Michael can’t sleep as he sits on his divano 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 baciare each other and how it felt tonight. One thing was for certain; he wanted più 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 commensale, diner 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 tavolo 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 commensale, diner for food?” “Oh, I see te got something on your mind,” David remarks that make Michael roll his eyes. “Yes o no David?” “Alright, I’ll pick te up in twenty.”

Twenty minuti 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 te 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 agrifoglio 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 te two grew distant this past anno 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 agrifoglio 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 commensale, diner windows.

“You mean te 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 tavolo 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 te gush over her.”

A middle-aged waitress in a tight bun that is grey on the sides comes up to the tavolo 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 arancia, arancio juice, please.” “Just coffee for me,” David adds. She scribbles it down in her notepad with annoyance. “Y’all still need time o are te ready to order?” Michael looks at David with a shrug, “I’ll take the Cioccolato chip cialde with home 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 te 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 te with?” Michael licks his bottom lip and taps his secondo finger on the tavolo 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 te 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 te 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 te 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 te 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 arancia, arancio juice.

agrifoglio 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 agrifoglio tries hard to act like she is interested in the lady’s domande on her recente 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? agrifoglio is suddenly taken out of her thoughts when she hears the lady ask, “So Holly, do te got a boyfriend yet?” Holly’s mouth goes dry at the question. She tries to play it cool da 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 successivo question. “Would te say fame has made it difficult to enjoy being like a regular teenager?” agrifoglio 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. agrifoglio 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 Amore simultaneously.” When the lady realizes agrifoglio is not elaborating anymore she continues on. agrifoglio hates these types of interviews that are awkward and uncomfortable. “Well I have to ask this last domanda because your eighteen birthday is coming up, are te excited and is there any big plans and changes we can expect?” agrifoglio licks her lips before laughing, “I think everybody is excited for their eighteen birthday, honestly, but with any plans o changes I guess te guys will just have to wait and see what I have in store for te guys.” The lady smiles, mostrare her coffee stained teeth, “Thank te 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. agrifoglio 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 te leave for rehearsal.” agrifoglio 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 più 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 preferito girl?” agrifoglio smiles’ knowing it is Michael soothing voice. “How have te been?” She asks as she sits on her letto grabbing one of her throw pillows. “Busy, but I’m hoping it will get better any ideas?” She smirks, “I thought te were avoiding me.” “Never, I just needed a few days to think.” agrifoglio 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?” agrifoglio smirks, “I guess I can squeeze te in somewhere.” “See te at nine?” “It’s a date,” agrifoglio 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. agrifoglio can tell da 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 letto 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 bacheca as he staggers closer to her. She can smell the dreadful odor of alcohol radiating off of him like a repellent. “Work, work, work, te are just like your mother, that’s all te 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. agrifoglio looks around and sees her little brother Kenny standing in her bedroom holding a small pistol that belongs to her dad. agrifoglio gulps as she sees him standing there holding it. Her dad immediately staggers back away from her. “And you’ll do what? te 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 minuti her dad looks back at agrifoglio before walking out of the room where agrifoglio is left pressed against the bacheca 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.” agrifoglio 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 te are older than me but te don’t have to put on a tough front.” “He was just drunk, Ken,” agrifoglio commenti 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, te and I have always been the closest and I Amore te very much. So take it from your little brother when I say this – on the giorno of your birthday, leave and don’t come back to this house. If te don’t, things will happen to te just like it happened to Abby…and I don’t want that for you.” Holly’s eyes widen. “Ken, what do te mean about Abby?” He shakes his head as he lets go of her. “It’s nothing, just leave it. Until your birthday te have to start looking sis, promise me?” agrifoglio 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 sposta 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 più 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, agrifoglio 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 da 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 baciare on her lips but she moves away from it. Michael immediately watches her as she walks into the living room and flops onto the divano 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 superiore, in alto of the divano and sighs, “Honestly I haven’t even dato 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 te 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 agrifoglio 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 oro 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?” agrifoglio can feel her cuore beating faster as her chest heaves up and down. Anger and hurt suddenly plummet over her. She turns the paper to mostra him. “I see this is also what te were doing as te were thinking.” Michael looks at the pictures and does not seem fazed; he looks back at agrifoglio with a calm disposition. “And?” “And what, Michael? te couldn’t talk to me for two days because te needed to think, meanwhile te 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. te know how the press twists things around.” agrifoglio has an outburst as she hurls the paper on the floor and crosses her arms shaking her head with disbelief. “This giorno 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 te better than that.” agrifoglio 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?” agrifoglio 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 da 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, te have not indicated this before, and I know te and how te feel about your family if it was simply moving out te would not be here crying on my divano but ecstatic. Did someone hurt you?”

agrifoglio 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 agrifoglio he doesn’t know what he would do but he would make for certain it would not happen again. “Was it your mom?” agrifoglio 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 o 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, te 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 te wanted to discuss tonight.” Michael puts her hands back down and shakes his head, “If it concerns te it concerns me, and just hear me out on something. Until te find a house of your own…why don’t te stay here?” agrifoglio just stares at Michael, astounded at what he just asked her. “Are te asking me to sposta 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. agrifoglio 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 cuore pound. “No, I wouldn’t make te do anything that made te felt uncomfortable. te are più than welcome to take the guest bedroom, o the main bedroom if te like it more, I don’t sleep a lot so I don’t mind either way.” agrifoglio 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 o never. He grabs her hands tighter in his and looks at her square in the eyes. “Holly, te know I have always cared about you, and the other giorno when we kissed, I finally realized how that has grown into something more, and…. I want te to be my girl.” agrifoglio 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, sposta in and we’ll figure out the rest as we go along.” agrifoglio 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 più of this when te sposta in.” agrifoglio laughs and playfully slaps his chest before baciare 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 agrifoglio sicuro, cassetta di sicurezza away from her mother and especially her father and he would go through anything to do it.