Title: The Yule Log
Disclaimer: The characters of "Roswell" belong to Jason Katims, Melinda Metz, WB, and UPN. They are not mine and no infringement is intended.
Summary: What happens when an up-and-coming Hollywood star is invited to spend Christmas with his Mom's best friend in Britain… and her twenty-something daughter?
Max Evans let out an almost inaudible sigh as he plastered a winning smile on his face and tried not to roll his eyes. The cameras flashed ferociously, their bright glares virtually blinding him, and the air was filled with excited shouts and eager questions. Max bobbed his dark head of hair in response to the calls of his name and he was careful not to let the frustration and boredom show on his face as he gently escorted the exquisite woman on his arm – his date for the evening – down the red carpet, perfectly illuminated by the soft LA sunshine, and towards the theatre.
Once inside and away from prying eyes… and camera lenses… he exhaled in relief and dropped his hand from his Anna's back. She smiled up at him with an adoring gaze, before politely excusing herself to the bathroom. Max raised an eyebrow in appreciation as his eyes followed her silk-covered backside until she disappeared around the corner. He really was not a big fan of these premieres and big red carpet events, but having a gorgeous auburn-haired beauty by his side all night made the whole evening slightly more bearable.
Not that he didn't like his chosen profession; no, in all honesty, he loved what he did for a living. As one of Hollywood's most promising up-and-coming actors, what wasn't to like? But one of the major downsides of the job was all this public eye stuff: the red carpet, the publicity stunts, the photo shoots and interviews; it was all just a bit too much for him and some days he wished he could just go to work in the morning, come home at the end of the day and live a relatively private, undisturbed life. But, hey, this was Hollywood; normal lives just didn't exist here.
"Hey," murmured a sultry voice from his side a few moments later. Anna had returned from the bathroom. "Shall we go in?"
"Sure," he smiled down into her sparkling green eyes, as he slipped his arm back around her waist and escorted her into the movie screen to take their seats. The movie being premiered tonight wasn't one of his own, but that of his close friend, Isabel Ramirez. It was the year's big Christmas rom-com, being released just in time for the Christmas season, and although Max's schedule was currently very busy, he had promised Isabel that he would attend the premiere of the film that she believed would finally put her on the map.
"We still on for dinner later?" whispered Anna suggestively, brushing his hand with hers, as the lights lowered and the credits began to roll.
"Of course," Max returned softly, his lips curling up in a small grin, "And possibly 'coffee' at mine afterwards?"
"You know it," she grinned, linking her fingers with his and squeezing lightly.
Max held her gaze for a moment, his eyes smiling down at her, before turning back to face the screen, as the opening scenes began.
"Bloody hell, it's freezing out there!" exclaimed Liz Parker, as she slid into the seat opposite her best friend, Maria Deluca, in the small, cosy coffee shop next door to the Central London office building she worked in.
"Tell me about it," Maria made a face in agreement, "and it's so depressing 'cause there's not even a chance of snow, just rain, rain and more rain."
"Don't you just love this country?" smirked Liz, with a roll of her eyes, as she pulled out her purse and prepared to go buy a nice hot drink. "I'll be right back."
She made her way to the counter and ordered a coffee and two mince pies, making polite small talk with the good-looking bloke working there while she waited for the order to be filled.
"Here you go," Liz smiled, as she placed one of the mince pies down in front of Maria and then took her seat once more.
"Ooh, mince pies!" exclaimed her best friend, before eagerly tucking in. "Thanks, hon."
Liz just shook her head in amusement, as she took a sip of coffee.
"So, you off home for Christmas this year?" wondered Maria a few seconds later, when she'd swallowed her mouthful.
"Yeah," replied Liz. "Mum's already enlisted me to make the Yule Log again and Dad's been on at me to come and visit for weeks."
Ever since Liz had moved to London from her family home in South Gloucestershire ten months ago to start a job as a writer for a science magazine after graduating from university with a degree in Biological Sciences, she'd barely had the time to go home and visit. At twenty-three, she was enjoying the big city life and freedom of being a single twenty-something so much that it had barely registered that she had hardly seen her parents in all that time. However, now that Christmas was just a few days away, it was definitely time to make a trip back home.
"What about you?" she asked Maria then. "Are you and Michael still planning on spending the holidays in Ibiza this year?"
"I bloody well hope so!" she exclaimed, rolling her eyes. "Michael keeps changing his mind about whether he wants to go, but there is no way I am spending my Christmas in this crappy weather when I could be relaxing on the beach on a Spanish island."
Liz had met Maria DeLuca on her first day of work back in February. She'd got lost on the tube on her way to work and as a result had been fifteen minutes late for her induction meeting. She'd bumped into Maria, who had been exiting Angelo's, the very coffee place they were sitting in now, as she rushed past. In her haste, she'd almost knocked over the small blonde, but despite the circumstances, they'd hit it off, had swapped mobile numbers right away and began meeting for lunch on a daily basis.
Maria was a twenty-four-year-old aspiring singer who moonlighted as a secretary for a law firm during daylight hours. She lived with her boyfriend, Michael Guerin, an American student who had moved to London two years ago to gain a degree in Fine Art from London's University of the Arts, one of the top art schools in the country, in a small one-bedroom flat in Soho. He and Maria had met one night at the club she occasionally sang at on open mic night, and although their relationship had not got off to a great start (they were at each other's throats within minutes after meeting), they had a chemistry neither could deny and soon the hatred between them became something much more.
"Mike's being an arse again, huh?" asked Liz, sympathetically.
"That's a mild word for it," grumped Maria. "He's being a total bastard! He thinks that just because he's a bloke, he can order me around and make all my decisions for me. Well, I'll show him; he's going to Ibiza whether he likes it or not!"
Liz had to suppress a smirk at Maria's determined expression. Of course Michael would eventually agree to go away with her; he might have a hard time admitting it, but Liz knew that ultimately, he would do anything to make Maria happy.
She sighed into her coffee as she felt a twinge of loneliness in her chest. Why couldn't she find someone who loved her as much as Michael loved Maria?
Max was woken from his peaceful slumber by the blaring of his cell phone ring tone. At first, he was tempted to ignore it, but the unfortunate truth was that his mom was on the other end of the line and if he didn't pick up right now, she would just keep calling until he did. Careful not to disturb Anna, who was sleeping serenely beside him, one arm draped across his stomach, he manoeuvred his upper body sideways and reached for the phone.
"Hey, Mom," he muttered sleepily. "S'up?"
"Morning, honey," chirped Diane Evans, "How was the premiere last night?"
"It was good," he told her, glancing down at Anna's naked form with a soft smile. "I think this movie could be Isabel's big break."
"That's great, honey," congratulated Diane, before clearing her throat and continuing with the purpose of her call. "Look, I know you don't like me calling you so early, but I needed to talk to you about something."
"Okay, um," Max glanced down at the woman beside him, "hang on a sec."
Trying his best not to wake her, he slid out of the bed, cradling the phone between his ear and shoulder as he pulled on a pair of sweats and then padded out of the room and into his study.
"Okay, mom, what's up?" he asked, when he was settled on one of the couches.
"Do you remember my old friend Nancy Parker?" began Diane.
"Um," Max racked his brains, "the British woman who used to live opposite us, right?"
What did a woman who moved away over 20 years ago have to do with why his mom was calling him at nine a.m. on a Sunday morning?
"Yeah, that's her," clarified Diane, a smile in her voice. "Well, I don't know if you know, but we've kept in contact all these years. Anyway, she called me yesterday and we got to talking."
"Yeah?" he said, wondering where this was going.
"Max, what date do you start your new film in England?" she asked then, taking him aback with the sudden change in topic.
"Um, not 'til January 4th," replied Max, "but I need to head out there before Christmas for some meetings with my UK agent."
"That's what I thought," stated Diane triumphantly. "So, you'll be all on your own out there for Christmas?"
"Yeah, that's the plan right now. I don't have time to fly back here in between meetings and filming."
"Oh, I know, honey – you and your busy life!" she exclaimed, pausing for a moment before continuing, "Well, listen, I happened to mention your upcoming UK trip to Nancy yesterday and she came up with the perfect solution."
Solution to what, exactly, wondered Max.
"She and Jeff have invited you to stay with them in South Gloucestershire over Christmas and New Year," she finally told him.
"They have?" questioned Max. "But… I mean, it's very kind of them and all, but I barely know them – I haven't even seen them since I was four. It's just a little bit out of the blue, don't you think?"
"Not at all, honey. Nancy Parker is one of my oldest and dearest friends. It's not like you'd be staying with strangers."
"But, Mom, are you sure? I mean, I can easily just stay in a hotel or something," he protested. "It's not a big deal."
"I'm not having my only son spending Christmas on his own in a hotel room!" cried Diane indignantly. "And Nancy says she'd love to see you again."
"Okay, okay, I get the point," chuckled Max, raising his eyes as a sleep-mussed Anna appeared in the doorway clad only in the white button-down shirt he'd worn to the premiere last night. He smiled up at her as she crossed the room and came to a stop in front of the couch. "Alright, tell Nancy I'd love to stay with her. I'll be free from the 23rd."
Anna took a seat next to him on the sofa, tucking her legs beneath her and Max raised his arm to allow her to settle against him.
"Great, well that's all sorted then," Diane replied happily. "I'll call Nancy this morning and give her the good news."
"Okay, great. Thanks, Mo-om," he faltered, as Anna began trailing her fingertips teasingly across his stomach, dangerously close to the waistband of his sweats.
"Well, I'd better not disturb your morning any longer. I'll call you later, okay?"
"Alright, Mom. Talk to you soon," he said goodbye and hung up, giving Anna a smile as he placed the phone down on the arm of the couch.
"Morning to you too," she murmured softly.
"Sleep well?" asked Max, smoothing his hand gently up and down her arm.
"Like a log," she smiled. "Although we didn't exactly spend much of the night asleep, did we?"
"No, I guess not," he smirked.
"So, that was your mom, huh?"
"Yeah," Max rolled his eyes. "Mom and her great timing. She's been talking to an old friend of hers in the UK who's invited me to stay with them for Christmas."
"Oh, that's right, you're leaving for London in a few days," nodded Anna.
"Yeah, I am. Two weeks of meetings and then three months of filming."
She pouted, "Aw, I'm gonna miss you."
"Yeah, okay," he chuckled. "We only see each other a couple of times a month. And don't think I don't know about all the other dates you go on the rest of the time. I don't think things will be all that bad without me."
He and Anna had been friends since Max had moved from his hometown of Roswell, New Mexico to LA six years ago in pursuit of an acting career. Anna Davies had been in the process of moving out of her apartment building on the same day that Max moved into his on the other side of the street. Seeing her struggling with a heavy box, he'd made his way over to her and had offered a helping hand. They'd both been attracted to each other at first, but after a few failed attempts at dating and a relationship, they'd decided to remain friends… albeit friends with a few extra benefits. Of course, it hadn't always been that way. At first, they really were 'just friends' but one night they'd been commiserating over failed relationships and feeling lonely, one thing had led to another and they'd turned to each other for comfort. After that night, they'd still stayed friends only, but had a mutual agreement that they would get together every now and then.
"Ooh, harsh," joked Anna. "You sound like you're not even gonna miss me."
"Of course I'll miss you," retorted Max, squeezing her shoulder lightly. "But you know, there isn't much time left before I leave, so how 'bout we make the most of it right now, huh?"
Anna shrugged, a mischievous smile creeping across her lips, as she stood up and held out a hand to him in invitation. "Sure, why not?"