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Chapter 31

(One week later)

I packed all of my belongings and made sure Shayla had hers altogether too. This is a much-needed trip to get away from all this mess. Shayla has been going through it with paparazzi following her everywhere. It got to a point I had to tell her she can't go grocery shopping anymore. To take away such a simple freedom like that just to keep her safe was really eating me up inside, but it eventually was going to happen. Now it's like we were either just cooped up in the hotel getting it on or cruising around the city with Driver just for the heck of it. That's not the way to live, so I have to get Shayla out of here. Driver picked us up and paid for the room. Once he got back in, he gave me the receipt. Shayla looked over.

"Thirty-six thousand ninety-two dollars!?" She gasped.

"It costs to be the boss, doesn't it, Driver?" I asked him.

"It sure does. I'm sure you were living it up in that thirty-six-thousand-dollar suite, weren't you, Mrs. Jackson?"

"My gosh..." Was the only thing she could say.

"The finer things in life." I laughed.

"That's enough to buy a house!"

"Or two cars!" Driver laughed.

"Or fifteen Macintosh computers!" I chimed in.

"Who would buy fifteen of those?" Shayla cut me a look.

"I'm actually thinking about buying a couple of my cousins one. You never know." I shrugged.

"So, where are you all going for this trip? Hopefully somewhere tropical?" Driver teased.

"Nah, we're thinking more local." I looked at Shayla.

"Local?" He asked. "How are you going to take a plane to somewhere local?"

"Not that local," I laughed. "We're staying in the states is what I mean."

"Oh! Gotcha! Well, I hope you all plan on bringing me something back."

"I don't know if we're coming back for a while, Driver..." Shayla mentioned.

"Wait, what? Why not?"

"There's just a lot going on. And a lot I have to get used to, but before any of that, I feel I have to get away and de-stress myself while simultaneously getting myself together mentally to getting used to this whole new lifestyle."

"Michael didn't prepare you for this?"

"I mean, he warned me about it... But I don't think there is a way to prepare someone for something like this."

"She's right about that, Driver. There was no way I could have mentally prepared her for this. If you've seen how down and out my wife has been this past couple of weeks, you would want to get away too."

"I guess so, huh? Well, you all enjoy your trip. I know it'll be well worth it." We pulled up to the airport. I told Shayla to put her sunglasses on, so as to give her a little anonymity. She put them on and waited for Driver to open the door. Once he opened the door, I got out and helped Shayla out. Driver gave us our luggage and we were on our way through LAX. I just wanted to get us through quickly. Normally, Driver would walk us to a special corridor to get through, but I didn't want to waste time because it takes forever for him to convince the airport attendant to understand, so I figured it would be easier if I did it myself. I've been in LAX too many times not to know where I'm going. Shayla followed close behind me as I made my way to the special corridor.

"Wait a minute..." A security guard stopped us. "Where are you two headed?"

"We're supposed to go through this corridor to get to our flight."

"No, no, no. You have to go through security just like everyone else." He pointed towards the crowd that looked like cattle trying to get past the gates to freedom.

"Sir, here's my ticket." I handed him my ticket. He looked at the ticket, then looked at me, then looked at the ticket and me again.

"Michael Jackson as in Michael Jackson?" He made a face.

"Yes, sir. And I'd just like to get through to this corridor, so no one knows it's me. This trip is very important to us." He looked over my shoulder to look at Shayla.

"That-That's the girl that's always with you on TV!" He eyes wide with excitement.

"Yes... Sir, can we please get through. We'd really like to not miss our flight."

"Certainly, Michael Jackson. You all have a good flight now! Who's the special lady?" He smiled as he opened the door. We ignored him and went through the corridor. By the grace of God, we weren't mobbed by a crowd. Especially since that security guard was making such a scene. As soon as we reached the end of the corridor, a flight attendant greeted us and checked our tickets and ID's to make sure it was really us.

"Enjoy your flight!" She smiled as we made our way to our gate. Just as we sat down, someone came running over to us.

"Michael!!!" I looked up to see Diana coming over to us as quickly as her high heels would allow.

I blushed and stood up to hug her, "hey, Diana." I know I'm married and all, but I still have a crush on her.

"It is so good to see you!" She kissed my cheek. "And you!" She looked at Shayla with the biggest smile. "I've heard a lot about you, young lady. And I've seen you everywhere, but how come Michael kept you hidden from me? You are so beautiful!" She pulled Shayla in for a hug.

Shayla didn't know what to do, but hug her back, "thank you." She smiled.

"Michael, we have a lot to catch up on. Does the press know she's your wife?"

"No, not yet. They've just been seeing me with her a lot."

"How did this get out? I know you've been keeping it hush, hush."

"It's a long story. Shayla had a co-worker who turned out to be a stalker." I rolled my eyes.

"A stalker?" She asked Shayla.

"Yes, ma'am. I-"

"I'm going to stop you right there," Diana held a finger up. "I know I have children and I know I'm your elder, but I am no one's 'ma'am.' That's for old ladies. Now, do I look old?" She turned slowly.

"No, ma- I mean, no." Shayla turned a deep red.

"Good. Now, go ahead." She smiled.

"I, uh, I.." Shayla started stuttering over her words. Poor baby just got checked by Ms. Diana Ross herself.

I held Shayla's hand, "he was a co-worker who was in love with her, constantly disrespected our marriage, and ultimately followed her home. Come to find out, he was working as paparazzi as his second job."

"Ooo, baby. You can't let these men fall in love with you. They're crazy out here." Diana told Shayla.

"Um, what's that supposed mean?" I asked Diana.

"Not you, baby. You're alright." She pinched my cheek like I was ten years old all over again. "Well, where are you all headed?"

"We're taking a vacation. With the press and all, we figured we should just get away."

"Shayla, baby, I'm going to tell you like I tell my kids all the time, don't let these people get to you. They only want negative reactions out of you. You give them positivity. You dig deep within yourself and pull out that Princess I know you are, give them that little Princess wave and go about your day. We don't give the paparazzi the show they're looking for. I saw it all over tv, baby. Trust me, you don't want them to make you out to be some kind of monster, you hear?"

"Yes, ma- I mean, yes." Shayla held my hand tightly once she realized her almost error.

"Well, I'm going to get out of here. You call me when you make it to your destination, okay, Michael?" Diana began sashaying away.

"You got it!" Just as we were going to sit down, our flight was called. I sighed, "you ready, baby?"

"Yup!" We gathered our things and made our way to the gate to turn in our luggage and check-in. Shayla took the window seat and I took the aisle. "This is about to be a long flight. You know I'm going to sleep, right?" Shayla laughed.

"I know. Me too." I yawned.

"You know, whenever we get back, we're going to have to already have a house for us to move in to." She reminded me.

"I know, I know... That won't be until a couple months from now though. We'll be fine. Just relax. We've got a long flight ahead of us. I don't need you stressing, because you've been doing that all month now."

"I have not!"

"You have. Hopefully, this vacation will give you the escape you need."

"Thank you, baby." She kissed my forehead.

"Anything for you, Shayla."

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