Max leapt over the edge of the balcony, fury boiling inside him. “What the fuck is going on?” he roared.
Liz jumped away from Zan like she’d been burned, putting a hand to her mouth. She stared horrified at Max, not believing he’d seen her kissing Zan. Max would hate her for sure now. He had proof she was nothing but a slut.
She hadn’t meant to kiss Zan. She was going to turn him down politely, and explain about her relationship with Max, but she hadn’t gotten the chance. Zan had kissed her so sweetly, and it was like she’d had no control over her body. She knew it was no excuse, but she’d been so surprised, and she couldn’t seem to stop herself from responding.
Holding her breath, she waited for Max to tear into her. She’d never seen him so angry, and tears started in her eyes. But as his gaze raked over her, she could see his fury wasn’t directed at her.
Max didn’t blame Liz at all, and he wheeled angrily to Zan. “What are you doing to Liz?” he demanded of his double. “She’s mine.”
Liz felt a thrill rush through her that Max had such strong feelings for her, along with the alarm and guilt she was feeling. She gasped. “Max.”
Max took a step closer to Zan, pointing a finger at his chest. He was so angry, and he saw Zan as the cause of it all.
“Ever since you came into town it’s like you want to replace me,” Max roared. “You know everything about us, and our powers, and you have this big plan to fight our enemies. Michael loves you, follows you around like a puppy, always telling me what a great leader you are, while all he ever does is criticize me. You and Michael hang out way more than he and I do, and he’s my best friend. It’s like your trying to take over everything that’s mine.”
Max took a deep breath. “And I haven’t said a word,” he said, laughing harshly. “I was even glad you were here to help us, glad that someone knew what was going on, and for once it looked like we might get the upper hand.”
Max’s scowl deepened. “But now you’re trying to take Liz too, and she’s where I draw the line.” He pointed at his own chest. “Liz and I have been through hell together, she loves me, and I’ll be damned if I’ll let you come in here and try to take her away from me.”
Liz was shocked by Max’s words. He hadn’t said a word to her about any of his feelings of inadequacy, and she hadn’t realized what he was going through. But he was so angry that he looked ready to fight and she was worried he might attack Zan. She gripped his arm. “Max, please,” she begged.
She turned her gaze to Zan, hoping he wasn’t looking for a fight too, but he held up a placating hand and spoke. “I’m sorry, Max.”
Zan had been so surprised to see a furious Max coming at him but now everything made sense. He’d had no idea Max and Liz were together. They didn’t act like any couple he’d ever seen, they didn’t touch, or kiss, and as far as he could tell, hardly spent time together.
It also explained why Liz had drawn away from him when he started to get close, and why she’d been so reluctant to respond to him. But, he reminded himself, she had responded.
Zan continued. “I’m really sorry,” he said softly. “I like you, Max, I like all of you, and I like living in Roswell. It’s almost like having a family. I was just glad I was fitting in, and I never meant to cause any trouble.”
“I brought Ava here because I do need your help,” he continued. “I can’t beat Lonnie, Rath and Khivar on my own. I never meant to try and take over, and I couldn’t replace you,” he said. “You’re the real King and I could never take your place. I don’t even want to. I just want to help keep us all safe. And if you don’t think my plan’s going to work, we can come up with a new one together.”
He shook his head. “Max, I know you and Michael are best friends, and I envy that. Rath and I were never close, and I never had a real friend besides Ava. I wasn’t trying to come between you and Michael. It was just nice to have a male friend who liked some of the same things.”
“And I had no idea you and Liz were together.” He turned to encompass Liz in his gaze. “I’m sorry, Liz. I kissed you and didn’t let you explain.” He met Max’s eyes. “I wasn’t trying to steal her from you,” he said. “I just didn’t know. I’m attracted to her, and wanted to get to know her better, but I thought she was free.”
Max felt the anger drain out of him as Zan explained. It had been a lot of misunderstandings and his insecurities that has fueled his rage. “I’m sorry too,” he said feeling ashamed. “I shouldn’t have said all that. I’m glad you’re here. You plan is great, and we need your help. I’ve just been on edge lately. I’m jealous as hell that you’re spending so much time with Liz, working on her powers. I’m the one who gave them to her and I can’t even help her.”
He sighed, looking at Liz beside him where she still gripped his arm. “Liz and I aren’t together,” he confessed to Zan, “not anymore, but I’m trying to convince her to come back to me.” His eyes met Zan’s. “That’s why I got so angry when I saw you kissing her.”
Zan nodded. He wondered what the situation was between them, but now wasn’t the time to ask.
He took one last look at Liz. He’d been so happy when he was kissing her, and now he just felt hopeless. He didn’t have a chance with the woman he loved.
He cocked his head toward Liz’s ladder. “I’m going to go,” he said with a last look at Liz. “I’ll see you tomorrow.”
Liz met his eyes feeling so guilty. She hadn’t initiated the kiss between them but she had kissed him back. And she hadn’t said a word to Max. She had let Zan take the blame for everything.
She also felt for him. He had feelings for her and he’d thought there was a chance for something between them. “I’m sorry, Zan,” she whispered.
Zan felt hollow inside as he slowly moved toward the ladder. He’d been so sure that he and Liz belonged together. He’d never experienced anything close to what had happened with her; love at first sight, the instant connection, and Liz seeming to return his feelings. But somehow it was all wrong.
He swung his leg onto the top rung and looked back at the woman he loved. Her eyes met his and he could clearly see the tear-tracks on her cheeks. He smiled at her and started down.
It was like someone had jabbed a knife through his heart. Liz was kind-hearted, and she felt sorry for him, and that was the last thing he wanted from her.
When he’d gone about half-way down the ladder he heard Max’s voice, and it instantly stopped him. He knew it was wrong to listen to their conversation, but he was curious as hell about why Liz refused to be with Max.
Suddenly Zan’s heart started pounding again. Liz had never said she didn’t want to be with him. She’d held herself back when he kissed her, but finally responded. He was sure she wanted him, and maybe she’d been cautious because of her past relationship with Max
Max and Liz continued speaking and Zan listened intently. Emotions surged through him ranging from jealously to anger to confusion and finally curiosity. Obviously there was a lot more going on than he knew about.
What the fuck had been happening in this small town?
Max waited until Zan disappeared over the edge to speak. “Liz, I’m so sorry. I know we aren’t together, but to see him kissing you nearly drove me crazy.” Tears started in his eyes. “It made me think that we’d never be together again, and I couldn’t stand it. I love you so much.”
More tears spilled down Liz’s cheeks. “Max,” she said, her voice rough with emotion, “we can’t be together, you know it.”
“Don’t say that,” he hissed, reaching up to cup her cheek and wipe away her tears with his thumb. “There’s a way and we’ll figure it out.”
“But Max,” she started, only to be cut off.
“Please don’t say it,” he begged softly. “Just let me hold you for a few minutes.”
Liz could see the pain and panic in his face and she couldn’t deny him. Against her better judgment, she nodded.
Instantly he enfolded her in his arms, and she hugged him tightly, closing her eyes and resting her head against his chest.
Liz sighed softly. It just wasn’t fair that it felt so perfect to be in his arms when it wasn’t meant to be.
After a moment Max spoke. “Tess did this,” he said harshly.
“What?” Liz asked confused.
Max explained, “She knew you and Zan were up here, and she set me up to find you. She sent me up here to see that kiss.”
Liz pulled away from him with wide eyes. “How did she know?” she asked, worried.
Max shrugged. “She said she heard you up here with him.”
He took a step closer to Liz intending to take her in his arms again, but she stepped back, shaking her head. “Don’t you see?” she asked horrified. “Tess is getting desperate. She’s trying to turn you against me. We have to do something, Max, or Tess will leave town.”
Max could see the panic in Liz’s eyes and he tried to calm her. He stroked her arms. “I’ll talk to her,” he said softly. “I’ll make her understand that we are going to be together.”
“No,” Liz said. “She won’t accept that. She still wants you.” More tears spilled down her cheeks. “Max,” she said sadly, “you have to be with her.”
Liz broke away from Max and started to pace, three steps one direction before whirling around and going three steps the other way. “How can this be happening?” she mumbled to herself. “After everything I did, it can’t fall apart. It can’t all end because of me. What am I going to do?” she asked, growing more agitated with every step. “How can I fix this? What am I going to do?”
Max was really beginning to worry now. He’d never see Liz like this. She looked almost wild. He started to have that nagging feeling again, but Liz’s distress pushed it from his mind. He stepped into her, taking her gently by the shoulders, making her look at him. “It’ll be okay,” he soothed. “I’ll make sure she doesn’t leave.”
Tears welled in Liz’s eyes as she looked into his face. She knew Max was concerned about her and that was the only reason he was trying to be nice to Tess. He didn’t really understand how important it was, but how could he. She hadn’t told him the whole truth. He didn’t know why it mattered so much.
“Max,” she said miserably, “I’m so scared.”
“I know,” he said, wrapping her in his arms and pressing a kiss to the top of her head, “but we’ll make sure it’s okay.”
Tess left the Crashdown just after Max did, following him around the building and into the alley. She watched him climb onto the balcony and a smile crossed her face as she heard him yelling. She wanted to get closer to hear exactly what was happening but she expected him to come angrily down the ladder any moment.
He would be devastated again, and she would be there for him to pick up the pieces of his broken heart.
But long moments passed, the angry voices died away, and no one came rushing down the ladder.
Tess stared at the edge of the balcony. What was happening?
She started forward, so she could hear the conversation above, but stopped when someone finally approached the ladder. And to her surprise she realized it was Zan.
What happened? she asked herself. Surely Max had caught Liz and Zan kissing, but he wasn’t leaving as she’d expected. Did Zan and Liz lie? Somehow explain it away. Or was Max so wrapped around Liz’s finger that he didn’t care that she was screwing every guy in town?
Tess thought Zan would leave, and then she could get closer and maybe hear the end of their conversation. But Zan only climbed down a few rungs and then stopped, obviously listening to Max and Liz.
Tess was angry that her plan didn’t work out like she’d hoped. But something was definitely going on between Zan and Liz, and she was going to use it to her advantage.
Never Underestimate Destiny|
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