© 2005-2010 Julien Gregg
All Rights Reserved

Chapter 45

"Jane was an actress, now she's a waitress. Steve's at the cafe parking cars. A year or two back they were going places. Now they're just staying where they are.

"One night in sin city. You need more. You want fun. One night in sin city. Hot town, warm gun. One night in sin city. Your troubles ended? No, they've just begun," he sang trying hard not to smile at the silly face Jeff Timmons was making at him.

"Is it the world that wants an audition? Is it the world that wants a job? Lean on a corner called ambition. Wait for whatever comes along.

"One night in sin city. You need more. You want fun. One night in sin city. Hot town, warm gun. On night in sin city. Your troubles ended? No, they just begun," he sang and couldn't help tapping his foot along with the music as he waited for the next cue. Jeff was still making faces at him, trying to get him to mess up, but Skyler wasn't going to let that trip him. He pointed at Jeff and started to sing again.

"One night in sin city. The bright lights. The big wheel. One night in sin city. Its unkind. Its unreal. One night in sin city. You need more. You want fun. One night in sin city. Hot town, warm gun. One night in sin city. The bright lights. The big wheel. One night in sin city. Its unkind. Its unreal. One night . . .sin city. One night in sin city. You need more. You want fun. One night in sin city. Your troubles just begun," he sang, making it to the end of the song without laughing at Jeff. He vowed to make him pay later.

The song was for Sky High's second movie release. Tapped was in production, and Skyler had only agreed to record a song for the soundtrack a few days ago. So much had been happening in his life that he wasn't sure he wanted to be in the public eye for a while. In the end it was Jeff that convinced him to do it. Jeff had told him that hiding from the world wasn't going to make the press stop talking.

It all started when he went back to New York to film the video for I Want You To Want Me, the song he'd written for Love Dust, Sky High's first movie release, and Mark's movie debut. E! had ran a story about his mother's pregnancy that morning, and reporters swarmed him when he was coming out of the studio. He'd been so pissed off that the story was leaked, and when the reporters started screaming questions about his mother at him, he'd just told them "no comment" over and over again.

When he got back to the apartment, Chad called to tell him that they'd cornered him in Chicago as he came out of the station after his radio interview. He'd also refrained from commenting, wanting to talk to Skyler before he said anything. Then there was the premier for Love Dust. What should have been a great night turned into another nightmare spawned by the press. He'd been there to support Mark, but it was made clear before they'd even made it inside the theater that the press only wanted to talk about what Skyler thought of his mother's pregnancy.

They'd plagued him every day as he left the Sky High building in Los Angeles after dance rehearsals for the tour as well. That had brought about the hiring of three new staff members. CJ Reynolds was Skyler's new security man. He and Brent now worked together to make sure that Skyler could get in and out of places without being bombarded by the press. Dan Vahle now worked with Andrew to make sure that statements were released to the hungry press that wouldn't damage Skyler's reputation, and Luke Taylor had applied for a security position, and in a way he'd gotten just what he wanted. Unlike Brent or CJ, Luke had worked as a fitness instructor at a very exclusive gym. Skyler hired him as his personal trainer, but he also had security details added in with his other duties.

Luke was with him when he filmed the video for Hearts Never Lie and he'd worked with CJ and Brent to keep the press at bay when they'd come out of the Sky High studio. Luke could also jog along side Skyler on his morning run while CJ and Brent tailed them in the car. Luke was in excellent physical shape, and Skyler's morning runs didn't tire him at all.

All of the rooms in the guest house behind Skyler's Beverly Hills mansion were filled now with more security hired for Chad as well. Dan Vahle worked for both Chad and Skyler, so no one was hired to fill the role as Chad's full time publicist. Things were beginning to quiet down with each statement being released from Chad and Sky's public relations team. However, the press still made good of every chance opportunity to corner either of the brothers.

Jeff's continued visits kept Skyler calm about the baby, but he often wondered how spending time with him was fairing on his relationship with is wife and daughter. JC didn't seem to like the amount of time that Skyler spent with Jeff, either. The couple had argued several times about Jeff, and Skyler reminded JC each time that Jeff was married. JC didn't seem to think that mattered much. Skyler decided that it was just something that JC would have to deal with. He wasn't giving up his friendship with Jeff just to make JC happy.

JC didn't seem to be as excited about the baby as everyone else, either. Every time that Skyler tried to bring the subject up with him, JC would all but change the subject. He said all of the right things when anyone was around, but in private he didn't want to discuss it at all. That was making Skyler angry, and it was getting harder and harder for him not to confront JC about it. He supposed that eventually they'd have to have it out about that and Jeff. He just wasn't looking forward to it. They seemed to be drifting apart enough on their own without a fight to help it along. Skyler didn't like that. He didn't want to lose JC.

On April thirtieth, Skyler said goodbye to his family and Jeff and flew to Orlando to spend as much of the month of May as he could with JC. He was filming a video there, and Sky High would be releasing Carlos's album in the middle of the month, and Carlos also lived in Orlando. It made sense that he would spend a little time there, but he extended the amount of time required in Orlando just to spend time with JC.

When he arrived, Lance was there to meet him. They didn't discuss JC until they were safely in the SUV with CJ, Brent and Luke. Lance's security man tailed them. Lance told him that JC was recording, and they'd all argued over which one of them was going to pick him up. Skyler laughed when Lance threatened Joey and Chris with calling ahead to alert fans that they would be in the airport just so he could come to meet him himself.

"Dirty trick," he chuckled as they drove out of the airport lot and headed for JC's house.

"Yeah well with the way the press has been hounding you, it worked," replied Lance. "They've been leaving you alone lately, though."

"That's just because of Andrew and Dan," explained Skyler. "They keep releasing statements every time my mother's name makes into the news. I wish she would just stop talking to reporters. She's making it worse."

"Well what did you expect?" asked Lance. "You told me that your mother likes making your life miserable."

"She does," agreed Skyler. "I just hoped that being pregnant would slow her down."

"When is the baby due?" asked Lance.

"December fifth," replied Skyler. "I just don't know if I can keep my cool with the press that long."

"Any idea if the baby is a boy or girl?"

"I've got the sonogram in my bag," said Skyler with a smile. "Believe me, he's all boy."

"Congratulations," enthused Lance. "A son."

"Kind of strange to think of my little brother as my son," said Skyler, looking out the window at the passing traffic. "I'm getting the hang of it, though. The closer we get to the big event, the more excited I'm getting."

"That's good to hear," replied Lance. "I haven't heard much about the baby from Josh."

"Yeah, I get the feeling that Josh isn't exactly happy about my adopting the baby," sighed Skyler. He really wished that JC would talk to him and let him know why he didn't like the idea. He hadn't actually said he didn't like it, but his silence about the whole thing spoke volumes about his feelings.

"Josh hasn't said anything to us about not wanting you to adopt," said Lance. "I'm sure Justin would tell us if he said anything about it to him. Justin's the one Josh spends most of his time with lately. All Justin says so far is that Josh doesn't talk much about you at all."

"That's kind of why I'm here early," said Skyler. "I want to fix whatever the problem between us is."

"Part of your problem is Jeff," Lance said delicately. "Josh doesn't like it that the two of you spend so much time together."

"That's just something he's got to get over, Lance," replied Skyler. "Jeff is a good friend, and I won't give up his friendship just because Josh is insecure about it."

"You do know about them, right?" Lance asked, giving Skyler a sideways glance as he drove.

"That they used to be lovers?" Skyler asked. "Yes. I know about that. Jeff is married to Trisha now. He isn't a threat to either of us. Josh just needs to get that through his head."

"Thick head," chuckled Lance. "Harder to get through to him than others."

"Point taken," laughed Skyler as they pulled up in front of JC's house.

The white jeep was in the driveway. It's license plate read "Curly 1", and Skyler chuckled at that. Justin's antics always made him laugh. He'd missed Justin. He hoped that his time in Orlando could change that as well as his relationship with JC. He saw Joey's truck parked behind the jeep, and Lance pulled in beside it.

"I've got to head over to the studio," Lance said as Skyler prepared to get out of the SUV. "I'll come around later. Don't worry. Glad you're here, by the way. Don't be too hard on Josh."

With that, he backed out of the driveway and drove down the street. Skyler wondered just what would make him think that he was going to be hard on JC at all. Was something going on that he didn't know about? Lance had said that JC was recording, but his car was parked beside Justin's jeep. He wondered just what was going on as he made his way up the steps to the door with Brent, CJ and Luke.

"SKY!" cried Justin, running across the foyer and wrapping his arms around him. "We've been waiting for you. Where's Lance?"

"He said he had to get back to the studio," said Skyler, hugging Justin back. "He also told me that Josh was recording. That's why he said Josh didn't pick me up. What's going on?"

"Nothing," said Justin, letting go of him quickly. "Josh just got back. He's in the shower."

"Well I guess I'll just put my bags upstairs then," replied Skyler, taking his suitcases from Brent and making his way around Justin and up the stairs. He didn't miss the nervous look in Justin's eyes, though.

He could hear the shower running in JC's bathroom as soon as he walked into the bedroom. He sat his suitcases beside the dresser and sat on the huge bed to wait for JC to get out of the shower. He wondered exactly what it was that Lance had asked him not to be too hard on JC for as well as what had made Justin act so nervous. Something was going on, and as he heard the shower stop he decided that he was going to find out what it was. It took JC three minutes to come out of the bathroom with the towel wrapped around his waist.

"Hey," he said, stopping in his tracks. "I was hoping that I'd get done recording before it was time to pick you up. How was your flight?"

"Boring," replied Skyler, taking in the sight of his lover. "Lance got me."

"I know," said JC. "I thought you'd go to the hotel before you came here. I wanted to be showered and ready when you got here."

"Hotel?" Skyler asked, bracing himself for yet another argument.

"You didn't book a hotel room?" JC asked, raising his eyebrows.

"Well I guess I probably should," replied Skyler, getting off the bed and walking over to pick up his suitcases.

"Sky, wait," said JC as he crossed the room and put his hand on Skyler's arm. "You don't have to book a room. You can stay here."

"But you obviously would rather that I didn't," said Skyler. "I'll be gone in a few minutes, Josh. Then you can go back to your life. I won't bother you while I'm in Orlando. You don't even have to come to the release party. You don't like Carlos anyway."

He grabbed his suitcase off the floor and headed for the bedroom door with JC calling his name as he went. He made it down the stairs with just enough time to register the surprised looks on Brent and CJ's faces before JC came bounding down the stairs in a pair of sweat pants, calling his name again. He didn't stop or turn to acknowledge JC. He just asked Justin if he could take them to a hotel.

"Uh, sure," said Justin, looking from JC to Skyler and back. "Let me just grab my keys."

Skyler didn't wait around. He walked out of the living room and through the foyer to the front door with his entourage behind him. JC was still calling his name, but he didn't turn around. He stepped outside and began to put his suitcases in the back of Justin's jeep. Brent stepped up beside him on the left and CJ on the right as JC came out of the house, calling his name.

"Sky, wait, damn it," said JC. "What are you doing?"

"I'm going to a hotel, JC," he spat, turning to face him finally. "Isn't that what you wanted?"

"At least talk to me, Skyler," said JC, not having missed the formal way Skyler had said his name. "I don't understand why you're so upset."

"No, I guess you don't," replied Skyler. "Tell me, when was the last time I heard from you?"

"I called you a week ago," JC said quickly. "I told Cassie to tell you I called."

"Yeah," laughed Skyler. "She did. It just struck me as odd that you'd wait to call me when you knew I'd be in a meeting at Sky High. Then you were never available when I called you back, so I couldn't talk to you about what you wanted to do when I got here. Then you say you thought I'd go to a hotel, Lance tells me not to be too hard on you, and Justin is a nervous wreck. Something is going on here, and I thought I wanted to know what it was. I've changed my mind, though. I don't care."

"Damn it, Skyler," JC said as Justin came outside. "Stay here and talk to me about this."

"No," said Skyler as Justin got into the driver's side of the jeep and started the engine. "I'm leaving. Curly can tell you which hotel he drops me at if you really care."

"Justin don't you do this," said JC. "Don't help him do this to me."

"I'm not doing anything to you, Joshua," said Skyler as he got into the passenger side of the jeep after his guys were already in. "You clearly don't want me to stay here. We've had a similar argument in the past, and I stupidly thought that was over. You clearly have something on your mind when I talk to you, and I think I know what it is. I'm going to leave you alone to think it over, though. You call me when you're ready to talk about what's really happening here."

"Justin, don't," said JC as he crossed the lawn to the driveway.

"Drive, Justin," said Skyler, and Justin pulled out of the driveway and drove them down the street. That was the last time Skyler saw JC before he left Orlando the day after Carlos's release party.

It took exactly two days after Skyler returned to Los Angeles for JC, Justin and Lance to show up at his house. Skyler had just returned from dance rehearsals, and Kaleb Hassid, one of the new dancers was sitting in the kitchen talking to the twins when the doorbell chimed. Skyler went to answer the door and stood there when he was face to face with JC. He didn't know what to say at first.

"Hi guys," he said finally. "Come on in, but I'm all sweaty. I've got to shower."

He turned around and walked up the stairs to his room, leaving them standing in the doorway. He showered quickly, deciding not to put off the big intervention he was sure the new arrivals were plotting. He was going to get to the bottom of this as soon as he got back downstairs. It had gone on long enough, and if JC still wanted to be silent about what was bothering him, then Skyler was going to tell him to just go back to Orlando and forget they knew each other. He was tired of it. It had been one thing after another lately with JC, and he was done fighting. He was shocked to find JC standing in his bedroom when he got out of the shower.

"Well, this seems familiar," he said, crossing the room and dropping his towel. He opened a drawer and pulled out a pair of boxer-briefs. Next came a pair of jeans, then he was standing inside his walk-in closet, searching for a shirt.

"Sky, we have to talk," said JC. "We can't keep this up."

"You're damned right about that, Josh," said Skyler, pulling his t-shirt over his head. "You could have called."

"Would you have answered?"

"Oh yeah," said Skyler. "I've been wanting to have this conversation for a while."

"Then we can talk?"

"What's your problem, Josh?" Skyler asked, ignoring the pleading look in his eyes. "You didn't want me to stay with you in Orlando. I think I can figure that one out. It pissed me off, but I can figure it out. But you won't talk about the baby when no one else is around. He isn't going away, Josh. I'm still going to adopt him. I've even decided on his name."

"I know you aren't going to change your mind about adopting him, Skyler," said JC, sitting down on the edge of Skyler's bed. "I wouldn't want you to change your mind about adopting him."

"Then what's the deal?" demanded Skyler. "Why won't you even talk to me about him when no one else is listening? Every time I bring the subject up, you either change it or stop talking entirely. What gives?"

"I just wanted to be able to adopt him with you, all right?" JC replied, looking directly into Skyler's eyes as he spoke. "I wanted him to be our son, Skyler. You adopting him is just another reminder that we can't be like other couples. It hurt."

"Damn it, Josh," sighed Skyler, sitting down beside him. "You should have said something ages ago. We could have discussed this. Why did you shut me out? That's not the way we're supposed to act with each other. Communication, remember?"

"Every time I wanted to talk to you about the baby, you were off with Jeff," said JC. "I don't like the time that you spend with Jeff. You know that."

"Yes, I know that," replied Skyler. "But you only have yourself to blame for how close Jeff and I are now. Josh, I wanted to talk to you, but you wouldn't talk. Jeff talked to me about the baby. He talked to me about the fears he had before Alyssa was born. He told me what to expect, how to react and what to do. You wouldn't even discuss it with me enough for me to tell you that the baby is a boy!"

"I'm sorry, Skyler," JC said, putting his head down.

"I forgive you, but we have to talk about this stuff, Josh," he said, putting his arms around him. "And you've got to work out your problem with spending time together. The press didn't even know I was in Orlando."

"I apologize for that, too," said JC. "I'll work on it, Sky. Can we talk about Jeff now?"

"What about him?" Skyler asked.

"I don't like the amount of time you spend with Jeff . . ."

"All I can tell you is that Jeff and I are friends, Josh," he said, cutting him off. "Don't ask me to give up my friendship. I won't do it."

"But can I express my feelings about it?" JC asked.

"Of course you can," replied Skyler. "I'll listen, too. But you have to understand that I'm not going to drop Jeff as a friend just because our friendship makes you uncomfortable."

For the rest of the night, Skyler spent time with JC, Lance and Justin. Kaleb had gone back to his apartment with promises to be there in the morning for rehearsals. Justin asked all kinds of questions about Kaleb, and Skyler filled him in. Kaleb was the only son of a Spanish mother and a Israeli father. He lived in an apartment with his mother in the city. He was taking care of her now that his father was gone. He'd died of a heart attack the year before. He was a great dancer.

Lance declared Kaleb sexy, and Skyler had to agree. His dark hair was cut short and spiked on the top of his head. His coloring came from his mother, but he said his dark eyes came from his father. He had an almost boyish face that looked damned nice with his almost chronic five o'clock shadow. His body was compact and nicely toned from his years of dancing, and he had one of the sexiest asses Skyler had ever seen.

"Straight, though," sighed Skyler, making Lance shake his head, Justin smile and JC give him a look.

The boys sat in on rehearsals the next day, and Lance commented that the moves were hot. He said that they would be awesome on stage. Justin participated the next day, but he said later that they moved faster than an Nsync show. Skyler laughed about that. He had a great time that week with JC and his friends, but Saturday morning it was time to say goodbye to them. Kaleb patted him on the back in the airport after the three visitors were on their plane, telling him that they'd be too busy for him to miss JC.

They were busy. Starting the following Monday, rehearsals became more intense. He had to inspect the new buses that Clay had purchased. He sat in on two of Chad's rehearsals, and he stood with all three of his siblings on the back lawn to see the sets that his father had constructed put together. The time to the start of the tour was closing, and everyone was excited. Tabitha had began to calculate numbers, fitting into her position on the staff perfectly.

The crew was ready, the dancers were edgy with anticipation, and Skyler was resigned to the long nights and bus living. The day they flew the entire group to Japan, Skyler led them in prayer at the airport. He asked God to keep them safe, bless the pilots and watch over his unborn son. It was the first time that Skyler referred to the baby as his son, and every member of his family present for the prayer noticed. They boarded the plane and the dancers began to sing Skyler's songs as the plane lifted off and began their journey. The Thomas Brothers Tour was about to begin.

Sin City is a song called Dream City by Samantha Fox with slightly altered lyrics.

The next chapter will be posted soon.