© 2005-2010 Julien Gregg
All Rights Reserved

Chapter 38

"Happy birthday, Skyler," said Jill Messing, the MTV VJ as the cameras rolled at the release party. "The music is great, the album comes out today, and you've released the first single. Tell me, why a ballads album?"

"Well when I wrote the songs for Mission Impossible I had so many ballads left," he explained with a smile. "It just made sense to release a ballads album with what I had."

"Well it sounds great," she said with a huge smile. "I had the chance to listen to the album this morning. I'm sure you've got another hit on your hands."

"Thank you, Jill," he said.

"Any news about the tour?" she asked.

"Well so far all I can say is that the dates are all booked and we're getting ready," he replied. "Chad's excited, and I'm getting excited as well. We'll be releasing information as it comes to us."

"The tour dates have, in fact, been released," she said with that irritating smile on her face. "Clay Silver told us last night that you'll be interviewing choreographers soon. Any ideas on who your new choreographer will be?"

"I've already hired a choreographer," he said, trying hard to keep his tone neutral. "I don't know what Clay was told, but I'll be interviewing dancers for the tour over the next couple of days."

She was quiet for a minute as she looked at him, and her smile slipped. Then it was back in place as she started to laugh. "I guess my information was wrong. You're going to sing for us tonight?"

"I am," he said, glaring at her and making sure that he wasn't facing the camera. Someone had been talking all right, but it wasn't Clay. He knew that Mark had been hired, so what was this woman doing?

"Well, Skyler Thomas will be singing his new single right after this," she said to the camera.

"What the hell was that?" Skyler demanded, looking at Jill and the cameraman. "Clay!"

"Skyler, I didn't talk to anyone from MTV," said Clay as he walked over to them. Several people were looking at them in anticipation.

"Laura?" he asked, turning to his agent. She just shook her head.

"Skyler," said Carson Daly as he walked over to them. "I don't know what's happening, but I can assure you that we haven't spoken to anyone from Sky High."

"I just thought that I'd . . ."

"You'd what, Jill?" asked Carson. "Do you have any idea how much trouble you're in?"

"Carson can you finish this interview?" Skyler asked, turning his back on Jill.

"I can," he assured him. "I promise to stick to the questions that are outlined."

"Thank you," replied Skyler as the cameraman alerted them that they were about to be live again.

"Hello everyone," said Carson as he smiled for the camera. "I'm Carson Daly filling in for Jill Messing. I'm here with Skyler Thomas at Hard Rock Cafe New York. He's about to sing his new single for us. Care to set that up, Skyler?"

"The single was released this morning," said Skyler, smiling for the camera. "The video will be released after this party."

"Well there you have it, here's Skyler Thomas with 'My Immortal'."

Skyler smiled as the music for the song began. Everyone grew quiet as they stopped walking around and found places to stand or sit where they could see him. He smiled at JC as he began to sing.

"I'm so tired of being here, suppressed by all my childish fears. And if you have to leave I wish that you would just leave, 'cause your presence still lingers here, and it won't leave me alone," he sang, keeping his voice light.

"These wounds won't seem to heal. This pain is just too real. There's just too much that time cannot erase. When you cried I'd wipe away all of your tears. When you'd scream I'd fight away all of your fears, and I held your hand through all of these years, but you still have all of me," he sang and let the music play as he listened for his next cue.

"You used to captivate me by your resonating life. Now I'm bound by the life you've left behind. Your face it haunts my once pleasant dreams. Your voice it chased way all the sanity in me.

"These wounds won't seem to heal. This pain is just too real. There's just too much that time cannot erase. When you cried I'd wipe away all of your tears. When you'd scream I'd fight away all of your fears, and I held your hand through all of these years, but you still have all of me.

"I tried so hard to tell myself that you're gone, but though you're still with me I've been alone all along.

"When you cried I'd wipe away all of your tears. When you'd scream I'd fight away all of your fears, and I held your hand through all of these years, but you still have all of me.

"You have all of me," he sang and put his head down as the music played to the end of the song.

Everyone in the club cheered, and Skyler smiled at them. Carson was clapping and smiling as he walked over to where Skyler was standing. He put an arm around Skyler's shoulders and sort of side-hugged him.

"There you have it everyone," he said. "Skyler, that was amazing!"

"The single is in stores," said Skyler, smiling.

* * *

"She's a self serving bitch," said Laura later that night after they'd left the release party. "I'll have her job!"

"Calm down, Laura," chuckled Skyler. "She may have been a little unprofessional, but she was just trying to get her scoop."

"You're far too forgiving, Skyler," Laura argued.

"No, I'm thinking," he replied. "I don't want her getting fired because of anyone from my staff. If that happens what's to stop her from gaining employment with one of the tabloids that so love me and making my life hell for a while?"

"You're right," she said after a moment. "Still she shouldn't be allowed to get away with shit like this."

"Laura!" he chuckled.

"Sky, you'd better come see this," said Chad, interrupting his discussion with Laura. Something about the look on his brother's face made Skyler's heart skip a beat. He looked at Laura, and they both followed Chad into the living room.

"O'Malley was serving a prison sentence in the Michigan State Penitentiary for abuse and neglect among other convictions," said the dark haired newscaster. "He was found dead in his cell this morning . . ."

"Chuck is dead?" Skyler asked, looking from his brother to the television set and back.

"That's what they keep saying," replied his brother. "Why hasn't anyone called us?"

"We've been gone all day, Chad," replied Skyler.

"Skyler, the press will be hounding you about this tomorrow," warned Laura. "What are you going to say to them?"

"What am I supposed to say?" he asked. "I hated him. His death won't cause me heartache, Laura."

"I'm glad he's dead," said Cassie, startling everyone. "After what he did to us I think he deserved this."

"Cassie . . ." said Skyler.

"Cassie, sweetheart you shouldn't say things like that," said Tabitha, cutting Skyler off.

"Why not?" she asked. "I mean it. Mom, you don't know what it was like for us to live with that man. All of the things he did to us . . ."

"I'm glad he's dead, too," said Chad. "He was a horrible man."

"Come on guys," said Ben, but neither of them were finished.

"Dad, you don't know what it was like to live under him," said Chad. "We were afraid to go to sleep, even more afraid to wake up in the morning. We didn't even want to come home from school."

"We couldn't tell anyone because we were afraid of what he'd do to us when he found out," said Cassie. "I used to cry myself to sleep every night. The only good thing in my life was Skyler, and he was at school. Then he was famous, and things got worse for us at home."

It broke Skyler's heart to hear those words. To even fear that Chuck had taken out his frustrations about Skyler's career on the twins was bad, but to hear her say that he was the only good thing in her life even though he wasn't there anymore was almost too much to bare. It almost made him sorry that Chuck was gone. He so badly wanted to pay him back for all of the fear and pain he'd caused in their lives over the years. Then he noticed that Jason was watching them very closely.

"I don't think we should discuss this anymore," he said quickly. "Turn that off. I'm sure the press will have questions for both of us tomorrow, Chad, and I suggest that we talk a bit in private about what we'll say."

"Don't worry, Sky," said Chad. "I wouldn't say anything like what was said tonight. I know by now what it would do. The last thing I need is for the tabloids to start attacking me."

"Well put," said Laura, smiling at him. "I should get going, but you boys call me if you need anything."

"We will," replied Skyler.

An hour later, after finally getting the twins and Jason to settle down and go to sleep, Skyler sat with JC and his parents to discuss Chuck. He described for them what it was like on a typical day at home in Detroit. By the time he was done talking, JC was holding his hand with tears in his eyes. Tabitha looked pale and almost ill, but his father looked angry.

"Skyler, I'm so sorry for . . ."

"Don't," said Skyler, cutting off his father. "None of what happened was your fault, Dad. This is all Mother's fault. She's the one who let Chuck into our lives. She's the one who stood by and did nothing when he hurt us. This has nothing to do with you."

"But to think of the things that you and your . . ."

"Don't do this to yourself, Dad," begged Skyler, pulling his hand out of JC's to reach both hands across the table to grip his father's. "Trust me, I know what that kind of guilt can do to you. It eats at you, and you have nothing to feel guilty about. She did this. She did it as much to you as she did to us."

"I can't help hating her, Skyler," said Ben.

"I can't help hating her, either," replied Skyler. "It makes me sick inside, but I can't stop. She's my mother, and I hate her. Yes, she brought it upon herself, but it still eats at me sometimes. I can remember when she was sweet and loving, Dad. Then I remember how hateful she became. Now when I think about her all I think of is how she let Chuck hurt us. I can't stop hating her, but I won't let this eat away at me anymore, and you shouldn't either."

"When I think of all of the things that you've all been through," said Tabitha through her tears, "I just can't help being proud of the adults you've grown into. Cassie and Chad blow me away with their love and kindness, and then there's you, Skyler. I see how you adore the twins. I see how your face lights up when they smile. Now I see it when you look at Jason, and I can't stop being so proud of you. I wish that I could have been your mother so none of you would have ever gone through the things that woman put you through."

"Tabitha," said Skyler taking her hand across the table. "You are our mother now. Believe me, every time you show us even the tiniest amount of love it makes us love you so much more than you could ever know."

Tabitha got up from the table, letting go of his hand. She walked around to stand beside his chair until he stood and took her into his arms. He held her as she sobbed against his shoulder. This woman was more of a mother to him and his siblings than their biological mother had ever been. He loved her with all of his heart and would do everything in his power to make sure she knew it.

After that, Ben took Tabitha into the guest bedroom to calm her down. Skyler and JC went into Skyler's room and sat on the bed. Skyler was still crying from his hug with Tabitha, and JC took him in his arms to comfort him.

"I love you so much, Skyler," JC said. "I know there's nothing I can do to erase all of the terrible things that man did to you, but I would if there was a way."

"I love you, Josh," he said, holding on to him tighter. "Just loving me is enough.

My Immortal is a song by Evanescence.

The next chapter will be posted soon.