© 2005-2010 Julien Gregg
All Rights Reserved

Chapter 84

"Let me fall. Let me climb. There's a moment when fear and dreams collide," he sang into the microphone with his eyes closed.

"Someone I am is waiting for courage. The one I want. The one I will become will catch me so let me fall if I must fall. I won't heed your warnings. I won't hear them," he sang.

"Let me fall. If I fall though the phoenix may or may not rise," he sang and let the music play for a bit.

"I will dance so freely holding on to no one. You can hold me only if you too will fall away from all these useless fears and chains," he sang in a louder voice.

"Someone I am is waiting for my courage. The one I want. The one I will become will catch me so let me fall if I must fall. I won't heed your warnings. I won't hear," he sang.

"Let me fall. If I fall there's no reason to miss this one chance, this perfect moment. Just let me fall," he sang and let the music fade out.

"That's perfect, Skyler," said Clay through the headphones. "Come on in here and have a listen."

He put the headphones on the rack and joined them. Everyone was smiling when he sat down. They started replaying the track and he smiled with them. He loved the sound and though he didn't really think it fit the Olympics completely the message behind it did.

"It's a beautiful song," said Laura, beaming at him. "Your voice sounds so haunted."

"I love it," he said. "I think it'll be a hit."

"Oh it'll be a hit all right," laughed Clay. "When do you leave for Sydney?"

"I have the premiere on the seventh in LA," he said. "We'll leave from there."

"Feels like you just got back home," said Laura. There was a sadness in her eyes that Skyler didn't like. He was about to say something about it when she brightened. "Brody is doing well in the studio. He'll be going to Sydney with you, right?"

"Yes," he said. "We're going to work on his album. Madonna is going to meet us there. I might be ready to record a track with Brody when I get there."

"You'll be back on the seventeenth to start working on your album, right?" Clay asked as he looked at his PDA.

"That's the plan," replied Skyler. "Jase wants to talk about his movie too. There'll be another soundtrack for that. I've been writing."

"When are you not writing?" laughed Laura.

"Right," he said with a smile. "Do I have anything else today?"

"No, you're free for the rest of the day," said Clay. "In fact as far as I can see, you're free until you leave."

"Good," he sighed. "I want to spend just a little more time with Jeff and the kids."

"The house is amazing, Sky," said Laura. "I got a chance to see it yesterday. When do you move in?"

"We're buying things for the house this week," he said. "We should be completely set up over there when I get back from Sydney."

"Your parents will be staying in the other house?" Clay asked.

"That's right," he said. "Cassie and Kaleb will be there with them. I'm looking at houses to buy for them for their wedding gift."

"Have they set a date?" Laura asked.

"Not yet," he replied. "I'm just getting things ready."

"Smart thinking," she said. "I have to meet with Lilly in an hour so I'd better get going. Skyler, I loved the song."

"Thanks," he said, smiling at her.

When he got home he was pleased to find Lance Bass sitting in his living room talking to Tabitha about antiques. He hugged his friend and they caught up on each other's lives while Tabitha got lunch together. Skyler had missed Lance and was happy that he wanted to help shop for furniture.

"You have so many houses now it isn't funny," laughed Lance.

"Well, this time you get to go hog wild with antiques," he replied. "Have you been to the house?"

"Not yet," said Lance. "We can do that later if you want. When do you want to start shopping?"

"Tomorrow," he replied. "I want to just hang out around here today. Maybe we'll get Jeff to give you a ride in the Ferrari."

"That'd be cool," said Lance. "Don't let Justin see it or he'll try to take off in it."

"I think Jeff would actually kill him if he did," laughed Skyler. "He loves that car."

"That wouldn't stop Curly," replied Lance, laughing with him.

"So are Justin and Brian still hanging out together?" he asked.

"I haven't seen Brian since New Year's Day," replied Lance. "But then Justin isn't having much to do with us anymore. He spends almost all of his time with Britney."

"I thought they'd broken up," said Skyler.

"Well they did and then they got back together," said Lance, rolling his eyes. "They need to just let go of each other and get it over with. Everyone knows they aren't in love."

"Well, I haven't talked to Justin in a while," said Skyler. "We've talked on the phone but the last time was in July."

"That was while they were split up," informed Lance. "He was hanging out with Brian around that time or so I was told. Then he and Britney were back together and Brian was in Kentucky."

Skyler thought about that for a minute. Had Justin and Brian gotten together sexually? He wasn't sure but from the way Justin reacted when Skyler asked about Brian he suspected they had. He also suspected that it had gone bad. He was going to have to sit one of them down and talk it all out eventually.

Tabitha called them to the patio for lunch and they laughed with her and Jason while they discussed the antics of what was left of Nsync. Lance informed them that JC was actually working on his solo project and Justin had refused to do any videos.

"Lynn told Johnny that he won't tour for this album and that it is our last one," said Lance.

Skyler didn't know what to say about that. Justin had done exactly what he'd suggested on New Year's Eve. He suspected he'd be hearing from Justin about moving to Sky High soon if he'd already made his announcement. He also knew that it would cause a huge problem with JC as soon as he found out.

He hadn't heard anything out of JC in a long while and he wasn't looking forward to getting into another argument after so long. He decided that whatever happened would happen and there really wasn't anything he could do about it. He was signing Justin and that was all there was to it.

"Can he do that?" Tabitha asked, looking from Lance to Skyler and back. "Isn't that breaking his contract?"

"Not really," said Lance. "There's nothing in the contract about videos or tours. We were contracted for the album itself and nothing more. I guess they just assumed that we would tour and make videos. Every artist does these things so they didn't think they had to put it in the contract. Justin showed them they were wrong."

"I don't really understand how that part of the business works," she said. "I mostly just handle the finances while Skyler's on tour."

"And you do a great job," Skyler said, smiling at her.

* * *

"So this is it," said Chad as he looked around the apartment that he'd once shared with his brother and sister. He remembered how happy he and Cassie were when Skyler took them away from their mother and step-father. He thought about how naive he was then.

"This is the apartment you asked to look at, Mr. Thomas," replied the middle aged red haired apartment manager. "Will you be buying or leasing?"

"I'll be buying," he said. "I'll contact my bank."

"That'll be fine," she said. "When will you be moving in?"

"As soon as the paperwork is finished," he replied. "I'm staying at the Carlyle."

"Very good," she said. "I'll be expecting a call from your bank. When the paperwork is drawn up, I'll have it sent to your room."

"Thank you," he replied.

He thought about how ironic it was that he was about to buy the very apartment he'd lived in when he'd first come to New York all the way back to the hotel. What would Skyler think of that? He supposed they'd try to contact him again soon enough. If Niki or Madonna told them she'd talked to him he knew he could expect a call from either Skyler or his father. He was sure that Cassie wouldn't call.

The new manager from Sky High was waiting in the lobby of the hotel and Chad sighed when he saw him. James Ross was in his late forties with blond hair that could have used a good cutting, hard blue eyes and a constant five o'clock shadow. He always wore a suit and tie and tried every trick in the book to make Chad feel guilty for firing Clay Silver and running off two other managers from the company.

"I've booked you studio time," James said as soon as he reached Chad. "Tomorrow from noon to six just like you asked. Will you at least tell me what you plan to record?"

"I'll give you the lyrics to all of the songs I have," said Chad. "I'll even record the songs that they want me to cover. I'm sure they'll ruin my album either way so it doesn't matter."

"No one at Sky High wants to ruin . . ."

"Save it," snapped Chad. "If you want to continue to be my manager, you won't argue with everything I say."

Luckily the man shut up after that. Chad only had to put up with a sigh and a shake of his head before he walked off toward the elevator. James didn't follow him which was good. He'd already told the man that he wasn't welcome in his hotel room. As soon as he had the keys to the apartment, he would be sure to tell him that also extended to the apartment. They would have to find somewhere else to meet and discuss things because he didn't want the man hanging around the lobby of the apartment building.

He saw a dark haired woman coming down the hall when he got off the elevator. He knew her from somewhere. She was probably an actress. Her long legs were enough to get his attention. She smiled back when he smiled at her so he stopped to talk to her. Ten minutes later they were in his hotel room.

* * *

"This is some place," said Nick Lachey as he walked through the house that Jeff had paid to have built for Skyler. "Very nice."

"Glad you like it," said Jeff. "Sky loves it. He's out with Lance Bass right now buying up as many antiques as possible to fill it with."

"Antiques huh?" Nick said with a smirk. "Not my deal."

"You and Jess going to get a place?" asked Jeff.

"Not like this," laughed Nick. "We're looking in Malibu."

They went from room to room with Jeff telling Nick all of the things the architect had told him when he'd first toured the house. Nick was dazzled by the spa and pool. He loved the fireplaces and the chandeliers. When they got to the master bedroom Nick whistled.

"This is a huge room," he said. "What do you plan on filling it with?"

"Just a bed and the normal stuff," laughed Jeff.

"Need all this room for the fun stuff huh?" laughed Nick.

"None of your business," replied Jeff with a smirk. "I don't ask for details about you and Jessica so don't even make comments about me and Sky."

"Whatever," laughed Nick as they left the room. "So you're going to Sydney with Sky?"

"Nothing but death could keep me from it," he said. "I was away from him almost the entire time he was filming and I'm not ready to give him up again yet."

"That's cool, Sugar," said Nick. "We're all spending this down time with our lovers."

"When we get back, everything should be here," said Jeff. "We'll have you and Jessica over for dinner one night."

"Cool," replied Nick. "Can't wait to see it all full of antiques."

"Do you even know what antiques are?" laughed Jeff, holding up his fists in a mock fighting stance.

"Easy killer," Nick said, holding up his hands in mock surrender. "No more pokin' fun. Promise."

"We should probably head back now though," Jeff said as they got to Nick's SUV. "Sky will be done recording soon. It was only one song and he's known for one take."

"I'd heard that about him," said Nick as they pulled out of the driveway. "Isn't he supposed to be going with Lance today?"

"Yeah but I want to see him before they leave," laughed Jeff.

"Boy you're sprung," teased Nick.

"And damned proud of it," replied Jeff.

* * *

"What are these?" sighed Laura as she picked up two vanilla envelopes off her desk.

"Something that Joyce and Allan sent over," replied Rita Morehead, her assistant. The mousy haired woman was fresh out of college when they'd hired her but she'd proven herself quite competent rather quickly.

"Joyce and Allan are always sending something," she said as she sighed again.

She opened the first envelope to find a full color calendar filled with bare-chested young men. "Men of Miami 2002" was the caption on the front. Twelve small photographs of the young men with shirts on bearing the name of the city were under the moniker. She noticed the post-it note sticking out of the center of the calendar and opened it to July. What she saw there took her breath away. She even heard Rita suck in a breath.

"Who is that?" asked the younger woman.

"Says here his name is Zeke Manford," said Laura as she read the little note further. Joyce was excited over the young man that was for sure. She'd written that he was a Miami construction worker with no formal training of any kind yet she thought he'd make a great model. "Joyce wants us to hire him as a model."

"Skyler did say all kinds of new talent," reminded Rita.

"Well then it looks like we're going to Miami," sighed Laura. "Here's all the information. I'll get back with you after my appointment."

"I'll track everything down for you," said Rita with a smile.

"Thanks, Rita," replied Laura with the first smile Rita had seen since her boss had come to the office.

She was putting all of the information into her computer when the phone beeped. She looked at the display and saw that it was Skyler's cell and wondered why he was calling the office. Laura had her cell with her. Rita had seen her put it in her purse.

"Laura Ullman's office, this is Rita," she said when she picked up the phone.

"Rita, this is Skyler. I'm looking for Laura and thought I'd catch her before she met with Lilly," said Skyler.

"Laura isn't meeting with Lilly today," she said as she looked at her copy of Laura's calendar. "She has a private appointment today. Lilly is still in Chicago."

"That's odd," he said. "She told me and Clay that she was meeting with Lilly today."

"Maybe she got it mixed up," she said, wondering what was really going on. She knew that Laura hadn't gotten anything mixed up. She'd talked with Lilly that morning. Her notes on the conversation were still on Rita's desk.

"Her cell is off," Skyler said softly, giving Rita the impression that he was actually talking to someone on his end.

"Should I have her call you when she comes in?" she asked.

"Please," he said. "Thanks, Rita."

"Have a great day, Skyler," she said, smiling.

Talking to Skyler was always a pleasure. She'd been a fan of his work before she'd taken the position on Laura's staff. She hadn't actually met him in person yet but she was looking forward to the day when she did.

* * *

"The test results are quite clear, Ms. Ullman," said the fifty something year old salt and pepper haired doctor as Laura sat across from his desk. "The tumor is malignant. We'll need to operate as soon as possible."

"Cancer," she sighed. "How large?"

"About the size of a boiled egg," he replied. "We should go over your options."

"I don't need options," she said. "Breast Cancer killed my mother and sister, Doctor Simmons. I want a mastectomy."

"We'll get you in to start the pre-surgury work ups as soon as possible," he said in an understanding tone.

When she left his office she sat behind the wheel of her car and cried for an hour. Her cell was still turned off so no one would track her down. She needed this time to think. Cancer terrified her. Her sister had died just the year before Laura had met Skyler Thomas. She'd had a double mastectomy with chemotherapy and radiation and yet the cancer had still killed her.

She knew it was official now. She had to tell Clay and Skyler as soon as possible. There was no way around it. She'd kept it secret long enough and she was sure that they were all starting to suspect that something was going on with her. With a sigh she wiped her eyes and started the car. There was no time like the present to let everyone know.

Let Me Fall is a song by Josh Groban.

The next chapter will be posted soon.