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Chapter 66

The phone rang loudly as I sat and read the newspaper. Today is the Indy show and I'm still mentally preparing myself for it amongst other things. I got up and picked up the phone, "hello?" Maybe. Just maybe it's Shayla.

"Michael, it's John. I've got some good news for you," John replied.

"Yeah? What's that?"

"You are officially the owner of Sycamore Valley Ranch."

I smiled, "oh thank God! This is the best news I've gotten in a while. Were you able to change the name for me?"

"Yep. Sycamore Valley is officially Neverland Valley," I heard the smile in his voice.

I sighed a breath of relief. I wish Shayla was here so I could tell her the good news, "Thank you so much, John. You have no idea how much this means to me."

"Oh, no. Trust me, I know," he laughed.

I smiled, "look, I need everything from the other house moved over to the ranch quickly. I won't be able to remodel and decorate it as I want yet, but I want to at least make sure all of our things are over there. I need you to find the best in security and housekeeping. Once I get there, I'll be able to figure everything else out. Until then, I think that's it. You just made my day."

"No, you made my day. I'm glad I could get everything sorted out for you."

"I have to call my wife, okay? I'll talk to you later," I hung up and hurried to call my in-laws. Securing Sycamore Valley made up for everything. My Grammys loss and that Bad didn't chart as well as Thriller. All that didn't even matter anymore. It was a crush to the ego, yes. But no one can take away the fact that I, a black man, own three thousand acres. I own a freaking mountain! Who can say that? I have so many plans for the ranch. And I can't wait for Shayla's input either. Not only was this my dream, but this was also Shayla's dream. Without her, this probably would have never even happened. She's loved the idea since I sent her a drawing in the mail all those years ago. I can't wait to see how she decorates our house, guest houses and everything else on the property. I can barely contain myself. Someone needs to answer so I can tell her.

"Hello?" mom answers.

"Hey, Mom. Is Shayla there?"

"She is not. She went to pick up Mariah with her father."

I gasped. So that means she must be staying with them for the week! "Is she staying with you all now?"

"Yeah. She'll be here for a while."

"Do you think she'll want to talk to me?"

"I hope so because I'm tired of covering for her now. This is getting old."

I laughed, "well, I've got some good news for her, so please have her call me," I gave her the number to my hotel and my room number. "Please tell Shayla it's urgent. That I have to talk to her."

"And if she doesn't want to talk to you?"

I swallowed, "well, I guess I'll have to tell her later. But please tell her I'd rather tell her now. It's really important."

"Okay, well, I'll tell her. I've got errands to run."

"Yes, ma'am," I put the phone back on the hook. I feel so cut off from Shayla. It's unfair. It's quite childish if I do say so myself. Why can't we just talk about this like adults? I have to go through her parents just to be able to talk to her. I want my wife back, but apparently, she wants nothing to do with me right now. I just hope she calls me tonight, so I can tell her about the ranch. If she doesn't want to talk about anything else, that's fine. But I just want to tell her the good news. We secured the ranch. I want to share that news with her. We both worked hard for this and she deserves to know. I'm so close to Cincinnati. I could very easily just drive that two hours like it's nothing and surprise her. But there isn't any telling what her father is prepared to do and I'd rather not risk the chance. I called my mother and Bill so they could meet me in my room. I have to tell someone the good news. I like how this good news came during the midst of so much crap. I just wish I could tell Shayla about it firsthand. While she's at home recouping and regrouping, I've been here just going through it without her. Is this what it would look like if she actually left me? Probably ten times worse. She hasn't officially left me, so this isn't really that bad. But still. Being without her is really taking a toll on me, especially with this good news. It's just too much. A knock came to the door signaling Mom or Bill were here. I opened the door to find them both, "hey," I kissed mom's cheek as they walked in.

"What's going on?" Bill asked.

"I've got some good news," I smiled.

"What's that?" Mom sat down on the couch.

"Sycamore Valley is officially ours."

"Are you serious?" Bill smiled.

"Yep. I tried calling Shayla, but she wasn't answering. I had to tell someone. I'm so excited!"

"I know you are, baby!" Mom smiled. "This is your dream! What all do you have planned for it?"

"So much, Mother. I'm going to have theme park rides. Our own movie theatre. Seven guesthouses. A train station. The possibilities are endless. This is literally going to be me and Shayla's own little world away from everyone else. No prying eyes. No paparazzi stalking the house. I'm going to have the best in security. A gate as tall as I possibly can get. This isn't just going to be our place of residence. I want to share it with the world! All my fans and children all over the world. I just want to be able to give back somehow."

"You want to give back by allowing the world into your home?" Bill asked.

"Only for permitted hours. And not just anybody. The fans. The children all over the world. It'll make more sense when I finally get everything together. You'll see," I nodded.

"I'm proud of you, baby," Mom told me.

"Thanks. Out of all the bad, that's happened, something good has finally happened."


"Shayla, Michael called for you again," Mom told me once I got back.

"Oh, yeah? What'd he say this time?" I asked.

"He's got some good news for you. Are you going to call him?"

"Um..." I avoided her glance.

"Don't 'um' me, girl. Now you are too old for all this. Your husband said he's sorry. Quit avoiding him and talk to him. I think he's learned his lesson by now."

"I'm not avoiding him, mom... I just-"

"Then are you going to call him to find out what this good news is?"

"I'm just enjoying not being stressed out for once. Not having to be around him and Frank is pretty peaceful right now. I don't feel like I'm stepping on eggshells being around the two. It's a breath of fresh air. You must be tired of me being in your house, huh?" I laughed.

"I just want y'all to make up. This has been going on for too long. Plus, I'm tired of him running up my phone bill that he has no intention on offering to pay because he can't get a hold of you."

"Daddy..." I looked at him.

"Nope. You hard your mother. Call him. Let him know you're okay. He's worried about you and he supposedly has good news for you, which I hope includes an apology," he went back into the kitchen. I sighed. Part of me wants to call him. Part of me wants to stay distant and continue to give him a taste of his own medicine, but I don't want to step down to that level of immaturity.

"What's the number, mom?" I asked her. She handed me a piece of paper with the number on it. I went over to the cordless phone to pick it up and went up to my room to call Michael. I haven't heard from him in weeks. I've purposely been avoiding any kind of news so I don't have to hear any more rumors the media may have conjured up. Hearing his voice on the radio brought me much joy and irritation. Mostly because it wasn't fair that Bad flopped the way it did, but at the same time the general public loved it. Michael is literally only two hours away from me. I could go over and see him for myself in Indy, but I won't. I don't think Michael has learned his lesson yet or has even begun to remotely understand why I was so fed up.

"Hello?" Michael answered after I was connected to his room.

"Are you ready for the concert tonight?" I asked him out of sheer curiosity.

He gasped, "baby?!"

I smiled to myself. He's missed me. Maybe he learned his mistake and realized why I was so fed up, "I know you're going to put on one heck of a show in your home state."

"How are you, baby? Are you okay? I've been trying to contact you for weeks!" He completely ignored my comment.

"I'm good. I really needed time away, I guess. It's been a breath of fresh air being with my siblings and nieces and nephews."

"I really miss you. You have no idea how sorry I am. You didn't deserve any of that."

"Sorry for what?" I asked. I wanted to hear him say it. I wanted him to admit his errors. I want him to acknowledge out loud each and every problem that had made its' way into our marriage.

"I'm sorry for Frank. I'm sorry for not putting my foot down. I'm sorry that I put my career over you. I'm sorry I even allowed that or thought it was remotely okay. I'm sorry for Tatiana. I'm sorry that I kept her around... I can admit that I was attracted to her. I can admit that I kept her around simply because of that attraction. That wasn't fair to you. I should have got rid of her when you said to. In a way, I wanted to keep her around because the attraction we had towards each other was so-"

My heart dropped. "So, it was more than what I thought it was."

"I never had sex with her. I never stepped out of our marriage. I liked her a lot. I can admit that and I'm sorry. I let that attraction to her get in the way of my work and our marriage. I tried to keep it separate, but she only took it further than it should have. The only time I was ever alone with her were all those times I told you though. Outside of that, nothing else has happened. I promise. And I'm sorry." I appreciate that he admitted that, but dang. Did it really take him a year and a whole forced kiss for him to understand she was distracting him from his work and messing up a whole marriage? I sighed, rolling my eyes. I know men mature slower than women, but sheesh, I guess common sense just isn't that common. "I'm getting rid of Frank."

"Oh, yeah? When?"

"I don't know..."

"You need to know. You can't just say that and it never happens. That's what happened with Tatiana. You said you had to wait for a reason. Don't wait for a reason. If you're going to tell him to hit the road then you need to tell him to hit the road. Ain't no sense in waiting."

"You're right. I'm going to listen to you this time," he softly chuckled to himself.

"Mom told me you've got some good news?" I asked.

"Oh, yes!" He sounded just as excited as when he answered the phone. "We've got Sycamore Valley, babe!" I could hear the smile in his voice.

I smiled, "really?"

"Yes! John called me a couple of hours ago to tell me. It's officially ours. We've got our own little world now. I told him to have everything moved from the old house to the ranch and when we get back to California, we'll sort everything out. I couldn't wait to tell you. I'm so glad you called me back. You were the first person I wanted to tell."

"When do we move in?"

"Probably when I've got some downtime with the tour."

"That's the best news I've gotten all year."

"You're telling me! We'll have everything, baby. Our own movie theatre. Those amusement park rides I promised you... When are you coming back to me, babe? I miss you so much."

"Um, give me a while. I just need time to myself. I'll meet you in one of the cities you'll be touring in."

"...okay. I- I can deal with that," he had no choice but to accept it. "Has Roland been keeping you safe?"

"He's with his family. I don't need him when I'm around my family."

"You're right. Just making sure. Tell Roland I said, hello and thank him for me for keeping you safe when you flew home."

"I will."

"I love you so much, baby. I can't wait to see you."

"I love you too."

"I hate that I have to cut this short. I have to go prepare at the stadium."

"I understand. I'll talk to you later," I hung up the phone. I'm glad we have a place to call our own. We've been renting houses like it's nothing. Now, we have a whole three thousand acres to call our own. What a dream! Despite that though, Michael definitely admitted to keeping Tatiana around because he was attracted to her despite my protests. No wonder she was so obsessed with him. It's going to take me a while to trust him again. I knew something was going on because he held onto her entirely too long. At least he didn't have sex with her. I'm still going to stay with my family for a while. I want to talk to Matt about it, honestly. But if I do, he'll really want to kick Michael's butt. This is a lot. She's gone and dealt with now. But this happened right in front of my face. I thought it was all her and Michael just pushing her away as best as he could, but apparently, it was more. Michael was not only attracted to her, but he kept her around simply because of that reason even though I told him to get rid of her. The trust is broken...

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