Three weeks later on the eve of her birthday, houx is in her bedroom packing up the remaining items that aren’t too visible. As she packs a stuffed dog into one of her duffle bags she hears the muffled shouts of her parents arguing downstairs. Every time she hears it she still gets a sickening feeling in the pit of her stomach just like she did when she was five years old. Because every time she heard the beginnings of an argument it was bound to turn violent. “One plus night,” she mutters to herself as she grabs her clothes from the drawer and packs it in another suitcase. Suddenly the bellowing sound of shattered glass rings out in he ears making her stop. Her breathing hitches and she feels nauseous as plus sounds of shattered glass and shouts come from below. A knock is at her closed bedroom door before Kenny’s head pops in. “Sis, can I come in?” She smiles at his calming presence. “Sure bro.” He comes in, shuts the door, and sits on the edge of her bed, which at the moment is the only empty spot on her bed. Kenny looks around the room, “It’s startin’ to look empty in here,” he mentions. She shrugs as she packs some tops in her suitcase. “Not bare enough, I need to déplacer plus stuff out of here par tomorrow morning before mom notices.” “I can help you, I got my permit and my truck. Besides, mom and dad will be in Santa Monica till late tomorrow night anyway.” “Not with the way it sounds out there,” houx says motioning towards the door where the commotion is still going on.

Kenny rolls his eyes, “You know mom and dad, violent one moment and tame the next. Our whole childhood was always like that…well except for you, toi were on the stage.” “Not sure if I got the long ou short straw on that one,” she says with a smirk as she zips up one bag and sets it down par her dresser. “How’s Michael feelin’ knowing toi are moving in tomorrow with him?” “He seems really excited at the idea,” she remarks absentmindedly going to her dresser. “And you?” he probes looking at her with interest. houx stops and looks at the remaining clothes still in her dresser thinking, she turns around with a conflicted expression. “Honestly, I’m nervous. I’ve never lived with a man before outside of toi guys and what if we can’t stand how the other lives?” “Yeah, but toi a dit yourself that it’s just temporary.” “True, but it could ruin our relationship.” houx grabs plus clothes and starts to pack them in another suitcase. Kenny turns himself around to face her. “Well, would toi like your teenage brother’s opinion?” houx smirks, “Always bro.” “You two seem to really like each other, and Michael’s known toi for years now so that means he isn’t sick of toi yet,” he adds jokingly with a chuckle. houx rolls her eyes, “Oh ha-ha.” “No, but seriously, I’d say just enjoy this time together, toi never know what it may bring.” houx stops and stares at him with a skeptical eye. “You know for sixteen toi certainly are very wise,” she remarks rumpling his hair. “Hey, hey, watch the hair,” he warns putting the jelled pieces back into place. “Oh excuse me Mr. Cool, can’t touch the precious hair.” “Hey, can I get Michael on the phone and ask him to déplacer toi in tonight?” He jests with a smirk. houx sticks out her tongue at him. “You know what toi can do with that attitude of yours?” houx adds back with a returning smirk. Kenny laughs, “We always joked like this even when we were little, remember?” “Yep, always, Abby never wanted to rejoindre in I remember. Speaking of which, where has she been, I haven’t seen her the last couple of days.” He shrugs as he watches her pack up some knick-knacks on her dresser and gently places them in a box. “You know Abby always the loner of the family, but I know for a fact she’s been hangin’ with a group on the west side of L.A.” “Are they a good ou bad group?” “It’s debatable. I heard they use a lot of coke.” houx rolls her eyes as she folds up the box and goes to zip up her last suitcase, “Great another addict in the family, that’s exactly what we need.”

houx flops down beside Kenny wiping the sweat from her face. Her parents are still screaming downstairs, which is beginning to make her head throb. “At least toi get to break out of here tomorrow,” Kenny remarks gesturing to the bags and boxes par the door. “But I have to leave toi though,” houx adds with a sigh as she rubs her thigh. “Oh, I’ll be fine, I got my permit and truck, I can escape whenever I need to.” Kenny smiles trying to cheer her up but underneath he still will feel the void of her presence at home. “True, plus toi have the apartment if toi ever need it. Hey, don’t toi have your new Friends down par the beach?” Kenny takes a gulp at her words. “Uh yeah, I have those Friends to pass the time with.” Silence passes between them as houx flops back on the lit and looks up at her white ceiling with her mind racing with thoughts of plus packing and tomorrows move. “Hey, sis…” houx looks up at him and smiles, “Hey bro…” He looks at her with a solemn face, “You would l’amour me no matter what, right?” She looks at him with a quizzical face, “Of course, always and forever.” “Even if I wasn’t like everybody else?” houx sits up and looks at him. “Ken where’s this coming from?” He shrugs and looks down at his leg that is swinging back and forth on the edge of the bed. “Nothing, just thinkin’ that’s all. Listen, I’ll help toi déplacer tomorrow morning, just get up me when you’re ready. Night sis,” Kenny adds before he kisses houx on the forehead and leaves her for the last night in her family home.

houx lies back on the lit looking up at the ceiling once more. The moment is surreal for her. For the first time in her life, she truly feels like an adult knowing she is going to be living with her boyfriend and then par herself. All those years of dreaming to be on her own and in charge of her destiny are now starting to happen and she is unprepared for how nervous she feels and is quickly wondering if she will be able to handle it? She would never admit this to anyone but moving in with Michael gives her plus anxiety than if she was just moving into her own home. Holly’s ultimate fear is turning into her parent’s relationship with Michael. Ugh, the thought alone makes her stomach curl. She rolls onto her side and slowly lets the drowsiness from the night takes over her till she falls into a peaceful night sleep.


“That’s the last load,” houx announces as she puts down the last bag on the living room floor of Michael’s apartment. “Thank God!” Kenny says with a relieved sigh as he sits in the chair to catch his breath. He looks up at houx with annoyance, “How the hell did toi accumulate so much stuff?” Michael smirks as he sets down plus bags of hers, “I see that cursing runs in the family.” houx rumples Kenny’s head, “Hey, toi offered to help, now toi must suffer from your generosity,” she jests with a smile. “Sis!” Kenny says as he fixes his hair. Michael smiles at both of them before he looks over at Bill coming in from the elevator with a box, sweat is pouring down his face. He staggers to put the box down in the living room and looks at all three of them. “Thanks for leavin’ the elderly man in the parkin’ garage!” All three of them bust out laughing as Michael goes to pat Bill on the back. “We knew toi had a handle on it,” he jokes. Bill pulls out a handkerchief from his back pocket to wipe the sweat off his face. “Will that be all, Holly?” “Yeah, that’s it, thank toi so much, Bill.” “Go rest, Bill,” Michael says as he leaves the room leaving the three of them alone.

Kenny rubs his hands up and down on the armrests, “Well, I should get going and let toi two lovebirds alone.” “You don’t have to leave right away,” houx remarks as she watches him get up from the chair and smile. Kenny shakes his head, “No, sis, it’s time for me to go,” he looks at Michael, “you take good care of her Michael, otherwise I will be forced to break every bone in your body. You’ll be forced to sell newspapers out of a van for the rest of your life,” Kenny adds with a smile. houx rolls her eyes and mutters an “Oh my God.” Michael laughs, “Don’t worry, I will treat her like a queen. Now if toi need anything at all, don’t hesitate to come here to stay, toi are always welcomed here.” “I appreciate that, Michael.” Kenny looks at houx and can feel a pang in his heart. “Give me a hug sis.” As he hugs her, houx breathes in his scent of double mint gum and root bière making her smile. “You take care, bro, and toi call me suivant week to tell me how midterms went.” He pulls back and nods, “I will. See ya guys later, and happy birthday.” houx crosses her arms as she watches him walk to the elevator and get in, giving her a wave before the doors shut. She sighs out as it’s done now. Looking over Michael is leaning against the canapé armrest grinning from ear to ear. She smiles at him.

“What?” She asks. He shrugs, “I’m just excited, roomie.” houx giggles, “Yep, it’s finally official now.” Michael walks up to her and grabs her par the waist, pulling her to him with a joyful look in his eye. “No regrets?” He asks. “Not yet,” she jests. Michael pulls her in for a Kiss that is long and slow, her lips are soft and subtle to him making him feel weak in the knees. Finally, after weeks of talking and planning the jour is finally here. He pulls back to rest his forehead against hers, “Happy birthday again.” She smiles, “Thank you, finally legal…to do everything.” Michael gulps. The word holds so much promise that is stomach does a backflip. What was once foreign and forbidden is now open and acceptable and he is excited. No plus does he have to stop himself from s’embrasser her too long ou too deep, no plus does he have to worry about holding her hand in public, no plus does he have to stop thinking dirty thoughts he has for so long tried to put out of his mind even if he can’t act on it right now. “How does it feel to be eighteen?” Michael asks as he grabs her to sit down with him on the couch. houx crosses her arms and begins to giggle, “Well, I feel the same way I did at seventeen, except now I can buy cigarettes and scratch-offs.” “I’m sure that gives toi a thrill,” Michael adds with a chuckle. “But seriously,” he says. She sighs and looks at him. “Seriously, I’m free.” “From your mom?” She nods as she looks down at Michael’s hands where she rubs his knuckles in soft lazy circles.

Michael can tell par the look on her face that she is thinking about her family and since it’s her birthday he wants her to have a fun jour where it’s memorable. Now it’s time for his surprise. He looks down at his watch and sees where it is only eight a.m. and the jour is still young. “Now I know toi a dit toi didn’t want anything for your birthday but are toi up for a little adventure?” houx smirks, “I know your adventures and they ain’t little,” she remarks. He grabs her hand to get her off the couch, “C’mon you’re gonna l’amour it. Bill, lets hit the road!” Bill emerges from the hallway with a sigh. “You two are goin’ to kill me,” he remarks as he pulls a set of car keys out of his back pocket. “Well if are going on the road then I’m using the bathroom,” houx remarks walking towards the bathroom. As Michael hears the bathroom door shut he walks over to Bill with a smile, “You put the bags in the car?” “Yep packed and ready to go. I didn’t feel comfortable grabbin’ Holly’s,” Bill clears his throat, “unmentionables, so I had her own security guard do it.” Michael chuckles and grabs Bill par the shoulder, “That’s being a good sport. Shhh, here she comes.” The thought of surprising houx makes Michael giddy with excitement. “Ready to go?” he asks. She smiles, “Only if toi tell me where we're going.” Michael rolls his eyes, “It’s a surprise! Now come on! The last one to the car is a rotten egg!” Michael gets a head start on her where Bill walks slowly behind them shaking his head with a smile, muttering under his breath, “Such children.”


In the car, houx is leaning into Michael where they are holding each other hands. The beautiful morning L.A. sun has now disappeared and rain is beginning to beat at the windows. houx nuzzles closer to Michael as she continues to scan outside to gain a sense of where they are headed. Michael looks at her and chuckles. “Keep looking, but it won’t help ya.” “Come on, just give me a hint.” “No.” “A tiny hint?” “No.” “A teeny tiny little hint?” “Why can’t toi just enjoy a surprise for once?” Just relax.” “Oh if I truly relaxed I think I’d faint. If toi tell me I’ll do anything for you.” houx raises her eyebrows with a smirk. Michael smiles and feels hotness from his cheeks. Bill looks in the rearview mirror, “Don’t fall for it, Mike! That’s how they always get you.” houx playfully gives Bill a glare before looking back at Michael. “Please…” “Oh alright. The hint is that you’ll l’amour it. Happy?” “That’s not a hint!” “Well, it’s the only one you’re getting. Now sit back and relax because we're almost there anyway.” Miles, roadway, homes, and people go par as houx sits back and impatiently waits for what Michael has in store for her. Even when she was a little girl she never enjoyed the anticipation of surprises, but with Michael, she realizes she will have to get used to him, the king of surprises.

Inside Michael is giddy with anticipation at Holly’s surprise; hopefully she’ll enjoy it just as much as he will. As the airport sign approaches in the distance Michael tries as hard as he can not to give up the surprise. He looks over at houx to see a look of confusion plastered on her face as Bill pulls onto the airport ramp and on the tarmac where a little jet plane awaits. When Bill stops the car in front houx looks at Michael with shock. “What’s this?” she asks. “An adventure,” he says with a smile as he grabs her hand and opens the car door. “I can’t believe this!” She exclaims as Michael pulls his veste off and puts it over her head to protect her from the rain that is now beginning to pour down. As they get inside the plane houx looks around to see two flight attendants, pilot, and co-pilot standing there with hands in front of them smiling away. Taking some wet clinging hair off her cheek she extends her hand with a smile. “Hi, it’s nice to me toi all.” A young attendant who looks in her younger twenties is all smiles and giggles when she sees Michael behind Holly, making houx not jealous but amused. “Hello Mr. Jackson, I’m Marcus your pilot and this is Seth he will be your co-pilot. If toi would like to take your seats we can get going,” an older gentleman who is going grey on the sides of his head says warmly. Everyone scatters as Michael and houx take their seats par the windows as Bill comes up with two overnight bags in hand before handing them off to the giggly flight attendant. “Are we staying overnight?” Michael smirks and remains silent as he buckles his siège belt. “Michael…” houx whines. Michael laughs, “You’ll find out soon enough.” houx sighs and looks out at the wet tarmac as rain continues to come down from the dark and gloomy sky.

“You know, I was born on a rainy day, just like this,” houx murmurs still looking out. Michael looks across from her with surprise, she has never talked about a topic like this before. “Really? I never knew that.” “Yep, they actually called a state of emergency in Houston that jour because of the rainfall. Dad always joked the state of emergency was for me and all the impact I was gonna make in the world.” houx giggles thinking back to those days when she was very young when she felt the happiest at accueil – before the money, the fame, the fighting, and the drinking. Michael can’t help but laugh at the saying, “My little own force of nature.” The airplane intercom sounds on with a squeak. “If everyone is seated we will begin our journey to Orlando, Florida.” houx looks at Michael with a happily surprised face as the pilot continues. “It is currently a high of eighty-four degrees, sunny with a slight breeze blowing in from the Atlantic. Our approximate arrival time should be in five hours if this rain cooperates with us up in the air. Until we reach a cruising altitude we ask that toi please remain seated. Until then sit back and enjoy the flight.”


houx is smiling from ear to ear as the plane starts to déplacer vers l'avant, vers l’avant on the tarmac. “Orlando, that’s where we’re going!” Michael can’t help but rejoindre in on the smiling, “Surprise!” “Oh my God! If we weren’t going down the piste right now I’d Kiss you.” “I’ll take a rain check,” Michael says before adding, “I have something very special planned for us down there…I’m taking toi to Disney World.” Holly’s mouth drops open with shock, finally, her childhood fantaisie is complete. “Please tell me toi aren’t joking.” “Believe me I don’t joke about Disney and I know toi never were able to go as a child so I thought I’d take toi and make your eighteenth birthday memorable.”

As the plane begins to gain speed and races down the tarmac houx grabs on to her ceinture completely taken back par Michael’s thoughtfulness for her birthday knowing she was denied that luxury when she was little. As the plane lifts off the piste and into the air Holly’s stomach still gets papillons every time. Michael looks across at her with a smile as he observes her watching out the window where the city of L.A. begins to grow smaller and smaller. For the first time in his life, he feels comfortable with someone off stage, and it is all because of her. Hopefully, this little adventure will help them get closer and learn plus about each other. “I’m very lucky to have you,” he says with an adoring smile. She looks at him and gives him a blush, tugging a strand of long blonde hair behind her ear, “No, I’m the lucky one,” she corrects. As the plane levels out to a cruising altitude, suddenly, the giggly flight attendant appears over to Michael with a large smile that almost looks like it might crack her face. She stands in front of him demurely with her hands in front of her swaying back and forth. “Is there anything toi would like Mr. Jackson? Can I get toi anything at all?” houx looks at her with amusement again knowing what she is trying to do and how Michael is completely blasé to the face. He looks up at her before looking over at Holly. “Yes, I would like for toi to serve Ms. Williams first since it’s her birthday.” Miss Giggles looks over at houx with disdain as houx looks up at her with a smirk.



Fives hours later they land in Orlando International Airport with a car waiting for them outside. Bill walks over to Michael and houx before the airplane door opens stretching his back and yawning. “You guys want to head to the resort first ou magic kingdom?” Michael looks at Holly, “Ask the birthday girl.” “Oh, can we go to magic kingdom first? I want to go see Mickey Mouse! I’ve always wanted to see him.” houx says with a smile that nearly makes Michael’s cœur, coeur skip a beat. She is usually so mature and sassy that to see her giddy and childlike it is refreshing for Michael to see another side to her. “Alright then let’s go see Mickey!” As soon as they step off the plane the humidity hits them in full force making both of them break out in a sweat. The sound of plane engines roar in the distance and palm trees sway as they step into the cool air-conditioned car as Bill puts the bags inside the car. “I’m so excited!” houx exclaims as she gives Michael a quick Kiss on the lips. He looks at her intently before touching the side of her face before giving her another kiss. Both of them have their eyes closed feelings each other’s lips déplacer other the others making it feel like they are the only two people in the world. The way that their lips mouth over the others feels so familiar yet exciting making both always want more. When Michael pulls back he gives her a lazy smile. Neither one is startled as Bill gets in the driver siège and starts to drive. houx puts her head back on the headrest looking at him as she watches how he grabs her hand and kisses it softly. “Can I ask toi something?” “Anything,” he says giving her full attention. “Are we staying in the same room tonight?” “Well, it is a suite.” “So not the same bed?” She asks with a whisper. Michael searches her eyes momentarily wondering what she wants to hear. “I’m not going to put demands on you,” Michael whispers back.

houx inhales and looks away out the window as they go over a bridge where a river sits that has many boats sitting idle and others zooming back and forth. She looks back at him and smiles weakly. “I guess we’ll figure it out later.” Inside she is confused and nervous. In her mind, she doesn’t feel ready to have sex with Michael, especially today, and since nobody has formally sat her down for the birds and the bees talk. Sure, things have been eluded and commentaires have been made, but nothing concrete has ever been discussed with Holly. To her the idea of sex seems completely foreign and mysterious, but how can she ever bring such a topic up to Michael? He smiles warmly back before s’embrasser her hand again, “Whatever toi decide I’ll respect.” Inside Michael can feel panic setting in as they get closer and closer to Disney World about staying in the same lit with Holly. He doesn’t feel like he is ready to take such a large step with her so quickly, but maybe tonight they will be able to figure it out and he can finally tell her what he feels about the subject. He looks over at her as she observes her surroundings in such an innocent and curious manner, her eyes fluttering from one thing to the next. Inside he just hopes he can control himself.



“Oh my goodness, it is even plus beautiful than I imagined!” houx exclaims as both of them walk slowly up Main rue towards Cinderella’s château with small disguises to ward off attention. “I feel like I’ve stepped into a fairytale!” She adds with Glee as they walk closer. Michael can see the wonderment on her face as she takes in every breathtaking detail of Disney and its splendor. “Can’t toi just feel the magic everywhere?” Michael asks with a smile as he holds her hand, swinging their locked hands back and forth. “You still want to see Mickey first?” “Michael there’s so much to take in that I don’t know where to start,” she remarks honestly as they pass par groups of people making it to the front of Cinderella’s castle. She looks up at it with wonder at its scale and grandeur. “It’s just so beautiful…” she marvel’s.” Michael laughs before tugging on her hand, “C’mon, we got things to do!”

The afternoon is the definition of perfect. From the rides, the meetings with the Disney characters, to the shows, houx and Michael have nonstop laughs and smiles. Throughout the jour Michael kept watching as houx reverted back into a young girl without a care in the world and only enjoyed what was in front of her and did not ponder on tomorrow. To see the pure joy and happiness on her face was worth every dollar spent and special autograph written to get her special treatment. Today was her day; whatever she wanted to do he let her do it with some guidance on what she should not miss out on. This is was the first time he could see that she possessed the same childlike wonderment that he did and how they both connected on the same level of magic and amazement. Inside he feels like his cœur, coeur is going to bust with joy and his stomach is full of flutters as he stands back and observes the unguarded nature of houx today.


Later that evening they stand on a bank undisguised just outside magic kingdom looking up at the sky as fireworks illuminate the dark sky of reds, yellows, purples, blues, and greens. Together they stand there holding each other in the others arms with awed faces as Disney musique plays along with the fireworks. As the montrer ends the claps and cheers can be heard from the people in the park as houx continues to watch the last string of light disappear into the sky leaving nothing left but stars. She looks over at Michael with widened eyes. “Wow…just…wow.” Michael smiles and holds her close. “I know, wasn’t it great?” “I don’t think there is a word in any dictionary for its description,” she remarks as she looks over at the lake beside them that gives them castoff winds creating a chill. Michael can feel Chair de poule start to appear on her uncovered arms. “You wanna head back and get warm?” “This jour has been so nice I don’t want it to end though…” houx remarks as they start to walk in the direction of the resort. Michael looks back quickly to see Bill trailing behind them at a distance checking the surroundings. He holds her close. “I know, but we have all of tomorrow morning and afternoon, besides, we still have the rest of tonight.” She looks over at him with curiosity. “To do what?” Michael’s chest feels like it is beginning to constrict. “Holly, I think we need to talk about something.” “Uh oh,” she says with a deep sigh as she looks ahead, internally trying to remain calm at the uncertainty of his words. “You know I absolutely adore you, Holly,” he begins. “Don’t sugar manteau it, Michael. Tell me what toi are feeling.” “Well, I’m not so sure if I’m ready to déplacer as quickly as toi are in our relationship.” houx stops walking and looks at him with confusion before she finally connects the dots, crossing her arms. “Oh, toi think I want to sleep with you.” “Don’t you?” houx giggles, “Not really…I mean not yet. Everything is moving so fast that I’m not mentally prepared for that yet.” Michael’s pride as a man feels slightly hurt as he grabs her hand and they continue to walk. He feels relieved yet disappointed all at the same time, giving him so many conflicting emotions that he has never had to deal with before.

“You still don’t seem satisfied,” houx observes, as he looks solemn. “It’s just toi know that I’m involved with my religion, and they don’t really encourage sex before marriage…” “Oh…” houx says staring off into space. She always knew about his faith and how devout he was but never about this. He looks over at her, “Does that bother you?” “I mean, I guess not. It’s like toi told me, we’ll just make it up as we go along, and we need to both relax on these technicalities. Just so toi know I have no problems sleeping in the same lit with toi without doing anything weird with you.” Michael smirks and chuckles, “Weird?” houx teasingly bumps into his shoulder. “You know what I mean.” They walk silently for moments with only the sound of the crickets and ducks quacking as noise in the background. “Can I ask toi something?” houx asks with a bashful tone that it makes Michael curious. “Anything.” houx bites her lip before looking at him. “So you’re a virgin then?” Michael looks down at the stone walkway in embarrassment. “Yes,” he mutters looking back at her. “Huh…” “What?” “Nothing.” “Surprised aren’t you?” “Well kind of, I mean I just assumed…” Michael stops walking to face her now. “You just assumed I slept with Diana, hadn’t you?” “The thought had crossed my mind a time ou two, yes.” “Well rest assured you’re wrong. I’m a gentleman, Holly; always remember that because I don’t randomly sleep around with women. When we do, I want it to be special.” houx looks at him, her breath nearly halting. “Does that mean you’re going to marry me one day?” “Mr. Jackson and Ms. Williams look over here!” A man shouts out at them breaking them out of their conversation. They look over and see a bunch of men with cameras starting to take pictures of them. houx shields her face from the blinding light of the flashing bulbs. Bill comes rushing over to them to take them to the nearest entrance of the resort away from the press. The press is shouting so many things at them that it makes houx and Michael’s heads spin, but the only thing they can catch is “Are toi two dating?” Once they are inside and away from them Bill looks at them with a serious face. “Well, it looks like toi two are now going to be the hot topic of conversation for the entire world.”