It had taken us less than 5 minutes to wash the dishes. He taught me how to properly clean and scrub them, rinse them, and dry them.
Michael was swift and graceful in his movements, normally taking him no more effort than just stretching his muscled arm to grab the liquid soap and sponge from the other side of the kitchen. Being a giant with long limbs has its perks, moving like fluid water droplets on smooth skin. His soft now-I-noticed-hazel eyes would be focused on his skillful hands, and his foot would tap impatiently against the floor, anxious to move with the rest of the graceful body.
I, on the other hand, was as clumsy as hell. My hands may be delicate, but my whole body felt disproportionate. Just, like, wrong. Every so often, I would try to reach out for utensils on the other counter, and end up face-planting the floor, with Michael laughing his arse off as he picks me up from the floor.
When we were done, I looked up (and it was quite a long way up) at him expectantly.
"Clarisse, this is your home as much as it is mine now," he smiled reassuringly at me, "You can do just about anything you would like, but if you'd like to set some ground rules, it's fine by me," he shrugged his broad muscled shoulders.
I went to sit down on the red couch, hoping to sit on the right side which I had been eying for a few seconds now, seeing as it had the blue comforter, but to my disappointment, he made it there faster, and stuck out his tongue at me as he sat with his legs crossed clad in his sweatpants.
I rolled my eyes. How mature.
In return, I lay down on his lap, shocking him. He gave in and smiled, but not before asking, "May I ask why you suddenly felt the need to lay down on my lap?" with a humorous twinkle in his eyes, and smile lines carving in his sharp face.
"Replacing the comforter," I replied, voice void of emotion, despite barely keeping in a hyena laugh at his silly smile.
"Well, okay," he sighed over dramatically, with a devilish look in his eyes, "I hope you don't mind me doing.. THIS!"
And he leaned in as his nimble, long fingers attacked my sides. I let loose a squeal of laughter, unable to keep it in anymore. He kept on tickling me, and I was laughing so hard that I had rolled off the couch somehow and ended up on the blue carpet. He did not hesitate to crouch by me and continue with this painless torture.
"Stahp..Micha-Oh God..Don't you da-AARE!" I gasped between embarrassingly loud laughs and breaths.
By now, I was a laughing mess, and so was he, his eyes crinkling as he watched me embarrass myself. His loud chuckles echoed richly through the whole house, reverberating through the walls. It was a very pleasant sound, thrumming through my body like a shot of electricity as I felt an emotion I hadn't felt in a long time.
For the first time in forever, I was having fun with a friend and a savior.
He suddenly stopped, both our breaths heavy, still smiling from the silliness.
He gave me his hand as he helped me stand up from the floor, and I quickly thanked him, as we both plopped down on the couch, side by side.
"C'mon Mike, we're fully matured adults. We should act like it really," I shrugged, still smirking, "but not before the tickle monster arrives!" I yelled the last part, catching him off guard as his eyes widened visibly, before diving at his large sides.
His bark of laughter was refreshing. It wasn't forced or fake, it was easy, carefree, and melodious, coming from deep imside his chest and exploding in his gentle baritone.
He kept begging me to stop between breaths, but I was enjoying my moments of vengeance, letting my hands torture his muscles. It was hilarious to watch a 31 year-old, 6'4" male kick around and yelp and laugh like a 3 year-old. I stopped after a couple of minutes, giving up on getting him to laugh any more; he had reached his extremes.
Michael pulled me into his chest after calming down.
"Thank you for making me laugh properly for the first time in quite a while," he whispered in my messy hair as I inhaled his sweet cologne.
And then I started coughing. He handed me a water bottle from the table to ease the burden, and I downed it quickly. I then sent him a glare.
"Don't spray so much cologne next time."
He laughed incredulously.
"Were you sniffing me?!"
"Well, I prefer the term 'inhaling a nice scent'."
"Yep, you were definitely sniffing me," he smirked cockily.
It was amazing. Having my first friend, I mean.
"Shut it Phelps," I grinned at him.
"Oh so now we're on last name basis? Fine, Dimitrovich," he joked back.
I punched his arm, and let me tell you, it was so fucking painful.
I hissed in pain. What were these, metal limbs?! His face contorted into a look of concern.
"Are you okay? Does it hurt? Let me check that," he rushed in one breath, and I was truly touched by his worrying.
He gingerly grabbed my now clenched right fist, and took a look at it. He tsked at it in disapproval.
"See, it's bruised now. I'll get you the first aid kit from my bathroom."
He shot upstairs before I could utter another word and tell him that I really had had injuries so much worse.
He returned with a red bag with him, and he extracted a bandage and a jar of white ointment from inside. He gestured with his finger for me to turn around and face him as he crouched on the floor to get a good look at my hand from the same height as me.
He gently dabbed the ointment on my knuckles, and I bit back a hiss as it stung my skin. With delicate fingers, he wrapped the bandages around my knuckles, binding them together, as careful as possible so as not to hurt me.
"There you go now, good as new," he smiled brightly, "It shouldn't hurt so much after a while, but if it pains you, just yell for me."
I nodded, and sent him a sharp look.
"What the fuck?! Metal limbs much?"
He chuckled lightly, "No, I work out."
"That's not working out," I argued pointedly. No one just lifts a few kilograms and gets muscles like that.
He only shrugged and didn't reply, leaving me to wonder what he could possibly be hiding. I could bet you that it was related to his job. It was already obvious that he was some sort of athlete.
He checked the time on his wristwatch, and it was 8PM.
Woah, the time had passed by so quickly it was unbelievable.
As if on instinct, my head started drooping down in exhaustion. But I didn't want to sleep, knowing that my demons would chase me at night in my dreams.
"I think you should go sleep, it's been a long day for the both of us," Michael offered as I blinked awake. I nodded in agreement, barely looking up, and he took that as a sign to carry me upstairs to my room.
I had no idea how he could possibly carry me anyways.
"You're as light as a feather," he whispered, as if reading my mind, stroking my hair gently.
He made it to my room, and set me down in the middle of the queen sized bed. He pulled up the soft covers over me.
"Mike?" I whispered.
"Stay with me please," the tears threatened to spill.
"Are you sure?" he asked hesitantly.
I nodded in the dark. I was well aware that I needed someone.
I was also well aware that we were responsible adults-friends even. So no worries.
The bed groaned a little as he slid in next to me under the covers. I felt his hot breath on my face as he lay in front of me, and it felt good to know that someone had my back. He thought intently for a moment, before deciding to drape his long muscular arm around my petite waist and pull me a little closer to him.
I smiled softly and peacefully as I closed my eyes, relaxing for the first time in exactly 15 years, and giving in to sleep with an amazing man and friend beside me.
Maybe my life was finally taking a turn for the better.