“The Picnic” – Danny and Michelle are both college students at Springfield University at a college party. They meet over a water balloon contest and Danny’s time at the picnic Pilar drug him to is definitely looking up.
Republisher’s Note: A lovely happy Manny college standalone.
Author’s Note: Setting: a picnic at Laurel Falls, Summer 2000.
The Picnic by Samj
“The next event will be the water balloon toss,” came the cheerful voice over the public announcing system.
“It’s about time!” Michelle muttered under her breath, wiping a sweaty curl off her forehead. “It must be 100 degrees out today.”
Michelle made her way through the confused mass of toddlers and parents playing tag until she found her best friend, Bill Lewis. “Come on, Bill, water balloons,” she practically sang.
Bill looked up from the barbecue grill and gave Michelle an apologetic smile. “Sorry, can’t I have to man the grill.”
“Bill,” she whined, “you promised!”
“Burgers, Michelle, burgers.”
Michelle put out her bottom lip in a pout that Bill knew all too well, but he remained firm. “I really don’t think you’ll have any trouble finding someone else to be your partner Michelle, especially in that outfit.”
“What’s wrong with my outfit?” she challenged, looking down at her simple pink tank top and khaki shorts.
“Absolutely nothing,” he replied, giving her an appreciative once-over.
“Hey, knock it off,” she giggled, “this isn’t an episode of Dawson’s Creek.”
Before Bill could respond, several fellow SU students walked past and drowned out their conversation. Above the din of multiple voices they heard one rather obnoxious speaker bragging loudly, “Give it up man, Peanut and I are experts at tossing water balloons. We’ve already got this thing in the bag.”
Michelle gave Bill a puzzled glance and he shook his head, indicating that he didn’t recognize the speaker either.
“Twenty bucks,” the stranger challenged.
“You want to put twenty bucks on a water balloon toss?” Jesse Blue, Bill’s roommate, asked incredulously. “Have you completely lost your mind?”
“Hey, I just believe in putting my money where my mouth is.” The stranger grinned broadly. “You in or out?”
“In,” Jesse responded succinctly. “Bill, let’s go man,” he called, “we’ve got some business to take care of.”
With a shrug of his shoulders Bill handed the spatula to a fellow frat brother and followed Jesse to the water balloon field.
“Traitor!” Michelle yelled after him.
The stranger grinned in amusement at Michelle, who promptly stuck her tongue out at him. For a moment their eyes locked, and Michelle chided herself for the butterflies suddenly loose in her stomach.
Breaking eye contact, he peeled his tee shirt off and handed it to a girl Michelle recognized from her art history class. What was her name? Pilar, Pilar Santos. Then he turned back to Michelle expectantly.
Peeling her eyes from his well-developed chest she asked sarcastically, “Is that supposed to impress me?”
His voice came out as a low, seductive rumble. “Doesn’t it?”
Refusing to be baited she settled for, “Do you always answer questions with questions?”
He raised an eyebrow at her. “Do you?”
“No,” she answered simply, “sometimes I just walk away.”
A few minutes later everyone was positioned for the water balloon toss. Michelle had conned Drew Jacobs, Jesse’s girlfriend, into being her partner. Drew kept whining that she didn’t want to get wet.
“Well then,” Michelle explained, “you’d better catch the balloon.”
Michelle was so busy dealing with Drew that she didn’t even realize she was standing right next to the obnoxious stranger until she heard him taunt Jesse one more time. “I’m telling you, Blue, with that guy as your partner,” he nodded towards Bill, “you might as well hand me the twenty now.”
Michelle set her jaw and tried to concentrate on the game. No one mocked her friends this way. No one.
A short time later there were only four couples remaining on the playing field Michelle and Drew, Jesse and Bill, Pilar and her partner, and some teenagers that no one really noticed. The crowd of onlookers concentrated only on Jesse and the stranger.
Michelle was actually quite impressed with Drew’s ability, although she could’ve done without the constant monologue about how a broken water balloon would mess up Drew’s hair and makeup.
On the next throw Drew misjudged the distance, and the balloon broke in Michelle’s hand, splashing her with water. “Woo hoo,” Michelle exclaimed happily, “that’s the first relief from this heat I’ve had all day.”
Having safely caught his own balloon, Pilar’s partner looked over at Michelle briefly, a smile playing at the corners of his mouth as he looked at her damp clothing. Without saying a word Michelle and Drew left the field to watch the game from the sidelines. The two teens soon followed, and only the participants in the bet remained in the game.
The tension was almost as thick as the humidity. Finally Jesse threw his balloon just short of the distance and it splashed to the ground in front of Bill.
“YES!!!!!” the stranger yelled. “Victory is ours!” He practically ran over to Pilar, then lifted her in his arms and swung her around, chanting, “we’re number one, we’re number one.” She managed to convince him to release her, at which point she went scrambling for the anonymity of the crowd, embarrassed by the attention she was receiving.
Meanwhile the stranger was so busy extolling his own virtues to the crowd that he didn’t even see it coming five or six frat brothers dumped a large tub of water directly over his head, soaking him completely and causing him to fall onto his backside on the slippery grass.
While laughing uncontrollably at the sight, Michelle grabbed a towel from a nearby table and walked over to the now dripping water balloon champ.
Looking up at her from his undignified position, he bit out, “Glad you find this so amusing.”
“You…” Michelle began, unable to catch her breath enough to speak. Watching him push his sopping wet curls off his forehead, she managed to continue, “You look like a little wet puppy!” With that she broke into another fit of giggles.
She offered him the towel, which he snatched from her hand…too forcefully, in fact, causing her to lose her footing on the wet grass and tumble toward the ground. His reflexes taking over, the stranger managed to pull her into his lap so that at least she didn’t land on the muddy ground.
Before she had a chance to react, he shook his head wildly back and forth, spraying her with water droplets. “Hey,” she cried out, shielding her face with her hands.
By this time the anger had drained from his face and he was laughing as well. “I just wanted you to have the full puppy effect,” he explained.
“Gee, thanks,” she deadpanned. “I don’t suppose you’re willing to share a corner of that towel with me?”
“Hmm, you might be able to persuade me…” he offered. For a moment Michelle was sure he was going to kiss her, but instead he pulled back slightly and used the towel to gently pat dry her face. “By the way, I’m Danny Santos.”
Michelle flashed him a brilliant smile, then put her hand on his shoulder to keep her balance as she stood. “Michelle, Michelle Bauer.”
Afraid that she was about to walk away he gently grabbed her wrist and stood carefully. “Hey, I don’t suppose we could start off with a clean slate here? I know I deserved this,” he swept his arm in a circle indicating the wet grass, “but honestly I’m not usually such an obnoxious jerk.” He gave her a seductive grin. “I’m usually much, much smoother.”
“Oh really?” she challenged, raising an eyebrow at him.
“Yeah, it’s just that my kid sister dragged me to this thing and I wasn’t having a very good time.” He paused and took her hand lightly in his. “Until now.”
Her smile grew wider. “Well that’s what we like to hear.” She started to walk towards the lake. “Since you’re all muddy, and we’re both already wet, what do you say we take a swim?”
“Lead the way,” he answered, which prompted her to let go of his hand and start sprinting down the hill. Danny shook his head good-humoredly and ran after her.