© 2005-2010 Julien Gregg
All Rights Reserved

Chapter 26

The party had wrapped up only an hour before they reached Skyler's penthouse apartment. The twins were still very excited, and Chad kept telling them all about his interviews. Skyler couldn't help smiling as he listened to Chad's excited chatter. He could remember very well how he'd been when fame had first found him. He thought about that for a while as Chad gushed.

He hadn't been seeking fame that day when he was sitting in the diner talking with Dianne. He remembered how he'd at first believed that Milton Drake was actually some guy that was just having him on. Then he'd actually auditioned, and although he kept telling himself that he didn't want the part he really hoped and prayed that he'd get it.

Later the music had become a part of his future, and now he couldn't think of anything in the world that he'd rather do. Sure he had no freedom. Not really. He couldn't come and go as he pleased virtually anywhere in the world. He was very well known by just about every generation and social group. Some didn't like him, he imagined, but he had a huge fan base.

It could all overwhelm him if he let it at times. He was nineteen years old and one of the most successful people in show business. It would overwhelm anyone, he imagined. He was happy, though. He had his father back, a new brother and more friends than he'd ever had in his life. His past had come back to try and haunt him, but everything had turned sunny side up fairly quickly. It all seemed unreal to him when he thought about it in these terms, but he'd lived it. He'd survived the Hell of his childhood and come out on top of the world.

He was so happy for Chad, too. Now he had another person in the family to share the experience with. Sure the twins were involved in nearly everything that he did professionally, but now Chad was on the other side of the cameras just like he was. They'd have more in common than ever now, and he knew that they would grow even closer than they had been with their link in show business.

He noticed JC looking at him, watching him as he watched his younger brother. He smiled at his new boyfriend as a million thoughts ran through his head. He thought about how wonderful and horrifying it felt to know that JC was his boyfriend. He was scared that they would screw up somehow and hate each other over something stupid. He was sure that he would fall in love with him, and that scared him more than anything. He hadn't been in love with Brian, but he'd been hurt just the same. He didn't want JC to hurt him. He wanted them to find a common ground in their relationship and stay together. He wanted them to love each other and be happy.

"What did you want to talk about, Skyler?" asked his father, breaking him out of his thoughts. He hadn't even realized that Chad was now silent. All eyes were on him now, and he smiled.

"Well, you said that you were selling the house in Denver, right?" he asked.

"We put it on the market," said Ben.

"Well you'll be needing somewhere to stay if the house sells as quickly as everyone thinks its going to, yes?"

"We've been discussing that," replied Ben.

"I was wondering if you would stay here in New York," Skyler said slowly. "Actually, I want you to stay here in this apartment. I'm going to be in Australia for a while, and Chad will need to be here in the states. Cassie can either come to Australia with me or stay here. That would be her decision to make, but I would really like it if you would stay here with Chad."

"How long will you be in Australia?"

"Well, I can't answer that. It could be a few months," he explained. "I don't know how long it will take to shoot the movie. There could be problems with any number of things on the set."

"Well we'll talk it over and let you know before we head back to Denver," said Ben. "I wanted to talk to you about the tour."

"I haven't really made any real plans for the tour yet," Skyler commented.

"No, I wasn't asking about plans," replied Ben. "I was just wondering if your job offer is still valid."

"Of course!" insisted Skyler. "I want you and Tabitha both to come on the tour. I've discussed this with Clay and Laura, and they both think its a great idea. You'd have to hire your own construction team, though I don't know what the sets will be like. They'd have to set up, and tear down the sets in every city of the tour, and then there's Chad to think about. We don't know what his show will entail, but if he needs other props than what I'll be using, you're team will be in charge of his sets as well."

"You're going to tour with me?" asked Chad excitedly, sitting forward in his seat.

"I am if you can wait for me," replied Skyler. "I'm nowhere near ready to tour just yet, and I understand that you're getting a little antsy."

"Clay said something about a promotional tour," Chad said slowly. "He said that would keep me busy for a little while."

"And it will," nodded Skyler. "But I want to record another album before I go on tour, Chad. I have the movie to shoot as well. It could be late next year before I'm ready to head out."

"That's fine," insisted his little brother. "That would give me time to work on new material, too."

"Don't get ahead of yourself," chuckled Skyler. "Ride the success of your current album before you start thinking about your next one. That's Clay's job at this point anyway."

"You sound just like Laura," laughed Chad. "But I understand what you're saying. I'm just happy that you're going to tour with me."

"Even if it means waiting for a while?"

"I don't care," replied Chad quickly. "I want to go on tour with you. I don't want to go out alone."

"Well then," said Skyler with a big smile, "that's settled. We can tell Clay tomorrow after my little talk with Madonna."

"Is she coming here?" asked Cassie with an excited smile.

"Yes, just after noon," replied Skyler.

"Oh, is she bringing Lourdes?"

"I suppose she will bring her," he said slowly.

"I love to play with her!" cried Cassie. "I rarely have a chance lately, and she's growing so much!"

"She is," agreed Skyler. "Now, if everyone will excuse me, I have a few things to discuss with my friends."

He motioned for Justin and JC to follow him, and he walked into his bedroom and sat on the bed. Justin flopped himself across the end of the bed, propping himself up on one elbow while JC shyly sat down next to Skyler. Justin eyed him with a smirk, and Skyler did his best to ignore it. He didn't know what the dynamics of *Nsync with significant others was, and he wasn't in the mood to learn at that point.

"When exactly do you leave for Australia?" asked JC once they were all settled on the bed.

"I'm not exactly sure," he replied. "All Renny has said is that it will be some time next month. He's working out the final details of production, so I should hear from him any time."

"What's your schedule like between the shoot and now?" he asked.

"I don't have anything until the end of the month," he said. "I'm flying to London to shoot a video on the twenty-eighth. I am interviewing assistants some time soon, though."

"You don't have an assistant?" gasped Justin, looking shocked. "How do you get everything done?"

"Well, I have Laura, and right now, she's really focused on my career," he replied. "She is going to have to start paying more attention to her other clients, though. That means its time for an assistant."

"Will your assistant be going on the road with you, too?" asked JC.

"Well, I'll discuss that with all of the applicants," he replied. "If not, then I'll hire another one for the tour itself. I don't have to tell you how hectic life is on tour."

"Wouldn't that confuse you?" asked Justin. "I mean having two assistants would probably be good, but I'd get confused."

"Well, if they do their jobs properly, I won't get confused," he chuckled. Then he turned to JC. "We need to figure out how to spend some time together."

"I've been working on that already," replied JC. "We're canceling a few engagements to be able to stay in New York for a bit longer."

"I don't want you to cancel engagements to spend time with me, Josh," Skyler said quickly. "I want to spend time with you, but I don't want either of our careers to suffer because of it."

"I'm not making my career suffer to spend time with you, Sky," replied JC. "These engagements have nothing to do with . . ."

"I wouldn't say that they have nothing to do with our career, Josh," interrupted Justin. "They just aren't highly important engagements. We were supposed to do a few photo shoots and an interview. We wanted out of the interview anyway, and the photo shoots aren't actually canceled. They're rescheduled."

Skyler thought about that for a moment. He supposed that rearranging a schedule to find time to spend together wasn't the worst thing in the world. He still didn't like the way it felt to know that JC was shirking responsibility to be near him in a way, though. He hoped that JC didn't expect him to cancel any of his commitments to spend time with him. Skyler was very proud of his career and accomplishments. He decided that he would have to trust JC, though. He couldn't look for problems before there were any. That was no way to start a relationship.

"All right," he sighed. "I have to admit that I want to spend time with you, Josh. I want to spend time with all of you. If we're going to be together, then I need to get to know each of your friends better."

"We'll all be in New York for a while," responded JC slowly.

"Just promise me that we'll make sure that neither of us will take any chances with our careers just to spend time together," he said. "I want to spend time with you. Please don't get me wrong. I just don't want my career to suffer to do it, and I don't want yours to suffer for it either."

"I can easily make that promise," he said confidently. "I don't want my career to suffer for anything, but Skyler, I won't hesitate to cancel anything to be with you if you need me."

"If I need you, I'll make sure that you're with me. No matter what," he agreed with a small smile. "But just know that unless something really bad happens, it won't be necessary for you to drop everything and come to be by my side. With that said," he sighed with a smile, "let me assure you that if you need me, I will be be with you as well."

"Uh," said Justin, clearing his throat and making a disgusted face. "You both realize that you're being gross, right?"

"Shut up, Curly," said JC, reaching across the bed to shove him while Skyler laughed.

"What's your story, anyway?" Skyler asked Justin as soon as the boy had made sure he wasn't falling off of the bed.

"What do you mean?" he asked.

"He means your sexuality, twerp," laughed JC.

"Oh," said Justin with a smile as his face slowly turned red. "I'm undecided."

"What?" gasped Skyler. "You don't know yet?"

"Oh, I have a good idea," he replied with a smile. "I'm just not ready for a label."

"I can understand that," remarked JC. "Its hard to get used to figuring yourself out."

"Exactly," agreed Justin with a nod.

Skyler thought about that one. He'd known that he was at least different for as long as he could remember. When he met Peter Durante, he'd finally figured out just how different he was. He hadn't spent any time being uncomfortable about it, though. He'd had enough to worry about at that time in his life. Nothing was worth worrying about more than his mother and stepfather. There was always something worse than his sexuality going on in his house. However, Justin had clearly had a better life. He certainly never had to worry about the things that Skyler had, so he supposed that it would be a bit harder for Justin to come to terms with his sexuality. He actually felt sorry for him, and that was something he rarely felt for anyone in show business.

"Well, no one said you have to have a label.," he muttered.

"What?" asked Justin with his patented smirk.

"No one ever said you had to have a label.," he said louder. "You don't have to label yourself as one thing or another. Just be you, Justin."

They were quiet for a few minutes while Justin stared at him. It started to make him uncomfortable until a wide smile spread over Justin's face. His eyes lit up, and for the first time since he'd met him, Skyler found Justin to be a very beautiful person. What a difference a genuine smile made in people, he thought as he smiled back at him.

"I remember what it is about you that I like, Sky," said Justin. "You know how to make everyone as comfortable as possible when they're with you."

"Well thank you," Skyler replied with a smile of his own and red cheeks to match Justin's. "I just call it like I see it."

"You see what I like about him?" asked JC with a grin as he clutched Skyler's hand.

"I do," said Justin. "Actually, JC, I liked him first."

"Are we going to fight now?" asked Skyler not liking what the discussion had changed to.

"No," said Justin with a soft smile. "You like Josh. I wouldn't dream of standing in the way of that."

"Thank you, Curly," said JC with a nod.

"So, I think I should leave you two alone to get to know each other a little," said Justin as he crawled off the bed. "The guys are probably ready to come over here and get me, so I guess I should get back to the hotel so we can talk about you guys."

"You go talk about us all you want," said JC. "I'll be home later."

"In the morning, you mean," laughed Justin, smirking at them.

"No, he means later," replied Skyler without a smile or smirk. "We barely know each other."

"Oh," stammered Justin. "Sorry."

"See you later, Curly," said JC, clearing his throat as Justin stood there blushing.

"Right," he said. "I'm going to go say goodnight to everyone."

"I'll call before I leave," said JC. "Take security with you, please."

"I'll try," he replied.

"Tell them that I'll send my security with Josh," said Skyler. "They can come back after he's in the hotel."

"Good idea," said Justin. "Goodnight, Sky."

"Night, Justin," Skyler said with a smile.

"So," said JC once Justin was out of the room. He smiled at Skyler and took his hand.

"I'm glad you're here," Skyler said, looking into JC's hazel eyes.

"I am, too," replied JC. "I was hoping that we'd get some alone time."

"Well, we're alone now," chuckled Skyler. "I have to admit that I don't really know what to say now, though."

"I'm having a similar problem myself," said JC.

They were silent for a few minutes as they both tried very hard to look at everything other than each other. Skyler couldn't believe how awkward he felt. He'd wanted to be alone with JC all day long. Now he didn't know what to say or do. He felt like an idiot. He was sure that JC was probably thinking the same thing about him. He couldn't have that, so with a sigh he made a decision.

"Well, instead of talking, let's watch a movie," he said. "Maybe by the time its over, we'll have something to talk about."

"Sounds good," replied JC with a smile.

"Ok," said Skyler, getting up and walking over to his closet. "Which movie would you like to watch?"

"Do you have a copy of Anger?" he asked quickly. "I haven't had a chance to actually watch the entire film."

"I do have a copy," said Skyler, pulling his copy of the movie off the shelf.

He put the movie in, turned down the lighting in the room and crawled back onto the bed, resting beside JC. As they watched the movie, they were both silent. However they began to sink lower and lower into the bed until JC was in Skyler's arms. Neither of them said anything about it, and Skyler loved the way it felt to hold him in his arms. He hoped that he was enjoying the movie, but even more he hoped that he was enjoying being held half as much as he enjoyed holding him.

Skyler slid his arms around JC and rested his cheek against the top of his head, and that was the last thing he remembered until the call of nature became an urgent scream. He found JC sitting on the edge of the bed, looking at him with a small smile on his face. He smiled back for a second before remembering that he had to use the bathroom.

"Be right back," he gasped as he jumped out of the bed and raced to the bathroom.

It was evident to him that they'd fallen asleep watching the movie. He also realized that JC had actually spent the night in his arms. That made him smile. He wondered what JC thought about it. He had the feeling that JC didn't want to move as slowly as he did, but he didn't want to move things forward. Spending the night together wasn't supposed to happen yet, but he couldn't help accidents. It wasn't as if their night together had been planned, so he couldn't read too much into it. He just hoped that JC didn't read too much into it.

The smile that greeted him as he came back into the bedroom didn't do anything to put his mind at ease that JC hadn't read too much into their night. He just hoped that he could deflate his opinion of what the night meant without hurting him. He really wanted this to work, so he didn't want to make even the slightest mistake.

"Morning," JC said, holding his smile. "I guess we fell asleep."

"Yeah, I guess we did," replied Skyler. Then he thought about the others and the fact that they'd told Justin that JC would be home later that night. "Uh, should you call your hotel or something?"

"Already did that," he said. "Justin covered for me, so its all right."

"Good," sighed Skyler. "About last night . . ."

"Skyler, don't," interrupted JC. "We fell asleep watching the movie. Nothing happened between us that we need to worry about. We're still going slow."

"I just wanted to make sure that you understood that," said Skyler with a smile.

"All right," said JC with a smile of his own, walking closer to Skyler. "Exactly what is permitted to happen between us at this stage in our relationship?"

"What do you mean?" asked Skyler as JC stepped right in front of him. Their noses were only inches apart.

"Well," said JC, losing his smile. "If I wanted to kiss you, would I be out of line?"

Skyler didn't even have to think about that. He tilted his head and planted his lips ever so lightly on JC's. The kiss was soft and tender at first, but it gained momentum as JC's arms went around Skyler's neck. Skyler put his arms around JC's waist and pulled him even closer as he teased his closed lips with the tip of his tongue.

"Well, that was nice," said a smiling JC when they broke their kiss and stepped back just enough to look each other in the eye.

"Yes it was," agreed Skyler. "I'd like to do more of it, too. However, you need to get back to your hotel, and I need to get ready for Madonna."

"Oh, all right," sighed JC, still smiling. "But I want you to come and have dinner with me and the guys. They'll have a fit if you don't hang out with all of us soon, Sky."

"Let me get back to you on that," replied Skyler. "My parents are in town, and I'd like to spend some time with them."

"Shit, Sky, I'm sorry," moaned JC. "I completely forgot. They weren't in the living room when I called the boys . . ."

"Relax, Josh," soothed Skyler. "I understand, and I didn't say I wouldn't have dinner with you tonight. I said I'd get back to you. Let me see what's going on here tonight. Then I'll call you at the hotel."

"You've got my cell number, right?" asked JC. "I mean, if we leave . . ."

"I've got the number," chuckled Skyler. "Now go see your friends so I can get ready for the day."

* * *

"You look happy," said Lance when JC finally made it to the suite they all shared. He'd stopped at a deli near the hotel to get breakfast for each of them.

"I had a good time," he said, putting the bag of food on the table in front of Lance. "I spent the night in Skyler's arms, Scoop. It was amazing."

"So things are good for you on the Skyler front," Lance said with a smile. "When do the rest of us get to hang out with him again? So far its been you and Justin while the rest of us just sit and talk about him."

"He's going to call me later," informed JC. "I asked him to have dinner with us tonight, but his parents are here. I don't know if it will be tonight or another night."

"That sounds good," mumbled Lance. "Joey will be happy to hear that he's coming. Chris isn't even here right now, so it won't matter much to him. He's not as excited about Skyler as the rest of us."

"What's he got against Sky?" asked JC, ready to defend Skyler if necessary. "He's only seen him in person a few times."

"Oh, you know Chris," Lance said, waiving the subject off. "He's just being protective of you."

"Well he can stop," sighed JC, sinking into a chair at the table and grabbing the bag of food to rifle through it for a croissant.

"Don't get mad, Josh," warned Lance. "You know how protective Chris is over all of us. He's just looking out for you. Now tell me about your night with Skyler Thomas."

JC thought about it for a moment. Chris was always trying to protect each of them from everything. He never thought about the times that he'd been wrong to butt in. He just went blindly on. Most of the time, JC thought that was one of his friend's more loyal qualities. This time he wasn't happy about it at all, and he planned to tell Chris to lay off. He just hoped he listened. He didn't think that Skyler would like it if Chris kept giving him the cold shoulder.

"What do you want to know?" he asked finally.

"Anything at all, considering I was told that you would come back to the hotel last night, yet you walk in here this morning with breakfast and the biggest smile on your face I've ever seen."

"It was nice," JC said with another of those huge smile. "Nothing sexual happened, and we didn't do much talking. We were watching a movie, and we started to cuddle up. Then we both fell asleep. I didn't even get to kiss him until this morning. In fact, he kissed me."

"Well, you guys have my vote," said Lance with a smile. "Anyone who can put that kind of look on your face has to be a good guy."

"You two have to be talking about Sky," said a sleepy Justin as he came out of his room. "You brought home breakfast?" His eyes lit up when he saw the bag. "Wait, what time did you come home?" He stopped with his hand almost touching the bag of breakfast as he stared at JC in shock.

"I got home a few minutes ago," admitted JC.

"Mr. Serious! Mr. Always Does The Right Thing came home this morning instead of last night!" gasped Justin. "Wow! Sky sure knows how to bring the human out your mechanical ass!"

"Curly!" admonished Lance. "Eat and shut up."

"What's all the yelling out here?" asked Joey as he came out his room. "Morning Josh. Have a nice night?"

"Very," replied JC. He indicated the deli bag. "Hungry?"

"Starved as usual," replied Joey, forgetting all about Skyler Thomas as he snatched the deli bag out from under Justin's reaching hand.

* * *

"So, you and JC Chasez," said Madonna with a huge smile on her face as she sat down with Skyler while Ben and Tabitha took the twins and Jason shopping. "And I thought you were getting to like Kevin Richardson too much."

"Well, there's something about me and Kevin that you don't know," he replied and then told her all about the secret relationship that they'd shared and the way it had ended. He explained to her that he hadn't told anyone, and she was the first person to know about it. She seemed to calm down after that, but she was still upset that he had kept the whole thing a secret.

"Does JC know about this?" she asked.

"Not yet," he replied. "If we're going to have a real relationship, I have to tell him. I don't want any secrets between us."

"That's a good thing," she said. "But how are you guys ever going to spend any time together?"

"That is actually a problem that we're working on," he admitted. "Right now, I have refused to schedule anything until shooting for the video at the end of the month, and the boys from *Nsync will be here for about as long. I'll be spending as much time as I can with JC."

"That takes care of right now, but what about your family?" she asked. "I heard that they were going to be staying here for a while."

"Well nothing about that has been decided," he said and told her about what he wanted his parents to do. She thought it was a great idea, but she also said that he would have to keep in close contact to make sure that everything went all right. She was sure that Clay would keep Chad busy enough, but Cassie was the one she worried about.

"You might want to invite them all over to Australia for Christmas if shooting hasn't ended by then," she suggested. "I've heard about what they want to do in this movie, and I wouldn't be surprised if you were filming into the new year."

"We've talked about that," he assured her. "Renny promised that he'd break for the holidays. We'd just go back to Australia after the new year to resume filming."

"Sounds good," she said. "Listen, I need to get back to the hotel. You call me later and let me know how your dinner party went."

"I will," he chuckled. "Love you."

"Always," she said as she got up and headed for the door.

He was sitting in the living room, looking at his contract with the studio when his family returned from their shopping trip. The twins were nowhere near as excited as Jason about what they'd bought on their trip. He showed Skyler all of the clothes that he'd talked his mother in to letting him get, and Skyler laughed at his enthusiasm.

"We're going to live here, Sky!" gasped Jason in excitement. "Dad said that while you're in Australia we're going to stay here with Cassie and Chad!"

"Jason, I wanted to talk with Skyler about that before you got too excited," admonished Ben. "Why don't you take all of your new clothes to Chad's room."

"All right," he beamed, picking up the bags and boxes again. "Sorry about that, Dad."

"No problem," laughed Ben. "Now scoot."

Skyler led his parents into the kitchen and got everyone coffee before sitting down to talk to them. He was happy to know that they'd decided to stay in New York for a while. It made going to Australia much easier for him. He just hoped that the twins were all right with it. He didn't want them to get upset over not being able to go to Australia with him.

"Well our news is out of the bag," laughed Tabitha as they all sat down at the table. "Jason is so excited."

"I saw," said Skyler with a smile. "How did the twins react to the news?"

"They're both happy that we'll be spending time with them," said Ben. "Chad knows that it would be hard for him to be in Australia and do all of the things that are required of him for his album. Cassie asked why she couldn't go with you, but Jason took care of that by telling her that he wanted to spend time with her. It worked out, Sky. They're both fine with it."

"That's a relief," sighed Skyler. "I don't want to upset the twins in any way. I just wanted Cassie to have a bit of normalcy while I was filming. I'll call as often as I can, and I'll visit whenever shooting permits my absence."

"Skyler, calm down," laughed Ben. "We'll all be just fine. Cassie and Chad have both been away from you before. They won't fall apart. We'll take great care of them."

"I know," said Skyler with a blush. "I'm just not used to leaving them."

"Everything will be fine," said Tabitha, reaching across the table to clasp Skyler's hand. "You know that we can call you any time if something comes up, and you can fly back. I'm sure that we'll all be fine with this, though."

"Thank you," he said, smiling warmly at his step-mother. "That's what I needed to hear."

"Why don't we talk about your tour, then?" asked Ben. "I will need to know exactly what is going to be expected of me soon. I know that you don't know anything about what's going to happen on the tour yet, so I thought I should get together with Clay and Laura soon to talk about the concept."

"That would be good, Dad, but I still don't know which material I'm going to cover on the tour," he explained. "I have yet to even record the new album, and I'm sure I'll write something for the soundtrack of the movie, too. That's at least thirteen songs to consider for the tour along with those on this album."

Ben studied him for a moment as a small smile washed over his face. He was so proud of Skyler. He thought again about how his life had been with Claire and Chuck, and it only made him more proud of the man that Skyler had become. His son was loving and gentle as well as intelligent and strong. Ben didn't know how he'd come so far with these qualities after having been raised in the environment that had been forced upon him by his mother, but he loved his son even more for having survived it all.

"I just can't get used to having you blow my mind all of the time, Skyler," he said after a moment. "I'm just excited to be working with you, so I get a little ahead of myself at times. You feel free to help plant my feet on the ground any time I do it in the future, though. I'm proud of you, son."

"Thank you," said a blushing Skyler. He loved his father for his pride in him, but he found himself loving him more and more for the man that he was every day. Having him give him praise after so many years was salve on the wounds of his childhood, and he cursed his mother again for ever having taken his father from him.

They talked a little while longer about what Skyler might want to do on the tour, and then Skyler excused himself to get ready for dinner. His father had told him to go with JC to dinner and let him have some time with the twins to talk about what they thought about having him and Tabitha in New York for a while. Skyler was happy to let him have that time. He hoped that his father would move to New York permanently. That way they'd all be together a lot more.

Brent was waiting for him when he came out of his room dressed for dinner. He smiled at Skyler as they walked out of the apartment. Skyler was impressed by Brent's choice of clothing for dinner. He'd told him that he would be dining in the restaurant with them as well. He wouldn't be seated at their table, but he'd be close enough to keep an eye on them.

"You look great, Brent," Skyler informed him in the elevator.

"Thank you," replied Brent. "You look pretty good yourself."

"Thank you," Skyler replied, smiling.

"You know, I think its great that you and JC Chasez are together," said Brent. "Much better than Kevin Richardson, if I may say so."

"You may," replied Skyler, though he was shocked to know that Brent knew about Kevin. "How did you . . ."

"I'm your bodyguard, Skyler," laughed Brent. "If you think you can keep secrets from me about who you're spending most of your time with, you're crazy."

"Point taken," breathed Skyler. "So you like JC better than Kevin?"

"Well to be honest, they're both very attractive young men," admitted Brent, flooring Skyler completely. "JC seems to be more excited to be with you than Kevin was, though. I know that Kevin wasn't exactly comfortable with his sexuality, though. JC seems to be completely comfortable with himself, and that shows me that he will be a better match for you."

"Thanks," he said. He didn't know what else to say. Brent had never talked to him about this sort of thing before. In the past he'd always discussed better ways to take care of security. He'd never mentioned anything about romance in any way. Skyler didn't know what to think.

"Don't look so shocked," laughed Brent as they got off the elevator and he nodded to the concierge as they walked out of the building and got into the waiting car. "Do you think that there are many members on your staff that don't pay attention to what you're doing all of the time?"

"I had no idea that any of you paid this much attention," admitted Skyler as the car pulled away from the building.

"Skyler, you had to know that I was gay," said Brent. "I mean why else would I have been so comfortable with the knowledge that you were?"

"I didn't even suspect," admitted Skyler. "And Eric?"

"Eric is a great guy," said Brent, looking out his window. "We're trying to figure out how our relationship might affect our jobs."

"It doesn't affect them in any way as far as I'm concerned, Brent," assured Skyler. "You two feel free to be with each other. I'm sure you're both professional enough to not let your relationship get in the way of providing security for me and Chad."

"Thank you, Sky," said Brent. "You know, you are the first person I've worked for that I thought I could consider a friend."

"That makes me happy, Brent, because I consider all of you family," replied Skyler.

The next chapter will be posted soon.