The next morning, Michael and Holly sit outside on their private balcony having breakfast in the warm sunshine. Both of them are silent but are saying so many things by the expressions on their faces. Periodically one will look up at the other over their coffee cups with a sly smile or a giggle, or give a subtle touch of the hand that makes shivers run up each other's spines. Michael and Holly feel so happy and content that it almost feels unreal or suspicious. To know both can go home together and face the harsh realities of life and their careers make getting up in the morning now seem easier and more enjoyable. “I can’t stop smiling,” Holly admits as she looks out towards the view of the lake in the distance where ripples are forming sporadically by the wind. “Me too, I don’t think I’ve slept so well in my entire life last night,” Michael adds looking at her with a daze. Even though nothing sexual happened, just her presence made it easy enough for him to sleep, which has become rare lately. “You think we can do that again when we get home?” Holly asks looking at him before she bashfully looks down at her plate of bacon and eggs. Just her saying the word home makes his heart thump harder. “You mean stay in the same bed?” “Yeah, I mean, nothing’s gonna happen because we won’t let it so why not?” Internally, Michael doubts if he can always maintain his self-composure around her all the time, especially down the road. His religion prevents him from sexually sleeping with her, but they never said anything about staying in the same bed. They could give him this one little thing. Michael grins and nods his head, “Alright, let’s try it out. But before I forget,” Michael looks down and pulls something out of his jacket pocket that is slung on the back of the chair before turning back to Holly. “Happy belated birthday,” he says sliding a medium-sized black velvet box towards her. Holly looks down at it with surprise before looking up at him with a glimmer of playfulness in her face. “Go ahead, say something,” Michael says with a smirk. “What? I’ve said nothing?” “I can read your eyes and you’re searching for a quip, but can you just open the box?” Holly blushes and grabs onto the box. “Well if you insist.” She opens the box and sees a strand of dainty pearls and two pearl studs to match in a gorgeous shade of ivory. Holly catches her breath at the beauty before looking up at Michael with a stunned expression. “M-Michael…they’re gorgeous.” “I know you said you didn’t want a gift for your birthday, but I saw these one day when I was out and I thought of you. Do you like them?” “I absolutely love them! I’m gonna put them on now.” Michael smiles as he watches her take them out of the box and begin to put them on herself. “I was meaning to give them to you last night, but with our unexpected run-in with the press last night, I completely forgot. Plus it was jewelry and everyone said women and jewelry you can’t go wrong.” Holly smiles back at him as she puts in the last pearl stud and shows it to him as it glimmers in the morning sunlight. “It still was a wonderful surprise, thank you Michael.”

“Well it’s already started!” Bill announces as he comes out onto the balcony with newspapers in his hand and under his arm. “Do I need to drink more coffee before I hear it?” Holly asks as she grabs her mug sliding further down into the wicker lounge chair. Bill sets the papers down with a flop with pictures of Michael and Holly last night holding hands, talking, and smiling at each other with captions above that read “ARE THEY DATING?” “MICHAEL AND HOLLY THE SECRET COUPLE!” and “HOLLYWOODS CUTEST INTERRACIAL COUPLE!” All three of them look at the papers, reading the articles where they talk about both of them last night and how it alludes to a possible relationship and they are waiting for confirmation. Holly bites her lip as she looks down at the articles before looking up at Michael wondering what he is thinking with his head bent down engrossed in reading as well. Bill looks at both of them before saying, “We are gonna need to beef up security today because the press will be all over you two.” Michael looks at him with a grimace. “Is that absolutely necessary?” Bill snaps his head back at him, “Do you really wanna take a chance?” Michael slightly bows his head in defeat before giving a sigh, “No, you’re right.” “I’ll go call a couple of my men I know down here,” Bill says before going back inside the suite leaving them alone with the papers in front of them. The wind suddenly kicks up forcing Holly to stop the papers from blowing away by placing her hand on the front picture of them. “Well, it’s out,” Holly murmurs looking over at Michael trying to smile but failing drastically. He looks up at her and smiles but it does not meet his eyes, “I guess so.” “Are you upset that it’s out?” “No, I knew this was going to happen, just not so quickly, I wanted a period of adjustment for us.” “Yeah, but now we won’t have to hide anymore. Doesn’t that make you feel good?” Holly asks feeling a sinking sensation in the pit of her stomach slowly start to form. “It does, that doesn’t bother me, what does bother me is the attitude these papers have about us being interracial…” Michael looks down at the papers again and lets out a deep sigh before shaking his head. He looks up at her before continuing, “Why can’t people understand that this is 1979?” “Exactly Michael, this is 1979 and the Deep South, they won’t understand our relationship…not everyone will and that’s okay. What truly matters is that we’re happy.” “I know, but it hurts. Plus I can’t even imagine what Joseph is going to say.” Holly rolls her eyes. “The fact that you’re dating me, or a white girl?” Michael shrugs, “Both.” Holly takes a deep breath before letting it out. “As soon as we get back I need to find a new manager to handle this stuff.” “Hey, don’t think about this stuff right now, we are still in celebrating mode,” Michael grabs the papers and throws them to the floor on the balcony, “now finish eating we still have a big day ahead of us.”

And just like that the intimate and carefree moment was over. Reality had ensued and now it was in the back of their minds festering of what was to come. For Holly, when she returns she realized that she was returning to a full schedule, on top of finding a new manager, unpacking at Michael’s, and now trying to fight off the press about their relationship all within a short span of time. Michael, on the other hand, felt strange calmness overtake him knowing that although there was a lot to deal with at least they could deal with it as a couple and nobody could do anything about it. To him, that was the most comforting and happy notion even among this ancient thought process of them being interracial.


Later that evening Holly and Michael arrive back in LAX where they are greeted by a mob of fans and photographers waiting. Holly looks out the window with annoyance. “How did they know we were coming?” “The press are vultures, they come every night,” Bill murmurs as he comes up to them before turning to the temporarily extra hired bodyguards to divulge the plan for when they exit. Michael turns his head around to Bill. “Bill, give me your shades, please.” Bill hands him his sunglasses where Michael gives them to Holly. “Here, where these when we go out.” Holly holds the black aviators in her hand before looking up at him in confusion, as it is nearly dusk outside. “But why?” Michael smirks, “It’s harder for them to take your picture of your expression when your eyes are covered up.” Holly sighs and puts the sunglasses on adjusting her eyes to the tinted frames. “How do I look?” she asks. “Perfect.” “Alright you two, the car is ready to go,” Bill announces before they stand up. Michael stands in front of Holly and takes a deep breath. “You ready?” “With you, always.” Michael nods and grabs her hand before they descend the stairs with the security guards surrounding them. The shouts and cheers of the fans while the flashing bulbs of the cameras going off makes Holly stick closer to Michael and makes her head pound. So many shouting, “ARE YOU A COUPLE?” “HOW LONG HAVE YOU TWO BEEN TOGETHER?” “WILL YOU TWO GET MARRIED?”

To Michael dealing with a crowd such as this has always been the norm, but for Holly this was new. Since her rising fame, the crowds have increased each year but not to this magnitude. Keeping their heads down and walking as quickly as possible to the car they both take a sigh of relief as the door closes after them leaving them to privacy. “Well it’s safe to say that the west coast now knows about us,” Holly murmurs as the press tries to run after them as they move out of the tarmac. “This is crazy, we are just two people,” Michael says looking out the back glass, as the people grow smaller in the distance. Bill looks at them in the rearview mirror. “Individually you two are just people, together, you are a sensation,” he remarks focusing back on the road before adding, “I’m gonna need to stop for gas you guys cool with that?” Michael and Holly look at each other and shrug as Holly nestles herself closer to him. “We don’t care, Bill.” Michael remarks as Bill turns into the nearest gas station that is twenty cars deep with cars in line. Both of them stare out the window in shock before Holly looks over at Michael. “I now see why he asked us. Gotta love the oil crisis,” she says sarcastically resting her head against him. Michael rests his head on top of hers. “Bill, turn on the radio as we wait.” “Sure thing, Mike.” When he does “Don’t Stop Till you Get Enough” is playing making Holly giggle and move to the beat of Michael’s voice. He looks down at her rolls his eyes playfully as he can feel the embarrassment rising. After all these years he still gets embarrassed when someone close to him dances to his songs.

As Bill pulls closer to the pumps the DJ comes on. “Well that was Michael Jackson’s latest song ‘Don’t Stop Till You Get Enough’, which from what I hear is up going to be certified platinum very shortly. After being released only for one month this song and ‘Rock with You’ is already on top ten of the Billboard Charts. We’re gonna have some more jams coming your way until then sit back, relax, and let the music groove with you…” Holly straightens herself up to look at Michael with a surprised expression. “Did you know?” “No, I’m just as surprised as you are.” Holly grabs him and gives him a hug, “I am so proud of you!” “Thanks, Holly,” he murmurs, internally he is beyond shocked by the news. He knew some of his songs would be up on the top ten lists, but not going for platinum. For him this feels like a turning point to know once and for all that he can be just as successful without his brothers, something to remember for the future. He looks over at her with a smirk. “Now it’s your turn.” She rolls her eyes. “One step at a time.”


As Michael and Holly hold each other on the elevator ride up to their apartment they can hear the boom of Joseph’s voice before the doors open. Michael gravely sighs as the elevator dings with the doors opening up. “What now?” He murmurs as they walk in and see Joseph pacing inside the living room with Katherine sitting on the couch. Michael is wondering how they got in here till he realized he gave his mother a spare key. When Joseph sees the two walking in together with Michael’s arm wrapped around Holly his nostrils flare. “Joe, now just calm down,” Katherine says looking up at him with pleading eyes. “Well I see the press was actually true about this one,” Joseph says as Bill brings the luggage up behind them before vacating the room. “So how long has this been going on?” He says waving in the direction of their embrace.” Michael looks down at the floor to take a breath before looking Joseph in the eyes. “Just a few months.” “And now we’re gallivanting off to Florida, I see,” he spats back before turning around on them. Michael looks at his mother who looks concerned at both of them. “Michael, honey, I have to ask something, is Holly living here now?” Michael looks at Holly before pulling her closer to him. “Yes, mother, she is.” Katherine takes a deep breath before looking down at the floor. Joseph turns around to face them again. “Oh good, just what we need, an unexpected pregnancy on the rise.” “It’s not like that!” Holly defends. “You should be the one to talk, Joseph,” Michael retorts. Joseph’s eyes dilate as starts to walk closer towards them. “Boy, what did you say to me?” Katherine stands up to get in between them. “Both of you stop it now! Joseph, you hush up! Michael, don’t speak to your father that way. Now, your father has a point, if Holly is living here we have to make sure nothing unexpected happens for you two.” She looks at Holly and grabs her hand with tenderness. “Mother, it is not like that. Holly and I aren’t sleeping together.” “But you’re living together? Bullshit!” Joseph murmurs. Katherine looks back at Joseph with a stern face. “Hush up!” “Mother, Holly and I are waiting awhile. But she is staying with me now and that’s the end of discussion.” “No, the discussion is not ended. Mike, don’t you see, you get involved with Holly and the fans are gonna look at you differently.” Michael shakes his head. “You said the same thing to Tito and Jermaine when they got involved with girls.” “Yeah, but not white girls,” Joseph says shooting Holly a look of disdain. Holly inhales sharply at the insinuation. “Joseph, I’m warning you, you make more comments like that to or about Holly and I will leave the group. So go ahead, make yourself a bigger grave because it’s Holly or nothing, and that is the end of discussion.” In the back of his mind, Michael cannot believe he is actually standing up to Joseph of all people. Joseph walks up to Michael and looks at him in the eyes. “This girl is gonna drag you straight to hell. I still expect you to be ready to finish touring next month.” He goes to walk out brushing Michael on the arm before leaving the remaining three alone.

Michael looks at Katherine. “Mother, I know you don’t approve either but –“ She holds up her hands and halts what he says. “Michael, I’m your mother, I love you and I want the best for you. If Holly makes you happy and from what I can tell she does then you grab onto happiness with both hands and don’t let it go. Now, in terms of your living arrangements, you are now twenty-one years old, I can’t decide what’s best for you anymore, you have to do that. You know how I raised you and if you feel this is the right decision then I’m sure it’s the right one.” She gives him a kiss on both cheeks before looking at Holly and facing her. “You treat my boy right, you hear? Michael deserves every happiness in this world and so do you. I know you never had much of a…home life, so if you need me to answer any questions at all please call me at any time, day or night.” “Thank you Katherine,” Holly mutters as Katherine grabs her in for a hug. As she pulls back she looks at both of them with a smile. “Well, I should be going before your father leaves me here.” “Here, I’ll walk you to the elevator, Mother,” Michael says grabbing ahold of her arm.

Holly watches as Michael escorts her to the elevator and watches as she leaves. When he walks back in the living room he looks tired. “Well, how do you feel now that you stood up to your dad?” Holly asks as she crosses her arms looking at him. “Nauseous,” he says with a grin. He walks towards and holds out his hand grabbing her arm, pulling him towards him. “And how are you feeling? I apologize that Joseph said many nasty things about you.” “Oh forget about it. After living with my mom, Joseph is like a nice vacation.” Michael begins to laugh at her words until he is doubled over causing Holly to laugh with him. Once he stops he looks up at her and searches her face. “You still in?” “In?” “This relationship? You ain’t scared off yet?” “Listen here, Michael Jackson, nothing short of a bunch of wild jackals couldn’t drag me away from you…even then I’d crawl my way back, so yes, I’m always in.” Michael smiles and kisses her quickly before announcing, “C’mon, let’s go get unpacked. We got some busy days coming up.” Together they walk away together as it will always be for them. They know that no matter what happens they well face it (fans, friends, family, and press) together side-by-side. Sure, it was going to be a pain in their assess, but once they both looked at the other, the aggregation made it all worth it.