Absence makes the heart... see clearer.
Tony and Max were best friends, writing partners. People swore he didn't know she was a girl and she didn't know he was a boy. When Tony went away for a few months, he realized that empty place inside was Max-shaped. Every idea to tell her how he felt sounded like the plot for a book they would never write.
Then Max's parents were seriously injured.
Tony dropped everything to come home and be there for her and her brothers. He would just have to wait until things calmed down before he confessed his love, and pray Max felt the same way. Before the new guy in the tech crew made his move.
Max tried not to dream that she and Tony could be more to each other. As she held together her parents' theater and dealt with the invasion of paparazzi when Hollywood discovered where her mother had hidden years ago, she could help wishing...
In one crisis after another, dealing with spoiled actors, gossips, and secret nightmares, Tony was her rock. After all the answered prayers, would God answer this one, too?
Brenda stayed after rehearsal that night to get Tony's opinion on her latest short story. She and Max hung up costumes while he read. Max knew better than to watch him and try to predict his opinion from his face. Brenda hadn't learned that lesson yet, and she kept running into Max because she didn't watch where she went.
To make matters worse, every time they ran into each other, Brenda contorted her face, obviously trying to communicate something without speaking. Finally, Max caught her by the arm and led her around the shelving to give them a little privacy.
"What?" she whispered.
"He loves you." Brenda smirked and crossed her arms and leaned back against the shelving full of glassware.
"What?" Max barely remembered to keep her voice down, instead of shrieking it.
"You said that if Tony really loved you, he would jump on the next plane and come back from California. And he did that, didn't he?"
"He drove. No plane."
"Details, details." She slid an arm around Max's shoulders, drawing her closer. "So? How was it?"
"How was what?" She felt a little breathless, and about two steps behind. Nothing else. She couldn't seem to get her brain to keep up with Brenda. Maybe that was a good thing?
"The kiss." Brenda groaned and shook her twice. "I figure when a guy confesses his all-consuming passion, that demands a great kiss. So, was it great?"
"He didn't confess anything. And the way he smelled after driving all that way without stopping... no way was I going to offer." Max shivered, remembering how close she had come to kissing Tony. If her brothers and Rose hadn't been there, she suspected even the aroma of dirty clothes and hair wouldn't have stopped her.
"He didn't..." She scowled. "Well, did you confess to him?"
"Are you nuts?"
"No, but I think both of you are hopeless." Brenda sniffed, turned sharply on her heel, and stalked back to where Tony read and waited.