Liz reached into her locker in the Crashdown employee room, taking out her hair-band antenna. She fitted it to her head, carefully smoothing back her hair.
Lately she’d spent so little time working, it almost seemed strange to there. But it felt good, normal.
There had been so many changes in her life so quickly it was a little daunting, but she wouldn’t trade her life for anything. They were in danger, and things were still up in the air, but she was completely happy and optimistic about the future, and she hadn’t felt that in a while.
Maria came bursting in through the door, and stopped in surprise. “Liz!”
Rushing to her she hugged her tightly. “You’re working?” she asked incredulously, taking in Liz’s uniform.
Smiling Liz nodded. “Yeah, I took a couple of shifts this week.”
Maria lowered her voice. “I just thought with all the stuff going on, that you wouldn’t have time.” She leaned in, whispering, “I mean, Lonnie and Rath are coming soon aren’t they?”
“In about a week, probably,” Liz confirmed.
“Aren’t you worried?” Maria asked.
“Yeah,” Liz agreed, smiling as she thought about the incredible power she, Max and Zan shared. “But I feel okay about it. I think we’ll be ready.”
Maria’s eyes narrowed as she looked at her friend. “What is going on with you? You seem really . . . different”
Instantly Liz was on guard. She knew Maria was perceptive, and she’d heard that having sex changed you. Could Maria tell?
Liz didn’t like keeping her relationship with Max and Zan a secret, but they’d agreed they wouldn’t tell yet. Not to mention, she had no idea how to explain to Maria that she loved both of them, and was sleeping with both of them.
Eventually it would come out, but for now she wasn’t going to say anything.
“What do you mean?” Liz asked as calmly as she could. “Different how?”
Maria cocked her head to the side. “I don’t know,” she said, her eyes raking over Liz’s entire body. “It’s like you’re lighter, happy.”
Clapping a hand to her mouth, Maria gasped. “Is something going on with you and Zan? It is, isn’t it?” She rushed on without waiting for an answer. “I’ve seen the way he looks at you, and all that time you’ve spent with him training. He made a pass at you didn’t he?”
Liz instantly shook her head, hating lying to Maria. “No.”
“Oh!” Maria gasped. “Then you must be back together with Max. You were never that happy, expect when you were with him.”
“No, Maria,” Liz denied, “it’s nothing like that.”
Maria straightened up, her eyes never leaving Liz. “Well, it’s something.”
Liz shrugged. “We’d better get to work,” she said, quickly changing the subject.
“Right,” Maria said, still looking at her friend. “I’m sure I’ll figure it out.”
Tess paced back and forth in the park across from Max’s house. She’d been there for a while, but he was nowhere in sight. She just assumed he was in his room and she wanted to be near him while she was thinking.
His room was in the back of the house, so there was no chance of seeing him unless he came out, but that was okay. It was probably better for her to be alone while she was figuring things out.
It had surprised her at practice when she learned they weren’t going to the summit. She’d counted on going so she could prove to Max that he needed her.
But now she didn’t know what to do.
It might be months or years before they had another chance for a summit, and a chance to go home. And that was too long to wait.
There had to be some way to convince Max that they should go to the summit. It was still a couple of weeks away. She had to figure out how to get him to attend.
She could talk to him again. He’d been nice to her, and listened to her reasons at practice. Maybe she could make him see how important it was.
Or maybe she would use her powers on him.
The last couple of times she’d tried her power, Max had resisted her, but if she used her full strength on him, she could help him come around to her point of view.
Of course if he found out, he might be mad at her.
Staring at his house, she imagined she could feel him inside. He was there just waiting for her to awaken him to his past, and the possibilities of their future together.
She had to figure out a way to get him to go to the summit. Everything depended on it. Max would appreciate it when he was back on Antar and on his throne again. He would love her for it.
Max held Liz’s hand as they sat in the movie together, squeezing it slightly. It felt really good to be doing something normal. They’d gone to dinner first and then to the movie they’d both wanted to see.
With all the craziness of the last few weeks since Zan and Ava had come into their lives, an evening out with the girl he loved was just what he needed.
Zan had said it was only fair if he got one-on-one time with Liz, that Max should too, and Max couldn’t argue with him. He loved being with Liz no matter what, and having alone time with her was just magical.
The three of them were still together every day, practicing and making love afterward, and it was incredible. Max couldn’t believe how much it turned him on to see Zan with Liz. It was almost like watching himself with her.
He was still amazed how easily he’d accepted Zan into their relationship. But really the only things that mattered to him was that he got to be with Liz, and she was getting double the pleasure with two lovers.
She loved them both, and was with them both. It was the perfect situation.
The three of them would have a wonderful life together, but first they had to make sure they were safe. That meant dealing with Lonnie, Rath and eventually Khivar.
But for the night, Max didn’t want to think about that. He just wanted to concentrate on Liz and their time together.
Smiling, he realized he had no idea what was happening in the movie they were watching, but it didn’t matter. He brought Liz’s hand up to his mouth and pressed his lips to her knuckles.
She leaned into him, putting her other hand to his chest and her head on his shoulder. He wrapped his arm around her, holding her close.
Whispering, she spoke just loud enough for him to hear. “Why don’t we get out of here,” she said.
He turned toward her. “Where do you want to go?”
Liz smiled. “Anywhere where you can make love to me.”
Max practically choked, but he nodded. “Uh, sure.”
Tess waited down the hall from Max’s class, eager to see to him. She just knew she could make him understand how important the Summit was, if she could talk to him alone.
When she saw him emerge from the room, her heart skipped. He was so damn hot, and someday he would be hers. She just had to help the situation along.
Not wasting any time, she hurried up to him. “Max,” she said, wrapping her arm in his, “I’ve got something really important to talk to you about.”
Max looked at her surprised. “What’s going on?”
Tess glanced around. “We can’t discuss it out here.”
Before he could protest, she started pulling him. “The Eraser Room is right over here. We’ll lock ourselves in and no one will be able to hear us.”
She started dragging him toward the door, sure he wouldn’t want to make a scene in the hall. He went with her, but she could feel him gently tugging the opposite direction as he protested.
Max didn’t want to make a scene, but he didn’t want to be alone in such a small space as the Eraser Room with her either. Not to mention, that other students would see them go in, and rumors would start all over school that might hurt Liz.
“Tess,” he said in a lowered voice, “can’t this wait until after school? What is so important?”
By that time they were about halfway to the Eraser Room, and Tess stalled, trying to urge him closer. “No, it can’t wait. You need to hear this.”
Max started using more of his strength, and slowed them to a stop in the hall. He looked at her face, but couldn’t see any signs of distress. “Is someone hurt?”
Tess could see it wasn’t going like she planned. “No, everyone is fine,” she admitted, “for now,” she added belatedly, hoping to get a reaction out of him.
And it worked.
He focused on her intently, wondering what she knew. “For now?”
“That’s why we need to talk,” she said again.
Reluctantly Max nodded, but instead of going to the Eraser Room, he turned toward one of the classrooms, disengaging himself from her grasp. “The debate room isn’t used this period,” he said. “We can talk in there.”
Tess practically sighed. Not what she hoped at all, but at least she would have him alone. “Fine,” she agreed, preceding him into the empty room.
Max followed her, shutting the door behind them. “Okay, what is it?” he asked, trying to keep the impatience out of his voice.
“Max,” Tess started, trying to remember all the arguments she rehearsed, “Lonnie and Rath are after us, the Skins, Khivar, we need to do something to stop everyone attacking us. One of these times someone is going to get hurt of killed.”
He was confused, not knowing where the conversation was going. “And you have an idea?”
“Sure,” she answered confidently. “We have to make some kind of deal, a truce, so we aren’t constantly in danger.”
He was already shaking his head, but she continued. “You have to see how the Summit is important to us, to everyone. If we could go and negotiate some kind of …”
Max cut her off. “It’s too dangerous. We don’t know who is waiting for us there.”
Tess had her argument ready. “But we do know who is coming here. Lonnie and Rath want to kill Zan and Ava, and possibly Michael and Isabel too, and who knows how many others. The Skins and Khivar know where we are and could attack us at any time. Is it really any safer here than at the Summit?”
“Tess,” Max started, but this time she cut him off.
“At least there is a chance that the Summit is real. What would they really accomplish by making it a trap? They could just come here and ambush us at any time.”
Max shook his head, frustrated. “We know it’s a trap.”
“Why?” she argued. “Because Zan says so? How does he know? From some informant who could be lying.”
Max was trying to stay calm. Tess just wasn’t listening to him. “Tess, I’m sorry, but we know it’s a trap. Even if Khivar let’s us leave alive, he will do his best to turn the others against us. We don’t need more enemies.”
“Maybe we can use the Summit to turn the others against Khivar,” Tess suggested.
Max smiled grimly. “We don’t know enough about the situation. We don’t know our history, or what has been happening.”
“Exactly!” Tess said eagerly, jumping on the chance that had just fallen in her lap. “That is why we need to try the memory recovery techniques I know. We could remember what happened and have more of an advantage.”
Max felt like they were going around in circles. “We can’t. Not right now. We have too many other things that are more important, like keeping us all alive. After this is over, maybe…”
“Maybe?” Tess interrupted. Not for the first time she could feel how reluctant he was to have anything to do with their past. “Max, this is important, and I don’t know how you expect to help our people without remembering our other life.”
Max didn’t want anything to do with memories from their other life. It wasn’t him, and he was afraid that it might change who he was if he remembered too much. But he didn’t mention that to Tess.
Instead he stalled. “The first thing we have to do,” he said, “is get through the next week, and then we can make plans for the future.”
Tess was getting angry and frustrated. How was she going to convince him?
Focusing on him, she started to use her power on him, willing him to listen to her, to accept what she was saying. She saw him flinch, and thought it must be working.
Max felt Tess’ powers flowing around him and couldn’t believe she would resort to trying to persuade him that way. Every time he was around her, he felt more and more uneasy. He knew he never could have been with her.
“Max,” she started again, “the Summit really is our best way of finding out what is happening.”
He shook his head, and she used even more of her power. It had been so easy to manipulate him when she first came to town, but he was obviously getting stronger. He would make a great King and husband.
Again she started to list the reasons that the Summit was important, but Max still resisted her. He cut her off. “Stop, Tess, just stop it.”
At first she thought she meant he knew she was using her powers on him, but of course that was impossible.
He continued. “I don’t think there is any point talking about it any more. We aren’t going. End of discussion.”
“But,” she started to argue, but Max turned and headed for the door.
“Sorry, Tess, I have to get to class.”
Tess stood staring after him. She couldn’t believe he’d dismissed her so easily and held off her powers. The practices must really be helping him.
Isabel sat watching Alex and Kyle across the table at lunch. They were laughing about something one of them had said, and she couldn’t help noticing how Alex’s nose crinkled when he smiled.
She’d been thinking about Alex a lot lately. Maybe it was because of the danger they were in, but she didn’t think so. Recently she’d been noticing things about Alex that she’d never really considered before.
He was a great guy, kind, considerate of everyone, romantic, intelligent. She knew all that, but she was seeing him in a whole new light.
Her eyes raked over him. She thought she wanted a different kind of guy, mysterious, dangerous, cocky, sexy, someone like Grant or the guys she’d dated at school. But recently she’d changed.
It was nice to know that Alex would always be there, always accept her. He wouldn’t judge or leave her and that was making her reconsider him in ways she’d never expected.
She’d come to realize that he was brave, loyal, and he accepted all of the alien craziness as if it was normal. And all of that made him handsome and sexy in his own unique way.
She smiled as he gestured wildly at something else Kyle was saying.
She was ready for a real relationship with him. Not like the last time when she told him she was ready, when really it was a desperate attempt to distance herself from Michael because they were having those dreams.
This time she really was ready for a relationship, and it was like it was supposed to be. She thought about Alex all the time, thought about spending time with him and all the regular things they should be doing, like going on dates.
She wanted to tell him, but she wondered if he’d even believe her. She’d pushed him away so many times, taken advantage of him, did he even want to be together with her like that anymore? And if he did, would he wonder if it was real or just a product of their current situation.
She sighed inwardly. Maybe she should just wait until they were safe, or at least until they’d taken care of Lonnie and Rath.
Just then Alex looked up, meeting her eyes. He smiled and started too look away, but something in her gaze held him. He gave her a questioning look, cocking his head, but her face cleared almost instantly and she smiled.
Tess stood in the practice room, her eyes moving around, looking at each of the others.
She felt completely dejected, and she certainly didn’t feel like practicing. What was the point?
Finally she’d gotten Max alone at school, and once again told him all the reasons they should go to the summit, but again he’d shot her down. He just didn’t want to hear it.
Every reason she’d given him, he’d countered. Every suggestion she’d made, he denied. She’d even used her powers on him, trying to get him to change him mind, but somehow he’d resisted.
It was so frustrating to be the only one who understood how important the summit was to their future. They didn’t have time to be careful.
Tess knew that it basically came down to the fact that Max, Michael, Isabel, even Zan and Ava were comfortable with their lives on Earth. They didn’t remember their other life and how much better it was.
If they did, they’d do anything to get it back.
She couldn’t believe they weren’t even interested in knowing about their planet and what they were missing. They had lives they were missing, and families who were waiting for them, not to mention she could finally get Max away from Liz and have him to herself.
But this was just the beginning, Tess told herself. She could talk to Max again, and make him understand. She had to work quickly though. She just needed to come up with some better arguments, a better plan.
Maybe she should try to convince Isabel how vital it was. Michael was hopeless, and Ava and Zan. They were the biggest obstacles. But if there was some way to convince Max it would be safe, even necessary to go. Her mind sorted quickly through the possibilities. Maybe...
Tess was pulled back to the present by a hand on her arm.
“Are you okay?” Ava asked her.
Tess turned a hard face to look at Ava, annoyed that she had interrupted her thoughts.
Ava paled a little and withdrew her hand.
Inside, Tess was glad that Ava could see her displeasure and she smiled, trying to smooth over the situation. “I’m fine,” she said, “just a bit tired.”
Rath leaned forward, closer to the TV as the car chase on-screen got started. The heroes in the movie raced through the crowded streets as the villains chased them, firing automatic weapons.
Lonnie was seated next to him, but he barely paid attention to her. He was totally engrossed in the action.
The sound of her ringing phone distracted him briefly, and he growled without looking. “Shut that fucking thing off.”
Lonnie rolled her eyes. “I can’t just ignore it. It could be Nicholas or Zan.”
She got up, moving away from the sound of the TV to answer. “Yeah,” she said into the phone.
Rath’s entire attention went back to his movie. He didn’t care what Zan or Nicholas might have to say.
A moment later Lonnie’s voice carried over the screeching tires, gunfire and explosions he was watching.
“What?!?” she burst out incredulously.
With a flick of her hand she used her powers to shut off the television.
Annoyed, Rath’s gaze flicked to Lonnie, and he opened his mouth to object, but the expression on her face made him stop.
She looked more surprised than he’d ever seen her.
Rath wondered who was calling, and quickly decided it must be Nicholas.
What was that freak telling her now? he wondered. What could possibly shock her into silence?
Lonnie could be a real bitch, but she was his bitch, and he didn’t like Nicholas messing with her.
He watched her as completely silent, she listened to the caller, and her face went through a gamut of emotions; annoyance, confusion, anger.
“You’d better be completely straight with me,” she growled into her phone.
Pacing back and forth, she listened intently for long minutes, and finally a smile raised the corners of her mouth.
“We’ll be there,” she said. “Just make sure it’s all set up, and we’ll take care of the rest.”
With a pensive expression she hung up.
Rath waited for her to say something, but when she remained silent he burst out, “Lonnie! What the fuck was that? What does that bastard Nicholas want now?”
Her gaze turned to him. “We’ve gotta talk.”
Never Underestimate Destiny|
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