Chapter 12

I mailed off the tickets to Dr. Klein and headed back to the car. As soon as the meeting was over, I barely spoke. I'm still shocked by the whole ordeal. I have a skin disease. I have a disease. It's visible. The whole world will see. My only concern is how will I make sure that the whole world actually never sees it. I'll figure out a way.


"So, I was thinking. How about I come to the concert this Friday?" Shayla turned to me.


"Shayla, it can't be this Friday..." She's so upset about me not letting her come. I can understand her frustration, but there are some things I like to keep to myself. The whole world knows almost everything about me. I'd like to at least keep one part of my world to myself.


"Why not?"


"To be honest, Shayla, I don't want you to come yet. Not yet, okay? I know when I want you to come, but the time is not right now."


"You're not ready to let the whole world know that you're married yet. That's what it is, right?"


"Honestly, yeah. Shayla, the whole world knows everything about me. They know where my parents live. They know what I ate last week. They know who I was with two nights ago. The world knows everything about me. The fact that they know nothing about us makes me the happiest person in the world right now."


"What?" She made a face.


"There's something about me they finally don't know. That's all I've ever wanted. Was privacy. Trust me, as soon as news gets out that we've been seen together, that we may have a relationship, or even that we're married, all you and I will want is privacy. I'm enjoying the fact that in the early months of our marriage, no one knows a thing yet. I'm appreciating it so much right now. I'm not ashamed of you, Shayla. You know I'm not. Heck, everyone in my circle knows I'm not ashamed of you. I'm not ashamed to show you to the world either. I can't wait to show you to the world, but right now, I want everything about us to be private. Do you understand?" Shayla looked deep in thought, taking in all that I had just said. I just had to lay it out to her. Just keeping it to myself wasn't helping anything and it only kept her questioning me and wondering if I was truly trustworthy. I would never want to lose her trust.


"I understand..." She nodded. "I get it. I'm sorry. I guess I was just being selfish. You know more about this spotlight junk than I do." She sighed.


"Shayla, they even know that Dr. Klein came to the house this morning. It'll be all over the news tomorrow, watch." I rolled my eyes. She laughed a bit. "You're probably upset at me now, huh?"


"No. Why do you think that?"


"You still want to go to a concert, don't you?"


"I do. But I have to wait. Gotta force myself to stop asking you about it though." She laughed. "You're right. I've got to appreciate this privacy while I can. Because once word gets out, it's over, huh?"


"Exactly." I sighed. "Plus, to be honest, do you know how pissed off my female fans will be once they find out I'm married?" We laughed. "Oh and think about this one, Shayla. If you come and I'm singing a song dedicated to my female fans, I'm going to have to bring a woman up on stage and you are not going to not like that. Plus, I'll be wanting you to be in her place." She blushed.


"You're right. I have to prepare myself before I even dream of wanting to go to one of your concerts, huh?"


"You bet!"


(Shayla)


I woke up to the phone ringing loudly. I looked at the clock to find that it was five am. My alarm would be going off in thirty minutes, who could possibly be calling now?


"Hello?" I answered.


"Hey, Shayla, it's Byron."


"Babe, who is that?" Michael groaned and pulled me closer to him.


"Byron, what do you want?" I groaned.


"Byron?" Michael sucked his teeth.


"Sorry, did I wake you?" Byron asked.


"Uh, yeah. What's up?"


"Babe, tell him you will see him at work. Come on now." Michael groaned.


"I was wondering if we could catch a coffee at six thirty, if you don't mind." Byron offered.


"Are you serious?" I rolled my eyes.


"Yeah, I'm sorry. I didn't think you'd be sleep right now. I'm so sorry. I was going to treat."


"Byron, that's extremely kind of you, but I'm trying to catch some extra sleep before my alarm actually goes off, okay?"


"How about seven? Is that more reasonable?"


"Byron," I groaned. "Look, I just-"


Michael took the phone from my hand, "Byron? Hey, it's Michael, Shayla's husband. She'll see you once she gets to work alright? Have a great day." He dropped the phone back on the hook out of frustration and pulled me back into him. "Go to sleep, babe. You can go ahead and get up at six."


"Six? But, Michael..." I blushed. I loved when he took control like that.


"Go to sleep, baby." He said and kissed the back of my head.


VII


I walked into the school 'bout happy as ever. Michael and I made love. He made breakfast and drove me to work. I love me some him. I unlocked the door to my classroom and turned on the light. I headed to my desk and began unpacking my bag and graded papers. Soon a knock came to the door. I looked up to find Byron standing in the doorway.


"May I come in?" He asked.


"Come on in." I continued unpacking my bag.


"How was your morning?"


"Splendid." I blushed. "Absolutely lovely. How about yours?"


"It was alright, I guess." He shrugged. "So, Michael's back in town, huh?"


"Yes, sir, he is. Just got back in town two days ago."


"Hmm. How'd his trip go?"


"Pretty good actually. He and his brothers had a great time together. It was a much needed trip."


"Oh ok. Well, I brought you a cup of coffee. It's still nice and hot." He smiled and placed it on my desk.


"Thanks, Byron..., but I don't think I'll need that today."


"Huh?"


"Yeah, Michael's kinda upset that I started drinking coffee. He wants me to get back to drinking my teas, so I brought in my tea to drink. That was really thoughtful of you though."


"Ahh, Shayla, you should have told me that you weren't drinking coffee anymore. Now I feel like a fool. I bring you coffee everyday not knowing that you needed tea the entire time." Byron sucked his teeth.


"It's okay."


"Look, I'll start getting you teas from now on. Hey, do you want to grab a tea tomorrow morning?"


"Seriously, Byron?"


"What?" He asked.


"My husband is back in town and you still have no respect, huh?"


"It's just tea..."


"Ok, Byron. Look, I've got to get these papers distributed before class starts." Byron opened his mouth to speak. Probably about to offer some help. "And I'd like to do it in silence and by myself. So I'll see you soon, okay?"


"You sure you don't need help?"


"Positive." I nodded.


"Alright. See you soon, Shayla."


I swear that man has no regard. I've never seen a guy so desperate.


(Michael)


"Mother, you have your tickets for tonight, right?" I asked as I hurried to get ready. I had a little time on my hands before I had to have driver pick Shayla up from work then take me to the stadium.


"Yes, did you get Shayla a ticket, Michael?" Mother asked.


"For tonight?"


"Yes, for tonight..."


"No, ma'am. Not for tonight. It's too early to bring her on tours right now."


"So you're taking her to Europe with you?"


"Ehh... I haven't thought about that yet. We'll see." Honestly, I've been having so many mixed feelings about Europe. I have so much planned. I think that I will be able to fit it into schedule, but honestly, I'm not sure.


"You all haven't talked about it yet?"


"It's just something that I have to think about, Mother. I can't wait to see you while I'm out there." I kissed her on the cheek.


"I can't wait to see you out there doing your thing, Michael, but when are you going to let Shayla come to a show? She's never seen you in concert, right?"


"To my knowledge, she hasn't. Mother, don't worry about it. She's going to get a chance to come. Trust me. I have to get going. Quincy and I have a meeting."


"Alright. You better not be lying to me. Her and I better have seats right next to each other soon."


"Mother, would I lie to you? I've gotta go, okay? See you at the show tonight!" I made my way out to the car and had my driver take me to Quincy's house. Once we got to his house, I went back to his studio and opened the door. "Hey, Quincy."


"Hey, Michael! How's the tour life treating you?"


"Man.... Being married and being on tour isn't what I thought it would be." I sighed.


He laughed, "what do you mean by that?"


"Last time I saw Shayla was before I left for the tour. I'm just now seeing her and this is the last bit of the first leg. We have a lot of making up to do if you know what I mean." I laughed a little.


"You didn't get any action while you were on the road?"


"That's not me, Quincy. That's my brothers who would be doing all that nasty stuff. I have a wife at home that I promised to be loyal to. You're not about to catch me shacking it up with anyone on the road."


"You're a good one, Mike." We laughed. "As far as business goes, Thriller is still the bestselling album as of right now!"


"Yes! My dreams are coming true. Can't wait until it becomes the bestselling album of all time!"


"Exactly. But look, we have to talk about a follow up album. Do you have any ideas?"


"Ideas? No, but I have songs that I've been writing."


"Full blown songs?"


"Yeah, full blown songs. I'll show em to you soon, but right now, I want to talk about my career."


"Okay, what's up?"


For a second, I hesitated, but I finally said, "I don't know how I feel about doing music with my brothers anymore."


"Huh?" Quincy was shocked. "You what?"


"Yeah, I know. Doing music with my brothers was great and all, but now I think it's time to go solo. On my own, ya know?"


"How long have you been thinking about this?"


"While we were working on Thriller..."


"And you're just now telling me this?"


"Well, yeah... I didn't think I was that serious about it, but as time progressed, I'm more serious about it than ever. It's time for us to all move on, ya know? We're all grown men. We can all have successful careers on our own. I think it's time."


Quincy sighed, "Does anyone know about this? Or am I the only person to know?"


"No one knows about this."


"Not even Shayla?"


"Not even Shayla... I don't know how she'll take it either."


"It's a big step, Michael, but you know what... I support you. You're right. I think it's time. With the success of Thriller and everything, I know you can continue making great albums and I know your brothers will be able to do the very same."


"You really think so?"


"Yeah. Like you said, you're all grown men. You can't be a group forever. Everyone is getting married and having children. It's about time everyone went solo, huh?"


"Thanks, Q. I'm not thinking about quitting them now though. Maybe in the next couple of years though, ya know?" I gave him a hug. Honestly, I was so nervous to tell him. I didn't know how he'd take it. "You don't think I'm just letting the success of Thriller get to my head, right? Because that's not what it is at all."


"Not at all! It's time for everyone to do what is best for them. So for you to make that first step is awesome. I'm proud of you, Michael. Whenever you feel most comfortable doing it, you go ahead. May it be in a couple of years or in the next couple of months. Take your time and do what is best for you."


"Thanks." I smiled. Now, how am I going to tell Shayla...?

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