Thank you for your feedback, everyone, I really appreciate hearing your thoughts :):
Kissin Concern – Glad you enjoyed it :).
Josephine – Yeah, Max was a jerk in the story, but he came around eventually :).
Lillian – Thank you, although I'm afraid I'm not a very fast writer (at least, not anymore) - the reason I've been able to update so frequently is that I wrote and finished this story four years ago!
Ten years later…
"Hi, welcome to the West Roswell High Class of 2006 ten-year reunion," chirps the incredibly upbeat and smiley woman manning the welcome desk. Her face seems somewhat familiar, but I can't place it. I guess she must have been at Roswell High around the same time as I was, though. "Can I take your name, please?"
"Max Evans," I tell her with a small smile.
I watch her eyes widen slightly as she takes in my appearance. I guess I've changed a little since high school. For one, I decided to grow my hair out a couple of years ago and so now it kind of curls around my ears and the back of my neck. I'm sure that I've probably filled out somewhat in the last ten years – I suppose that's what getting older does to you.
"Max Evans…" she murmurs as she scans the name badges laid out on the table in front of her. "Ahh…here we go, here's your name badge and our welcome brochure," she says, handing me the badge and a small wad of papers. "No guest with you today, Max?"
"Uh, no, um…Amanda," I say, taking a quick look at the nametag on her shirt, the one I didn't see before. "No guest."
"Oh…well, then, I hope you enjoy the reunion, Max."
"Thank you, I will," I tell her, flashing a quick smile before heading inside the school building.
It feels strange to be walking through these corridors again after so many years. On the one hand, it feels like I never left, but on the other…so much has changed since then. There are new department buildings dotted around the premises and all the classrooms have the latest computing technology, yet most of the posters and pictures on the walls are exactly the same. On my way to the gym where the celebrations are being held, I pass the one room I didn't expect to see ever again…the Eraser Room. I slow down as I approach it, only to be assaulted with images and memories of spending so much time in that room in senior year with Liz Parker.
Just the thought of her is enough to send shivers down my spine, even after all this time. It's been almost ten years since I last saw her and although I vowed to put her and our short, but intense relationship out of my mind for good, I can't help but wonder how she is and what she's been doing these past few years. In high school, Liz was the first girl to ever really catch my attention, and also the one girl I believed I could never have. Back then, she was pure and innocent and sweet and I was…well, to be honest, I was a bastard in high school. I thought I had it all. I was captain of the football team and I was popular. I could have pretty much any girl I wanted, and I guess I did, with the exception of Liz Parker that was. By senior year, I had spent so long admiring her from afar, with no chance of getting close to her, that I was ready to give up once and for all, especially when she came back in the fall on the arm of Alex Whitman. That was the last straw, I guess. After that, I gave up any hope I had of being with her; I let my so-called friends bully her and taunt her, and I actually agreed to date Tess Harding, basically all for the sake of trying to get her out of my mind.
However, it didn't work, not entirely, and one day my control just snapped. There she was, looking gorgeous as she worked on an experiment in the lab and I couldn't resist. I don't think I ever told her how glad I was that I was the only one with detention that day and that Ms. Johnson had a meeting to go to. At first, I just meant to kiss her; I wasn't expecting her to be into it too and I definitely wasn't expecting to get in her pants that day. But after our little excursion in the supply closet, I thought that maybe I'd finally gotten her out of my system and I convinced myself that it could only ever be a one-time thing. So, when she came to me a few days later and suggested that we make an arrangement to get together on a regular basis, I tried to think of every excuse I could for it being a bad idea. The problem was, I just couldn't resist her and if a no-strings relationship was what she wanted, then that was what I had to settle for. So we had casual sex, right here in the Eraser Room (among other places) for almost 3 months. I was finally beginning to accept that what I had with Liz could never be anything more than casual, when something completely unexpected happened to change everything. She announced that she thought she could be pregnant.
Now, while I admit that my reaction to that was totally unreasonable and selfish, it was entirely instinctual. Can you imagine spending three months of your life in a meaningless relationship with the only girl you ever really felt anything for, convincing yourself that you had to close off your feelings from the relationship; and when you finally got her out of your mind in that way, she tells you she might be carrying your child? There was no way I could be around her, care for her and the baby, without acknowledging my true feelings; I just couldn't do that. So instead, I cut her out of my life. Even at the time, I knew it was an incredibly stupid and hurtful thing to do, but I didn't know what else to do.
It took me more than two weeks to realise what I'd given up and what I'd lost by treating her that way, but I should have known that just approaching her unexpectedly and telling her that I wanted to be with her wouldn't go down well, especially after how I'd behaved towards her. What she said to me that afternoon by the lockers really got to me. I understood then that I had given her no reason whatsoever to see me as anything but an insensitive bastard. So over the next three weeks, I tried to change. I broke things off with Tess – not that we'd been faithful to each other during our relationship anyway; I told the guys to tone it down a bit (which was difficult since I wasn't about to tell them the reason why); and on top of all that, I found myself unable to keep my eyes off Liz.
I almost couldn't believe it when she finally agreed to go out with me, and although at first it was hard to shake my old ways, I really did try hard to treat her well and respect her. Those first couple of dates were actually kind of weird – talking to her normally, about all kinds of things was kind of strange – but we still had that amazing chemistry in the bedroom, except now that we were dating, the sex was a hundred times better. We were still going strong at Graduation and I thought everything was going great – Liz was headed off to Harvard and I'd managed to get a football scholarship to Northwestern – until that fateful day at the end of the summer when everything fell apart…
Liz and I are relaxing in the chair on her balcony. She's sandwiched between my legs, reading a book and I can't help running my fingers through her soft, silky hair as she concentrates on the words in front of her.
"Liz?" I ask tentatively, knowing that what I'm going to bring up has been a fairly sensitive subject between us lately.
"Yeah?" she murmurs as she turns the page of her book.
"I was wondering…well, hoping, really…that maybe we could do something special tonight," I start.
"Special?" she asks, turning her face towards me slightly. "Like what?"
"Well, I was thinking…dinner at that new Italian place and then maybe a night in, just the two of us?"
"Well, I think that sounds great, Max, but what's all this in aid of?"
I frown, does she seriously not know?
"Well, in case you've forgotten, you're leaving for Harvard soon and I want to do something special for you before you leave."
Suddenly, she stiffens in my arms and pulls away from me until she's perched on the end of the chaise longue.
"What? What's wrong, Liz?" I ask in concern, although I have a pretty good idea what might be up.
See, we've kinda been having these little arguments lately, about college. Back at Graduation, she mentioned the possibility of coming to Northwestern with me, and as much as I would love it if we were attending the same school, I know that I can't let her give up her dream for me. In fact, I really want her to go to Harvard; I mean, how many guys can say that their girlfriend is a Harvard scholar and that they're unbelievably proud of her? However, I just don't know how to make her realise that as hard as it's going to be, being apart is going to be for the best in the long run. All these thoughts run through my head as I watch Liz drop the book to the ground and run her hands through her hair tiredly.
"Liz, seriously, what is it?" I question once more and almost wish I hadn't when she looks up at me with a solemn expression marring her beautiful features.
"Max, I think we need to talk," she tells me eventually.
My heart sinks. It's never good when a girl says 'we need to talk'.
"Okay," I say slowly, adjusting my position on the chaise so that my feet are on the floor. "So, what do you want to talk about?"
"Max, I'm not going to Harvard," she says slowly, determinedly.
What? What is she talking about? Of course she's going to Harvard!
"Liz, what are you talking about? Orientation is next week; you've already been assigned a room and a roommate; you can't not go now!"
She shakes her head. "I'm not going to Harvard," she repeats forcefully. "And nothing you can do or say will change my mind about this."
"B-but if you don't go to Harvard…what are you going to do? Does that mean you're coming to Northwestern with me?" I stutter. As much as I think she should be at Harvard where she belongs, my heart does a little leap at the thought of spending the next four years with her.
She just gazes at me sadly, before slowly shaking her head, "No, Max, I'm not."
"But –" I start, although I can't continue. My head is spinning; if she's not going to Harvard and she's not coming to Northwestern, then where is she going to college, and why hasn't she spoken to me about this before?
"Look," she says. "I've been thinking about this for a while now and I've realised that Harvard just isn't the right place for me," she tells me softly. "…And neither is Northwestern."
"But, Liz, I don't understand…"
"Max, I'm going to college in California…UCLA," she admits softly. "I leave tomorrow."
"You leave tomorrow –?" My voice trails off in disbelief, but it only takes a second for the anger to kick in. I narrow my eyes, "And you weren't going to tell me about this? You were gonna keep it a secret and what…leave before I even knew what was happening? I can't believe this." I shake my head.
"Max, I'm just doing what's best for me, here. I'm sorry, but I can't help the way I feel," she tells me.
"And what about me? Do you even care how I feel about this, about the fact that you've been lying to me for weeks, making me believe you were going to Harvard, when instead you were planning on moving to the other side of the country?"
"Max, I –" she starts, but I hold up a hand to stop her.
"Look, you know what, I don't care anymore, okay? I'm fed up of fighting with you; of you lying to me; in fact, I'm fed up of this whole thing!" I practically shout. Inside, my heart is breaking, but my head just can't get around the fact that she's been lying to me about this for so long. "You know what? You can go off to LA and have a brilliant four years for all I care; I'm outta here. Have a nice life, Liz."
I don't even look at her as I walk blindly towards the balcony ladder and climb over the wall. But the second I'm out of sight, I close my eyes in anguish, almost unable to comprehend what just happened. Did Liz and I really just break up?
I blink as the memory fades from my mind and I'm left staring at the Eraser room door. That was the last time I ever saw Liz Parker. Although I was pretty angry at her for lying to me, I did manage to calm down enough to go see her the next day and apologise, but when I got to the Crashdown, Maria informed me that Liz had already left for California and had also left strict instructions not to try to contact her. I spent the rest of the day and the following few weeks walking around feeling totally hopeless and as a result, those first couple of months at Northwestern were pretty miserable. At one point, I even came seriously close to losing my football scholarship. It took me a while, but I eventually began to recover and move on with my life. One issue still remains though: I have never forgotten Liz Parker.
I shake my head and bring myself back to the present, to the reason I'm here – the reunion. Now, I'd be lying if I said that a small part of me wasn't hoping to see Liz here today, but to be honest, I wouldn't be surprised if she didn't show.
"Oh my God, Max? Max Evans?" My head whips round at the unexpected voice behind me, although my lips curl up into a smile when I see who it is.
"Kyle Valenti," I greet in surprise. "Long time, no see. It's great to see you;"
Kyle was on the football team with me back in senior year. He was a pretty nice guy, although we didn't really hang out that much, due to my incredibly stupid choice of friends back in high school.
"You too, man," he responds with a smile and then offers me a friendly pat on the back. "How about we head to the gym? I'll buy you a beer for old time's sake and we can catch up with all our old friends."
I grin, my miserable mood evaporating for the moment, "Sounds good to me."
We approach the gym, whilst discussing what we're doing with ourselves now; it seems that, unlike me, Kyle stayed with sport, and now he's an assistant football coach at UNM. We enter the gym and head straight for the bar in the corner. Kyle orders two beers and hands one to me. I lean against the counter and take a swig.
"So, you here with anyone?" asks Kyle.
I shake my head, "No, you?"
"Yeah, I am actually," he grins suddenly. "See that gorgeous brunette over there?" He indicates a tall, slender woman chatting amicably to some of my old classmates. "That's Sarah, my wife."
I turn to him in surprise, "Wow, congratulations, Valenti."
"So, how long have you been married?"
"Five years next month," he states proudly. "I'm whisking her off to the Caribbean for our anniversary in a couple of weeks."
"Wow," I repeat. "She is one lucky woman."
"Yeah," he murmurs, his gaze fixed on his wife.
Out of nowhere, I feel a pang in my chest and I suddenly realise how much I actually want what he has – a loving wife, a house in the suburbs; maybe even kids someday. But in order to do that, I need someone to share that with, and that's where my plan is sadly lacking. That's not to say that I've been a saint these past few years, but I have yet to find anyone special. In fact if I'm totally honest, I haven't yet found anyone who can make me feel the way Liz Parker did all those years ago.
"So…" Kyle's voice interrupts my thoughts. I look up to find him studying me thoughtfully. "I take it you and Liz Parker didn't work out, then?"
"Oh, um…no, we didn't," I manage as I take another swig from my beer.
"Oh, man, I'm sorry," he says. "The two of you were good together. She really brought out the best in you, you know."
Yeah, Kyle, I know, I commiserate silently.
"I guess it just wasn't meant to be," I say, quickly moving the bottle to my mouth again in an attempt to block out the memories. "Besides, I haven't seen her in years…no need to dwell on the past."
Kyle just nods slightly and we stand there in silence for a few moments, as he watches Sarah from across the room and I let my gaze wander aimlessly around the room. Seated around one of the tables in the centre of the room, are several of the old football players – the jocks – and a few of the cheerleaders. I can see John Matthews and Sam Davis trying to be the centre of attention as usual, but what surprises me the most is the person to Matthews' left; the one with her hand wrapped around his upper arm. It's Tess Harding. A very pregnant Tess Harding…or perhaps that's Tess Matthews now, judging by the rock on her ring finger. I guess it turned out to be a good thing that she decided to cheat on me with him back in senior year.
As I watch everyone at the table, I realise that I have absolutely no desire to go over there to catch up with them. In fact, for the life of me, I can't even remember why I was friends with them in the first place. It's like Liz said back in high school; they were total bastards, and looking back on it, I can't believe that I ever acted that way just to be cool.
"Oh, holy shit," mutters Kyle from beside me.
With a frown, I turn my head to see what's wrong. He doesn't say anything, but indicates towards the door with his beer bottle. I follow his gaze. Holy shit is just about right. There standing in the doorway, on the arm of a guy who could only be described as having just stepped off the cover of GQ, is Liz Parker. I can do nothing but stare at her, my drink frozen halfway to my lips. She looks absolutely amazing in a knee length, flowing skirt and low cut silky top. She's wearing high-heeled sandals, which only accentuate her tanned, slender legs. Her long, dark hair frames her face in soft curls and it looks even softer and shinier than ever. I gulp at the vision in front of me, before tearing my eyes away from her and fixing my gaze on the man next to her, who has now snaked his arm around her waist. I feel an incredible surge of jealousy engulf my entire body and it is in that moment that I realise I've never gotten over Liz Parker, not even a little bit. She always had this amazing power over me, over my body and just the slightest glimpse of her from across the room has brought it all flooding back to me.
My view of Liz is suddenly cut off when Sarah, Kyle's wife approaches us.
"Hey, you," she greets Kyle and leans up for a kiss.
"Hey, yourself," he replies happily, slipping his arm around her waist, before looking over at me. "Max, there's someone I want you to meet. This is Sarah, my beautiful wife." She blushes at the compliment. "Sarah, this is Max. He was captain of the football team senior year."
She smiles and it lights up her whole face. "Nice to meet you, Max," she says, holding out her hand in greeting.
I shake it and nod, "You, too, Sarah."
"I hope my Kyle's been behaving himself over here; I don't want to have to drag his intoxicated butt back to the hotel tonight."
"Hey," protests Kyle. "I've only had one beer!"
With a smirk, she pats his arm, "And you know how you get after only a couple of drinks, so maybe you ought to stop soon."
"Man," he grins, shaking his head and turning to me again. "Do you see what I have to put up with?"
I fight the urge to laugh and roll my eyes. Suddenly, I really like this Sarah.
"Aww, poor baby," smirks Sarah again. "But, you know you love me anyway."
"That I do," murmurs Kyle and they share another kiss. "And you know I could never live without you."
Ugh, someone shoot me; I don't know how long I can stand this sappy stuff. Not only is it so sweet and sickly that I want to gag, but it also reminds me that it's the one thing lacking in my life and right now I really don't want to think about the fact that the one person how could ever make me that happy is currently standing across the room, on the arm of another man.
In a desperate attempt to get my mind off Liz Parker, I say my goodbyes to Kyle and Sarah and leave them to it. I make my way across the room, trying to get as far away from Liz as possible, but unfortunately I only get halfway before someone stops me with a high-pitched, "Max? Is that you?"
I close my eyes for a second before reluctantly turning around.
"Tess," I greet flatly, whilst trying desperately not to stare at her rounded belly.
She smiles, "Wow, it is you, and don't you look totally gorgeous?"
I frown at the compliment. "Was there something you wanted, Tess?"
"Oh, well, I just wanted to catch up," she tells me chirpily.
"Oh, okay," I say. I'm a little confused, but I'll play along for now. "So, um…you're pregnant," I state unnecessarily.
"Oh, yeah," she grins then, resting her hand on her belly. "It's my third."
My eyes widen involuntarily. Her third? Wow, she and Matthews have been busy; at least, I'm assuming she's with Matthews.
"So…who's the father?" I can't resist asking.
She glances over towards the jocks still sitting at the table, "It's John," she announces proudly. "We got married 8 years ago."
So, I was right. "Really, wow. I guess congratulations are in order."
"Thank you, Max," she beams. "Look, I really ought to get going now, but it was nice seeing you again."
"You, too," I force a smile, completely unprepared when she puts her hand on my arm and leans up to give me a peck on the cheek. I avert my eyes, slightly uncomfortable at the unexpected display of affection. Big mistake. Across the room, Liz Parker chooses that very moment to look over. Our eyes meet briefly and all I can think about is the look of shock and hurt playing on her face, just before she turns on her heel and walks off.
With a sinking heart, I say goodbye to Tess and try to get as far away from both her and Liz as possible. It's a little difficult to slip away unnoticed, because it seems that everyone has suddenly recognised me and is either patting me on the back (the guys) or smiling at me seductively (the women). I just roll my eyes internally and smile and nod at everyone until I finally make it out of the door. Unfortunately, the moment I reach the corridor and turn the corner, I bump into none other than Alex Whitman, whose eyes widen in surprise when he realises who I am.
I give him a tentative smile, "Hey, Alex."
"Hey…it's um, it's been a while," he stutters.
"Yeah…" I supply.
We stand awkwardly for a few moments, neither of us entirely comfortable, until I realise that I guess I owe him an apology – something I chickened out of doing ten years ago.
"Look, man, I want to say that I'm sorry for what happened back then – with Liz and I, and the whole going-behind-your-back thing."
Far from the reaction I expected, Alex simply shakes his head and gives a low chuckle, "Max, don't worry about it, okay? Yeah, I might have been a little hurt when Liz told me what was going on, but if I'm totally honest, I think you guys were good for each other." I raise an eyebrow; he's the second person to say that to me today. "And there was no need to worry about me, really. In fact, Liz and I were just convenient excuses for each other – I spent most of high school lusting after someone else anyway and since I never expected to ever have a chance with her, Liz and I kinda hooked up to save each other from the unwanted humiliation of being single in senior year."
"Oh," is all I can manage, before curiosity steps in. "So, who was this girl you were lusting after?"
He grins and blushes, "Oh, um, actually, she's just in the bathroom," he indicates towards the door to his left. As if on cue, the door opens and his date steps out. For some reason, Alex's smile suddenly fades and the colour drains from his face. I frown, but a second later my eyes widen in realisation. Here in front of me, her fingers laced with Alex Whitman's, is my very own sister.
"Isabel?" I wonder. "What are you doing here? I thought you were stuck in Boston this weekend?"
"Well, I…" she looks embarrassed. What the hell? My sister never gets embarrassed.
"Oh God," I exclaim suddenly. "You and Alex…?"
"Yeah," she smiles sheepishly, before turning to gaze at Alex proudly. "It turns out that Alex has been doing research at MIT for the last few years and well, we kind of bumped into each other a couple of months ago and got to talking. We went out a couple of times and I guess the rest is history," she smiles and leans over to kiss his cheek.
Now, I know that Isabel and I don't speak as often as we used to, but I'm surprised that she didn't mention this new relationship to me before.
"Oh, okay," I murmur, for lack of anything else to say. "Then I guess I'm happy for the two of you."
"Thanks, Max," says Isabel, reaching out to give my arm a grateful squeeze, before turning to Alex. "Well, we were just headed to the gym."
"Oh, okay, I was going this way," I say, pointing in the opposite direction, "So, I guess I'll catch up with you guys later. Have fun."
I begin walking down the corridor as Alex and my sister turn towards the gym. As I make my way through the hallways of West Roswell High, I realise how empty my life seems compared to everyone else's. Sure, I have a college degree and a fairly successful career in business management, but if I'm honest, I'm not particularly happy. I hear the sound of laughter coming from down the hall and decide that I'm not in the mood to deal with any more happy people right now. So, to avoid another confrontation, I quickly duck into the nearest room available. It's only when I get inside and close the door behind me that I notice where I am.
The Eraser Room.
With a sigh, I move towards the table against the wall and run my fingers across the smooth surface as the memories of being in here with Liz come rushing back. I pull myself up onto the table and sit with my back to the wall and my legs dangling over the edge. I close my eyes and let my head fall back against the cool plaster as I take in the familiar scent of chalk dust. Despite the fact that apparently there few chalkboards left in the school, the distinct smell still lingers. I sit here with my eyes closed for several minutes, until the sound of the door clicking open startles me and my eyes fly open. I watch in disbelief, my jaw hanging open, as none other than Liz Parker slips inside and closes the door behind her. She lets out a small sigh of relief, for some reason, and then makes her way towards the centre of the room. However, she stops suddenly, her eyes going wide, as she realises that she's not alone in here.
"Max?" she whispers almost inaudibly.
"Um, hi?" I offer hesitantly, even though butterflies are doing cartwheels in my stomach. God, I've spent the last ten years wishing I could see her and now she's barely three feet from me, I have no idea what to do or say.
"Max," she says again, although this time her voice is stronger. "What are you doing here?"
I watch her carefully, "You know, I could ask you the same thing."
She frowns and her features harden. "I asked first. And besides, shouldn't you be out there entertaining your pregnant lover?"
I sigh; I knew she'd gotten the wrong idea earlier. "What, you mean Tess? Sorry, but I'm not into adultery," I state casually.
Her eyes narrow, "Adultery?"
"Well, yeah," I say slowly, somehow enjoying this little argument with her. "And especially not when her husband and father of her child is in the same room."
"Max, what are you talking about?"
I shake my head, "Liz, what you saw back there was my first encounter with Tess Harding in ten years. She's been married to John Matthews for the last 8 years and she's about to give birth to their third kid."
She blinks in surprise, "Oh."
"You know, I don't know why you're so interested all of a sudden. After all, you were the one who left with no warning, not to mention the fact that you lied to me about where you were going to college, and you're also the one who showed up her with some Calvin Klein model on her arm ten years later."
Her expression becomes stricken, "Max, oh God, I'm so sorry. I never meant to hurt you back then. I just…I was having a personal crisis over whether I'd made the right decision about college; I knew in my heart that Harvard wasn't the right place for me, and to be honest, I only really thought about Northwestern because you were going and not because it had the best courses for me, but I just couldn't bring myself to tell you that I'd made that final choice to go somewhere else. I applied to UCLA early on, but originally dismissed it and turned down the offer. As we got closer to leaving for college, the idea of going there instead crept into my mind and in my heart; I knew that I would prefer to go there. However, I also knew how much you wanted Harvard for me and I guess I didn't want to disappoint you."
For a moment, my heart goes out to her. I know first-hand what it's like to have to make difficult decisions – I've had a few to make for myself over the last few years – but for some reason, my brain can't get past the fact that she was just gonna leave without telling me.
"So, if we hadn't argued that day, you would have just left anyway? How did you think that was gonna work?" I question incredulously as I hop off the table and take a few steps towards her.
She shakes her head, "I'm sorry, I don't know what I was thinking – well, I guess I wasn't, really. I kept putting it off and then it was suddenly too late. After you left me on the balcony that day, I panicked. You'd just told me that we were over and I stupidly believed that, so I decided it was best to cut all ties there and then."
I snort in amazement, as I come to a stop in front of her, "That was it? You weren't even gonna try to work it out with me? Did I really mean so little to you?"
"No, Max, I was scared and my heart was wounded. At that point I wasn't even thinking rationally, I just wanted to get as far away from Roswell as possible. I didn't even think about the outcome of my actions."
"You really hurt me that day, Liz," I tell her as I look down at her. "It took months for me to get over the fact that you just up and left with barely an explanation."
She lifts her head and her eyes lock with mine. I can see the glimmer of tears in her eyes, but when she speaks, her voice is calm and determined.
"Max, there isn't a single day that goes by when I don't regret what happened between us. I'm more sorry than you can ever imagine. You have to believe me when I tell you that I didn't mean for things to get so out of control. I loved you so much, but I foolishly let my own problems get in the way of that. I'm sorry," she repeats. "Can you ever forgive me?"
"Liz…" I start, but realise that I am at a loss for words. Here I am, standing barely a foot away from the only girl I ever loved, a girl I haven't set eyes on in ten years, her eyes are locked with mine in a somewhat intense stare and I can't fight my feelings any longer. Suddenly I don't care about what happened all those years ago. All I want is to feel her lips on mine once again. I can't help it; I begin to lower my head towards hers. Just before our lips touch, I hesitate, unsure if I'm doing the right thing; but before I get the chance to change my mind, Liz winds her arms around my neck and pulls me to her. I shiver at the feel of her lips on mine after so long and all rational thought leaves my mind as I wrap my arms around her for the first time in years.
Before I can even comprehend what is happening, my instincts take over and I finding myself walking her backwards towards the table. Almost surprisingly, she doesn't protest and instead complies eagerly, hopping up onto the table and getting comfortable as our tongues duel passionately. She parts her legs slightly, allowing me to slip between them and pull her closer. She lets out a little moan as our lower bodies come into contact with each other, which in turn causes a spike of arousal to shoot through me and I am powerless to stop the reaction that I have to her. She makes a strangled sound into my mouth as I harden against her and deepens the kiss.
Somewhere in the back of my mind, I realise that what we're doing is reckless and stupid, but I just can't stop; and it appears neither can she. As her slender fingers walk their way down over my chest, grazing my nipples on the way, I push all thoughts of the last ten years and the guy she obviously came here with to one side and lose myself in the feel of her. It's my turn to groan as she snakes her hands round my waist, grazing my butt briefly before slipping them beneath my cotton shirt. I almost jump as her fingers trace small circles on my lower back before moving upwards and round to my stomach.
"Oh, God…Max…" she whispers against my mouth and it is then that I realise that one of my hands has wandered up to cup her breast, whilst the other has left her waist and is gently massaging her thigh.
She moves to unbutton my shirt and I take the opportunity to snake my hand beneath the hem of her skirt. I almost explode right there and then as my palm comes into contact with the silky-soft skin of her thigh and my other hand unconsciously begins to massage her breast. As she pulls my shirt open and slips it over my shoulders, I let my fingers dance across her warm skin. I suck in a breath, ripping my mouth from hers as I encounter lace panties – a thong, in fact – and my eyes fly open when I realise that she's already wet. Eager to see more of her, I reach for the straps of her top with my free hand and slip them down her arms, one by one. The loose top falls to her stomach, exposing a lacy strapless bra. God, she's even more beautiful than I remember.
"You're gorgeous," I murmur softly as I reach behind her to unclasp her bra (no mean feat with just one hand, I can tell you) and place it on the table
"You too," she replies with a small smile, her hands roaming my chest as her lips begin to suckle on my neck.
"It's been too long," I mutter next, "I want you so bad."
"God, yes," she cries as I emphasise my point by stroking her clit with my fingers. "I want you, too."
That's all it takes for my control to snap. I remove my hands from her body and quickly unfasten my pants, shoving both them and my boxers down over my hips, freeing my already painfully hard erection from its confines. Liz lets out a small whimper when my hands then slide up her legs once more and I lift her hips to ease her panties down. The second she's free of them, I pull her to me, holding her as close as possible and we let out simultaneous gasps as she wraps her legs around me and our lower bodies touch – hot skin against hot skin. I move my hips slightly and close my eyes at the feel of her slick, wet folds sliding against my hardness. Unable wait any longer, I position myself at her entrance and slide into her.
God, it's like coming home. As her heat engulfs me, her inner walls stretching to accommodate my length, my only rational thought is that this is what has been missing from my life for the last decade. A gasp escapes from her beautiful lips as I begin to stroke in and out of her welcoming body. My eyes close involuntarily as I bury my face in her neck, pressing kisses to the sensitive skin behind her ear and inhaling the scent of her heady perfume, mixed with her own unique, intoxicating aroma. My unbuttoned shirt is still pushed halfway down my arms, so I am unable to do much except hold her close to me, my hands roaming her lower back; but I shudder when Liz is more adventurous and slides her hands up my arms, over my shoulders and then buries her fingers in my hair.
Her hips begin to move against me, mimicking my thrusts into her tight heat and my movements become frantic. We're both breathing heavily and are helpless to stop the moans of pleasure erupting from our lips. I feel my release rapidly approaching and I still know her body well enough to recognise when she's close too. I lift my head from her neck to see her. Her eyes are still closed, so I lean forward to whisper in her ear.
"Look at me, Liz," I command softly.
Her eyes slowly flutter open and then I'm staring into the dark depths I thought I'd never see again.
"I want to see your face when you come," I murmur. She shivers at my words, but her eyes darken in response to my request. Our gazes lock completely as our movements escalate until neither one of us can hold out any longer. Liz's mouth falls open in a cry of pleasure and I feel her walls tighten around me repeatedly. The sight of her in the throes of passion is enough to send me flying over the edge. Her name spills from my mouth as I erupt inside of her, and I kept my gaze fixed on her.
"Oh my God, oh my God, oh my God," she cries as the simultaneous climaxes continue to wash over us, whilst my brain is stuck on just that one word: Liz. I gasp her name over and over until I can't even think anymore.
I hold her to me as the intense pleasure begins to subside. Once I can finally breathe properly again, I pull out of her, remove my hands from her waist and shrug my shirt back on again, before reaching up and smoothing her hair back from her face. Her eyes are closed once more, her lips parted slightly and I can't resist leaning down for one more kiss.
"Max…" she sighs into my mouth.
A small smile tugs at my lips. "Liz," I return.
She pulls away suddenly, moving back to look at me, "Max, what –?"
"You're forgiven," I interrupt softly. "I'm still just a little bit angry over the whole situation, but I do forgive you, Liz."
"Thank you, that means so much to me" she smiles gratefully, but then seems to realise our current half-naked position. "Oh, um…" she says uncomfortably, but then gives a low chuckle. "Oh God, I can't believe I just did this. With you. And at the reunion too!"
I smile too; it's just like old times – we can't even be alone in a room together without having sex! Barely a second later, an awful thought occurs to me and my face falls.
"Shit, Liz, we didn't use anything."
Her reaction is completely unexpected – she giggles. "It's okay, Max; I'm on the pill."
"Oh, thank God," I sigh in relief and watch as Liz reaches for her bra and starts getting dressed again. A quick glance down reminds me that I'm not exactly decent either and I hastily tuck myself in and zip up my pants. I step away from her so that she can fix the rest of her clothes.
"So, um," she starts hesitantly, a couple of minutes later. "What have you been up to the last ten years?"
I fight a smile at the sudden change in atmosphere between us.
"Not much, really. I attended Northwestern, as you know, and graduated with honours. I majored in Business Management with a minor in French. It took me a few years, but now I run my own company in Denver, Colorado."
"Wow, congratulations, Max. I always knew there was more to you than playing football."
I chuckle, "Damn right. So, uh, what about you?"
"Me? Well, I majored in Biology at UCLA, got a Masters in Microbiology from the University of Arizona and I completed my PhD last summer back in California. Right now, I'm working for a biomedical research lab in LA."
"Wow," I exhale. She's achieved so much; I guess UCLA was the best choice for her after all.
"Yeah," she grins.
As much as I've been trying not to, I have to ask the question that's been on the tip of my tongue since I first saw her in the gym earlier, "So, um…that guy you were with earlier…?"
She raises an eyebrow. "Drew? What about him?"
"Well, uh, is he…? I mean are you two…?"
Her mouth forms an 'oh' of realisation, "You mean, is he my other half?"
"Yeah…" I mutter sheepishly, unable to look her in the eye.
"No, no he's not, Max," she says. "He's just a very good friend."
Thank God (for about the millionth time today).
"And you wanna know why I have no intention of hooking up with him?" she continues, jumping off the table and sauntering over to me. She rises up on tiptoe and murmurs, "He's gay."
"Oh," I mutter, slightly embarrassed that I thought they were together.
"What about you, Max? Is there someone in your life?" she asks as she reaches for my shirt and begins buttoning it up for me.
"Uh, no," I manage, trying not to think about her hands being so close to me. "No one special."
She nods but says nothing else. Finishing with my shirt, she steps back and we stand in somewhat awkward silence, until I finally pluck up the courage to voice my thoughts.
"Do you think maybe we could try again? You know, like a fresh start," I ask hopefully. "I've really missed you all this time and if I'm totally honest, there's no one else in the world that makes me feel the way I do when I'm with you."
"Max," she murmurs, her eyes moist. "I've missed you too. So much."
"So, is there still a chance for us?"
She nods, a slight movement, "I think so." I smile in relief. "But, let's just take it slow, okay? I don't want to rush into anything."
"Okay," I grin. "I can do slow."
I pull her into my arms, placing a chaste kiss on her nose, before an alarming thought occurs to me.
"Wait a minute; you mean slow in the relationship sense, right? 'Cos I don't think I'm capable of going slow in the sex department – especially when I'm with you."
"Yes, I mean the relationship stuff," she smiles.
We remain in our embrace for several minutes, until I realise exactly how long we've been in here.
"Hey, what do you say we make ourselves decent and go join the party again?" I ask as I tuck a loos strand of her hair behind her ear.
"I say that sounds good."
I release her and we straighten our clothes, making sure we're both presentable, although I bet everyone's gonna know what we've been up to anyway. We sneak out of the Eraser room, and then join hands as we walk towards the gym. Quite a few people stare at us as we enter through the doors together, but I don't care. Instead, I notice that there are several couples out on the dance floor, so I turn to Liz and hold out my hand.
"You wanna dance?"
"Sure," she smiles, slipping her hand in mine.
I lead her to the dance floor and slide my arms around her. She wraps her arms around my neck and we begin swaying to the music. We dance in silence for a few minutes, just enjoying each other's company, but then I make the mistake of looking down into her eyes and I can't keep my feelings inside a moment longer.
"I love you, Liz Parker… I still love you," I murmur softly.
If she's surprised by my confession, she doesn't show it. Instead, she slides her fingers through my hair and gazes up at me intently.
"I love you, too, Max Evans."
With an elated smile, I spin her around before leaning down to kiss her lips softly. Eventually, we pull apart and just stare at each other happily, until Liz grins and breaks the silence.
"By the way, I love the hair."