© 2005-2010 Julien Gregg
All Rights Reserved

Chapter 72

"Happy Birthday, Sky," said Jase as they sat at a table at The Tobias Clemmons Center. Skyler's Greatest Hits album had been released and his new ballad "I Do" had been playing on the radio all day long. He was planning to sing the song later in the evening.

"Thank you," replied Skyler with a smile. "This is just another work night for me though."

"I see that," said Jase as he looked around. "When's the real celebration?"

"Probably isn't going to be one this time," informed Skyler. "Everyone is so busy right now. There's so much going on at Sky High that I have to be a part of that I don't know when I'll be home for any amount of time that would allow a party. Then there's your movie. You, Cassie and Mom are all busy with rehearsals and stuff like that. I'll be leaving next month for Sydney."

"I'm sorry that you'll be making that trip on your own, Skyler," said Jase. "I didn't intend to keep your family here by asking Cassie and Tabitha to take roles in the movie."

"Oh I know that," assured Skyler. "You didn't even know when we were going to start filming. I'm not upset about it, believe me. Cassie needs to start her career, and Jason has already told me that he's going on tour with Chad when he's ready. Mom and Dad both have their own little pieces of the business to take care of."

"Your father is talking about starting a construction company," said Jase, wondering if he was supposed to say anything at all about it.

"I know about that," said Skyler. "He talked to me about it last night while we were having dinner."

"What do you think?"

"I think it's a great idea," replied Skyler. "He has the contacts now that everyone has seen his work on my tours. He'll he going with Chad and Jason when they leave so that will be one more example of what his company will offer. I think that he's got a good head for business and he'll do a great job."

"That puts all of the Thomas family to work under your banner," Jase said with a smile.

"Sort of," agreed Skyler. "I don't know that Dad's company would be connected to Sky High at all. I know that Jason is paid by Sky High for his dancing, but he isn't contracted to Sky High for that. So far he's only danced with family."

"Skyler," said Debbie as she came over to their table. "They're ready for you."

"Thanks, Debbie," he said, smiling at her. "See you later, Uncle Jase."

"Break a leg, kid," laughed Jase as Skyler followed Debbie back to the doors that would take him backstage.

Jase was joined by his brother and sister in law while he waited for Skyler to get on stage. They talked about Mike and Preston for a few minutes and then the MTV Correspondent was talking to her camera and they turned to watch.

"We're here live at The Tobias Clemmons Center in Orlando at the premiere party for Skyler Thomas's 'Greatest Hits Volume One' album," said the woman. "The album was released this morning along with the single 'I Do' that's playing at the top of every hour. Skyler's here to sing the song for us."

The curtain rose and the dancing crowd began to scream and applaud. Jase was shocked at how forceful they all were. He'd seen videos of Skyler's concerts but he'd never experienced one before. He thought he might just have to tag along when the kid went on tour again and see what it was all really about. He pushed those thoughts aside as Skyler stepped forward on the stage and the music began.

"I've seen the storm clouds in your past, but rest assured 'cause you're safe at home at last. I rescued you, you rescued me, and we're right where we should be when we're together," sang Skyler, and Jase came to a small amount of understanding about why they crowd loved him so much.

"I know the questions in your mind, but go ahead and ask me one more time. You'll find the answer's still the same. It won't change from day to day for worse or better.

"Will I promise to be your best friend, and am I here until the end? Can I be sure I have been waiting for you, and did I say my love is true? Baby I will, I am, I can, I have, I do," he sang and the music played on as he smiled at the crowd.

Jase had heard the song many times that day and even before the music stations began playing it every hour, but to hear it live was having an effect on him. He could feel the emotion that his nephew was poring into the song as he stood at the front of the stage and delivered it to the audience. The song brought back memories of his wife, and he loved Skyler for being able to make him remember happier times instead of the sadness that he usually experienced when thoughts of his wife came into his mind.

"I know the time will disappear, but this love we're building on will always be here. No way that this is sinking sand. On this solid rock we'll stand forever. Will I promise to be your best friend, and am I here until the end? Can I be sure I have been waiting for you, and did I say my love is true? Baby I will, I am, I can, I have, I do," he sang and the music played on for a bit.

"Oh baby I will, I am, I can, I have. Oh I will, I am, I can, I have. Baby I will, I am, I can, I have, I do," sang Skyler and the music stopped as the lights on the stage went dark.

The crowd was screaming as the lights came back up and Skyler was sitting at the piano. He began to play as the band stayed silent. The crowd began to cheer again, and Jase was treated to another powerful performance as his nephew began to sing again in a melancholy voice.

"A rose in a box, wrapped up in dreams. A card that explains how much your love means. A table for two with soft candlelight. The words 'I love you' somewhere in the night.

"I meant to do that. Does that mean a thing? If you wanted songs then I meant to sing. I'd give you the world if you'd give mine back. What I didn't do I meant to do that," he sang and then played on for a bit.

"Late in the night, nothing to say. Maybe a call to talk anyway. A letter or two with some words that rhyme to promise you love for now and all time. I meant to do that. Does that mean a thing? If you wanted songs then I meant to sing. I'd give you the world if you'd give mine back. What I didn't do I meant to do that," he sang and then picked up the tempo a bit.

"Hold onto the love you gave until the end of time, and love you more every day, until you know that I meant to do that. Does that mean a thing? If you wanted songs then I meant to sing. I'd give you the world if you'd give mine back. What I didn't do I meant to do that. Oh what I didn't do I meant to do that," he sang and played the end of the song as the lights went down again and the crowd screamed at him.

When the lights came back up, Skyler was seated on a stool in front of the piano with a guitar and the crowd screamed again. The band didn't play, but Skyler began to play and sing in an even more haunted voice than before.

"Well there ain't no point in movin' on 'til you got somewhere to go. And the road that I have walked upon, well it filled my pockets and emptied out my soul," he sang as he played.

"All those insecurities that have held me down for so long. I can't say I've found the cure for these but at least I know them so they're not so strong. You look for your dreams in heaven, but what the hell are you supposed to do when they come true?" he sang and played for a bit.

"Well there's one year of my life in this song and some of it is about you. Now I know there's no way I can right those wrongs. Believe me, I would not lie you've hurt my pride and I guess there's a road without you. But you once said there's a way back for every man so here I am. Don't people change? Here I am. Is it too late to try again? Here I am," he sang and stopped playing as the lights went down and the crowd screamed again.

Jase was lost in thought all the way back to the estate. Skyler's singing had gotten to him and he'd been nearly in tears as Skyler belted out the last ballad. The kid had so much talent that it scared Jase at times. Tonight it had been almost like he was singing directly to him and the memories the songs invoked were powerful and both heartbreaking and the salve that soothed the ache inside of him. He'd seen many concerts and listened to many people sing, but he'd never experienced anything quite like sitting in the audience and really being there when Skyler sang his heart out to the fans.

The family and Jeff sat around the living room at Skyler's house for a while after they got home and everyone had something to say. Chad kept telling Skyler how blown away he'd been by the final song, and Cassie informed everyone that she couldn't choose between the first two and confidently say which was her favorite. Jason just kept talking about the sound of his brother's voice as he sang. Jase loved watching this private time with his family. It showed him how close they were to each other and how proud they were of each other for their various talents.

"What were you thinking about when you wrote those songs?" Jeff asked Skyler and had everyone's attention.

"Well the first one was all about you," replied Skyler, squeezing Jeff's hand. "The second one was actually written a long time ago right after I met Lissa Mealif. I started to think about what I wouldn't get to do if I were in her shoes at the time and the song was written."

"What about the third?" Cassie asked. "That one just sounded so haunted."

"Yeah," he laughed. "That's what I wanted it to sound like. That song isn't about anyone or anything. I was in a mood that day and I wrote it."

"Well it was certainly powerful," said Tabitha. "Did you hear them screaming after you got off the stage?"

"I heard them," he laughed. "I think the songs were a success."

"Oh I'd say they were," said his father. "Sounded like hits to me."

"I'm not releasing all of them as singles, Dad," replied Skyler.

"Well you know what I mean," laughed his father.

"So what's on your agenda next?" Tabitha asked. "I know what everyone's schedule is most of the time. Right now I'm in the dark about yours. It's so strange to know that you're leaving soon and we're not going with you."

"We have a little time, Mom," he said, smiling. "Next is the benefit. I just found out that JC will be singing tomorrow night as well. This could be very interesting."

"As long as that woman doesn't start calling again," said Tabitha in a cold tone, making Skyler smile. Jase was completely confused about that one.

"It'll be a piece of cake," said Skyler. "I'll sit in my dressing room with Jeff until it's time for me to sing. Then we'll clean up my stuff and get out of there."

"You know he's likely to come to your dressing room," said Chad.

"No," said Skyler with a smile. "I've already made it clear that I want no visitors that aren't on the list. So far there are two on the list."

"Who?" Ben asked, wondering exactly who the rest of the entertainers were for the benefit.

"Ricky Martin and Jordan Knight," replied Skyler. "Curly won't be there, and as far as I know Lance won't either. I know where Backstreet is right now, so I know they won't be there."

"Just make sure that JC doesn't start anything," said Tabitha. "You've been in the tabloids enough lately."

"Yes, ma'am," said Skyler, making everyone laugh. Tabitha came over and kissed him on the top of his head.

"You were wonderful tonight, Skyler," she said as she smiled down at him. "I love to hear you sing ballads."

"Thank you, Mom," he said, wrapping his arms around her waste. "I love you."

"I love you too," she said. "We've got to get some sleep. We'll see you in the morning."

"Night guys," Skyler said as Ben and Jason stood to follow Tabitha out of the room.

Skyler got up and started picking up glasses from around the room. He smiled at Jeff and ruffled Preston's hair as he passed them. Jase got up to help, but Skyler waived him off. He took the glasses to the kitchen and then went back for his son. The toddler was already sleeping in Jeff's arms.

"Let's put him to bed," said Skyler as he smiled at Jeff.

"Can we tuck ourselves in after?" Jeff asked. "I'm beat."

"Deal," replied Skyler. "Night Jase."

"Night guys," Jase replied. "I'll just sit down here for a bit longer."

"No problem," said Skyler as he and Jeff left the room.

The next day Skyler and Jeff were back at the center in Skyler's dressing room. The auditorium was being redecorated as quickly as possible. VH1 was there with cameras all around for the "Night Of Stars". It was a benefit for Save The Music. Skyler had decided to stay in his dressing room until it was time to perform and then he and Jeff would get out of there. Hopefully he wouldn't have to even see JC while he was there.

He'd already seen and talked to Ricky, and Jordan was supposed to be the first to perform. Skyler sat in his chair, watching Jeff play with the flowers through the mirror. There eyes met and both men smiled. Skyler loved him so much. He couldn't help thinking about the time they'd be apart. The departure date was getting closer for both of them. Skyler would be flying off to Australia and Jeff would be going on tour. They'd be reduced to telephone calls and quick visits. This was the part of being a celebrity that Skyler hated.

"Easy Blondie," said Jeff as he looked at Skyler's reflection. "We'll be all right."

"You always seem to know what I'm thinking," replied Skyler with a smile as he turned to face his lover.

"That's just because I love you," said Jeff as he walked over and wrapped his arms around Skyler. "And I'm feeling the same way. We have to remember that it's a little more than a month away yet. We have time together."

"Yeah," said Skyler, squeezing him tight. "And I'm going to make the most of it."

"I'm counting on that," laughed Jeff as someone knocked on the door.

"They're ready for you, Mr. Thomas," said an assistant he didn't recognize. Thankfully they'd parted when they heard him at the door.

"Thank you," he said, standing up and straightening his shirt. "I'll be right there."

"Knock 'em dead, Sky," said Jeff with a huge grin on his face.

"Later Blue Eyes," replied Skyler as he slipped out the door.

He stepped up to the microphone and waited while the other entertainer talked to the crowd about music and how important it was that musical programs be saved in schools. When the crowd began to cheer and the curtain parted, Skyler began to sing as the band began to play.

"They painted up your secrets with the lies they told to you, and the least they ever gave you was the most you ever knew. And I wonder where these dreams go when the world gets in your way. What's the point in all this screaming? No one's listening anyway," he sang and let the band play for a bit as the crowd watched him with rapt attention.

"Your voice is small and fading, and you hide here unknown. And your mother loves your father 'cause she's got nowhere to go. And she wonders where these dreams go 'cause the world got in her way. What's the point in ever trying? Nothing's changing anyway," he sang and let the band play on again.

"They press their lips against you, and you love the lies they say. And I tried so hard to reach you, but your falling anyway. And you know I see right through you when the world gets in your way. What's the point in all this screaming? You're not listening anyway," he sang and listed to the music.

"And you wonder where your dreams go 'cause the whole world's in your way. What's the point in even trying? You won't change anyway. And I wonder where my dreams go when the world gets in my way. What's the point in all this screaming? No one's listening anyway. You're not listening anyway," he sang and let the band play to the end of the song.

I Do and I Meant To Do That are songs by Paul Brandt. Here I Am is a song by George Michael. Jaded is a song called Acoustic #3 by Goo Goo Dolls.

The next chapter will be posted soon.