Chapter 8

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Shayla, our host of housekeepers and I made sure the main house was spic and span for Oprah's arrival. Everything needed to be perfect. From the lighting to the couch positioning. Shoot, even to the music being played around the house. Everything had to be right. There was no way I was going to let Oprah into our home without it looking immaculate.


"Okay, baby, I'm out. Remi and I will be in town getting drinks or something. Page me," Shayla kissed me and hurried out the door. I watched as she got in her car and drove down the driveway. As much as I want her here today, I understand exactly what she meant. If we're going to announce it together, we can't have people willing to talk get the chance to announce it before us. It just wouldn't be fair. I looked at the clock beside the door, thirty minutes to spare. Oprah should be here any minute now, honestly. I don't see her being on time or late. I see her getting here at least fifteen minutes early. It's just a photo shoot, but I know this is as big of a deal for her as it is for me. I'll finally get a chance to prove myself and to let the world know what I've really been dealing with out here. And if Oprah isn't the perfect person to do that with, I don't know who is.


I'm honestly nervous and it's not even the interview yet. We're just doing a photoshoot... But I'm still allowing Oprah into our home. I've granted her all access into my humble abode. There's nothing here that could possibly weird her out, I don't think. If anything, she'll be more in shock at how normal I am than anything.


"Mr. Jackson, Ms. Winfrey has arrived," Alice met me in the living room. I stood up and straightened out my shirt before walking up to the front door.


"Who's all with her?" I asked Alice as we walked up to the door together.


"It's just her and her camera crew," she assured me. I nodded in appreciation and opened the front door to Oprah walking up right on time.


"Michael!" She smiled a bright smile. "Oop, or should I call you Mr. Jackson?" She corrected herself.


I giggled "Michael is fine, Ms. Winfrey."


"Ooo! You're making me sound old. Just call me Oprah," she laughed.


"Oprah and Michael, it is then," I took her hand to help her up the steps. "I hope your drive here was okay."


"It was marvelous. Thank you. You are so kind, Michael. And your property is simply beautiful. Oh my gosh..." She placed her hand on her chest.


"Chef put breakfast together if you're hungry," I led her to the kitchen. I turned to look at her only to find her gawking at the entire house.


"Your house is simply beautiful, Michael. You'd think a woman lived here with how well everything looks."


I chuckled to myself, "We're just very particular around here. Can I get you any orange juice or water?"


"Water... Water will be fine. Can I get a tour or something?"


"Um, sure. Chef, could you get Ms. Winfrey," I cleared my throat. "I mean, Oprah, a glass of water, please?"


"Of course," Chef nodded and went to get her a glass of water.


"Wow. So, all of this is yours..." Oprah smiled at me.


"Yup. This is only the main house though."


"I know. I see you have a beautiful lake in front of your home!"


"Everything else is in the back. I can show you that later if you would like."


"If we have time, of course! Oh! Where did you want my camera crew to set up?" she asked as she sipped her water.


"We can actually go to the movie theatre. There's quite a bit of space for us in there. Does your crew want any breakfast? There's more than enough for everyone." As soon as I said that, the camera crew followed in behind Bill. As soon as they saw me, it was as if their entire world had stopped. They were so in awe. It still amazes me that I have that kind of effect. I'm just like any normal guy. The slight difference is that I chose a career in entertainment. "Hey, guys. Breakfast is over here if you want anything." Chef began calling everyone over so that he could serve them their plates. "How's everyone doing this morning?"


"Great!" They all smiled in unison and awe.


"You guys go on and make yourselves at home. Just don't eat in the living room. That's all I ask. Everywhere else down here is free to be used." I went to each and every cameraman greeting them and answering every question they had. They were all so kind and could only continuously tell me about how they were such big fans of my work. If there's one thing I do love about this life I live, it's the appreciation for all the hard work I do in entertainment. I wouldn't have it any other way.


"Michael!" Oprah waved me over.


"Everything okay?" I asked once I made my way over to her.


"I was just telling your chef that breakfast is amazing. Is there any way I could borrow him?"


Chef laughed, "sorry, Ms. Winfrey. The-" he cleared his throat as if he caught himself about to say something he wasn't supposed to. "I'm sure Mr. Jackson would like to invite you over some time to try more of my cooking, but I'm not for lease."


"That's fair!" she laughed. "Anyway... Michael, how excited are you for this interview? We'll be live in five weeks. How does it feel after not having been interviewed in over five years?"


"I'm just as excited and as nervous as you are. If not more nervous than you are," I blushed from embarrassment.


She scoffed, "what do you have to be nervous about? I should be the one that's nervous. I'm interviewing the greatest entertainer that's ever lived!"


My cheeks were hot from embarrassment this time, "I'm not the greatest..."


"And you're humble?? There's honestly so much I want to ask you, but I'll save it all for the interview. How are your parents doing?"


"They're doing well. My mother just asked about you actually."


"Your mother asked about me?!" she clutched her invisible pearls.


"Yeah, she's a big fan of your show."


"Please tell your mother I said hello and that it's an honor that she enjoys my show."


"I will for sure."


"How is LaToya doing?"


"Um," I rubbed my chin. "I haven't actually spoken with her in a while actually. I assume she's doing great though, you know with her music and such."


"Speaking of music, Janet is supposed to be dropping an album soon..."


I pretended to zip my lips, "mum's the word. I can't speak on that."


"Ugh," she rolled her eyes playfully. "Okay, well can you at least tell me if her new music is good or not?"


"My sister does a great job with all of her music."


"I'll take that as a yes then. Any new music planned for you?"


"I can't say so yet... Are you ready for the new season of your show?"


"I'm glad you asked! I'm more than excited actually. We've got so much lined up alongside the interview. This will be a great year for the Oprah Winfrey Show."


I smiled, "I'm sure it will. It's amazing how far we've come, ya know? I'm so proud of you. You're doing such an amazing job on television. You're doing far better than Donahue ever could."


"Wow. Thank you so much, Michael. I feel like I've still got so far to go. I feel like I've accomplished so much, yet so little."


"You're an inspiration, Oprah. Honestly. Don't ever think anything less of yourself."


She blushed, "that really means a lot coming from you. Thank you."


I nodded, "anytime."


"Michael..." I heard the familiar sing-songy voice of my dear friend Elizabeth Taylor.


"Excuse me," I went to greet Elizabeth.


"Am I late to the party?" She asked once I met her in the hallway.


"You're always on time, Elizabeth," I smiled, pulling her in for a hug. "How was your drive over here?"


"Darling, you know it takes me at least ten years to get over here every single time. Sometimes I wish you didn't live so far away, but at the same time, I love this magical place so much. Where is Oprah? I must speak to her." I led her into the kitchen. "Good morning, guys!" she waved at the camera crew. "No one told me we were eating breakfast!" Everyone in the room laughed. Elizabeth searched the room until she finally found Oprah talking to Chef, "Ms. Winfrey!" she sang as she walked over to her.


"Good morning, Ms. Taylor!" Oprah wiped her mouth with a napkin and stood up to greet Elizabeth.


"It's so good to see you. How are you feeling? Hopefully, Michael is being a gentleman."


"Elizabeth, Michael is nothing less of a gentleman. His parents certainly raised him well."


"Orange juice or water?" I asked Elizabeth.


"I'm fine, thank you. Oprah, I am so excited for your new season. If it's anything like the last, I know it will be great."


"I was just telling Michael we have a lot planned alongside the interview. This season will be nothing short of spectacular."


"I know it will. Gentleman," Elizabeth clapped for the entire room to pay attention to her. "You are in a room with absolute greatness. Combined, Michael, Oprah and I are one powerful force. You mark my words. You all are witnessing history in the making." If there's anything Elizabeth isn't shy about, it's telling people what's on her mind no matter how conceited it might sound. "Anyway, I'm so excited Michael is doing this interview with you, Oprah."


"You and me both. I was so excited when his publicist called," Oprah smiled at me.


"It was Elizabeth's idea actually," I nodded in Elizabeth's direction.


"What? No way! So, had it not been for Elizabeth, you probably wouldn't even be doing this, huh?" Oprah teased.


"Well..."


"As his best friend, I felt since you're both notorious in what you do, why don't the two of you get together and do the greatest interview the world has ever seen?" Elizabeth shrugged with a coy smirk on her face.


"Elizabeth is a genius," I laughed, rolling my eyes.


"Evidently!" Oprah laughed. "Should we go on and get set up in the theatre then?" She motioned for her crew.


"Yes!" Elizabeth said with excitement. "It's showtime, guys!" she clapped for everyone to hear. I wonder if I have to warn Elizabeth not to mention Shayla... No. She won't. They literally only tolerate each other for me. I don't have to worry about a thing. Shayla and I have this in the bag.


VII


The photoshoot was nothing less than great. It was short actually. Oprah was a natural when it came to being in front of the camera. We were both comfortable and in our element, but for some reason, I felt so self-conscious after seeing the photos. I didn't even like them. I asked the photographers to actually create a silhouette of my face beside Oprah's. And... it looked better that way.


"The photos came out perfect, Michael!" Oprah called before getting in her car.


"Please get home safe, Oprah," I waved.


"You looked simply breathtaking!" She called again.


I blushed, "not as breathtaking as you."


"You're too kind. See you next month!" she blew me a kiss and tapped on her driver to go. She and her caravan of cameramen drove down the driveway to leave. Today was such a pleasant day. I just wish the photos turned out as I wanted them to. I swear, it was like no matter how hard I tried, nothing seemed to work. "What did you think about the photos?" I asked Elizabeth, as she decided to stay behind.


"Michael quit beating yourself up. You looked great! The photos turned out more perfect than you'd think."


"You think so?"


"You're just so self-conscious. If anything, it was Oprah's camera crew. They don't know your angles. They know Oprah's angles. You should have had your crew come in there."


"I didn't want to bombard... It's Oprah's show."


"But it's your house and your interview. How do you think Shayla would feel if she heard you talking the way you are?"


"I mean, I probably wouldn't even have this issue if Shayla was here. She'd have been able to tell the camera crew the right lighting and angles to use for me."


Elizabeth's entire energy shifted instantly, "how does Shayla feel about you doing this interview?" her voice suddenly sounded irritated and her stale facial expression matched.


"She's excited for me. I finally get the chance to explain myself, ya know?"


"Why wasn't she here then?"


I sighed. Elizabeth just wants the drama of it all. It's not even that deep, "she actually was very excited to tell me to invite you to accompany me at the photoshoot."


"Oh, darling," she scoffed. "I was coming with or without your wife's blessing. Now, why wasn't she really here?"


"Honestly, we want to announce our marriage together. If Oprah saw Shayla, she would have plenty to talk about on her talk show."


"Oh no. Sounds like Mrs. Jackson is just comfortable in her anonymity."


I shook my head, "it's not like that at all. We talked about it. She wanted you here since you were the one who organized the whole thing anyway."


"So, let me get this straight, she wanted another woman with her husband for the photo shoot prior to his most important interview?"


"Elizabeth, it's not like that. You were the one who recommended this interview with Oprah."


"For you and your wife to finally tell the world."


"We don't need a push. We've got it. We're announcing it soon."


"You said that five, four, three, and two years ago, Michael. At this point, you all are just-"


"Hey, Elizabeth!" Shayla smiled as she came into the house with shopping bags upon shopping bags of stuff.


"Hey, baby," I went over to kiss her. Boy am I glad to see her!


"Shayla we were just talking about you," Elizabeth smiled.


"Good things, I hope," Shayla raised an eyebrow in suspicion.


"I was just wondering why you weren't here with Michael for his photoshoot."


"Michael didn't tell you that I wanted you here with him since you were the one who orchestrated this whole thing? I figured you'd like it."


"And as I told Michael, I was going to be here with or without your blessing." The tension in the room was so thick, it could be cut with a knife.


Shayla sighed already knowing where this was going, "aren't you glad that I even thought of you in the first place? Isn't that enough to make you happy?"


"I would have been happier to see my best friends wife by his side."


I sighed, "alright, ladies. It's been a long day for all of us. Elizabeth, my wife has had a long day, so we're going to get ready for bed."


Elizabeth rolled her eyes and scoffed, "a long day shopping and not being with her husband during one of his most important events, sure. Call me if you need anything, Michael," she hugged me and left.


"What was that all about?" Shayla looked at me.


"I'm sorry, babe. You know how Elizabeth can get. How was your day? I see you went shopping."


"Don't let that woman back in my house if all she's going to do is disrespect me. You know I only tolerate her because-"


"Because of me, I know, I know..." I finished her sentence. "Did you have fun with Remi?"


She sighed, "I did... How was your photo shoot?"


"It was alright. Oprah is such a sweetheart."


"What made it just alright?"


"I didn't like how the photos came out."


"Well, why didn't you redo them?"


"I tried... I think it was just Oprah's crew though. They don't really know how to photograph me since they're so used to photographing her."


"Well... what photo are you all going to use for the interview?"


"Unsure yet. We'll find one. Are you hungry?"


"No... Remi and I got Chinese on the way. Have you eaten?"


"Not yet. I'm not really in the mood to eat. I just want to be with you. I haven't seen you all day," I pulled her in for a kiss. "Don't let Elizabeth get to you, okay? I know you're still thinking about it," I kissed her forehead.


"Put her in her place, Michael," she looked up at her.


I laughed, "okay, baby."


"I mean it. One more slick remark and she's not welcome within a ten-foot radius of me. I will never see what you see in that woman," she shook her head.


"She's kind..."


"To who?"


"Come on, baby. Let's get ready for bed. We've got a long day ahead of us tomorrow. We've got rehearsal and I hope you found what you're going to wear to the NAACP Awards."


"You know I didn't. We've got to go shopping specifically for that."


"Huh? Then what is all that in those bags?"


"Gifts. Knick Knacks. Clothes. Perfume. Ya know. Stuff I need."


"You're a mess, woman," I shook my head. I just want to end the night on a good note even though Elizabeth almost made it a bad one...

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