Coming Home to You by Alisia – Chapter 4

Republishing another classic Manny fanfic.

Coming Home to You by Alisia – Chapter 4

Michelle tossed and turned until about 2 a.m., when she finally decided she had enough and got up. She grabbed her robe from the back of the guestroom door and headed to the kitchen to see if Olga had left anything good, defined here as full of sugar, in the refrigerator.

As she rounded the corner towards the kitchen, she saw that the light was on and she heard the clanking sound of dishes. Hopefully, she thought, Pilar was up and making something they could share. Michelle padded into the kitchen, and quickly saw that it was not Pilar she had heard.

“Oh!” Michelle exclaimed taking in the sight of Danny without a shirt, his curls wet like he just got out of the shower.

Danny turned around to see Michelle in the doorway looking a little flustered. She turned, like she was going to leave, when he smiled and said, “You don’t have to leave.”

“I just… what are you doing?”

“Making breakfast.”

“Danny, it’s 2 in the morning.”

“Like you’ve never had a craving for pancakes at 2 in the morning,” he laughed.

“I can’t say that I have.” Michelle found herself smiling, and wondered again what exactly it was about this man that was so disarmingly charming.

“Actually,” Danny looked over at the clock, “it’s 9 in the morning in Madrid, and my body is still on Madrid time. I’m tired, but I just couldn’t sleep.”

“Oh, I see.” Michelle sat down at the kitchen table, and leaned back in her chair. She surveyed the mess Danny had made on the counter, and she tried to sound nonchalant when she inquired, “Danny? Do you know how to make pancakes?”

“Sure. I’ve seen Olga make them a dozen times,” he replied without turning around. He broke another egg into the bowl. “I don’t remember the batter looking like this, though,” he added, turning and giving her his charming grin.

Michelle laughed and walked over to the counter to look into the bowl. Determining that the batch Danny had started was a lost cause, Michelle began again. When the pancakes were sizzling in the pan, she turned to see Danny setting the table and pouring juice for two. Well, syrup had sugar, she reasoned. This would be fine, just as long as she could get her breathing under control.
——-
Michelle yawned and stretched as she reached over to turn off her alarm clock. She pulled back the curtains to uncover the window near to her bed. A beautiful sunny day. Perfect for Pilar’s rehearsal dinner that evening. Meant to be outdoors under tents, Pilar’s most recent worry had been that the weather would force the party inside. It looked to Michelle, though, that the weather forecasters had been wrong today would be perfect. She was sure of it.

Michelle sighed and lay back down on the soft, summery cotton sheets on her bed. She was too comfortable to get up just yet. She looked over at the blue cocktail dress hanging on the door of her closet that she intended to wear that evening. It shimmered in the sunlight. Michelle adored the dress. It had just a bit of swish when she walked and the spaghetti straps highlighted the rather low-cut neckline. Danny will love it – that’s the first thing she thought every time she looked at it, despite her continuous efforts to put Danny out of her head. It was no use, Michelle figured. She was always a romantic, and the charming, gorgeous man sleeping down the hall inspired day-dreams. Nothing wrong with that. Nothing at all, as long as she didn’t let herself get wrapped up in them.

Michelle finished making the pancakes, without further assistance from Danny, and they ate them together while catching up on the events of each others lives since their last meeting. No easy task considering they hadn’t seen each other in ten years. Danny told her all about college and moving abroad, and Michelle told him of her pre-med courses and her determination to be a doctor. They had clicked so effortlessly that the conversation had eventually steered towards relationships. Danny admitted Pilar’s stories of his playboy ways weren’t far from the truth, but assured her he was settling down, especially given the return of a certain someone to his life.

Completely oblivious to his reference as a result of her fervent attempts to keep her mind on the conversation and not to imagine herself as one of the women Danny had romanced in Europe, Michelle wanted to steer the conversation to a new topic. She resorted to an attempt to catch Danny up on old friends in order to focus on something other than Danny’s eyes. She told him about some of his old classmates who still lived in the area and some of her friends who he remembered. She talked for some length about Bill Lewis taking an interest in Lewis construction, and she completely missed Danny’s obvious discomfort as she talked about her old friend. Finally, Michelle convinced Danny to go back to bed, as he looked like he would drop any minute.

The next morning, Michelle sat reading the paper and pulling apart a croissant when Danny entered the dining room.

“Good morning, everyone.”

Carmen gently set down her tea cup. “Good morning, Daniel. Sleep well?”

Danny smiled and looked over at Michelle. “Very well. Late night snack did the trick.” He winked at Michelle, who nearly dropped her juice as a result of the very sexy grin on his face.

Michelle rolled over in bed to get more comfortable. There were a number of other times she had been almost positive Danny was flirting with her. She went jogging one morning, and just as she had reached the gates to the Santos driveway, she heard footsteps behind her.

“Danny! You startled me.”

“Sorry, Michelle. Just trying to catch up. Jogging is always more fun with someone else along.”

Michelle tried not to notice how fit and sexy Danny looked in his shorts and t-shirt. His sleeves were rolled up and she spent a few seconds contemplating the value of strong arms. When she managed to shake out of her daze, she and Danny headed down the drive. Danny let Michelle set the pace, and she led them down to the water, past the lighthouse, and around the park before returning to the house. Danny looked ready to collapse.

Noticing his posture and the fact that he was out of breath, Michelle asked, “Danny? Are you alright?”

“Yes. Fine,” he answered quickly. “Thanks for the company, Michelle. It was fun.”

“Any time,” she smiled and headed toward the stairs to her room, not taking much notice of the fact that Danny hadn’t moved from his position in the doorway. For his part, Danny was wondering what kind of strength the girl had for a run that long. He felt like his lungs were on fire. That was it. All future attempts to spend time with Michelle would be in the house and not running the length of the city. He needed a nap.

On her way up the stairs, Michelle ran into Pilar and Tony heading down the way she had come. “Morning, guys.”

“Good morning, Michelle. Where were you off to so early this morning?” Pilar asked.

“Jogging. Down to the shore, through the park, and back.”

“That’s a long route. Did you enjoy it?”

“Yeah. I had company.”

“Company?” Tony asked.

“Um hmm. Danny came with.”

Tony burst out laughing as Pilar managed to contain herself enough to ask, “My brother Danny?”

“Yeah,” Michelle responded, perplexed at the reaction.

“Danny went jogging? With you? At 7 in the morning?” Tony asked.

“Yes. What is so funny?”

Tony and Pilar glanced at each other and Tony finally answered, “Danny hates to jog. Always has. He almost got kicked off the football team in college because he refused to run with the squad. Lifted weights instead.”

Tony and Pilar exchanged knowing looks as Michelle shrugged and made her way to her room.

But the most surprising situation, the one that had made Michelle question whether her daydreams were fantasies after all, had been yesterday at the final fitting for the wedding party dresses.

“Michelle? Can you pick up the train so I can see the back of my dress in the mirror?”

Michelle gently tugged on Pilar’s train until it was spread out smooth, and then she gently guided it to the side so Pilar could see the falling layers of her white, silk gown.

“It’s perfect,” Pilar proclaimed, and both Michelle and Carmen breathed a sigh of relief. It was the last wedding detail to be inspected, and Pilar was happy. Michelle was pretty happy with the fit of her own dress, though she wasn’t sure if the style suited her petite frame.

Michelle was standing in front of a mirror, beside Pilar, smoothing the material over her stomach and sides and examining the full, layered skirt of her lavender maid-of-honor dress in the mirror when she heard a whistle.

“Beautiful, absolutely beautiful. I come to pick up my baby sister and I get to see her looking like an angel.”

“Danny!” Pilar giggled.

Danny leaned over and kissed Pilar’s cheek, “You are going to be absolutely stunning tomorrow, a vision.” He was addressing Pilar, but Michelle noticed he was looking at her.

“Thank you,” Pilar said, beaming at Danny. Pilar looked at the woman helping with their dresses and said, “I think I can take it off now. We have the official big brother seal of approval.” Carmen and the sales woman followed Pilar out of the dressing room, leaving Michelle and Danny alone.

“So what do you think?” Michelle asked gesturing at her own dress. “Too purple? Too fluffy?”

Danny put his finger on his chin, a posture obviously meant to convey deep thought, and motioned for Michelle to spin around, which she did, noting that the skirt of the gown swished nicely as she moved.

“Well?”

“Not too purple. Maybe a little fluffy. But absolutely stunning on you.”

Michelle could feel the blush rise in her cheeks. “Thank you. I had betterummm…get it wrapped up to go.” With that she turned, and entered the little side dressing room where her clothes were hanging on hooks.

Unfortunately, this time she did not have the benefit of Mrs. Santos and the sales clerk who helped her into the dress with its back zipper and tied sash. She had two options. One: hope Carmen or Pilar came back to check on her soon, so that she didn’t look like a fool sitting in the changing room for half an hour. Two: she could ask Danny for help. Neither option seemed particularly attractive, but she couldn’t just stand there in her dress.

“Danny?”

“Yes?”

Michelle came out of the little room, noticing Danny hadn’t even looked up from the papers he was reading while leaning against a counter. Michelle figured the papers must be Pilar’s detailed schedules for the next 36 hours. Michelle cleared her throat. “Could you please help me with the back of my dress? I can’t reach.”

“What?” Danny asked, but Michelle now had his complete attention. She also noticed his voice had gotten a bit higher. “I’m sorry, Michelle, what did you say?”

“The dress well, the bodice really. It has a crisscross back,” she turned slightly to demonstrate her point. “See? The ties hold the bodice together, but I can’t reach the end of the ties.”

Danny wiped his hands on his jeans, and wondered to himself if the room had gotten a little warmer. He had been flirting with this gorgeous woman for two weeks, trying to be as charming as possible to get her attention almost like he was back in high school with a crush , but she had shown no interest. Now, she was standing in front of him, asking him to help her out of her dress.

Well that was just great. Danny groaned inwardly. How could she not feel this thing between them and how could she look at him with those big innocent eyes and calmly ask him to help her take off her dress? What was wrong with her? Didn’t she feel any attraction to him at all? Shouldn’t she at least be a little nervous or something?

Danny finally realized Michelle was still standing there looking at him expectantly. “Ummmsure. Turn around.” Very smooth Santos, he thought to himself.

Michelle turned and presented Danny her back. He put one hand on the curve of her waist, and Michelle had to fight the urge to sigh and lean back into him. Danny gently untied the three bows on the back of the dress, and then took a deep breath before pulling the silk ties through the eyelets. His hands were shaking he couldn’t believe it. He was a mess and she was completely uninterested in the whole situation. Michelle, however, was completely aware of Danny’s proximity, and the feel of his hands on her back and waist.

Michelle sighed, and hearing all of the commotion downstairs, she finally decided to get up.

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