© 2005-2010 Julien Gregg
All Rights Reserved

Chapter 43

"She's just going to let you adopt the baby?" Madonna asked once Skyler was back in the car and they were leaving. "I didn't see that coming."

"Neither did I," admitted Skyler. "I was stunned when she said it."

"Well at least she didn't say no to you raising the child," said Barbara. "I have to admit that I'm shocked to learn that prison officials are trying to make her abort the child. I'm going to be making some phone calls about that."

"They can't make her do that, can they?" he asked, looking at Barbara with wide eyes.

"No they can't," she replied. "But I'm going to have to remind them of that I think. I'll get papers drawn up for you and your mother to sign that basically say the baby is yours at birth."

"You can do that?" he asked.

"Yes," she chuckled. "As long as she cooperates, this won't be hard at all."

They stopped for lunch, being careful to take as many precautions as possible so that they weren't mobbed. Madonna had a lot to say about Skyler's adopting his sibling. She thought it was a great idea and an amazing opportunity for Skyler. As they talked, Skyler was reminded of the conversation he'd had with Guy the day they were shopping in London. Guy had said Skyler would make a good father. Now he supposed he would find out if Guy was right. He sure hoped he was right.

When they got back to the hotel, Skyler was shocked to see JC sitting in the living room of his suite with Jeff Timmons. The two were talking when he came in but stopped suddenly. He looked at them and wondered just what was going on. He'd forgiven JC for his jealous outburst the night before, but if he was doing more damage he didn't think he would be able to forgive him again. It was one thing for a person who is upset to do something they regret, but for JC to just walk into making a massive mistake with his eyes wide open, that was just unforgivable.

"How'd it go, Sky?" asked JC without even a hint of apology in his voice.

"What's going on here?" he asked instead of answering JC's question. He could see the confusion in JC's eyes, and he wanted to scream.

"Skyler, there's something about me that you should know," said Jeff, getting to his feet. "You don't have anything to worry about from me. I would never tell anyone about you."

"Jeff . . ."

"No, Josh, let me get this out," Jeff said, cutting JC off with a wave of his hand. "Skyler, I'm gay. Josh knew that. Now, he should have explained that to you last night or in the past, but for whatever reason he didn't. I'm sorry that you were worried about what I might say, but you can rest assured that your secret is safe with me."

Skyler let out a sigh as he walked completely into the room with Madonna and Barbara right behind him. Of course they'd heard everything, but Skyler wasn't worried about them knowing about him. Jeff was the shock. As he walked across the room to the wet bar and got a bottle of water out of the miniature refrigerator, he wondered about that all powerful gaydar he'd read about that gay men were supposed to have. He hadn't even suspected Jeff Timmons. Was he flawed? Did he miss something? He just didn't know what to think. He sat down next to JC and took a long drink from his bottled water without saying anything.

"Toy," said Madonna, walking over to stand in front of him. "Are you all right?"

"I'm fine," he finally said, looking up at her with a dazed expression on his face. "My secret is safe, Jeff is gay, and I'm going to adopt a baby. Why wouldn't I be all right?"

"You're going to what?" breathed JC as he stared at Skyler hard. Even Jeff was looking at him now. All eyes were on him actually.

"You heard me," he replied. "I'm going to adopt my mother's baby. She asked me to. I couldn't believe it myself, but that's what she wanted. I was going to demand that she sign custody papers once the baby was born, but she wants me to adopt the baby and raise him or her as my own child. That's how it went. I'm going to be a father, though I don't have the first damned clue how to be one."

"That's great, Sky," said Jeff, sitting back down on his other side.

"That's what I keep telling him," said Madonna, but she looked worried. She worried about the way Skyler was acting. Then there was the way that JC was looking at him. Something was going on between the two of them, and she had no idea what it was. Whatever it was wasn't good. She knew that much. She also didn't understand what Jeff Timmons had to do with it.

"Skyler, I'm going to head back to the office and draw up the papers," said Barbara. "I'll call you as soon as I have them, and we'll alert the prison so we can get them signed and filed. I'll call."

Skyler watched her walk back out of the suite without saying a word. Papers. She was going to draw up the papers, and then he had to sign them. He had to sign his name on papers that would make it a contract between him and his mother, a woman he despised. It all seemed unreal to him. He was going to be a father. The very thought completely scared him. He didn't know what to do next. Should he take classes? Clay would love that. There were video shoots scheduled, personal appearances as well as talk show interviews. There was no time for parenting classes.

"I have to call home," he suddenly said, getting to his feet and startling everyone. "I have to tell the twins. My father needs to know what's happening, and I need to tell them that I'll be in Detroit another night."

They watched him get up and walk into the bedroom and shut the door in silence. Jeff excused himself almost as soon as Skyler shut the bedroom door, and Madonna and JC watched him leave the suite in silence as well. Then she turned to JC. If she was going to find out what was going on, she supposed she could start asking questions. She wasn't sure JC would answer them, but she wasn't going to let that stop her.

"What is going on with you and Skyler?" she asked, folding her arms over her breasts.

"Nothing," he replied. "I got a little upset because I walked in here last night and found Skyler talking to Jeff. I jumped to conclusions, and Skyler and I had a fight. I called Jeff up here while you were all at the prison to apologize to him for the way I acted last night."

"You got jealous and jumped to conclusions and nearly outed yourself and Skyler is what you mean, right?" she asked.

"Yes and no," he replied. "Jeff is gay, and I knew that long before last night. I just should have had more faith in Skyler."

"And what about the baby?" she asked. "Why haven't you said anything about Skyler adopting the baby."

"I think I should discuss that with Skyler," he replied, looking down at his knees. "That's between us."

"Well let me tell you this," she said, unfolding her arms and putting her hands in her lap. "If you do anything to make Skyler feel bad about this at all, I'll make you sorry. Don't fuck with me, JC. Skyler is very important to me, and he's having a hard enough time wrapping his mind around this. He doesn't need you filling his head with any negative issues that you have about it."

"You don't have to threaten me, Madonna," he replied, glaring at her. "I love Skyler very much, and I wouldn't do anything to hurt him or make him feel bad."

"You just better not," she said coldly.

* * *

Two hours later, Skyler sat in front of his mother again with Barbara and the agreement. It stated that his mother would relinquish all rights to her unborn child the day she gave birth, and Skyler would adopt the baby. Barbara explained it all to both of them before she handed her pen to Skyler, so he could sign the agreement.

"I know you have no reason to trust me, Skyler," said Claire as he signed his name. "But I'm glad that you're taking the baby. I know that I had nothing to do with it, but you've grown into a good man. I want the baby to have the chance to be like you. I don't mean that I want you to turn the baby into a celebrity. Just raise it the way you would raise your own child."

"I'll raise the baby with unconditional love," he replied, handing her the pen. "This baby won't ever worry about my love, Mother. I won't let this baby grow up in fear the way I did. This baby is going to have a happy life if it takes my last breath to make sure of it."

She looked at him for a long moment after she'd signed the agreement. He wondered what was going through her mind now that she'd effectively signed her rights to the child away completely. Even if Skyler decided not to adopt the baby, she could never put her hands on him or her. No matter what, she'd done the baby a great service. He didn't know why, and he suspected that she would never be honest with him about why she'd done this. He didn't care about why she did it. All he cared about was making sure the baby grew up to lead a happy and normal life free of fear and pain.

"You have every reason to hate me, Skyler," she said finally. "I've been a rotten mother. I don't even pretend to deny it. I may not have hit any of you, but I stood by and watched as Chuck did those things. Taking your father away from you was probably the worst thing I ever did. All I can say is I'm sorry. It doesn't matter if you believe me or not. I just wanted to tell you that I am sorry. What matters to me is that I got to say it to you. Once the baby is born you'll never have to see me again. I'll stay out of your life completely. I won't try to contact you or the twins. I promise."

That was one thing he was seriously glad to hear. Though she'd still have the rest of her sentence to serve, she'd get out of prison eventually. The last thing he needed was for her to attempt to contact him or the twins wanting anything. Now that he was going to be adopting the baby, he surely didn't need her showing up later in the child's life. He had no idea what he would tell the child about her, but he'd deal with that later. What he wanted to know was why she'd changed from the loving mother of his early childhood into the woman who was seated before him. He knew she wouldn't give him a real answer, so he didn't bother to ask.

In the end there were no more words shared between Skyler and his mother. He and Barbara left to see the judge with the signed agreement. Once he was in front of the the judge, Skyler felt better about his decision than he had. When the judge asked him if he believed he could step up to the job of caring for the baby, Skyler responded in the affirmative and with conviction. The judge signed the papers and applied the seal upon them. Then they were back in Barbara's car headed back to the hotel. Skyler had his copy of the agreement in his hands.

"Its all set," sighed Barbara as she drove across Detroit toward the hotel. "The agreement is binding, Skyler. She can't back out now."

"I know," he replied, looking at the envelope in his hand. "No matter what happens, she can't touch that baby."

"You're not thinking of not adopting the baby, are you?" Madonna asked, looking at him hard.

"No, nothing like that," he said, returning her gaze levelly. "I'm going to adopt the baby and raise him or her the way I should have been raised. With love and respect."

"Don't let anyone talk you out of it," she said, thinking of JC.

"No one on Earth or Heaven could talk me out of adopting the baby, M," he replied firmly.

They said nothing more about for the rest of the trip to the hotel. Barbara dropped them off at the entrance and assured Skyler that she would have no trouble handling the adoption when the time came. They thanked her and walked inside the hotel. They met Jeff at the front desk, and he smiled at them.

"Is that the agreement?" he asked, pointing to the envelope in Skyler's hand.

"It is," replied Skyler with a genuine smile. "The judge just signed it. Its binding."

"I really think what you're doing is great, Sky," said Jeff, smiling back at him. "That baby will have a great home with you."

"Thanks, Jeff," breathed Skyler. "I'm actually excited."

"You should be," said Jeff. "You're going to be a great father."

"That's what I told him," said Madonna, smiling at Jeff. "Are you leaving?"

"No," he replied. "Just waiting on Nick and Drew."

"What about Justin?" Skyler asked. "Isn't he coming?"

"He's already here," he said. "He's upstairs on the telephone."

"Sounds like Chad," chuckled Skyler. "When Drew and Nick get here, why don't you give me a call? Josh has to head back to Orlando tonight, and I'll be here by myself after M leaves."

"I'd like that," said Jeff with a smile.

"Well then I'll see you later," said Skyler as Brent cleared his throat. The lobby was filling up.

"Later," Jeff said happily.

Madonna said her goodbye inside Skyler's suite. JC was in the shower, so she didn't have to have another confrontation with him. She hoped that he wouldn't say something she'd have to make him regret later when Skyler told him the news. She hugged Skyler tight.

"Oh sweetie," she said. "I'm so proud of you and happy for you at the same time."

"Thank you," he said when she let go of him. "I know that I can do this. I know because if I need help there are a lot of you who can help me."

"See?" she said, smiling at him. "I knew you were smart, Skyler Thomas."

"I love you, M," he said.

"I love you, too, Toy," she replied before kissing his cheek. "I'll call you soon."

Then she was gone, and Skyler sat down at the dinette table and looked at his agreement once again. He couldn't believe that it was signed and filed. It seemed like a dream. First the news that his mother was pregnant, then talking to her and hearing her say that she wanted him to adopt the baby and, finally, the signed agreement before him, all of it felt like a crazy dream that he never wanted to end. He wondered how it was that he was so relaxed about the idea of being a father to the baby now. Just that morning he'd been scared out of his mind that he'd be a terrible father and scar the child for life. Now he believed that he could give the child the best home, and be a better parent than some. He certainly had the money to take care of the child, and the will to do it. He just didn't understand where that will had come from.

He was on the telephone with his father when JC came out of the bathroom wrapped in a towel and dripping. They smiled at each other, but Skyler saw a strange look in JC's eyes as he smiled back at him. He wondered what was wrong this time. He didn't want to fight again, and he didn't want to hear anything about insecurity or any paranoid fear of being outed. He was in a good mood, and he intended to stay in that mood.

"Yes, Dad," he said when his father asked if he had the agreement. "Judge signed and sealed it this afternoon. Its official and legal. She's signed her rights away, and I've agreed to adopt the baby as soon as she gives birth. Barbara says that she can handle the adoption herself, so that's all set."

"That's great news, Skyler," replied Ben. "You know that if you need any help . . ."

"I have plenty of resources," interrupted Skyler. "I know that, and thank you, Dad."

"I'm proud of you, son," said Ben. "You have no idea."

"I love you, Dad," he said.

"I love you, too," said Ben. "I'll let you get off here, and I'll tell the twins when they get home."

"Thanks," he said. "Give my love to Mom and Jason, too."

"Will do, Skyler," replied Ben. "We'll see you and Brent tomorrow afternoon."

"Bye, Dad," he said, smiling.

The next chapter will be posted soon.