© 2005-2010 Julien Gregg
All Rights Reserved

Chapter 75

"Completely furnished to your specifications, Mr. Thomas," said Antonio Sanchez, his Australian assistant. The chestnut brown haired, caramel eyed twenty-five year old was hired as soon as the final date for shooting to begin had been announced. He had two years of experience with a local celebrity. Skyler thought they'd get along fine.

"Antonio," he said sleepily. "Please just call me Skyler."

Skyler was sure that apartment had been furnished to his specifications. In fact he knew it had been. He'd taken a video tour of the place after people from the soon to be Sky High Australia had finished putting the furniture in place. He knew where everything was already and all he wanted was to go to sleep. Preston was sleeping on his shoulder. They were dog tired from the flight.

"The kitchen is stocked with food and I'll take care of your bags," said Antonio as he reached for the bag that was slung over Skyler's shoulder.

"The bags can wait," replied Skyler. "We really just want to get some sleep. Can you come back around two?"

"Sure," replied Antonio, smiling. "There's a party for the cast tonight on the set."

"We can talk about that after I've gotten some sleep," said Skyler. "Could you call Helen and tell her that I'll meet her at three?"

"Absolutely," said Antonio. "Get some rest."

That's exactly what he did after making sure that Preston was dry. The poor boy was sleeping on his shoulder and he carefully put him in the bed, forgoing the baby bed in the corner. He was too tired to mess with it. He climbed into the bed fully clothed and was asleep almost as soon as his head touched the pillow.

Antonio returned promptly at two with word from Helen that she would be at the apartment at three. Skyler and Christian were sitting in the kitchen when he arrived. Skyler was helping Preston with his cookies as he tried to eat the salad in front of him.

"I've booked a limo to take you and Christian to the set at six-thirty," said Antonio as he sat beside Christian at the table. "The car will be at your disposal throughout your stay here in Melbourne."

"Thank you, Antonio," replied Skyler. "Do you have the film schedule?"

"That hasn't been issued yet," Antonio informed. "Renny announced yesterday that filming will begin tomorrow morning and the schedules will be handed out during filming. You have six scenes tomorrow and Christian has three."

"Did you tell them that I'll be there at four?" he asked. Skyler had decided to get the make-up and hair taken care of as early as he could. The hair would be with him throughout filming and this time he'd decided that it should be an almost permanent bonding of hair. He didn't want to sit for three hours every time he had to film to have the hair adjusted.

"They'll be expecting you," replied Antonio.

Helen arrived at three with toys and activities for Preston. She agreed to sit with him while Skyler and Christian went to the cast party. She also promised to take steps to keep Preston's face out of the press. Dom and Phil assured Skyler that they'd help as well. Skyler and Christian left for the part in high spirits, eager to reconnect with their fellow cast members.

Devon Sawa and Toby McGuire found them as soon as they got to the set. Skyler hugged both of his friends and let them lead him into the main building where there was food and every kind of nonalcoholic drink he could think of. As soon as he walked through the door he was engulfed in a hug from Catherine Zeta Jones.

"Look at you," she said, beaming at him as she let go. "You look amazing."

"Thank you," he replied. "It was touch and go now and then but I'm feeling better than ever."

"I'm glad to hear it," she said. "We were all scared to death when it happened."

"Thank you so much for the cards and gifts," he said, smiling at her.

"Oh don't thank me," she said. "I was just upset because I only got to be there for such a short time. Your step-mother called to let us know right before you left the hospital. She's such a great woman."

"She definitely is," agreed Skyler. "You'll be seeing her on the screen soon. She's filming with Cassie in Orlando. Jase is directing."

"That's great," she said, smiling. "So Jase is with Sky High now?"

"Formally," he replied. "Contracts were signed a month ago. It's official."

"Great," she said. "Now all I have to do is get him to sign me so I can work with him. I hear such great things about him."

"I have yet to work with him myself," said Skyler. "He said he'd find the right project for me though. I have faith."

"Well we should probably mingle," laughed Catherine. "I'm sure Billy and Neve are wanting to see you."

They walked over to the refreshment table, laughing about different things as they talked. Skyler was in the middle of telling her about Preston's first steps when he was grabbed, spun around and pulled into a hug so tight it nearly cut off his oxygen supply.

"God it's so good to see you up and around!" cried Billy Zane as he squeezed him. "I saw you in England when you were on tour and you didn't look your best."

"It's good to see you, Billy," he said once the man let him go. "Yeah, the tour was a bit silly, but I'm doing fine now."

"Good to hear," said Billy. "Say, how's the baby?"

"Not such a baby anymore," laughed Skyler. "He's walking around and feeding himself. Every day he says someone else's name. I swear he's growing faster than any child I've ever heard of."

"They do seem to grow faster than weeds don't they?" Billy asked, smiling.

"Sure do," he said. "Why don't you come by the apartment after filming tomorrow? You can see him and we'll catch up."

"That sounds like a plan," Billy said, smiling at him. "I'll get your info from the office before I leave. Have fun, Sky. It really is good to see you again."

"Same here," replied Skyler as Billy turned and walked away.

After that it was the same with everyone he saw. Neve hugged him and kissed his cheek. She told him that she'd been running around the world lately and apologized for not getting in touch. He assured her that he'd been pretty busy himself. They talked for a few minutes and then Skyler was introduced to Drew Berrymore.

"Aren't you just sex on two legs?" she laughed when they were introduced.

"That would actually be you," he replied, smiling. "I was happy to hear that you were joining the cast."

"It was sort of last minute," she explained. "I was between projects when Renny called and asked me to take the part. I got the script later that day. This movie is going to be amazing."

"It sure is," he agreed. "Have you met everyone?"

"I met almost everyone when I arrived last night," she said. "I was actually just waiting to meet you."

"Well thank you," he said, smiling again. "Listen I have to get back to my friends. Why don't you and I grab a bite tomorrow night?"

"Sounds like a great idea to me," she said, smiling wider. She handed him a card. "Call me."

Then he got hugs from Renny and Shannon as they came to talk to him. Renny informed him that he had six scenes to shoot the following day. Skyler promised to be on the set in full make-up and hair in plenty of time. He told them that he would be in make-up at four in the morning. Renny shook his head and smiled.

"We've got fewer scenes together in these two pictures," Shannon said as Renny moved away to talk with Catherine.

"I noticed that," he said carefully. He didn't want to upset her. The thought of her tirades made him careful. He wasn't about to stand and listen to her have a fit.

"Well I'm happy to see that you're better now than the last time I saw you," she said. "What were you thinking running around the world like that? The show was amazing when I saw it, but you looked like you were ready to fall over when I got back stage. I didn't even come to say hello."

"I'm sorry you didn't," he replied. "The tour is over now and I'm in full health. Shooting won't be a problem. Next time I'm on tour call me and I'll set you up with a full deal."

"Thanks, Sky," she said, surprising him when she kissed his cheek. "Take care of yourself. I don't want you hurt again."

"I promise," he said, smiling.

"You look as surprised as I was when she kissed me," said Toby as he came to stand next to him.

"Wonders never cease," replied Skyler.

"Tell me about it," laughed Toby. "So are you ready for our early morning make-up date?"

"You too?" Skyler asked, turning to look at his friend.

"Devon will be there with us," Toby informed. "If he can wake up."

"He's not a morning person at all," Skyler laughed.

"This should be fun," Toby laughed.

"So which hotel are you guys in?" Skyler asked as they made their way over to Devon and Leonardo.

"We're not in a hotel," replied Toby. "We're in that apartment building three blocks from the set."

"You mean on Essex?" Skyler asked, stopping.

"Yeah," Toby said with a smile. "We're on the third floor."

"Wow," laughed Skyler. "We're on the third floor as well. Three thirteen."

"This is too much," said Toby. "We're three sixteen, Neve and Drew are in three twenty and Shannon is in four ten."

"Well I guess I don't have to look far for my friends," Skyler said, laughing.

"What's so funny, boys?" asked Leonardo when they got to the table.

"Skyler just told me he's down the hall from us," Toby explained.

"Cool," said Devon, smiling at Skyler. "So when Leo sets the kitchen on fire can I come to your place and eat?"

"You got it," laughed Skyler.

"So who's in with you?" Leonardo asked, kicking Devon under the table.

"Christian," replied Skyler as he looked around for his roommate.

"He's new this time right?" Leonardo said.

"No, he was with us last time," replied Skyler. "Didn't have many scenes and didn't stick around before or after they were filmed. He had another project going at the same time."

"I get it," laughed Leonardo. "Multi-tasking."

"That's it, yeah," laughed Skyler. "He'll be here the whole time this time."

"Well maybe we'll get him to join the gang this time," said Leonardo.

"Sure we will," said Skyler as Christian walked over.

"I've been looking for you," he said, nodding to the others.

"Sorry," replied Skyler. "We all sort of hang together when we work together. Join us."

"Gladly," said Christian, sitting down as Skyler slid over a seat. "Nice to meet everyone."

"Nice to meet you," said Leonardo. Skyler noticed the look in Leonardo's eyes and so did Devon. Leo's sudden lurch indicated that Devon had kicked him. Skyler smiled.

"I'm sure we'll both have our phones glued to our ear tonight," he said, looking from Leonardo to Devon and back. "Both of our partners are elsewhere."

"Oh, you're coupled," Leo said, clearly talking to Christian who gave him a strange look.

"Of all the things I've heard about you, Leo, lechery wasn't one of them," he said.

"Just being friendly," Leo said, smiling widely.

"Sure you were," grumbled Devon.

"Sky, I'm still tired," Christian said suddenly. His eyes never left Leonardo as he spoke. "I think I'm going to head back. I'll see you."

"Wait," Skyler said, getting out of his chair. "I'll go with you. I miss Preston."

"Preston's here?" Devon asked with wide eyes.

"Yeah," replied Skyler. "He's at the apartment with Helen."

"I've got to come see him," said Devon, a huge grin spread across his face.

"Well we're headed there now," said Skyler. "I don't want to drag you away from the party . . ."

"No, that's fine," he said, looking at him hard before turning to Leo and Toby. "I'll catch you guys back at the apartment."

* * *

"This is nice," said Cassie as Kaleb held her chair for her. The pair were at Genevieve for their date. The restaurant was the same as the one in LA that the Thomases had dined at when Jase had come to meet eith them the first time. With the opening of the Orlando resaurant it was clear that it was successful. It took some doing to get reservations but Kaleb wanted to lift Cassie's spirits. She missed her brothers and father now that they were gone. She'd told him that the last time she was away from all of them like this was when she and Skyler were fighting. She didn't like to think about that time.

"You said you'd been here before?" Kaleb asked as he walked to the other side of the table and sat in his seat.

"No not this one," she replied with a smile. "This restaurant has the same name as the restaurant that we came to for our first meeting with Uncle Jase and Mike in LA."

"Right," said Kaleb. "Skyler said something about it at the time. He told all of us that it was an amazing place. I forgot about that until now."

"Have you talked to Skyler since they left?" she asked for the thirteenth time since he'd arrived the day before.

"Cassie, he's been gone two days," he said gently. "He'll call. They're probably really busy."

"I know," she sighed. "It's just that Jason has called already, and I've talked to Chad and Dad."

"Well they only left yesterday, Cassie," he said. "The first show isn't until tomorrow night. Skyler is probably filming. You heard Christian telling him that they would begin filming almost as soon as they got there."

"You're right," she said with a smile. "I just miss Skyler and Preston like crazy. It isn't easy not having Preston climbing all over me every day. I got used to that."

"I know," Kaleb said with a fond smile of his own. "He's a great little boy. We all played with him every chance we got while we were on tour."

"Speaking of the tour," she said. "Have you talked to David?"

"He's doing all right," replied Kaleb. "I talked to him this morning while you and your mom were with Jase."

"How's his leg?"

"He's still on crutches but the cast is off," informed Kaleb. "He says he'll be ready when Skyler's ready to tour again."

"Somehow I don't think Sky will want to tour again anytime soon," she said, remembering the frequent doctor visits after the tour and Skyler's vision problems. It had been a scary time.

"He's got these movies to get through right now," agreed Kaleb. "Didn't Jase say he'd found a project that he thought was perfect for Skyler?"

"Yeah, but they're trying to get him to do a different project first," she said. "I swear Sky High moves too fast for their own good. We've only just started shooting the movie we're working on right now and they've got his next lined up just after finding out that he was interested in yet another."

"You looked great in that business suit," Kaleb said with a smile.

"Yeah," she laughed. "We shot one of the final scenes of the movie today. It's really strange to shoot the end of a movie before you shoot the beginning."

"Why are they doing it that way?" he asked.

"I don't know," she laughed. "This is my first movie."

"Right," he replied as the waiter arrived.

"Do you need to look at the menu?" she asked as she handed hers over. She knew what she wanted as soon as he'd told here where they were going to eat.

"No," he said. "I know what I want. I'll have the Veil Parmesan. Could I have blue cheese for the salad?"

"Of course," replied the waiter. He was a tall man with very broad shoulders. His dark hair was cut very short but long enough on the top to be swept back. He had the most remarkable eyes Kaleb had ever seen. They were green with little specs of brown mixed in.

"I'll have the Cedar Salmon with vegetables and garlic vinaigrette for the salad," she said, smiling at the waiter.

"Very good," he said as he wrote quickly on his tablet. "Can I get either of you more water?"

"I saw Mango Juice on the menu," Cassie said quickly. "Could I have a glass of that?"

"Absolutely," replied the waiter before turning to Kaleb. "For you, sir?"

"I'll have the same," he replied. "Thank you."

"I'll be just a moment with your drinks," the man said before smiling once again and turning to leave the table.

"I have a surprise for you when we leave here tonight," said Kaleb when the waiter was away from the table.

"Oh?" she asked, smiling. "You spoil me too much as it is, Kaleb."

"This surprise is necessary though," he replied. "I'm hoping that you'll love it."

"I love everything you do for me, Kaleb," she said, smiling at him. "Even the smallest thing is amazing because it comes from you. I love you, Kaleb."

"I love you, too," he replied, smiling wide.

They talked about their relationship and how important it was to both of them as they ate. Cassie wondered what Kaleb had up his sleeve as the date continued. When they left the restaurant she sat in the passenger seat of his car as he drove into the busy downtown section of Orlando. She got just a little nervous as he pulled his car into the service ally behind a strip of stores and parked. There were two security guards waiting for them, and she looked at him in surprise when one of them called him by name. The other was unlocking the service door to one of the stores as they came around the car.

"Everything is all set, Mr. Hassid," said the security guard as he shook Kaleb's hand. He was an older man with salt and pepper hair and more than just a little weight around his middle. He smiled at Cassie as Kaleb led her by the hand through the now open door of the store.

"Thanks, guys," Kaleb said as he smiled at Cassie.

"Kaleb, where are we?" she asked as they walked down a dimly lit hallway. The walls were cement just like the floor under her feet. She was nervous and a little excited. She trusted him completely and knew that whatever it was that was waiting for them would be wonderful.

"You'll see," he said, smiling at her as they came to another door. It opened as they got to it and a man in a tuxedo with very short blond hair smiled at them.

"Welcome to Rochade, Mr. Hassid, Miss Thomas," he said. "My name is Han and I'll be showing you to your booth."

"Thank you, Han," said Kaleb with a smile.

"If you'll follow me," said Han, turning to walk deeper into the dark store.

They followed Han through the store in silence. Cassie wondered what was going on. The only light came from little twinkling lights on the floor to mark their path. The rest of the store was in complete darkness. As they made their way through the lighted path she saw an open door with a light filled room behind it. When they got there she saw that it was a small room with two chairs and a table between them. On the table were three ring boxes. Her eyes grew large as they took their seats.

"Thank you, Han," Kaleb said, and Cassie loved him for the slight quiver in his voice. He was nervous! Oh how she loved him.

"Kaleb . . ."

"Wait," he said, taking her hand and pulling her out of her seat. She felt tears welling in her eyes as he knelt before her, still holding her hand.

"Cassandra Thomas," he said. "When we're apart I count the seconds until I can be with you again. You make me a better man for loving me. I want to wake up with you every day for the rest of our lives and build dreams and a family together. Cassie, will you marry me?"

Tears streamed from her eyes as she smiled down at the beautiful man on his knees before her. She'd hoped and prayed for this since the day she'd turned eighteen. The thought of waking up to his handsome face every day for the rest of her life made her stomach shiver. She loved him with her whole heart and to hear him say that he counted the seconds when they were apart made her love him even more.

"Yes," she said softly. "Yes, Kaleb. I'll marry you."

The next chapter will be posted soon.