© 2005-2010 Julien Gregg
All Rights Reserved
Kevin opened his eyes and looked around the bedroom. The events of the night before replayed in his head and he groaned. Brian's reaction to learning about his past relationship with Skyler had shocked him. More than anything else it hurt. He didn't understand why his cousin was so angry about it. It was clear that Brian was in love with Skyler. Kevin had worried that this might happen when it was decided that Skyler would come to Lexington to recover. He'd suspected that Brian had really wanted to spend as much time with Skyler as possible when he refused to return to Orlando to work on the album and insisted that he be allowed to work on his tracks in the studio in Lexington. It seemed that what he had worried about was reality. Brian was in love with Skyler.
He swung his legs over the side of the bed and sat up as he thought about what this had to be doing to Leighanne. There was no way that she didn't see it now. Not after what had happened the night before in their own dining room. How horrible it must have been for her to hear her husband all but express his love for Skyler in front of everyone. Brian's anger had hurt Kevin but what was all of it doing to his wife?
"Oh good," said his mother from his open door. "You're awake."
"Good morning," he said. "I'm going to grab a quick shower and then I'll be down for breakfast."
"All right," she said as she turned and walked back down the hall.
He sat there watching the space where his mother had stood wondering if she'd heard about last night's revelations. If she had then she now knew that he and Skyler had been lovers for a time. This wasn't the way that he wanted his mother to learn about his sexuality but there wasn't much he could do about it now. In reality he didn't even know what his sexuality was. Other than the few women he'd been with there had only been Skyler. No other man had ever turned Kevin's head and he'd never had any sexual thoughts or fantasies involving other men before. There was only Skyler. He didn't know what that meant but he was sure that the rest of his family had already labeled him either homosexual or bisexual. He wasn't even sure if he should try to explain it to any of them. What did it matter?
He was more concerned about what Skyler would think when the tale of the previous night's events got back to him. Would he be angry about having their secret relationship exposed? Would he be upset that Kevin had told the secret in front of so many? There were so many things that could go wrong over this and Kevin wanted so desperately to keep everyone and everything right the way it had been before he'd opened his mouth and told the dining room about his relationship with Skyler.
After his shower he went down to the kitchen to find his mother. Facing whatever she had to say about what he'd revealed the night before would not be put off. He wouldn't avoid his mother because she might not be happy with him. He found her putting sausages on a plate of eggs and toast. She sat the plate on the breakfast bar and searched the cabinet for a glass.
"For me?" he asked as he came into the kitchen.
"Of course," she replied. "Your brother has called three times already."
"Jerald or Tim?" he asked as he sat down in front of the plate.
"You have to ask?" she replied, setting the glass of juice in next to his plate. "He's very agitated and wants to talk to you."
"I'm sure he does," sighed Kevin as he picked up the glass of juice and brought it to his mouth.
"Jackie has called as well," said Anne. "It seems that Brian spent the night at Harold's. She said that it was Leighanne's request that he do so."
"I figured that," he said as he put down the glass and looked at his mother. "I assume you've been told about what happened at dinner last night."
"I have," she replied. "Leighanne is very upset. She's talking about divorcing Brian."
"That's what I was afraid of," he sighed. "I never meant for any of this to happen."
"This isn't your fault," she said quickly. "Brian made his bed, Kevin. You can't control his emotions or actions."
"If I hadn't opened my mouth and said what I said last night . . ."
"Your previous relationship with Skyler had nothing to do with Brian or Leighanne," she said. "I wish that you had told me when it was happening, Kevin. I admit I may not have been receptive then but I know Skyler now. I see him for the wonderful young man that he is and I would have been so proud to have him as part of our family."
He looked up at her in wonder. She wasn't angry with him? He couldn't detect even disappointment in either her voice or her eyes. He didn't know what to make of that. He was happy that she'd accepted it but he hadn't expected her to. She never failed to surprise him and he hoped that she never did. He loved her more in that moment than he ever had in his entire twenty-eight years.
"I love you, Mom," he said.
An hour later he found himself in his Aunt Jackie's living room with Skyler and Jeff. Skyler held Preston in his arms as he fed him a bottle. The three of them were discussing the events of the previous night. Skyler wasn't angry with him for spilling the secret at all. He told Kevin that having it out in the open made things a bit easier for him. He still wished to be friends and he said that when he was finally really on his feet again they'd work on putting their friendship back together again.
"I'm so glad that you're not angry with me," he said after discussion had slowed. "Brian won't talk to me and my brother is ready to preach me into an early grave. Mom was great though."
"Your mother is a wonderful woman," said Skyler. "She's been nothing but supportive of me since I came here. She knows about what happened with JC but she doesn't say anything negative toward me about it. I respect her very much."
"She is a great lady," replied Kevin with a warm smile as he thought of his mother.
"You've got to see this," said Cassie as she came into the living room with a magazine in her hand. "Your on the cover again, Sky."
Skyler took the magazine while Cassie said hello to everyone in the room and then took Preston from his arms. She put the child over her shoulder to burp him as Skyler's face got stonier and stonier as he read the article in the tabloid. By the time he was done he looked as if he were about to explode with anger.
"They're actually saying that I'm dead," he said, holding the magazine out to Kevin. Jeff had read over Skyler's shoulder.
The headline read "Recorded Statement A Hoax! Skyler Thomas Dead!" Kevin gasped as he read it. He couldn't believe the tabloid had gone this far. Of course he knew that the world wouldn't really believe it at large but there were be fans that would believe what the tabloid reported. The article went on to say that Skyler had been buried in an undisclosed location and family and friends weren't talking to the press about it. That was easy for them to say since barely any celebrities would talk to the press at all now. There were pictures of Skyler bruised and battered. Kevin had never seen Skyler in this shape before so he knew that the pictures were fake. He sighed as he closed the magazine and looked at Skyler.
"The video will certainly piss them off," laughed Jeff as he put his arm around Skyler. "Don't sweat it, Sky."
"Video?" Kevin asked, looking from Jeff to Skyler and back.
"I'm shooting a video for a single from the new album tomorrow," explained Skyler. "It took some fast talking and a lot of screaming to get this set up but I won't be dancing around or anything like that. This song isn't a dance track. Clay is beside himself and Laura left for Orlando this morning vowing to not speak to me until I come to my senses."
"Wow," laughed Kevin as he pictured Laura's tantrum. "I bet Aunt Jackie loved that."
"Oh your aunt has been nothing but supportive of my decision," replied Skyler. "I'm walking on my own now. My therapist only sees me on Saturdays now and even he says that I don't really need any more therapy. Clay isn't happy about the video but he knows better than to continue to try and talk me out of it. Adam Slade arrives in the morning and the video will be shot as quickly as possible."
Kevin had the pleasure of watching as the video was shot the next morning. An actress he didn't know was playing the part of Skyler's lover in the video but all of the shots of the two together were of them arguing. They were reading lines off a script that wouldn't even appear in the video. After they'd gotten about ten scenes of the couple arguing they shot scenes of the actress crying. Then it was time for Skyler to sit on a horse and lip-sync for the camera.
He sat with Skyler and Adam in the back family room of the Littrell House to watch the raw finished version before Adam took it off to the little room off the kitchen to begin his editing. The actress had gone back to the hotel along with the camera crew and lighting people. Uncle Harold was putting the horse back in the stable while hired hands cleaned up the "set" and righted everything that had been used for props and so forth.
The song was grittier and edgier than any that Kevin had heard of Skyler's before. It was clear to him what meaning the song was putting forth. The end of his relationship with JC was what the song was truly about yet he'd put a woman in the video to mislead everyone just a little bit. From what Kevin had seen of the video it was perfect. He couldn't imagine what Adam would want to edit out.
For the rest of the afternoon Kevin sat in the living room of his aunt and uncle's house with Skyler as his family arrived to celebrate the adoption of Preston James Thomas. The actual adoption had taken place a few days earlier so it was official. Preston was now Skyler's legal son. He also noticed that Jeff Timmons sat with Skyler and the baby the whole time. They truly did look like a little family sitting there. Kevin couldn't miss the love in Jeff's eyes when he looked at Skyler either. It was crystal clear that Jeff and Skyler were headed for a loving relationship. Kevin wished them the best even as his heart throbbed with a tiny pang of jealousy. He had himself to thank for the ending of his relationship with Skyler however. There were no outside influences that conspired to separate them.
Skyler and his family left for Orlando the next morning. Skyler was now recovered enough to travel back and let the world know that he was really alive and not in a coma. Kevin missed him as soon as the SUV pulled out of Jackie and Harold's garage with the entire Thomas family inside. Jeff Timmons headed to the airport with Drew a bit later. He'd stayed behind to say goodbye to everyone. Kevin had even accepted Jeff's hand and shook it. He wished him a safe journey and told him that he looked forward to seeing him again in the future.
He said goodbye to his mother just the next day and flew out of Lexington with AJ. Brian hadn't spoken to him even once though he knew that when he went to say his goodbye to Harry, Brian was only in the next room. It hurt but he supposed that he'd have to let Brian come to his senses on his own and in his own time. Who was he to rush anyone into anything?
Brian returned to Orlando two days later and the entire group went back into the studio to put the finishing touches on their album. The cousins still weren't speaking to each other and Brian didn't join the rest of the group at Kevin's for the cook out that he'd set up to celebrate the conclusion of the recording sessions. Skyler and Jeff came to the cook out along with Cassie, Kaleb and Chad but Brian didn't show his face.
It was the next day that Brian showed up on Kevin's door step. Kevin merely stepped aside to allow his cousin entrance into the house. He followed Brian through the house to the back deck. Without words he handed Brian a beer and sat down on the lounge chair beside the one his cousin chose. They were silent for a while as they watched the water in the pool.
"Sorry I missed the cook out," Brian finally said with a sigh before taking a long pull on the bottle of beer.
"I missed you," replied Kevin, keeping it simple. He didn't want to rush whatever was coming. If this was to be a reconciliation he knew it had to happen on Brian's terms and in Brian's time.
"I can't stay mad at you, Kev," Brian said, and Kevin could hear the anguish in his cousin's voice as he spoke. "I tried. God knows I tried. I just can't do it. I can't lose you and Leighanne at the same time."
"Lose Leighanne?" Kevin asked, turning to look at his cousin.
"She's filed for divorce," admitted Brian just as the tears began to fall down his face. "She won't even talk to me. I went to the house right after Skyler flew back here and all of her things were gone. She'd moved completely out. No note or anything was left. The day we got back here I was served with the divorce papers."
Kevin wasn't surprised that she wanted a divorce because she knew that he was in love with Skyler. Things were all getting out of hand lately and all of it was about Skyler. Even though Skyler hadn't started anything with Brian or himself Leighanne knew. He didn't know what to say to Brian about this. He felt horrible for his cousin but there wasn't anything that he could say that could make him feel better at all. It was completely clear that Brian had lost both Leighanne and Skyler. Skyler he'd lost because he was scared of the bible's chapter that said it was a sin and he didn't want to go to Hell for what he was doing with Skyler. With Leighanne it was because of his outburst over Kevin's relationship with Skyler. He'd made it abundantly clear that he was in love with Skyler Thomas. Leighanne had been in tears by the time Kevin had left the house that night so he could understand why she'd filed for divorce. None of this would help Brian though.
Instead of giving advice he just listened as Brian cried and told him exactly how he felt. He thought he was in love with Skyler but he wasn't so sure that he really was. He said it was Leighanne that had broken his heart and he said that after what he'd done to Skyler he believed that he deserved this heart break. Kevin was beside himself with worry for his cousin but there was really nothing he could do for him.
Two days later they began to film the video for the album's first single, "I Want It That Way". Brian barely kept from crying through the entire shoot. They watched Skyler on "The Rosie O'Donnell Show" and Brian cried through the entire live broadcast. Skyler looked better than ever on the television screen. He laughed and joked with Rosie and answered a few questions from the audience before the show was over.
Nearly two weeks later Skyler's smiling face was on "The Tonight Show". He talked about the accident and explained that he'd been recovering in Lexington but he never once mentioned the Littrells. He talked about his physical therapy and the video shoot in Lexington. He insisted that he still wouldn't have much of anything to do with the press but said that talk shows and music television reporters would be his only link to the fans. Jay asked him about that and Skyler said that the regular press had been responsible for his accident so he didn't feel that they deserved to even be acknowledged anymore. The tabloids continued to print lies about him so he was waging war on them. It was a bold move and Kevin whistled through his teeth when he heard Skyler say that.
All of Backstreet was invited to the premiere party for Skyler's newest single and the release of the album. The ropes were placed further from the entrance to Club Rock than Kevin had ever seen them. Security guards were there to make sure that none of the press even tried to cross the ropes and get a closer look at any of the celebrities that were getting out of cars and heading up the red carpet an into the club. Music from Skyler's new album was pumping through the speakers and those lucky fans who'd gained tickets to this event were all on the dance floor as "Precious" played. Already there was a remix of the song and it had plenty of throbbing beats to keep the crowd pulsing on the dance floor. When the music to "It's Not Your Business" began to play the crowd began to scream. That was Kevin's first clue that Skyler had arrived. Carson Daly found Skyler's party as soon as they entered the club. Kevin made his way over to stand close enough to hear what they were saying.
"So, Skyler, the new album hit stores today and you've got yourself another platinum release. How does it feel?" Carson asked with a huge grin on his face.
"It feels amazing, Carson," replied Skyler. "With all of the promotions going on for the album I wasn't sure what would happen. After the accident the release was pushed back so I wasn't sure what fan reaction would be."
"Well it seems to be phenomenal as usual," laughed Carson. "Any chance that you'll be performing the new single tonight?"
"None," replied Skyler. "I'm still not steady enough on my feet to get out there and perform. I'm just glad to be here."
"And there you have it," said Carson, turning away from Skyler and his entourage as they made their way to a table. "Skyler's back in full swing but not yet ready to perform so soon after his accident. We at MTV will be debuting the video for his newest single 'Rearranged' at the top of the hour and replaying it at the top of every hour until ten AM tomorrow morning . . ."
As the clock struck the hour video screens were dropped from the ceiling of the stage area behind the dance floor. The music began and the video was shown on all four screens. The crowd screamed and cameras began to flash. Kevin made his way back to the Backstreet table. He passed Nick and Drew Lachey along the way. He noticed that Jeff Timmons wasn't with them but one look across the crowded club to Skyler's table was all that was needed to find him.
When he got to Brian he saw that his cousin also noticed that Timmons was at the Thomas table. He saw jealousy in his cousin's eyes as he watched the table and he shook his head sadly as he thought about the pain in Brian's heart. He really was in love with Skyler. There was no getting around that fact. His heart was broken because of Leighanne's leaving but it was shattered because he couldn't have what his heart truly desired. Kevin wished that things could be different for Brian but he didn't wish that Skyler would return Brian's feelings. Admitting that to himself meant that he had to acknowledge the growing gulf of jealousy in his own heart at the thought of anyone being on the receiving end of Skyler's love. He as thankful that he was sitting down when he realized that he felt more for Skyler than he'd allowed himself to believe because his knees grew weak and he was sure he would have fallen to the floor if not for the chair under him.
The next chapter will be posted soon.