© 2005-2010 Julien Gregg
All Rights Reserved

Chapter 25

"I've never been so nervous in my life," laughed JC as he and Skyler sat down at a table to talk. "I think you've already figured me out, and I'm hoping that if you have, you'll just accept it and we can still be friends."

His hands were shaking, so he placed them on his knees. He was holding his breath, waiting for Skyler to say something, but he only looked back at him from across the table. He hadn't come right out and said that he was gay, but Skyler had to understand what he meant. If Skyler wasn't gay or didn't accept gay people, then his friendship with him was over. That was something that he really didn't want to happen, but he knew that he couldn't take it all back. He'd already said something that would let Skyler know.

"First of all," said Skyler, breaking the silence that had been building between them for a few moments, "you have nothing to be nervous about, JC. I think I know what you were getting at, but if you don't want to tell me out right, I won't try to pry it out of you."

"You know?" he asked. He was still gripping his knees, and his palms were probably leaving wet spots on his jeans. Skyler's statement about not having anything to be nervous about had only made him more nervous. This was it. He had to tell him now. If he didn't, then he never would.

"I think I do," replied Skyler. "First, there's the fact that three of your friends are calling just about everyone who knows me and asking questions that only lead me to think that it is about your sexuality. Then, there's what you said in the car on the way over here about them wanting to protect you and getting too close to me. If you are gay, and you're worried about me going to the press with it, don't be. If you're worried that I won't be your friend, then the only thing I can do is tell you the truth."

"The truth?" he asked wide-eyed. "You don't like gay people, do you?"

"Not liking gay people would be kind of silly," chuckled Skyler. "First, Zack is gay, and everyone knows that. I let him live in my apartment, and the two of us are still very close friends."

"So you don't have a problem with homosexuals," said JC with a sigh of relief. "Then it doesn't matter that you know about me."

"That's only part of the truth, JC," Skyler replied. "I've been battling with myself over this for a while. I've been snapping at everyone and being a real pain in the ass when I should be sitting on top of the world. I have two hit singles, a number one movie, and huge contract and a new movie coming. I should be happy about all of that, and I am. At the same time, I've been edgy and moody, because I'm getting a little too close to you, too."

This was it. The moment had finally come. Skyler still couldn't believe that he wasn't nervous. He knew for sure that JC was gay, and maybe that was why he wasn't nervous about telling him that he was gay. If JC actually liked him as much as he hoped he did, then this could be a great thing. Skyler was still a bit reserved about getting into a relationship, but if he at least knew that JC liked him, he would be happier.

"What do you mean?" asked JC, guarding himself a bit. He didn't want to just blurt out what he thought Skyler was talking about, because he could still be wrong about it.

"Well, I know what they've been trying to find out about me," said Skyler. "I also know why. You've done everything but come right out and tell me that you're gay, JC. The only thing they could be trying to find out about me is if I'm against gay people. I'm not. It would be hypocritical for me to be against gay people, because I'm gay."

It was out. Skyler sighed as he sat back in his chair to look at the stunned expression on JC's face. Now the ball was in JC's court. Skyler couldn't bring himself to say anything more. JC had to do some of the work. If there was ever going to be anything between them, Skyler decided that it had to be a two way street between them. He wouldn't be the only one talking this time around.

JC was quiet for a while, and he looked everywhere but at Skyler. He couldn't believe that what he'd hoped for was actually true. Now that he knew it was true, he didn't know what to say or do about it. Did he tell Skyler that he wanted to be more than just his friend? What would Skyler say about that? If Skyler didn't like him that way, then what? If he didn't tell him how he felt, then it would still be something to eat at him. He couldn't go on snapping at everyone like he had been. Fighting with the guys wasn't fun, and that's close to how things had been going on for him since everyone had arrived in New York.

Sitting there, staring at anything but Skyler wasn't going to be acceptable for long. He had to tell him something. Did he just come right out and say it? He'd decided days ago to tell Skyler how he felt about him, but now that he knew that Skyler was gay, it was harder than he'd thought it would be. He finally looked at Skyler and found that he was looking back at him expectantly. He knew he had to say something.

"You have no idea how relieved I am to hear that," he heard himself sigh. "I've been beating myself up about this for days."

"I've been doing a little of that myself," replied Skyler. "I've been wanting to tell you, but I wasn't sure that I should. When your friends started calling everyone who knew me, I got a little suspicious, but I still didn't know until today."

"You didn't have to worry," said JC with a small smile.

"You didn't either," reminded Skyler. "We didn't know that, though."

"What would you say if I told you that I wanted to be more than just your friend?" asked JC as his stomach tried to flip over. He'd done it now. Shouldn't he feel better?

"I would say that I would like that, too, but it has to go slowly," Skyler said carefully. "I don't want to rush into anything with anyone, and if you and I were to be together, then I want it to be right. It won't be if we just rush into it."

"But you like me?" asked JC. The look on his face was so hopeful that Skyler wanted to put his arms around him and tell him that everything would work out, but he had to fight that. Moving too fast had killed his relationships with Brian and Kevin.

"I like you," he said. "But if we're going to be together, we have to communicate."

"I know it would be hard with both of us all over the world all of the time," said JC. "We'd find time to be together, though."

"I'm not really worried about that at this point," admitted Skyler. "What I'm worried about is talking to each other. We can call each other, but that doesn't really mean that we'd be saying the important things to each other."

"You mean the stuff that we're thinking and feeling, right?" asked JC.

"That's part of it," said Skyler. "We shouldn't keep secrets from each other if we're going to be together, JC."

"Skyler, would you call me Josh?" asked JC with a smile.

"All right," Skyler agreed, returning the smile. "But what I said is true. We can't keep secrets from each other. Secrets will tear us apart."

"Agreed," said JC with a nod. "I can't see myself keeping any secrets from you."

"Don't make promises so soon," cautioned Skyler, thinking of all of the promises that Brian had made in the very beginning of their relationship. He didn't want to repeat any of the mistakes they'd made. "Let things happen as they happen, Josh."

"But you do like me, right?" he asked. The look on his face was so hopeful that Skyler had to smile.

"Yes," replied Skyler. "I like you very much. I might even like you too much."

"Oh, that's not possible," said JC with a grin.

"Believe me, it is possible," Skyler said seriously. "I don't even really know you all that well."

"Well, then we'll have to change that," said JC with another grin.

"With you leaving for Orlando in two days, and me leaving for Australia practically any day, I don't see how we'll have much time to change that," reminded Skyler realistically. "That's why I said we need to take things slow, Josh."

"We can go as slow as you want," replied JC. "I'm just happy to know that you actually like me."

"Sky!" cried the voice of Skyler's youngest brother, breaking the moment between him and JC. Skyler turned to look at the front of the club as his father and step-mother entered behind his excited sibling.

"You're here!" cried Skyler, getting up. "Why didn't you call from the airport?"

"We rode with Laura," informed Jason. Then he spotted JC. "Oh my God! JC Chasez!"

"Josh, this is my little brother, Jason," laughed Skyler as Jason rushed over to them. "Jason, this is Josh Chasez."

"Nice to meet you, Jason," said JC with a smile as he shook Jason's hand.

"These are my parents," said Skyler as Ben and Tabitha walked over to them. "Mom, Dad, this is Josh. Josh, this is Ben and Tabitha Thomas."

"Nice to meet you, Josh," said Ben, shaking his hand before turning back to Skyler. "Where are the twins?"

"Chad is with Clay," replied Skyler. "His album was released this morning, so they'll be busy for most of the day. Cassie is with Kristy and Gabrielle, doing a little bit of shopping. Hopefully, they'll keep her busy until I have all of these decorations up."

"Well, why don't we help with that?" asked Tabitha, picking up a roll of streamers.

"Cool! I can help decorate the twins' birthday party!" gasped Jason, making the adults laugh.

"He's been excited since he woke up this morning," laughed Tabitha.

For the next few hours, JC watched as Skyler and Jason worked together to put up streamers while Ben and Tabitha spread tablecloths over the tables. He walked around putting white paper bags with candles inside on each table. He never took his eyes off Skyler, though. He loved to watch him move, and the way he acted with Jason was awesome. When JC thought about the fact that he'd only known about Jason for a short time, he was blown away by the bond he could see that had already formed between them.

He'd noticed that Skyler was really close with the twins as well. They seemed to adore him just as much as his fans did. He knew what had been printed in all of the tabloids and newspapers about what had gone on in Skyler's childhood, and he respected him even more for being the man that he was after living the life he'd lived.

The twins were remarkable people for what they'd gone through as well. Chad was every bit as talented as Skyler, and Cassie was so full of life that JC had trouble believing that either of them had ever lived under duress. He didn't doubt what was reported in the legitimate news, but he just had trouble picturing it. It was probably because he couldn't picture anyone hurting any of the Thomas children without feeling sick to his stomach.

Skyler had said that they had to take things slow and get to know each other. JC thought that one over while he helped decorate the club. It was hard to take it slow when they weren't going to be able to be around each other as much as they'd like to be. He knew the public side of Skyler. The whole world knew the public side of Skyler. He was finding out that the public side and the real Skyler weren't all that close to each other. He really liked the public side of Skyler, and he was really starting to like the real Skyler as well. That was what would make taking things slow so hard for him.

* * *

"So you're together now?" asked Lance when JC joined him and the rest of his friends before the party. JC had told him all about his conversation with Skyler when Lance had demanded to know why he was so happy.

"I don't really know," admitted JC. "He said he wanted to take things slow."

"Well, that's probably a good idea," replied Lance. "The way we all live is hard for a relationship."

"Believe me, I know that," said JC. "I just really like him."

"You really liked Jeff, too," said Lance, referring to Jeff Timmons. His and JC's relationship had started very quickly and only lasted a few months. JC had been crushed when Jeff left him for being too clingy.

"That was a low blow, Scoop," said JC. "That wasn't fair."

"I know," agreed Lance, "but you went too fast with Jeff, and you remember how that turned out. Take things as slow as Skyler wants. Believe me, you'll like the end result."

"We leave in two days," reminded JC. "That doesn't leave a lot of time for me to spend any time with him."

"Oh, I don't think that will be a problem," laughed Lance. "If he likes you, he'll find excuses to spend time with you."

"If who likes him?" asked Justin as he and Joey came into the hotel room.

"Skyler," replied Lance. "He and JC are sort of dating now."

"Congrats!" enthused Justin, slapping JC on the shoulder. "So you were right about him?"

"Well, I didn't think he was gay, but I did think that it would be all right for me to tell him that I am."

"And you were right," stated Joey. "So why are you here when he isn't?"

"We're taking things slow," said JC with only a hint of misery in his voice.

"Calm down," laughed Lance. "You'll see him pretty soon."

"Can't take things any slower than thousands of miles away from each other," chuckled Justin.

"Curly, you really know how to pour salt in a wound," accused Lance.

"Where's Chris?" asked JC, ignoring Justin's comment. "We need to get going."

"He's on the phone," said Justin. "He'll be a year."

"Not again!" cried JC. "Skyler's expecting us . . ."

"I'm right here," said Chris from the doorway. "Geeze, calm down, Josh."

"We need to get over there," said JC, ignoring the look Chris was giving him and the others snickering.

"Are we going to his apartment or the club?" asked Lance.

"We're supposed to meet them at the club," replied JC. "Cassie and Chad don't even know there is a party."

* * *

"Happy birthday, Cassie," said Ben as he hugged her tight. "I've missed you and your brothers."

"Thank you, Daddy," she said, hugging him back just as tight. "We've missed you, too."

"Happy birthday," said Tabitha as Cassie released her father and went into her step-mother's waiting arms.

Skyler watched them closely, and he could see the love in their embraces. He'd been thinking about letting the twins stay in the states with their father since he'd told Laura that he was planning to. It wouldn't be a terrible idea. He'd miss them like crazy, but they'd all be together when it came time to tour if Chad could wait until filming ended. He hadn't talked to either of the twins about it, but he was sure that they'd choose to stay with their father instead of Australia. They really did miss him, and Skyler did, too.

"How long are you staying in the city?" asked Chad when his round of hugs were over.

"We'll be here for a week," replied Ben. "We're selling our house in Denver, so everything is in storage right now."

"Why are you selling?" asked Skyler. If they were moving, then he didn't know if letting the twins stay with them was such a good idea.

"Well, things are getting pretty strange around the house now that everyone knows that I'm your father," replied Ben. "We've decided to try and find a place that's more unknown and private."

"In Denver?" asked Cassie.

"Well, we were thinking of relocating," said Tabitha. "We'll stay with my parents until a decision is made."

Skyler's mind was working in overdrive after that. He wanted them closer to him, but he didn't know how they'd react to living in New York. The city could be overwhelming. He'd discovered that first hand when he'd arrived a year earlier. The twins had adapted to life in the city rather quickly, but Skyler didn't know what Jason would think of the idea.

"We need to get going," he said, putting the idea of asking them to move to New York out of his mind. He could talk to his parents about it later. "We don't want to be late for dinner."

They filed out of the apartment and into the elevator with Chad and Cassie telling their parents all about what was going on in their lives. Chad talked about his album and all of the stops on the promotional tour that Clay had planned for him. Skyler's decision to leave him in the states was probably for the best. He just hoped he could at least convince his parents to stay in New York until he was done filming. That way, Chad would be in the same city as his agent and manager. That would make his promotional tour departure much easier.

In the car, Chad kept up the conversation with his excitement about his promotional tour. Ben asked many questions about who would be going along with him, and Skyler did his best to answer them, but in all honesty, he didn't know the answers to most of the questions that his father asked. He'd succeeded in putting thoughts of asking his parents to move to New York out of his mind, but they were replaced with thoughts of JC Chasez.

Skyler realized that he and JC were now more than friends, and in just a few minutes they would see each other again. His stomach was slightly queasy with just the thought of JC. He couldn't believe that any of the day's previous events had taken place. JC had finally come out to him, and he had come out to JC. Now they were going to try their hand at a relationship. It was exactly what Skyler had wanted, but he just couldn't believe it had finally happened.

He was still nervous about having a relationship with anyone. Brian had taught him a valuable lesson, but he'd also made it next to impossible for him to trust anyone. He knew that not every man would be like Brian Littrell, but it was hard for him to get over what had happened. JC wasn't Brian Littrell, though. He had to keep that in mind. If he was going to have a chance with JC, then he had to let go of what had happened between him and Brian.

He wasn't looking forward to the distance that would be between them soon, either. If they were going to get to know each other, then they needed to spend time together. That was going to be hard with *Nsync's tour schedule and the movie being shot in Australia. Once again, Skyler would only have contact with his lover by telephone. Even then they'd have to work around time differences and all sorts of other things. Celebrity life wasn't always fabulous.

He hoped that there would be time for both of them to sneak off to spend time with each other. He wasn't sure about himself, but he hoped that JC could get away from the tour once in a while to fly over to Australia. With filming, Skyler would pretty much be stuck there until filming was over. There would be no flying off to meet his lover in secret. He'd have too many responsibilities to keep him busy. It was unfair of him to expect JC to travel half way across the world to see him when he couldn't do the same for him. He just hoped that they could work something out.

He'd be missing a lot of things while he was in Australia if the twins stayed behind in America. He'd be on the phone more than anything with Chad, Cassie, Jason and JC in the states while he was filming. It would be the first time he'd been away from both of the twins at the same time for so long since they'd come to live with him. He didn't know how he was going to react to that. He'd gotten very protective of them, and he didn't like the idea of leaving them. Sure, he hoped that his parents would take care of them while he was gone, but he still had this fear that the twins would end up wanting to live with their dad permanently.

As they pulled up to the club, Chad,Cassie and Jason were in awe of the press that had gathered around the entrance. Skyler had made sure that plenty of security was waiting for them, but fans and paparazzi were everywhere. Chad's album had been released that morning, and his first single, I Like It, was also released that morning. This time around, not all of the fans and press would be screaming for Skyler.

"Welcome to show business, Chad," he said as Brent brought the car to a stop.

"They're here for me?" the boy gasped as he stared in disbelief at the crowd in front of the Viper Room. His eyes were as big as saucers, and he looked a bit nervous.

"I'm sure that some of them are here because of everyone else in the club tonight, but some of them are definitely here because of both you and me," explained Skyler. "This is the downside, remember?"

"Everyone stay close together," said Eric, who was seated in the front passenger seat.

"Answer only a few questions," added Brent from behind the wheel.

"And no fans tonight, guys," warned Eric. "This could get ugly fast."

"Just smile and wave, Chad," said Skyler. "We don't have to answer any questions at all."

"That's actually a very good idea," said Brent. "No questions and no fans."

They got out of the car, and Ben kept hold of Jason while Tabitha clutched his free hand. Skyler, Cassie and Chad stayed close to each other with Brent in front of the group and Eric behind them. Camera's flashed, and people screamed. Questions were shouted at them as well as attempts to get them to smile for the cameras. They did smile, and they waved, but they didn't answer any of the questions or stop to sign any autographs. Just as Skyler had predicted, a lot of the press asked questions about Chad's album. Even some of the fans were screaming his name.

Chad was excited to hear them calling for him, but he stuck to the group like glue just as he'd been instructed in the car. They moved forward through passing the reporters and fans, and he smiled and waved just as Skyler did. He did wonder how they knew that the family would be coming to The Viper Room for dinner that night, though. Then he wondered when The Viper Room had become a restaurant.

Once they actually made it inside the club, his question was answered as the music died and everyone stopped moving. "SURPRISE!" screamed so many voices that Chad couldn't identify any one of them in particular. A large smile spread across his face, and as he looked at Cassie, he saw her own matching smile. He turned around and wrapped his arms around Skyler.

"You did this!" he cried into his brother's ear, making Skyler wince.

"Happy birthday, Buddy," chuckled Skyler just before Chad was replaced in his arms by Cassie. "Happy birthday, Sweetheart."

"You're going to pay for this one, Sky," she said before kissing his cheek and following her twin into the crowd.

"Hey," said JC as he and Justin came over to the group. "It turned out."

"It sure did," replied Skyler with a smile. "They didn't suspect a thing. Cassie's already threatened me."

"Oh, you're going to get it," laughed Justin just before looking at Ben and Tabitha.

"Dad, Tabitha, this is Justin Timberlake," Skyler said with another smile. "Justin, these are my parents."

"Its very nice to meet you, Justin," said Ben, shaking hands with both in turn. "Joshua, its nice to see you again."

"Oh no," laughed Justin. "He said it was nice to see you again."

"Cut it out," chuckled Skyler. "This is my youngest brother, Jason." He put his hands on Jason's shoulders. "I'm sure you know who they are better than Mom and Dad."

"Hey guys," Jason nearly gasped. "I've got your CD."

"Awesome," cried Justin. "You should have brought it so we could sign it for you. The gang's all here."

"Can I meet them?" Jason asked, turning to Ben and Tabitha.

"We'll take care of him," said Justin, beaming a smile at them.

"Don't wander off too far, Jason," said Tabitha, consenting. "You need to be with the family when we sit down."

"Yes Ma'am, thank you," he said before dashing off to follow Justin into the crowd of people.

"Skyler, why don't you go circulate?" Tabitha inquired. "I see Laura looking our way."

Skyler looked at Laura who was smiling at him, and then he looked at JC. He wanted to talk with JC, but he knew that he had responsibilities to take car of during the party. MTV was there, and at any moment they would be seeking out Chad for an interview just as the DJ, who was waiting for that particular moment, played Chad's single. His conversation with his boyfriend would have to wait a bit longer.

"There you are," said Laura as she came to join them. "The press outside isn't happy. We only let MTV in as you requested."

"I didn't want to bombard Chad when he should be celebrating," he explained again.

"I didn't say I didn't agree with your decision," she replied. "Clay is outside handling them, but Chad will have to make a statement before he leaves here."

"I know," sighed Skyler. "Just let him have fun for a while, please."

"I'm all for that," she said. "When are we cutting the cake?"

"After his MTV interview," Skyler informed. "That should be taking place soon."

"As soon as they can pry him away from Madonna and Niki," she laughed. "They accosted the twins as soon as they saw them."

"Where are they?" Skyler asked, looking over her shoulder and into the crowded club.

"On the other side of the room near the tables that are reserved," she said. "Why don't we join them? Your family is already on their way over there."

They were just starting to make their way through the crowd when I like It started, signaling that MTV had found Chad. Skyler and Laura stepped up beside Madonna and Niki as they watched Carson Daly interview Chad about the release of his first single and his album. Skyler was so proud of his brother that he couldn't stop smiling.

"That looks like a better face than I've been hearing about," said Madonna, putting an arm around his waist.

"I'm in a great mood," he replied. "Still have a few details to discuss and work out with the family, but everything else is amazing."

"You said you'd talk to me about why you've been a bully," she reminded him. "Let's talk. Niki and Laura can keep an eye on Chad."

The two of them went to sit at the "family" table while everyone watched Chad answer questions in front of the MTV cameras. Skyler couldn't wait to tell her all about what had happened, and he was sure that JC wouldn't mind if he told her about him. After all, he had nothing to worry about if Madonna knew about his sexuality. He'd discuss it with him if he was nervous, but he had to tell her.

"Remember how you were worried about a certain person having too much of my affection?" Skyler asked her when they both sat down. He had to be careful not to mention any names around the club. Carson was vicious when a story could be found, and the last thing that any of them needed was an exclusive MTV story about their sexuality.

"Right, and you told me that I was way off," she reminded. "So who is it that you're infatuated with so badly that you're being evil to everyone when you should be happy and care free?"

"Well, I can't say anything yet," he said slowly, looking over at *Nsync.

"I see," she said, following his gaze. "And are your feelings returned?" She'd gotten the message loud and clear, but she still didn't know which of the five young men Skyler was interested in.

"They are," he confirmed with a smile. "Its just going to be hard to communicate properly with me going to Australia to shoot the movie."

"And this person will probably have commitments to take care of as well," she said knowingly. "Are you sure that this is going to work?"

"We'll have to make it work," he replied. "I don't want a repeat of what happened last time, so we'll be taking it slowly."

"Good idea," she said. "We need to talk about this where we can both speak freely."

"Yes," he agreed. "Perhaps I'll have company when we talk, so everything can be put on the table the right way."

"That's a good idea," she replied, glancing over his shoulder. "But here comes Carson."

Skyler stood to face Carson as he and the cameramen came toward him. He'd known he'd have to consent to an interview before the night was over. It would be better to just get it over with as quickly as possible. He even smiled at Carson as he walked over.

"Skyler, just a quick word?" Carson asked with a smile.

"Of course," Skyler replied.

"This is a great party," said Carson, looking around the room. "I hear that you put this together yourself."

"Well, I had a little help from my friends," he replied. "I wouldn't have been able to put all of it together alone."

"With Chad's single and album, was it hard to hide the reason behind this party? I've heard that Chad and Cassie were surprised when they got here."

"Well, I was sure that they would figure out what was going on," replied Skyler. "But I was happy when they didn't. It just showed me that I could still do something without letting go of secrets."

"What about your album?" asked Carson, switching gears again. "I've heard that you were planning another video."

"I'll be flying to London at the end of the month to work on a video," replied Skyler. "Kevin Spade will be directing it, so it should be a great video."

"No chance that you'll tell us which song the video is for?" Carson smiled as he held the microphone out to Skyler.

"Not a chance," laughed Skyler. "Surprises are fun, right?"

The interview didn't last long, and Carson was off to hassle Clay and Laura. Madonna was smiling at him as he sat back down, and he knew that he'd done all right, because Carson had left him alone so soon. If he'd said too much, Carson would still be in front of him. He was feeling great, and Madonna was obviously happy to see the smile that he could barely ever relieve from his face as the party kept going.

As soon as the family was seated at their table with Madonna, Niki, Kristy and Brian added to the "family", the cake was brought to the table. Chad and Cassie's eyes lit up as they saw the huge cake that Skyler and Laura had searched for. The huge candle in the shape of the number "16" was sparkling on top of the cake, and both of the twins stood to and accepted the applause that was thundering through the club as the cake was presented.

The table of family and friends began to sing "Happy Birthday" to the twins and were soon joined by all of the guests in the club. When they'd completed the song, both Cassie and Chad stood as close to the cake as possible and blew out the sparkling candle as more applause echoed through the club. The cake was cut, and another larger cake was brought out of the kitchen to be cut and served to the guests. Cassie and Chad were both smiling as they sat down with their pieces and thanks Skyler over and over again.

"This is some dinner party, Sky," said Chad with a smirk before taking a bite of his cake. Cassie gave him an amused look as well.

"Well, how else was I going to throw you both a surprise party?" Skyler laughed. "You have to admit that you were surprised."

"We should have been tipped off by the press outside," said Chad. "I still have to go out there and answer questions."

"That can wait until after you have cake," said Ben, looking from Skyler to Chad.

"Eric will come and get me when its time," said Chad. "Laura and Clay will be going out there with me, too."

"I'll leave you in their capable hands," commented Skyler. "I want this to be all about you, Chad. I don't want to take any of your thunder."

It wasn't long after Chad left the table with Laura, Clay and Eric that JC made his way over to sit with Skyler and his family. Justin came with him, but it was clear to Madonna that JC was the one who had Skyler's attention. She just hoped that the two young men would be good to each other. She was very unhappy with Brian Littrell for the way he treated Skyler, and she didn't want a repeat from JC.

"If its all right with you, Curly and I would like to come back to your apartment after the party," said JC quietly to Skyler. The two looked each other in the eye for a few seconds before Skyler nodded his head. The apartment was going to be crowded, but he had to spend at least a little time with JC before he left.

"Dad," he said, turning to his father. "I have a few things to discuss with you once we get home, too."

"Sounds good," said his father with a smile. "I've been wanting to talk to you about something as well."

"M, you're coming with us, yes?" he asked, turning to Madonna.

"I have to get back to the hotel," she said. "I need to be with Lourdes."

"All right, then I'll talk with you in detail tomorrow?" he asked.

"Sounds like a plan," she replied. "I'll be at your place around noon. That should give you time to get the sleep out of your eyes before we talk."

"Right," he chuckled.

The next chapter will be posted soon.