Disclaimer: See first page.

Notes: I am sooo sorry for not updating sooner. It's honestly been impossible. This past week alone I had four tests (including chemistry (which was exam length) and Math). Now that I only have a paper to write and a painting to create I can write. Although, I feel it's only fair to warn you that I'll be gone for almost all of April. If it's not out in the first week of April, it's only going to be out in May for which I apologize profusely, but it's graduating year, and I'm involved in a lot of extracurricular and volunteer work so making time is difficult.

I'm very sorry for the wait, but I thank you all for your lovely ad encouraging reviews. I ask you all to please review, and if you refrain from attempting to throw rotten food at me, I'll give you a cookie. ;D

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"I've been trying not to love you; I've been putting up a fight. I've been barely holding on, and letting go with all my might. There's a part of me that's empty, I know only love can fill. I'm afraid I'll never fill it, and scared to death I will." - Unknown

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Max couldn't move. Was she tranquilized? Paralyzed? She couldn't feel her legs…was she even breathing? This…this simply wasn't possible!

"Hey, Max." his voice was low and husky. Smooth honeyed tones washing over her like sunshine. Hazel-green eyes twinkled towards her, out of a breathtaking face filled with familiar cherished features. Golden hair reflected the sunlight that seemed to glow on his skin. Still a quiet voice whispered insidiously within her mind, that sunshine always casts a shadow…

Perhaps, this was a joke? A trick?

"Max?" His voice was a little worried now, although she didn't even notice it.

Maybe he'd simply missed her company. Nevertheless, that didn't excuse this… game! It was her heart, damnit! How many times did he need to break it?

"MAX?"

This wasn't possible. He'd rejected her. This wasn't real. HE'D REJECTED HER!

"Get away from me!" the brunette hissed in righteous indignation. "Is this some kind of game to you?! See how many times you can break a woman's heart? Well congratulations, darling."

"No, no, no. You've got it all wrong-" his protests were drowned out by her fury.

"Tell me something, would you? How many times can you shatter a heart until the pieces won't shatter any longer, hmmm? Do you know that?"

"Max…" his voice was a well of angst that a girl could drown in…if she let herself, that is.

"Because…because maybe then it'll stop hurting. When there's nothing left to break, I guess you don't even notice right?" her voice cracked.

"Max." she didn't allow herself to hear the pleading note in his voice. She couldn't.

"Goodbye Alec."

And so Max ran. She ran away from the hope that she could be lifted out of the darkness she had settled into. She ran as far as she could, because sometimes the most painful thing in the world is hope. With that hope, comes the fear that it will eventually be crushed or taken away. So, it's much easier to shatter before it begins, before you're forcefully thrown back to the darkness which feels even colder than the first time, after you've lost that warmth. It's much easier to stay in the cold, than to risk being warm and having to acclimatize yourself to the cold again once the warmth is brutally ripped from your grasp.

It was because of this fear that Max ran. She ran hard, and she ran fast, away from the only man she ever loved…or ever would.

Max left two broken hearts due to her fear, but stubbornness is a powerful thing. And stubbornness combined with hope is explosive. It's all powerful, you see, because it never gives up. Eventually it can wear away at even the most tormented despair.

Alec had that hope. This hazel-eyed youth clung to that hope that rivalled the determination of the most ancient stone. This was because while Max had been shocked and in pain, she had never told him not to follow her. She had never thought of it as a possibility that he would even want to. She really should have forever, because follow her he would.

Max had no idea what was coming towards her now that he no longer had to hide in secrecy. Not a damn clue.