© 2005-2010 Julien Gregg
All Rights Reserved

Chapter 40

The press lined both sides of the red carpet as Skyler escorted Shelly into the theater. He smiled and waived at the cameras, but he didn't say a word. He was done answering questions for a while. The press conference had gone fine, and the story had hit every newspaper. The tabloids had naturally added their spin to their answers, but the important thing was that they'd both swore that they wouldn't discuss Chuck with the press ever again. Just to make sure that the press remembered that, Skyler didn't pay any attention to the questions asked as he and Shelly made their way into the theater to attend the premier of The Eye Of The World.

Devon Sawa and Neve Campbell had gone in ahead of them, and Shannon Doherty and her date, Skyler didn't know his name, were behind them. He hadn't seen Tobey McGwire, but he supposed he was already in the theater. Catherine Zeta Jones was answering questions with her husband, and Billy Zane and his wife were just getting out of their limo. Skyler was happy to see his cast mates again. He'd found it almost impossible to stay in touch with any of them. Even Devon was hard to track down most of the time. But then he'd been too wrapped up in JC to really search hard.

As the cameras flashed, Skyler thought again about how the tabloids would spin his reasons for having Shelly as his date. He'd discussed the tabloid backlash with Mark and Shelly, but they'd both thought it was funny. He just hoped that they would still think it was funny when the stories started to circulate.

"Is this cool or what?" said Devon as he came over to talk with Skyler.

"Hey," said Skyler with a smile, then he remembered Shelly. "Devon Sawa this is Shelly . . ."

"We've met," chuckled Devon. "How are you, Shelly?"

"You've met?" Skyler asked looking from Devon to Shelly and back.

"When Mark and I had lunch with Clay and Laura that day before Sky High was actually a company, we ran in to Devon and Leonardo DiCaprio," explained Shelly. "I'm surprised Mark didn't say something to you about it."

"He was a little excited," laughed Skyler.

"Well we'd better get in there," said Devon, smiling at them. "We'll miss the beginning of our own premier."

"Wouldn't want that," said Skyler, holding out his arm for Shelly.

They made their way into the theater and sat in the fifth row with the rest of their cast mates and their prospective dates. Skyler saw Madonna and Guy Ritchie in the third row as well as Brian Krause and a woman he didn't know. There was no time to talk to them, however. The lights went down and the movie began. Skyler was more proud than he'd been of any project he'd worked on three hours later when the end credits rolled as the entire theater gave the movie a standing ovation.

"The movie was so great!" cried Shelly over the music at the first party they ended up attending after the premier. "I loved it!"

"Thanks," beamed Skyler. "Renny told me this morning that they're finalizing the script for the second movie in the series. He wanted to know if I was going to come back."

"You are, aren't you?" she asked.

"Of course," he replied. "I'll have to negotiate with the studio, though."

"Is that what Mark's movie premier is going to be like?" she asked once they found a table and sat down.

"Probably," replied Skyler. "That movie isn't as anticipated as this one was, but it will be close to what happened tonight."

"And then he'll have to hide like you," she said, and Skyler could see that she wasn't happy about what was coming in Mark's life. He didn't get to reply, though, because they were interrupted when Devon and Tobey McGwire came to the table with Jeff Timmons.

"Hey, Sky, this guy says he knows you," laughed Tobey as the three of them sat down at the table.

"Jeff, it's good to see you," said Skyler, smiling at him. Those blue eyes held his, and Skyler felt a chill run down his spine.

"Nice to see you, too," replied Jeff, smiling back. "Great movie."

"Thanks," replied Skyler. "I didn't know you were coming. If I'd known . . ."

"I didn't know I was coming until the last minute," said Jeff. "It worked out, though. I loved it."

The group talked about the movie and the parts that each of them liked best, but Skyler kept looking at Jeff now and then. He was really happy that Jeff had appeared. He hadn't had a chance to talk with him since the day of the MTV interview, and he was sorry that he hadn't made time. He was really enjoying his company. The entire group made their way to four parties before Skyler decided that it was time to call it a night and take Shelly home. Jeff made him promise to contact him the next day, though.

"So how was it?" asked Cassie when he got back to the house. It seemed so strange to have the house so empty. Chad was off on a promotional thing, and Cassie was the only other family member home. She'd decided to skip the premier and stay home to work on her school work. Skyler had an exam of his own coming soon, and they'd been studying together since Chad left.

"It was great," he replied. "I had a blast, and Shelly had fun."

"They've been talking about it on television all night," she said. "You completely ignored the press."

"I'm kind of full up with the press for a while," he sighed, sitting down next to her on the couch. "They can talk all they want, but I won't help them."

"Oh, Barbara called from Detroit while you were gone," Cassie said after they'd been silent for a few minutes, watching the coverage of the premier with the volume of the television muted. "She said to call her back whenever you got it. She said not to worry about how late it was."

"Sounds serious," he sighed as he reached for the phone.

"Probably more about Chuck," she said with a shrug and went back to watching the television.

Skyler knew she was trying very hard not to show emotion about it. He hated that this was affecting all of them so much. Chuck was gone now, and he couldn't ever hurt them again. That should have made them all feel better. Somehow it didn't. Chuck still seemed to pop up in their lives almost every day in one way or another.

"Skyler, I'm glad you called me back," said Barbara when she answered the phone and found out that it was him. "Are you sitting down?"

"What's going on now?" he sighed, sinking further into the couch.

"Well," she said slowly. "I don't know how you'll react to this news, but I thought you should hear about it before the press gets wind of what's happening."

"What, Barbara?" he asked, trying to keep from being annoyed.

"Well I found out this morning that your mother has been transferred to the medical wing of the prison," she said. "I thought maybe she'd been hurt by another inmate, but it turns out that she's under maternity watch."

Sky was silent for a few minutes as he let what she'd said sink in. His mother was pregnant? He had no idea how that could have happened in a prison, but that wasn't what was important. They would talk about this. He'd wanted something to take the place of Chuck's death in the press, but this wasn't what was hoping for. Then there was the fact that she still had to serve her prison sentence. They'd take the baby from her, and then what? This would be his flesh and blood. Could he let them take the child and give it to strangers?

Then he thought about Cassie and Chad, and his heart began to slam in his chest. This was just not something they would deal with well. The idea that another sibling was going to be born from a woman that both of them despised wasn't something he thought they would take well. He didn't know what he was going to say to them, but he knew he had to say something before the press picked up the story.

The press would never let this go. He knew that he'd be hounded, they'd all be hounded. Even his father, though the baby was clearly not his, would be hounded like crazy just because he was her ex-husband. The press would never leave them alone now. He couldn't believe how far wrong all of this was going.

"Skyler, are you there?" Barbara asked after he'd been silent for a full two minutes.

"I'm here, Barbara," he replied. "Just blown away."

"Skyler, I'm sorry," she said, and he was struck by the note of sincerity in her voice. He was struck because no one should ever have to feel sorry because a new life was about be brought into the world.

"You've nothing to be sorry about," he sighed. "I just don't know how to feel about this. I mean . . ."

"I think I know what you mean," she said. "I'll call you tomorrow when I know more about what the State's plans are. I've already put in calls to the District Attorney as well as the Warden. I should hear back from them tomorrow morning. If not I'll throw the biggest fit Michigan has ever seen."

"Thanks for telling me," he said. "I really need to talk to my brother and sister about this."

"Right," she said. "Like I said I'll call tomorrow."

"Thanks again, Barbara," he said. "Goodnight."

He hung up the phone and found Cassie staring at him expectantly. Before he said anything to her, he had to have Chad at least on the telephone. He hated having to tell him this way, but there was no other choice. He dialed the number to Chad's hotel room and waited for his brother to answer.

"This better be good," said his brother's groggy voice. "My wake-up call is four hours away."

"Chad, its Skyler," he said. "I'm sorry for waking you up . . ."

"What's wrong, Sky?" came Chad's voice, cutting him off. "Is Cassie all right? Dad?"

"We're all fine, Chad," he said. "I need to tell you and Cassie something, and I kind of wanted you both to hear it at the same time. I'm going to put you on speaker."

"Go ahead," replied Chad. The fear was clear in his tone.

"All right," said Skyler once he'd pushed the speaker button and cradled the receiver. "You there?"

"I'm here," said Chad.

"Well I just got off the phone with Barbara in Detroit," said Skyler, looking at Cassie. "She called to tell me that Mother has been moved to the medical ward of the prison."

"Is she sick?" Cassie asked, though her eyes showed that she didn't really care.

"No, she isn't sick," replied Skyler. "She pregnant."

There was silence on the telephone, and Cassie just stared at him with her mouth hanging open. He waited for what seemed an eternity while his siblings were silent. He didn't know what to say to them. They had to figure out how to process what they were feeling. There was nothing he could do to help them, and he hated it.

"Pregnant?" Chad asked finally.

"That's right, buddy," Skyler replied. "Barbara is waiting for a call back from both the District Attorney and the Warden. She's supposed to call me tomorrow."

"Who's the father?" asked Cassie. "I mean she's in prison. How?"

"I don't know the answer to either of those questions, Cassie," Skyler admitted. "Barbara didn't know the answers to those questions, either. Maybe she will after she talks to the DA. I don't know."

"But she is pregnant," said Chad's voice over the phone.

"Yes," replied Skyler.

"So we're going to have a little brother or sister," Cassie said with a trembling voice.

"We are," agreed Skyler. "I don't know how to feel about this, so I know that both of you have to be confused."

"I'm not confused at all," said Chad. "The baby is innocent, Sky. He or she is ours. That's all there is to it."

"You're going to raise the baby, right, Sky?" asked Cassie. "I mean they won't let her keep it, right?"

"Cassie, we don't know anything, yet," he replied. "What about the father? Whoever he is, he probably has rights. I can't promise you that I'm going to take the baby. Cassie, I'm not even sure I'm ready to take care of a baby. I don't know what kind of father I would be. I'm on the road a lot. There's so much going on in our lives right now, and it will continue for the foreseeable future."

"But this is family, Sky," she said, and he could tell that she was getting more and more upset.

"Let's just wait until we know exactly what's going on before we make any decisions," he replied. "Please know that I will do everything I can for the baby."

"I'm coming home, Sky," said Chad suddenly. "I'll tell Clay in the morning that we have to come back to LA."

"Chad, don't cut your gig short . . ."

"Skyler, I'm coming home," said Chad, and then he hung up.

It took no more than a few seconds for Cassie to tell him she needed to think and leave for her bedroom. Skyler sat there and sighed. He had no idea what to do. Was he ready to be the baby's guardian? Sure he'd taken in the twins, but that was different. This would be a newborn baby with needs that Skyler didn't even know about. He had no experience with babies. He'd never even held one in his arms.

He tried to call JC, but for the first time he was happy that he had to leave a message. He wasn't in the mood to discuss this with JC. To be completely honest with himself, he had to admit that he was actually afraid of what JC would say about it. Instead he climbed the stairs to his bedroom and crawled into bed, praying for sleep to wash over him and let him forget about babies and his mother for the rest of the night.

The next morning, he found Cassie having breakfast with their father and step-mother when he came downstairs. His head hurt, and he hadn't slept well. The last thing he really wanted to discuss was his mother's pregnancy. From the way the conversation stopped when he came into the room, he was sure that was what they were discussing. Suppressing a sigh, he sat in his seat at the table and began to fill his plate with fruit.

"Good morning, Sky," said his father. "Cassie tells me you got some rather important news last night."

"You've heard," replied Skyler in more of a statement than a question. "I don't know anything more than that she is pregnant right now. I'm waiting for Barbara's call."

"Chad called from the airport," said Cassie. "Clay's ready to have a heart attack, because he won't tell him why he wants to come home."

"I suppose we should tell Laura and Clay at the same time," sighed Skyler. "I'll call Laura after breakfast. What time's Chad's flight?"

"He was about to board when he called," said Ben. "I'm supposed to pick him up at the airport at noon."

"Well then we'll have Laura come over about that time, too," replied Skyler, thinking about all of the people who should be notified that the press would soon be swarming them again.

The next chapter will be posted soon.