Chapter 53

Chapter 53

"So, you're not going with me?" I asked Shayla again before I left. Not sleeping in the same bed with her last night definitely made me feel some type of way. I couldn't wait to see her again this morning. And I just knew she wanted to go to rehearsal with me again today.


"No. I've got to work on this book for DoubleDay. Besides, I can't stomach being there until you get rid of her," she sipped her tea.


I sighed, "Babe, I can't just... I just want you to know I'm sorry. Nothing happened between Tatiana and me. Can you at least tell me you believe me?"


"Get rid of her, Michael."


"I'll try... I love you," I said in hopes that she'd say it back.


"Love you too." I tried to kiss her, but she turned around, only allowing me to kiss her cheek. Great. Great. Great. I hurried out the door to a waiting Bill and got in the car.


"Everything okay with you and Shayla?" he asked as soon as I got in.


"I showed her the photos Tatiana and I took."


"Uh-oh..."


"She barely listened to anything I had to say. She said we made a cute couple."


"Oh, boy... You better fix this before you lose her. If she said that, you're doomed."


I sighed, "I know. She wants me to fire her, but I can't do that. We booked her for the entire tour. Plus, it would be like I'm firing her for no reason. I don't need a wrongful termination suit over my head."


"Looks like you're in a pickle there. You better think of something quick."


"I am, I am... It's just hard. Shayla thinks I had an affair. Which is so far from the truth. You can tell her!"


"I only work for you, Michael. Remember you got her her own security so I can't tell her anything? Congratulations, you played yourself."


I rolled my eyes, "well, Frank can tell her. I need someone to back me up on this. I didn't sleep with that girl. I never kissed that girl. I didn't keep in contact with that girl."


"But you allowed her little trespassing behind to stay on your closed set."


"Yet I told her countless times, I'm a married man. She tried everything she could, but I wasn't having it. The only thing she has on me is that she kissed me on the cheek twice. That's it. Other than that, I am not guilty of doing anything with that woman. It's all been her if you want to get technical. She was the one asking me what we are going to do about our attraction to one another. She was the one who kissed me on the cheek. She-"


"You are a married man who should have told that tramp to back off. You put yourself in this predicament. You should have told Shayla a long time ago. And since you didn't, now you have to get yourself out of this mess."


"You think I don't know that?"


"You're back there playing the victim. I keep telling you, she's doing her job as a single woman. You need to do your job as a married man and tell that woman to back off even if you have to suspend her or something." I'm not playing the victim. It's true. Tatiana is the reason I'm in this mess to begin with. Well, her along with Craig. Those two are destined for each other. Both messy people who want to destroy my life. Bill may be right in some areas, but he's not totally right. I'm not playing the victim. I'm just not the only one at fault here.


VII


As soon as we pulled up to The Forum, Tatiana was standing outside the double doors. Isn't she supposed to be indoors getting ready? What's she doing out here? I opened the door to get out and made my way to the entrance. Tatiana's entire face lit up at the sight of me. You'd think I was her boyfriend or something. That's how excited she was to see me. I'm kind of bothered she was waiting outside for me though. She's been sending creepy vibes for quite some time now and this certainly tops all creepy encounters and hearsays thus far.


"Hey, Michael!" she smiled. I opened the door to let her in first and followed in after her. "How's your day so far? Where's Shayla?" Hearing her say my wife's name only made me cringe. It's because of her that I'm in this mess with my wife to begin with. And I don't know how many times I have to tell her to stop mentioning Shayla. At this point, she's trying to be funny.


"I'm fine. For the thousandth time, stop talking about my wife. If you mention her again, you're fired." After saying that, she stopped walking alongside me. I'm sure she was stunned. My wife just threatened to leave me and here Tatiana is again in my face like my wife wasn't just hounding us yesterday about what possibly happened between us. It's as if nothing ever happened. Imagine if Shayla was actually here when we pulled up and she saw Tatiana waiting at those double doors. I wouldn't have heard the end of it. I went backstage to find everyone waiting for me. Karen took my hand and dragged me away from everyone, "what's going on?"


"What's going on between you and that Tatiana chick?" she asked as she pulled me toward my dressing room.


"Nothing! Why do you ask?"


She opened the door and shut it behind us, "You're going to want to sit down for this." I sat down slowly on the couch. What does she have to tell me that I have to sit down? "Tatiana is showing everyone those pictures you guys took on the 'Leave Me Alone' set."


"She what?!"


"Yes! I told her she shouldn't do that because you'd be mad, but she insisted you wouldn't mind."


"Why would she do that? Everyone knows I'm married. This only makes matters worse!"


"The girl is crazy. If you don't do something now. Things are going to be pretty hectic throughout this tour," she warned. I actually agree with Karen. I'm beginning to think Tatiana is crazy. What is her infatuation with me? And I just introduced the entire tour crew to my wife. Why on earth would she show everyone those photos knowing everyone is going to think something of it? I've got to think of something quick.


"Thanks for telling me, Karen. Did Frank do or say anything about that?"


"I don't think he knows. Everyone has been gossiping about it amongst themselves. You know if Frank knew by now, she'd be out of rehearsal for the day."


"Well, why didn't you tell him?"


"I didn't want you to think I was gossiping about you too!"


"Oh, you're right. Thanks, Karen. I'll handle it," I stood up to leave.


"Aht aht, sit back down. I've gotta fix your hair before you get out there," she pushed me back down onto the couch and went over to the mirror to gather all her hair supplies. What was with Tatiana? I think I just might have my own "Dirty Diana" on my hands.


VII


After finishing "She's Out of My Life," of course all I could think of was Shayla. What if she does leave me because of this stupidity with Tatiana? What if she tells her father about this? What if she tells her brothers? I'm a dead man for sure. Even if I did absolutely nothing wrong. I wouldn't be able to hear the end of it. I honestly don't even want to be here. I have so much going on with Shayla that it's affecting my rehearsal.


At my cue, the intro to "The Way You Make Me Feel" began to play. I started to sing the lyrics, making my way across the stage. Once it was Tatiana's cue, she walked across the stage. I looked her up and down as part of the performance. She turned around to make her way back to where she came from, sashaying away. I followed her and out of nowhere she stopped, turned around and blew a kiss then walked away again. I rolled my eyes and started to sing again, going back to center stage.


"Stop! Michael, what's wrong with you?" Frank called.


"What do you mean?" I asked.


"Are you alright? Do you need to take five or something?"


I sighed, "yeah... Matter fact, let me take twenty." I began to walk backstage to go to my dressing room. I just need to take a breather. Tatiana knows she's beautiful. She knows she can be tempting, and she uses that to her advantage. She's trying her best to get me to step out of my marriage, but I'm not going. "Frank," I called before going back. "Meet me in my dressing room." I've got to figure out something. I can't let her think she has control over me or that she can have me. She can't! She's a pretty face. Probably smart. But I'm married. I love my wife. I can't do this to Shayla. Isn't this instance number two where I've had an issue with Shayla over a video girl? The only thing is Ola wasn't obsessed. She was actually sane about the whole thing. Tatiana on the other hand...?


"What's up, Mike?" Frank followed me into my dressing room and shut the door.


"I don't want Tatiana to rehearse with us anymore... All she has to do is walk across the stage. She did a good job at it yesterday and she did a good job with it today, I guess. But I can't see her until the tour, Frank. I just can't. The more I see her, the more time she has with me, the more she thinks she has access to me. This ain't that. We work together. She thinks it's more. I don't want to see her until the tour starts. Having her around too much is causing friction in my marriage."


He nodded, "I'm sure Shayla would appreciate that."


"It's not even just because of Shayla. Tatiana has been on me for a while. I don't know how many times I have to tell that girl that I'm a married man and to keep my wife's name out of her mouth. It's like she's obsessed with us or something."


"I mean, you kind of encouraged it," he shrugged.


"How? I told her to leave me alone how many times?"


"Apparently, she thought you were playing. I'll tell her we won't see her until September," he turned to leave.


"Wait..." I hesitated. "Be kind, okay? Let her know this is nothing against her. She did great and we'll be sending her an itinerary shortly."


Frank sighed, "do you want to do it?"


"No... Just be nice. The last thing I need is Tati calling someone telling them how rude we were to her."


"Got it," he left my dressing room. Ugh. I hope he's nice about it. Knowing Frank, he's going to be so rude telling her we don't need her anymore and that she got me in trouble. It's not that. I just can't be around her. For one, I think she's becoming obsessed with me. Two, she repeatedly disrespects my wishes at not mentioning Shayla. Three, if Tatiana isn't gone, Shayla's leaving me. And I'm not going to let that happen. I can't let that happen. I don't even want to face Tatiana. I'd feel guilty if I did. I should check in on Shayla and see how she's doing. I picked up the phone and dialed the house number.


"Hello?" she answered.


"How's your book coming?" I asked.


"Oh," she sighed. "Good, I guess. I haven't really decided on anything yet. I'm still brainstorming. How's rehearsal?"


"It's okay... I wish you were here though. I'd have that extra boost of energy I need to put on a great show. I told Frank I needed twenty minutes. Not feeling too well today since the argument last night."


"Is she gone?"


"Who?"


"Don't 'who' me. You know who."


"Tatiana?"


"Yes..." she groaned.


"Hear me out, okay? I can't fire her because we've already got her booked to tour with us. If I fire her, I'd be hit with a wrongful termination lawsuit. I can't have that. So, I just told Frank to tell her we won't need her until the tour starts. All she has to do is walk across the stage. Who has to practice that? We won't be seeing her until it's time for the concert..." I told her. She can't really get upset with me. If I could let Tatiana go for no reason, I would, but I can't so that's the best I got.


"Alright. Well, I guess I'll have to make do with that, huh?"


"We won't see her until the concert starts. You win. I win because I don't get hit with a lawsuit. The whole world is happy," I smiled.


"Yeah, I guess. Why'd you have Frank do it? Why didn't you-" A knock came to the door.


"Hold on, baby. I'll be right back," I put the phone down on the table and got up to open the door to find Tatiana. "Hey... what's going on? Shouldn't you be getting ready for me to get back on stage?" I asked.


"Frank says you guys don't need me until September," she shrugged. "He said I did amazing out there, so there's no need for me to practice a walk for the entire month. I just came by to tell you that I'll see you next month," she pulled me in for a hug. I feel so bad but relieved at the same time.


"Well, that sucks," I finally brought my arms up to hug her back. "I guess I'll see you in September."


She let go and smiled, "tell your wife I said hi," she waved as she walked away. I cringed. It's like no matter what I say, she always makes a deliberate point to mention Shayla. What is it with this girl?!

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