Chapter 36

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"When aren't you upset with me? It seems you've been upset with me since you got back!" I threw my hands up in the air in frustration. Shayla is making it seem like I can't do anything right for her. I let her announce the marriage how she wants to. Fine. I go about our marriage the way I want to. Not fine. I help kids. Not fine. I can't do anything right by her and it's beginning to get under my skin. Our announcement was supposed to be one of the happiest moments of our lives given we'd waited so long. Now when I look back on it, I'll just be thinking about how much of a mess it's been.


"I wouldn't be upset with you if you just listened to me. You don't listen!"


"What am I supposed to do when all I do is listen to you, Shayla? Huh? When don't I listen to you? Please enlighten me."


She sighed. "I told you about June. You didn't listen to me today when I told you I was upset about the publicity stunt. You just swept my feelings under the rug. And here you are with these kids that we don't know from Adam."


"Correction, you don't know them, because you haven't given them a chance. Second, I did listen to you today about that stunt I pulled today. We just haven't addressed it yet and since you want to address it so bad. Let's, because I'm tired of you being so upset with me today. Why is it such an issue?"


"I told you, Michael. Because you sprung it on me. You didn't tell me. You just pulled me along like a puppet. I'm not your puppet."


"Anything else you want me to know?"


She scoffed. "I said all I had to say earlier."


"Okay, well now it's my turn. Although I wanted to announce our marriage the way I wanted to, I didn't. I let you take control and do it all. You decided on some measly little announcement. You and I both know I wanted our announcement to be something that people would talk about for the rest of the decade, but alas you chose something minor. Sure, I was upset about it. Sure, I made it known that I was upset. But I let you do what you wanted. I let you take the wheel. So, since you got what you wanted, I chose to do what I wanted. A publicity stunt. Which actually went well by the way. The photos turned out great. The fans loved us. And although I knew you were upset, just like how you knew I was upset about the way you chose to announce it, I was glad that you still sucked it up and did the stunt with me. You looked beautiful out there. You don't even know how beautiful you looked because you're so mad about what happened."


"But my thing is, you didn't even tell me about it. Don't you see the error there?"


"I told you we had an event to go to."


"But you never told me it was a stunt for our marriage. I-" She caught herself. "You know what, we should be talking about the issue I have with you now. These kids. These strangers kids. Are you going to take them home or not?"


"Yes," I nodded. "And for the record, I already told you why I feel so inclined to help them, so let's not get into that again. I just need to know that you're in agreement with helping me with this family or not." Shayla went quiet. I could tell that she was not in agreement with me. Even if she lied and said yes, I knew that if she helped them with me, it wouldn't be genuine. It would be because of me. With that, she just took her glass of wine and went upstairs.


VII


I'm so grateful that Shayla eventually agreed to help me with the Chandler's. Judging from how Jordie was talking, the family really needed our help. Since the argument, Shayla and I worked it out to where we were able to help the Chandler's with their rent, family trips and anything else they needed help with. I feel so good knowing that I'm able to help a family in need. Although I knew Shayla feels some type of way, I can tell she at least feels a little good about helping this family as well. Seeing her smile at how excited Lily would get when she saw Shayla made me happy. Although Shayla was skeptical about them, Lily clearly grew on her. So much so, we can't wait until we have our own children. The tension between Shayla and June has decreased although my wife still hasn't agreed on lunch and insists on not giving June her mobile or pager number. Their relationship as acquaintances is much better than the beginning though and that's all that matters.


Shayla and I walked hand in hand down Rodeo Drive. She was actually glad that I told her about the publicity stunt that I wanted to pull today. Although she couldn't really care less about publicity stunts, she actually agreed to this one and I think that's only because I told her about it. All we needed to do was walk down Rodeo Drive as a happy couple. Smiling and waving at the fans. Giving the public what they really wanted and that was all. We shopped a little although we had a trail of people following us. Roland and a new security guard, Peter, escorted us safely. Fans would ask for photos and autographs from us but doing that on the street wasn't safe. However, we both decided on allowing seven lucky fans into each store we went into. It was all fun and games for me, but I could tell Shayla wasn't as happy as I was. I know she only did it to make me happy.


We were escorted into Paolobongia and the employees made a beeline to the front to lock the door behind us to avoid anyone coming in to disturb our shopping. I went over to Shayla who had her eyes on some jewelry.


"How are you feeling?" I asked her.


"Your fans are very excited to see us." She mustered a small smile.


I shook my head. "I didn't ask about the fans. I asked about my wife. How are you feeling?"


She sighed and looked me in the eye. "Honestly?"


"Honestly."


"I'm ready for this freakshow to end. That's exactly what it feels like. We're a freakshow in a circus parading around for people to see us do normal stuff and if they're lucky enough they get to take a photo or whatever. I'm just ready for it to be over."


I don't want it to end, but I took Shayla's feelings into consideration. I nodded. "Okay. Well, this will be the last one. Then we can do whatever you like."


Her eyes lit up. "You promise?"


"Promise. Let's go ahead and let some fans in so we can get out of here." I watched as she chose some fans to come in. Roland and Peter escorted the ecstatic fans into the store. They were so excited to be in the same vicinity as us, however, one fan, in particular, was hysterically crying and screaming so bad that Roland went over to figure out if she was okay.


"Michael is my idol!" She managed to get out past her tears. I looked over at Shayla to find her looking at the hysterical fan with sympathy. "And your wife..." The fan swallowed. "She's so beautiful!" Shayla managed a smile at the compliment although I could tell she was still concerned.


"Mr. Jackson, someone is trying to get your attention." Peter tapped me on the shoulder. I tore my gaze from my wife to a fan who was standing right in front of me trying to get my attention the whole time.


"Michael, can I take a picture with you?" The guy gestured toward his polaroid camera around his neck.


"Of course!" I got photo-ready as the fan searched for someone to take the photo. Once he found someone, he hurried back over to me and put his arm around my shoulders and cheesed. When the photo was taken, the guy thanked me profusely. Everyone wanted photos with me this time around, so I continued to take photos. Shayla and Roland stood to the side sharing laughs and what looked like a good conversation. They've been so close over the years. So much so, I'm sure she considers him family, but I don't. He's just another employee to me.


After taking photos with just about every fan, I went over to Shayla and took her hand in mine so that we could meet the hysterical fan that had yet to calm down.


"What's your name?" I asked her.


The fan was visibly shaking. "Priscilla..."


"Priscilla, my wife and I would love to be able to capture this moment with you, but we can't get this beautiful moment on film if you look so sad..." I tried comforting her. Priscilla looked so shocked at what I said. It looked as though she didn't even know what to do with what I had just told her. She did her best to compose herself and introduced herself to Shayla.


In all seriousness and concern, Shayla asked, "are you okay, Priscilla? Why are you so hysterical?" It was a question for Priscilla that I'm sure Shayla felt she wanted to ask all the hysterical fans she's seen over the years. A question that she desperately wanted to be answered and finally got her chance to ask. Shayla knows how my fans are. This is normal to us, but because Priscilla was two feet away from us, Shayla had to ask.


"Michael is my idol and you know... now that I know you're his wife, you're my idol too!"


"We're just normal people like you. You don't have to idolize us. Especially not me. To you, Michael has done a lot. Just because I'm in his circle doesn't mean you have to idolize me as well. I'm just his wife. I've done nothing for you."


Priscilla looked between us with a confused look on her face. "What do you mean? Michael saved me. He made me into who I am today! Michael," she turned to look at me. "Remember 'Man in the Mirror?' That song changed me as a person. 'Dangerous' gave me confidence as a woman. 'She's Out of My Life' got me through the hardest break up of my life! Michael... you really saved me!" She looked up at me as if she was going to cry again.


"I'm sorry. I can't do this." Shayla went back over to Roland, whispered something to him, then they made their exit out the back.


"She doesn't understand the connection we have as your fans, Michael. How could you marry someone who doesn't understand the connection you have with us?"


"Priscilla, Shayla chose you specifically to join us in here. She understands more than you'll ever know."


"No, no, no. She doesn't. If she did, she would understand how you saved me. She would understand that you're my idol."


"Okay..." I began to get uneasy. "Ready to take this photo? Do you have a camera?"


"Yes!" She dug in her purse and fished out a disposable camera. "Here! Someone please take a photo of me and my idol!" She practically begged. Someone finally took her camera and she hurried to wrap her arms around my waist, hugging me close. I put my arm around her shoulder. "I wish we had met sooner, that way you could have married me instead." That comment only made me even more uneasy. As soon as the photos were done being taken, I tried to get out from Priscilla's firm grip, but she wouldn't let go.


"Peter! A little help here..." I gestured toward Priscilla. It took a while, but I was finally out of Priscilla's hold and it was only a matter of time before she became absolutely hysterical again. I waved to the fans outside who erupted in screams as I went to the back to find Shayla and Roland chopping it up. "Roland, are you going to get the car?" I asked him.


"I didn't want to leave your wife unprotected, Mr. Jackson."


"Well, you can go get the car now. Peter can help us while you're gone." Roland looked at my wife then went to get the car. "What were you and Roland laughing about earlier?"


Shayla looked confused. "Earlier?"


"Yeah. Y'all were having a good ol' funky time while I was taking photos."


"Oh!" It finally clicked for her. "Nothing really. Priscilla was definitely the topic of discussion though."


"I'm sure..."


"You know I had to ask, right? All those years of seeing fans cry and faint over you and I finally had my chance."


"I know. Did your question get answered?"


"Barely. I'm sure it's different for other people, but to Priscilla, you were her god."


I scoffed. "I was not..."


"Yes, you were, and you know it."


"That's just how some of my fans can be sometimes."


"Sometimes, Michael?"


"Okay... majority of the time."


"You know you have like several different levels of fans, right?"


"Oh yeah? And what are they?"


"You've got your sane ones, your insane ones, people who are just fans of your music and your secret fans."


"Which one were you?"


"The one who was just a fan of your music. I wasn't insane over you. I wanted to know the man behind the music and here you are. Fans like Priscilla make me wonder sometimes..."


"Wonder what?"


She shrugged. "I don't know. Why does it have to be that serious over you?"


I shrugged. "I don't know."


"I guess it's something we'll never know, huh?" Roland drove up to us and instructed us to get in. We all piled in and went wherever Shayla told him to go. We're used to this, by now, but I think it still takes Shayla time to get used to. Ten years is enough, but I guess not enough enough. It's something she'll never really understand and something that I'm too used to to even try to explain.

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