Max had never been so scared in his life as when he got the call telling him Liz had been attacked by Tess and was in the hospital.
He’d been a little worried when she didn’t come home when she’d said she would. But when an hour went past with no word from her, he’d started to panic.
He called her cell phone with no answer, and was about to dial her gym when he’d gotten a call from her employer telling him about the attack. And then he couldn’t get to the hospital fast enough.
Jim Valenti from the bodyguard agency insisted on sending Liz’s team and Steve, his old bodyguard, to meet him at the hospital since Tess was still on the loose and Max might be in danger. But Max was more concerned about Liz. She was the one Tess attacked.
When he got to the hospital Liz was still in surgery.
Max paced in the hallway while the doctors worked on her. He was told that Tess cut Liz’s upper arm badly, but the doctors were confident they could repair it so she’d have full use. Of course Liz would have several months of physical therapy before she’d be back up to full strength.
And he’d do anything to help her. He had a full gym in his house, and he’d buy any extra equipment she needed, and hire the best physical therapists to train her. He already decided she would stay with him. His house was more secure and he wouldn’t have to worry about her commuting between her place and his.
They’d be able to spend all of their time together and get to know each other better, and he’d be able to prove his love to her.
There’d be no question of her taking another job for a while now either. She wouldn’t be capable of working for months, and he was glad. This injury proved her job was too dangerous and he hoped he’d be able to talk her out of it.
He wanted her to be safe, but he had to admit that he wanted more of her time too. If she took bodyguard jobs she would be living with her clients. But he wanted her to live with him. And he didn’t like the idea of her spending some much time guarding other men. He wanted her all to himself.
He couldn’t seem to sit down as he waited for her to come out of surgery. He was too worried. Everyone told him she’d be okay, but he couldn’t stop pacing.
Finally Liz was wheeled out of surgery and into a private room Max insisted on.
“How did it go?” Max demanded of the doctor. “Is she okay?”
The doctor smiled with recognition. “Max Evans, right?”
Max nodded impatiently.
“I’m Dr. Lewis,” the surgeon said. “Everything went well, no problems. She’ll have full use of the arm when it’s healed.”
Max looked to the bed where Liz was still unconscious. “When will she wake up?”
“It won’t be too long,” Dr. Lewis assured him. “We could call you when…”
“No,” Max cut him off. “I’ll stay with her.”
He pulled one of the chairs next to her bed and sat, taking her uninjured hand.
His eyes traveled over her. She was so pale and looked so vulnerable, and he just wanted to take her in his arms and protect her.
He couldn’t believe how much he had come to care for her so quickly, but it was the strongest thing he’d ever felt.
With her the emptiness inside him was finally filled.
Tess danced around her room, surrounded by pictures of Max. She was so happy.
And she was free.
For a whole week she’d planned her escape from jail, and it had gone more smoothly than she could have imagined.
Basically she used the other women incarcerated with her to do all the work. She convinced them to riot and attack the guards when they were being loaded aboard a bus to take them to their hearings.
Once the chaos started and the guards were distracted, she’d simply slipped away and into the nearby storm drain.
She had studied the system near the jail extensively, just in case she ever got arrested and that had paid off. It had been easy for her to make it to a room in the drain system where she had some extra clothes stashed, and then she stole a car.
She’d driven straight to Max’s house hoping to see him, but instead she was just in time to see a strange car pulling out of his driveway. Instantly she’d recognized the driver. Liz.
So she’d followed the other woman, and when she’d seen the opportunity to get rid of her, she’d attacked.
It was simply luck that Liz got away from her, but it wouldn’t happen again. She had come so close to killing Liz, it was only a matter of time before she succeeded.
Laughing, she crossed to the wall and placed kisses on the lips of each picture of Max smiling at her.
He would know she attacked Liz for him, and he would appreciate it. Her actions were proof of her love.
She bounced to her desk and took out her magazines. She’d send Max a letter telling him everything.
Carefully she cut the letters she needed. M, L, V, E, another L. She loved making the letters for Max.
Using a generous amount of glue she started pasting letters on the paper, forming words.
Max would love her letter, but what he’d like even more was Liz out of his life.
Tess started making a plan as she continued to work. She needed to find Liz and get her alone so she could finish the job she’d started.
She’d cut Liz, so she’d be at a doctor, or maybe the hospital. Yes, Tess thought, the hospital. She was sure she’d hurt Liz badly with the amount of blood there’d been. Liz was most likely at the hospital.
It was the perfect place. People died in hospitals all the time.
Liz came awake slowly, feeling totally disoriented.
She was groggy and her body didn’t seem to be working properly, and then she felt the pain. She couldn’t remember what had happened or where she was, but something was really wrong. She tired to sit up but a hand to her shoulder held her down as a familiar voice spoke close to her ear.
“Don’t get up, Liz,” Max said. “You’ve been hurt. You’re in the hospital.”
Liz tried to get her heavy eyes to work, looking toward Max’s voice. She attempted to focus on him but her vision swam. Her tongue felt so heavy and her mouth and throat were dry. “Max,” she said, her voice cracking with disuse, “what happened?”
He brought her hand up to his lips, pressing a kiss to the back of her fingers. “You were attacked, remember? Tess…”
Liz cut him off. “She had a knife,” she said clearing her throat. “She cut me.”
She turned to look at her arm, noting the thick bandage on her bicep, and realized her vision was clearing.
“Yeah,” Max said softly, stroking her cheek, “and you had surgery to repair it, but you’re okay.” He tried to smile reassuringly. “You’ll be as good as new in no time, you just need to rest and concentrate on your physical therapy.”
Liz’s eyes moved around the room as she remembered. “Tess got away,” she said flatly.
“Yeah,” Max said, “but you don’t have to worry about her. I’ve arranged everything. You’ll stay at my house while you recover, and your team will be there to protect us. Tess won’t get anywhere near us.”
Frowning, Liz shook her head as she met his eyes. “I was stupid. I wasn’t paying attention. She could have killed me.”
“No,” Max soothed, “you weren’t stupid. We thought it was safe. We thought she was in jail. You had no way of knowing. The police didn’t even know she had escaped for hours after she was gone.”
Liz was angry at herself for letting Tess get close to her. “It doesn’t matter if she was locked up,” she said. “I should never assumed it was safe. If it wasn’t Tess it could have been someone else. I let my guard down and paid the price.”
“Hey,” Max said softly, “this wasn’t your fault.”
She searched his eyes and saw only tenderness. For a moment she swore she saw love in his eyes, but it couldn’t be. Emotions rushed through her that were so strong she couldn’t seem to control them; hope, love, then disappointment and sorrow.
Maybe it was the medication, she thought, and a tear rolled down her cheek.
“Don’t cry,” Max breathed, reaching up to wipe away the tear. “Everything’s okay. I’ll be with you through this whole thing.”
Liz wished it were true. She wished Max loved her.
Holding her eyes, he stroked her cheek tenderly. “Liz I want you to know…”
He was interrupted as the doctor came in. “Welcome back,” he said, smiling at Liz. “I’m Dr. Lewis.”
Liz swallowed hard, her throat still dry. “Dr.,” she started, her voice raspy, “how am I?”
“You need some water,” the doctor said, looking around, “but there’s no pitcher or glasses in here. I’ll call for a nurse to bring some in.”
He met her eyes. “Would you like some ice too?”
The doctor started to move to the door, but Max stopped him. “Let me go, doctor,” he said, “and you can talk to Liz.”
Max smiled at her. “I’ll be right back,” he said, kissing her forehead.
Liz squeezed his hand and nodded. She watched him as he jogged out of the room, and then turned her eyes back to the doctor.
“First,” he said with a smile, “I want to reassure you that your baby is fine.”
Liz’s brow creased as she shook her head. “No, I’m not pregnant.”
“You didn’t know,” Dr. Lewis said. “Well, it is early…”
Liz cut him off. “No, wait, I can’t be pregnant. I’m on the pill.”
The doctor nodded. “The pill isn’t one-hundred percent accurate, and there are drugs that can lower its effectiveness. For instance if you’ve been on certain antibiotics…”
Liz’s hand flew to her mouth. “I was… I had an ear infection…” she trailed off. She couldn’t believe it. Being pregnant was the last thing she’d expected and the last thing she was ready for. How was she going to have a baby in her life?
“Oh my God,” she breathed, “I can’t be pregnant.”
Noticing how upset she was Dr. Lewis started out softly. “There are options if you don’t want to keep the baby.”
“No,” Liz said instantly, her eyes meeting his as her hands covered her stomach protectively. “Of course I want the baby. I … It’s just a complete surprise.”
Her mind was racing. “She was pregnant with Max’s baby. She was so happy, but at the same time she was scared and worried and hopeful.
For a moment she could picture how it would be; Max laughing with joy, his hand rubbing her growing stomach, then holding her hand and coaching her breathing in the delivery, and the smile on his face when he first awkwardly cradled his child.
And then she came back to reality. Max didn’t want a baby, and he wouldn’t want her either when he found out she was pregnant.
She could already imagine the look of desire on his face turning to horror and disgust when she told him.
No longer would he be talking about her staying with him while she was recovering. He would be personally packing her bags and getting a restraining order.
Tears gathered in Liz’s eyes. She couldn’t tell him. She wouldn’t be able to stand seeing him look at her like that. She had to get out of the hospital and away from him before he found out.
Suddenly she realized that Dr. Lewis was still in the room and he was still talking.
“Of course you’ll need to do physical therapy…” he continued.
She cut him off. “When can I leave?”
Glancing at the IV in her arm and the other equipment she was hooked up to, she was tempted to pull everything off her so she didn’t feel so trapped by it.
“I need to leave,” she said. “I need to get out of here.”
Dr. Lewis frowned. “You need to get some rest after your surgery, and of course there is always the risk of post-op infection...”
Liz cut him off again, her voice filled with desperation, grasping at the first excuse she could think of to get her away from there. “I hate hospitals,” she said, “please I have to get out of here. I promise I’ll rest, and I can check in with a doctor. Please,” she said, holding his eyes, “you can give me antibiotics for the infection.”
Reluctantly Dr. Lewis nodded. “Okay. If you feel up to it you could probably leave tomorrow. Mr. Evans said you’d be staying with him, and he said he’d do what ever was necessary. He could get a doctor or nurse to come check on you, but of course you’ll need to see an OB about the baby.”
Liz felt her breath catch. Dr. Lewis had been discussing her condition with Max, but surely Max couldn’t possibly know she was pregnant or he wouldn’t be making all these plans for her to stay with him. He desired her and possibly felt guilty she’d been hurt by his stalker, but none of it would matter if he found out she was having his child.
“Dr,” Liz said breathlessly, “you can’t tell anyone I’m pregnant.”
“Of course not,” Dr. Lewis agreed instantly. “Although I’ll doubt you’ll be able to keep it a secret for long. A big star like Max Evans finally settling down and having a baby, the news will leak out a lot sooner than you want I’m sure. But it won’t come from me.”
Liz nodded, holding his eyes. “You can’t tell Max either,” she said.
Dr. Lewis opened his mouth to say something, but seemed to change his mind and simply nodded. “Of course, you want it to be a surprise.”
Liz didn’t correct his misconception. “Right.”
Again she glanced at all the equipment tying her down. She didn’t know if it was being monitored outside her room, but it would certainly slow her escape if it was. “Can you unhook me from this stuff? It makes me feel claustrophobic.”
At that moment Max returned with a pitcher of ice water and some cups. He poured the cold water into a cup and handed it to her.
Liz took it gratefully, finishing the whole thing in a few swallows. “Thanks,” she said with a sigh.
She turned her gaze back to the doctor. “I feel fine, really. Please can we get rid of some of this stuff?”
“I’d feel better if we monitored you for a while,” the doctor said. “You did just have surgery. But maybe in a few hours.”
Max took his seat next to her again. “Baby, you’ll get better faster if you do what the doctor says.”
He rubbed at his eyes, and for the first time Liz noticed he looked tired. How long had he been at the hospital anyway?
Apparently the doctor noticed too. “Mr. Evans you’ve been here for hours. You should go home for a while and get some sleep.”
Max shook his head. “No,” he said instantly, “I’m staying here with her.”
Liz touched his arm. “Max, I’m fine. You should get some rest. You don’t want to make yourself sick.”
Max stroked her cheek. He did need to take care of a few preparations before Liz was released from the hospital, and he needed a shower, but he really didn’t want to leave her.
“I promise we’ll take good care of her,” Dr. Lewis said. He smiled. “I’ll give you some time alone,” he said, “and I’ll be back to check on you again later tonight.”
Liz gave him a smile. “Thanks.”
After the doctor left Liz focused on Max. “I’m fine, really. Just a bit tired.”
Stroking her hair, Max smiled. “Close your eyes, baby, and rest. And when you’re asleep I’ll go have a shower and be back before you wake up.”
Liz sighed. He was so sweet and protective. She put her hand on top of his, smiling as she closed her eyes. She loved him so much, she just wished she could tell him.
Two hours later Max returned with a huge vase of flowers and a bright smile on his face. He had showered, changed clothes, and everything had been arranged. Liz would be staying with him while she recovered, he had a doctor who would check on her every day, and a physical therapist.
He would be able to spend time with her, getting to know her better, and when the moment was right he would tell her loved her. He’d almost told her earlier, but the doctor had interrupted, and maybe it was for the best. It was still so early in their relationship.
Walking into her room he was beaming with happiness until he saw her empty bed.
Instantly he was worried. She shouldn’t be out of bed so soon after an operation. He glanced quickly around the room and then realized that her guard, Owen, hadn’t been outside her door.
Leaving the flowers next to her bed, Max practically sprinted to the Nurses’ desk. “Where is Liz Parker?” he demanded. “She’s not in her room.”
“She insisted on leaving,” the nurse said. “I tried to stop her, but she had her bodyguard take her out of here in a wheelchair before I could even find her doctor to talk her out of it.”
Max shook his head, confused. “You mean she just left, against doctor’s orders?”
“I mean,” the nurse said, “that she didn’t even tell the doctor she was leaving. She tired to sneak out. I just happened to catch her.”
“Where did she go?” Max asked anxiously.
“I don’t know,” the nurse said. “All I know is that she was in a big hurry to get out of here and she didn’t want anyone to know.”
Max crossed to the other side of the hall and sat down heavily in one of the chairs. Liz had left without saying a word to him. She sneaked out when she knew he was coming back.
What was going on?
He thought they were getting along so well, and he was sure she genuinely cared for him. She’d agreed to stay with him while she got better, so why had she suddenly changed her mind and run away? He didn’t understand.
His mind was a jumble of conflicting emotions and thoughts. He was so confused and so worried and he felt like he’d been kicked in the gut. There was only one thing he knew for sure.
Liz was gone.
Saving Max Main
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