Loose Ends (Roswell (Pocket Books))

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9780743418348: Loose Ends (Roswell (Pocket Books))

The first adult tie-in novel based on "Roswell", the TV SF drama. The day that Liz Parker accidentally got in the way of a bullet in the Crashdown Cafe in Roswell, New Mexico, changed her life forever. Max Evans saved her by laying his hand on her and healing the wound as if it had never happened.

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Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

Chapter One

"So, you really think Hilary might be a Skin?"

"I'm not saying it's for sure. I'm just saying that it's a possibility."

Max Evans and Michael Guerin huddled over a copy of USA Today, intently examining the day's news in search of hints of hostile alien activity. Max didn't need a highlighter to mark the article in question; he just ran his finger over the black-and-white newsprint and the selected headline acquired a bright yellow background. "What about Kathie Lee?" he asked, turning to the next page of the paper. "I always thought there was something kind of unnatural about her."

Says my favorite human-alien hybrid, Liz Parker thought silently. But that wasn't really fair, the petite brunette admitted to herself; in many ways, and despite his extraterrestrial origins, Max was the most human person she knew. As she knew better than anyone else, there was nothing alien at all about his heart.

It was a quiet Thursday afternoon at the Crashdown Cafe, Roswell, New Mexico's finest alien-themed diner, and the gang's usual after school hangout. Watercolor paintings of strange alien creatures decorated the walls while a mannequin in a silver spacesuit greeted customers by the front door. Liz sat at one of the restaurant's rear booths, opposite Max and Michael, while Max's sister Isabel, and their friend Alex Whitman, occupied the adjacent booth, close enough to take part in the proceedings if they felt like it. Liz knew that Alex would have preferred to have had Isabel all to himself, but guessed that he'd settle for just sharing the same booth with her. Hope things are going okay between them, Liz thought. Isabel can be pretty moody sometimes.

"Kathie Lee?" Maria DeLuca asked, rolling her large olive-green eyes. Her silver waitress's apron mimicked the unearthly countenance of your standard-model alien abductor as she stood beside the two rear booths. Shiny tinfoil antennae bobbed above her long, strawberry-blond hair. The dinner rush hadn't started yet, so Maria was free to kill time with her friends. "Don't you think maybe you guys are getting a wee bit paranoid?"

Michael bristled indignantly, not unlike his unruly brown hair. "This is serious business. Maybe you can joke about it, but some of us can't afford to overlook any possibilities." Empty bottles of Tabasco sauce littered the tabletop, evidence of his and Max's strenuous strategy session. "You can never tell where the Skins might strike next."

"Hey, you don't need to bite my head off, alien-boy," Maria retorted. Scanning quickly to make sure that no new customers had arrived, she slid into the booth beside Liz. "I know all about the evil alien invasion, remember? I was just trying to give you guys a much-needed reality check."

"Oh, is that what that was?" Michael asked sarcastically. A scowl made him look even more ticked off and discontented than usual. "I thought you were busting my chops about things you obviously don't understand or appreciate." He eyed the pad of green order slips tucked into the belt of Maria's E.T. apron. "Maybe you should stick to the customers' checks from now on."

Maria immediately shifted into combat mode. "Yeah, right, and maybe you never want to see the inside of the eraser room again?" she replied, referring to their usual make out spot at West Roswell High. "Heck, summer vacation's coming up soon, and you could be looking at a long, lonely summer, Michael Guerin."

Liz winced at the heated words exchanged between the on-again, off-again couple. Granted, Maria and Michael bickering was nothing new, but there seemed to be more of an edge to it than usual. She glanced across the table at Max, who appeared oblivious to the escalating spitting match going on right next to him. Beneath his neatly-trimmed black bangs, lines of worry and concentration creased his brow as he vigilantly perused the newspaper, occasionally highlighting a suspicious headline or photo caption. A chocolate Dark Side of the Force milkshake sat more or less ignored next to his uneaten Grilled Lunar Cheese Sandwich. Liz's heart ached in sympathy. He looked like he was bearing the weight of the world on his shoulders. Maybe more than one world...

"Cool it, you guys," she told Michael and Maria. If she couldn't relieve Max of most of his unfair burden, at least she could play peacemaker between his squabbling friends and allies. "We're all kind of stressed-out, I think." And who wouldn't be, she thought, after all we've been through lately? "Let's cut each other some slack, okay?"

"Yeah, I guess so," Michael agreed, looking a little chastened. He shrugged, which was about as close as he ever came to an apology, and cast a conciliatory look at Maria, who relaxed her own combative body language a notch or two. "I just want to be ready, you know? For the FBI. For the Skins. Everything."

"Are you sure we should be talking about this here?" Isabel asked anxiously from the next booth, looking over the back of her own seat at Liz and the others. Like her brother, she looked tense and worried, while her voice, if anything, sounded even more nervous and apprehensive. Her immaculate, cover-girl appearance belied her chronic uneasiness. "What if somebody heard you?"

"Like who?" Maria snorted. A devout advocate of aromatherapy, she fetched a tiny glass vial from her pocket, and uncapped it beneath her nose. Sniffing the fragrant oil seemed to ease her frustration with Michael. "Look around," she said, "this place is deader than Senator Whitaker."

Sitting across from Isabel, nibbling on a stack of golden Unidentified Frying Objects, Alex tried to reassure her. "Besides, don't forget, this is Roswell, the unofficial capital of Close Encounters land," he said, a grin upon his boyish face. The tourists expect to hear us discussing crashed alien spaceships and top secret government conspiracies. Heck, we should probably be talking louder, just to do our part for the local economy."

His glib attempt to lift Isabel's spirits failed miserably. "That's not funny, Alex," she said curtly before turning her attention back to the four teens in the other booth. Liz pretended not to notice the crushed look on Alex's face, which he attempted to hide as quickly as it appeared. "We never know who might be listening," Isabel continued. "We've been spied on before, with hidden cameras and listening devices and who knows what else."

True enough, Liz thought. But you could go crazy thinking about that 24-7. She picked absently at her Little Green Mint sundae while a new song by Dido played over the diner's music system. Where did you draw the line, she wondered, between being careful and being paranoid? And was it fair of her to judge Isabel for being so high-strung and fearful? Liz had only lived with the Big Secret for two years now; Max, Michael, and Isabel had been hiding their alien heritage for their entire lives.

"Liz is right," Maria announced decisively. She swept the faces around her with a knowing gaze. "We're all a bunch of nervous wrecks. We need some serious R&R and I mean soon. Just for this weekend, we should forget all about hidden secrets, fiendish enemies, etcetera, and do something fun for a change." She plucked the spread-out newspaper out from under Max's nose. "And that means you, too, glorious leader. All work and no play makes Max a dull spaceman."

Max looked more startled than annoyed by Maria's impulsive action. Michael scowled, though, and tried to snatch back the crumpled papers, which Maria stubbornly held up over her head, out of his reach. "Look, babe," he pleaded, making an obvious effort not to lose his temper, "I don't want to get into this with you again, but there's an interplanetary war going on. We haven't got time for fun and games."

"Oh yeah," Maria challenged him. "You think I don't ever watch The History Channel? Even back during World War One or Two or whichever war it was, the soldiers took time out occasionally, for shore leave and USO shows and all that Andrews Sisters boogie-woogie bugle boy stuff. They had to, or they'd just wig out. It was important to their -- whatchamacallit -- morals?"

"Morale," Liz corrected her gently. She was surprised and relieved to see that Max seemed to be giving Maria his full attention, listening to her whole spiel with a thoughtful expression. "You know, she may have a point, Max," Liz added, seeing a chance to lighten his load a little, if only for one weekend. "We could all use a break."

"Right, exactly! That's what I'm saying," Maria declared, vindicated by Liz's vote of support. She settled back into her seat, the decision a done deal as far as she was concerned, and stroked her chin as she considered their options. "I'm thinking: Road Trip. But to where? That's the question."

An idea suddenly occurred to Liz. "I know!" she blurted out. "We could go to Carlsbad Caverns. It's only a couple of hours away, and Ms. Hultquist in earth sciences said she'd give extra credit to any student who went to the caves and wrote a report on their trip."

"Spoken like the science nerd you are," Maria teased her best friend. "I'm thinking wild teenage hijinks and you want to go on a field trip!"

"No, no, it will be fun, really," Liz insisted. "My parents used to take me to the Caverns when I was little, and it was always really cool." A surge of nostalgia hit her with unexpected force, bringing back bittersweet memories of childhood pleasures and simpler times, before her life grew so very complicated. A lump formed in her throat and she felt her eyes watering. Guess I need a vacation as much as anybody else, she realized. A vacation back to a more carefree me.

As if he could sense her longing for a little harmless childhood regression, Max nodded solemnly. "Carlsbad Caverns works for me," he stated with quiet authority. His dark, serious eyes surveyed the faces around him. "What do the rest of you think?"

No surprise, Michael was unconvinced. "What do I care about earth sciences," he said sourly, making another unsuccessful grab at the stolen newspaper. "I'm not even from Earth."

Maria gave him a warning glare. "Don't be such a Czechoslovakian party pooper," she said, using her preferred euphemism for extraterrestrial, "or I might forget that you're the love of my life."

Michael sank back sullenly against the back of the booth, clearly resentful, but apparently unwilling to push his luck much further, at least for now. "Okay, make that three votes for the Caverns," Maria said smugly. She craned her head to peer into the next booth over. "What about you, Alex? You up for a journey to the center of Earth?"

"Er, I think so," he answered, awkwardly searching Isabel's exquisitely made-up face for some clue to her preferences. "Umm, what do you think, Iz?" He smiled broadly, trying too hard to sound cheerful and upbeat. "Sounds like it could be fun."

Isabel, in turn, turned to her brother for guidance. "Are you sure this is a good idea, Max?" she asked, her uncertain tone making it sound like they were discussing a root canal rather than a joy ride. Liz wondered, somewhat uncharitably, if Prozac worked on aliens.

"It couldn't hurt, Iz," Max said softly. Liz couldn't help noticing how tenderly he handled his sister's frayed and fragile nerves. How could he doubt that he was born to be his people's leader? Isabel's hand gripped the wooden divider between the two booths, and Max gently placed his own hand atop hers. "Plus, it might be exactly what we all need."

"Okay," Isabel assented. She managed a wan smile, making an effort to get into the spirit of things. "A change of scenery might be nice at that."

"That settles it, then!" Maria said triumphantly. "You're outvoted, Michael, five-to-one." A burst of organizational energy animated her entire body, setting her antennae bobbing vigorously. "I'll borrow the Jetta from my mom, Max and Isabel can get their Jeep; Liz and Michael, you stock up on munchies, sodas, and Tabasco sauce, and we'll be all set. Saturday morning, we're hitting the road for Carlsbad Caverns!"

Maria's enthusiasm was infectious. Liz grinned at Max, who smiled back at her. Beneath the table, she playfully rubbed her foot against his ankle. It's great to see him looking relaxed again, she thought, starting to get genuinely excited about the weekend ahead. She couldn't remember the last time the two of them had just been able to have a good time together, enjoying each other's company, instead of running and hiding and agonizing about various earthly and unearthly threats.

The more she thought about it, the better it sounded. A fun-filled weekend outing is just what the doctor ordered, she decided. For all of us.

She couldn't wait to get going.

Copyright © 2001 by Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation

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Cox, Greg
Editore: Simon Spotlight Entertainment (2001)
ISBN 10: 0743418344 ISBN 13: 9780743418348
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Greg Cox
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Descrizione libro Simon Spotlight Entertainment, 2001. Mass Market Paperback. Condizione libro: New. Codice libro della libreria DADAX0743418344

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