It's October 27th. I'm Liz Parker, and the past few days have been such a roller-coaster ride. I've wanted to both laugh and cry, scream for joy and just scream.
It still seems unreal -- Max from 14 years in the future somehow came back to tell me I had to stay away from Max ... I mean the "now" Max. But it was hard because Max didn't want to let go, and it was horrible to have to be so callous to push him away. I hate hurting people, especially people I care for. And I do care for him, even though I'd secretly still been dreaming of...you know. Anyway, nothing worked until I got Kyle to help me -- we pretended we'd slept together and staged it in such a way that Max was sure to find us. I felt so bad when I saw his face -- I felt like the biggest jerk, even though it was for a good cause.
But that's nothing compared to what Maria's been through the past 2 days. She was so happy when Michael made peace with her, and then right away she catches him with an almost-naked Courtney! Poor Maria -- I think she might have truly loved Michael. I passed through the Crashdown employee area on my way to get a glass of milk from the kitchens, after the Max/Future Max/Kyle fiasco was over, and I saw her hard at work. She looked so broken up ... I don't know how she made it through her shift. I gave her a quick hug, but I didn't stay long since she had the Friday-night crowd to deal with.
So I guess I wasn't too surprised when she came up to my room later on. I had been sitting out on the balcony, just relaxing with a book. I heard someone come in and I knew right away it was her -- my mother usually knocks first -- so I climbed back into my room. Maria's eyes were all red and she looked almost lost. I put my arm around her shoulders and steered her over to my bed, where we sat down side by side on the edge. Maria leaned her head on my shoulder and began to cry, so I just kept my arm around her and held her close. In between the tears she told me the whole story -- I'd heard it from Alex already, but I knew Maria needed to vent so I let her talk. And all the while I held her.
When she was done, I passed her the Kleenex box and gave her a kiss on the forehead as I handed it over. We had never repeated -- or mentioned - that kiss we shared 2 years ago, but Maria didn't seem to mind being fairly touchy-feely with our friendship -- to a point. Linking arms as we walked down the halls at school, or that time I put my head in her lap when my grandmother was sick, that sort of thing. OK, so a kiss on the forehead wasn't part of the normal repertoire. But it had been a long time since we'd been so close, emotionally or physically, and I had planted it on her before I could stop myself. I immediately cursed myself for crossing the boundaries, and I hoped that, given her current state, she would just take it as just a soothing sign of affection or, better yet, not notice what I had done at all.
Maria did notice, though. She lifted her head, and brought her tear-blurred eyes up to gaze into mine. There was a pause, during which I felt like she was trying to stare right into my soul.... I didn't breathe for a minute, afraid of her reaction. But then, unbelievably, Maria brought her lips in to meet mine in a soft kiss. This was immediately followed by another kiss, more insistent this time. Oh God, it felt so good to be doing this again -- I was afraid that I had idealized that first (and only) kiss 2 years ago, that I had been dreaming of a false memory, but it was just as wonderful as I remembered. My reaction was instinctive -- I intensified the kiss, bringing my hand up to cup Maria's neck and pull her closer. Our tongues met and caressed each other, sending rays of pleasure shooting through my body.
I was ready to drown myself in the long-sought-after sensation, but then I suddenly remembered what had happened last time, how Maria had freaked out after she realized what we had done. And she wasn't really herself tonight -- would she regret this, too? I wrenched my lips away and sat back to look at her. Maria's breathing was already getting ragged. Her lips were swollen from kissing, her hair was charmingly disheveled, and the top snap of her uniform had somehow come undone. I ached to run my fingers through the long blond strands, to press my lips to her exposed skin. But I had to know....
"Maria," I whispered, "are you sure about this?"
She nodded once, quickly, before pulling me back into her arms and kissing me again. "Shhh." She murmured against my lips. "Don't talk. And don't stop. Don't stop."
Don't stop. I heard those words and something inside of me let loose. I was suddenly so tired of always being in control, of being the "good girl", of following the accepted rules, of being careful. I was always the one to stop.
I had been dreaming of kissing Maria again for two years. And fantasized of more, much more.
And here she was, in my arms, or I in hers. We were kissing, exploring, touching. And I wasn't going to stop. Our fingers trailed over curves, pulling off clothing that got in our way. I finally got to see her beautiful body, with all its curves and lines -- we'd changed clothes in front of each other before, but this was different. I actually got to feast my eyes, to reach out and touch, when before I'd always dutifully averted my gaze. I discovered a new power and reveled in it -- the power to make someone else feel passion, to bring them to the brink and tease over and over with lips and fingers and tongue until there was no more stopping, not for either of us.
And an even greater discovery -- that I was capable of feeling it too. Before, when I'd messed around with the few guys to come into my life -- Tom, Kyle, Max -- I felt little twinges of pleasure, but that was about it. I thought maybe that was all there was. The only time I got more was by myself, alone in my room. Nothing like this, though. Maybe because we were the same gender, or maybe just because it was Maria, but I reacted as I never had before. She knew exactly where to touch, and how, and for how long. "Don't stop," I remember saying, echoing her, and she didn't. Not until I had reached the explosive end.
We fell asleep in each other's arms after that, waking a few hours later. Maria said she'd better get home before her mom worried too much. But it wasn't at all like our last parting -- I know, because before slipping out the door, she kissed me again and whispered "Thank you."
And now I'm sitting here, alone, but content. I don't know what's going to happen between me and Maria down the road -- will she let me love her again? I think so. Something is different now.
One funny thing, though -- Future Max was right. I did make love for the first time tonight, just as he'd predicted. But it wasn't with Max....
It was with my own dreamgirl.