Micky knocked on the side gate of Autumn's house. Jeanie came to the gate.
"Micky, isn't it?"
"Hey, you remembered!"
Jeanie smiled. "Of course. Hold on a minute, I'll go get Autumn."
While Jeanie was gone, Micky thought back to the day after Peter and Autumn went out—almost six months ago.
"Micky, let me tell you something."
"I'm still pretty mad at you for interrupting Peter and me last night."
"Did you really want to kiss him?"
"Really, really. Anyway, I think I understand why you did it—I'm minoring in psychology, after all. But I'm willing to give you something."
"What?" Micky asked eagerly.
"Goodie!" he exclaimed. "What kind of power?"
"Power over me. If you don't want Peter and me to go out, then tell Peter. I won't go out with him until you say so."
Although Autumn had called pretty often, and even visited on Christmas, and even though she'd mention Peter at least two times in a conversation, and though she and Peter flirted for hours on Christmas, Micky hadn't said so yet.
"Autumn!" Jeanie called through her door.
"What is it?"
"Micky's downstairs." Autumn was thrown back into her very own memory of the last time she'd spoken with Micky, last weekend.
"Hi," said a familiar voice.
Autumn took a deep breath. She could not let her emotions get the better of her. She had to remain calm. She could not let Peter know it was her. She could not let him know how much she'd missed him since seeing him on Christmas, or how she'd thought about him almost constantly, and how angry she was with Micky by now. "Can I talk to Micky?"
"Sure, hold on."
Autumn caught her breath while Peter was away from the phone.
"May I ask who's calling?" Peter asked.
The only thing that Autumn could squeeze out was a high-pitched squeak. She cleared her throat. "Could you please just tell him that it's important."
"Okay." Peter was gone for another minute or two. Autumn held her breath again, half-hoping she wouldn't have to face him again, and half-hoping she'd get to hear his voice again. "You're acting like you're in high school!" she scolded herself softly.
"Hello?" Micky said.
"Micky, I've had it with you."
"Huh? Who is this?"
"You'll figure out soon enough—and when you do, don't you dare say it out loud."
"Now, then. This is Autumn. I'm quite angry with you."
"Why? What did I do?"
"I seem to recall giving you a certain power a while ago."
"Yes. I was wondering if I could get your permission to see Peter again."
"I dunno about that. . . ."
"Micky, please. At the risk of seeming desperate, I beg of you. You really don't understand what I've been going through."
"Aut—uh, I oughta think it over."
"Micky, please. I will beg on my knees the next time I see you."
"I'd like to see that!"
"Micky," she said warningly.
"I'll think it over."
"Please," Autumn tossed in just before the receiver was down.
"Take him into the living room, please, Jeanie," Autumn called through her closed door.
"Okay, but I don't know how I'll manage to pick him up."
A few minutes later, when Autumn entered the living room, Micky stood.
"Do you want me to beg, plead, cry, yell or throw a fit?"
Exactly what I don't have, Autumn thought. "Yes," she said aloud. "Take your pick."
"Could I ask you to do something for me? It's a little favor." Autumn shrugged, and Micky continued. "It's Peter's birthday on Sunday, and we're throwing him a surprise party at Club Cassandra."
"Could you be there at seven?"
"Sure! I was afraid you'd ask me to jump out of a cake or something."
Micky laughed. Autumn simply smiled.
"Anything else?" Autumn asked.
"No, not really."
"How have you been lately?"
"And Davy and Micky?"
"Any gigs late—" Autumn stopped short when the front door opened. She and Micky jumped up and ran out to the pool deck behind Autumn's house. She let him out the same side gate that he'd come in.
"Seven on Sunday, Club Cassandra," Micky called over the gate.
"Right," she called back.
We interrupt this story to give you a flashback to Christmas 1965. Thank you for your patience.
It was the early afternoon of Christmas 1965. The four Monkees had already given each other their gifts, and were trying to figure out where to go for Christmas dinner. They'd almost reached the decision that Micky's mother's house would be the best place to go when there was a knock at the door. Peter answered it.
"Merry Christmas!" exclaimed Autumn. She noticed Peter glance over her head. Autumn looked up to find a mistletoe twig pinned up above the door. Fighting to repress a broad grin, Autumn leaned forward and gave Peter a quick kiss on the cheek.
"How has Christmas been so far?" she asked after entering the Monkees' house.
"Great!" Davy exclaimed, turning back to the task he'd been tending to when she'd arrived. He stopped and looked at her again. "I'm sorry, luv, but I don't remember your name."
"Autumn," Micky and Autumn supplied in unison.
"You're talking at the same time," Mike observed.
"You went out too long," Davy concluded, turning back to what ever that job he'd been working on was. Autumn and Micky shrugged.
Autumn brought gifts for the guys with her. She'd asked Micky what all of the guys wanted, that was exactly what she gave them.
"Be careful what you wish for," Autumn warned before handing them their presents.
"We didn't get you anything," Peter protested.
"That doesn't matter," she assured him.
Nevertheless, the Monkees stared at Autumn.
"Are you going to try to stare me down or open your gifts?" she demanded after a few minutes of silence.
"I guess we'll open our gifts," Davy said slowly.
"Go ahead and do it then."
Mike, Micky and Davy began opening their presents, but Peter continued to stare at Autumn. She winked at him and smiled.
For the next few hours, Mike and Davy observed the same thing they'd noticed the first time they'd seen Autumn and Peter together—back in August in a city park, feeding ducks. They could tell that Autumn and Peter really liked each other, but something was preventing Autumn from doing anything about it. She didn't seem like the type to sit idly by when she saw something she wanted.
Mike and Davy noticed that Micky was acting strangely, too. He seemed angry at Autumn for even being there, and even more so for openly flirting with Peter.
Micky had planned on letting Peter and Autumn go out by the end of the year, but Autumn had pretty much killed that. Micky wouldn't admit it, but she had really hurt his pride.
Ah, well, that was Christmas 1965. Come with us now as we journey forward to the present—Sunday, February 13, 1966.
Autumn was patiently waiting in Club Cassandra when Peter finally arrived. The minute he walked through the door, she jumped up from her seat and almost ran to him.
"Happy birthday, Peter!" she exclaimed.
"Thank you! How have you been?"
"Good. You?" Oh no, Autumn thought. The mindless trap of small talk. Must . . . get . . . free!
"Fine, thanks," Peter replied. "Are you okay?"
"Huh? Oh, yeah. Let's sit down."
"I really don't mean to be rude," Autumn began, "but aren't the other guys coming?"
"I thought they were." Peter and Autumn each scanned the restaurant, but the other three Monkees were no where in sight.
"That's weird," Peter remarked.
A waitress approached the table. "Are you ready to order?"
"I think we're waiting for someone," Autumn said, unsure.
"Are you Autumn and Peter?"
"Yeah," they said, nodding in unison.
"I have something for you." The waitress reached into one of the pockets of her apron and produced an envelope. "Happy birthday. I'll be right back."
Peter took the envelope from the waitress just before she walked away. "I wonder what this is."
"Open it and find out," Autumn suggested.
Peter did. Inside the envelope, there was a card. He pulled it out. Autumn looked at the front after Peter opened the card. It was a picture of a very bright, abstract painting. It looked like the paint exploded on the page.
Peter laughed softly.
"What is it?"
Peter turned the card around so she could read the inside of the card. Autumn laughed, too.
"Happy birthday Peter!" the card read. "Your gift should be there already. Surprise to you both! Your friend, Micky."
The lights suddenly dimmed. "Happy birthday to you!" sang the entire wait staff. They produced a beautifully decorated cake. Peter's face lit up until his smile was brighter than the cake's candles. Autumn felt her pulse quicken as she watched Peter's grin spread across his face. She'd almost forgotten how wonderful his smile was.
Autumn coughed. She jumped from her thoughts back to the present, where Peter had already blown out the candles. The smoke from the extinguished candles was still rising, but the wait staff had disappeared, and the lights were back to their full power.
"What did you wish for?" Autumn asked.
"I can't tell you that," Peter said, blushing. Either Autumn didn't notice, or she didn't care, because she didn't say a word.
"Well, go on and cut the cake," Autumn urged. Peter took the knife and cut two slices for them.
Autumn took the first bite, and the smile on her face melted away.
Peter hadn't noticed, and was about to take a bite when Autumn grabbed his hand and stopped him.
"Don't," she admonished him around her mouthful. Peter waited for her to swallow, which she did very slowly. "It doesn't have enough sugar, and it's really dry. In fact, it's like stale chocolate bread with frosting."
Peter glanced down with distaste at his fork. He quickly set it down. "I'm not really hungry any more."
"Me neither." She suddenly glanced at the door. "We've got to go now."
"Please?" she said, smiling sweetly.
"Okay," he relented. They got up from the table and headed toward the exit.
"Autumn!" called someone very nearby. Autumn and Peter stopped.
"Will," Autumn said happily. "Where have you been?"
"Here and there. Oh! This is Peter Tork. Peter, this is my friend Will Gunther. We're dancing partners, right Will?"
"Cha-cha?" Will asked.
"Huh?" Before Autumn understood what he meant, Will began dancing with her.
"Will, dahlink, I need to leave."
"Oh, okay." Will turned her loose—literally. She stopped herself after the second spin, but it was too late. Autumn took Peter's arm and they continued on their route out, but they'd been spotted.
Autumn froze. The voice behind her was all too familiar. "Hello."
"Who's this with you?" Jon asked as he walked around them so he could actually see them.
"This is Peter."
"Aren't you going to introduce us?" Jon asked.
"Peter, this is Jon. There, you're introduced. Can I talk to you at home, Jon?"
Jon's eyes lit up. "Okay," he said eagerly. "But without him."
Autumn rolled her eyes. "Yeah, yeah, whatever."
Jon hurried off, firm in the assurance that whoever it was with Autumn was no threat to Jon's position in her life.
"Crisis averted. We could stay if you like."
Peter glanced behind him at the barely-touched cake. "No, that's alright."
"Then let's leave." Autumn withdrew her hand from Peter's arm, and Peter took her hand.
After exiting the club, they walked in silence for a few minutes. "Peter," Autumn began. "We can't just go home—it's your birthday."
"The guys said that if I wasn't home before eight, they'd never forgive me. Or maybe it was if I did get home before eight. But, I think they were joking."
"Well, if they don't forgive you, I will," Autumn offered. She didn't realize until after she said it, but she didn't say anything like what she meant, and Peter was giving her a questioning look.
"Do you not want to be out with me?"
"No, that's not what I meant. I meant if they never forgave you and you had no friends except me, I would still be your friend."
"Oh," Peter said. "Thank you."
"You're very welcome. Hey!" she exclaimed, stopping them both. "We could go to the park."
Peter nodded in agreement and led her across the street to the park.
"Y'know, Peter, we don't know very much about one another," Autumn said after they settled on the swings.
"You're right." They both lapsed into silence.
"Okay, I'll start. I was born on April second, 1945, in Raleigh, North Carolina. I moved to California when I was five years old. I have one older brother, one younger sister and one younger brother. My older brother, Phillip, is ten years older than me. Jeanie, my sister, is two years younger, and Brad is seven years younger."
"Your parents had four children over seventeen years?"
Autumn shrugged. "They got married young. Hm. . . . My parents are incredibly rich, and never trust Jon Kildarby unless you have to. Jon is the second guy we met in the restaurant."
"Now it's your turn. Where were you born? What year? When did you come to Cali?"
"I was born twenty-four years ago today, in Washington, D. C., but we moved to Connecticut when I was little. I came out here about a year ago. I have a sister, Anne, and two brothers, Nicholas and Chris, and my parents are John and Virginia."
"I see." Autumn began to wring her hands nervously.
Peter caught the small detail. "Are you okay?"
Autumn decided to go ahead and say it straight out. She stood up, and Peter did the same, facing her.
"Can I ask a huge favor of you?"
"First off, how long has it been since we started dating?"
"Um . . . six months."
"Okay, now for the big favor—and you don't have to do it if you don't want to, of course."
"Well, what is it?"
"If it's not too much trouble, I mean."
"Autumn, are you going to ask me or not?"
"Peter, would you please . . . kiss me?"
"You thought you had to ask?" Peter kissed her.
"Happy birthday, Peter."
Peter laughed and thanked her.
"I guess we should go," Autumn said, glancing at her watch. "I should be home soon."
"Do your parents have a curfew for you or something?"
"No, but remember that I sent Jon back to my house to wait for me."
"But one more thing before we start back."
"Would you like another birthday present?"
Before Peter could answer, Autumn kissed him again.