Chapter 15

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The first time Drew and Michael ever met was under entirely different circumstances. Michael was in awe at meeting someone he had studied for business purposes.


I wasn’t in attendance when they met. Granted, I had heard of Andrew, but who hadn’t?


He was lowkey but was about his business.


It’s just my luck that we ended up together. Quite a very interesting coincidence.


I remember Michael coming back to me telling me how he was elated to have met Drew. How they got photos and how he asked Drew small questions. Drew was just as elated to meet him, and they had a great conversation.


I remember being happy that Michael met someone he had been looking up to for years. Watching him light up at the fact that he finally got to meet someone who stays just as lowkey as Michael tried to be over the years, made me just as happy as him.


Now? I’m sure that light has waned.


I’m positive Michael has gotten rid of those photos.


And I’m pretty sure the thought of Drew and I together burns him up inside because never in a million years did either of us ever think this would happen.


I don’t even really remember ever being attracted to Drew. It was probably because I was so head over heels in love with Michael that I was just blind to it.


Today is a different story, but I do hope this lunch goes well.


Drew was casual in his attire, wearing a dark brown t-shirt and a pair of dark blue jeans.


I kept it cute with a denim dress with short sleeves that I had gotten but never wore until now.


Drew and I had arrived at four-fifteen, so we requested a room that could be closed off. I texted Michael to tell him where we were seated, only for him to finally show up at four-forty-five without a care in the world. Dressed in all black, he showed up with a pair of sunglasses and refused to take them off.


I can’t decide if I should be agitated or not. But for now, I’ll just let it slide.


“Sorry, I’m late. I had to take care of a few things before I could be on my way. How’s it going Andrew?” Michael asked as he sat down across from us.


“I’m well. And you?” Drew placed a hand on my thigh as he rubbed my shoulder with the other.


“Never better. You good, Shayla?” My ex-husband asked.


I nodded. “Better than ever.”


“Good! Good!” He nodded as he looked down at the menu. “Have you all ordered yet?” Michael was nervous. I could tell. And fidgety… Very fidgety…


“Not yet. We were waiting on you,” Drew informed him.


“Right… I’m probably gonna order some wine. Anyone up for a bottle?” Michael tried to smile. I can feel that this is making him extremely uncomfortable. Maybe I shouldn’t even bring Drew to the show…


“Wine might be great,” I offered a kind smile.


“Great, so uh, Cabernet, Shayla?”


I turned to look at Drew, “Cabernet?”


“That’s your favorite, right?” Drew asked me. “I’m fine with that.”


“Cabernet it is then,” Michael nodded and called for the waiter to tell him our order. “Well, now that we have that out of the way. Uh, Andrew, I believe the last time we spoke was a couple years ago. How have you been since then?”


Drew shrugged. “I’ve been great. Business is still booming.”


“I bet it is. I don’t recall seeing anything big that doesn’t have your name on it.”


“Even when I’m not working, I’m still working.”


“I feel that….” Something about Michael’s demeanor was off. Like the one time, I dropped the kids off to him in New York. He was chattier than normal. This could be a good thing or a bad thing. I’m not sure.


“And you? I’ve heard you have a big show coming up. Congratulations on thirty years, by the way.”


“Thank you,” Michael nodded. “I’ve been well. I'm still getting through some things, but like you said, if I’m not working, I’m working. Keeps the bad thoughts away,” he waved his hand over the top of his head. “Uh, I-”


“Cabernet for the table,” the waiter came over with three glasses and poured wine for each of us.


“Thank you,” Michael’s leg shook rapidly under the table. “Can we order food? Are you guys ready to order food? I’m gonna order food.”


I sighed. Last time I couldn’t pinpoint if Michael was on something or not, but now I can confirm that he is. What is he using and why?! Because this isn’t normal. I’d never seen Michael like this. Ever. So, what’s really going on?


Once we finished ordering, Michael finished his wine and immediately went to pour another glass.


“Andrew, I have a question, and forgive me if it’s too forward or anything, but you have to understand that this entire predicament certainly looks interesting, doesn’t it?” Michael began.


Drew gave an awkward closed lipped smile and nodded, “go ahead.”


“So, uh,” he took a sip. “Have you always had eyes for my wife or-”


“Ex-wife,” I corrected him.


He nodded, “ex-wife, yes. I’m sorry. Have you always had eyes for Shayla, or is this new?”


Drew smiled to himself. We already knew this was coming. And with Michael drinking as heavily as he is already and with something else in his system, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that he’s asking so suddenly. “Can I be honest with you, Mike? Man to man?” He took his arm from around me and leaned forward.


“I’d prefer you not lie to me,” Michael set his glass down. Still never removing his sunglasses, he pushed them up the bridge of his thinner nose.


“When you and Shayla were married, I thought you were a very lucky man. That’s it. I never sought after her. We met for the first time last year, and it came as a surprise to me when she sought my services.”


“And no, Michael,” I interrupted. “I never sought after him. I wasn’t infatuated with him over the years. This literally came out of thin air. We weren’t plotting on you or anything.”


Beneath the tint of his sunglasses, I could see Michael boring his eyes into me. And by the ever so slight quiver of his lips, I could tell that he was upset but refused to show it.


“Lucky, huh?” Michael nodded.


“Man to man, Mike, I know you all loved each other deeply. I understand that kind of love. And I also understand divorce, so I know this isn’t easy.”


Michael let out a slight laugh. “This is probably one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do in my life since we’re being honest. Especially knowing that I looked up to you at one point. But… because of that, I guess I can understand what she sees in you. You all look good together. I really mean that.”


I don’t know why, but a wave of relief washed over me. I never needed his blessing for who I should date and who I shouldn’t, but knowing he approves of Andrew certainly means a lot to me.


“Thanks,” Drew leaned back and put his arm back around me.


“She’s amazing,” Michael nodded as he picked up his glass and took another sip. “Have you met our children yet?”


“He hasn’t. I wanted to wait until we sat down before introducing him to the twins,” I told him.


“They’re really great kids,” Michael smiled to himself.


“Shayla talks about them all the time. You all are doing a great job. I look forward to meeting them,” Drew rubbed my thigh.


“Thank you,” Michael nodded.


“I want him to meet them soon….” I told Michael.


“Unless you two are really serious, I don’t see a point in him meeting them,” he sat back in his chair.


“We’re serious,” Drew and I happened to say in unison.


Beneath the tint of his sunglasses, he looked between us in silence. The fact that we said it together should tell him all he needs to know.


“Well,” he licked his lips. “I can’t have my kids meeting people that’ll be in and out of their lives. They’re young and very impressionable. If our kids become attached to Drew and you two break up, do you know who’s gonna have to pick up the pieces of their broken hearts?”


“Michael, I can assure you that no breaking of hearts will occur. I care about Shayla… A lot. And the last thing I’d ever want to do is hurt her or your children,” Drew assured him.


“With your own children being grown, can you handle four-year-olds?”


Drew shrugged, “it’s not like I haven’t before.”


“But can you now? I’m about to be forty-three, and they can be too much for me at times. They certainly keep me active.”


“I’m sure I can keep up,” Drew laughed.


Michael paused and stirred his glass. Something was on his mind. “You all haven’t made this official yet? When y’all were all over the tabloids, the whole world thought you guys were together.”


“We’re official,” I told him. “We’re just very private about it. There’s no point in having the whole world in our business.”


He pushed his sunglasses back up the bridge of his nose. “Yeah… I can understand that. Privacy keeps a couple together. That’s how we were in the first half of our marriage, remember, Shayla?”


“I remember.”


“Yeah, so I don’t blame you, Andrew. Privacy is the best way. If you plan on making it long-term, let me tell you about this woman-”


“That’s not necessary,” Drew stopped him.


“No, seriously,” Michael smiled. “If you really wanna know how to keep her happy, all you have to do is-”


“I’m already doing a great job at that. Trust me, I won’t need your advice.”


Michael’s smile faded away as he went to finish his second glass of wine. “Well, if you ever need any gift suggestions, I’ll give you my number to reach me.”


“Thanks, but no thanks.”


An awkward silence took over.


This is what I didn’t want to happen.


“Shayla tells me you all have plans for September seventh?” Michael asked.


“We do, but we’ll be back in time for the show.”


“I hope so. This is a once in a lifetime thing. I wanted the twins to be there for both nights, but I can understand if they can’t make it.”


“You don’t want to keep them for that entire week?” Drew inquired.


Michael gave a small smile. “Shayla’s life is far less frantic than mine… I wouldn’t want my children around all of that. I’d prefer if they came and left with their mother.”


“Understandable,” Drew nodded.


“So,” Michael dug into his jacket pocket. “Here’s your tickets for the tenth,” he handed them to me.


“How much do I owe you for Drew’s ticket?” I asked.


“It’s on the house,” he said as he stood up and dropped three hundred dollar bills on the table.


“Where are you going?”


“I’ve got an engagement I have to attend. It was a pleasure meeting you again, Andrew. Do right by Shayla and my children, okay? They deserve nothing less than the universe.”


I watched as Michael walked away and looked down at the tickets in shock. The last thing I expected was this. Despite how strange he was acting for most of our meeting, I think he’s finally coming around.

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