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Celibacy definitely had its perks. It was a cleansing of the sexual kind, and I was doing just fine without it until Serena decided bringing Michael to Danny's birthday party was a good idea. Freddy and I had gotten busier during the last three months, with barely any time to spend together. Not that we were official in the traditional sense. But we did have a few dinner dates in between our busy schedules. And there was definitely some flirting going on. All I had to do was focus on something else. Anything that would get my mind of off how much I missed the warmth of a man on top of me. Or beneath me. I wasn't picky.
Steering my thoughts away from temptation, I kept my attention towards Jesse, who I found hanging out by the barn, where all the horses were sleeping for the evening. I got to know her a little more these past couple of months and felt pretty confident she would fit right into our group of dysfunctional misfits. She had the damaged part down given that she had lost her boyfriend of seven years. She didn't like talking about him much, which was understandable. It was painful breaking up with the people you loved. I couldn't imagine the agony someone would've felt watching their partner die in front of their eyes without being able to help them.
Danny had urged everyone to be nice around her as he brought her around more, claiming she needed more friends and he couldn't imagine having better friends than the ones he had been blessed with. He was in a good place, about to open up his own mechanic shop that he co-owned with Jesse and with the money he had received from Gabe, he used the rest to put it in a college fund for their kid. Or kids according to the sonogram of the twin boys growing happily inside of their mamma's stomach. I couldn't believe Danny and Serena were having twin boys. Those boys were going to set the world on fire the second they're born.
"Do you ride?" I asked Jesse as she petted one of the horses who had woken up with our presence. His name was Midnight and he was Danny's favorite horse to ride outback on the grassy acres of land he owned. Ironic thing was, his coat was completely white. It was his eyes that were as dark as a black hole, which was why Danny named him Midnight.
"I used to. I'm slowly getting back into it though. Daniel lets me ride him a few times a week when I have the time. He's a sweetheart." Jesse explained, her eyes twinkling under the dim lights of the barn. I smirked, and realized I was about break girl code with this question, but I was genuinely curious, and there was no one around to judge.
"The horse or the man?" I asked and her gaze traveled to me as she lowered her head and kicked some dirt around with her boots.
"Am I crazy? I think I am. I mean, I must be to think I even have a shot with him when he's expecting twins." Jesse admitted, and I winced, wishing I didn't hear all that. I did ask and completely blame myself but, damn it, this girl's heart was going to get dragged all over the mud where Danny was concerned. The love of his life was back in town, and there was nothing any woman, not even Jesse, could do to distract him from their messy relationship.
"My advice? I would keep it professional with Danny. Anyone else who's tried to come in between those two ended up hurt. I don't want you ending up like them." I suggested and she nodded, her expression solemn as we exited the barn and headed back to the party. I held my breath briefly as Michael had just stepped outside from the kitchen, carrying the giant four teared birthday cake, centering it as Serena lit the birthday candles. Danny's arm snaked around her waist, leaning in close to whisper something in her ear that made her smile. They weren't arguing, which was a blessing in itself. I just hated that Jesse was witnessing the entire thing. I felt for the girl. But she had to have known this was coming. Danny's feelings for Serena weren't exactly a secret.
When everyone began singing happy birthday, I patted Jesse's shoulder and encouraged her to sing along with everyone else. Once Freddy began to tease Danny about his old age, Danny flipped him off and insisted he didn't deserve a piece of cake. I chuckled at their banter and walked over to Serena, helping her cut the cake for the guests.
"Where'd you disappear to?" my best friend asked and I shrugged, looking over at Jesse, who was now talking to one of the other guests.
"Just giving a friend some advice." I answered calmly, but when I felt the silence coming from her, I looked up and found her looking back and forth between me and Jesse.
"Since when are you two friends?" she questioned as she narrowed her eyes at me and I already knew where this was going. I patted her small bump and leaned over to talk to the little bundles of joy swimming inside.
"Your mamma is about to get a little crazy. Please forgive her." I teased at my future godson's and Serena served me a look that told me she wasn't amused. "I thought you weren't worried about her?" I argued and she shrugged it off.
"I don't know her. And apparently you forgot what happened the last time we tried letting someone new enter the group. She turned out to be an FBI agent. Who was also hellbent on putting Michael in jail. And succeeded." Serena made her case and while I knew she was right, I saw no signs of a double identity coming from Jesse. Then again, I didn't see them with Thea Ocasio either.
"I still think you're jealous." I teased and she laughed it off, handing me a piece of cake to give to the next guest in line.
"All this celibacy nonsense is making you hallucinate. Who would want to give that up?" she persisted, gesturing towards a shirtless Michael, who was about to jump into the pool, and who had been the only one to make Giselle smile all evening long. That little girl had been the epitome of sadness this entire time until Michael brought her out of her funk somehow. As messed up as he was, he sure did know how to cheer a girl up.
"What are we whispering about?" Danny interrupted as he placed both of his arms on our shoulders, standing in between us.
"Marley needs to get laid. Freddy's still out of commission for the time being and there's only one option left since you're taken by default." Serena replied, grinning as she pointed towards her belly. Danny and I shuddered at her words as we continued to give out the cake.
"I'm just saying. Michael's been in the big house for a while."
"More like instigating. How do you put up with her?" I joked and Danny laughed as he kissed her cheek.
"I have no choice. She's having my babies." Danny claimed in a whisper, with a forced grin as Serena smacked his arm.
"We need more plastic plates."
"I'll go get them." I offered and pulled myself away from them. The kitchen was a mess but the party wouldn't be over for another hour or so. There was no point in beginning the clean up process now. I opened Danny's upper cabinets, looking for the extra plastic plates, and I found them on the last shelf up top. I tried going on my toes to reach them but my height problem was getting in the way. I kept reaching until an arm popped out of nowhere and the hand that belonged to it handed me the plates. When I turned to thank the generous guest, I bit my cheek when I noticed it had been Michael.
"You're welcome." his words were cold, and firm, but his eyes held none of the icy affects in them. His body was dripping with pool water, droplets streaming down his chest and abdomen as he reached into Danny's cooler to grab a beer.
"You haven't even said hello." I blurted out, keeping my attention above his waist and not the heavy package his swimming trunks weren't doing a very good job at hiding.
"You wanted a reason to stay away from me, right? Well, you got one, Marley." he retorted, opening the beer cap with his fingers as he penetrated my gaze.
"You're absolutely right. Thank you for reminding me." I fired back, completely annoyed by his presence and held the plates against my chest as I headed towards the opened kitchen door.
"Tick tock, tick tock. Wonder when Marley's gonna pop." Michael sang in my ear, repeating the same phrase he used to tease me with when we were in highschool. My temper was a bit unpredictable back then. I'd go head to head with any kid in school who teased me, including him. And as I recalled, I won that wrestling match.
"Did you come here just to start trouble?" I asked, turning to look him in the eye. He was right behind me, but I didn't let his size or the fact that he was shirtless and I was sexually frustrated distract me.
"Of course not." he answered, a slow wicked smile forming on his full lips as he walked away from me.