© 2005-2010 Julien Gregg
All Rights Reserved

Chapter 69

Genevieve was relatively new. It had opened while Skyler was on tour so he knew nothing more about it than what people had told him. So far that was only good things. The food was supposedly wonderful and the service exquisite. Skyler hoped the restaurant lived up to its reputation as he walked in with his family. Jeff had agreed to stay behind and he and Drew would keep Preston. That meant that the only child at the table would be Jase's five year old son, Mike.

The area just inside the door was all pine wood with living trees almost everywhere. The restaurant's name was engraved in the wood behind the maitre d's station. The man himself was dressed in a French styled tuxedo that was all black and white. A red rosebud was pinned to his lapel on top of a gleaming white handkerchief. His dark hair was extremely short and his black metal-rimmed glasses sat low on his nose.

"Mr. Thomas," he said with a wide smile when he looked up from his book and saw Skyler. "Your table awaits. It says eight on your reservation. Perhaps you would like to peruse the wine list while you wait for the rest of your party?"

"That sounds fine," replied Skyler. "Thank you."

"Right this way, Mr. Thomas," he said and then turned and walked around the wall to the wide archway and through the dining room.

There were at least a hundred tables in the main dining room and it looked like every one of them were full. Skyler saw various celebrities at many tables, but no one really paid much attention to his group. They followed the maitre d through a closed door to a private dining room. There was one table large enough to seat ten. It was covered with a burgundy tablecloth. The napkins were blood red and matched the fabric on the chairs. The floor was covered with both colors. Green was the main color and little red diamonds made the pattern. The effect was striking.

They took their seats around the table, and a waiter dressed similar to the maitre d with deep auburn hair and striking green eyes arrived with menus for them. He announced that his name was Chet and he would be their waiter. He left them to look over their menus and the wine list. In total he spent ten minutes with them, making sure that they were comfortable and filling their water glasses.

"Well it seems they live up to at least half of their reputation," said Ben as soon as both Chet and the maitre d were out of the room, leaving them alone.

"They sure do," agreed Skyler. "If the food is half as good as I've heard we're in for a real treat."

"The items on the menu sound fabulous," said Tabitha as she scanned the pages of her menu. "I think I'm going to have the Cedar Salmon."

"That sounds good," Cassie agreed as she turned to find it in her own menu.

"We'll wait for Jase," said Ben, and Skyler smiled at him.

His father was nervous. Skyler didn't think he'd ever seen the man in that state before. He could understand though. He'd been so nervous the day he'd gone to the hotel to meet his family for the first time. He decided, remembering the experience, that he wouldn't tease his father. Instead he went back to looking through his menu. He was about to comment when the maitre d came back into the room with a tall dark haired man and a mousy brown haired boy of five. They all stood when Jase walked in.

Jase Thomas looked nothing like Ben. His body was covered up by the tweed double-breasted suit he was wearing, but Skyler could tell that he was thin. His dark hair was cropped almost at the scalp, and his features were more angular than his father's. He had the same blue eyes that all of the Thomas family seemed to share other than Jason.

Mike was tall for his age. His black slacks looked longer than his legs should have been. His white polo shirt was neatly tucked and emphasized his small frame. His dark hair was cut short but still curled all over the top of his head. His dark eyes travelled from one of them to the next until he'd looked at each of them as if wondering if they were really his family. Ben hadn't told them that Jase's late wife was Cuban so the sight of Mike shocked them. He'd clearly taken after his mother in the looks department, but he was a very good looking child.

"Well hello everyone," Jase said with a bright smile. Skyler thought he was a very good looking man. He may not have looked like them, but he was easily as good looking as Jeff.

"How have you been, Jase?" Ben asked, coming around the table to shake his brother's hand. At the last minute he pulled his younger brother into a hug. "It's nice to see you, boy."

"It's nice to see you too," Jase said, but the others could barely hear him because his face was buried in Ben's shoulder.

They each cleared their throats and then turned to look at everyone a little sheepishly. Introductions were made around the table and Jase shook everyone's hand. He complimented Cassie on how beautiful she looked and then told both Chad and Jason that they were very good looking young men.

"Skyler, I've been seeing your shining face all over the place for a few years," he said when he turned to Skyler. "You are one talented man."

"Thank you," replied Skyler. "I've seen a few of your movies without realizing it. You've got talent yourself."

"Thank you," he said, smiling at him

They sat down and allowed Jase to look at the menu and decide what he and his son were going to eat. The boy had remained quiet through the entire exchange with the adults and teens. He kept snatching quick glances at Skyler, but he said nothing. Then they were ordering food. They chose calamari for the appetizer and they talked while they ate it.

When the main courses were served each of them grew quiet as they ate. Between bites Jase told them all about his life in Paris and how much he and his wife had loved it there. He said that without her it just didn't seem like home anymore. He told them that he was planning to move back to the States, and Skyler offered to let them stay at his estate in Florida until they found something.

They finally got around to discussing Sky High, and Skyler was pleased that it was his father that had brought the subject up. Jase seemed to be very happy with the idea of working for his nephew and that impressed Skyler. He explained that Jase would have to meet with the partners before a decision was made, but after seeing a few of his films he didn't see any problems that would stand in the way. In the end Skyler promised to set a meeting in the LA offices of Sky High by the end of the week.

After two hours of conversation the family reluctantly called it a night. They tipped Chet very well and stopped to give the maitre d his own tip on their way out, promising that they would return as often as possible. The food had been outstanding and Skyler was very happy with the service. The restaurant seemed to have it together and he could see it becoming his favorite place to eat in Los Angeles.

When Skyler got home, Preston was already asleep. Jeff and Drew were watching his concert video in the living room. Cassie and Chad both went straight to bed as soon as they got home, so Skyler sat in the living room with his lover and friend. They asked about dinner and he told them all about Jase and how great he thought he was. Then he remembered that they had to get up early to pick up Brian and Kevin and he and Jeff went to bed.

The next morning, Skyler donned sunglasses and followed Jeff to the waiting SUV. He smiled at Brent and Matt as he slid into the back seat next to his lover. The plan was to stop for breakfast once they had Brian and Kevin. Skyler didn't want to be out all day long. He wanted to spend at least a little time with Preston before Laura and Clay showed up for their now nightly meetings right after dinner. He'd finally gotten them to stop waking him up for breakfast meetings, but now his nights were filled with Sky High business.

Brian and Kevin's plane landed right on time, shocking Skyler. They quickly got their bags and rushed to the SUV. The each laughed about how lucky they'd been to avoid anyone recognizing them. They stopped at a secluded restaurant for breakfast and caught up with each others lives. Skyler thought about how nice it was to see them both again as they ate.

"There was this kid on the plane that kept asking us if we were famous," Brian laughed, poking Kevin as soon as the plates were taken away.

"I told him we just looked like famous people," laughed Kevin.

"So the kid asks his mom and she winks at us before she tells him that we're just very good looking and everyone assumes that good looking guys are famous," said Brian with a grin.

"We signed her newspaper for her as we were getting off the plane," said Kevin.

"So what's on our agenda for the big night?" Brian asked quickly.

"I thought we'd hit a few clubs and do some dancing," said Skyler. "We can get as dirty as we feel like this time. The point is to be photographed so I'm pulling out all the stops."

"This is going to be fun," laughed Kevin. "After spending so much time trying to avoid being photographed doing anything that could be misrepresented I get to be naughty and not worry."

"Exactly," laughed Skyler as he put the money for the check on the table.

They filed out of the restaurant and into the SUV marveling at the fact that they still hadn't caused any sensations. As they rode back to Skyler's house, Brian told Skyler about the trouble Nick was having with his younger brother, Aaron. It seemed that Aaron was quite the party boy and at his young age, Nick was worried that he would get addicted. Brian told Skyler that Aaron was already addicted to cocaine and that he would be watching over him very soon while he tried to detox.

"Nick's about to come unglued over this," Kevin said as they pulled through the gate at the house.

"I'm sure," replied Skyler. "I know I'd be crazy if it was Jason or Chad."

"Those two have their heads on straight, though," Brian said as they got out of the SUV and headed inside.

Once in the living room they were confronted by Lynn Harless and Justin Timberlake. Skyler smiled at them and was quickly engulfed in a hug by Lynn. He wondered what was going on and why there were there while he returned the hug. Justin didn't look extremely happy and that worried him. If something had happened to Lance or Joey he didn't know what he'd do.

"It's so nice to see you, Skyler," said Lynn. "I'm sorry we didn't make it to any of the shows this time, but Justin was quite busy."

"I heard," he replied. "Hi, Curly."

"Sky, we need to talk," said Justin before glancing at Brian and Kevin.

"Why don't the two of you come into the office with me?" Skyler asked, giving his friends a sympathetic smile as he led the way to his office. "What's up?" he asked once they were inside.

"Justin has decided to leave Nsync," said Lynn. "We've talked about it all morning on the flight, and I can't talk him out of it."

"Ok," Skyler said slowly. "Justin, what's going on?"

"I'm sick of JC's shit," Justin spat. "He goes on and on about you all the time, and then he nearly blew his lid when Lance had lunch with Carlos. I can't deal with him anymore."

"But you have a contract, Curly," Skyler reminded him. "Surely you know you can't just renege."

"That's exactly what I want to do," he said quickly. "Can I come to Sky High and do a solo?"

"Well sure, Curly," he said carefully. "You know, though, that Sky High won't sign a contract with you if you renege on the one you currently have."

"You mean I have to record with them?" he asked, scrunching up his face.

"I'm sorry, Curly, but a deal's a deal," Skyler said sympathetically. "I'm sure that there's got to be a way for you to record the last album on your contract."

"The contract doesn't say they have to be together to record it," said Lynn. "And it doesn't mention promotions or anything about a tour at all."

"There see?" Skyler said. "It won't be so bad. Make sure that you can record your tracks separately, and then refuse to tour. Once you've fulfilled the contract come see me and we'll set you up with Sky High."

"Thanks, Sky," Justin said, launching himself against Skyler and wrapping his arms around him. "I just can't stomach JC anymore."

Once he was sure that he had Justin sorted out they went back to the living room to join the others. Lynn excused herself so that she could walk across the yard and visit with Tabitha, leaving them lone. As soon as she was gone Justin commented on the magazine cover, causing the others to burst into fits of laughter.

"It was hot, guys," Justin said.

"Curly, I thought you were straight," Skyler said, eyeing his friend.

"I never said that," said Justin. "I just said I didn't want a label."

"Right," said Brian, and they were all laughing again.

Then Skyler got a very vengeful idea. If Justin could stay until after the new year then he could be seen all over Orlando with Skyler and the boys. They were bound to be photographed if they were as raunchy as they were planning to be. That would surely send JC to the moon. He decided not to say anything to Justin about it while they were around Jeff, though. He didn't want any problems to start between him and his lover over JC.

"So how long are you staying in LA, Curly?" he asked when they finally stopped laughing.

"I don't know," he said. "I'm MIA at the moment. We're supposed to do some big show for MTV tomorrow night, but I told them I wouldn't do it and left."

"No one knows you're here?" Skyler asked, looking at him hard.

"No one," he said. "Mom and I traveled light. No one paid any attention to us. I'm telling you no one knows I'm here."

"Well then why don't you stay here with us?" Skyler asked. "Believe me there's plenty of room, and we're going out for the new year instead of performing on an MTV sound stage."

"Oh we'll be performing," said Kevin, making Brian and Jeff start laughing again.

"What are you guys up to?" Justin asked, looking at them all cautiously.

"Just a little healthy tabloid play," Skyler replied. "They like to talk about all of us having sex with each other and stuff like that so we've decided to give them a reason to talk."

"What?" Justin gasped.

"Not like that," laughed Skyler. "We're going to do some dancing and stuff like that. Things that are completely harmless when no one is picking your life apart. In other words we're going to have fun."

"Does your management know you're doing this?" Justin asked slowly.

"Laura doesn't need to know what I'm doing every minute of every day," replied Skyler.

"That's not what I asked you," Justin pointed out. "Laura is your agent. I was asking about Clay Silver."

"Clay knows that I know what I'm doing," Skyler said. "He isn't as uptight as Barry Graham or Lou Pearlman."

"Don't mention that name, please," Justin said with a wince.

"Sorry, Curly," replied Skyler. "But you get my point."

"Yeah, I got it," he said with a small smile. "Sounds like fun."

"Now let me warn you," said Kevin. "The tabloids are really going to pick on you after tomorrow night, Justin. Can you handle that?"

"Nothing a few sightings with Britney can't cure," he laughed.

Skyler was starting to wonder what the dynamics of Justin and Britney's relationship were. The way Justin talked sometimes the two of them were nothing more than a "show couple". He supposed there was nothing wrong with that if both parties involved were comfortable with the situation and got from it what they needed. He just knew that he would never enter into that kind of "relationship" with anyone for any reason.

Chad brought Preston down after that and they all got in the floor and talked like idiots to make the child laugh. They were still at it when Tabitha and Lynn came back across the yard and into the house. The women laughed at them at first and then started talking about how adorable it was. That was when they all promptly got up from the floor and left Preston to his toys.

* * *

"I don't know where he is, JC," Lance said for the fifth time since JC and Chris had shown up on his doorstep. JC was in a grumpy mood, but that was his usual lately. Any time anyone said a word about Skyler Thomas, JC went crazy. Lance knew that Justin was with Skyler but he wasn't giving JC that information.

"Johnny said he left Nsync," Chris said, looking nervous.

"Well that's what he said when he left," Lance replied honestly. "Lynn called an hour ago to tell me that he'd changed his mind. He'll do the album but he won't promote it, and he isn't singing for MTV tomorrow night."

"Fuck!" spat JC. "Why do we even pretend to be a group anymore? None of us can stand each other anymore anyway."

Lance thought that it wasn't each other that they couldn't stand, but he wasn't going to point that out to JC. As it stood he wanted the man to leave. Pissing him off further wouldn't accomplish that. He sighed as he walked into his living room and sat on the sofa. This was going to be a very long day. He wished he was with Justin, and he wished he could choke the life out of him at the same time. He'd never been so envious or angry with a friend at the same time in his life.

"JC calm down," he sighed. "He's going to come back so we can record the album."

"But what about the show?" JC asked, looking at Lance with stormy eyes.

"That's not going to happen, JC," Lance said carefully. "At least not with Justin."

"Justin is the lead in the stuff we have for the show!" JC cried. "What are we supposed to say when we show up without him?"

"If Justin isn't going to be there, then I'm not going," said Joey as he came in from the back yard.

Lance winced when he saw JC's eyes widen. He watched as the man walked around Joey and to the back of the house. He knew that he was looking at the window at everyone in the back yard and wondering why he and Chris weren't invited to the party. This was exactly why Lance wanted JC to leave.

"Well I guess I'm the one who isn't wanted in Nsync," JC said as he came back into the room. He looked at Lance and then at Joey and shook his head. "Skyler said he didn't want to come between us, but he has."

"Now you wait a fucking minute, Joshua Chasez," yelled Joey, startling Lance. "Skyler Thomas isn't the ass in this group. He did nothing to come between us at any time the two of you were together. He did nothing to come between us when you flipped out over the damned tabloid. Sure you convinced us that it was his people that were talking at the time, and I have to admit that I was starting to believe that Skyler was behind it."

"But it was our people who were talking," Lance interjected.

"Exactly," said Joey. "It had nothing to do with Skyler. If anything he was the victim in that mess."

"It certainly isn't hurting his career," said Lance, wincing as JC turned to face him with a sneer on his face.

"So don't you stand there and say that Skyler came between Nsync," Joey yelled again. "Skyler Thomas has nothing to do with this group anymore. What came between us is you, Joshua."

Lance just hoped that Justin didn't get himself photographed with Skyler while he was in Los Angeles. That would absolutely be the worst that could happen.

* * *

"That was Lance on the phone," Cassie said as she came back to the living room. She didn't look happy at all. "I did what you asked, Justin. I lied to him. Don't ever ask me to do that again."

"I'm sorry, Cassie," Justin said. "This is just a really strange situation. I don't want them to know exactly where I am yet. Mom will get back down there pretty soon and they'll think I'm hiding out with her."

"But then you're going to show up in the tabloids with my brother," Cassie said, and it was clear that she didn't like the idea at all.

"Cassie none of this was my idea," he said in his own defense.

"But you're going along with it, aren't you, Justin?" she said coldly. "I understand why my brother is angry at the tabloids. I even understand why he wants to go through with this, but what I don't understand is why you want to be a part of it."

"I'm just going to go and have fun with my friend," Justin replied. "That's all."

"In front of every tabloid photographer you can find," she said. Her voice was getting louder as she spoke.

"What's the harm in that?" Justin asked.

"Never mind," she said and turned around to walk out of the room.

The next chapter will be posted soon.