(Thrusday, November 16)
In the West Roswell High quad, Isabel sat at their usual lunch table, picking at her fries. She’d arrived to find Max and Liz already there and took a seat across from them. She knew they’d been spending a lot of time together lately since Liz had discovered her powers, but she hadn’t really thought that much about it.
Her mind had been occupied more and more with thoughts of Alex and what could have happened between them. But suddenly seeing Max and Liz together made her wonder if there wasn’t something happening between them.
They’d stayed apart since that day at the pod chamber last summer when they’d heard the message from the orb. Isabel knew Max was trying to get Liz back, and maybe it had finally worked.
It’s not like they were doing anything obvious like when they used to hold hands everywhere and touch and kiss all the time. In fact as she observed them, she noted that they weren’t touching at all, but there was something. They were a little too close to each other, their eyes met for too long, they shared small smiles as they sat in silence.
Max and Liz were the only people she knew who could express their feelings so perfectly for each other without saying a word.
As she continued to watch them, she was more convinced with each passing moment that they were back together, but why were they hiding it?
Alex slid into the seat next to her and placed a napkin with sugar cookie covered with pink frosting next to her lunch. “They just put these out,” he said with a smile. “I know they’re your favorite.”
She smiled back at him. “Thank you,” she said genuinely.
Alex was always so thoughtful and he always took care of her. She wasn’t sure what she’d been thinking when she pushed him away and dated Grant. It had just happened so quickly between them, even though she was sure Alex would say it had gone at a snail’s pace, and it scared her. For the first time she’d felt something that might be real, and she’d run the other way, falling back into her old patterns.
Looking at Alex her heart started to warm with feelings of belonging and acceptance. He knew who and what she was and still wanted to be with her, and he was a great guy. How lucky could she get, and why wasn’t she rushing into his arms?
She wanted to say something, do something.
Opening her mouth she leaned in, speaking his name softly. “Alex . . .”
He turned toward her and their eyes met. She felt all of this anticipation and she could see that he wasn’t sharing it. He simply waited for her to continue. Maybe it was too soon, or maybe she’d ruined her chance with him. She hesitated.
Dropping his gaze she grabbed for another subject to cover the silence. “Do you think,” she said quietly, “Max and Liz are back together?”
Together they looked at the couple across the table. Max and Liz were bent over a notebook, talking about equations.
“I don’t know,” Alex said, “It’s obvious they are good friends, but I was starting to wonder about all the time she was spending with Zan.”
“Zan?” Isabel said surprised.
“Yeah,” he continued, “she practices with him a lot alone, and he’s at the Crashdown all the time. Sound familiar?”
She nodded. “It certainly does.” Suddenly she was worried for Max. What would happen to her brother if Liz moved on with Zan?
Tess zoned out as her history teacher started his lecture. It was her last class of the day, and she didn’t think she’d heard a word any of her teachers said.
A lot of the night she’d been up thinking, and it had continued through her school day, and the main subject on her mind was the connection that Max had with Liz.
She’d been shocked when Max said yesterday that he’d known Liz was in trouble. She had no idea that they had any connection at all, and it made her wonder how that connection was formed.
The most obvious answer was it had been done when Max healed her. It made sense that Max might have altered Liz in some way when he healed her, and perhaps made their connection permanent.
But somehow Tess didn’t think that was the answer. She suspected it had something to do with Max and Liz’s recent sexual activity. True, she didn’t know for sure they’d had sex, but if they hadn’t, they were very close to it.
She knew visions could be passed through a bond like that, and Nasedo had told her a more permanent connection could also be formed. It was part of the reason she’d tried so hard to seduce Max. She believed if she could have sex with him, it would form a bond between them that would connect their minds and souls, but now she was afraid that’s exactly had happened with Liz.
Tess sat up straighter. She assured herself she wasn’t really worried about a bond Max might have with Liz. It was only temporary after all. He couldn’t really have a permanent connection with a human. She would form her own bond with Max after they returned to their home planet, and it would be stronger and permanent. But she had to get him there. And the first step was to get him away from Liz.
She wondered if she should confront Max about what she knew about him and Zan and Liz. Maybe she could convince Max that he was wasting his time with Liz. She could tell him about everything she could offer and how she would be his alone. He would never have to share her.
More than anything she wanted to prove to him that she was the best thing for him, and she would do anything for him.
Zan sat in a booth at the Crashdown, picking at his fries as he watched Liz moving around the restaurant. He smiled seeing her hips sway enticingly in her form-fitting uniform. Damn she was beautiful, and she was all his.
He was there not only because he loved being near her, but to be her bodyguard while she was working. They didn’t really know if she was in danger, but they couldn’t take the chance.
Using his powers, he’d changed his hair and eye color so no one would recognize him as being Max’s double, and he could just blend into the background. Now he was a blue-eyed platinum blond having a hamburger at a local café. It just happened that he was sitting in the last booth, facing the front door so he could keep an eye on the entire restaurant.
He stifled a yawn. He hadn’t been able to get a lot of sleep last night. He’d been awake thinking, planning.
They knew the Skins weren’t due to come into town until tomorrow at the earliest, but he couldn’t help being paranoid that they might show up any time. He kept having to tell himself that it wasn’t going to happen, and they would arrive as planned. And Rath was injured, so he and Lonnie were out of commission for the night.
But still he was antsy. He hated waiting for something to happen, waiting for an attack that would come sooner or later.
And while he was guarding Liz at the Crashdown, Michael, Max and Isabel were protecting Maria and Alex as they went home to gather their things to stay overnight at his place. Then after Liz’s shift, he would take her there as well.
Not for the first time, Zan wished this whole thing was over, and it was just going to be himself, Liz and Max for the weekend. He couldn’t think of a better way to spend three days than just the three of them in bed.
He could feel his desire rising. It was almost a constant thing, but since they started having sex, at least it was controllable. Most of the time. He was starting to get hard just being around Liz.
Her eyes met his then and he knew she’d heard his thoughts. Her soft presence filled his mind a moment before he heard her voice through their connection. “Down boy,” she teased.
He chuckled. He loved flirting with her this way. It was something only they shared, and no one else around them was aware of what they were doing.
Zan answered her the same way. “I can’t help it, baby. You are just too sexy.”
She laughed, turning to meet his eyes across the room. “In my work uniform?” she said incredulously. “And I smell like fried food.”
“Even better,” he teased back with a grin.
She smiled and rolled her eyes as she moved with drink refills to one of her tables.
“Ewwww,” she complained.
“I’d just cover you in ketchup and lick it all off,” he teased.
He felt a rush of desire fill Liz and smiled with satisfaction.
“I’m working,” she said only half seriously.
“I’ll behave,” he promised with a wink, “for now. But I can’t stop thinking about your sexy body is only hidden away by that scrap of material and a few snaps.”
“Zan,” Liz started in response, her voice a low, sensual purr in his mind, but the chime above the front door rang as another customer came in, and she cut off her thought.
Zan sighed. It was a slow night at the Crashdown, Liz and Jose were the only employees working. Even her parents had decided to leave that morning for a long weekend. There were only three tables of customers, but they were demanding and kept Liz on her toes, and now here was another guy. Zan wished no one was there so she could sit and talk to him, or better yet, he could lock the door, strip her naked and have her right on the table, but unfortunately it didn’t seem like it was in the stars today.
He’d just have to wait to be with her.
To Zan it was amazing that he was with her at all.
His gaze went to the windows at the front of the Café. He vividly remembered the first night he’d seen Liz through those very windows, and the instant connection he felt with her. It was the most incredible thing he’d ever experienced.
He’d fallen in love almost immediately, and as he got to know her, it had grown and deepened. But when he discovered that she’d been with Max, he thought it was impossible to be with her. He’d gone from the highest high, to the lowest low in moments, and he thought he’d never really be happy without her.
But incredibly, everything worked out.
Liz loved him and she was his completely. Granted, their relationship was unorthodox, but it was perfect for them. It was just unfortunate that all of the craziness was happening around them.
It would have been a perfect evening if he had just come to see Liz at work, and they flirted a bit, sharing a few silent moments as she served her customers. Instead he was worried that they might be attached.
Liz hurried to greet the new arrival in the Café and Zan watched her move away, admiring the length of her shapely legs exposed by her form-fitting uniform. Damn he wanted her. Maybe later they could find some way to be together.
She seated the new customer with a menu a few tables away from Zan, and took his drink order before she hurried to the register as the elderly couple from another table rose with their check.
Working the cash register automatically, she kept sneaking glances at Zan. She loved having him there while she worked, she just wished it was under more normal circumstances. Zan playing her bodyguard could be incredibly sexy, but him being her bodyguard for real was kind of scary.
She worried what might happen to him if someone really did attack them at the café. He was strong and he had incredible powers, but there was always the chance something could go wrong. She couldn’t help but think about how badly it had all gone when Lonnie and Rath attacked them just yesterday. They were so lucky to have all made it out alive, and that was with the whole group.
Now it was just Zan and herself, and they were basically sitting ducks, just waiting for their enemies to come.
There was nothing they could do to avoid the fight. It was scary and terrifying and . . .
She let the thought trail off. Usually she kept those types of things out of her head, preferring not to contemplate the worst that could happen. It wasn’t productive and it might paralyze her when the moment came.
Her eyes roamed over Zan where he lounged in the booth, looking so incredibly sexy even with his temporarily blond hair. This alien world she lived in could be completely crazy, but she wouldn’t trade it for a normal life. Like Max had said, ‘What’s so great about normal?”
She’d found two soulmates, two beautiful, strong, sexy, wonderful men who loved her just as completely as she loved them. How lucky could one girl get?
While Liz helped the couple at the cash register, Zan went into full bodyguard mode, letting his eyes roam over the new guy who just came in. He was probably a couple of years older, perhaps in his early twenties, with sandy-brown hair, and a strong body, but nothing about the guy alarmed Zan. He didn’t move like a warrior or seem anxious or threatening and Zan dismissed him as a possible problem. He was just a regular guy, certainly not an alien spy or assassin.
Moments later, Liz returned with the customer’s drink.
Zan could clearly hear what they were saying as the guy asked questions about items on the menu, but he wasn’t really interested in what the guy was ordering.
Then suddenly something the customer said made Zan do a double take.
‘You have a really nice smile,” the guy told Liz.
The unexpected compliment made her smile widen, and she flushed with pleasure. “Thank you,” she said.
Zan’s brow shot up as he felt Liz’s pleasure at the compliment, and then he felt a jolt of jealousy. Seriously, was that customer hitting on Liz?
True, the guy had no idea Liz was already taken, but Zan still couldn’t believe it.
Quickly he examined the guy again with a suspicious gaze; same hair and body, same pleasant, expression. No, there was nothing threatening about him, just a regular guy.
Zan relaxed, but he was stilled filled with annoyance and jealously. Maybe he was overreacting. He’d just been fantasizing about having her, and here was some guy flirting with her.
The dude had no chance with Liz. She was in love with him and Max, and that wouldn’t change, but he hadn’t considered other men might make passes at her. Of course they would though. Liz was beautiful, she had a fantastic body and her sweetness and strength were obvious to everyone. It was a wonder that she didn’t have guys surrounding her twenty-four-seven.
But still he’d never witnessed another man trying their luck with her. It was fascinating and kind of pathetic at the same time.
Liz felt the rush of Zan’s emotion, and at first she couldn’t tell what it was. There seemed to be so many conflicting feelings, but after a moment she understood that he didn’t like the attention the new customer was paying to her.
A small smile lifted her mouth, and she felt a rush of desire knowing he was so possessive. It was kind of fun that just an innocent comment from someone could fire Zan up so much.
Liz’s attention was captured again as the cook, Jose, hit the bell in the window with his spatula. “Order up,” he announced.
Zan saw the customer’s eyes follow Liz as she went behind the counter to pick up the order, and a scowl started on Zan’s face. He didn’t like anyone else looking at his Liz.
He spoke in her mind. “So girls go for that sandy-haired, charming guy stuff.”
Liz glanced over at him, meeting his eyes as she delivered the food. She could hear the annoyed tone in his voice, and teased him a bit. “He’s okay,” she said.
“Just okay?” Zan said with a touch of satisfaction in his voice.
“Well,” Liz said, contemplating the customer, “he is pretty good looking, and he’s nice.”
Zan scowled. “Nice?”
“Yeah,” she continued, “and he’s got that gentleman thing going for him.”
“Gentleman?” Zan said incredulously.
She decided to put him out of his misery and gave him a smoldering look and a wicked smile. “You know I prefer dark-haired, incredibly sexy, half aliens.”
He sat up straighter. “Incredibly sexy?”
Liz took pleasure in letting her eyes roam over his body. “Mmmmm.”
A familiar feeling rushed over Zan and his gaze slid to the front door just as Max pushed it open.
Liz felt him too and turned at the same time, a smile lighting her face. She wanted to run into his arms, but settled for greeting him silently as she finished pouring a Coke refill. “What are you doing here?” she asked in his mind.
Max told both Liz and Zan as he crossed the restaurant and slid into the booth across from Zan. “We got everyone and their luggage, and headed over to your place. I felt like a fifth wheel with the two couples so I had them drop me here, and they’ll pick me up in about an hour when they go to get some dinner.”
Max, Zan and the customer watched Liz as she took the Coke to one table and then the order to another table of three. Zan nudged Max’s foot with his and indicated the guy with a nod of his head. He spoke in a low voice, “This guy is hitting on Liz.”
Max’s face hardened and he quickly sized up the customer as Liz placed another drink and straw in front of him.
“Thanks,” the guy said, brushing her hand as he reached for the drink. “You are as efficient as you are beautiful, Liz,” he said, looking at her nametag.
Liz’s brow rose at the customer’s comment. “Thank you,” she said with a shy smile.
“See what I mean,” Zan commented to Max.
“Yeah,” Max said. “It’s kind of pathetic.”
Liz looked over at the two of them, with a smile, knowing exactly what they were thinking. She kind of liked them being jealous.
“You’re so sweet,” she told the customer.
His smile brightened. “Brian,” he said.
Max and Zan both grinned.
“She’s messing with us,” Max said.
“Little tease,” Zan said.
“Nice to meet you, Brian,” Liz continued. “I don’t think I’ve seen you in here before.”
“No,” he said, “I’ve lived in Roswell all my life but have never been in before.”
“Well,” Liz commented, “I hope you think it was worth the trip after you’ve eaten.”
He smiled at her. “It already is.”
Going to check on her tables, Liz was aware of three pairs of male eyes following her. She glanced at Max and Zan, and then gave a smile to Brian as he caught her eye.
She could feel the desire building up in her men as their jealousy rose. It was like a flirtation game they were playing.
“What is with that guy?” Zan asked her silently as she topped off coffee and got drink refills for her other two tables.
“He’s harmless,” Liz replied the same way, giving him a grin.
“He’s all over you,” Max said.
“He’s just being friendly,” she said.
“Yeah,” Zan said sarcastically, “he wants to be friendly right into bed.”
She giggled. “Not every guy is trying to get me into bed.”
Max and Zan’s eyebrows rose identically. “Sure they are,” they both said at the same time.
Liz rolled her eyes as she cleared some plates.
“I’ll bet this happens all the time,” Max said.
“Yeah,” Zan agreed. “You have to give these guys the brush off.”
“I can’t do that,” Liz said silently, as she smiled at an elderly occupant at another table. “They are customers. I have to be friendly to them.”
Zan chuckled, quoting one of his favorite movies. “So does friendly mean actual penetration?”
Liz nearly dropped the cup she was holding trying not to laugh.
Heading behind the counter, she poured a Cherry Coke for Max and took it to the table, placing it in front of him. “Your usual?” she asked, leaning in to kiss him.
To Zan’s amazement, Brian was looking at the menu and didn’t see the kiss.
Max shook his head as he took Liz’s hand. “No, I’m going to eat with the others, but I’d take an order of fries.”
Liz squeezed his hand and left to turn in the fry order, and then went back to the table to take Brian’s order. “Know what you want?” she asked cheerfully.
He smiled as his eyes raked over her body. “Ummm, everything looks good,” he said with a wink. “How about a Tommy Lee Jones burger, no onions, and Space fries.”
“Best thing on the menu,” she said, quickly writing it on her order pad.
“Served by the prettiest waitress,” he said.
Liz smiled and left to turn in his order.
Zan motioned to Brian with a dip of his head, as he spoke to Max. “Are you seeing this?”
Max answered, without taking his eyes off the man in question. “Yeah, hard to miss.”
“We’ve got to let this guy know she’d taken,” Zan said.
Max nodded, agreeing.
Liz hurried to the cash register to ring up one of the other tables of customers, then picked up Max’s fries a moment later, bringing them to the table.
As she approached, Max made sure that Brian was watching her, and when she placed the fries on the table, he slid his hand over hers. He gave her a knee-melting smile as he sent an image of him kissing her neck into her mind. “I know what else I’d like to nibble on,” he said suggestively.
Leaning in close to him, she caressed his thigh, making sure to block it from Brian. “Unfortunately it’s not on the menu tonight,” she teased.
He reached for her, but she evaded him with a grin, and moved away.
Zan chuckled. “We’ll have to do better.”
They watched as she gathered dishes from the two deserted tables and took them in the back. When she re-emerged, she went to Brian’s table. “Your food will just be another minute,” she told him.
“That’s okay,” he said, smiling, “it gives us more of a chance to get to know each other.”
Zan scowled, speaking up. “Um, Miss, when you get a minute.”
“I’ll be back,” Liz told Brian, and then crossed to Max and Zan. “What can I do for you gentlemen?” she teased.
“You can stop flirting with this guy,” Zan growled.
Liz smiled. “You’re not jealous, are you?”
He took her hand, bringing it to his lips. “Damn straight, I am,” he said, “and you know it.”
Max rubbed her arm. “You belong to us, and we don’t like him looking at you.”
Liz loved their possessiveness. “How can I stop him looking?” she asked innocently.
“We can take you right here on the table,” Zan said. “That might give him a clue.”
“Tempting,” Liz said, leaning into him.
His hand slid around his waist.
“Stay with us,” Max purred, taking her other hand. “We can’t be together tonight, but at least we can spend a little time together right now.”
“Don’t you want to be with us?” Zan asked huskily.
“I…” Liz started.
At that moment, Jose slapped the bell with his spatula again. “Order up!”
Liz left to pick up Brian’s order from the window and took it to his table.
She placed the plate in front of him. “Ketchup and mustard are on the table, do you need anything else?” she asked.
“Just a smile from my favorite waitress,” he said.
Liz gave him the smile, and he grinned back.
“And maybe you can join me, if you get a free moment,” he added, touching her hand.
As if it was a cue, the only other table rose to pay their check, and Liz went to the register.
Max spoke up. “That Brian guy saw us touching Liz, and still he’s coming on to her, like we weren’t even there.”
Zan smiled. “We should do something to this guy for messing with our Liz.”
“Like what?” Max asked, getting into the mood.
“I”ll make his little Brian, shrink to half size,” Zan said.
Max laughed. “It would serve him right, but hard to explain in human terms.”
“Okay,’ Zan said, thinking for a moment. “I’ll bet I could use my powers from here to make his food taste really spicy.”
Max shook his head. “He’d probably blame the cook, and he might get in trouble.” He looked at the guy. “We could make his hair fall out.”
Zan nodded. “I like it, but again hard to explain.”
Zan and Max saw Brian follow Liz with his eyes as she finished with the customers.
“I know how to cool him off,” Zan said. Using a small burst of his power, he tipped over Brian’s drink, so it spilled on him.
He leapt up from the table so fast that most of the drink missed him.
Liz shot Max and Zan a nasty look and quickly got him a towel. “I’m so sorry,” she apologized.
Taking the towel, he wiped at the few spots on his slacks. “No need to apologize,” he said. “Accidents happen.” He looked up meeting her eyes. “And it will be a great story to tell people about how we met.”
Max spoke, still looking at Brian. “This guy just isn’t getting it.”
Zan looked at Max. “We can feel emotions through the connection, and feel each other, we can talk and even send some images, but have you ever wondered if we could touch each other through it?”
Max was intrigued. “I never thought about it, but it would be interesting to try.”
Zan concentrated on their connection, opening it wide, but instead of thinking of an emotion, he focused on what it felt like to touch Liz. He imagined the silky skin of her shoulder, how it felt under his fingers, and the rush of excitement it always gave him to touch her.
Liz started as if someone really touched her, gasping and turning toward Zan. She’d felt the touch and known instantly it was Zan. She could feel his and Max’s emotions and desire. It was incredible.
“What’s the matter?” Brian asked. “What happened?”
“Come with us,” Max whispered in her mind as he held her eyes.
Max and Zan rose from the table without a spoken word and walked into the back room, letting the door close behind them.
She kept her eyes focused on her men as they left, admiring their beautiful, hard bodies. “I’m sorry, Brian,” she said without giving him a glance, “my destiny is calling.”
Liz didn’t see the surprised look on Brian’s face as she followed her men. She’d already completely forgotten about him.
Going through the door she was pressed into the wall by them. She couldn’t help but smile, it was exactly what she’d been wanting, but she put her hands to their chests, stopping them. “What about Jose?” she said, looking toward the kitchen.
Max smiled. “He’s out back. We told him you said he could take a ten minute break.”
Zan grinned. “Then we sealed the door so he can’t interrupt us.”
“Oh,” she said as her hands on them instantly stopped pushing them away and started caressing. “Well, in that case…”
Leaning forward she met Zan’s lips, kissing him thoroughly. Her hand on his chest moved up his neck and slid behind his head, holding him. Touching his lips with her tongue, she was rewarded with a growl before he opened to her.
Their mouths crashed together for several long moments before she started to pull back.
Max wasn’t idle either. His hands slipped into her uniform through a couple of unfastened snaps, and he stroked over her body, brushing her breasts through her bra.
As Liz ended the kiss with Zan, she turned to Max and he took possession of her lips. Leaving her body, his hands framed her face as he deepened the kiss. He kissed her again and again as if he couldn’t get enough of her.
Zan knelt before Liz, using a jerk of his hands to rip open more snaps on the uniform like he’d imagined while sitting in the Cafe. Reaching inside her bra he freed her breast, taking it into his mouth.
Liz arched into him, gripping at his shoulders and gasping as her pleasure grew. Desire rushed through her and she felt like she was melting inside as moisture gathered between her legs.
Max’s hand slipped into her hair, tipping her head back so he could get access to her neck. He reveled in the little mews that came from deep in her throat as he nipped and sucked at her delicate skin.
Liz was so hungry for her two men and she wanted to give herself over to them and the pleasure she knew they could give each other. But now wasn’t the time.
“We have to stop,” she gasped as Zan’s tongue brushed over her hard nipple.
Max found a particularly sensitive spot on her neck, turning her knees to jelly. “Oh,” she whimpered. Her hand tightened in his hair, willing him to continue, but she spoke up a bit louder. “We have to stop.”
Zan let her soft mound slip from his mouth but his hand slid inside her bra, stroking her other breast. He rested his head on her chest, groaning his disappointment.
Max left her neck and brushed her lips again as he stroked her face. Touching his face, she smiled at him.
She wished they could continue what they’d started, but Jose could be back any moment.
Pulling Zan to his feet, she kissed him. “We’ll have to finish this another time,” she said, smiling.
“You know it,” Zan purred. With a final brush of his palm across her breast, he used a wave of his hand to put her uniform back in order.
Reluctantly Liz separated herself from them. With a quick kiss to each of them, she hurried back into the café, suddenly remembering the remaining customer.
Going to Brian’s table, she saw he was almost finished and took a moment to write up his check.
After Max unsealed the rear door to let Jose back inside, he and Zan went through the swinging door into the dining room. They both had smiles of satisfaction on their faces at the horrified look Brian gave them. Liz’s hair was a little disheveled and her lips were rosy and swollen. You could tell she’d just been thoroughly kissed.
They watched as he got out a few bills and tossed them on the table, before rising to leave without another word to Liz.
“I think he gets the message now that Liz is taken,” Zan said as they watched him head for the door.
Max smiled, motioning toward Brian with a flick of his hand. “Yeah, and he’ll never forget why she choose us over him when he takes a look in the mirror and sees the gray hairs I just gave him.”
They both broke out laughing.
Isabel slowly walked down the upper hallway of Zan and Ava’s place, admiring the work they’d done. After they returned from dinner they had used their powers to make several of the offices on the second floor into more bedrooms for herself and the others.
The room next to Zan’s, Max made into a small bedroom. Across and down the hall, Maria was directing Michael to make the room she wanted for them. Isabel heard Michael bellow more than once as Maria continually changed her mind. The next office, Isabel turned into a bedroom for herself.
It was still a little weird openly using her powers to do things, but it kind of felt good too. Like she was finally acting naturally.
She’d just come from Max’s room, interested to see what her brother had made for himself, and as she expected it was a simply a Spartan bedroom, with no frills. Max had a little smile on his face and she thought it must be because he’d just seen Liz. It seemed like Max was never happy unless he was with her, and though she didn’t ask him, she hoped that he’d finally gotten back together with his soulmate.
Passing Zan’s room, she took a quick look inside. It was interesting to her that his room was kind of similar to Max’s.
They were made from the same person, so she guessed they were bound to have some similarities. Sometimes she wondered how much in common she had with Lonnie. There were certainly more differences than similarities, she was sure.
Walking past Michael and Maria’s room, she glanced inside, curious as to why it had gotten so quiet, but she looked quickly away as she got a glimpse of them locked together, making out. The last thing she needed was a front-row seat for their love life.
Down the hall there were already two large bathrooms, so they could all use those. And Liz would stay in Ava’s room, since she was at the Valenti’s house, so their work was almost done.
Continuing past her own room, Isabel went into the office Alex had chosen for himself, where he was waiting inside for her to make his bedroom.
Smiling, she entered the room, holding out a can of Coke to him. “Sorry it took me so long to get to you,” she said. “Frosty beverage?”
Alex turned toward her, taking the Coke. “Thanks.” He shook his head. He’d learned not to expect anything from Isabel. It seemed like she always put him last, but he knew that now especially she had a lot stuff going on. “It’s not a problem.”
She thought she saw a little sadness in his eyes. It seemed like she was always taking advantage of his forgiving nature. “No,” she said getting his attention, “I really am sorry, Alex.”
He held her gaze for a moment and then looked away. “I know you are,” he said with a shrug.
As he popped the top and took a sip, Isabel studied him. Had she waited too long and treated him too badly? Was there any chance for something between them?
She hated feeling vulnerable, but if she didn’t do something, she was sure Alex never would. She’d shot him down too many times.
“Have I screwed it up?” she asked softly.
He looked up with a puzzled expression. “You haven’t even started yet,” he said, referring to his room.
Isabel shook her head. “I mean us, Alex. Have I screwed things up between us too much?”
For a moment he was hopeful that she was talking about a real relationship between them, but then reality set in. He smiled, nodding. “Yeah, I understand, sure, we are still friends.”
She’d sworn she saw a glint of hope in his eyes. It had been so fast, she wasn’t sure, but it made her even bolder. “No Alex,” she said moving closer to him, “I mean us.” She took his hand. “Is it too late for us?”
For a moment Alex couldn’t speak because he was so surprised. Finally he shook his head. “You’re not serious?”
Isabel started to have a sliver of doubt at his unenthusiastic reaction. “Yeah, I am. What do you think?”
He wanted to be excited, but this had happened before. She’d said she was ready, but then changed her mind, but still... “Umm, what exactly did you have in mind?”
She smiled. She was getting to him. “You know,” she said, moving closer, “dating,” she moved even closer, “dinners,” she brought their bodies together, “boyfriend and girlfriend, that type of thing.”
Alex took a deep breath, hardly believing what he was hearing. “Are you sure?”
Isabel didn’t answer him, but pressed her lips to his.
Hours later the Crashdown was finally closed and Liz and Jose started the nightly cleanup.
While Jose took care of the back, Liz worked in the dining room, beginning at one end wiping off the surface of each table and chair.
Zan went to her, touching her arm while trying to stifle a yawn. “Why don’t you use your powers to do it, or let me help?”
Liz smiled, talking softly. “And how would I explain to Jose that I was finished in just a few seconds, while he will be here another half hour.”
Zan leaned in, winking. “We could send him home and finish his work too, and then we’d have some time to ourselves.”
He yawned again, giving him a sexy, sleepy look that made Liz smile.
She pressed her body to his. “You are so tired, why don’t you grab a nap on the sofa in the back room while we finish. Then later tonight, I’ll sneak into your room.”
Zan shook his head. “I’m supposed to be looking out for you,” he objected.
“There’s no one here,” she argued, “and we’re closed and locked up, and if anything happens you are only a few feet away.”
Stroking her face, he smiled. “Maybe you’re right. A nap would be great. I really didn’t get much sleep last night.”
He wrapped his arm around her. “I think I need some help into the back,” he teased.
Going with him, she settled him on the sofa, and kneeling down she gave him a quick kiss. But Zan held her taking possession of her lips for long moments, kissing her throughly. Breaking apart finally, he lay back, closing his eyes. “Mmmm,” he hummed sleepily, “wish you could join me.”
She brushed the hair off his forehead and covered him with the blanket from the back of the sofa. “Tonight,” she promised, kissing his cheek.
Going back into the dining room, she threw herself into her work, trying to get finished as quickly as she could. Using a sanitizing solution, she scrubbed every table and seat, and had just started on the counter when a strange tingling sensation crawled up her spine.
Stopping, she looking around and nearly jumped when Jose came in from the back.
When they were closing up together, he often yelled through the window for a Coke, and she wondered if that was why he’d come in. Looking at him, she asked. “Can I get you a drink?”
Jose ignored her, looking straight ahead, as he walked to the front door.
Liz was puzzled. She couldn’t imagine what he was doing, and her mind cast around for an explanation. Maybe his car was in the shop and he was looking for his ride, or waiting for a friend? But he hadn’t said anything, and there was no way he could be finished cleaning already, could he?
“Jose?” she asked as the tingling on her spine intensified.
But he didn’t acknowledge her or even stop. Reaching out he unlocked the door, pushed it open and walked down the street, disappearing into the night.
Liz was really confused now. She went to the door, looking after him. Was he quitting? He’d worked there for years and he’d always been so responsible. What was happening? It was so unlike him…
Then a shiver of apprehension went through her. What was happening?
Had someone or something really just made Jose leave? Was this the attack? Then another thought occurred to her. Had someone made her parents leave too?
Quickly she locked the door and pulled she shades, calling out, “Zan!”
Something was really wrong. She felt, different, weird.
Turning, she hurried toward the back room, pushing through the door. Zan was asleep on the sofa and she opened her mouth, trying to call out, but nothing happened.
She tried to go to him, but stopped in her tracks, unable to move. Again she tried to call out to him, but she couldn’t make a sound.
Against her will, her body turned and she started moving slowly toward the kitchen. With every step, she tried to fight against it, but nothing seemed to help. She watched horrified as she reached out and picked up a knife. “Zan!!” she called out in his mind. “Wake up!!!”
No, No, No, she thought, trying to break free from the control, this can’t be happening.
Turning again, she started walking toward Zan, where he was still asleep, and she felt the thoughts flow into her mind that she had to stab him.
With a supreme effort, Liz was able to slow her steps, making her movements jerky, but she was still moving toward him and starting to panic. “ZAN!!” she called out silently as she tried to open her hand and drop the knife. “ZAN WAKE UP, WAKE UP, WAKE UP!!!”
He didn’t move, and she had no idea if he could hear her or not. She was getting close to him but couldn’t stop herself and she didn’t know what else to do.
Suddenly Max was in her mind. “Liz, what’s wrong?” he asked anxiously. He’d felt her panic through their connection.
She felt better just with his presence and showed him the situation with a thought. His strength flowed into her and she was able to stop moving forward.
“I can’t wake Zan,” she said, on the verge of tears. “Maybe something is wrong with him.”
Suddenly the back door burst open and outside stood Lonnie. Liz wasn’t surprised, but she was horrified to see her. She and Zan were practically helpless.
Max felt the breath rush out of him when Liz saw Lonnie. She was so scared. He kept the connection with her strong as he raced out of Zan’s place. “We’re coming, Liz,” he told her, “just hold on a little longer.”
Lonnie took in the situation quickly. “Why haven’t you stabbed my brother?” she hissed. Her eyes raked over Liz. “You must have some strength in you.”
Concentrating on Liz even harder, Lonnie forced her to move a hesitating step closer while Max was distracted.
“Max!” Liz called out in his mind, and his full strength returned to her, holding her in place.
“You WILL stab him,” Lonnie growled, narrowing her eyes in concentration. “Nothing fatal, just yet. He needs to pay for what he did to Rath, and he needs to be alive to miss you and see you die.”
Liz started shaking. Even if Max could stop her from stabbing Zan, sooner or later she was sure Lonnie would get tired of waiting and do it herself.
“We have to wake him up,” Liz told Max.
In unison they both yelled through the connection, their voices overlapping, “ZAN!” WAKE UP!! ZAN!! ZAN!!”
But he didn’t even twitch.
Lonnie moved forward. “Why can’t I force you?” she demanded.
Liz felt like she couldn’t breathe as Lonnie came toward her. “ZAN!! ZAN!!” she called out through their bond, but nothing was working, and she wondered if Lonnie was somehow keeping him asleep.
“Slap him,” Max said suddenly in her mind.
“What?” Liz asked, totally confused by her panic.
“Through the connection,” Max explained, “like he touched you earlier.”
Liz knew what he meant, but she’d never even attempted anything like that.
Max felt her doubt. “Together,” he said. “Concentrate on what it would feel like to really hit him with your hand.”
Liz tried to nod, but realized he would be able to feel her agreement through their bond.
Just as Lonnie got to Liz, Max started to count down, “3, 2, 1.”
Focusing on Zan, Liz imagined the feeling of her hand contacting with the skin on his cheek.
Another rush of panic filled her. What if they couldn’t…
Max broke into her thoughts. “Again,” he said.
Lonnie reached out, taking the knife from Liz, and drawing it across her throat, nicking her. “After I take care of my dear brother, you are coming with me,” she hissed. “It will be quite poetic when he finds your dead body.”
“Now!” Max called out.
As Lonnie turned toward Zan, Liz drew on Max’s power, imagining herself hauling her arm back and putting all of her strength into slapping Zan across the face.
She felt her hand connect, felt the recoil, and the pain in her palm as if she’d really hit him, and instantly he snapped awake.
Jumping up, Zan took in the situation in seconds, and with a burst of power threw a shocked Lonnie hard against the back door.
Raising her hand, Lonnie used her power to swing the door shut, pushing her outside, and closing it behind her.
Zan rushed to the door and attempted to open it, but it was stuck shut. A wave of his hand over the door freed it and it swung open, but the few seconds delay were enough to allow Lonnie to get in a car she had in the alley, and speed off into the night.
Firing a burst of power toward the disappearing car, Zan thought he hit it, but Lonnie pulled around a corner and he lost sight of her. Knowing he’d never catch her, and unwilling to leave Liz alone in case of another attack, he went back inside, shutting and locking the door.
Liz threw herself into his arms. “I couldn’t wake you up,” she said shakily. “I thought she’d make me kill you.”
He held her tightly, stroking her hair, “It’s okay,” he whispered into her hair. “We’re okay.”
Thoughts were flying through Zan’s mind. He wasn’t exactly sure what had happened. He’d only seen pieces of it in Liz’s mind, but there was time for complete explanations later. He was just glad they were both unhurt.
“We’re okay,” he said again as he placed a kiss on her temple. “We’re okay.”
Max had been sitting in his room at Zan’s house, reading, when he felt Liz’s panic. “Liz!” he bellowed, jumping up.
Instantly he’d connected with her to see what was happening, and in the second it took to understand what was going on he rushed out of his room and called out. “Liz and Zan are in trouble!”
The others poured out of their rooms, as Max ran downstairs.
“Wait!” Michael called, as they all started running after him.
Max sprinted across the practice room and reached the door first, still having the silent conversation with Liz in his mind as he tried to help her resist Lonnie’s powers. He could see what was happening through her eyes, and knew they only had moments to get to her and Zan.
He could feel her fear and it terrified and angered him. He wanted to drive to her as fast as he could, but allowed Michael to take the wheel, so he could keep his concentration on Liz.
As they drove, the others asked him questions but he shook his head, ignoring them so he could help Liz and Zan.
“What’s wrong?” Maria asked.
“Tell us what’s happening,” Isabel said.
Instead of answering them he just growled at Michael, “Drive faster!”
It only took a few minutes to reach the café, and by the time they pulled up Max knew Liz and Zan were safe, but he still felt her fear and his own. He couldn’t stand to lose either of them.
“They’re okay,” he told the others. “Zan was able to fight off Lonnie.”
All the energy was still running through Max, and even though they were all safe he had to get to Zan and Liz.
As the Jeep stopped in front of the café, Max vaulted out of the car, not even slowing as he used a wave of his hand to unlock the front door and burst inside.
Running through the dining room, he pushed through the door into the back room.
Zan and Liz were in an embrace, their foreheads pressed together. Max didn’t hesitate. He rushed forward and wrapped his arms around both of them. “I’m so glad you’re safe,” he told them silently.
“Thanks to you,” Liz said. She had tears in her eyes as she turned to him, meeting his lips, and he cupped her cheek, kissing her tenderly.
When they broke the kiss, she turned to Zan. “I’m so happy you’re safe,” she told him through their bond. Stroking his face, she leaned in to press her lips to his.
Sliding his hand into hair, he kissed her softly, brushing her lips with his again and again.
Liz was so glad both Zan and Max were there, holding her, kissing her. She needed both of them. Taking handfuls of their hair, she reveled in the kisses with Zan while Max nuzzled her cheek.
Desire rose instantly in each of them. All she wanted was to crawl into bed with them and feel them all over her.
There was a gasp behind them, and Michael’s voice broke into their world. “What the hell is going on?”
Never Underestimate Destiny|
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