Michael doesn't celebrate his birthday, but I always make a concentrated effort to at least get him a gift on his birthday. He won't accept a celebration because it's against Jehovah, which I get. But he does accept gifts. This year, I don't know what I'm going to get him. I mean, I've got twenty-two days until his birthday, but I still don't know. Thankfully, Michael accepts the fact that I like to celebrate my birthday every day of the month, but Michael? Nope. He's not having it. He'll accept a gift on the day of his birth and that's final. It makes it so hard for me being such a celebratory person, but I've been respecting his religion this long. Can't make any changes now. Even if he publicly declared he left the church, he still holds onto those values.
"Babe, what do you want to want for your birthday?" I asked Michael as I proceeded to unpack my luggage.
He shrugged, "nothing. You know I'm getting ready for the tour, babe. My birthday is the last thing on my mind."
"I get that, but do you have any gifts in mind? We go through this every year."
He kissed my cheek, "surprise me." Well, that doesn't really help. For someone who can afford anything in the world, it's kind of hard to shop for him. "Oh, babe, you got this in the mail," he handed me an envelope from the nightstand. It had my previous publishing company's address in the top left. I opened it to find a letter. They congratulated me on selling three thousand copies of my novel. Along with that, they regretted that I wouldn't be writing for them anymore and wished me the best. Three thousand copies already? There was also a check written out for two thousand five dollars and sixty-three cents. I don't even feel like I deserve this. Had my book not been sabotaged; would I have even sold three thousand copies already? I'll never know. "What is it, babe?" Michael asked.
"A congratulations letter from my previous publisher. My book sold three thousand copies."
He gasped, "congratulations, babe! That's amazing! Look at you. You're already a bestseller."
"If my book had not been sabotaged, would I even be holding this congratulations letter?"
I rolled my eyes, "you really think so?"
"Well... it could have. We don't know. The point is three thousand people across the United States bought your novel."
"Because of the lie on the cover. I don't even feel like I deserve this..." I sighed.
"Look on the bright side, your name is out there. Three thousand people think Shayla Jackson is the best writer in the nation. Now they'll be looking forward to more from you."
"More interracial romance?"
"If that's what you choose to write, go ahead and do it. But I'm sure once they read it, they realized Jason was black and the cover was done in error," he shrugged.
I sighed, "Thanks. I still feel like I don't deserve this though. Thankfully, I get to start over with a new publishing company. I'll be starting on a new book while we're on tour."
"There you go! What's done is done. Now we're moving on to the next thing."
"How was your week?"
"It was fun. I wish you had been on set with me. The atmosphere. The props we had. It really felt like we were at a carnival. You would have loved it."
"When do I get to see the finished product?"
"I'll give you a sneak peek before the month is out. Now that my part is done, they're just editing it and making sure it flows properly. You better believe I'll be there before they fully complete it though. I really love that short film. It's so personal to me."
"I'm sure. How's Frank?"
"He's good. I've got to show you the pictures we took on set. You'll love them. Bubbles had the best cameo too."
I smiled, "aww, I know he did. Did you and Bubbles take photos together?"
"Of course! How couldn't I take photos with Bubbles? He was the star of the entire short film," we laughed. "How is the family doing?"
"Everyone is doing well. I already told you about Mary being weird and Matthew being dumb. Mariah really loved being around Nori. I think Andy was jealous she got all the attention. I swear Nori is the cutest baby I've ever seen. I almost got baby fever, but that quickly changed once my parents asked me when you and I are having kids."
Michael laughed, "what is the rush with those two?"
"I mean... Mom did have Mariah because she wanted to spoil a baby since no one was giving her grandkids yet."
"Right..." he rolled his eyes. "I had to fire Craig."
I gasped, "why? What did he do?"
"He was betraying us."
"How so?" Craig betrayed us? For what? Whatever we had, Craig had. He was more than a friend. He was definitely family. He must have done something pretty crazy for Michael to have to fire him.
Michael opened his mouth to speak but closed it to find the words to say. What Craig did must have been pretty bad. "He felt that you didn't fit my image."
My heart dropped. Craig said that? My eyebrows furrowed in confusion, "and who does?"
He sighed, "I don't know." How long did Craig think this? And why did he feel that way? He was literally family. I honestly felt like he was a brother. Being Michael's stunt double had its perks and he obtained them all. But to tell Michael that I didn't fit Michael's image? He must have had it out for me for a while. You don't just up and say that. I mean, I guess I'm glad Michael fired him then because apparently, he wasn't a true friend. I proceeded to unpack my belongings in silence. I just don't know why Craig felt that way. Am I really too regular for Michael? Did Michael need a woman in the entertainment industry to match his image? Does Craig think I'm some kind of leech or gold digger? Maybe someone told him I didn't fit Michael's image. I have a pretty good idea for who that could be. Frank hasn't liked the fact that Michael and I have been married from the get-go. If these two men think I don't fit Michael's image, then who does fit Michael's image?