AJ celebrates his birthday, and Brian finally makes a move on Michelle.
“20 years old today, ladies and gentleman!” Brian shouted to the group, who cringed, hoping he wouldn’t awaken any other hotel guests. “Happy birthday AJ!” Brian gave him a big hug, and the other guys followed suit. The women shook hands instead.
“Thanks everyone. How early did you get up to decorate my room?” He opened the door wide, inviting everyone inside.
“Too early,” Nick said, bringing laughter from everyone. “Not to mention that you’re a sound sleeper, because there were times we were laughing and dropping stuff we thought for sure you’d wake up.”
“You must have been waiting a long time outside my door just so you could greet me.” Some heads nodded in affirmation. “Do you have any other birthday surprises for me?”
Nick and Howie grabbed the bags and boxes from outside the door, where they’d set them so AJ wouldn’t see. As he opened each gift, he thanked the person and gave them a hug. He set them all on his bed before heading out to breakfast with the guys. Julie and Michelle insisted on remaining behind in order to give the guys the freedom to fully enjoy themselves. They agreed to regroup for dinner.
During the day the two women decided it was time to try out the pool. Julie helped Michelle get in, since she couldn’t bring the crutches into the water, but once in she needed no help because the water carried the weight of her ankle for her. Michelle swam a few laps, enjoying the movement, but then relaxed by floating on her back. Julie continued to swim laps. Being the only ones in the pool area, they carried on a conversation without worrying about disturbing anyone else.
“So what do you think the Boys will do while we aren’t there?” Michelle asked.
“Who knows? We did want to give them this time so they could be stupid without us there to make fun of them.”
“That’s true, but I wonder if they’ll actually do anything different than they would around us.” Julie shrugged and went back to swimming laps.
Before long their peace was interrupted. The guys had returned and, after seeing the women in the pool, decided to join them. All five changed into their bathing suits and jumped into the pool, causing Julie and Michelle to get pushed beneath the water. They came up sputtering. Michelle glowered at Brian, choosing him for the victim of her wrath. Julie noticed the look and couldn’t help but start laughing. Along with her laugh came a snort, which Michelle was used to but the Boys never heard before. They all stared at her, causing her blush a deeper shade of red.
“Did you just snort?” Nick asked. Julie’s only response was to look at the water and avoid their staring eyes. While the Boys started talking about their new discovery, Kevin waded over to Julie.
“I think it’s cute,” he whispered for her ears alone. She looked up and gave him a hug. The force of her hug was too much though and knocked both of them into the water, again. This brought more laughs from everyone.
“Hey, why don’t we play Marco Polo?” AJ suggested. Everyone agreed. Howie volunteered to go first. A few minutes into the game, Nick and Julie pressed themselves against the wall while Howie passed by. Nick splashed and went underwater, causing Julie to get caught. Julie yelled at him, swearing he’d be next. Instead, she caught Michelle when she accidentally swam too close underwater, hitting Julie’s leg. Michelle cursed herself for her bad luck, but took her turn all the same. Michelle moved slower through the water than the previous two, causing her turn to take longer. Luckily, she was a fast swimmer, so when she heard a sound a few feet away, she dove towards it and managed to tackle Brian. She opened her eyes and found her face inches from his. She blushed and quickly backed away.
While Brian took his turn, she couldn’t help but wonder why she’d blushed. Certainly if that had happened with any of the other guys she would have said something witty and pushed the person away. Even with Kevin she would have politely apologized and backed away. She still wouldn’t have blushed. She considered the possibility that her feelings for him had shifted ever so slightly from just friends, but she dismissed the thought. She knew she didn’t want another relationship right now. By the time she focused fully on the game again, Kevin was just catching Julie. Everyone agreed to end the game and return to their rooms in order to dress for dinner.
When Michelle got out of the pool, she looked at the crutches and groaned. Her arms, already sore from the use of the crutches and also from the time in the pool, weren’t looking forward to using the crutches again. Brian heard her groan and walked back over.
“You know you’re not even supposed to use the crutches for a week, right?”
“I know, but I hate not being able to get anywhere without help.”
“If you push yourself too hard too soon, you’ll just make it worse, meaning you’ll be on crutches even longer. I’ll carry you back to the room and Julie can take the crutches up.” Without waiting to see if she argued, he picked her up. Julie grabbed the crutches after hearing the conversation and walked after them.
While Brian carried her, all Michelle could think about was how close she was to Brian, and how good he looked without a shirt on. She wondered if he was tired of carrying her around; if he was only doing it to make himself feel better because he’d brought about her injury in the first place. He never showed any outward sign of fatigue from carrying her, yet she knew his arms would tire eventually. Michelle hoped he wouldn’t be able to tell what she was thinking. When he finally got her to her room, she thanked him and he left. She breathed a sigh of relief to be away from the source of her discomfort. Julie, who’d been watching her, looked at her.
“What’s with you?” Michelle started, unaware of Julie’s presence.
“Nothing,” she said quickly. She hobbled across the room to get dressed for dinner. They were taking AJ to a fancy restaurant, and therefore had to wear dressier clothes than normal. Julie already picked out a blue, strapless dress that fell just above her knees. Michelle decided on a deep purple halter top and black pants, hoping the pants would hide most of the bandage on her ankle.
“You looked like you were blushing when Brian dropped you off.” Michelle’s eyes widened as she thought about Julie’s statement. If Julie thought she was blushing, would Brian notice? What would he think? “Michelle, are you alright?”
“I’m fine, just feeling a bit flushed, that’s all.” Michelle wondered what was going on with her. She needed to put a clamp on whatever emotions were causing this. She pushed all other thoughts aside than celebrating AJ’s birthday.
At the restaurant, all the guys shared stories about AJ, some embarrassing, others impressive. The food tasted excellent, and they tipped their waitress well, acknowledging her professional manner when she realized who the five guys were. They stayed late at the restaurant, enjoying each other’s company. Finally they decided to head back to the hotel, enjoying the thought of being able to sleep in as late as they want, until they realized they had a photo shoot in the morning. That brought about a new sense of urgency to get back and sleep.
After the photo shoot ended the next morning, everyone felt drained. The Boys talked of going back to the hotel and taking naps, or playing basketball. The women had other ideas. They told the Boys they already made plans for the afternoon, involving all of them. Michelle and Julie, after creating and executing the idea the night before, directed the Boys to another room in the building with the photo shoot. Inside the room, the floor and walls were covered in white cloth. On a rack hung five white suits, each one labeled with a different Boys’ name. Cans of paint sat on the floor next to the suits.
“Here’s what we’re going to do,” Julie told them. “Each of you gets to design your own suit using the paint in those cans. We have some paint brushes if you want to use them, or you can use your hands and feet to decorate the suit. It’s up to you. So, have fun!”
At first the Boys just started at Julie and the suits. Finally Kevin went over to the rack and set his suit on the floor away from the other suits. Then he opened a can of blue paint, stuck his hand in, and smeared the paint across the left side of his jacket. After that, the other Boys joined him. Michelle and Julie stood farther back; Julie held a video camera to document the event. As the Boys opened the paint cans and decorated their suits, the floor became inevitably covered with paint. The paint spread as far as the walls, but thankfully none appeared on the ceiling. After the suits were finished, the Boys hung them up again and left the room, heading back to the hotel.
Michelle noticed, much to her discomfort, that Brian somehow managed to get the other five people of their group into the other car, leaving the two of them alone. She shifted in her seat, to look at Brian more directly.
“Why is everyone in the other car?” she asked, her curiosity winning out over her discomfort.
“I wanted to talk to you alone.” He glanced at Michelle before looking back at the road, but the look told her that Brian was completely serious.
“What did you want to talk to me about?”
“You said a long time ago that you went to church. What religion are you?” She was caught off guard by the question, but answered it all the same.
“I’m a Christian. I believe that Jesus Christ came to earth and died on the cross to pay for the sins of the world so everyone could be saved from eternal punishment for those sins, and therefore live in Heaven with God for all eternity. What do you believe?”
“I believe the same thing. I just wanted to check first. I told you on the plane that I can only date a Christian. So I was wondering, do you want to go on a date sometime?”
Michelle was floored. She never expected Brian to ask her out. She knew her feelings for him had at some point changed towards him, but she didn’t think he shared those feelings. Before she could think more about this new turn of events, she remembered Brian was waiting for her answer. She already knew her answer without needing to think about it.
“Yes,” she said confidently. She smiled at him and he smiled back. When Brian brought her back to her room, she quickly told Julie what happened.
“Wait, I thought you told me you weren’t ready for another relationship after what happened with Craig. What changed your mind? And when did you start liking Brian? How could I miss that? Have you already decided when your first date is?”
“Hold on Julie!” Michelle shouted. “How do you expect me to answer questions if you never stop asking them? I only realized my feelings for Brian yesterday, actually. Do you remember when we got back to the room after playing Marco Polo? Well, I was blushing when Brian dropped me off, and I blushed when I caught him during the game too. My emotions overwhelmed me all of a sudden, and that’s when I realized that I liked Brian as more than a friend. Now, I didn’t think Brian felt the same way, so when he asked me out tonight, I was caught off guard. He told me he’s liked me for awhile, but wasn’t sure how I felt until he saw me blush yesterday. Also, both of us will only date Christians, so he wanted to be sure of that before he made a move; we talked about that in the car. After talking with him, I realized I was ready for another relationship. As for our first date, it’s tomorrow night. Oh, how did Brian manage to get all of you in the other car?”
“I think he told Kevin, because Kevin insisted on all of us driving together. He bribed the guys with McDonalds. Brian might have told Kevin what he was planning to get him to go along with the idea. Where are you going on your date?”
“I don’t know. Brian wouldn’t tell me. I could tell he’d already planned out our date though before he asked me out. All he said was to wear comfortable clothes.”
When five o’clock rolled around the next night, Michelle wore a pair of jeans and a t-shirt. Brian first drove them to KFC, where they got dinner to go. He then drove them to a park, where he took her to a bridge that was built across a small creek. They sat in the middle of the bridge, with their legs dangling over the edge, and ate their dinner while watching the sun set. Once the sun sunk below the horizon and no longer shone in their eyes, Brian jumped off of the bridge, through the rails, and into the creek below. Michelle watched, hoping he wouldn’t hurt himself. The drop looked about five or six feet. He landed in the water, completely soaking himself, but stood up unharmed.
“Jump!” he yelled up at her.
“Are you crazy?” she yelled back. “You’d never catch me!”
“Yes I would. Do you really think I’d let you fall and hurt yourself more? Come on; don’t make me run all the way back up there to bring you down. I promise I’ll catch you.” Michelle thought a minute before deciding.
She inched forward, careful not to hit her head on the rails, and dropped herself over the edge. Her body naturally curved into a position easier for Brian to catch. For the few seconds she was airborne, the thought that Brian might not catch her passed through her head. Then she realized she was already in Brian’s arms. She opened her eyes, which she didn’t remember closing, and looked at him.
“I told you I wouldn’t drop you,” he told her with a big smile.
“I thought you were afraid of heights,” she responded.
“I am, but I wanted to see if you’d actually fall and let me catch you.” Brian then dropped her in the water. She came up soaking wet like him, but with a look that could kill. “I never said you wouldn’t get wet.” Michelle grabbed one of Brian’s legs and pulled him down to her level.
“Now we’re even.”
Brian helped her up, allowing her to lean on him and stand up when she refused to be carried. Together they slowly walked along the creek, talking about all sorts of things. When they got back to the car, Michelle fell asleep on the ride back to the hotel. Brian carried her up to her room without waking her up. The door was open; Julie had been waiting to interrogate Michelle about her date. Instead, she smiled when she saw Michelle curled up in Brian’s arms, asleep. Brian placed Michelle on her bed, said goodnight to Julie, and left.