Chapter 15

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Getting home was the easy part out of all that. Thankfully, Janet let us out of the back so we could get to our cars safely. I rode with Michael and Bill while the other guards rode with Roland. Can I really say that was my first crowd if I wasn't mobbed like how Michael normally is? Michael made it way easier for me to get out of that. I'm grateful, honestly because the way that crowd was gawking at just the sight of us was enough to make me wonder if they were seriously going to chase us like I've seen or heard Michael describe many times.


"As if they already haven't talked about us before, this is certainly going to draw some attention," Michael said as he looked out the window.


"Like what?" I looked over at him.


"I know we weren't the only ones who heard Janet fire Samantha like that," he finally looked at me.


"You've got a point there..."


"People are going to have a lot to say about that. Don't be alarmed if we just so happen to see articles claiming I got someone fired. You and I both know that was Samantha's own doing." I nodded. "Don't let I get to you."


"I'll try not to," I looked out the window. Throughout our marriage, Michael has done his absolute best to protect me from how crazy people can be, the rumors and all while at the same time trying his best to teach me to conquer it or how to ignore it.


"Shayla, you're going to look real good in that dress," Bill glanced at me through the rearview mirror.


"You think so? I didn't even get a chance to try it on."


"We can always get it altered," Michael shrugged.


"Any idea on when y'all are going to officially announce your union yet?" Bill asked, causing Michael and I too look at each other and shake our heads.


"Nah," Michael said.


"Y'all better do it quick before someone else does," I looked at Michael who looked out the window and nodded.


"It'll be very soon, Bill. You'll see," he assured him as he took my hand in his. He's so lost in his own thoughts and I really want to know what he's thinking about. The craziness of that shopping situation, I'm sure. Had Samantha not pulled the crap she pulled, we wouldn't have had to cause something like that. "You know what Samantha said to me?" Michael asked no one in particular as he continued to look out the window.


"What?" Bill and I asked.


"Had she known you were my friend, she would have never treated you that way. Because she didn't know you were my 'friend,' you were already subject to that kind of treatment. Basically, since she already saw you as just some regular black woman, she felt the need to confront and accuse you the way she's done other black people. But because you're my 'friend,' because you're the friend of a megastar, she was going to treat you better than that. What happened to treating everyone equally? We really haven't gotten to that point yet? She's still racist despite the fact, but she tried to cover it up by saying what she said as if that was supposed to fix everything. Racism really pisses me off and the fact that she thought that that would fix everything, it pisses me off even more. We've really made zero progress." Bill and I were quiet after Michael calmly expressed his anger.


Our society has a ton of work to do. I mean, but we already knew that. Racism, bigotry, sexism and everything else wrong with this world aren't cured overnight, no matter how much we wish it would be. When the LA Riots happened last year, the whole world stopped to watch as South-Central LA had turned into ruins. It broke our hearts to hear that the police who had so badly beaten Rodney King were found not guilty and the woman who shot young LaTasha Harlins only received probation and a community service sentence. We completely understood why everyone was pissed off. We sympathized with them. We understood why they chose to riot although in the end, it didn't change anything that had happened, nor did it bring any change. We did all we could donation wise to help South Central rebuild and even donated to LaTasha Harlins' family anonymously. It didn't sit right with Michael not to try to help her family after that tragedy. We do what we can and clearly, we right the wrongs of racists where it hurts.


"I just wish all of these stupid 'isms' didn't exist. It's ruining us, not helping us. She literally went from racist to classist in a matter of seconds. Did you see that?" Michael asked me, the frustration very evident in his voice. I nodded. He scoffed and looked back out the window. "We're going home tonight. I don't want to be in D.C. any longer." I looked down at the dress in my lap. I was literally denied the opportunity to try this dress on because I'm black. Interestingly enough, I've never had this issue. Why now? I just had to run into someone like Samantha five days before she would have probably seen her on television with Michael at the AMA's. Do I even want to wear this dress anymore, given everything that went on just for me to get it?


VII


(Five Days Later)


"Shayla, is that the dress Michael got you for free?"


"Michael, is it true that you got a college student fired from her job?"


"Do the two of you just not care about middle-class citizens that have to work for a living?" The questions that the press had waited to ask us poured in. I knew they were going to ask us these stupid questions when the story hit the news that I got a college student fired from her job. I warned Shayla they would have no problem asking us these questions without knowing the truth. After the incident, it was all over the news the next day just as I predicted with Shayla and I being called all kinds of names because of it. The worst rumor of it all was that since I'm so wealthy and they figured Shayla was as well, we apparently had no problems or feelings towards taking food out of someone else's mouth, which was so far from the truth. Oh! And the fact that they considered Samantha a kid instead of the grown woman she is, made our blood boil. What was it about the media claiming grown white people as just kids instead of the grown people they are? Is it to make them more innocent? I've never understood that and probably never will. Sandy called me relentlessly to have me do some kind of damage control. Literally begging me to do something so I wouldn't have a bad reputation over this, but I'd rather not. The people who saw the debacle and the media made this up. Not me. They make up rumors about me all the time, and it didn't help that Shayla, myself, nor the ex-employee, manager or CEO spoke on the situation. So let the public continue to make up what they want. I don't care. All I did was right a moral wrong.


"Shayla-Elizabeth, are you and Michael in love?" A female reporter interrupted the slew of ignorant questions to ask my wife what really mattered.


Shayla looked up at me and smiled, "I love Michael and I'm sure you all will love him just as much when you see his performance tonight." I took Shayla's hand in mine and led her into the auditorium so we could finally take our seats. We had been bombarded with so many questions as soon as we stepped foot on the red carpet that it was refreshing to finally get a question about us, and Shayla's response was nothing less of perfect. "They couldn't wait to ask, huh?" she asked me as we made our way to the front.


"They've been waiting to ask for days. You knew they had to," I reminded her.


"I wish they would just drop it."


"Oh no. The fact that I got a college student fired is going to be a hot topic for a while."


"Excuse me. I don't mean to interrupt," Shayla and I turned around to find a radiant Mariah Carey beaming. "I'm Mariah," she held her hand out to Shayla then me.


"So, I've heard! You have the voice of an angel," I smiled at her.


"You really think so?" she blushed.


"My little sister's name is Mariah. She absolutely adores you," Shayla told her.


"No way! I feel incredibly honored! Sorry to interrupt you two, but I just saw my chance and had to take it. Shayla-Elizabeth, your dress is absolutely stunning, and I don't care what the media says, I know for a fact that you wouldn't get someone fired for the sake of it, Mr. Jackson," she looked up at me.


"Thank you, Mariah," I nodded at her. That was incredibly kind of her.


"That's real!" Shayla nodded. "Have you seen what they've had to say about us?"


"Oh, I've seen... and it's far from nice," Mariah raised her eyebrows and looked away. "Off topic, but everyone is dying to know," she glanced down at our rings. "Are you two married?" Shayla and I looked at each other preparing to answer the question.


"Live from the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles! Here are the twentieth Annual American Music Awards!" the announcer announced over the microphone.


"Oop, I guess that's our cue. See you later," Mariah waved and hurried off to her seat.


"She sure did put us on spot, didn't she?" Shayla asked me as we went up to our seats.


"I didn't know how to answer, honestly." There's a difference with us telling everyone that we knew and came in contact with. But now, we're in the midst of finally announcing it to the world, which includes celebrities I've met on maybe one or two occasions but have never really been acquainted with. I don't really feel comfortable just telling certain people right now since we're building up for our own announcement and I'm sure my wife doesn't either. So to put us out of front street like that was kind of bold of Mariah. Thankfully the show can begin, because it's time for me to focus. I have a performance coming soon...

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