Roland offered me his suit jacket as we walked along the bustling streets of New York City in forty-degree weather. What was simply a six-minute drive was a near thirty-minute walk, but I needed the air. I need to clear my mind of this mess. Michael humiliated me because of this girl too many times. What happens when my brothers hear or see this? Because I'm sure someone amongst that sea of people got a photo. My father would want to kill him, and my brothers would follow suit. Even if he didn't cheat on me, his overall attraction to her was clear enough. Whether he told me he was attracted to her or not, all the facts were there. While Michael may have known about her obsession, he clearly ignored it. It's sad that it had to take me threatening to leave just for him to finally come to his senses and fire her.
"Mrs. Jackson, with all due respect, if you don't mind my opinion on the matter, I think Mr. Jackson is telling the truth. He didn't have an affair on you," Roland offered.
I sighed, "I don't doubt that. I know he didn't... But there's just certain things you just don't do in a marriage or in any relationship for that matter. I told Michael to get rid of her because he told me they were attracted to one another to avoid all this. Now, look where we are," I wiped an escaped tear from my cheek. Ugh. Who knows where her lips have been? For all I know, she could have herpes or something. All I know is that if there was a man I was attracted to who worked for me, I'd honestly keep my distance or just get rid of him altogether. I don't need that temptation. I don't get why Michael felt like he could just allow her to tempt him all this time until she finally got what she wanted. Now she's without a job because she did just that. Go figure. If she sues, I don't even care. That's chump change. I would have really been pissed off if Michael called himself sticking up for her or confronting me as Frank did about putting my hands on her. I guess that shows he really did care and that Tatiana was more of the aggressor in all of this. It still doesn't excuse the fact that he should have fired her before all this. We made our way through the sea of people who more than likely just left the concert. Here they are on an all-time high after seeing my husband on stage. And then there's me. The woman behind the scenes of everything they just witnessed at an all-time low. It's crazy that the man they idolize has given them a sense of hope, happiness and allowed them the opportunity to escape whatever problems they had for two hours, but that same man just caused me great pain. Little did they know, he bid them farewell, gratitude and "I love you's," but immediately after leaving that stage, he ran back to cry to me about his innocence. I guess that's just the double life of a pop star. If our marriage was out, would his fans sympathize with me or would they find joy in my misery? These are the "what ifs" I have to think about in terms of our marriage being announced. If it were, I would not be able to walk away from Michael and go outside like this just to breathe some fresh air. I'd either have to stick with Michael although he just pissed me off minutes before or get a cab that would nine times out of ten be followed and bombarded. This is why I appreciated our marriage not being announced. "Roland, if you were married and you found yourself attracted to another woman who worked with you and you told your wife about that attraction, what would you do?" I looked up at him.
"I wouldn't give her the time of day. And I certainly wouldn't let my lady feel like she's in competition with this other woman."
"Right," I nodded. The lump in my throat grew again. What about that didn't Michael get? Because she worked for him, he thought it was okay to keep her around offering excuse after excuse after excuse.
"We're here, Mrs. Jackson. Did you want me to escort you to your suite or did you want to stay down in the lobby?"
I sighed, "I'll just go to the suite. Michael is probably worried about me anyway." Roland escorted me through the lobby to the elevators. As soon as the doors opened, my eyes landed on Frank.
Frank sighed, "I'm sorry, Shayla. It should have never gotten to this," he said just before he exited. I have nothing to say to him. He can keep his sorry to himself for all I care. His days around here are numbered too. Roland and I got in the elevator, pressing the corresponding button to our floor. "Shayla, did you hear me?"
"I have ears, don't I?" I rolled my eyes as the elevator doors closed.
"You really don't like him, do you?" Roland asked me.
"No. He's the reason Michael is single to the public now. He's disrespected me since he got here. I'm over it," I shrugged.
He sighed, "glad I'm not the only one. He's such a pain in the ass. I don't see how you and Mr. Jackson have been putting up with him all this time."
"That's Michael's manager. Not mine. His reign is coming to an end though. He just doesn't realize it yet." Once we finally made it to our floor, I bid Roland goodnight and made my way to my suite unlocking the door to find Michael on the couch. He quickly rose to his feet once he saw me.
He inhaled through his mouth as he looked me over, "she's being sent home on a red-eye tonight. I had Frank make the arrangements. She should be on her way to the airport as we speak."
"I wish you were this earnest about getting rid of her before she kissed you for the entire world to see," I told him.
"I never meant to hurt you."
"You paid her to keep quiet, didn't you?"
"She signed an NDA. I don't have to pay her," he reminded me.
"Right," I nodded. Well, there goes her chance at a lawsuit.
"I was doing some thinking while you took your walk and..." he took a deep breath. "If I were in your shoes, I'd feel betrayed as well. I know how hurt I would be if I told you countless times to get rid of a man I knew you were attracted to. In fact, I don't even think I'd be able to handle it as you did. I'd probably..." his lips grew tight at the mere thought.
"Leave me for weeks on end?" I suggested.
"Weeks, months... And to see you kiss another man in front of me would probably make me leave forever. I wouldn't be able to handle it as you did. I'm sorry. I'm sorry it took the kiss for me to finally understand. I'm sorry it took that split second of a kiss to finally get rid of her as you told me to time and time again. I don't want to lose you Shayla-Elizabeth. I can't lose you. I'm sorry if I ever made you feel disrespected. I would never disrespect you like that again."
"This all could have easily been avoided if you had just listened to me the first time, ya know? I saw her taking advantage of you a mile away."
"Why didn't you tell me?"
"Why didn't I tell you?!" I rolled my eyes. "Me telling you to get rid of her was more than enough."
"You're right," he frowned. "Do you forgive me?"
"Only if you promise to never do something like that again."
He sighed a breath of relief and hurried over to hug me, "I promise. I promise. I promise. I promise. I promise," he repeated as he held me in a tight embrace, which I finally reciprocated. He leaned in to try to kiss me.
"Don't you dare," I leaned back away from him. "Until you wash your mouth."
He laughed half-heartedly. I could hear the hurt in his slight laughter, "sorry."
"Yeah... I need to take a shower. Give me some space for a moment and I'll meet you in bed."
"Take your time," he let me out of his tight embrace.
"It's going to take me a while. You understand that, right?" I informed him.
"Throughout all that time you need to take, I'll do whatever it takes to get back to where we were before all of this."
"Okay," I sighed. I feel like he just fed me a line from a rom-com, but whatever. I just want to take a shower and go to bed. Entirely too much has done on these past couple of days. Michael has another show in two days. Since Tatiana is gone, I wonder who is going to be her replacement. Who knows? I'm just glad she's finally gone.