"Mom! Come on! I don't want to spend weeks with her! She's probably a total grunge!" Michael stared at his mom, Caroline, who was packing his bag.
"No. I am taking this trip to Hawaii because I need a break. And staying with Laura and her parents were our only option. You need to stop whining and grow up!" Caroline turned to Michael, and he was about to protest again. But then he saw the tears that were threatening to fall out of Caroline's eyes. Without another word, he walked out of the room and into the living room. Michael flopped down on the couch and turned on The Flash.
Michael pulled his suitcase behind him and readjusted the strap of his duffel bag that was hanging on his shoulder. As he reached the open trunk of the car, Michael slid the duffel off of his shoulder and just barely threw it into the trunk. He let go of his suitcase and lifted it, heaving it into the car. Reaching up to pull the door down, Michael sighed.
“I’m ready, Mom.” Michael attempted his most optimistic voice and got in the passenger seat of the car. Caroline watched as her son buckled the seat belt and stared straight ahead when he did.
“Look, honey. I know you’re not super excited about this, but I’m sure Laura will be a great person. And it’s only for a couple of weeks. You’ll be okay. I promise.” Attempting to be comforting, Caroline patted Michael’s knee and smiled. He nodded and looked out his window. Caroline started the car up, and they were off on the one-and-a-half-hour journey to this mysterious Laura’s home.
“Michael. Wake up, sweetie. We’re here.” Caroline gently shook Michael, and he jolted awake. He laid his head on his shoulder and looked at his mom with his eyes still half-closed.
“What did you say, Mom?” Michael’s eyes closed again, so Carolina shook him slightly again.
“We’re here. Let’s get your bags and head in. Laura isn’t here right now; she’s at her dance class. But you will meet her later. Then again, it is probably for the better you don’t meet her right away.” Awake now, Michael nodded and got out of the car, Caroline not far behind him. As Michael turned to close the door, he was facing the house, and his jaw immediately dropped.
“Wow. You didn’t tell me Laura was a gazillionaire!” The front lawn was beautifully manicured, and there was a large fountain flowing with water. There were large oak trees on either side, and flowers lined the house, which was just as beautiful. The house (or mansion) itself was a comforting gray, and it had a dignified manner to it. There were enormous columns boxing in the front door, and that just added to the White House feel to it. There were navy blue shutters, and it was terrific.
“Her parents are both best-selling authors. They make a lot of money. Now come take this duffle, and I’ll take your suitcase.” While helping Caroline get his bags, Michael’s temporary excitement faded away. Authors? Now Michael was ninety-nine percent sure Laura would be stuck-up.
Walking up the stone path to the front door, Michael began to feel smaller and smaller compared to the mansion. By the time that they arrived at the front door, Michael figured that if he needed to escape Laura, he could just wander to the other side of the mansion, and she wouldn’t find him for days.
“Are you ready, kiddo?” Caroline nudged Michael with her shoulder, and he shrugged. Sighing, Caroline reached over and rang the doorbell. After a moment, the doorknob turned, and a young woman opened the door.
“Oh! It’s so nice to see you, Caroline!” The woman hugged Caroline. “And you must be Michael. It’s so nice to meet you. My name is Brandi.” Brandi stuck her hand out to Michael, and he reluctantly shook it.
“Thank you so much for letting Michael stay with you. You’re a lifesaver.” Caroline let out a relaxed breath, and Michael glanced at her.
“Oh, stop it. It’s no problem at all. Besides, I’m sure he and Laura will get along just fine.” Brandi smiled, revealing all of her pearly white teeth. It seemed to Michael that this woman really cared about how she looked. Especially by the dress she was wearing-it was ankle length, maroon, and had a brown belt around her waist. It was simple but elegant.
“I don’t mean to be rude, but can we come in? It seems like it’s going to start raining any second now.” Michael glanced up at the dark gray sky and looked pleadingly at Brandi.
“Of course! Come on in!” Brandi motioned with her hand for the son and mother pair to follow her, so they did. The three immediately walked into a large parlor, where both a maid and a butler waited. Michael was amazed at how formal the room was, and at how straight the maid and butler were standing.
“Michael, this is Bethany and Jaques. They can help you whenever they need it. Just call one of their names, and they will be at your aid. But please do not overwork them; they may work for my family, but they are still friends.” Brandi nodded at Jaques and Bethany, and they smiled.
“Got it. I hate to ask you to do something so early, but could you do me a huge favor and help me take my luggage up to my room-wherever it is?” Jaques was about to answer Michael when the front door opened. He spun around, and a girl walked in, about his age. Michael noticed how beautiful she was right away. Even if she did wear camo cargo pants and black army boots.
“Oh! I’m glad you’re back. Michael, this is Laura. Laura, this is Michael.” Brandi bent down closer to him. “But don’t call her Laura. Call her LJ.” Michael was still confused but nodded along anyway. Brandi stood back up and smiled.
“Oh, LJ! It’s so nice to see you again.” Caroline rushed forward and hugged LJ.
“It’s nice to see you, too, Ms. Z.” LJ walked over to Brandi and hugged her while Michael just stood there and stared at her.
“Hey, Michael. It’s nice to meet you.” Michael nodded and made an odd noise that was supposed to be a hello. Caroline shook him, and he came back to his senses. She was still gorgeous in his eyes, though.
“Yeah, nice to meet you, too.” Brandi could tell that things weren’t going so well, so she decided to cut in.
“So, Laura, why don’t you go show Michael his room and help him bring his luggage up?” Brandi smiled while Caroline reached over and put her hand on Michael’s shoulder.
“It’ll be okay. Just be nice.” Caroline pecked Michael on the cheek and he nodded. LJ grabbed Michael’s suitcase from Caroline and motioned for him to follow her. He reluctantly obliged and walked behind her and up the grand staircase. The railing felt like solid gold under Michael’s hand.
“So, where are you originally from? Mom said that you and Caroline move around a lot.” LJ glanced at Michael as they reached the landing. The floors were real oak wood, and Michael gawked at the ornate doors, along with the hardware that was attached to it. They set off down the hall again.
“I was born in North Carolina, but when I was a few months old I moved to Maine. Then I moved to Tennessee, and then Michigan, Oregon, Montana, New Mexico, and now Florida. Mom always says that we move because of adventures, but I’m not so sure.” Michael sighed.
“That’s gotta stink. Anyways, this is your room. There are a bathroom and walk-in closet attached, and if you need anything I’m just across the hall. Oh, and make sure you’re back downstairs in at least ten minutes because we always eat lunch at exactly twelve-thirty.” LJ handed Michael his suitcase and made her way back downstairs. Sighing yet again, Michael pushed open the door and his jaw immediately dropped again. But for a different reason.
Looking around, the room that was now Michael’s was decorated just like his at home. How did they know what his room looked like? Must’ve been the work of his mom. After throwing his luggage on the bed, Michael peeked into the bathroom. The same as the one he used back at home. As he looked around the room some more, he realized that every single item in the room was the same as his room. Freaky. Michael just shook his head and closed the door behind him as he made his way back downstairs. No one was in the parlor, so Michael located a doorway and walked into a grand kitchen. The countertops were pure marble stone and the cabinets were white with gold hardware again. The entire space was about four times the size of his kitchen at home.
“Excuse me? Can someone tell me where all of them went with my mom?” Michael looked around and realized that no one heard him. As a chef passed by him, he tapped her shoulder. She spun around and looked at him.
“Cosa pensi di fare in questa cucina? Stiamo preparando un pasto speciale per te! Fuori fuori!” The woman shooed him out of the kitchen and the door slammed once he was back in the parlor. Michael’s face turned red and he shook his head and wondered where everyone could be.
“There you are!” Michael snapped his head to the right, and Caroline was standing in the doorway that led to what looked like a dining room. “Lunch is going to be on the table in just a few minutes. Come on. And try to have a conversation with LJ. I know you don’t want to be here, but just try. For me.” Caroline had gotten Michael there, and he nodded.
“Let’s give it a shot.”
“Alright, I gotta get going if I want to make it to the airport on time. I love you, bud.” Caroline wrapped her arms around Michael and squeezed him tight. She ruffled his hair and he swatted her hand away.
“I’m gonna miss you, Mom. Can I FaceTime you once in a while?” Michael looked at his mom with pleading eyes.
“Of course. Day or night. My phone will always be on loud, and I will keep you updated on how my trip is going.” Caroline smiled and put her hand on the door handle.
“I love you, too, Mom.” With one last smile, Caroline opened the door and walked out. The second she did, (without warning) tears rolled down Michael’s face.
“Michael? We should probably head to bed. We have to get up early tomorrow so I can show you around. It takes a couple of hours, so yeah.” Michael turned, and LJ was standing in the doorway to the kitchen.
“Yeah, okay. Which room is mine again?”
“Eighth on the right. I’m going up anyway, though, so I can just show you again. And before you ask, I don’t mind at all.” LJ half-smiled as she walked past Michael and to the stairs. He could tell that she was genuine and followed her, up the stairs and to his room yet again.
“Thanks, LJ. Goodnight.” Michael opened his door and was halfway in when he stopped by LJ’s voice.
“I hope that you like it here. Even if you do want to be at home with Caroline. Goodnight.” Before he could respond, Michael heard LJ close her door and he retreated into his room as well.
The next morning as Michael was transferring his things from his luggage into the dressers, there was a soft knock on his door.
“Come in.” He turned his head towards the door as it opened and LJ walked in. She closed the door behind her then sat down on his bed.
“Wassup?” Michael walked over to his bed and moved his duffel out of the way before sitting down next to her.
“Nothing. How did you sleep last night?” LJ bounced her leg up and down, up and down. At first, Michael thought she was nervous, but her face proved otherwise.
“Pretty good. It took me a while to fall asleep, but I think that was just ‘cause it was my first night here. How ‘bout you?” LJ shrugged and was about to respond when the door opened again. This time Bill (LJ’s dad) walked in.
“Good morning. Brandi and I have to run to a last-minute meeting with our publishers. We have to leave right now. Can we trust you two to stay home alone?” Bill raised his eyebrows and looked from Michael to LJ.
“Yeah, Dad.” LJ rolled her eyes and Michael suppressed a laugh.
“Alright. Well, Michael, sorry about this. But I promise you that once Brandi and I get back we’ll give you a real tour of the house. Laura, I love you. Goodbye.” Bill waved and left the room, closing the door behind him.
“Are your parents always so formal and straight-faced? Do they ever watch a movie like normal people? Or is it all business and they teach you how to talk in a work meeting?” Michael smirked and LJ punched him in the arm.
“They’re normal most of the time. Except for when they have meetings and stuff like that.” While LJ was talking, Michael was making talking motions with his hands and mimicking her. And that resulted in another punch in the arm from LJ.
“Hey!” Soon enough, they were fake punching and slapping each other. When they were done, they were laying on Michael’s bed, still laughing.
“I think I might like you, Michael.”
“I’m sure you will.”
“Okay, okay. You’re pretty cool, too.”
Author's Note : The italicized words in the story are actually Italian. This is the translation: "What do you plan to do in this kitchen? We are preparing a special meal for you! Out out!"