© 2005-2010 Julien Gregg
All Rights Reserved

Chapter 77

"Damn it!" cried Jeff Timmons as he slammed the door to the board room behind him. He leaned against the wall and put his hands over his face, cursing behind them as Drew Lachey came out of the board room.

"Calm down, Jeff," said Drew, leaning against the wall beside his friend. "It's only three more weeks."

"That's three more weeks that I don't get to be with Skyler," Jeff hissed at him. "Do you have any idea . . ."

"Don't ask me that question, Jeff," warned Drew. "I know full well what it feels like to leave behind someone you love."

"You don't know what it's like to be able to see the person you love on television and never be able to do anything about it," Jeff snapped. "Don't you dare compare you and Alyson to me and Skyler."

"I'm going to let that go because you're upset," Drew said evenly. "Now you can just suck it up, buddy. Four more shows in three weeks added to the end of this tour won't kill you. It won't kill the infamous Skyler Thomas either. You walk around here acting like your relationship is so much more important than any of ours. Jeff, that's got to stop. I know you love Skyler. I get that you miss him and it's hell having him on another continent and unable to fly out to see you when we have down time. Don't get all hateful with me because Alyson can fly out any time she wants. That's not fair."

"Shit," sighed Jeff, looking at his friend. "I'm sorry, Drew. I'm being an ass. It's just that with what's going on with Chad and that ass getting arrested I'm sure Skyler's in a bad mood. I want to be there for him. You know?"

"I get it, Jeff," Drew said. "I feel for the guy right now. I really do. You can't just walk away from the tour to be there for him. We can't cancel gigs that have been set for months. Jeff, we can't do that."

"I know," moaned Jeff. "I just wish he'd call. He was supposed to call me last night but I never even got a message."

"You said yourself that he's probably in a bad mood," soothed Drew. "I'm sure he'll call tonight."

"I hope so," Jeff sighed as Nick Lachey came out of the board room with a huge grin on his face.

"Some spectacle, boys," he chuckled. "Management will be walking quietly around Jeff for a few days. Drew, you scared the hell out of them when you walked out."

"I just came to try and calm Jeff down," replied Drew, putting his hands up. "I'm not mad about anything. Sure it sucks that we'll be on the road longer but oh well."

"Well they think you're just as mad about the extra gigs as Jeff," laughed Nick.

"Whatever," sighed Drew as he shook his head. Nick and Jeff watched him walk away in silence.

"Come on, buddy boy," said Nick, grabbing Jeff by the arm. "Let's go have a talk."

"If you're just going to tear into me like Drew did . . ."

"None of that," said Nick, tugging at his arm. "Come on."

He led Jeff to the elevator without a word. They went to the first floor of the hotel and Nick was tugging him in the direction of the pool. At that time of the day Nick was sure it would be deserted. Jeff was upset and Nick understood what it was that he was upset about. He'd seen the news. He knew as much as Jeff did without talking to Skyler or Chad about what was going on. At least he thought he knew as much as Jeff.

"So it's bad?" Nick asked as they sat down in the lounge chairs. He looked around to make sure that they really were alone and found no one anywhere near the pool.

"That's just it," sighed Jeff. "I don't know. I haven't had a chance to talk to Sky and it's driving me nuts. Now they want to add shows and weeks to the end of the tour. That means just that much longer before I can go to him."

"How are his headaches?" Nick asked, thinking about the times he'd called Jeff while Skyler was on tour and how scared his friend had been about the headaches and their after effects.

"They've calmed down a lot," he replied. "I was really worried for a long time but his doctor told him that his head was going to hurt from time to time, probably for the rest of his life. After the tour there were some problems that really scared me to death. I only heard about them from Chad and Jason. Cassie wouldn't tell me anything. She just kept telling me to come home."

"You're talking about when he had trouble speaking without a slur and the blurry vision?" Nick asked, remembering the fits Jeff had thrown when management wouldn't let him take off for Orlando at the time.

"Yeah," he replied. "That was scary stuff."

"Why did he tour so soon after his accident?" Nick asked. "We all thought it was crazy but from what I heard he threw fits everywhere until he got to go."

"He did," sighed Jeff. "I didn't even try to talk him out of it. I was scared out of my mind most of the time but I didn't want to be another voice in the choir you know? I wanted to be there for him and support him when most others wouldn't."

"I can understand that," said Nick, nodding. "You were there with him for a good chunk of the tour. I'd have been a wreck."

"I was a wreck," admitted Jeff. "I was constantly terrified that he'd collapse on stage. When I had to leave to join you guys I was so scared that I'd get a call telling me that Sky was in the hospital or something. It was awful."

"It's hard being a celebrity and dating another celebrity," Nick said, putting a hand on Jeff's shoulder. "I wish I could say that it gets better but I don't see it that way so far."

"Yeah well at least Jessica isn't hurt," sighed Jeff. "Do you ever think about just giving it all up so you can be with her all the time?"

"Of course I do," replied Nick quickly. "I think about it a lot. She's so successful and beautiful. I love her so much it scares me sometimes. I think about what it would be like to just be with her all the time. I wonder what life would really be like if we'd never become famous. Would we be happy?"

"I don't know," admitted Jeff. "What I do know is that I think about just walking away from all of this to be with Skyler all the time. I think about it at least twice a day if not more."

"Well I told you that the thought crosses my mind as well," said Nick. "Let me tell you this though. We'd both be traipsing all over the world behind Skyler or Jessica because, believe me neither of them is going to stop any time soon. They're both far to successful to stop now. So if we're going to be traipsing all over the world why not do it for ourselves and make money?"

"You're right," sighed Jeff. "I feel like I'm being a scared little boy all the time. It sucks and I hate it."

"I know exactly how you feel," said Nick. squeezing Jeff's shoulder. "Now with this shit going on with Chad's tour Sky's probably really upset."

"I know," Jeff said quickly. "He didn't call last night and I haven't been able to get in touch with anyone over there all day long."

"Well they're probably doing damage control," Nick surmised. "I'm sure Skyler will call."

"Yeah," sighed Jeff.

"What about your kids?" Nick asked. "Have you talked to Trisha?"

"I call Alyssa every single night before she goes to bed," Jeff said. "I have to tell Trisha to sing to her every night or she won't do it. Alyssa won't go to sleep unless someone sings to her."

"Well that's good," Nick said, encouragingly. "At least you've heard from your kids."

"But Nick I think of Preston as one of my kids too," he said. "Skyler said that he'd make sure that we could video conference at least twice a week so I could see PJ. We haven't done that at all and it's been two weeks already."

They were silent for a while after that. Nick didn't know what to say to his friend. Something had to be happening over there in Australia for Skyler to have broken his word. He didn't see Skyler as the type to just say whatever he thought would make his lover happy and then forget about it once they were apart. He'd talked to Skyler about his relationship with Jeff a number of times. He didn't really understand it but he didn't have anything against it either.

Skyler had told him every time they'd talked about it that he was completely and totally in love with Jeff and his happiness was very important to him. Nick had believed him and still believed him. With what was going on now with Chad's tour Nick was sure Skyler was plenty upset and plenty busy. He just hoped that Skyler would call Jeff soon. The poor guy was miserable and Nick hated seeing his friend that way.

Jeff headed back upstairs to his room with his head down. He was really upset about the extra time added to the tour but he was more upset because he didn't know what was going on with Skyler and Preston. He knew that if Skyler didn't call soon he was going to do something that would seriously hurt him with management. He just couldn't take not knowing what was happening and he wanted to see his lover and their son.

* * *

"Have you heard anything out of Sky?" Chad asked as the bus moved on from Biloxi and out of Mississippi all together. Chad was happy to leave the state behind. He only hoped that the entire mess could be left in Mississippi as well. He wasn't stupid though. He knew that it would follow him all the way to Europe and back.

"He called this morning," said Ben. "He asked how you and Jason are holding up and about the tour itself. He said to tell you that these special shows are a bitch but they're worth it for the fans."

"I know that," Chad said with a smile. "How are things going in Australia?"

"The tabloids are talking about him and Christian living together," sighed Ben. "They don't seem to have anything better to say I guess."

"Skyler and Christian are friends," said Chad dismissively. "The tabloids couldn't be further off if they tried."

"Well you know that truth is rarely ever associated with a tabloid," said Ben. "After all last month they said you were getting married."

"I got a kick out of that one," laughed Chad, thinking about it. "I don't even know the girl they talked to."

"She was just a fan I'm sure," said Ben. "One who got a little out of her head."

"That's the scary part of it," Chad replied. "A little out of her head scares me."

"And it should," agreed Ben. "Never forget that there are people out there who would do anything to cash in on your fame or to have a piece of you forever."

"I have to admit I thought it would be Sky that had to worry about crazed fans," said Chad. "He's way more popular than I am."

"No he isn't," said Ben, looking hard at his son. "You and Skyler have different kinds of fame. Yours is gentle and a bit subtle at times. Skyler's is a raging river that threatens to destroy him at every turn. Believe me Chad you don't want that kind of fame."

"Maybe for just one night I would," Chad said softly. There was a strange look on his face and Ben wondered just what the boy was thinking. The look was gone as suddenly as Ben had noticed it and Chad was smiling. "Did Laura say if she was bringing Lilly back with her?"

"Actually she is," said Ben, smiling at his son. It was funny to see him like this over a girl. "She said they'll join us soon."

"We've got one more special show and then we're off to Japan," said Chad. "I hope she goes with us."

"Cory seems to be having fun," Ben said and noticed that the smiled melted off Chad's face.

"Yeah," said the young man. "He's having fun all right."

"You don't seem to like that he's having fun," Ben said slowly.

"I get so tired of him talking about Sky all the time Dad," he said. "Every day I hear it. He is forever telling me how cool Sky is."

"He's got a little hero complex going there," agreed Ben.

"Well it drives me crazy," Chad said in a cold voice that made Ben snap his attention back to his son's face.

"Are you sure it's just his hero worship of your brother that is making you so angry with Cory Stephens?" Ben asked. "You agreed to tour with him you know. He's going to be with this show until we return home in June."

"I know," sighed Chad. "And I'll get along with him. I promise. I just wish he'd shut up about Sky."

* * *

"Hey Blue Eyes," said Skyler's voice when Jeff answered the phone that night after the show.

"Sky," he said excitedly. "I've been worried sick!"

"I'm sorry, baby," replied Skyler. "Things just got a little hairy here."

"How's Chad doing?"

"He's fine as far as I know," said Skyler. "I talked to Dad last night and he said that they were avoiding the press and just going with the flow. Cory's with them now and they've got one more special show before they take off for Japan."

"So what's going on in Melbourne?" Jeff asked. He was so happy that Skyler called. He couldn't stop smiling. Nick was sitting in the recliner smiling at him.

"Oh you know," said Skyler. "Same old shit. The rags are at it over here."

"Stories about you?"

"Me and Christian," affirmed Skyler. "It seems they're just deliriously happy to speculate about the fact that Chris and I are sharing an apartment while we film."

"That sucks," said Jeff. "Nothing has reached the American rags yet though."

"Give it time," sighed Skyler. "How are you baby?"

"So damned happy to hear from you is how I am," laughed Jeff. "I drove everyone nuts today about you."

"Well we'll see each other when your tour is done," said Skyler.

"About that," sighed Jeff. "They've added about three weeks to the end of the tour."

"Special shows?" Skyler asked.

"Yeah," replied Jeff. "Pissed me off."

"Hang in there sexy," said Skyler. "Special shows suck black death but they're good for the fans."

"I know," agreed Jeff. "It's just that much more time until I can get to you."

"We'll get there," said Skyler. "Do you have your laptop connected?"

"PJ's awake?" he asked in reply.

"Well sure," laughed Skyler. "He wants to see his second daddy."

"Let me boot it up," said Jeff, reaching over to turn on the laptop. He sat forward in the chair and waited. He smiled as he heard Skyler telling Preston that Daddy Jeff was almost ready. "Signing on."

"All right," replied Skyler. "He's been looking all over the apartment for you the last few days."

"I miss him like crazy," said Jeff.

"How are our other two?"

"Trisha says Junior is doing great," replied Jeff. "Alyssa said to tell you that she misses you."

"I miss them too," said Skyler. "I can't wait for us all to be home again."

"Me too!" Jeff said as his net connection was established. "I'm online."

"Starting the cam," said Skyler and a few minutes later Jeff saw Preston's smiling face on his screen.

"Hi baby boy!" he said happily and laughed as Preston reached toward the screen of Skyler's laptop.

"He's giggling like crazy," said Skyler. "He misses you so bad."

"I miss him too," said Jeff. "More than you know."

"Devon's been after me to check out this boy group at a club here in town," said Skyler. "He says I won't believe it."

"Good huh?"

"They must be," said Skyler. "Even Leo says they are."

"You gonna go see?"

"If I ever get time," Skyler replied. "Shooting is a bitch for this movie. We've had one problem after another."

They talked back and forth about what was going on both on the set of Skyler's movie and on Jeff's tour. Jeff told him that he saw a really great interview with Cory on MTV. Skyler told him that he still hadn't talked to Cory but he wanted to find out how the now looking all grown up looking Cory was doing. He told Jeff how shy and embarrassed Cory had been the last time he'd actually seen him. They laughed as Skyler told him all about that first recording session at Barry Graham's house.

Jeff kept making funny faces at the camera and making Preston giggle. Skyler told him that was the most the child had laughed since they'd arrived in Australia. Jeff told him that he hoped that they could repeat this again soon and how much he had been disappointed that it hadn't happened sooner. Skyler apologized for not getting the cam set up sooner but told him that they'd been so busy that he hadn't honestly had time.

Jeff asked about his headaches and Skyler admitted that he'd had a killer headache the day before when the news about Rory Camperson being arrested and what it would mean for Chad. Jeff told him to get enough rest and to stop worrying so much but he knew that would never happen. By the time they got off the phone and computers Jeff was ready for bed.

"Feel better?" Nick asked with a grin.

"You know it," laughed Jeff. "Had to have my Blondie fix."

"You know you're sick, right?"

"Sure do," Jeff said, still laughing. "And I love every part of it."

The next chapter will be posted soon.