Chapter 40

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Spending the afternoon with Jordie, his father and Nikki was better than expected. Evan was incredibly kind as opposed to what I've heard about him. He continued telling me about films he's thought of writing, the demise of he and June's relationship and even went onto explain how that affected Jordie and how he knows he's to blame for that. But alas, he has forgiven himself and he hopes his son learns to forgive him now that they're spending more time with one another. I didn't nor could I question why Evan decided it best to come around when Jordie is practically a teenager. That's none of my business. I'm just glad I can help when I can.


I opened the front door to the house to find Shayla in the living room.


She looked up from whatever she was doing. "Hey, baby. Where'd you run off to?"


"I went over to a friend's house," I said as I sat beside her on the couch.


"Who?" She inquired.


"Um..." I know I told her we were done with this family and she's probably going to be upset, but I have to tell her the truth. "Jordie's father invited me to his house. I finally got to meet the mysterious Evan Chandler!"


Her eyebrows knit together in confusion. "Jordie... What? Michael, I thought we were done with this family. What was the purpose of you going over to that man's house?"


I knew she was gonna ask. "Evan called. He said he had heard about Jordie visiting and whatnot. He noticed how happy Jordie was when he would visit, but when he told his father about the incident with June and how that stopped the visits to the ranch, he could tell his son was sad about it. I really went over there to let Evan know who I was and to back up Jordie's truth on the matter. It wasn't a weird meeting at all actually. I met Evan's other son, Nikki, who was very excited about the possibility of visiting Neverland."


"So, what are you saying?" My wife asked. She clearly could care less about anything I have to say about meeting Evan. She just wants to know what I'm getting at.


"I just want to lift the ban on Jordie so that he, his brother and father can visit Neverland."


Shayla sighed heavily. "Michael, Jordie and Nikki aren't our children..."


"I'm going to stop you right there. They may not be ours, but they're children, nonetheless. I created Neverland with the intent to share it with the world. You have to remember that June was the one at fault here. Jordie is innocent. We keep June banned, but we lift the ban on Jordie. I've met his father. He's a really good guy! Evan said that June was actually the crazy one."


"What happened to us being done with this family? Didn't we agree on that? Or you just want to do what you want to do?"


"I'm just saying to lift the ban on Jordie so that he can enjoy the ranch with his father and brother."


Shayla thought long and hard about what I said. I understand her suspicions. I get it. We can be done with this family but continue to let Jordie and his father enjoy all we have to offer at Neverland with the rest of the general public. "Will they be spending the night?"


"No," I assured her. "No more allowing strangers in our home or guesthouses. We've had our share of problems with that. June showed us why we shouldn't allow that."


Shayla sighed. I know for a fact that she's against this, but as I've said time and time again. Jordie is innocent. He shouldn't be punished for what his mother concocted in her coocoo brain about me. "We can lift the ban."


I smiled and pulled her in for a hug. "I knew you would see things my way."


"On one condition."


"What's that?"


"I need to meet Evan. You've met him. I need to meet him too so that I can make my own judgments about him. I told you June was crooked. I need to know if Evan is crooked too before we let him and his son on the ranch."


"Done! I'll call him now and schedule a time to meet up. He would love to meet you. He couldn't stop talking about how beautiful you are and how lucky I am to have a wife with such poise."


She squinted at me. "Is that supposed to help me with my decision to lift the ban?"


"No," I laughed. "I just thought you should know that." I made my way to the phone and called Evan to schedule to meet my wife and me at the Century City hideout. For some reason, I just feel like Shayla will like Evan as opposed to June and Dave. Maybe she'll see what I saw. You can't go into a relationship with people thinking the worst. I think that's what she did when it came to them. I just hope her meeting with Evan will be different.


VII


To be quite frank, I'm so over this family thing with Michael. He's so focused on helping this family than starting our own. I wonder what it's going to take for him to focus on what really matters again. Before this whole help-a-family thing, we were planning on starting a family. Now, those plans have been put on pause and I'm over it. I'm tired of telling him what to do only for him to continue doing what he wants. I'm tired of fighting a lost cause. I'm just going to let him do what he wants to do without telling him what I think from now on. There's just no purpose in wasting my breath.


"They're here, babe! Are you ready?" Michael handed me a red Cartier box.


"What's this for?"


"It's for Evan. I got that for him, and I got the boys these." He held up two bags. "I got Nikki all kinds of toys and I got Jordie the latest games for the NES." He's so adamant about being this surrogate dad to Jordie that I wonder if he even wonders how backward this is. He has a whole wife who's ready to have his children, but now that he's cool with Evan, he just wants to play dad to Jordie. "Come on. We have to greet them!" He hurried to the front door and opened it just as Evan was about the knock. "Hey, guys! Come on in! Evan, Nikki, this is my wife, Shayla-Elizabeth." He introduced me.


I smiled insincerely. "Evan, I've heard a lot about you."


"Hey. Like, I told your husband there, I hope it was nothing but good things you heard." He laughed as he pulled me in for a hug that I was not prepared for. Once he let me go, he smiled and looked me over.


"My husband got this for you." I handed the Cartier box to him.


"Cartier?! Michael... Come on now. You shouldn't have!" Evan opened the box to find a brand-new timepiece with a brown leather band. Michael really shouldn't have... "Thank you all so much. This really means a lot." How? Why? He hasn't done anything worth doing to even receive it. He's just lucky my husband just likes buying things for people just for the heck of it. Evan doesn't even deserve that timepiece. Now, the kids, I can see why because they're kids. But Evan? Now he's just going to be expecting things from us. "Shayla, did Michael tell you how I told him how lucky he is to have a woman like you? If June was half the woman you are, we probably wouldn't have divorced."


He's a charmer... But he didn't lie. I smiled genuinely only to cover the laughter that was brewing inside at the shade towards his ex-wife. "Thank you. That's really kind of you."


"No, seriously. I've seen you and Michael on the news and at all those events. And when Jordie would talk about you, I told myself, I just had to meet you and Michael because you're such amazing people. My son wouldn't stop talking about you two."


"We helped Jordie and his sister as much as we could." I shrugged. "They're amazing kids."


"I raised my son well. He really looks up to you and your husband."


"Yeah..." I'm sure he'd look up to Evan too if he were around more.


"Jordie, take your brother to the arcade. I'm gonna show your dad around." Michael told Jordie and came up to me, putting an arm around my waist, resting it on my backside. "Now that you've met my wife, we're all one big happy family! Right, babe?" Michael kissed my cheek.


Evan looked at me and smiled. "I can't wait for you to meet my wife, Shayla. She's going to love you." I forced a small smile and excused myself to our bedroom. This whole help-a-family thing is starting to feel like an excuse to start on our own family. Now all of sudden, Michael wants to be family with these people? Evan is kind. I'll give him that. I don't get the same vibes from him as I did from June. But I don't want him or Jordie to think we're family now just because my husband said so. His mama is still crazy and one bad apple spoils the bunch. But Michael sees them in a different way. I'll let him see them how he sees them without me. I refuse to continue to put up this façade as if I like these people when I'm merely tolerating them for the sake of my husband.

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