" You know you're the same colour as the chair in my Momma's kitchen," Annie informed Michelle matter of factly as she and her minions circled her, taking pleasure in the flicker of hurt that crossed Michelle Suarez' exotic brown eyes. "I'm not a chair!" she said defiantly, her little fists clenched in direct contrast to her trembling lips which she was desperately trying to control, for even at the tender age of five, she sensed as only a child can sense that showing her distress would give them what they wanted and her stubborn pride could not allow that.

What would have happened further we can only conjecture, as at that precise moment, a nine year old boy ran up to them, his dark curls framing his sun kissed face which housed bright eyes set above a pert nose and an unusually sensual mouth which was smiling causing his dimples to flash as he said excitedly, "Michelle, Michelle! Mama allowed me to spend the night at your place."

He skidded to a stop in front of Michelle breathlessly before he realized that Michelle did not look at all happy, in fact seemed to be on the brink of tears. About to ask her why she looked like that, he stopped as he registered the circle of girls surrounding her and he understood. Indignation filling his boyish heart on behalf of his friend, he stepped forward scowling at them, "What are you all doing here?" he put an arm around Michelle's shoulders in a move of blatant support and protection.

Annie, seeing the fierce look in his eyes, backed off in the face of a stronger adversary like all cowards and gave an imperial command to the rest of her posse, "Come on girls we have better things to do." In an almost perfect imitation of her older sister, she flipped her hair over her shoulder and strutted away.

Sending a glance of disgust at Annie's retreating back,PJ turned towards Michelle, a look of concern softening his features, "You alright?" Michelle let out a sigh as she looked up at him with wondering eyes, "Yeah, thanks for standing up for me, PJ."

He grinned with a startling flash of white teeth, "I've got your back, Mitch." She held out a hand, eyes sparkling, "Always?" "Always," he confirmed as he grasped her hand and shook it, sealing the deal.

12 Years Later (2015):

Mitch combed her hair with her fingers quickly, untangling the knots in it before pulling it up into a ponytail leaving a few strands to frame her face, a concession not normally made but hey she was seeing PJ after a very long time, he hadn't been able to get away from university last semester so it had been a year since she'd seen him.

Quite an occasion,right? Yeah,yeah keep telling yourself that,you don't by any chance want to look pretty for him, do you? The pesky voice in her head said eyes widened at the sheer ridiculousness of such an ignored the voice as her hand hovered over the seldom used tube of lip balm. Then she snatched her hand away, it was just PJ after all, he'd seen her in those embarrassing Hello Kitty pajamas her aunt had given her, with her hair sticking out in all the known directions of the compass and a few unknown as well.

Cringing at the memory, she looked at her cellphone as it buzzed. She answered it, "Yeah?" A well-remembered voice replied, rich and smooth, holding the barest hint of laughter. "I could've been your grandmother for all you know,Mitch." Supressing a shudder, Mitch retorted, "Don't speak about that woman, she scares the bejeezus out of me with her talk of all things lady-like and proper. Besides, there is this thing called Caller ID, ever heard of it?"

His laughter washed over her,filling her with a warmth that encompassed her entire body, "Still the same Mitch we all know.I'm outside your house." "Then what are you waiting for, you moron? You have the keys !" PJ replied chuckling, " I know I just wanted to annoy you," before ending the call.

She rushed out of her bedroom as she heard the front door click open. There he was. Looking at his impish face grinning up at her, she couldn't stop the huge smile that was spreading across her face at a thousand miles per second. "What? No hug?" he asked lifting up his arms in her direction. Laughing, she ran down the stairs when she tripped on the last closed her eyes, waiting for the impact that never came.

Instead she found herself being held against him. She pulled back to look up into those warm eyes she knew as well as her own, panting, "Thank you. I really did not fancy being sprawled flat on my face." He didn't say anything as he looked at her with that expression she had never understood, that never failed to make her heart start racing and her stomach fill with gigantic tight rope walking Dumbo the flying felt her skin burn where his fingers rested on her it just her or did his face seem closer to hers than ever before? She saw his eyes flicker down to her lips, linger there, before looking up to meet hers.This she understood and her lips parted in anticipation.

Still looking at her as if waiting for the slightest sign of hesitation, he slowly lowered his lips to hers, never breaking eye contact. Growing impatient, she closed the minuscule gap between their lips as her eyes slid and behold, she was y actually fucking finally kissing PJ. Item number 1, check! Was her last coherent thought before the sensation of his lips against hers took her under.

After too short a time, he pulled back, framing her face with his hands and resting his forehead against hers. For a moment, they stared at each other as they tried to catch their breath before Mitch broke out into a brilliant smile, "Pablo Juan Adams, that was the best present ever!" His face scrunched up in exasperation, "How many times have I told you not to call me that." She smiled light heartedly, "A billion." He grinned before becoming serious as he searched her face. Apparently satisfied with what he found, he tucked a strand of hair behind her ear, his fingers grazing her cheek. Okay, so maybe just maybe there was an ulterior motive behind leaving them out but hey desperate times called for desperate measures, Mitch thought as PJ leaned in even closer, "No need to thank me. I told you I've got your back." A tenth of an inch left between them he murmured, "And I'm never letting go." His lips met hers sealing the deal quite differently this time. Giving in to the wave of feelings crashing through her she thought dazedly,

" Always."