Two weeks later, agrifoglio sits crossed legged and crossed armed in front of a large mahogany scrivania, reception as her lawyer John Branca looks over a new contract for agrifoglio to sign. He looks up at her and pulls out a pen from his pocket and pushes it inoltrare, avanti to her. “Now Holly, te do realize that the following contract will dissolve any ties your mother has as your manager on the giorno of your birthday.” agrifoglio sits up and looks down at the contract with a serious eye before looking back up at him. “John, I may be young, but I’m shrewd when it comes to what I want and what I want is this. Now, where do I sign?” John sighs before pointing at the bottom of the page at the dotted line. “There and give the data and your initials as well. I’m assuming te want these served to her on your birthday?” agrifoglio looks at John with a smirk, “Is there any other way to make my point?” John looks at her and shrugs as she signs the documents, “If te say so. Have te told Michael yet?” agrifoglio puts down the pen and slides the documents back to him. “Michael knows everything these days,” agrifoglio murmurs with a smile. “But right now he is preoccupied with Off the bacheca and the house,” she adds. “Funny, I thought his birthday would be the first since it’s tomorrow,” John says looking down at the documents making sure they are correct. agrifoglio smiles, “Michael is a Jehovah’s Whiteness, birthdays aren’t really a big deal – but I’m gonna get him in the party spirit whether he likes it o not.” John chuckles, “Well I certainly wish te luck. Well, this makes it official. Do te need anything else since you’re here?” agrifoglio looks down at the rug before shaking her head, “Not today but I’m sure once I get closer to finding a house I’ll need your help più than ever.” John gives her a sincere smile, “When te do just call me up.” “Oh te know I will.”

Hours later Michael is sitting in a limo with Quincy sitting beside him on their way to Off the Wall’s launch party. Michael’s leg has not stopped shaking up and down the entire time making Quincy roll his eyes. “Smelly – what’s the problem?” Michael looks over at him from looking out the window. “Just nervous about the party, te know this isn’t my thing.” “I know Smelly, but this is all part of the process, besides it won’t be that bad, agrifoglio will be there.” Michael smiles looking back out the window as Bill turns the limo off the freeway and into the dusk of the evening. Just thinking about agrifoglio and her presence makes him instantly calm. These past two weeks with agrifoglio have been amazing as they have spent nearly every evening together, either chilling o agrifoglio slyly moving some of her belongings to his apartment. The thought of her turning eighteen in three weeks makes his head spin, but then again his twenty-first birthday is tomorrow. But to him, it is just another day.

“Smelly, we’re here,” Quincy announces as he opens the door to mostra a back entrance door to the party. Michael takes a deep breath getting out and quickly running into the building before anyone can recognize him. The hallway to the party room is dark and stuffy nearly suffocating Michael as he follows Bill. Once they reach it the room is filled with everyone from close personal friends, family, press, and Musica executives. Michael instantly scans the room for agrifoglio and finds her in the right corner of the room talking to an unfamiliar female woman. At this angle, she looks so sophisticated with a red capestro, cavezza neck dress with a slit up the side mostrare her curvy leg. He gulps to restrain the feelings that are welling up inside of him. Many people come up to talk to him and chat many of whom he has never even met from the company, but he puts on a mostra da smiling and engaging in their pointless and uncomfortable conversation. All Michael wants to do is go over and talk to Holly, which makes him keep his eyes on her until he is able walk up to her with a smile and a distant baciare on the cheek – remembering what they agreed upon about not telling anyone about their relationship o mostrare public affection until she is eighteen. “You look perfect,” Michael whispers in her ear making agrifoglio blush. “You don’t look so bad yourself,” she murmurs back as she observes his outfit of a grey-marled blazer and a white button-down shirt, which is unusually toned down for him. Michael shrugs as he looks around the room of people laughing and drinking. “You know this isn’t my type of thing,” he murmurs looking down at his shoes. agrifoglio intertwines her arm with his, smiling, “That’s exactly why I’m here, and to gloat and say I told te so about your album.” Michael raises his eyebrow, “Why did te want to come separately?” “Because I had to drop something off at the apartment since te gave me a snazzy new key. Why te think I’m having a hot torrid Amore affair with someone?” agrifoglio teases. Michael can feel his face go hot. “That’s not funny.” He looks down at her with a stern eye as she laughs. The thought of another man touching agrifoglio makes him want to get violent and he isn’t a violent type of man. “Actually it is and te know why? Because I can’t even keep track of my own life so how the hell am I supposed to keep track of two men?” The thought alone makes her exhausted.

“You shouldn’t use bad words,” Michael admonishes as he looks around the room once more. agrifoglio rolls her eyes. “Like I haven’t heard te use a curse word a time o two?” She challenges back. He looks down at her with vacant eyes, “You’re exasperating.” “And you’re grumpy,” she adds. “Come on, everyone is here in celebration of your accomplishment, te should act a little grateful.” “Holly, everyone is just here for a picture, a drink, and a contact – not me. I’m fine with that but I would much rather spend my evening with just you.” “Diana, how wonderful of te to come!” Quincy shouts in the room making everyone turn their attention to the door, especially Michael, which he unintentionally shrugs out of Holly’s grasp. She looks at how he instantly looks at her and only her. Diana is full of smiles in a long beaded silver toga, abito and flowing puffed hair. The room is instantly mesmerized da her as they come up to her like moths to a flame to gain one secondo of her attention. She casually walks up to Michael and agrifoglio with ease knowing she is owning the room. As she sees Michael she smiles and holds out her hand where Michael instantly takes it without hesitation-making agrifoglio irritated. “Hello Michael, te look handsome as ever,” she remarks looking at him up and down. agrifoglio has never wanted to slap a woman harder in her life. Michael flushes and looks down at the floor. “Why do te embarrass me like that? te look gorgeous, Diana. I didn’t know te were coming.” Michael is brimming from ear to ear with happiness. “Of course! I wouldn’t miss it for the world.” Diana looks over at agrifoglio and gives her a fake smile. “Well if it isn’t little agrifoglio Williams, how are you, sweetie?” agrifoglio gives her a tight-lipped smile, “Just fine, thank you.” “Holly isn’t so little anymore Diana, she is turning eighteen in three weeks.” “Well isn’t that cute, happy early birthday, Holly. Speaking of which, Michael isn’t tomorrow your birthday?” Michael rolls his eyes as he jams his hands in his pockets, “Ugh don’t remind me.” “How about te and I have cena tomorrow night?” “I’d Amore to!” Michael exclaims with glee. agrifoglio looks over at him with shock and lightly taps him on his arm. “Ugh, Michael, I thought we already made plans for tomorrow night?” Michael looks down at her and his face drops realizing his error before looking back at Diana. “Holly’s right, we already made plans.” “How unfortunate,” she murmurs looking at agrifoglio with skeptical eyes. agrifoglio can sense her game and smirks as she intertwines her arm with his and gives Diana a raised eyebrow. “Another night then,” Diana remarks as she looks at the two of them, especially Holly. “Well, I should go mingle. I’ll catch up with te two later.”

As she sashays away Michal looks at agrifoglio with a stern expression. “What?” agrifoglio asks innocently. “You were very rude to Diana.” “Oh come on Michael! Did te not hear how she was talking down to me and trying to act like the head fucking hen?” agrifoglio harshly whispers as Michael pulls her into the corner where they could have some privacy. “She was just trying to be nice, Holly.” “And if I hadn’t detto anything would te have blown off our plans to have cena with her?” Michael remains silent and looks down at the floor. agrifoglio scoffs and shakes her head, “That’s what I thought.” Suddenly Lionel comes up and surprises them. “Sorry to disturb te two, looks like a deep conversation over here, but I just want wanted to congratulate te Mike on the album.” “Thanks, Lionel,” Michael mutters still distracted da Holly’s question. “And te Holly,” Lionel smiles looking over at her with a grin. agrifoglio looks at him with a puzzled glance, pushing some blonde strands of hair out of her face. “What are te talking about, Lionel?” “Mark over from Virgin just told me news about your new album coming out in a few months – I think that is wonderful!” He hugs her with Glee as agrifoglio stands tongue-tied as what to say. Michael looks at agrifoglio with shock at how she could keep something so immense hidden from him. It feels as if someone has suddenly kicked him in the gut.

“T-Thanks Lionel, it really wasn’t supposed to be announced…especially tonight.” She looks quickly over at Michael who is glaring at her. “Oh no of course not, mum’s the word.” “Spread that around, especially to Mark, please,” agrifoglio remarks as Lionel leaves them alone again. In a room filled with noise, the silence is the loudest thing in the room between them. Both stare at the other, hurt and upset at the other. “Why didn’t te tell me?” Michael gets out through gritted teeth. agrifoglio crosses her arms, “There never seemed to be a right time.” “There never seemed to be a right time!” Michael harshly whispers back. He stops himself before he takes a deep breath and closes his eyes. As he opens them back up he shakes his head, “We can’t do this, not here.” He leaves her to go talk and mingle with partygoers.

Hours later agrifoglio and Michael step inside the solitary confinements of the limo. Both let out a relieved sigh neither one knew they were holding in. Bill sits in the driver sede, sedile and looks back at the two of them far away from each other. “Holly, te want me to take te home?” “No, she is going back to the apartment with me, we have a lot to discuss,” Michael barks looking out the window. agrifoglio grinds her teeth as Bill pulls the limo in drive and pulls out of the parking lot and onto the freeway. As the cars whiz by, she lets out an unintentional tear. At this very moment, she feels so hurt and mad, not just with Michael, but also with herself. Why did she not tell him about her new album coming out? He would be her biggest supporter and fan if she did – but somehow she always managed to talk herself out of it. Maybe she didn’t trust him and kept telling herself she was? Thinking about at how Michael smiled at Diana tonight made her feel insecure not only about herself but also, about their relationship.

Michael’s head is filled with thoughts of agrifoglio and their relationship. The thought of her not telling him about her latest album coming out really cut him deep. Does she not trust him that much after everything they’ve shared so far and what they agreed to embark on? He looks over at her and hears a sniffle from agrifoglio in the darkness. He desperately wants to reach his hand out to her and comfort her, but his stubbornness is getting the best of him. He has to talk to her tonight, otherwise, nothing will get resolved and they cannot sposta inoltrare, avanti in their relationship.

The remaining car ride feels like an eternity when nobody is speaking. Bill even turns on the radio to President Carter’s national address to drown out the silence. As soon as Michael and agrifoglio get to his apartment all the way up until the elevator they don’t even look in their direction. The elevator doors emerge open to display a long banner that spells out “HAPPY BIRTHDAY MICHAEL!” with balloons and streamers in the room. Michael staggers back. “What’s this?” He asks surprised. “Yeah, happy birthday,” agrifoglio mutters flopping on the divano with no enthusiasm. Michael sighs and sits down beside her, both looking in the other direction staring off into space. “Is this going to work?” agrifoglio asks looking over at Michael. “Only if we stay honest with the other,” Michael retorts. “Well, my not telling te about the album is a lot different than your Amore for Diana.” Michael groans getting off the divano and walking to the kitchen. “Will te give that a rest, Holly?” She gets up and follows him. “No, I won’t. I saw te with her tonight. te can deny it till you’re blue in the face but te Amore her.” Michael grabs the arancia, arancio succo, succo di frutta from the fridge and begins to pour himself a glass. “Of course I Amore her as a secondo mother, as a friend, but not as a girlfriend I only love…” He stops himself. “I only love, what, Michael?” “I only mean that I don’t Amore her that way that te think I do.” “Ugh, you’re so infuriating!” agrifoglio shouts throwing her hands up in the air. Michael slams his glass on the counter. “What do te want from me, Holly? I asked te to sposta in with me, you, not Diana? Doesn’t that mean anything to you? But te know what I think your problem is?” “Oh please, enlighten me,” agrifoglio mocks looking at him. “I think te get jealous of Diana.” agrifoglio gives a small forced chuckle, “Oh listen here buddy boy if te think I am jealous da that slim piece of culo than te are certainly mistaken. But even if I was, did te ever think for one moment in that goddamn male brain of yours that my supposed jealousy is not caused da Diana, but da you? te make me feel as if te that you’ll never look at me the way te look at her. Sometimes I feel like I can’t trust you.” agrifoglio stops herself as she feels her emotions rising.

Michael stands there dumbfounded. He feels ashamed at the thought. Not once did he realize that he was hurting agrifoglio with the way he does cerbiatto, fawn over Diana. But it is an insecurity she needs to get over. Suddenly anger boils up inside him. “That’s the pot calling the kettle black!” he spats back. “You talk about not feeling like te can’t trust me, meanwhile you’ve been recording a whole album that is soon going to be released and te never once indicated anything. What else have te not told me, Holly?” agrifoglio crosses her arms and rolls her eyes. “Oh come on Michael, between both of us, te would be più likely to have an affair più than me.” Michael’s eyes widen as his mouth opens in shock. “How dare te say that!” “It’s the truth. te would leave me for your precious Diana in a heartbeat if she offered herself to te on a silver platter.” “That is not true.” “The hell it isn’t!” “You are truly making a mountain out of a molehill about Diana. I don’t want her and I’m not going to leave you. But keep up with this attitude of yours and maybe I will.” agrifoglio stands in front of him with hands on her hips staring at him. “Oh go ahead and leave me, I’d like to see another woman who would put up with your bullshit.” Michael glares at her before grabbing the sides of her face with his hands giving her a kiss. It is deep and intense making agrifoglio stagger back slightly before slapping him in the chest. He takes the slaps before pushing her up against the bacheca as agrifoglio starts to respond to him, her chest heaving into his, her head fuzzy and breath becoming weaker with each kiss. For the first time, she can feel Michael’s hardness pressed up against her making her gasp into his mouth. agrifoglio lipping off to Michael has been the most challenging yet alluring and he is confused. Never has a woman affected him so deeply this way.

Internally Michael is trying to hold on to his last piece of sanity to stop before this goes too far. But a little part of him doesn’t want to, he wants to keep going and going till that distant and mystical side of their relationship is uncovered and explored together. Michael suddenly stops when he realizes she is still legally underage for three weeks. As they pull away agrifoglio touches her lips, which now feel sore and swollen. She is panting as she looks up at Michael who is equally panting. “I still think Diana is a snake,” she blurts out. “Holly, for our relationship to work te are gonna have to trust me to be around women, especially Diana, and please know that I wouldn’t leave te for them. I only want you, which has been clearly evident.” Michael remarks with a smirk and a flush as he can feel his budding erection finally subsiding. “And te need to trust me too,” agrifoglio adds fixing her now messy hair. “Then we both agree to put aside our insecurities and sposta forward?” Michael asks. “Yes, I don’t like to fight with you.” “Especially since it was our first one. Now give me a kiss,” he says playfully grabbing her da the waist and pulling her towards him again. agrifoglio pushes him off of her. “Now, since we fought I didn’t have time to give te your birthday surprise,” agrifoglio says opening the fridge door and grabbing something from it. When she turns around she reveals a round Cioccolato iced cake. Michael stares at it for a moment before looking up at her. “Did te make this?” “Of course! I wanted to bake te something special for your birthday since te never really had your own birthday cake. I’m sorry it’s a little cold now but that’s why I arrived separately to the party tonight – I had to finish this.” Michael suddenly feels ashamed at his being skeptical earlier, “That’s okay! I just can’t believe te baked me a cake, nobody has ever baked me a cake – except for publicity stunts.” agrifoglio smiles, “Well now te can’t say that. Do te wanna blow out your candles now o tomorrow on your actual birthday?” Michael looks down at his watch and smiles, “I hate to break it to te agrifoglio but it’s been my birthday for thirty minuti now.”

Embarrassment hits agrifoglio like a wave to know that she was fighting with Michael on his birthday making her feel like a shitty girlfriend. “I’m sorry,” she whispers with a tear running down her cheek. “Hey, don’t cry, you’re too beautiful to cry,” Michael says baciare her forehead trying to soothe her. “But te can make it up to me,” he adds with a wink. “How?” she looks up with him with misty eyes that look so innocent. “You can help me eat this cake!” he chuckles.


The successivo morning a phone ring blares out waking Michael out of his unlikely sleeping on the living room floor. He groans as his eyes slowly flutter open to see agrifoglio lying successivo to him snuggled soundly full clothed under a blanket with the early morning sun hitting sections of her body. She stirs as Michael rolls on his side to answer the phone with plates of half-eaten cake surrounding him. “Hello?” he asks with a yawn. “Good morning Mr. Jackson, this is Barney!” Michael’s mind thinks of the name Barney till it registers that it is his contractor Barney. “Morning Barney, what’s going on?” “Well I know te detto last time we spoke that te wanted to be here for the demolishing of the old house and I wanted to inform te that we are ready to get started this morning.” Michael rubs his eyes still not processing the words. “As in this morning?” “…Yes, Mr. Jackson, this morning. Now te are not obligated to come to the demolishing but I just remembered what te said.” “Okay, what time?” “In about two hours.” “Alright, I’ll be there.” “Sounds good, thank you, Mr. Jackson.” “Take it easy Barney.” Michael hangs up the phone and rolls back on his back with a thud. agrifoglio yawns with her eyes still closed. “Everything okay?” She mutters snuggling up to his arm. “Hmm yes, just my contractor. They are demoing the house today and I want to go, it’s in two hours…” “That’s nice…” agrifoglio mutters her eyes still closed. Michael opens his eyes to look over at her. “Wanna come with me?” At this very moment, his life feels very serene and he could get used it to it. “That requires shoes,” she says. Michael chuckles at her words, “I’ll bring coffee. C’mon get up and get some warm clothes on it feels chilly this morning,” he says pulling back the blanket on him. “But first,” he bends to baciare her but agrifoglio pulls away with a smile. “I have morning breath.” “Like I care, come here.” He gives her a small baciare that makes him feel happy to be alive. Her kisses are so soft and delicate that it pains him to break away from her. As he goes to make the coffee in the cucina he hears agrifoglio shout from the living room “Can I drive?” He smirks at the request. That girl always wants to drive.


“Mr. Jackson and Miss Williams, it is a pleasure to have te come this morning. Miss Williams if te don’t mind me being too forward, would te sign an autograph for my daughter? She is your number one fan – dances to your songs every night,” Barney says with his protective gear on. agrifoglio smiles at the compliment, “I would be honored.” “Terrific, now business before pleasure. If te two don’t mind putting these helmets and goggles on I would feel più comfortable in case any debris flies over here.” Barney hands them their gear, which they put on immediately. Holly’s head suddenly feels too heavy to support her shoulders. “Now just for safety precautions, if te two don’t mind staying in this area, the crew and I would appreciate it. Are there any questions?” Michael and agrifoglio look at each other before shaking their heads. “Alright, see te when it’s over.” As Barney walks away and the machines sound on Michael sits on the tronco of the car and looks over at Holly. “Coffee?” He asks. “Thought you’d never ask,” she smiles jumping up beside him. He grabs the thermos of coffee and pours it into a little cup before handing it to her. “Thank you,” she mutters before taking a grateful sip. When she does she nods her head in approval before looking at him. “You make great coffee.” He smiles as he takes a sip of his own cup, “I guess it’s just a hidden talent. Bill, te want some coffee?” He turns his head to see Bill through the back windshield of the car lying horizontally in the backseat with his fedora on his face and his arms crossed trying to sleep. “No thanks, Mike.” “So te sad to see the house go?” agrifoglio asks before taking another sip. Michael shakes his head without hesitation. “Nah, I don’t have many fond memories with this house, unless it was with you,” Michael says looking over at her with a smile. agrifoglio can’t help but smile at his words and playfully slapping his arm. “Mr. Romantic over here.”

“Go ahead, Charlie!” Barney shouts to the man operating the wrecking ball as the machine makes a large grinding noise. The man operating the wrecking ball pulls a lever that brings the wrecking ball back until it stops in mid-air. The men examine it for a quick moment before Barney gives him a thumb up. Suddenly the ball goes flying through the air and smashes into the house with a thud with glass shattering and brick dismantling. “Whoa!” Michael says in shock at the sight before him. “Ten points!” agrifoglio shouts joking as she starts to laugh uncontrollably. Michael cannot help but unisciti in on her laughter and how she has the power of making anything fun. “Out with the old and in with the new,” she adds as the ball hits the house again. Michael holds his cup up to her, “to new beginnings.” agrifoglio smiles and holds her cup up, “to new beginnings,” she repeats. They clink the cups in a crostini, pane tostato as the house continues to be demolished in front of them.