Ava sat at the table, eating her cereal absent-mindedly as she watched Zan.
He was definitely different, she decided. He was smiling all the time and he seemed so happy, and she was sure she knew why. Liz.
Sure, he’d told her it was an impossible situation with Liz, but he must have worked it out. He’d never be so happy if he wasn’t with her.
And Ava was happy for him. Zan deserved to be with the woman he loved. She just wondered why they were keeping it so quiet.
He looked up, meeting her eyes. “What?” he asked. “You’ve been staring at me for like five minutes.”
Ava smiled. “You’re with Liz,” she stated, without a doubt in her mind.
Zan was shocked, and it showed on his face.
Ava laughed. “It’s so obvious,” she said. “I was watching you with her at practice the other day and you looked so comfortable together. You whispered to her, and she touched you. You are definitely more than friends. And I’ve never seen you so happy.”
He was about to deny her words but he shook his head in disbelief. She knew him so well.
“You can’t say anything,” he said, smiling.
She jumped up, rushing around the table and hugged him. “Oh Zan, I’m so happy for you. I knew it would work out. You guys are perfect together.”
He hugged her back, chuckling. “Really though, you can’t tell anyone.”
Pulling back, she met his eyes. “Why not? What’s going on?”
Briefly he considered telling her, but he’d agreed to keep it quiet for now. “Ava, it is more complicated than you could possibly imagine. But yes, I’m with Liz, and we’re happy.”
She shook her head. “You’re not going to be able to keep it quiet for long,” she said. “I’m surprised no one else has noticed you two together.”
Zan nodded, taking in her words. “We will tell people when we can,” he said. “Things are just so difficult right now with Lonnie and Rath out to kill us.
Ava’s eyes widened. “You’re afraid that Lonnie and Rath will go after Liz if they found out you love her.”
“That’s part of it,” he agreed.
She studied him for a moment, wondering what else stood in their way, but decided he’d tell her when he was ready.
Nodding, she met his eyes. “I understand. I won’t say anything.”
“I know you won’t” he assured her. Tilting his head, he smiled as he changed the subject. “So what is going on with you and Kyle?”
Tess watched across the room as Liz and Max sat talking over their Chemistry experiment. They weren’t touching or flirting, but it was so obvious that they were back together.
They were sitting a little too close together, and they held each others’ gaze a little too long for people who were just friends.
She was amazed that no one else seemed to notice.
Of course Max had told her that he wouldn’t be with her, and Tess suspected he was trying to get back with Liz. But seeing it in front of her made her stomach twist with jealously.
Max was supposed to be with her.
Tess took a deep breath. It didn’t matter what Max did with Liz. She was just a distraction to him. In the end, Max would realize how unimportant Liz was, and he would turn to her.
She just had to focus on what was important and get Max to the summit.
After practice, Zan, Liz and Max waited for the others to leave so they could have their own private practice and time alone.
Ava motioned for Zan to come and talk to her, and he moved away. Speaking briefly to her, he returned to stand with Max and Liz as she left, and they said their goodbyes to the others.
They spoke together softly, waving as Tess and Isabel left together, and Max nodded at Michael who nodded back.
Waiting until Michael’s motorcycle finally roared out of the parking lot, Liz turned to Zan. “I hate that we have to kill them.”
Instantly Zan knew what she was talking about. Lonnie and Rath.
“I don’t like it either,” Zan admitted. “But I’m really not surprised it’s come to this,” he said with a sigh.
“The three of us have never been close like you guys have. Rath and I were kind of friends when we were younger, but since he and Lonnie became lovers, he’s changed. She’s using her relationship with him to turn him against me. She pretends to be the peacemaker between us, but I know she’s just trying to manipulate me. For the last few years Lonnie’s been getting more and more mean and defiant, and she’s been subtly challenging my powers and my leadership.”
Liz nodded. “But she’s still your sister.” She touched his chest. “It’s got to be so hard for you.”
Zan grimaced. “I would do anything else if I thought it would work. But Lonnie and Rath will keep trying to kill me until they succeed. I’ve screwed up Lonnie’s plan to go back. She’ll never forget that. She’ll want revenge, and nothing will stop her. It has to be done.”
Liz hugged him. “I’m really sorry.”
Wrapping her in his arms, he hugged her back. “Thank you,” he said kissing her head. “I’m just glad I have you,” he nodded to Max, “all of you.”
Max clasped him on the shoulder. “I can’t imagine what you’re going through, but I’m here for anything you need.”
Zan nodded again. “We should get started. We really are running out of time.”
“Okay,” Liz agreed. “I’ll try connecting with both of you without touching you.”
They’d been working on it since they discovered it was possible.
Liz closed her eyes, reached out with mind, and instantly felt Max and Zan’s energy joining with her own. It was getting easier to connect with them, and she briefly wondered if it was because of her practice or because they were sleeping together every chance they got.
“I’m betting on the sex,” Zan said, having heard it in her mind.
She smiled and laughed, opening her eyes to look at them, and instantly she was filled with desire for them along with a surge of intense energy. She gasped as the two sensations rushed through her, but pushed past the arousal to concentrate on their powers.
Zan lifted a hand and sent a burst of power toward a target, and at the last minute Max used his power to redirect it so it destroyed a different target.
“That’s excellent,” Zan said.
Max nodded. “I feel stronger every time we do this. Stronger and more in control.”
“Me too,” Zan agreed.
At the same time, they both turned to Liz and she nodded too. I can connect with you much easier, and I’m getting better control over my powers.
They practiced with their combined power for more than an hour before they started getting tired.
Liz sighed in relief, unconsciously pressing her body against Zan. “I’m glad we’re getting so much power. Everything is happening so fast.”
Instantly his arms closed around her. “We’ll keep you safe from them.”
“Yeah,” Max said, pressing against her back and rubbing her arms. “We have a good plan. We won’t let anything happen to you.”
Liz put one arm around Max as her desire rose. “And what about you? You’re in danger too.”
“Lonnie needs Max alive,” Zan said, “but we’ll make sure everyone is safe.” He kissed her forehead, pulling her closer. “We have the upper-hand here. We know when they’re coming.”
Liz rubbed Zan’s chest while she turned her head to Max. She could feel the desire rapidly building in all three of them.
Max leaned down, kissing her hungrily, cupping her head, and she felt Zan’s lips on the back of her neck. A hand was on her stomach, moving up to cup her breast. It was exactly what she needed.
Leaning her back, Max moved to kiss the line of her throat, and she gasped in pleasure.
“I wonder if it’s always going to be like this,” she purred, “wanting each other so much when we use the power.”
“We can stop,” Zan said softly in her ear. “If you don’t want to go any farther, we don’t have to.”
“Yes,” Max agreed between kisses. “This is all about you.”
She turned her head to kiss Zan. “No,” Liz said, sliding her hands into their hair, holding them close. “Don’t stop. It’s about all three of us, and what we all want. And I know what we want right now is to go upstairs.”
“Want a Coke?” Michael called out, his head buried in his refrigerator.
“Sure,” Max answered from where he was sitting at the counter.
Michael placed two Cokes, a large bottle of Tabasco and a package of Oreos on the counter before joining him. “The game’s starting any minute,” he said enthusiastically.
Max nodded. “I don’t know anything about hockey. You’ll have to tell me what’s going on while we watch.”
“Right,” Michael said. “I still can’t believe you’re actually here. You haven’t been over for a while. Zan comes over more than you have lately.”
“Yeah,” Max said, “I’m sorry about that. I’ve been preoccupied.”
Michael nodded. “Let me guess, you’ve been trying to get Liz back.”
Max looked at him surprised, but Michael didn’t even notice and shook Tabasco on a cookie, popping it in his mouth before continuing. “I mean what else could be taking up so much of your time?”
“Well, I’ve been practicing with …” Max started, only to be cut off again.
“Oh, right,” Michael said. “You’re using the old, ‘we’ll practice our powers together’ on Liz to spend time with her. And it must be working,” he continued. “Seems like you are always ‘practicing’.
Suddenly Michael looked at Max. “That’s it, isn’t it? You’re not practicing at all. You and Liz are back together.”
Max opened his mouth with a denial on his lips, but Michael spoke over him again, slapping him on the back. “I should have seen it earlier,” he said with a laugh. “You’ve been in a good mood lately.”
With a scowl, Max shifted his gaze to Michael. Was he that transparent? He thought he was doing a good job keeping his relationship with Liz a secret.
“So why didn’t you say anything?” Michael asked.
For a moment Max considered lying to Michael, but he decided to go with the truth, or part of it anyway. “It’s really complicated,” Max said. “Liz and I are . . . well, . . .”
Michael nodded. “Yeah, I understand,” he said, offering Max a cookie. “Women.”
Taking the Oreo, Max let Michael believe his misconception. “Don’t say anything, okay?” he asked. “Not even to Maria. We need time to, um, sort everything out, okay?”
“Sure,” Michael agreed. “But I don’t know how long you can keep it from Maria. She can find out anything. She puts the CIA to shame.”
Zan stopped his car outside the Crashdown, and pressed speed dial on his phone. It was answered in one ring, and spoke briefly. “I’m here, baby.”
He hated having to sneak around and not pick-up Liz properly for their dates, but Liz’s parents didn’t even know he existed, much less that they were dating.
Watching through the front window into the cafe, he saw Liz come into the dining room and through the restaurant to the front door. Just the sight of her made him smile. She was everything to him.
Getting out of his car, he went to meet her, squeezing her hand. “Hey baby,” he growled.
“Hey Zan,” she purred.
He wanted to take her in his arms and kiss her senseless, but there was the possibility someone might be watching. So instead her led her around the car and opened the door for her, putting her inside.
Liz waited for Zan to get the car onto the road, and then she reached for his hand.
Taking her hand, he lifted it to his lips, kissing her knuckles. He could tell she was worried. “It will be okay,” he assured her.
The ride was short, and Zan pulled the car into his parking lot, stopping it next to the front door. They got out of the car, and Zan held the door open for Liz into the practice room, letting her go in first.
“I hope it’s okay that we’re having our date here,” he said. “Ava’s out for hours, so I rented some DVDs, and you can even choose the movie. I ordered all your favorite Chinese food, and it should be here any minute. And later I’ll make popcorn if you want, and we can just spend a quiet night together.”
“Sounds perfect,” Liz answered. “It will give us a nice, normal night.”
He shut the door and they moved farther into the room. Shedding his jacket, he reached for hers as she took it off, and laid them both on a nearby table.
Instantly Liz moved into his arms, standing on tiptoe to kiss him. “And your bedroom is so close.”
Chuckling, he kissed her again, pressing her body to his.
“So what movies did you get?” she asked, when they broke the kiss.
“Well,” he started, “I asked Ava what she thought girls would be interested in, and I picked up a few she suggested.
Pulling some DVDs out of his jacket pocket, he handed them to her one at a time for her approval. “The Princess Bride, 10 Things I Hate About You, Never Been Kissed,” he trailed off as Liz interrupted.
“Which one do you want to see?” she asked with a smile.
He shrugged. “I haven’t seen any of them.”
A knock at the door interrupted them.
“That must be the Chinese,” he said, looking up.
Releasing Liz he moved to the door, swinging it open.
A large bag of Chinese food was the first thing he noticed, but he stopped cold when he saw who was holding it.
Rath stood just outside, and Lonnie was right next to him.
“My dear brother,” Lonnie said. “We paid for the food, so you won’t mind if we eat it, right?”
“Yeah,” Rath said. “Killing people always gives me an appetite.”
Never Underestimate Destiny|
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