The next day, aboard his tour bus, Max begged Oscar to put him back in touch with Katie. They had made a connection at the club, he said, and he was keen to see her again. Oscar, thrilled at this news, immediately called the ambitious actress - who shared his and Max's joy, and invited Max to join her at a local bar after she'd finished the day's filming.
Besotted with his companion, Max would listen enraptured as Katie chatted away eagerly... and she wasn't afraid to flirt up a storm, either. The musician, desperate to keep her happy, went on a spending spree at the bar - filling his beloved's glass whenever it was empty.
Following that second meeting, the couple's bond soon blossomed into a whirlwind romance. Within days, Max and Katie were being spotted together constantly all around Willow Creek: sharing their first kiss - instigated by the actress - during a visit to the local flower gardens.
Given the celebrity status of the pair, paparazzi followed them everywhere: their entire courtship captured on celluloid and published in various magazines. Max, whilst remaining polite as ever, wasn't entirely comfortable with his new relationship being advertised to all and sundry - believing it somehow tarnished the specialness and genuineness of their romance. Katie, on the other hand, relished the attention... especially when producers and casting agents started to call. Whenever she spotted a photographer, she made sure to clearly display just how much she loved her new partner.
One fine afternoon, Katie asked Max to accompany her to a beauty spot on the edge of town: a scenic glen atop a cliff that offered a stunning view of the Willow Sea. It was there, a mere six weeks after first meeting the musician, that she asked him to become her husband.
Max, head over heels in love, accepted without a second thought.
To announce his engagement to his mother and father, Max brought Katie back to the Miskin home for dinner. Cassandra greeted the young lady kindly, and immediately offered her a place at their table.
As the family ate a simple meal of Spanish omelette, Marlon considered it his duty to share the history of the Miskin family with his son's intended - explaining the laws that governed their legacy, and telling a few select stories about their ancestors.
Katie, however, didn't pay much heed. She merely pushed her serving around the plate - trying the odd nibble, but finding it too bland for her refined palette - and stared off into space, clearly not interested in what Marlon had to say, and making no effort to hide it.
Thus, the journalist was all too aware of this rudeness. As he turned to Max, hoping to point out Katie's callousness, he saw his son staring at her with a loving, all-adoring gaze, clearly blind to her actions. Marlon soon realised that he would need to voice his concerns another way.
With dinner over, Cassandra turned to the washing-up, whilst Katie retreated to the bathroom to touch up her make-up. Marlon, meanwhile, asked Max to join him in the living-room.
"So, what do you think?" Max asked his father keenly as they entered. "Wonderful, isn't she?"
Marlon sighed, gesturing for his son to sit with him on the sofa.
"Well, I... I have a few concerns..."
"I mean, she's pretty, and all, but... she doesn't seem all that interested in our family or its history. Let's face facts - you are the heir to a legacy. You'll be expected to produce an heir yourself, and in any case, it's bound to be a factor in your marriage. Granted, it might take her a while to get her head around it all, but right now... well, she could be a bit more polite about it, put it that way. She looked a bit - bored."
"I... I'm sure she was just nervous," Max replied dismissively. "And she's tired too, poor thing. With all the filming and auditions going on right now, not to mention planning the wedding, she's already got a lot on her plate. Now may not be the best time for her to commit generations-worth of stories to memory."
"All right, fair enough, but - well, don't you think you're rushing things a little? For goodness' sake, you've only known each other a few weeks! Are you sure you want to make such a massive commitment so soon?"
Smiling, Max gently laid a hand on his own chest.
"I know what's in my heart," he told his father firmly. "I love Katie more than anything in the world. She and I were meant for each other. We're both creative and talented. I know we may be moving quickly, but... I've never wanted anything more in my life. Not even my career, as much as I love it. That alone should say a lot to you."
It did. As Marlon rose from the sofa, it had become apparent to him that Max had made up his mind.
"All right," he said, relenting. "If you really want to marry Katie that much, then I shan't stop you. I... I just hope you won't go on to regret it."
Smiling, Max stood up, and placed his hands on his father's forearms in a friendly manner.
"I won't," he replied. "If there's one thing I know for sure, it's that I want this woman to be my wife. And don't worry. I'm sure she'll support our Legacy in any way she can."
As Max went back into the kitchen to help his mother, Marlon settled himself back onto the sofa, reaching for a book he'd been reading. However, before he could even open it up, he became of a shadow towering over him. He looked up, and saw himself staring into the livid face of Katie Berühmt.
She had overheard everything that had been said. And she wasn't happy.
"Now you listen, and you listen good," she hissed viciously - her scathing voice too low for Max to hear. "Max is mine now. We will decide how we live our lives, not some ancient laws. He's a star... and so am I. Our careers are more important than some stupid family legacy. We are more important. From now on, you have no say in what we do. Understand?"
Marlon was shocked beyond words. Trembling, and helpless to respond, he simply nodded.
"Good," Katie barked.
Composing herself, the actress fixed a loving, friendly smile onto her face, and headed into the kitchen to see her fiancé - her dress whirling around her feet like a regal robe.
A month after Katie's proposal. she and Max got married in a glitzy, lavish ceremony.
In the weeks prior, when the bridezilla started reeling off her long and very expensive shopping list, dictating her dream wedding, it was the burdened groom - tired from the extra performances - that had made everything happen: his free time taken up with frantic phone calls and seeking supplies, desperate to give his future wife perfection.
On the fateful day, press and paparazzi swarmed the area, eager to record every vow, every kiss and every romantic moment. Katie, wearing a dress that cost more than most people make in a year, glided down the aisle with swan-like grace - donning a "Hollywood white teeth, perfectly lipsticked" grin throughout the ceremony.
To Marlon, it felt as if Katie was simply playing a role: the whole event seemed so false and overdone. He had been greatly disheartened by their earlier confrontation, but seeing how much Max in love was with Katie, he was scared to discuss the matter with his son. He believed it would simply drive him away - make him all the more eager to prove Marlon wrong.
During the vows, when the congregation were asked to voice any objections to the union, Marlon found himself biting his tongue... but his sadness hadn't gone unnoticed by Cassandra. After the marriage rituals were over, she approached her husband as he moped quietly in a corner of the reception area - out of sight of the happy couple - and embraced him.
"We must have faith in our son," she told him softly. "He's old enough now to make his own life choices. I know Katie hasn't exactly knelt at our feet, but... who knows? She might be completely different around him."
It would emerge that, in fact... she wasn't. Less than a fortnight after the wedding, following a restful honeymoon period in the Miskin house (due to Max still having to play his gigs), the nitpicking began.
"I do wish you wouldn't wear that ridiculous pink outfit," Katie said to her husband one morning as he was getting ready for a meet-and-greet in their bedroom. "It's just so... wrong."
Max turned to her sharply, unable to hide his shock.
"What?" he asked, not quite able to believe what he'd heard.
"I just think it looks childish," Katie replied. "Unprofessional. Like a sideshow act. I thought you wanted to be a respected musician?"
"Well," Max said weakly, wounded by this sudden admission, "my fans don't seem to have a problem with it. Besides - people should be paying attention to my music, not my clothes."
Katie huffed moodily.
"If you say so," she hissed. "Then again, you and your family seem to care little for taste."
By now, Katie's sudden change in behaviour was beginning to concern Max greatly. She'd never spoken to him like this before. Was she feeling all right? Walking over to the bed, he took a seat beside his bride, and reached for her hand with his - which she slapped away.
"What's wrong, darling?" he asked.
"It's just... this stupid little house," Katie answered, gesturing wildly. "It's all so... wrong. The mad colours everywhere. I mean - black wallpaper? In the lounge? What lunatic does that?"
"This house was built by my ancestor Myron," Max explained, "and continued by his descendants. Everyone sort of puts their own touches onto it. It's like a... project. A part of the legacy."
Katie rolled her eyes.
"Oh, here we go," she muttered. "That bloody legacy again. My God, Max, is that all you care about? What about breaking moulds? Following your own destiny, being an individual? Isn't your outfit - bizarre as it is - all part of that?"
"Well, I suppose so, but..."
"Do you want to be remembered as nothing more than a link in a chain?" Katie continued. "You're a huge star, a great success. You should live like one. And that includes having a nice, elegant home. You deserve better than this place."
She sniffed, apparent holding back tears.
"I deserve better. Don't I?"
"Honey, you deserve a lot of wonderful things, but..."
"Oh. I see," Katie snapped, putting her hands on her hips. "So you care more about making a bunch of long-dead ancestors happy than you do your own wife. Is that it?"
"You don't really love me at all, do you?"
"Of course I do!"
"Then prove it. I want a house. A stylish house."
"The shows are bringing in plenty of money," he said quietly, "and we've plenty of spare land on the back of this plot. I guess... if you really want... we could have another house built."
Katie squealed in delight, and pulled Max in for a quick kiss.
"Oh, thank you, sugar plum!" she cried, overjoyed. "I knew you'd understand! Now, I'm ever so busy with my auditions and filming, so I trust you'll take care of all the arrangements?"
"Well - "
"Wonderful, darling. I can't wait to see it!"
Before Max could say another word, Katie had practically skipped out of the bedroom door.
The coffee pot was bubbling away on the hot plate. Laura quickly poured a cup out for Max, who had just retreated to his tour bus following yet another gig - his third of the day. As she approached him, americano in hand, there was a sadness in the musician's eyes as he stared into his reflection at his vanity table.
His low mood hadn't escaped Laura's notice. Lately, he'd seemed so... tired. Exhausted, even. With the homecoming concerts selling out lightning fast, Oscar had been adding more and more dates, as well as matinees, to the already hectic schedule. Max was now playing even more frequently than he had on the world tour.
Given that he was a newly married man, Laura had thought the Mrs. Miskin of two months' standing would object to Max constantly being away from home... but if anything, she avidly supported the extra shows, saying it would be great for her husband's career.
"And for her own, no doubt," Laura had thought, before chiding herself for such rudeness. Having suffered from the negativity of others, she tried her best to avoid it herself.
The gigs weren't the only problem. In every free moment he had, Max seemed to be on the phone or meeting someone, occupied constantly with some sort of architectural project. Piecing things together from the snatches of conversation she had overheard, Laura still hadn't quite fathomed what was going on, but it certainly seemed like a grand, important task, and Max was determined to get the best from everyone involved. Laura had offered to help him - it was her job, after all - but he'd insisted that he had to take care of everything personally, and clearly, it was draining him.
Popping the cup onto the vanity, Laura's eyes widened as she spotted a little orange, medicinal-looking bottle near of the drawers.
"What are those?" she asked Max, concerned.
"Huh?" Max replied, half-dazed, before taking in what his assistant had said. "Oh... the pills. Don't worry. It's medicine. Married life has been a bit more... stressful than I expected."
"Is - is everything OK?"
"Oh, yes, yes!" Max insisted, a little too quickly for Laura's liking. "It's going great. Katie and I love each other so much. It just... you know... takes time to get adjusted to everything."
"I... I see..."
"Plus, there's the gigs," Max added. "I love performing, but it does take it out of you. So, Oscar got a doctor friend of his to prescribe these for me. They just help me stay upbeat, get me through the day. I'll only be using them for a little while, just until everything settles down."
Laura still wasn't entirely comfortable with the situation, but Max, underneath his outlandish, extravagant stage persona, seemed like a sensible enough individual. He knew what he was doing.
Pushing her fears to the back of her mind, Laura smiled at Max kindly.
"All right," she said. "If they're just to get you through the gigs, then I guess I have no need to worry."
"You don't. Really. It'll just be for a couple more weeks."
He reconsidered this, and sighed, before taking a sip of his coffee.
"Well, maybe a month. Oscar says he wants to keep striking whilst the iron's hot."
Laura nodded understandingly, and retreated to the sofa to resume some paperwork as Max wiped away his make-up.
The silence that hung between them had an undeniable heaviness, but neither party knew what to say to break it.
Three more weeks passed.
One calm, breezy morning, Max snuck up on Katie in the lounge, scarf in hand - using it to quickly tie a blindfold around her eyes. As the actress began to protest, Max giggled, and took her hand, leading her away.
"Come on!" he said happily. "I've got something to show you!"
Katie felt the chill of cold air as she was escorted outside - the dewy grass soft beneath her high-heeled footsteps. Moments later, Max took hold her shoulders and gently guided her into position, before pulling the scarf away with a flourish.
Katie gasped as she saw the towering spectacle before her.
A vast white-stone mansion, surrounded by a high fence, with two fountains on the flower-adorned front lawn.
"Oh, honey... it's beautiful!"
"And that's just the outside! Come and have a look around."
Over the next half-hour, Max gave Katie a detailed tour of their new abode. All of the rooms were beautifully furnished with the best items money could buy, and a matching colour scheme ran throughout the house.
There were even a few incredibly high-profile facilities. Taking his and his wife's careers into account, Max had arranged the inclusion of a rehearsal room, and a home gym stocked with the latest equipment.
And perhaps the pièce de résistance was the upper balcony - which hosted a hot tub, a sauna, and even a small swimming pool.
By the time the tour was over, having been dazzled by room after room, Katie had become absolutely ecstatic.
"It's perfect, darling!" she cried enthusiastically. "So spacious, so luxurious, and the height of style! It's exactly what I wanted!"
Smiling, she lowered her hands towards her stomach.
"And I know," she added, "that it'll be the perfect place to raise our baby..."