Penelope & Max

Chapter One

“Get down here right now Molly.” Penelope said in irritation. The cat sat on top of the very high wall and just stared at her. “You are lucky there is snow on the ground or I would throw a shoe at you.” Her brown eyes glared at her pet through ever fogging glasses. She loved the animal to death, but she could be so irritating. Molly meowed and started walking along the wall. “Molly, bad kitty.” She followed the cat, jumping at times and trying to grab her. She hated she was to short. At five foot eight you would think she could reach the animal. A breeze blew snow around her and tugged strands of brown hair out of her braid. She huffed and jumped again, her fingers barely grazing the cat’s fur. She suddenly had an odd feeling and looked around. Her eyes rested on the group of four men across the street. She needed to get her cat and get home. She heard footsteps and turned, her back pressed against the wall.

“Well, look at what we have here.” One of the men said.

“What, never seen a woman before? Let me guess these are your boyfriends.” She said as they made sure she had no exit.

“She’s got a mouth on her Wayne, a pretty one at that.” Another man said.

“What is this Deliverance. Sorry, but I’m not Jon Voight. If I remember he didn’t suck anyone’s dick in that movie even though the hillbilly wanted him to. Of course he had Burt Reynolds.”

“You should shut that smart little mouth of yours bitch.” The first man said and took a step toward her. She kicked him in the balls and tried to run. His friends grabbed her and pulled her into an alley even as she screamed and fought. They pinned her down while their leader hit her and then tore at her clothes. She spat in his face and he hit her again. Her vision spun, but she kept kicking and screaming. He had her pants down and was working on his own. She heard a voice and everything went still.

“Who the fuck are you?” She heard the leader ask and he got off of her. Her vision darkened. She woke with a gasp, her head throbbing, her arms and ankles already bruising. She blinked and looked around. This was not her apartment. She sat up and a hand restrained her. She started fighting.

“Calm down.” A voice said softly. She froze and tried to see the face of the man standing next to her. She could make out a bedside lamp and switched it on. He had his face turned away from her.

“Who are you? Where am I?” She asked.

“In my apartment. You were attacked, but you’re safe now, those men are in jail. My name is Max.”

“Will you look at me Max, please?” He hesitated, but turned to face her. The right side of his face had scars on it from what she guessed were cuts. He was also blind in that eye. It was a pale bluish color while the other was a deep green. It looked painful. “Did those men rape me?” He shook his head and she breathed easier, relaxing into the soft mattress. “My cat, did you see her?”

“She’s in the kitchen.”

“Thank you so much”

“It’s not a problem.” She got up to see her cat. Max followed her feeling nervous. “You bad girl. You see all the trouble you caused. Why can’t you just stay in the house?” She turned back to Max. “Can i cook for you as thanks for saving me?”

“You don’t have to.”

“I know I don’t have to, I want to.” Max was very obviously trying to keep the scarred side of his face as out of her view as possible. “well I’m going to look around and see what I can make you.”

“Thank you”

“Please, this barely repays you.” Max smiled and sat on the counter. She looked in his fridge and cabinets until she figured out he had what she needed to make Chicken Stuffed Pasta. She got busy and hummed. “So, how’d you stumble upon what was happening?”

“I was out walking. I heard you screaming.”

“There’s so many people who would’ve just walked by and left me to keep their own skins safe. Thank you so much. You seem like a good man. I’m going to give you my numer if you’d like to hangout somtime.”

“You want to hangout with me?”

“Why wouldn’t I?” He frowned and turned his face again to keep her from looking at the bad side. She put the food in the oven then walked over to him putting a hand on the scarred side of his face. She brushed her thumb on it. Mark had a terrified look on his face. “There’s nothing wrong with your face Max. Don’t be so ashamed and keep trying to keep your head tilted away. Please look at me when I talk”

“You don’t have to pretend because I saved you.”

“I’m not, really I’m not. Will you call me if I leave my number?”

“I’d love to”

“Good, I hope you enjoy dinner.”

“I’m sure it’ll be great. It’s nice of you to cook for me.”

Her heart went out to this man. He seemed so sad, like someone had broken who he used to be. She wondered how he had earned his scars, but didn’t want to pry and make him more self conscious. Whatever had happened must have been painful. She had to look away so he wouldn’t think she was pitying him. She went through his cabinets until she found a box of tea. She was thirsty. She put a pot of water on the stove and turned in on high.

“Want to help me open packages?” She asked as she sat the box on the table and flipped it open.

“Sure.” He stood next to her and she smiled up at him. He was a lot taller than she was, well over six feet. He had dark hair that fell to his shoulders, obviously grown long to help hide his face. She could see he had scars on his neck too and she was sure probably lower hidden by his shirt. They made fast work of the paper packages and when the water was boiling she took the tea bags and put them in the water. She let it boil for a minute then turned the burner off and moved the pot over so it could steep.

“Do you do a lot of walking around at night?” She pulled a chair back and sat in it backwards.

“People don’t stare at me at night.” He answered as he hopped back up on the counter.

“They shouldn’t stare at you in the day time. It’s rude and besides you’re pretty good looking.” She winked and a smile played across his lips. It was brief but there all the same.

“I look like the Phantom of the Opera.”

“Now if I remember correctly Gerard Butler was pretty hot in that movie. I would say that’s a pretty big compliment. Who told you that anyway?”

“Some woman.”

Penelope nodded. “Should have thanked her. That really would have caught her off guard. Oh, by the way, I’m Penelope or Penny if you’re brave. That very annoying, but very lovable ball of fuzz is Molly. She’s a real brat. She jumped three stories from the fire escape and onto that wall. I should have let her freeze to death.”

“How does your face feel?” He asked softly.

“Like I took a beating. I’m guess it’s bruised all to hell. The neighbors are going to think I have an abusive boyfriend or I like bondage. You should see the looks I get when I flash them my handcuffs.”

“You have handcuffs?”

“Yeah, but they’re not actually mine. I had a roommate named Ophelia. She was into being tied down. She forgot the damn things so now when the neighbors get nosey I hang them on my door knob.” The timer went off before he could say anything else and she got up and pulled the pasta put of the oven.

“Where are your plates?” He stood and got two out. “Please sit and I’ll serve it. Thank you so much for making it.”

“Don’t really need to thank me, I’m freaking starving” That smile briefly flashed across his face again. She could see he didn’t smile often so was very glad she was able to do it twice in one night, or early morning. She wasn’t sure what time it was. Penny sat and Max brought the two plates over. After his first bite he said “wow, this really is wonderful”

“Thank you, I worried you may not like it. I pray you aren’t just being nice.” Max shook his head “It tastes delicious.” They ate not saying much. Penny really wanted to know what happened to him. Molly jumped in her lap and tried to get some of her food. “No Molly down. Do you have any tuna she can have Max?”

“I do” He stood and opened a can. He set it down quickly for the cat. “Thanks, Do you want me to go home tonight or may I stay until morning. Don’t be afraid to tell me to get out of your hair. I’ve been told I’m annoying.”

“You can stay, you haven’t annoyed me atall.” Max looked at his plate seeming to get nervous again. She couldn’t decide if it was him secretly wanting her to go or what. She decided she’d just stay since he said it was ok. “Where can I sleep?”

“In the bed you started in. I’ll sleep on the couch.”

“I don’t want to take your bed.”

“No, please do”

“What a gentleman. I seemed to have really found myself a modern day prince charming. May I see your horse?” He smiled again. This one lingered a bit. “You should smile more. It suits you Max.” Molly brushed up against Maxs legs. “even my cat likes you. I’ll shut her in the room with me though so she doesnt sit on you during the night. She’s a cuddler.”

“I don’t mind. I used to have a great dane and he thought he was a lap dog.” They finished eating at the same time and he took the plates and rinsed them off.

“I love big dogs. I can’t have one in my apartment though. What happened to yours?” She rested her chin in her hand.

“My ex wife took him. I couldn’t take care of him.”

“Did she tell you that or were you really having trouble?”

“A little bit of both.”

She yawned, exhausted. “Do you have any tylenol?” She asked.

“I think so, just wait here.”

Max left her alone in the kitchen reluctantly. He didn’t want her snooping around. He went into the bathroom, catching a glimpse of his scarred face in the mirror. He hated that face. He opened the medicine cabinet and grabbed the tylenol. He slammed the door harder than he meant to and heard the other contents rattle. He sighed and went back into the kitchen. He paused in the doorway when he saw her sleeping, her head resting on her arms. He couldn’t help but smile. She was adorable and beautiful. He set the bottle down on the counter and lifted her slowly out of the chair. She mumbled in her sleep and wrapped her arms around his neck. He carried her to his room and lay her down. He covered her and brushed her bangs off her forehead. Her cat hopped up on the bed and curled up next to her.

“Goodnight Penny, sweet dreams.” He said softly and left to go lay on the couch. He switched on the TV, his eyelids growing heavy. Glass flew all around him, into his face and his eye. He screamed as his car flipped and slid, slamming into the guard rail. He was upside down, his seatbelt the only thing keeping him from falling on his head. He could hear screaming and crying. He braced one hand on the ceiling of the car and unbuckled himself. He dragged himself out, blood soaked his shirt. The crying drew him to another car. The side was crushed. He looked in, seeing a little girl with blood running down her face. He reached in and unbuckled her and pulled her out. The old woman in the front seat was already dead. He carried the girl away and sat down, leaning against the guardrail with her in his arms.

“Max wake up.” His eyes snapped open and he sat up, startling Penelope.

“You were having a bad dream, sorry I had to wake you.”

“Thank you for it”

“I hope you slept alright on your couch.”

“Don’t worry about it, I did.”

“Want some breakfast? I’ll make us sausage and scrambled eggs.”

“That would be great, I can cook it though.”

“Please, let me hero cook. You just sit here or sit with me in the kitchen.” Max smiled and followed her into the kitchen. He took his place on the counter and pointed out where the frying pan was. She grabbed two pans then opened a pack of sausage  so they could get cooking while she made the eggs. Penny pulled his trash can over to the counter and began cracking. “want to talk about what you dreamed?”

“It was the car accident that did this to my face. I’d really not like to discuss it further though. I hope I don’t seem rude.”

“That’s not rude” She said turning to smile at him hoping he wouldn’t get nervous again. She finished making the eggs then put all the food on two plates. She set them on the table then Max joined her. “I better do your dishes before I go.”

“You will not, you may cook but I will clean the dishes. That wouldn’t be fair atall.”

“alright, I’m going home after this so I can get into some clean clothes and shower. Want to hangout later?”

“If you want, be careful going home.”

“Awe, I will” Max felt sad Penny was leaving. He didn’t have any friends. She would be his first one in a very long time. When Penny finished eating she went to grab a notepad she saw in Maxs room. She jotted down her number and adress. She handed it to Max. “I know where you live so you better call me Max”

“I will” he said smiling at her again. Penny thought his smile was cute. The side of his face really didn’t bother her and she wished it didn’t bother him so much. Penny found her shoes then lifted Molly. “Bye Max.”

“Bye” He said as she shut the door to walk to her apartment. Her apartment was very close to his so it didn’t take her long. She set Molly down getting her water and more cat food then went to her bathroom. The shower felt so nice. She got out and blowdried her hair then put a new pair of jeans and a tshirt on. She sat on her bed wondering when Max would call her or if he really would.

Max stared at the piece of paper for a long time then stuck it on his fridge. He wanted her back, but was afraid to call. She was the only one that looked at him like she didn’t see his scars. He sighed, feeling like a coward. He wanted to repay her for her kindness. Most people were afraid of him. He picked up his phone, his hands shaking as he dialed her number.

She was working on her latest art project when the phone rang. She had been trying to finish last night when Molly decided to lead her into a world of trouble. She couldn’t blame the cat, at lease she had met Max. She put down her paint brush and wiped her hands on her jeans. She rushed into the kitchen and picked up her cell. She didn’t recognize the number, but answered anyway.

“Freeman’s Mortuary, you stab em we slab em.” She said.

“What? It’s Max.” He replied and she started laughing.

“Sorry, it’s a joke I use for numbers I don’t recognize. It’s usually just a telemarketer. What’s up?”

Max rubbed his neck nervously. “I was wondering if I could take you to dinner tonight if you’re free.”

“Dinner? I mean we just met and you already want a date. I must be really pretty.” She was sure she could hear him swallow. “I would love to go to dinner, but I want you to let me cut your hair first.”

“My hair?” It was the only thing he had that hid his face from the rest of the world. “I don’t know.”

“I want to be able to look at your face. You shouldn’t hide it. You’re far to handsome.”

“Okay, sure. If it will make you happy. So, you should come over at about six if you want to cut my hair so we can be out of here by seven.”

“Alright, now I have to get back to work. I would stay on the phone with you, but I don’t talk when I paint. You would feel very neglected.” She said with a smile and he sighed.

“I guess I’ll see you at six then. Bye.” He hung up, already missing her voice.

Penelope went back to her canvas, excited about her date. She picked up her brush and started painting again. This was the last piece for the gallery where she was having an art show. She finished the landscape quickly, but made sure everything was very detailed. She lifted the painting and sat it aside so it could dry. She was going to start another one. She found a blank canvas, allowing her brush and mind or take over. She painted his face how she saw him, taking her time and getting every line and shadow right. She hoped to show him this after dinner so he would understand that he wasn’t ugly.

Five rolled around and she started to get ready. She looked through her closet having a hard time deciding what to wear. She finally settled on something then fixed her hair and cleaned her glasses. She pulled out her favorite coat and put on her shoes then walked to Maxs. She would be about twenty minuets early but she hoped he didn’t mind. Max heard a knock on his door. He got up and was very happy to see Penny. “You’re early.”

“Do you mind?”

“No, please come in” She looked even more beautiful than when she left. He swallowed again very nervously. “can I go ahead and cut your hair?” He nodded and they walked into the kitchen where he had a chair sitting in the middle of the room and scissors on the counter. He sat down “You should take your shirt off.” She saw him grow uncomfortable, he looked like he was ashamed of his body. She just looked at him and he sighed taking his shirt off. His eyes jumped to her face hoping he didn’t see horror but her expression hadn’t changed atall.

She walked over and began cutting his hair. He loved the feel of her hands on him. She finished “ok go hop in the shower and get ready for our date. I can’t believe how handsome you are.” He walked quickly to the bathroom as Penny got a broom and dust pan. He looked in the mirror and didn’t see how she could call him handsome. He felt like a monster.

Penny dumped the hair in the trash can and put the broom and dust pan next to the fridge. She decided to look around the living room since she didn’t think he would mind. There were books and an acoustic guitar. He had a TV and a few movies. There wasn’t really much, a bachelor’s apartment. There was a small box sitting at the bottom of the entertainment center. Curiosity got the best of her and she pulled it out and sat it on the coffee table. She sat down and pulled the top off. It was full of pictures. She rifled through them, smiling at pictures of him looking young and carefree.

Max rinsed the hair off of his shoulders and back then washed and rinsed. He got out and dried and realized he had not brought any clothes into the bathroom. He wrapped the towel around his waist and walked out. He glanced in the living room and noticed she had his box of pictures. He felt his heart hammer fearfully in his chest.

“What are you doing?” He asked and she jumped.

“Sorry, I got curious. Why don’t you smile like this anymore? You have such a nice smile.” She showed him one of the pictures. She let her eyes move over him. He had a lot of scars. She wondered how bad his accident had been. “Can I keep this one?”

“Why?”

“Because I have something I want to show you later and I need this to make sure I got it right.”

“Okay, but please put the rest of them back where you found them.” She smiled and closed the box. She stuck the one in her purse and then put the box back. “Are you planning on going to dinner in a towel?”

“No, sorry. I’ll just go get dressed now.” He cleared his throat and he could tell she was trying not to laugh. He turned away and went into his room. He dressed quickly, wearing a nice pair of jeans and a dress shirt. He ran his fingers through his newly cut hair, feeling very exposed. He was going to a public place with a beautiful woman with no way to hide his scars.

“Hurry up or we’re going to starve.” She said from the living room and he started to panic. “Hey, what’s up sweetness? Are we going to eat or not?” She walked into his room and she could tell there was something wrong. “Are you okay?”

“I don’t think I can go out. I feel…I don’t know…scared.” He replied. She smiled warmly.

“Sure you can.” She held out her hand. “I’ll be with you.”

He looked up into her warm and kind eyes. He grabbed her hand and stood. “You’re very handsome I promise. You look so nice in dress clothes.”

“Thank you, you look very pretty too.”

“I know but thanks for pointing it out.” He smiled and they walked to his car. He felt very nervous driving with her. He hadn’t felt good about driving since his accident. It took him a long time to even start driving again. They arrived at a very nice restaurant. ‘wow, you sure you want to take me to a place this nice?” He nodded hoping his heart would slow down. After they were parked he got out and opened her door. “such a gentleman thank you” Her compliments only made his heart rate get worse.

Penny laced her hand with his. They got to the door and Max froze. She was too beautiful to enter this place with someone like him “come on Max, I’m excited about dinner with you.” He looked at her knowing he’d disappoint her if he went back home so he forced himself to walk. When they were inside he noticed the normal looks of shock and pity on peoples faces. Max wanted to hide but he just followed Penny and the waiter to a table. “I’ve never been here before.”

“I hope you like it. I’m surprised another man hasn’t brought you here.”

“I’m a nerd, I don’t go on many dates. Most guys act like they are doing me a favor by going out with me instead of some bimbo who barely wears clothes.”

“Most guys are stupid then. Thank you for being in public with me.” Penny smiled and took his hand “I’m not doing you a favor. This is such a nice place and I get to be in it with a sweet and very handsome man.” He looked into her eyes and didn’t even feel everyone elses on him any longer. He could get lost in those gorgeous eyes.

Penny looked over the menu and then up at the waiter. He was smiling at her expectantly. “So Michael,” she said as she glanced at his name tag, “I’ll have the shrimp and rice with mashed potatoes. To drink I want the raspberry lemonade.” He scribbled it down quickly then turned to Max.

“I’ll have the same please.” Max said without looking up. He handed the waiter his menu and then tapped his fingers nervously on the table. He could feel eyes on him. It made him want to scream. Penny reached across the table and grabbed his hand, making his eyes jump to her face. She didn’t look bothered at all. In fact she was looking at him like he was a normal guy on a date with the most beautiful woman in the world. “So, you’re an artist?” He finally said.

“I guess. I paint pictures, I put them in a gallery and people buy them so I guess you can call me an artist. It started out as a hobby and developed into a profession. What about you, what do you do?” She said happily.

“I used to play at night clubs. Now I do photography since it means not having to spend a lot of time with a lot of people.”

“I bet you are an amazing musician. You’ll have to play for me some time.”

“Max?” A familiar voice said and he froze. “It is you.” He turned to the blonde haired blue eyed woman crossing the room.

“Chloe, hello. Funny seeing you here.”

“Not so funny, you know I love this place. Who is this?”

He wanted her to go away, far away and maybe fall in a hole. “This is my friend Penny. Penny meet my ex wife.”

Chloe held out her hand and Penelope shook it with a smile. She could tell the woman didn’t like her. “Nice to meet you.” She said politely. “Max saved my life so here we are.”

“He’s always saving someone or something. So what do you do?”

“I’m a stripper. I know the glasses are deceiving, but the men love the naughty teacher or professor bit. Gets them all hot and bothered when I shake my ass just right.” Max coughed and she glanced at him. He was trying not to laugh. Chloe glared at her and she just smiled sweetly back. “It was nice to meet you Chloe.” The other woman walked away, leaving the restaurant. “Well that was fun.”

“You are very, very bad.” He said and took a drink of his lemonade.

“So why didn’t that work out, besides the obvious?”

“I wanted kids, she didn’t. I wanted to continue playing music, she wanted me to give it up and work for her dad. Then I got in the accident, started having some issues. They were the last straw I guess. She left and had divorce papers delivered the next day. At the time it hurt, but now I’m glad she’s gone.”

Chapter Two

“she didn’t seem nice atall. It’s better you’re not with someone like her.”

“Do you have a boyfriend?” slipped out of Maxs mouth before he could stop it. “Nope, just Molly and I. It’s been awhile since I had a boyfriend. my last one and I broke up because of Molly actually. She hated him and he told me to get rid of her so I got rid of him. It’s funny how people come into your life and decide you should give up things.”

“yeah” Max said nervously. He didn’t know why he asked that. She was beautiful and he really liked Penny but he didn’t stand a chance at dating her. It was amazing enough she wanted to be his friend. Thier food came out and Penny couldn’t believe how good it was. “This is amazing, I’m so glad I came with you. You and I should go out more often.”

“I’d like that” When they were done Max paid and they went back to their apartment complex. “I need to go to my apartment alone real quick. I’m going to call you when I’m ready for you to come over.” Max nervously said “ok” Penny hugged him and kissed his cheek “thank you so much for dinner” When she was gone he held his cheek and sat down on the couch. He wondred what she was doing.

Penny made sure the paint was dry on his portrait and pulled out the picture of him and sat it on the easel with the canvas. She quickly picked up her brushes and water and tried to organize her other canvases. She had not realized how messy her apartment was until she invited someone over. She pulled a chair over from the kitchen table and put it in front of the painting. She dug her phone out of her purse and called him. “Okay, you can come over now and please don’t be deterred by the mess.” She said.

“Just give me a few minutes.” He replied and they hung up. She had never been so nervous about a painting in her life. She didn’t usually care what anyone thought of her art. She did it because it made her happy. She didn’t know why Max made her feel this way, but he did. There was a knock at the door and she checked the peep hole before opening it.

“Close your eyes.” She said excitedly and he looked at her suspiciously for a moment before complying. “Don’t worry I don’t plan on doing anything horrible.” She took his hand and pulled him inside then shut the door. She lead him over to the chair and told him to sit. “Okay, open your eyes.”

Max opened his eyes and found himself staring at a painting of his face. Sad, brooding green eyes looked back at him. No scars covered the side of his face or his neck. The picture of himself before his accident sat in front of it. The same face, but happier. “I look so perfect.” He said and looked up at her.

“That’s how I see you. I don’t see the scars or that you’re blind in one eye. I see who you really are. Sad, alone, handsome, and kind. I painted this before I saw your picture. I wanted you to see that you are not a monster, not to me.” She replied and he felt himself tearing up. She cupped the scarred side of his face and he slid his hand over hers, holding it there. “What happened to you Max? Tell me so I can help you.”

“How can you help me?”

“I can be here for you.” She sat down in his lap, her arms going around his neck. He looked at her then the painting and back again.

“It was dark and raining. I had had another argument with Chloe about having a baby. I remember a car passing me . There was an old woman driving and a girl in the back seat. This eighteen wheeler in front of us hit a patch of oil on the road. You know how it builds up when it hasn’t rained in awhile. It spun, slamming into my car and flipping it then into the other car, crushing the side.” He found himself wrapping his arms around her waist. “I could hear the girl crying and screaming. I got out of my car and pulled her out of hers. I was covered in blood, glass had blinded me and cut me. There were some larger pieces imbedded in my skin, along with a piece of metal from the truck. Four of my ribs were broken, my skull was fractured. I was told I shouldn’t have been able to even walk to the other car to save that girl. Adrenaline I guess.” He felt tears on his face and looked away. He shouldn’t be crying in front of her

“Don’t look away. It’s really alright to cry”

“Men shouldn’t cry”

“Isn’t that a load of horse crap sexism.” She hugged him tightly and kissed his cheek where she placed her hand before. He cried harder, harder than he had ever let himself before. Even though she said it was alright he felt ashamed. He couldn’t tell if he was crying more because of the accident or the painting. Penny was so wonderful and sweet. He was lucky to find her. He held her tightly like he might drown in his tears if he didn’t have her pressed against him.

Penny rubbed his back shushing him. He cried until there were no tears left in him. Penny put her forehead on his “I bet you feel better now. It’s good to let your sadness out.”

“I do, thank you for not making me feel like a wuss. Chole would call me a little girl when I’d cry about the accident”

“she was a bitch, she should’ve been more understanding and treated you better. Would you like to stay here tonight? We could watch movies in my bed until we fall asleep.”

“That sounds nice, I’ll move to the couch when you fall asleep.” She sighed “well jeez if I’m so repulsive you can’t sleep beside me I guess” Max looked shocked and upset “no I didn’t mean” Penny smiled at him “I was teasing, calm down.” She got out of his lap and offered her hand. He took it and they went to her room. “sit at my headboard”

“why?”

“Just do it please” He did and she got inbetween his legs laying against him. Penny grabbed his hands and put them around her so they could just relax while they watched their movie. Max couldn’t believe how good it felt just to hold Penny. He barely even knew what was going on in the movie. His eyes hurt from all the crying anyway so his one good eye wasn’t focusing very well.

“No, no, no don’t go in there you idiot.” Penny yelled at the TV. “Behind you damn it, look behind you.” She watched as Mike Myers killed another idiot victim. “Oh for fucks sake, really?”

“They can’t hear you.” Max said with a laugh.

“How do you know? Maybe they just don’t know how to listen.” She looked up at him and smiled that devastatingly beautiful smile. Time seemed to stop when she looked at him like that, her eyes alight with compassion and joy. He would give anything to see that every day. He curled his fingers around the nape of her neck and kissed her. Her lips were so soft and warm and incredibly sweet. He pulled back, feeling suddenly embarrassed. Her cheeks were flushed, her eyes closed. She opened them to look at him and his heart nearly stopped.

“I’m sorry, I wasn’t thinking. I don’t know what came over me.” He said in a panic. He ran his fingers through his hair, wishing she wasn’t leaning against him so he could leave. She turned, her hands framing his face and her lips finding his in a passionate kiss. She straddled him and he wrapped his arms tightly around her. He kissed his way down her chin and neck to her collar bone. She lifted her shirt off and he unhooked her bra. She pulled his shirt up and over his head and threw it. He ran his hands over skin, cupping her breasts as she worked at his belt. He ran his hands up her thighs and under the skirt she was wearing. His fingers brushed her panties, a thin lacey material. “I hope you’re not attached to these.” He whispered as he ripped them off. He tipped her back onto the bed, pushing his jeans down and pulling back to look into her eyes as he pushed himself slowly into her. She gasped and he moaned, sending goosebumps crawling over her skin. He made love to her slowly, wanting to savor this moment.

He lost himself completely in her, in the happiness and pleasure he saw fill her eyes. He thrust into her harder and her back arched off the bed, her eyes closed as he brought her over the edge again and again until there were tears running into her hair. Her body went limp beneath his and he found his own release, his lips finding hers so his moan filled her mouth. He rolled so she lay on top of him, his heart beating so fast he feared it would burst out of his chest. He worried for a moment that he had overstepped his bounds, but knew it was to late to take it back. She rested her chin on his sternum and he swallowed nervously.

“You sir, owe me a new pair of panties.” She finally said and he started laughing. “Only pair of lace I had.”

“I’ll buy you as many as you want” He whispered. “we can get more tomorrow. Now we sleep. Jesus, who would’ve guessed you were that good?” Max smiled feeling extremely happy. “goodnight Penny” Penny fell asleep quickly wrapped in Maxs arms. He began to cry again. This beautiful and amazing woman just made love with him. He hoped that meant they could be together and it wasn’t a one night stand. She didn’t seem like a one night stand girl so he was pretty sure she wanted to be with him.

Max finally fell asleep. Penny woke in the morning and looked at him. She could tell he cried again. She kissed him siftly then got up to make muffins. She found the mix and got it ready. When she slid them in the oven and set the timer she got dressed. It felt chilly in her apartment so she turned up the heat a little bit. The oven dinged and she pulled the banana nut muffins out. She got two small plates putting a muffin and banana on each one. She poured some orange juice for each of them then went into her room to wake Max.

She grabbed his face giving him a deep kiss. He woke smiling “I made breakfast, come on” Max pulled his pants on then followed Penny into the kitchen. They sat down to eat and Max looked teary eyed again. “was sex that bad for you?” She teased. “It’s not that atall. That was just so amazing. I’m so happy. I hope…well”

“Yes I’m your girlfriend. No more tears.” He smiled and got up to hug her. “eat your breakfast, we’re going to spend the day together.” He ate happily “I should get some clothes from my apartment.”

“alright, I’ll be waiting here” she said with a smile. He gave her a long kiss before walking out. Once her door was shut he ran to his apartment so he could get back to Penny.

He went to unlock the door and realized it already was. The lock had not been forced and he was sure he had locked it. He never forgot. He pushed the door open and walked slowly inside. He went into the living room and was shocked to see Chloe standing there in nothing but her panties and a pair of heels. A trench coat sat on the floor. “What the fuck are you doing here?” He asked angrily.

“Come on now Max, I’m here for you.” She said.

“Get out of my apartment.”

She crossed the room and he backed up. “Don’t I look good baby?”

“You’re only here to make me miserable because you saw how happy I was with Penelope. You jealous bitch.”

“I’m here to make you feel good.” She grabbed his shirt and he pulled at her hands, shaking his head.

Penny wondered what was taking him so long. She started to get worried. What if someone had tried to hurt him because they didn’t like the way he looked? She grabbed her apartment key and locked her door on the way out. She ran, praying he was okay. Max managed to get Chloe to let go of his shirt and he pushed her back. She slapped him then wrapped her arms around his neck and kissed him. He pushed against her hard. He heard the front door open and pushed her off as Penelope entered the room. She looked between them, breathing hard. She didn’t say anything, just turned and ran.

“Get out and never come back you whore.” He screamed as he took off after her. He caught up to her a block from his apartment and grabbed her arm. She jerked away from him and he grabbed her again, pulling her into a hug. “Let me explain, please.” He said, so afraid.

“Okay, explain.” She whispered as tears ran down her cheeks.

“Nothing happened, not on my end anyway. She was there when I walked in, I swear to you. I didn’t kiss her back. She was trying to force herself on me, she even slapped me when I shoved her back the first time.” He pulled back to look at her, tipping her head up. “I would rather die than hurt you. Please believe me. She’s a coniving, jealous bitch. I love you, I really love you.” He wiped away her tears.

She wrapped her arms around his neck and he held her. “I believe you, I do. It was just such a shock to see her standing there in her panties. I’m sorry.”

“Don’t be, I understand. I’m not willing to lose you, not for anything or anyone. Can we still spend the day together?” She nodded and he kissed her cheek and then her lips. “I still need clothes, I’m sure she’s gone by now and you can come back with me and make sure.”

“I love you Max, so much.”

“I love you too.” They walked back to his apartment holding hands. Penny was happy to see Chole was gone. They went to Maxs room so he could change then he asked “can I bring another change of clothes so I can sleep at your house again tonight? I’d really love to”

“Of course you can” Max smiled, he was terrified when he saw Penny run off. He was afraid he lost her right when he got her. He took his change of clothes then walked with Penny back to her apartment. “where do you want to go Penny? I’ll go anywhere with you.”

“want to go to the park?”

“That sounds amazing. Its been a long time since I’ve been to one in the daytime.” Penny smiled still trying to get the picture of Chole kissing Max out of her head. She knew it wasn’t his fault but it still hurt. Max put his clothes in Pennys room then they got in Pennys car to go to her favorite park in the area. “wait a second” he said as he quickly got out to open her door. She smiled brightly then hugged him when the door was closed “You are so sweet.”

“You deserve it, you’re amazing.” He tilted her head up for a kiss. With that she felt better and held his hand tightly as they walked through the snow covered park. They walked around until she began to get really cold “lets go to Starbucks and get some coffee.”

“That’s a great idea.” he said with a huge smile. They walked back to the car and she went to the nearest Starbucks. There weren’t many people there so their coffee came quickly. “That park looks so much better during the day.”

“You’re going to see how everything looks during the day”

“I look forward to it, I look forward to anything I can do with you my love” Penny found herself blushing due to the way Max was looking at her. Never had anyone given her such an adoring look. They drank their coffee slowly just relaxing and getting warm. The baristas were staring at max but he didn’t even notice. He was lost in Penny, lost in how happy he felt sitting there with her.

He reached across the table and grabbed her hand. She smiled warmly and stared into his eyes. “This is the Max I want, the happy smiling Max. The Max who looks at me like I am the sun and moon.”

“You are. I’m so glad it was me who saved you.”

“I wanted to ask what you did to those pricks when you found me.”

“I beat them senseless then pulled your pants up and held you until the cops arrived.”

She leaned across the table and kissed him in front of shocked customers. “You are so wonderful.” She whispered. “Another question. Ever been drawn nude?” People turned their heads and he pressed a finger to her lips.

“You like seeing what kind of reaction you can get from me don’t you? No, I have never been drawn nude.” He said and she caught the tip of his finger between her teeth and sucked on it. He swallowed and pulled his hand away. “You are lucky there are people here.”

“I have a table at home you can throw me on.” She was having fun teasing him. He shook his head and smiled.

“I still have to buy you some panties. We should do that then you can model them for me.”

“You are a photographer.”

The thought of her standing before him in nothing but lace underwear while he snapped shots of her had him blushing. He never blushed, had never been overly shy. He covered his face with his hands and she giggled. “It’s not funny. Do you have any idea what you do to me? Or what you make me want to do to you?” He finished his coffee and it brought him a semblance of control. “No more trying to seduce me until we’re back in your apartment. The last thing I need is to be walking around with a hard on.”

“Alright, I’ll be good. I have a showing tonight at a gallery. I plan on putting your portrait up. Don’t worry, I wouldn’t dream of selling it. Anyway, we should go that way you won’t have to worry about me trying to get your pants off.”

“Okay, sounds good. I haven’t been to a gallery in a long time.” He was a little nervous about being in a room full of people, but he would do anything to put a smile on her face. Her art meant everything to her. He could tell by how lovingly she had painted him.

They got in her car and drove to the mall. They walked around until they found Victorias Secret. Max could imagine Penny in everything he saw in there. He planned on buying her things from her often. They picked out five different sets and paid then left to go home. When they got to Pennys apartment she said “now you’ll actually let me model for you right? You aren’t going to attack me as soon as I come out in nothing but my undies.”

“I make no promises but I’ll try, just be good” She winked then he went to his apartment to get his camera. He couldn’t help but think it would be nice if they lived together so everything would always be there. He couldn’t ask that so soon though. He’d probably scare her if he wanted to live in her apartment the first day they were dating. He got his camera and his tooth brush for tomorrow then went back. He knocked and Penny answered the door in one of her new bra and panty sets. Maxs jaw dropped.

“Good to know I look good in them.” She pulled max inside and shut the door. “where would you like me?”

“everywhere” Penny laughed “and you told me to be good”

“Could I have pictures of you laying on the couch first?” She nodded then walked over. She posed for him all around her apartment in different sets until he was so hard he had to take her. He carefully took her panties and bra off then had his way with her right there on the kitchen table. Penny had never known such intense orgasms before. Nor had she known she could have so many in a row. She felt weak when he finished. He picked her up and laid her on the bed. “I’ve left you motionless again huh? That’s good.” He gently pushed some of her hair out of her face “I’m so happy I can please you” he said in almost a whisper then kissed her “I love you so much already.”

“Can’t talk?” He asked. “No sarcasm, no quick wit? I must be amazing.” She turned red and he chuckled then rubbed his nose against hers. “I like when you turn red. The color looks good on you.”

“I’m not the only one. You should have seen your face in Starbucks.” She finally said, closing her eyes.

“I was other things too, but I managed to calm myself down so I wouldn’t make a fool of myself.”

“Glad I have that effect on you. It makes me feel sexy.”

“You’re always sexy Penny.”

“You are brave. No one else is allowed to call me Penny but my brother.” She opened her eyes and ran her fingers over the scarred side of his face. He was so wonderful in every way. “Will you stay with me forever?” He kissed her palm.

“Yes and I’ll only leave if you ask me to even if it breaks my heart.” He answered and kissed her softly. He would do anything she asked, no matter how scared he might be at the time.

“Move in with me.” She laughed at his shocked look. “What, to soon?”

“It’s never to soon. I want to be as close to you as possible. Hopefully I’ll be safe from you know who if I stay here.”

“Well that’s a good reason to move in with your girlfriend.” She laughed again and rolled him beneath her. She grabbed his wrists and pinned them above his head. “Saying things like that can get you in a lot of trouble.” She looked at her alarm clock. “We still have a couple of hours before we have to get ready for the showing and get my paintings to gallery so they can be set up.”

“Oh really? What are you going to do?” She grinned and then kissed him.

She lay there with her head on his chest, trying to catch her breath. She looked at the clock, not sure if she was going to be able to get up and shower. Her body felt like jelly and she had once again lost her ability to speak. She listened to the quick beating of his heart. “Maybe we should just stay in tonight.” She managed to say. “I can’t move.”

“I bet I could get you to move.” Max said and she felt her whole body grow hot.

“You have way to much stamina. I don’t think I could go another round right now. I’ll get up so we can shower.” He laughed, the sound vibrating through her and warming her heart. She got off the bed, her legs actually shaking. She noticed he was grinning at her and glared. It just made him smile more. “You’re lucky I love you now carry me to the shower.”

Chapter Three

He lifted her into his arms and kissed her. She felt the happiness in him rush through her. He sat her on the bathroom sink and started the water. When it was comfortable they both got in. He washed Penny first then himself. His heart felt warm and excited. The huge smile that appeared on his face when Pennys legs shook hadn’t faltered even slightly. He had a beautiful girlfriend, was going to move in with her and she apparently very much enjoyed making love to him.

The shower helped Penny be able to walk properly again so she dried herself then the two of them got dressed. As Penny brushed her hair she said “If you don’t get that smile off your face it’ll be stuck that way. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a smile that wide.”

“I’m sorry, I’m just so happy” Penny laughed “well there’s no reason to be sorry. Just concerned that handsome face will be stuck in a smile and I wont see that orgasm face again” Penny winked and Max laughed. “I love you so much”

“Love you too” They put their shoes on then grabbed her paintings. Max set them carefully in Pennys car then the two got in. Maxs smile faded thinking about all the looks he’d get, all the whispers. It was even worse when people would point. Max sighed and Penny read him like a book “stop that, you shouldn’t care what jerks say. You’re incredibly handsome and I love you” Max smiled at Penny but it was a weak one.

Penny hated how cruel people could be. Max had sucha  good heart but people didn’t see that. They just saw the side of his face. She wasn’t afraid to chew anyone out that made him feel bad. They parked and carefully took out her paintings. Penny told him where to put the one he carried then situated the one in her hands. “I can’t wait for people to see these. I love the comments I get. It makes me proud.”

“You should be proud. Your artwork is amazing.”

Max stood with Penny in the large group of people that had come to see her artwork. A couple of them were in military uniform. He had already had to tell him he wasn’t a soldier and that his scars had not come from that kind of shrapnel. They didn’t stare at him, but went on their way. He figured they had probably seen a lot worse. Some people glanced at him and whispered to the person next to them. Sometimes he would catch snippets of their conversation. Most of the people however seemed to be absolutely captivated by Penny’s art. A lot were drawn to his portrait which made him feel very self conscious. It had been titled vision of a broken man. He was broken, extremely so, but she was putting him back together. That was what the painting meant to him, being whole again.

“Please don’t cry.” Penny said and he looked down at her.

“Sorry, I’m not trying to.” He leaned down and kissed her softly on the lips.

“You don’t have to apologize sweety.” She knew this wasn’t easy for him and she was proud that he would put himself through being uncomfortable so she could be here. “Why don’t you get us something to drink, take a breather.”

“Okay, I love you.”

“I love you too.”

She stood there smiling at the people that pointed at her portrait of him and then over at Max. They recognized his face. She was sure he would get asked about it and she hoped he got used to the attention. “Hey Penny.” She spun around and glared at the man behind her.

“Don’t call me that, Leonard.” She said angrily. “Why are you here?”

“I’d never miss a chance to see your art.” He replied and got closer. “Come on, give me another chance?”

“Uh no, that’s never going to happen.”

“Why because of that stupid cat?”

She actually laughed. “That’s one reason, but it’s mainly because I’m dating someone. Here he comes now.”

Leonard looked at the man approaching “You’d choose him over me?”

“Why wouldn’t I? He’s better looking and a nicer person. Molly likes him better too.” Leonard scoffed and walked away. “Sorry, that was my ex I told you about. The one who wanted me to get rid of Molly.”

“why’s he here?”

“to look at my art and be an ass” Penny took her drink from Max. “thank you” she drank a little then hugged him. “People love the painting of you. I’m glad.” Max still felt Leonard glaring at him. Penny didn’t seem to notice and he wouldn’t point it out. Max just wanted her to have fun. He was absolutely amazed by her artwork. He looked forward to seeing many more pieces she’d create. He wondered if she’d teach him how to paint like this. Max could imagine spending whole days with Penny while the two of them just painted and talked.

He smiled when he thought of getting body painting and using his hands to paint all over Penny. He took a deep breath and pushed out the thought before he had to take her right that second. Penny giggled “Having bad thoughts are we? Who knew you were such a sex addict.”

“Only with you, how did you know?”

“It’s easy to read that handsome mug of yours.” Max leaned down and whispered “we should get body paint so I can paint all over you” Penny smiled and lightly giggled. Leonard was watching them absolutely disgusted Penny would be with such a horrific looking man over him. He coudln’t believe she had the audacity to say Max looked better than he did. Leonard didn’t understand how such a man wouldn’t feel great shame being out with such a beautiful girl. He scowled wanting to put Max in his place.

An older couple approached them and they all shook hands. “Your paintings are so life like.” The old woman said with a smile. “I especially love the one of the man, that must be you dear.” She reached up and placed a hand on Max’s cheek. “Such a nice looking young man. You remind me of my son.” She patted his cheek then turned back to Penny. “Too bad it’s not for sale.”

“I could always paint another. You and I could be the owners of the only two paintings of Max here.” She said with a warm smile.

“You don’t have to trouble yourself dear.” The old man said.

“It’s no trouble. Painting is my passion. Just leave your address in the guest book.”

“Such an angel, thank you.” They moved on.

“See, I’m not the only one who likes you. Everyone keeps looking at that painting then at you. They know it’s you and they’ve been itching to ask you questions all night.”

“How can you tell?”

She smiled up at him. “The same way you can tell someone is repulsed or scared. It’s in the way they stand, how they shift from foot to foot and tap their finger against their chins as if contemplating something. They want to ask, they just don’t want to offend.” A young woman in a purple dress stared at them and Penny waved her over. “This one is just bubbling over. She’s going to talk a lot. If you feel overwhelmed by all the attention just tell me. There’s a back room we can sit in until you catch your breath.”

“Hi, I’m Jade. I know I’m wearing purple, whoops.” The woman said nervously.

“Nice to meet you Jade. You probably already know who I am.” Penny shook her hand. “This is Max, the absolute love of my life.”

“Hello, uh, so you’re the man in the painting. Very nice to meet you.” She held out her hand nervously. It shook a little and he took it gently in his.

“You don’t have to look so terrified. I’m not going to bite your head off. Thank you for coming over and introducing yourself.” Jade blushed and managed a smile. He let her go and she went happily back over to the group she had been with.

“Look at you lady killer.” Penny teased and poked him in the ribs. “Looks like she got the rest of her friends to come over.”

Penny was proud of how well Max was doing. The girls talked and talked to him. She could tell one of them had a huge crush on him. If Penny were the jealous type she may ahve said somthing but instead it made her happy he was getting so much positive attention. She hoped this would make him more comfortable coming with her here in the future. She wanted Max by her side every time she showed her art.

Penny was relieved Leonard walked away without too much of a fuss. She scanned the room for him to see if he left and couldn’t see him. She hoped he was gone and not just somewhere she couldn’t spot his annoying face. Max looked like he was starting to get overwhlemed by the girls so she grabbed his arm “sorry ladies, I need him alone a few moments.” They looked honestly sad as she pulled Max away into the back room. She sat down beside him “Will you sit in my lap so I can hold you?”

“aw, I’d love that.” She got in his lap and he wrapped his arms around her. “You are doing so well. Thank you for coming.”

“I’m actually enjoying it a little.”

“so you’ll always come?”

“I’ll go anywhere with you.” Max said then kissed Penny. When their lips parted she said “one of those girls has a crush on you” Max laughed “I love you”

“Love you too”

Penny checked her watch it was starting to get late. Soon the gallery would close and whoever had bought her paintings would be allowed to leave with them. She had to remember to have Max grab his portrait. She rested her head against his shoulder, feeling tired and her feet sore from standing all night. She had not expected to have to deal with two exes in such a short span of time. Chloe had tried to make her doubt Max’s love and Leonard was stalking her. He had always been a little obsessive. That kind of attitude is what had put Molly on edge around him. He was controlling and an idiot.

“You’re falling asleep.” Max said and she raised her head.

“Sorry, but it’s your fault. You exhaust me. I’m so glad this night is almost over. These things always go until midnight to make sure everyone has seen everything. Maybe you can show some of your photography here. None of me in my panties though.” She smiled and ran her fingers through his hair.

“I wouldn’t dream of it. Maybe you can do more modeling for me in clothes or wrapped in a sheet or something like that.”

She giggled and brushed her nose along his jaw. “How is a sheet any better than panties? You just want to see me naked. This room does have a lock you know.”

“Oh no, don’t even think about it. The last thing I need is the gallery owner trying to get in here and catching us in the act.”

“Well I’ve already thought about it. If you weren’t so hot, I wouldn’t always want you. The way you smile at me, the way you look at me and kiss me excites me. I can’t help it.”

“Sure you can. You have a will of iron.”

She laughed. “Or a screw loose. I do talk to my cat.” She sighed and kissed his cheek. “We have half an hour then we can go home. Hopefully we can actually get home without one of us being beat or stalked. Leonard and his controlling ways. He actually thought I would get back with him. Fat chance, not even if I was stumbling drunk or high on crack.” She kissed him again. “Come on lets get out of here before we wind up semi naked.”

They walked out holding hands. Max soon found himself surrounded by people again. He held firmly to Pennys hand for support. The people were being nice but it had been so long since he was social it was hard and made him nervous to talk to so many people at once. Most of the paintings Penny had for sale went once it was time to close up. She went over to the guest book to find the elderly couples address. Penny made a note in her cell phone then left letting the owner of the gallery close up.

Max loaded Pennys painting of him into the car and then pulled Penny into a passionate kiss. “what was that about” she asked trying to catch her breath. “I just really needed it.” He said smiling at her then brushing his fingers on her cheek. “You don’t know how much I love you. I’m so happy you’re mine and you didn’t leave me because of my ex wife.”

“I’m glad your ex wife is making you wan tto move in with me” Penny teased “It’s not that and you know it. I want to wake up to that beautiful face every morning.” They smiled at eachother for a second then got in the car to head home. Penny felt uneasy, she wasn’t sure why but a sense of foreboding crept into her gut. She sighed knowing it was just the discomfort of seeing her ex.

Max carried her upstairs once they were at her apartment. Penny laughed when he spun in a circle then kissed her. She unlocked the door for him and pushed it open. “Some day you’ll be wearing a long white dress when I do this.” He said and then snapped his mouth shut.

“Are you saying there may be a wedding in our future?” She asked as he toed the door shut and then carried her to the kitchen and sat her on the counter.

“I didn’t mean to say it out loud, but I certainly hope so. I know I’m not much, but I do love you.”

“I know you do. You’re perfect you know that?”

“I’m not even close.” He stood between her legs, his face so close his nose brushed hers. “But you, you are the image of perfection. So beautiful and intelligent and sexy. I don’t deserve you at all. You’re such a miracle.” He grabbed her hand and pressed her palm against his chest. “I didn’t know I could feel this happy. My heart is going crazy for you.” He kissed her softly then pulled back. “I love that look, starry eyed and turned on just from one little kiss.”

“You’re the only one who can do that to me.” There was a knock at the door, shattering the moment. She sighed angrily and hopped off the counter. She went to the front door and looked out the peep hole. It was Leonard. She opened the door and glared at him. “What?”

“Is he here?” Leonard asked.

“Yes, why?” He leveled a gun at her face and she raised her hands. He moved forward and she moved back. He slammed the door behind him.

“Come on out scar face or I’ll kill her.” He ordered. Max walked out of the kitchen, hands up just like her. “Go get the handcuffs you have in your chest of drawers, now.” She turned and hurried into her room while Leonard held Max at gunpoint. She came back with the cuffs. “To the bathroom, now.” They moved into the bathroom and Leonard slid the glass shower door open. “Cuff him to the cross bar.”

Penny cuffed one of Max’s wrists then draped the center chair over the metal bar the door was inserted into. She cuffed his other wrist so his hands were at face level. “Now what?” She asked softly.

“Now you and I take a ride.”

“Just let me say goodbye.” He rolled his eyes, but didn’t protest. He found it comical. Penny turned and grabbed his face in her hands. She kissed him, her tongue slipping in his mouth and dropping the key on his tongue. She pulled back, feeling terrified. “I love you.” She whispered.

“Alright come on.” Leonard grabbed her arm and pulled her out of the bathroom.

When Max heard the front door close he put his face by his hands so he could get the key in his grasp. His heart stopped for a second when he almost dropped the key but thankfully he kept a firm hold and undid the handcuffs. Max was angry, far angrier than he had ever been. All he knew is that man better not hurt Penelope. Max picked up his cell and called the police explaining what happened, the mans name and what he looked like.

The police told him to sit tight and they’d handle it. Max felt like throwing the phone in frustration. If he tried to follow he didn’t even know where to go. His car was at his apartment so he’d have to run all the way there so would have no hope of being able to follow. He had to try at the very least to find where Leonard took her. He ran to his apartment as fast as he could. Penny was angry as she sat in the passenger side of Leonard’s car. “what the hell are you doing?”

“Setting you straight, how could you be with that disgusting freak? Have you gone blind? He’s hideous.”

“You are whose hideous. He has a big heart and I think he’s handsome.” Leonard scoffed “You’re with him just to fuck with me. You wanted me jealous and to hurt me. You are mine. You belong to me and I wont have you parading around with some monster.”

“I don’t belong to anyone and even if I did it would be Max. I love Max.”

“Shut the fuck up right now” His voice told her she shouldn’t bicker any more or she might not live to see Max again. She just looked at the world going by her hoping sombody would notice she had a gun pointed at her and alert the cops. She didn’t hold her breath though. What were the chances that there’d be another good willed person to save her from trouble.

Max tried not to cry as he drove down the snow covered street. He tried not to imagine what Leonard might do to Penny or what he was already doing. He worried that she had resisted and he had killed her. His fingers tightened on the steering wheel and he felt that unfamiliar rage sweep back through him. He was going to kill Leonard, strangle the life out of him. He looked out the windows and swore he saw Jade walking down the side walk. He slowed and turned around, pulling over and rolling down his window.

“Jade.” He yelled and she paused, looking around. He waved and she leaned forward as if trying to see him better. She looked up and down the street then crossed.

“Max, hey, what’s up?” She asked nervously.

“I need to ask you something. There was a man at the gallery named Leonard, shorter than me with blue eyes and blonde hair. You don’t by chance know him do you?”

She seemed to think about it for a moment, closed her eyes as if visualizing Leonard’s face. Her eyes snapped open and she smiled. “Leo Garrison, yeah he went to school with my brother. He lives on the East end of town in a big yellow house. My brother and him still hang out and I’ve dropped him off there a couple of times. He’s kind of strange.”

“Thank you very much. I needed to talk to him about something business related. It’s no important, but thanks again.” She nodded and he headed for the East side. He couldn’t believe his luck in seeing Jade. He drove as fast as he could, not wanting to get pulled over or in another accident. He knew he should call the cops and tell them where Penny was, but he was afraid if he did the sound of sirens and screaming officers would cause Leonard to kill Penny. He would call when he was close.

Every red light pissed him off even more. He had to hurry and get to Penny.  Max made it to the area Jade told him about and picked up his cell to call the police back. He explained where he was and that he was going to go ahead and start looking for the yellow house. The police urged him not to and that they would send officers to get her but he hung up not willing to leave Penelope with Leo. Max drove slowly now to make sure he didn’t miss the house.

He finally found a large yellow one and parked across the street. He shut his car door quietly and walked over. He could see lights on and only one car. He tried peeking in a window wanting to be sure he wasn’t going to terrify some family just trying to go about their nightly routine. He couldn’t see anybody in the windows he had access to. The thought of Leo having Penny upstairs with him increased the fear and worry he had in his heart.

Max wiggled the door handled to see if Leo locked it. Penny was strong willed and Leonard didn’t know he’d be able to come so he hoped he could go in quietly. To his relief the door opened. Max pushed it slowly even though he wanted to burst in. Surprise would give him a god advantage which he needed since Leonard had a gun.

“Leonard please just let me go home and we can forget about this.” Penny said.

“Sit on the bed Penny.” Leonard ordered.

“Why, so you can rape me?”

“No, I would never do that. I just need to talk to you, make you see the light.”

“I prefer to stand and talk.”

He glared at her, the gun still pointed at her face. “Why do you always have to be such a bitch? You never fucking listen to what you’re told.” He grabbed her arm and forced her to sit. “I don’t want to hurt you, but I will. You’re mine Penny, you always have been.”

“No I’m not, get it through your thick skull. I don’t love you. You are nothing but a self centered, controlling ass. You hate my cat, make fun of my art, and call a very good man a monster. Max has been through more shit because of his scars than you ever have with whatever little problems may come your way and he’s still the sweetest man in the world.” She said angrily. “I just want to go home to him.”

“Home? Is he living with you?” She could see anger bubbling to the surface. She wouldn’t answer, she just stared at him. Leonard grabbed her by her throat and pressed the gun against her forehead. “Answer me now Penny.” He said between gritted teeth. “Tell me or I’ll kill you and then I’ll go back and kill him.” She could see his finger tightening on the trigger and she closed her eyes.

“I love you Max.” She whispered and the bedroom door burst open.

Before Leonard could fully turn Max had already tackled him to the ground. As the two men struggled a shot fired off into the floor. Leonard cursed while Penny tried taking the gun out of his hands. With Maxs help she got it from him. Leonard stopped moving and max gave him a powerful punch in the jaw setting lose two of Leonards teeth. “Now you get on the bed” Penelope said angrily. Leonard did as he was told while he glared. “You’re so fucking stupid. I don’t know why I ever wanted you if you’d really be with him.”

“Just shut up. Have you called the police Max?”

“They’re on their way.” Max said standing up and hugging Penelope from behind as she kept the barrel of the gun pointed at Leonard. Police sirens began approaching. “Go tell them to come up here Max.” Max left and Leonard chuckled “what’s so funny you ass?”

“It’s just hilarious you’d be with that thing.”

“Don’t call him a thing. Max is a sweet and wonderful man. You couldn’t hope to be half the man he is so stop talking.” Leonard just kept laughing making Penelopes anger rise. She wouldn’t give Leonard the satisfaction of her shooting him though. The police came up “we’ve got it sweetheart just put down the gun.” She slowly lowered it and handed the gun to the police officer that was behind the first one that talked to her. They handcuffed Leonard and took him away as Max and Penelope were questioned on everything that happened.

Penelope was happy when all the questions were over. They went back to what would be their apartment once Max got is stuff in. Max carried Penelope to the bedroom. He held her tightly then locked their lips in a long sweet kiss. A few tears rolled down his cheeks. “max, why are you crying.”

“I just love you so much.”

“I love you too. We need to get to sleep. Your nerves will be better in the morning.”

“Why aren’t you more shaken?”

“I kind of expected somthing like that from him one day. Thankfully I met you before he snapped or I’d probably be dead. He’s going to jail so there’s nothing more to worry about.” Max hugged Penelope tightly then they both undressed. Penelope pillowed her head on Maxs chest as she ran her fingers up and down the center of his body. “Thank you for being so brave. Twice you’ve saved me and we haven’t known eachother a week”

“Having you is worth it. I’d fight men every day if it meant getting to be with you.”

“I really do want to marry you.”

“How does next year sound?” He asked bravely hopeing she would marry him next year. “Next year sounds perfect. I want an Autumn wedding.”

“we’ll do whatever you want.” The two then drifted off to sleep happily wrapped in eachothers arms.

~ The End ~

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