Michael can’t sleep as he sits on his canapé with The Twilight Zone running in the background of the television. It seems like lately, he can’t sleep and it seems to be getting worse as he gets older. His mind wanders with thoughts, fears, hopes, and of course music. Well, that’s what his mind usually is thinking about, tonight it’s about Holly. Michael can’t seem to erase the thought of them s’embrasser each other and how it felt tonight. One thing was for certain; he wanted plus and it intimidated him. He looks at his watch that reads three thirty a.m. The only other person who would be up too at this time would be his friend David who was also a night owl. Maybe they can go to that little le dîner, salle à manger they always visit where nobody recognizes him and Michael can for only a few short hours feel like another regular person. He grabs the phone receiver off the side table, tableau and punches David’s number on the phone. Michael can hear the rings till he can hear a grunt then David’s voice. “Hello?” David asks with his rough voice. “Hey its Mike,” Michael announces scratching the back of his head. “Hey what’s up?” “Can’t sleep again. You?” “Same, I’m watching a Dallas rerun.” “Wanna go to the le dîner, salle à manger for food?” “Oh, I see toi got something on your mind,” David remarks that make Michael roll his eyes. “Yes ou no David?” “Alright, I’ll pick toi up in twenty.”

Twenty minutes later Michael stands outside the building wearing a puffer vest, jeans, and a baseball hat to counteract with the cool streak that has been plaguing California the last few weeks. He sees David turn in from the road in his red car, making Michael jump in quickly so nobody would see them as David pulls back out onto the road. “How’s it going, Mike?” Michael shrugs slouching in his seat, “Same old.” David looks over at him with a smirk, “Are toi sure?” Michael looks at David with confusion. “Huh?” “Come on, spill it, Mike, I saw your smile from the road. Now, what’s up?” Michael takes a deep breath wondering how he is going to tell this to David. “It’s about Holly.” “Holly Williams, as in the houx Williams who is built like a brick shipyard and sings like an angel?” David looks over at him as he stops at a traffic light with surrounding businesses lit up around them with deserted streets. “You know I’ve been Friends with her,” Michael reminds. “Well yeah, but not like that close. I thought toi two grew distant this past an and a half?” David puts his foot on the gas, as the light turns green, taking advantage of the empty roadway. Michael makes sure his seatbelt is securely fastened when David isn’t looking. “Sort of, but that was of my own doing, plus, I think houx is jealous of Diana.” David laughs as he pulls the car into the diner’s parking lot that has its big neon sign lit up and its open twenty-four hours lit up in the le dîner, salle à manger windows.

“You mean toi got two women fighting over you? Lucky bastard,” David mumbles as they get out of the car. “It’s not like that,” Michael remarks as they walk in with only one other customer sitting in the corner and three workers behind the counter who look tired and bored. Michael and David take the other back corner table, tableau with Michael’s back facing everyone. They pull out their menus and begin to scan the greasy feeling menus flipping through the pages. “Then what is it like?” David asks still looking down at his menu. “Holly just seems resentful when I bring up Diana, and I’ve tried to let her know that Diana and I are nothing.” David looks up from his menu at Michael with a skeptical look, “Are you?” Michael rolls his eyes, “Yes! Why does everybody doubt me when I say so?” “Maybe it’s because every time someone mentions her name toi gush over her.”

A middle-aged waitress in a tight bun that is grey on the sides comes up to the table, tableau with a scowl and a pen and order pad in her hand. “What can I get Y'all?” Michael tries to keep his head down so he won’t be easily recognized. “Coffee and orange juice, please.” “Just coffee for me,” David adds. She scribbles it down in her notepad with annoyance. “Y’all still need time ou are toi ready to order?” Michael looks at David with a shrug, “I’ll take the chocolat chip gaufres with accueil fries.” “I’ll get the hungry Jack breakfast platter, and I’m watching so don’t cheat me on any bacon,” David remarks putting his menu back behind the napkin holder. The waitress gives him a glare before leaving. “I don’t gush over her,” Michael continues, slouching down into the booth feeling the hard plywood hit his spine. David rolls his eyes. “Oh please! Old faithful don’t gush as much as toi do about her.” “You know what we are getting off topic!” Michael can feel his annoyance starting to rise, he loves David as his friend, but sometimes he had the tendency to go off topic too long.

David straightens up and folds his hands neatly in front of him. “I apologize. The doctor is in, now what can I consult toi with?” Michael licks his bottom lip and taps his seconde finger on the table, tableau repeatedly feeling the constricting feeling in his throat prohibiting what he desperately wants to get off his chest. “I’m interested in Holly,” Michael finally gets out. “You mean in a professional sense?” “No, I mean in a romantic one. Tonight she came over to hang out and we ended up kissing.” David’s eyes widen at the announcement and for moments remains speechless. “And how do toi feel?” He finally gets out. Michael looks out the window. “I feel that I want to be with her.” Michael looks back at David, “What do toi think?” David shrugs as the waitress comes up with their drinks, setting them down with a slam along with the cream packets before leaving them again. “Honestly, Mike, I don’t know what to think. They’re so many differences between the two of you.” “Like?” “Like for starters, she is younger than you.” “So what? Many couples have an age difference,” Michael remarks as he stirs some cream into his coffee. David crosses his arms and takes a deep breath before continuing, “And she’s white.” Michael’s eyes snap up at David making him stop stirring. “Since when has race ever been a factor for you?” “It’s not, but when this gets ahold of the newspapers they will make it a factor,” David reminds. “So are toi saying I can’t handle this?” “No, I’m just saying as your friend that…well, it’s not going to be easy. Both of toi will be hounded and ridiculed for this.” “We will be hounded and ridiculed for anything we do, and if the press wants to make fun of me for being involved for a younger white woman then bring it on.” Michael declares before taking a sip of his orange juice.

houx is sitting in her backyard with the Californian sun beating down on her as camera crews surround her and a female interviewer who smells too much of musk. Sitting crossed legged and with sunglasses on houx tries hard to act like she is interested in the lady’s questions on her récent fame and success but meanwhile in the back of her mind she can’t help but think of why Michael hasn’t reached out to her since their kiss, which was two days ago. Every time she dwells on the subject her stomach turns in knots. What if he changed his mind? houx is suddenly taken out of her thoughts when she hears the lady ask, “So Holly, do toi got a boyfriend yet?” Holly’s mouth goes dry at the question. She tries to play it cool par giggling and smiling, “I really don’t have much time for that…but anything is possible.” The lady nods before quickly looking down to her suivant question. “Would toi say fame has made it difficult to enjoy being like a regular teenager?” houx pauses and looks out of the corner of her eye to see her mom standing with the camera crew with her arms crossed watching her. houx sighs and tries to smile again, “I think fame has its advantages and disadvantages. I’ve been fortunate enough to have a semi-regular life and yet do what I l’amour simultaneously.” When the lady realizes houx is not elaborating anymore she continues on. houx hates these types of interviews that are awkward and uncomfortable. “Well I have to ask this last question because your eighteen birthday is coming up, are toi excited and is there any big plans and changes we can expect?” houx licks her lips before laughing, “I think everybody is excited for their eighteen birthday, honestly, but with any plans ou changes I guess toi guys will just have to wait and see what I have in store for toi guys.” The lady smiles, montrer her coffee stained teeth, “Thank toi very much for your time Holly, and happy early birthday!” “Thank you!” “That’s a wrap!” One of the camera guys shouts as they turn off the camera and the lights making Holly’s face finally relax. The lady stands up and shakes Holly’s hand before leaving. houx finally takes a sigh of relief that another thing on her schedule is done for the day. Her mom walks up to her with a stern face as the guys begin to disassemble the equipment. “Go freshen up before toi leave for rehearsal.” houx rolls her eyes before she gets up from the table. For the past two days, she has been very forthright with how she has felt about her mom and has not been able to contain her emotions.

In her bathroom, as she adds plus powder to her face she hears her phone ring on her bedside table. She quickly runs to answer it, deep down hoping it is Michael. “Hello.” “How’s my favori girl?” houx smiles’ knowing it is Michael soothing voice. “How have toi been?” She asks as she sits on her lit grabbing one of her throw pillows. “Busy, but I’m hoping it will get better any ideas?” She smirks, “I thought toi were avoiding me.” “Never, I just needed a few days to think.” houx rolls her eyes, “And what did decide?” “Come to my apartment tonight and we’ll discuss everything.” “I don’t know I’m pretty busy today.” Michael chuckles, “Not too busy for me?” houx smirks, “I guess I can squeeze toi in somewhere.” “See toi at nine?” “It’s a date,” houx remarks as she hangs up the phone.

She looks up and sees her dad standing in the doorway of her bedroom holding a Jack Daniels bottle in his hand with a five o’clock shadow on his face. houx can tell par the distant and dilated pupils that he is already drunk and it's only eleven a.m. “Who was that?” Her dad grumbles as he watches her put her phone back on the side table. “Just a friend,” she shrugs, as she gets off the lit further away from him. “A friend, huh?” He begins to follow her. “Yep, they need me to help them with something. Now, dad, I need to finish getting ready to leave for rehearsal,” she murmurs edging closer to the mur as he staggers closer to her. She can smell the dreadful odor of alcohol radiating off of him like a repellent. “Work, work, work, toi are just like your mother, that’s all toi do.” He looks her up and down her body in a sick way that makes the hairs on her skin stand up. Deep down she knows this is not really him but the alcohol but it is starting to wear on her nerves at how he is looking at her. His dilated eyes and flush face focus on hers before licking his lips. “You’ve really grown up – so beautiful and curvy.” He reaches out and touches her hair that is lying on her shoulder. She nudges it away from his grasp. “Dad this isn’t appropriate,” she barks at him as he comes close to him. “Stop!” She shouts at him.

“Dad, get away from her,” a calm says behind both of them. houx looks around and sees her little brother Kenny standing in her bedroom holding a small pistol that belongs to her dad. houx gulps as she sees him standing there holding it. Her dad immediately staggers back away from her. “And you’ll do what? toi wouldn’t kill your old man would you?” Kenny sets the gun ready to shoot where it makes a little tick sound. “You tell me, dad? You’re the one who taught me how to aim for a good shot.” For what feels like minutes her dad looks back at houx before walking out of the room where houx is left pressed against the mur shaking. Kenny shuts the door and puts the gun on the dresser before going over to her. “You okay, sis?” He asks with concern grabbing both of her hands with tenderness. “Uh…yeah, yeah I’m fine.” “No, you’re not you’re shaking.” houx walks away from him to stop the tears from welling up in her eyes. She goes into her bathroom and sees that her face is now broke out in new perspiration. Kenny leans in the doorframe examining her. “Sis, I know toi are older than me but toi don’t have to put on a tough front.” “He was just drunk, Ken,” houx commentaires as she takes a tissue to blot away the oil from her face. “Yeah, and how many other times has he looked inappropriately at you? Sis, look at me!” Kenny pleads, grabbing both of her arms and looks at her square in the eyes. “Sis, toi and I have always been the closest and I l’amour toi very much. So take it from your little brother when I say this – on the jour of your birthday, leave and don’t come back to this house. If toi don’t, things will happen to toi just like it happened to Abby…and I don’t want that for you.” Holly’s eyes widen. “Ken, what do toi mean about Abby?” He shakes his head as he lets go of her. “It’s nothing, just leave it. Until your birthday toi have to start looking sis, promise me?” houx shakes her head slowly, “I promise…I-I guess.”

As she watches him grab the gun and walk out of her room she finally exhales a big breath she never noticed she was holding in. Her eyes frantically déplacer about the room as she thinks about Kenny’s words, especially about Abby that send chills down her spine. Was her dad truly capable of doing horrible things plus than just drinking? Growing up she never noticed anything unusual, but then again, her mom always had her out of the house and away from him. She looks at the clock on her nightstand and realizes she has to get to rehearsal and dashes out of the room.

Later that evening, houx has not been able to concentrate on anything except about what happened between her dad and brother. As she is in the elevator up to Michael’s apartment she can still feel her hands shaking. She takes a deep breath and tucks a strand of hair behind her ear. As the doors slide open she sees Michael standing par waiting for her with a smile on his face. She feigns a smile and walks towards him. “It’s good to see you,” he remarks as he walks up to her preparing to give her a Kiss on her lips but she moves away from it. Michael immediately watches her as she walks into the living room and flops onto the canapé propping her legs on the coffee table. He can immediately sense something is not right. “What’s wrong, Holly?” She looks up at him and shakes her head with a tight-lipped smile. “Nothing, just a long day.” He walks over and sits down beside her placing a hand on her knee. “Not rethinking me, are you?” She rests her head on the haut, retour au début of the canapé and sighs, “Honestly I haven’t even donné it a thought tonight. Besides, you’re the one who should be telling me what you’re thinking since I haven’t heard anything from toi in two days,” she remarks as she picks up a tabloid that is thrown aimlessly on Michael’s coffee table. She opens it up and begins to mindlessly look at the pages to get out her nervous energy. Michael raises an eyebrow at her and her demeanor. This is not his Holly, his houx is vivacious and always with a smile, but this one is the complete opposite of that.

Michael clears his throat. “Well, I just needed some time to think that’s all. Plus we didn’t have any time to talk the other night of how we felt because of the press outside.” As Michael is talking she finds a page of Michael dancing with Tatum O’Neal at the Jackson’s or record party for their Destiny album last night. Multiple pictures are shown of him holding her close as they dance and laugh with a headline above that reads “Is this Michael’s girlfriend?” houx can feel her cœur, coeur beating faster as her chest heaves up and down. Anger and hurt suddenly plummet over her. She turns the paper to montrer him. “I see this is also what toi were doing as toi were thinking.” Michael looks at the pictures and does not seem fazed; he looks back at houx with a calm disposition. “And?” “And what, Michael? toi couldn’t talk to me for two days because toi needed to think, meanwhile toi are feeling up Tatum O’Neal?” Her composed façade is slowly starting to fade away and she can feel it. “Holly listen to me, Tatum was only there as a guest, and we just ended up dancing together. toi know how the press twists things around.” houx has an outburst as she hurls the paper on the floor and crosses her arms shaking her head with disbelief. “This jour is not shaping up,” she murmurs under her breath looking out the window to the lit up LA skyline with the last hint of dusk leaving the night sky. “What’s going on, Holly? And don’t tell me nothing because I know toi better than that.” houx finally lets go of the tears that have been welling up behind her eyes. As they stream down her face she pulls her legs up into her chest and wraps her arms around her legs. “Everything is changing,” she murmurs with her face burrowed into her legs. Michael sits there in shock at her behavior. She is always such a strong woman and now there is no trace of that anywhere.

Michael inches his way closer to her, softly stroking the back of her hair. “Of course things change that’s life, Holly.” She brings her head up to wipe her eyes in frustration. “No, no, no! I mean at the house.” “Why what happened?” houx sits there not saying a word, and frankly, she doesn’t know if she wants to tell Michael what happened. Sometimes it is easier not to tell people things because it's less they have to use against you. Moments of silence go par and Michael is on the edge of his seat. “Holly,” he probes. “I just need to get my own place when I turn eighteen that’s all.” “But something had to bring this on, toi have not indicated this before, and I know toi and how toi feel about your family if it was simply moving out toi would not be here crying on my canapé but ecstatic. Did someone hurt you?”

houx looks up at him with her mascara running down her face. She searches his eyes wondering if she can truly trust him enough to tell him this information. “Holly, answer me, did someone hurt you?” Michael is beginning to internally panic. If someone hurt his houx he doesn’t know what he would do but he would make for certain it would not happen again. “Was it your mom?” houx shakes her head slowly before taking a deep breath. “Dad,” she whispers looking down at Michael’s rug. Michael sharply inhales as a million thoughts sudden rush in his mind. Automatically his mind went to beatings that Joseph used to give to the boys, but suddenly Michael realizes it could be something much worse. “Did he touch you?” He asks looking down at her grabbing her hand and giving it a tight squeeze. She shakes her head, “No…but he looked at me that sent a shiver down my spine. If it hadn’t been for Kenny I don’t know what would have happened.” She wipes her left eye with the back of her hand, “But he was just drunk, I know that is not who he is.” “That still doesn’t make it right, Holly.” “Anyway, after dad left the room Kenny told me that it would be best if I got my own place after my birthday so nothing does happen to me. Now I have to think about all of that and I don’t know the first thing about real estate ou what makes property valuable – I wasn’t taught that stuff.” “But I can help you. Now that I bought this place and bought the house from Joseph I know that crap backward and forwards, toi won’t have to go through this alone.” He grabs her other hand in his and brings them up to his mouth for a kiss. She gives him another tight smile as her tears slowly start to subside. “Thanks, Michael, I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to dump all this on you. I know this isn’t what toi wanted to discuss tonight.” Michael puts her hands back down and shakes his head, “If it concerns toi it concerns me, and just hear me out on something. Until toi find a house of your own…why don’t toi stay here?” houx just stares at Michael, astounded at what he just asked her. “Are toi asking me to déplacer in…w-with you?” “Occasionally, I would pop in, yes,” he smiles trying to lighten the mood. He feels nervous too, wondering if she will actually say yes to his impromptu idea. houx looks quizzically around the apartment then back at Michael. “Would we stay in the same bed?” Michael can instantly feel his face flush and his cœur, coeur pound. “No, I wouldn’t make toi do anything that made toi felt uncomfortable. toi are plus than welcome to take the guest bedroom, ou the main bedroom if toi like it more, I don’t sleep a lot so I don’t mind either way.” houx looks down to the floor again in contemplation. So many emotions are running through her that she doesn’t know which one to focus on first. “I don’t know Michael, it is kind of a big step…. and we haven’t even discussed what we are either.”

Michael takes a deep breath it is now ou never. He grabs her hands tighter in his and looks at her square in the eyes. “Holly, toi know I have always cared about you, and the other jour when we kissed, I finally realized how that has grown into something more, and…. I want toi to be my girl.” houx smiles as a single tear slides down her cheek. Finally, she hears those few little words she has desperately wanted to hear from him. “You mean it?” “I do, déplacer in and we’ll figure out the rest as we go along.” houx chuckles, “Alright, let’s do it.” Michael laughs before without thinking suddenly kisses her. It seems so natural that neither one hesitates for another and another till they break away in a pant. “Promise me one other thing,” Michael says between breaths. “Anything.” “Promise me we can do plus of this when toi déplacer in.” houx laughs and playfully slaps his chest before s’embrasser him once more, “You’re a pig,” she teases. In the back of their minds, both of them knew that embarking on a relationship while simultaneously moving in together temporarily was going to cause a sensation with the press, but somehow it did not seem to matter. What did matter, at least to Michael was keeping houx sûr, sans danger away from her mother and especially her father and he would go through anything to do it.