Chapter 14

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“You too old for this shit, man,” Marlon laughed at Jermaine.


“Nah, you too old!” Jermaine laughed back.


“If I’m too old, how come I keep hitting that eight count, and you keep missin’ on the third count?”


I shook my head as my brothers jokingly bickered.


In honor of my solo career, my friend, David Gest, recommended a thirtieth anniversary celebration. At first, I was skeptical because of all the work I had with the album, but since Sony has been acting a fool, I figured why not?


Since our merger six years ago, Sony has been acting funny. Every year or so, they’ve asked me to sell the rest of my catalog to them, and each time I’ve told them no.


And now, I feel like they’re taking that out on me regarding this album.


I wanted the first single of the album to be “Unbreakable,” but Sony insisted on “You Rock My World.” While I liked the song, I preferred “Unbreakable.”


It reminded the public that no matter what I go through, as far as the allegations and my divorce, I remain on top.


I began working on the short film concept and everything, but they forced “You Rock My World” on me in June. I had to come up with a new video concept last minute. They screwed with my budget and switched directors on me entirely too many times.


So, when David came to me about a thirtieth anniversary show, I happily obliged with the intent of keeping Sony out of the loop.


They didn’t find out about it until we put out ads; now, they don’t want to promote it. Even going so far as to boycott it and sent memos to all of their offices to forbid any kind of promotion.


That’s fine because if my name is on it, that’s all the promotion I need. This is going to be big whether they like it or not.


Rehearsing with my brothers reminded me of the good ol’ days. Before we became adults, got married and had children.


To be honest, I need to be around family right now. It’s been a long time since I’ve been around my brothers like this. With everything going on with the album and me hardly seeing the kids, even though I’ve been back in California, and knowing that Shayla is somewhere happily with Andrew Hammond, I needed this time with my brothers.


“Come on, guys. Quit foolin’ around. Let’s try to get that step one more time. Jermaine, you can do it. It’s been a while, but you got it. We used to do this millions of times.”


“I got it, Mike. It’s not like a forgot,” Jermaine replied to me.


“Well, clearly, ya did,” Marlon taunted.


After rehearsal, I called Shayla to speak with the twins. The kids were with my mother more often than not while Shayla did whatever she had to do, but if I was lucky, Shayla had the twins. Sometimes, I wondered if she realized how much she was around Andrew instead of the kids. But even if she is, I understand that she needs a break every so often. But three to four days out of the week? That’s kind of excessive.


“Hello?” Shayla answered with laughter in her voice.


“Hey… Are the kids around?” I wondered.


“No, they’re with Katherine for the day. Did you try calling her?”


“No, not yet. I figured you had them today. I’ll call her after I get off the phone with you. Have you heard about the show I’m doing in New York?”


“Who hasn’t?”


I smiled, “I’ve got three tickets for you and the twins. You’ll be seated with my mother and Joseph. You can make it, right? I really want the twins to be there.”


“What day? There are two dates, right?”


“Yeah… I mean, I’ve got tickets for you for both nights, the seventh and the tenth. Those seats are reserved just for you and the twins.”


“I’ll see if I have any plans either of those nights. Whether we’re there for both nights or not, we’ll be there for sure. Just in case, though… How much are tickets?”


“Not much,” I shrugged. “No need to pay me back. These are on the house.”


“Yeah, I know. I’m just wondering just in case I might need an extra ticket.” Without saying this ticket was for her unofficial beau, Andrew, I already knew she was asking for him.


I sighed, “for the seats, I have for you, they’re reserved for a select few.”


“But if you had to have an open seat?”


I rolled my eyes. “Tickets go for five thousand, but those seats are gonna cost at least fifteen thousand.”


“Not bad, okay. Well, I’ll let you know. Gotta go,” she hung up.


I try to distract myself from what’s going on. I really do, but sometimes it feels like she’s rubbing it in my face. My kids are constantly being dropped off at my mother’s just so she can spend time with Andrew. The whispers from my family. Everyone knows she’s been spending a lot of time with Andrew, but damn. Does she have to be so overt about it?


VII


I lay on Drew’s lap as he massaged my scalp.


Sometimes I wondered if I was spending too much time with Drew. But most times, I know I’m not. I have an equal balance between him and the kids. And to be fair, I do need a break sometimes. For the past four years, the last thing I got was a break, so I think this is okay. It’s not like I’m neglecting my kids for a man.

With me not working as much as I did before, I never heard any complaints from the twins that I was working too much or always with Drew. So, as far as I’m concerned, I’m doing a pretty good job. And even when I was with them, they may have expressed that they missed me, but they certainly missed their cousins more.


“Baby?” I turned around to look up at him.


“Hmm?” Drew continued to look at his iPAQ.


I chewed at my bottom lip, “Michael’s thirtieth anniversary show is coming up, and I want you to be there with the twins and me.”


He slowly turned his attention from his iPAQ to me. “You want me to meet your kids, ex-husband, and debut our relationship all in one night?”


I closed my eyes. Guess I didn’t think that one through. “It sounds like a lot, doesn’t it?”


“Uh, yeah…”


“With you being there, Michael won’t think there’s a chance of us getting back together.”


A raised eyebrow accompanied his following statement to me, “have you given him a reason to think so?”


“No, but I know how he can get.”


“Hmm,” he looked back at his iPAQ. “What time is it? Noon?” I nodded. “Well, to make things a little less awkward, let’s do it.”


“Do what?” I sat up.


“Let’s do it now. He’s in LA, right?”


“Yeah, I mean-”


“So, let’s do it now. I highly doubt he wants to meet me and think I’ve been around his kids this entire time when I haven’t. You think he’ll be available for a late lunch?” One thing I was beginning to love about Andrew is how upfront he is. He wasted no time, but it’s taking some getting used to.


“I- Well-”


“Late lunch sounds good. Four? Then maybe we can schedule to get the kids a little bit later.”


I’ve been enjoying being up under Drew so much that the thought of introducing him to my kids, much less their father, never dawned on me.


So, he’s got a point. Why would I spring that on everyone all in one night? That’s a mess!


“Okay, I’ll give him a call,” I stood up and went to get my cellphone.


Lately, whenever Michael and I talk, it’s only because he calls me. Never the other way around. So, I can only imagine the look on his face when he sees me calling him.


I went outside on the balcony and dialed his number.


I’ve yet to even purchase Drew’s ticket, but here I am about to set up a lunch date for my ex-husband to meet my boyfriend.


This isn’t normal.


People don’t do this.


This is crazy.


But Drew is right. Michael is going to want to know who I have around our children. Any single parent would like to know, so to spring everything on Michael on his thirtieth anniversary would be wrong of me. Whether it was intentional or not.


“Hello?” Michael answered on the third ring.


“Hey… I know this is extremely random, but do you have a minute?”


“I might… What’s going on? Are the kids okay?”


“Everything is fine.”


“You okay?”


I sighed, “I’m fine. Do you have available seating in the VIP section?”


He paused before he spoke. “You still need an extra seat?”


“Yes. It’s for Andrew. I wanted to purchase a seat for him.”


He paused again. “I knew it.”


“So can I-”


“Has he been around the twins?”


“No, but that’s actually what I called to talk to you about.” Drew's arms snaked around my waist as he kissed my shoulders and neck. He must have known this was making me nervous because that simple gesture just calmed me down. “I was wondering if you’d like to go to lunch with me and Drew today. At four? Just so things will be a little less awkward at the show. I don’t want anything to be awkward at all considering it’s a show to celebrate you, but just to take the edge off….”


“…have you decided what day you all will be in attendance?” He completely ignored my invitation.


“Considering Drew and I will be out of the country on the seventh, we’ll be there on the tenth.”


“So, the twins won’t be there for both nights?”


“Do you want to take them?”


Silence ensued. “He’s never been around my kids?”


“No, which is why I want you to meet him.”


“I know you all are just friends, but how long has this… thing been going on?”


I rolled my eyes. “Can we discuss this over lunch or not?”


“…Magic Castle. Four-thirty. See you there.”

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