Disclaimer: No copyright infringement intended! All characters and related rights belong to CBS and Highschool Sweethearts Productions. Just a fangirl having fun!
based on the song by Michael Buble'
*Sequel to 'Someone Like You.' After 8 years apart, Fan and Max finally found each other again. But now, free to be together, their love is put to the test. Can their relationship survive through it all? Rated R*
Michael Buble'- Crazy Love (2012)
Hold on to me tight
Hold on to me tonight
We are stronger here together
Than we could ever be alone.
So hold onto me,
Don't you ever let me go.
There's a thousand ways for things to fall apart
But it's no one's fault
Even though it's hard to see
I've got faith in us
I believe in you and me.
(AUTHOR NOTES: It's important you read the prequel to this story. It's called Someone Like You. You really will not understand this story unless you read the first one in it's entirety. You will not be disappointed, I assure you. Thank You for reading)
He had been on his knees before her, begging her. She had never seen that look in his eyes before.
Max: I have never felt the way I have when I'm with you. This is more complicated than just telling you to marry me right now. I don't know how this will work yet but we will make it work. Be with me.
She had refused him, her morals getting the best of her. He was leaving his wife, a woman who was just as pure as Sarah, to be with her in a long-distance relationship. It was more than an affair but marriage wasn't an option, not now anyway. But after the talk with Cheryl, Fran knew she couldn't let him go. Not again.
She surprised him at his hotel room soaking wet.
Fran: I was with Matthew because I thought he was someone like you. When I realized he wasn't, I left. You told me that no one could be a substitute for me. I tried to see other men as a substitute for you. I was wrong. I don't want someone like you. I want you. Just you.
Taking a satisfied breath for herself she continued with three more words.
Fran: I love you.
Fran stood in front of Toddy's latest design daydreaming of the moment she and Max declared their love to each other and became official. She felt a tap on her back which prompted her to turn around. She came face to face with her cousin as he held her cell phone out to her.
Toddy: You're phone's buzzing.
She took her phone and saw an incoming text from Max. She giggled as she made her way to her desk.
Toddy: What's so funny?
Fran: Maxwell sent me a picture of a building whose address is the numbers of the date that we first met - 11393. And he says we should buy it.
Toddy watched her smile slowly disappear as she stared at the text.
Toddy: You miss him, huh?
Fran: More and more every day.
Toddy: How long has he been gone this time?
Fran: 2 weeks.
Vicki walked by them smiling at Fran, giving her a "so what" expression.
Fran: I know, I know. But, he hasn't been gone this long from me since we got together three months ago. Our longest has been a week.
Vicki: Well when his show starts taping, he'll be back here months at a time.
Fran: I know.
Toddy: When do they start taping?
Fran: He's waiting for the rating numbers from when they aired the Pilot. He won't know anything until then.
Vicki: When does he get back in town?
Fran: He's still helping his partner with a deal in New York plus he's got his divorce hearings still going on. He should be back by early next week I think. Ok, come on guys. I don't wanna think about this anymore.
Fran got up ready to get back to work. The day would go by much faster if she didn't spend it all by thinking of Max not being here.
That night, Fran walked from her bedroom across the livingroom in a black cocktail dress as she put on her other earring. Suddenly, she stopped. She felt a stir in her stomach which then rushed up. Then hot flash cascaded her. She put her hand to her mouth and ran to the bathroom. She held her hair back as she threw up for the second time today. Collecting herself, she brushed her teeth again as she stared at her paling image.
Walking back across the livingroom, she grabbed her purse from the kitchen counter just as her cell phone inside rang.
Fran: I'm coming.
Fran made her way to the front door and grabbed her coat.
Fran: Toddy, I'm serious. I'm walking to my door now. I'm not going to be late.
She opened the door as Maxwell stood there his hand in mid-knock.
Fran: I'm on my way.
Fran gasped shocked and shut her phone, dropping it into her purse.
Max: Going somewhere?
Fran took a step back into her apartment and eyed him with want.
Max took two steps to her. He grabbed her under her legs and picked her up roughly, her legs around his waist, making them both moan. Behind him, she swung the door shut before he walked them towards her bedroom.
By the time they got to the bed, Fran already had Maxwell's shit unbottoned pants undone. Setting her down, she lowered even more sliding his pants down with her. He kicked his shoes and socks off and stepped out of his pants. Standing back up she tooks his shirt off and tossed it behind her, a hungry look in her eyes. Only in his boxers now, he went to grab her but she plopped him in a sitting position on the bed. She kneeled on the carpet between his legs and seductively slid his boxers down his legs. She reached up and gave him a passionate kiss before she lowered herself again. He wasn't ready for the feeling that came over him when she took him into her mouth. He knew there was no stopping her so he just relaxed and enjoyed as she drove him crazy with desire. Max felt himself as hard as he could be as she continued her assaults. He rested his hand in her silky hair and looked down at her. He still couldn't believe this woman was his.
Fran started sucking harder and faster as her hand stroked the lower shaft. He heard his own groan as his body became tense and heated up. He squeezed his hand on her head to let her know what she was doing to him. She had to stop. Reading his thoughts, she stood up and sat on him straddling him. He smiled as his hand unzipped the back of her dress.
Max: Missed me, huh?
Fran gently thrust her his against his arousal as she playfully bit his lower lip.
Fran: Did you miss me?
Without warning, her back hit the mattress. He was hovering over her kissing her as his hands pulled the dress from her body. When he got it off he noticed she wasn't wearing a bra or panties. She smiled when he looked down at her a little surprised.
Max: Being naughty tonight, are we?
Fran: That dress is pretty tight. It doesn't work well with anything else.
Max: Good. Easy access.
Fran: Only for you, darling.
He didn't answer. Instead, he took her right leg and swung it over him so he was now between her. Fran couldn't look. She didn't have the strength to lean up. All her muscles were already wax from the pleasure. She felt each little lick, nip and kiss on her legs from his mouth as it traveled upwards. Just feeling that made her want to quiver and scream. She could never get enough of him. Everytime was different with this man.
She immediately whimpered loudly feelting his hot mouth and velvet tongue against her. She gasped and restelessly gripped the comforter with her hands as a shock went through her system.
Max wrapped his arms around her leg's locking them as he sucked and pushed at her harder. Her whimpers couldn't be muffled now as her muscles started contracting, building up an intoxicating climax within.
He stopped and straddled her ready to take her but with all her strength she pushed against his chest rolling him over onto his back. She looped her leg over his hips, straddling him again. Kissing him passionately she positioned herself above him. Her rythm was slow and steady. Max rest his hands on her thighs as he watched her above him. God damn she is sexy, he thought to himself. Everything about her was sexy and most of the time she didn't even know it.
He studied each of her movements from her thighs to her hips, and her stomach up to her breasts, her facial expressions and the way her hair moved across her skin. His breathing became heavy as he reached up and caressed her breasts. She whimpered and put her hands on his shoulders and started faster and faster. His low groans and her soft whimpers were the only sound in the room. He put his hands on her hips and helped her increase the speed even more. This move made her cry out with pleasure as the intense build up became torture.
He moaned pleasurably watching her. She put her hands flat on the bed next to his head to balance herself as they moved in a fast pace together. He thought he was going to die as her inner muscles pulled at him hard all around. She gave out a few whimpers then a loud cry as her body convulsed. He groaned loudly as he released and lost his hands in her soft hair.
A little later, Fran gently caressed Max's head with her fingers as he laid upon her stomach, cuddling the sheets around her. The rain outside was soothing, a perfect way to relax after making love. She had just started to doze off when her cell phone buzzed. This was the second time he heard her phone since they had been laying there. Seeing she wasn't going to pick it up, he reached up over her and grabbed her cell from her purse thinking it might be one of the children.
Max: Uh, Darling.
Max: Did you know you have like a dozen missed calls, two dozen messages and a few voicemails?
Max: What's going on?
Fran: I was supposed to meet Toddy at an event tonight.
Max: Was it important?
Fran: Just an appearance. Nothing he can't handle without me. You're more important. You know what, let me call him back. He doesn't know you're here. He's probably worried.
He handed her the phone then got back in his earlier position. She dialed Toddy's number and immediately he answered.
Toddy: Fran?! Are you ok?
Fran: I'm wonderful.
She smiled contenly and looked down at Max.
She cringed at his angry yell and put the phone away from her ear as he yelled through the phone. Max lifted his head looking at her as he babbled on and on about how worried she had him and why didn't she come.
Toddy: What's happened?
Fran: Max happened.
Todd: What do you mean?
Before Fran could answer, Max put the phone to his ear.
Max: Hello, Todd.
Todd: Ohhhhh. So that's what you've been doing all this time, huh, Frannie? Well, as your cousin I say right on but as your boss it is so epically irrisponsible of you to...
Fran hung up the phone. Max looked at her his eyebrows raised.
Max: Now, that wasn't very nice. He's just going to call back.
Fran shut her phone off and tossed it on the other end of the bed.
Fran: Let him.
Max smiled and kissed her arm. Fran closed her eyes and sighed deeply as another rush of nausea rushed over her.
Max: What's wrong?
Fran: I think I have a stomach flu. I've been getting sick lately. I thought it was stress. And I thought maybe it would go away when you got here but...
Max: But what?
Fran almost cried when she said her next sentance.
Fran: Maybe I'm premenopausal.
Max laughed and sat up.
Fran: My period is wacko. Women can get menopause in their late 40's.
Max: I don't think your going through that. You could be getting sick from stress. You said this new line has had you crazy lately.
Fran: Probably is. All I need is a good nights sleep, too.
She cuddled back up to him.
Fran: I always sleep good in your arms.
He smiled and kissed her head.
A couple days later Fran stared at he reflection in her bathroom mirror. Her face looked pale and in shock. Slowly she looked back down at the stick she was holding. Two lines. It was right. She did see two lines the first time she looked at it. Closing her eyes she shook her head.
Two lines really did mean pregnant, right?
Fran picked up the box and read it. Yep. Two lines was definitely positive.
Fran: Oh, no.
After continuing to be sick two days since Max arrived back in LA, Fran decided to pick up a pregnancy test to rule it out. She thought it was the flu but she wasn't experiencing her usual cold or flu symptoms. And since she really didn't want to believe she was pre-menopausal she wanted to rule out one more thing. She didn't think the first test she would take would say positive but it did. That was last night. And now this morning she took a second test just to make sure and yep, this one said positive. The first thing she had to do...call her best friend.
Fran drove down Santa Monica Boulevard as she had her best friend on speaker.
Val: What are you doing?
Fran: Driving to meet Donna for lunch while Max is at the studio. What are you doing?
Val: Just sitting here with Fred. What's up?
Fran: Val, I've got to tell you something. You are gonna die.
Val: You're pregnant.
Fran bit her lip smiling. She knew Val was being sarcastic, as it was usually the first thing she joked about when Fran said she had something to tell her, but now it was true.
Val: So give, what do you gotta tell me?
Fran: That's it.
Fran: I'm pregnant.
Fran stopped at a red light as she heard silence on the other end of the phone.
Val: You're joking, right?
Fran: No. I'm serious, Val. I am really pregnant.
Val: Oh my God. Fran!
Fran: Quite a shocker, huh?
Val: How far along are you?
Fran: I'm not sure. I've missed my last two periods so I'm guessing like two months.
Val: When did you find out?
Fran: I took a test last night and it said positive. I took another test this morning to make sure and it was also positive.
Val: You must be so excited.
Fran: I am but I'm not.
Val: What do you mean?
Fran: Our relationship is so complicated right now. He lives in New York, I live here. We both have our own things going on. We're not even permanently living together. I just don't think it's the right time for us to be having a baby.
Val: Ok, I get all that. But, Fran...you are having a baby with Mr. Sheffield. Get that through your mind.
Fran: Got it.
Val: But I gotta ask, weren't you using protection?
Fran: Wha..ugh..we..once and a while.
She couldn't help but smile her cheeks getting red as her friend laughed.
Val: See. It's not like you weren't preventing it.
Fran: To tell you the truth, after years of being with Matthew and not getting pregnant, I thought maybe I couldn't get pregnant. But that part of my life has changed. I don't need to be married and have a family to be happy you know? But the situation right now bother's me a little bit. One of us is going to have to make a sacrifice, and I'm afraid it's going to be me and I'm not sure I'm ready for that.
Val: Have you told him about the baby?
Fran: Not yet. I wanted to take the second test to make sure before I told him. He's been working all day. I'm going to tell him later. And I made a doctor appointment for the day after tomorrow so I'll let you know how everything goes.
Val: Ok. And after you talk with Max, everything will be ok. I promise. This is a good thing. Be happy.
Fran: Thank you, sweetie. Talk to you soon.
Fran hung up and let out a breath. They can get through this, right?
Later that day, Fran drove to Culver City and into a parking spot outside one of the office buildings at CBS studios. She parked the car and sighed. She had been sitting on pins and needles since last night with this whole thing. And then after lunch with her friend Donna, they went shopping for Donna's new grandbaby and Fran found herself getting emotional while seeing all the baby stuff. And it was a happy emotional. She had to tell Max now. She couldn't wait. Right on cue with her thoughts, Max came strolling out of the building. Fran watched him take a moment to find her car then he strutted up to it. Opening the door, he got in and leaned over giving her a kiss.
Max: Hello, darling.
Fran: How was the meeting?
Max: Went well. How was your day?
Fran: Pretty good.
After max secured his seatbelt, he noticed Fran was still sitting looking at him and the car was still in park.
Fran turned the car off and undid her seatbelt to turn more towards him. She put her hand on his.
Fran: I love you.
Max normally would have chuckled thinking she wanted to charm him for something like an expensive dinner, a new pair of shoes but right now her expression was completely serious.
Max: What's wrong? What happened?
Fran: Oh, honey, nothing like that. Listen...I have to tell you something. I didn't want to tell you now but I can't wait.
Max: That serious?
Fran: It's going to change both our lives.
Fran took a breath.
Fran: I'm pregnant.
He just stared at her with no expression totally motionless so she went on.
Fran: I wanted to rule out all possibilities why I have been feeling the way I have.
She watched as his eyes glanced down at her midsection before returning back to her face.
Fran: I took a test last night and it said positive and I took another one this morning and it also said positive.
She wasn't expecting what he did next. Instead of speaking, he reached over and kissed her fully on the lips. She let out a relieved sound against his lips as her hands went to the sides of his face.
Max: This wasn't what I was expecting when you said you had something to tell me.
Fran: I know. It was a surprise to me, too.
Max: Good surprise?
Fran shrugged her shoulders.
Fran: I want it to be. What do you think?
Max: Good. Very good.
Fran nodded and was very quiet as he studied her face.
Max: What are you thinking?
Fran: When I first found out all I did was think about our situation you know not being married or even living together and being in different states but then I saw baby clothes while shopping and...I was excited.
She smiled with a cry.
Fran: We're having a baby.
He gave her another kiss and rested his forhead against hers.
A couple days later, Fran's Gynecologist, Doctor Monica Sherry, examined Fran and set up for the first ultrasound.
Monica: Everything looks good, Fran. We're going to do the ultrasound now to see how far along you are and get the first pictures of your baby.
Monica: Now this gel will be a little cold.
She squeezed the gel onto Fran's stomach and with the device scrolled over her stomach until she paused at a spot. Fran stared at the monitor trying to make out any signs of her baby.
Monica: There we are. See that little bean right there.
She pointed to the peanut shape in a dark fluid.
Monica: That is your baby.
Fran felt shock and happiness and every emotion in between go through her.
Monica smiled at Fran before turning her attention back to the monitor.
Fran: So, I'm definitely pregnant.
Monica: Yes, you are.
Fran: Here I thought I was getting a little belly, throwing up, and missing my periods because of stress or pre-menopause.
Monica: Nope. Definitely pregnant. See the movement there in the fluid, that is the heartbeat.
She did a switch and the sound that came over Fran made her insides jump for joy. The first sound of her baby's heartbeat was the most precious thing she had ever heard.
Monica: Looks like everything is good, Fran.
Fran: How far along am I?
Monica: 13 weeks.
Fran did a little count in her head which then had her surprised.
Fran: 13 weeks? That's a little over three months.
Fran: No, that's got to be wrong. I should only be like two months pregnant.
Monica: Nope, three months.
Fran: But, I've only missed two periods.
Monica: Women can still have signs of a period when they're pregnant, especially the first month.
Fran's face dropped. 3 months?
Fran: Are you absolutely, 100% sure it is 3 months?
If she was three months then...Oh my God.
Monica: Is something wrong?
Monica: We're going to take a picture. Then I'll prescribe you the pre-natal vitamins which you need to start taking right away. Because of your age, it is important you get enough rest and relaxation. Eat healthy. And try not to get stressed. The first trimester is vital to that especially with women over 40.
Normally, Fran would be offended. Yes, she was over 40 now, 44 to be exact, but it was the last thing on her mind. She needed to get out of there as soon as possible.
Driving home in a daze, Fran tried to keep it together as she replayed everything over in her mind. 13 weeks. That was 3 months and 1 week. At the end of her appointment, the Doctor said her due date was March 4th. That is 9 months. How could she be that far along? If that was true then the baby wasn't Maxwell's. Feeling her body start to convulse, followed by tears swelling up, Fran pulled over. The minute she did, she put her face in her hands and sobbed.
Later, Max practically rushed into the apartment where Fran sat at the kitchen table going over bills which she had hoped would distract her mind but all she ended up doing was punching the same numbers into the calculator over and over. He set his briefcase down and walked over to her giving her a kiss on the cheek.
Max: I'm so sorry I couldn't go with you, Darling. How did it go?
Fran: Well, I'm definitely pregnant.
Max: How far along are you?
Fran kept her back turned to him as she pretended to play with something in her purse. She didn't want to see the look on his face.
Fran: 13 weeks.
Max let out a chuckle but then she heard silence.
Max: I think you're mistaken, darling. That's over 3 months.
He watched her back as she just nodded.
Max: How can you be 3 months along? We haven't been together that long.
She stayed quiet but she couldn't help the quick sob that escaped her throat. His arms dropped to his side helplessly.
Finally, she turned around but didn't quite meet his gaze as she looked down.
Fran: I am 3 months, Maxwell.
She let out a sign before she looked up at him, her hands braced on the counter behind her.
Max: What are you saying?
Fran looked away from him again, tears swelling up. She never thought she would be saying these three words, especially to Maxwell Sheffield.
Fran: The baby isn't yours.
She quickly wiped away tears that fell from her eyes trying to stay strong.
Max: Whose is it?
She heard a bit of a angry tone to his voice.
Fran: My ex, Matthew.
Max ran his hand through his hair trying to process this all. Yes, her pregnancy was a surprise. He had agreed with her that it wasn't the best time but he was still happy. He thought they made that baby together, out of love. They were in-love. But now she stood there and said it wasn't his. That couldn't be true.
Max motioned to the lower half of her body hoping he heard right, still trying to wrap his mind around it.
Max: You're...you're pregnant with another man's baby?
He stared into her eyes a good few seconds before he sat down in shock. Fran was shocked herself when he put his head in his hands and let out a sob. Immediately she rushed to him for comfort, fresh tears forming.
Fran: Just remember, I didn't cheat on you. It happened before you and I got together.
Fran knew that what she was saying didn't matter at the moment but she needed to justify the situation; yet, she knew it wouldn't change her condition.
Max: I need some time alone.
Max quickly got up and left. He didn't want her to see him like that. True, it wasn't like she cheated on him and got pregnant with someone else's child and he still loved her but she was pregnant with another man's baby and they couldn't change that.
It was after ten o'clock when Fran heard the door open. She sat on her balcony, in a robe, her eyes stained with mascara as she stared at the Los Angeles lights twinkling in the dark sky. Max stood motionless in the middle of the livingroom before he turned his head her way. Taking a breath he walked out and sat on the chair beside her.
Max: Sorry I was gone so long. I didn't mean to leave you alone but I had to think.
Fran: That's ok.
Max: Can I ask you something?
Max: With your ex...how did it happen?
Fran didn't hesitate a bit before she answered him.
Fran: We were at the same party. It was a Kathy Hilton benefit that Toddy was invited to and he brought me as his date. Matthew and I were at the same table and we talked for a long time. And we danced. And we had been drinking. And it just happened. It meant nothing though.
She watched as he stared at the Hollywood sign in the distance.
Max: You're not the type of women for it not to mean anything.
Fran: It wasn't like it was a one-night stand, Max. You know our history. We were together for years. It was friendly and it was comfortable. And we just got lost in the moment, in our past. But we both knew it didn't mean anything because we didn't work out as a couple. So we said the usual, "It was fun, I had a great time, have a good life, and goodbye."
Max: Are you going to tell him?
Fran sighed wondering why he even asked her that.
Fran: Of course I am. It's his child. I have to.
She saw hurt again creep onto his face.
Fran: Let me ask you something. If it was the other way around, if I was with Matthew but I got pregnant with your baby, wouldn't you want to know about it?
Max: Yes. You're right.
Fran: It won't change you and me, will it?
Max looked up and saw fear in her eyes which snapped him right out of his insecurities with the situation. He immediately grabbed her hands in his.
Max: Absolutely not. I have my own children and pretty soon you'll have your own. We'll make it work. I will love the child like it's my own and I will respect your custody situation with Matthew when the time comes.
Fran: Thank you.
He reached over and gave her a kiss.
The next afternoon, Fran sat in bed taking notes and going over new sketches that Toddy wanted her opinion on. She felt so content and probably the most relaxed she had been in months. She was still in her pajamas with her hair pinned up and her reading glasses on. De-caffeinated tea sat next to her on her bedstand as soft jazz playing through the radio speakers.
She heard the door shut before she heard Maxwell's voice call for her.
Fran: Yeah? I'm in here, honey.
When he walked in, she looked up and smiled greeting him. But, she saw the look on his face and it worried her. Pushing the drawings to the side, she sat up straight and took her glasses off.
Fran: What's wrong?
She watched as he walked around the bed to the other side in silence.
Fran: Is it one of the kids?
Max: No, they're fine.
Fran: Then what is it?
He took her hand in his before he sighed.
Max: It's the show.
Max: The Pilot didn't pass the rating scores. The studio decided not to pick it up.
Fran: Oh, honey, I'm so sorry. You worked so hard on it. Well, you know, good riddens on them then. There will be other shows, I'm sure of it. You're a fighter.
Max: Fran, you don't understand, this means I have to go back to New York. I'm going to work on the show there that CC has been working on without me. And we have a line up of projects after that in case this didn't work out.
Fran kneaded her eye brows and looked at him dazed.
Fran: This means we're right back where we started? I mean, a couple weeks apart I can deal with but not months and months at a time. And especially now. I'm going to need you!
Max: Fran, I want you to come back to New York with me.
Fran: Oh, Maxwell I...
Max: This isn't like before. I'm not living with Cheryl anymore and you won't just be my "mistress" as you once put it. I'll be divorced soon. Why won't you just move back to New York?
Fran: My life is here now and has been for years. Plus you know how much my work means to me. I can't just pack up and leave.
Max: And you know how much my work means to me. My whole business is there. My theater. My company. My children. I can't just pack up and leave either.
He watched as she got out of bed and turned her back to him, crossing her arms, trying to hold off the tears.
Max: Darling, you know I would move mountains for you but it's not that simple.
Fran: I do not want a long-distance relationship with you, Maxwell. At least not longer than it has been already. Flying back and forth takes money and time and energy. Money may not be an issue for you but our time is limited and in my condition, I won't be able to fly back and forth.
Max: Fran, just think about moving back to New York with me. You must miss it. You'll be closer to the children. To your parents. The comfort and love will be there when you have your baby. You'll be surrounded by family.
Fran: I do miss it. And I do miss my family and the children but...
Max: No buts.
Fran was quiet for a few moments before she sighed.
Fran: I started from scratch; money, work, my apartment...
Max: We'll keep the apartment. It'll be a place to call home when you come back to visit and help with big events. And if I happen to create any projects back here, I'll have someplace to stay. And don't worry, I'll help with the finances.
Fran nodded agreeing. Having a concrete foundation like New York and her family during her pregnancy and the beginning of her child's life did seem wonderful, not to mention being back in the mansion, and Niles and closer to the children.
Fran smiled and nodded.
Fran: Let's do it.
Overjoyed, he walked over to her and embraced her.
Max: It'll all work out, I promise.
The next morning, Fran balanced her cell phone between her ear and shoulder and held the folder of sketches as walked into Toddys studio and waved at him as she walked over to her desk.
A familiar voice answered from the other end of the phone.
Fran: Hi, Matty.
Matthew: I'm surprised to hear from you.
Fran: Are you working?
Matthew: I'm getting ready for a photo shoot for the new promos.
Fran: I'm sorry. You can just call me later if you'd like.
Matthew: No, no. I have time. What's up?
Fran: I was wondering if you have anytime later today or tomorrow to meet up with me so we can talk?
Matthew: What's this about?
Fran: I can't discuss it over the phone.
Matthew: Frannie, are you ok? What's wrong?
Fran: I'm fine. There's no emergency but it is urgent.
Matthew: I have an hour between shoots this afternoon. Is one o'clock ok?
Fran: Perfect. I'm working at the studio so I'll take my lunch then. Where do you want to meet?
Matthew: I'm at Calahoun Studio so that's not too far from you. How about the Starbucks on the corner of Wilshire?
Fran: I'll be there.
And precisely at 1pm, Fran was there. She sat outside drinking their de-caffeinated green tea. She adjusted her sun glasses as she watched the business people, tourists and locals pass her by. Matthew came struting up the sidewalk. She smiled as she watched him approach her. He always had an amazing walk, a certain carisma about him that first attracted her to him.
He bent over and kissed her cheek before he sat down.
Fran: I got you your usual.
Matthew: Thank you.
He sighed and smiled as he looked at her.
Matthew: Seems like forever since I've seen you and it's only been a couple of months.
Fran: Three to be exact.
Matthew: Yeah. Not since Kathy Hilton's party.
Fran: That's exactly what we need to talk about.
He heard her tone change and his smile faded.
Matthew: What's going on?
Fran cleared her throat and took off her sunglasses.
Fran: That night after the party...when we slept together...
Matthew sat back anxious, not knowing where this was leading. Fran nervously tried to get the right words out. She knew she was squirming.
Fran: Ok, the thing is, we didn't use any protection that night.
Matthew: Yeah, I know. I can't remember when the last time we used protection.
Fran blotted her lips together and nodded raising an eyebrow.
Fran: Yeah, well, that night we should have.
She watched as his face turned from confusion to shock. He slightly gasped and looked down at her torso before he looked up at her face and she gave him a nod.
Matthew: Oh, Fran, that's incredible. We went years without it. We thought maybe you couldn't get pregnant.
Fran: Well, we were wrong.
Matthew: Are you sure it's mine?
Fran: Believe me, it's yours. I'm 3 months pregnant. I wasn't with anyone when we had sex.
Matthew leaned his elbows on the table and held his head down as he took it all in.
Matthew: Are you keeping it?
Fran: How can you ask me that? Of course I am. And listen, you can be as involved as you like or you don't have to be involved. It's your choice. I just need your opinion. I need to know what to do.
Matthew grabbed her hands.
Matthew: Honey, I'm going to be involved. I'm going to be there for this baby emotionally, physically, financially - you name it. You don't have to worry about that.
Fran: You should also know that I'm with someone.
Fran: Maxwell Sheffield.
Matthew: The producer? Your old boss?
Matthew let out a laugh and released her hands.
Matthew: Since when?
Fran: July. He came on business and the kids were with him. We reunited and we got together.
Matthew: You're shitting me. Isn't he married?
Fran: He's going through a divorce now.
Matthew: Because of you?
Fran: Look, it's a long story. We're trying to work this out.
Matthew: You're sure it's mine?
Fran: Yes. I've been through all of that. It's definitely yours.
Matthew: And you're not so thrilled about that, are you?
Fran: Matt, I'm not thrilled about this period. This isn't the right time for me to be having a baby whether it's his or yours. But it is happening, so be it. It's not going to change my love towards the baby.
Matthew: What does your boyfriend think?
Fran: He's disappointed but he just wants to protect me and help me. And he said he will support any decision you and I make.
Matthew: How is he going to help you when he's in New York?
Fran: Well, that's another thing. I'm moving to New York...atleast for the time being.
Matthew: Excuse me?
Fran: I need Max and my family during this time. I cannot work during the end of pregnany and the first few months after the baby is born so I decided to move back in with Max.
Fran: I'm not sure but probably in the next month or so. I'm keeping my apartment here for when I come back.
Matthew: So, I have to have a long-distance relationship with my child?
Fran simply nodded.
Fran: We can work that all out later. I just had a hard time choosing whether to stay here or go back to New York. Can we discuss arrangments bewteen you and I when the time comes?
Mattew: I guess I have no choice. But, we will be discussing this.
Fran: Listen, I've got to get back. Thank you for meeting me.
Matthew: I'll call you.
She gave him a hug and left as quickly as he came.
That night, Fran sat on her make up bench and in front of her mirror as she put a diamond earring in her ear. She heard Max call for her as she did the other.
Fran: I heard you the first time!
Max paced the floor in front of the door.
Max: Well, you're going to be late.
Fran: And now, the third time.
Max: And third time's a charm so get your touchas movin before your cousin beats it.
Fran: My touchas is moving.
She got up and grabbed her pocket book. Walking out, Max did a double take on her new black, lace, off the shoulder Vera Wang cocktail dress.
She flashed him a flirty smile and did a turn.
Max: I didn't know mother's could be so...
Fran: Well, I'm not a mother yet. Save it for when I'm 50 pounds heavier and my touchas is on the floor.
Max gave her a pat on the butt before they walked out.
During the party, Fran had just taken a picture with Cyndi Lauper when she felt a grasp on her hand. Smiling, she turned thinking she would see Max but she came face to face with Matthew.
Fran: Matt, I didn't know you would be here.
Matt: We gotta talk.
Fran's smile faded when she noticed his serious tone and expression.
Fran: We're at a party. Maybe tomorrow.
Matt: No, now.
She looked around. Across the way she saw Max chatting with Todd. The last she needed was drama to enrupt if Max was involved right now.
Matt: Come on.
As he walked them to a private VIP area which was deserted for the moment, she noticed his odd demeanor and unsteady walk.
Fran: Are you drunk?
She tried to get her hand out of his but he wouldn't let it go.
Matt: It doesn't matter.
Once they were alone, he turned to her, putting his hands on her arms.
Matt: Fran, I thought a lot about this since we last talked. I'm not ok with the situation.
Fran: My pregnancy?
Matt: No, you moving to New York and raising my child with another man.
Fran sighed and looked up trying to remain calm. But, he put his hands on her cheeks looking her in the eyes.
Matt: Be with me.
Fran slightly backed away from the smell of whiskey on his breath.
Fran: I think that's what got us here in the first place, dear.
Matt: Dammit, Frannie, I'm not joking.
Fran: What do you mean, "Be with you?"
Matt: Let's be together again.
Fran: Matt, I can't. I'm with Maxwell.
She watched his jaw clench but then he softened again and tried to woo her.
Matt: Honey, don't you remember how we used to be? All the good times? We lived together for years. We were amazing.
Fran: Matt, you're drunk.
Matt: And remember all those nights watching old movies and laughing and talking and making love.
Fran: Yes, ok. I remember. But I remember all the fights, too. Look where it led us. We didn't work out. We both decided if we didn't work out living together then there would be no future for us.
Matt: But now there is. We're having a baby, together. That's gotta mean something.
Fran closed her eyes for a moment before she slightly shook her head.
Fran: It means we had a meaningless night of sex, that's all.
He let go of her arms and backed away from her more angry than sad at her accusation.
Fran: Well, it's true. We both know there were no feelings involved that night except for comfort and just getting laid.
Matt: I still love you, Fran.
Fran: I wish I could say the same but I can't.
Matt: This baby could change that, change us.
Matt: Let's raise this baby together.
Fran: I said no!
His blood really started to boil. He looked at her with such rage she had never seen before and it scared her.
Matt: If you move to New York, if Sheffield is more apart of my child's life than I am, I will fight for full custody.
Fran looked at him as if she didn't hear him right but she knew she had.
Matt: I fucking mean it. You know I have friend's in the court system.
Fran: This isn't like you. You're drunk.
Matt: I'm not.
Fran: The hell you're not. You smell like Jack Daniels. And you don't know what you're saying!
Matt: I know prefectly clear what I'm saying.
Fran: Do you realize that you're asking me to choose between my child and the man I'm in-love with?
He shrugged then paced a few steps in front of her.
Matt: I don't want to have to do this.
Fran: My family and friends are in New York. I damn well will not let you nor anyone else stop me from being around them during my pregnancy and when my child is born. So either you can deal with this and be as involved as you like in MY baby's life or...you can go to hell.
She turned to walk out but he grabbed her arm.
Matt: You're going to regret this.
Fran: So are you.
Ripping her arm away from him, she stormed out.
Shortly after, Max threw open the door as they walked into the apartment.
Max: I cannot bloody believe this.
Fran: He was drunk.
Max: That's no excuse. There is no reason for him to talk to you that way and threaten you.
She followed him to the couch and sat down on his lap.
Fran: Maybe he'll wake up sober and regret it.
Max sighed and cuddled her close to him.
Max: Or maybe he'll wake up with a hangover and call his attorney.
Fran: I don't want to talk about this anymore.
Max: Me either.
Fran: And i'm not tired yet. Are you tired?
Seductively, she crossed her legs on his lap and slid her hand down his chest.
Fran: I do want to get out of this dress though.
He smiled and looked down at her legs softly caressing them.
Fran: Will you help me take it off?
Max: Mmm. Gladly.
He stood up with her in his arms and walked towards the bedroom.
A few hours later, Fran secured the knot of her robe as she walked from the bedroom and into the kitchen. She grabbed a glass from the cabinet when she heard a knock at her door. Surprised and a little nervous, she walked to the door. When she looked in the peephole she gasped and opened the door.
Fran: Matthew, do you know what time it is?
Matt nodded and looked down his hands in his pockets.
Matt: I'm sorry. Can I come in?
She put a hand on her hip and looked him up and down.
Fran: I don't know.
Seeing that he was calm and not in his earlier state, and looking more tired than drunk, she ushered him in. After closing the door she turned to him skeptical.
Fran: What do you want, Matthew?
Matt: I came to apologize.
Fran: For what exactly?
Matt: My attitude towards you, the way I acted. You're right, I was drunk.
She gave a nod.
Fran: You threatened me, Matt.
Matt: I know. And I didn't want it come out that way. I thought we could talk through it but...
She to0k a step to him.
Fran: What do you mean you didn't want it to come out that way?
Matt: The way I gave you a choice.
Fran: And how exactly did you want it to come out?
Matt: Well, I thought you would agree with me.
Fran: You thought I would agree with you basically having me choose a life with you and my child or a life with Max without my child?
Matt: I will fight for custody if you move, Fran.
Before she could answer, she saw a shadow before a hand reached out and hit Matt's jaw. Fran saw raging anger in Maxwell's eyes that frightened her. After the initial shock wore off, Matt stormed at Max grabbing him and giving him a punch.
Fran: Stop it!
Max bent down and like a football player he tackled Matt until his back hit the door. Matt faugh back at Fran screamed for them to stop.
Max: How dare you come here.
Matt: Bastard let go of me.
Matt tried another punch and missed.
But Max swung again and suceeded. Seeing blood coming from Matt's lip, Fran grabbed at Maxwell's back.
Fran: Maxwell! Stop! Stop it!
Max grabbed him and opened the door then pushed him out.
Max: If you ever come back here or threaten Fran again, I will call the police.
And with that, he slammed the door and locked it. But when he turned around, Fran slammed her fists against his chest crying very uspet.
Fran: What are you doing?! What's wrong with you?! Do you realize this could've opened the door to him taking my child away?! HUH?! Dammit!
She pushed his chest away from her.
Max sighed seeing her fright.
Max: I'm sorry. I saw him and I just lost it.
Without another word Fran turned and walked into the bedroom.
Max stirred out of his sleep. The room was dark. He looked at the time on the nightstand which read a little after 5. Getting out of bed he made his way to the bathroom and shut the door behind him. When he turned on the light, he froze when he noticed something on his hand. Confused and a little frightened he held his hand up. Blood. Then he looked down an notied a few spots on his pajama pants. His eyes widened and he looked towards the door.
Fran gasped and sat up out of her sleep. A quick sharp contraction invaded her. She held her stomach in more shock than pain. She felt a wet sensation. She quickly turned on the lamp and threw off the covers. There was a pool of blood on the sheets underneath her as well as on her nightie and legs. She started hyperventalating in shock.
Max opened the door and ran in but he stopped when he noticed she was awake. She looked up at him with tears in her eyes. It was the baby, right? He looked down at the bed and back up at her. The look on his face answered her question. Miscarriage. She lost her baby.
Tears ran down her cheeks and she put her face in her hands crying, "No."
Maxwell paced the halls of Cedars-Sanai Hospital with his hands in his pockets. Leaning his back against the wall outside of Fran's emergency room door, he glanced down at the blood stain on his shirt. Through her tears she panicked telling him they had to go to the hospital but the minute she got out of bed her knees faltered and he caught her as she almost hit the floor. Grabbing onto his shirt for support, her hands left traces of her child's blood. And then she just held onto him completely still but sobbing. He had never been more terrified in his life.
Max looked up at ER gynecologist, Dr. Johnson, standing outside the door.
Max: Yes, Doctor.
Dr. Johnson: Fran did suffer a miscarriage. We do not know what caused the miscarriage. Most commonly any miscarriage in the first trimester results in chromosomal abnormalities in the baby. This has nothing to do with the mother or father's health. But judging from Fran's healthy lifestyle and no reproductive defect from her pap test and ultrasounds it seems this is probably the cause. Also, women over the age of 40 have a higher risk of loss of pregnancy.
Max: Is Fran ok?
Dr. Johnson: We performed a D&C. She is sedated but awake and aware. Physically she is fine but she suffered emotionally which is understandable. I want to keep her over night. She'll be able to go home in the morning and she will be able to go back to normal activities.
Max: Have you explained all this to her?
Dr. Johnson: I have.
Max: Can I see her now?
Dr. Johnson: Of course.
Max: Thank you so much.
Walking into the room, he gently shut the door behind him. Seeing her laying in the hospital bed made his heart tear. Fran opened her eyes when she felt a hand on her cheek and stared into Maxwell's. She didn't know what to say to him. She didn't feel like running into his arms yet she didn't feel like running away from them.
Max: How do you feel?
Max scooted his chair closer and took her hands in his.
Max: How do you feel?
Fran took a deep breath and tried to remain composure but she let out a tiny whimper and looked at him, her eyes filling up with water.
Fran: Not good.
Max put his forehead against her hands on the bed a moment. He didn't want to bring it up but he knew he had to, afterall this was not his baby that she just lost.
Max: Do you want me to call Matthew?
Fran: No. I'll tell him tomorrow. I don't have the energy right now.
The next day, Max opened the door to Fran's apartment and stepped aside letting her in first. She hesitated a moment before walking past him and then proceeded to the couch.
Fran: What time is your flight tomorrow?
His face ushered confusion as he walked over to her.
Max: What do you mean?
Fran: You said a few days ago you had to leave back to New York for a few days.
Max: Do you honestly think I'm going to leave you alone after what happened?
Fran: Max. I want you to go.
Max: What are you talking about?
Fran: I know you have important business back home and I have my work here. I'm healthy and I have Toddy and my friends here.
Fran: I just want to be alone for a bit, ok? Please go. I'll be fine.
Max stared at her for a good, long 5 seconds then he sighed and shook his head before he commented back to her in a very stubborn tone.
Max: I'm not going.
Fran: And I'm not going to change my mind. I want you to go.
Max stood up and put his hands in his pockets.
Fran: God dammit, Maxwell. You are acting like the children.
Max: This is serious, Fran.
She stood up to meet his height.
Fran: Hell yes, it is. And mostly for me. And what I need is some time alone. If you love me then you'll do what I ask.
Max knew there was no changing the mind of Fran Fine when she was determined. Although the horrible circumstances, he did love her and because of that had to do what she asked. He spent the rest of the night holding her but the next day he barely got a hug out of her before he left for the airport.
A week went by and Max planned to return to LA but she wasn't ready for him to come back yet. Then the next week turned into another two weeks. During that month, Fran and Max burried themselves in their work. In the beginning there were phone calls. But then the phone calls turned into texts. It seemed each day his Fran had sunk deeper and deeper away from him. When they were able to communicate he found her friendly but distant. And pretty soon her texts had disappeared. He swore she was ignoring him. He kept begging her to come back but she kindly refused. He wanted to scream and yell but he knew that was not the best for her even though she was being so infuriating. But God, he missed her so much.
On a rainy day in New York, Niles stood by Mr. Sheffield's desk as Max hung up the phone with his sister.
Max: Seems my family is throwing Jocelyn a last minute birthday party back home next week.
Niles: Oh, that will be nice.
Max leaned back in his chair and cast his eyes on a photograph of Fran on his desk.
Niles caught glimpse of the picture and looked at his boss with his eyebrows raised.
Niles: Sir, why don't you invite Miss Fine to go with you? I think a little vacation away together will be good for you both.
Max: She won't go.
Niles: How do you know until you ask?
Max: She will barely speak to me as it is, Niles.
Niles: Use my cell phone, Sir.
He pulled out his cell phone from his pocket and handed it to Max.
Max: It's worth a try. Thank you, ol' man.
Niles nodded and walked out shutting the door behind him for some privacy.
He waited impatiently through five rings and when the sixth came, he knew he would get the voicemail but suddenly the ringing stopped and he heard her nervous voice.
Max: It's me. Please don't hang up.
Fran: Max, I'm actually in the middle of...
Max: But you had time to answer Niles cell phone, right?
Fran: I thought it was an emergency.
Max: Fran, just listen to me for a second. I just got off the phone with my sister. She's having a last-minute formal birthday party in London next week. I'd really like it if you go with me.
Fran: Max, I...
Max: Now, you listen here. You told me to go back to New York if I love you. If you love me, you will come to Europe with me for the weekend. I think it will be good for both of us to get a way for a little bit together.
He heard silence for a few seconds.
He smiled relieved.
Maxwell spotted Fran walking his direction through the busy crowd in JFK airport. She hadn't spotted him yet as she looked from left to right. It seemed and eternity since he last seen her. When he last seen her she was heartbroken emotionally. Crying, he left LA without seeing her smiling face. Today she was beautiful. His heart blossomed when he stared at her.
Then, she looked ahead and their eyes met. He smiled and started walking towards her. But when she didn't smile back, nor walk faster to meet him, his pace slowed and his smile disappeared. This was the frist time since he could remember when she didn't smile and run into his embrace. When he finally got to her, neither said a word as he hugged her. Fran's eyes closed contently feeling his arms around her. Maxwell sighed with relief when he felt her arms welcome his embrace.
Max: I've missed you so much.
He leaned forward to give her a kiss on the lips but she turned her head and his lips landed upon her cheek. He looked at her slightly stunned.
She shot him a fake but friendly smile.
Fran: Let's go. I'm anxious to get back to the house.
Smiling, he took her suitcase and ushered her towards the doors.
Max: The house hasn't been the same without you, sweetheart.
When they got outside, Max reached his arm forward motioning towards a limo which immediately started towards them.
Fran: You didn't drive?
Max: No, I brought someone who is as excited to see you as I am.
When the limo parked in front of them Niles got out.
Fran: It is him. Niles!
Niles: Miss Fine!
He welcomed her into his arms and she jumped into them. Max noted the genuine, happy smile on her face but wished he had been greeted that way. Max put Fran's suitcase in the trunk of the car as the two friends quickly reunited. They had occasionally shared a phone call during birthdays and holidays and a the usual email so they had been more close over the years than he had with her.
Niles: We better get going before the rush hour traffic.
Max ushered Fran in the limo before he scooted in himself then they headed onto the freeway. The car was awfully silent as Fran sat leaning towards her side of the door starring out the window and Max oddly sat in his seat staring at her. This was not how he pictured their reunion to be, especially after she agreed to come. After a good fifteen minutes of silence, Max scooted towards her and put his hand on her thigh. She looked down at it and only barely smiled before she gently tapped the top of his hand in a friendly gesture and gazed back out the window. But he put his hand on her cheek and turned her head back his direction to meet her eyes. He leaned in and kissed her on the lips, very gently. He did it again and started teasing her lips, knowing it usually aggravated her to the point where she'd take over in a more passionate kiss. But, instead she stayed still and welcomed him but didn't respond in her usual manner.
Max: Fran, I've missed you.
Fran put her hand on his cheek and perched her lips in a smile.
Fran: I've missed you, too.
He backed away from her until he was perched back in his seat.
Max: You sure don't seem like it.
Niles glanced back at them through the rear view mirror.
Fran: I'm sorry.
They locked eyes again but hers quickly went to his window when she saw her home outside of it. Scooted towards him, she cuddled him and they both watched New York City coming closer. He gently caressed her head with his hand as she got teary eyed.
Fran: I only visit once and a while but I really do miss it y0u know?
Max: I know.
At the Sheffield mansion, Fran had walked around the house by herself reliving the memories. It looked exactly the same except for a few new touches around here and there but it was the Sheffield home she had lived in for five years. It was the home she raised the kids in. The home she and Max formed their chemistry and their love. When she made it to Maxwell's office, she sat on the corner of his desk and smiled at his empty chair and then softly ran her fingers across the corner of the desk that was still visible. A voice behind her startled her.
Max: That has missed you as well.
He actually heard her chuckle as she got off of it.
Fran: It feels like I never left.
Max: Your energy has always been around.
Fran: I need to ask you a question but I don't want you to get mad.
Max walked over to her a little nervous.
Max: I won't get mad.
Fran: Do you promise?
Max: I promise.
Fran: I'd like to sleep in my old room tonight.
Max was about to respond until she cut him off.
His face dropped.
Max: Fran, if this has something to do with Cheryl once sharing my bedroom then...
Fran: No. This has nothing to do with her.
Max: Then why?
He was getting upset she could see and she expected that but he did say he wouldn't get mad so she looked up at him warningly.
He sighed and looked up trying to remain calm.
Max: I know you've been through a lot lately but you've been putting me through hell, too. And now you don't want to sleep in my arms?
Fran: Think of it more like a memory. I'm back here in the house after how many years? I spent five years in that room. I'd like to sleep in it alone. Only for tonight.
Max nodded understanding her.
That night, Fran sat in her old bed reading an interview with Cousin Toddy in InStyle Magazine when there was a light tap on the door before Max appeared.
He walked over to her and sat down on the edge of the bed.
Max: So, how does it feel?
Fran looked around the room and sighed contently.
Fran: Feels good...but weird.
Max nodded and looked around the room.
Max: I'm glad you're here. Thank you.
Fran sat up straight and put her hand on his.
Fran: I'm sorry I denied you at first.
Max: It's ok. You're here now.
Fran: What times do we leave tomorrow?
Max: Flight is at noon so we'll want to leave here at ten.
Max leaned forward and put a hand on her cheek and looked her in the eyes lovingly.
Max: I love you, Fran.
Fran hesitated with fresh feelings and fear rising in her. Before she could respond his lips were upon hers. She felt him take the magazine out of her hands and toss it next to them before he gently lowered her onto her back. Fran didn't resist as she caressed his tongue with hers and welcomed his familiar weight. Feeling her responding made his passion rise deep inside him. It had been a while since they were like this. They hadn't even shared a passionate kiss when he left back to New York. He didn't see the same woman since they had reunited earlier that day but right now in this bed he felt his Fran. He wanted to take it slow but when he felt her hands start to explore his body he slightly groaned and attacked her neck with his mouth as his own hands slowly explored her breasts. Fran sighed luxuriously as she felt those exquisitive tingles rise in her that only Maxwell Sheffield could create. But when his hand lowered between her legs, Fran had a flashback of her miscarriage and her eyes opened. She became still before she pushed him away. He looked at her more shocked than concerned at first. When he reached for her face confused she grabbed his wrist.
Fran sat up surprised at her own actions and she couldn't find the words to tell him what just happened. He looked at her hurt and a little mad before he walked out the door. Fran jumped when the door slammed beside her.
Maxwell took a step next to Cheryl and studied the party before him as she did the same.
Cheryl cast him a side-ways glance acknowledging his presence.
Max: I wasn't aware you were going to be here.
Cheryl: I was invited, Maxwell.
Max: I thought you were going to be in Frisco this weekend.
Cheryl: I was but Dad is doing much better.
Max leaned in towards her so only she could hear the hiss in his voice.
Max: Are you here just to get back at me or something?
Cheryl: Excuse me?
She looked the direction Maxwell looked and her eyes fixated upon Fran across the dance floor.
Cheryl: I was not aware you were bringing her. If I had known, I wouldn't have come.
He looked at her, now knowing to truly believe her or not.
Cheryl: Don't give me that look. It's the truth. You know how close I am to Jocelyn. I didn't just come here out of spite, whether Fran was here with you or not. After all of our years together, you should know me better than that.
Max sighed, nodding his head.
Max: I know. I'm sorry.
Cheryl: I never want to do anything to hurt you. I just want you to be happy. Why do you think I persuaded Fran to be with you? I was going to leave you anyway but it made me feel better knowing you were in-love and happy. I didn't want you to be the same man you were after Sarah died and after Fran left New York.
Max: I'm very grateful.
Cheryl: You're still a cad for cheating on me though.
Max smiled when her saw her red lips form a teasing smile.
Max: I know I've said this before but I don't expect you to ever forgive me. I do however hope that we can be friends. I know that's a cheesy line but I still care about you and wish you happiness as well.
Cheryl put her hand on his cheek.
Cheryl: Not cheesy at all. I want us to be friends and I hope to keep in touch even after our divorce is final.
Max nodded and patted her hand before he walked to his brother who was motioning for him.
Across the dance floor, Fran sat alone at a table. She felt pairs of eyes all on her, judging her. Ever since she arrived on Maxwell's arm, Maxwell's family members, mostly women, were eyeing her like voulchers. Their evil stares were intimidating. And the men looked at her like she was eye candy. Maxwell's Aunt Dolores annoyingly hit her husbands arm before she stuck her chin up and pulled him away from her view. Jocelyn, Lester and Nigel all welcomed her in a friendly manner as she had always gotten along well with them but his mother nearly choked when she saw her. And standing next to Mrs. Sheffield Sr. was Maxwell's wife, the other Mrs. Sheffield. She felt like a little meak mouse in an anaconda cage.
With her elbow on the table, Fran rest her chin on her hand and mindlessly played with a little party favor in front of her as Cheryl sat down beside her at the abandoned table.
Cheryl: I didn't give you my blessings to be with Maxwell so you could sit alone in a corner lookin blue.
Fran sat up straight and looked at the elegant blonde next to her.
Fran: I'm not really in a party mood.
Fran almost laughed mimickedly.
Fran: Well, I don't know if you have noticed, but I don't really fit into Maxwell's world.
Fran turned to her annoyed at Cheryl's blunt response.
Cheryl: You are his world. It's his family you don't fit into.
Fran slumped back in her chair defeated.
Cheryl: And excuse my french, dear, but why don't you just say, 'fuck them?' You sure seem like the kind of person who would.
Fran: I have, believe me. His family never bothered me before. But this whole situation is a little more complicated now.
Cheryl: Because of me.
Fran: They adore you.
Cheryl: And Maxwell adores you. The children adore you. And you get along with his brother and sister. Who cares about the rest of his family. Maxwell loves you. That's all that should matter.
Fran sighed and leaned on the table crooking her head at Cheryl confused.
Fran: I cannot believe you're defending him to me again. Cheryl, I had an affair with your husband. I'm the other woman. I don't deserve your kindness.
Cheryl: Darling, if you haven't noticed, I've always been the other woman. And, like I said, I only want him to be happy. So, get your gorgeous self up and go mingle. C'mon. I'll get you a new glass of champagne.
They both went to stand up when Elizabeth glided on over. Fran watched as his mother went straight to Cheryl, not even looking at Fran, as she took Cheryl's hand in hers.
Elizabeth: Cheryl, dear, Mr and Mrs. Ronald Shubert are over there talking to Maxwell. Apparantly they know your father from the Navy days. They would like to meet you.
Cheryl: Oh, of course. Fran, are you coming?
Fran: I'll be there in a second.
Elizabeth waited as Cheryl walked away before she stopped Fran from getting up. Staying in her seat, Fran looked up at Elizabeth as she leaned over her.
Elizabeth: Miss Fine, I think it best if you stay here. After all, they want to meet Maxwell's wife. They have nothing in common with you. It's none of your concern.
Fran wanted to stand up, to be the one to stand over this wretched English woman, but she couldn't. She felt weak, something she hadn't felt before, atleast not when it came to his mother.
Fran: Maxwell is my concern.
She couldn't believe the weakness in her own voice. She watched as Elizabeth's expression turned to anger but she still tried to keep a smile on her face, an act to keep up appearances.
Elizabeth: I don't know what went on with you and my son when you were his Nanny, but you left him and the children for Hollywood. Then, years later you seduced him knowing he was happily married. Cherly is a well-respected, lovely woman who made Maxwell happy and you took all that away with your New York charm and sexuality. There is only one reason we both know he brought you here...to keep him warm in his bed.
Fran nearly gasped.
Elizabeth: My grandchildren adore you, that's fine. But let me tell you one thing, I will not let a golddigger like you break up his marriage. The divorce is not final yet and I am going to make sure it doesn't happen.
Finally, Elizabeth stood up straight and took a step away. Fran hadn't even realized she had been holding her breath. Grabbing her pocket book, Fran scooted her chair back and got up. She only took a few steps before she froze staring at scene across the way. Maxwell and Cheryl stood next to each other laughing with another elderly couple and Maxwell's hand was on the small of Cheryl's back.
Behind her, Elizabeth peeked over Fran's shoulder at her son and daughter-in-law.
Elizabeth: Lovely looking couple aren't they?
Fran clenched her teeth and shut her eyes, hoping the tears would not fall.
Elizabeth's voice softened as she put her hand on Fran's arm trying to manipulate her.
Elizabeth: Now, darling, I hear from the children that you are very happy in Los Angeles with your work. We both know Maxwell's world does not mix well with yours. And lust fades away like it did all those years ago. Why not just let Maxwell be happy.
Fran slowly turned around.
Fran: You really don't know anything about your son, do you?
Elizabeth: I beg your pardon?
Fran knew everything Elizabeth said was far from the truth but Fran didn't have the patience to correct her.
Fran: Forget it.
Fran shook her head and softly pushed past Elizabeth.
Stopping, Fran also didn't have the patience to turn around. Elizabeth walked right up behind her eyeing her up and down as she spoke so only they could hear.
Elizabeth: I know about the child.
Mrs. Sheffield couldn't see it, but Fran's face expressed shock.
Elizabeth: Pregnant with a baby that isn't Maxwell's? I always believed everything happens for a reason you know.
Fran turned around and shot the woman the most evil stare Elizabeth thought for a moment Miss Fine might slap her. Fran didn't know how Elizabeth knew this but at that moment she didn't give a flying you know what.
Fran: I lost my baby. I may never have a child of my own. You're a mother of three. Maybe you should think about that blessing more often instead of thinking only about your well being.
Fran wiped a tear away as she looked at the woman up and down for a moment.
Fran: Excuse me.
Fran turned on her heel and walked on over to the bar.
Fran: A shot please.
Bartender: A shot of what?
A handsome man about her age walked up next to Fran eyeing her appreciatively.
Man: Why are you over here all by yourself?
Fran didn't even look at the man as she grabbed the shot glass from the bartender.
Fran downed the shot.
Man: Can I buy you another shot?
Fran: You can buy yourself another line. One more, please. Make it a double.
Man: Oo. You know, you sure make that dress look good. How about a dance?
Fran downed the second shot before she finally looked at the man. That was the last god damn straw! She was going to do what Cheryl encouraged.
Fran: You can go fuck yourself.
Then she stormed past him. Fran made it past the bushes, through the gardens and headed towards the path out of the courtyards to the manner but she couldn't. Her pace became slower, her feet weaker. The sky was dark now, and there was no light except for the walkway sensers, the lights illuminating from the courtyards behind her, and the hotel ahead of her. It became quieter, only faint sounds of the party in the distance. Sitting on a nearby bench, she collapsed crying. She felt so alone. She didn't feel like Fran Fine anymore.
After a few minutes, Fran collected herself enough to walk into the mansion. When she got up to the room, she threw her purse on the dresser and leaned on her two hands trying to catch her breath. She looked up into the mirror and studied herself. She looked pale and with her running masquara, her sunken red lips, she looked an absolute horror. Fran looked on the outside the way she was feeling on the inside: a mess.
Maxwell walked up to his sister worried.
Max: Jocelyn, have you seen Fran? I cannot find her anywhere.
Jocelyn: I haven't seen her, darling.
Nigel walked up beside Max.
Nigel: Cousin Harrison told me she was at the bar ten minutes ago. Ol' Jerry made a move and she gave him a big 'F-U' and stormed out. Poor chap. Jerry always tends to grab other men's dessert...or atleast their leftovers.
Nigel had laughed entertainingly but he stopped when he saw the look on his sisters face as Max hurried away.
When Max entered the hotel room, he was shocked to see her frantically packing her suitcase.
Max: Darling, are you ok?
She stopped for a brief moment and looked at him. When he saw her tear-stained face he rushed over to her but she started pacing around the room again, throwing her stuff in the suitcase.
Max: Nigel told me Jerry hit on you? What did he do? Did he touch you? I swear, if he did, I will...
Fran: It's not him.
Max: Then why are you crying? Why are you packing?
Fran: I'm going back to LA.
Max: Why? We had a romantic weekend planned. And again, I want to know why you're crying!
Fran stopped in mid walk and screamed at him, fresh tears starting to fall.
Max closed his eyes trying to stay calm.
Max: Please tell me.
Fran: I don't want to be here anymore. Your family doesn't want me here. Cheryl is here. Why stay where I'm not wanted?
Max: What do you mean my family? And I told you I didn't know Cheryl would be here. I know it must be hard to see her, it's hard for me too but I saw you two talking earlier. You're both civil to each other. I don't understand...
Fran: You obviously didn't see the way your family were eyeing me the entire evening. They were looking at me, judging me. The woman were viscious and the men, pathetic. And yes, I am very uncomfortable with your wife here. They all love her. I know you love me but they hate me. They think I broke up your happy marriage for sex...and in a way that's not entirely far from the truth. And your mother...don't even get me started on her. She's ruined me.
Max heard what she was saying but he eyed the last pile of clothes she had just thrown into the suitcase, half of it not even making it. When she picked up another pile, he walked to her and grabbed her wrists.
Max: Stop it!
She yanked away and threw it in. He grabbed her suitcase and threw it off the bed in frustration.
Max: You're not going anywhere! I don't give a damn about my family. I want you here. My family can just go to hell if they don't want you here.
Fran: Forget your family! This is about me! You want me here but I don't want to be here. I need my own space. I need time alone!
Fran stilled and, breathing heavy with a shocked face, she stared at him.
Max: You've had your own space. You had a month alone without me. Now, we're here together dammit and I'm not letting you go!
Fran ignored him as she went over to the dresser and grabbed a few perfume bottles. He came up behind her and tried grabbing them out of her hands in rage.
Fran let go of the bottles and hyperventalated for a moment before she let out a scream, a mourningful scream, as she went limp in his arms sobbing uncontrollably. He held her tight knowing exactly what was happening. For the first time, she was letting out her feelings towards the loss of her child.
Max: Let it go. Just let it out, let it all out.
He whispered softly in her ear over and over. They slumped to the floor. He gently rocked her as she clutched to him, crying into his chest.
Max: That's it. Just let it out, sweetheart. You're feeling hurt so you just cry. Just hold on. I've got you, darling. Hold on to me tight.
They stayed like this for a few minutes until he finally felt her grip loosen. Her arms fell to his waist and her crying stopped. He watched as she lay against him emotionally and physically spent. He picked her up and layed her on the bed. She kept her eyes closed as he took off her shoes. He covered her before he went and lit the fire. She turned on her other side to study him as he stayed silent as he picked the fire wood.
Fran: Do you believe everything happens for a reason?
Max kept adjusting the fire and answered his back still to her.
Max: Yes. Do you?
Fran: Mmhm, but sometimes I'd like to know what the reasons are.
Max: I suppose I do, too...especially when it comes to Sarah.
He turned to look at Fran. She was up on her elbows and just gave him a nod.
Max: Do you still want to go back to LA? If you do, I'm coming with you.
Fran: I don't know what I want.
She got off the bed. He watched her as she padded across the room and disappear into the bathroom shutting the door behind her. Max ran his hand through his hair as he heard the shower go on.
As Fran showered, Max unpacked her suitcase and straightned up the room. When he went over to the dresser, he stood her perfume bottles back upright. He picked on up and smelled it. It was her favorite perfume, and his. Everytime he smelled it he wanted to get lost in her. It was so sweet, and feminine but seductive. It was so Fran. Max sighed and set it down. He looked at the time before he took his suit jacket off, along with his tie. He kicked off his shoes and worked on his shirt buttons. He stopped mid-button when she appeared from the bathroom. She wore nothing but the short, white towel secured around her chest. Her face was clear of tears and runny make up and her dark, wet curls stuck to her creamy, soft skin. She looked at him as he took his shirt off staring at her. She noticed her clothes were no longer scattered across the floor and the bed so she continued over to her dresser and opened a drawer. She had just pulled out a little silk nightie when he stood behind her, pressed against her. His hand took the fabric from her hands.
Max: Don't wear anything.
She closed her eyes as his hot breath tickled the skin on her neck.
He slid his hands along her thighs, gatherin the end of the towel up.
Max: It's been too long.
He kissed her neck softly. They hadn't been together intimately since before the miscarriage. Of course that month apart was for her to heal. And she had healed physically but emotionally she was still a wreck. They had always connected on a higher level when they made love. He wanted that again. Intimacy always brought them together and they had been apart for too long.
He sucked her neck as his hand slipped between her legs. She slightly gasped.
Fran: I can't.
With his other hand he turned her face to the side towards his. He barely kissed her.
Fran: Please, don't.
Max removed himself and turned her around. She kept her head down.
He put his hand on her cheek.
Fran looked up at him with sad eyes.
Max: It's me.
He bent down to be eye level with her.
Max: Fran and Max. It's you and me.
Fran pleaded at him with her eyes, her face becoming frightened. Her body quivered and her voice weakened.
Fran: I don't know who I am anymore.
Max: Well, then let me remind you.
She kept her eyes focused on his afraid that if she looked away she would be alone again. His hands loosened the towel's grip along her chest. The towel fell to the floor and he looked down at her. For the first time tonight, she smiled inside. He always made her feel so beautiful like she was a goddess...his goddess.
And when he laid her across the bed, she felt like a goddess. She welcomed his weight as he sucked and kissed her neck. She closed her eyes in ecstasy as his hand caressed her breast, his thumb teasing her hardened nipple. Oh, it had been so long for her, too.
Suddenly he stopped and hovered over her worried. She studied his face and put her hand on his cheek.
Fran: Kiss me.
He wanted to smile but the moment was so precious and serious to him he just leaned down and softly caressed his lips with hers. He drew back just a tad before he kissed her again, sucking her lower lip as she pulled at his upper. He released her again but she leaned up and brought their mouths together opening for him. He slid his tongue into her mouth, teasing hers. No matter how many years, no matter the circumstances, where they were, their kisses never changed. They were amazing. He had never experienced kissing the way it was when he was kissing Fran. Even as lovers for months now, their kisses were always sexually charged. She plopped her head back down on the pillow as their tongues drove in deep, creating a hot rythm. They readjusted at every angle needing more, drinking in more of each other. Her hands got lost in his hair as she pushed him closer. She didn't need foreplay. All she needed was his lips against hers and she was set.
Fran felt him hard against her thigh and that familiar feeling of arousal that only Maxwell Sheffield could cause hit her like a shock wave. Still lost in his hot kisses, she brought her other leg from under him so he was now between her thighs. She reached between them and grabbed him, pushing him down against her. This caused him to break their kiss. He looked at her breathing heavy. He wanted to make love to her, bring her that whole experience again.
Fran: I need you now.
She layed back down as he adjusted himself. He put his hands lovingly on the sides of her head as he pushed into her. She closed her eyes and swallowed. He was entering her very slowly, too slow. Fran knew he didn't want to cause her discomfort under the circumstances but she was fine and she needed him. She put her hands on his hips and pushed him deeper, urging him. Max kept up a steady pace, kissing her everywhere he could reach, and was pleased at her enjoyment. Keeping the pace, he moved some hair out of her face and watched her.
Fran nodded as she breathed through another shot of ecstasy, a build up starting at her core.
He gave her a kiss before he repositioned himself and her legs before he started driving into her faster, harder and deeper they way they both liked it. Knowing she was was ok he wanted nothing more than to make her have that climax. Just a few hard strokes had her whimpering. His groans along with hers and their heavy breaths was the only thing heard in the room. He put his hand under one of her knees and drove in deeper and harder. A loud moan erupted from her. She put her hand on the headboard behind her to keep from banging into it as their bodies moved on their own.
Fran's nails dug into his lower back as his arousal hit up on her with every thrust and the buildup was incredible.
Fran: Oh God.
He felt her muscles start to contract around him. He breathed heavy through his nostrils trying to hold out just a few more thrusts. Then, she took a gasp before she whimpered loudly. Her insides turned to hot lava as her muscles mercifully milked him to the point of madness. He thrust a few more times before he groaned, releasing.
The next morning, Max awoke. The sunshine poured in and the birds chirped loudly outside. He stretched before he turned towards Fran. She lay sleeping on her stomach, her hair spread across the pillow and the bed sheet draped lightly across her lower bottom. His finger traced her cheek and went down her neck and along her back. He saw her skin form goosebumps. He smiled and leaned down tracing kisses along her back until he felt her stir. Leaning away he smiled when she opened her eyes. She moved onto her side and they didn't say anything as they studied each other.
Max: Do you feel better?
He traced his finger along her hip as she nodded. They made love twice last night and they spent the rest of the evening tickling, wrestling, and giggling. She came back to him. His Fran was still there.
Max: I've missed you.
Fran: I've missed you, too.
She sighed and looked down.
Fran: Do you think it's depression?
Max: I'm not sure. A lot of women deal with something like this in their own way. I think because you wanted a baby for so long it was a shock to your system. I think if we deal with this together, you'll get better.
Fran: I think last night was the best medicine I could have had.
Max: So did I. This hasn't exactly been easy for me either.
Fran leaned over and gave him a kiss.
Fran: I know.
Max: It's a beautiful morning. Would you like to have breakfast and then take a stroll in the gardens? It's probably a bit chilly but...
Fran: No, the fresh air will do us good.
Max: Ok. How about a shower?
Fran: Only if you join me.
Max: I wouldn't have it any other way.
Before they got up, Max looked at her with a serious and quizzical expression.
Max: What did my mother say to you last night?
Fran: It's not important.
Max: Yes, it is. What did she say?
A little later, Maxwell briefly knocked on his mother's double hotel room door. Jocelyn opened one of the doors and smiled surprised.
Maxwell gave his sister a fake smile before she ushered him in. She led him to the livingroom where his mother and brother were sitting drinking coffee.
Elizabeth: Darling, how nice of you to drop by. I was just telling Nigel he should go fetch you so I can enjoy breakfast with all of my children.
Max: Unfortunately mother I'm not staying long.
Jocelyn: Oh, please do.
Maxwell cleared his throat as Jocelyn took her seat on the sofa next to Elizabeth.
Max: I have another engagement, with Fran.
Elizabeth: I hope you do not mean that literally, dear.
Max looked at his mother surprised by her snarky comment. Jocelyn quickly changed the subject.
Jocelyn: Wonderful weather today but surprisingly it's a bit cooler than last night.
Nigel took a bite of his croissant and nodded.
Elizabeth: And where did you run off to last night? You didn't even say goodbye.
Max: I had something that needed attending to.
Elizabeth: And by that you mean trying out the English King-size mattress, while your wife was outside at the party.
Nigel caught the look on his older brother's face and uncomfortable he scratched his eyebrow knowing this couldn't be good.
Max took a step over to the mini bar where he casually leaned against it.
Max: No, that is not why I left. But, I do have to say, Fran and I found it very accomadating. Quite satisfactory to our needs, actually. Yet again, we don't need a bed to be satisfied.
Nigel chuckled as Elizabeth's eyes widened in shock.
Nigel: Oh, God.
Max: And speaking of Fran...
The older woman rolled her eyes sarcastically.
Elizabeth: Were we?
Max: She told me what you said to her last night.
Elizabeth straightened in her seat and smoothed her napkin across her lap.
Elizabeth: I do not know what you mean.
Max: Cut the act, mother. I know you too well.
Elizabeth: Maxwell, dear, I do admit it was insensitive of me to acknowledge her child but I was not aware she had lost it.
Elizabeth: But how could I not? She was pregnant with another man's baby. I mean, really.
Jocelyn: Mother. I don't think that's any of our business.
Max: She didn't tell me you knew about that.
Nigel: Joc, maybe we should give them some privacy.
Max: No, you know too much already. Yes, Fran was pregnant with another man's child. But she became pregnant before we were together and she didn't find out until afterwards. And it was with her ex-boyfriend, a man she lived with for years. And she lost it a month ago. There, now you're all caught up.
Jocelyn looked down in silence.
Max: Mother, what exactly did you say to her concerning the baby?
Elizabeth was the one to stiffen now as her son stood above her with fury in his eyes. But she remained her compsure and stuck her chin up matter-of-factly.
Elizabeth: Simply that everything happens for a reason and that's why the baby wasn't yours.
He turned away and pound his fists down on the mini bar making everything on it rattle.
Maxwell: Mother, she had a breakdown last night. She lost her child! Do you understand that? It doesn't matter whose baby it was. She's a mother without a child and you go talk about it to her after humiliating her about her place with me, I might add. Let me tell you something...Fran and I love each other. We always have. I am the one who initiated the affair, not her. I am the one who cheated on my wife. She is not a golddigger or a whore or anything you believe her to be. She is my children's second mother and the love of my life. When my divorce is final, Fran will become my wife so you bloody well better get used to it.
Jocelyn looked over at Nigel and he swore he saw her smile.
Elizabeth: But Cherly is...
Max: Wonderful. Yes, Cheryl is a lovely person inside and out. That's why I married her. I care for her deeply but I am in-love with Fran. Cheryl and I are friends now. I don't give a damn if you accept that or not. Jocelyn, thank you for the invite. I had a great time.
He leaned down and kissed her on the cheek.
Max: Nigel, good luck with that restaurant.
He shook Nigel's hand.
Max: You two, call me whenever you come back to the states.
He turned and started for the door but he stopped and turned back around eyeing his mother.
Max: Oh, by the way Mother, after Cheryl found out about Fran and I, Fran turned me down. She told me to go back to New York.
Elizabeth's eyes widened.
Max: Oh, yes. And guess what? Cheryl is the one who persuaded Fran to stay with me.
Elizabeth slightly gasped making Max smile.
Max: Let that sink into your thick skull. Cheerio.
And with that, he slammed the door behind him.
Max walked up to Fran who was in the gardens, staring at a fountain.
Max: Sweetheart, there you are.
Fran: I wanted to get some fresh air.
He slipped his arms around her waist and kissed her cheek.
Max: I just told off my mother...in front of my brother and sister.
Fran: Oh, and ah, how did that go?
Max: It felt bloody great.
She giggled and caressed his arms.
Max: I think we're going to be ok.
Fran: I'm sorry for how I've been acting.
She turned around and slipped her arms around his neck.
Fran: But after last night, I know now that all I want to do is be with you. I don't ever want to let you go again.
Max: I never want to let you go.
Fran: I'd like to spend a little time in New York with you if you'll still have me.
Max: On one condition.
Fran: What's that?
Max: That you sleep in my arms.
Max: I love you so much, my darling.
Fran: I love you more.
He leaned in and gave her a kiss.
The sunset was a mixture of orange, pink and purple as the sun set on the ocean of Honalulu, Hawaii. The steel drum music added the appeal. Max held Maggie's arm as he walked next to her. He smiled proud at the immediate family standing on each side of him then he stared at Fran who stood up at the alter next to Gracie beaming back at him. She was glowing as she stood in the golden sand holding a bouquet of pale yellow roses, the same color as her long, dress. They kept their eyes locked until he kissed Maggie on the cheek and gave her hand to Michael.
Max took his place next to Michael and looked over at Fran a few people away. She caught his glance and winked at him. He smiled back always loving her playful expressions. But, he could not wait to see her expression in a few hours.
He was going to propose to Fran.