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Chapter 24

Shayla and I were up early to head to the set. I don't know what has gotten into Frank, but he's getting a bit too controlling and I don't like it. This is my career, not his. It's so cold here in New York and I can't stand it. I honestly can't wait until we wrap up the short film. That way Shayla and I can head back to the warmth of California... Well, since we're out on this side of the country, we could actually stop in Ohio if she's interested.

"Where are we going?" Shayla asked me.

"That's actually a good question," I looked at Bill. "Where are we going?"

"We're going to the set," he shrugged.

I looked out the window at all the broken down buildings, apartments and houses, "what set?"

"We're coming up on it," Bill looked outside.

"I hope we're just getting through this to get to the set..." Shayla said.

"Nope," he shook his head. "We're actually here."

"This is where you're filming?" She looked at me. I looked to Bill for answers.

"Yup. Now come on you two. Shayla put on your sunglasses," he instructed her.

She gave him a confused look, "but it's not sunny out."

"But you're with Michael, now come on," he told her again. Shayla reluctantly put on the oversized sunglasses I bought her.

"It's only for your privacy and safety, babe. Don't think too much of it, okay?" I kissed her hand as I helped her out the car. The film crew and actors were all there. Martin was sitting in his director's chair making sure the camera was right or something. I walked over to him to introduce Shayla. "Hey, Marty."

He turned and smiled once he saw it was me, "hey, Michael! How's it going?"

"Good, good... No one told me we would be filming here..."

He laughed, "yep. This is your set." He looked over at Shayla, "who's this pretty lady you have behind you?"

I bent toward his ear and whispered, "Don't tell anybody, but this is my wife." His eyes grew wide. I gave him a look so as to not look so surprised.

He stood up and pulled her in for a hug, "it's a pleasure to meet you, Shayla. Michael is the king of secrets, huh?" He teased.

She laughed, "if you ever need him to keep a secret for you, just know it will be kept."

He nodded and pulled me off to the side, "why is she a secret, man? That's not good for your relationship."

"It's for the public to think I'm single. As long as I'm a husband to Shayla, we have no problem. What's understood doesn't need to be explained, Martin," I shrugged.

He shook his head in disbelief, "well, okay then, Michael."

"Just... don't tell anybody, okay? I like to keep my private life private. The only reason I told you was because I felt like I could trust you. Please don't put me in a position to make me feel like I can't trust you."

"You've got my word on that, Michael," he nodded as he went back to his chair. I scanned the block looking at each and every broken down building. Some doors had been kicked in. Windows were broken. The spray painted words on the sides of the buildings must have meant we were on someone's turf...

"Hey, Marty..." I went over to him. He looked at me. "Do people live here?"

He looked around, "yeah, Michael... They do."

"Oh... I've never seen anything like this before. I wonder how people can live like this."

"I'm sure they try to make the best of it, Michael."

"I wish I could remodel all of these for them. No one deserves to live like this."

Shayla walked over to us, "but then the cost of living over here would rise. They wouldn't be able to afford it and then they'd have to move into buildings that look just like this all over again."

"How do you know that?" I asked her.

"I've seen it many times. You think remodeling it would make it better. It does in a way, but it makes it harder to live there because of the city officials saying it needs more money to be contained," she shrugged.

"Or would it be the landlords? It has to be the landlords, right?"

"Most definitely, but it wouldn't take long for the landlords to want 'better' people living in the 'better' housing."

"That's not fair," I shook my head in disbelief. "It's like no matter what you do, you just can't make it in this world, huh?"

"Enough of this depressing talk," Marty clapped. "Michael, go rehearse your lines. Shayla, you can sit beside my wife here. Wesley!" He yelled across the street. "Over here. Now!"


"Yo, college! What's your major man?" Wesley's character, Mini Max, asked Michael's character, Darryl.

"This is high school. There ain't no majors," Michael looked up at him.

Wesley looked up from what he was doing, "then what's your minor?" Gregory's character, Cowboy, erupted in laughter.

Michael looked up at him, "you guys are sick. Sick!"

"And scene!" Martin called. "That was good! But Michael, I need you to laugh at the realization of what Mini Max is implying. You can't just look up at him. No one's going to get the joke. You have to smile or laugh. Something that will make the viewer realize what is being said so that they can at least laugh too." Michael took everything that Marty had to say in stride, not once opposing him. Sure, Michael was the star, but he also had to learn in regards to his acting so that he could give nothing less of a stellar performance. Just as they were about to redo the scene Elizabeth Taylor walked in the building wearing a coat that only a star was fit to wear. She was simply fabulous in person. Whatever perfume she had on filled the entire room. She actually looked better than she did in the magazines.

"Elizabeth!" Michael got up quickly from his spot to greet her. "I'm so happy to see you!" He smiled.

"I couldn't visit New York without visiting you on set! How are you and why on earth are you filming in this condemned building? I feel like something is going to bite me if I make the wrong step!" She kissed him on the cheek.

"Once you see the short film. You'll understand," he laughed. I wanted to introduce myself to Elizabeth, but I trust Michael will introduce me, so I'll stay seated beside Marty's wife. Wesley and the rest of the crew went to take a short break as Marty reviewed the filmed material. I watched the material as well. Michael was such a great actor. I almost wonder why he never fully pursued it. The Wiz was great, but I would love to see him in more full feature length films. I looked over at Michael and Elizabeth to see that they were still chatting about God knows what. I guess if Michael won't introduce me then I will. I stood up and dusted my coat off. I don't consider myself an insecure woman, but being in the same room as Elizabeth Taylor made me want to check myself.

I walked over to them and smiled, "hi, Liz!"

She slowly tore her gaze from Michael to find the voice that had called out her name and looked me dead in my eye, "it's Elizabeth."

My heart raced at what felt like a thousand miles, "I'm sorry. Hi, Elizabeth. My name is-"

"No. I don't want any coffee. I don't want water. And I most certainly will not sign an autograph for someone who calls me 'Liz.'" I was stuck. Flabbergasted even. Not only did she consider me the help, but this lady was so far up her own ass, that she assumed I wanted an autograph. "Michael, do you want anything?" she looked back at Michael.

He looked just as shocked as I was, "no, but-"

She turned back to me, "you see? Neither one of us need a thing. So you can go help someone else now, okay, dear?" She smiled and turned back to Michael to finish their conversation. First impression always counts. I don't care if Michael tells her I'm his wife or not. I do not like this woman and I have every reason not to now.

"Elizabeth, that's not the help..." He winced, knowing he was about to be in trouble with the both of us.

"Well, who is she? And why are we still talking about her? I came out here to see you, Michael. If you want to go and talk to her or about her, I'm sure all these men around here would love that. But not me, so don't even go there!" She warned. He whispered something in her ear which caused her famous pair of violet eyes to widen in shock. "Why didn't you tell me you would be bringing her?!"

"I didn't know you were coming, Elizabeth!"

"And you could have warned her to not call me, 'Liz!' You know I hate that name. It sounds like Lizard and I am not a lizard!" She turned to look at me and suddenly her diva persona switched into the most charming person ever. "How are you, sweetheart?"

I looked at Michael, "I'll see you at the hotel." I walked out the building to meet Bill at the car. "Take me back to the hotel."

"Uh oh," he opened the door. "You must have met the Duchess herself."

"Yeah," I got in the car. "And she can keep her fake smile and everything else to herself." I sneered as I looked out the window. What was it about Elizabeth that made Michael love her so much? She and I are the complete opposites. How could he marry someone so down to earth, but be best friends with someone so fake and out of this world?

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