© 2005-2010 Julien Gregg
All Rights Reserved

Chapter 18

After a long drawn out goodbye, Skyler and Chad went to sit and wait for their own flight to New York. Watching Cassie walk through the gate with their father, knowing that they were boarding a plane that would take her away from them was hard on both of them. Chad had really never been without his twin sister in his life. Skyler had grown so used to having both of them around him all of the time that he didn't know what to think about Cassie not being there.

"We'll be busy, Sky," said Chad as if he could sense his older brother's thoughts. "I have to be in the studio, and you have to be on the set, remember?"

"I know," he replied.

"Well stop brooding about it," Chad said, but Skyler thought he might have been talking to himself.

In truth, Skyler had been thinking about Brian all day long. He still couldn't believe that he'd fallen for Brian's lies. He wasn't nearly as hurt as he was angry. He was actually glad that it had happened so early in their relationship. If he'd fallen in love with him before this happened, he didn't know what kind of state he would be in. The thought of it actually calmed him down a bit but not much. He wanted to punch Brian in the gut and make him feel the same way that he did. That was actually how he was feeling about then. Being cheated on and dumped had felt so much like being punched in the gut.

On the plane, Skyler tried to sleep. It wasn't going well, but he could at least shut his eyes and rest. His mind was still going a million miles per hour, and Brian was the main theme of his thoughts. He knew that he had to figure out a way to get Brian Littrell off his mind and fast. Work was one way to go about getting that done. He could make himself plenty busy for a while. No one would really be happy with him over it, but he didn't know what else to do. Outside of flying to Orlando and punching Brian in the gut, there wasn't much to do to get his mind off of the guy.

The press was waiting for them when they finally reached New York, and for the first time since the tour, Skyler was more than agitated by their presence. He stayed as close to Brent as he could with Chad right on his heels. The only thing he said to the reporters was "No comment," which was said gruffly and hastily. He didn't calm down again until they were safely in a rental car and leaving the airport behind them.

"Sky, she's only in Denver," said Chad when they were finally away from the airport. "We'll see her pretty soon."

"I know that," sighed Skyler. "There's more on my mind than just Cassie, Chad."

"I know," he replied softly.

Skyler sighed again. He had to get a grip on himself. Snapping at Chad wasn't the right thing to be doing. He needed to calm down somehow. So much had happened so quickly. He'd found his father, learned that his mother had lied to him almost all of his life, discovered another little brother and step-mother, faced his hateful step-father in court and Brian, his so called lover, had been cheating on him since practically the very first day of their relationship. Now Cassie was in Denver, and he and Chad were in New York. It was all a lot to digest.

"I'm sorry for snapping at you," he said, trying to make his voice lighter.

"Its all right," replied his brother as the car pulled into the parking garage of the apartment building.

He and Chad shared a look that spoke volumes about the way they were both feeling. Skyler chastised himself for not remembering that almost everything that he was going through, Chad was going through too. He had to be more considerate and think about the fact that Chad had also experienced the same life altering experiences as Skyler in the last few weeks. Snapping at him was not all right.

Once they were inside the apartment, Skyler started going through the mail and messages. Zack had agreed to watch over the apartment, collect the mail and anything else that happened to show up while they were gone. There were stacks of mail on the kitchen counter, sorted by importance. Skyler smiled as he thought about how efficient Zack was at organization. Cards from fans and other fanmail was in one pile, bills and correspondences that required Skyler's attention were in a second pile, and junk mail was in a third pile. Skyler browsed the bills and made a few mental notes concerning payments, and then he started to sift through the cards and fanmail. He really wasn't in the mood to open all of them, but he wanted to get an idea of where most of it had come from. He was about half way through the stack when Clay and Laura arrived.

"Welcome home, Sky," said Laura as she sat down at the kitchen table with Clay. "How was your flight?"

"The flight was fine," he replied, sitting the stack of mail down on the counter and joining them at the table. "I'm ready to get to work, though."

"Well, that's what we've come to discuss with you," she said. "Filming can start as soon as you're ready. Sonny is waiting for your call. As for studio time, Clay has made sure that you have plenty if you need it."

"I want to record at least two songs for Sonny to listen to," Skyler said. "I think they'll be good for the movie."

"Sonny is anxious to hear new music from you," said Clay. "I mentioned that you were interested in having a song or two on the soundtrack, and he was thrilled."

"That takes a load off of my mind," sighed Skyler, running his fingers through his hair. "Now all I have to do is record them and hope that Sonny likes them."

"Oh, I'm sure he'll like what you record, Skyler," said Laura. "He still goes on about your music."

"But I only wrote one of the songs that he's heard, Laura," Skyler insisted. "These are both my very own songs. I got no help on lyrics. Sure, Madonna and Niki helped me with music, but mostly they're all mine."

"Stop being so hard on yourself," said Clay. "I have faith in you. Madonna has faith in you. You will do fine."

"You said that you made sure that I could have studio time," he said, looking at Laura again. "What about studio musicians?"

"Well, I've taken care of that," said Clay. "While I was putting together musicians to work on Chad's album, I took the liberty of arranging a group for you to work with in the studio. Do you have music sheets?"

"Not yet," he replied. "I can get them, though."

"Then you're all set," said Clay. "When do you want to start recording?"

"Well, let me talk to Sonny about filming first," he chuckled.

His management left him alone shortly after lunch. He and Chad were given the day off to relax after traveling, but Chad was due in the studio first thing in the morning. Skyler called Sonny to talk about when filming would actually begin, and they talked about him recording the songs. Sonny gave him complete freedom over the music, and he told Skyler that filming would begin the following morning, too. However, Skyler wasn't in any of the scenes being shot that day or the next. He could use those two days to work in the recording studio if he chose.

After making all of the necessary arrangements with Maverick Studios, he called Laura about going to see the new apartment. He and Chad met her in the lobby of the building twenty minutes later, and they rode in her SUV to one of the newest buildings in the city. The one hundred, fifty story glass building was located at the north-western edge of Central Park. Skyler loved the area immediately.

They entered the lobby of the building to find that there were still workmen working on ground floor offices. Signs told them what each unfinished room or rooms would hold. Skyler saw that there would be a small coffee shop, two styling salons, a group of small offices and a mail room. Not knowing what to expect, he was actually impressed. He was smiling as he followed Laura to the elevator.

Inside the elevator, Skyler and Laura laughed at Chad's enthusiasm over being able to see the apartment before Cassie. He absolutely beamed about the building, and he couldn't wait to see his room. Skyler knew that having his own room was the biggest perk for Chad. He was excited for him. He was a little sad that Cassie wasn't there with them, but he knew that she was having a good time with their father.

The apartment was one of two penthouse apartments on the top floor. Laura let them in with a set of keys that she handed to Skyler after they were inside. When he looked at her, she explained that all that was needed was for him to sign the paperwork and call the bank. The apartment was his already. That fact nearly made him weak kneed, but he recovered quickly as Chad started to gush about the bedrooms.

The four bedrooms were at the back of the apartment. Two had their very own bathrooms, and the other two shared a bathroom that was located between them. Skyler loved the light, airy atmosphere of the apartment, and he immediately started to picture his furniture in the rooms. Laura told him about the buildings amenities as they toured the rooms. There would be a doorman, on sight maintenance and maid service, tight security to access any floor above the ground floor, and all of his mail would be sorted and delivered to his apartment each day.

The living room was huge with a wall of what Skyler first thought were floor to ceiling windows, but he soon discovered a terrace. The floor to ceiling windows turned out to be a row of sliding glass doors. Vertical blinds were installed to cover those doors to block out most of the light that came through them. Skyler turned around in a circle to take in the entire room. His smile grew and grew with everything he saw.

The kitchen was a real haven. All of the appliances were brand new, and they were all quite expensive. Laura assured him that they were included in the price of the apartment. There were two ovens, a double wide refrigerator with a glass door, a triple sink, dishwasher, trash compacter and a nook with a built in table and benches in one corner of the room. More windows lined one wall, and a large freezer stood in another corner.

There was a formal dining room with a crystal chandelier. The room was nearly as large as the living room, and Skyler could just see a grand piano in the corner where glass windows met glass windows. Everything about the room was beautiful. Each room had been painted white. Laura explained that it was easier for him to choose his colors and have the rooms painted, paneled or papered that way.

Back down on the ground, Brent met them in the lobby and walked with them to Laura's SUV. They stopped for dinner after Skyler went into Maverick to drop off his sheet music for the band members to look over. He would be in Studio C the following morning while Chad was learning the songs that he was supposed to sing in Studio E.

"So you're feeling better about what Sonny will think of your songs?" asked Laura when they sat down to eat at The Crystal Room.

"Well, let's just say that I'm ready to start exercising my artistic freedom," he replied, smiling. "After all, it would be a shame to waste all of what Madonna worked so hard for on my behalf."

"Did I mention that I've always loved your attitude?" she laughed.

"They told me at Maverick that they're getting calls from fans wanting to know when my new album will be ready," he said. "Joyce Kemper was ready to unplug the phones."

"I'll bet," Laura said between hitches of laughter. "They're probably foaming at the mouth by now."

"Well, if their email is as full as mine, I'm sure they are," he replied. "Last check, I had over two thousand emails in my 'non-junk' folder."

"Wow, Sky," gasped Chad. "I had no idea you were that popular."

The boy tried hard to keep his shocked look, but only seconds after his statement, he dissolved into a fit of laughter. Skyler tossed a piece of ice at him as he laughed as well. They were all laughing when the food arrived. The mood was light, and Skyler was happy. For the moment, he'd forgotten all about Brian. They talked about the music and the movie while they ate, and Chad expressed his own excitement over recording music of his own.

They made plans for packing once the laughter and enthusiasm was curtailed. Skyler insisted that he and Chad would pack all of their clothes and personal belongings. Laura told Skyler that the furniture, dishes and other items could be packed for him and moved to the apartment as soon as it was ready. Skyler promised to meet with an interior decorator as soon as possible to go over choices for each room. Chad insisted that he and Cassie be able to decorate their own rooms.

Later that night, the two of them talked about what they would be doing the following morning. Chad had many questions about what it was like to record. They talked about what he could expect the next morning, but Skyler reminded him that he'd already recorded one song. He understood that there was much more to recording an album than what his little brother had already done, but he was sure that Chad would do a great job. He remembered the emotion in his brother's voice when he was singing for him. He saw something of himself in the look in his brother's blue eyes.

"You just have to pretend that you're sitting at home, singing along with your radio," he told him. "That's what I do most of the time."

"Isn't that hard, though?"

"Well, yeah," laughed Skyler. "You have to really concentrate and block everyone out. Just make sure that you don't block them out so well that you don't hear them when they try to stop you for something."

"I heard that you record most of your songs in one take," said Chad. "How do you do that?"

"I don't know for sure," Skyler replied honestly. "I just sit there and sing."

"You know, for someone who didn't want anything to do with all of this, you sure are great at it," said Chad.

"Well, thanks," Skyler beamed. "But I never actually said I didn't want anything to do with show business. I just said that I didn't think show business would want anything to do with me."

"Boy were you wrong!" laughed Chad. "I've seen the way the fans scream for you, Sky. I see the press following your every move."

"That isn't all laughs and smiles, Chad," warned Skyler. "The press can be very intrusive. Fans are great, but when you're tired and hungry, mobs of fans aren't the best thing to face."

"Oh, I know," he said. "Cassie and I had to sit on the bus for hours sometimes while Brent cleared the parking lots enough for us to get into the hotel. Sometimes I thought we'd never eat."

"Well, you already know that fame isn't just having fun and meeting famous people," said Skyler. "You know about the hard work and the down side to the industry. I think you'll handle it all just fine, though."

"I guess we'll find out soon," said Chad, smiling as the telephone interrupted their discussion.

"Hold that thought," laughed Skyler as he reached for the phone.

"Hey, Sky," said Kevin Richardson when Skyler answered the phone. "I just wanted to call and see how things were going for you."

"Hey, Kev," replied Skyler. "Things are good so far. I went to see my new apartment today, and I start recording one of the songs for the movie in the morning."

"That's great!" enthused Kevin. "Its about time that we get some new tunes from you."

"Yeah, my email and Maverick's phones agree with you," chuckled Skyler.

"Listen, I'm in New York," said Kevin. "Mind if I tag along to the recording studio in the morning?"

"I don't think it'll be a problem," said Skyler, wondering what Kevin was doing in New York. "Where are you staying?"

"I'm at the Plaza," he replied. "I'll call you in the morning."

"Sounds good," said Skyler. "I'm due in the studio at eight."

"I'll call you at seven," said Kevin. "Talk to you in the morning."

"Later," said Skyler as he hung up the phone.

"He's in New York?" asked Chad, looking at Skyler funny.

"Yeah," shrugged Skyler. "He didn't say why, though. He just asked if he could tag along to the studio in the morning."

"Sky, I'm really sorry about Brian," Chad said quietly.

"Yeah," sighed Skyler. "But let's not talk about Brian. I'm in a good mood."

The next chapter will be posted soon.