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Chapter 31 - "I Just Can't Stop Loving You"

Long days at the studio called for even longer times of rest, but rest does not exist in the life I'm trying to live with the goals I have. Barbra Streisand has denied my offer not once, but twice. Clive isn't letting Whitney join me on the duet for fear of overexposure and Diana isn't even an option right now. I don't even know why Q would ask me that. Diana is so upset with me, I'm scared to talk to her at the moment. We've got to find someone to do it, I just haven't figured out who yet. This song has been on my mind for quite some time and only will continue to be. It's eleven p.m., so Mariah should be sleep, but I doubt Shayla is. More than likely, she's up editing her novel. I'm more excited for her to release her book than I am to release mine. I guess I'm just afraid of all the exposure and attention it will bring. With me talking about my parents, what it was like for me growing up in the entertainment industry. I've just never been so open and exposed before. Who knows what people will think of me? Who knows what people will think of my family? As far as I'm concerned, the book can just be put on the shelf never to be published, but Shayla is motivating me to do it. Maybe with the book, the public will be able to understand me better. I went upstairs to find Shayla up editing her book of course. "Hey, baby," I kissed her cheek.

"Hey. How was your day?" She asked without looking up from her manuscript.

"It was good. I already told you Barbra doesn't want to be on the duet. She says the age difference is the problem. Clive doesn't want Whitney on it for fear of overexposure. So, we have no idea who's going to be on the song. It's a beautiful song! I don't see why anyone would pass it up. You've read it, babe. Don't you like it?"

She nodded, "I do..."

"You know I wrote it with you in mind," I nuzzled my face in the crook of her neck.

She blushed, "I know. You've told me many times."

"I just want you to know. This will be one of many songs written with you in mind. Once everyone knows who these songs are about, you'll be the most coveted woman in the world."

She fake gasped, clutching the invisible pearls on her chest, "the world?"

"The world," I laughed. "How's the novel coming?"

"It's coming... I'm just editing a little more. The final draft is due to Rebecca next week. I want to make sure it's absolutely perfect."

"I'm sure it's going to be a bestseller. Everyone is going to love reading about how Andrea fights her inner demons whilst finding love in Jason."

"Do you really think so? The story doesn't seem cliché, does it?"

"No. In fact, I think it's ahead of its time. Who do you know that's writing about dancers fighting their inner demons? No one. It's seldom you even hear about broken ballerinas since they're all perceived as perfect. I hope to see your book make it to the big screen someday. Shoot, I'll even fund it for you."

"Thanks, babe, but I'll take my chances being regular. I'll take the extra leverage later," she winked. "I'm getting ready to go to bed. I have a meeting with the publisher's tomorrow morning. I imagine you're going to be up for a while?"

"Yeah," I sighed. "Working on the album."

"Alright," she kissed my cheek. "Wake me if you need any ideas or anything."

"I'll be fine. You get your rest. You have a long day ahead of you tomorrow. I love you." All I could think about was who on earth would be on "I Just Can't Stop Loving You." Both of the people I wanted declined me for bogus reasons as far as I'm concerned. I honestly think Whitney's career would have skyrocketed. She's doing well now, but I think two powerful voices like our own would sound heavenly on the same track. It'd actually be amazing if Shayla could sing it with me, but she's not into show business. If she were, she'd instantly become a star overnight. With the album almost complete, I'm both nervous and excited. My goal is to do just as much if not twice as much as Thriller. I feel like Q and I have done great with this album, despite us constantly bumping heads. I've written a majority of the songs on this album. If that doesn't scream dedication, persistence, and artistry, then I don't know what does. I'm mostly nervous because Janet's album dominated the charts. Control was quite the album. I'm glad Janet left Joseph's management because she really wasn't going anywhere. With Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, Janet skyrocketed into the music scene. Good to know I have some actual competition because Janet has been killing the game. I don't know. There's just so much going around the album that makes me nervous. It's clear I'm more into trying to appease the new generations ear. I just feel like Q is stuck in the mindset for Thriller and what music sounded like before it. He's stuck in the past. He's not thinking ahead. He's not being innovative. He's not thinking timeless. He's thinking safe. And I don't know how long I can take this. Him and Frank both to be honest. It's like they think I'm a kid and treat me accordingly. I'm a grown man and I want not only for this album to attest to that, but also this time in my life in particular. Not only am I maturing in my music, but I'm also maturing in life. For Pete's sake, I bought the ATV catalog! That's a big business venture. If that doesn't let everyone know who I am, then I don't know what else to do.

Shayla slept peacefully beside me. She has honestly brought peace to my life that I never knew I needed. She's been everything I've needed and more. Shayla knows me unlike anyone else. She understands me unlike anyone ever has before. I'm so blessed to be able to call her my wife. Just a look from her brown eyes could calm a rage. A wise word from her lips could calm the storm from within. She's so beautiful. As I studied the beauty of her face, a flood of words made their way into my mind. I got up to retrieve my tape recorder and got back in bed beside her. I hit play on the tape recorder immediately so I wouldn't forget, "I just want to lay next to you for a while. You look so beautiful tonight," I caressed her face as she slept. "Your eyes are so lovely. Your mouth is so sweet," I traced her lips. "A lot of people misunderstand me. That's because they don't know me at all. I just want to touch you and hold you. I need you. God, I need you. I love you so much."


I went into the studio tape recorder and a bag of popcorn in hand. It's set in my mind to have what I recorded last night to play as an interlude for "I Just Can't Stop Loving You." I'm kind of nervous for everyone to hear such an intimate part of me, but this album is about breaking the mold and showing the world that there is a log more to me. It's about telling the world that I'm not a kid anymore. And I'm definitely not weird.

"Hey, Mike. Any ideas for who could be on the duet yet?" Q asked me.

"Nope," I sat down beside Siedah who was knitting something. "Hey, Sid."

"Hey..." She concentrated on whatever she was making.

"What are you making?" I asked.

"Nothing really. It may end up being a scarf. Ion know," she shrugged.

"Q, I have somewhat of an interlude for the duet," I handed him the tape recorder.

"An interlude?" He looked at me quizzingly.

"Yeah. I think it would fit perfectly for the song," I started to eat my popcorn.

"Smelly," he groaned. "We don't even have the other person for your duet and you're already coming up with interludes?"

"Can you just listen to it? We'll figure all that out later." He rolled his eyes and pressed play. My heart raced at what they were about to hear. I don't think anyone has ever heard me speak so intimately. I'm lying. "The Lady in My Life" was totally out of my element, but the world loved it. Q and Sid listened to it closely. Sid's eyebrow was raised the entire time... I don't know what that is supposed to mean. I hope that means she likes it. Q pressed stopped once my voice stopped playing. "So, what'd you guys think?"

"That was very up close and personal," Sid nodded.

"I agree," Q nodded.

"Do you think we can add it to the beginning of the song?"

"I think we should make the song first!" Q threw his hands up in the air. "Once we find your duet partner, then we can talk about the interlude. Until then... got any ideas? Can Shayla sing?"

Shaking my head, no, "she can sing, but show business isn't her thing."

"Are you saying that or is she saying that?" He looked at me over the brim of his glasses.

"She said that."

"I'm just checking..." He played the instrumental. I took my tape recorder back and put it in my pocket. Reading over the lyrics, all I could think about was Whitney and what the song could have sounded like. I wrote the song with Shayla in mind, but with Barbra or Whitney singing it. Now, I have neither and Shayla will never get the opportunity to hear the song the way it was intended. "Sid?" Q asked as he messed with the soundboard.

"Yeah?" She finally looked up from what she was knitting.

"Do you like this song?"

She took a second to listen, "yeah, I like it."

"How would you like to sing it?" Q looked at me then at Siedah. I don't know why I didn't think of her. Sid has such an amazing voice!

She looked between me and Q, "are you serious?"

"As serious as I'll ever be," he looked back at her.

"I would love to!" She smiled. It made me happy to see how happy she was about this.

"Good! Both of you get in there and start singing. We don't have time to waste!" I helped Sid from her chair. We went into the mic room in front of our respective stands to find lyric sheets with both of our names on it unbeknownst to me. Q must have had Sid in mind all along. Why didn't he tell me?! Sid and I put on our headphones and read over the lyrics. I looked over at Sid to find that she was amazed at the lyrics. I don't know if the lyrics amazed her or if her name being on the lyrics amazed her. Either way, you couldn't wipe the smile off her face if you tried. "Y'all ready?" Q asked. I gave him a thumbs up which prompted him to press play on the instrumental. I started to sing the first song with vigor and grace. Picturing Shayla in my mind as I sang about her voice and realizing how proud I truly was to say I love her. Sid started to sing and despite the seriousness of the song, I decided to test how into the song she was and started throwing popcorn at her face. She was so into the song, but she kept backing away from the mic creating a faraway sound. Q stopped the song, "Sid, would you stop goofing off! This is valuable studio time!"

"It was Michael!" She pointed at me. "He's over here throwing popcorn in my face!" She threw a couple of kernels at me. I was weak! These are the times I love when we're in the studio. Good old-fashioned fun.

"Michael quit playing around. We've got to get this song recorded. Your album is due soon. We have no time to waste. Stop playing and sing the song!" He pressed play on the instrumental again. I put the popcorn bag down and got in the groove of the song again. Siedah squinted her eyes at me as if she was mad which only made me laugh. We're never going to get anything done since I started this. I know she has revenge up her sleeve somewhere.

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