The Importance of Being Elizabeth (CC,M/L,MTURE) (Complete)

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The Importance of Being Elizabeth Book 5

Post by WR » Sun Oct 26, 2008 10:12 am

Part 3

Liz sat on her bed, remembering days gone by. She sat with her back against the headboard, and with her legs drawn up, looking at a strip of photographs, taken of her and Max in a happier time. Tears trickled from her eyes, eyes that no longer burned with the intense light that had once so clearly characterized her. There had been moments when that light had briefly flared, such as last Christmas when Max had declared his belief in her, affirming their return to friendship, and during their dance in Las Vegas where she had come so close to breaking down and telling Max the truth. Generally, though, they appeared flat and lifeless.

With a sad pang of regret, Liz cast her eyes at the window and once again saw the look of total devastation in the eyes of the young man she loved. It was an image that she knew she would carry to her grave. It was hard enough to know that she had driven him away then, but now, just when their friendship had seemed to return, it seemed to vanish almost as quickly again. This new distance between her and Max appeared when... when she had made a date with Robert. Perhaps he still cared?

A gentle knocking at her door returned her attention to the present.

"Lizzie?" her father called. "Lizzie, are you in there?"

"Yeah, Dad," she answered, wiping the tears from her eyes. "It's okay, you can come in."

"Lizzie," her father continued as he entered the room, "I thought that I'd let..."

He stopped when he saw Liz. He knew instantly that she had been crying. For months now, he had watched with fatherly concern as Liz seemed less and less her 'normal' self. Nancy had been worried that she had become involved with drugs, or even that she had fallen pregnant, but Jeff knew the real root of the problem. Max. In spite of his concern, he knew his daughter's wishes for privacy and so he bided his time, waiting for the right moment. It seemed that the moment had arrived.

"What's the matter, Liz?" he asked gently, sitting on the edge of her bed. "Is it Max?"

"No, no," she faked a smile. "You know... Max and I... we're... history. Yeah, we're... we've... both moved on."

"Have you, Liz?" he asked.

She could not fool him, Jeff could see how much she still cared for Max.

"Sure, Dad," she smiled. "I have this... date... thing with a guy from school... tomorrow night actually."

"Well, that's great, Lizzie," Jeff answered. "So why are you crying."

"Oh... Dad...you know I can't talk about this sort of thing. It's just so..."

"Confusing?"

"Uh... yeah."

"You know, Liz, it's just that you and Max seem so... connected. It's almost like the connection that you had with your Grandma. Maybe even like ours."

"Dad?" Liz asked. "What are you saying? That Max and I are related somehow?"

Jeff looked at Liz, deciding if he should continue.

"Liz, you know how much I care for you, how much I love you, right?"

"Dad," she squirmed uncomfortably.

"No, listen Lizzie. There is something that you need to know. Something that might explain why you feel things that you can't explain."

Liz looked up sharply at her father. How did he know...?


Jeff rose from his seated position, and crossed to her window, looking out onto her rooftop, decorated with lights, candles, and her garden chair.

"From as way back as I can remember," he started, "I had this thing about looking up at the stars. I always found them so... comforting."

Liz smiled at her father. She too had found the same thing, even before she had met Max.

"There was this one time, your mother and I went into the desert to, uh... watch the stars, you know, like you do when you're young and in love."

"Uh, Dad..." Liz complained with embarrassment.

Jeff looked at her and chuckled. He understood how she was feeling about this. He would have felt the same way at hearing about his parents making out.

"What?" he asked with a smile. "We were married, after all."

Liz groaned.


"Okay," he smiled. "Any way, it was a great night for stars, and we had even become excited because we found a strange constellation we had never seen before. It was awesome, and I somehow felt... almost like I had found... home. So one thing lead to another, and... you know."

"Dad!" Liz squealed.

"That was the night you were conceived, Liz," he chuckled.

Liz looked at him suspiciously.

"How would you have known that, Dad?" she demanded.

"Because I had a, I had this... I don't know... vision."

"A vision?" she asked, carefully.

"Yeah," he laughed. "It sounds crazy, right? Your old man having strange visions."

"No, no... it's okay. I understand," she told him soothingly. "Uhm... what... what was your vision?"

"It was you, Liz."

"Me?" she asked with surprise. "You had a vision of me?"

"Yes. I knew exactly how you would look. I knew you would be the spitting image of your grandmother."

"Grandma Claudia?" she asked. "But that's not exactly earth shattering, Dad. I mean, this sort of thing happens all the time. It's not like it's rare for children to resemble their grandparents."

"Not resemble, Liz. I knew you would be identical. But I knew that you would have brown eyes instead of her blue."

Liz's mind drifted in thought.


"That's not all, Liz." Jeff continued, looking uncomfortable. "You see, I became terrified that night, of you."

"Me?" she asked, again, slightly stunned. "Why would you be afraid of me? I wasn't even born then."

"Straight after your mother and I had, uh... you know, I felt this... loss. I felt that I had lost an important part of me. I was so scared that I would blame you. That I wouldn't love you."

Liz looked stricken.

"Oh god, Liz, no! Don't even think that. From the moment you were born, I loved you so much. Somehow, I just knew that you were destined for... I don't know, greatness. You are special, Liz. The nurse gave you to me and I was so proud! Together, your grandma and I named you Elizabeth."

Jeff's eyes went momentarily distant, and he gave a chuckle.

"What?" asked Liz.

"Your grandma wanted to call you Taysha."

Liz looked up sharply. Why did that name seem so... familiar?

"And the strangest thing was... it seemed to suit you. But I knew that your name was Elizabeth."


"You know, that's not the only strange name your grandma came up with," Jeff laughed. "When things would go wrong, or when she was especially sad about something, particularly after your grandpa died, she would look up to the heavens, and ask for help from a strange God that I've never heard of. I even spent some time looking it up, but couldn't find anything. She probably learned about him during her studies with the Navajo."

"What was the name of this God?"

"Zan," he laughed.

Liz's mind reeled. Grandma Claudia had known Zan? She had known the man whose essence was now in Max? How? When?


"I told your grandmother this, while we were in the waiting room during your birth. About my fears, that is. I was so worried that she would be cross with me. She didn't say so Liz, but the look she gave me... I think she had the same thought about me, when I was born. Liz, I think there is something... different about us."

She watched her father carefully trace his fingers over the dragon transfer she had stuck to her window.

"Dad?" Liz asked carefully. "That constellation you said you saw? What did it look like?"

Jeff turned to his daughter and shrugged.

"It was in the Aries constellation, five bright stars," he said simply, "shaped in an almost perfect 'V'."

***

Liz sat thinking about what her father had told her. What did all this mean? And then the strangest thought permeated into Liz's mind. It was a thought that finally dashed all hope that somehow, she and Max might find a way to be together again. The one thing that Liz had clung to was this whole thing that Maria had called Soul Mates. Liz had hoped that the fact that Max had been attracted her, and only her, since he had first set eyes on her, indicated the depth of his feelings, of his love for her. But this had nothing to do with true love, or soul mates. The essence of Zan, within Max, had simply recognized Liz, a mirror image of her grandmother, a woman he had once met. Her father had come, hoping to help her. Instead, he had extinguished her dreams.

***

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Re: The Importance of Being Elizabeth (CC,M/L,MTURE) Bk4 10/19

Post by WR » Sun Oct 26, 2008 10:13 am

Part 4

On a rocky ledge outside of Roswell, Nikolas breathed a sigh of relief as the sun sank behind some distant cliffs. The chill of the desert night air would bring much needed relief to his men. Mother Nature's natural light show was totally lost on him as he turned his mind to the problem in hand. So far, he had not managed to defeat his enemy, King Zan, now known as Max Evans. It was infuriating that even though they were only four in number, and their powers were scarcely a fraction of his own and his ever-diminishing army, he had been soundly defeated each time he had come against them. Clearly, this version of King Zan was marginally more clever than the previous incarnation. Alright, he conceded, he much more clever. Where was he getting the strength, the confidence to defeat him?

"Incoming, sir," one of his remaining men said from behind him.

Now that their Skins had reached the end of their natural lives, his men were suffering casualties on a regular basis. Few of them had not already developed some problem or other. Time was definitely running out.

"What?" demanded Nikolas. "Incoming what?"

"Uh... someone's coming. A human."

"So why couldn't you just say 'Someone's coming'?" Nikolas asked condescendingly. "Why must you turn it into some kind of drama?"
They had to get of this planet soon. It was starting to have an effect on those that still lived.

"Sorry sir. Shall I deal with him?"

Nikolas looked at the human approaching their location, and raised a pair of binoculars to his eyes. The strange expressionless eyes told him all he needed to know. He was posessed.

"No, idiot. Bring him here. It's K'Var."


"Ahh, Nikolas," K'Var greeted him through his human host. "Tell me what's happening. Have you dealt with them yet?"

"Uhh... not yet sir," Nikolas announced. "There have been some... complications."

"Complications, Nikolas?" he asked calmly. "When we last spoke, you informed me that you had located the Royal four. Your information was that you would soon have them, and the Granolith. Why are you not back on Antar yet?"

"They're, ah... resisting, sir. They won't surrender the Granolith. Somehow, Zan has found out that it is more than just a religious icon."

"So why have you not simply extracted it's location from his mind?"

"He's fighting back, sir." Nikolas sighed.

"You're a warrior, Nikolas. You have over a hundred other warriors with you, why..."

"Had, sir." Nikolas interrupted.

"What? What do you mean had?"

"They are stronger than we thought. They have managed to destroy many of us, and we have had other troubles."

"Where is he getting his strength from? Ava is supposed to weaken him."

"He's not bonded with Ava. And she seems to be resisting the conditioning you implanted."

"What? You mean Zan is deliberately ignoring the prophecy? Ignoring the conditioning I know that they would have programmed into him? What has been going on?"

"I think it's the Earth girl."

"I thought Ren and Denbers were going to get rid of her. Where are they?"

"We never found them, Sir. They must have been killed in the crash. Anyway, this is a different one. She's just a child."

K'Var thought carefully. Why would Zan ignore the programmed attraction to Ava over attraction for an Earth girl.

"Tell me about her."

"Well, she's just an Earth girl. I have seen no evidence of any powers, or anything. She seems to be intelligent. She just some girl. Cute though."

"Keep your hormones in check, Nikolas. Find out everything you can about her. Meanwhile, try and help things along. Try and push Zan to Ava.

"Yes, we've been working on that angle for a while now. We are giving him dreams, using some information we managed to... uh... extract... from him.

"What about Vilondra? Have she and Rath...?"

"No, not these ones. They seem to have overcome their programmed attraction, and have found their own earthling pets."

"What do you mean, these ones?"

"We found another set of the Royal party. Duplicate versions. At first I thought the the ones here in the desert where decoys. So I approached this other set, Yeah, they had all pretty much bonded, but only Zan seemed uninterested in returning to Antar. Rath and Vilondra were keen to return, although Vilondra realizes it's a death sentence for Rath. She's keen to return to you. But it turned out that they were the decoys."

"So how did you know this?"

"Because they knew nothing about the Granolith. We then used them to try and trick the real Zan into giving up the Granolith, but again, he seemed almost one step ahead of us."

"Where are these decoys now? Well, they had already killed Zan themselves, part of the attempt to trick the real Zan. Ava just disappeared, and I had Rath executed."

"Vilondra?"

"She's in... uh... custody."

"Is she the same Vilondra from back home?"

"Well, she has more spirit, she's more... scheming."

"Okay. I really want the real Vilondra, and not some tarnished dupe. But keep a hold of her, she may prove useful."

"Yes sir."

"And I want detailed information about these Earthling pets of the real Royals. We're running out of time, Nikolas, and I don't just mean about your Skins. And I am running out of patience.

***

As Max lay in his bed that night, he knew that he would again suffer with his bad dreams. Ever since that terrible night, months ago when he had found Liz in bed with Kyle, he had found he had two choices each night. Either he could lie awake, painfully awaiting the arrival of a new dawn, a new day without Liz, or he could suffer the bad dreams. Most times, his dreams simply involved his reliving that moment over and over, seeing them together, laughing about how good it felt. Other times though, his dreams had him romantically involved with Tess, in a pure effort to somehow punish Liz. The worst of them, and these were starting to occur far too often now, were too horrible to even think about. These had appeared a few times now, and Max was genuinely afraid to sleep. He was tired though, having avoided sleep for the past two nights, and soon sleep came to him.

~ ~ ~

Where was she? Liz had called him on the phone over an hour ago, inviting him to meet her here at the old abandoned Peppers Restaurant. He had not been there since the madman Hubble had tried to blame him for his wife's death. There was no sign of Liz. He walked around the back, thinking she might be there, but he only found a large black car with darkened windows. As he investigated the car, he heard laughter from an upper story window. Using his powers, he was soon on the flat roof in front of the window from which he had heard the laughter. There was an orange glow coming from the window, and Max looked in to see Liz in bed with Kyle again. They were both laughing.

"I'd forgotten how good this felt," Kyle said to her.

Max spun away, as he had every time he had seen this, but this time, he turned straight into the waiting arms of Agent Pierce.

"Hello Max," the FBI agent laughed as he pushed him down onto a gurney. "How about we get the truth this time?"

Max started to struggle, trying to free himself from Pierces grip.

"Liz!" he cried, "Help me Liz. I can't do this alone. I need you."

"Would you mind?" Pierce asked someone.

Liz, dressed in white protective overalls, reached over and helped Pierce secure Max to the table.

"Thank you, Agent Parker. You have been most helpful."

"Noooooooooo!" Max screamed. Liz had betrayed him. Liz had been betraying him all along.

"Max!" someone called.

"Would you like to do the honors?" Pierce asked Liz, handing her a large jagged saw.

"Max!" someone called urgently.

Liz placed the saw over Max's heart.

"Max!" the voice called louder.

"He has no need of this," Liz laughed.

"No Liz! Please! Don't do this to me!" Max cried struggling in vain against his bonds.

"ZAN!" screamed the voice, causing Max to awake from his nightmare.

~ ~ ~

"Zan," the voice called again.

The voice was strangely familiar, one that tugged on his memories. Whoever it was calling him, it was not from within his nightmare. Instantly, Max was awake and alert, sitting upright in his bed and looking intently around his darkened room. He could see no one.

"Who's there?" he hissed to the darkness, a slight tenseness to his voice. He was still shaking from his dream. "What do you want?"

There was no reply, there was no one in his room. He lay back in his bed, and stared at the ceiling, shuddering when he remembered his dream. This was the first time that Liz had been actively involved in his dreams. Usually, she just watched as Pierce did the same tortures to him over and over again. Each time, Tess would arrive, and save him. He knew that tonight, if the voice had not woken him up, his dream would have had Liz surgically removing his heart. But then, had she not done that in real life too?

~ ~ ~

He was asleep again before he realized it. His dream began the same way it always did, with his phone ringing. He reached out to grab it, knowing it would be Liz.

"No, Zan," the voice called. "Don't answer it."

A part of Max realized that the call was from within his dream after all, but not a part of it. It was almost like when Isabel...Max forced himself to remain asleep, but sought the voice. As his consciousness was looking around, he suddenly realized that he had found his way to the dream plane. He watched his own dream playing out before him, his phone ringing beside the dream version of him laying on his bed.

"Hello?" he called. "Is someone there."

"Yes, Zan," the familiar voice called. "I am here. You need to concentrate, Zan. You need to see... me."

Liz? The voice sounded so much like Liz. Almost immediately, as if the mere though of her had summoned her, Liz appeared before him.

"Liz?" he asked in confusion. "What are... what are you doing here? Is this another one of your new powers? Can you Dream Walk too?"

"No, Zan," Liz said. "No. I am not Liz."

"Then who are you?" he demanded. "A shapeshifter?"

"Think, Zan," the woman who looked like Liz but said that she was not Liz urged. "Really think. You know who I am."

Max stared hard at the woman who looked so much like Liz. Wait, she had blue eyes. A name suddenly popped into his head. 'Honeybear'.

"You're Liz's Grandmother, right? Claudia?" he said.

"Yes Zan," she smiled. Then her face went serious. "I have come to see you about Liz."

"What about Liz?" he demanded, panic seizing his heart. "Is she okay? Has anything happened to her?"

"No, Zan," she smiled. "Nothing has happened to her, but no, she is not okay. In fact, she is in as bad a way as you are."

"Why? I am trying to give her the space she has asked for. I am trying to be her friend. I don't want to hurt her anymore."

"And what good is it doing you, Zan?"

"None at all," Max sighed. "Wait. Why do you keep calling me Zan? And I thought you were, you were..."

"You can say it Zan. You thought I was dead? Well, yes I am. In fact I am as dead as the man who visited you last Christmas."

"So have you come to tell me that I have to restore the balance, too?" Max shuddered, remembering the man who had haunted him last Christmas. He had said that the balance must be restored. "What must I do this time?"


Claudia looked hard at the young man before her. "You and I have met before, Zan," she tried to remind him.

"Yeah," he answered. "I helped Liz say goodbye. She was so upset. I wanted to help you, but I..."

"No, Zan. We met before that. It was so very long ago, 1943."

"What?" Max demanded. "You mean you met who I was, before?"

"Yes. You came down to Earth. You told me that you felt this voice calling you."

"Calling?"

"Yes, that's right. You and I went to the place that called you, and you found a pendant, with the symbol of your galaxy on it."

"Atherton's pendant?"

"Uhm, no. Who's Atherton? No, you gave it to the woman you loved."

"Oh, you know about Ava?" he sighed.

"Ava? Was she the woman you were supposed to marry? No, you gave it to Lady Taysha."

"Who is Lady Taysha?" Max asked, totally confused now. The name seemed so familiar to him.

"She was on the ship with you. You had only just met her, Zan, but you were totally in love with her. And she was in love with you. She followed you to Earth, Zan, to try and help you, but she died. She died in my arms professing her love for you. Zan... don't lose that love, find it again. The balance you must restore? It's your balance, Zan. Yours and Taysha's."

"But you said Taysha is dead."

"As you were reborn, Zan, so was Taysha." Claudia told him, as she started to fade away.

"But who, Grandma Claudia?" Max demanded, not noticing his lapse into the term Liz always used. "Who is she?"

"You know, Zan!" Claudia called just as she vanished. "You know!" came a whispered echo."


***

Claudia looked down at the distraught figure of Max, sitting up on his bed, openly shedding his tears.

"He is in so much pain," she said to Clarence. "They both are."

"Yet they both still love each other," Clarence said sadly. "Throughout all their pain, all their problems, it is the one constant, which keeps them going. Their love for one another."

"Do you think he understood," she asked. "Sometimes, I don't think that he is at all like the Zan I knew."

"He has had much to contend with. But this Max is stronger than Zan. Do not forget that the Zan you knew was considerably older than this Max. He is still but a child on this planet, yet he must assume the role of an adult, of a leader. And like you told him, Claudia Parker. He must find his balance. We can't tell him too much, but you have given him hope. I think, deep down, he knows who Taysha is."

"So what now?" she asked.

"Now, Claudia Parker," he said gently, "your task here is done. You are free to move on. I am sure that there is someone who would like to see you."

"No, Clarence. I can't go now!" she cried, huge tears welling up in her eyes. "Liz is in so much pain. Please let me watch over her."

"No, Claudia Parker. Elizabeth's welfare is now in the safe hands of another. It is time for you to go."

"No!" she affirmed, setting a belligerent stance. "I won't go."

"I thought you might say that," Clarence smiled, looking past Claudia.


"Come on, Claudia," a voice behind her gently whispered. "It's time."
It was a voice that Claudia had not heard in twenty-two years. She turned to see Dave, her husband.

"Dave!" she cried, flying into his waiting arms. "Oh Dave, I have missed you so much."

"And I have missed you, too, Claudia," he laughed. "And I am so proud of you, and what you have done. I am so proud of my son, and I am especially proud of my granddaughter."

"Oh, Dave," she sobbed. "It is such a shame that you never met her. She is so wonderful."

"But I have met her, Claudia," he smiled at her sudden confusion, "in a way. She is just like you."

"So now you know," she sniffed. "About Zan, I mean."

"I have always known that there was someone else that held a piece of your heart, Claudia," he smiled at her, gently caressing her face."

"And that didn't bother you?" she asked, feeling a little guilty.

"No Claudia," he smiled, pulling her into an embrace. "I knew that my rival was not alive, and I knew that there was room enough for both of us in your heart. Now come on, Claudia. It's time to go home now."

"But Liz!" she cried again.

"You have taught her well, Claudia. She just needs to remember her lessons. As for Max, he will find her again. He won't give up, not really. He's a lot like me, I guess. We'll call it the Claudia Parker influence."

"Good bye Claudia Parker," whispered Clarence as he watched the couple walk towards the tunnel of light, arm in arm. "May the Mother of the Universe grant you the peace you so richly deserve."

***

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The Importance of Being Elizabeth Book 5

Post by WR » Sun Oct 26, 2008 10:14 am

Part 5

Things were not going well for Max, back at work after his lunch break at the tea rooms. He really missed going to the Crashdown, and as much as he missed seeing Liz, he knew that he was better off not seeing her just now. And that was what was so frustrating. He was currently trying to put together a large model of a flying saucer, a new exhibit Brody had ordered, but the pieces did not seem to fit properly. Of course, had Max been concentrating on the task at hand, the pieces would have fitted easily, but of course, it was the model's fault. In sheer frustration, he picked up one of the doll sized green Martians that were supposed to sit inside the model, and hurled it against the distant wall, narrowly missing an elderly man who was just passing. Max looked at the man, his face a mask of embarrassment, and reflexively scratched behind his ear.

"Sorry." Max mumbled, looking down at the floor.


The elderly man looked at Max and then down at the Martian doll on the floor, and chuckled.

"Why are they always green?" he laughed, bending down to pick the doll off of the floor. "I mean, we have no real evidence that there are really any aliens, but we all assume them to be green. Why is that, do you think."

"I... I don't know," Max answered, approaching the man.

"What color would you expect them to be? If there really were aliens, on Earth, I mean? What color would you expect."

"I don't know," Max answered. "I've never really though about it."

"Do you believe in aliens?" the man asked.

Max gave a wry smile, taking the doll from the man and staring at it.

"I guess I kinda have to, you know, working here," he replied turning back to the model.


"So," the man continued. "What was that, anyway. Why the anger?"

"It's just... the model... it..." Max tried to explain by idicating the large plastic panels of the model spacecraft.

"Ahh." he laughed, nodding with understanding, "I see. Girl trouble."
Max looked up sharply at the man, who was now carefully studying the model pieces on the table.

"Why do you say that?" Max asked.

"What? Oh, yeah, girl trouble. Well, you don't look like a man who would have trouble putting things together. I get the feeling that you could almost just 'wave' your hands, and presto! It's fixed. But relationships on the other hand take more than a wave of a hand to put them back together."

His eyes twinkled.

"Am I right?"

Max continued to stare at the man, suspicion creeping across him. Why those particular choice of words? Was he one of Nikolas' Skins?

"What's your name, son?" he asked the silent Max.

"Max. Max Evans."

"Well, Max Evans," he smiled, extending a hand. "My name is White. Bradley White. And if I may offer you the benefit of my years of experience, I would say, don't give up hope, son. Let that big ol' heart of yours take the lead for while."

***

"Okay Max," bubbled Maria, while she and Max scanned the rows of Video tapes in the rental store. "What do you wanna see? How about 'Mars Attacks'?"

"Funny, Maria," Max laughed. "How about 'Earth Girls are Easy'?"

"Ooooh. Low blow, buster," she smiled, hitting Max over the head with an empty video case.

Together, they chose a few videos, though Max could not really recall what films it was they had selected. Grabbing a few bags of popcorn, they went up top the desk to pay.

"Thanks, Maria," Max said to her as they walked back from the Video store.

"What for?"

"For all the help you've given me, you know... Liz."

"Well, fat lot of good I was," she shrugged. "I don't know, you guys were so... close, and then 'Wham!', it's all over. I mean, what was that?"

"I guess she finally realized what she would have been letting herself in for," he sighed.


Back at Maria's house, they sat at opposite ends of the sofa, watching the film that neither of them paid much attention to and ate from the large bowl of popcorn placed between them.

"You okay?" Maria asked. "You just seem quieter than normal."

"I haven't been sleeping well, Maria," he answered, his mind drifting back to his strange dream about Claudia Parker. "I've been having some weird dreams lately."

"Are we talking normal weird?" she inquired. "Or alien weird."

Max smiled with a soft snort.

"I would have to say alien weird."

"Are you ever going to forgive Liz, Max?" Maria asked out of the blue. "You know... the Kyle... thing."

Max looked at Maria, and then the bowl of popcorn. He picked up a few pieces, and carefully studied them, tracing the texture with his forefinger.

"There's nothing to forgive," he said softly.

"Excuse me?" Maria asked, with a stunned expression on her face. Had he known the truth all along?

"It's not like she betrayed me, or cheated on me, is it?" he explained. "I mean, it's not like we were together at the time. You know, I was doing all the chasing, and she kept telling me she wasn't interested."

"So why are you ignoring Liz? Why aren't you out there making her yours?"

"Because I love her."


Maria's mouth dropped open, a look of confusion on her face.

"You want to run that by me one more time?" she asked.

Max gave a soft chuckle, and started to break the pieces of popcorn into smaller bits.

"She came by my house... one night... to see me. At first... I thought..." Max started to throw the tiny bits into the bowl, "I thought she had changed her mind, and was coming to take me back. She gave me this big speech instead, about how she wanted a normal life, a normal boyfriend. She said she wanted to get married, and raise her children and know they would be safe. She told me that she didn't want to die for me, and that if I loved her, I would let her go."

"Yeah, so?"


"Anyway, when we were in Las Vegas, while you were singing, we danced," Max's eyes suddenly lit up, as his mind returned to a happier moment in his life.

Maria realized that she had not seen Max's eyes shine like that since... since... last spring, before Max had been kidnapped by the FBI, before that whole destiny fiasco. Everyone else seemed to have picked up the pieces of their lives from that, and moved on. Why couldn't Max and Liz?

"Oh, how we danced," he smiled dreamily. "When we got home, I went to see her. I had this whole speech planned out. I was going to tell her how much I wanted to be with her, how much she meant to me. I wanted to say that I didn't care that she had sex with Kyle. And do you know what, Maria? I don't. I don't care that she isn't a virgin, I don't care that I won't be her first. I need her, Maria. I just need her in my life."

"Wow, Max," Maria exhaled. "So what did she say to that?"

The lights went out, his eyes darkened. The sad Max was back.

"I didn't get the chance. She told me that while Vegas had been... fun, nothing had changed. She did not want me back in her life, and she asked me to give her some space."

Max looked up at Maria.

"I do love her Maria," Max sighed. "So... I've let her go."


The film continued to play in the background, but Max's mind was not on the actor and actress who were trying to play a tender love scene, it was on Liz. Was she acting out her own love scene with Robert?

"Maria," he asked. "If Liz got close to someone... else... Robert... would she... tell?"

"Tell what, Max?" Maria asked.

"You know... when you are in a relationship... you're not supposed to have secrets. You're supposed to be... honest. Would she tell her... someone... about us?"

Maria stared hard at Max. Was he for real?

"What do you think, Max?"

"I know what I want to think," he stated. "But Liz is so honest. You know? I don't think she would like keeping secrets from her... partner."

The realization hit Maria so suddenly, it nearly sucked the air from her lungs.

"You've given up on her, haven't you?"

"Yeah," he answered sadly, slowly nodding his head.

"And the Crashdown? Is that why you don't go there anymore?"

"Yeah. I can't bear to see Liz with someone else. It's... too hard."

"But what about us, Max? What about your friends?"

"I'm sorry about that Maria. It's just... I just... I can't."

"I understand," Maria sighed sadly. "So, are you with Tess now?"

"No," Max replied, shaking his head sadly.

"Why not?" she asked, sounding more pleased than she should have.

"I would only be thinking of Liz, wishing I was with her. It's not fair to Tess. Not fair to anyone."

"We are not meant to be alone, Max."

Max looked up at Maria. She could see into his dark brown, tear rimmed eyes, and just for a moment, as a touch of authority appeared, she saw the hint of what Max might one day become.

"Normal rules don't seem to apply to me," he said gently.

***

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The Importance of Being Elizabeth Book 5

Post by WR » Sun Oct 26, 2008 10:15 am

Part 6

"Lizzie?" her father called through the door, "Your date's here."

Her date, thought Liz. This was supposed to be the first step in putting Max and this whole alien thing behind her. She would start to date again, and finally start to forget about Max. Yeah, she though, like that was ever going to happen. She wished, with all her heart, that her date would be with Max. She wondered what he was doing tonight. Maria had hinted that he was going to watch a film with another girl, and that it wasn't Tess. Although the thought saddened her, not without a certain amount of jealousy, she hoped that Max would be happy. She was a little annoyed that she had gone through all that pain and Max still wasn't with Tess, but at least she had prevented the End of the World. All her friends were alive and well because of her sacrifice. So why did the mere thought of Max with another girl hurt so much? He was definitely moving on.

When she finally entered the Crashdown Cafe, she was a little surprised to find Robert sitting with a group of his friends in a booth. Each of his friends had their arms around their girlfriends, all of them from the cheerleading squad. All of them with scarcely a brain cell to share between them. What on earth was she doing here? This was not what she wanted. She saw Robert look her up and down, which caused her to feel a little... exposed. Was he disappointed that she was not wearing a mini skirt, like the other girls? She had chosen to wear her Jeans and a button down top this evening, and could not tell if Robert approved or not. Not at all like Max, she thought. Liz could always tell what Max thought of what she wore, not that he ever complained. He always seemed to like how she looked.

"Hey, Robert," she smiled. Could her smile be any more forced?

"Ah, Liz," he grinned. "We thought it would be cool to go out as a group, you know?"

"Oh, yeah. That's... good," she smiled. "So where are we going?"

"Well, we thought how we'd eat here. Do you get staff discount?" he started. "Then we can all go see the new Van Damme flick, and there's a party at Marcus' pad after."

"Oh. Sounds..."

"Cool?" Robert interrupted.

"Yeah... that's what it is." Liz faked a smile. What was she doing?

***

Liz was not having a good time. The meal was a painful ordeal. The guys were talking sports, and generally horsing around, practically ignoring the other girls who were discussing the latest gossip doing the rounds. They were excluding Liz from their conversation, but she heard Max's name crop up once or twice. She knew that they were discussing her previous relationship with him. She knew that each one of them wanted to date Max. After all, who wouldn't? The ordeal was made worse because of the looks she was getting from her father, who obviously disapproved of their antics, and from the other waitresses working that night. Robert and his friends were uncontrollable, and were throwing their food at each other. Liz knew, from experience, that they would leave the table an absolute mess. When they spoke to the waitress, they were quite rude to her, treating her almost as some sort of servant. Liz just knew that they would not leave a tip. Robert kept putting his hand on Liz's thigh, which she kept removing, but a few minutes later, it would be back again. The worst thing though, was the look of disgust directed at her by Michael, working in the kitchen. If ever Liz wanted the ground to open up and swallow her, it was tonight.

The film they watched was boring, and the guys kept shouting obscene and disparaging remarks at the actors and actresses on the screen. Periodically, they would throw popcorn over the ledge, into the crowd of spectators below them. A few times, Robert had made a move to kiss Liz, which she had carefully, and politely rejected each time. He was making her feel more and more uncomfortable with each passing minute. Although she had moved fast in her relationship with Max, she was not prepared to move as fast in this, or any other relationship. After all, Robert was not Max. When it became too much for her to handle, she sought refuge in the ladies restroom. Not for the first time, she asked herself what she was doing here.

After the movie ended, they piled into their cars, and headed towards the party, stopping first to buy some beer with Robert's fake ID. The party was a typically noisy affair. Liz hid in one of the corners, not really feeling like dancing. She hardly knew anyone there.
"Well, well, well, look who's here," a voice laughed beside her.
Liz turned and looked to see Pam Troy, standing with her arms folded crossed across her chest, with two of her friends behind her. She looked amused. Liz groaned, this was all she needed.

"I never would have expected to see Liz Parker at a real party like this," she laughed.

"I'm here with Robert," Liz answered neutrally.

"You working through the football team?" Pam asked in amusement.

"What?" Liz demanded.

"Well," Pam sneered, "Robert only asked you cause he knew you would put out for him."

"No." Liz shook her head, not wanting to believe that anyone could be like that. "No, you're wrong."

"Duh! You don't really think you would stand a chance with someone like Robert unless he was getting some, do you?"

Liz was about to tell Pam that she didn't know what she was talking about, that Robert was not like that, when she caught a scene in the corner of her eye. Through the door at the far end of the room, in the kitchen, she saw Robert showing a group of guys a packet of condoms, and pointing towards her.

***

Liz slowly walked along the street, heading for home, after abandoning Robert and his friends at the party, which had been rapidly getting out of hand, after he had tried to maul her during a dance. She couldn't leave soon enough; the date had been a disaster. Was it her imagination, or was it cold tonight, she wondered? She missed Max's warmth. From time to time, she would glance up at the stars, hoping to somehow gain some comfort from them. The glare from the streetlights obscured all but the brightest of the stars, so she could see scarcely little. Perhaps the park, she thought to herself. It would be darker there, there were fewer lights. She would go and sit by the fountain in the park, her and Maria's favorite meeting place. Liz has a special affinity for fountains; she always felt so much at peace around them. It had always been that way, though she could never understand why. She felt that she had once shared something... special, by one, though she could never remember what. She needed that feeling of peace, right now. Tonight had upset her, and she needed to find some resolution to the turmoil that she felt. What had upset her the most about this evening wasn't the fact that Robert and all his friends just assumed that she would 'put out' for him. It didn't upset her that everyone now looked upon her as an easy lay. This, she could cope with. If these guys, guys she did not care about, thought this of her, then what must Max, the one man she truly cared for, above all others, think? This was what was upsetting her.


"Hey Liz," Kyle suddenly announced, appearing from nowhere. "What are you doing out here?"

"Oh... hey Kyle," she answered, looking down from her study of the heavens, a startled look on her face. "I'm just on my way home... you know?"

"Right, right," he shrugged. He always felt so awkward around Liz now. He had been glad to help her out, but what had it cost their friendship? "Wait, weren't you on a date with Kalinowski? How did it go, and how come he isn't seeing you home safely?"

Oh... yeah" she smiled a fake smile. "The date. It went... well, actually. And I just felt like a walk."

"Yeah, right Liz," he smiled. "I know you're here because your still upset over Max. How did the date really go?"

"It was terrible, Kyle," she admitted with a sigh, looking down sadly. "It turned out that he only asked me because of the rumors... you know."

"Oh god! I am so sorry Liz," Kyle sighed. "I wish we could put the record straight. I hate everyone thinking these horrible things about you."

"No, no. It's okay," she smiled sadly. "Believe me when I say that the alternative is much worse."

"I don't see how," Kyle admitted, shaking his head. "Your reputation is ruined, and your parents are bound to hear the rumor sooner or later. What are they going to say? I like eating in the Crashdown, Liz."


"So, Kyle," Liz said, deftly changing the subject. "What have you been up to tonight?"

"Not a lot, actually," he admitted, looking at her sideways. He knew what she had just done. Liz had always been good at deflecting tricky situations. "Tess went round to see Isabel, to talk about Emperor Maximus, I guess, so I went for a walk out into the desert... to meditate."

"Is there something wrong with Max?" she demanded, urgently grabbing Kyle's sleeve.

Kyle stared at her dumbfounded.

"You mean you haven't noticed?" Kyle asked. "If ever there was a guy on the verge of a breakdown, it's him. His mind and his body are definitely not in harmony.

"And it's all my fault, right?" Liz challenged.

"I never said that, Liz," Kyle defended himself. "But you are the one with the power to end all this."

"I can't Kyle. There is so much more to this than you know," she continued, sadly.

Kyle looked at Liz for a long time, and sighed. In an uncharacteristic wave of sympathy he wrapped his arms around her, and her hugged her tightly.

"It will be okay," he said gently. "You and Max will find a way to be together. Any guy who spends ten years just staring across the playground at you isn't going to give up that easily."

"I really wish I could believe that, Kyle," she sniffed through her tears. "I really do."

"Come on," he said, "I'll walk you home."

"Uhm, no thanks, Kyle," she said quietly, disengaging herself. "For some reason, I really need to be alone right now."

"'Kay... but you watch out for yourself."

"Yeah, I will. Goodnight Kyle, and... thanks."

"No problem. That's what friends are for."

***

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The Importance of Being Elizabeth Book 5

Post by WR » Sun Oct 26, 2008 10:17 am

Part 7

After leaving Maria's house, Max decided to take the long route home, and walk through the park. He found the park strangely comforting when it was dark, and the emptiness seemed to suit his mood. He thought back to the first time he had come here at night. It was when Liz's Grandmother had been in hospital, and Liz had asked him if he could do anything to help her, to heal her. He had so badly wanted to try and help her grandmother, but he had instinctively known that he would have been unable to do so. It was... different to when Liz had been shot. So he had to turn her down.

To hurt Liz like that had been almost unbearable for him, he could still see the pain in her eyes. Pain. They had both been through so much.. That had been when he was trying to stay away from Liz, because she was still dating Kyle at the time, and his friends did not appreciate his encroachment. Liz's grandmother. She had come to him on the dream plane. Or was it simply just another one his weird dreams? No, it had felt... real. And since that night, his dreams had changed. Now he dreamed of watching sunsets with someone called Taysha.

Taysha.

Why did that name fill him with such joy, a warm, heartfelt joy? The same joy that the name Liz used to fill him with, until... Max sighed deeply. No, no matter how hard he tried to deny it, Liz's name still filled him with joy. It was just that the joy he felt was tinged with bittersweet sadness. No matter how much he wanted to be with Liz, and he wanted to be with her so badly, it appeared that both his past and his future were conspiring to see that this would never happen.

So who was this Taysha, and why did he have to find her? If his destiny was supposed to be Tess, as both Tess and Nacedo had said, as the image of his mother had intimated last May, then why would this Taysha be so important to him? According to Grandma Claudia, Zan had only recently met, and fallen in love with her. So Zan had been on Earth in 1943, having just fallen in love with Taysha, and then again in 1947, as the hybrid human Max, who contained the essence of Zan. Somewhere in between, he had returned to Antar, married Ava, and had been murdered along with Vilondra, Rath and Ava. So Taysha had survived whatever catastrophe had beset their planet, and had followed him here. How, or more importantly, why had she done that? Did he now owe her some debt of obligation? Max had been told that he had loved this Ava, but he felt nothing for her now. Grandma Claudia had told him he had loved this Taysha, and it was true, he could feel that he had loved her, but he also loved Liz. That was then, this is now. Taysha's essence was somewhere out there, waiting to provide another obstacle between he and Liz. If only he knew where... and who... she was. The sooner he could resolve this, the sooner he could turn his attention to... Max could honestly say that he was not a believer in God, but Liz was, and that was good enough for him.

"Please God," he asked in a despairing voice, "Show me who Taysha is."


"Hey Max," Liz's voice suddenly spoke quietly from the darkness. She was surprised to see him here. "Who are you talking to?"

"Oh... hey Liz," Max replied with a sense of embarrassment, watching her walk into the halo of the lamp above the bench he sat upon. She was so lovely, he thought. Exquisite. "No one, just thinking out loud."

Max looked down at his feet while Liz sat on the bench with him, although she was pushed up as far from him as she could get. It was only a few feet of seating, but to Max, it represented the Grand Canyon. Max sighed deeply. He had lost her, Liz had moved on, now.

"So... how did your... date go?" he asked, while looking straight ahead into the darkness. He really didn't want to know. He dreaded her words.

"Oh... yeah, my date," she said, looking up at the stars. "It went... really great, actually. We got on... great."

"Oh, that's... that's good Liz," he lied. Those were the words he did not want to hear her say. "I'm... glad."

Max had never felt more awkward in all his life. This was torture, but there was no way he wanted Liz to leave. He couldn't bear to leave himself. A little of Liz was better than no Liz at all.

"And yours?" she asked. Her voice sounded strained. "How did your date go?"

"Date?" Max queried. "I didn't have... a date. I think Tess is doing something with Kyle."

"No, Maria said you were going to see a film with another girl. She wouldn't tell me who."

"Oh," Max smiled. Maria was trying to make Liz jealous. But she had failed; Liz obviously didn't really care who he saw. "No, it was only Maria. Michael was working, so she asked me over, you know, we watched a video, and we... talked."

"Oh, good," Liz responded.

She couldn't tell if she was relieved, or not. Wrong, she thought, she was definitely relieved.

"Well, no, not good, I mean... as long as you had a good time."

"Yeah."


Max looked over to Liz, just as Liz looked up to Max. Their eyes met across the empty space of the bench, and held each other. Both involuntarily leaned forwards slightly, their hand slowly started to reach for each other. They conducted a whole, gentle conversation in those few moments. But because both of them were hurting, neither Max nor Liz knew anything about the words of love or encouragement their eyes spoke of.

"So," Max broke the spell, looking away. "Are you going to the dance next weekend? Has Robert asked you?"

"No," Liz lied.

* * *

"So, Liz," Robert had asked while holding her tightly to his body, trying to grind against her during a dance. Did he really think this would arouse her? "We're going to the dance together next week. You, me and the gang."

"Oh," she had said, "I, uhm, I don't know if I can go."

Robert shrugged his shoulders.

"I'll see you there then. You'll change your mind."

"What makes you say that?"

"Because years from now, when I'm a big star in the NFL, you want to be able to brag, 'Yeah, I've had him.'"

* * *

"No," continued Liz. "I want to go, but I'm not sure." Liz took a deep breath. "The truth is, Max, the date went badly, okay," she admitted, feeling better in herself for it.

Keeping secrets from Max was too... painful.

"Oh... I'm... sorry Liz," Max said slowly. Deep inside, though, his heart was cheering wildly. Superbowl winning touchdown in the last seconds of the game cheering. "You know, I'm... sure that Robert's a... he seems a nice guy. I mean... you wouldn't be... attracted to him, otherwise. I'm sure you'll both get a second chance. I mean, you and I didn't exactly start off on the right foot, did we?"

"I like the idea of that Max," she lied, "but I'm not sure he will."

The last thing Liz wanted was a second chance with Robert. She would, however, sell her soul for another chance with Max. Max's mouth opened and closed, he clearly wanted to say something.

"Well, if he doesn't ask you Liz, maybe you can go with me," he blurted it all out quickly, almost as though he were afraid he might stop half way through, and not finish, "you know, as friends."

"I don't think that's a good idea Max," she said carefully, shaking her head.

"Oh, no, of course not," Max hurriedly offered. What had he been thinking? Hah, he knew the answer to that one. "I'm sorry... you know...for making it... awkward. I just thought..."

Max released a huge sigh of frustration. He closed his eyes, squeezing out a single tear.

"I'd better go, Liz," he continued slowly. "I... It's getting late."

Max rose, and stepped away from the bench. His heart remained behind.

"Yeah. Good night Max," Liz added, rising from the bench herself.

They both walked away from the bench, neither seeing the pain that this had caused the other.


Unshed tears welled up in Max's eyes, who hunched his shoulders, and thrust his hands into his pockets. He did not want anyone to see him like this.

"Max?" Liz called from some distance away, causing him to stop and turn. "Aren't you taking Tess? To the Dance I mean."

"No," he called back in answer, his voice shaking a little. "No, I think she's going with Kyle."

Liz did not respond, there was only the sound of silence. Max turned to leave.

"We could go as friends?" she asked, her voice sounding strained.

"Sure," he agreed sadly. "Friends."

"Okay then, Max," she said quietly. "Will you pick me up?"

"Seven thirty, sharp," he agreed.

As he walked home, Max knew that he should be feeling good right now, but he wasn't. There were two questions in his mind. What would Liz do if Robert did eventually ask Liz to the dance? Would she simply break their date? The other question was worse, in a way.

What about Taysha?

***

The man stepped out from behind the tree, and stood in front of the park bench from where the young couple had just left. He appeared to be in his mid fifties, and wore a pair of spectacles, and an old Fedora hat. He wore a long greatcoat, in spite of the warmth of the evening. He glanced at the young man who walked away, bent over with his hand in his pockets. When the young man vanished from sight, he turned his gaze to the lovely young, dark haired woman with whom the young man had spoken. He watched pensively until she too vanished from sight. With a confused look, the man turned and followed the path that the young man had taken.

***

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The Importance of Being Elizabeth Book 5

Post by WR » Sun Oct 26, 2008 10:18 am

Part 8

For the first time in a while, Liz did not have to work the Sunday morning shift. Neither did she have any homework to do, she had already completed the assignments she had been given. Sitting on her bed, she cast her mind to the previous evening when Max had asked her to the dance. There was a part of her that was thrilled that Max had asked her, and even more thrilled that she had accepted, after all, her being at Max's side seemed so... right.

But she was so sad at the fact that Max felt he had to emphasize the fact that they were going as just friends. Was that how he saw her now? Didn't he feel that total emptiness like she did? Didn't he wish that somehow, things might be different so that they might finally be together again? Liz sighed deeply. No, Max was simply making sure that they kept their friendship alive, fragile though it was, now that their lives were progressing. When he found that she did not have a date for a big dance, he did the friendly thing and offer to take her himself. Max would make a good friend, she thought sadly. But she wanted more. She wanted Max. Perhaps she should not have been so... negative.

Casting her eyes around the room, she spied the strip of photographs of her and Max, the photographs she often sat quietly, just looking at. With a sigh of frustration, she rose from her bed, and picked up the pictures. She decided that she would tuck them away, so that she would not see them any more. Why torture herself over something that could never be? She had tried to move on, with Robert, but just because that had failed did not mean that she had to abandon the idea, did it? The very idea of moving on hurt too much.

Liz crossed the room to her large bookshelf. She would put the pictures with her other prized possession, something that had belonged to someone else that she had loved dearly, but had lost, her grandmother's book. Even though she had never looked at it - the memory would be too painful - she kept it on her bookshelf. Carefully, she pulled that large, dark, hard covered book from the shelf, and lifted the front cover. She placed the strip of photographs next to the inscription her grandmother had written for her.

"To my wonderful Honeybear. Reach for the stars Liz, for they belong to you."

She momentarily traced the writing with her fingers before her eyes misted over, and then slowly closed the book. She lifted it to slide it back into its revered place on the bookshelf.


A folded sheet of paper slipped from between the pages of the book, fluttering to the floor. Liz bent down to pick it up, planning to place it back into the book. What had Grandma Claudia left there? It was probably just some notes, perhaps from the publisher. Curiosity got the better of her, and Liz opened the folded paper.

"Oh my God!" she exclaimed out loud when she saw what was on the sheet.

There was no writing, just drawings. The sheet of paper was covered with strange symbols, symbols that looked remarkably like the ones in the cave where she and Max had first found River Dog. They were symbols from Max's planet. Carefully smoothing the sheet out flat, Liz took her grandmother's book, and carefully leafed through the pages. The pictures were mainly of the buildings and structures of the Navajo Native Americans, and included the various eminent archaeologists Grandma Claudia had worked with. Further towards the back, however, were, were more images, petroglyphs, similar to those drawn on the sheet of paper. One of her Grandmother's comments indicated that she had believed that these petroglyphs told some ancient Native American fairly tale. Combined with the memory that her father had mentioned how Grandma Claudia had often called to Zan, Liz wondered if this fairly tale had anything to do with Max.


Liz hurried down the stairs to the back office where her father was filling out some forms.

"Hey Dad," she announced as she entered the small room.

"Oh, hi Lizzie," he answered with a smile, looking up from the paperwork. "How did the big date go last night?"

"Oh... the date," she said quietly, "yeah, it was... okay."

"Well don't get to excited about it," he smiled, but Jeff knew from the sudden change of the look on her face, that it was a date she would rather forget about.

"No, it's... its okay Dad. Um... listen, where are Grandma's journals?"

"What? The ones she used to write in all the time?" he asked.

"Yeah," she confirmed. "Those ones. Where are they? Are they in the attic with everything else?"

"Uh, no Lizzie?" he answered. "I had them placed in storage, along with all her other academic things. Why? Do you want them?"

"Yeah," she confirmed. "I'd sorta like to look at them. You know. From like, an academic point of view."

"Okay. I'll get them for you next time I'm up that way."

"That'd be great Dad," she beamed. "Thanks."

"Liz, does this have anything to do with our talk we had the other day?"

Liz looked down at her feet and then back up to her father.

"No, Dad," she sighed. "Just curious."

How could she explain that she thought her Grandmother had met an alien that she was now in love with?

***

When her afternoon shift started, Liz felt so relieved. While she worked, she would have little time to think about her problems. At least, as long as Maria let her forget them. She went to her locker, and pulled out her apron, which she tied around her waist, and her antennae, which she placed on her head. Taking a deep breath, she entered the Cafe. She was disappointed to find that it was fairly quiet. Too few customers meant too much time to think.

"Sooo," Maria stated sarcastically. "How did last night go?"

"Actually, the night ended really great Maria," she smiled. Maria saw that it was a genuine smile, something that had been missing from Liz for ages now. "Something really great happened."

"Liz!" Maria wailed. "You didn't! Not with Robert Kalinowski!"

"What?" she exclaimed. "What? No, no! Maria. No, not that, listen, uhm...."

But what could she say? How could she admit to Maria that last night had ended so great because Max had asked her out, even if only as a friend? Maria would make it much more than it was, more than it should be, simply because Liz was so happy about it. Then she would put pressure on her to read more into the situation, and it might even end up complicating things. Maria just would not understand. No, it would be best not to mention the date or the meeting at all. Someone in one of Liz's booths indicated that they were ready to order, giving her the opportunity to drop the subject.

"You know what, Maria?" she shrugged quickly. "Actually it was no big deal. I had a good time last night, okay?"

Maria's look told Liz that she had not got away with it.


"Hi, my name's Liz, and I'll be your waitress today. Can I take your order now?"

"Hello Liz," smiled the elderly gentleman sitting alone in the booth. "Can I have the Venus special, with a coffee, please?"

"Sure," she smiled. "Will that be all?"

"Well, after, I might be tempted by a Men-In-Blackberry pie, but we'll see."

"Okay," Liz turned, and went to the counter where she left her order for the meal.

She turned to the coffee maker, and poured a coffee.

"Aw c'mon, Liz, spill," begged Maria. "What happened last night?"

"Why did you tell me Max had a date with another girl?" Liz demanded, desperate to put Maria on the defensive. "You were trying to make me jealous, weren't you? He was with you last night."

"Oh, come on Liz. I know how much you still love Max, and I know..."

The pressure finally grew too much for the petite young woman, and she snapped.

"Stop it, Maria!" Liz yelled angrily. "Just stop it. You know, maybe Max and I could become good friends if we didn't have all these people trying to push us together. You know why I can't get back together with him, and anyway, he just wants to be friends! So shut up! Just... shut up!"

She stormed to the booth with the elderly man, and slammed the cup onto the table. The coffee spilled, and ran across the tabletop and over the side, just missing the man's legs. Liz gave a horrified shriek, and bolted through the back room.


Liz did not stop until she left the Crashdown through the back door. She leant against the wall, taking deep breaths trying to calm her self down. Tears fell freely from her eyes. She suddenly felt so... hopeless.

"Oh please, God. Make it go away," she begged.

"Are you okay, Liz?" asked a voice.

It was the elderly man that she had all but thrown the coffee at.

"Oh... yeah, thanks," she said quietly, wiping the tears from her eyes. "I am so sorry about that, it's just... I've had a rough day. I am so sorry."

"That quite all right, my dear," he said, graciously. "Your friend..."

"Oh... Maria."

"Yes, your friend Maria said it would be okay to talk to you. I just wanted to let you know that no harm was done."

"Oh... yeah, that's... good. That no harm was done, and I am really, really sorry," Liz said softly. "Thank you, sir."

Despite the fact that he was a stranger, she felt at ease, calmed, almost, with him here.

"My name is Bradley White," he smiled at Liz. "You may call me Brad."

"Hello Brad," Liz gave a little smile back.


"Wow," he commented. "With a smile like the, I bet the guys around here stand no chance. Your boyfriend is one lucky young man."

"Oh..." Liz whispered with a shy smile, but then looking down at the ground. "No, I uh, I don't have... a boyfriend. Not anymore."

She sounded so sad, so alone.

"I see," Brad commented. "And this is what has made you so sad? So did you break up fairly recently?"

"Oh, no, it was... a long time ago, almost a year."

"A whole year ago? And you are still upset by it? He must be some guy. It must have been quite a love!"

"Yeah, he is. It was..." Liz had a far away look in her eye,
"special. But he had, like, this whole other destiny, you know? He tried to... he didn't want to break up with me, but if we had stayed... together... things might have got out of hand. Things would have been bad for both of us."

"It's always the way, isn't it?" Brad observed, sadly.

"What is?"

"People seem to find someone to whom they are incredibly attracted, soul mates, almost, but somehow things get...complicated. Incredibly, incredibly complicated."

Liz looked up sharply at the man. Those words...

"Would you like to hear a story?" he asked. "About a man I once knew?"

Liz nodded, all the while staring at Brad.

***

"It's about time, Nikolas!" the body that was inhabited by K'Var shouted angrily. "Why the delay?"

"It's the databanks these people use," Nikolas complained. "They are so archaic and slow. In fact, they haven't even got around to putting all their records on them yet. We had to do some searching through printed records. Can you believe that?"

"Cut the excuses. Tell me what I need to know."

"Right. The one that Vilondra is attracted to is an Alex Whitman. He is considered by his peers to be talented with their databanks. He does not appear to be anything than a normal teenage boy of this planet. My guess is that they are using him to access data records."

"Then why is Vilondra attracted to him?"

"That is a mystery, sir. Even the females of his own kind shun him. It is incomprehensible as to why there is any attraction between any of them. I mean, technically, they are different species. A sub-species at that."

"So, what about the others?"

"The one that Rath seems attracted to..."

"Seems?"

"It's difficult to tell, K'Var," Nikolas sighed. "Her name is Maria DeLuca. One minute they're together, the next they're fighting. It makes no sense, and it is impossible to tell if there is a real attraction there, or if they just follow the rest."

"What about her?"

"She appears to have no talents whatsoever. Perhaps they simply use her as leverage against the others. Ava appears to have struck up a friendship with Kyle Valenti. This one is easy. He is the son of the local Sheriff. They are obviously using him to help keep his father, and the local authorities off their back. Other than the fact that he is considered fit and strong among their race, he has no discernible qualities. Despite the friendship, Ava appears to be growing closer to Zan..."

"What about the other way around?" K'Var interrupted.

"Not really. Which brings us to Elizabeth Parker. There was a rumor that she was shot, a year and a half ago. Witnesses claim to have seen Zan run up to her, but there was no wound, and they found no
trace of a bullet hole anywhere else."

Nikolas paused, and looked at K'Var carefully.

"Perhaps Zan save her life," Nikolas cautiously continued.

"What?" demanded K'Var. When the broken King repaired, repairs the broken Queen in the lands of the ancient foe. Was he too late? No. All those plans... " Why do you say that?"

"Because he obviously healed her. When she is nearby, we feel signs of latent powers. We haven't seen any evidence that they are aware of these powers, but she poses a threat. This girl must be eliminated. Who knows what she is capable of?"

"You know the prophecy, Nikolas!" K'Var shouted. "That might be Lady Taysha!"

Nikolas stopped to think.

"That would explain why he risked exposure to heal her. He would be drawn to her, wouldn't he?" K'Var continued. "All those years searching Antar, and she's been down here all the time. How did she get here?"

"I can't answer that, K'Var. But she certainly seems drawn to him. It appears that up until last May, they were inseparable."

"What happened last May?"

"As near as we can tell, that was when Ava found them. Something happened, and Zan and this Earth girl, or Taysha... maybe, broke up. At least, to a casual observer, that's how it looks. But anyone with intelligence can see they are attracted to one another."

"Keep an eye on her, Nikolas. Let me know if things change. I may need you to bring her to me."

***

Liz escorted Brad back into the cafe, and after sitting him down him down in his booth, brought him another coffee. She told Maria that she needed a break. Maria nodded, knowing that she had pushed her friend to far this time. Perhaps Max had been right to back off after all.

"Are you not having one?" he asked Liz when she finally sat down, after bringing Brad his food order.

"No, I'm good, actually," she shrugged. "So, this man you knew? What does he have to do with me, and..."

"Your boyfriend?" he asked, his eyes sparkling.

"My friend," she confirmed.


"Well, this man, was none like I had ever met before. He was the son of someone quite important, and I worked for him. Although he was technically my employer, he never treated me as such. He was almost like a... a friend. He was a Prince among men. Well, this man was engaged to be married, a marriage he was not looking forward to, but a marriage that he knew he would have to make."

"So it was an arranged marriage?" Liz asked.

"Definitely so, for... my friend didn't love his future wife. At least, not in that way. She was the sister of his best friend, and he loved her like a sister, though not as much as his real sister, of course."

Liz smiled sadly, and nodded.

"He was sent away, on a long trip to this country. During his journey, on board the ship he was coming here on, my master met this young lady, one of the crew. The attraction they obviously had for one another was almost instantaneous. Now, I truly believe that he was in love with the young lady, completely and totally, but his journey was cut short, my master was recalled because his father had died. He returned home, and because he knew that he had to, he married the woman to whom he had been betrothed. There was a revolution, and soldiers attacked the cathedral during his wedding ceremony. My master was slain upon the alter, only moments after he had said his vows. His young bride, his best friend and his sister were all slain also."

"And the other woman? What of her?" Liz asked, a strange tingle running down her spine. "No one knows what happened to her. She simply vanished. Oh, there were rumors, but no one really knew the whole truth. One thing I do know, my Master died loving only one woman. And I truly believe that the Lady Taysha loved my master in return."

Liz went momentarily icy cold. A memory ran through her mind. Something her father had recently told her, when he was explaining their connection to Grandma Claudia.

"Your grandma wanted to call you Taysha."

Why had her Grandma wanted to call her a name that as far as she knew, did not exist? At least, she had never heard of it. Yet this man was telling her a story of how his friend, no, his master, had been in love with a Taysha. There were too many strange things going on in Liz's life to allow her to accept this as a mere coincidence.

"What kind of a name is that?" Liz asked, her entire body tense.

"In our language, it means 'Godly'." Brad smiled.

Liz's body was rigid now. She knew that her name too, meant Godly.

Another part of the conversation with her father came to mind.

"You know, that's not the only strange name your grandma came up with," her father had laughed. "When things would go wrong, or when she was especially sad about something, particularly after your grandpa died, she would look up to the heavens, and ask for help from a strange God I've never heard of. She probably learned about him during her studies."

"What was the name of this God?"

"Zan."


"Your friends?" Liz asked hoarsely, hardly able to breathe. Things were growing rather feint, suddenly. "What were their names?"

"Lets see now, the sister was called Vilondra, his friend was Rath, his young bride was called Ava, and my master? He was called Zan."

"LIZ" she heard Maria cry as her world went suddenly black.

***

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The Importance of Being Elizabeth Book 5

Post by WR » Sun Oct 26, 2008 10:19 am

Part 9

Liz sat on the bench in the High School quad with the rest of her friends, feeling quite low. Everyone sensed that she was very unhappy, but did not know what to do about it. They all knew it had something to do with Max, but not quite what. Her father was so concerned about her mood, especially given that she had feinted Sunday afternoon, that on Monday, yesterday, he had made her stay home for the day. He had tried to keep her back today, too, but Liz had insisted that she was fine. Now it was lunch, and her mind still tried to reconcile all that she had learned, both from her father, and from Brad, who had disappeared right after she had feinted. What made things worse was that she had learnt that Max had spent yesterday lunchtime with the gang, but was absent again today. She had hoped that with their 'friendship' date, he would not feel the need to avoid her. As the others started to drift off towards their next classes, Maria hung back to talk with Liz.

"What's up, Liz?" she asked, her voice full of concern. "You've been really down since Sunday. What did that man say to you?"

"Maria? Why is Max avoiding me?" Liz asked, her eyes penetrating.

"Ah, Liz," Maria stated. "I think you might know that better than me."

"You guys just talked Saturday night, right?"

"Of course we just talked!" Maria stated, sounding hurt. "Liz, what kind of a friend do you think I am? I would never do that to you!"

"No, Maria, no! You don't understand. What did you talk about?"

"You really want to know?" Maria asked with a smile.

Liz knew that she would have been part of the conversation, but she needed to know something. As they entered the school buildings, Liz grabbed Maria's arm and pulled her into the eraser room.


"Okay Liz, I hope no one saw us," Maria admonished Liz with a laugh, "I don't know if our friendship can survive this kind of rumor."

"Maria, what did you talk about?"

"Well, lets see... oh yeah, you."

"Maria!"

"What?" she demanded. "It's what we talked about. What else do you think he's going to talk about? This is Max!"

"Maria, did he mention anyone by the name of Taysha?"

"No, Liz. Like I told you, we talked about you."

"I suppose he hates me then?" she sighed sadly.

"What gives you that idea?"

"Because he avoids me now. He met you guys for lunch yesterday, but today, when I'm back, he doesn't show. When was he in the Crashdown last? Maria? Where does he go now?"

"Ye Olde Worlde Tea Shoppe," Maria laughed. "Can you believe that?"

"What? Why does he go there?" Liz demanded.

Maria just looked at her.

"Oh, yeah," Liz sighed.


"So who's this Taysha chick?" Maria asked.

"Listen, Maria, you gotta promise you won't flip out."

"Liz, this is me were talking about."

"The last time you said that, I had to chase down the street after you."

"Okay. But since then, I've been subjected to FBI manhunts, destiny, aliens, and Max coming back from the future to tell the one girl he truly loves to basically destroy your lives. I don't think that what you can say will freak me out."

"No, you're right. I'm sorry Maria," Liz sighed. "Okay, that man, the one who I was with when I feinted?"

"Yeah," Maria urged when Liz paused. "What about him?"

"He's an alien."

"What?" she demanded, trying to pull from Liz's grasp, towards the door. "How do you know? Is he good? Oh no, is he one of the Skins? We gotta let Michael know. You gotta tell Max."

"Maria!" Liz shouted, holding her tightly. "Maria, cedar oil, Maria! You promised you wouldn't flip!"

"That was before you told me you were attacked by an alien."

"I was not attacked, Maria. He only told me a story. It just... I was... Listen Maria, I have to tell someone. I would tell Max, but I don't think he trusts me."

"Believe me, Liz," Maria told her, calming herself. "Max trusts you all right. In fact, Max still loves you."

"No, no. You're wrong, Maria. If he did, the world would end, right?"

"Liz, he didn't say that he had to be with Tess. From what you said, you just had to stop Tess from leaving. To make Max and the others treat her like one of them."

"Well that has nothing to do with this. Listen Maria. Even if I did get back with Max, he's in love with someone else. He's in love with a girl called Taysha. He just doesn't know it yet."

"Where do you get all this stuff from Liz? You could make a fortune writing a romance novel."


"Okay, that man I was talking to? He said his name was Bradley White. He told me how he used to work for this man, he said he was a Prince among men. I thought that was an odd thing to say about a man. Anyway, he really liked this man, and he was a friend as well as his boss."

"Are we getting to the point anytime soon, Liz? Suppose someone comes?"

"His boss was supposed to marry someone, an arranged marriage, someone he didn't want to marry, someone he didn't love. For some reason they sent him on a trip to America. During the voyage, he met this woman called Taysha. Apparently, his boss and this Taysha fell head over heels, soul mates, in love."

"This sounds familiar," Maria interjected.

"Maria! Anyway, Bradley said that although it was obvious they were deeply in love with each other, they didn't do anything about it. Now, his boss' father died, so they all had to go home. As soon as he got back, he married his betrothed, because it was expected of him. But there was some rebellion or something, and his boss, the boss's best friend, his boss's sister, and the fiance were all killed."

"Yeah so?"

"Maria, he told me their names. They were Zan, Rath, Vilondra and Ava."

"Oh... my... God"

"Exactly."

Maria gave a sudden squeal of excited joy.

"Liz, Liz... do you know what this means?"

"Yes, Maria. He was telling me about Max and the others."

"No, Liz. You've missed the point. Zan didn't love Ava! Max never loved Tess!"

"Oh... right," smiled Liz, momentarily caught up in Maria's excitement.

"But where is Taysha?" Liz asked. "The one Max really loves."
Maria stopped smiling.

"C'mon, Liz. It was a long time ago, a long way away. She's probably still on Antar."

"But what if she's not?"

"Liz, before you start getting depressed again, you just gotta know something," Maria spoke quietly full of concern for her best friend. "Max told me he still loves you, that he's giving you the space you asked him for. He told me that he didn't care about you and Kyle, that he wouldn't be your first. Liz, I don't know about you, but I don't think it matters where this other alien is. I don't think she stands a chance of getting Max's attention from you. You know, Liz. Your biggest problem is that you are far too noble. You want Max. Max wants you. Now forget this destiny crap, and get out there and grab your man!"

"Thanks, Maria, but I have to find out. Listen, Grandma Claudia studied petroglyphs and stuff, and I've seen some drawings she made. They look like the symbols in Max's cave, you know, the one where we healed Michael? Anyway, I think she might have translated some of them. Dad's getting her journals for me. I think Grandma Claudia knew who this Taysha was. I think she knew the whole thing. I'm going to find the answers, Maria. I'm going to solve this for Max."

"God, you two so deserve each other!" Maria stated, kindly.

***

When the bell that signified the end of the day finally rang out, Max remained in his seat, allowing the crush of the students to leave the room before he stood, threw his book-bag over his shoulder, and slowly left the room.

"Bit of a slow coach tonight, aren't you, Max?" Mr Codognotto, his teacher, asked. "Normally you are out of here faster than anyone."

Max looked at the teacher, and smiled. "Uh, yeah. I guess I'm still digesting what we learned."

"Yeah, sure, Max." he laughed. "No sucking up to the teacher! Get out of here."

Max laughed, and left the room. How could he tell the teacher his real reason for remaining in the classroom? He was trying to avoid Liz, plain and simple. He felt rather mean about his reasons, but he could not really help it. He could have joined his friends at lunch, and been close to her, just as he could easily have found her this evening, and offered her a lift home. So why was Max trying to avoid Liz, the girl of his dreams, the girl who he was taking to the dance this Saturday night? The longer Max stayed away from her, the less likely she was to cancel on him. It was because he was looking over his shoulder, making sure that Liz was not behind him, when he ran into the man.

"Sorry!" Max exclaimed.

"S'alright," the man said, and quickly hurried away.

Max watched the man scurry away, wondering how he could be comfortable in that greatcoat, and wearing that old Fedora hat.

***

Tess had never been one to dream. In all her time with Nacedo, she could honestly say that she did not remember a single dream. Then, when she met Max, and the others, she started to have the dreams that Nacedo had told her were to indicate their destiny, what should be. But just lately, she had been having a different dream. These dreams had been wonderful. They had been based on her memories of her life back on Antar, her life with Max, rather with Zan. She saw the love and adoration he had shown her, the quiet, intimate moments shared during their time together on a space ship somewhere. She saw the all encompassing desire he felt during a walk by the fountains, one in particular that Vilondra had arranged because Zan had been so busy, he had not found time to see her. And she was happy. Zan had professed his love publicly, and had announced their wedding date. Tess knew that her dreams were also her memories. She had been important, the center of attention; she had been a Queen! It was kind of sad though, because in this life, Max did not love her like that anymore. He loved another. But a part of her accepted this, and had been able to move on. She had become quite attracted to Kyle, and although she knew that she loved him, she was not yet in love with him. Perhaps, in time, she would fall in love with him, and move on from Max. Maybe then, her dreams would change to having Kyle in them.

***

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The Importance of Being Elizabeth Book 5

Post by WR » Sun Oct 26, 2008 10:23 am

Part 10

Max Evans carefully pulled the knot of his tie up to his collar, twisting his neck from side to side and stretching it upwards, to prevent the tie from pinching his skin. He stepped back to appraise himself in the mirror. He had carefully chosen his dark pants and jacket so that he would look smart, but without trying to make Liz feel that he was reading anything more into this date other than two friends getting together. He could scarcely believe his luck, that Robert had not asked Liz out again. Neither had she changed her mind.

Could he not see just how beautiful Liz was? Liz, he decided, was one of those rare people, whose inner beauty was matched by her outer beauty. Nevertheless, he would not look this particular gift horse in the mouth. A date, any kind of date, with his Liz was a dream come true. The one concession that Max made as a reminder of their one time status was his red tie, a link to the color that she had most frequently worn during their happy, no... blissful times together. After double-checking that everything was satisfactory, and brushing an imaginary speck of dust from his arm, he left his bedroom.

"Looking sharp, Max!" his father grinned from the large armchair where he was reading the newspaper. "Who's the lucky date tonight?"

"Philip!" exclaimed Diane, Max's mother. "Don't embarrass him."

"What?" Philip laughed. "Can't I ask my son a simple question?"

"It's not what you asked," Diane responded sternly. "It's the way you asked. I'm sure that whomever Max is taking out, she is very nice."

"It's Liz," Max interjected.

"Liz? The Parker girl?" Diane asked. "Are you seeing her again? Oh I am so pleased. She is such a nice girl."

"No, mom," Max sighed. "It's just a... we're just... You see, we're going as friends. Neither of us had dates for tonight, so we just palled up. You know, buddies."

"Right, Max," laughed Philip. "If you say so. I'm just glad that you seem to be taking a normal interest in things again."

"Give it time, Max," his mother said soothingly, seeing the pain it cost Max to call Liz simply a friend. "You are a wonderful person, and she'll soon see that again."

"Thanks, mom." Max sighed.

"Whoa, wait a minute Max!" Philip called as Max turned to leave.

"Yeah, Dad?"

"You're not planning on taking Liz to the dance in your jeep, are you?"
"I'll put the top up."

"No, son. Here, take the car." Philip threw the keys to Max.

"Whoa, Dad? The Saab?"

"Just take care of it."

***

"That was nice, dear." Diane smiled at her husband. "Did you see the look on his face? He so wants to make a good impression on Liz."

"Yeah. She's a lovely girl. When they were seeing each other, I don't know, it was like Max was a different person," Philip started to chuckle. "Remember that night when they were out all night together?"

"Yeah. Nancy was so angry. I guess we all were."

"Except Jeff. Did you notice how he seemed to take it in his stride? If that had been Isabel, then I think you all would have had to hold me back from attacking the guy. Yet Jeff just seemed to... trust Max."

"And why not? Max is not like the other kids, is he? I mean, when has he given us cause to worry. Except for his... depression lately."

"Well, I have to admit to giving those keys to Max for selfish reasons." Philip smiled.

Diane looked at him suspiciously.

"Okay, Philip. What are you up to?"

"Nothing," he laughed. "I just wanted to see what it was that the father of a normal teenage boy has to go through for a change."

***

Liz sat on her bed, wrapped in a bath towel, having emerged recently from her shower, and stared that her wardrobe. The open doors revealed all of her clothing, and she was trying to decide what to wear. She wanted to dress nicely for Max, to give him a reason to be proud to have her by his side, without being too formal that would indicate she thought of their relationship as anything other than friends. Which, of course, she did. On the other hand, Max knew that she liked to dress up for special occasions. Was this a special occasion, she wondered?

Of course it was. Tonight, she would make sure that their friendship was strong, and not fragile like had been recently. So what to wear? The black dress she wore on her blind date? No, that had too many memories. Max had kissed her that night, a wonderful, sensual kiss. No, she did not want reminding of that night. The dress she wore that evening in Las Vegas? No, that had almost been a disaster. She had almost given in and confessed everything to Max. Also, that marked the change of their friendship. Max had clearly felt her weakening, and had made a renewed effort to win her back, and she had once again been forced to throw up the shutters. Since then, Max had been pulling away.

She crossed to the wardrobe, to look towards the back where there were one or two dresses she had not worn recently. She pulled out one dress in particular. It was a gold, figure hugging knee length dress, with spaghetti string straps. Although the back was quite low, the front was modest enough so as not to draw attention. It was not meant to be worn with a bra, but Liz did not want Max to get the wrong impression, so she would wear one. She would also wear a button down top so that no one would notice, especially as the strap would be plainly visible across her back. She only had a white top that came anywhere near matching the gold dress, so this would do. She would wear fairly plain make-up, and keep her shoes quite low. When she was dressed, she examined her hair. She knew how Max liked it when she wore it up, but she decided to keep it down, keep it simple. She wanted to look... good, but not too much so. She would keep it to a simple... nice. Pleased with her overall effect, she examined herself in the mirror. Even though she still looked good, she knew that it was definitely not as... hot as she could look, if she really wanted. No, Max's friendship was too important to her.

"Oh, you look nice, honey," her mother said when Liz went through the living room. "I'm sure Robert will like it."

"Uh, no, Mom. I'm not going with Robert," Liz said quietly.

"Oh. So who have you dressed for, and why do you look so pleased?"

"Um... well, when Robert didn't ask me, and when I said how I would like to go, um... Max... said we could go together."

"Oh," her mother exclaimed. She wasn't sure if she liked this, or not. "Are you and Max back together?"

"Mom!"

"Well, I'm just curious. You know, I have no idea what is going on with you these days."

"No, Max and I... we're just... friends." Liz sighed, a little too sadly.

Nancy looked at Liz, and saw just how sad she was. She suddenly realized that Liz's moods these past few months could be attributed to Max's absence in her life.

"He'll come around Liz," her mother sighed sympathetically. "Anyone can see how much you two belong together. It won't be long until he realizes it too."

"No, mom. It's Okay," she forced a smile. "We're okay. We're good friends now, you know?"

"Okay Liz," Nancy smiled. "You just have fun tonight, and you tell Max that if he upsets you, he'll have to deal with me."

"Mom!"

***

"Hi, Max," Jeff Parker greeted the young man who knocked at the door to their apartment. He glanced up and down the alleyway, and seeing only the Saab parked nearby.
"Where's the jeep, Max?" he asked, when Max had stepped through the door, past him.

"At home. Uh, my Dad let me use his car," Max told him quietly, indicating the Saab.

Even though Jeff had shown nothing but kindness to Max, he still felt nervous of Liz's father. Maybe it was because he held himself responsible for all of Liz's recent problems. Perhaps if he had realized earlier that she was no longer interested in him romantically, they could have avoided all this unpleasantness.

"Oh, that's good of him, Max," Jeff chuckled. "I must say that I feel better knowing Lizzie is going to be in a safer vehicle than your jeep. You ever think of changing it?"

"Uh, no... sir," smiled Max, scratching the back of his ear. "I uh... I'm kinda saving my money, you know... for college."

"So are you and Liz getting back together?"

"No... no. We ah... we're just good friends now."

"Oh, well, you both get on well, so you know, I'm sure you'll have fun."

Jeff went to the bottom of the stairs, and called out.

"Lizzie, your date's here!"


"Dad," Liz complained coming down the stairs. "You know Max isn't my date, were just..."

"Friends, yeah I know," laughed Jeff. "You know, you have both told me that. But do you know what I don't get?"

Liz saw Max now, and inhaled sharply. He looked so good to her, so handsome. A sudden ache appeared in her heart that someone else would one day become accustomed to seeing Max dressed like this on a regular basis. She quickly wondered what he would wear to the senior prom, and who it would be holding his arm. She so wished it could have been her.
Max's heart started to pound when he saw Liz come down the stairs. She would make someone a very lucky man, he thought to himself. She was so elegant, even though it was apparent to him that she was trying not to be. Liz looked good in anything. That Robert is an idiot for passing up the opportunity to see Liz like this. A sudden sad thought occurred to him. This would probably be the last time that he and Liz would ever be together like this.

"I don't get how for two people who claim to be just friends, you look at each other as though you were the only people in the world," Jeff finished. "Now get out of here, and have fun."

***

"Hello?" asked the voice down the cell phone.

"Greer here," the man hiding in the shadows, watching the young man standing nervously by the doorway to the apartment above the Cafe, quietly spoke. "Tell Nikolas that Zan has just arrived at the home of the Earth girl. They're going to the school dance together."
There was silence while the message was relayed.

"Nikolas says to follow them, keep an eye on them."

"Does he want me to do anything about them, you know, being together, like?"

Again there was a moment of silence.

"No, just keep an eye on them. If the situation changes, call for instructions."

"Right. Later."

The figure slid the phone in his pocket, and walked towards his own car, preparing to follow the young couple.


A shadow emerged from a sheltered doorway. It was extremely scruffy, wearing very ragged clothes. His stained overcoat was held together with an old piece of rope. His long, greasy hair was wild, and all over the place, his unshaven face was dirty, and scarred.

"Hey, buddy," it whined. "Spare any change? I haven't eaten in days."

"No, go away!" Greer hissed.

The man stank, and Greer backed off slightly, trying to move past him towards the car. The tramp moved with him, continuing to block his route.

"Aw, c'mon. Just a buck or two," the tramp begged. "You can spare that, surely?"

The tramp continued to prevent Greer from getting to his car. Behind the Tramp, he could see through the window that Zan was talking to the Earth girl and her father. They would be leaving soon.

"You gonna help me out or not?" the tramp demanded.

"Sure," Greer smiled, looking around the alleyway. Seeing no one in sight, he stepped towards the tramp. "I'll help you out."


Greer raised his hand towards the tramp's shoulder. Just before he touched him, the tramp reached up, grabbed the outstretched arm with both hands, and spun the man against the wall of the building behind him. He then spun on one leg, swinging his other towards Greer's back. But Greer, a trained warrior, quickly dodged the foot, and used his energy to hurl the tramp away from him.

"Try to mug me, eh?" Greer laughed evilly. "I'll show you just how big a mistake you have made. You picked the wrong mark tonight!"

He picked up a large wooden pole that had been left among the rubbish, planning to inflict some terrible damage on the man, who was slowly rising. Greer raised the pole above his head and brought it down. The tramp stepped out of the way at the last moment, causing Greer to follow through too far. With the man's back exposed, the tramp punched his fist hard against the small of Greer's back. He exploded into a shower of dust.


Stepping back into the shadow of the doorway, the tramp reached into his filthy clothing, while he watched the shower of white flakes settle onto the road. He pulled out a small clear box, and shook a couple of the white candies inside, into his hand. He threw these into his mouth, and then held his had up, and out. A shining blue light shimmered from within him, and the tramp's features slowly melded into that of a respectable elderly gentleman. Whistling tunelessly, he walked down the alleyway towards the street. He passed the doorway just as the young couple emerged.

"Good evening Max, Liz," he smiled. "Oh I am so glad to see that you have finally found one another again."

Max and Liz look at each other in confusion, and that back to the elderly man, as Bradley White continued to the end of the alley, and turned into the street. They then looked to each other, and started to laugh. Max took Liz's hand in his, and escorted her to the passenger door, and opened it for her to get in.

"Hmm, this is nice, Max," she smiled.

"Only the best for you, Liz," he grinned back at her.

He then walked across the front of the car, feeling Liz's eyes on him all the way. She's probably worried I'm going to make a pass at her, he thought sadly, and climbed into the driver's seat.

***

A bespectacled man in a long greatcoat, and an old wide brimmed hat stepped out from another doorway, and looked up the alleyway where the stranger had walked past the young couple who had emerged from the apartment behind the Cafe. He looked to the end of the alleyway, as if deeply considering something. He then carefully watched the young couple climb into their car. His eyes narrowed as he watched them, and slowly shook his head. As the black Saab started to pull away, the man bent down to pick up some of the powdery flakes that had settled by his feet. He looked at them, and smiled a dry smile. He turned to a small compact car, and followed the young couple.

***

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WR
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The Importance of Being Elizabeth Book 5

Post by WR » Sun Oct 26, 2008 11:01 am

Part 11

The group of six friends stood to one side of the large auditorium, generally watching the high school crowd dancing to the music that the DJ was pumping out. Maria and Isabel were swaying gently to the music, checking out the outfits worn by the other girls, passing their judgement upon each one.

"So who is Max bringing, Isabel?" Maria asked, having to speak loudly to make herself heard.

"Max is coming?" Tess asked. "And he asked someone out?"

"Who?" demanded Michael.

"Yeah Max is coming," Isabel confirmed when the rest of the gang had focused their attention on Max's sister. She didn't feel like answering the same questions, over and over. "No, I don't know when he'll get here. Yes, he said he had a date. No, I don't know who he has asked. And I don't think he would be stupid enough to tell anyone else, Michael."

"He told Liz." Michael retorted, angry that he had been singled out like that.

"Ah, Jeez. Do we have to go through this every time Max looks at another girl?" Maria demanded.

"Has anyone seen Liz?" Kyle asked.

"Nah, I heard Kalinowski and his buddies are gonna be late, something about a beer blast. Liz will be with them," Tess informed them.

"No," Kyle said. "I don't think Liz is coming with Kalinowski. She said her date with him didn't go so good."

"Wait," Maria interrupted. "She told me that her date ended really well. She used the word 'great'. She said the night ended great."

"Well, when I saw her in the park, right after the date, she was kinda low. She said it went badly, how he only dated her cause he thought she would put out."

"I'm gonna deck the creep," growled Michael, flexing his muscles. No one talked about Liz like that. Where did that come from?

"Whoa, Michael!" Maria laughed. "When have you started to show concern for Liz like that? Should I be worried? Does Max know?"

"I... It's... No, I'm only concerned... for a friend." Michael stammered. Why did he suddenly feel so protective of Liz?

"Okay, so if Liz said that her night ended great, but it wasn't with Kalinowski, who did she meet after she saw me?" asked Kyle, earning a reprieve for Michael.

"I don't know. Some mystery man I guess," Maria said, concern showing in her eyes. "She's been acting weird lately."

"Well, all I know is that when Max turns up with his date," Alex added, "and Liz with hers, it's not going to be fun being anywhere near either of them."

"Oh my God!" shrieked Isabel, staring towards the auditorium entrance.

The other five heads turned to where Isabel had been looking so incredulously. As one, their mouths dropped open. Max and Liz, tenderly holding hands, were walking towards them.

***

"You kept that quiet, man," Michael said to Max when they had gone to get some drinks for the gang. "So are you back together now, or what?"

"No... we're only here as... friends," Max said quietly. "You know, neither of us had... dates, so we came... together, as... friends."

"Well, just friends or no, Max," he grinned, "you are here with her, together."

"Yeah. It's nice, you know," Max replied with a slow smile, turning to look back at the gang. He felt a momentary pang of loss when he saw that Liz was not there. He felt slightly better when he saw that Maria too was missing. He was so afraid that Robert would turn up, and Liz would go to him.

"I'm sure it will be okay, Max. You know, anyone can see how much you care for each other. Why don't you tell her how you feel, how you want her back."

"Because I don't think I could take the rejection," he sighed.

***

"So, Liz..." Maria grinned, standing in front of the large mirror in the restrooms.

"What?" Liz asked, carefully tidying her hair.

"You and Max. What else?"

"No, Maria, it's not what you think, all right? Neither of us had dates, so... you know."

"And are you going to try and tell me that you don't wish it were more?"

"Of course I do, Maria. But how could I live with myself, knowing that Michael and Isabel will die because of my selfishness?"

"Trust me on this, Liz," Maria laughed, "you would not be selfish. Oh, wait, wait! This was the great thing that happened, wasn't it?"

"Maria, what are you talking about?"

"The other day, when you said that your night ended with something great happening. This was it, wasn't it? Max asked you out. Oh, I just knew he would bounce back."

"No, Maria. Yes it was great that he asked me, but he only asked me as a friend, Maria."

"Heck, even Michael and I are friends, Liz. If you ask me, I'd say go for it. You and Max can sort out the future, I know you can. When you two are together, you can fix anything. You so belong together."

***

"So," Max said, perhaps for the twentieth time that evening, while he and Liz watched their friends out on the dance floor.

"Yeah," added Liz, who like Max did not know how to proceed with their 'just friends' thing.

"Should we, ah..." Max started. "Do you want to dance?"

The DJ was playing fast tracks, so Max felt quite comfortable with the idea of dancing with Liz, as long as he could maintain a distance between them. He just knew that if he held her close, he might do something that she would not like.

"Sure," she smiled.

Without even realizing it, they linked hands, and Max led Liz out to the dance floor. They both ignored the looks of encouragement their friends gave them.

"So, did you finish that Bio assignment?"

"Yeah. Did you find the cell structure part okay? I had some trouble."

"Oh, yeah, that was difficult. I had to refer to my notes all the time."

"I know what you mean. I'm just glad I took so many."

And so the evening went on. They danced only to fast tracks, quickly leaving the dance floor looking awkward, when the DJ slowed the mood down a little. They discussed their schoolwork, their work, and the weather, anything but each other. They were both feeling really miserable.


"Oh... excuse me Max," Liz suddenly blurted to Max, and ran off towards one of the side exits.

She charged through the door, and around the corner, past her locker, to the ladies restroom. She had seen Tess locked in a very romantic clinch with Kyle. It was not the clinch itself that was upsetting. No, she felt glad for Kyle. He deserved someone he felt was special. No, what upset her was that she had given up Max, and her life with him, so that the future would be changed, so that the end of the world would not happen. But if Tess was not with Max, what then? She had seen how Tess and Kyle had slowly grown closer to each other, but had never given it much thought. Now, with their relationship so... open, what of her? And Max? It was so unfair, that she should have no one, while Tess had both Max and Kyle. Her tears came flooding out, she sat in the corner sobbing loudly.

"Liz?" Tess asked, having entered the restroom to find Liz in the corner. "Liz, whatever is the matter? Are you alright?"

Liz looked up at Tess, and wiped the tears from her eyes.

"Oh... hey Tess," she murmured. "No, I'm, I ah..."

"Jeez, Liz," Tess stated. "I would have thought that you would be much happier, now that you're back with Max."

"Uh, no Tess," Liz said, shaking her head. "You've got that wrong. We're not... together, together."

"Oh. Why not, Liz?" Tess asked. "I mean, anyone can see how much you two feel about each other."

"No, I don't think so. I don't think he wants me back."

"Well, I think you're wrong. But anyway, it wouldn't take you much to change his mind, would it?"

"But what about you?" Liz countered. "You know, this whole... destiny... thing."

"You know, Liz. It hurts that he doesn't feel the things for me that he obviously feels for you. I mean, I was married to him. But if that's the way things are... I can't make him love me. As long as I still have him, have the three of them in my life, then I guess I can live with it. And, you know, I have these... feelings... for Kyle."

"Oh, yeah" Liz whispered quietly. "Tess? About the Kyle thing? I never... we didn't... it was all a set up. We didn't really..."

"Yeah, I guessed as much, Liz," Tess laughed. "I didn't really think that you would do that to Max. I think, deep down, he knows it too. Thanks for trying, anyway. You know, to get Max and me... Even if you did do it for Max."

Tess turned to leave the room.

"Are you sure about this, Tess? You're not going to leave because Max and I get back together."

Tess stopped, and turned.

"Is that why you did it? You were afraid of me leaving?"

"Uhh, yeah," Liz said quietly. "I can't really explain how I found out, but lets just say that through the Granolith, I learned that if you left, then your enemies destroy the world."

Tess looked at Liz, slowly shaking her head.

"You have to tell him Liz. And don't worry, I'm not going anywhere."

Tess turned to leave again, but turned back to Liz.

"I'm so sorry, Liz, for making things this bad for you, but I had to do what I believed was right. But I guess I was wrong. Look after him, Liz. Please?"

***

Just as Liz ran from a confused looking Max, there was a commotion from the main entrance, just behind where they had been standing. Max ignored it, it was obviously some newcomers, probably making a very dramatic entrance. It happened a lot. His eyes were glued to the retreating form of Liz.

"Where did Liz go, Max?" Isabel asked from behind him.

Max turned to his sister, who was dancing close by, with Alex. They both looked happy. He hoped that they would both work out the little differences that seemed to be keeping the two of them apart. Of all of them, they seemed to be the most suited. Alex certainly seemed more sure of himself lately, but he could tell that deep down, he still cared for Isabel.

"I don't know," he said to her. "She just... took off."

"What did you say to her?" Alex asked, the concern for his friend evident.

"Nothing, I, ah... we were talking about school."

"School?" Isabel demanded. "Max, this is a dance, she is your date. I don't care what your status is; you don't talk about... Oh No."

Isable's eyes suddenly widened, as she looked past Max.

"What?" he asked, turning to look.

Robert Kalinowski had just entered the auditorium with his friends; it was obvious that they had been drinking.

"Hey, Evans!" he called. "You seen Parker?"

***

Liz sat in the corner of the restroom, scarcely able to comprehend what had just occurred. Tess had just given her the green light to get back together with Max. Tess had said that she would not leave if she were with Max again. A kind of numbness spread through Liz. Could this nightmare be finally over? No, wait! What about this Taysha? But was she really a problem? If Grandma Claudia had known her, which seems likely, given that it appeared that she had known Zan, and that she wanted to name Liz, Taysha, then Liz suspected that she would have realized that Max was Zan. So, why would Grandma Claudia tell her to follow her heart? Did Grandma Claudia know that Zan did not love Taysha as much as was believed?
After all, the evidence they had previously heard suggested that Zan had loved Ava, yet that Bradley White had said the Zan did not love her. There was hope after all! Then a sudden thought came to Liz. Could she... No, that was preposterous. No way. But the thought was there, gnawing, growing. Was it at all conceivable that somehow, through some extremely convoluted path, she, Liz Parker, smallest of small town girls, was Taysha, Zan's true love? It would certainly explain a lot of things, the flashes she received from kissing Max among them. If Grandma Claudia knew, or suspected that this was somehow the case, it would explain why she wanted to name her Taysha, and why she wanted her to follow her heart, her heart, of course, being Max. But what about Max? He thought she had betrayed him. He still believed that she no longer wanted him, that she wanted a normal life. She had told him so herself. What must he think of her?

What was it Tess said? That it wouldn't take much to make Max fall in love with her again? Everyone she had spoken to had all claimed that Max really still cared for her. Were they right?

Liz slowly stood up, and crossed to the mirror. The reflection that looked back at her looked dreadful, her eyes were red, and puffy, and her hair was a mess. She now regretted wearing the dress she had chosen, it was no where near elegant enough for her, now. She wished that she had more make-up, and that she had worn higher shoes. She wondered if Isabel might be able to help her, but she did not really want to venture out into public looking like this.

No, she wanted to make an impact. She really wanted Max to notice her. Liz remembered how that other girl, Ava, had told them that she was different now. She had used some inner power to save Max's life, so she knew that she had the power do this herself. Liz crossed to the door, and checked that the corridor was empty. Max had done this many times, she was sure that she could too. All she had to do was to imagine what she wanted to achieve, right? She held the door handle, and suddenly 'saw' the molecular structure. Concentrating hard, she manipulated the structure and fused the mechanism inside. The door was locked solid; no one could get in.

Back at the mirror, Liz looked at her reflection, and smiled. Remembering how she looked when her face was not so marked from crying she concentrated, and slowly passed her hand in front of her face, fixing the ravages of her emotional outburst. The Liz that now looked back appeared much, much better. An inner glow of excitement, of joy, radiated from within her. Again, holding the image she wanted in her mind, Liz slowly passed her hand over her hair. It was now pinned nicely on top, immaculately styled with a dozen or so stray strands curled down the side of her face.

She knew how much Max loved this style. She looked good and she knew that Max would appreciate it. Liz then took out the few bits of make-up she had in her clutch bag. Remembering the trick that Isabel had once shown her with the nail polish, Liz changed the make-up she had into the make-up she needed. She applied a light coating of a dark chocolate eye shadow, blending into a contrasting pinkish color to bring out her eyes, and a gentle pink blusher to help emphasize her cheeks. Yes, she thought, nice. She then applied a coat of luscious red lipstick.

She took of her shoes, and again with the power of her mind, changed the simple court shoes into a pair of gold high-heeled sandals with tiny straps across her feet and a delicate clasp at her ankle. She pulled off the cardigan, and reached behind her back to unfasten the bra. She pulled the straps down over her arms, and lifted the bra out of the top of her dress. She stood back to look at herself. It was nice, but she wanted... hot. With a wave of her hand, Liz changed the length of the dress, shortening it by a few inches. She added a split at the front, and the back, so that she would offer Max glimpses of her legs, just from her upper thighs. Just enough to tantalize him with. If that didn't get him going, nothing would.

It was still not enough though; she had so much damage to undo. Liz again waved her hand across the dress, tightening the material to emphasize her petite frame and shape, and to add some emphasis to her small breasts. She idly wondered if she was able to change them in anyway, to make them larger, but decided that if Max liked her, it was for who she was, not for how big her breasts were. The straps vanished, leaving her shoulders uncovered. Again, it was just not quite right. She changed the constitution of the dress material, making it more... gauze like, filmy almost. Looking in the mirror, she saw that it was perfect. It was now almost transparent, showing hints of her body beneath, but without actually showing anything. As she moved, she noticed how it changed with the light.

No wonder Isabel always looked so good; all she had to do was wave her hands, and 'voila'. And now, for the final touch. Liz sprinkled a coating of shimmering powder dust over her shoulders, her neck, her hair and her face. Liz gasped when she saw the overall effect. There, in the middle of her chest, now highlighted by the dusting, five freckles appeared to be the exact replica of the 'V' constellation she had often seen in her visions with Max. She had never looked so good, she decided, and it was all in a good cause.

"Look out Maxwell Evans," she smiled seductively at her reflection. "You are not going to know what hit you."

***

Max watched as Kalinowski and his friends moved through the crowds, looking for Liz. He saw Tess walk towards Kyle, who was glaring at Kalinowski. Why would Kyle be angry with him?

"Tess?" Max called. "Have you seen Liz anywhere?"

"Sure, Max," Tess smiled rather cryptically, unaware of Robert Kalinowski's presence. "I saw her about five minutes ago in the restroom. If she's not out yet, then she probably re-doing her make up, you know, she might just want to make an impression on someone."

Of course, thought Max. Kalinowski. She had hinted that she was attracted to him. She had seen his entrance, and had scurried of to the restroom. She had obviously wanted to improve her appearance for Robert, which she had deliberately toned down because she was with him. Max felt deflated. With a huge sigh of terrible sadness, he turned to the table, and lifted his drink. He was glad that this corner of the auditorium was so dim. No one could see just how sad he felt.


"Whoa!" Max heard one of the male students near to him exclaim. "Check it out!"

Max turned and saw an absolute vision; no it was Liz, walking towards him. She was so... different now. How? Although it hurt so much that she had taken the effort to make herself so attractive for another guy, Max could not help but stare at the vision of loveliness that approached him. He was dimly aware that the cup he had been drinking from had slipped through his fingers, and had crashed to the floor spilling it's contents.

"Hey," Liz smiled at him, seductively, moistening her lips with the pink tip of her dainty tongue.

"Hey," Max exhaled sharply, staring with complete longing at the pink tongue of hers.
Why was she looking at him like that?

She looked at him like he was her next meal. His tie suddenly felt much too tight, as he tried to swallow.

"I hope this isn't my fault," she smiled innocently, indicating the spilled drink, while fluttering her eyelashes. Oh, how she was affecting him.

"Why would this be your fault?" Max was panting now. She looked so... hot. What was she doing to him? "No, I, uh, tend to spill drinks. All the time, actually."

Max gulped as Liz stepped right up in front of him. He was dimly aware that a large crowd was watching. Out of the corner of his eye, he spotted Robert storming this way.

"Uh, Liz, Robert's over there," he groaned. She smelled so... Liz.

She took another step closer, looking up at him. They were almost touching now; he could feel the warmth emanating from her body. Was his heart really pounding that loudly? Oh, she was so beautiful. He had to back away from her.

"What are you doing, Liz?" he whispered, his voice coming out a hoarse rasp.

Her eyes were alight with triumph and... desire? Her breasts lightly brushed his chest. Max could not help the animal like groan.

"I want to make sure that we can still be friends, Max."

She exuded sexuality.

"Yeah, of course we can, Liz," he croaked.

Breath, Max, breathe!

"Good," Liz smiled.

Was she deliberately teasing him?

She had him pressed against the table now; he could retreat no further.

"You know, you and Robert..."

"But we're friends?"

"Yeah, Liz. Of course," he panted. But he wanted more. He wanted to grab her, to kiss her, to... "Were friends."

"Just friends?" her eyes sparkled dangerously.

Her body started to mould to his.

Max saw Michael and Kyle combine to stop Robert Kalinowksi.

"Yeah. Were just friends."

Why did it hurt so much to say that?

Liz touched her dress with her forefinger, and reached for Max's tie. In the dim light, only he saw his tie change from red to gold.

"Liz...?" his cry was soft, and plaintive.

She reached up, and laced her arms around Max's neck, and pulled herself up to him. Gently, she nipped his lips with her teeth. Totally shocked, but deliriously happy, he responded, gently biting her top lip, while she tried to suck in his bottom lip. At last, their mouths opened wide, and their tongues entwined. She pushed herself tightly to him, he held her against himself. They started to devour each other.

"Liz!" he moaned.

Tears ran down their cheeks as each thought the same thought. I am home.


Liz then started to push Max more. Their breaths were growing quicker. With their mouths locked together, Max fell back against the table, collapsing behind Liz's insistent pressure. Liz, still kissing Max for all she was worth, continued to push against him. He started to bend backwards, while Liz, silently pleased that she had the forethought to add some splits to her dress, climbed up onto the table, straddling Max's hips. Max groaned into her mouth, as he felt her heated core over his own. He groaned, hoping that she would not feel his rampant excitement, trying in vain to not imagine the only things that separated them at this moment. He was so afraid that he would wake up to find that this was a dream. Max moved his hands to the back of Liz's head, holding her while they kissed, wrapping them with her hair. Slowly, slipping through her locks, now disheveled from the neat style she had created, his hands danced down the back of her neck, and onto her exposed back.

Her skin was so soft, so warm. Liz gave an involuntary shudder. Neither was aware of the crowd of voyeurs that had formed a ring around them, watching in open-mouthed astonishment. This would feed the rumor mill for weeks! Liz was pushing herself against him, a gentle rocking of her hips, the urgent mewing from her mouth a contrast to his deep throaty groans that indicated his own desire. Her whole body was shaking now, as tremors seemed to posses her. While they urgently devoured each other's tongue, his hands caressed passed down her back, and across her hips, slowly finding the taught flesh of her backside. Liz's soft cries were only encouraging him, demanding that he complete his journey.

"I love you Max Evans!" Liz groaned into Max's mouth as a major tremor cascaded through her entire body.

"Jeez, guys!" Isabel snapped in annoyance. "Get a room already!"

***

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WR
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Joined: Sat Oct 13, 2001 10:22 am
Location: Somewhere over England

The Importance of Being Elizabeth Book 5

Post by WR » Sun Oct 26, 2008 11:07 am

Part 12

"Nice show, Maxwell." Michael growled as Max splashed water over his face.

Had that really happened? Had Liz kissed him? Had they all but had sex in the school auditorium, in front of everyone? After Isabel had brought them crashing to reality, they had been more or less forced to take a time out by their friends. The girls had dragged Liz off the ladies restrooms, probably to interrogate her. How would Tess react to this? He hoped Isabel would stop her doing anything stupid. Max looked up at Michael, who had dragged him in here even as Liz was pulled from him. Their eyes did not leave each other's until they were out of sight. He had a very goofy grin on his face.

"She loves me, Michael."

"Yeah, that's great, Max. Now can you explain what was going on out there?"

"We've made up," Max grinned in wonderment. "I think. She said she loves me!"

"So would you like explain exactly what was going on there?"

"What? What do you mean?"

"Max, if Isabel hadn't stopped you, you were gonna do it right there, in front of the school."

"Oh," Max smiled, embarrassed.

"I tell you Max, I would have stopped you earlier, but Kyle and I were holding off Kalinowski and his goons. I ever catch you doing that with Liz again, Max, I'll..."

"Whoa, Michael!" interrupted Max. "I'm sure her parents do a good job of looking out for her. And in any case, what has this to do with you? Do I give you lectures about you and Maria?"


Michael looked at Max, his face a mask of confusion. He gave a deep sigh, and leaned against one of the sinks.

"I've been having some strange feelings for Liz, Max, and it scares me."

Michael had Max's full attention now. He looked at his friend, almost aggressively.

"What do you mean, feelings?" he asked through gritted teeth.

"What?" Michael was surprised by Max's reaction, and then suddenly realized what Max had thought. "No, no, not like that, Jeez, Max. What do you take me for? No, these feelings... they're more protective than anything else. Like I should be looking out for her. Like she's... my sister."

"How long has this been going on for?" Max asked, feeling calmer now.

"I don't know, really. A month or two maybe. Perhaps more, but I just haven't realized it. What do you think it means?"

"I don't know. Maybe you're supposed to be her protector, or something?"

The two young men looked at each other, and then Max started to grin again.

"She loves me, Michael." Michael slapped his friend on his back, and headed towards the door.

"I'll let you deal with Tess," Michael laughed. "Uh, Max, you might wanna get rid of that lipstick from your mouth."

***

Meanwhile, in the ladies restroom, Isabel was less forgiving of Liz.

"So what was all that about, Liz?" demanded Isabel angrily of the rather flushed Liz.

"We were just kissing, Isabel," Liz smiled. "It's no big deal."

"Ugh!" Isabel snapped. "Do you have any idea what it's like to see your brother practically raped on the dance floor?"

"Okay, calm down, Isabel," Liz urged. "Maria, give her some cedar oil."

"Oh yeah, funny Liz!" Isabel continued. "You do realize that if I hadn't stopped you, you two would have been giving a free porn show to the whole school."

"No, Isabel." Liz snapped back. "We would have stopped!"

Yeah, right!"

Isabel turned and left the restroom.


"Are you sure about that Liz?" Maria asked. "'Cause from where I was standing, it was like that whole scene from "When Harry met Sally." Except you weren't so loud, and Meg Ryan was faking it."

"Oh, was it that bad?" Liz blushed. "I didn't think it was that noticeable."

"Put it this way, Liz. You have just pushed Max's 'hottie' stakes up through the roof. Every girl in school is going to want to date him now, knowing that he can do that to you with just a kiss."

"I think there might be more to it than that, Maria."

"They don't know that," Maria laughed. "Sooo, what was it like?"

"Oh, Maria, it was..." Liz had a glazed look in her eyes, which quickly disappeared. "You know what, Maria? I'm not going to discuss things this personal with you, okay?"

"Some friend you are, Liz."

***

Max stared into the mirror, trying to sort the jumble of images that had assailed him during his glorious kiss with Liz. Mostly, it was the pain that Liz had suffered during their time apart, her loneliness while away in Florida, her anguish at watching him when he was near Tess, and her short lived joy when they finally confirmed their friendship at Christmas. There were one or two other, unexplainable ones. They were strange images, of himself, only older, and somehow, battle weary. This older him was talking to Liz, he was making her cry. What could this mean? And then there was the image of Liz in bed with Kyle. But it didn't seem right. It was almost as though they were just... talking.

"So, Max," Alex announced his presence in his usual jocular self. "What's it like to be the new 'Stud' of West Roswell High?"

Max looked up at Alex, and laughed.

"So, she seems a hot piece, eh, Max?"

"Pardon?" Max asked, looking surprised.

"Liz. She seems a bit of a goer, right. What's she like?"

"Alex, I don't like you talking about Liz like that." Max warned him. "I though you were her friend."

"Well, it's just, you know, she puts out for Kyle, and then Robert, and now you jump on the gravy train."

"I think you should stop, Alex. You've said enough. Have you been drinking?"

Alex looked at Max, and shook his head, a look of confusion flashing across his face.

"Are you alright, Alex?"

"I... I don't know." Alex answered, and then looked into Max's eyes. "Shouldn't you be with Tess? I mean, what are all those people of yours, your family, what will they say when they learn the reason why they are still slaves. That you wouldn't follow your destiny because you wanted your oats with an Earth girl."

"Alex. I think that between the four of us, we can sort this out. And you know I don't see Liz like that. Are you sure you're okay?"

"Uh, what? Oh, Max. Uh, yeah, fine, thanks. Um, see you later."

Max watched Alex with concern as he staggered out of the restrooms.


"Whats up?" Kyle asked, passing Alex in the doorway.

"Have you noticed anything strange, about Alex?" he asked Kyle as he approached him.

"No, man. But you and Liz on the other hand."

"Oh, so you caught that?" Max asked, embarrassed.

"Actually, no, I didn't. I had my hands full holding back our star quarter back from risking his life by interrupting the two of you."

"I wouldn't have hurt him."

"Who said anything about you? No, I was protecting him from Liz."

"Oh, yeah," Max chuckled. "Thanks Kyle."

"Hey, don't mention it. I was just glad to help. You know he only asked her out because of this damned rumor. He thought she was a sure thing. She was so glad to get away from him. I'm glad you weakened and asked Liz to the dance."

"Oh," Max mumbled. He had worried that Liz had been attracted to Kalinowski, and all along, she wasn't.

"And I'm glad she's told you, you know, about us faking it. That has been so heavy on my mind."

"What?" asked Max.

"You know, the pretending to be in bed together." Kyle said. Then his face dropped. "Oh, she didn't tell you, did she?"

"No," Max looked at Kyle fiercely. "But I think you should."

Kyle swallowed hard.

"Okay, but you gotta promise that you won't let her know I told you."

***

"And that's the god's honest truth, Max. She wouldn't tell me why she did it, but you gotta know that she was crying hysterically afterwards."

"I don't understand, Kyle," Max said numbly. "Why would she do that to me, if she loved me?"

"I though, at first, that she was just pissed with you, you know? But I don't think she was. Man I wish I never said I'd help her."

"Well, I guess she had her reasons," Max defended her.

Kyle noticed this immediately, and laughed.

"What?" Max asked.

"You," Kyle answered. "You really do love her, don't you? I mean, I can see that you're relieved that nothing happened, but before I told you, you didn't care, did you?"

"She's everything to me, Kyle. Once I had got over the shock, no, I had accepted it. I would have taken her back any way."

"Look after her, Max. She deserves the best."

"Yeah."

"Uh, Max?"

"Yeah, what?"

"Um, can you help me with Tess?"

"Why?" Max asked, "What's up? I thought you were getting close."

"Well, yeah, so did I." Kyle sighed. "I mean, one minute, she was like, all over me, and then she kinda pulled away."

"Do you think it has something to do with me, and Liz?"

"Yeah."

"Okay, Kyle. I'll talk to her." Thanks, Max."

***

Liz lay back on her bed, letting her mind again replay the events of the wonderful evening she had shared. Their kiss had been momentous, she literally felt the earth move. And the whole school had witnessed her feel the Earth move, more than once. Maria had asked her how it had felt, and she had told her that she wouldn't talk about it. The truth was... she couldn't describe the heights to which she had been taken, or the feelings that had flooded her whole body. It was just too... indescribable. She idly wondered what it would feel like when she and Max finally did 'it'. She blushed to herself at the thought, and made a mental note to make sure that she kept some condoms in her bag from now on. But she was back in the arms of the man she loved, and he still loved her. He had told her so himself, when they went for a walk before he took her home. After he had parked the car outside the Crashdown, they walked into the park, and sat in front of her fountain. They had held hands, and talked about how much they had missed each other. They had both said a thousand apologies for every moment that they had spent apart. They had finally kissed again in front of the fountain, a long, sensuous kiss that spoke of their pleasures still to come. During her first kiss that evening, she had received many visions from Max, about his pain, his confusion, and above all, his returning loneliness. But the vision she had received at the fountain was by far the most confusing.

She had been talking to someone, an elegant young woman whom she held in awe, someone who was like Isabel, but not quite, by a huge colored fountain that seemed to play music. She felt sad because she had told the woman that she was only fond of her brother, when in actual fact, she was completely in love with him. After careful reflection, she looked up to admit her true feelings, but the elegant young woman had gone. Some had called her. He called her name, Taysha! She turned to see a handsome young man, who reminded her so much of Max. Surely, this was Zan. He had come to meet Vilondra, but she had left, leaving Taysha alone there. Vilondra had set up a meeting between Zan and Taysha, lovers who were unable to express their love for one another. Liz could feel the love between them, and it almost broke her heart. What did this mean? Was this a memory of Max's she had seen? That seemed to be how it usually worked. How could she possibly compete with that?

Max then slowly walked her home, holding her hand all the way. Together they had shared an ice-cream in the darkened Crashdown, sitting in the corner booth here they would not be seen by prying eyes from outside. They tenderly offered each other spoonfuls, feeding one another. They didn't say a word. They didn't have to, their eyes, which never left each other for a moment, did all their talking. In the depths of Max's warm, chocolate eyes, she could see the depths of love he truly had for her. It had never gone, he had just hidden it. Perhaps he loved her as much as he had loved Taysha? Perhaps she really was Taysha. Still, she hoped that Max had seen her own love for him, but she guessed he had. After licking the spoon together, and then carefully making sure each other's tongue was clean with another deep kiss, Max reluctantly said that he had better get the car home before his father started to panic. She could still remember the mysterious twinkle that he had in his eyes when he good bye to her, after their last deep kiss.

"Sweet Dreams." he had said, emphasizing the first word.

Sleep couldn't come fast enough.

***

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