“Come on pleaseeee , it will be fun I promise.”
Danny pretended to play it cool and tried to focus on the game he was in the middle of playing. Jessica was batting her eyelashes in an obvious ploy to steal away his attention. She always played the cute and playful card whenever she wanted something from him, and it hadn’t failed before. Danny was well aware of it too, he knew she would convince him but he still wanted to try and act nonchalant about it. Jessica knew that it was just a matter of time until he caved; she enjoyed the little back and forth they had.
“You know that eventually you will say yes, just save us both the time.”
She cheekily poked him in his ribs causing him to erupt in an uncontrollable spout of giggling.
“Knock it off.” Danny begged between laughs. “Alright I’ll go.”
“YES YOU’RE THE BEST!” Jessica shouted, throwing her arms around him.
Danny cautiously hugged her back with one arm, keeping his free hand steady on the controller. He savoured these moments with her, wishing desperately for a day where things would go a step further.
He was always the first one to stop any form of intimacy, the worry he might linger in the moment for too long always sat in the back of his mind.
When Danny let go Jessica was almost reluctant to let him go, she scrunched up his hair and met him with a pleasant smile.
“Rebecca and Allie will be so glad to hear.”
Ughhh Rebecca , Danny cringed at the mere mention of her name. The four of them were as close as anything it would be unusual to hear of any young man feeling any displeasure at being the only male in a group of females.
Danny enjoyed spending time with Rebecca in company with the rest of the girls but more often than not she would drive him crazy. She was borderline obsessed with teasing him; it was obvious to everyone when they were all together. Honestly even he realised it was blatantly obvious that he had very strong feelings for Jessica. They would never speak openly about it perhaps she was waiting for him to bring it up first. The problem was Rebecca had no quarrel making them both feel uncomfortable when she would casually make awkward comments about them when they were together. It was always unwarranted and unnecessary causing them both to cringe whenever she said something.
Jessica notable felt bad she didn’t have the same feelings for Danny that he harboured for her. She was consciously aware of it and tried to make sure she never led him on.
Danny on the other hand was sure he had some semblance of a chance with her. He wasn’t sure yet but with enough time he was confident he could conjure something up to win her over.
Going back in time several years ago to their high school days Danny and Allie used to date. It was about a year after they got together that Allie came out to him as being gay. He wasn’t sure how to react to the news, Allie was adamant that none of it was his doing and she just wasn’t being truthful with him or herself.
It was through this revelation that both Rebecca and Jessica entered their lives and helped form their little group. Allie and Rebecca had begun to date and in tow she brought along her best friend Jessica. Danny was quite reasonably devastated about his loss of the relationship. Especially since they were still hanging out together, only now as friends. He might have broken away from the uncomfortable situation altogether if he hadn’t become so infatuated with Jessica right from the get go.
He loved her company; she was so pleasant to be around. Altogether she was friendly, fun kind and very attractive. He quickly fell head over heels for her, but after his break up with Allie he had lost a lot of his self-confidence. It didn’t help him when word got around their school that Allie broke up with him because she was a lesbian. School turned into a cruel place for both of them, especially for him when they would harass him and say it was his fault she didn’t like guys anymore. Allie became really torn up about the whole thing; she was completely racked with guilt. She felt selfish for wanting to stay close with Danny even as he became reclusive and cut ties with some of his friends as a result of the ridicule he suffered through.
For a while she was hesitant to introduce he and Rebecca to one another but he was her closest friend and was always understanding of her. Sometimes she wished she had simply liked boys and chose to stay with him. He wasn’t at all unpleasant to be with it just felt weird, like something was out of place. Rebecca was cautiously accepting of him, unlike Allie she was completely confident when it came to her sexuality and had been out for much longer. Her parents however were quite conventional when it came to a proper domestic life between a man and woman. It was probably the reason why Rebecca was so outspoken; she didn’t need anyone’s approval to be herself. It helped Allie a lot with coming to terms with herself and thankfully on the opposite end her parents were much more supportive of her.
Rebecca had grown with a naturally dominant personality, and since Danny had lost a lot of his confidence and any assertiveness he came off as quite shy when he was around her. She couldn’t help herself but to exploit that, even ignoring Allie when she would tell her to stop teasing him. It was never anything drastic but it was enough to always embarrass or emasculate him to some degree.
“Well he can always just tell me to stop himself.” She would often say in a vain attempt at defending her own actions.
Rebecca would object that she was just trying to help bring Danny out of his shell, but Allie disagreed with her. He was different now, she had hoped Jessica might be equally taken by him as he was by her. It would be the perfect scenario; she was definitely interested in guys and had such a sweet nurturing personality. Whenever they were together it was like two peas in a pod, even Allie become selfishly jealous as he grew closer to her. She could never feel resentful about it though; after all it was her idea to brake off their relationship and she was the one trying to push the two of them together.
Rebecca told her to let it go; it would never happen and if it did it would come out naturally without her interference. But Allie was worried; Danny seemed so miserable and distant sometimes compared to he had been when they were still together.
When Jessica mentioned the trip she was all in, hopefully some time away from whatever they had going on in their lives would all do them some good. It was a much deserved escape for the four of them and maybe it would give her the chance she needed to help push Danny and Jessica together.
Rebecca was outright against the idea of the two getting together, she told Allie to stop acting like some fan girl shipping her favourite characters together. She said it was only because of her guilt she wanted them together and failed to see how they weren’t suited for one another. Their personalities didn’t click, it was hard to argue that point however when you saw how quickly their friendship blossomed.
She despised that guys were always so quick to disavow the friend zone and immediately pushed for something more intimate. She admitted that if Danny wasn’t so obviously infatuated with Jess then they could probably have become fuck buddies and he would reap all the best benefits without a label attached. There was no chance of that happening now though, Jessica was so careful to tip toe around him worried she might happen to lead him on in some way.
The whole situation was beginning to make things awkward in the group. Rebecca was sour and groaned when she saw Jess’s suggestion for the trip in their group chat. The holiday itself seemed like a fantastic idea on paper but seeing Danny’s reply really bothered her.
“Does he really think we actually believe his bullshit, that boy is such a child sometimes I swear.”
“Becca just let it go.” Allie grumbled.
Both girls were quick to jump on board with her idea; Danny however was being ridiculous and said he wasn’t sure if he could make it. He typed up an unbelievably lame excuse about not being able to get the time off work when all three girls were aware he only worked a casual retail job a few times a week.
“Ugh fine just get Jessica to deal with it.” Rebecca said throwing her arms up in frustration.
Jessica had jumped the gun and told Danny she was heading over the moment he started saying he wasn’t going to come. The resulting conversation as you already know didn’t last long and as expected he quickly changed his tune.
He hadn’t even needed to ask his mother for permission, she had quietly been eavesdropping the whole time. Like the girls she had noticed the shift in personality and was worried about him. Pretending to have overheard them as she passed by with a basket of laundry she soon invited herself into his bedroom.
“Ohhh a trip, that sounds lovely! I’m sure the girls will keep a good eye on you.”
Jessica giggled. “We’ll make sure he behaves himself Wendy, don’t worry!”
When it came to Danny’s choice of friends Wendy knew she didn’t have to worry. She loved all three girls like they were her own, they were all such sweethearts and she wholeheartedly approved of each of them. Even with Allie and her son’s history she never held her accountable, and a trip away together would do him a world of good. She was always encouraging him to spend more time with them, not that she minded having him around the house. His company was always welcomed and she cherished their time together; but any time away from staring at a television screen all day was a blessing.
With everyone accounted for they excitedly began planning out the trip; not knowing how much of an eye opening experience it would all turn out to be.
It was decided that Rebecca would be the one to drive; she had an SUV and it housed the most space. Danny didn’t like her being in any position of control over him but had little say since he still didn’t have a complete driver’s license. Along with most of the trip he left it up to the girls to plan it, he wasn’t too fussed with doing anything in particular.
He felt a little bothered when they tried forcing him to make some suggestions. His idea of a good time was relaxing at home watching movies or going out to dinner with them for a nice relaxing night. Everything they were talking about seemed like a lot of work and he knew it would take him out of his comfort zone and away from his PlayStation.
When the day of the trip rolled around he began to feel a bit flighty. When he vaguely hinted he was not really feeling up for it that morning when his mother came to wake him up and soon wished he had kept his mouth shut.
“I’m warning you Danny, if you disappoint those girls and bail on that trip then I will rip every electronic you own out of the house and you will never see them again.”
It was a loosely veiled threat that he wasn’t sure she would follow through with, but Danny got the message and quickly put any ideas about ditching to rest.
The three girls pulled up together in Rebecca’s SUV and were pleasantly greeted by his mother in the early morning and invited inside. There was no mention of the earlier conversation between her and Danny, thinking it was best not to mention it.
“I made sure he packed last night so he wouldn’t set you guys back, but well you know what he’s like.”
She shook her head in frustration and the girls giggled when she called out for him.
“Danny you better be changed and get your bum out here mister or I’ll come in there and dress you myself.”
Danny blushed crimson, horrified at the embarrassment from his mother’s childish remarks. He quickly headed out and apologised to them for not being ready earlier.
He turned to his mother and said goodbye, she insisted on giving him a cuddle before he grabbed his bag and rushed out the door. He didn’t want to loiter any longer in case his mother decided to embarrass him any further.
Allie greeted him with a hug as they left the house together.
“I’m glad you decided to come along Danny for a moment I thought you might bail.”
“Thanks, but I wouldn’t bail on you guys.” He managed to say with a straight face.
He blushed as he stopped to take in her outfit; she was really taking her new ‘cute’ phase to the next level. At some point as of late she had delved down deep into the rabbit hole of Lolita fashion. She was currently dressed in an ultra girly pink and frilly jumper skirt and blouse, even her t-bar shoes were pink and childish. Her hair had been platted and placed in a large white bow. She had never dressed like this around Danny, he guessed now she was free to be her true self.
“Do you like it?” Annie said swishing her skirt. “I normally wouldn’t wear something so brazen but I figured, what the heck were on holiday.” She said with a shrug.
Danny debated what to say next before lying on. “It’s cute.” He really wasn’t sure what else he could say about it.
“Hurry up you two, Annie has a dress you can borrow in the car Danny if you’re so inclined.” She grinned at him, before jumping in the driver’s seat without giving him a chance to retort.
Annie squeezed his arm. “Don’t let her get to you Danny; I’ll make sure she behaves herself.”
Danny watched as Annie skipped off to the front seat and couldn’t help take Rebecca’s words to heart as he imagined himself wearing the same thing. He shivered at the thought; he wouldn’t dare and mentally scolded himself for already managing to let Rebecca get into his head.
“Come on Danny.” Jessica called out from the car. “You’re sitting next to me!”
That was what he needed to hear and Danny quickly perked up, any doubts he had about coming along on this trip had washed away. He was always amazed the way she was in such a perky mood this early in the day. He had never been an early riser but all three of the girls seemed to be awash with energy. Hopefully if he let himself relax into the vibes they were putting off and got into the spirit of it then he would perk up.
He buckled himself in and met Jessica’s excited grin, everything seemed to be headed in the right direction.
Danny unconsciously gripped onto his door handle as Rebecca’s car roared to life. Her driving always made him slightly nervous; her disregard for the speed limit and over confidence weren’t her best features especially coupled together. At least her car was seemingly built like a tank, it still didn’t fill him with confidence as she clipped the gutter pulling out of the drive way.
“Sorry about that guys, think that morning coffee went right to my head, I feel alive!” She pumped her fist up in the air and the girls echoed her sentiment with their own cheers.
“Come on Danny get into the spirit.” Jessica said playfully shaking his shoulder.
“Wooooo.” He replied with a minimal amount of enthusiasm.
“Is that the best you’ve got?” Jessica teased.
“He’s just grumpy because we woke the baby up from his nap.” Rebecca chimed in.
“Yeah well…. You’re a shit driver.” Danny said, cringing at his own retort.
Rebecca scoffed. “Sorry, coming from the one without a licence?” She said flicking her sunglasses down at him for dramatic effect.
“Knock it off guys; I don’t want to hear this for the whole trip.” Allie complained.
Jessica kept silent, acting as if she were blissfully unaware of the tension that Rebecca and Danny harboured towards each other.
Danny despised that Rebecca seemed to always be the one who got the last word in. But being respectful towards Allie he decided not to push it any further. It obviously wasn’t because he never knew what to respond with, she had clearly gotten the better of him with that one. She was always better at their banter then he was; it would make him feel slightly emasculated that she never ceased to gain the upper hand on him.
As they drove away Jessica was first to offer her curated playlist for the drive. Being quite eager to show off the perfect list of travel songs she had prepared for the trip. She and Danny had an eerily similar taste when it came to music. Both of them preferred the hits of the 70s and 90s as opposed to anything modern. Rebecca and Allie weren’t as enthusiastic with her choice of music but ignored it.
With the familiar roads and street signs growing out of sight Danny realised he hadn’t paid much attention to where they were headed. He knew it was a fair across the state border and their first stop was paying Jessica’s Auntie Tessa a visit. It wasn’t a very exhilarating stop in their schedule but it saved them having to pay for a motel along the way. She mentioned how excited her Aunt was to meet them all and the fact she would have plenty of space to house them.
“So what’s this fair called?” Danny asked.
He quickly regretted it though, as the moment he did he got three faces staring back at him looking both puzzled and annoyed.
“Did you pay attention to anything in the chat?” Jessica asked with her mouth agape.
Danny sunk back into his seat; he hated the possibility that Jessica seemed annoyed with him.
“I dunno; you guys talk a lot I’m happy with wherever as long as I’m with you guys.” He responded with a cheeky smile.
Each of the girls rolled their eyes, and Rebecca mimicked her revulsion at Danny’s remarks by sticking her finger towards her mouth.
“Cheesy and I don’t believe it for a second but at least you’re getting into the spirit of it.” Jessica chuckled.
“We’re going to Disney Land Danny, so get excited.” Allie said practically bouncing in her seat.
“Wayyyyy better than any crappy state fair, besides it was Allie’s idea, anything for my girl.” Rebecca declared.
Danny watched as Rebecca pulled Annie towards her possessively and planted a kiss over her forehead. He swore he caught a glimpse of Rebecca looking back at him as she let her go. Neither Annie nor Jessica would ever admit it, but Danny was convinced Rebecca had some deep resentment towards him. He wasn’t sure where it all stemmed from or what he had done to deserve it but he hoped she would at least remain civil around him.
It still stung watching his ex-girlfriend being flirtatious and intimate with someone else. At least it wasn’t with another guy but this wasn’t much better. He still felt somewhat like a loser for deciding to stick around her after everything and it was situations like this that helped remind him of that. It would be worth it in the end though, all the embarrassment and awkwardness he had been through if he could win Jessica over.
The trip was well under way now and Danny had finally begun to relax and unwind. After making a quick stop for the restroom and grab a bite to eat, the car talks had begun to move toward something more personal.
After Jessica had managed to get Annie to admit that she was the submissive one in her relationship with Rebecca it became her turn to ask.
“So Jess, what type of guys are you into?” Annie asked.
In the reflection she watched Danny awkwardly scrunch up in his seat.
“Yeah, ahhhh I guess…… I dunno maybe I don’t have a type.” Jessica said brushing the question aside.
“That’s not a real answer.” Rebecca interjected.
She quickly shot Annie a look, as if to say what are you planning here? But she was still mildly curious what her best friend would say, hopefully she would describe the complete polar opposite of Danny and put the whole thing to rest.
“Ok fineeeee, someone sweet and nice, just a really sensitive and caring guy, someone like Danny.” Jessica suddenly tacked that bit on the end as she rested her hand over his shoulder.
Danny could feel his heart rate quicken when he smiled back at Jess; everything was coming along perfectly. He desperately wished at that moment he would have the confidence to speak up and tell her how he felt.
Thankfully he thought better of it; it would probably be an awful and uncomfortable thing to bring up in front of everyone else, especially if she didn’t reciprocate the same feelings back to him.
Annie felt equally optimistic as Danny had from her response; it was pretty much as close to the answer as she was hoping to get. At least that’s what she thought before she turned to look at Rebecca and saw the smug I told you so face she was pulling back at her.
It took a moment for her to figure it out but when it clicked her expression grew sombre and she quickly turned and hid her face from Rebecca so that she couldn’t see she had bested her.
Someone like Danny, she repeated in her lead like a mantra. She was almost embarrassed it had taken so long to figure out. She was completely stuck on making Danny and Jess work out that she had completely missed the truthfulness behind what she had said.
She didn’t want Danny, even Annie had pulled a similar move on someone years ago. You want someone like that person but you don’t want that person. It was clear as crystal now, but now her heart was heavy with worry for her friend. She looked back at him and realized the ditzy boy in the reflection would have no idea about the truth behind what Jess had said.
Maybe his delusions were better in that regard, at least it wouldn’t put a dampener on the trip if he found out how she felt already.
A few more hours of driving had passed and Danny was really getting into the vibe of everything. He was laughing and carrying along with the girls; all four of them were having a really great time. Annie still couldn’t put the nagging doubt she had to rest that something was about to happen and bring everything crashing down. When Danny eventually found out the truth all bets were off, she could only hope he wouldn’t discover it until after they got back. It was kind of selfish on her part, but they all wanted to have a good time so her intentions were for everyone’s benefit she convinced herself.
“We’re almost hereeeee.” Jessica suddenly spoke up.
As much fun as they had been having on the drive over, each of them were eager to get out the car and stretch their legs, so it was high spirits all around accompanying the news of their arrival.
Only Jess knew what to expect as they rounded the final street corner to her Auntie’s place. It was a pretty standard suburban home, it was neither impressive nor unimpressive they realised pulling into the drive way. It was a simple single story home through and through that seemingly fit in with the rest of the suburbs aesthetic.
The moment Rebecca’s roaring SUV pulled up to the curb a homely looking middle-aged woman stepped out onto the front porch to meet them.
Jessica was first to hurriedly step out the car and rush to greet her Aunt. Danny watched curiously with nervous anticipation as the two hugged, both clearly excited to be reunited with one another. He had always been a bit of a nervous nelly when it came to meeting new people. Even in the least threatening situations such as these where it was someone’s family member and he was surrounded with familiar faces.
With some slight hesitation he was the last to hop out the car and timidly walked behind Annie and Rebecca as they walked over to introduce themselves.
“Auntie Helga, this is Annie, Rebecca and the nervous looking guy standing behind them is Danny.” Jessica said playfully sticking her tongue out at him.
“Well hello everyone, I’ve heard so much about you all!” She said in a sickly sweet voice. “Especially this handsome young fella over here.” Helga said grinning towards Danny.
As Helga walked over Rebecca grabbed Danny and pushed him forward.
“Ummm Hello, Miss Helga?” Danny stumbled on his words as he greeted her.
Helga smiled and smothered him in a big bear hug like they shared something as close as she did with Jessica and weren’t complete strangers.
“You can all call me Auntie!”
She released Danny, leaving him blushing and standing awkwardly after the overly friendly introduction. He had an idea now where Jessica got her overly friendly and welcoming nature from.
After giving both Annie and Rebecca similar greetings she ushered them all inside once they had all grabbed their bags from the car. She insisted on taking Danny’s bag inside and so reluctantly he let her pull it off his shoulders and she gently urged him forwards.
He did find it strange she was taking his when he was fully capable of carrying it himself. He shrugged it off though; she was probably just being nice. It also wasn’t the best first impression he had given her, timidly hiding behind the girls when they first met. Maybe she thought he was younger then he actually was. Thankfully none of the girls seemed to have noticed she had taken his bag for him, they were too preoccupied making their own way through the house.
“Ok Jess I still have the old room that you used to stay in, girls I made up the guest bedroom for the both of you, and that just leaves us with Mister Danny.”
Danny had been secretly hoping he would be sharing a room with Jessica, it wouldn’t be the first time they bunked together and he would have thought the house wasn’t large enough from outside to house each of them in separate rooms.
“So you have two choices, this is option number one.”
To say he was disappointed would have been a clear understatement; it shocked him how nonchalant Auntie had been as she showed it to him.
It was a complete nursery fully equipped with its own changing table and what seemed to be a regular sized bed with railing installed to change it into a crib. He could even see a mobile hanging over the top of it, the colour scheme was neutral blues and yellows but he would still never choose to stay in here.
“I know it’s a bit juvenile but the bed rail’s come down, see.”
Danny watched hesitantly from the door way as Auntie tugged them down.
“Ta-da!” She declared with a bit of pageantry.
He was forced inside when the girls pushed by the doorway to get a better look.
Rebecca chuckled. “This room suits you Danny!” She said at his expense.
“It’s a nursery.” Danny whined openly.
“I know, I know.” Auntie tossed aside his concerns. “But it’s only for a night I’m sure you will manage.”
She dropped his bag on the crib as if he had already made up his mind.
“You said there was another option.” Danny reminded her.
He hoped that somehow the other option would be bunking with Jess, but he wasn’t too confident it was that considering she hadn’t mentioned it in the first place.
Auntie stared thoughtfully for a moment before responded. “Yes well, at you’re age under my supervision I’m not a fan of boys and girls sharing the same room.”
Danny briefly glanced towards Annie and Rebecca with an accusatory look.
“But I’m making a special exemption this time for Annie and Rebecca.” Auntie replied seemingly knowing what Danny must be thinking.
“But I am still expecting them to be respectful.” Auntie said waving a finger at the two girls.
“We will be on our best behaviour.” Rebecca replied.
Without anyone’s knowledge she gently nudged Annie and showed her fingers crossed behind her back. Annie shook her head and mutter for her to behave.
“So the only other option that leaves us with is staying together in my room. It’s a big double bed so I don’t mind sharing and I could keep a very watchful eye on you!”
The girls all laughed as they watched Danny’s face blush red, looking around the room he knew it was regretfully the better option of the two.
“I’ll stay here.” He sighed.
“Awwww, ok well if you change your mind, give me a shout!” Auntie said before scrunching up his hair.
The girls began nosing around the nursery and Rebecca rudely rifled through the changing table and pulled a plain disposable pull up from one of the drawers.
“Look Danny Auntie even has diapers for you in your size.” She shook it at him tauntingly.
Auntie chuckled and took the pull up from her and tossed it around between her hands. “”Jessie’s cousin’s eldest has always had problems with bed wetting, let little one stays in here but we always keep the pull ups on hand for him.”
She held it out sizing him up with it. “Now you mention it I reckon he would be able to squeeze inside, it would be a tight fit though!”
Everyone laughed and Danny’s face went even redder.
“Sorry Danny.” Auntie began to apologise. “I’ll stop teasing and leave you to get settled.”
She ushered the girls out to give him some space while Danny stayed behind in the room he would be spending the night in. He shivered, unsure if he was cold or if it was from all the embarrassment he had just gone through. At least it would only be for one night he thought, trying to look at it optimistically. He decided not to bother unpacking and left everything together in his bag, he switched off the light before he left the room to find the others.