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Chapter 26

Chapter 26

Being on set knowing that Shayla was still upset with me bothered me greatly. We didn't talk much about what happened last night between her and Elizabeth, but I now know I have to talk with Elizabeth about it. In fact, I have to talk to everyone about it. With everyone in my camp, there is no way that I will ever be able to talk to everyone all at once. It's better that I schedule meetings to talk to everyone who needs to know and call it a day. I always knew portraying myself as single for the public was going to be a challenge regarding my marriage. But I trusted Frank would respect Shayla nonetheless. Not only him, but everyone else in my camp. I guess not. After much thought, I thought it best that Bill write up confidentially agreements for everyone on set to sign. Before the lunch hour, everyone is to meet me in one of the conference rooms at the hotel. I want Shayla to attend, but I'm unsure if she wants to attend. I want to get my point across. I need to stand my ground. The people in my camp need to know that she's my wife and to treat her accordingly. Not like the help. Not like a groupie. Not like a pass around. A wife. My wife. Because that's who she is and always will be. Before the meeting is to ensue, I want to at least ask Shayla if she wants to attend. Once I got up the elevator to the penthouse, I found her in the living room watching television.

"Hey, babe," I walked over to her.

"Hey," her voice was flat as if she didn't even want to talk to me.

I took a seat beside her, "I had Bill write up confidentiality agreements."

She tore her gaze from the television to me, "for...?"

"I've decided that whenever I work with people, I should tell them of my marriage, but they have to sign a confidentiality agreement about it."

She scoffed, "a confidentiality agreement?"

"Yes, babe. It's for your safety and mine. I'm doing the best I can, okay? Can you please at least acknowledge the fact that I'm trying?"

"Well," she looked for what she was about to say. "What would happen if someone were to break that confidentiality agreement? I'm sure there are some untrustworthy people in your camp somewhere."

I shrugged, "they'll just be sued. Simple as that."

"But I'm still a secret?"

I sighed, nodding, "but only to the public, babe. Not anyone that we see on a daily basis or whomever we work with. Who cares about the public anyway?"

"I do, when I know there will be millions of women lusting over you!"

"That's just part of the business, Shayla. I couldn't get around that if they knew I was married or not."

"I see..." She looked around. "So, you're having Bill write up these agreements. When do you hand them out?"

"In thirty minutes actually. I have a meeting with the entire crew. The actors, dancers, cameramen... Everyone. I was wondering if you would like to join me. I would love to have you by my side."

"What about everyone else?" She wondered. Elizabeth was probably at the forefront of her mind when she asked that.

"Some of them I'll have to discuss it one on one. The others, I'll get to eventually. I can only get to everyone out here at the moment. Is this okay? Or is there something else you want me to do?" She thought long and hard about it. I couldn't think of anything else that could possibly fix this. The best thing I could think of was confidentiality agreements and telling everyone as a group. Other than that, I'm unsure of what else to do.

"That thing last night with Elizabeth cannot happen again. You always let me tell these people how to respect me, but do you really think they take me seriously? I understand I have a voice and I very much so intend on using it, but if my words aren't backed up by my husband then I'm sure my word isn't bond. This has not only happened with her, but Frank and Bill. When we met with Frank back in September, you let me say all I had to say and didn't even back me up. No wonder he still feels like he can do or say anything he wants. And then I don't know what kind of agreement you and Bill have, but I'm going to need it to be well known that he isn't just your bodyguard. He is mine too. I get that he's been around since you were a kid, so your bond is like father and son, but having the secrets y'all have is ridiculous. I shouldn't feel like an outsider in my own marriage. Do you get where I'm coming from?" I nodded. I must admit, telling Bill to not tell Shayla anything was irresponsible and inconsiderate. I would hate if she had someone do that to me, so why on earth would I feel that it's okay to do that to her? "Sometimes I feel like I'm dealing with a child instead of a grown man," she sighed. "Just put your foot down... Okay?"

"I will for you," I stood up. "Did you want me to wait for you or will you meet us down there?"

"I'll be down there shortly. I have to get dressed. Go on without me," she stood up to get ready.

"Okay. We're in conference room B. I'll see you there," I made my way to the elevator to go downstairs. Everyone should be there. As far as I'm concerned no one should be late since this is still paid time and not yet the lunch hour. I just hope this goes smoothly. I entered the room to find everyone in there. One seat was empty at the head of the table. Bill stood beside the chair, so I'm assuming it's mine. Everyone either had a folder in front of their seat or in their hands. I wonder if any of them have looked in it or not. "Hi, everyone," I went over to Bill. "Has anyone looked in the folders?" I whispered to him. He shook his head no. Good. I wanted to be the one to tell everyone what was in it. "I just want to say that everyone's performances have been nothing but stellar so far. We have a couple more weeks to shoot and I know we're all going to do great. You're all such amazing people and I couldn't ask for a better crew or costars." Clearing my throat, I looked around the room to find everyone still staring at me for the next thing I had to say. Keeping my marriage private has provided me a sense of security in a way. It's the one thing in my life that I've been able to keep out of the media. Whether I'm having everyone sign these agreements or not, I'm still risking the chance of someone being untrustworthy. Push comes to shove, I can just sue and have someone take care of it. "I'm sure you all have seen a beautiful lady on set by the name of Shayla. She's a very sweet woman. Very kind. Very down to earth. Stunning... She happens to be very dear to me. A close friend. A confidant. Someone I can call on my best and worst days. She's my best friend... My lover... And my wife..." At that everyone gasped. I could feel Frank's eyes searing into me, but I paid him no mind. "She really means a lot to me. I've told a couple of you already. Jeffrey, Cazsper, Marty... Some of you already know, but this is really for all of you that don't already know. I've talked with some of you on how you've treated my wife," I met Frank's stare. "And from this point on, if you disrespect or belittle my wife again, you will find yourself unemployed." Looking out at everyone else, "this goes for everyone. I know everyone is used to seeing me solo. But I assure you, that hasn't been the case for the past three years." As if on cue, Shayla walked in looking nothing less than stunning. I stood up to offer her my seat. "If you haven't met her already, this is Shayla-Elizabeth Jackson. We got married in nineteen eighty-three and have been going strong ever since." I looked at Shayla, "is there anything you would like to say to everyone?"

She smiled and waved, "hi." Everyone greeted her.

Still gazing at Shayla, I held her hand, "this is the woman of the house. The woman of my life. The lady in my life, if you will. And I expect you all to treat her with nothing but respect. The same kind of respect you would expect for your own wives." I helped Shayla into her seat and looked out at everyone, "no matter the history I share with any of you all, I care about you deeply, but know that I love my wife more. So if you belittle her, you're belittling me. Before you are folders. In them include a confidentiality agreement. You are not to discuss what you see on set regarding me and my wife. You are not to discuss what you hear regarding me and my wife. You are not to discuss my marriage period amongst others outside of the crew we have here. I don't know if any of you have seen a confidentiality agreement before or understand it, but I assure you everything you need to know is right there in plain ink. I recommend you read it and sign it. You all cannot leave this room unless you sign it, because no one can know I am married unless they are close friends with me or I work with them. The understanding between my manager, Shayla and myself is to not let the public know that I am married. I am to be seen as single to the media and so far we've been doing well and I'd like to keep it that way. If any of you find yourself breaking this agreement, you can find yourself sued and dealt with. Bottom line. Are there any questions?" I asked everyone. Some were reading the agreement. Others looked to me as if they had something to say.

"So," one of the dancers, Gregg, cleared his throat. "You mean to tell me, you've been married this whole time and nobody knew?"

"No one. I mean, you may have seen Shayla and I in the papers or on the news a couple years back, but it wasn't known that we were married."

"So, you guys have been keeping this a secret the entire time?" Wesley asked.

I winced, "I really don't like the word secret in regards to my marriage. I just didn't want it public. If you were in my shoes, I suppose you would value the sanctity in privacy as well. Any other questions?" No one answered. "Well, there are a good fifty three of you in here. As long as I get back fifty three signed agreements, you're good to go." As everyone read through the agreements and signed them, I bent down towards Shayla, "so how'd I do?"

"I'm proud of you, I guess," she smiled. "But you're going to have to talk to Elizabeth about this too, ya know?"

"I know... She doesn't want to talk to me right now. She completely ignored my calls earlier. That or she already left the city, so I'll just get with her another time."

"Okay... Thank you, baby," she kissed my cheek. Bill collected all the agreements as everyone left the room. Frank continued to stare at his unopened folder.

"Is there anything you have to say?" I asked him.

"You do know if word gets out that you're married, then it's your fault, right? You'd have no one to blame but yourself, because you can't trust half the people in this room," he looked up at me.

"Well, that's what I have you for, isn't it? For damage control? If someone breaks that agreement, it falls on you, not me. If you don't fix it, you and I will have a problem."

Frank sighed a heavy and unruly sigh, "do you really expect me to sign this? I'm already around you twenty four seven."

"If Bill has to sign it, you have to sign it as well. Who knows if you're out here talking about my marriage behind my back or not?"

"This is a big mistake, Michael," he opened the folder and took out the document. I just needed his and Bill's signature and I'd be set. Things should certainly change from here on out and hopefully things between Shayla and I get better.

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