After lunch, Serena and Liz took a walk.
Serena lived in a rural area, in an old farmhouse that had been in their family for generations. When they were children they used to play in the fields and woods all the time, and for Liz it had always been a place of happiness.
But her mind was so consumed with her situation that not even the beautiful scenery and peaceful surroundings could calm her turmoil.
Liz didn’t see anything around them as they walked, all she could think about was Max and their child.
It was practically all she had thought about the last three days. She just wanted to be sure she was doing the right thing.
She loved Max so much and wanted to share her life with him. She’d loved him for years, and her love for him had only grown as she’d gotten to know him better. And they were certainly compatible in bed.
Max was by far the best lover she had ever been with. He was so attentive to her pleasure, whether he was taking him time, or taking her quickly. He worshiped her body, devouring every inch of her with his mouth and hands, bringing her to amazing climaxes.
He was so tender and sweet with her afterward too, and he wasn’t afraid to show his affection in front of his family and friends. That fact alone made Liz think he had feelings for her.
And the way he was with her after her surgery, melted her heart. He was so sweet and caring, sitting with her for hours, and making all the arrangements. It’s why she had so eagerly agreed to stay with him while she recuperated.
She thought it would bring them closer to spend time together, and it would give Max a chance to fall in love with her.
Maybe he would have, but she’d never know now.
Max would never believe she had gotten pregnant accidentally. He would think she had done it to trap him in a relationship, and he would hate her for it.
Absent-mindedly she placed her hand on her stomach.
Max was so wonderful that she knew he would make a great father, and she longed to tell him about his child. Was she doing the right thing, keeping the baby a secret?
She wanted Max to love her and the baby, and for them to be a family, but she didn’t think it was possible. Maybe he could have learned to love her if they’d had more time together, but the baby had come too soon.
No, things had to be this way.
Even though she longed to be held in his arms again, she’d done the right thing. Max would forget her soon enough, moving on to the next woman, and he’d never know they had created a child together.
Her son or daughter would never know their father, and it was better that way. At least the child wouldn’t know Max didn’t want them. And Liz would just have to learn to live with her heartache.
Tears pricked at her eyes.
The baby was too soon for her too. She’d never even considered having children. It was always one of those things that she had thought was in the future, when she was married, and in a loving relationship. Certainly not as a single mother afraid to tell her child the truth about his or her father.
And Liz would have to give up the career she loved. She couldn’t take the risk that she might be hurt or injured with a child depending on her.
She just couldn’t help thinking how quickly everything had happened. In the matter of an instant her whole life had changed. She felt panicked and trapped.
Maybe it was too soon for her to have a child. Maybe she shouldn’t keep the baby. She wanted what was best for her child and maybe she wasn’t it. There were agencies that specialized in finding loving homes for children.
Maybe this child would be better off without her too.
Suddenly Liz realized they were back at the house again, and she was clutching her throbbing arm. Her sister was watching her closely with a concerned look on her face.
“You haven’t heard a word I said, have you?” Serena asked.
Liz flushed with guilt. “No, I’m sorry. Tell me again.”
Serena put her arm around Liz, careful to avoid her injured arm. “Liz, you’re exhausted and in pain. I think you should take some pills and try to get a nap before dinner. You’re not doing yourself or the baby any good like this.”
Liz nodded, knowing she was right. Maybe for a while she could turn off her thoughts about Max.
Max pounded along the treadmill surface, running hard. He’d thought it would help him clear his thoughts of Liz, but it only gave him more time to think.
Finally he was alone in his house. His relatives and friends had left him for the day, and he was glad.
He appreciated their support and help, but he just needed to be by himself for a while. None of them really understood how much Liz meant to him. They thought she was just another in his long line of women, but nothing could be further from the truth.
Liz was special. She was the one for him, the only woman he’d ever loved, and he had to have her back.
Glancing at the clock, he noted it was close to six o’clock. It would be dark soon and he would have to spend another night alone in his cold bed.
It was amazing to him how quickly Liz had become a part of his life, and now everything just seemed empty without her.
He still couldn’t understand why she had left him.
They were so great together, surely she could see that. They laughed and talked, and the sex was incredible. At first he’d just wanted to get her into bed because she was hot, but that had quickly changed. He fell in love with her faster than he thought possible, and found things with her he didn’t even know existed.
Then he’d wanted her even more.
He’d never desired a woman as much as Liz, and she desired him just as much. They spent almost an entire week together in bed, and it was the best week of his life, and it didn’t even really have to do with the sex.
Sure the sex was fantastic, but it was closeness he really missed. He felt like Liz completed him. She filled the empty gap in his life, and in his heart, and he’d never felt so good.
He loved her, and he wanted to spend the rest of his life with her.
Maybe he’d come on too strong and was rushing her. Or maybe she thought she was only the latest in his continual parade of women, but whatever the reason, he had to talk to her and work it out. Only three days without her and he was going crazy.
He had gotten so desperate that he’d called Liz’s employer about an hour ago, demanding to know where she was. But either Mr. Valenti didn’t know or wouldn’t tell him.
Max supposed it was possible that Valenti didn’t know where she was, but he suspected her boss did know.
Then his private investigator contacted him to let him know he was still waiting on some information about Liz’s parents. But it was talking way too long for Max. He’d authorized the PI to do anything it took to get the info about where she was, including breaking into her house if he had to.
That had been about half an hour ago, and to pass the time Max had started running.
His body was starting to shake from exhaustion, and he reached up, turning the treadmill off. Sweat was streaming down his head and body and he buried his face in a fluffy towel before raking it over his hair. He really needed a shower.
Slinging the towel over his shoulder, he took two steps toward his room, but jumped as his phone rang. He’d left it on a table near the door, and sprinted the few steps to answer it.
He was sure it was the PI finally calling, but when he picked up the phone and saw the name on the caller ID his heart skipped a beat. He ripped it open and pushed the button, fitting it to his ear as he spoke.
Serena looked out the window in her kitchen.
It was getting dark outside and she knew she would have to get her sister out of bed soon, but she didn’t want to. Liz hadn’t been sleeping well at night, and Serena hoped she was getting a couple of hours before dinner.
She didn’t know if Liz had been able to nap but there hadn’t been any noises from her sister’s room for a while, and she hoped Liz was asleep.
Silently she went to the bedroom where Liz was staying and cracked the door open, checking on her sister. Liz slept fitfully, moving around in the bed, her brow creased, and tear tracks stained her cheeks. Her mind was uneasy, even when she should be peaceful.
Serena was really worried about her.
She’d known something was terribly wrong when Liz called her three days ago and asked her to pick her up. Liz sounded uncharacteristically scared and worried, and then on the drive back, Liz told her everything.
Serena was surprised Liz was pregnant, but what really worried her was that Liz had run away from Max without saying a word. Liz thought Max wouldn’t want her or the baby if he knew she was pregnant. She thought it was the best thing for them both that she left, but Serena wasn’t so sure.
For the next three days she watched Liz carefully. Liz was so sad and upset, it was obvious to Serena that Liz was in love with Max. Each day Liz seemed to sink into a deeper depression, and Serena didn’t think it was good for her sister or the baby.
She grew more worried as the time passed, and kept wondering what she should do. Many possibilities had gone through her mind but she kept coming back to the same answer.
Once again she looked at her sister, tossing in the bed, and suddenly Serena made up her mind.
She closed the bedroom door softly, and went into the kitchen to find Liz’s cell phone. Scrolling through the address book she easily found the number she was looking for, and before she could change her mind she pressed dial.
Her heart thudded as it connected and started ringing. She hoped she was doing the right thing.
After two rings a desperate-sounding male voice answered. “Liz? Are you okay?”
The strong emotion in his voice surprised Serena, but it made her feel sure she was doing what was best for both of them. “Um, no. I’m Serena, Liz’s sister.”
“Is Liz okay?” he asked in a rush.
“She’s fine,” Serena assured him. “She’s staying with me.”
She heard Max release a deep, relieved breath. “Can I talk to her?” he said softly.
“Um,” Serena said again, “she doesn’t know I’m calling you. She’s taking a nap. It just that she’s been so sad and I thought maybe you two should talk.”
“Yes,” Max said enthusiastically. “Tell me where you are and I’ll be there as I fast as I can.”
Serena felt a wave of relief. She could tell even over the phone that Max loved her sister. She wanted to tell him the whole truth, but she didn’t think it was her place. But she was sure when Max got to talk to Liz, they would work everything out.
“It’s a about an hour drive,” Serena said. “I’ll give you directions.”
With a smile Serena hung up Liz’s phone and placed it back on the counter with a contented sigh. Max would be there in a about an hour and everything would work out. She was sure of it.
She turned to go to wake Liz, and suddenly the whole house was plunged into darkness.
“Crap,” Serena said. “Not another power outage.”
Living in a rural area with old lines, the power went out a lot, especially when any kind of storm was approaching. She hadn’t heard about a storm coming, but she’d been preoccupied with Liz.
The small amount of light still coming in through the window was barely enough for her to make out her surroundings, but she knew her way around. Automatically she went to the cupboard and started pulling out candles, lining up several on the counter.
She got the first two lit when she heard a creaking sound behind her.
Without turning she called over her shoulder. “The power’s out, Liz. I guess we’ll be having a cold dinner. Do you want sandwiches or …”
She never finished the sentence because she had a sudden, sharp pain in her head, and fell to the floor as everything went black.
Liz sat up suddenly in bed.
She didn’t know what had woken her, but her heart was pounding and her breathing was fast. Something was wrong.
Her room was completely dark, and she took a quick glance at the bedside clock to see the time, but the face was blank.
A power outage, Liz thought. They were fairly common in the area and certainly nothing to fear.
With a sigh of relief she got out of bed and slowly pulled on her jeans and shoes. She was still feeling a bit sluggish from the pain pill she had taken, but maybe some food would help.
Carefully she felt her way through the dim room to the door, and opened it, stepping out into the hall.
It was strange how different everything seemed in the dark. The hall felt wider and longer, the house seemed cavernous and empty.
For a moment there was a strange, light scraping sound in another part of the house. Then it was gone.
Liz listened intently but realized she couldn’t hear anything, and she felt a shiver of apprehension.
The house shouldn’t be completely silent. She should be able to hear her sister, or feel her presence, but she didn’t.
Again the feeling of wrongness filled her, but surely she was overreacting. Her nerves were frayed, and the drugs must be making her paranoid. Serena was probably just reading or working on her computer, or even taking a nap.
Opening her mouth, Liz started to call out to her sister, but at the last moment snapped her lips shut. She should listen to her feelings. Something was wrong.
Slowly she moved to the wall and felt her way along as silently as she could. She thought it would get lighter as she approached the kitchen, but the remaining, pale sunlight barely filtered through the windows.
Liz paused in the doorway to give her eyes time to adjust to the room. She still couldn’t hear anything and moved carefully forward. The smell of smoke caught her attention and she turned to see several candles on the counter.
Thoughts rushed through her head. Serena had obviously gotten the candles out and lit them so why were they now out? Where was her sister?
Liz fought her instinct to rush forward, grab a candle and light it. The fire would be a direct beacon to her. Instead she moved slowly through the kitchen listening for anything out of place.
A soft, raspy sound was coming from a few feet in front of her and Liz inched toward it. She was practically on top of it but she still couldn’t see anything.
Suddenly she tripped over something and fell heavily to the floor. Her uninjured arm went out in front of her and landed on a warm body.
“Serena!” she gasped.
Frantically she felt for her sister’s pulse, but a creaking noise behind her made her whip around. There was a flurry of motion, and Liz got a glimpse of blonde hair before her head exploded in a burst of stars.
Max showered and dressed in record time, wanting to get to Liz. He was just grabbing his keys and wallet off his dresser when his phone rang again.
For a moment he considered not answering, but when he saw Liz’s name on the caller ID he quickly pressed the button.
“Liz?” he asked eagerly.
“I’ve taken care of your whore,” an angry voice hissed through the phone.
“Tess?” Max croaked, his throat suddenly dry.
“That’s right, lover,” Tess purred.
His knees nearly went out from underneath him. What had she done to Liz?”
Saving Max Main
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