had her attention, he gave her a reassuring smile. “Listen, Maria told us everything was going to be fine. And you know they’d call us if anything else develops, so maybe we should try not to worry about it too much?”

Liz nodded. “You’re right, I know. But it’s so hard not to sit here and let it occupy my mind.”

“Well, let’s get this cleaned up and see if we can find something to do that will get our mind off of them.”

“Okay.”

A little over an hour later found the two of them sitting in front of the fireplace roasting marshmallows and sipping on some wine Max had found in a portable wine cellar in the pantry room. The two of them had gone outside and found two long sticks to use for roasting and Max had spread out a blanket he’d found in the closet of his room.

Liz pulled her stick out of the fire and blew on the marshmallow for a few moments before attempting to pull it off of the stick. When she did, most of it ended up sticking to her fingers making her laugh as she licked it off of them.

As Max grinned at her antics, she chuckled. “I haven’t done this since I was in high school! Thanks Max.”

Max nodded. “Told you we’d find something to occupy us.”

She smiled. “Yeah, but I think when they call us in the morning that we should ask them to bring more marshmallows and other stuff so we can make s’mores too. I know Kylan would love doing that!”

Max laughed. “Actually, I think we’d all love doing that.”

Liz appeared to be thinking before she said, “Hm, that’s true.”

They both laughed at that before going back to enjoying more marshmallows and wine.

************************************************************

“You didn’t!” Max gasped in mock surprise.

Liz nodded with a smug look on her face. “Yep I most certainly did. Pam had it coming to her!”

“Didn’t anyone figure out it was you?”

She shook her head. “Nope. I mean, my two best friends knew and later on when it was all over, I told Kyle that I had done it, but Pam never figured it out.”

Max chuckled. “I’m guessing it worked then.”

Liz beamed. “Oh yeah, like a charm! She was so embarrassed and of course her reputation was ruined when her so called lovers backed it up.”

Max’s eyes went wide. “Wait, you mean they all knew she’d been wearing aqua bras all this time, yet they had sex with her!”

Liz giggled. “Yeah, apparently she gave really good head, so they tended to overlook the fact that she was so flat-chested. There were a few guys who turned her away too, but the ones that came out said that it usually ended with that because once they saw she wasn’t as big as they’d thought, they lost interest.”

Max shook his head. “Dang Liz, you can be really vindictive when you want to be.”

Liz shrugged her shoulders. “What can I say? She was making goo goo eyes at my fiancé and bragging that she was going to seduce him away from me when she thought I wasn’t aware of it. I had to put her in her place.”

“I’ll bet that was a sight to see.”

Liz laughed. “It was. Mostly because it was such a slow leak, so it didn’t start to show until she had to get up and do a report in her history class. While she stood up there, everyone could see the wet stain that started to spread right where her left nipple was.”

Max snickered. “And you punctured her bra right there just so it’d have that much more effect didn’t you?”

Liz batted her eyelashes. “What? Little ‘ole me?”

Max laughed and playfully shoved her shoulder. “Oh come off it Liz, you are tougher than you look.”

************************************************************

“Max, have you ever thought of maybe taking some classes or maybe opening your own business?”

Max finished taking a few swallows of his wine before setting his glass down with a shrug. “Not really. I mean, people have mentioned it to me before, but I haven’t seriously thought about it.”

“Oh.”

Max looked at her. “But lately, I’ve been thinking of asking Maria for some help when she has time. After all, she’s taking business courses so maybe I can get some ideas from her.”

Liz smiled. “That’s a good idea Max, I’m sure she won’t mind showing you what she’s learned.”

Max nodded. “Yeah and maybe I can convince her to go into business with me or something, you know she can handle the business aspect of it and I’ll do the grunt work.”

Liz chuckled. “You know, it almost sounds like you’d been waiting for her to go to college in the first place.”

Max gave her a sheepish smile.

She gasped. “Oh my! You really were, weren’t you!”

Max shrugged. “What can I say? I knew my little sister had the brains, so I figured she go learn and then come back and cover my ass.”

Liz laughed. “Max! I’m so gonna tell her when she gets back tomorrow!”

Max laughed too. “No you’re not!”

“Yes I am!”

“No you’re not!”

“Yes, I…” she stopped to glare at him. “You did that on purpose!”

He couldn’t wipe the grin off his face. “You fell for it.”

She picked up a napkin, wadded it up, and threw it at him. Max caught it and the two of them began laughing in earnest.

************************************************************

Max watched her out of the corner of his eye. They were working on their second bottle of wine leaving three more bottles left in the portable wine cellar. The two of them had long since stopped roasting marshmallows and had been chatting comfortably for the last couple of hours.

Topics had ranged from what they’d done in their school days to Liz’s decision to go to college and Max’s decision not to. Throughout it all, they’d shared both serious and funny stories, making each other laugh over their past antics. Max was actually glad that the two of them had this time to sit and talk about each others lives because it gave him some more insight into how Liz really was.

Currently they were sitting in comfortable silence, sipping their wine and watching the fire. Both of them were reclining back against the couch, Liz with her legs curled up beneath her and Max was his legs stretched out in front of him, crossed at the ankles.

He watched as Liz took another sip of her wine before she tucked a strand of hair behind her ear. He smiled at that gesture, remembering what her hair had felt like the night they’d gone out on their only date. With a soft sigh, Max shifted slightly to face her.

“Liz?”

“Hm?”

He waited until she was facing him before he continued. “When did you first meet Kyle?”

Liz blinked at him, obviously not expecting that from him. She turned to look back at the fire and Max thought she wasn’t going to answer him. Liz looked down at her glass and swirled the wine around a bit before she answered his question.

“I met him when I was nine. It was around the time I started to ask mom about my dad. All the other kids seemed to have a dad and mom, except me so I asked mom why I didn’t have a dad. She sat me down and tried to tell me about my dad. How he’d died in a construction accident during one of his jobs. I was still too young to understand that he had been there for us while he’d been alive. He loved my mom and I and they’d even planned on having more kids, but the accident happened. I just kept thinking he’d left us, abandoned us even though mom kept telling me that he had loved us. Since I was two when he died, I couldn’t remember all the times he came home with a smile on his face, happy to see his two favorite girls as my mom would say. Or all the gifts he showered on my mom and I.

So, by the time I’d built up my resentment of my father, Kyle moved into the neighborhood and went to the same school as I did. He was three years older than me and in the fifth grade. I remember it was the day I was looking at the flyers that were all over the school advertising the father-daughter week the school had every year in February. I was standing outside near the gym crying because I wasn’t going to be able to participate in the things the school planned for the week when Kyle came up to me and asked what was wrong.

I was mean and stubborn at first, but Kyle had this easy going way about him. He seemed to know what was wrong without my even having to say anything and before I knew it, he’d invited me to celebrate the week with him and his dad. He actually got his dad to talk to the school so that I could be his daughter for the week, so to speak.”

Max smiled. “And I take it you guys were inseparable after that.”

Liz gave him a wistful smile. “Something like that. At first, I just looked up to him, like a big brother. He was always there for me, always seemed to know when I was down and needed some cheering up. The following year, he went to middle school and I mostly only saw him during the summers when we’d all be hanging out in the neighborhood. Still, we remained friends for years.”

“It must have been hard when things moved on from just being friends. I mean, he was three years older, so he wasn’t at school with you much was he?”

“No, he wasn’t. He was a freshman in high school when I was entering middle school. Then when I was a freshman in high school he was a senior. At that point, we were best friends and his classmates would often tease him over having a fish as a best friend, but as usual Kyle didn’t let it get to him. After he graduated, he went to New York University to follow in his father’s footsteps, but we still kept in touch through letters and then emails.

It wasn’t until he came back the summer before my sophomore year when things changed. I no longer looked like a little girl and he saw that and I clearly saw how much older he seemed to look now that he was in college. We hung out again, but it seemed much more awkward until he asked me out on an official date.”

Max widened his eyes. “You were what, sixteen?”

She nodded. “Yes, and he was nineteen. Of course, my mom was very reluctant about letting me go out with him, but in the end she knew she trusted him. After all, we’d practically grown up together. We spent almost everyday that summer together and when he left for college again, we kept in touch through emails and the phone. The following summer we were together again and that year, my junior year, I decided to apply to design school in New York to be close to him. He was thrilled when I told him I’d applied there and when he came back that summer, he proposed to me.”

“Wow, how did your mom feel about that?”

“Oh, she was cautious as usual, but Kyle and I already decided that we weren’t going to get married until he at least finished college and went to work with his dad. By that time I’d be a sophomore in college, so we didn’t think it would be that big of an adjustment.”

“Really? You planned to do that even when you knew you were pregnant with Kylan?” asked Max.

Liz chuckled. “I didn’t know I was pregnant until right before Kyle came to visit me in March of my senior year. He’d come because it was his spring break, so I surprised him with the news.”

At Max’s incredulous look, Liz shrugged. “I was hoping he’d like the surprise, but I wasn’t sure. I was terrified about what he’d say when I told him, so terrified I’d cried all day when I’d gotten the news. But Kyle was thrilled and he knew he wanted to get married before our baby was born.

We decided to keep it a secret for a little while longer, at least until I’d graduated and I’d be four months pregnant by that time.”

“Four months?”

Liz grinned. “Yep, I think I conceived just before Kyle left back to school in January.”

“Um, was that the…” he faltered, but Liz knew what he was trying to ask.

“No, my first time had been back during the summer of my sophomore year. Kyle had lost his virginity when he’d been seventeen to the girl he’d been dating that year.”

“But I thought that you and he…”

Liz smiled. “You have to understand Max, Kyle had only seen me as a little sister, best friend type up to that point. And of course I didn’t notice him until he came home the summer before my sophomore year. I didn’t hold it against him for being with another girl. And I thought it only helped to make it better that he at least knew what he was doing when we were together.

Anyway, we had always been careful, always using protection. I thought I’d start the pill once I started college, but it was too late by then. The doctor said it could have been a broken condom which we weren’t aware of. It seemed to be feasible since Kyle and I were certain to always use a condom and Kyle swore he never noticed that one of them was broken or he would have said something.”

“Wow, so it was a surprise to you too?”

She nodded. “Yes. A huge surprise. That’s why I cried when I first found out. I was scared that it would interfere with my going to college or that Kyle wouldn’t want it because we weren’t even married yet. I figured he’d say we’re ready to have a baby.

To this day, I still don’t know how I managed to keep it a secret from him until he got home for the break. I was so nervous and anxious the whole time. And when I finally saw him, I broke down into tears too.”

Max just looked at her for a moment, flexing his fingers as if he wanted to reach out and comfort her. Liz only paused for a moment to take another sip of her wine before continuing.

“He was stunned when I did that. Said that if his surprise made me cry like that he was kind of hesitant to hear it. Of course that only made me cry harder until he managed to calm me down. The moment the words were out of my mouth though, I realized I’d been afraid for nothing.

Kyle was thrilled. It was an instant reaction to pick me up and swing me around and shout to the world that he was going to be a father. I was in shock for a bit as he set me down and began making all this plans. When I could finally talk, I asked him what about college for me and him. Of course, he had it all figured out.

His dad was living in New York at that point, expanding business there. So Kyle figured he’d start interning with his dad as soon as he could that way it’d be an easy transition once he’d graduated. He said we could stay with his parents at first, while I started college and he started work. Once the money started coming in though, we’d move into our own place.”

“Wow, he really was always there for you wasn’t he?”

Liz shrugged. “He just always knew what he wanted. He said that even though we were going to have a baby earlier than expected, we were still planning on have them, so it wasn’t that much of an adjustment.”

Max couldn’t help but smile at the grin Liz wore as she said the last part. Obviously she was remembering something funny about that time. Trying not to let it affect him, he decided to ask her another question.

“So, you guys made plans and you went ahead and graduated then.”

Liz sighed. “Yeah, that’s about it. He’d told his parents and they decided they’d help us find a place once the baby was a year or two. Mom, as usual, was rather hesitant about everything. I knew she’d never tell me to get rid of my baby, but she was scared about how that would affect my plans for school. Still, there wasn’t anything she could really do about it since Kyle and I were engaged and his parents fully backed us both up.”

Silence descended over them both as Liz stared into the flames of the fire. Max didn’t know what else to say now that they’d reached that point. A few moments later, he was pulled out of the awkwardness when Liz spoke again in a much quieter voice.

“I don’t know where I would have been without Kyle’s parents. He was truly their son, you know? So selfless and more than willing to help out someone in need. Even after he was gone, they took me in and helped me to care for Kylan so I could go to college like I had dreamed of. And through it all, they kept telling me that I had to live my life to the fullest just like Kyle would have wanted me to.”

Max turned to gaze at her profile. She was staring at the flames again. He swallowed before finding his voice. “I guess-I guess they were just glad that they still had a piece of their son, you know? They were glad that Kyle lived on through his grandson so they were more than glad to help you raise him because of that.”

Liz nodded slowly. “Yeah.”

“Are they still in New York?”

Again she nodded. “Jim’s business is doing really good, so they decided to live there permanently. They do have a house here if they need to come down, but they haven’t really done that very often. He’s got good people taking care of things on this end.”

“I’ll bet they miss Kylan.”

She gave him a sad smile. “Yeah, they do. I know Jim does especially because Kylan looks so much like Kyle, but he understands why I wanted to move back home.”

Max tilted his head slightly. “Why did you move back home? I’m sure you could have gotten a great job in interior design in New York of all places.”

Liz nodded. “Yeah, that had been my original goal when I was younger. But after a while, I realized New York just wasn’t for me. Then there was also the fact that Melissa and I didn’t get along so well towards the end. It wasn’t anything big really. She was just on my case a lot and didn’t know when to quit. Not even Jim could get her to stop.”

Max frowned. “What did she bother you about?”

Liz didn’t answer right away. Instead, she went back to staring at the fire. Just when Max thought she wasn’t going to answer, he heard her speak again.

“She was the most vocal one about me starting over again. She wouldn’t stop telling me that I had to get over Kyle and move on. Start dating others without letting the memory of Kyle get in the way. When I seemed to be getting serious with Jesse, she jumped on that instantly and began to berate me for leading him on.”

Max tensed and turned to glare at the fire. “Well, it’s a good thing you didn’t listen to her then.”

“Yes,” came her soft reply, which made Max glance at her with worry. It was then that he noticed the way her eyes were shining with unshed tears. “Max, she wasn’t trying to force me on Jesse. She was just concerned about me. I know that now. She just wanted to make sure that I would be happy and that both Kylan and I would be taken care of, that’s all. Jesse just happened to be the guy I had been seriously dating at that point.”

Max nodded. “Right. I know. You did say they told you that they wanted you to live life to the fullest like Kyle would have wanted you to. That tells me that they’d accepted the fact that there would be another man who would be Kylan’s father someday.”

Liz’s lips trembled. “Yeah.” A lone tear slid down her cheek and she hastily wiped it away. “I just-I just…”

She didn’t finish her sentence. Instead she just continued to stare at the fire for a few moments, obviously trying to compose herself again. Max sat there in silence, letting her get herself together before turning to look at her again.

Still staring at the fire, she somehow seemed calm again. He smiled at the strength in her, but the smile faded when another tear slid down her cheek. Before she had the chance to wipe it away, he lifted his hand to cup her cheek and brushed the tear away with his thumb.

She turned sad eyes to his as her cheek leaned into his hand. “Thanks.”

He nodded as he looked into her eyes. They were clearer now and looked back at him with interest. He didn’t remove his hand from her cheek, allowing his thumb to caress the softness of it.

When she leaned into it some more, he smiled at her. The slow smile that spread from her lips to her eyes was the sign he’d needed to do what he’d wanted to do for months now. Without hesitation, he leaned forward. Going slow so that she could back away if she wanted to.

But Liz didn’t back away. Instead, her eyes remained glued to his until his lips were a breath away from hers. The moment their lips touched, she closed her eyes and his hand slid behind her head to hold her to him.

The kiss started slow. With lips grazing each others until he felt hers part slightly. When she did that, he deepened the kiss and slid his tongue over her bottom lip. She parted her lips more and he took the invitation, sliding his tongue into her mouth to taste her completely.

Liz could feel her world tilting on its axis. She remembered Max’s kiss from the first time he’d given her one. Somehow this one seemed even better than that one had and that was saying a lot. As his fingers slid into her hair and held her head closer to his, she reveled in the way he could make her feel so delicate.

His kiss took her breath away and the way he touched her was so gentle that she would never have believed a man like Max would have been capable of being tender like that. When his hands wandered down to her waist and he pulled her into his lap, she didn’t protest one bit.

Max knew he was playing with fire when he pulled her into his lap, but he couldn’t help it. Once he’d tasted her again, he didn’t want it to stop. He’d missed this. The way her lips were so warm and soft beneath his. The way she felt so good in his arms.

So when her arms wrapped around his shoulders and she settled into his lap, he couldn’t help but do a mental dance of joy that she wasn’t pushing him away. His hands wandered up and down her back, holding her close to him. Eventually, his lips left hers since air was becoming necessary, but he immediately moved his lips to pepper kisses from her cheek down to her neck.

Liz tilted her head back as her hands tangled in his hair. Unable to think of anything else except how good it felt to hold him and to be held by him, she wasn’t in any hurry to stop what he was doing to her. As his lips and tongue teased her neck, she let her hands wander down to his shoulders and back.

She gave a sigh of contentment at the way he held her as if she were made of glass. Even his lips were so soft against her heated skin, making little chills travel down her spine. When his lips found hers once more, she shifted in his lap so that she could pull him down over her, wanting to be closer to him.

As they both lowered to the floor, Max lifted his head to look into her eyes. “Liz…”

She reached up to cup his face. “Don’t stop, Max,” she whispered as she tugged his lips back down to hers.

************************************************************

She was tracing the lines of his chest with her fingers as he tossed her panties to the floor. Turning back to stare down at her, Max was amazed she was letting him be with her like this.

She’d been the one to take the initiative. They’d been on the floor in front of the fire for a while when Liz whispered in his ear that she wanted to move to his bedroom. He’d been stunned, but she got up and took his hand to lead him there.

In the room, she led him to the bed where they resumed what they’d been doing in front of the fire until she slid her hands beneath his shirt. Slowly, they had begun to undress each other with Max going much slower than her just in case she suddenly wanted to stop.

But she had never once hesitated. She’d let her hands wander over every inch of his body even as she continued to remove his clothes. And her lips had explored his face and upper body as he’d undressed her.

Now he looked down at her as her eyes finally met his with a smile. He returned the smile before leaning down to kiss her again. This time he was rewarded with a moan as her body rose up to meet his.

Her arms tightened around his shoulders and she gasped in pleasure when his lips left hers to nuzzle the side of her breast. Arching up, she met his mouth as he closed it over her nipple and slid her hands down his back once more. Enjoying the way his muscles moved beneath her hands, she lifted her legs to wrap around his thighs.

Max cupped her other breast with his hand, teasing the nipple with his thumb as he continued to suckle the other one. He moaned when he felt Liz’s groin brush against his in invitation. He couldn’t believe she was being so responsive to his ministrations, still thinking she was going to toss him away any moment now.

Liz had no intention of stopping him now. Not when he was making her feel so many things she’d never felt before. She couldn’t remember the last time it had felt that good to hold a man’s body so close to hers. To feel his lips against her skin and the feather light touches of his fingers that made goosebumps rise everywhere he touched.

By the time he’d switched breasts, she was already so wet for him and that was also something she couldn’t remember being much of either. Everything he did seemed to make her more breathless and her body more hotter and wetter. She was amazed that someone could ever make her body feel that good.

Max let his lips wander down her ribs to her stomach, stopping to dip his tongue into her navel. He was rewarded with another moan as she writhed beneath him and lifted her hips to rub against his chest. He continued to move down, kissing her hip, then the inside of her thigh.

Liz’s eyes flew open with a gasp of surprise when she felt his tongue teasing her nether lips. Lifting her head, she looked down at him in amazement as he continued to pleasure her with his tongue.

“M-M-Max!” she gasped.

His eyes opened to sparkle at her, but he didn’t stop what he was doing. It didn’t take long for her to reach her peak since it had been ages since she’d had that done to her. Once more Max was rewarded for his ministrations with a cry of satisfaction from Liz right before a wave of her juices flooded his mouth.

When he’d drank his fill and slid up her body to look down at her, she gazed up at him with a dazed expression and only managed to mouth the word, “Wow!”

He gave her a smile before leaning down to kiss her again. The moment she tasted herself in his mouth, she gripped him close and moaned. Wrapping her legs around his waist, she began to grind her hips against his.

Max groaned at the feel of her heat against his groin and quickly leaned up to look down into her eyes. She smiled up at him and cupped his cheek, giving him reassurance with that look. As she tugged him back down to her, she lifted her hips to meet his once more and he slid in slowly so that they could savor the feeling.

Liz didn’t close her eyes until he’d been inside of her for a few moments. Then, she’d tightened her legs around his waist and lifted her hips to meet his downward strokes. Max remained over her, watching the emotions flitting over her face until he couldn’t hold on much longer.

Lowering his face to the crook of her neck, he picked up his speed and the force of his thrusts, glad that Liz was still keeping pace with him. Her fingers dug into his shoulders as he took her closer and closer to the edge. Even her toes were beginning to curl against his thighs.

Liz could feel the tightening of her body and knew she was close. Whimpering in need, she was amazed when Max responded by running a hand down her body until his fingers teased her nub. The feel of his hot breath against her neck, the thick length of him inside of her, and his fingers teasing her was more than she could take.

With a cry, she came in an explosion that took her by surprise. That was something she’d never thought was possible. Even as she continued to experience a mind boggling orgasm, she could feel Max’s own bathing her walls as he groaned against her neck.

Slowly, their bodies began to come down from the heights they’d both soared to as Max peppered kisses over her skin once more. Liz sighed in contentment against him, lazily letting her hands wander over his back and in his hair.

They continued this way for a few moments more until sleep finally overtook them.

TBC...
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Shadowlynxbehr
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Post by Shadowlynxbehr » Mon Aug 27, 2007 1:26 am

Part 26

Liz sighed as she slowly came awake and shifted slightly to cuddle closer to her pillow. It took a few moments for it to register that it wasn’t a pillow she was curled up against. Despite it being comfortable, she knew pillows didn’t feel soft on the outside and hard on the inside.

Cracking open one eye, she looked at what she was laying against before she quickly shut her eye again. Suddenly, the night before came flooding back to her and she knew just who it was that she was cuddled up with.

Last night, she had slept with Max Evans. Last night she had pushed aside everything else she’d ever known, everything that had meant something to her, and given herself to Max Evans.

She could feel it beginning already just like the last time. Her head began to throb and she was feeling slightly nauseated. Swallowing back the rising bile, she tried to quietly extract herself from Max’s side and bed. Scooping up her clothing, she tiptoed out of the room and fled to the room that she’d been staying in.

Once inside, she leaned back against the door and tried to get her breathing and heart rate under control. Closing her eyes and taking deep breaths, she wondered why she’d allowed herself to do that again. Why was it every time she felt even remotely attracted to someone, she’d start feeling like this?

She gritted her teeth against the throbbing in her head and felt the first sting of tears behind her eyelids.

“No,” she whispered. “Please, not again.”

Images began to flicker behind her eyelids and voices echoed in her mind. The first time she’d ever seen Kyle in the hallway at school where she’d been crying. His laughter when she did something that had amused him. His soothing voice telling her that everything was going to be okay because he would always be there for her. The way he had proposed to her. The way he’d reacted when she’d told him she was pregnant. His voice saying the words ‘I love you’ in so many different ways.

A sob escaped her lips before she could stop it and caused her to open her eyes with fright. Springing into action, she quickly made her way around the room and began to pack up all of her things. As soon as she was done, she took her bags and placed them near the front door before going to the phone in the kitchen to call a cab.

It took a few minutes of trying to haggle with the cab company to send someone out to get her before she was able to hang up and make her way to Kylan’s room where she began packing all of his stuff. Frustrated and still trying to clear her mind of all the memories, she wasn’t aware that Max had been sleepily calling her name.

Max had woken up a few minutes earlier to find that Liz wasn’t lying next to him anymore. Looking around the room, he deduced that she’d left so he’d gone to look for her in her room. When he’d poked his head in and called her name, he knew she wasn’t in there.

Thinking she was already up and watching for any sign of the return of Kylan and the others, he thought she’d be somewhere at the front of the house. He’d been walking past Kylan’s room when he’d heard soft rustling and an occasional sniffle. Pushing open the door and peeking in, he saw Liz moving around the room.

The sleepy smile fled from his face, making him suddenly wide awake when he realized what it was that she was doing.

“Liz? What’s going on?”

She jumped at the sound of his voice before turning her back to him and gathering up more things. Shaking her head as she turned back to the bed where a suitcase lay, she kept her head bowed so Max couldn’t see her face.

Max frowned as he watched her pack Kylan’s suitcase. “Liz?”

Liz shook her head again. “It’s nothing. I just have to…”

“What?”

She turned away from him again and hastily swiped at her face before grabbing more items and placing them in the suitcase. Max was about to say something else when they both heard a car coming up the driveway towards the house.

Max grinned. “Looks like the roadblock is cleared.”

He left the room to go greet the others. Opening the front door, he stepped out onto the porch and called out to them. “Hey guys, glad you…”

His greeting trailed off as he watched a man stepping out of the driver’s side of a cab. “Hi, someone called for a cab?”

“I did,” came Liz’s voice as she walked past Max carrying some suitcases. The driver walked towards her as she handed the cases to him. “I’ve got a few more inside.”

“Sure,” replied the driver as he took the ones she’d handed him to the trunk of the cab.

As Liz walked back inside, Max came out of his shock and followed Liz back inside. She walked back into Kylan’s room where she finished packing the rest of his stuff. Max stood at the foot of the bed and stared at her.

“What are you doing Liz? We’re supposed to be here for a week remember?”

“I know, but I can’t stay.”

“Why?”

“Because…”

Max narrowed his eyes. “Because of last night?”

When Liz didn’t answer him, he walked around the bed and grabbed her arm. Turning her to face him, he gripped her arms and pulled her close. “Don’t you dare tell me it meant nothing! Don’t you dare try to pretend nothing happened again! I won’t…”

He stopped as she finally looked up at him and he saw the tears in her eyes and the tracks down her cheeks.

“Liz? What did I do?”

Her lips trembled. “It’s…it’s not you.”

“Then what?”

She looked away from him, trying to get out of his hold.

“Liz…”

She shook her head. “I can’t Max. I’m sorry, but I can’t.”

“Can’t? What is going on?”

“Let go of me Max.”

“Talk to me,” he pleaded.

“I can’t!”

He tightened his hold on her arms. “Well, you can’t just walk away from me again. You know I won’t let you!”

A sob escaped her lips as she struggled against him. “Max! Please, stop this!”

“Ma’am? Everything okay?” came the cab driver’s voice from the doorway.

Max let go of her as she nodded and finished packing the suitcase. “Yeah. Um, did you get the other four suitcases that were inside the front door?”

“Yes ma’am. Loaded them in the cab already.”

She closed the suitcase and picked it up with one hand while wiping tears away with her other hand. “Okay, well this is it then.”

The driver nodded and turned to walk back outside. As Liz followed Max reached out to grab her arm, stopping her in mid-stride. “You can’t avoid this thing between us forever Liz. And what are you even going to tell your son when he asks why you aren’t staying a week here like he expects?”

Liz glanced down at the hand on her arm as she spoke. “I’ll figure out something.” She paused for a moment before adding, “And Max? I don’t think you should worry about babysitting Kylan again. I don’t think it’s right for you to do that anymore.”

Before Max could get into it with her again, they both heard the sound of another car coming up the driveway. Liz pulled her arm out of Max’s grip and made her way outside. As she handed the last case to the driver, a puzzled looking Maria, Michael, and Kylan got out of the SUV nearby.

“Hey Liz, what’s up?” asked Maria.

“Sorry, there’s been a change in plans,” Liz said as she opened the back door of the cab and held out her hand to Kylan. “We have to go home right now.”

Kylan frowned as he glanced from her to Max and back again. “But mom! We got a week! Don’ we?”

Liz shook her head. “Not anymore. Come on Kylan, get in the cab.”

“But…”

“Kylan!”

Kylan knew better than to argue with his mother when she used that tone of voice with him, but it didn’t prevent him from crawling into the back seat and sitting there with his arms crossed over his chest and a sullen look on his face.

Liz glanced up at the others. “Thanks for inviting us Maria, Michael. We’ll see you later.”

Max had made his way down the steps and shut the door to the cab before Liz could get in. “You once told me that I was the best thing that ever happened to Kylan!”

“Not now, Max!” Liz hissed between her teeth.

“If not now, when?”

“Not in front of Kylan!”

“Damn it Liz! You wouldn’t let me get close to you and now you’re trying to keep me away from Kylan too! When are you going to understand what it is you’re doing to all of us?”

Liz clenched her jaw as she muttered. “When are you going to understand that we can’t be what you want us to be?”

Max stared at her, stunned that she was even aware of the fact that he was hoping the three of them could be something more. As he wondered how long she’d known that, Liz took the opportunity to yank open the door and slide in. As she slammed the door shut, she gave instructions to the driver before turning around to buckle her son in.

Too late, Max tried to get her to talk to him, but Liz had told the driver to ignore him and keep on driving. Kylan was the only one to turn in his seat, craning his neck to see Max standing at the end of the drive with his hands in his hair looking upset.

Liz didn’t say a word. She sat in her seat, staring straight ahead while twirling her ring around her finger. It was a mistake, she told herself, but it was a mistake she wasn’t happy about. Closing her eyes, she rubbed her temple to ease the pounding headache. She wished it would just go away already, after all she had left hadn’t she?

Kylan turned back into his seat and looked up at his mother as she rubbed her temple. “Why we gotta leave?”

Liz sighed. “Something came up.”

“What?”

“Don’t worry about it.”

Kylan frowned. “Why couldn’ I stay wit them? An’ you coulda come back when you finished it?”

“Because, I couldn’t leave you with them like that.”

“They wouldn’ have minded. I woulda done what they said!”

Liz turned to look at Kylan. “I’m sorry, Kyl. But I can’t leave you with Max anymore, okay?”

************************************************************

Maria paced Michael’s living room once more. In a scene just like the one Michael remembered having right before Maria had come up with the plan for the trip, she was once more pacing while he watched her from the floor in front of the couch.

Only this time the scowl she wore looked like she wanted to kill someone and she was alternating between muttering under her breath and shouting at no one in particular. Michael was just glad that it wasn’t him that had incurred her wrath and that Max wasn’t there to witness his sister’s fury.

After Liz and Kylan had left, a dejected Max had returned to the cabin to pack his own things while Maria had tried to get him to tell them what had happened. When he refused to say anything, Maria had hurried to the room she’d been sharing with Michael and hastily began packing her own things telling Michael if he didn’t hurry as well, she was going to leave him behind as she returned to the city with Max.

Maria had refused to let Max call a cab, saying there was no reason for any of them to stay for the week since the mood had obviously been ruined. Once they’d all gotten into the SUV and headed out with Michael driving, Maria had once more tried to get Max to talk.

Max had finally opened up when they were nearly home, mostly because his sister kept giving him sad looks over her shoulder even when she thought he was too busy staring out the side window. It was then that they’d found out what had happened the night before.

Max hadn’t given them details, but he’d told them enough to know things had seemed to have gotten more serious between the two of them. They knew Max and Liz had talked about their lives and had somehow shared things with each other that made them closer. Liz had even told Max about her relationship with Kyle.

Then, one thing led to another and they had moved to Max’s room. He said they’d only had two bottles of wine and neither of them were even tipsy. He knew Liz was in her right mind when they’d started to get intimate. She’d been the one to initiate it after all and he’d given her plenty of opportunity to back out if she’d wanted to.

She never had. Even when it was over and they just lay there together, she’d never given him any indication that she had regretted it. In fact, she seemed perfectly happy to fall asleep in his arms. So, of course he was surprised when he’d woken up alone and gone to find her packing Kylan’s things up in the room he was supposed to stay in.

Max told Maria and Michael what he and Liz had said to each other during the time it took her to finish packing and when the cab driver had arrived. Michael and Maria had heard everything Liz and Max had said to each other before Liz had gotten into the cab. Maria was as stunned as Max was that Liz had essentially told Max he was fired from babysitting Kylan.

When she’d gotten over her shock, she’d started to rant until Max had told Maria to let it go already. She was still silently fuming when they’d dropped Max off at his apartment before going on to Michael’s house. Once they were there she’d grabbed her bags out of the vehicle, stalked inside, thrown her bags in a corner, and proceeded to pace angrily across the living room.

Michael had attempted to do some unpacking, but decided to see if he could calm Maria down before it was too late. Unable to do much, he had finally sat down to just watch her pace, hoping she’d just wear herself out.

“Can you believe the nerve? How could she do that! What the hell was she thinking!” she muttered again.

Michael sighed. He was beginning to think Maria wasn’t capable of running out of steam.

“No one sleeps with my brother, rips his heart out, and expects to walk away without a scratch! She can’t be that blind not to have noticed how much my brother was into her!”

“Maria,” Michael tried to interject softly. “Max did mention that he’s never told Liz that he was in love with her.”

“Oh please! He didn’t have to tell her! Everyone knows he is! Even Kylan knows Max loves his mom!”

“Well, Liz is…”

“A blind fool!” she shrieked. “No! She’s worse than that! She’s a wishy-washy, pig-headed, scared little rat! How the hell does someone keep holding on to something that happened nearly eight years ago?”

Maria whirled around to face Michael, eyes shining with unshed tears. “She doesn’t deserve him! She doesn’t deserve him at all!”

Michael stared at his girlfriend for a few moments. He knew Maria loved her brother. It was the same way he felt about his little sister, Tess. Luckily for him, Tess could take very good care of herself. Max on the other hand, seemed to need his little sister’s protection from time to time.

His heart swelling with love and pride for his girlfriend and just a little bit of worry over her troubles, he got to his feet and pulled her into a hug. “Maria honey, he’s going to be okay. Max is a big boy, you know. I think he’ll be able to get through this without you having to go pick up the pieces.”

She sniffled as she buried her head in his chest. “I know,” she mumbled. “I just hate watching him be so miserable.”

“I know you do. It’s not easy for me to watch either.”

She gave a soft chuckle, which was muffled against his chest and held him a little tighter. He caressed her back, hoping it was helping to calm her down.

After a few moments, he leaned down to whisper in her ear. “You okay?”

She nodded as she lifted her head to look at him. “Yeah, thanks for being here for me.”

Michael smiled. “Well, seeing as we are at my place, I don’t think I really have a choice. Ouch!”

Maria had punched him on the shoulder. “That didn’t hurt, you wimp!”

Michael chuckled before looking into her eyes with a serious look. “I’m glad I’m here for you Maria. I wouldn’t have it any other way.”

She reached up to caress his cheek. “I love you Michael.”

Michael blinked. “What?” he whispered.

She gave him a hesitant smile. “I love you.”

Michael beamed at her. “Do you really?”

She giggled at the look on his face. “Yes, really.”

He cupped her face in his hands and kissed her hard before pulling away to stare at her. “God, I love you so much!” He exclaimed before pulling her in for another deep kiss.

************************************************************

“Kylan! Open this door right now!” shouted Liz as she rattled the door knob.

“No!” came her son’s muffled shout from the other side.

Liz started knocking loudly on the door. “Kylan James Parker! You open this door and come out right now, you hear me!”

“No! I’m not coming out ever again!” he screamed from the other side.

Liz sighed in defeat as she walked into the living room twirling her ring around her finger.

After they had gotten home, she had finally told Kylan that Max was no longer going to be around them anymore since he was no longer going to be the babysitter. Kylan had gotten upset and asked her why she had to go and mess up things when he and Max both wanted to be together and why couldn’t she want the same things they wanted.

Liz had tried to explain that things like that were too complicated for Kylan to understand which only served to make Kylan more upset. Nothing she could say to him could make him stop crying and yelling at her until he’d finally ran to his room and locked himself in.

She’d allowed him a good twenty minutes to cry alone before trying to get him to let her in, but he had yelled at her to go away because he wasn’t going to talk to her ever again for sending Max away. She’d spent another fifteen minutes trying to reason with him so that he’d open the door and her temper had finally started to rise along with her voice as her headache returned in full force.

She sat on the edge of the couch and continued to twirl the ring as she stared at nothing at all. With everything that was happening, she hadn’t had time to just sit down and think things through. Then there was the stupid headache that kept popping up at the worst times making it hard for her to think clearly.

Closing her eyes, she tried to clear her mind so she could think about the past couple of days. She knew what she’d done was a mistake and she couldn’t see how she was going to rectify the situation. How was she going to fix the mess she’d just thrown everyone into? Most of all, would Max ever get over the way she’d handled the morning after?

As she sat there trying to figure everything out, there came a knock at the door. Frowning, she got up to see who would possibly be calling on her when almost everyone knew she and Kylan were away on a trip. As the knocking became more insistent, she wondered if Max had followed them all the way back home.

Opening the door she was shocked to find not Max, but his sister glaring at her. “Maria? But I thought you guys were…”

Maria shoved her way into the apartment as she growled. “We came back just after you guys did since no one was interested in staying anymore.”

“I see. Well, I’m really…”

Maria whirled around and interrupted her again. “Liz, listen. I just came here to say my piece and then I’m leaving, so don’t even pretend that nothing’s wrong.”

Liz could only open her mouth before Maria was continuing on. “Max told us what happened last night and this morning. And since we’ve all known all along how you two belong together, it’s time somebody just said this to your face. You and my brother have been playing this game for way too long and both of you are being too stubborn or too blind to realize it! We’re all tired of trying to get you two together!”

“What are you…”

“All of us Liz! Michael, Tess, Kylan, me. Even Alex, Isabel, and Nick have joined in, but somehow you two still mess it all up! At least this time Max isn’t the one to blame! At least this time he’s finally admitted that he wants something with you and Kylan!”

“Wait, are you saying…”

“Kylan has already made it clear in many ways that he wants Max to be his daddy!”

“Does Max…”

“And we all see the signs that Max wants that too, but you just keep pushing him away! And then what you did this morning! After the night you two shared! God Liz, how cold are you to sleep with my brother before stomping all over his heart like that!”

“Maria, I…”

“To tell Max he can’t ever see Kylan again! Or you! Are you really that frigid? When are you going to open your eyes and realize just how much my brother loves you? When are you going to realize that you and Kylan are already the family Max has been dreaming of having?”

“I didn’t…”

“But you know what the worst part of this all is? No matter what you do to him, no matter how many times you hurt him, my brother still loves you! After what you did, he just told me to stop being angry at you and went home. Do you believe that? And I know he’s going to be right back here if you let him. Without a second thought! That’s how much you and Kylan mean to him!”

“I know…”

“Well, I’m here to tell you that is not going to happen! Do you hear me? Don’t you dare call him and tell him you want him to come back here! You fired him, so let him go for good! Don’t you dare change your mind and do this to him again! If you want to continue being blind to my brother’s feelings, you can just do it without involving him in your games!

Go ahead, ignore the fact that Max is in love with you. Ignore the fact that he’s the best thing to ever happen to you! Ignore the fact that he could be the best father Kylan will ever have! Leave my brother alone! Because I’m telling you right now, you don’t deserve him! I don’t think you ever did! And Max doesn’t deserve to be treated the way you treat him!”

This time Liz couldn’t even say anything to that. She just stood there staring at the ground while Maria glared at her.

“I know this probably wouldn’t have any affect, but if there’s anything remotely similar to a feeling inside of you, you will let my brother go! Stop breaking his heart or I will be back again and it’s going to get ugly!”

With that, Maria stormed past Liz and slammed the door shut behind her. Liz flinched before reaching back and locking the door. Leaning back against it, she closed her eyes with a sad sigh. She could hear her son still crying in his room and she knew without a doubt that he’d heard what Maria had said.

Even she’d heard what Maria had said and it all just confirmed what she’d been thinking all this time. She’d made the biggest mistake of her life and messed up everyone else’s. After what Maria had said, Liz wondered if she should even bother trying to fix things at all, especially since Maria had given her a hint as to how Max was going to deal with what she’d done the morning after.

Once more she could feel tears burning behind her eyelids as she thought of Max and what they’d both done. Guilt over what she’d done and the fact that everyone was now angry with her sent her running to her room where she threw herself onto her bed and broke down into tears. There, even her sobs drowned out her son’s until she was finally so exhausted that she’d fallen into a deep sleep.

TBC...
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Shadowlynxbehr
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Post by Shadowlynxbehr » Mon Sep 10, 2007 3:07 am

Part 27

Kylan glared at the door through the remnants of his tears. He could hear his mother crying in her room. He had heard the words Maria had shouted at his mother before she’d left and his mother had begun to cry in her room. Well, she could cry all she wanted, he wasn’t going to feel sorry for her in the least. After all, she’d ruined everything.

Sniffling, he wiped his nose on his arm before kicking his shoes off and crawling onto the bed. He’d only been sitting in the middle of it for a couple of minutes when he realized Kyle was standing in the back corner of his room looking at the door with a sad expression on his face.

Kylan huffed. “Don’ feel sowwy for her! She was the one who tol’ Max to go away!”

Kyle turned his sad expression on Kylan. “I know she did, but Kylan she’s just confused. I don’t think she meant to hurt anybody.”

Kylan scowled. “Yeah, well she did! She hurt me an’ Max!”

Kyle sighed. “Kylan, I know it’s hard for you to understand, but I believe your mom didn’t really want to do this. I think she might have made a mistake.”

Kylan didn’t respond to that, he simply sat there sulking as he picked imaginary lint off of the comforter.

“Haven’t you ever done something or said something when you were upset and then later wished you could take it back?”

Kyle watched as the expression on Kylan’s face turned thoughtful for a moment before he seemed to deflate a little.

“Yeah,” came the boy’s soft whisper.

Kyle nodded. “That’s what I think happened with your mom. I think she said something she didn’t really mean. That’s why she’s crying now because she’s sorry she did that.”

Kylan lifted sad eyes towards the door. “Then why don’ she fix it!”

“Maybe she just needs time. Besides, it’s late. Why don’t you just try and get some sleep? Let your mom get some sleep too. That way, when she gets up, she’ll be able to think clearly and hopefully fix things.”

Kylan continued to look at the door for a few more moments before slowly nodding his head. “M’kay. Yeah, we should just go to sleep. Mom always says that sometimes dreams help us.”

Kyle smiled. “She’s right.”

Kylan slid off the bed and changed into his pajamas before crawling under his covers. As he got comfortable, he glanced up at Kyle. “Night, Kyle.”

“Goodnight Kylan. Sleep tight.”

Kylan yawned before snuggling further under the covers and closing his eyes. “M’kay,” came his sleepy reply.

Kyle smiled as the lights went off in the room and the soft glow of a Superman nightlight glowed from near the door. He remained silent as he watched his son until his breathing evened out, indicating that he’d finally fallen asleep. Even then, he continued to watch him with a sad smile until the first rays of sunlight began to spread across the sky.

************************************************************

Liz groaned as she sifted on the bed. She was dreaming of being back at the cabin with Max. Only this time things seemed to be playing out differently than they really had. In her dream, Max had been the one to tell her he was leaving. She’d woken up alone and gone in search of Max only to find that his things were all gone, so she ran through the cabin searching for him and calling his name.

“Liz?”

She turned her head when she heard the sound of her name. “Max? Max, where are you?”

“Liz wake up,” came the whisper again.

Liz blinked the sleep out of her eyes and sat up when she realized she’d heard someone whisper her name in the bedroom. “Max?”

As she looked around the room, her eyes landed on the last person she’d ever expected to see again. Kyle stood in the far corner of the bedroom, far away from the door.

Staring at him in disbelief, she groaned again. “God, I’m still dreaming!”

As she thought to herself that crying herself to sleep gave her the weirdest dreams, Kyle gave her a gentle smile and slowly shook his head.

“You’re not dreaming Liz.”

Liz rolled her eyes. “Oh yes I am. This is the only way you could be talking to me ‘cause you’re dead when I’m awake.”

Kyle sighed. “Liz, please listen to me. Remember I came to you before? Remember I’ve been talking to Kylan for years? I’m still here Liz.”

She stared at him and Kyle could see growing trepidation in her eyes.

“No,” she whispered.

“Yes,” he whispered back. “Liz, I’m not here to hurt you. You have to understand that. It’s like I said before. I can’t move on until you let me go.”

Her lips began to tremble. “No. No that’s not true. You’re not here. You’re not here!”

As her voice began to rise, Kyle glanced towards the door. “Liz! Don’t raise your voice! I wanted to talk to you without waking up Kylan! Please you have to listen to me!”

The moment he mentioned her son, she glanced towards the door too and Kyle saw the worry in her eyes.

“He’s okay for now Liz. He’s sleeping.”

She glanced down at the comforter. “He’s upset with me.”

Kyle nodded. “Yeah, I think almost everyone is a little upset with you right now.”

This made her look up at him with wide eyes. “Are you upset with me too?”

He gave her a sheepish grin. “Sort of, but I understand where you’re coming from.”

“You…you understand?”

“Yeah. I guess I really did a number on you, huh?”

Liz continued to stare at him for a while before she looked away. “I need to wake up.”

Kyle sighed. “Liz, you are awake. I know this is hard for you to believe, but it’s true. I’ve been here all along. I just haven’t come to you because I know how you never wanted to believe I was real. But I’ve been visiting Kylan for these last few years.”

Liz closed her eyes. “He believes you are real then?”

“I’m his imaginary friend.”

Liz stifled a sob at that, making Kyle take a step towards her. “Don’t Liz. Please don’t cry anymore.”

She looked up at him with tears in her eyes. “Why? Why did you have to die? All I ever wanted was for you to be his father, for us to be a family.”

Kyle smiled sadly. “I know you did. I wanted that too, but it just wasn’t meant to be.” He paused for a moment before going on. “Liz, we’ve waited long enough. Too long. I’ve been putting off something I should have tried to talk to you about before.”

Wiping the tears from her eyes she asked, “What do you mean?”

He sighed as he sat down on the edge of her bed. “I mean, I should have tried to come to you before all of this happened. I should have tried to talk to you before anyone got hurt.”

She frowned. “Kyle, you’re not really making any sense.”

He looked up at her. “I should have tried to convince you to let me go a lot sooner than now. So you could move on with Max.”

She blinked in disbelief. “You…you know about Max?”

He nodded. “Of course I know about Max. I know about everything that goes on with you since you won’t let me go. And Kylan and I talk about Max a lot.”

“Oh,” was her soft answer as she looked back down at the comforter guiltily.

Kyle shook his head. “Liz, you have nothing to feel guilty about. You’ve mourned me for too long.”

She swallowed the lump in her throat. “What…what do you and Kylan talk about?”

Kyle shrugged. “Whatever is on his mind. Lately it’s been Max.”

“Oh Kyle, maybe you should have told him who you are.”

Kyle shook his head. “No, it would have only confused him. And I want Kylan to be able to reach out to someone who will be there for him. I want him to be able to freely accept someone else as his father.”

Liz’s voice trembled. “You’re his father.”

Kyle smiled. “And I will always be that. But he needs someone real Liz. Someone like Max.” When she didn’t respond he added, “You need him too.”

This time, she didn’t deny what he was saying but it didn’t make her feel any better. “It’s not that easy Kyle.”

“It can be, if you let it. Liz, you were on the right track that night at the cabin. You finally opened up to him and told him about your life. I thought that you’d finally gotten over me.”

He glanced down at her hand where the pre-engagement ring still sparkled before looking back in her eyes. “I should have realized I was wrong.”

She looked down at the ring too. “I…I wanted to…”

Her voice trailed off, but Kyle knew what she was trying to say. “I know you did. You wouldn’t have slept with him if you weren’t ready to try.”

She closed her eyes. “But now I’ve gone and made a mess of things.”

“Maybe, but I’m willing to bet you could still salvage it.” When she opened her eyes, he continued. “But you have to be certain you’re ready for it. And you have to let me go for good.”

“Let…let you go?”

Kyle nodded. “Yes. It’s time Liz. You have to let me go or things will never be right between you and Max.”

She looked down at her ring.

Kyle spoke up when she seemed to be hesitating. “Liz, listen to me. This conversation you’re having with me is real. Understand? This is me. Kyle, your former boyfriend and the father of your son. And I’m sitting here telling you that you have to let me go. Let me go and choose a life. A life with Max Evans.”

As tears slid down Liz’s cheeks once more, Kyle continued. “Don’t you see? Even I know what everyone else knows. You and Kylan and Max, you three should be a family. Max is the one for you Liz. You know this. And you know he’ll be a great father for our son.”

She knew it. Deep down inside she knew Kyle was right. Max was the best thing that had ever happened to Kylan. And after Kyle, he was the best thing that had ever happened to her.

All this time she’d wasted, feeling guilty about moving on and never realizing that Kyle would have wanted her to. He’d told her that. She remembered him telling her that in the hospital, but she’d buried it so deep that she’d forgotten it.

“You told me that,” she spoke it aloud. “You told me not to give up.”

He nodded. “I meant it Liz. I never wanted you to hold on to my memory. I wanted you to move on and live your life the way you were meant to.”

She closed her eyes. “Oh Kyle…”

He smiled. “Liz, it’s okay. It’s okay to love someone else.”

Her eyes flew open and she stared at him in surprise. His smile softened.

“You know you do,” he assured her.

As she continued to stare at him, she began to realize that he was right. That was why she’d had such a hard time the morning after. That was why she’d had headaches and felt sick. A war had been going on inside of her. Her heart had wanted to move on, but her head refused to let go of the past.

And the more she thought about it, the more she realized she’d been falling in love with Max Evans for a very long time.

Kyle watched as the realization began to dawn on Liz. It spread across her face like the sun spread across the sky on a new day. It spread until her eyes were bright with it and a smile formed on her lips.

“You see? There it is,” he whispered. “Now you know.”

“Yes,” she replied as a faint blush spread over her cheeks. Then she gasped as her eyes widened. “Oh! I have to go! I have to go talk to him!”

Kyle grinned as she sprang off the bed and rushed into her bathroom.

Her mind occupied with trying to figure out how she was going to apologize to Max and explain everything that had been going on, she began to freshen up. She quickly washed her face, brushed her hair into a ponytail, and brushed her teeth before rushing back into the bedroom to change clothes.

She came to a halt as soon as she spied Kyle still sitting on the edge of her bed smiling at her. As another realization hit her, the smile faded from her face. “This is it then? Kylan and I won’t ever see you again will we?”

He shook his head as he stood up. “No you won’t. But Liz, I’ll always be watching over all of you. All of you.”

She smiled through the tears in her eyes. “Thank you, for everything.”

He nodded. “Thank you for my son.”

As she nodded, she knew what he was saying. And she knew that when the time came, she would tell Kylan all about his biological father and about how much Kyle had loved them both.

He gave her another smile before slowly fading away, as he did Liz called out to him. “Kyle! What about Kylan?”

He nodded. “Don’t worry about him. I will say goodbye before I leave.”

She nodded as she watched him disappear completely. The moment he was gone, she went back to changing her clothes. When she was done, she checked herself in the mirror one more time as she thought about who she could call to watch Kylan while she went to see Max.

At that moment, someone knocked at the front door. Puzzled, but with a little hope that it would be Max, she went to answer it. Opening the door, she grinned at her visitor.

“Alex! I’m glad to see you!” She exclaimed, ignoring the frown he wore.

“Liz, I talked to Max last night and he told me what happened!”

“You talked to him? How is he?”

“How do you think he is? That’s why I’m here, to give you a piece of my mind!”

Liz nodded. “I know. I hurt him and messed everything up.”

“Yes you did…”

“But I want to fix it, I do.”

“…and he told me…”

“Alex, could you stay here and watch Kylan while I go talk to Max, please?”

“…to let it go, but I…”

“I really need to apologize to him and fix things,” she finished as she ushered him into the living room.

“…yes, but…”

“Thanks, Alex!” she waved to him before closing the door behind her.

Alex stopped in mid-sentence and stared at the door.

“What just happened?” he muttered before shrugging and making himself comfortable on the couch.

************************************************************

Liz walked up to Max’s door hesitantly. Standing before it, she braced herself for the confrontation. During the drive to his place, she had practiced what she wanted to say to him when she saw him. But she knew it would all just play out depending on how Max received her. She said a silent prayer that Max would at least let her say what she had to say before telling her to get lost. She owed him at least that much.

Straightening herself out, she lifted a hand and knocked on his door. A few moments later she could hear him moving around and readied herself for the door to open. A second later, she was looking into his confused face.

“Liz? What are you doing here?”

Knowing that it was now or never, she launched into her speech. “I came to apologize to you for the way I’ve been acting.”

Max stared at her for a moment before he spoke. “I’ve heard that before.”

She nodded. “I know you have, but this time I’m really sorry.”

Max sighed before beginning to close the door. “Liz, you made it clear that you don’t want me in your life. Please, just stop…”

She reached out to prevent him from shutting her out. “I was wrong Max! I want you in my life. And in Kylan’s.”

When he made no move to close the door, she continued. “I know I messed things up and I’m willing to accept that I may have messed them up so badly that I can’t fix it. But I had to at least let you know. You deserve that much, Max.”

“Know what?”

“That…that I do love you.”

She saw the stunned look on his face. It took him a few moments to reply to that. He stepped out of the door as he uttered, “You…you love…me.”

She nodded. “Yes, I do. I was just so scared of admitting it to you or anyone else. I wouldn’t even admit it to myself. But it’s the truth. I’ve been falling for you ever since the day I first met you.

Remember the talk we had that night at the cabin? When you asked me about Kyle? I wanted you to know what he meant to me and why it was so hard to let the memory of him go. But last night and this morning, I thought about it. And I realized that’s what I’d been doing. Holding on to a memory. A memory I’d built up so huge he became real to me again.

That’s where I did you wrong, Max. You were right there in front of me. You were real and I was so wrapped up in a memory that I couldn’t see you. I wouldn’t see you.”

Max leaned back against the wall, suddenly needing something to hold him up as Liz told him what she’d been feeling. He was still stunned that she was even there apologizing to him and trying to explain why she’d done what she did.

“Max, I’m not just apologizing for what I did at the cabin. I’m…I’m apologizing for everything I’ve ever done to hurt you. For leading you on. For pushing you away, then pulling you back. For not being honest with you. For never admitting what you mean to my son and me. And I want you to know that. What you mean to us. Did you know that my son dreams of you being his father?”

Max’s head snapped up at that. “W…what?”

She nodded. “It’s true. He’s been dreaming of that for a while now. That’s why he was always so adamant about including you in all the things we did. I know he sees us as a family, but I was too scared to admit it. But not my son. Kylan has never been scared to admit his feelings to himself.”

She smiled sadly. “My son was always the smart one. He always knew you were the best thing to happen to us.”

Max closed his eyes. “Yeah, he’s the best thing that ever happened to me.”

As tears misted her eyes at his words, she swallowed and spoke past the lump that had formed in her throat. “Max, I know that I hurt you. And I’m willing to accept the fact that I may have damaged things too much between you and I, but please…don’t let what’s between us affect what you have with my son. I hope that you can at least be a part of his life even if you can’t be a part of mine. My son still needs you, Max.”

“What about you?” he whispered. “You can’t just come here and tell me that you love me and expect things to go back to the way they were.”

She nodded. “I know that. I don’t expect them to. I just needed you to know how I really feel. That I’m sorry for what I did, but I…I will understand if you can’t give me another chance.”

He straightened up at that. Looking into her eyes, he frowned. “Another chance? Is that what you really want?”

She took a step back. “Yes. But more than that, I just want you to be a part of Kylan’s life. If you can’t be a part of mine, just be a part of his.”

“And what if I said I can’t be a part of his either?”

Her lips trembled for a moment before she looked away to compose herself. Turning back to him she whispered, “Please, Max. Please don’t take the anger of what I did to you out on my son. It’s not his fault that I’m such a screw up.”

Max looked at her for a few moments. He could see it in her eyes. She meant every word she’d said. She’d live without him if she had to, but she wouldn’t forgive herself for messing it up for her son. For once, she was thinking of her son’s happiness.

“I’d never do that to him, Liz.”

She gave him a grateful smile.

He reached up to caress her cheek, wiping away a tear. “And you’re not really a screw up. You’re just human.”

“I’m sorry,” she whispered. “I’m so sorry.”

He nodded. “I know. I believe you, but I meant what I said. Things just can’t go back to the way they were. At least between you and me. If we are going to do this, really do this then you have to be sure. I don’t want to try having a relationship with you until you are sure you’re ready for it.”

She nodded. “I’m ready now Max. I’m ready to start over again.”

After looking at her for a few moments, he smiled. “Good. So, we’ll take this one day at a time okay? Promise me you’ll be honest with me?”

“I promise. One day at a time. I want to get to know you and I want you to get to know me, the me that isn’t holding on to the past anymore.”

Max grinned as he cupped her face in his hands. “I’d love that.”

“Me too,” she whispered, leaning into one of his hands.

Max lowered his hands before pulling her into a hug. Holding her tight, he buried his face in her neck silently praying that this time things would be all right.

As she wrapped her arms around his shoulders and laid her head against his chest, she caught sight of someone standing at the far end of the building. Her smile spread wider as she realized who it was.

He smiled at her, then lifted a hand in a wave.

She mouthed the word ‘goodbye’ before looking at the ring on her finger. Slipping it off, she glanced back at him to see him fading away. The moment he was gone, she sighed and slid the ring into her pocket.

Hugging Max once more, she whispered. “I love you, Max.”

He whispered back, “I love you too.”

Closing her eyes with a smile, she knew it was finally right. Right to be out with the old and in with the new.




THE END
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"You know you're in love when you can't fall asleep because reality is finally better than your dreams." -Dr. Seuss

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