Disclaimer: I own nothing and no infringement is intended.
Summary: Maria has an obsession ... read on!
Authors Note: This is the first part of many to come ... or maybe not so many, but more are on the way.
|Mariaís shift was just beginning at the Crash Down and the cafe already looked to be its busiest. For once in her life, Maria actually enjoyed working in the busy cafe- she had a chance to get her mind off of Michael. It wasnít exactly like he had ever said anything like "I love you." Still, it was those words that Liz said to her, that made her feel so calm only one day after their girls night. She just kept repeating Lizís advice in her mind ... "follow your heart" ... and finally, in the midst of her shift, she knew exactly what her heart was telling her to do. She followed her heart that cave. She could follow her heart again and know exactly where it would lead her without fail. Was it really any surprise? She just had to get the guts to go and do just that. Now, she would hopefully get her chance.
She turned to the door, expecting to see Michael and Max ... maybe even Isabel and Tess ... like, as a group. Instead she saw Tess and remembered her anger against Tess, because she made Max hurt Liz so badly without him even realizing it. Then she realized that Isabel was with Tess and even worse, they sat in her section. Maria looked around, she looked for a waitress, any of them would work, but she realized that two of them had gone on another break and Liz was busy with a table of six. She sighed to herself and approached the two girls that she didnít exactly like and managed a smile, even though it was fake, as she said, "Hi Tess, Isabel. What can I get you two?" Tess looked straight at her all sweet and innocent like as she said, "How about two cherry cokes and two of the Crash Down specials." Maria peered over her ordering pad at Isabel knowing that she had to be glaring at Tess for ordering in her place. Maria almost forgot that she didnít like Isabel in that moment and then quickly returned to reality for a moment as she said to the girls, "Okay, Iíll be right back with those drinks."
Maria went to the bar to pour the drinks as Liz came over to her to make some for her new table. Maria said to her, "Guess who decided to sit in my section?" Liz looked over and then back at Maria as she said, "Oh my god, Maria. You want me to wait on them for you?" Maria looked at Liz as she picked up the two drinks and said, "I think I can the ice queen and her princess ... but thanks for asking." Liz gave her a look that she was grateful that Maria wasnít backing out and Maria went back to the table where Tess and Isabel were sitting.
Maria didnít pretend to be nice anymore, but she didnít act mean either. She didnít want to stoop to there level of meaness- whatever that was. She just walked over and set the drinks down, absentmindedly making some of Isabelís soda spill on her. Maria was almost shocked at how hurt Isabel seemed right then. Like she was humiliated, but Maria didnít mean to spill the soda and she said to Isabel, "Oh my gosh, Iím so sorry Isabel. I honestly did not mean to do that. Isabel, wait! I didnít mean-" too late. Isabel looked as if she was about to cry and she ran out. Maria was surprised by one thing- Tess didnít even try to run after her. Instead she said to Maria, "I know you didnít mean it. She knows ... sheís just got a lot on her mind right now. Usually Iíd run after her, but ... you know." Maria wiped up the spilled soda and said, "actually I donít know, but I figure she probably has to let off some steam. Not that I care, but I am protecting her in a way ... even though I try to deny it." Tess grabbed her arm and said, "You arenít protecting for her, youíre protecting for Michael, but technically I get the point." Maria pulled her arm away and said defensively, "How do I know youíre not trying to read me when you grab me like that!" Tess backed off and said, "Geeze, calm down. I donít read people unless I donít trust them, but you I trust. I mean youíre mad at practically all for of us and you still donít squeal." Maria replied, "I might be mad at you guys, but that doesnít mean that Iíd want to see you get hurt. That doesnít mean I care about you guys you know ... any less. Just donít expect more than I can give." Maria couldnít believe that she was talking to the girl who aided in breaking her best friendís heart, but she felt like talking to Tess would help so she listened to Tess as she said to her, "I know you love him, Maria. Just promise me one thing, k?" Maria rolled her eyes and said, "okay, what?" Tess leaned in a little and said, "Knowing that he really does love you, just give him space. Heís not used to being loved the way you love him and heís not used to really loving someone else. He doesnít want you get hurt. Promise youíll be gentle?" Maria listened to Tessís words and began to soften up. Michael really loved her. Of course, she would want to hear it from his lips, but she could wait. Anything with him, seemed to be worth the wait in that moment. She smiled softly and said, "I promise, but Tess?" Tess looked at her so she continued, "Not that I care, but I think Isabel needs some space too. Um, one more thing..." she trailed off trying to find the right words. Tess crossed her arms and looked at her stubbornly- suddenly so Michael to Maria- and said to the waitress, "yeah, Maria?" Maria regained her train of thought and said, "You do know that Max loves Liz right? Because she loves him just as much and you kinda seem to threaten that." Tess looked slightly annoyed as she said, "Do I look like Iím oblivious to my own actions? Maria, it doesnít matter what I say or do, Max will always love Liz more than life itself. I know that I tend to stick to Max like glue, but we seem to have this connection that neither one of us can figure out." Maria glared at her so Tess sighed and replied, "Tell you what, You be gentle with Michael and give him space. In return, Iíll try not to be so attached to Max. Maybe I need a step back from him anyway." Tess extended her hand and Maria smiled as she shook it and said excitedly, "Deal. I better get your burger before Jose burns it. Do you want Isabelís to go?" Tess pulled her hand away and shrugged as she said, "Sure, why not." Maria walked away with an indelible smile on her face. She knew she had to be glowing. She just wished that Michael would come in for some food sometime soon. She would give him space, but that didnít mean that he would have to avoid her completely.
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