Chapter 15

"Michael, you know you promised to tell me about the concerts, right?" I asked Michael as we laid up on the couch. Eventually, we got bored lying in the bed, so we decided to move to the living room. No phone calls came in or anything. Alice came through, but other than that, it's just been the two of us, and I've enjoyed every minute of it.


"I did?" He made a face.


"Yes, Michael. Don't play."


"What did I say?" He asked.


"I told you to tell me all about your concert and had you promise me. You pinky promised me, so you have to tell me."


"Pinky promised?" He asked.


"Sure did, so tell me all about it, love. I wanna know."


"Well, alright. I pinky promised," he sighed. "I mean, it was amazing. Fans were screaming the entire time. My brothers had an amazing time. Once Jermaine's segment came on, that's when I got a hold of you. It was amazing, Shayla. I can't wait for you to come."


"Did you kiss any fans?"


"Nah..."


"Okay."


"Not this time."


"Really, Michael?" I rolled my eyes.


"Really! Not this time. I sang to a couple fans though. Then when it came time to sign autographs and whatnot, I made sure to take pictures when I could. It was a boatload of fun."


"I bet."


"What'd you get into Saturday?"


"Grading papers." I sighed.


"That's it?"


"Yeah..."


"You have the luxury to do anything you want and you decided to grade papers?" Michael laughed.


"It wasn't that I decided to. I just had to get them out of the way. And what do you mean, I have the luxury to do anything I want? So do you."


"As if." He scoffed.


"Oh yeah? What can I do that you can't?" I sat up.


"Uh, go to a grocery store."


"You can go to a grocery store too."


"Yeah, if I have it shut down, so that it's just me."


"What else can I do that you can't?"


"Go to the beach without people hounding you."


"Anything else...?" He was getting me now.


"Go to a movie, go to a concert, walk down the street, go to a coffee shop, all while not being hounded."


"Oh..."


"You see why I'm so protective of you, Shayla? I don't want you to have to go through what I go through. You have the luxury to do anything you want, I want you to continue to do that, baby. Okay? I don't want you to have to give up that normalcy."


"Michael, I gave that up when I decided I was going to marry you. There's only so much protecting you can do..." He looked at me. I guess he didn't expect me to say that. But it was true! Once, we decided to marry, I gave up any type of normalcy I ever had. Once everyone finds out though, it's going to be a different story.


"You're right... You did give that up, huh?"


"Sure did. Didn't think twice about it. Didn't even think about it. Didn't even know I was giving it up. Wanna know why? I'll tell you again and again. It's because I love you. You know that, right?"


"Been knew that." He laughed.


I kissed his cheek, "I'm not saying that you can't protect me the way you have, but there's only so much you can do, ya know? Once it's out, it's out."


"You're right."


"But it won't be out soon though and I'm fine with that."


"You are?"


"I've come to terms with it."


"Alright, well hey, what do you want for dinner, because I'm starved."


"Pizza?"


"From where?"


"Papa John's?"


"It's a deal. Go ahead and call, babe. We're getting Papa John's tonight!"


VII


(Michael)


I woke up to find Shayla gone. I'm shocked she left without waking me up. Maybe she wanted me to sleep. I can understand that. I went downstairs, made myself some lunch and turned on the television. As I flipped stations, I saw Joseph and Don King doing another press conference on television. What could they possibly be talking about?


"Mr. Jackson! Are there any plans for a second leg of the tour?" A reporter asked.


"Yes, ma'am. We plan to take the Jacksons all the way to Europe. They miss their European fans, so it's time to pay them a visit." Joseph smiled.


"Mr. Jackson! With the success of Michael's album, has it caused any tensions amongst the brothers?" Another reporter asked.


"Tensions? No! They're proud of Michael. They're all doing their own albums and whatnot, there are no tensions at all." I don't know if there are issues with us because of my album or what, but Joseph is a liar. He knows my brothers and I have gone neck and neck with each other this entire first leg.


"Mr. Jackson-"


"Alright, this will be the last question, because we have some place to be. Go ahead." Don King said before the last reporter asked their question.


"Are there any plans for another album with The Jacksons?"


"You know it." Joseph winked as he got up to leave. Press tried hounding him with questions and all, but he and Don King waved and proceeded to leave. I wish Joseph would stop lying. My brothers and I have been going at each other all tour. It gets so frustrating. That's why I couldn't wait until I got back to LA so that I could come be with Shayla and away from my crazy brothers. If I told Shayla that my brothers and I had issues, she'd want to get to the bottom of it, so it's best that I keep it all to myself.


I called up Mother, "Hello?" She answered.


"Hey, Mother. Did you catch the press conference Joseph was just on?" I rolled my eyes.


"Yes, I'm glad you all are planning another album, Michael. It's time you all do some more music together." She sounded excited.


"We haven't talked about another album, Mother. At all! We're talking about making more music, yes, but not another album right now. Plus, there's been so much drama on the road, there's no way anyone would have even mentioned making another album."


"Drama? Like, what?" She wondered.


"Joseph just doing everything for the money. Everybody is doing it for the money. I didn't even want to do this tour. There's too much going on."


"I know... But at least you all have been giving something to the fans." She offered.


"That's the only great thing about this entire tour."


"Things will get better once the second leg starts up. When does that start?"


"Some time next year, I don't even remember."


"Things will get better, Michael. What have you done for your skin?"


"Just make up, really. I don't know what I'm going to do once it becomes worse though."


"Do you want me to call anyone to see if it can be cured?"


"No, ma'am. I've got it. Thank you though. How have you been? You're coming to this weekend's concerts, right?"


"Of course! Have you gotten Shayla a ticket?"


"No, ma'am. There will be other concerts that she could come to. Missing this one won't be that bad."


"That's what you think."


I looked at my watch to see that it was two, "hey, Mother. I'll call you later. I'm going to go pick Shayla up from work."


"You still got that girl working, Michael?" She laughed.


"She wants to work! I can't stop her." I laughed. "I love you! Talk to you later."


"Love you too, Michael." I hung up the phone, got dressed and called my driver to pick me up. I'm just going to have him drop me off at her car and I'll get in the driver's seat. It's a good thing I got her super tinted windows.


VII


"Her car is right there, just pull up close beside it." I told my driver.


"Michael, there is another car right there. I cannot pull up beside her car. I can pull up close behind and then you can get out." He suggested. I know he was getting so frustrated with me. I was trying so hard to not be seen by anyone. Bus drivers and parents were already lining up to get their kids and students.


"If you pull up close behind, I'm going to have to crawl out of the car!"


"Exactly! You're making this way more difficult than it already is."


"Ok, fine. You go drive Shayla's car and I'll drive this one."


"What?"


"Yeah, let's do it! That way I don't even have to get out of the car. Here," I gave him the keys to her car. "Just get in her car and go. I don't care where. You can park it at the Hayvenhurst residence once you're done. Just go."


"Are you serious?" He looked back at me.


"As serious as I'll ever be."


"How will Shayla get her car back?"


"It'll be at the Hayvenhurst residence, duh!"


"Alright, Michael. I guess I'll see you all tomorrow?"


"Yes, sir." I nodded.


"Alright then. Just make sure you don't wreck this car, alright? You know how long I've been driving this car for your family?"


"A long time. I know." I laughed.


"Just take care of her, alright? Her and I have been through tough times together."


"I got you, man. Get outta here and have fun for the rest of the day!"


"What if Katherine needs a ride somewhere?"


"Take her in Shayla's car! Come on, Shayla should be out any minute now. She should see her car gone, not being taken."


"Alright, man, I'm out. Y'all be safe. Make sure to leave the keys with Katherine."


"I will. Thanks, man!" I crawled into the front seat and waited for him to leave. He waved as he drove off. I parked into the spot where Shayla's car once was and waited. She's going to flip once she sees her car gone. I put the seat back and put my hat over my face. It's been a long first leg. I just want this leg to be over with so that I can rest just a little bit. That's all I need is a little bit of rest. I need time away from my brothers, my family. I need time away. I just want to be with my wife and that's it. I need rest.


"What the...?!" I heard Shayla yell as she walked up to the car. "Are you serious?"


"What?" I heard a male ask. I lifted my hat a bit to see Byron walking with her. Are you freaking kidding me?


"My car is gone!" Shayla said.


"You didn't park it elsewhere, did you?"


"No! I just- Are you kidding me? Did someone really steal my car?" I hope she doesn't think someone really stole her car. This would be hella funny if she did though.


"Do you want me to drive you home? Should I call Michael for you?" Byron asked frantically. "Should I call the police?"


"No, no, no. You don't have to do any of that. I'll just call my husband and see what's going on. This is crazy!"


"I could just take you home, Shayla. It's no big deal. We could go to the police station and file a report!" He offered. It's literally taking me everything not to get out of this vehicle.


"Byron, how about you go inside and call a rental car for me?" Shayla shook her head.


"A what?" He looked at her crazy. "Your car just got stolen and you want me to call a rental car for you?! You don't want me to call the police, but you want me to-"


"Byron, please! It's not as deep as you think it is. I can just get another car." She rolled her eyes.


"Fine!" Byron began making his way back into the building. Shayla watched as he went inside and looked around to make sure no one was looking at her. In fact, the entire parking lot was watching her.


"It's okay!" She assured the parents who were watching her. "I've got it taken care of. Thank you!"


"Are you sure? Do you want me to call the police? It's not often we get auto theft around here." A parent asked her.


"I'm positive. My husband is coming to get me. Thank you."


"I can put in a report just in case." As soon as I heard the parent say that, I put on my sunglasses, put my hat low on my face and opened the door. The parent and Shayla looked at me.


I lowered my voice and said, "You ready, Shayla?"


"Huh?" She looked at me odd.


"You ready?" I asked again.


"Oh, yes!" She nodded. She turned to the parent and thanked them for their concern. "That's my husband."


"Sir, do you know her car was stolen?" The parent asked me.


"I'll take care of it. Thank you!" I waved and quickly got back in the vehicle. As Shayla was making her way to the passenger door, Byron came running out with a phone book.


"Shayla, I've got plenty of rental car companies you can call... What are you doing?" He asked.


"My husband is here, so he's going to take care of it and everything will be fine." She smiled.


"Michael is here? Really? So I can finally actually meet him face to face?"


"You've already met him face to face once."


"Well, maybe he doesn't have on sunglasses this time." Byron began walking over to the driver side. "Hey, Michael!" He knocked on the window.


I lowered the window by literally a half of an inch and talked in a low voice again, "hey."


"Uh, can I shake your hand? Shayla has told me many good things about you."


"We actually have some place to be. Maybe next time."


"Okay! Hey, Shayla's car was stolen, so I know you're going to get to the bottom of this, huh?"


"Of course."


"Alright. You two take care and I'll see you again soon. See you tomorrow, Shayla!" Byron waved as he walked away.


"Michael, where is my car?" Shayla laughed as she leaned in to kiss me.


"It's complicated, but your car is safe." I backed out of the parking spot and started driving.


"It's safe? Where is it?"


"I don't know at this moment, but it will be at Hayvenhurst by tonight. It's fine, babe! How was your day at work?"


"Okay... It was great. Every day is different at school. I love it. Did I tell you one of my students asked about my old last name?"


"No, what happened?"


"Her brother told her my name used to be Johnson, so she was wondering why I didn't keep it or hyphenate it with your name. Cute story actually. I wish you could meet my students, honestly. I'd love that."


"I'd love to too. In due time though, babe."


"I know... Where are we headed?"


"Um. I actually have an appointment that I have to get to, but I promise right after that, we're going out for dinner."


"Appointment for what?"


"My skin."


"What are they gonna do about it?"


"Honestly," I sighed, "I don't know. But I can't walk around like this forever."


"It's not that bad..." Shayla tried assuring me.


"Easy for you to say."


"You're still my Michael. You're still so handsome and beautiful. Nothing will change."


"It's gonna get worse, Shayla. Sooner or later, there are literally going to be white patches all over my skin. I don't think I could handle that."


"Well, whatever you decide to do, can you consult me about it first?"


I sighed, "sure, babe."


"Promise?"


"Can't promise, but I will consult you about it."


"I can deal with that." She nodded. I have ideas about what they may plan to do and what I may want to do about my skin. It will be a process though. I'll have Shayla by my side, so everything will be alright, I'm sure. But what I plan to do, I'm not sure if I can tell her about it yet. I don't think she would agree with it.

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