© 2005-2010 Julien Gregg
All Rights Reserved

Chapter 71

"Just look at this!" cried Laura as she slapped a copy of a tabloid magazine on the desk in front of Skyler.

There was a picture of Skyler dancing very closely to Justin Timberlake on the cover. The two were smiling brightly and it was clear that they were having fun. The caption read "Skyler's Romp". Sky laughed out loud as he looked at it. Opening the tabloid he saw that they were the issues hottest story. There were five pages of various pictures. Skyler was shocked when he saw that he and Justin were the subject of every picture. There were no pictures of Skyler with the other guys.

"You think this is funny?" she demanded as he laughed. "Skyler this could ruin you."

"Relax, Laura," he sighed. "It won't ruin anyone."

"This one might," she said, throwing another magazine onto his desk. This one had the group shot of the four young men sitting at a table on the cover. The caption read "Skyler Outs Himself".

"Laura these are only tabloids," he said. "We did this on purpose. Don't worry though. Next week I'm going out on the town with Britney, Christina and Neve."

"That will only add fuel to the fire," she snapped. "What were you thinking?"

"I'm not going to argue about this, Laura," he said slowly. "I made a decision to have a little fun. Everyone will just have to deal with that. It isn't like I kissed anyone or made any attempt to actually come out of the closet."

"Why are you playing with fire, Skyler?" she asked. "Your career is at its peek right now. You're on the cover of seven different magazines, and you just finished a very successful tour. You're filming a new movie and you're about to film two more. Could you please just coast on your success without making waves for once?"

"Calm down," he said. "It isn't going to hurt my career. Hell, Clay called an hour ago to tell me that my popularity has soared since the tabloids came out. You're worrying about nothing."

"If you say so," she replied with a sigh.

"I say so," he said with a smile. "Sit down and eat something."

"Why aren't you on the set?" she asked as she sat down. He passed the bowl of fruit toward her.

"I don't have anymore scenes to shoot," he said. "I don't go back to the set for three days."

"I'll have to see if Guy will let me see something soon," she said. "I loved the script."

"It's going to be a powerful movie," he agreed. "I'm just glad that we got it filmed. They're working on a few scenes today and then they'll tie it up."

"You'll be in the studio tomorrow?" she asked.

"Yeah," he sighed. "Recording for the new album begins."

"Clay said something about a Greatest Hits," she said.

"Yeah, that will be ready by my birthday," he replied. "I've got some new songs on there as well. We recorded them right after we started filming."

"When do you leave for Australia?" she asked.

"Laura," he chuckled. "Are you telling me you don't know my schedule?"

"I haven't seen the new schedule," she said. "Debbie informed me this morning that she will be going to Australia with you this time. She's afraid you'll do another concert there without her."

"Not a chance," he laughed. "No concerts for a while. I promise. We leave the twenty-fourth of March."

"Did they tell you that they're filming them back to back?" she asked as she peeled an orange.

"They did," he sighed. "It won't be as stressful as a concert tour so I'm not all that worried."

"You want to put out another album in the mean time though right?" she asked.

"Of course," he replied. "Got to keep singing."

She thought of the bundle of nerves he'd been when she'd first seen him. He'd been so nervous about everything in the beginning but here he was now ready to take the world by the horns and run with it. She was so proud of him, but she rarely let him know that. She'd promised his father that she would at least try to keep him from over extending himself. That was sometimes harder than she'd thought it would be. Skyler Thomas had gone from a nervous actor to a full fledged star with a head for business. He knew what he wanted and there was Hell to pay when anyone tried to stand in the way of it.

* * *

"Yeah, you know what you're doin' when you touch me. I know what you're thinkin' when you hide where I can't see. This ain't goin' nowhere with you constantly runnin' away. Just tell me now what's the game you're wantin' to play. Now you know I'm onto you, so tell me what you're gonna do when the next time you call I don't come. See how you deal with your own problem.

"Tease! That's what you are. That's who you are. You go too far. Tease! That's what you do. That's all you. Didn't think I knew. Tease! That's what you are. Just a fallen star. You go too far.

"Yeah, I'm onto your game and you still can't see. Your wiles don't have that pull with me. I'm onto you, make no mistake. Your love for me is one big fake. I know all about you now. Your game is up you don't know how. Get on with it stop teasin' me. I'm onto you, can't you see?

"Tease! That's what you are. That's who you are. You go too far. Tease! I'm onto you. I know what you do. Didn't think I knew. Tease! Stop playin' games. I know your plays. Done found your ways," he sang and let the music play for a bit.

"Don't you ever get tired of this?" he said, speaking softly. "Do you think you can keep me in ignorant bliss? Teasin' me isn't safe for you. Just be careful what you do. You never know when it'll all come back. I'm done with all this smack."

"Tease! I'm onto you. I know what you do. Didn't think I knew. Tease! That's who you are. That's what you are. Just a fallen star. Tease! That's what you are. That's who you are. You go too far. Now I know you're just a Tease!" he sang and the music stopped.

"Perfect," said Madonna as Skyler took off his headphones. "Sky I like that one."

"Thanks," he said. "Not my usual, but then nothing I've been recording lately is my usual."

"That's a good thing, though," she said. "Keep them on their toes."

"Yeah," he said as he walked into the control booth to listen to the song. He smiled as it played back. He liked it.

"How many is that?" she asked as they sat on the sofa.

"Seven," he replied with a huge smile. "A record for me."

"No one records seven songs in one day," she said, shaking her head. "How's your throat?"

"Dry, but I'll fix that," he said, grabbing a bottle of water off the table in front of them.

"And your head?" she asked as he chugged water.

"Fine," he said with a sigh. "It really hasn't given me problems since the tour ended. I needed that rest."

"I'll say," she replied. "I promised I'd support you and I did, but if you ever pull a stunt like that again I'll paddle your ass on stage."

"I love you, too," he said with a smirk.

"So what's on your agenda for the rest of the day?" she asked.

"Have to meet Justin at his place," he said. "Then I'll call LA to talk to my son and go to bed suffering Jeff withdrawal."

"You two are really a great couple, Skyler," she said. "I love you two together."

"I love us together, too," he replied with a genuine smile. "When I get back from Australia he's moving in with me."

"That's dramatic," she said. "What brought this on?"

"The fact that we love each other and he isn't as uptight about appearances as some people," he said, deliberately not using JC's name. She smiled wider when he said it, so he knew that she understood.

"That's a relief," she replied. "What about his kids?"

"He takes custody of them next week," Skyler said. "They'll be moving in as well."

"That big house seems to be getting smaller," she laughed.

"We'll be looking for another one soon," he agreed.

"Have you at least looked at the paperwork we sent you?" she asked. She'd been after him to buy a house in England since the tour reached London.

"I have," he replied with a smile. "Jeff and I are discussing the choices. We'll pick one. I promise."

"You know you don't have to live there all the time, Sky," she said as they got up to leave.

"I know," he said with a smile. "It would be nice to have a place to hide out in though."

"Now you're thinking," she said, matching his smile.

* * *

"What the fuck were you thinking?" shouted JC as he stormed into Justin's house with a tabloid in his hand. Justin snatched it out of his hand as he passed. There was a picture of Justin and Skyler on the cover. They were dancing very close together. The caption read, "Skyler's New Man."

"I don't recall inviting you in, Joshua," said Justin as he stood at the door, leaving it open. "If you've come just to bitch at me about Skyler you can leave now. He's on his way here soon."

"Great," spat JC. "Then I can knock your fucking heads together for being so fucking stupid!"

"You don't have the right to come in here and tell me that I'm being stupid, Joshua," said Justin hatefully as he glared at his former best friend. "In fact, you don't have the right to come in here at all!"

"What happened to us, Justin?" JC asked sadly as he stared at his former best friend. The anger had drained out of him, causing his shoulders to slump. "We used to be so close."

"You happened to us, Joshua," replied Justin. "You changed into a person that I can't stand. I don't know why you did it. You had everything. We were at the top of our game then, you had Skyler and you were supposed to be happy. Instead you tried to destroy Skyler and changed into the person you are today."

"I didn't try to destroy Skyler, Justin," JC said quickly. "I just loved him so much . . ."

"That's rich," spat Justin. "You show love in a dangerous way, Joshua."

"Skyler Thomas came between us," JC said sadly.

"I didn't come between Nsync," said Skyler, making both of them jump. Justin only realized then that he hadn't closed the door or stepped away from it. "You did that all on your own, Joshua."

"Well you're trying to destroy Nsync now," spat JC as he walked over and grabbed the tabloid from Justin and held it up. "What do you call this?"

"I call it dancing," replied Skyler. "I don't care what you call it. You lost the right to be upset over anything I do a long time ago."

"I see from the pictures inside that Jeff was there to help you," said JC, ignoring Skyler's words. "I guess he doesn't care too much about his career. You certainly don't seem to care about yours."

"Fuck you, Joshua," Skyler hissed, slamming the door. "You are a real piece of work. I can't believe your nerve! First you do everything in your power to make my life miserable when we were together, then you blame me for something that your own staff was responsible for and got your mother to pester me all over the fucking world! Now you're going to stand here and belittle Jeff? I don't think so, JC. Jeff is fifty times the man you ever pretended to be."

"I don't have to listen to this," spat JC, glaring at Skyler.

"No you don't," agreed Justin. "You don't have to listen to any more because I want you to leave."

"Justin . . . "

"Get out, JC," spat Justin.

JC glared at Skyler again before he walked past him and out the front door. They listened to his tires squeal as he drove down the street. Skyler sighed and shook his head as he took the tabloid from Justin and actually looked through it. Maybe Laura was right. Maybe he really was hurting himself with this tabloid war.

They talked about how the others were taking the tabloid and Justin told him that so far only Lance and JC had seen it. Lance had laughed at it and told Justin he had balls. Skyler had seen JC's reaction. He was still angry over it. Justin told him not to worry. JC would soon be even more angry when he learned that they would be recording the album separately. They laughed about that one.

When he got home Jase was waiting for him. He'd finished his script and gotten budget approval from Sky High. Now what he wanted was to talk to Skyler about Cassie. Skyler wasn't sure why he was asking him instead of Cassie but he went into his office with his uncle to talk business for a bit.

"I want her to take the lead in this picture, Skyler," said Jase when they sat down.

"You'll have to talk to her about that," said Skyler. "I'm not her manager or agent. I'm not sure, but I think Laura will probably want to talk with you too."

"There's more," he said, smiling. "I want you to sing songs for the soundtrack."

"That can be arranged," replied Skyler. "Just give me a copy of the script and I'll start writing. How soon are you wanting to start shooting?"

"By the end of March," he replied, and Skyler winced. He and Cassie had just gotten over their fight and he'd be leaving her again so soon.

Things moved quickly after that. Laura did want to sit in on Jase and Cassie's discussion. In the end he got what he wanted. Cassie signed a contract with Sky High to do the movie while Skyler signed his own contract for the music. Then Jase asked Tabitha to take a role and when that was signed and sealed, Skyler learned that his entire family would be staying in the States when he left for Australia in March.

He read the script and wrote three songs for the movie. When he talked with the band and got the music written they were very happy with the result. He sent them into the studio to begin playing the songs. He was with them a few days later to start recording sessions. They had him singing the background vocals first. He listened to the music in his headset and had to be careful to find the right spots.

"Now I believe there comes a time when everything just falls in line. We live an' learn from our mistakes. The deepest cuts are healed by faith," he sang in all the right places before taking off his headphones and taking a break.

"Sounded good," said Jeff as he hugged him when he came into the booth.

"Thanks," replied Skyler. "I'm not used to recording this way."

"When do you do the rest?" he asked.

"As soon as they're ready for me," replied Skyler.

Twenty minutes later he was back in the booth with his headphones on. He leaned into the mic and began to sing again.

"Livin' with my eyes closed. Goin' day to day. I never knew the difference. I never cared either way. Lookin' for a reason. Searchin' for a sign, and reachin' out with both hands. Gotta feel the kick inside," he sang.

"All fired up," he sang as he heard what he'd recorded earlier in his headphones. "All fired up! All fired up! All fired up, fired up, fired up! Hey!

"Ain't nobody livin' in a perfect world. Everybody's out there, cryin' to be heard. And I got a new fire burnin' in my eyes, lightin' up the darkness, movin' like a meteorite!" he sang and then the harmony played in his headphones again. "All fired up! All fired up! All fired up, fired up, fired up! Now I believe there comes a time when everything just falls in line. We live an' learn from our mistakes. The deepest cuts are healed by fate!

"All fired up! All fired up! All fired up! All fired up, fired up, fired up! Now I believe there comes a time when everything just falls in line. We live an' learn from our mistakes. The deepest cuts are healed by fate," he said and the music stopped.

"Perfect, Skyler," said Jase as he beamed a smile at him.

"I can't wait to hear the playback," said Skyler as he came through the door and sat on the sofa next to his lover. Then the song was playing and Skyler loved the electric guitars and the heavy drums. It truly sounded different than anything he'd ever done. It was harder and more hard rock than any of his other music.

When they got back to the house, Laura was waiting. She seemed more excited than he'd ever seen her. She was practically jumping up and down. Skyler couldn't help feeling a little of her excitement although he had no idea what had caused it. As far as he knew nothing had gone platinum or diamond since he'd left the house that morning.

"Skyler, they want you to sing at the opening cerimony in September!" she cried. "They want you to write a song just for the Sydney Good Will Games."

Tease is a song by Julien Gregg. All Fired Up is a song by Pat Benetar.

The next chapter will be posted soon.