Soaring With Angels
Alternate Ending #1
The end? Or is it?
How about a do-over?
I love the fact that the same event could be interpreted many different ways. That is what inspired to write this story in the first place. And like any good mystery I threw in a few red herrings to hopefully keep the reader off balance. But somewhere in the middle of writing this, my mind started to explore some of those other possibilities.
Have you ever read a story and wished it would go a different direction or thought of a different ending? As a writer I often come up several different scenarios and endings even for my own stories, like a choose your own adventure if you will. I mentioned it to my beta Ellie and she suggested I should write the other endings for this story.
So here goes.
To quote the movie Clue - “That’s how it could have happened. But how about this…”
Summary: This ending starts after the gang has arrived on Antar, and Max, Michael and Liz have just caught Isabel sneaking away. I’m starting with that scene to help the reader get their bearings and to set the mood.
Everything in Soaring has happened up to this point. Max’s parents were killed, Max killed Lonni, Rath, Tess and the Skins, Isabel has been colluding with Khivar and they have lured Michael, Max and Liz to Antar. There is one change. During the fight with the Skins at the mall, Michael accidentally shot and killed Maria when she jumped in front of him.
(The headquarters for Max’s followers)
For Isabel the dinner and the conversation seemed to last forever. She, Max and Michael told their mother and the others about their life on Earth, from the time they came out of the pods until they left in the ship. Their story was interrupted by many questions from their audience, drawing the dinner out even longer. It was late when the group finally broke for the night and Isabel was taken to a room, but she’d been planning to wait for dark to make her move anyway.
She had kept the small tracer that Khivar had given her in her pocket, fearful it might be discovered in her luggage. Many times during the long evening she had reached into her pocket to feel it’s reassuring presence and curb her increasing nervousness. She had wanted to simply lead the group into a trap when they landed, rigging the ship to take them to a place where they would be intercepted by Khivar’s troops, but she deferred to Khivar’s experience. Khivar had been worried that not only might Max or Michael figure a way to change the ships’ destination, or use the Granolith against them, but they might also suspect Isabel of collusion.
So Isabel waited in her room, pacing back and forth, until the house had been quiet a couple of hours. Every moment had seemed to last an eternity and her stomach was rumbling with nervous butterflies, but finally it was time.
She took a deep breath, pushed open the door and stepped out into the hall. Her instinct was to hide, and sneak stealthily through the house, but that would look suspicious. So Isabel squared her shoulders and strode quietly but confidently through the ornate hallway, down the main staircase and out the door. If anyone caught her, she could simply say she was taking a walk to clear her head, but luckily she saw no one.
Khivar had suggested she leave the house before activating the tracer, not only because it might be found if she activated too early, but also to make sure she was clear before his troops arrived. And Isabel followed his instructions, trusting him completely to do what was best for her. Once she was outside, she walked through the gardens toward the fountain and sat down on one of the benches.
Isabel felt a pang of guilt about what might happen to her mother, after they had just been reunited, but one of the things that Khivar had showed her about her other life was how her mother had always favored Zan. Her brother was Kasha’s golden boy, her pride and joy, and from the day he had been born, everyone, especially her mother had made Vilondra aware that she was second in importance to Zan.
Vilondra had always envied her brother because of it, and Isabel had seen it starting again in just the few hours they had been on Antar. Throughout dinner their mother had fawned over Max, asking him everything about his life in great detail, but Kasha had barely acknowledged Isabel’s presence other than their initial greeting. And when it was time to retire for the evening, her mother had said a brief good night to her, but eagerly accompanied Max and Liz to their room.
As Isabel contemplated the events of the evening she looked around to make sure she was alone and listened carefully for any alarms. When none sounded for a handful of minutes, she took the tracer from her pocket, activated it and pressed it to the underside of the bench.
Looking around one last time, Isabel moved slowly toward the large fence enclosing the property. She had to walk across open ground to reach it, and with each step she feared she would be discovered, but finally she arrived and released a deep shuddering, tension-filled breath. It was almost over and she and Khivar would finally be together and safe.
She had chosen an area where the fence was shaded by the nearby trees and used her powers to cut a hole in the fence’s links. The fence was extremely hard for her to manipulate and she wondered vaguely what it was made of. She was forced to use her powers like a blowtorch, super-heating each link of the metal and bending it aside, wasting precious minutes. Several times Isabel heard sounds and she looked around anxiously, fearing she would be discovered.
It had probably only been ten minutes, but it seemed like an eternity when she finally finished. She had made a hole in the fence just big enough for her to exit, and was about to duck though when a familiar voice surprised her.
“Where are you going, Isabel?” Max asked.
She whirled toward him, quickly pasting a smile on her face. “I’m just going for a walk.”
Max motioned behind her, “Through the fence?”
Michael and Liz emerged from the dark and stepped forward to stand next to Max.
“Or,” Max continued, “are you escaping to meet your lover while his troops come to capture us?”
Isabel shook her head. “Of course not Max. You can’t think that I’m with Khivar.” She turned to Michael and then Liz. “You don’t think that, do you?”
Liz shook her head as a tear escaped her eye. “How could you Isabel? How could you, of all people betray us, betray your family?”
“It’s not true,” Isabel said anxiously.
“How stupid do you think we are?” Max growled. “The missed practices, always being gone at just the right time, the Skins always knowing exactly where to find us, Liz’s vision about you and Khivar. And the so convenient dreams you had where Khivar offers us a ship, with the Granolith, just waiting to take us to Antar.” Max shook his head. “There were just too many coincidences.”
Isabel shook her head.
Michael stepped forward. “Max suspected you before we left Earth but I didn’t want to believe him.” He motioned around them. “So we set up this whole thing. This isn’t the resistance headquarters Isabel, it’s just a test to see what you’d do.” He held up the transmitter Khivar had given her. “I’ve been following you, Isabel. I saw you plant this.”
Isabel stood to her full height, knowing it was useless to deny the truth. She raised her chin stubbornly and met Max’s eyes. “You’re right. I led you into a trap. Khivar and his troops will be here any minute.”
Max shook his head. “Killing me is one thing,” he said angrily, “but you were going to kill Michael and Liz.”
Isabel turned her gaze to Liz and Michael. “I tried to get you both not to come, but you wouldn’t listen. Max has to die, but…”
“Shut up, you traitorous bitch!” Michael growled as he stretched out his hand toward her.
A voice came from Max’s communicator. “Your Majesty, we must leave now, Khivar’s ships are approaching.”
With a gasp Isabel saw a silent ship decloak behind them and land softly.
“What do you want to do with her?” Michael asked.
Max held Isabel’s eyes. “If you do this and leave now, you can never come back. I’ll never forgive you.”
For a moment Isabel seemed to hesitate and then she slowly backed toward the fence.
“Max?” Michael asked, waiting for his command.
A muscle twitched in Max’s jaw as his scowl deepened. “Let her go,” he growled.
Isabel turned, ducked through the fence and ran.
Max watched her until Liz’s hand on his arm drew his attention.
“We have to go, Max,” she said softly.
Turning his back decisively, Max put an arm around Liz and together they went into the ship. They walked to a window in the control room and stood silent as the ship lifted off.
Liz wrapped her arm around Max and leaned into him as she spoke to him through their connection. I’m so sorry Max.
Max tightened his arm around Liz and he placed his chin on her head. I knew it was true, he said in her mind, but I didn’t want to believe that Isabel would really turn us over to Khivar. He shook his head. But I planned this to work to our advantage even if Isabel did betray us. While Khivar is distracted sending his troops to kill us, we’ll use the Granolith to destroy them and hopefully Khivar too.
Max showed no outward sign of what he was feeling and Liz knew it was because he was trying to play the part of the King his people expected, but she could feel his heartache and anger through their bond. He held her for long moments and Liz let all of her love and strength flow through their connection.
With a sigh Max placed a kiss on her head. “My mother, Jaetus and Michael are waiting for us with the Granolith.”
Liz nodded and Max kept his arm around her holding her against him as they left the command center. When they were alone in the corridor Liz spoke softly. “I’m so sorry about everything, Max.”
His arm tightened around her as he shook with emotion.
“Why didn’t you tell me you suspected Isabel?” Liz asked. “I could have helped you.”
Max shook his head. “I know how close you’ve been to Isabel, and I didn’t want to involve you if it wasn’t true.”
“You don’t have to protect me Max,” Liz said, pulling back far enough to look into his eyes, “not from yourself. I want you to share everything with me, the good and the bad.”
Max met her eyes and flinched. “I wanted to kill her, Liz,” he growled. “I was so angry.” He shook his head. “I still am. I can’t believe Isabel would betray us to Khivar.”
“Max…” Liz soothed, touching his chest.
But he cut her off, his rage apparent even in his soft tone. “First my former wife betrays us, and then my sister.” He motioned around them. “Am I destined to have everyone I know turn away from me?”
Liz touched his face forcing him to look at her. “I’ll never turn away from you, Max,” she promised fiercely. “No matter what happens, I’ll be there for you. I’ll do anything for you, face any danger, give my life to protect you.”
Max’s face softened as he took her face in his hands. “I know, Liz. I didn’t mean you. I’d never doubt you.”
She wrapped her arms around him and hugged him tightly.
Max embraced her and placed a kiss on her head. After a moment he spoke softly, “Let’s go end this, once and for all.”
Michael stood next to the Granolith but he barely even saw it because of all the thoughts running through his mind. He missed Maria terribly and wished she was there with him, wanting to lose himself in her even if it was just a temporary fix.
But when he thought about Maria the pleasure was always mixed with pain, the conflicting thoughts and emotions practically overwhelming him. During the fight with the Skins at the mall, Maria had thrown herself if front of him and right into the path of one of his energy blasts. It had happened so fast that he’d been unable to do anything but watch helplessly as his power hit her squarely in the chest.
Intellectually he knew her death wasn’t his fault. He hadn’t meant to hit her, but that still didn’t lessen his feelings of guilt. She was dead and he had killed her.
But along with his guilt he also felt frustration about her senseless death. He didn’t know why Maria had thrown herself in front of him, possibly to protect him. But that explanation also caused him pain. It made him swell with pride and admiration that Maria had loved him so much that she had given her life to save his, but he also hated her for it.
How many times had he warned her not to get involved in alien matters? How many times had he warned her it wasn’t safe to be around him? And in the end he had been right. It was his power, his lack of control that had killed her. And he had to admit, her death was also in part due to Maria’s own stubborn determination and denial of the truth.
She had insisted on being with him and continued to refuse to accept what he was, preferring to only focus on his human half and ignore the alien part. And she hadn’t trusted in his strength enough to believe that he could save them. She hadn’t even taken the Skins attack seriously, hadn’t really considered them a threat obviously. Because instead of staying down behind the relative safety of the cars, she had put herself in harm’s way and lost her life. If she had only done what he said…
But blaming her made him feel even more guilty, frustrated and sad. The same thoughts and emotions had circled through his mind in the weeks since Maria had died and there never seemed to be a resolution, never any relief from the pain.
Liz had come to him the day after Maria died and tried to reassure him that she didn’t blame him.
“Michael,” she had said, “you know this wasn’t your fault.”
He shook his head, “I killed her, Liz.”
“It was an accident Michael,” Liz had continued. “You know how much Maria loved you and how stubborn and impulsive she was. She wouldn’t even have given it a second thought if she thought you were in trouble. Maria thought she was saving you. She wanted you to live.”
But Liz’s words hadn’t brought him any comfort either. He had wanted to ask her about his feelings concerning Maria’s lack of confidence in him. He had wanted to ask about Maria’s continual denial of his alien side. In the weeks before Maria’s death he had wondered if her feelings for him were diminishing, if she was questioning being with him. How could she love him if she didn’t accept him for what he was, if she didn’t respect him?
He wanted to know if Maria had spoken to Liz about their relationship, confided in her. But he didn’t want to upset Liz more with his questions and insecurities.
With an effort he pushed thoughts of Maria aside. The only thing that had helped was focusing on saving what was left of his family. But now that subject was almost as painful.
Isabel’s betrayal had affected him almost as much as it had Max, and Michael’s mind was still reeling with the implications.
Michael hadn’t wanted to believe Max when he had confided in him about it yesterday. Max had given Liz and Isabel the assignment of getting the house ready as an excuse to get Michael alone with Larek. And then he had told the two of them of his suspicions about his sister.
Michael would have said he trusted Isabel with his life but as Max laid out one piece after another of his suspicions, Michael’s faith in Isabel had been shaken. He’d readily agreed with Max’s plan that they should set up a test for Isabel. That way if they were wrong neither Liz nor Isabel would know of their mistrust.
Isabel hadn’t been left alone once they arrived on Antar until she had been taken to her room for the night. Michael had hidden in the hallway outside Isabel’s room, waiting for her to make a move but praying that she wouldn’t. And when she’d emerged and gone out into the night his worst nightmare had come true. Michael had signaled the waiting soldiers to search her room for a transmitter, and he’d followed Isabel silently through the grounds.
With a hollow heart, he had watched as Isabel withdrew a small device from her pocket and hid it under the bench. He had called Max to inform him that his suspicions were correct, and while everyone else was evacuated out the back of the house, Michael had followed Isabel to the fence. It had only taken a small amount of his powers to hinder her exit by increasing the strength of the fences’ links, and he’d stalled her long enough to allow Max and Liz to join him.
When they had confronted her, she’d denied it at first, but when she knew she was caught she’d admitted the betrayal defiantly. Michael had been shaken by her attitude more than her actions. And when she’d said she’d tried to spare himself and Liz, Michael had been even further enraged. Not only was she betraying her King, but her brother and her family, himself and Liz. They had loved and supported her, sharing her loss of Alex, who was taken from them by betrayal. And Isabel had obviously been colluding with the Skins when Maria had been killed.
Memories flashed through his mind of himself and Isabel together; sending the signal to Nasedo at the library, Isabel getting a Christmas gift for Maria because she knew he was too stubborn to do it, Isabel taking care of him when he got sick because his balance had been upset, him comforting her when Max was taken by the special unit, the two of them making plans together when they thought she was pregnant.
He couldn’t understand how Isabel could have turned away from them, from him. He and Isabel had been so close, they had been everything to each other for years, friends, confidents, almost siblings. But she had thrown all of that aside. Isabel had known and understood him like no one else ever had, even Maria. And Michael would have said he understood Isabel better than anyone, but obviously he hadn’t really known her at all. It made him hate her even more and he wanted her to pay for everything she had done.
Isabel’s betrayal would probably always haunt him, but it had made several things very clear. Max and Liz’s safety were his only priority. Nothing else mattered, and it only reinforced his commitment to them. No longer would his attention be divided, protecting them was his purpose, and he would do anything to make sure they were safe.
Isabel hid deep in the woods until she saw a group of ships fly over and then she activated the personal locator Khivar had given her. Within moments a ship landed near her, but Isabel stayed hidden until she saw Khivar emerge. She ran to him, throwing herself into his arms. “Oh Khivar I was so scared.”
Khivar held her shivering form close. “When we flew over it appeared that the manor is empty. Obviously Max discovered your betrayal.”
Isabel nodded. “Max suspected me before we left Earth and set up this whole thing to test me. I thought he was going to kill me.”
Khivar stroked her face. “Why did he let you go?”
Isabel shook her head. “I don’t know.”
Khivar’s communicator sounded. “Your Majesty, the manor is completely empty…”
Suddenly several huge explosions sounded, sending a fireball into the air and shaking the ground where they stood.
Khivar pulled Isabel to the ground, shielding her with his body. “What the hell was that?” he bellowed.
A soldier rushed toward them, bowing low. “Your Majesty, the manor blew-up. The whole thing was rigged with explosives. We lost three squads of men inside and several more outside.”
“Max led us into a trap,” Isabel said incredulously. “He planned this the whole time.”
Khivar shook his head as he helped her to her feet. “I’ll bet he was planning to use the power of the Granolith to enhance the explosions, hoping to kill us all.”
“But you got the Granolith back, right?” Isabel asked anxiously.
Khivar shook his head. “I programmed the Granolith to return to me, but Max must have discovered it and over-ridden my commands.”
“We don’t have the Granolith?” Isabel gasped. “What are we going to do? With that kind of power Max could…”
Khivar shook his head again as he put his finger to her lips cutting her off. “It’s okay my love,” he said. “Everything will be alright.”
Kasha and Jaetus joined Michael in the room with the Granolith, and a moment later Max and Liz came in.
“What’s your plan?” Kasha asked Max.
Max motioned to the control crystal Jaetus held in his hand. “We use the Granolith to enhance the explosions at the mansion and hopefully take out Khivar too,” Max said.
“And if that doesn’t work?” Michael asked. “Isabel and Khivar need to pay for what they’ve done.”
Max nodded and opened his mouth to speak.
Suddenly a whirring sound emitted from the Granolith and the cone illuminated with an image of Isabel.
“Max,” Isabel’s image spoke, “I programmed the Granolith to play this message when you approached. I know you think that I have betrayed you to Khivar, but I haven’t. Vilondra turned against Zan, but I would never betray you Max, you have to believe that. But it is my fault that we’re in this mess because I’m the one who betrayed you to Khivar in our other life, so I had to be the one to fix it.”
Max, Liz and Michael looked around at each other with shocked expressions before the message continued.
“I have been with Khivar,” Isabel continued, “pretending to love and help him, but it was only to figure out how to stop him. I knew I could get close to him, and at least try to find out what he was planning. I was hoping I could just kill him myself but he is too powerful. Max maybe you could have defeated Khivar with all the power you’ve gained recently, but I didn’t want to take the chance with your life.”
Isabel shook her head. “I know it seems like I put you in danger, leading the Skins to you, but I had to make Khivar think I was loyal to him. So I used information I got from Khivar about our other life to help you. I placed suggestions in your mind, warned you, reminded you about your powers. I was trying to stall for as long as possible, hoping that either I could get the Granolith back or at least convince Khivar to leave us alone. But everything has gone so wrong and I’m so sorry.”
“But I can prove I’m on your side.” She motioned around her. “Khivar programmed the Granolith to return to him after we arrived on Antar,” Isabel said. “I overrode his command so the Granolith would stay in your hands and you could use its power to destroy Khivar once and for all. I’ll contact you tonight after Khivar has gone to sleep and give you our exact position so you can use the Granolith’s power to cause a huge explosion that will kill him and end this.”
Isabel’s eyes shined with tears. “I’m sorry that it had to be like this,” she said, “but I didn’t think we could possibly win any other way. Please Max,” Isabel begged, “just trust me a little more.
Liz sighed with relief as the message ended. “I knew she couldn’t betray us.”
Michael rolled his eyes. “You don’t believe this crap Max?” he bellowed.
Max met his eyes. “Why would they leave the Granolith with us if it wasn’t true?”
“A trap,” Michael said. “Maybe they’ve set some kind of homing beacon on it, or they’ve programmed it to kill us.”
Max glanced at the control crystal in Jaetus’ hand.
“Your Majesty?” Jaetus asked, waiting for instructions.
“Can you tell if the Granolith has been programmed to do something like that?” Max asked Jaetus.
“I am not sure, your Majesty,” Jaetus admitted. “But with your power you could override any other commands.” He handed Max the crystal. “Just push your instructions into it. Tell the Granolith to abort any other commands.”
Max pushed his power into the crystal with a thought and handed it back to Jaetus. He inserted the crystal into the Granolith’s base, and it blinked once as if accepting the command and then went dark.
“And what about Isabel?” Michael demanded. “You’re not seriously considering that she was telling the truth? She’s been helping Khivar! She led us into one trap after another. She got Maria killed and nearly all of us too!” He gestured wildly. “We know Khivar is going to be at the mansion and that is the best chance to kill him. You’ve got to use the Granolith to enhance the explosion like you planned and end this once and for all.”
“We can’t,” Liz said. She turned to Max. “You thought I had betrayed you when I made you think I had slept with Kyle, and maybe this is the same type of circumstance.”
Michael snorted. “You’re being naïve Liz. This is exactly what Khivar and Isabel want us to think.”
Please Max, Liz said in his mind, at least give Isabel a chance to prove that she didn’t betray us.
Max glanced at Liz and then at Michael and nodded. “We’ll wait and see what Isabel has to say when she contacts us,“ Max said.
”Max,” Michael started to argue, but Max held up a hand cutting him off.
“What if it’s true Michael?” Max asked. “We can’t just condemn Isabel if she was trying to save us.”
“And if she’s lying?” Michael asked. “She betrayed us in our other life. Why would this one be any different?”
Max’s face hardened. “Then she will get what she deserves.”
Isabel lay in Khivar’s arms listening to his deep breathing. Silently she disengaged herself from him and grabbed a robe to cover her naked body before padding into the adjoining sitting room.
Max must have believed her to a certain extent because he hadn’t used the Granolith to enhance the blast at the mansion. At least he was willing to give her a chance.
Taking a seat on sofa she closed her eyes. She had grown much more powerful under Khivar’s tutelage and she had tested contacting Max a couple of times on Earth so she was sure she could do it. And directing her mind toward Max’s, effortlessly she was in.
Max sat around a table with Liz, Michael, Kasha, Jaetus and General Darius and they had been waiting for Isabel to contact them for a couple of hours. At first Michael had continued with his protests about Isabel, not willing to even consider her story. But Max successfully silenced him on the subject by suggesting that they come up with various contingency plans to cover as many situations as possible.
Michael suddenly interrupted the conversation again. “But everything is prepared so we can evacuate immediately if this does turn out to be a trap?” he asked for the third time.
Max motioned to General Darius who nodded. “Everything and everyone is ready to move at a moment’s notice. I assure you the safety of Max, Liz and the Granolith is our greatest priority.”
Michael gave a brief nod satisfied for the moment.
Max? Isabel’s voice suddenly sounded in Max’s mind.
I hear you, he answered. Wait and I’ll connect with everyone so we can all talk.
He looked around at the others. “Isabel is here.”
Everyone joined hands and they opened a connection between them.
Michael spoke first. “What the hell are you doing Isabel?”
“Hi to you too Michael,” Isabel said sarcastically.
“Michael,” Max said in a warning tone, and turned his attention back to his sister. “Isabel why don’t you tell us what is going on.”
“I really got freaked out when Liz told us about the future,” Isabel started. “What she said about the other timeline scared me so much, and I didn’t think we had a chance this time either, especially after Tess betrayed us and gave the Granolith to Khivar. Then Khivar started to contact me in my dreams and I realized that I was the only one who could change things. I knew I could get close to him and when I did I would kill him.”
“But you said you weren’t strong enough,” Liz prompted.
“No, I’m not,” Isabel agreed. “There was no way I could have killed him. Khivar has so much power it scares me, but I thought by staying close to him I could learn his plans and maybe even get the Granolith back.”
“But I couldn’t tell you what I was doing,” she continued, “I couldn’t even admit it to myself. I was afraid that Khivar would see the truth in my thoughts. I had to play the part even in my own mind.”
“Is that why you were acting like such a bitch,” Michael snorted. He turned to the others, “I’m still not convinced this isn’t a trick,” Michael said. “Maybe she’s just stalling us while Khivar’s troops move in.”
Isabel shook her head. “I’m not, I swear. I don’t even want to know where you are because if Khivar found out…” she trailed off.
“Yeah,” Michael said, “you are so worried about us now, but you led the Skins right to us and nearly got us all killed. And then you lured us to Antar.”
“It was the only way I could get the Granolith away from Khivar,” Isabel said exasperatedly. “He wouldn’t even tell me where it was.”
“Okay Isabel,” Max said, “why don’t you tell us the rest? You said you helped us against the Skins.”
“Yes,” she said. “I couldn’t tell Khivar to stop the attacks, he would have suspected my motives. So I found out as much as I could from Khivar about our other life, about our powers and how we used them, and I showed you and Michael in your minds. And I used Khivar’s help to make my powers stronger too.”
Isabel looked around at them. “Surely you can feel I’m telling the truth. You have to believe me. You have to use the Granolith to destroy Khivar now, before it’s too late. We are in the southwest corner of the palace, just use the Granolith to cause a huge explosion to destroy it now.”
They all heard the deep tones of a new voice speak her name.
“It’s Khivar,” Isabel said quickly, “I have to go.” She looked around, her eyes briefly landing on her mother, Liz, Michael, and finally Max. “I’m sorry for everything. I love you all. Goodbye.”
“Isabel wait,” Max said.
Instantly she broke the connection and was gone.
“Isabel?” Michael called out.
The six people in the room opened their eyes to look at one another.
Michael spoke first. “Max you could tell that she was telling the truth, right? You’re not going to do what she said, and sacrifice her to get Khivar.”
Max’s lips quirked in amusement at Michael’s abrupt about-face. “I believed her, and of course I’m not going to sacrifice her,” Max said. “But she broke off before we could tell her.”
“What are we going to do?” Michael asked. “None of us have the power to contact her.”
“It will be okay,” Max soothed. “We’ll figure out how to save her. Isabel will contact us again when she can and then we’ll tell her the plan.”
Michael grimaced. He felt so guilty about believing that she had betrayed them and if anything happened to her... He met Max’s eyes. “I hope you’re right.”
Isabel turned toward Khivar as he entered the room.
“What is wrong, my love?” he asked, taking a seat beside her and enfolding her in his arms.
Isabel shook her head. “Nothing. I just couldn’t sleep.”
“Your worried about Max,” Khivar said. He placed a kiss on her forehead. “Worried that he will get the upper hand because he has the Granolith.”
“Won’t he?” Isabel asked.
Khivar met her eyes and held them. “No,” he said solemnly. “Max will never win.”
Max had kept a calm façade in place while they were with the others but now that they were alone he practically collapsed onto the bed in relief. He reached for Liz and held her to him tightly. “I’m so glad I was wrong about Isabel,” he breathed into her hair. “It almost destroyed me to think that she could turn against us again. It was almost as bad as when I saw you with Kyle.”
A shiver of reaction went through him and Liz tightened her arms around him. “I’m glad too,” she said softly, “for both your sakes.” She shook her head. “I could feel how much it was hurting you.”
“But we’ve got to figure out a way to save her,” Max insisted. “And we have to hurry. We’ve got to get her away from Khivar so she doesn’t do something else desperate, doesn’t sacrifice herself.” He shook his head. “If I hadn’t suspected her, if I would have told her the plan she would be safe with us now and Khivar would be dead. It’s all my fault for not believing in her.”
Liz stroked his cheek, feeling the tension running through him. “It’s okay Max,” she said soothingly. “We’ll figure it out. We’ll save her.”
“But…” Max started again, only to be cut off as Liz pressed her lips to his.
“We’ve been up for hours Max,” Liz said, breaking the kiss, “traveled to another planet, finally met your mother, had the heartache of thinking Isabel had betrayed us, and the joy of finding out we were wrong.” She smiled softly. “It has been a really long day and you need to get some rest. Things will look better in the morning, and we’ll figure out what to do.”
Max shook his head. “I don’t think I can sleep.”
Liz smiled. “I can help with that.” She smoothed her hands across his chest. Max liked to be in charge of everything, that was just his nature, and usually she let him take the lead even in their lovemaking. But she also knew there were times when he needed a break. “Just put yourself in my hands.”
Instantly the look in Max’s eyes changed from a haunted expression to one of desire, and he nodded silently.
Liz knelt before him and removed his shoes and socks. Max reached for the hem of his shirt but Liz stopped him with a shake of her head. “That’s my job,” she said. “Just sit back and let me do the work.”
Max’s eyes widened and she laughed. She stood and trailed her hands up his thighs as she stepped between his legs, pressing her body to his. Sliding her hands around him, she slipped under his shirt and caressed the solid plane of his back briefly before lifting his shirt up, pulling it off him. Next she went to the fastening on his pants and Max stood, allowing her to push them and his underwear down his legs.
She let her gaze to travel over his strong, muscular body. Never would she get used to how beautiful he was. He started to reach for her but she stepped back. “I’m in charge, sit back on the bed.”
With a smoldering look in his eyes he silently complied, settling back against the headboard, but his gaze never left her as she quickly divested herself of her clothes. When she was naked too she joined him on the bed, straddling his lap, bringing her lower lips into contact with his erection.
Max groaned with the contact and his hands cupped her head, drawing her to him for a demanding kiss. Liz placed her hands on his chest and let him kiss her, allowed his tongue inside her mouth when he asked for admittance, meeting each stroke of his tongue with her own. Through their bond she could feel that he wanted her badly and she could also feel his intention to skip the foreplay that she had in mind and simply take her.
One of his hands slid down her neck, cupping her breast, his thumb rapidly stroking her hardening nipple as he continued to devour her mouth. Electricity shot through Liz and she arched into his touch with a groan. Max started to move his hips, sliding his throbbing shaft against her wet lower lips and Liz moved with him. He held her head to him even tighter, kissing her hungrily, and his other hand trailed down to grasp her hip. And with the next thrust of his hips he held her steady and pushed up and into her.
Liz broke the kiss with a gasp. “I thought I was in charge.”
Max nodded as his other hand moved down to her hip. “You are,” he said with a smile, and grasping her tightly he withdrew a couple of inches and then surged back inside. “I’m just helping.”
Liz smiled and wrapped her arms around him as she leaned down to kiss his neck. Slowly she rocked her hips against him, letting him slide out and then taking him back inside, again and again. Max groaned and matched her rhythm, thrusting up to meet her. She kissed a line up to his chin as she continued to move, trying to concentrate on keeping the pace slow. But each stroke of Max’s cock in and out brushed her G-spot sending surge after surge of pleasurable energy through her.
Max could feel her rapidly increasing pleasure and her equally rapidly declining control. With a few more strokes her body started to quiver and jerk and her breath was coming in quick gasps. He smiled knowing she wouldn’t last much longer. Again he tightened his grasp on her hips, holding her in place as he set a quick pace thrusting up into her.
Liz moaned with the pleasure and let her head fall forward onto his shoulder as she struggled to control her muscles enough to match his rhythm.
Again and again Max surged into her, each stroke burying him to the hilt. The physical pleasure was practically overwhelming, but feeling Max’s pleasure through the bond overloaded her senses. Liz barely had time to register that she was on the edge before he pushed her over. “Max!” she cried out.
He followed her a moment later groaning his climax, his hips jerking a few more times as he released his seed into her. His hands wandered up and he caressed her back as they worked to catch their breath.
After a few long moments he cupped her face, tilting her head up to take her lips in a searing kiss. “Mmmm Liz, I love it when you take charge,” he growled, quickly kissing her again. And using a burst of his powers he suddenly reversed their positions, putting Liz onto her back with himself between her legs, still inside her.
Liz gasped in surprise and watched a satisfied smile curve his lips. He withdrew a couple of inches and pushed back in and Liz felt him start to grow within her. He brushed her lips with his as he reached down to stroke her breasts. “In fact,” he teased, “I’m going to let you take charge again right now.”
Isabel had allowed Khivar to take her back into the bedroom where he had made love to her. Afterward she lay in his arms but she didn’t sleep.
She loved Khivar, she truly did, but she wasn’t going to let her love blind her again. She wasn’t going to let Khivar win.
Since she had left Max’s mind she had expected each minute to be their last, but it was more than an hour later and she and Khivar were both still alive. Again she disentangled herself from him and went into the adjoining bathroom, closing the door between herself and bedroom.
Shutting her eyes she reached out to Max. She touched his mind but saw immediately that he was making love to Liz. Isabel withdrew instantly with a shudder of revulsion, but it quickly turned to confusion. Max hadn’t used the Granolith to destroy them and he obviously had no intension of doing so if he and Liz were… She let the thought trail off not wanting to think about Max and Liz’s sex life.
But she had to find out what was going on and she turned her thoughts to Michael. She entered his mind easily and was somewhat surprised to find him dreaming.
He and Maria were in the backroom at the Crashdown in a heated argument.
“What is your problem Michael?” Maria sniped. “Why can’t you just talk to me like a normal person?”
Michael didn’t answer and Maria continued. “Oh, that’s right, you aren’t a normal person. You’re an alien, a freak.”
Suddenly the dream changed and they were in the parking lot at the mall.
Isabel watched horrified as Michael re-lived the whole thing. Maria and Liz were suddenly surrounded by the Skins, Liz pushed Maria behind a car and was sent flying by a shot to the shoulder. Michael surged forward with a roar, turning Skin soldiers to dust.
He ducked behind the car with Maria. “Stay down,” he ordered her.
“Why?” she demanded. “What happened to Liz?”
“I don’t know,” Michael said. “But we can’t help her until I take out all of the Skins.”
A burst of energy hit the car near them and Michael raised his hand returning fire. He ducked back down and raised his hand to fire again and suddenly Maria threw herself in front of him.
The power had already left his hand and Michael watched helplessly as it hit Maria squarely in the chest. The force of the shot spun her around and she fell toward him. Michael caught her before she hit the ground. He thought she must be dead but the battle still raged around them and he put her down, concentrating on destroying their enemies before they were all killed.
Then the dream shifted again and they were in his apartment in the midst of another argument. Isabel watched the escalating battle with a shake of her head, tuning out their words. It seemed like all they did was argue.
Then they were back at the Crashdown. An argument started in the dining room and Michael tried to escape into the back room but Maria followed him, refusing to let it go.
“What is your problem Michael?” Maria sniped. “Why can’t you just talk to me like a normal person?”
Isabel suddenly realized that the dream was repeating and she finally spoke up. “Does it make you feel better, remembering her like this?”
The scene froze around them and slowly disappeared as Michael acknowledged Isabel’s presence.
Michael met her eyes and shook his head. “I can’t seem to help it. Every night since she died I have the same dream over and over. I remember arguing with her and then I see her die. It makes me feel so guilty but so angry at the same time.” He shook his head again. “Maria never really did accept my alien side. She never trusted in my strength or believed that I was dangerous. It’s like she just wanted to pretend that part wasn’t real, and it got her killed. Sometimes I wake up crying and sometimes I wake up hating her.”
Isabel nodded. “I used to dream about Alex, that he was watching over me. At first it was comforting but then it just made me remember what I had lost and reminded me how alone I was.”
Isabel approached him. “Michael why didn’t Max use the Granolith to destroy us like I told him to? Khivar would be dead and this whole thing would be over.”
Michael shook his head. “There’s been too much sacrifice Isabel, too much death already. We’re not going to let you die too.”
Isabel looked away from him. “I don’t matter. I am nothing, and I deserve to die.” She raised her chin stubbornly and met his eyes. “Hasn’t strengthening your powers caused you to remember our other life?” she asked. “Don’t you remember what Vilondra did, what I did?”
Michael nodded. “I remember some of it.”
“Then you remember we were friends and lovers,” Isabel said. “Our engagement was real, it wasn’t just a political union like Zan’s was. But still I cheated on you with Khivar and eventually betrayed you all.”
“No,” Michael said taking a step nearer. “As Vilondra you were selfish and self-involved and you had a big chip on your shoulder that you would never be Queen. Khivar used you, seduced you, telling you exactly what you wanted to hear and then used your love for him.”
“You don’t understand,” Isabel said. “I loved you but I betrayed you with Khivar anyway. I was sleeping with him while I was engaged to you. What kind of person does that make me?”
“You aren’t Vilondra,” Michael said. “Just like I’m not Rath.”
“How can you say that, Michael?” Isabel asked. “You are getting his memories back, just like I have hers. How can you say that we’re not them?”
“Because you didn’t betray us Isabel,” he said simply. “You could have sold us out to Khivar and been his Queen, but you didn’t.”
Tears started in Isabel’s eyes. “What I did this time was worse. I know what Khivar is, I know about his evil. But I still love him Michael, I couldn’t seem to help it, and I have given myself to him body and soul. But while I was fucking him, and liking it, I also knew the whole time that it was to gain his trust and love so I could kill him.” She held Michael’s eyes. “After I talked with you tonight I went willing to his bed, knowing it was the last time I would be with him and I couldn’t wait to have him once more.” She shook her head. “I am dirty Michael, used goods, tainted, a back-stabbing traitorous bitch.”
Michael surged forward and grabbed her shoulders. “Don’t you say that,” he growled. “Don’t ever say that.”
“Why not?” Isabel asked, her tears falling more freely. “It’s true. In our last life and this one I am nothing but Khivar’s whore.”
Michael suddenly grasped her head and drew her to him, his lips crashing against hers. He kissed her hard, passionately like he remembered Rath kissing Vilondra.
Isabel was surprised at first but as Michael’s lips continued to move over hers, she started to respond. And when his tongue traced across her lips demanding entrance she opened to him allowing the kiss to deepen. Her hands went tentatively to his shoulders and then wrapped around his neck as his arm went to her waist, pulling her closer.
Eventually they broke apart needing air and Michael held her eyes.
“Are you trying to make me hate you?” he asked. “Are you trying to convince me that you deserve to die?” He shook his head decisively. “It’s not going to happen.”
“You were ready enough to write me off when you thought I betrayed you,” she pointed out.
“But you didn’t,” Michael said softly. “Isabel you haven’t done anything that you deserve to die for. You might be ashamed, you might even hate yourself, but I am not going to judge or condemn you, and I’m not going to help you commit suicide.” He stroked her cheek. “You are a good person, and a loyal friend, willing to sacrifice everything even your life to save us. I love you, we all do, and we are going to do everything in our power to save you.”
Isabel brought her mind back into her body and opened her eyes, her hand going to her mouth. She wasn’t sure why Michael had kissed her but she could still feel a tingling sensation where his lips had touched hers.
Soaring With Angels |
Part 20 - Alt End #1 Part 2
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