Michael fidgeted in his place, his eyes glancing away momentarily.
"Alicia, Can I ask you something?" He asked with a hint of a question in his voice. I tilted my head in confusion. What could he want to ask me that was making him so nervous.
"Of course," I reassured.
"My family is going to the Christmas Eve service and I was wondering if you would like to come with us?" Michael asked hopefully. I looked at him in disbelief.
"Literally the only things I know about religion come from watching Supernatural, are you sure you really want to bring me to your church?" I asked with worry evident in my voice. I wasn't exactly church-going material. Michael didn't even crack a smile, just continuing to look up at me with his goddamn gorgeous eyes.
"Please?" He asked hopefully. God dammit. I cracked.
"Alright," I said with a sigh, "I'll be there." Michael's face broke into a huge smile.
"I'll pick you up at eight."
I shifted uncomfortably in my dress and tugged my coat tighter around me.
"When is he going to get here, again?" My mother asked.
"Eight." It was only 7:45, but I was already sitting in the stairway, waiting for him to come. I was irrationally nervous about going to his church- what I said before was true. I knew nothing about religion, or how to act in a church. The last time my family had gone to church had been before we moved when I was five. Suddenly, twin headlights appeared in our driveway. I moved up from my spot from the stairs only to be reprimanded by my mother.
"Wait until he comes to the door!" I sat back down on the stairs with a sigh. My mother had this thing about boys coming to the door to greet their dates. Apparently it worked even when you weren't dating them. Luckily, Michael- being the polite bastard that he is- came to the door immediately and rang the doorbell. Smiling, I answered the door.
"Hey," I said with a grin. Michael beamed back at me and I noticed what he was wearing. He was decked out in a black suit, looking very formal for this evening. He wore a red tie to match my cranberry-colored dress that met my knees. I wore black tights underneath to combat the cold from outside.
"You look beautiful," Michael said with a cheeky grin. I admit, I may have blushed- but it was just a little.
"Thank you," I said, fidgeting with a piece of hair that curled near my shoulder.
"Nice to see you Michael!" My mom called from the couch, looking up from her book with a smile. "Have fun tonight." Michael smiled back at her, the expression filled with warmth.
"We will," he promised.
"Bye mom, I'll text you when it ends," I said as I buttoned up my coat and got ready to leave. Michael closed the door behind me and we quietly made our way to his car. His car was a thing of beauty, and I didn't even know much about cars. It had leather interior that Michael took obsessive care over so it was pristine. I wrinkled my face in confusion when Michael went around the car to the passenger's door. My confusion cleared when he opened it for me. I got in with a slight giggle and my cheeks tinting a light pink.
"Thank you," I said when he got in the car. He looked at me with a hint of a smile on his face.
"It's no problem," he reassured, "You deserve it." My smile almost faltered. God dammit. Why does he have to be so perfect? He was- quite literally- the most interesting and well-mannered person I've ever met. Instead of letting all my feelings out in one big rant, I twisted my face into a smile.
"Are we going to meet your parents there?" I inquired. Michael nodded in affirmation.
"Victoria couldn't make it though," he said, with no disappointment in his voice. It was no secret he and his sister didn't really get along. I wasn't very disappointed either, if I were being honest.
"What's your church like?" I asked, playing with the edge of my coat. My hands couldn't stay still even if I wanted them to. Michael seemed to pick up on the fact that I was out of my comfort zone.
"It's old and there are stained glass windows everywhere. The people are very kind and the pastor is very open minded. The Christmas Eve service is always the nicest service of the year because all the lights are off and we all have candles." Slowly, bit by bit Michael's voice wore away at my apprehension.
"It sounds lovely," I said honestly. I almost laughed at the thought that he specifically mentioned how the pastor was open-minded- knowing that the fact was very important to me. It was such a Michael thing to do. We fell quiet for a few moments, content in the silence.
"Michael," I said suddenly as we reached a red light, "Thank you for inviting me. I know you have a lot of people you could've gone with." He turned to look at me.
"There's no one else I'd rather go with," he said. I smiled up at him- almost without thought. It just burst from me from the swell of happiness that swooped through me.
We reached the church quickly- or time may just have run past faster than I thought- and pulled into the almost full parking lot. I started to put my hand on the door handle when Michael came around and opened the door for me.
"Thank you," I said automatically, looking up at him with a smile. As we started to walk towards the door where people were milling in and out, he nonchalantly reached down and took my glove-covered hand. I froze with shock for a moment. When Michael didn't make any further movements, I relaxed into the slight embrace.
"Alicia!" A familiar voice called. I turned around to see Michael's mother with his father.
"Hi Mrs. Emily!" I greeted with a grin. The older woman smiled, revealing gleaming white teeth.
"I'm so glad you could come," she said with a surreptitious look at Michael. Michael gave a muffled cough from behind me. She gave an innocent look at Michael over my shoulder. A flash of confusion appeared on my face, but was gone in a second. I had no idea what she was doing, but whatever.
"Let's go find our seats," Emily suggested, herding us towards the door. We each found a seat on the wooden pew. Michael and I ended up sitting next to each other on the end. Five minutes later, the room darkened as the lights were dimmed and volunteers started to pass out candles. A lighter was passed around and Michael it his candle with it before passing it to me. I clicked it unsuccessfully several times before Michael lit my candle with his. I smiled up at him briefly before the pastor started speaking.
Through his sermon, I gazed around at the other church-goers while half-listening to his voice. Some of the people were looking raptly at the pastor, but others half-bent their heads in prayer.
When Michael noticed my wandering gaze, he nudged me and nodded towards the pastor. He was looking at me with a half stern, half amused look on his face. I blushed hotly and lowered my eyes to the floor.
"Christmas is a time to think about the people you love and care about," the pastor said, his voice was the only source of sound in the room besides the faint playing of the piano in the corner. "Let us pray and reflect upon the people around us." Everyone bent their heads so I quickly followed, my hands awkwardly fidgeting in my lap. I was twisting my ring around on my finger when Michael enclosed both of my hands in one of his. I froze for a moment before he started rubbing small circles with his thumb on my hand to calm me down. My head was whirring at a million miles a second. Why did he have to be so goddamn polite and sweet all the goddamn time? Why couldn't he be all stuttery and awkward like every other teenage boy on the planet? Polite bastard. He made this so much harder than it had to be.
"Amen." The pastor's voice broke me out of my reverie and I looked up along with the rest of the church.
"Let us rise," the pastor said. We obeyed and stood up. Michael tugged a thin booklet out of the back of the pew and handed it to me. Curiously, I opened it to find that it was a book of songs. Oops. It was then that I remembered that I couldn't read music.
"Please flip to page nine." I almost sighed with relief when I saw that it was just Silent Night. That I could sing. The Church band started to play and we all started to sing.
"Silent night, holy night," the church sang together. Michael's voice was directly in my right ear and I realized that he actually had a good voice. I'd never really heard him sing before, and I hadn't noticed. I sang quietly, afraid of being heard if I was too loud. My voice wasn't the best, but in my defense, I dropped out of choir after three weeks.
When the song ended, the crowd dispersed and people milled out of the doors in swarms. Instead of leaving, Michael took me by the elbow and directed us towards the pastor. I must have frozen a bit in fear- why is he bringing me to the pastor?- because Michael squeezed my arm reassuringly. I relaxed a bit at his touch, but I was still nervous.
"Ah, hello Michael," the pastor said warmly. Michael smiled at him, the gesture filled with warmth and a sense of familiarity. They were obviously close acquaintances.
"Father Daniel," Michael greeted. Father Daniel's eyes trailed over to look at me curiously and I nervously pretended not to notice.
"This is my friend, Alicia," Michael said. Father Daniel's eyes passed over my appraisingly.
"I don't believe we've seen you here before," he said. His voice made me almost feel guilty or ashamed.
"No, I don't go here," I said, shifting awkwardly under his gaze. His eyes were piercing, but warm- a paradox of sorts.
"Where do you go?" He questioned.
"I- uh- My family doesn't go anywhere." His eyes lingered on me a moment longer.
"Well, we're always open to anyone, if you ever want to come back. God's house is always open," he said warmly with a twinkle in his eye. The sudden change in his demeanor left me feeling like a rug had been pulled out from under me. I felt disoriented by the warmth in his voice.
"T-Thank you, I will," I promised, meaning it. It wasn't actually that bad- not nearly as I had expected. I wouldn't exactly mind coming back another time. Especially if it was with Michael.
The pastor nodded at us cheerily before moving on to other people who were vying for his attention. Michael lead me back outside to his car.
"How was it?" Michael asked as he got in the driver's seat and started the car back up.
"It was fun," I said honestly. "…I'd like to go again sometime." Michael looked at me in surprise, but didn't say anything. But I knew what he was thinking. I wasn't really one for religious, per se. But Michael's church seemed nice, it wouldn't be such a tragedy if I had to go for another holiday.
"I'm glad," Michael said, looking at me with the sweetest look that I've ever seen on a human being. My heart melted and I couldn't help it any longer. Leaning over his seat, I softly touched my lips to his.
My senses came back to me a moment later and I backed away with an ashamed look in my eye.
"I'm so sorry," I babbled, avoiding his eyes, "I just thought- well after tonight and you were being so god damn polite and I've really liked you for a long time… And I know you don't feel the same way, so I'm sorry and-" I was cut off by Michael's chuckling. My eyes snapped up to him, blazing with indignation.
"Why you-" Before I could finish he thought, Michael pulled me back in for another kiss. His lips were softer than I imagined as they moved against mine.
"Oh," I said when he released me. It was the only thought that came to mind. Michael smiled tenderly up at me, reaching up to brush a strand of hair out of the way.
"You have no idea how long I've been waiting for that," he said with a warm smile. I looked at him in shock.
"Are you kidding?" I sputtered, "You're perfect. I've been wanting to go out with you forever, but I figured you didn't like me because I'm an asshole." Michael's brow wrinkled.
"No you're not," he muttered, protesting, "You're beautiful."
"Yes I am," I protested, "I-" Michael shut me up by pulling me closer and kissing me again. When he let me go, I had forgotten what I was going to say.
"You can't do that every time you want me to stop talking," I said absently, my gaze unfocused. Michal laughed softly.
"Alright," he agreed, but I got the feeling he only said it to pacify me. "Do you want me to take you home now?" I hummed in consideration.
"Not really…" I said, looking at him with adoration. "Can we drive around for a bit?" Michael smiled at me before obeying. We drove around for what could have been several hours or only a few minutes. Time didn't seem to exist as we sat in each other's company. When Michael finally drove me home, I realized too late that I hadn't texted my mom like I'd promised. Oh well.
"Thank you for inviting me," I said after I kissed him again. That was something that I was going to have to do often. Michael grinned at me with warmth in his eyes.
"Don't worry, it was purely selfish," he reassured, "I just wanted to spend time with you." I smiled at him again.
"I guess you got more than you bargained for," I murmured, leaning in for another kiss. I just couldn't help myself, he was irresistible. He smiled against my lips before I pulled back again to get out of the car.
"I'll see you tomorrow?" I said, phrasing it like a question. Michael nodded.
"Of course, would you like to go on a proper date the day after?" He asked. Anxiety filtered through his voice, afraid I would say no. It was a ridiculous worry. Putting my hand over his, I smiled at him.
"I would love to." His face smiled hesitantly at me as I finally got out of the car and closed the door behind me. Michael's car didn't leave the driveway until I got inside. The action made me smile as I set my keys on the table.
"Where were you?" My mother's voice demanded from behind me. "You were supposed to be home hours ago!" My smile faded off of my face as I turned around slowly. There must have been some trace of happiness or I-don't-know-what on my face, because my mother's stern expression melted away.
"Oh my god, you and Michael finally got together." Her face turned white and her hands clasped with excitement.
"Yes- wait, what do you mean 'finally'?" I demanded. My mother rolled her eyes.
"We've been waiting for it to happen for years, darling," she explained nonchalantly. My jaw dropped open.
"Who's 'we'?" I demanded.
"Emily and I, mostly. Your father too, though." My mind whirled with all this new information. Was I the only one who was unaware of this? Apparently. I coughed, signaling my discomfort, and faked a yawn.
"Oh, of course. You must be tired- go get ready for bed." I gave a half-grin to her as I made my way towards the stairs.
"Thanks mom, I love you," I said. She smiled at me.
"I love you too."
When I got in my room, I immediately got my phone out of my purse and texted Michael.
Did you know that my mom and your mom were waiting for us to get together? His text came a few seconds later.
… Yeah, about that. They've had a bet going for years between all of our parents about how long it would take for us to get together. I stared at my phone in bewilderment.
Am I the only one who didn't know about this?
Yes. I gave a half laugh at Michael's response.
Thank you for tonight, it was amazing. I smiled as I imagined him at home, laying in his bed while texting me. His room would be dark and his cat would probably be curled up at the end of his bed. I imagined the light from his phone screen lighting up his face with it's perfect symmetry and deep blue eyes.
You are amazing, you were beautiful tonight. I flushed at the compliment, despite the fact that he wasn't even here.
You were too, you were perfect the entire time. When did you get such a good singing voice? His response came after a brief pause.
I stuck with choir, you didn't.
If that's some kind of insult about my singing voice, that's rude. I gave a small smile, imagining Michael scrambling for a response.
Your voice is beautiful, you should sing more often. God damn. He was perfect, wasn't he? Why did he have a good response to everything?
I can't wait till I see you tomorrow, I almost don't want to wait. His text came surprisingly fast.
What if you didn't have to? Confused, my brow wrinkled as I typed out my response.
What do you mean? I texted.
Open your curtains. Confused at his cryptic response, I obeyed and opened my curtains. Sitting there in the tree, was Michael. My eyebrows shot up in shock. He waved at me sheepishly and motioned for me to open my window. I slid up the paned glass.
"What are you doing here?" I demanded in a hushed whisper, just in case my parents could hear me.
"I didn't really want our evening to end," Michael said sheepishly. I opened my mouth to say something, but just ended up shaking my head.
"Come in," I said, moving aside. Michael climbed in through the window, landing with a soft thump on my carpet. I closed the window, shielding the us from the bitterly cold wind from outside. When I moved away, I tripped and Michael caught me.
"Sorry," I coughed, my face flushing. I was glad the room was dark so Michael couldn't see the shade of red my face was currently.
"It's alright," he said, fixing me so I was standing upright.
"I'm glad you came," I admitted, tucking a strand of hair behind my ear nervously. Michael smiled gently.
"I was worried you wouldn't be," he said with a nervous note in his voice.
"I'm always glad you see you." Michael smiled at me and I suddenly became hyper aware of the situation we were in. We were standing only a few inches apart in my room at night on Christmas Eve. The whole thing seemed surreal, considering I didn't even know Michael liked me until a few hours ago.
"Thank you for coming," I said, edging ever closer until our lips touched once again.
We spent the next several hours in each other's embrace, talking and kissing and dreaming. I learned things about Michael that I never knew, and I told him things I didn't even knew I wanted before. When I started to blink heavily, Michael kissed me goodbye and left at one in the morning. Feeling the effects of tiredness, I settled into bed and fell asleep, filled with happiness and contentment.