"Thanks for playing along, Rae," AJ said later that night when he and Rae were alone.
"Anything to help your cause," Rae laughed. "Marisa seems really nice. I like her."
"So do I." AJ had a wicked smile on his face.
"I know you do. But I have to tell you, I enjoyed kissing you. It was a refreshing change from Todd."
"I enjoyed kissing you, too. You're a good kisser. Todd has taught you well. Are you still going to marry him?"
Rae looked at him, surprised. "How'd you know about that?"
"It took a while, but I got it out of Nick," AJ said, nonchalantly.
"Well, it doesn't matter. It'll come out sooner or later. Anyway, what are you going to tell Marisa about us?"
AJ noticed Rae didn't answer the question, but decided to let it slide. "I'll become one of her friends, then after a couple of weeks of that, make my move. I'll tell her we decided to stay friends."
"That'll make her happy. She kept looking at you the whole time you were at the Wright's. She's definitely got it for you bad."
"You think so?"
"Yes. I wouldn't have said it if I didn't mean it."
"She's young, too. Not that it bothers me she's your age. I like you when I saw you."
Rae blushed a little. "I kind of got that impression when you kissed me in the kitchen at Brian's and Kevin's apartment."
"It was something I had to do. You had a rough day that day." AJ put his arm around Rae's shoulders. She leaned her head against his shoulder.
"And I thought you two were messing around," Kevin said from behind them. AJ and Rae turned around.
"We are," Rae said. "I wouldn't go out with AJ for real." Rae got up, walked to her bed and laid down.
"Why not?" Kevin and AJ said in unison.
"Too weird for me," Rae laughed.
"That hurt, Rae," AJ pouted.
"Sorry. So, Kev, where's Nick? It's almost midnight and he's not in bed. Neither are Brian and Rose." Rae looked at Kevin expectantly.
"Nick, Bri, and Rose are down the street, playing video games. They found out the arcade there was open way into the wee hours and went over there." Then Nick, Brian, and Rose walked in. "Speak of the devils...."
"What are you guys doing in here?" Brian asked looking at Kevin and AJ.
"Talking to Rae," AJ said.
"Well, get out. We want to go to sleep," Nick said, yawning.
"And which beds do you plan on sleeping in?" Kevin asked. He looked at Nick and Brian pointedly.
"Chill, Kevy-Kev," Rose said. "Me and Rae are sharing that bed and Nick and Brian are sharing the other one."
"Yeah right," AJ said.
"Okay, we're not going to sleep like that, but sleeping is all we'll be doing," Rae said.
"Besides," Nick said. "Even if we wanted to do something, we wouldn't do that 'something' with another couple in the room."
"True enough," Kevin allowed. "Well, I'll see you all in the morning." Kevin gave Rae and Rose a hug, then left the room, followed by AJ.
True to their word, Rae, Nick, Brian, and Rose fell asleep shortly after Kevin and AJ left. Brian and Rose fell asleep in each other's arms, while Nick and Rae slept on separate sides of the bed. But within a few hours of sleeping, they, too, were asleep in each other's arms.
The next morning, everyone woke up bright and early to see the Boys off. By then, all the fellas and Rose were in on the deal with AJ and Rae. Johnny Wright was the only one going on tour with the Boys 'cause Donna wanted to stay until Marisa finished the school year, then they would meet the with band later.
AJ and Rae put on a good show, walking around with their arms around each other, the little kisses every ten minutes. Marisa watched them as they kissed goodbye and hugged tightly, like they never wanted to let go. She's so lucky, she thought. AJ's cute, charming, funny. And taken. Marisa shook her head to clear her thoughts. The guys had just got into the van and was about to drive off. Donna, Marisa, Rae, Rose, and the Boys' families waved until it disappeared around the corner.
Marisa looked over at Rae and Rose, who were sitting on the curb where the van had just been. She walked over and sat down next to Rae. "Hey, guys," she said. "What's up?"
"Hey, Marisa," Rae smiled. She looked down the street. "I can't believe they're gone."
"Missing AJ already?" Rose teased.
"I can't help it. I like him. Who wouldn't like a guy like AJ?" Rae laughed.
"Me," Rose said. "I think I'll stick with Brian."
"Yeah. You two make a cute couple," Marisa commented. "So, Rae, what's AJ like?"
"He's really sweet," Rae started off. "He'll open the door for me, pull out my chair, get things for me. AJ definitely knows how to treat a girl. I commented on it one time and he said his mom and grandmother raised him to respect females. He's parents divorced when he was four and he's an only child. And I noticed he always calls girls 'ladies' or 'women'. A big sign of respect."
"Wow," Marisa sighed. "I'd love to have a guy like that. All the guys I go out with act like they're still in middle school, even at fifteen or sixteen."
"How old are you, Marisa?" Rose asked.
"Twelve. I turn thirteen in June."
"Neat. So do I. What day?"
"I'm June 25th," Rose said. "Man, you two make me feel like a big sister." She laughed.
Marisa looked at Rae, questioningly. "How old are you, Rae?"
"I'm twelve, too, but I won't turn thirteen until October 18th." Rae saw Marisa's eyes widen.
"I thought you were older."
"Everybody does. Even AJ, when we first met. But I use it to my advantage."
"Don't we all," Rose said.
They headed inside to Marisa's house. Rae and Rose weren't leaving until the next day, so Marisa invited them to stay at her house. Rae and Rase agreed and got to know Marisa better. They all parted as good friends.