I'll Be Home for Christmas(ML, MATURE) [COMPLETE]

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I'll Be Home for Christmas(ML, MATURE) [COMPLETE]

Post by Raychelxluscious » Tue Dec 25, 2007 8:16 pm

Winner Round 14


Beautiful Banner by: BehrsGirl77

Title: I'll Be Home For Christmas

Author: Raychel

Summary: Looking to not only piece together the shattered pieces of her own heart, but as well as the pieces belonging to her angry and unreachable step daughter, Holly, Liz Parker seeks solace in the only place that she could ever remember being truly happy. She arrives home to Roswell just in time for Christmas, hoping that the charm of the lazy town and all it's people can pull Holly out of her shell. As well as melt away the icy barrier that Liz had erected around herself.

Rating: MATURE, for language

Couples: ML, CC (This story doesn't revovle around Max & Liz, though, it does play a heavy role. But it kind of focuses on the relationship between daughter and step-daughter.)

Disclaimer: I own nothing, save for Holly and Jack (most importantly), and any other minor unfamilar characters you may come across.

Author's Note: Some of you may be wondering what I'm doing over here, when I have two unfinished fics out there, waiting mournfully in limbo. Let me assure you, this fic is completed and you will not be left wanting. However, for those of you who were not wondering such things, then lets just pretend you didn't read that, kay? I realize this is a little late, lol, as it is now Christmas Day, but I couldn't get the story out of my head. I'll be posting twice a week - maybe even three times - so that it'll be finished not too long after the New Year, as it is a holiday fic and I want it to be finished right along with the holidays. I wrote this in about a week and a half. Having said that, don't judge the quality too badly, lol. It's not great, but it got my creative juices flowing after so long of not being able to write -- anything. So, maybe now I can sit down and complete my other fics. Wish me luck. Oh, and I hope you enjoy.

"At Christmas, all roads lead home." - Majorie Holmes

Many thanks to Steph for being an awesome beta.

Chapter One
From the window seat, she watched as the snow fell. She watched every glistening, sparkling flake flutter to the already snow-packed ground of her front yard. She watched the neighbor children dodge behind trees and one, larger, crooked snowman all in an attempt to keep from being pelted by snowballs. She smiled. She could almost hear their laughter through her window. She could almost smell the snow – yes, smell. That sweet, cold, happy smell Jack had always insisted didn’t exist, endlessly teasing her that she was the only one in the history of the world who could smell the snow. She used to love stepping outside and taking a deep lungful of that scent – relishing in the coolness as it entered her lungs. Not anymore.

She turned her gaze away from the window, and instead focused her stare on the fire burning across the room. The room was toasty and warm, she knew, but that warmth never quite touched her heart – hadn’t quite made it past the icy barricade that had frozen around her without her even knowing it. Oh, she wasn’t a bitch – not by any means. She wasn’t heartless or unfeeling. No, on the contrary, she felt a lot. Too much, actually. But she no longer felt that warmth that at one time surrounded her life. She would smile, but it would never reach her eyes. She would laugh, but it was never true. She would go through the motions, but she seemed almost robotic – even to herself. Liz Parker-Owens just wasn’t the same person anymore.

The door burst open, and an icy gust of wind entered the house followed by a disgruntled teenager. Liz sighed, and stood from the window seat, bracing herself for another confrontation.

“You were supposed to be home two hours ago.”

Holly barely gave Liz a glance as she silently stalked through the dining room and into the kitchen. Liz remained where she was, gathering a deep breath and folding her arms over her chest.

“Mr. Rudy called. He said you’re on academic probation. If you don’t pass your finals next week, you’ll be at a loss of credits and –”

“And I won’t graduate with my class,” Holly supplied, mockingly. Her comment was punctuated by the slamming of a cabinet door. “So, I’ll takes sophomore English and science over again. And you know what else? I don’t give a fuck.”

Liz rubbed her arms to ward of a sudden chill. Silently, she listened to Holly’s movements as she walked around the kitchen. The refrigerator door opened, and then closed a moment later. The sounds continued, but Holly didn’t say another word. She never talked to Liz, not unless spoken to. Not even when her father was alive to glare disapprovingly at her would Holly offer Liz the simple courtesy of looking her in the eyes when she was speaking to her.

Liz often wondered why she cared. And always came up with the same answer. Because she loved Holly’s father, and didn’t want him to be burdened with a strenuous relationship between his wife and his child. Now that he was gone, Liz still pondered over the same question. And knew that the answer was because she still loved him – and missed him so.

Holly came waltzing out of the kitchen then, an apple in one hand and bottle of soda in the other. She breezed right past Liz and headed for the front door.

“Where are you going?”

“None of your damn business.”

Quickly, Liz darted into the entry hall and slapped a hand against the heavy wood of the oak door, preventing Holly from opening it. She stared steadily into the brown eyes that were so opposite from Jack’s blue ones.

“You’re going to go see him, aren’t you?”

Holly ground her teeth together, anger flaring up into her eyes and nearly causing Liz to flinch. “I said that was none of you damn business!”

When she tried to wrestle the door open, Liz pressed her weight more firmly into the door. “Your father said he didn’t want you to see him.”

“And my father’s dead, isn’t he?” Holly sneered, and Liz almost thought she saw tears welling up in the teenager’s eyes before she blinked and they were gone. “And you’re not my mother, Liz, so get out of my fucking way.”

“He isn’t good for you, Holly! He’s –”

“He’s the only one I have!” And with that, Holly shouldered past her, threw open the door and ran down the steps. Liz watched on until she was out of sight, and then quietly closed the door.

She took a shuddering breath as she sagged against the hard wood. Her eyes fell closed, automatically trying to stop the tears that she knew wouldn’t come. Tears never came to her anymore – too frozen to make it to the surface.

“You asked me to try, Jack,” she whispered beseechingly to the empty house. “And I am, but she’s not giving me an inch to work with. And I just don’t think I can….”

She trailed off, not wanting to say the words out loud – yet not wanting to have the words reverberating in her mind, either. But the words were there, mocking her and her failures, her shortcomings. She just couldn’t do it anymore.

Liz pushed herself away from the door and climbed the steps. Photographs from her marriage smiled back at her, and she ignored them. She pushed the door to her bedroom open, and without changing out of her jeans and sweater, climbed between the sheets of a king-sized bed. She settled into the mattress and closed her eyes, knowing that sleep would be as elusive as her tears.

Surprisingly enough, she did sleep and with sleep came a dream. Liz found herself pacing around the living room. The only light offered was by a stout lamp placed on the corner table. The light didn’t reach far, but it didn’t matter. Furiously she scribbled on a sheet of paper from her notebook everything that she needed to do. It was a lot to do in a short amount of time, and she chuckled to herself, wondering if she were going insane.

She needed to hire a moving van to follow her on the trip. Or maybe, she could drive it herself, but how would she get her car there? There had to be a way to hitch her car to the back of the van. Liz made a note in the margin of her paper and continued on with her train of thought.

She needed to get boxes – lots and lots of boxes. Logically, she knew she wouldn’t be able to take everything, and a lot of stuff would have to be sold. But she didn’t think she’d have time to do a yard sale. Certain things could be sold with the house, she supposed. Which reminded her, she’d have to contact a realtor first thing in the morning. She also needed to call her parents – let them know what was going on.

She’d have to quit her job at the high school as the science teacher. That was going to be the most difficult part, but no matter. She also needed to contact Holly’s school and get her transcript transferred over….

Liz sighed and sank into the plush cushion of the lazy boy – Jack’s favorite chair. She closed her eyes, already knowing how hard Holly was going to fight her over this, but she didn’t see any other alternative. It was time to go. If Liz stayed here any longer she was at risk of losing herself. And if she lost herself, then she lost Holly – and she had promised Jack she would do whatever she could to keep Holly with her.

Taking in a deep breath, Liz looked down at her list. She wrote one word at the bottom and circled it.

Roswell. She was moving home in time for Christmas.


Happy Holidays, everyone!
Last edited by Raychelxluscious on Sat Jan 19, 2008 10:58 pm, edited 15 times in total.
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Post by Raychelxluscious » Thu Dec 27, 2007 11:53 am

AN: Hey, everyone. :) Thanks so much for the feedback! I'm so glad you're enjoying it. I'm posting again today, and then, probably again on Saturday. Then, I'll begin the posting schedule of updating every Monday, Wednesday, & Friday. I know - why don't I just continue with the way I've started? Because I'm weird. And I like MWF, lol. But again, thank you all so much for the feedback. :) You're wonderful.

Tears_of_Mercury - hehe, I think I may or may not have answered your questions the other night. ;) But you'll see how everything else plays out. Thanks!
thetvgeneral - thanks for being awesome.
begonia9508 - hehe! Hi! I'm *hoping* this is my comeback. ;) It's got my writing muse up and roaring to go. I'm hoping to apply it to absence, soon. Thanks!
LairaBehr4 - Hi! Thank you! Hope things are going better. :)

And a huge *high five* to steph, because, seriously people...if she hadn't beta-ed these parts to perfection, then you'd be reading some serious crap right now. Like, worse than it already is. So, everyone should send her a hug. :) Thanks, Steph!!


Chapter Two
“Fuck you!”

“Classy, Holly. Really.”

Liz rolled her eyes, and silently continued to rifle through the contents of her desk, as she ignored Holly’s intensely heated glare. Instead of allowing the morose teenager to deter her, she focused on the task of dividing her belongings into two piles – trash, and everything else. She sighed, realizing it was going to be hard to let go of some of her things after all. A thank you note, for example, from a student who she’d tutored everyday after class, just so he’d graduate. And the photo of Mr. Greer in a woman’s wig and dress, and with shaved legs – all because he’d made a deal with the students: if they increased their end of the year test scores, then he’d dress in drag for an entire day. How could she throw away so many memories? She couldn’t.

Liz dumped a bunch of papers and photos in a cardboard box that would go along with her on the move, and shook her head. Sometimes, she hated being a pack rat.

“You’re crazy.”

Liz pinned Holly with a pointed stare, but said nothing. She walked past her then, and into the kitchen to resume packing up the dishes and utensils she wanted to take with them. She heard Holly stomp after her. Liz had told Holly her intentions of moving to Roswell the very morning of the decision, and since then everything had gone to Hell. Holly had stumbled in at around 4:30 – drunk, stoned – who knew? But she was lucid enough to blow a gasket when Liz told her they were moving. It lasted all of five minutes, before Holly had sneered at her and predicted that she’d never go through with it.

Now, it was a week later. Holly witnessed just how serious Liz was with moving as every day passed by. She had completed her first semester of high school, and they were leaving tomorrow. The house was on the market. Liz’s job was up for bidding, and the moving van was sitting at the curb – her little Honda civic hitched to the back. They were leaving tomorrow.

If she ever finished packing.

“Why don’t you make yourself useful and start packing the pots and pans?”

Again, she was answered with a “fuck you,” which, really, she should have expected. It was the same answer she’d received when she asked Holly to pack up the DVD collection.

“You’re fucking crazy, Liz,” Holly huffed angrily, when it was apparent she was being ignored. “We’re not going anywhere.”

“Oh, yes we are,” Liz insisted, with just a tinge of a challenging chuckle added to it that she could practically hear Holly grind her teeth together.

“You can’t make me go anywhere!” There was desperation in her voice that she failed to disguise as she uttered her next words: “I’ll go live with my mother.”

Liz stood and met Holly’s gaze. “Fine,” she shrugged, urging her voice to remain steady – to not quiver as she took this giant risk, and prayed that it wouldn’t back fire. “Go ahead. If you think you can find her that is.”

Holly’s eyes narrowed but said nothing. Liz went on, “Your mother’s phone line has been disconnected, and she’s no longer living at the address she gave us last year.”

“You’re lying. Dad never told me that.”

Liz shook her head. “No, he wouldn’t have would he? Because he knows your mother and he wanted to spare your feelings.” She paused to take a deep breath and try to remain aloof, and could only manage to do so by turning away to pack some more dishes. “So, if you think you can track her down, then by all means – do it. Otherwise, pack your shit. We’re leaving tomorrow.”

There was silence behind her, and only that made her turn so that she could gauge Holly’s reaction. For a moment, Liz swore she saw Holly’s bottom lip tremble, before it curled into a snarl. She slammed her fist on the counter and screamed, “I hate you!” before she stormed out of the kitchen. Liz heard the thundering of her footsteps as she raced up the stairs and down the hallway. When the door slammed, reverberating through the walls, she flinched.

As the house settled into silence, Liz sank to the floor, her knees having simply given out on her. Closing her eyes, she took a deep breath and wished for calm. Wished that Holly would just trust her. Wished for Jack’s arms to close around her, but she knew that neither would come.

The doorbell rang, and Liz shoved herself to her feet. The movers were here, and they’d systematically transfer the furniture into the van. The dining table and chairs. The living room set. The entertainment center and her desk. They were all going with her. The bedroom suite she’d shared with Jack would stay behind to be sold with the house, as well as anything in Holly’s room, since she knew the teen wouldn’t open up the door for anyone at this point. Liz wasn’t worried though; she’d purchase new suites for both of them once they got to Roswell.

She opened the front door, and within moments she stood frozen, watching strangers carrying away her belongings and displacing everything she had ever known. She wanted to cry – longed desperately to feel the well of tears, but knew that it was as pointless as wishing.

Liz knocked on Holly’s bedroom door the next morning. She wanted to give her that respect, rather than simply opening the door and waltzing inside. She continued to think that maybe if she kept issuing the respect, then she’d get some in return. So far, she was still waiting.

Holly swung the door opened. Liz took in her appearance. An old, lifeless brown Boyd’s bear hung over her forearm; the bear that Jack had given her when she was three – long before Liz had ever entered the picture. She wore a bulky, hot pink coat, and had a book bag strapped to her back. Her hair was pulled back in a loose ponytail. Her eyes were swollen and darkened, looking as if she’d gotten the same amount of sleep Liz had. The young girl lifted her chin then, and stared her right in the eye.

“I still hate you,” she declared sullenly.

Liz put on her sunglasses and pulled the keys to the van out of her pocket. “Glad to know some things always stay the same,” she murmured, and then nodded to her belongings. “Is that all you’re taking?” She tensed as she said it, fully preparing for Holly to refute, and to have to forcibly place her in the van.

Instead, Holly muttered a, “I don’t need anything else,” and shouldered past Liz and down the stairs. Astonished, it took a moment for her to gain control over her limbs and follow her downstairs and out of the house. She had just reached the front door as Holly was climbing into the front seat of moving van.

She heaved a sigh of relief, and sent up a silent thank you to Jack for having helped her this far.

“Hey, Holly, where are you going?”

Liz watched a classmate of Holly’s approach the van in curiosity. Holly rolled down the window and regarded the other teenaged girl gloomily. Then she gazed past her and at Liz before saying, “Mega Bitch is taking me out west,” before she sat back in her seat and wound the window up again.

Liz deflated. As she shut and locked the door, and stored the key safely beneath the mat for the realtor, she silently requested Jack to help her just a little more.

When she climbed into the driver’s seat, Holly immediately plugged her ears with her iPod earpieces and pulled the hood of her sweater up and over her head. Wordlessly, Liz started the van, having not expected a conversation anyway. She took a deep breath, her hands clenching the steering wheel firmly. Unable to resist, she looked out of Holly’s window and stared at the home she had shared with Jack for five years. The home they had made memories in. The home they were planning to start a family in. The home she was leaving.

And still, the tears would not come.

Finally, Liz put the car in drive and pressed her foot on the gas. And with every moment that passed, the house grew smaller and smaller. And her heart froze just a little more.

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Post by Raychelxluscious » Sat Dec 29, 2007 10:44 pm

Hey there. :) Back, on schedule.

Thank you all so much for the feedback.


And naturally, many thanks to steph for being so awesome. :)


If you guys haven't seen Alvin & the Chipmunks - go see it.

Chapter Three

“I need you to drive.”

Holly didn’t respond – only stared out the window with those damned ear plugs perpetually shoved in her ears. Liz tapped on her the shoulder, and had to bite her lip to keep from smiling when Holly was startled.

“What?” She snapped, as she jerked the plugs out of her ears, the music still blaring, and regarded Liz with angry brown eyes.

“I need you to drive,” Liz repeated.

Shock passed over Holly’s face, only to be replaced with contempt. “You said we only had about four hours to go. You drive.”

“Yeah, I did say that,” Liz struggled for calm as she pulled off the road and put the van in park. “But I’ve also been driving for two days. And I have a headache, so I would appreciate it if you would please remove the stick that has been shoved horizontally up your ass and –”

Holly jumped out of the cab of the van before she could finish, and started to make her way around the front. Liz took a deep breath and unbuckled her seat belt. Instead of getting out of the cab, she shifted over the middle console and into the passenger seat. She didn’t entirely expect Holly not to drive off before she had the chance to get back in the cab. Especially not after the remark that she had carelessly allowed to slip from her mouth.

But damn it, spending the last two days with her, in close quarters, had grated on her nerves. Never before were they required to spend so much time together. And even when they had been together, Jack had always been there too, as a buffer of sorts. Though, only to ward of Holly’s hostility, for Liz had never exhibited anything remotely hostile to her – before now.

“Thank you,” she said once Holly climbed behind the wheel. She buckled her seat belt and tried to put her ear plugs back in when Liz stopped her, “you can’t wear those while you’re driving.”

“Because it’s against the law.”

“So isn’t crossing state lines with a minor, but you’ve broken that law about a half a dozen times or more.”

“And what did you expect me to do? Leave you back there?”

“I wish you would have,” Holly murmured resentfully as she eased her way back into traffic.

“Then why were you waiting for me when I woke up that morning?”

Holly didn’t answer, instead, she gripped the wheel tightly and anxiously darted her gaze between the road in front of her and the rear view mirror. “Dad never let me drive on the interstate before.”

Ironically, Liz calmed at the nervous tremor in Holly’s voice. She should be panicky as well by the admission, but she knew that when Holly was nervous she would be more receptive to her guidance.

She leaned her head against the headrest and settled her sunglasses on her face. “You’ll do fine. Just keep it at sixty and don’t worry about the other vehicles passing you,” she offered quietly. “I trust you.”

Holly snorted, but said nothing as she carefully guided the mammoth vehicle along the interstate. It was silence for a long time, allowing Liz to get lost in her thoughts, and begin another round of questioning herself. Had she done the right thing? Would Holly get better? Would she?

“Why Roswell?”

Behind her glasses, Liz blinked, surprised that Holly was starting a conversation with her. She swallowed, and then quietly cleared her throat to keep the shock from entering her voice. “Because it’s where I grew up.”

Holly grinned. “I always knew you were an alien.”

Liz rolled her eyes, having heard the same joke from Jack years before. “Haha. Real original, Holly. I expected much more from you.”

She didn’t take umbrage, instead she asked another question, “How did you end up all the way in Boston?”

“I moved there to go to school after I graduated.”

“Yeah, Harvard, right? How does a Harvard student become a high school teacher?”

Liz was quiet, not answering her question aloud. She hadn’t wanted to become a teacher, not at first anyway. Her dream was to become a molecular biologist, but that dream fell to the wayside when she fell in love with a man and his daughter. Jack was the guy who delivered mail to her apartment complex. When they started dating, and Liz began to picture a future with him, she couldn’t see a postal worker marrying a molecular biologist. So, she’d changed her major, and thus fell in love with education.

Before Liz could think of what to say, Holly’s panicked voice pierced through her thoughts. “Which exit am I supposed to take? Is it this one!”

“No! Just stay in this lane. Our exit isn’t coming up for awhile yet. Just relax.”

“For the record, I think it’s a real bad idea for me to be driving.”

“You’re doing fine, Holly,” Liz reassured soothingly, and then said again, “just relax.”

“Easy for you to say! You’re not the one navigating a fucking Transformer!”

“Holly, just please cal—”

“If you tell me to calm down one more fucking time, I’m going to drive this fucker into the median!” Holly screamed, her voice cracking with strain. “I never wanted to go on this fucking move! I wanted to stay in Boston! With Dad, and Danny, and away from you! I hate you, Liz! I hate you!”

Liz remained silent, listening to the Holly’s strained breathing as they both came to terms with her blow-up. She knew that Holly would be pissed from here on out, for allowing Liz to realize just how deeply the move affected her. She’d lash out in anyway she could, but Liz didn’t care. Her words – they should have hurt, but she’d come so accustomed to hearing them said to her that they no longer stung.

Liz closed her eyes, tuning out Holly’s breathing and focused on her own. They’d get through this. Somehow, she’d prove to Jack’s daughter that she wasn’t a “Mega Bitch,” that she hadn’t left the only person there for her back in Boston, and that things would be better come the new year. It had to, because Liz was holding on to that hope as well. She didn’t know what would happen otherwise.

“He’s pulling me over. He’s pulling me over! This asshole is seriously pulling me over!”

Liz groaned. The last thing she needed was for something else to throw Holly into another blowout. She looked in the rearview mirror to see that they were, indeed, being pulled over by one of Roswell’s finest. They had only just entered city limits, and they were being investigated so soon?

Oh, how she’d missed the small town life.

“Just stay ca—” Liz caught herself when Holly gave her an annoyed glare. She cleared her throat and fought back a smile. “Just let me handle it, okay?”

She was climbing out of the van just as a man in a Deputy’s uniform approached Holly’s window. He had to stand up on the ledge to see inside.

“License and registration, please,” he said just as Holly finished winding down her window.

Holly swallowed nervously. “Uh….”

The Deputy narrowed his eyes at her. “You don’t look old enough to be driving by yourself. Just how old are you, ma’am? And where did you obtain this vehicle?”

Liz recognized the voice immediately and stepped out from around the front of the moving van. She grinned and placed her hands on her dainty hips. “Doesn’t Roswell’s finest Deputy have anything better to do than harass the new residents?”

Kyle Valenti jerked his head around and stared. His mouth fell agape for a moment, before his lips finally curled into a huge smile. He jumped off the ledge of the cab and tipped his hat back to get a better look at her.

“Well, if it isn’t Little Lizzie Parker.” It took him two steps to reach her, and then he pulled her into a giant bear hug. “How in the hell have you been?”

Liz’s expelled laughter turned into puffs when it met the chilled air. Kyle swung her around, making her laugh harder, and then deposited her neatly back on her feet. “I’ve been good. How about yourself?” She polished the deputy badge with the sleeve of her coat. “Now, I thought for sure you’d be Sheriff by now.”

Kyle snorted. “Can’t get the old man to retire,” he explained with a healthy grin. “Dad thinks that since there’s virtually no crime rate that he can last another five to ten writing speeding violations,” he shrugged. “Until then….”

Holly jumped out of the cab then, having sensed she wasn’t in any trouble. Kyle turned to her, touching the brim of his hat and giving her a polite nod. “And who is this fine young lady?” He asked. “Didn’t mean to scare you, if I did. Lizzie’s right. The PD has nothin’ better to do than harass their new residents,” he turned to Liz then. “So, I take it you’re here for good?”

Liz nodded. “I think so,” she agreed, and then motioned to Holly. “And this is Holly Owens, my stepdaughter.”

Kyle extended his hand for a shake. “It’s a pleasure to meet you, miss,” he diverted his attention back to Liz then, his gaze sad. “I was sorry to hear about your husband, Liz.” His apology was uttered softly, but by the expression Liz saw pass over Holly’s face, she knew she’d heard it as well.

Obviously feeling uncomfortable, Kyle clapped his hands together and rubbed them anxiously. “How about I escort you ladies into town?” He offered, and couldn’t resist slinging an arm over Liz’s shoulders. “Everyone is going to be mighty glad to see you, Liz. Next to the crash of 1947, you coming back home is Roswell’s best kept secret,” he laughed at that. “Maria must not have told anyone, and you can’t tell me she don’t know.”

Liz grinned. Maria did know, as well as her parents – and they had all respected her wishes and agreed not to tell anyone. As she and Holly climbed back into the cab – this time with Liz driving – and began to follow Kyle’s cruiser, a knot started to form in her belly. She had to disagree with his exuberant declaration.

Not everyone was going to be happy to see her.

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Re: I'll Be Home for Christmas(ML, MATURE)Pt 3, 12/29 pg2

Post by Raychelxluscious » Mon Dec 31, 2007 11:10 pm

Yay! The new board! (:

Happy New Years everyone! And thank you so much for the feedback!


Thanks, Steph for your perpetual awesomeness. (:

Chapter Four
The Crashdown was just as she remembered. Standing in front of the bustling café, with Holly standing stoically beside her, Liz was bombarded with nostalgia. The town’s most popular restaurant held an abundance of memories for her. It was, after all, where she had grown up. Quite literally in fact, for she had lived with her parents in the apartment above the café for eighteen years. Now, she was hoping to spend another fifty years, in the same place, making more – even better – memories.

Liz glanced over at Holly and smiled. “Ready to go inside?”

She shrugged. “Whatever.”

Refusing to allow the teen to deflate her sudden giddiness, Liz marched forward and pushed through the doors of The Crashdown Café. The same smells assaulted her nose – greasy cheeseburgers, and delicious fries. Sweet pies and cakes baking the in back. Even a slight lemony scent from the floor cleaner. She smiled.

“Oh, my God. Liz!”

She turned and saw Maria Guerin rounding the counter at a dead…waddle.

“Oh, my God, Maria! You said you were pregnant, you didn’t say you were getting ready to pop!”

The women embraced – as best they could with Maria’s protruding belly in the way – and laughed and shrieked excitedly.

“Oh, babe, I am so happy to see you! Look at me, I’m starting to cry.” Indeed, Maria’s green eyes were beginning to well with unshed tears. She waved her hands in front of her face, her cheeks tingeing with embarrassment. “Just ignore me. I’m hormonal.”

Liz laughed and hugged Maria again, feeling suddenly inspired to be surrounded by someone so familiar. “I’ve missed you so much, Maria.”

Maria pulled away and wiped at her eyes. She noticed Holly standing awkwardly behind Liz, and she met her friend’s gaze. “We have a lot to talk about,” she told her quietly. Then, she focused her attention on Holly. “Hi, honey. I’m Maria Guerin.”

Holly gripped Maria’s hand briefly, and muttered her name.

“You’re going to like it here, Holly,” Maria said, watching closely as the young girl tried to disguise the anger and discomfort from surfacing. “I promise.”

When she didn’t say anything in response, Maria slung an arm over Liz’s shoulders and pulled her into her side. With her free hand she encompassed the café and its occupants – all of whom had stopped eating and conversing to watch what was going on. “Liz Parker,” she boomed to the full house. “Roswell welcomes you home!”

The Crashdown erupted into applause and yells. Surprisingly, Liz felt a sense of warmth consume her as she hugged Maria to her side. She looked over her shoulder at Holly, and the sensation dissipated. The girl stood back from them, clutching her brown bear protectively to her chest, and her pretty dark eyes downcast. She looked so alone, and so unreachable.

Once again, Liz found herself praying that she had made the right decision. That this Christmas would be better than the last.

“I thought you said you had the key.”

“This is the key. It must be rusty.”

“Maybe you’re just retarded.”

Liz grunted as the lock finally retracted and the door flung open. She turned and stuck her tongue out at Holly before stepping over the threshold of the home she hadn’t seen in years.

She smiled. “Home sweet ho—” she broke into a cough as dust attacked her esophagus. Her eyes watered as she fanned away the debris floating in front of her nose.

Holly coughed, too. “It’s like a fucking tomb.”

“It is not a tomb,” Maria laughed from behind them. Her cheeks were rosy and she was slightly out of breath from climbing the stairs. She waved off Liz’s look of apprehension and grinned. “If you had said when you were you coming home, your mother and I would have had this place cleaned up.”

Liz shook her head. “It’s nothing I can’t handle. All it needs is a little dusting.”

“Is that a rat?”

Maria squealed and jumped behind Liz, who had startled as well. The two of them stared anxiously in the direction that Holly was pointing. Liz squinted, and then sighed with relief. “No, it’s just a dust bunny.”

“That’s one huge dust bunny.”

“I am so out of here,” Maria stated, her voice quivering ever so lightly. “Bye, Holly. Liz, babe, if you need anything, call me and I’ll send Michael over.”

Liz laughed. “Okay, thanks.”

Before Maria walked out the door she stared at Holly, her watchful gaze taking in every nuance. When she refocused her attention on Liz, she mouthed the words: “Talk. Tonight.”

Liz nodded and watched as Maria gingerly made her way back down the flight of stairs. Assured that she made it down okay, she walked across the empty living room and through open the curtains to allow the sunshine in.

“This is where I lived up until I was eighteen,” Liz began to explain. “After I moved to Boston, my mother finally got her wish and my parents moved into a quaint little house a couple of streets away. She hated living above the café.”

Holly looked around the room in disdain. “I can see why.”

Liz rolled her eyes. “Oh, c’mon, it’s not that bad,” she insisted, and started to make her way to down the hallway. “They rented this place out the whole time I was gone – to the same folks, even – up until a couple of years ago. C’mon, I’ll show you the bedrooms.”

The first door they came to was her old bedroom. Liz swung open the door to reveal a chest of drawers and bed frames and box spring. They looked relatively in good shape, which meant it wasn’t her old bed. The previous tenants must have left them behind. As they surveyed the bare room, Holly’s eyes noticed the window that led outside to a balcony. She immediately staked her claim.


Liz laughed and walked past her to go open up the window. “Nice try,” she said, and groaned with strain as she lifted the window open. “But this was my room eleven years ago, and it’s my room now.”

“That’s not fair! I called dibs!”

“You only want it so you can sneak out at night.” When Holly opened her mouth to deny it, Liz continued, “and don’t try to lie. I know you.”

“Whatever,” she muttered and crossed her arms over her chest.

Liz sighed. At least she hadn’t cussed her out. “Let me show you your room. It’s bigger.” They walked out of the room and a few more feet down the hall. The bedroom was on the left; Liz opened the door and stepped aside. Another chest of drawers, along with bed frames and a box spring were in the room.

“Looks like we won’t have to sleep on the couches tonight after all,” Liz said with a grin.

Holly walked across the room and pulled back the curtains. The window peered across the street to the park. Despite the chill in the air, the park was still filled with families and friends enjoying the sunshine. Liz stood behind her and watched as a father showed his daughter the proper way to hold a baseball bat.

Holly spun away from the window and went to inspect the master bathroom. When she came out, Liz was waiting for what was sure to be a snide remark.

Instead she shrugged and dropped her book bag by the box springs. “I guess it’ll do.”

Liz took a step towards her, wanting to offer her the reassurance she knew she’d resist, but not knowing how to start. She cleared her throat, “Holly, I think we need to talk—”

“Anyone home?”

Holly smirked. “Guess we’ll have to save that heart to heart for later, Lizzie,” she mocked and then left the bedroom to meet Kyle.

Kyle was smiling and holding a box in his arms when Holly and Liz entered the living room. “How’s it feel to be back home?”

Instead of answering his question, Liz took the box from his arms. “Kyle, what are you doing? I can get this.”

He plastered a confused frown on his face. “But, you are a mere woman,” he shook his head, and stuck his thumb to his chest. “No, man shall get the boxes. You prepare the feast.”

“If there’s anything still in that refrigerator, I doubt it’s healthy enough to make a feast out of it,” Holly quipped.

Kyle winked at her and handed her his cell phone. “Call a pizza. Speed dial number two.”

“You have the Planetary Pizza on speed dial?” Liz asked, astonished.

“Ask for the Valenti special to be delivered the Crashdown.”

“You have a special?” This time Holly was astonished.

Kyle only offered them another wink before he went back downstairs to grab more boxes.

Liz laughed. “Go ahead and do that, I’m going to help, ooof—” her words were knocked out of her mouth as she turned and walked right into someone holding another box.

“Geez, Parker, walk much?”

She blinked. Then grinned, “Alex!”

He placed the box on the floor and wrapped his long arms around Liz’s tiny frame, and squeezed. When he pulled back, he held her face in his hands and gave her a smooch. “Word travels fast in a small town, Liz,” he grinned. “Welcome home.”

“Alex!” Was all she could say as she leaned up to wrap her arms around him for another hug. “I’ve missed you!”

“I’ve missed you, too, Liz.”

That warmth flooded through her again; a feeling she never thought she’d enjoy again.

“I saw the moving van and thought I’d help bring some stuff up,” he continued once they finally broke apart. “What took you so long?”

“I don’t know. I should have come home a long time ago.”

Before Alex could respond, Holly interrupted, “The pizza’s on its way.”

Alex grinned and stared down at Liz. “The Valenti special?” He laughed when she nodded, and then stepped away from her to approach Holly. “I hope you like it spicy. I’m Alex Whitman.”

“Holly Owens,” her introduction was a bit more pleasant this time. But Liz didn’t dare hope that she was finally coming around.

“Heard you met Maria DeLuca – our residential alien.”

“I thought Liz was the only alien in these parts.”

Alex grinned and looked over his shoulder at Liz. She crossed her arms and tried to look disgruntled. “I’m going to like her, I think,” he commented, as he returned his attention to the teen. “And she’s starting to talk like a local already.”

“Kyle’s rubbing off on me.”

“His accent is kind of thick, isn’t it?” He leaned down close to her, as if he were about to share a secret. “He practices.”

Liz watched in wonder as an actual smile started to spread across her face.

“Whitman, get your scrawny ass downstairs and get some more boxes,” Kyle appeared in the doorway again and deposited another box. “I’ve radioed for some of my officers to come over and help with the furniture.”

“No, Kyle, you don’t –”

“Have to do that, I know, shut up,” he looked to Holly then, and offered her a smile. “You order that pizza?”

“One Valenti Special. On the double.”

“Atta girl,” Kyle looked at Alex. “C’mon, we can reminisce over the pizza. Those boxes ain’t gonna move themselves.”

Alex leaned down and gave Liz a final peck on the cheek before he followed Kyle out the door.

“You know Maria. She can’t resist a job where she gets to boss people around,” Alex answered Liz’s question from behind a slice of pizza.

Kyle and Alex carried up the coffee table, since it was easier to get to than the dining table, and now they all were sitting on the floor circling the feast of pizza and bread sticks spread before them. The guys were taking turns filling Liz in on the details – the ins and outs of the small town life. And she listened, enthralled, enjoying every moment as if she had never left.

She’d discovered that Isabel Evans, Alex’s old high school sweetheart, had moved home from L.A. several years ago. She didn’t have a job, but did community service. Several times a week she’d commute to schools all around the state to talk about women’s body images and eating disorders. Liz recalled Maria telling her that an article in the People magazine had exploited Isabel’s own disorder, which had finally convinced the young model to end the career that had started her unhappiness. Liz could only think good for her, and wished her the best of luck.

She now knew that Michael had teamed up with Kyle and they owned the only mechanic shop in Roswell. When Liz had looked at Kyle quizzically upon learning this tidbit of information, he had only smiled sheepishly – admitting that he liked to have a lot of things on his plate. Figuratively and literally, he had four slices of pizza in front of him.

Liz had also known that while her parents still owned the Crashdown, they did very little managerial work. All that had been passed onto Maria. She had known that as well, but she hadn’t realized why she had agreed to it. Which led back to the topic at hand.

“It’s not like she needs the job. Michael and I make a good income through the shop,” Kyle elaborated. “I think she just wanted something to do. And at least working at the Crashdown, Michael knows someone’s always watching her and isn’t worried ‘bout something happening to her.”

“I bet she is driving him crazy.”

Alex snorted. “He’s going to go bald soon,” he predicted with a grin. “That nervous tick he has – pulling his hair? If he pulls any harder he’s gonna scalp himself.”

“Why hasn’t Michael shown up on your doorstep, ever so excited to see you and offered to carry up our things, Liz?” Holly asked, effectively using a mocking tone, and reached for another slice of pizza.

Liz wiped her mouth and gave Holly a somber look. “Michael and I don’t really get along,” she answered quietly. “We’ve never really been that great of friends. We just grew up together – that’s all.”

Holly regarded Liz quietly, her eyes narrowing as her mind began forming another line of questioning.

Alex nudged Kyle, obviously in an effort to get him to change the subject before Holly asked about anything else.

Unsure of what to do, he blurted, “I’m getting married!”

Liz’s face broke out into a grin. “You? The perpetual bachelor?” She asked, amazed and delighted. “To who?”

Alex groaned and buried his face behind his hand. Kyle suddenly looked as if he were choking, while Holly watched on with interest.

Liz shifted uneasily, and set her paper plate on the coffee table. “What’s going on, you guys?”

Alex glared at him, as if to say “you might as well say it now,” and Liz tensed.

“Tess,” Kyle finally answered, almost apologetically. “Tess Harding.”

She was silent, absolutely having no idea what to say. Memories of the past flashed through her mind before she could stop them. She blinked them away, and then plastered a polite smile on her face. “Well,” she laughed and shook her head as if to clear her thoughts. “Congratulations, Kyle.”

Still feeling a bit uncomfortable, he only chuckled a little – albeit nervously. “Don’t congratulate me just yet,” he confessed, his accent thickening even more with nerves. “I haven’t officially asked her yet. I’m waiting until Christmas.”

Liz stood and gathered up the empty paper plates, as well as Kyle’s, even though he still had three-and-a-half pieces yet. “Well, I’m sure she’ll say yes,” she said, her tone a just a little too upbeat, as she tossed the plates into a garbage bag.

The room fell silent. Alex glared at Kyle, who stared at his hands, while Holly watched the back of Liz’s head with curiosity.

“Well, now that I have successfully turned this into an awkward situation,” Kyle stood and put his hat on his head, all the while staring apologetically at Liz. “I think I’m going head to the office. I have some paper work to do.”

He approached her, almost warily, and pulled her into a hug. Liz hugged him back willingly and kissed his cheek. “Really,” she murmured. “Congratulations.”

“And I really am glad you’re home,” he confessed. Kyle gave her a kiss, nodded to Holly, and squeezed Alex’s shoulder on his way to the door. “Send the boys on back when the have everything unloaded. They should be here any minute.”

Liz nodded, but said nothing else.

Alex stood and offered her a reassuring smile, not knowing what to say to her. So, instead he focused his attention on Holly. “It was nice meeting you.”

She smiled slightly. “It was nice meeting you.”

Following Kyle’s lead, Alex walked over to Liz and pressed a kiss to her forehead. “I need to head over to Hondo and buy EA’s new RPG. Everywhere around here is sold out. I have a guy holding one back for me.”

Again, she nodded yet remained quiet.

“Holly, if you ever want to give my games a test run, I’d appreciate the feedback,” he suggested as he made his way to the door.

Holly’s look was one of disgust. “I don’t play video games.”

“It’s a computer game,” he said indignantly. “And it’s awesome.”

“Sure, okay then.”

Alex grinned, and gave Liz one last look. “I really am going to like her.” And with that, he shut the door behind him.

Immediately, Holly turned to Liz. “What was that about?” She asked, her eyes wide with intrigue. “And who’s Tess?”

“Why don’t you go to your room and start unpacking?” Liz suggested dazedly.

Annoyed with the fact her question was being disregarded, Holly glared. “I didn’t bring anything, remember?”

Liz blinked. “Then start unpacking that box,” she demanded hotly, and hastily pointed to the box that was marked “dishes”. She started to tie up the garbage bag, even though it wasn’t close to being full. “I’m going to take this down to the dumpster. Wash out the cupboards before you put anything away.”

“With what?”

“Improvise.” Liz stomped her way down the steps and into to the employees’ lounge. Then she shoved her way through the door that led to the alleyway. Robotically, she opened the lid to the dumpster, threw the trash bag inside, and allowed the lid to slam shut.

She didn’t move. She barely breathed as she stared blankly ahead, and wrapped her arms around her shivering body.

She was cold all over again.

writing is a socially accepted form of schizophrenia

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Re: I'll Be Home for Christmas(ML, MATURE)Pt 4, pg3, 12/31

Post by Raychelxluscious » Wed Jan 02, 2008 10:13 pm

Hey everyone!

Sorry this part is coming to you a little late this evening. We got pummeled with snow. I had to close the store because my boss couldn't make it over, and I had a heck of a time getting home. But, I'm here now. :)

Thank you all so much for the feedback!

- lol!! Your feedback is always amazing. Always filled with questions and comparisons. You're very observant. ;) Your questions will be answered soon, dear! Thank you! (Oh, and the story is pretty much finished. I've actually gone back through and added scenes to parts not yet posted, but yes, it's completed. :))

I hope everyone's questions are answered in this next part (and the parts to follow). Thank you so much for being amazing!

And steph, you're a gem! :)

Chapter Five
Liz had just reentered the employees’ lounge when she heard someone call her name excitedly.


Nancy Parker pushed through the door, with her husband Jeff right behind her. “Hi, honey!” She raced across the room and threw her arms around her only daughter. “Oh, why didn’t you call and tell us you were here so soon?”

Liz pressed a kiss to her mother’s cheek, ecstatic to see her again. “I wanted to surprise you. Surprise,” she grinned sheepishly, and then looked over her mother’s shoulder. “Hi, Daddy.”

Nancy stepped away and allowed Jeff to embrace his daughter. “Hi, Honey Bear.”

She laughed at the nickname that should have made her want to cry. “No one has called me that since Grandma Claudia passed away.”

“Well, we haven’t seen you since then, baby,” he replied and then pressed a delicate kiss to the top of her head. “How are you?”

Liz smiled sadly, not even trying to disguise her emotions from her parents. “I’m doing okay.”

“Where’s Holly?” Nancy asked anxiously.

“Upstairs, unpacking,” Liz answered, and then frowned. “I hope.”

“You arrived here in one piece,” Nancy surmised with a cluck of her tongue. “I’m surprised. I would have guessed you two to be fighting like two roosters in a chicken coop.”

Liz grinned fondly, “I’m not sure that saying applies here, Mama.”

Jeff laughed and began to lead his daughter back upstairs. “You know your mother never was able to get those analogies straight. C’mon, let’s go check on that girl.”

Holly was, in fact, unpacking the dishes just as Liz had requested. The cupboards were wide open and there was a Pine Sol scent filtering through the air. She turned, a rolled up cloth in her hand.

“I found some Pine Sol left behind beneath the sink,” she held up the cloth. “I’m using an old t-shirt of mine.”

“Holly,” Liz admonished and stepped into the kitchen as if she were going to inspect the shirt, and then stopped. Suddenly, she felt guilty. She had after all told her to improvise. “You could have used a rag or something.” She muttered weakly.

“That box hasn’t been brought in yet,” she responded, and then shrugged, her dark eyes downcast. “It’s just a stupid shirt. I don’t care.”

“I saw a bunch of the Sheriff’s men outside around that moving van,” Nancy spoke, her eyes flitting around the messy apartment in disdain. “They should be coming up here any minute now.”

Holly forced a smile as she nodded at Nancy and Jeff. “Nice to see you again Mr. and Mrs. Parker.”

“It’s good to see you, too, Holly. And call us Jeff and Nancy, really, dear,” Nancy twittered. “Now, why don’t I help you, hmm?”

She approached the young girl with a benign smile on her face. Reaching her side, she wrapped an arm around her shoulder and gave her a brief, but tight embrace.

“Knock, knock,” a voice called from the doorway. “Deputy Valenti has sent the cavalry.”

“Hank, c’mon on in, son,” Jeff called.

Hank Swanson and another officer grunted and groaned as they maneuvered Liz’s couch through the doorway.

“Oh, goodness!” Nancy exclaimed as she gently placed a plate into the cupboard. “How did you boys manage to get that big ole thing up here?”

“Sheer strength, ma’am,” said the other officer. He nodded to Liz. “Where would you like it?”

“This really isn’t conducive. This place hasn’t even been cleaned yet!”

“Well, there’s not much that can be done now, Mama,” Liz pointed to the wall that has the window. “Other there, I think, would be good. Thanks so much.”

“Jeff, run home and get the vacuum cleaner. We have to do something about all this dust,” Nancy insisted. “Liz, Holly, and I will stay here and direct the boys where everything should go.”

Jeff gave Liz a pitied look, before he clapped the officers on the back for a job well done. “I’ll be back soon.”

“You guys, let me help you.”

“No, ma’am, Deputy Valenti knew you’d insist on helping us. And told us to tell you,” he paused, and looked nervously in Nancy’s direction before continuing. “You can help when you grow a pair. And that’s a direct quote, ma’am.” Color tinged his cheeks as he finished.

“You tell Kyle Valenti I won’t stand for that kind of talk!” Nancy huffed.

Liz walked up to Hank and lowered her voice. “You can tell Kyle that I’ll kick his ass later.”

Dutifully, the two men tipped their hats and then continued on downstairs. Liz grinned. It was good to be home.

“Elizabeth, don’t just stand there. Come help,” Nancy ordered, and shook her head. “You really should have known better than to just show up. This place is a mess.”

Holly turned to her, a grin forming on her lips. “Yeah, way to go, Elizabeth.”

It wasn’t until later that evening that Liz was able to forcibly shove her mother out of the apartment, promising that she would call if she needed anything. And that she’d return her vacuum cleaner in one piece.

All the furniture had been moved into the apartment and placed in a bit of a haphazard positioning, but at least they were out of the truck. Mattresses were dressed and placed on the beds left behind. Liz was delighted that she wouldn’t have to fork over the money to buy two new sets. Most of the boxes were unpacked. Namely, the dishes and clothing. When Nancy had discovered that Liz had allowed Holly to leave Boston without sufficiently packing her clothes, she almost had a coronary. It was then she declared that she was taking Holly shopping the very next morning.

Liz had grinned, while Holly had glowered.

Now, after two strenuous days, it was time to relax.

“I don’t remember your mother being so exhausting at the wedding.” Holly commented from her slouched position on the love seat.

Liz barely had the strength to turn her head and look at the teenager. She was still shocked with every new word that Holly willing addressed to her. She smiled. “That’s because you were nine,” she said. “Just be glad you didn’t live with her for eighteen years. Though, she really is a wonderful woman, she’s just very –”

“Overwhelming,” Holly supplied.


Silence fell among the duo, only to be interrupted moments later by the ringing of Liz’s cell phone – coming from the midst of a dozen of half unpacked boxes. It took way too much effort for her to get up, and then all of her energy to start looking for the damned thing. She found it in the box of DVDs and answered it on the fifth ring.

“Babe, I’m downstairs, and I’m armed. Let’s chat.” Maria hung up before Liz had a chance to reply.

Holly heaved herself off the couch and stepped over the boxes. “I’m going to take a shower.”

“I’m going to meet Maria downstairs. Let me know if –” her words were cut off by the slamming of the bedroom door.

Heaving another tired sigh, Liz pocketed her cell phone and made her way downstairs.

“I can drive myself home, Michael. I don’t need you to drive me so just give me the keys.”

“And what? I’m supposed to walk home?” Came Michael’s incredulous response. “You’re crazy woman.”

Maria’s voice was threatening when she asked, “What did I tell you about calling me crazy?”

“Well, you are if you think I’m going to let you drive my Mustang.”

Maria laughed outrageously. “And why in the hell did you buy a Mustang – in the dead of winter! You can’t drive that in the snow.”

“Do you see any snow?”

“Oh, God, I’ll drive her, just go!” Liz called from the bottom of the steps. She was entirely too tired to have to listen to them bicker any longer than necessary.

Maria turned to grin at Liz, before she beamed up Michael. “Liz will drive me home, honey. No need for you to stay here and eavesdrop on a conversation between two women.”

Michael glowered before he dropped a kiss on her lips. He straightened and stared at Liz. “I want her home by midnight.”

This earned an eye roll from Liz. “Nice to see you, too, Mikey. You look good.”

He ignored her, gave Maria another kiss, and then exited through the alleyway door. Liz followed him to make sure the door was locked, before she turned to Maria. “He hasn’t changed.”

“I never was able to pry that stick out of his ass,” Maria confessed with a smile. “Or get him to groom, but I love him.”

Liz smiled. “Someone ought to.”

Maria didn’t take offense, and instead lifted the bags she had in each hand. “I told you I was loaded, girl. Grab some spoons, let’s eat.”

Liz did just that as she followed Maria into the empty diner. “Okay, now this is the part I hate,” Maria complained, as she surveyed the room dubiously. She nodded her head towards the counter and the bar stools. “I can’t get my fat ass up on those things anymore. And I don’t think I’ll be able to fit in the booth.”

“So, sit sideways,” Liz told her as she walked towards the nearest both. “You can put your feet up.”

Maria grinned. “I knew I was friends with you for a reason. You always were so smart.”

“I know, you cheated off me in science for two years,” Liz reminisced, and watched as Maria spread a wide selection of ice cream before them. “I’m the reason you graduated high school.”

“Got me out of remedial science to boot.”

“Oh, God, Maria,” Liz groaned as she pulled out the sixth pint of ice cream. “I can’t eat all that.”

“I know,” she arranged five of them to be on her side of the table and grabbed a spoon. “But I can.”

Liz laughed and opened the pint that read, “Stephen Colbert’s Americone Dream.” “So, how many DeLuca-Guerin wildcats do you have in there?”

Maria patted her stomach as she took her first delicious bite of ice cream. She groaned and then answered, “Three.”

Liz nearly choked. “Three?”

She nodded emphatically. “Do you know what Michael’s grandfather said when he found out there were three?” Upon the shaking of Liz’s head, she went on, mimicking the older man’s thick European accent. “Ah, Guerin sperm. It is potent.”

Liz burst into laughter, covering her mouth to keep chunks of ice cream from spewing out. Maria shook her head. “Wildcats is right. I’m carrying a litter here, and they’re constantly fighting with each other,” she winced, as one of the wildcats kicked her in the kidney. “Just one of the perks of in vitro.”

“And the others?” Liz quizzed, still laughing lightly.

“I’ll let you know.” And they laughed again.

Then they were quiet for a moment, simply relishing in the ice cream and each other’s company. It had been long time since two best friends had talked to each other – even longer since they’d seen each other. When finally, Liz cleared her throat. “So, you never did get around to telling me that Kyle was planning on asking Tess to marry him,” she murmured, watching the guilty expression that crossed Maria’s features. “And don’t try and tell me you didn’t know. You know everything.”

Maria grimaced. “I know, I’m sorry. I just didn’t know how to bring it up.”

Liz smiled and shrugged one shoulder. She swirled her ice cream around the carton for a moment, before she lifted the spoonful to her mouth. “It’s okay. It just caught me off guard is all.”

Maria nodded in understanding, and eyed Liz closely. “Have you seen –”

Liz halted her with a shake of her head. “I haven’t seen Max, no.”

“He knows you’re here.”

“I’m not surprised,” Liz commented. “Everyone knows. It’s a small town. There’s no getting around it.”

“Just like there’s no getting around you seeing him,” Maria pointed out, and then added softly, “eventually.”

Liz nodded. “Eventually,” she eyed Maria pointedly. “But not tonight.”

Maria shoved her cartons of ice cream aside and grasped Liz’s cold hands in her own. “So, how are you? Really.”

She sighed, shoving few strands of her loose dark hair behind her ears, not even pretending to be oblivious to what she was referring to. “The pain isn’t so constant anymore. It’s kind of receded to a dull throb,” she confessed quietly. “I didn’t come here just for me, Maria. I’m worried about Holly.”

Maria snorted. “I’m surprised you even got her in the car.”

Liz shook her head, and closed her eyes. “She misses him. She feels like she’s all alone,” she shrugged. “And maybe she is. I mean, who am I to her, Maria? I’m the woman who married her father. That’s it. I’m not a friend. I’m not a confidant. I’m nothing to her, and she lets me know it everyday.”

Maria squeezed her hands. “She’ll get it. It’ll hit her why you brought her here. And she’ll understand then.”

“Oh, God, I hope so,” came Liz’s heartfelt prayer. “I can’t let anything happen to her. Jack made me promise.”

“How could he have known?” Maria wondered aloud, her voice tremulous at the mere thought of being in Liz’s shoes. “How could he have known he was about to….”

“He didn’t. He was just always so paranoid about that kind of stuff. In the event that something did happen to him, he didn’t want Holly going back to her mother. So, he made me promise, by way of a will.”

“I’m so sorry, Liz,” Maria whispered. “I’m so sorry.”

Liz leaned back into the booth, and gaze dazedly down at table. She remembered that morning so vividly. She remembered hearing Holly’s painful screams, and then racing down the steps, and skidding across the hardwood floor of the living room. Only to find her husband lying on the couch – already gone.

The doctors had said Jack had a heart attack, but Liz couldn’t fathom it. He was only thirty-two, and was in excellent health. How could he have had a heart attack? Upon further investigation they discovered the sac-like covering around his heart had filled with fluid, and couldn’t drain. It had caused his heart to fail.


She broke away from her reverie, suddenly angry to find that she still couldn’t cry. Still could not physically mourn the loss of her husband. Yet she smiled sadly at her friend and reassured her she was fine.

“Really, Maria, I’m fine,” she insisted.

She had to be.


Max in the next part -- I promise!
Last edited by Raychelxluscious on Wed Jan 02, 2008 10:44 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: I'll Be Home for Christmas(ML, MATURE)Pt 5, pg4 1/2

Post by Raychelxluscious » Fri Jan 04, 2008 7:08 pm

Hey everyone. :)

Sorry to post and run, but I'm in a bit of a hurry. But know what I appreciate all the feedback you've left me.

I hope you enjoy this next part!

Thanks STEPH!!

Chapter Six
As it was, Liz didn’t see Max Evans that night nor the day or night following. Which was fine by her. She didn’t necessarily want to see the first man she’d ever loved, and the only man to have ever broken her heart. It was over ten years ago, yes, but some hurts ran deeper than others.

Besides, she was able to get a lot accomplished since they’d arrived. She had relieved Maria of her managerial duties and put her on strict maternity leave. The only reason she would ever need to step foot inside the Crashdown should be if she were hungry – and her meals would be free. Liz had taken over, and would see to the café’s needs indefinitely. She’d also got Holly enrolled in her alma mater, West Roswell High. The students at WRH still had two more weeks yet of school, whereas Holly was finished (one of the perks of attending a private school). So, she would not return to school until the second week in January. Liz couldn’t tell if she absolutely hated the idea or not – though, she did know she wasn’t exactly thrilled.

The apartment was in a much better condition. With the help of her mother, she was able to clean her home from top to bottom, and arrange the furniture in a more pleasing fashion. A fashion more pleasing to Nancy, that is.

Yes, she had accomplished much in the last two days. Much, much more than she would have been able to accomplish had she’d run into Max, or Tess for that matter, who has been suspiciously absent as well. It was hard to not run into someone in a town as small as Roswell.

Liz sighed. She was going to have to apologize to Kyle for her initial reaction. It’s been ten years. It’s time to move on.

And she would – she had faith in that. Because the last two days have been the happiest she’s been in a little over a year. Being with her parents – whom she’d missed dearly – and Maria and Alex and Kyle had been exactly what she needed. Every moment she spent with them consumed her with that delicious warmth. She finally felt that icy barricade cracking.

“There is no way on God’s green earth I am wearing this.”

Liz froze and turned to see Holly standing in front of the employees’ lockers, wearing the café’s required uniform. It wasn’t the uniform that shocked her. No, it was the same uniform that she’d worn when she’d worked her. What shocked her was what Holly had said.

“What did you say?”

It took Holly a moment to realize what was so odd, and then it hit her. She rolled her eyes and crossed her arms. The little silver antennas on her head bobbed with the gesture. “I’ve been here for two days and your mother is already rubbing off on me?” She asked, dubiously. “What I meant to say is, there’s no way in hell I’m wearing this piece of shit.” She paused, and then added “fucking hell” for good measure.

“You want money to buy that car so you can get out of here so fast?” Liz asked, bringing up the conversation, or rather yelling match – on Holly’s part, at least – from the night before. “Then you’d best find a job. And, oh, look, we’re hiring.”

“Fuck you.”

“That’s the spirit.”

A young girl, with reddish brown hair entered the backroom then, and Liz grinned. “Holly this is…Jeana, right?” The girl nodded politely, a pleasant smile on her face. “She’s going to train you. Be nice.”

Holly rolled her eyes before she eyed the petite red head incredulously. Then, she sighed, “Let’s get this over with so I can make some cash.” And with that, Jeana followed Holly out into the diner.

Liz watched the door swing back and forth until it finally slowed to a stop. She hoped that Holly would take this opportunity to make new friends. She’d heard Holly crying on the phone last night, talking to Danny until the wee hours of the morning. He was the only one she’d had, and now he was gone, too, she’d said. She’d called her a Mega Bitch, again, and confessed that the second she was able to she was coming back to Boston. Even if she had to hitchhike.

Liz highly doubted it; she wasn’t worried. But she couldn’t help but feel guilty. This Danny kid obviously had Holly’s trust. That was something that Liz had never been able to garner – no matter how hard she had strived. Hearing Holly whisper that she loved him before she’d hung up the phone had only added to her guilt. She hoped, that with time, the pain inside of Holly would stop.

Heal. She wanted Holly to heal – not freeze up like she had done.

Maybe she was a Mega Bitch after all.

Anxious to see how Holly was coping, Liz walked through the swinging door and into the diner. She went straight for the register, however, to make it appear as if she weren’t spying on the teen’s progress. Deftly, she rang up a customer’s bill and wished them a Merry Christmas. There was no need to be politically correct in Roswell; everyone knew everyone, and everyone celebrated Christmas the same.

As she bent over the counter, filling napkin dispensers, Liz watched Holly through the curtain of her hair. The smile she gave to the customers was forced, yet convincing. She seemed to be acting polite, though Liz couldn’t hear what was being said. Jeana didn’t look the least bit uncomfortable, so that was good as well. Maybe Holly could find a friend in the young girl. She seemed nice enough.

“The one person who so desperately wanted to get out of this town is the first person to come back.”

Liz froze in her task. The voice – the one that would be forever impossible to forget – sent a chill up her spine. Slowly, she parted her curtain of hair and tucked the strands behind her ears. Lifting her head, she told herself she was prepared for this.

She wasn’t.

Max Evans piercing gaze made it feel as if it were impossible to breathe. As if an elephant had settled on her chest and was reluctant to move. But Liz found she was breathing, however, and that gave her strength.

“Max,” she greeted, annoyed that her voice sounded strained. “You’re wrong, though. Isabel returned several years before I did.”

Max smiled, that devilish flash of sparkling white nearly causing her knees to buckle. Liz cursed herself, and gripped the edge of the counter firmly. She sucked in a breath when she saw him lean across the counter, intent on kissing her.

He did. On the cheek, but it had its effect. When he pulled back, her face was flushed and her eyes were probably glassy.

“And that doesn’t count,” he rejoined, his voice a smooth timbre. Liz was unsure of what he was talking about – the kiss, or her remark. And then he elaborated. “She spent several months out of the year here, and flew back to L.A. when needed. You left and didn’t come back.” He was quiet, eyeing her expectantly, knowing the effect he had on her and loving it. When she didn’t have a response, he continued, “I heard you were coming to town. However, it just so happened that I was out of town the day you got here.”

Where had he gone? It was on the tip of her tongue to ask him, when she realized what he’d said. “You heard I was coming to town?”

Max chuckled and tucked a wayward strand of her silky hair behind her ear. His touch lingered longer than merited before he finally answered. “Don’t be angry,” he chided. “Maria doesn’t keep anything from Michael. And Michael doesn’t keep anything from me. Especially regarding you.” He added softly.

Liz didn’t give herself a chance to ponder his last statement before she was moving, quickly putting as much distance between herself and Max Evans as possible. “It really was nice seeing you, Max, but I have a lot of things to do, so if you’ll excuse me,” she pushed through the swinging door just as she finished, and took a deep breath.

And then expelled it when he pushed through the door right behind her.

Her shoulders sagged as she turned to look at him. “You’re not allowed back here.”

“So you’ve said, everyday of the four years we dated,” he commented with a careless shrug. “It didn’t stop me then. Do you think it’ll stop me now?”

“What do you want, Max?” She hated the desperation in her voice, but found she couldn’t stop it.

“I wanted to apologize.”

That piqued her interest. Apologize? After ten years, he wanted to apologize? Well, she knew exactly where he could take his apology and shove –

“I’m sorry about your husband, Liz.”

Her shoulders sagged. Of course he’d meant that. Why would he be apologizing for anything else? She straightened then, lifting her chin and looking him in the eye. “Thank you. I appreciate that, but I’m fine.”

Max took a step towards her, and Liz had to fight the urge to take a step back. “Are you?” He questioned, his gaze probing deeper than she’d ever allowed anyone. “Because I think you’re lying, Liz.”

Affronted, she narrowed her gaze at him. “I have no reason to lie.”

Max made a tsk-tsk noise as he shook his head. “That’s lie number two.”

“Just who the hell do you think you are? Coming back here and accusing me of lying, you arrogant bastard –”

“What’s going on?”

Liz jumped at the sound of Holly’s voice. She side stepped Max, for she was too short to peer over his shoulder, and noticed the two girls standing awkwardly in the doorway. “Nothing,” she insisted. And out of sheer politeness, Liz pointed at Max and made introductions. “And this is my stepdaughter Holly.”

Max extended his hand, and Holly shook it. “Max,” she said, his name rolling off her tongue with disdain. Her eyes glittered contemptibly and she told him, “I don’t like you.”

Liz gasped, “Holly!” and Max chuckled. “That’s too bad, because I think I’m going to like you.”

Holly shrugged, not at all flattered. “That’s seems to be the consensus around here.”

Max grinned. “Yes, I’m sure it is,” he smiled politely at Jeana before he returned his attention to Liz once more. “Have dinner with me tonight.”

Liz took pleasure in telling him, “no.”

“I thought you’d say that,” he murmured, but said nothing else. He simply stared at her before smiling cunningly, and taking his exit of choice even after all these years – the alleyway door.

“That’s Max?” Holly accused, though for what, Liz wasn’t sure.

She frowned at her, wearily aware of Jeana still standing in the room. “You know about Max?”

“Yeah, Nancy told me about him.”

Liz groaned, wondering what story her mama had contrived about him – for she was woefully known for not getting her stories straight. “Mama drinks.”

Holly laughed. “Now I know you have a sense of humor.”

Sighing, Liz regarded Jeana apologetically before gesturing towards Holly. “How’s she doing?”

Jeana smiled. “She catches on pretty quick.”

Liz nodded. “Good, now get back to work,” and with that, she barricaded herself into the office. She leaned her weight against the door and took in a deep breath. Being in the same town as Max Evans was going to be harder than she’d anticipated.

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Re: I'll Be Home for Christmas(ML, MATURE)Pt 6, pg5 1/4

Post by Raychelxluscious » Mon Jan 07, 2008 1:22 am

Hey everyone. (:

Since it's officially Monday (my time at least), I've decided to go ahead and post the new part, since I won't have a lot of time when I finally get to bed and then wake up again. So, instead of you guys waiting all day for it, why not have it early, yeah? Yeah.

I'm so glad you're all enjoying this. (: We're about half way done now. Kind of exciting.

At any rate, thank you all so much for your encouraging feedback.

- Liked the way Holly handled the Max thing, huh? hehe, me, too. She's kind of confusing to write, even for me, but hey...I guess that's just her. (: Thanks!
Tear_of_Mercury - LOL! Now, I told you from the beginning I wasn't sure how to categorize him - seasons wise. He's kind of developed into a different character all together. But, I think he's kind of the charming, slightly arrogant Max we saw in S1 when he got sloshed by accient. :P So, there. He's still S1, and he's still awesome. And *you* love him! ;)
- I just found out a katydid is a bug. I thought I'd share.
- Wendy, don't even pretend you're angry. You love me! And we *are* friends. Maybe if you'd sign on AIM every once in a while you'd be in the loop. :P In all seriousness, I *looove* you. And I'm PMing you ASAP to let you know it's been updated - as per your requests. ;)

All right guys...I hope your questions are being answered as you read along. That's my goal.

Thank you all so much for being awesome. (:

Special thanks to Steph, for being so amazing. I don't even care if you're a beta-whore. ;) I love you just the same!

Chapter Seven
“This goes to table seven.”

Holly’s worked at the café for a week, yet she still had to mentally count the tables in her head before she knew where she was going. Gingerly, she lifted the warm plate into her hands and made her way over to the elderly gentlemen at table seven.

“Here you go. Saturn-something-or-other, hold the Peculiar Pickles.”

“Planetary Pickles,” he offered on a conspiratorial whisper, a genteel smile on his face.

“Whatever,” she whispered back, and then turned away. Immediately, she noticed the smoothie that had spilled all over the counter, courtesy of the bratty four year old who had – lucky for him – just left with his mother. She sulked over to the counter, pulling out the rag from her apron pocket as she went. She was furiously scrubbing the counter when Jeana walked up.

“Me and a group of my friends are going to see the new Alvin and the Chipmunk movie Friday night.”

Holly glanced up, the look on her face nonplussed. “Neat,” she said, and continued with her task.

Jeana laughed and nudged her with her elbow. “Do you want to come? That’s what I was hinting at.”

“I don’t hint,” Holly said, and tossed the now sticky rag into the bucket filled with other sticky and dirty rags. “I say what I mean.”

Jeana stared at her in silence for a moment, a small smile on her face. “I’m beginning to get that,” she murmured and that smile morphed into a grin. Holly knew she wasn’t the least bit swayed by her attitude. “So, just say what you mean – do you want to go, or don’t you?”

“I think I’ll pass,” Holly said, as she squirted the counter cleaner onto the gleaming surface. She blinked down at the aliens peering up at her, before she offered Jeana a stoic glance. “I’d say that I appreciated the offer, but…I wouldn’t mean it.”


Holly looked up into a pair of pretty green eyes, and a pretty boy’s face. Too pretty, in fact. She ducked her head again.

“Hey, Jordan,” Jeana greeted, and looked slyly in Holly’s direction. “This is Holly. Holly, this is Jordan, my brother.”

Jordan grinned and offered her his hand. “We’re twins.”

Even though her hand was wet, she shook his anyway, delighted in the surprised look that passed across his face. “No way. I couldn’t tell with the resemblance and the matching names and all. Thanks for clarifying.”

Jeana giggled at her brother. “I like her.”

Holly rolled her eyes and started to walk away when Jordan stopped her. “Are you coming to the movies with us Friday?” He asked, and Holly didn’t miss the hint of hope in his voice.

“Nope, sorry. I have better things to do,” and with that she shoved through the door and into the employees’ lounge, trying to blink away the green of his eyes. She reached into her pocket and pulled out her cell phone, needing to talk to Danny.


“Jesus Christ!” She whirled around and recognized Maria’s husband, or Shaggy as she’d called him, from when they’d met the other day.

Michael grinned and immediately apologized. “Sorry, I didn’t mean to scare you.”

“Yeah, well, thanks, I almost shit myself,” she murmured, irritably. “Just what I need in the town the size of Mayberry – for everyone to know that the new girl shit her pants.”

“Y’know, if Nancy Parker heard you talking like that, she’d tan your hide.”

Holly tried to appear doubtful, but Michael saw the way she warily glanced around, looking for the woman to pop out from the shadows. “Don’t worry,” he soothed. “She’s not here.”

She shrugged as she pocketed her cell phone, and then crossed her arms menacingly. “And what are you doing back here? Employees only.”

“Wow, you know what? You almost sounded threatening,” Michael taunted. “I’m almost inclined to leave.” But instead, he collapsed onto the couch, crossing his legs at the ankles and folding his arms behind his head. He pointed upstairs with his foot. “The wife is up there with Liz. Talking about hormones and periods and lactating.”

“Sounds fun. Why’d you leave?”

“Because women don’t talk about boobs in the same aspect that men do. It was boring.”

“Or did they use words with too many syllables?”

Michael was inclined to flip her off, but had to catch himself. She was just a kid, after all. A smartass kid, but a kid nonetheless.

“Aren’t you supposed to be working?” He asked instead.

“I’m on break.”


“Don’t you have a job?”

“I’m independently wealthy.”

“From the ever so booming career of car mechanics?” She asked with raised eyebrows. “I doubt it.”

“Hey, when you’re the only one in town…” He trailed off, letting the sentence complete itself. He wasn’t wealthy, of course, but when you owned the shop then you could come and go as you pleased. And it pleased him to go – a lot. “So, Liz is your step mother.”

“Liz is my father’s wife.”

Michael laughed, an actual belly laugh that caused him to take pause and hold his stomach. For once, someone who didn’t adore Liz Parker. “Wow, I like you.”

Holly rolled her eyes – sick of hearing it.

“What don’t you like about her?” Michael asked, when Holly remained quiet.

“She’s a Mega Bitch.”

He raised his eyebrows. “Mega Bitch. That’s new.”

“Danny, my boyfriend, calls her a Hell Bitch, but I usually reserve that name for Sundays.”

He smirked. “Interesting. And why do you hate her so much?”

Holly narrowed her eyes. “Why do you?”

“I never said I did.”

“I never said I did, either.”

“Oh, that’s right. You only say what you mean.”

Her eyes were slits now, and her fists clenched agitatedly at her sides. “Were you spying on me?”

“I was eavesdropping. There’s a difference.”

“You’re a dick.”

Michael chuckled and remained unfazed. “Have you been talking to Maria?”

Suddenly, Holly smiled, and then laughed softly. “I kind of like you, too,” she admitted.

“Great, let’s be friends.”

She shrugged. “Okay.”

“Let’s start by telling each other why we don’t like Liz.”

Holly clucked her tongue and wagged a finger at him. “Uh-uh. We’re not there yet.”

Michael grinned and sat up, making room for her on the couch to sit. She did. “Fair enough. I’ll start, and afterwards, if you feel comfortable, then you can tell me, deal?” They shook on it. He rubbed his hands together in preparation. Then, he blew air through his cheeks before he finally just blurted it out: “She left Roswell after she graduated and broke my best friend’s heart.”

Holly waited. Blinked at him. And then, “That’s it?”

He shrugged. “That, and she kicked me in the balls when we were kids, but for the most part, yeah,” he nodded. “Okay, you’re turn.”

Holly rolled her eyes. “Mine’s better,” she gloated. “She took my father away from me by marrying him, and then, to add insult to injury, she was going to divorce him.”

Michael’s brows shot up. “They were getting a divorce? Maria never told me that.”

She shrugged. “They didn’t tell anyone, I think. But I knew. He spent a month on the couch, while she slept upstairs in the bedroom,” her voice began to tremor as she went on. “He spent his last night on the couch instead of –” Holly stopped, cleared her throat, and pinned Michael with clear brown eyes. “Anyway, I win.”

He nodded solemnly and swallowed. “Yeah, I think you do, kid.” He murmured roughly.

She stood. “I have to get back to work,” she said, and started for the door. “But hey, tell your friend to get over it. She isn’t worth it.”

Michael nodded and stopped her just before she left the room. “If you ever need someone to talk to, about anything, let me know,” he shrugged, obviously feeling uncomfortable. “I lost a Dad, too. Actually, I never really had one, but he was still lost to me,” he paused to shake his head at his ramblings. “Anyway, I just want you to know…I’m here if you ever need anything.”

Holly considered him for a moment, a soft expression falling over her face, before she rolled her eyes and turned away.

“Yeah, I’m sure you’ll be the first person I come to when I need a shoulder to cry on.”

Liz had just turned off her bedside lamp, when she heard a pair of feet landing on her balcony, and then stomping towards her window. A second later, there was a distinct tapping on the glass pane.

“Are you kidding me?” She asked to no one. Throwing back the covers, she got out of bed and padded across the room to the window. Even before she saw his face, she knew who it was. “Max, what are you doing here?”

“Thought I’d brave that rickety ladder one more time. For old time’s sake.” When he tried to duck inside, Liz prevented him with a firm hand on his shoulder. “Nuh-uh, I’ll come out, but you are not coming inside.”

He grinned, pleased, and then stood from his crouched position and stepped aside. When she returned from putting on a pair of shoes and a hoodie, he bent and offered her a hand as she crawled out, but she ignored it.

“Now, hurry up and say what you have to say. It’s cold.”

Max only smiled at her, taking in the changes in her caused by time. She was fuller around the waist and thighs, having put on a pleasant couple more pounds. He recalled her being terribly skinny when they were younger. He remembered how afraid he was, thinking that he was going to break her. How he’d held her tiny waist in his hands, and they swayed to the music playing at her senior prom. She had just been crowned Prom Queen, and she’d looked so radiant. Her eyes had been sparkling. He remembered a time when they’d sparkle readily back then, but now….

He cleared his throat. “I noticed you didn’t come back for your ten year reunion last year.”

Liz looked away. “It was a busy year.”

He nodded, remembering the day Michael had told him that her husband had died suddenly. He remembered the pain he felt; it was a different kind of pain from when Michael told him she’d gotten married. Then, he’d ached for himself. Later, he ached for her. He still did – in varying degrees.

“When I saw her,” he began, speaking of Holly. “I thought she was yours. You two have such similar coloring. The hair and the eyes, but her skin is just slightly lighter than yours.”

Liz found herself smiling. “Max, she’s fifteen. I had to have been fourteen when she was born. We were dating when I was fourteen.”

“I know,” he smiled. “But the resemblance is uncanny. That’s all.”

Liz fell silent, not quite sure how to feel knowing that she could pass as Holly’s biological mother. She did know, however, that she’d keep that tidbit of information to herself. Her eyes met his then, and she felt so unnerved by the way he looked at her that she had to turn away.

“So, you’ve been keeping tabs on me while I’ve been away, huh?”

“I’ve gotten the occasional tidbit of information from Michael, yes.” When she gave him a doubtful expression, he caved. “Okay, so I’ve been long-distance stalking you. What did you expect?”

“I expected you to continue to forget about me. Like you had made it blatantly apparent that you intended to, the week before I left.”

His expression changed. It softened, and became more remorseful. “Liz, that was a mistake.”

“I’ll say. You bastard.”

“No, let me explain.”

“Max, I wouldn’t have accepted your explanation ten years ago,” she said, her arms wrapping tightly around her midriff, exhibiting that stubborn streak that he’d found irresistible. “I’m not going to accept it now.”

He sighed, gently grabbing her arm and steering her to the lounge chair she had found in the basement and put back out. They sat down together. “You don’t have to accept it, but I’d like you to listen to it.” When she didn’t say anything, Max cleared his throat and continued. “I was an asshole.”

Liz snorted.

“Liz,” he admonished, before he went on. “I was young, and jealous, and so hung up on a girl who wanted something better for herself than could be offered from Roswell, New Mexico.”

She opened her mouth to speak, but Max silenced her with a tender finger on her lips. “Please, let me finish,” she nodded, and Max dropped his hand, but not before he passed his thumb over the silkiness of her bottom lip. “All I heard that year was Harvard. You were worried all year that you wouldn’t get in – and then you did. I never saw you so happy. And I was jealous. All I knew was that I didn’t want you to go, and that I couldn’t go with you if you did. I have roots here, Liz, and at the time it would have been impossible for me to uproot them.”

Liz remained silent, waiting patiently for him to continue. He did, with a shaky breath. “I’m an asshole, Liz,” he chuckled. “You really should have known that before we started dating. I’m sure you know it was no accident I asked you to meet me at the bowling alley the same night I was there with Tess. I wanted you to see me with her, so that you’d think that I’d moved on, that I didn’t want you anymore. So, that you would move on from me and –”

“Max, no, I don’t want to hear anymore,” Liz shook her head rapidly, and bolted up from the chair. “No, you had to have known I would have stayed. That it wouldn’t have mattered to me.”

Max stood too and he gripped her arms in his hands. “I did know you would have stayed. But I also know it would have mattered,” he insisted. “See, there, Liz, another lie. You wanted that so much you could taste it. And I didn’t want to be the one to stand in the way of that.”

“So you did the noble thing, huh, Max?” She bit out savagely, resentment evident in her voice. “Yeah, well, you broke my heart.”

He lifted his hand and cupped her cheek, smoothing his thumb under her eye as if wiping away an invisible tear. “I broke my heart, too.”

Staring into his eyes, so filled with regret and something else she refused to acknowledge, had Liz turning away. She tightened her arms around herself, feeling that chill that never seemed to leave her. “It doesn’t matter anymore, I’m over it,” she tossed over her shoulder at him. Then, before he could say anything else, she said quietly, “I think you should go, Max.”

He was silent for a moment, before he finally murmured his soft reply. “Okay.”

She heard him start down the ladder, and when she thought he was gone, his voice drifted back up. “I’m sorry for that, Liz,” he whispered. “I’m sorry about your husband. And I’m sorry for one more thing.”

She waited, not turning around – not having the strength.

“I’m sorry for the baby.”

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Re: I'll Be Home for Christmas(ML, MATURE)Pt 7, pg6, 1/7

Post by Raychelxluscious » Wed Jan 09, 2008 10:24 am

Hi everyone! Here's the new part.

I know I said I was going to answer some questions, but I just can't answer them all without making y'all ask a few more, lol! But I promise, you all will figure out what's going on as we make our way towards the end. ;) All will be clear!

Thank you so much for the feedback!

- Hi! Welcome, and thank you so much for the feedback!
martine - Hii! I'm glad I was able to get you out of lurking; thanks for the feedback!
- lol!! ;)

(: Some of you hit the nail right on the head. The rest of you are gonna have to wait...;)

Seriously, though, the feedback was amazing and encouraging, and I greatly appreciate it! I hope to see you all at my Author's Chat. (:

Many thanks to Steph!

And now, here we go!

Part Eight
She hadn’t cried. She hadn’t cried mournful tears for the baby she had never held, had never seen. The baby she had lost so soon after losing its father. In her heart, she mourned. Yes, she longed for that baby everyday – as often as she did her husband. But she hadn’t cried.

And damned, if that didn’t piss her off all over again.

For the umpteenth time that morning, Liz cursed Max Evans. Though, in all fairness, she ought be cursing Maria and her big mouth. Of course, she’d tell everything to Michael, and then he’d go running off to Max, so, really, why was she surprised? She sighed as she ran her fingers through her hair and drew her locks into a tight ponytail. Because she hadn’t wanted Max to know, that’s why. Because more than she had wanted to be a molecular biologist, Liz had wanted to be a mother.

It didn’t matter. Liz straightened her shoulders, took a deep breath, and stared hard at her reflection. It didn’t matter, because she was healing. Everyday she spent in Roswell was causing the dam to break. That icy façade that had somehow erected itself would tumble soon, she felt sure.

She leaned closer to the mirror, peering into her dull brown eyes, looking for the tears lurking somewhere behind. She found nothing.

Liz laughed, wondering if she were the only person in the world wishing for the ability to cry. With a shake of her head and a rueful smile on her face, she exited her bedroom. As soon as she stepped out in the hallway, she stilled – listening to the sound drifting to her ears. It was crying, and it was coming from Holly’s bedroom.

Uncertain, she quietly made her way down the hallway and shifted to peer through the crack of Holly’s door left ajar. She could hear the teen’s sobs clearer now, and each one clenched her chest. She couldn’t see her, but didn’t really want to go inside, wary of Holly’s temper so early in the morning. However, when she leaned a little closer to try and get a better view, the floor shifted beneath her weight causing the door to slowly swing open.

Holly sat on the edge of her bed, dressed in her turquoise and silver uniform, with her face buried into her pale hands. Her fingernails were painted a gaudy red color that further enhanced her skin tone. Thoroughly unsure of how to approach the weeping girl without getting swung at, Liz hesitantly cleared her throat.

Nothing. She grimaced and stepped inside of the room as carefully as if she were sneaking up on a wild animal. “Holly?” She whispered softly.

Holly sniffled but didn’t look up. It was apparent she was making a conscious effort to cease her sobs before she lifted her head.

“Holly, what’s wrong?” Liz resisted the urge to roll her eyes at the stupidity of her question. What was wrong? She knew what was wrong. She hated it here. She hated her –

“I hate him!” Came her muffled retort.

…Him. Well, that was unexpected. A frown creased her brows. “You hate who?”

Holly did lift her face then, revealing dark brown eyes shimmering with unshed tears. “Danny,” she spat viciously. “He’s a two-timing asshole!”

Carefully, Liz seated herself on the edge of the bed, kind of beside her but kind of not – wanting to give her that distance. “Okay,” she managed to say. What’s next? Should she ask what happened? Or should she allow her to explain on her own? Where’s was the “How to Approach Your Teenaged Stepdaughter: For Dummies” manual?

Holly made the decision for her. “I called him, and some girl answered the phone. It sounded like that tramp Marci Long.” With a frustrated scream, she threw the cell phone across the room. It collided with the wall and shattered, falling to the floor in bits and pieces. Liz remained undisturbed. “I knew I couldn’t trust him! I knew it! The fucking bastard, he was the only one I had. And he promised he would always –”

Her tirade fell short as she broke into another sob; once again her hands came up to shield her face. Shaking her head, Holly muttered brokenly into her palms, “I want to go home.”

Feeling absolutely helpless, Liz swallowed and scooted closer to her. Gingerly, she lifted her arm and draped across Holly’s back. She tensed under the weight of Liz’s arm, but remained motionless, her sobs still coming in hiccups. “Holls,” Liz whispered, using the nickname she’d always heard Jack use when he was comforting her. “It’ll be okay. He isn’t worth it.”

And again, she wanted to roll her eyes at how absolutely ridiculous she sounded. What in the hell was she supposed to say? She began to rub her hand up and down Holly’s trembling back, recalling the night years ago she had bawled her eyes out much in the same fashion. What had she wanted to hear then?

Taking a deep breath, Liz leaned in closer. “It’s going to hurt, Holly, I’m not going to lie to you,” she whispered softly. “Betrayal and rejection are two of the biggest hurts out there, and I’m so sorry you’re going through it now. But I can promise you that this will only make you stronger, Holly. And when your head finally clears, and you see just how worthless he is, and what he’s just lost, you’ll realize that for yourself.” Liz lifted Holly’s chin to look her in the eye. And for the first time, she didn’t see contempt or hatred. “We have to be strong, Holly, because life always deals us a shitty hand once – sometimes twice – during this game. But it’ll get better. I promise.”

Holly took another sniffling breath, and reached a hand up to wipe at her tear streaked face. “I loved him,” she whispered brokenly. “I thought he was it. Silly, huh?”

Liz shook her head. “No,” she said, fiercely. “But I will tell you this. I can count on one finger the number of people I know who have ended up with their first loves. And that’s Maria and Michael, if you can believe that.”

Holly smiled briefly before diverting her eyes.

“The truth is…sometimes you’re just not meant to be with your first love,” she confessed, her voice softening with the knowledge of that truth. “But you can’t ever regret him. Being with him has helped to prepare you for the person you’re meant to spend forever with. So, as much as you hate him now, as much as you wish he had a very itchy and uncomfortable crotch right now, one day you’ll look back and you won’t hate him anymore. You won’t hurt.”

Because she had promised her everything else, Holly stared beseechingly into Liz’s eyes and whispered, “Promise?”

Liz swallowed, and then nodded. “Yeah, I promise.”

And prayed that one day she could think of Max Evans without feeling that hurt.

After the rather poignant moment with Holly, Liz had suggested that she take the day off and that they do something together. With someone like Maria or Alex to be a buffer, of course, since they both knew it was unlikely for them to spend the day together without bitching each other out.

Holly had tentatively agreed and then said, “Get out of my room, you whore,” so that she could change. It was the first time Liz had ever been called a whore, and had smiled.

Actually, it was the first time she had ever been called a whore, period, but that was beside the point.

Now, she found herself laughing hysterical as Alex exhibited his superb bowling skills – or lack thereof.

“Wrong lane, Whitman!” Holly hollered, her voice cracking with laughter as Alex’s face blushed beet red. The neon green bowling ball jumped two lanes over, rolling into the gutter.

Thoroughly embarrassed, he retreated to his seat. “Are you sure you don’t want to play?” He asks Maria, as she patted him sympathetically on the head.

At his question, she raises her eyebrows. “I carry around the weight of a bowling ball all day,” she answered and tapped her protruding belly. “No, thanks. I’m just here for the food.” And with that, she shoved another slice of pizza into her mouth.

“You’re up, Holly,” Liz said.

Winking at Alex, Holly sashayed up to the conveyer belt. “All right, pay attention. I’m a professional.”

Liz glanced over her shoulder and grinned. “She’s really good. When we were still dating, her father and I took her bowling for her ninth birthday, and she nearly bowled a perfect game,” she shrugged. “She had the bumpers up, though, but still, it was pretty impressive.”

She looked up just in time to see Holly bowl a strike, and applauded appropriately. “Bravo, bravo,” she yelled, and then laughed when Holly turned and bowed several times.

“You’re up, Lizzie.”

Liz stood, wiped the grease from the pizza onto her jeans, and picked up her bowling ball. She was not as good as Holly and only knocked down two pins.

“It’s okay, Liz,” Holly called. “You’re still beating Alex.”

Alex grinned sarcastically at her, and launched a piece of sausage at her. It missed, and she stuck her tongue out at him in retaliation.

Liz failed to pick up the spare and sat back down. Alex didn’t get up right away to bowl, and instead focused on eating another slice of pizza.

Washing down her own bite with orange soda, Maria swallowed and then regarded Liz and Holly curiously. “So, you guys went bowling a lot, did you?”

Liz looked over at Holly for clarification, her brows furrowed as she tried to count the times they had gone bowling. “Um, it wasn’t a religious thing, but we did it a couple times a month. Is that about right?”

Holly nodded, and then burst into laughter. “Do you remember that time Dad’s fingers got stuck in the ball and he almost fell on his face.”

Liz’s face flushed with mirth as well, as she recalled the memory. “Yeah, but Jack had really great balance. He managed to stay on his feet.”

“He also managed to look like a fairy as he did.”

Liz nearly snorted soda up her nose, and she covered her mouth to keep from embarrassing herself. Alex snapped a picture just then, catching both she and Holly off guard. They grinned anyway and resumed eating.

“Funny how you two used to get along so well before. What happened?”

Holly and Liz stilled at Maria’s question, neither of them looking at each other. Alex put down his camera and pretended to be interested in the lint on his t-shirt, while Maria suddenly flushed as she realized her error.

“I’m going to go get more soda.” Holly left.

“Way to go,” Alex muttered.

Maria grimaced and mouthed an apology to Liz, who shrugged it off. “All this good fun was bound to end anyway.”

“Yeah, but I shouldn’t have said anything,” she insisted. “It’s the hormones! They make me worse at keeping my mouth shut than I already am.”

Alex snorted. “That’s for sure.”

“Oh, stuff it, Twinkle Toes, and go bowl your last set.”

He did, and this time managed to do it in the correct lane. The pins fell.

“Holy shit! I bowled a strike!”

Holly rejoined the table then, a huge grin on her face. “Congratulations, Alex. That gives you the grand total of 10 points.”

They had managed to find it in themselves to play another game, which meant the afternoon wasn’t a total bust. Though, there was no denying Maria’s ill-timed question had caused some tension to resurface, it hadn’t caused any permanent damage. Liz was finally able to allow herself to hope. Maybe things were going her way after all.

Liz and Holly had arrived back to the café in time for the end of Jeana’s shift. She’d asked Holly one last time if she wanted to go with them to see the movie. Before she could deny, Liz had nudged her with her elbow, silently encouraging her to go. Reluctantly, she had agreed and Liz had watched with a smile on her face as the two girls left.

Which meant Liz was closing down shop herself.

She had just turned the last chair on top of the table when someone rapped against the front door. Looking up, Liz inwardly groaned when she saw a familiar pair of eyes staring back at her.

“We’re closed!”

Max grinned and only knocked louder.

Muttering every curse she’d ever heard Holly utter, she trudged across the diner, unbolted the lock, and threw open the door. The jingling of the bell overhead only added to her annoyance.

“What do you want, Max?”

He presented her with a single rose. “Have dinner with me tonight.”

Liz accepted neither the rose nor his invitation. “I already ate.”

“Then have dessert with me.”

“No, thank you.”

“Do you want to go for a walk?”

“I want to go to bed.”

“Fine by me,” he waggled his eyebrows. “Your place or mine?”

“Good bye, Max.”

He stopped her with a foot in the doorway. “Wait,” he laughed. “Can’t we just talk instead? Please?”

Liz hesitated, and then sighed. Christmas was a little over a week away. She’d think of it as charitable, allowing Max to speak to her. She opened the door and he stepped inside with a grateful smile. He extended the rose, waiting patiently for her to accept it. She did, but only because she knew he wouldn’t stop presenting her with it until she did.

“It’s beautiful,” she murmured and stared down at the soft, tightly budded petals of the blood red rose. When she lifted her gaze to stare at him again, she smiled. “Thank you.”

Max nodded, a special smile on his face. “My pleasure.”

Taking the lead, Liz walked over to a booth and sat down. She was careful to sit on the edge of the booth and not scoot all the way in – giving him a clear message that he was to sit on the other side. And by the grin on his face, she knew he got it loud and clear. Though, when he slid into the booth and their knees brushed, she’d realized she’d forgotten just how cramped it was. Sitting back, Liz tried to remain impassive, but the more he stared at her with that damned smile on his face, the more she felt the urge to squirm.

“What did you want to talk about, Max?” She finally asked, when it had become too much.

He shrugged. “Whatever you want to talk about.”

“Did the Roswell Comets ever have a winning season?”

He laughed, but answered he question. “The guys’ basketball team lost the state title to the Clovis Clovers a couple of years back.”

“Impressive, still,” she murmured and twirled the rose around her fingertips. He had cut off the thorns – or had them cut off, she wasn’t sure – but the action still warmed her heart.

A little.

“So, Holly,” Max started, and Liz had to stifle a groan. “She doesn’t like you much.”

Her eye met his in a pointed glare. “No, she doesn’t,” she bit out. “How is this relevant?”

“It’s not,” he confessed. “I just want to know more about what you’ve lived through since you’ve been gone.” When it became apparent she was saying nothing else, he asked, “Why doesn’t she like you?”

Instead of getting angry, Liz shrugged. “I don’t know,” she spoke softly, having asked herself that very question for years. “When Jack and I started dating she was seven years old, and absolutely the most adorable little girl I’ve ever met.” She smiled fondly at the memory of first meeting her. “She was very precocious, and so polite. We always got along, and we always did little girly things together when we could. When Jack and I got married, she was my flower girl.”

It was on the tip of Max’s tongue to ask her what had happened, but he remained silent, allowing Liz to speak for herself.

“Not long after we got married, Natalie, Jack’s ex-wife wanted Holly back,” her expression saddened as she went on. “And he couldn’t fight her, because technically, she had full custody of Holly, but Natalie hadn’t wanted to tote around a five year old with her to parties and bars, so she’d pawned her off on Jack. She didn’t call, didn’t visit. Nothing.”

“And then, when we got married, all of that changed. Natalie suddenly wanted her back. We only got to see her on weekends, and that was when Holly begged and pleaded to come visit. Jack would call, and no one would answer…” she paused to clear her throat. In retrospect, there were so many different signs that they should have seen. “It was just a mess. Anyway, every time she came home we saw a little change in her. And by the time she was a teenager, well, she wasn’t the same person anymore.”

Max slowly reached his hand out to grasp Liz’s. When she tried to pull back, he only tightened his grip, telling her with his gaze to stop fighting him. When she stilled, he went on, “What do you think happened to her while she was with her mother?”

“Well, that’s why Natalie gave her back to Jack. We could tell that she was being physically abused, probably by Natalie’s boyfriends, and emotionally and psychologically abused by Natalie. The evidence was there, but she would never talk about it, would pretend like everything was normal,” she paused as her voice cracked, waiting for the tears to well. They didn’t, so she continued. “So, Jack and I showed up at her place one day, something we should have done a long time ago, and Jack demanded to have her back, or he was taking to her court. Natalie gave her up without a word.”

Liz took a deep breath, and finished. “Anyway, by that time, she was twelve and she hated me,” her eyes met Max’s once more. “Sometimes, I think she even hated Jack, but she eventually got over that – for the most part. Nothing I did ever made her change her feelings for me. Everything went to hell after Jack died.”

Max squeezed her hand. “You loved him.”

Her brows furrowed at his statement. “Of course. I wouldn’t have married him if I hadn’t,” she told him, knowing Max thought of Jack as just some rebound guy. But it had never been like that. “And I loved her, too. I still love the person I know she is. I see it in her sometimes, like today, but she keeps herself hidden inside.”

“Like you,” Max smiled sadly, lifting his hand to cup her face. “I remember a time when anything could make you cry, like a Hallmark commercial for instance,” he laughed softly at the memory. “But watching you now, Liz, as you told that story, I didn’t see a single tear well up.”

“That’s why I brought her here, Max,” she whispered. “I want her to be fixed. I want her to be Holly again.”

She pried her hand out of his grasp and sat back, causing his hand to leave her cheek.

“I don’t want her to be like me.”

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Re: I'll Be Home for Christmas(ML, MATURE)Pt8, pg7, 1/9

Post by Raychelxluscious » Fri Jan 11, 2008 1:33 pm


First, I want to thank everyone who came to my author's chat. It was a great time! (: And it's always nice to be able to talk to people who enjoy reading my stories as much as I enjoy writing them, so thank you.

And, as always, thank you all so much for the feedback! (:

- thank you! (:
lol! You do that, too? i'm always thinking I've discovered a new story, and then I'm like, "oh, no...I read you three weeks ago," it's sad, really. (: But thanks for the feedback! And I'm glad you're enjoying!
- Interesting perspective on Max. (: Thank you for the feedback!
Oh, yes, feedback is always delightful. ;) Thank you!
Dream Weaver
- Hiiii, Becky! (:

And, thank you to Steph, for being stupendous. (:

Here's the next part! Enjoy!

Part Nine
“Hey, Holly, come help me wrap these gifts.”

“I hate wrapping. It makes me unhappy”

“It does me, too, so, come help me and we’ll be unhappy together.”

“Aren’t we already?”

Liz grinned and shook her head. The good times she and Holly had shared while bowling hadn’t lasted but a few days. Now the corrosive, disgruntled teenager was back in full force. “Holly, c’mon,” she ordered as she struggled with a giant red bow.

“You can’t make me do anything.”

“No, you’re right. I can’t,” Liz conceded. She stuck her tongue in her cheek as she concentrated on making the bow stick to the wrapping paper. Finished, she looked up. “But Nancy Parker can.”

Holly sat down at the kitchen table with a huff. She grabbed a box and started wrapping. Liz suppressed her smile and continued to work. After a minute or two, Holly finished, and asked, “Who’s it for?”

“To Alex, from Liz,” she answered, and then glanced up. “You can put your name on it, too, if you want.”

Holly considered it, since she’d said “no” to every shopping escapade Liz had suggested over the past couple of days. “What did you get him?”

Liz grinned. “Polly Pocket.”

She laughed. “What? Why?” And Liz explained the time she’d caught Alex playing with her Polly Pocket toys when they were younger. Holly laughed again, and nodded as she scribbled her name on the tag, as well.

Liz leaned back in her chair and surveyed the Christmas tree standing in the corner of the living room. Kyle and Alex had helped her venture the dungeon (aka, the basement) in search for the old thing. It wasn’t pretty when they pulled it out of the old, feeble box, and it really wasn’t pretty now that it was decorated, but every time Liz looked at it, she smiled. She began to count the colorfully wrapped gifts beneath the tree. She had bought for everyone except her parents, and if she didn’t go now, the chances are that she won’t get around to it period.

With a weary sigh, Liz stood from the kitchen table. “I still have to buy for my parents. I’m going to see if Maria wants to go shopping with me.”

“I’ll go, too.”

Liz couldn’t hide the frown that furrowed her brows, but she mentioned nothing of her confusion. “Alright. I’ll be ready to go in a few minutes.” She hurried down the hall to get dressed and to call Maria.

As it was, Maria and Michael were already on their way to the mall, but agreed to wait for them at the food court (no doubt because Maria was stopping to grab a snack) and then they’d all shop together.

Liz wasn’t looking forward to it, for Michael was never one to censor his feelings for her. He was kind of like Holly, in that aspect. A lot like, Holly, actually, so she was used to it. She was also used to pretending she liked people a lot more than she truly did.

“What’s that?” Maria asked as she peered over Liz’s shoulder and at the DVD in her hands.

“A John Wayne’s Collectors’ DVD set,” she answered and bit the corner of her lip. “You think Daddy will like this?”

Maria snorted. “Of course. Sometimes I think your father is in love with that man. While you’re at it, you should get your Mom the Elvis Signature Collection thing I saw over there. It comes with a free life size cardboard cut-out.”

It was Liz’s turn to snort. “Yeah, like I’m going to fit that in the back of my car,” she quipped. “I was thinking of getting her some potpourri.”

“Why? You know she’ll think you’re trying to tell her the house stinks,” Maria pointed in the music section. “Go with Elvis. Trust me.”

Liz sighed, but agreed. Maria waddled over to Michael and ordered him to carry out Elvis. The look on his face when he was handed the cardboard cut-out of the King in tassels at check out made Liz want to laugh. Wisely, she remained stoic.

They left FYE and met Holly on the bench in the center of the mall. The corners of her lip quirked when she saw a very disgruntled looking Michael, and what he cradled under his arm. “Decide to scrap Scooby for someone a little more popular, Shaggy?”

“Bite me.”

“Michael,” Maria admonished, and then a strange expression came over her face. “I have to pee.” And she waddled off.

Holly was still laughing as she stood from the bench. “I’m going to head down to Victoria’s Secret. I’ll be back.”

Liz nodded and watched as Maria and Holly disappeared in different directions, leaving her alone with Michael. For all of about five seconds.

“I gotta go do something,” he muttered, and then hefted Elvis higher under his arm and stalked off.

“Okay then,” Liz murmured and sat in the seat Holly had just vacated. She sighed with relief knowing that her parents were done. Now all she had to do is wrap them and stuff them under the tree.

And then her first Christmas back home will be over with.

Glancing in the direction Holly had gone, Liz smiled. Even though there was still tension between the two of them, she was beginning to see a slight change in the teen. She didn’t dare take credit, though. They’d yet to have a talk, about anything really – aside from what a piece of shit her ex-boyfriend Danny is – so she knew it wasn’t anything she’d done. No, it was the people, the town itself that had helped produce the change. Holly was always made to feel included whenever Alex and Maria came around. She got special visits while at work from Kyle. She even had a kind of kindred spirit with Michael, which made Liz want to gag. But, she had to admit that it was obviously good for her. Michael could relate to her in ways that no one else could.

Liz sighed and leaned back. And thought of Jack. She wished she could have brought Jack home for Christmas. It snowed in New Mexico, but not nearly as much as it did in Boston, and he had always complained about the snow. She knew he would have liked it. He would have liked the small town, and the people. He would have adored spending time with her friends – who he’d only met briefly at the wedding. He would have loved goading the townspeople about the supposed alien crash from the ‘40s. He would have loved the tacky tourist track of the entire city. He would have loved everything.


Liz looked up to see Holly approaching her, a pink Victoria’s Secret bag in hand. “What’d you get?” She asked automatically, glad to have a distraction from her thoughts.

Holly shrugged. “Bras. The push up kind. To attract more losers.”

Liz laughed and scooted over so Holly could sit down. “That Jordan guy isn’t really a loser is he?”

She offered her another shrug. “He’s all right.” Her answer was noncommittal, but Liz sensed something different. “He’s coming to that Christmas Eve party, I guess.”

Liz frowned. “What party?”

“The one every year at the Crashdown.”

“How do you know there’s a party every year?”

“Maria told me.”

And she had neglected to inform Liz. Maria walked up just then, a relieved smile on her face.

“I swear, these days, my bladder is the size of a pea. I thought I was going to flood the stall.”

Holly grimaced. “Gross.”

“So, there’s a party at the Crashdown?” Liz interjected.

Seeing the look on her face, Maria straightened and pointed a finger at her. “Hey, that was planned way before you decided to come home,” she insisted, her gaze intent. “Don’t think I was trying to pull the wool over your eyes.”

“Aren’t you?” She asked. “Aren’t you trying to get Max and I at the same place and the same time? Isn’t that why you didn’t tell me?”

Maria lifted her chin, and looked down her nose at her best friend. “I admit nothing.”

Liz laughed despite herself. “I hate you.”

Maria covered her hand over her heart and smiled mockingly. “I love you, too.”

“Is Tess going to be there?” Holly asked.

Liz’s gaze whipped around. “How do you know about Tess?”

Holly gave her a pointed look. “Guess.”

Maria supplied the answer, “Nancy Parker,” she looked at Liz then, an apologetic frown marring her features. “And everyone is going to be there.”

Liz groaned. Though, she admitted to herself that it was bound to happen sooner or later. And besides, it’s been over ten years. It’s the past. She was over it. It wasn’t a big deal.

“It’s not a big deal, babe,” Maria murmured and gingerly sank down onto the bench beside her. “Tess is actually a nice person these days. I think you might like her.”

“I know,” Liz conceded. “It’s just hard sometimes. Coming back after all these years and already having this preconceived notion of people – it’s hard to shake off.”

Maria patted her knee in reassurance, and then grinned. “But just think about all the fun we’re going to have. The whole town will come and go. Everyone will be drinking,” she looked pointedly at Holly. “Except for you. And, well me, but Liz can drink enough for the both of us.”

“Oooh, I don’t think so,” Liz laughed. “No, I’m too much of a light weight.”

“I know!” Maria giggled, and clapped her hands excitedly. “It’s so fun to see you sloshed.”

Holly was grinning, too, prompting Liz to point a finger at her. “It’s not going to happen,” she lifted her nose primly into the air. “Nancy Parker would not approve.”

“I bet Nancy Parker will be sloshed right along with you.” Holly predicted with a laugh.

Maria shook her head adamantly. “Nancy Parker does not drink, Holly. Nancy Parker disdains alcohol.”

“Why do you call her by her full name?”

Liz looked at Maria, her brows creasing as she tried to produce the answer. “I’m not sure. When did we start doing that anyway?”

Maria shrugged. “Everyone calls her by her full name. I don’t guess we have a reason.”

“Why? Is it annoying?” Liz asked.

“A tad.”

“You’ll get over it,” Maria chimed, and then started looking around the mall. “And where is my husband?”

“He had to go do something,” Liz replied. “Meaning, when you and Holly left he didn’t want to be around me.”

“He’s a dick,” Maria muttered, though there was a hint of affection in her voice.

Despite herself, Liz smiled. “You know, I never expected you two to last more than a month.”

Maria rolled her eyes, and grinned. “Neither did I, but what can I say? He’s grown on me. I can’t very much send him back now.”

“Liz said Michael was your first love,” Holly pointed out, and Liz could tell she was still feeling dejected about Danny.

Maria nodded, a dreamy expression in her eyes. “My first love. And my second, and my third. I fall a little more in love with him every day,” her eyes began to brim with tears at the sentiment and she swore, as she fanned her face. “Shit! I hate being pregnant!”

Holly and Liz laughed.

They arrived back at home just in time for Liz to start closing down the café. Holly went upstairs, while Liz went behind the counter to start ringing out the register. A few customers remained, finishing the last of their meals. Agnes, the oldest working employee, was the only waitress on duty and when she spotted Liz she ambled over.

“Mr. Jennings should be finishing up. And Darla and Howard are waiting for their dessert to go.”

Liz nodded. “I’m going to go ahead and ring out this register, and then I’ll put their sales on tomorrow’s journal,” she glanced down at her wristwatch. “Why don’t you go ahead and clock out, and I’ll get their desserts when it’s finished.”

Agnes was already untying her apron when she asked, “Y’sure?”

“Yep. Head on out. Have a good night.”

Her “thanks” was throaty and coarse after years of smoking, and Liz watched as she headed towards the employees’ lounge and ducked inside. Mr. Jennings came up to the register moments later and paid his bill. The taciturn old man’s only acknowledgement to her goodbye was a shy nod of his head and a grumbled, unintelligible response.

The bell above the door chimed on his way out. Liz began to count the money in the register.

“Good evening, beautiful.”

Liz’s pause was imperceptible, and she continued to count the fives. After she was finished she picked up the tens and glanced up. He was leaning against the counter, regarding her with flirtatious eyes. “Good evening, Max.”

“Are you going to have dinner with me tonight?”

Liz laughed, astonished that he’d continue asking. She considered him quietly, an apologetic smile on her lips as she shook her head. “I can’t tonight, Max. I’m sorry.”

“That wasn’t a flat out no,” he observed with a grin. “Either I haven’t lost my touch after all, or you’re about another day away from giving in.”

She rolled her eyes good-naturedly but said nothing else. The cook chimed the bell and then yelled, “I’m out,” as he began to shut down the kitchen. Liz was putting down the money to go get the dessert when Max stopped her.

“I got it. You keep counting.”

Recalling the times in the past he’d help her close down in the exact same way, she smiled fondly and said, “Thanks.”

A few moments later he returned with a check. Liz looked up and noticed Darla and Howard starting for the door. “Have a nice night,” she called out, and earned a pleasant wave good-bye.

“Is this going to throw you off?” He asked as he handed her the check the couple had written.

She shook her head and resumed counting. They always kept the checks separate from the cash anyway. It would all add together at the end of the night.

Finally finished, Liz accepted the check. “Thank you,” she said, and gathered the money, credit card receipts, and the journal tape from the register to be taken to her office. “Okay, I have to lock the doors now.”


“So, you need to leave.”

“I’ll go out the back.”

“Max, what are you doing?”

This time he laughed. “What do you mean? We had a nice talk the other night, didn’t we? I thought we could do it again.”

He was right. They did have a nice talk, once they had changed the subject from Holly to something else. It really had been pleasant, sitting there and listening to him tell her all that he had accomplished over the years. He’d gone to college, something he’d sworn he’d never do. He now owned a construction company outside of Roswell.

He had explained to her that’s why he wasn’t in town when she’d arrived. ABC’s show, Extreme Home Makeover was in a neighboring town shooting an episode. They’d asked Max’s construction company to manage the deconstruction and the initial framing. He’d gone to oversee the job was done right.

From there, they talked about his family. His sister Isabel was spending time with her mother in Colorado, but would be home for Christmas. After Philip died of a heart attack seven years ago, Diane Evans moved to Colorado in search for milder summers. She found it in the mountains, but the summers were replaced with horrendous winters. After several years of jumping back and forth between seasons, Diane decided to remain in Colorado indefinitely. Sometimes Max and Isabel would go up to see her over the holidays, and sometimes she’d revisit Roswell. This was one of the years she was coming home.

Liz had told him she looked forward to seeing her again, for Diane was a sweet woman she’d always adored. Max had responded by saying his mother had scolded him for ever letting her go. And thus had ended their conversation.

She didn’t want to have any more conversations like that. It was becoming too easy to fall back into old routines with him. He was too charming, too persuasive. Too damn good at being irresistible. And she wasn’t going back there again. She wasn’t entering territory that could cause her pain again.

“We did have a nice conversation, Max,” she finally answered. “But I’m too busy tonight.”

“Too busy trying to avoid me. No, no,” he interrupted with a smile when Liz tried to object. “I’ll try again later.”

And he would. He never gave up.

Liz smiled tiredly at him. “Good night, Max.”

And when she expected him to turn and walk away, he leaned over the counter and kissed her. It was a soft, fleeting brush of the lips, but it had its desired effect – same as before.

When he pulled back, he was smiling mischievously.

“Good night, Liz.”

TBC, only a few more parts left! *sniffle*
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Re: I'll Be Home for Christmas(ML, MATURE)Pt9, pg 9, 1/11

Post by Raychelxluscious » Mon Jan 14, 2008 2:44 pm

Hey everyone. (:

I started classes today. Sad. ): I liked not having class this month. I liked being able to have free time to write. And now, it's gone.

This sucks, man.

But, anyway, lucky for you this story is already completed, and just awaiting the final posts. Which, will be this Friday. So, thank you all so much for the amazing feedback. (: You've made this story so much more enjoyable for me because of it.

Anyway, thank you all sooo much!

- Actually, Laria has to leave feedback before she even reads it, because she's silly like that. But you were the first to leave "real" feedback. ;) And yes, a happy ending is most definitely insured. Thanks!
- Me, too! ;) Thanks!
begonia9508 - Yessum, I did explain what happened. ;) It was during the talk on the balcony. But, I will go slightly more in depth at the end. Other than that, that's all we're getting. Thanks!
dreamerbabylioness - Aww, thank you! And I'm sad, too. ):
- Yessum, unfortunately, it is almost finished. I hope you enjoy the rest, anyway! Thank you!

And, thank you, Steph. (:

Part Ten
It was the night of the Christmas Eve party. It marked a milestone for Liz and Holly Owens. They had survived their first official Christmas without husband and father. And they hadn’t killed each other in the process.

Holly laughed and tilted her head to one side, to give Liz a better angle to work, with as she diligently curled her thick mane of hair. “I swear to God, Liz, it was the funniest thing I ever saw,” her eyes were shining brighter than Liz could ever remember seeing them. “No wonder Jordan never wanted me to see him at work. He was dressed up as an elf!”

Liz listened with a smile on her face, endlessly happy to hear that Holly was finding romance with a boy she was so reluctant to let in. “And here you thought your uniform was bad,” she pointed out with a laugh, and allowed a chunk of Holly’s silky dark hair to fall from the iron in a tight, bouncy ringlet.

“I called him Gimli all night.”

“Gimli was the dwarf, Holly.”

“Oh, whatever. I never liked that movie anyway.”

Liz stood back, a smile on her face. “Okay, you can look now.”

Holly stood up from the bed and raced into the bathroom to look into the mirror. A second later, she was squealing. “Oh, my God. Liz, you are a magician with a curling iron!”

Liz grinned and blew at the tip of the iron, as if it were a barrel of a gun just fired. Holly rolled her eyes but laughed. “Okay, now you should go get ready.”

“I am ready.”

Holly stared down at her worn blue jeans, grungy Harvard sweater, and mismatched fuzzy socks with horrified disgust.

“Kidding! I’ll be ready in a few minutes.”

And with that, she disappeared into her own room to get dressed. She wasn’t about to spend as much time on her hair as she did on Holly’s. She was going to spend very little time, in fact. Running her fingers through her hair, Liz lifted it into a sloppy bun with but a few tendrils hanging loose to curl around her face. It looked cute, she had to admit, and refused to do anything more. Reaching into her closet, she withdrew a red knee-length dress. The straps were thin and would show of the slenderness of her shoulders and neck. The back dipped into a V, stopping at the middle of her back. It was a dress Maria had chosen for her out of her own closet. “Before I got fat,” she had muttered depressingly. “Someone has to wear it.”

Now, she wondered if it were appropriate. She knew other people would be dressed up as well, but….

With a swift shake of her head, Liz forced herself to quit second-guessing. She draped the dress over the bed and started to strip. Within moments she was pulling the zipper up her side and gazing at herself in the mirror.

“Wow,” Holly murmured as she entered the room, dressed in her own knee-length burgundy dress. “I think you and I are going to be the sexiest women there.”

“That’s because everyone else is old.”

“Or pregnant.”

Liz laughed and bent to pull on her heels. “I’ll be nice and not tell Maria you said that.”

Together they walked down the hallway and started for the door. Holly turned pleading eyes onto Liz, “Okay, one glass.”

“Not a chance,” Liz said and held the door open for her.

“One sip.”

“You’re not drinking tonight, Holly. Quit asking.”

“Okay, then on New Year’s?”



Liz pulled on Holly’s earlobe, and she jumped with an indignant, “Hey!”

Smiling, they entered the employees’ lounge together and promptly made a dash for the mirror for one final check. Liz heard Christmas music drifting in from the diner causing a sense of warmth to consume her. Looking over at Holly as she wiped an imaginary speck of smeared lipstick from her face she realized that – finally – they were both healing. They would both be fine.

“Good evening, ladies.”

Liz and Holly spun around to see Max and Jordan standing in the doorway. Max held a bouquet of red roses, while Jordan held a single rose. Right on cue, the girls gushed.

“Those are beautiful,” Liz sighed as she approached Max. Gingerly she took the flowers from his grasp and brought them up to her nose. “Thank you.”

He smiled that smile he always reserved for her – the smile that made her knees weak. “My pleasure.”

Holly approached Jordan, eyeing the rose skeptically before she pinned him with an intense gaze. “You got that from Max, didn’t you?”

Jordan grinned sheepishly. “Seemed like a good idea at the time.”

With a shake of her head, Holly accepted the rose and leaned up to kiss his cheek. “You get an A for effort.”

Grinning, Jordan offered his arm to which she obliged and together they pushed through the swinging door and into the crowded diner. Smiling down at Liz, Max followed suit. “Shall we?”

Liz laughed as she looped her arm though his. “Please.”

He didn’t lead her into the party right away. He stood there, staring down at her, his eyes bright and warm. “You look beautiful,” he whispered, and then leaned down to tenderly kiss her cheek.

And as usual, Liz couldn’t think, having been thoroughly displaced by an innocent gesture. She cleared her throat and blinked away the fuzziness in her head. “Thank you,” she somehow managed to say, though she wasn’t sure where she found her voice.

That knowing smile intact, Max pushed open the door then and led her into the diner. The room was decorated beautifully for the holidays. The counter was streamed with garland. Lights were tacked to the window, illuminating the café for the town to see. She spotted a couple in the corner, smooching underneath the mistletoe. And she knew that Max would steer her there before the end of the night; she wondered if she would resist.

She didn’t have much time to ponder the inner question before she heard her name called through the crowd. Liz looked and saw Maria ambling towards her, dressed in a flattering, black, billowy dress obviously designed to disguise her pregnancy.

“Holy shit, babe,” Maria gripped her hands and gave her a once over. “You look beautiful.”

“I’d have to agree,” Max added.

Liz rolled her eyes and stepped away from him to embrace Maria. “And you look quite lovely yourself.”

“My feet are killing me.”

“So, sit down!” She laughed.

“And miss the mingling, are you kidding?” She winked and then glanced around the diner. “Where’s Holly?”

Liz pointed over in the corner booth. “With Jordan,” she squinted, and eyed the other teens with her. “And Jeana and another guy.”

“Is that…Is she?” Maria squinted as well, and then gasped in mock surprise. “Is she smiling?”

“I know, right?”

“I think you did it, Liz.”

Liz shook her head. “I didn’t do anything. But I think you’re right. I think she’s coming around.”


At the sound of someone else calling her name, she turned and saw a tall blonde approaching her on impossibly high heels. “Isabel?”

“Hi!” Isabel wrapped Liz in a tight hug. “Max told me you were in town, but I’ve been in Colorado and could only just get here. Wow, it’s so good to see you!” She glanced over at her brother. “Hey, Max. C’mon, Liz, Mom’s been asking about you.”

And just like that, she was pulled away from Max. Looking over her shoulder, she met his gaze, watching him drift farther way. She smiled softly at him. Before he disappeared from sight, he lifted a hand in a slight wave, his eyes telling her she’d see him later.

“I told my son that it was a mistake breaking up with you,” Diane Evans twittered with a disdainful shake of her head. “But he was young and thought he knew better. If he had only listened to me, you two would have been married by now and had children of your own, instead of –”

“Mother,” Isabel warned, and tossed a worried, apologetic look in Liz’s direction.

Diane quieted, her face flushing, her mouth opening and closing like a dying fish.

Liz offered her a reassuring smile patted her hand. “It’s okay, Mrs. Evans.”

Diane shook her head, obviously embarrassed. “No, dear, that was so very insensitive of me! I don’t know what I was thinking. It’s just…” she smiled sweetly at Liz and cupped her face with one hand. “It’s just that I’ve always envisioned you as my daughter-in-law. And when I found out Max had lost his chance with you,” her smile saddened at the past memory, only to abruptly change. “Well, it looks like we may have another chance after all!”

“Mother!” Isabel was more forceful this time.

Diane hushed her with a dismissive wave of her hand. “I don’t mean any disrespect, but it has been a year. Have you thought about dating, Liz?” She was the one to pat Liz’s hand this time. “I know it’s not easy losing a husband, but we have to continue on with our lives. Otherwise, we don’t heal, dear.”

Liz stilled at her words, staring silently into Diane’s eyes – those soft, expressive eyes that she’d passed down to Max. Continue on with her life – that’s what she was trying to accomplish. That’s why she came home; that’s why she brought Holly – to heal.

Heal. Diane knew all about it, having lost her husband of over twenty years almost a decade ago. Liz wanted to heal. She wanted that steady throb inside of her to subside. She wanted to be able to cry during a chick flick, and not feel so emotionally inept. She wanted to be warm and welcoming.

And she had been all those things with Max. She had been all those things with Jack as well, but after he died so did that part of her.

Liz stared forlornly into Diane Evans’ wise eyes. Maybe Max would be the one to piece her back together again. Maybe he would help her heal.

Diane smiled dolefully. “You’ll get there, sweetheart,” she whispered softly, the words meant for only her ears. Then, she straightened, her shoulders pulling back and her chin lifting, and in a normal voice she continued, “Now, don’t let me son off the hook so easily. He’s waited ten years for you to come back to him. Another day or two won’t hurt him.”

She felt the heat of his breath fluttering against the back of her ear and the side of her neck and he whispered seductively, “Kiss me under the mistletoe, sweetheart.”

Liz laughed as she turned around. Staring into his brown eyes she shook her head, and shoved him away. “You’re drunk.”

His eyes narrowed. “You owe me, Lizzie!”

Intrigued by his statement, she raised an eyebrow and crossed her arms. “How do you figure?”

Kyle pointed an accusing finger in her face, and it wavered unsteadily. He licked his dry lips and then said, “Seventh grade. Pam Troy’s birthday party. Seven Minutes in Heaven,” he drawled. “I didn’t get any action that night, Parker. I’m ready to collect.”

Liz laughed, and patted his cheek affectionately. “Not a chance, Kyle.”

He pouted. “Please?” When Liz shook her head, his bottom lip puckered out even more. “Seven seconds? It’s Christmas!”

She smiled as she considered him. He wasn’t so drunk that he didn’t have his wits about him, and he knew just what cards he had to deal in order to get what he wanted. And Kyle Valenti wanted a kiss.

With a disbelieving shake of her head, and a roll of her eyes Liz grabbed him by the face and pressed her lips against his. His eyes closed in mock bliss, and out of the corner of her eye she saw him raise his hand and begin to tick off the seconds. Very slowly. Finally, he reached seven and she shoved him away.

Whether the way he staggered back was pretend or from all the drinking he’d done, she wasn’t sure. But when he finally straightened, he cupped a hand over his heart and sighed.

“Marry me.”

“Exactly how many proposals are you planning on dishing out this evening, Kyle?”

Liz stilled, and waited the few seconds it took for Tess Harding to pass through her periphery. The blonde smiled fondly at Kyle, wrapping her arm around his waist. Her left hand came up to press against his chest, and Liz noticed the glittering diamond on her finger. Kyle grinned goofily down at her and pecked her on the cheek. “As many as I can get, darlin’.”

Tess laughed. A soft, melodic laugh that Liz remembered being very jealous of. Finally, Tess looked at her – and smiled.

“Hi, Liz,” she spoke softly. “Welcome home.”

Remarkably, she discovered the words waiting on the tip of her tongue. “Thank you. It’s good to see you.”

Tess nodded. “It’s good to see you, too.”

Liz marveled at the sincerity in both their words. Smiling, she looked pointedly at her ring. “Congratulations.”

Tess beamed, and then offered Kyle another adoring look. “Thank you.”

The smile remained on both women’s faces, before Tess uncomfortably cleared her throat and stepped away from Kyle. “Liz, about what happened –”

Liz silenced her with a raised hand, her eyes soft and understanding. “It’s the past,” she interrupted. “There’s no need to bring it up, and there’s no need to have any hard feelings.”

Nodding, Tess accepted her response, but not before saying, “He wasn’t there,” she whispered, and then rolled her eyes. “I mean, physically he was there. But, his mind was somewhere else the whole time,” when Liz didn’t say anything back, the blonde tucked a strand of her nervously behind her ear. “I just wanted you to know that.”

Taking that as a cue, Kyle wrapped his arm around Tess’s shoulder, tossed Liz a wink, and then pushed his way through the crowd of mingling townspeople. Leaving Liz was left with conflicting emotions roiling through her, before she too, finally moved through the crowd – in the opposite direction.

“She’s so beautiful.”

“Oh, here we go.”

“She’s like a goddess.”

“Gag me.” Holly murmured and propped her chin up on her hand.

“Yeah, seriously, Alex just shut up.”

“I can’t. Whenever I see her, I can’t seem to control myself. I can’t seem to control anything.”

Liz rolled her eyes. “So, then go talk to her.”

Alex stiffened and gave her a shocked expression. “Are you kidding me?” He looked back over at Isabel, where she stood talking to Michael at the opposite end of the diner. “I haven’t talked to her in years. Nothing more than a few words, how can I just go…up there?”

Liz sighed. “Alex. You dated the girl for three years.”

“The best damn years of my life.”

“So, it can’t be that hard to just go up to her and say, ‘Hi! How ya been?’”

Alex regarded her speculatively. “And it was so easy for you and Max?”

“That’s different,” she pointed out. “You two actually ended on good terms.”

It was Alex’s turn to sigh. “I was crushed when we ended. But models don’t date computer geeks.”

“Uh, yeah they do,” Holly piped up. “Bill Gates. Classic example. And you are so much better looking than Gates.”

His straightened and his chin jutted out a little in masculine pride. Then he deflated. “You think so?”

Holly grinned. “Definitely, Whitman. Now get your pansy ass up and go talk to her.”

Liz shoved at his shoulders. “Go!”

Finally, Alex garnered the confidence to get up off the stool and make his way over to her. Holly and Liz watched with bated breath as he approached her. When she noticed he was there, she let out a cry and threw her arms around him. The smile on her face was huge, and bright, and so very sincere. Together, Holly and Liz tried to read each of their lips to understand what was being said, but their effort was in vain. It wasn’t until Alex put his hand on the small of her back and began to lead her to an empty booth did they realize that it was a success. As he helped her slide into the booth, Alex looked over his shoulder at them and gave them his signature thumbs up.

Holly laughed and gave him one back, before smiling hugely at Liz. “He’s such a dork,” she said, but there a fond tone in her voice. “I love him.”

Liz laughed as well, her eyes scanning the guests. It seemed like everyone in town was here, though she knew it was impossible. The room was bustling, and everyone was happy and enthused. She’d missed this. A lot.

Her eyes stopped at a gentleman standing beneath the mistletoe, looking expectantly in their direction. She nudged Holly and leaned down to whisper in her ear.

“Look who’s waiting for you.”

When their eyes met from across the room, Liz actually saw Holly’s cheeks flush. She nudged her again. “Kyle’s a little tipsy, and he’s been getting around. You better get over there and lay one on Jordan before Kyle beats you to it.”

Holly laughed again. Her laughter came more readily now, causing a chunk to fall from Liz’s icy wall each time. With a final smile at Liz, Holly pushed away from the counter and met Jordan beneath the mistletoe. As they shared a sweet, innocent kiss, Liz sighed.

“I hate parties.”

She turned just in time to witness Michael’s impressive belch. He tapped a fist against his chest, another tiny burp surfacing.

Liz blinked at him. “That must be the charm Maria is constantly talking about.”

Michael gave her a sarcastic smile before taking another gulp of his beer. “So, Holly’s doing pretty well.”

“Yeah, she is,” she replied and glanced up at him. “She told me that you listen to her when she talks sometimes,” her eyes fell down to her glass. “That was nice of you.”

Michael nodded. “She told me you were divorcing her father,” he smiled jeeringly. “That was nice, too.”

Liz stilled, her eyes staring dumbfounded into her champagne glass. When it finally registered what he’d said, she turned on him, her gaze angry.


“You and Jack were getting a divorce,” Michael elaborated, a little more slowly this time, treating her as if she had a problem with comprehension. “She knew. That’s why she hates you so much, in case you didn’t know.”

Immediately, her eyes sought out Holly. She was still in the corner with Jordan. A second later, they began to make their way through the crowd, heading for the back.

“She told you that?” Liz asked urgently, turning back to stare at Michael once more. “That’s what she said?”

He nodded, the expression on his face changing. He swallowed uncomfortably, and Liz felt her chest constrict. Her hands curled into fists and she had to set her champagne glass down for fear of snapping the stem. Of all the bold face lies she’d ever heard Holly utter this one topped them all. Of all the things she could have said or done to hurt her, this one stung so deep and so painful that Liz could barely control herself. After everything that she’d been through – that they’d been through together – Holly would spread a lie, as monumental as this? An anger more intense than any she’d ever experienced had her shoving her way through the crowd, not seeing who she was running into as she went.

She must have shouldered past Max, however, for the next second he was tailing behind her, calling her name. She didn’t answer. Her gaze was hard, her chest was heaving as she shoved through swinging door.

Jordan and Holly jumped from the couch. Jordan’s hair was mused and Holly’s lipstick was smeared. Wordlessly Liz marched across the room, grasped Holly by the wrist and wrenched her up the staircase.

“What are you doing?” Holly yelled, struggling to free her wrist, but Liz’s grip remained firm.

Once they reached the apartment, Liz shoved her into the living room and pinned her with a heated gaze. All the tension, all the years of angry glares and rude comments had rolled right off her back. Her skin was thick – she could handle anything Holly threw at her. But not this.

Liz exploded.

“What the fuck is your problem?”

writing is a socially accepted form of schizophrenia

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