© 2005-2010 Julien Gregg
All Rights Reserved


Chapter 92


"Lilly will be in the next film Jase is scheduled to shoot," Clay said as he went through his papers the day after the wedding. "Gavin and I got all of those details worked out. I was wondering if you wanted to tackle the soundtrack for this one."

Skyler thought about that for a moment. He had an album out now and very soon the soundtrack album for the movie that they were currently filming would be out. Did he want more soundtrack music out to confuse the fans? It would be flooding the market for one thing. Another problem was promotions and personal appearances for the music. He had a tour to plan, a reality television show to pretend to enjoy filming and the day to day Sky High things to attend to.

"No," he said with a sigh. "There's enough of my music out and more coming. I've got too much on my plate."

"We weren't thinking that you'd want to," said Gavin, rifling through his own stack of papers. Taking over Laura's position in the company was a lot of work. "We were thinking of asking Brody or Carlos if they'd like to contribute, or maybe Cory. We were even thinking of asking Justin."

"I haven't even had time to check on Justin lately," sighed Skyler. "With the wedding, the movie and the album I've been pretty well buried in work. How's he doing?"

"He's doing just fine," said Gavin, smiling. "We've recently signed Christina Aguilera as well. They're wanting to tour together over the summer."

"Christina?" he asked, leaning forward. "I wasn't aware that she was looking for representation, let alone wanting to switch labels."

"She contacted Eddie Casabian a few months back," said Clay. "I've been meaning to talk to you about that, but then Eddie and Gavin handled it all really well. Eddie will manage her for the time being. He's also taking on Justin, so the two of them touring together wouldn't be a bad idea."

"No, I think it's a great idea," said Skyler seriously. "I was just shocked to hear that Christina was with Sky High."

"We've picked up quite a lot of celebrities in the last few months, Skyler," said Gavin. "Chad Faust, Brennan Eliot and Kaj-Erik Erikson to name three. The list goes on. Sky High's management firm is rapidly becoming the most successful in the business."

"We picked up Lexa Doig and Natasha Gregson as well," said Clay. "We've also signed Chris Tyler, David Velinova and Jerome Penfield."

"That brings us to the latest prospect," said Gavin with a smile. "I have a demo here somewhere. Skyler, I think you're going to be pleasantly surprised by this guy."

"His name is Deacon Ola," said Clay. "I've met him a few times; very nice guy. He's got big dreams, but he's also got a pocket full of talent."

Skyler had wondered why Gavin had brought the portable CD player in when he'd come in. He'd assumed they'd wanted him to hear something that they would want him to sing. He'd been waiting for them to ask so he could say no. Now it seemed they wanted to sell him on someone. Seeing that they'd already signed so many people without talking to him about them he wondered why they wanted his opinion on Deacon Ola.

"Here we go," said Gavin as he produced the disc and put it in the player. He grinned at Skyler before turning the machine to play. "You'll love this, Skyler."

Music started and Skyler wasn't impressed at first. It sounded like a bunch of guitars. Gavin blushed and then advanced the CD, telling him that they'd accidentally recorded the warm ups. The second track on the CD was interesting. The voice was clear and smooth, the guitar sounded good. There was something about it that Skyler couldn't figure out, but he liked it. He smiled slowly, and soon the three of them were smiling as Gavin slid a picture in front of him. He assumed this was the man the voice on the CD belonged to. He was attractive. Skyler knew that part of the package would work. To sell an artist it always helped if the artist was attractive.

"I like it," he said finally as the song ended. "When can I meet with him?"

"What'd I tell you, Clay?" laughed Gavin.

"What's going on?" Skyler asked, looking from one to the other of them and back.

"I wanted to go ahead and sign Deacon," explained Clay. "Gavin told me that he was sure you'd want to hear him for yourself and that when you did, you'd sign him yourself."

"Well it appears Gavin was right," Skyler said, smiling. "Now when can I meet with this guy?"

"He's performing tonight at The Viper Room," said Gavin. "We thought you and Jeff might like to go have a listen and then set up a time for him to come into the offices and have a chat."

"That sounds good, actually," he said. "I'll talk to Jeff about it. We'll probably take Mark, Jason and Drew as well. Will getting into the club be a problem for Jason and Drew?"

"It might," Gavin said thoughtfully. "You may want to just not include them. Take Chad and Darby instead."

"If I may," Clay said, clearing his throat. "I don't think The Viper Room on a public night would be the place for Chad at this point in time."

"I think you're right about that," Skyler agreed. "I'll see if Alex and Jase want to go. We'll make a night of it."

"Do we have all of the dates for Carlos's tour?" Gavin asked as he went through even more papers to hunt down what he was looking for.

"That's all been finalized," said Clay. "Cory will be opening for him. They're in rehearsals already. We're announcing the dates on Friday."

"So Cory and Carlos are touring together then?" Skyler asked.

"Yes," said Clay. "That was all decided last week. Cory's looking forward to it. Carlos couldn't be more thrilled to have him along, so we're hoping that this run will be better for Cory than the last."

"I'm sure it will be," said Skyler. "Carlos is one of the easiest people to get along with. Cory'll have a ball."

"Well that's it on my end," Clay said, getting his papers together and putting them in his briefcase. "Gavin, did you have anything else? I know this isn't an official meeting, but if you had contracts or anything to get through . . . "

"I don't, actually," he said, smiling. "Everyone is pretty much taken care of. Those that aren't are either in Orlando or Australia. Their contracts are in the hands of others."

"Well hopefully I'll have Deacon ready to go in a few days," Skyler said, smiling. "Gentlemen."

"Then that wraps things up," said Gavin. "Skyler, keep me informed on Deacon, please."

"Will do," he replied. "Say hello to Eddie for me."

"Sure thing," replied Gavin, smiling. "Clay, care to share a car?"

Skyler watched them walk out together and then went back to putting notes in his calendar for the rest of December. He circled that day's date and wrote Deacon in the center of the circle with the club details underneath. Gavin had left the CD so he popped it back into the portable player and listened again. He really did like the sound of Deacon's voice.

"Whatcha listening to, Blondie?" Jeff asked as he came into the room to stand behind Skyler and rest his arms on his shoulders, bringing their heads closer together.

"His name is Deacon Ola," replied Skyler, reaching up to grasp the sides of Jeff's arms as he spoke. "He's performing tonight at The Viper Room. I thought we'd take a gang and head over there tonight, have a listen and then maybe a short chat."

"Thinking of signing Mr. Ola?" Jeff asked, kissing his ear.

"Exactly," said Skyler, closing his eyes. "I'll give you six weeks to stop that."

"Ha," said Jeff. "Who are we taking to the club and who's watching the tots?"

"Well, I thought we'd ask Jase and Ali to come along," said Skyler. "Alex and Mark, too. Drew and Jason are too young to get in, and Chad and Darby should stay here. As for who is going to watch the tots, I thought we'd let Kristy have them tonight. She asked last night."

"That sounds good," said Jeff. "What do you want to do in the mean time?"

"Well I thought I'd call Jason to see if he and Drew will stay here tonight," said Skyler. "That way Chad and Darby aren't all alone."

"Uh huh," he said. "And then?"

"Well I don't know," replied Skyler. "Did you have something in mind?"

"I thought we'd go sit outside and enjoy the day for a while," he said. "Maybe change into trunks and swim a bit; take the kids with us and throw them around in the pool."

"That sounds great actually," said Skyler. "Chad and Darby can actually join us for that."

"We think alike," chuckled Jeff.

"Give me a minute to pick up my stuff and put everything away," he said with a chuckle.

"I'll round up the kids and tell Chad and Darby what we're doing," replied Jeff. "Why don't you call Jason and Kristy."

"All right," said Skyler as he stood up. "Sounds like a plan. Meet you in about ten."

"Can't wait," said Jeff before he kissed him.

He got his stuff picked up and put away, grabbed the phone and called Kristy's cell. She was excited about taking the three kids for the night. They talked for a few minutes about when to pick them up and bring them back. Then he called Jason's cell and asked that he and Drew spend the night with Darby and Chad. Once that was taken care of, he headed upstairs to change into his trunks.

They were all around the pool when he got downstairs again. Darby and Chad were putting arm floaties on Preston and Junior while Jeff was getting Alyssa seen to. He smiled when he saw Skyler. The sun was high in the sky and it was warm. Skyler went back into the house for drinks and the cooler and then returned. By the time he got back they were all in the pool. The kids were splashing around and giggling.

"Look at you," he said to Preston as he slid into the pool, happy that they'd remembered to turn the heaters on so the water wasn't chilly. The sun was warm but water temperature should never be left to chance.

"Daddy!" cried Preston, splashing water in his face. "Swim!"

"Yeah, we're going to swim," he laughed, wiping his face. "Calm down little man."

They took turns holding their arms under the boys and moving around to make them feel like they were swimming. It was one of Preston's favorite things in the world. Skyler loved seeing the boy so excited. He noticed that Chad and Darby were deep in discussion at the edge of the pool and slid Preston closer so he could hear them a bit.

"I think you're going to be fine, Chad," Darby said as he got close enough to hear. "I really do. You have no criminal record. This was the first time you've ever been in any kind of trouble."

"But you heard the judge, Darby," he said weakly. "He said he's gonna make an example out of me or something. He's gonna send me to jail for sure."

"No, I don't think he will," she argued. "Trust me a little, baby."

Skyler moved away from them after that. Chad was worried, but he knew that already. The court date in January was getting closer after all. In truth he was a little worried about what would happen, too. He didn't want to think about Chad in jail. Surely the judge wouldn't sentence him to prison.

"What's with the look, Blondie?" Jeff asked when Skyler made his way over to him with Preston.

"Just thinking," he replied, forcing a smile.

"Well I was thinking, too," Jeff said, smiling back. "This little guy's tummy is rumbling, so I thought we should get out of the water and maybe I should fire up the grill. You think you and Chad can get some steaks ready, maybe some hot dogs for the kids?"

"You know, I like it when you think," replied Skyler, smirking at him. "I'll set this one on the edge of the pool as soon as Chad and Darby are out of the water and close enough to keep him from jumping back in."

They set to the task of getting the children out of the pool and dried off before Skyler and Chad headed inside the house to get the food ready. Skyler laughed as he heard Darby asking Jeff if he knew what he was doing with a grill. She said she didn't want the children to get hurt. When she told him that it might be best if she handled the fire, Skyler laughed harder.

"She's fitting in," Chad said happily as they made their way to the kitchen.

"She sure is," agreed Skyler. "She's great."

"I think I love her, Sky," Chad said softly, looking away. "Well I don't think I love her, I know I do."

"Have you told her?" he asked, getting the steaks and dogs out of the fridge.

"Yeah," he said, taking a plate full of steaks. He looked at the steaks for a second and then at Skyler. "Six?"

"I called across the yard before we got wet," Skyler said. "Jason and Drew should be over here any minute."

"Ah," he said, smiling. "I like Drew."

"Yeah, he's a good guy," Skyler said as he spread his secret special grilling sauce over the steaks on the plate in front of him. "I think Jason's getting a little too attached to him, though."

"Yeah, Drew's straight," Chad said as he accepted the bottle of sauce.

"Straight as they come," agreed Skyler. "I think our little brother is in for a heartbreak."

"You think it's that serious?" Chad asked.

"I make it a point to know exactly what's going on with my brothers and sister," Skyler said as he got lettuce and veggies out of the fridge to start on a salad. "For instance, I know that you're pretty worried about court."

Chad got quiet, and Skyler waited for him to collect his thoughts. He cut lettuce and sliced onions, radishes and cucumbers. Chad got busy on the dressing while he thought of what to say. Skyler didn't know what to say to make him feel better, but he hoped that talking about it would do some good. He thought he could at least listen.

"I'm scared of jail," Chad said as he mixed the vinegar with the herbs. "I don't think I'd do well in prison."

"Hand me a couple of tomatoes," said Skyler as he transferred the lettuce and vegetables to a large bowl. "I know you're scared, but we'll get through it, Chad. You'll have all of us to support you."

"I'm not worried about support anymore, Sky," he replied, handing Skyler three large tomatoes "I'm worried about the other inmates, and what if I get years? Will Darby wait for me?"

"Those are legitimate fears, Chad," he said as he started to cut the tomatoes "I don't know what to say about the other inmates, but Darby loves you. I can see it when she looks at you."

"I know she loves me," replied Chad as he poked holes in a bunch of potatoes and got them ready to nuke. "But if I get years I can't realistically expect her to put her life on hold to wait for me."

"Have you talked to her about this?" Skyler asked as he started to toss the salad.

"I've tried," sighed Chad as he put the potatoes in the microwave. "She just keeps telling me not to worry."

"Well I don't know what the future holds," Skyler said as he added the dressing that Chad had put together. "All I can say is that we'll be here for you no matter what happens."

"Thanks, Sky," Chad said softly just as they heard the back door open.

"Jeff said they're in the kitchen," they heard Jason say. "You take the bags upstairs and I'll go see if they need help."

"Are we staying in the same room as last time?" Drew asked.

"Dunno," said Jason. "Let me ask first."

"Hey, Kiddo," Skyler said, smiling when Jason came into the kitchen. "We heard. Put your bags in Cassie's room and Drew's in the guest room."

"All right," he said. "When we get done I'll come help you guys carry."

"That would be a good thing," said Chad with a smirk.

By the time they got outside with everything Jeff had the grill ready. The steaks and hot dogs went on immediately. They sat around the larger patio table and ate their salads while they waited. Jeff and Skyler helped Preston and Junior with theirs while the group talked. Skyler didn't like what he was hearing as his little brother described their father's attitude across the yard. He sighed as he listened.

"And I guess I should ask you now, Sky, if I can stay here for a while," Jason said when he'd finished telling them about how their father snapped at him any time he mentioned anyone living in Skyler's house.

"Jason you know you're more than welcome any time you want to stay," Skyler said immediately. "You don't have to ask."

"Thanks, Sky," Jason said softly, and then the conversation moved on.

"When do we get back to filming?" Drew asked as Jeff started putting hot dogs on the children's plates a little bit later.

"Jase said we'll get back to it after Christmas," Skyler replied. "I told him not to take too much time or I'll be too busy to film."

Before anyone could say more the back door opened again and Mark and Gavin stepped out of the house. Mark had a big grin on his face, so Skyler wondered what the two of them had been up to all day long. Mark had left with Gavin right after the little meeting they'd had with Clay that afternoon. They hadn't told him what was going on though.

"I got a new gig," Mark said happily as he came over to the table. "You know that film show that Gavin set up with MTV?"

"Yeah," Skyler said slowly.

Gavin had put together a reality show about unknown screenwriters. The show would center around a group of unknown young men and women who aspired to be screenwriters. The show would air on Fridays on MTV, but it was created and filmed by Sky High. The last that Skyler had heard about the show was that the host, Matt Damon, had backed out. As far as he knew the show was in limbo.

"You're looking at the new host," Mark said, smiling wide. "We film the first episode in three days."

"That's great," Skyler said, smiling back at him. "So they have everything ready still?"

"Nothing had been changed after Matt backed out," said Gavin. "I talked with Mark about it today and took him over to the set so he could see everything. He even met a few of the guys that will be auditioning their screenplays for the show."

"So it's a contest to see who's best?" Drew asked.

"That's right, said Gavin, smiling again. "The winner will get a deal with Sky High."

"But we're going to film each of their short films, right?" Skyler asked.

"That's right," said Gavin. "We'll show clips of those movies on the show each week, and we're setting up a website through MTV where people can watch the full films online and vote for the ones they like the best."

"That sounds good," Skyler said after he'd thought about it for a minute. "So you have a good bunch to audition?"

"The response to the calls was amazing," Gavin said, nodding. "We've got a few Sky High directors looking over their audition pieces. The whole cast of contestants will be decided before we film the first episode."

"And you film in three days?" he asked.

"Yes," replied Gavin. "MTV wants to put the show in their ten o'clock time slot for Friday nights, so the show would air right after 'Techno Cowboy' every week."

"What about acting?" Skyler asked Mark as Jeff put a steak in front of him.

"Oh, the host will change with each season," said Mark, smiling again.

"Providing the show is successful enough to run a second season," Gavin added.

"So who's filming these short films?" Skyler asked.

"Denny Shaw, Todd Hayworth and Maria Philips," said Gavin. "They've already filmed the auditions. There are twenty films right now. We'll be knocking that number down to ten for Friday's show."

"Sounds good," Skyler said, smiling at Mark. "Congratulations."

"Thanks," he said. "I needed something to take my mind off the divorce."

"Yeah," Skyler said, nodding. "With that in mind, how about going clubbing with me and Jeff tonight?"

"Sounds good," said Mark. "How many are we hitting?"

"Just one," Skyler said. "We're going to The Viper Room to see someone perform. I thought I'd ask Jase and Alex to come along, too."

"All right," he said, turning to Chad. "What about you, buddy?"

"Drew and Jason are too young to get in tonight," Chad said quickly. "I thought Darby and I would stay here and keep them company."

"Good man," said Mark with his patent smirk before turning back to Skyler. "What time?"

"Well the show starts at ten so I thought we'd get there about seven and let the frenzy die off," Skyler said, thinking of the press and the fans that would likely already be at the club. His fans weren't likely to be there, but several others would. The Viper Club was a frequent watering hole for celebrities from every trade in the business. That meant the press would be stalking the place on an almost nightly basis.

As soon as they were all finished eating they took the children upstairs and got them bathed and ready for the night. Then they got ready themselves. They all met in the living room when they were finished, made sure they had cell phones and then headed out with all of Skyler's, Mark's and Jeff's security. They picked up Alex from the school and made their way to The Viper Room.

As Skyler predicted the press was thick outside. People were lined up on both sides of the door to the club, screaming as one celebrity after another emerged from cars and limos. Skyler and his group made their way from their cars into the club doing everything in their power not to be photographed. It wasn't hard with all of the security so thick around them. Skyler almost laughed when both Jeff and Jase took him by the arm at the same time and sped up.

It didn't take people long to figure out that he was there once they were inside. They quickly found a table and ordered bottles of water. Skyler was quick to tell the waitress to make sure the tops had not been opened. He wasn't in the mood for a trip to the hospital. She gave him a hard look when he made the request, but he smiled back at her as pleasantly as he could. She also didn't seem to like the fact that the security men cleared the tables around them and then claimed them for themselves, but by that time everyone everywhere should have known what it was like to have him in their club. If anyone wanted to bitch about it, Skyler was prepared for them.

As if the security men weren't there, people, women mostly, began to advance on them. They were turned way by the security, and a few times it didn't look like they were happy to be turned away. Skyler just hoped that no one made a scene. He was there on business, and he didn't want anything to do with fans. He wanted to see Deacon perform, make a careful advance toward the dressing rooms to talk to the guy about sitting down to discuss his future in music and then get home to his children.

He was thankful when he saw other popular celebrities begin to arrive for their night on the town. It cut down on the traffic to and from their tables. The fact that it was a Sunday night made no difference in Hollywood. The sun went down and the people came out just like any other night of the week. The club was quickly filling up. Skyler even heard some of the groups of people talking about Deacon. He liked that the guy had a following already. It would make him much easier to promote. He thought about that as the lights in the club dimmed further than usual and someone stepped onto the stage.

"Welcome to The Viper Room," the man said. He was tall with dark hair, pulled back into a ponytail. He worse a black suit with a bright red tie. "Before we start tonight's show I'd like to remind everyone of the rules. First, no one is allowed on the stage while the show is in session. Please keep a respectful distance from the sound equipment, and be respectful to each other. If you can't see the stage, there are three screens that will let you see the show just as well.

"Now let me say that The Viper Room is pleased to present Deacon Ola!" he said loudly, and the club erupted with applause.

Deacon and his band came to the stage and the show started. The first song was louder and heavier than Skyler liked, but he didn't let that keep him from enjoying it. Deacon was very attractive with dark hair and a killer body. He wore no shirt and his black jeans were skin tight. Black boots completed his outfit. He had a clear voice, and Skyler was pleased that he could hear him over the guitars and keyboards.

They sat through three songs that sounded good, but Skyler wasn't all that impressed with them. The demo he'd heard at the house had sounded better than what he was hearing at the moment. It wasn't the quality though. Deacon had talent, and it oozed from him as he worked the crowd with his guitar and sexy voice. Finally the music changed again and this time it was softer.

"Just when I believed I couldn't ever want for more," he crooned, making the crowd on the dance floor in front of him light lighters and hold them above their heads as they swayed to the music. " This ever changing world pushes me through another door. I saw you smile, and my mind could not erase the beauty of you face. Just for a while won't you let me shelter you?

"Hold on to the nights," he sang a little louder. "Hold on to the memories. I wish that I could give you something more; that I could be yours."

He stepped back from the mic and let his band play for a bit as he stared at the crowd. This was what had brought Skyler out to see him. This sound was what he'd heard on the demo. He sat up straighter and really paid attention as Deacon stepped back up to the mic and began to sing again.

"How do we explain something that took us by surprise? Promises in vain, love that is real but in disguise. What happens now? Do we break another rule, let our lovers play the fool? I don't know how to stop feeling this way.

"Hold on to the nights. Hold on to the memories. I wish that I could give you something more; that I could be yours.

"Well, I think that I've been true to everybody else but me. And the way I feel about you makes my heart long to be free. Every time I look into your eyes, I'm helplessly aware that the someone I've been searching for is right there," he sang a bit louder on the last part.

"Hold on to the nights. Hold on to the memories. I wish that I could give you something more; that I could be yours.

"Hold on to the nights. Hold on," he sang, and the music stopped. The crowd screamed for him.

"You were right," Jeff said loud enough to be heard over the cheering. "He's good."

"I knew that already," Skyler said, smiling. "I just wanted to see how he handles performing. This may be only a club, but some people just can't hack it in front of a group."

"Looks like this one can," said Jase, smiling.

"Sure does," said Skyler with a satisfied smile on his face.

He launched into another ballad that had them swaying. Skyler loved the sound of his voice. It sounded young but full of knowledge and wisdom. When he crooned like this his voice sounded haunted and anguished. It was really something. He couldn't wait to get the guy in the studio.

Song after song got better and better. Skyler was really impressed with Deacon Ola. He was surprised that Gavin didn't just sign him instead of waiting for Skyler to see him. The guy was amazing. If the studio made him sound any better, he would soon be a force to be reckoned with. Skyler could see the dollar signs as he listened. Then the finale of the show began with more guitar, and at first Skyler wasn't sure that he'd like the song. Then Deacon began to sing.

"Another sleepless night I can't explain. Somebody said they heard me call your name. The radio won't let you leave my mind. I know it's over, but I don't know why.

"Shoulda known better than to fall in love with you. Now love is just a faded memory. Shoulda known better. Now I'm a prisoner to this pain, and my heart still aches for you," he sang loud and fast.

"There was no risk that I wouldn't take; not a promise that I didn't make. All I asked was that you just hold on. Now I'm wondering what I did wrong,

"Shoulda known better than to fall in love with you. Now love is just a faded memory. Shoulda known better. Now I'm a prisoner to this pain, and my heart still aches for you.

"I gave you all of my body and soul, never believing we might lose control. I took my hands off the wheel," he sang, the last line louder and with back up.

"I can't remember if the lies were true. It's been a million years since I touched you. I thought time might help me win this game, but being away from you is slowly driving me insane.

"Shoulda known better than to fall in love with you. Now love is just a faded memory. Shoulda known better. Now I'm a prisoner to this pain, and my heart still aches for you," he sang and then played his guitar for a bit as the crowd pumped their fists in the air above them.

"Shoulda known better than to fall in love with you. Now love is just a faded memory. Shoulda known better. Now I'm a prisoner to this pain, and my heart still aches for you.

"Oh, shoulda known better than to fall in love with you. Now love is just a faded memory. Shoulda known better. Now I'm a prisoner to this pain, and my heart still aches for you!" he sang, and the music stopped as the lights on the stage went out.

"Go get him," laughed Jeff as the crowd started to move off the dance floor and back to their tables and drinks.

"Give him a bit," replied Skyler. "I don't want to have to push through the throng that followed him just yet. I'm sure the club's security will have that thinned out in a little bit."

"What, you don't want to start them up like you did in Australia when you went after Brody?" laughed Jase.

"No way," he replied. "I could've been crushed. I was crazy that night."

"And this is America," added Jeff. "They would crush him just trying to get a chance to touch him."

"I'm just glad they didn't let the press into the club tonight," Skyler said.

"Have you decided who to let through the door on the twentieth?" Mark asked.

"Of course," replied Skyler. "MTV, VH1 and MusicNow."

"MusicNow is that network out of Hawaii, right?" Jeff asked.

"Yeah," replied Skyler. "They're just getting all of their shit together, but they really responded to the 'all videos all the time' call. No reality programming on their network. They're all about music videos and music news. They do live shows now and then, but Sky High hasn't allowed any for that network so far. I'm thinking about it. When they called to ask if they could send a reporter to the release party I jumped at it. This is sort of their test. We'll see how their reporter acts and go from there."

"Time?" Brent asked, turning to look at Skyler.

"Sure," he replied, nodding.

"All right," Brent said, getting to his feet. "I want the gang to head for the cars. David, CJ and Luka are going to bring the Explorer to the back of the club for when we finish with this little meeting. Phil, Matt, Sid and I will be going with Skyler. Jeff, you might want to head out with David's group if you want to be in the Explorer with Sky. Everyone clear?"

"Sure," said Mark. "We'll behave."

"Good," replied Brent with a smirk. "There may be a lot of us with you guys tonight, but things can turn quickly. You all know that. So please behave."

Skyler and his group of security made their way to the dressing room as the others made their way through the club to the front entrance again. The moving of the larger group caused enough of a distraction that Skyler made it to the dressing room. The man stationed at the door smiled at him when he looked up and saw who it was. He didn't even have to ask before the door was opened and he and Brent were ushered inside.

The hallway was lit up and Skyler saw the familiar row of black doors that led to the dressing rooms themselves. At the end of the hall was the open area that served as the "party room" for the visiting entertainer. Skyler had spent enough time performing in this club to know exactly where he was going. He was sure that Deacon wouldn't have gone to his dressing room just yet. The pump and excitement of a show had to wear off before you could relax.

That's where he found Deacon Ola, sitting on the edge of a black leather easy chair, rubbing his short hair with a towel as the band milled around the room. They ate food, put their guitars away and lounged on the black leather furniture. All of them looked up when Skyler and Brent walked into the room.

"Hey!" cried the drummer of the band, an older man with long curly blond hair and bright blue eyes. He was very muscular and dressed in a pair of faded blue jeans with no shirt. He pointed with the drum sticks in his left hand at Skyler. "You're Skyler Thomas!"

"That's me," replied Skyler with a smile. "Great show, guys."

"Thanks, man!" cried the drummer again. The others all thanked him as well, but they weren't nearly as loud.

"Deacon, I was wondering if I could have a private word with you," Skyler said when he came to stand in front of the singer.

"Uh, sure," replied Deacon, looking around a the other guys nervously. "When?"

"How about tomorrow morning at nine?" Skyler asked. "Do you know where Sky High Studios is located?"

"I sure do," he said. "Nine at Sky High?"

"That's right," replied Skyler, smiling. "I'll see you then."

"Um, should I bring anything with me?" asked Deacon before Skyler could turn away.

"No," replied Skyler. "We're just going to chat tomorrow. I'll see you at nine."

"Sure," said Deacon, smiling finally. Skyler was struck by just how attractive the guy was. His smile lit up his face and put a light in his dark eyes.

"I'm just going to head out the back door," Skyler said. "Once again, guys, great show. I enjoyed it."

"Thanks, Skyler!" cried the drummer as Skyler and Brent left the room to head for the back door.

"Sexy little guy, isn't he?" Brent asked as they made their way down the hall.

"Sure is," replied Skyler. "But that's not why I want to talk to him."

"Well I know that," laughed Brent. "I was just saying."

Skyler felt bad for Brent. His relationship with Eric had ended rather abruptly when Eric left Chad's security team. Brent hadn't said much on the issue, but Skyler could see the pain in his eyes. He thought now that Brent might be wanting to move on, and his comment about Deacon Ola might have been his way of letting him know.

"He is sexy, though," he said as they walked out the back door and got into the Explorer.

They made it home without causing a stir. Chad, Darby, Jason and Drew were in the living room when they came in. Skyler told them how much he'd enjoyed the show and that Deacon would be at Sky High at nine the next morning. He and Jeff excused themselves and headed upstairs to bed.

"While I'm with Deacon tomorrow, can you pick the kids up from Kristy?" Skyler asked as they climbed into bed.

"Sure," replied Jeff. "How long do you think you'll be tomorrow?"

"I'm not sure," he sighed. "I want to talk to him about what he can expect from us and what we will expect from him. I want to sign him, but I need to make sure he can handle the pressures and what comes after the music."

"You're starting to sound like an agent, Sky," Jeff said with a smile.

"Oh, I have no desire to be an agent," he replied. "A manager, maybe, but not never an agent."

"You're too busy to manage Deacon," Jeff said as he snuggled in close to Skyler.

"I have no plans to manage Deacon," replied Skyler, wrapping his arms around him. "It's just a thought for the future. You know, when we're both ready to stop singing for our supper."

"Retire?" Jeff asked, shocked. "You?"

"Not any time soon," laughed Skyler. "You did say that you want to eventually come out of the closet and get married, right? That's going to probably be the end for me."

"I don't think it will be, Sky," said Jeff. "You've got way too many fans to lose all of them over your sexuality."

"Well, we don't have to worry about it for a while yet," replied Skyler. "Right now I just need to get Deacon signed, get through the release party and then start really thinking about the tour."

"You know, it might be fun to be on tour with you when you're not in pain and I don't have to leave for my own tour," said Jeff. "I think I'm actually looking forward to it."

"Bite your tongue," laughed Skyler. "Don't get me wrong. I'm looking forward to it, too, but I also know exactly how much I'll hate being on the road about half way through."

"Yeah, after a while it gets to you, but when it starts it's a blast," Jeff replied. "I loved it the first couple of times, but then we were together and it meant being away from you. I hate being away from you, Sky."

They were up and having breakfast the next morning when Jason came down the stairs. He smiled at them as he got himself a plate of fruit. Skyler passed him milk and juice as he sat down. He wondered what it was exactly that their father had said to Jason the night before when he'd told him he was spending the night. He wanted to ask Jason, but he decided to let it go. He finished his breakfast, got a kiss from Jeff and then headed out.

Deacon Ola was right on time. He was dressed in what looked like a brand new light blue dress shirt and black dress pants. His shoes looked new, too. He looked like he was anything but comfortable in the clothes. Skyler felt bad for him. He should have told him there wasn't a dress code for the meeting.

"Hi, Deacon," he said, shaking his hand when Joel showed him into the office. "I wanted you to come talk to me today so we can discuss a recording contract."

"You want to sign me?" Deacon asked with wide eyes.

"I sure do," chuckled Skyler. "I want to talk a few things over with you before we get Clay and Gavin in here to get the contracts signed and all of that."

"All right," replied Deacon looking dazed.

"First let's talk about the band," said Skyler. "Now I like the sound just fine, but I'm only interested in signing you."

"That's all right," Deacon said quickly. "They're not really my band. They just played with me last night. Actually they made more mistakes than I liked."

"Well then we're good there," said Skyler. "Now let me ask you what you think being a recording artist is all about."

"I know it isn't all money and good times," said Deacon after a moment. "I know that it'll take a lot of hard work and a lot of patience. I also know that if I'm successful life as I know it is over. I can accept that. I want it."

"All right," replied Skyler with a smile. "Let me tell you that recording, shooting videos and especially touring can be nightmare. When you're recording there can be any of a number of little mistakes or problems that make the process go on for what will seem like forever. Shooting videos brings in all kinds of new problems. You might not like the way the director is shooting your video, or you might not even be in the mood to shoot on a given day. There's a lot of hassle involved. Tours have all kinds of problems. First there's the lack of sleep, you're always hungry and tired, the showers on the buses aren't all that great and life itself on the buses is hell on Earth."

"I don't care," Deacon replied. "Seriously, I'm living in a one room apartment with a friend, eating about every other day and spending almost all the money I make from gigs to pay the rent or fix my guitar and pay the band. I'm sure that living on the bus is no picnic but the life I have now isn't either. I'd probably have more room on the bus than I do in the apartment with Landon."

"Well we can probably help you out with the apartment thing," Skyler said, smiling. "If you need it, you can always stay at my house while you're recording. You'll be paid as soon as you sign the contract, so you could always move into a hotel room. Just do yourself a favor and put most of the advance in the bank. Don't spend it on friends or parties or cars or anything. You won't see another dime until the album you record pays that advance back to Sky High."

"Moving into a hotel sounds like it would be Heaven," replied Deacon. "You don't have to worry about me with money. I've never had any, so I won't know really what to do with it when I do. I'll save it because I have it."

"Sounds good," said Skyler. "All right. I'm satisfied enough to bring Clay and Gavin in on our little talk. Feel like signing a contract today?"

"You mean it?" he asked, eyes wide.

"I mean it," laughed Skyler. "Gavin will likely be your agent, so I'm sure he's already argued with Clay and the rest of the executives about how much money to pay you. I will tell you that the contract will be for two albums."

"I don't know if I have songs for two," said Deacon.

"Well we won't worry about that part right now," Skyler assured him. "If we need to we have song writers on the payroll. They do nothing but write songs for our recording artists."

When Gavin and Clay came into the room they talked to Deacon about everything from image to music and exposure. Gavin told him that he would work on setting up a promotional tour as soon as they had the first single recorded for release. Skyler was thinking ahead to the image part of the package as they talked about contracts and musicians. He had a specific look in mind for Deacon, if the guy was willing to let him make him over.

"The promotional tour is pretty straight forward," said Clay. "There'll be release parties in specific high traffic cities where you'll perform the song live, photo shoots, interviews and parties. We're partnered with MTV at the moment, so it shouldn't be too difficult to get them to run an artist spotlight on you. This is all very standard, I assure you."

"I think we should talk about money at this point," said Gavin. "I want you to understand that the advance has to be repaid before any royalties will be paid to you. I'm sure Skyler has explained that, but I wanted to go a bit further. The money made from the releases parties, photo shoots and the like will also go toward paying back the advance. Tours are where the money is on your end, Deacon. We all know you're talented and have a great voice. What we don't know is how the world will respond to you. Now Skyler has stated in his notes that he wants to saturate the music industry with your voice and face. I'm inclined to let him handle the image portion of this endeavor, if you're willing."

"Image?" Deacon asked, looking from Gavin to clay and then to Skyler and back again.

"It's pretty straight forward," said Skyler. "Clothes, hair cut, the type of guitars you use; all of that is involved. There's also the code of conduct. Now, personally I don't expect you to do exactly as we tell you. You're a human being with thoughts and feelings of your own. Think of the code of conduct as a set of guidelines. You don't want to be photographed in a compromising position, and that's one of the things in the conduct section of the contract. Let me tell you that it will happen from time to time, most of the time it will be something completely innocent that the tabloids will try to turn into something dirty. These aren't rules that will break the contract. Like I said, they're only guidelines."

The door opened then, and Tina from the legal department came in with four copies of the contract. She placed a copy in front of each of them, Skyler thanked her and she left the room. Deacon began to look at the contract. His yes were large as he looked at all of the items in on the pages.

"It's a standard contract, Deacon," Gavin said quickly. "I assure you that everything in it is the same as every celebrity contract we've issued here at Sky High."

"The main points of the contract are that we expect two albums from you in three years," said Skyler. "You'll consent to marketing strategies, music videos, promotional events and tours. For all of this Sky High Entertainment will pay you seven hundred, fifty thousand dollars in advance. We've explained that the advance will be paid back by your album sales, promotional tour and special appearances. You'll be provided an assistant, and one of the Sky High publicists will handle your press."

Deacon had very few questions, but Skyler was proud of him when he asked about what happened if he couldn't fulfill the items in the contract. Skyler explained that if for some reason he backed out, he would have to repay the advance in full at that time. If Sky High decided to break the contract for any reason, he was considered paid in full and there would be no steps taken to recover the advance.

"Welcome to Sky High," Skyler said, smiling at him when the contracts were signed. "I'll leave you in Clay and Gavin's capable hands. In the next few days I'll be meeting with you. We'll go shopping and get you all set up in a hotel room."

He stood and shook Deacon's hand before saying goodbye. Sky High's newest client was signed and sealed.


Should've Known Better and Hold On To The Nights are songs by Richard Marx.

The next chapter will be posted soon.


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Skyler Thomas File
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