It's 1972, and young Michael has to come to terms with his helpless crush on a friend.
Notes: Interview taken from Teen Star Magazine (1972)
Hyatt Regency Hotel
He was embarrassed.
Q: Michael, your fans want to know your ideas about a first date!
MJ: On a first date, I like to bring a girl over to my house for a barbeque and a swim, especially on a warm summery evening! I know that some chicks get mad if you don't take them somewhere fancy and spend a lot of money on them on a date, but I'm not interested in those kinds of girls. I want someone who I can feel comfortable with just sitting and talking to, or sharing a fun, casual time with! I'm not sayin' that we wouldn't ever go out. I love to go out to movies, concerts, and restaurants, but I think it's important to know one another on a first date, and you can't if you go to watch somethin' all night!
Q: Are you a 'gentleman' on a date?
MJ: I never gave it much thought. Opening doors for girls is something that I just do automatically without thinking, like scratchin' my head when it itches! When you're taught all your life to do polite things for girls, you just can't forget it! It's second nature to you, like breathing or tapping your feet to music!
Q: How do you feel about kissing on a first date?
MJ: I can dig it! I think that if you dig a chick enough to ask her out, you're crazy if you don't want to kiss her. And, if she accepted the date, she likes you and probably wants to be kissed. So, I couldn't think of any reason why you shouldn't! I think I'd like to wait 'till the end of the date before I kissed her, though! I think most girls are afraid you're comin' on too fast if you kiss them right away. But, if I could tell that chick I was with was just waitin' to be kissed, I wouldn't mess around wastin' time! I'd take her in my arms, bend her face back to rest on the back of her seat, and slowly lean toward her, gazin' into her eyes and talking in a slow, smooth voice. Then, I'd press my lips against hers, gently at first, then harder and harder until we're both lost in a soul kiss of true love.
[only the last bit came out as true ‘luuuurve’]
“Why you got to read it out loud?” came the whine as the blushing teen tried to dive for his older brother, who was having none of it.
With near graceful feline-like movements, Marlon skipped out of reach; his voice getting louder as he continued to read from the magazine with amusement clearly in his tone. It was taking all of his strength not to burst out laughing. Someone was clearly enjoying his kid brother’s humiliation.
Q: How do you feel about honesty between a guy and a girl?
MJ: I think that bein' honest with one another is important when you're gettin' serious with a chick, and don't want to have her goin' out with other guys. You have to be loyal and true to one another, or your love will never last! But, when you're dating lots of chicks, and the chicks you date go with other guys, honesty isn't so important. Don't get me wrong, though! I don't think lyin' to someone is ever a good or a smart thing to do! But, as long as you haven't made any promises to each other, you have the right to keep some things for yourself! For instance, if you've been dating a chick on and off and she dates other guys, and she asks you where you were when she phoned your house and didn't get an answer, I don't think it's any of her business to know you were out with a different girl! I don't think I have the right to pry into her life either!
Q: What would you do if you fell in love with a girl who was going steady with someone else?
MJ: Well, if I knew from the beginning that she was going with another guy, I probably wouldn't date her, no matter how much I wanted to! But, if I didn't know she was going steady, and I found out after I fell in love with her, I think I'd be pretty mad! Even if I thought that she didn't do it to be cruel, and was just too scared to tell him her true feelin's, I think I'd tell her in a kind, understanding way, to figure out what she was gonna do, and come back after she'd done it.
“Man, you been hanging around Jermaine too much,” Marlon observed dryly before skipping onto the other twin bed as his brother tried to reach for him again.
Q: Michael, what do you admire in others?
MJ: I admire people who are really dedicated to their music and to entertaining people! That's why I admire Sammy Davis Jr, and hope to be like him when I grow up! He's a super professional, who puts a spell over his audience like some kind of magician. Singin' and dancin' his heart out to give his audience a thrill they'll never forget. It takes many years to get like that, and that's my goal.
Q: What is the one thing you dislike in a person?
MJ: I guess it's conceited, snobbish people that really bother me! Some people are very egotistical, and think they're better than everyone else! They're always talkin' about themselves, and can't listen to you when you're trying to tell them something about yourself. They keep looking around to see if someone's lookin' at them, instead of looking directly at you, listening to what you're sayin'! It's like talking to a stone wall. When I meet a chick like that, I just turn off right away!
Q: Here's a hard question - what one thing in your personality would you change if you could?
MJ: Well, my Mom says that I'm a procrastinator, which means that I put off things I don't want to do. I know that it's better to get things out of the way as soon as you can, like cleaning your room, or doing your chores but sometimes I have a hard time gettin' around to them and keep putting them off!
“You ain’t lying,” Marlon agreed with a laugh. “You still left your dirty draws on the bathroom floor. You know Suzanne’s gonna flip, man.”
“Gimme that!” was the grunted reply as Michael finally tackled Marlon; sending them toppling to the floor and the magazine flying out of his hands...only to be picked up by their older brother, Jermaine, as he sauntered into the room to see what the commotion was all about. He took one look at the article...allowed his glance to wander to his prone brothers...before looking back at the information in front of him.
His lips quirked into a wry grin before becoming a chuckle as he read through the last bits of the article. It was a section where fans were asked to vote their favorite teen star as president based on their campaign promises. According to Michael...
“One promise I'll make for you for sure is that if I win STAR Magazine's Superstar of '72 election, I'm gonna be so happy that I'll grab you wherever and whenever we meet, and give you a big kiss to thank you for bein' my fan and for giving me your vote! I always like to show my fans that I dig them and appreciate all they've done for me by holdin' their hand and lookin' right in their eyes as I talk to them! When a chick takes the time and trouble to come see me, no matter where I am or how busy I am, I'm gonna do all I can so that when she leaves she'll really feel that it was worth her while! Here are my promises:
Promise Number One: Whether or not I win the title Superstar of '72, I'm going to continue to work even harder at putting together an exciting show (like learning to play the piano!), so that when you come to see us sing and dance, you'll remember our show all your life!
Promise Number Two: I promise that we'll try to make our concert costumes real 'baaad' and foxy to keep you turned on! And I want you to send me any J-5 costume ideas you might have!
Promise Number Three: I promise to bring lots of personally autographed pictures of the J-5 on the road with me, so that when I see you in concert, you'll have something to really remember us by!
Promise Number Four: To love and cherish each of my sweet-faced fans forever.”
“Awww, ain’t that sweet,” Jermaine jeered. “Your sweet-faced fans....”
“You forgot the part about kissing every one of them he meets,” Marlon snickered, earning a cuff from the other boy as they struggled to their feet.
“It don’t mean a thang,” Michael muttered as he toyed with the hem of his shirt. “I didn’ say half of those things they wrote in there. You know it ain’t half-right.”
“Well, she sho’ didn’t make it all up,” Marlon replied with a shrug. “That interview with you was pretty darn long.”
Michael sighed as the memory of the day the blond reporter from Teen Star had come to Hayvenhurst to ‘supposedly’ interview all members of the Jackson 5. Turned out she was only interested in Michael for the most part, even though he had tried to get his brothers involved.
However, the older boys were somewhat used to the special treatment, even though it didn’t stop the simmering feelings of bitterness and jealousy as much as they loved him. Michael was the star of the show after all, and everyone knew it. Except – as Jermaine tossed the magazine to the bed and prepared to leave the room – looking at the mumbling, grumbling kid suffering Marlon’s teasing, it was hard to reconcile the animal he became on stage when they performed.
On nights when Michael had absolutely no right to be that energetic as evidenced by the boy’s protests and whines from rehearsal ‘til last minute checks backstage while the fans screamed - all that fell to the wayside once he was in front of them and beneath the glaring lights. Michael was a genius out there. There was no denying that. Out there he almost seemed out of reach; some colossal being meant to be admired and worshipped. However, in here...when they were simply brothers stuck in close proximity and forced to become ‘family’ again, Jermaine (and the others for that matter) could return to being normal. Which, of course, meant messing around with Michael (and Randy) whenever they could.
“Where y’all goin’?” came the sudden question as Michael trotted after him on his way into the living room where Tito, Jackie, Ronnie and Johnny lounged lazily watching an episode of The Flip Wilson Show. His brothers looked like they were dressed to go somewhere, and he wondered if they were going to a club again; a perk awarded by Joseph for a good show last night.
“Gonna watch Super Fly,” Tito answered with a grin. “Got our tickets, man.”
“Ooooh,” Michael’s eyes widened in delight. He’d been looking forward to this movie since it was announced, only because he was a big fan of Ron O’Neal and Curtis Mayfield. “I’m gonna go get my jacket and...”
“Hold on there, little man,” Jackie cut in with a shake of his head. “Where you think you’re goin’?”
“I wanna watch it too,” Michael insisted with a pout as he realized they were about to leave him out of the fun.
Jermaine laughed. “Can’t do that, Mike. You ain’t old enough, you dig? You can babysit Randy -”
“How come Marlon gets to go?!”
“Because I’m older than you,” came the taunt as said Marlon stuck out his tongue and slipped into his sheepskin jacket.
“Youngblood Priest,” Tito sang off key as he rose to his feet to stretch. “Baddest motherfucka alive.”
“Right on,” Ronnie agreed with a nod. “Don’t worry, Mike,” he added kindly as he placed a hand on the boy’s shoulder. “We’ll tell you everything when we get back.”
“I’ll be fourteen soon,” came the barely audible complaint that was ignored as the older boys’ voices became louder with the excitement of getting to see the latest blaxploitation flick.
Twenty minutes later, after ignoring Randy’s attempts to get him to play Snakes and Ladders, Michael paced around the hotel room restlessly. He just couldn’t sit still, despite their ‘nanny’ asking him to occupy himself with a book. What book? How could he concentrate on that when his thoughts where focused on how much fun the other boys were having in the movie theater watching THE coolest cat on the planet mackin’ out on screen? They had the pleasure of meeting Mr. O’Neal one time before, and needless to say the smooth-talkin’ brother was as cool as everyone said he was. Michael had even found himself trying to talk like Ron...to emulate the swagger...and now...
It ain’t right. It just ain’t!
He glanced at the clock. It was only a quarter past nine, and he wasn’t feeling half sleepy. He stalked into Jackie and Tito’s room and dug around their luggage to find their Playboy magazines.
“Hmph. Let ‘em try bitchin’ about it,” he scoffed and flopped onto his stomach to peruse the ‘enlightening’ articles. He whistled as he admired the centerfold before making a face as he noticed a stain on the edges. No doubt his brothers must have done ‘that thing’ while looking at the pictures. Suddenly feeling grossed out, he gingerly returned the magazine back to their places, before rushing to the bathroom to wash his hands.
Satisfied he was no longer contaminated with their bodily fluids, Michael was just about ready to pick up the phone to order room service and spoil himself with as much desserts as possible, when the door opened and a familiar voice brought a smile to his face. Finally! Someone he could talk to!
“Hey, Suzanne!” he greeted jovially.
The beautiful dark-haired woman, still dressed as if she was just returning from a day at the office, turned at the sound of Michael’s voice with a smile on her face. “Hey, Michael.”
She leaned close to place a kiss on his cheek, allowing the boy a chance to get a whiff of her flowery scent that made him slightly giddy. The yellow sweater beneath the heavy black coat, molded her chest nicely, and considering he had just spent several minutes ogling at naked women, one couldn’t blame him for the sudden image of seeing his mentor in the same position....only he didn’t expect her to spread her legs out wide like a cheap -
“Where’s everyone?” she asked; rudely interrupting his filthy thought processes.
“Went to see a flick without me,” he began to complain; launching into a rant about how they always left him just because he wasn’t old enough. “I’m almost fourteen, man!”
“Don’t let anyone else hear you say that,” Suzanne said with a chuckle as she looked into one of the bedrooms to see that Randy was fast asleep with Mrs. Rose watching over him. “Has Joseph been here since...?”
“Nope. He’s gone for the night,” Michael explained, now walking after Suzanne as she picked up the documents she had come for. “Can I stay in your room tonight? I don’t wanna be alone.”
“Sure,” came the flippant reply for she really thought nothing of it. After working with the boys for almost five years now, she had come to see them as nothing more than her kid brothers especially Michael. He had shared her bed in many hotels before, so this was nothing new...or odd.
“Mmmm....” Michael sighed in pleasure once the door to her hotel room was open and he dashed into her bedroom to snuggle into the sheets.
Suzanne chuckled and shook her head in amusement, while shutting the door behind her. “Take off your shoes at least, Michael.” She shrugged out of her coat. “You’re messing up the sheets.”
“Smells like you,” Michael groaned and buried his face into the pillow. “So sweet and pretty...”
“Why thank you,” came the amused reply. She tapped his feet as she walked past him. “Take off your shoes, young man.”
He sat up to do as he was told, watching from the corner of his eye as she tugged the rubber band that held her long hair in place, allowing the thick dark locks to cascade down her shoulders. He wanted to run his fingers through her hair; to see if they were just as silky and soft as he imagined them to be, but she was already leaving the room again – and in no time he could hear her on the phone...
Probably talking to Berry Gordy
...making plans about their rehearsal and concert tomorrow night at the International Amphitheater. He pouted at the knowledge that tomorrow was going to be another long day of working his ass off even though it would culminate with him being on stage again. He rubbed his ears absently. They were still ringing from all the screaming from last night’s show. He wondered if he’d go deaf before he was twenty.
“Want something to drink, Michael?” came the question as she stuck her head into the room and held up a bottle of pop. “You can help yourself to anything in the fridge, okay?”
“Okay, thank you,” he replied politely, but he was talking to thin air because she was out again; her sing-song voice floating into the room as she continued to rattle off instructions to an unseen speaker.
It was hard to believe she was only twenty-four (if he could believe what Jackie said). She was almost vice-president of Motown and she had become Berry’s right hand woman all these years. She might be young, but she was damn powerful and when she spoke, people listened. She easily took the role of big sister when they were on the road. However...
...she was still a woman, first and foremost, and as he found himself drifting to her closet, he felt the familiar stirrings of excitement and embarrassment at what he was about to do. It was all Marlon’s fault actually. The first time Suzanne had allowed them to stay with her, his older brother had introduced him to the secret world of the sexy older woman (that wasn’t his sister). For all her (sometimes) uptightness, Suzanne’s lingerie collection was one that had fueled the boys’ imaginations to the fullest. She seemed to favor lacey numbers and Michael’s photographic memory was able to record every little detail about her panties and bra sizes.
There was this particular pink number he liked, and he wondered if she had brought it for this road trip -
“What are you doing?”
Turning a million shades of red, he slammed the drawer shut and spun around quickly. “No...nothing!” came the breathless gasp of denial.
She was leaning against the doorway, arms folded across her chest with a raised brow and an attempt to look stern even though her lips were quirked in a small smile.
He swallowed and looked down; his sock-clad toe digging into the tan-colored carpet as if hoping to create a hole he could bury himself into. He refused to look up even when she walked closer until inches separated them. She coughed and held out her hand, and without saying a word, he shyly placed the pink bra he had been clutching like a vice behind him into the waiting palm.
“Thank you,” she replied with a smirk in her voice. “Anything else you’ve got stuffed in your pockets? I know you boys sometimes like to steal my things.”
His blush darkened, and he shook his head; still unable to really look up to face her.
“Well, that’s fine,” she began amiably enough. “Just don’t try to do anything sneaky like your brothers.”
He would have said something, but his voice was stuck somewhere in his throat, and she wasn’t helping matters because from the sound of things...
“God...I am so sticky,” she muttered to herself. “Can’t wait to wash this off.”
Sticky? Wash? And what the hell is that sound? Her zipper? Is she actually...?!
He dared to finally look up; his large eyes widening like saucers at the hope that maybe, just maybe, he was about to get the show of his life. Instead, disappointment – like a tidal wave – washed over him as he realized she was actually in the bathroom and out of sight.
“Shit,” came the muttered curse as he turned on his heels to leave her to her privacy. “Michael? Could you give me a hand?”
She stuck her head out of the bathroom with a sheepish expression on her visage. “My damn zipper’s stuck,” she explained with a smile. “Could you help me tug it down a little?”
“Sure!” he replied quickly, trying to show that this was no big deal at all. Meanwhile, young teenage hormones raged to fever pitch as he walked into the bathroom that was rapidly filling up with mist from the hot water filling the tub. Her back was to him, and she was holding up her hair to reveal the top of the blouse she must have been wearing beneath the sweater.
“Can you see it?” she asked.
“Yea...yeah,” he croaked; embarrassed to find his fingers were shaking a little. Damn it. It wasn’t as if it was the first time he was doing something like this, so why...why was he sweating bullets all of a sudden?
He gripped the zipper and it slipped from his fingers. Cursing beneath his breath, he tried again, this time tugging a little bit harder. Damn sucker was being a pain in the ass...
“...got it...” he began as he continued to zip it all the way down; gradually revealing inch by inch of her skin and the white bra beneath until there was simply nothing more to reveal. He didn’t mean to do it. Honest. It was just reflex because he could only watch in horror as his fingertips danced across the exposed flesh resulting in Suzanne taking a harsh breath and trembling a little at the unintentional contact.
“Sor...sorry!” Michael stuttered quickly as he took his hand back and nearly stumbled on his feet in his haste to escape.
He didn’t stop until he was in the safety of the living room, and even at that, he buried his heated face behind a Time Magazine he had snatched up from the coffee table. He could still hear the water running...and hating the image it conjured up...
her skin is like caramel
...he walked up to the television and turned it on; making the sure the volume was as loud as it could be without going deaf. He tried to get into the comedy variety show, but failed miserably. He sighed and closed his eyes and wondered if he was going to hell for what was happening to him. It really wasn’t right to think of Suzanne like that. He knew his older brothers did especially Jackie who had tried to put the moves on her because they were closer in age, but when she had shown no interest and made it clear that they would continue to have a professional relationship, the flirtations had stopped. Besides Joseph had given Suzanne the permission to whoop their asses if they got out of line.
so soft...so blemish free...so nice...
According to the world, he was supposed to be twelve; a concept that had messed him up badly when this whole thing (the lies) started. He wasn’t sure if he was supposed to feel insulted at the notion that they labeled him an ‘eight-year-old’ phenomenon when he was obviously eleven-freaking-years old! His height was the reason for it, or he was sure no one would have bought that bogus bullshit. However, he was growing. He was almost as tall as Jermaine now....almost...and his voice...
He coughed a little.
...his voice was getting a little deeper; something that had sent the producers and Berry freakin’ out while they tried to record his latest single. He couldn’t help it if puberty was hitting him fast. What did they expect? That he’d remain a kid forever? Perhaps it was this thinking – this warped concept of remaining younger than he was that made him feel even more guilty for having such adult feelings for a woman almost twice his age. That definitely couldn’t be normal...could it?
“Whatcha watching?” came the question that had his lashes flying open, him sitting up, covering his lap with a pillow and blushing up a storm as the woman of his thoughts walked into the room dressed in the hotel’s courtesy white bathrobe while toweling her hair dry. He tried hard to divert his gaze away from the way the robe would open up a little every time she raised her arm; revealing a tantalizing hint of her cleavage.
“I dunno,” he muttered. “Don’t look too interesting.”
“Ah...” She plopped herself beside him on the sofa, and he was immediately overwhelmed with the sweet smell of whatever shampoo or soap she must have used. He had to bite his lower lip hard to stop himself from whimpering with pleasure.
“You know you should be going to bed soon,” she finally said after they watched the antics of the characters on ‘Laugh-In’ goofing off on screen. “You have a long day tomorrow, Michael.”
She looked at him; feeling her heart stir a little at how miserable he looked with his sullen answer.
“You miss home, don’t you?”
He nodded and said nothing; his gaze still trained stubbornly on the T.V.
“When did you speak to your mother?”
“Oh...and how was she?”
“Are they coming to New York?”
“She don’t know...yet. She says if Joseph thinks it’s okay.”
She nodded and fell quiet again, even though she could sense how tense her companion was. She was still slightly embarrassed at her reaction to his touch in the bathroom, but she only attributed it to being surprised at what happened. The boy must have only tried to move his hand and she must have done something to freak him out. Michael was sweet...way too sweet for her to...
“I read your article this morning...the one in Teen Star.”
Michael let out a soft sound of exasperation beneath his breath. “Half of it ain’t true...”
“Really?” she teased, smiling as he blushed and slid a ‘please-don’t-tease-me-too’ look at her. “I thought it was sweet.”
He snorted and shrugged; turning away again to watch the Datsun commercial. He squirmed a little at the sight of the bikini-clad women draping themselves on the vehicle. What the hell did women in bikinis have to do with a car?! And a dumb car at that! Left to him, when he grew up, he was going to get a pimpin’ ride like Youngblood Priest – a customized Cadillac El Dorado with all the trimmings.
“Oh!” She suddenly clapped her hand in delight. “Let’s have some fun. What do you say?” She grinned and reached for the phone, pulling it to place on her lap. “Your brothers might be watching some stupid flick, but we can make ourselves sick with candy and desserts.”
Michael, unable to contain his amusement at how girlish and mischievous she looked at this moment, matched her expression and nodded in agreement.
“Yes...room service?” Suzanne began, keeping her eyes trained on the giggling teen as she began to place an outrageous order. Berry would kill her for racking up the bill, but anything to keep Michael relaxed and happy. “We’d like to order...” She raised her brow at Michael as he began to mouth his orders.
“...two large bowls of candy...mixed...vanilla, strawberry and chocolate ice cream with sprinkles...” she repeated, trying not to laugh as he waved his hands and tried to be more expressive with his needs. “Oh...we’d also like some sugar cookies...no make that chocolate chip cookies...a tray full of them...we want ten bottles of pop...Coca Cola and Fanta orange...sundaes...whatever kind you’ve got...and also two banana splits...yes...and this is to Room 632...yes, the Jackson party. Thank you.”
She hung up and burst into helpless laughter; falling back against the sofa and holding her stomach as Michael mimicked her actions. “We won’t be able to finish everything,” she wheezed when she could catch her breath again.
“We’ll manage somehow,” Michael sniggered; loving the way her eyes seemed to light up and how flushed and happy she looked. She definitely didn’t look her age now. She could easily pass for a fifteen-year-old; a girl no older than he...and maybe...just maybe...
Dream on, Michael.
“It’s here!” she announced and bound to her feet at the sound of the doorbell several minutes later.
She and Michael watched the two butlers (at least the men were dressed as such) wheel two trolleys, filled with every kid’s fantasy, into the room. The staff had gone above and beyond just fulfilling their orders; everything was decorated to look delicious. Four tall malt glasses were filled with milkshakes and sundaes, there were three large crystal bowls filled with candies of all kinds – from mini Milky Way chocolate bars to Tootsie Rolls – the sodas were placed in iced buckets decorated with large swirly rainbow-colored lollipops that would take days just to finish!
Thanking the staff for their help, the duo proceeded to sit on the floor to gorge themselves on their treats while watching T.V. This time around it was Johnny Carson on the air and with Richard Pryor as the guest comedian cracking the audience up with his dry humor, Michael and Suzanne were having the time of their lives.
“One day,” she said as she scooped up a spoon of Rocky Road ice cream to slip onto her tongue; a motion Michael watched hungrily as he sucked harder on his lollipop. “One day, I’m going to produce my own T.V shows.” She nodded firmly; a determined expression on her visage. It was a look that had Michael’s stomach fluttering nervously. “I’m going to do more than produce shows. I want to have my own company...”
“You’ll leave Motown?” he asked in mild panic. She couldn’t leave! He...they needed her!
“Not right now,” she said with a chuckle. “When I’m more established, and you guys are megastars.” She tapped his nose gently with the spoon, leaving a dot of ice cream on it, which he wiped away with a finger and stuck it in his mouth. “And what about you, young man?”
“Me?” Michael blinked in confusion.
“Yes, you.” She winked playfully. “Do you want to remain with the Jackson 5 forever? Or will you keep pursuing the solo route?”
Michael hated to admit that the solo act was taking a toll a little. It was twice as much work, but who was he to complain. His album had done great for Motown, and the rumblings about him doing his own thing were getting louder and louder. He squirmed with discomfort.
“I dunno,” he muttered; lowering his gaze to the sofa to tug restlessly at a loose thread. “I wanna be with my brothers...but...”
“But what?” she prodded him when he fell silent. She watched his features darken with thoughts before he gave a wry, sheepish grin.
“I wanna be like Sammy Davis Jr. I wanna headline my own show someday.”
“That’s the spirit,” she commended him with a clap of her hands. “And who knows? You just might do it. You’re the hardest working man in show business I know, Michael.”
He laughed and shook his head. “Nah, that ain’t me. That’s James Brown. Get it right, girl.”
“Right on,” she agreed with a giggle. “Now help me finish up this banana split, mister. I can’t eat it all on my own.”
“Oh my God,” she groaned after about an hour. They had moved back to the sofa, and all around them, remnants of their gluttony came in the form of half-finished bowls of ice cream, candy wraps, barely eaten cupcakes and a general feeling of laziness that came after the amazing sugar rush. “If I ever see another piece of candy, I’m going to puke,” she added.
“Gross, Michael,” she said with a laugh.
Michael snickered and slumped even lower on the sofa. His stomach was bursting and he longed to unbutton his pants to at least give his stomach a break, but he was too damn shy to...
“Oh yeah...” she began again, after a few blissful moments of companionable silence. “What do you want for your birthday, Michael? It’s coming up, right?”
“It’s still weeks away,” he argued weakly. “You don’t have to get me any...”
“Nonsense,” she interrupted with a shake of head and a wag of her finger. “What do you want the most?”
I would really like a kiss from you...
“What was that?” she asked when he muttered something beneath his breath.
“Nothin’,” he said aloud and tried to move away as inconspicuously as possible. Sitting too close to her was becoming worrisome. Now that he was back to his senses, and ‘playtime’ was over, he was again painfully reminded of just how tempting the situation was. The robe was almost sliding off her right shoulder revealing more of the caramel skin he had touched earlier. In fact, if he could manage it, he’d have to get back to their hotel room. He had a feeling sleeping with her tonight was going to be a bad idea. “I’ll let you know what I want later.”
“Fair enough,” she agreed with a chuckle, and before he could think of anything else to say, she was leaning close to place a chaste kiss on his cheek...
...a kiss that was dangerously too close to his lips.
“All right, I’m going to bed. I am beat,” she announced as she rose to her feet and stretched her arms over her head unaware of the chaos she was creating in the young man’s mind. “You can come in whenever you’re ready.”
And with that sinful invitation, she left him frozen on the sofa.
/Come in whenever you’re ready.../
He squeezed his eyes shut and tried to think of it as nothing more than the simple invitation. Obviously nothing was going to happen, so he might as well continue to fantasize about the possibilities for as long as he wanted especially if he thought she was going to actually decide to initiate him into manhood. After all, Marlon had bragged he had finally lost his virginity to some fan girl, which left only him...Randy didn’t matter at this point.
Isn’t going to happen. Isn’t going to happen. Isn’t going to happen.
It took him almost half an hour to gather his courage, but eventually he found himself rising to his feet and shuffling to the bedroom on feet that felt as heavy as lead. He stopped at the doorway; his fingers tightening around the jamb as he took in the sight before him.
Only one bedside lamp was on to give some sort of illumination, but it was more than enough to reveal the curve of the female’s body beneath the flower-print comforter. He could really see nothing more than the top of her head now enclosed in a hairnet, but noticing the bathrobe was draped over a chair, he had to wonder if she was actually sleeping...
No way! Suzanne always slept in her pajamas or nightgown. There was just no way she was going to sleep with absolutely nothing on. Impossible.
Holding on to that string of sanity, Michael lifted his arms to peel out of his tee-shirt. He debated taking off his pants, but figured he would leave that on. He shivered as the cooling system hit his bare chest, and with a soft gasp, he nearly dove beneath the comforter; seeking the warmth he desperately needed.
“Took you long enough,” came the low mumble that had him flushing with embarrassment.
She turned to face him, and he was glad (a little disappointed too) that she was indeed in her nightgown. She gave him a smile that was languid and dare he think...sexy as hell. It was the kind of smile that was a product of weariness, but on Suzanne she made it seem so hot.
“How old are you, Michael?” came the husky question.
“Twe...fourteen...almost,” he stammered.
“Fourteen...almost,” she repeated and chuckled weakly. “You’re almost a man, so you know what this means, right?”
God, he couldn’t breathe.
“...we can’t keep doing this anymore,” she explained with a sad smile. She would have been a fool not to realize the dilemma he was in, and it was a good thing he had come in this late. It had given her plenty of time to think and come to the logical decision.
“Can’t do what?” he asked breathlessly.
“This.” She waved a hand between them. “You’re getting a little too old to be sharing a bed with me.”
She reached out to caress his cheek gently, and beneath the safety of the comforter, Michael could almost imagine that she was looking at him as a woman would look a man; a man that she really wanted but couldn’t have.
“I don’t...” he began weakly, but he knew. He understood. He wasn’t dumb.
He caught her hand within his; amazed at how they could fit around hers now, when just a year ago, she was more likely to be the aggressor with her grip. It was a sign – among others – that things were no longer going to be the same between them. He liked the way her fingers felt against his.
“I think...” he began softly, while holding her gaze prisoner. “I think I want my birthday gift now.”
Her eyes, which had been half-lidded all this time with sleepiness, suddenly widened at the meaningful request. Her cheeks filled with a pretty pink hue that brought a smile to the boy’s face which made him look more mature than he was, and before she could think of a reason to deny him his bold demand, he was closing the distance between them to press his lips tenderly against hers.
She gasped in shock at the sensation and jolt of awareness that seared right down her spine, and immediately regretted that action as she felt his tongue naively seek entrance into her mouth.
This wasn’t right. This wasn’t right at all! This was Michael. Dear sweet Michael she had always considered her baby brother. He wasn’t supposed to know how to kiss her like this even though it was shy and tentative and so...so...
She squeezed her eyes tightly and tried to control the sudden hard lump that formed in her throat or the burning sting forming behind her lids. She had to stop this before it got out of hand. She did not want to lead him on. She did not want to be responsible for making him a man. There would be other women willing to take on the role, and it just wasn’t for her.
“Sto...stop,” she panted harshly as she finally managed to push him away gently.
She lifted her lashes to watch his features which were flushed with an expression she recognized as desire.
“Suzanne...” he moaned helplessly. God, that had felt so much better than he had ever imagined. She tasted just as sweet and soft as he had imagined and when their tongues had met, he was sure he was going to cream his pants because he became so hard...in fact, he was still so damn hard, it was hurting a little...and his heart was still beating so fast, and he was shaking all over and...and....
“Go back to your room, Michael,” came the nearly cold statement that immediately brought reality crashing down.
“Wha...what?” he stammered in disbelief.
But she wasn’t kidding. Her expression gave nothing away. She didn’t look angry, yet she wasn’t looking as if she was particularly enjoying herself either.
“You heard me,” she repeated firmly. “This is it.”
“I’m sorry...I didn’t mean...”
“It’s okay. We’ll just pretend it didn’t happen, all right?”
He opened his mouth to protest, and her heart broke into a million pieces when those large brown eyes began to fill with tears.
Oh, Michael. I’m so sorry.
“All...all right,” he whispered, and not waiting for her response, he scrambled out of bed, nearly falling to the floor as he stumbled around to find his tee shirt and his shoes.
She didn’t move until the slam of the door announced his final departure. Only then did she pull the comforter over her head to bury the muffled sobs that seemed wracked from deep within her soul.
Michael, for his part, was more than glad that his brothers weren’t back yet, and as he crept beneath the safety of his blanket, he mourned his age and wondered just how different things would have been if only...if only...
If only what?
What had he really been expecting? That she would have jumped his bones and deflowered him? What ludicrous idea.
Long after the tears were dried up, and he remained still in contemplation, he figured he had crossed that line and would have to apologize sincerely to Suzanne in the morning. He couldn’t tell you what had possessed him to take the plunge, but he couldn’t risk losing her friendship or things getting ‘weird’ between them over his blunder. She was right after all. There was just too much at stake, and he couldn’t make her job any more difficult than it already was.
They’d just pretend nothing had happened. It was nothing more than a really (sweet) bad dream, and it would be swept under the rug; nothing more than a secret they’d both take to their graves.
“You look like shit,” Sheryl, one of the wardrobe people for the boys proclaimed when Suzanne showed up the next morning to inspect the costumes. “Didn’t sleep well last night?”
She gave a weak smile and shrugged lightly. “Working too hard, I guess.”
“I hear you, girl,” she began, only for her words to falter as the sounds of the boys and their entourage arriving had her switching into professional gear.
As for Suzanne, she found herself gripping the appointment book tightly to her chest; her breath nearly stopping as she waited to see him. What could she say? How could she even begin to apologize for leading him on? She was the adult in the situation and she had fucked up royally. It was up to her to set things right between them and make sure –
“Hi Suzanne!” came the cheerful greeting from the bright-eyed teen, who was all teeth as he gave her the biggest smile ever.
Too stunned to give a suitable reply, she accepted his brief but firm hug before he walked away to address the other members of the crew; acting for all the world as if last night had never even happened at all.
“Stop spacing out, Suzanne,” Berry hailed from across the room. “Get these kids set up, okay?”
“Ri...right,” she stuttered in an attempt to get herself together again.
For the most part, everything seemed ‘normal’ and the awkward vibes she had been dreading were simply not there. Michael remained professional yet playful as ever, and after the initial doubts, she began to relax. However, it wasn’t until she was backstage at the amphitheater listening to him strut the stage while belting out ‘I Wanna Be Where You Are’ did she finally feel the note sticking out from the back pocket of her jeans.
She pulled it out with bemusement; wondering if it’s a message to herself to work on something. However, as she admired the pretty flower-themed stationary and the familiar scrawl on it, she had to bite her lower lip to stop herself from crying at the message within:
I am really sorry about what I did last night.
I don’t want you to hate me, because I didn’t mean to get you mad.
You are my big sister, and I love you very much
So please smile for me again because your smile always makes me happy.
Thank you for everything.
I love you always.
When he had slipped it into her pocket, she’d never know, but as she lifted her tear-filled gaze to watch the young man on stage, Suzanne vowed to remain loyal to him until her last breath. She would keep on smiling for him if that was what he wanted, and never would there come a day when she’d ever make him cry over her.