Spacer thingies are gone. So it just looks like a big... blob of events. Tried to fix it. Sorry.

The Sun You Seek

Chapter 1

What does one do in these situations? What do you do when you find your boyfriend, the love of your life, with another woman? In your own house! She hadn't wanted to believe it.

Max would never do that to her! But he had! And she had seen him! She was coming home from visiting her friend, and Max had brought his 'friend' over!

She was supposed to be gone till tomorrow, but the desire to see Max made her come back the day before. She had stopped by the store to pick up some supplies... to make him his favorite dish.

Charlize opened the door to their little house, ready to surprise Max if he was home. She tip-toed quietly into the house. He wasn't in the living room, or in the kitchen. 'Maybe he's not home at all,' she thought as she searched the bathroom. Just then she heard a low noise coming from her bedroom. She stopped walking, and moving altogether, in hopes of making sure she'd really heard it. There it was again! She frowned and walked to the bedroom. She opened the door...

What she saw made her heart sink. There was Max, in their bed, with none other than Miss Rachel Bancroft herself. She didn't react for a few seconds. Her heart rate sped up, doubling its pace. After a few seconds she had regained her breath enough to manage a startled gasp. The two occupants of the bed finally heard the gasp. Two pairs of blue eyes turned to look at her. Both pairs of eyes got round.

Charlize put her hand in her mouth, as if trying to stifle the noise she had already made. Max quickly scrambled off the bed, not saying anything, desperately looking for his shorts.

The initial shock of seeing her beloved in bed with another woman still had not passed. It was strange, she didn't feel anything right then. All she could think of was, 'Hayden told me. He knew and I didn't believe it.'

Not one word had been uttered from the three people in the room. Max found his shorts, slipped them on and turned to Charlize. What could he say? How could he explain? He looked at her face, but there was nothing there. No emotion at all. He looked at her eyes, those expressive blue eyes that betrayed how she felt. They were calm, too calm. Like the calm before the storm, and her eyes promised a torrent of emotions.

Rachel breathed deeply. How could she just stand there looking at them?

Charlize finally turned her eyes to Rachel. With her eyes flashing she said, "Get out."

Rachel hesitated. She looked at Charlize again, but then turned her eyes down. She couldn't look at her.

She didn't move.

"I said 'get the fuck out'!" Charlize said sharply.

Still nothing from Max.

Charlize's eyes closed, and for the first time, betraying the hurt and anger raging inside. "Get the fuck out of my house, bitch, before I go over there and kick the shit out of you! Now! Get the hell out of here!" Charlize shouted.

"Charlize," Max said softly, for the first time speaking.

Charlize looked at him. "First get this tramp out of here, then talk to me!"

"Rachel, please leave. I need to talk to..."

"I'm sorry you had to find out this way," said Rachel, wrapping the sheet around her and getting out of the bed. She looked at Max pleadingly.

Shaking her head, Charlize moved around the room throwing Rachel her clothes. She finished and picked up the phone.

"What are you doing, Charlize?" asked Max. He didn't know how to react. He didn't know what to say. If only Charlize would do something, if only she'd start yelling and asking questions.

The phone on the other line rang. After four rings a deep masculine voice picked it up. "Hello?" said the voice, it sounded sleepy.

She was ready to break down, tears threatened to fall. She took a deep breath before replying, "It's Charlize, get over here."

Hayden frowned. Her voice sounded strange. "I'll be there in five minutes, what happened?"

"Just get over here!" she said angrily and hung up the phone.

Max had moved to where she was standing. "Who did you call?"

She smiled ruefully at him. No, she couldn't cry yet. Not like this, not yet. Charlize closed her eyes and took a deep breath. "How could you? WHY?" she yelled.

"I love her," he said quietly, looking directly at her.

"And you couldn't tell me that before? You couldn't break up with me?" She pushed past him. Rachel was still just standing there with her clothes in her hands.

Charlize walked into the living room. She rung her hands. A deep, painfully slow beat in her heart. She started crying. Large, crystal clear tears making paths down her cheeks. Her breath was coming in short, shallow breaths now. A sob coming from her throat, it racked her body so, that she had to lean on the wall for support. Bile rose up in her throat. She was nauseous. The world was spinning, she felt herself falling onto the floor.

She picked herself up and went to the front door, at the moment she didn't care where Max and Rachel were. All she wanted was to open the front door.

Tires screeched to a halt in her driveway. Charlize saw the driver run to the open front door. Strong arms picked her up. "Hayden, I saw them!" she said brokenly. "Max and... and Rachel!"

"What the hell are you talking about? You're not making any sense!" Hayden said, shaking her a little.

Charlize cried harder. "Go in there, go in the bedroom and see for yourself!"

He shook his head, his frown deepened. He helped her get up and led her inside the house, heading for the bedroom. The door was opened, and what he saw made him stop in his tracks. Rachel was sitting on the edge of the bed, of Max's bed! And she was putting on her clothes. His eyes hardened.

A sob from Charlize brought Rachel's head up, making eye contact with Hayden. His eyes moved around the room, looking for prey.

"Hayden?" said Max.

Max was in the other side of the room buttoning his pants. Letting go of Charlize's arm, he lunged at the other man. Hayden landed his punch against Max's midsection. The relentless man then went for his jaw.

"Hayden! Stop it! Hayden!" yelled Rachel. She ran towards them. Placing her hands on Hayden's shoulders she pulled. "Stop it! Hayden, you can't solve anything like this!"

Hayden shrugged her off, he was determined to do some damage. He landed more punches. His fury never spent. He was seeing red, everywhere he looked there was red. And like a beacon, Max had pulled him.

"Charlize, help me!" said Rachel to Charlize. She didn't move. She had stopped crying, she was watching in amazement as Hayden hit Max. The calm she'd experience before had evaporated, now there was anger, a lot of anger mixed with hurt feelings. It took a lot of effort not to let herself go off on Rachel. Charlize clenched and unclenched her fists, they were itching.

"Hayden, let me explain!" yelled Max. He was on the floor wiping blood from his mouth. There were several cuts on his face, a rather deep one getting blood in his left eye. "Hayden, I love her!"

Hayden looked at him. Rachel was grabbing his shoulders again, trying to hold him back. "Get off me!" he yelled at her, once again shrugging her off. He looked from her to Max.

"Hayden, please..." said Rachel. She moved towards him again, but he moved away.

"Why didn't you tell me?" he asked, hurt evident in his voice.

"I-- we didn't want to hurt you."

"Bullshit!" yelled Charlize. "You knew exactly what would happen if we found out like this! You're making excuses to make yourselves look better! Why, Max, why didn't you tell me? I love you, I would have let you go if I'd known that you loved her!"

"Please, Charlize, understand. I loved you too--"

"Loved? You never loved her if you've been fucking my girlfriend! How long has this been going on?" asked Hayden. He was beside Charlize now. She was looking pale, her eyes very big. "How could you do this? Your best friend's girlfriend!"

"I-- Charlize I'm sorry..." he whispered. She was crying again, he hated to see her cry. He wanted to hug her, to tell her that he never wanted it to happen this way.

"Get out of my house, Max. I don't want to see you again." She felt so tired. She leaned into Hayden.


Chapter 2

Max packed his things, Rachel had long since gone. Only Hayden and Charlize remained in the house with him, only giving him a chance to pack his things and leave. They were in the kitchen, he could hear Charlize talking to Hayden quietly. She was crying. It hurt him to know how much pain he'd caused her, and he knew that she was right about breaking up with her. She would have let him go if she had known that Rachel made him happy. And now she was in pain, in more pain than she would have been if she'd know about it 'God, I'm an idiot! How am I going to fix this?' he thought. He zipped the last of his bags. He'd taken everything, from his clothes to his toothbrush. Hopefully he had packed everything. He walked into the hall, Charlize's voice getting a little bit louder as he approached her location.

"... am I... to do... problems with... I didn't know." He heard bits and pieces of their conversation. She was sitting in a chair with a cup of tea, he guessed. Hayden didn't drink coffee. He looked at her and Hayden, he had his hand over hers, a sign of comfort. Max shook his head. 'What did I do?'

He cleared his throat to get their attention. Charlize raised pained eyes to his direction. They were red and puffy from the crying she had done for the last few hours. She put her hands on her face. Something on her hand caught her attention. She pulled the diamond solitaire ring on her left ring finger and place it on the table in front of her. "Take that with you," she said hoarsely. Hayden didn't say anything to him, he didn't even look.

Max walked the few paces between himself and the table and reached for the ring. He put it in his pocket. "I'm sorry," he said quietly.

"Don't say anything," said Hayden, speaking for the first time. "And tell Rachel to get all her shit from my apartment. I don't want to find anyhing that is hers when I get there."

Still crying, Charlize got up and opened the front door. "Leave." She was holding the door wide open, he could see all the tears that would fall once he was gone. He had already put the suitcases and boxes in his care earlier, the only one that remained was the one already in his hands. He walked to the door, his eyes pleading with Charlize for... for something. He didn't know what...

He glanced back at the door when he was backing out of the drive way. Hayden was there, holding a crying Charlize. She had her arms around his waist and her head was buried in the material of his shirt against his shoulder. Max clenched his jaw and drove away.

"What did I do wrong, Hayden? He should have told me, instead of going behind my back!" cried Charlize.

Hayden closed the door of the house. He put his arm around Charlize's shaking shoulders. "I don't know." he whispered. "I don't know. I don't know." he said again.

"What am I going to do, Hayden? My world practically revolved around him!"

"Learn to live without him, just like I will learn to live without Rachel." He laughed a little, but with no humor. "This is what I was most afraid of, Charlize. This is the situation that I never wanted to find myself in. And that's why I didn't want to love her! And this is precisely why I will never let anyone close to me again. I don't want to be hurt."

"I don't know if I'll ever be able to love anyone as much as I love him, but I'm not going to say that I won't take the chance to love again. I want— I don't even know what I want anymore. I won't let him destroy me."

"I need a drink," said Hayden. "Come on."

With that, Hayden took Charlize to a bar where they both proceeded to get fucked up. They were driven to Charlize's home by a cab the bartender had called for them.


Chapter 3

All of that had happened a year and a half ago. A year and a half in which Charlize didn't know how many times she and Hayden had gotten drunk together. They weren't alcoholics, they didn't do it everyday, but sometimes it was just hard to remember everything that had happened without having the urge to totally forget about it. It sure beat getting drunk by yourself. At least together they could watch out for each other. It wasn't like that was the only thing they did together. Sometimes they would meet for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Charlize sighed. They had been spending a lot of time together, most of the time he spent the night at her house, on the couch. Neither one of them could stomach to the thought of sleeping in what used to be Charlize's and Max's room. She hadn't changed it at all. The big bed still sat there, nothing had changed. She only went in there to clean and open the window once a week. She would never sleep in there again.

Charlize was getting ready for her next shoot. She worked as a model for a magazine company. She didn't have to work, her family's business gave her enough money but she liked doing something besides sitting somewhere thinking about Max. And she couldn't model professionally, she wasn't tall enough, but his way she did something she liked. And it helped her to know that other men thought she was pretty and to know that that wasn't the reason Max had left her. Far from it, Hayden had said one night when they were having dinner in his apartment. 'You got a nice butt, nice boobs, I guess,' said Hayden jokingly. She had punched him in the arm, lightly, for that one. 'And you've got a pretty face.'

'Gee, thanks mom,' she had said.

'But I'm not your mom and I'm telling you the truth,' he'd shot back with a surprisingly sexy smile.

That was the first time that they fallen in bed together. They weren't anything, or anybody to each other. Just some friends who met now and then, had dinner, and if the mood struck they had sex. It had not been awkward, for a strange reason, the next morning. They just got up, said good morning and went about their business. They didn't' have any feelings for each other, all they felt was friendship. Whey did they do this? One: because they didn't want to have sex with some stranger, a stranger who might want emotional attachment afterwards and Two: because it was good. Plain and simple.

Neither of them could forget their loved ones. Loved ones that had fallen for each other. And who knew if they were still together. Misery loved company, and Hayden and Charlize were miserable together.


Charlize adjusted her bikini top one last time and walked out into the sunlight. She wondered what kind of shots they were going to do. They were at the beach in California.

"Charlize?" she heard a male voice ask behind her.

She turned around and came face to face with Hayden. "Hayden, what are you doing here?" she asked, truly surprised.

"I'm freelancing, remember? I'm a photographer," he said rolling his eyes. "They said they were short and they needed someone good."

"You're so modest," she said rolling her eyes back at him. "Let's start, it's hot out here and it's sunny. Not a good combination for someone as pale as me!"


The phone rang in Charlize's hotel room. She opened one of her eyes and read the face of the digital clock on her bedside table. 9:20 a.m. Too early to get up in her book. "Who the hell is calling at his friggin' hour?" asked an irritated Hayden on the other side of the bed.

"I don't know," mumbled Charlize into the pillow. "Answer it so it's stops, though,".

"Hello?" he barked sleepily into the phone.

"Hayden?" said a man's voice. "What are you doing there?"

"Who the hell is this?" answered Hayden, sitting up from the bed.

"It's Max."

"What the hell do you want?" he asked angrily.

The line was quiet for a few seconds before Max replied, "I need to talk to Charlize. It's about--"

"Hold on," he said interrupting him. Shaking Charlize's shoulder he said, "Hey, get up, it's for you."

"Who is it?" Max heard Charlize ask in a sleepy voice. They were sleeping together! Hayden was in Charlize's hotel room at 9 in the morning and they had both been asleep!

"Hello?"

"Charlize, it's Max. I need to talk to you, can you meet me today?"

There was an audible sigh from Charlize's end of the line. "Why?" How did he even know she was here?

"It's about the company. I want know--"

"I thought we could go on as it was before. I don't want to see you," she told him.

"There's something--" he started but he was interrupted by the person on the other line.

"Tell me when and where," Hayden, who had obviously taken the phone from Charlize said.

"The restaurant of," there was a pause before he continued, "your hotel. In two hours?"

"Fine," he said and hung up.

Max sighed. Then he frowned. Why was Hayden in Charlize's hotel room? And obviously sleeping in her bed— with her!? 'Non of your business Max, it stopped being your business a long time ago.' But why was a heavy weight settling in his chest?

Chapter Four

"Why'd you do that?" cried Charlize, yet again, an hour later. "I don't want to see him, and I doubt you want to see her! In fact, that's the last thing we both want, and you know that!" she said getting off the bed. They had been arguing like that for the last hour, neither of them getting off the bed.

"It's about your business, Charlize. That's important regardless of whether you want to see him or not," he said with his usual calmness. "I'm going to take a shower now, we're going to meet him in," he looked at the clock on the other side of the bed, "in one hour. I'll be out in ten minutes," Hayden told her going into the bathroom.

Charlize sighed. 'Damn, after a year and a half and we're going to see him, and her too, probably. Seeing those two any time in this life time will be too soon for me.' She shook her head and began searching in her bag for some clothes. "Hayden, you want me to get you some clothes out?" she yelled, making sure he heard her over the spray of the shower.

"Yeah, thanks!" Hayden braced his hands on the wall of the shower. He was going to see the two people that had caused him the most pain in his entire life in two hours. He let the hot spray of the shower flow over his body. He was tense, as soon as Charlize had mentioned that she didn't want to see him his muscles had tightened. 'I have to show her that I've moved on; that I don't care about her anymore. I need both of them to see that what they did didn't break neither me or Charlize.' Hayden rinsed the shampoo on his head and lathered the little puff in the shower. "Hayden, hurry up! You know how long it takes me to get ready!" he heard Charlize yell. He smiled. She was a good friend, the only good outcome of Max's and Rachel's cheating. She was his best friend now, and he was sure he was her best friend too.

He turned the hot water off and picked up the towel. The sting of the hot water had done nothing to take away his bitter thoughts. All the happy memories he had of Rachel were clouded by that day. He discarded the wet towel and wrapped a dry one around his waist, a smaller one going on his head to dry his unruly hair.

"I put your clothes on the bed," Charlize said as she looked through her own clothes once more to find the 'right' ones to wear.

"Thank you," murmured Hayden under his towel. He walked to the bed. He didn't turn around until he heard Charlize go into the bathroom.

He heard the hiss of the shower. He yelled, "Charlize, I'm not wearing this!"

"Oh, come on! Do it for me! Haven't you seen what I'm wearing? We're in California Hayden! In L.A. to be exact, please!" she said sweetly.

"Fine, but you owe me a big ass favor for this! And you'll have to pay me in any way I choose!" he yelled, laughing at what he was going to wear. He looked at what Charlize had picked out for herself. He laughed aloud this time. A light blue, spaghetti strapped sundress with matching sandals.


An hour later, Hayden and Charlize walked down to the restaurant. Charlize glanced at Hayden and giggled. He was wearing loose jeans and a light blue button down shirt, which was unbuttoned and showing off his tanned chest. "Don't laugh, Charlize. Look at what your wearing."

She rolled her eyes and looked down at her short sundress. "It's hot outside, and unlike you, I haven't gotten a tan. I need one. But just a little one because we still have to shoot tomorrow," she said dramatically.

When the words had come out of her mouth two heads immediately turned to them. One with honey blonde hair and the other with dark brown hair. Max stood up from his chair and motioned for them to come over to the table for four.

"Told you she'd come," whispered Charlize to Hayden.

They both approached the table. Hayden pulled out the chair for Charlize, touching his hand to her shoulder for a brief moment. A gesture which made both Rachel and Max frown.

"Hi," said Rachel shyly. She was addressing both of them but neither of them made a comment.

"Hi, Charlize. Hi Hayden," said Max hesitantly. Neither Charlize nor Hayden looked like they wanted to be there. Their expressions were almost bored. Charlize didn't say anything, and Hayden merely nodded. An awkward silence fell among the four young people.

"It's good to see you guys again," said Rachel quietly, looking mostly at Hayden. "You guys look good, have you been in L.A. for long?"

Both Hayden and Charlize looked ahead, neither wanting to see the faces of the people that had betrayed them. They didn't comment to anything. 'I can't do this,' thought Charlize. Her thoughts echoed Hayden's.

"Yeah well, I can't say the same about you two," snapped Charlize. Underneath the table Hayden place his hand on top of Charlize's, a sign of comfort. He was surprised to find that Charlize was losing her cool, her hand was clenched tightly into a fist, he knew, without looking, that the knuckles were white.

In another effort to break the thick silence Max said, "You guys want to order something? I thought we could discuss our business over breakfast."

Charlize was about to shake her head when Hayden intersected her by saying, "Excuse us for a minute." He pushed her chair out and allowed her to stand up. "Charlize, come on. He's being adult about this, you should too," he whispered.

"I can't, Hayden," said Charlize with tears in her eyes. She was trying to blink them back. "I can't stop thinking about what they did! How can you forgive them? I know it hurt you just the way it hurt me."

"I did, but we can't live in the past! We have to move on and grow up. We learned a lesson from that!"

"I'm not living in the past, it's just that I can't forget how much it hurt me! Don't ask me to have breakfast with them, please!" she cried, running her hand through her still-wet, shoulder length black hair.

Hayden looked at her pained expression. "Maybe we can get over them, by seeing how happy they are with each other."

"Hayden, you are stronger than me, you can do this! I gave my heart to Max and he stomped on it!"

"And you think that I didn't give mine to Rachel without apprehensions?" he whispered. "The first— the only—person that I've ever loved and she breaks my heart, Charlize! We can do this, we can show them that they didn't break us? And if you can't do it for you, then do it for me, show me you're strong!"

She hugged him briefly. Aware that several of the other customers had turned to look a them. "But I don't have to be nice to either one of them," she stated.

Several questions ran through Max's and Rachel's heads. One of which was, 'What is going on between them?'

Max took Rachel's hand and kissed it. He looked at her only to see that she was looking at where Hayden and Charlize were. "What's wrong?" he asked her, a little annoyed by the way she had been looking at Hayden.

She shook her head and turned to him. "Nothing, I was just wondering if they're... you know, dating? They seem pretty close," she answered coolly, she had also noticed the way her boyfriend was looking at Charlize.

Charlize and Hayden came back to the table. Charlize's heart twisted in her chest when she saw Max holding Rachel's hand, and it had hurt badly when he'd picked it up and kissed it. She sent a meaningful glance at Hayden. He smiled softly at her.

Max frowned a little. He didn't like the fact that something was going on between them. Rachel had told him that Hayden was a nice guy, that he was a great boyfriend to her, but he still didn't like it. Charlize deserved much better.

The waitress came over to their table. They ordered their breakfast. The quiet was getting to Max and Rachel, after all, they were the ones that had something to be ashamed of. It wasn't like Charlize or Hayden had been sneaking behind anyone's backs. They were free to do what they wanted. "It's nice here, do you guys spend a lot of time here?" he asked.

"No, I'm here on a shoot for a few days," said Charlize flatly, not elaborating.

"Oh, what kind of shoot?" asked Rachel politely. She smiled at Charlize.

"I'm a model."

"Really? I never knew you were interested in modeling," said Max.

"I wasn't until a year ago," said Charlize, sounding a little bored. Normally she would elaborate on how much she liked doing what she did, but today was different.

"And you and Hayden? Did you come with Charlize? asked Rachel.

"No, I'm a photographer. We met by chance."

"Oh, well what a coincidence..." Rachel trailed off. Her mind was even more confused than before.

'Why would they be sleeping in the same room if he didn't come with her and they met by chance?' thought Max.

"Are we playing 20 questions or are going to talk about business any time soon?" snapped Charlize. Hayden looked at her, but she didn't look back. She wanted to be out of there soon.

The waitress chose that moment to bring them the items they had each ordered. After placing their dishes in front of them she left.

"Okay, I wanted to propose a deal to you, Charlize," said Max. "We've been doing very well, especially the last two years. Recently I was approached by a large business--"

"I'm not selling, to them or to you or to anybody," stated Charlize angrily. "That business has been in my family for generations! I'm not going to give it away so someone else, whether it be you or a large company, can reap the benefits of what I've worked hard for!"

"But you don't even run you part of the business! You're out here modeling--"

"Who said she didn't run her business?" asked Hayden.

"Hayden, I don't think you should be getting into--"

"And who are you to tell Hayden what to do? In fact, none of us have any business talking about anything because I'm not selling my 51 if my company!"

"I'm not talking about selling, Charlize. I'm talking about a merger with a bigger company. I don't want you to sell, just to look over their proposal. Calm down."

Charlize shook her head. She knew she overreacted by seeing Max with Rachel made her angry. She didn't know how Hayden could be so calm. "Give me the documents, I'll read over them," she said calmly.


Chapter Five

"Well that was uncomfortable," said Charlize throwing herself on the bed. She looked at Hayden. "So, what did you think?"

Hayden just looked at Charlize. "I don't know. What about you?"

"Oh don't even get me started. All that ass hole wanted was to tell me that I should sell my company. He could have asked me that on the phone, I would have said no, but still!" She rubbed her face with both her hands. "Oh God, how could I have been so stupid? I fall madly in love with this great guy and give him part of my company and what does he do? He cheats on me with his best friend's girlfriend! I end up broken hearted trying to get on with my life and he wants me to sell my company so he could make some money!"

"He doesn't want you to sell, he wants you to think about merging with another company. It could be a good thing. You will get much more exposure and more money."

Charlize bit her lip. "What?" asked Hayden.

"It would mean working with him sometimes, you know?" she finally said. "Hayden, he hurt me so much. I don't ever want to see him again."

"Charlize, we have to move on with our lives, and I have the feeling that you can't let go."

"I've accepted that he loves her, Hayden! I know he does, I know he thought he loved me but he didn't! I know all of this, you don't have to tell me. It's just that he's the only guy I've ever fallen for, and I won't lie to you, if he had come back to me two months after we broke up, I would have taken him back! I just can't get passed the fact that he lied and cheated! That is what I can't get over."

"But you—I don't... I think I've taken it better than you. Yes it hurt, but I can't let that ruin my life. It made me afraid of relationships, and that's why I label our relationship as 'friendship' but I can't let that pain keep me from something that I know will bring me benefits."

Charlize sighed. "This will mean you will be seeing Rachel. Will you be able to handle that? Will you be able to turn away when they kiss? When they hug? When they say 'I love you'?" she said looking at him.

His eyes turned downcast. "I'll try."

"It's going to hurt, Hayden."

"But not as much as before. It's been a year and a half, Charlize." He shook his head. Seeing her hadn't affected him as much as he'd thought. He had been able to turn away, to hide his feelings. "Life is full of pain, Charlize. We can't expect to live lives full of happiness all the time. Things happen."

"But I don't want to live in constant pain." She sighed. "I just want to meet somebody. I do want to get on with my life. I need to, I know. Maybe I should get back to dating and so should you. We should go out to a club tonight, Hayden."

"You know that's not really my scene. Remember what happened last time?"

"Yeah so we got drunk and ended up having sex, like that's never happened before," she said with a wave of her hand.

"No that! I got into a fight with some guy, remember?" he said giving her a strange look.

She smiled sheepishly. "Oh that time! I remember!" She stopped smiling and looked up at him. Seriously she said, "Why do we always end up in bed with each other Hayden?"

He shrugged. "I don't know. Why do we never talk about it? In the morning we act as if nothing ever happened," he said quietly.

"Because it doesn't ruin our friendship, I guess. How did we even become friends? I didn't even talk to you before... that happened. I'd only seen you when you came over to hang out with Max. Anyway, getting back to why we never talk about our sexual relationship. I have no idea. Maybe because we are so familiar with each other and we don't want to just have a one night stand, something that doesn't mean anything to us with somebody we don't know."

"But you and I don't have meaningful sex. If I get what you're saying, then we only have sex because we don't have anybody else, that is familiar to us, to have sex with when we're horny. And we do it because at least we care for each other because we're friends. Is that what you're saying?"

"I guess," she said and shrugged. "I don't know, Hayden! Are we going to the club or downstairs to the bar or what?"

"I'm not up to going to a club. Don't feel like dancing. Why don't we go to the movies and then to dinner or the other way around? Why? You feel like getting a little drunk? You know we can just go out and then get it on," he suggested with a smile.

She ignored that last part. "Okay, we'll go to the movies. As long as I don't have to stay here. Then I'll think and think and I'll go nuts," she said. Her face suddenly lightened up into a mischievous smile, "Unless, I can convince you to stay here and we can... do more interesting things. You know, because we're friends and everything." It was her turn to tease.

He smiled, she had never suggested they stay home and do anything. It was always spur of the moment stuff like, 'Oh since we're here we might as well go ahead,'. He laughed and answered, "Let's go to the movies, what to you want to watch?"

"I don't know, what are you in the mood for? I don't know. What do you want to watch?"

"Whatever I don't care," he said turning around to go to the bathroom. "But you better have decided when I get out of that bathroom."


XXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

Charlize was crying her eyes out during the movie. Hayden just looked at her. Charlize's legs were bent, her arms were resting on her knees and she was crying like she was the one that was going to die. She bit her lip. "You okay?" he asked.

Charlize nodded. "It's just that their relationship was too good to last. I knew it, one of them was going to die," she whispered. He smiled and put his arm around her. She lifted up the armrest of the seat and rested her head against his shoulder. He smelled really good, and there was always that something that attracted her to him. Sexually attracted her. Maybe she needed a steady boyfriend. Something in the back of her had said, 'What about Hayden?' She sighed and looked up at him. That feeling of attraction kicked in. She lifter her hand to put her hand around his neck and pulled him down for a kiss. She surprised herself, they had never done anything that would be considered more than friendly in public. Their other relationship was always kept behind closed doors.

Hayden kissed her back. He had never denied her that, just like she always kissed him back, but a strange feeling took hold of him. It pushed for him to kiss Charlize back, not caring if a million people were watching.

The rest of the movie was ignored. Neither of them wanting to break the other's embrace. Their light kisses became heated. "I don't want to do it at the movies," whispered Charlize in between kisses.

Hayden broke their kiss and looked at her. "Why would we?"

"You aren't the least bit experimental," she whined.

"It's not that, but you're the one who said you wanted to go dancing. I'm just complying with your wishes."

"Okay, but let's not go dancing anymore. Let's take a walk in the park, have a little picnic of sorts," she suggested.

"Mmm... I'm not too hungry, can we skip the picnic and just take a walk in the park?" he asked looking down at her blue eyes.

"Okay, but let's leave right now, I don't think I could take it to see the girl die or whatever."

The two young people got up and left the theater. Charlize and Hayden walked out and headed for Hayden's rental car. They drove off to a park nearby. It wasn't dark yet, but the sun was starting to give signs of setting. "I love weather like this and this time of the day, don't you, Hayden?"

"I guess, but the weather doesn't change much in LA, does it?" he asked her.

"I guess not, I've never been here for more than a week though, so I don't know." They walked closely together, side by side not quite touching. Charlize felt the urge to take hold of his hand and walk hand in hand. She fought the urge and looked up at his face. His hair was still slightly spiked, she was surprised at that. His hair was unruly, stubborn... just like he was. Unconsciously, her hand reached out for his and she intertwined their fingers.

Surprised, Hayden looked down at her, their eyes held for a moment before both of them looked away in embarrassment, but their hands still held each other's. They walked in silence for about five minutes, the silence wasn't unwelcome, both their minds swimming with strange thoughts. He risked a glance her way. She was looking straight ahead, the sinking sun made her pale skin take an olive tone almost. 'Damn... I never noticed how pretty— how beautiful—she is,' his mind said. He studied her features, her delicate nose, her full, pink lips. Lips that had kissed him so many times in more than one place... Her shoulder length hair was now dry, the light wind keeping it away from her face.

Charlize was aware that Hayden was watching her, he had been for a while now. A slight blush crept to her cheeks. She smiled slightly and squeezed his hand briefly.

A knot formed in Hayden's stomach at her actions. 'Is it happening again? Can this happen again?' his mind asked. He stopped abruptly and pulled her into his arms. "I don't know what's happening," he said. "I don't know what this is, but I don't want it to stop. I need you." he trailed off.

She sighed and buried her head in his chest. "I think I love you," Hayden whispered.

She took a deep breath, "Is that such a bad thing?"

"No, but it will be if you don't feel the same way. I don't think I could take—"

Charlize interrupted him by placing two fingers on his lips. "And what if I do? We've both been alone for so long, Hayden. And I'm afraid of making a mistake, could we be making a mistake?" she asked him.

"That's a chance that... a chance that we can take, if you feel the same way. Do you love me, Charlize?" he whispered in her ear.

"I think I do. Let's take our time."

"Let's not rush into anything. I swear that I would never do anything to hurt you, Charlize. That's not an empty promise, I swear. I know what it is like to be cheated on, and I would never do it to you."

"Me too, I know all too well what it is like to be on the receiving end. I promise."

They kissed, tenderly and walked deeper into the park.

When they got back to the hotel, neither of them was sure if they should sleep in the same room that night. Charlize took the chance and kissed him, then asked if he wanted to come in. He smiled at her and complied.

That night was the first time Charlize and Hayden made love. Before it had been just sex for mutual satisfaction. This time it was slow and sweet, full of promises both of them hoped they could keep. The morning would change nothing.


X
Rachel and Max were cuddled together watching an old movie. Their minds, however, were not on the movie. Rachel's mind was in the way Hayden had held Charlize at the restaurant. She had hated Charlize for a long time, before she and Hayden had found out about her and Max. When Max had moved in with her, that hate had stopped. A dull ache settled in her heart now that she knew that Charlize had Hayden.

Max was a different story. He wanted Charlize to be happy, but not with Hayden. Knowing that Hayden slept next to her at night angered him. Charlize would always be his, he was her first.


Chapter 6

"Hayden, didn't know you were this kinky," she said between kisses. They hadn't thought to stop the elevator with the emergency button. So it was stopping on every floor. The bell rang, which meant that the elevator doors would open and they had to stop what they were doing. They didn't though and they were brought apart by the gasps of the two old ladies that had come in the elevator.

Charlize fought hard not to laugh and hid her face in Hayden's shirt. They stepped out of the elevator in the next floor and decided to just take the stairs. "That was kind of embarrassing," she said.

"I guess," he mumbled and lead her to their room. "Charlize, do you think we can do this? Do you think we can keep this relationship afloat when it started out of lust?"

Charlize became still. She looked down at their intertwined hands. "We've been alone for so long Hayden," she said. "I don't just want you to stay for a year or two. I want you to stay forever, but if you think that this is not going to go anywhere then tell me before either of us get too attached."

Hayden kissed the top of her head. "I'm sorry. I didn't know what I was saying. I guess I just wanted to make sure you felt the same way. You know? I was giving you a way out," he said and hugged her tightly.

She buried her head in his neck and inhaled his scent deeply. "I don't need an easy way out, Hayden. I need you to stay with me because I love you. Of all the things that I thought were constant in my life you have been the only thing that truly has kept me afloat. I wouldn't have made it our break up if you weren't there to be my friend. I love you so much more than I ever thought I could love Max," she choked out.

'She's crying,' he realized. "I'm flattered, Charlize," he said for lack of anything else to say.

"Don't be," she said and sniffled. "It's true. When I first met Max I thought he was unattainable. I thought I would never have him, and then out of nowhere one day we were together. What more could I have asked for? We were happy and he was with me and I though he loved me. And now there's you. I never imagined loving you like I love you."

"Charlize, don't cry," he said burying his hands in her hair and pressing her body closer to his. "I love you so much, Charlize. I don't want you to ever leave me, please don't ever leave me. You're my lifeline too. This feeling... what I feel for you is so much more than I ever felt for anyone in my life. The love I had for Rachel doesn't come close to what I feel for you."

Charlize sniffled some more and then giggled. "We sound so cheesy, Hayden!"

Hayden hugged her tighter. He wasn't good with words, most of the time he wouldn't know what to say to a girl but with Charlize it was so different. So different than it had been with Rachel. With her, he had not been able to tell her about his emotions for a long time. It didn't come easy to him like it did with Charlize. With Charlize, the words just came out of his mouth and they were the right ones. He didn't have to struggle with what he felt or how to voice his feelings. "I love you," he whispered into her hair.

"I love you too," she answered. "Hayden, what am I going to do about Max?" she asked quietly.

"You could start by reading that contract and those other papers he gave you and then decide."

"I don't know," she said. "I kind of want my lawyer back home to take a look at them, you know? To make sure of what I might be getting myself into."

He looked down at her. "That's a good idea. I hadn't thought of that, but I don't really think Max would screw you over like that," he said thoughtfully.

She rolled her eyes at Hayden. "That's what got us into this mess in the first place. He betrayed me, he cheated on me and that, in my book, means he screwed me over."

Hayden sighed and walked over to the bed to sit down. "You're right," he said and started taking off his shoes.

"I'm sorry, Hayden. I didn't mean to say it like that," she said in an apologetic voice.

He snorted good naturedly. "You didn't hurt my feelings, Charlize," he explained. "I'm just tired and I had nothing to say to your comment. Don't worry, if you hurt my feelings I'll make sure you know it so you can make it up to me. Do you mind of we go to bed now, I'm really tired," he questioned.

She responded with a yawn. She smiled and said, "Guess all the emotional revelations in the last couple of days got to us, huh? Yes, let's go to bed, Hayden." She giggled and walked into the bathroom.

Hayden took off his pants and shirt and laid on the bed on top of he covers waiting for his turn in the bathroom. He crosses his arms behind his head and sighed loudly. He was wary of this relationship, but he knew he shouldn't be scared. They were both adults and they knew what they were doing. He just didn't want to be hurt again. But Charlize had been hurt the same way. Surely she wouldn't betray him like Rachel had done. 'No,' he thought. 'She knows the pain I've been through. She would never hurt me like that.' Hayden sighed again and closes his eyes. He heard the bathroom door open and opened his eyes.

"It's all yours, Hayden," she said before slipping into the bed next to him.


X

The phone rang for the fourth time before Hayden answered it. "Hello?" he asked gruffly and angrily.

"Hayden?" said a female voice on the other end.

"Hello?" he said again to make sure he was hearing correctly.

"Hayden? It's me Rachel," said the voice.

Hayden sighed loudly. "What do you want?" he said not bothering to hide his annoyance at her for calling so early and for bothering to call at all. "It's seven o'clock in the morning, what do you want?"

"Hayden... I... I wanted to talk to you," she said. "In private," she added quickly. "Can you meet me at—"

"No," he said flatly before she could finish her sentence.

"But—" she started but he interrupted her yet again.

"No, I don't want to meet you anywhere. I don't want to talk to you. You and I have nothing to talk about, Rachel. Everything was said and done a year and a half ago. We have nothing we could possibly say to each other."

"I don't think so, Hayden. You and I have an unfinished conversation! We need to talk about what happened," she said angrily.

"Listen!" he hissed into the phone. "You and I have nothing to talk about! Don't ever call me again!"

Rachel gasped on the other end. "Hayden?" she heard Charlize ask. It confirmed her suspicions that they were indeed in the same room. Her pretty features twisted into an unbecoming frown.

"Whos is that?" Charlize asked Hayden while rubbing her eyes.

"It's Rachel," he said calmly.

Charlize frowned and looked at him in confusion.

"She said she wants to talk to me in private and wanted me to meet her somewhere," he said after a long pause. He wondered if Rachel was still on the phone.

Rachel frowned even more. Hayden put the phone back on his ear. "I don't want to talk to you, Rachel. Don't bother me," he said and hung up.


X

Rachel was mad. How dare he hang up on her? She picked up the phone again and was about to press the redial button when Max came out of the bathroom.

"Who were you calling, baby?" he asked and smiled.

"I was about to order us some room service," she said without hesitation. "But now that you're out of the bathroom you can tell me what you want." She smiled at him.

His violet eyes danced merrily at the mention of food. "All right!" he exclaimed and tackled her back onto the bed. "You always know just how to make me happy," he said and kissed her lightly on the lips.

"You make me happy too, Max." The pang in her chest did nothing to make her bright smile falter. After all this time, she still couldn't picture Hayden with anybody else. After all this time and even when she loved Max, she hadn't gotten over Hayden completely.


Chapter 7

Charlize sighed and picked up her purse. It wasn't her day to pose but Hayden still had to photograph the other girls. He'd been gone since she woke up that morning and she was really bored. She hadn't really spent a whole day without him since she'd run into him in L.A. They'd spent almost every day together and his absence was taking its toll on her nerves. She'd called him and he had told her that it looked that they wouldn't be done with the shoot anytime soon. Well that sucked. That left her with nothing to do for the rest of the day. She sighed and looked at her watch as she walked out the door. It was only noon.

She was going to go shopping. It was better than sitting in her hotel room and sulking because she was bored. Maybe she'd buy Hayden something. Yes. She would buy him something. With a mischievous look in her blue eyes she walked out of the air conditioned hotel lobby and into the warm and salty air of L.A.

A pair of blue eyes narrowed and hardened when they spotted the raven haired girl walking out of the hotel. Since Hayden had refused to talk to her, Rachel had been waiting outside the hotel in a little café for two hours hoping to catch him going somewhere. No such luck. He wasn't there. She knew he wouldn't go out anywhere without Charlize, watching her walk out of the hotel confirmed her suspicions. Leaving a few bills on the table, she stood up and walked in the direction that Charlize had headed. The next best thing to talking to Hayden was talking to Charlize. She needed to get some things straight.

Rachel hurried to catch up to the young woman without attracting too much attention to herself. It was nearly impossible since she'd lost at least five minutes in staring and paying the bill. She cursed under her breath and broke into a slight run. Her eyes brightened as she spotted Charlize go into a little boutique. She walked the rest of the way to regain her breath. She didn't want to let Charlize know she'd been following her. She took a deep breath and straightened out her slightly disheveled hair. She walked into the shop with a purposeful step and raked her eyes through the store in search of Charlize. When she finally spotted the girl she smiled casually and walked over to her.

"Hi," she said.

Charlize lifted her head from the item she'd been looking at. "Hi," she said unenthusiastically and went back to searching. Rachel's face was the last face she expected or wanted to see today.

Rachel fought the urge to scowl. What else could she say? They weren't exactly in the best of terms, they hadn't been for a long time. She knew pleasantries were out of the question so she decided to bite the bullet and get straight to the point.

"What's going on between you and Hayden?"

Charlize scoffed and looked at Rachel with something akin to amazement. "Well, aren't we inquisitive and nosy? That's none of your damn business, Rachel." Charlize turned to leave the blonde standing there but Rachel caught her wrist before she could get away.

"That probably came out wrong, Charlize. I didn't meant it to sound—"

"Yes you did," Charlize said accusingly and wrenched her hand from the other woman's grip. She was beginning to get angry. "You have no right to even talk to me. I can't believe you're brazen enough to follow me in here!" Charlize's eyes were blue pools of indignation.

Rachel's eyes widened in surprise. She should have known Charlize would know she'd been following her.

"You were probably waiting outside for Hayden. I can't believe you! Does Max know you're a two-faced bitch?" Charlize spat angrily.

Rachel fisted her hands and fought the urge to slap Charlize. "What are you playing at Charlize?" she finally said. There was no way she was going to let this pixie talk to her like that. "What's your game with Hayden?"

"My game?" Charlize asked incredulously. "You have some nerve! It's not enough that you took Max away from me and broke Hayden's heart, now you follow me in here because you think you have some kind of right over Hayden?"

"This isn't the best place to talk about this, Charlize. Walk outside with me," Rachel tried. She didn't want to make a scene and she knew both her an Charlize were angry enough to start a shouting match.

Charlize laughed at Rachel. She couldn't believe what she was hearing. Charlize waved her hands in the air and said, "I'm not the one that came in here talking about this! And one more thing, Miss Bancroft, who gave you the right to interfere in our lives? You think you can take my fiancé and a year and a half later come and try to question what I've done and who I'm involved with? Do me a favor and take your self-righteous bullshit to someone who will actually believe this whole damn act! Get over yourself and leave me and Hayden alone!"

Rachel closed her eyes and counted backwards from ten. "Listen, Charlize, don't you dare talk down to me. You're not better than me! You— " she hissed.

"Oh, but I am, Rachel. And you want to know why? Because I don't go around stealing people's fiances and sleeping with them behind her boyfriend's back!"

At this point people had started to gather in a circle around the two women. They had not noticed since they were too busy arguing. The other women in the store had begun to whisper and talk in hushed tones.

Rachel bristled at that comment. "Well, if he came to me then you were probably lacking in something or somewhere, Charlize!" Rachel hissed venomously. "It's not my fault he preferred me over you."

Charlize laughed a long, heartfelt, genuine laugh. Shaking her head she said, "Well, I don't see why you left Hayden for Max because Hayden is a much, much better lay than Max ever was!"

Rachel turned seven shades of red. She didn't know if it was from anger, embarrassment or jealousy. She wanted to cry and lash out angrily but managed to maintain he decorum. To make matters even worse, Charlize was giving her a triumphant smile and she hated it. She hated her. It was then that she looked around and noticed all the feminine faces peering at them from everywhere in the store. She was instantly ashamed of having made a spectacle of herself in such a public place. She regretted the moment she decided to wait in that café for Hayden to come out of his hotel room.

She heard Charlize sigh and looked at her once more. The retched smile was still there and her eyes were alight with mirth.

"I always wanted to tell you off about Max, Rachel. I'm glad we had this little talk," she said nonchalantly and started for the door. Before she reached the door, however, she turned around and with her most impish of smiles said, "And now you know about me and Hayden."

"You bitch!" Rachel said loudly but Charlize was already out the door.

Charlize didn't break down when she reached her hotel room, but she wasn't in the best of moods either. She had been truthful when she'd said that she'd always wanted to tell Rachel off about Max, but that wasn't an excuse. She didn't feel at all right about having made their love lives so public. She took a deep breath and headed for the bathroom. A cold shower would cool her down.

When she got out of the bathroom she was surprised to find Hayden sprawled out on their bed. His hair was disheveled, as always, and one of his arms was covering his face. Charlize pulled out an oversized shirt from a drawer and slipped it over her bra and panties, she then crawled over to the man on the bed.

"Are you asleep?" she asked and ruffled his hair.

He groaned and took his arm off his face. "I was."

Charlize didn't want to tell him what had happened but she didn't want to keep anything from him. It would not be a good for their newfound relationship if she started to keep secrets.

Hayden noticed how down she looked. "What's wrong?" he asked.

She sighed and looked at his eyes. "I ran into Rachel earlier, well like an hour ago, and it didn't go well," she said slowly.

His eyes narrowed. "What happened?" he asked dangerously.

When she finished telling him he bolted from the bed and headed for the door.

"Hayden! Hayden what are you doing?" she asked. When Hayden got like this there was no telling what he might do. "Hayden?"

"I'm going to make sure that she doesn't bother us ever again! That bitch has no right to question you like that!" he said.

For a second Charlize was almost afraid. Hayden wasn't an impulsive person but he could be very irrational, especially when he was angry. "Hayden, please leave it alone! Leave them alone! Hayden!" she screamed but it was futile. There was no stopping that man. The only thing Charlize could do was go after him and try to prevent him from getting into any trouble. She put on some pants hurriedly, grabbed her purse and ran as fast as her legs could carry her. She knew exactly where he was headed so even if she lost sight of him, which she did due to his advantage of longer legs, she would still catch up to him.

Hayden ran up the stairs of the hotel as if the devil himself was chasing him. He resisted his urge to simply break the door open long enough to knock harshly. His fury escalated when she saw Rachel's smiling face on the other side of the door.

Her smile immediately fell when she saw him there with this eyes wild, his hair stuck to his temples, beads of sweat running down the sides of his face and his shallow breathing. They stared at each other for a second before all hell broke loose.

"Don't you ever come near me or Charlize again! You hear me Rachel? Stay the hell away from us!" he yelled at her coming into the room a little as she slowly backed away from him.

Rachel was speechless. She had never seen him so angry. He hadn't even been this angry when he'd found out about her and Max. What made this so special? Why did he make a bigger deal out of her argument with Charlize then her cheating with Max? She hated Charlize all over again. What made Charlize so damn special? "H– Hayden, I... I didn't–"

"Don't fucking lie to me! I always knew you could be this petty! You always wanted what you couldn't have! And now that you have it you want something else!" He was so angry and if he didn't leave he knew that he'd do something he'd regret. He turned and walked the few steps to the door.

As he was getting out of the hotel room, he barreled straight into Max's shoulder, almost knocking the taller man off his feet. "Hayden? What the hell is going on?" he demanded. He looked from Hayden to Rachel and back. Hayden moved to leave but Max grasped his upper arm in an attempt to stop him and get some answers.

Hayden roughly shoved his hand away. "Get the hell off me!" he snarled turning towards him and the blonde woman.

Max stared at him with equally furious eyes. "Tell me what the hell is going on here, Hayden?"

Hayden made a growl-like noise in the back of his throat before he answered. "Tell Rachel to stay the hell away from me! And Charlize! She was sitting in some café across from my hotel waiting for me to come out. When she found out I wasn't there she confronted Charlize– no, she demanded that she tell her what kind of relationship she had with me!" Hayden barked. He was so damn angry. His body felt hot all over and his rage was about to boil over.

Max looked at Hayden like he'd sprouted a new head. There was no way in hell that he could believe that. He looked questioningly at Rachel. He got his answer when she looked away from him guiltily. "It's true?" he asked, just to make sure.

"Of course it's true! I don't know if it's something she has against Charlize in particular but she's trying to ruin her relationship with me! Just like she ruined yours!"

He looked at him in shock. He hadn't expected to hear Hayden admit he had a serious relationship with Charlize and as much as it hurt him to think admit it, he'd always known. Hearing Hayden confirm it made it all the worse to fathom. But he kept all that much to himself. He was more shocked to hear that Rachel was seeking Hayden out.

"I want you and her," he said pointing at Rachel, "to stay the hell away from us! I don't want you near me or Charlize again, and I think it would be a good idea for you to sell your 49 of her company back to her!" Hayden said angrily and left the other man and the blonde woman alone.

"Keep her on a damned leash like the bitch she is!" he barked over his shoulder.

Charlize watched in disbelief as Hayden told Max what Rachel had done and all his feelings toward the whole thing. She could see the veins on his forehead and neck pulse with anger and it scared her a little. She knew what Hayden was capable of. She hoped he wouldn't do anything stupid. She sighed a tiny sigh of relief as the shouting stopped and Hayden headed her way. Without a second glance, he grabbed her hand and pulled her down the stairs along with him.

It was hard for her to keep up with his long, angry strides but she dared not voice that. He was too angry, and although she was 100 positive he would never hurt her, she knew he would ignore her until they were back in their hotel room. When they finally reached the room he slammed the door shut and just stood in the middle of the room, breathing hard and sweating like a pig.


X

Max calmly shut the door behind him and stared at Rachel. He rubbed his eyes with his hands and turned his huge, violet eyes to hers. "True?" he asked, yet again.

She knew she was caught and that even if she said no he wouldn't believe her. She nodded her head gently, all the while looking down at the neckline of his shirt.

"Why are you pulling this bullshit, Rachel? Why?" he asked tiredly.

"You wanted to know just as badly as I did, Max!" she said indignantly.

He shook his head disbelievingly. "Yes, but I didn't stalk them to find out!" There was a very long, uncomfortable silence before he spoke again. "Do you want him back?"

Her eyes began to tear and she began to whimper slightly. "I never stopped wanting him, Max. I spent too many damn years of my life chasing after him to let him go that easily," she whispered.

"What about me?" he demanded. "I don't matter? You don't love me at all?"

"It's... it's different with you, Max." Tears were falling down her cheeks now, and it pissed him off.

He leaned his back against the door for support and looked down at his feet. "Different with me, huh? How?"

"It just is, Max!" she yelled angrily. "I didn't– I don't feel the same way about you that I feel about Hayden."

"Then why the hell did you... why the hell did we cheat then? There's nothing between us, Rachel! There never was! We were just an outlet to each other for things we couldn't change about ourselves and our partners," he said evenly.

Rachel was silent. She didn't have an answer for that. She couldn't give him one even if she wanted to because she didn't know the answer.

"I'll never understand how I could have left Charlize for you. Hers was an honest love, and there was nothing shameful in it. She loved me openly and honestly. Hell, she loved me! She fucking loved me and I still chose you!"

"And I will never understand what attracted me to you! You were just a damn grease monkey with no future!" she said bitterly. At the moment she didn't care if she hurt him. "Go back to your precious Charlize for all I care!"

"I wish I could, but I can't. And I have no one to blame for that but myself."


Chapter 8

Max looked up at the tall building in which his penthouse, or their penthouse, was located, and sighed. He knew she was home, but he didn't want to see her. It had taken him two days to get all the things at the hotel taken care of and Rachel had happily left him to amend things with the manager and other workers. Hayden's anger and his shouting had the manager of the hotel asking Rachel and Max to leave, and Rachel had complied, leaving Max to deal with the consequences and an apology and no wallet to pay for the expenses. He'd asked to stay for one more day so he could go see Hayden and Charlize, the manager had wearily said yes, but it had not been necessary for it seemed that Hayden and Charlize had left the hotel that same day.

As the elevator made its way to the his floor Max thought about what he'd said to Rachel in the hotel. It was over. It was all over and he'd been a damn fool the whole time. It took a lot for him not to start beating his head against the elevator's wall at his stupidity. He couldn't apologize to her. He wouldn't. Rachel didn't deserve an apology from him. If anything, she should apologize to him. No, he thought. He was as much to blame for cheating as she was. He couldn't keep it in his pants and he'd slept with this best friend's girlfriend. Not only that, but he'd lost his own girlfriend in the process. He had never meant for it to go that far. After that first time he'd sworn he would never again touch Rachel, but that had proved to be a difficult task. She kept enticing him and he kept saying yes to her temptations. Before he knew it they were seeing each other every chance they could and sneaking around to see each other. Until they had gotten caught. He didn't know when he had fallen in love with Rachel but he had. At least that's what he'd thought for a while. He'd more than likely convinced his head that he loved her, but his heart, a deep part of it, kept longing for inky black hair and laughing cornflower blue eyes, not the blond goddess he slept with every night.

And he had denied that part of his heart for a long time. Here he was now, coming out of the elevator hoping Rachel wasn't home. He opened the door with his key and immediately wished he could come back later.

Rachel, sitting on the couch watching TV, barely glanced at him. She took one look at him and turned back to the television completely ignoring him. "Nice to see you too," he said sarcastically.

"Don't start, Max. I'm not in the mood for this today," she said angrily.

As if she had a right to be angry, he thought. "You started all of this, Rachel. You started it by looking for Hayden and wanting to "talk". Was it the same kind of talk you wanted to have with me when all of this started? Or did this talk actually involve words?" he practically snarled at her.

"How dare you talk to me like that Max? If I remember correctly you weren't exactly protesting! And I did not throw myself at you. You could have said no if you really wanted to. It's not my fault Charlize wasn't giving you what you wanted," she said maliciously.

Max rolled his eyes and walked in the bedroom. He put down his luggage and prepared to unpack. He noticed Rachel in the doorway.

"What do you think you're doing? I don't want you to stay here," she stated.

"Too bad, because this is my house too. The lease is in my name too and I pay half the expenses, so until I find something else you're going to have to live with it."

Rachel scowled and crossed her arms. "Don't you have any friends you can stay with?"

He turned to her and rolled his eyes in annoyance at her. "No, Rachel, I don't. They all cut ties with me when they found out I cheated on my girlfriend with you."

She sighed and walked further into the room. "You seemed to have no problems with me a week ago, Max, what happened?"

"I found out what a bitch you really are, Rachel. And don't you think you should be asking yourself that question? Because you did this! You did this to us! I wake up one day and I don't recognize you anymore. I see you but you are not the same person you were..." he trailed off. He couldn't even explain this to her.

Rachel licked her lips and sat on the bed. "Nothing happened, Max," she said harshly. "You just never saw it. You never made me happy, but you were too wrapped up in your own life and thoughts that you didn't notice me!"

"God, you can't even admit that you don't know what you want. You never did. You spent all those years chasing Hayden around but you never really wanted him, did you? Just like you never wanted me and you never really wanted anything you have."

She turned angry eyes to him and pinned him with a glare. "Shut up, Max. I always wanted Hayden, I still want him," she said. She was close to tears, but she didn't care if she cried. She hated Max now.

"Too bad you can't have him, he doesn't want you anymore," he bit out, his voice dripping with venom, and walked out of the room.


Three weeks later–

Max paced in his hotel room. He had come home from visiting a lawyer about his part of Charlize's company. He wasn't going to sell it back to her, instead he was going to give it back to her. He had just put it under her name. Now, he was debating on how to go about telling Charlize that. He guessed the most logical thing to do would be to call her and tell her, but he didn't want to call her. He wanted to see her, but wondered if that was a wise move. She made it quite clear that she didn't want to see him. He rubbed his eyes with the backs of his hands and made a decision. Grabbing his jacket, his keys and the manila folder on the bed he made his way out of the hotel room that had been his home for the past week. He sighed and made his way to Charlize's house.

When he arrived twenty minutes later, his resolve was waning. With a deep breath he knocked on the door and was totally taken aback when Hayden opened the door. He was wearing gray sweats, a white t-shirt and no shoes or socks. Max's mouth went dry with nervousness.

Hayden stood there and looked at him without saying anything for a few minutes. The two men just looked at each other. "What do you want?" he said sourly .

"Uh– can I talk to Charlize? Please?" Max asked wearily.

"Why?" was the short reply.

Max fingered the manila envelope he held in his hands behind his back. "To both of you. Can I talk to both of you for a few minutes?" he tried again. Just as well, he thought. He needed both of them to hear what he had to say.

Hayden just stared at him. Max could see the flurry of emotions in his stormy, cold glare and was surprised when Hayden stepped away from the door to let him in.

"Sit down, I'll go get Charlize," he said and left the room.

Max let out a breath he hadn't known he'd been holding and sat down. He took a moment to see if the house had changed, and was saddened at the fact that it had. All his pictures and pictures of Charlize and himself were gone, replaced by ones of Hayden and her. He'd expected this, but he hadn't expected it to hurt so much. He had really wanted to find at least one picture of him in the living room. Why? He didn't know, but he guessed it was because he still harbored some sort of hope that Charlize still cared for him, or about him.

He heard Hayden clear his throat and turned around. He saw Charlize and Hayden standing a few feet behind him. He also cleared his throat and stood up.

"What is it that you wanted to talk about?" Hayden said impatiently. He didn't want Max in the house. And now that he and Charlize were living together it was his house too.

A tense silence followed Hayden's question. Charlize broke it by saying, "Sit down, I'll make us some coffee."

Max avoided looking at Hayden. He didn't need to see him to feel the hostility coming from the other man. The way Hayden was looking at him sent shivers up his spine. But he refused to be intimidated by him. He had to deal with this situation sooner or later and he preferred to not beat around the bush. When Charlize came back with the coffee he took it graciously and gulped half of it down in one gulp. Afterwards, he summoned all of his pride, or what was left of it, and said, "I just wanted to apologize to you both. For what happened in Los Angeles and for the way I behaved with Rachel a year and a half ago."

He paused, waiting for them to say something, almost hoping that they would say something. "I'm sorry, Hayden, for... for sleeping with Rachel, knowing that she was your girlfriend. I'm really sorry. God, I really didn't mean for that to happen, for it to get that far. Please believe me when I say that after that first time I swore that I would never let it happen again, but things just escalated and... I really don't know how I let them go so far," he said. Tears stung his eyes and he wished to God that he didn't burst into tears.

Hayden sucked in a breath. "I don't need to hear this, Max. I don't want to," he spit out.

"Maybe you don't need to hear this, Hayden, but I need to say it. Please listen to me. I should've had the balls to face up to my responsibilities and I should have been man enough to put a stop to the affair, but I didn't. And I was thinking with my pants and not my brain and I'm sorry. And, God, Charlize– I can't even look you in the eye to say this– I swear I regret losing you the most. Hayden was my best friend but you were– are– my soul mate. I should have had respect for my fiancee."

Charlize shook her head, tears threatening to fall down her cheeks. She had imagined him coming back and getting on his knees and begging for forgiveness and asking her to take him back for a long time after they broke up. But she had never imagined that he would come back and apologize, truly apologize for all the heartache he'd caused her.

"I regret a lot of things, Charlize, and one of them is not being your husband right now. And if I thought there was even a slight chance that you would take me back, I'd be jumping through hoops right now for you to give me that chance. But, I know that you love someone else now, and as much as it hurts me to see you with another man, Charlize, I couldn't be happier that you found someone who loves you and will never betray you. Because I still love you, Charlize, and I want what's best for you. I want your happiness even if it isn't with me."

Charlize spoke first. "I can't forgive you, Max. I never will. You made me the most miserable person in this world. I was so unhappy for a very long time. Until recently, when I found out that Hayden loved me and that I loved him too. If it hadn't been for you and Rachel, Max, I wouldn't be with Hayden, but I don't forgive you."

Hayden was quiet, but he knew he had to say something. "I accept your apology, Max, but I can't forgive you. And know that we can't be friends again. I can't forgive what you did and what kind of man would I be if I let you be near Charlize and me, when you slept with my previous girlfriend? I take your apology, and maybe I'll forgive you someday but I won't forget."

Max sighed and rubbed the back of his neck. "As much as I want to argue and tell you that I've changed, I understand. And, there's one more thing I want to do before I get out of your lives." Max stood up and picked up the manila envelope he'd been holding the whole time and stretched out his arm and handed it to Charlize. "It's... it's the rest of your company, Charlize. I'm giving it back to you, no strings attached. It wasn't right of me to take it in the first place, and it wasn't right of me to keep it after we broke up." He looked at her face, memorizing the way she looked right then and walked to the door.

"Thanks for listening," he said and walked out, closing the door softly behind him. Leaving the house was easy, but forgetting Charlize wasn't. And he hoped that one day he could move on too.

Both Charlize and Hayden stared at the door long after he left. Charlize looked at Hayden and hugged him. "That was decent of him," Hayden said.

"Yes," Charlize whispered. "It was."

The End

AN: Started in '02, finished in at the end of '03 and revised in '07. Needs depth and lacks character development.