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All, old & new readers and fans Vote 4 this story in watty 4 Best Teen Fiction and Best Hero Categories. ********************* Sarah couldn't bare to see Maximus' head hung in defeat. She couldn't believe Diana would do something like this to the one she had claimed to love. To heap a lifetime of wrenching guilt, by professing to hate him and blame him for your wrong actions, just moments before you plan to end your life was the most cruel and sinful thing you could do as your last deed in the living world. Sarah came to stand between the lee of Maximus' long and strong legs spread and bent a little as he still sat at the writing table. She took his face and raised it up to eye level. "Diana was wrong. You are not responsible for what happened to her 'in any way'. Do you hear me ? Tell me you don't blame yourself." * * * "I don't" Came his stiff reply. But when she kept piercing his gaze meaningfully, he gave in. Crushing her to him, he confided against her breast. "I should have known, Sarah. Done something.." Sarah wrapped her comforting arms around him. "There was nothing you, or anyone else could have done." She stroked his raven hair. "What Diana had said to you, was nothing but words of a hurt and scared girl. She needed someone to vent her anger on, and you were the likely candidate." He straightened his back. "But-" * * "Shh.. you'd rather believe her, or me ? Answer from your heart." * * "You, Angel. Any day, any time." Sarah smiled at that and kissed his temple. "So order your conscience to stop incriminating you." Maximus smiled trustingly back at her, but then saw the pensive look. "What are you thinking ?" He asked, settling Sarah on his right thigh. Sarah blushed a little, she had never been on anyone's lap before. Well, except for her mother's, when she was very young. But she liked where she was right now. Sarah tried hard to ignore her giddiness, and trod on. "Oh, i was wondering, if you think Mike got Diana pregnant ? It was him, i saw you fighting with on that first day. Wasn't that the reason ?" Maximus took a deep breath. He turned his face to the wide window open to the sunset. "I vowed, i would find the one, who took advantage of her, and than pushed her to the edge of insanity. And because Mike was the only name she had taken before me in strong dislike, that is the conclusion i drew from it. But Mike that day seemed sincere enough when he said, he was secretly in love with Diana, and would never have dreamt of hurting her such." Sarah didn't know how to raise the name of her next suspect, but she had to, so... "Could it have been Rob-" Max's head whirled towards her again. "No, never. Sarah, i could for a moment doubt my own shadow, but Robert could not do something this low, and then stay in dark if the slush of that evil falls on me." With a nod, she acquiesced. If Max believed in Robert, so would she. "Do you think Dora might know something, Max ?" * * * "No, she wouldn't. She wasn't even in the party that day." And with Dora, the course of their talk changed. "And yet she was here. In your bedroom." Sarah dismounted from his lap and walked to the middle of the room. Maximus too, left his seat and stood up. "Why ?" She demanded. * * "I came here to bring you something, Angel. I didn't know, she would follow me here." * * Sarah's face turned quizzical. "Bring me something ? What ?" Maximus came to her, and then holding her hand took her before a big round mirror with silver long and short rays on its outer-circle, seeming like a large private sun hanging from his wall. Shortly, he pulled a drawer from a chest of drawers and took out a blue velvet rectangular box about the size of his hand. As he opened it, a Gold chain of three braided chains shone with a Gold and Platinum designed Butterfly looped in its middle. Tiny Rubies and Diamonds were studded on its wings, and two green Jades made up for its eyes. Maximus while clasping it around Sarah's neck said, "You love butterflies, don't you ? I had this especially made for you. And.. I think, you should close your mouth, Angel, before some fly finds it a good place to land." Sarah didn't know, she had her mouth open at all. But God, the necklace was beautiful and beyond doubt expensive. Very, very expensive ! She lifted her eyes from the image of the piece in the mirror to Maximus'. "It's beautiful. Thank you, but.. i can't take this, Maximus." His loving face hardened. He unclasped the necklace, took the box and stalked over to the open window. "First time in my life, i give someone, a gift ; and it gets rejected." He faced her once more with his arm out the window and the box in his hand. "I'll ask you again, Sarah. Would you have it ?" He wasn't serious. No, it would be like throwing a fortune out in the sea, considering his window faced acres of woodland. "No, Max it - what, No.. !" The box was gone ! A moment passed, then he reached into his jacket and brought out the necklace. "I'm serious, Sarah. This time it would be 'this' going down. Either it goes to you, or to no one." * * * "Oh, you big bully !" Sarah sailed to him and snatched it from his hand. "Alright, it's mine now. Diana was sure right about one thing. You're stubborn as a mule." Maximus wrapped her to him from behind and kissing her neck said, "If you like mules, i'm happy to be one." Sarah smiled at his antics. "Despite my good judgement, i'm starting to get a knack for one in particular." Maximus gruffly chuckled at that. "I thank God for that. And i thank you too, Angel."

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