Chapter 28

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"I have a surprise for you guys. Come on," I took June's hand in mine and led her and Dave to their car. For the next couple of days, I'll be getting ready for the Grammy's, so why not treat this family to one more thing before I have to get back to doing award shows? After this, I'll keep in contact with them as much as I can, but I can only do so much. I've helped them enough after they've helped me and my wife, but now it's time to get back to reality.


"Where are we going?" June asked.


"Where are the kids?" Dave asked.


"They're in on the surprise too," I giggled.


"Michael, what is going on?" June crossed her arms, trying to suppress her smile.


I put my hand on the door handle, "Jordie and Lily wanted to be the ones to tell you that we're going to..." I opened the door.


"Universal Studios!!!" June and Lily shouted, blowing noisemakers and spraying them with silly string.


"Okay, the silly string was their idea, not mine," I made sure to tell them so they wouldn't kill me for ruining their attire.


"Universal Studios?" Dave laughed as he started pulling the silly string off of his clothes. "Whose idea was this?" I looked at Jordie.


Jordie shrugged, "we haven't been in a while and Michael had asked me where he thought we would want to go for the day."


"So, you chose Universal Studios? Not Las Vegas or Hawaii?" June asked. I looked at her. I tried to keep a smile, but the confusion on my face definitely showed. I'm trying to stay local, not travel the world with this family.


"There's so much you can do at Universal Studios though..." Jordie sounded a tad disappointed.


Dave must have noted the expression on my face and the disappointment in Jordie's voice, "well, I think Universal Studios was a great idea!" He put his hands on June's shoulders and kissed her cheek. "When do we go, Michael?"


"Um, right now actually. Everyone's bags are packed. We just have to get going," I clasped my hands together. I planned on riding with them, but now I think I'll just have to ride by myself. June's ungratefulness just caught me off guard. Is this what Shayla was talking about? And if so, how could she see something like that so soon? "So, go on and get in the car. I'll follow right behind you guys."


"You're not coming with us, Michael?" Jordie asked me. It was clear he wanted me to ride with them.


"I am. I just... I'm going to ride in another car. I have to call my wife and see how she's doing and everything."


"Can I ride with you? I don't mind if you're on the phone," he started to get out of the car, which caused Lily to begin to cry.


"I'm sorry, Jordie. I have to make a lot of calls."


"Michael, it's okay if Jordie rides with you. We don't mind," June assured me.


"See?" Jordie smiled at me.


Now he's going to make me feel bad... I sighed, "Jordie, I'm sorry. I'll meet you all at the theme park. Besides," I gestured toward the truck. "Lily looks like she's gonna need you. You can't leave your baby sister by herself."


"But," he looked down at the ground. "My mom said it was okay..."


"Hey... Don't look so sad. Look up," I told him. Jordie looked up at me, clearly disappointed that I wanted to ride alone. "I'll meet you guys at the theme park. It's only a two-hour ride."


"But after this, you have to get ready for the Grammys... When are we going to see you again?"


"Jordie, why are you acting like this is goodbye?" I laughed, trying to lighten up the mood. "This is not goodbye. I'll follow right behind you guys. I just have to get my suitcase out the back and call Bill."


"Okay..." he sighed and climbed back into the family car. I opened the trunk and got my two suitcases out. What they packed to stay overnight at the ranch, I had repacked for them and put it back in their car so we could go to Universal Studios, they could go home, and we could all go on our merry way. As much as I enjoy spending time with this family, I have to get back to business.


"So, we'll see you there, Michael?" Dave asked as he opened the passenger door for June to get in.


"I'm following right behind you guys. I just have to get Bill," I assured him.


Once Dave got everyone in the car, he came over to me, "look... I'm sorry about my wife. I'm sure that's why you changed your mind about riding with us, huh?"


"Huh? Um," I tried finding an answer.


"It's okay. You don't have to, um, lie or anything. That's June for you. I'm sure that offended you and I want to apologize on her behalf. Thank you for taking us to Universal Studios. You really didn't have to do that."


"It's just something I wanted to do," I shrugged, completely ignoring everything else he had to say. I hate confrontation. And while I appreciate him apologizing on his wife's behalf, it's not something I want to discuss further.


"June is thankful too by the way," he assured me.


"I know," I offered a small smile.


"Is Bill really coming?"


"Yeah, he's coming. He has to," I laughed. "I'm about to call him now actually," I pulled out my mobile phone and dialed Bill's number.


"No hard feelings towards June?"


"What? No! I love June. I'd never have any hard feelings towards her."


"Okay," Dave kind of smiled. "Well, I guess we'll meet you at Universal then. Where do you want me to meet you?"


"Bill isn't too far. The drive down to the gate alone is a mile. I'll be right behind you. Trust me," I assured him. He finally got in his car and started to drive. It wasn't long before Bill got me too. Explaining to Bill what June had said made him look at me like she was crazy too. I didn't want to believe what Shayla felt, but maybe she's right. After this outing, I'm glad I'll be busy so as for them not to hang around as much.


"Are you gonna tell Shayla?" Bill asked me.


"About what?"


"What June said."


"And give her a chance to tell me, 'I told you so?' Yeah, right. No, I think I'll keep this one to myself. Thank you very much. As far as I'm concerned this will be the last time I see the Chandlers anyway." I picked up my phone and dialed Shayla's number. Hopefully, she's just about done with a book signing. She's been dealing with so much since Cleveland with my fans showing up to her signings heckling her with questions about me when it should really be about her. I have to check up on her and her wellbeing.


"Hey, baby. I'm just now leaving the venue," Shayla answered.


"How'd this one go?"


She sighed, "well, your fans weren't half as bad here as they were in D.C. yesterday. These fans just wanted an autograph."


"Well, that's sweet."


"Southern hospitality, I guess. How's your day?"


"Good... I guess. The Chandlers spent the night and-"


"Again? Michael, I thought I told you I didn't want June at my house..." she groaned, clearly frustrated with me.


"I know, baby. I know. And I think I'm actually starting to understand what you mean, but hear me out," I tried reasoning with her.


"What do you want me to hear when I told you plain and simple I want her gone?"


"They came up for the ranch yesterday because it was open to the public. It's the whole clan this time, babe. Dave was here right along with June. They had so much fun, I didn't want to send them back home late. So, I let them stay in the guest house again."


"Did you offer the same hospitality to the other families that came up yesterday?"


"No... I don't know them."


"You don't know the Chandlers either!"


I sighed, "babe, listen. I'm taking them to Universal Studios today. Then they'll be out of my hair. Okay?"


"I just don't want them anywhere near my house. I don't trust them. They could be... I don't know... Opportunists or something. Something just does not sit right with me about June."


"Let you tell it, but she's the sweetest person, babe. She can't wait for you to get back so the two of you can have lunch together."


"Lunch?" I could hear the attitude in her voice. "For what?"


"I don't know," I shrugged. "Maybe for some girl chat."


"And I'm sure you told her I'm not interested, right?"


"...not exactly..."


She sighed, "Michael..."


"Babe, they're really going through a lot, okay? Did you know that June just married Dave? That's not Jordie's biological father."


"And?"


"And... Jordie doesn't get along with Dave and his biological father doesn't have the time of day for him."


"What does that have to do with us, Michael?"


"June told me that I was kind of a father figure to Jordie and that it really has helped their entire family that I've been able to spend time with them."


"Father figure? How long have you been spending time with this family for her to say that?"


"Just a week."


"And she thinks you're a father figure to her son? What? Her new husband isn't a good enough father figure?"


"I don't know, Shayla. I'm just being kind here, okay? Apparently, their time here has really helped their family and I'm glad I could help them in that way. I didn't know that I was doing it, but I changed something. If Jordie needs that extra father figure, I guess I can help. Apparently, I already have. I just need you to be on my side with this and not on opposite sides of the spectrum with me." As much as I love my wife and her insight, I just really need for her to understand that it's not all about her sometimes. It's about what we can do for other families and how we can help them. She may have a feeling about June, but she never said anything else about Dave and the kids.


She sighed, "okay. Look... I'll talk to you later. We're about to head to the airport so we can go to Philly."


"Don't let this upset you. There really isn't anything to be upset about..."


"I just wish you listened to me sometimes, Michael. I get that you want to be kind, but if I have a feeling in my gut about something, we both have to trust that. I'm not getting this feeling for nothing."


"I know... That's why after today I'll limit my communication with them."


She sighed a breath of relief, "okay."


"Okay?" I started to smile. "Quit worrying, girl. I listen to you. I don't want you to ever feel like I don't listen to you."


"Sometimes you don't."


"Well, most times, I do. I love you. Be safe on that trip to Philly. Oh, and if you happen to see Frank, tell him and the Missus, I said hi."


She sucked her teeth, "bye, Michael."

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